Games reveal the contrasting colors of accessibility


Editor's note: So here's a weird thing. After telling Twitter that Offworld needed more articles on ability and accessibility, we received this author's enthusiastic pitch and encouraged him to write the following piece. After publishing, it was brought to our attention that the author has been involved in some unacceptable behavior on social media, sending harassing Tweets to women in our industry (including our contributors) and signal-boosts people who have attacked us. If we'd known about this, we would not have chosen to work with this author. We've edited out links to content from venues associated with harassment, but we've elected not to remove the piece as we think it's full of useful insight.

Truly, though, we live in a weird world if Gamergaters are bragging about having sneaked a constructive and considered article on colorblindness onto our feminist website.

We're sorry to anyone who was upset by seeing us publish this author. Given that Gamergaters have physically followed me to my speaking engagements and continue to harangue and overshadow my entire professional life for over a year, I'm sure you can understand I sympathize with your offense. Forgive me. -- Leigh


It's a hoax!

This isn't the first time that a remix of the silent track's been targeted for copyright enforcement, but it never gets old. Read the rest

The "real" Silent Hill is sick of tourists


Centralia, PA, has a tourist problem thanks to its long-burning underground coal fire and ghost town status. The locals that remain are tired of being told their beloved, doomed home is the "real-life Silent Hill," that being a gateway to hell replete with deformed nurses with legs for heads, pyramid-headed demons, manifestations of scarred male psyches, etc.

Centralians themselves couldn’t be less happy about Silent Hill, since the brief association the film made between Silent Hill and Centralia is now one of the better-known things about the town. Like, what if everyone knew the name of your home town, but only because Frank Booth in Blue Velvet mentioned that he once went to the toilet there. Inevitably, those who visit Centralia for its relevance to Silent Hill leave disappointed. Every article that posits the town as “the real Silent Hill” — or as “The Actual Town from Hell”, “Hell on Earth”, “A Ghost Town… On Fire”, or as one of the “10 Scariest Places on Earth” — includes a comment section with at least one reality check. “It is NOT a scary place at all.” “I’m afraid if you want scary, find an abandoned insane asylum, because Centralia is not very scary at all.” “It’s very peaceful actually.”

The irony is that in the Silent Hill trilogy, it's just a mysterious fog. The creepy coal fire angle was grafted onto the mythos for the movie, which no-one really cares about.

P.S. The next "big" town over from Centralia is named "Shamokin," a much better name for a municipality sat atop a disappointingly milquetoast chasm to hell. Read the rest

Ads could use ultrasound to secretly link your gadgets


Researchers are warning that ads could play coded sounds outside the range of human hearing to secretly communicate with other gadgets within earshot.

The technique, which several companies are reportedly working on, would allow marketers to associate devices with one another and paint a privacy-cracking picture of the owner's interests and behaviors.

Dan Goodin reports that cross-device tracking is already in use:

Cross-device tracking raises important privacy concerns, the Center for Democracy and Technology wrote in recently filed comments to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has scheduled a workshop on Monday to discuss the technology. Often, people use as many as five connected devices throughout a given day—a phone, computer, tablet, wearable health device, and an RFID-enabled access fob. Until now, there hasn't been an easy way to track activity on one and tie it to another.

"As a person goes about her business, her activity on each device generates different data streams about her preferences and behavior that are siloed in these devices and services that mediate them," CDT officials wrote. "Cross-device tracking allows marketers to combine these streams by linking them to the same individual, enhancing the granularity of what they know about that person."

The trick hasn't been seen in the wild, but all the pieces are in place: we all know our smartphones and laptops might end up under someone else's control, but did you know television sets now default to collecting and sending data on what you watch? [via The New Aesthetic] Read the rest

Drone footage of insanely huge "sinkhole" outside of IHOP restaurant

Did you hear about the International Hole of Pancakes, the massive drainage structure collapse that swallowed a at least a dozen cars in an IHOP parking lot in Meridian, MS just a few days after the restaurant opened? Here is Jason Hartwig's drone footage of the site.

Read the rest

Have your tweets inscribed as cuneiform tablets

Dumb Cuneiform aptly labels the nature of its work lest anyone be under any illusions here.

Here's how it works: Just send us a tweet or text (use the text field in the order form) We’ll carefully translate it into cuneiform We'll stamp it on an actual clay tablet and mail it to you. Favorite jokes? Amazing pickup lines? Your 2-star review of last summer's blockbuster? KEEP IT FOREVER.

$20 a go. They should at least insist on it having been publicly posted! [via JWZ]

Previously: Aerial signposts point to Scientology's sacred text storage facility Read the rest

Stunning graphic novel presents the entire iTunes Terms and Conditions


I thought Robert Crumb's unabridged graphic novel of the Book of Genesis was a herculean effort, but cartoonist R. Sikoryak has tackled an even more arduous task: incorporating the complete, unabridged iTune's user agreement into a graphic novel. Sikoryak is very good at drawing comics in the style of other cartoonists, and he uses this skill here to great effect. Take a gander:

Page 48 (after Chester Gould)

Page 46 (after Hergé)

Page 42 (after Otto Mesmer)

Page 41 (after Rube Goldberg)


EPA finds more toxic VW emissions fraud in Audis and Porsches


The EPA, the California Air Resources Board and Environment Canada have detected more fraudulent firmware in VW products; this time in 2014-2016 cars from the super-profitable Audii and Porsche lines. Read the rest

Adorable robotic cube jumps to the top of a pile


Robots have a hard time making their way across uneven, unstable terrain. Read the rest

Appeals court holds the FBI is allowed to kidnap and torture Americans outside US borders


The DC Appeals Court has just ruled against Amir Meshal, a US citizen who was arrested in Kenya by a joint US-Kenyan-Ethiopian law enforcement operation, held for months, tortured with FBI agents present and threatened with his secret murder, then released without any charges. Read the rest

South Carolina sheriff fires the school-cop who beat up a black girl at her desk


Ben Fields, the South Carolina sheriff’s deputy who was video-recorded beating up a black schoolgirl who was sitting peacefully at her desk, has been fired. Read the rest

DMCA exemption carved to help preserve old games

Illo: / Automattic

The US Library of Congress has created an exemption to copyright law to make it legal to preserve abandoned video games, including online server code required to play them. Read the rest

"Hello, you're watching Dish Network. Did you know you're a satellite pirate?"


Here's a 2009 clip from Dish Network informing anyone watching a special channel that they are a "satellite pirate." It's not too harsh, actually, and Dish quickly goes from scolding "pirates" to pitching them with special offers. Read the rest

Learn the fastest way to tie your shoelaces


Many more tips on Ian Fleggen's classic "Professor Shoelace" site.

Read the rest

Here's the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie trailer


On Tuesday evening, Disney released the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Read the rest

Adam Savage is still optimizing the duck army

duck army

The present status of this quixotic and strangely persistent quest: 16 ducks carefully compressed into a square compartment with a quick-release cable, suspended vertically from the ceiling. It meets its intended purpose quite well, but one is inexorable drawn to the prospect of further optimization.

I propose each duck be attached by the mouth to a canister of compressed air, cabled to begin inflating as soon as the container is released, thereby increasing the pitch and volume of their cries.

(To be clear to any passing animal lovers, judgmental aliens, members of future civilizations, etc, this does not concern real ducks)

The Cinemagician has reversed it. Read the rest

The worst traffic jam you will hopefully never experience

Beijing, China. If this fascinates you, so long as you are not sitting in it, I highly recommend Tom Vanderbilt's fantastic book "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)."

Below, Tom's presentation at our Boing Boing: Ingenuity 2013 conference.

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