Boing Boing 

Google fought gag order over Wikileaks emails

The company says that it fought the warrants and their gag orders, and the reason they weren't able to follow Twitter's suit by disclosing the warrants' existence was that prosecutors were furious over the public backlash when Twitter got to disclose.

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Comcast ghost-wrote politicians' letters in support of Time Warner Cable merger

Letters sent to the FCC in favor of Comcast's proposed Time Warner Cable merger came from Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell, GA; Councilor Todd Wodraska of Jupiter, FL; Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown and many other politicians -- all written in whole or part by Comcast's staffers and lobbyists.

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Google strong-arms indie musicians into accepting brutal, crowdfunding-killing deal for streaming service


Google is launching a new, Youtube-branded streaming music service, with the cooperation of the Big Four labels, who got to negotiate the terms of their participation -- unlike the indie musicians, who have been told that they will be exiled from Youtube altogether unless they make it their most-favored-nation distribution service, without the possibility of holding back tracks for backers on services like Kickstarter or Patreon.

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UPDATED Google handed Wikileaks staffers' email over to US Government, didn't tell anyone


Wikileaks has issued a furious denunciation of Google after it learned that the company turned over its staff email to the US Government in March 2012 without notifying it. Update: Google says it fought to disclose sooner.

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How to fix copyright in two easy steps (and one hard one)

My new Locus column, A New Deal for Copyright, summarizes the argument in my book Information Doesn't Want to Be Free, and proposes a set of policy changes we could make that would help artists make money in the Internet age while decoupling copyright from Internet surveillance and censorship.

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Potemkin rumble: your car's muscular engine noise is an MP3


Car manufacturers admit that they fake the throaty rumble of their products' engines, using tricks like hidden amplifiers or even playing digital soundfiles when you depress the gas pedal.

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Thousands of fish rescued from Bangkok's rotting, derelict mega-mall


Thousands of carp, iridescent sharks, catfish and tilapia have been netted from the flooded remains of the New World Mall in Bangkok, which has been collapsing in legal limbo since 1997, when judges ordered it demolished after finding that the 11-storey mall had been built on the basis of planning permission that only allowed for four storeys.

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Alien overlord: stop blaming me for your city's housing bubble!


Zathbog of Planet Cibwarv wants us to stop blaming him for buying up all the property in your favorite big city, ensuring that even families with solid double incomes can barely afford to rent, and will never own a home of their own; after all, you should see the hardships he endured while building up his immense off-planet fortunes in the the interstellar mining industry.

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G+ Kremlinology: estimating the desolation of Google's social media ghost-town


Google's spent four years frog-marching its users into G+, its faltering social network, even tying company-wide bonuses to G+ performance, thus ensuring that all of Google's offerings did everything they could to cram us into G+ -- but it hasn't worked.

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Life inside a DDOS "booter site"

The internal records of Lizardsquad's Lizardstresser -- a service that would, for money, flood sites with traffic intended to knock them off the Internet -- were dumped to Mega by Doxbin's former operator, providing an unprecedented public look at the internal workings of booter.

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The Knowledge: London cabbies' multi-year, grueling training


If you want to drive a black cab in London -- the only cars that passengers can hail from the kerb -- you have to pass "The Knowledge," an unbelievably tough exam that tests you on your minute knowledge of every street, landmark, hotel, restaurant, hospital, church, stadium, airline office, club, police station, court, and tourist destination within six miles of Charing Cross station.

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Universal wants to take away prisoners' mixtapes


They're suing a group that sends care-packages to prisoners that include mixtapes featuring funk, soul and hiphop artists.

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Rebooted Cluetrain Manifesto

Doc Searls and David Weinberger, two of the original Cluetrain Manifesto authors, have revisited their canonical work of Internet wisdom, publishing a new, remix-friendly document called New Clues; it's funny, sad, humble and inspiring.

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Porn companies carpetbomb Google with sloppy takedowns, remove tons of Github projects

Takedown Piracy is a copyright enforcement outfit that works on behalf of porn companies; they sent thousands of takedown notices to Google demanding the censorship of search-results for links to pages that contained the word "pure," "rebound," "lipstick," and other common words, including several Github pages that had nothing to do with their clients' movies.

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Southwest flight attendant's hilarious, freestyle safety announcement

Give that FA a raise! Put her in charge of the airline! Make her chairwoman of the FAA!

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Privatized offshore cities: the new climate apartheid


Financier-developers with ties to some of the century's most notorious war criminals are building Eko Atlantic, an offshore city near Lagos, to house the burgeoning, confiscatory millionaires of Nigeria, while in the oft-bulldozed slums of Lagos genuine, climate-resilient floating buildings are taking to sea.

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Not just guitars: United breaks monks

After four hours of dealing with United customer service, Brother Noah got so fed up trying to figure out why the airline had stranded Brother John Baptist in Malawi that he "manifested anger."

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Bottom line: are humans sensors or things to be sensed?


A magesterial longread from Hans de Zwart of the Netherlands' Bits of Freedom steps carefully through all the ways in which the modern technological landscape focuses on ubiquitous surveillance for the purposes of social control and increased profitability for corporations.

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Downpour.com: audiobooks without the DRM


I love audiobooks, but I hate DRM (actually, I think it's an existential threat to humanity), and since Audible requires all its books to be sold with DRM (even when the publishers object), that's left me with limited options -- until 2014, when I discovered Downpour.

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Coach-minus: a new low in high-flying travel


An unnamed airline is said to be planning a "coach-minus" service that features smaller, more crowded seats. They say they're providing cheaper tickets to passengers who demand it.

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United and Orbitz sue Skiplagged, a service you should totally use

Skiplagged finds cheap one-way fares by surfacing weird airline pricing strategies, like pricing a NY-SFO-Lake Tahoe flight cheaper than an NY-SFO flight, so you book all the way through to Tahoe, debark at SFO, and walk away from the final leg.

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Why "smart cities" should be an Internet of People, not Things


Adam Greenfield proves again that he's one of the best writers and thinkers on "smart cities," explaining how the top-down, expensive, tech-centered approach produces unlivable corporate dystopias in which people are just another "thing" to be shuffled around -- and showing that there's an alternative, low-tech, high-touch, human-centered version of the smart city that makes resilient, thriving communities.

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15-20% of Xmas gifts are crap


"The Deadweight Loss of Christmas," published in American Economic Review (Joel Waldfogel, UMN) estimates that "on average, the waste attributable to poorly chosen seasonal gifts was between 15 and 20 per cent of the purchase price of the gift" ($10B/year in the US alone!).

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Pfizer threatens pharmacists, doctors if they take its name in vain


Pfizer's patent on pregabalin -- an anti-epilepsy med -- expires this year, but there's another patent on using the public domain drug to treat neuropathic pain; in a shocking letter to UK doctors, the pharma giant warns of dire consequences should medical professionals dare to prescribe the generic for the patented use.

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Discounted ebooks for readers who own Dilbert, Oatmeal and Nom Nom Paleo books


Peter writes, "Vancouver based ebook bundling start-up, Bitlit has signed a deal with Andrews McMeel publishing. The deal allows readers who own a paper copy of an Andrews McMeel book to get the eBook for 80% off. The deal includes comic collections from Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) and Scott Adams (Dilbert), and Michelle Tam's bestselling cookbook Nom Nom Paleo."

Worst US airlines for baggage loss and mishaps

airlines

The latest DoT Air Travel Consumer Report ranks America's airlines by "mishandled" baggage incidents as a fraction of passengers carried -- the worst is Envoy Air, the best is Virgin.

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A modest proposal for Wall Street's future


Michael "Flash Boys" Lewis gives us a wish-list of eight (implausible) steps that Wall Street could take to check its feckless, reckless, destructive lurch through the 21st century.

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Tucows launching "mini-Google-fiber" to compete with Comcast


Tucows, who own two of the best Internet-infrastructure companies I know of (Hover, a domain registrar; and Ting, a mobile phone provider) have announced their own super-high-speed fiber-optic ISP in Charlottesville, Virginia, where it will compete with one of the worst infrastructure companies in the world: Comcast.

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Over 700 million people have taken steps to improve privacy since Snowden


As Schneier points out, the way this is spun ("only 39% of people did something because of Snowden") is bullshit: the headline number is that more than 700 million people are in the market for a product that barely exists, and that could make more money than Facebook if you get it right.

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Spain's Xnet: leak-publishing corruption-fighters


Xnet is a Spanish collective that invites the public to leak evidence of corruption using the Tor anonymizer, then uses those leaks to bring private criminal complaints against officials and corporations.

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