Online activism and why the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act must die

Courts have appreciated that even distributed denial of service attacks can be legitimate form of public protest. Molly Sauter on the insane U.S. law used to criminalize them and other forms of online activism.

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Graphics chip commercial debunks moon landing conspiracies

NVIDIA made an interesting video to market their graphics processing tech by showing how it can be used to debunk conspiracy claims that the 1969 lunar landing was faked. (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

Mellow electronica video shows what happens in your computer when you go right ahead and just spill juice all over it

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How It Works …. The Computer (Ladybird books, 1978)

Rob Beschizza found a copy of one of his favorite childhood books about computers. And now you can enjoy it too!

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Pesco on LSD, computers, and the counterculture

Above, video evidence of my short presentation "Just Say Know: A Cyberdelic History of the Future" at the recent Lift Conference 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. Albert Hoffman first synthesized LSD in 1938 in Switzerland so this felt like the right set and setting to share stories about the intersection of psychedelic culture and computer technology from the 1960s to the present and beyond!

A midnight army at the dawn of the web

Leigh Alexander recalls her adventures working with porn spambots in the 1990s, and the strange mixture of nostalgia and disappointment that remains.

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How to: Shop for a computer in 1953

Ptak Science Books reprints a helpful article from the journal Computers and Automation, meant to help early computer shoppers make sure they're wisely spending their hundreds of thousands of dollars (in 1953 dollars, that is). You don't want to end up with a gigantic, room-sized piece of machinery that doesn't meet your needs or, worse, is a lemon.

Flightline is a beautiful desktop PC inspired by the Wright Brothers Memorial

Jeffrey Stephenson's most elegant handmade PC yet comprises 167 handcut veneers, made of quilted maple, mahogany, lacewood and "aircraft grade birch plywood." Inside is a Gigabyte Thin Mini-ITX motherboard with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB RAM and a 60GB SSD, but specs hardly matter when the chassis is so beautiful. [Slipperyskip]

Video: uncanny 3D faces show "parametric expressions"

It's watching us, and this is what it sees. Mike Pelletier explores quantified emotions in software, in collaboration with Subbacultcha! and Pllant / Marieke van Helden [Video Link]

Wozniak on Jobs biopic

With a new trailer out to promote Kutcher-starring biopic Jobs, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has new thoughts on the movie—not all of them negative. [Jesus Diaz / Kinja]

What Google's self-driving car sees

Charlie Warzel: "THIS is what google's self driving car can see. So basically this thing is going to destroy us all." [via Matt Buchanan]

Climate answers sought in supercomputers

Carl Franzen, for The Verge:
There's a dark cloud hanging over the science of climate change, quite literally. Scientists today have access to supercomputers capable of running advanced simulations of Earth's climate hundreds of years into the future, accounting for millions of tiny variables. But even with all that equipment and training, they still can't quite figure out how clouds work.

Where old TV screens go to die

Time was, we used to recycle old cathode ray tubes from TVs and computer monitors into new ones. Obviously, though, there's no longer a demand for new CRTs — or the specialized leaded glass they're made of. As a result, the last generation of CRTs is piling up into a "glass tsunami", filling storage units and swiftly becoming a liability to the recyclers who used to make money off them.

Sexy computer art, circa 1956

Pinnnn

SageeeeeSometime between 1956-1958 an unknown IBM employee wrote a punchcard program that displayed the above pin-up girl on the screens of the US military's two billion dollar Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) computers. Some say that the program was a diagnostic tool that showed the pin-up as a data transfer test. Others contend that it was just geek fun. The Atlantic's Benj Edwards tells the story of what was one of the first pieces of figurative computer art. "The Never-Before-Told Story of the World's First Computer Art (It's a Sexy Dame)"

Jacquard looms: Videos demonstrating early computer programs

Invented in 1801, Jacquard looms are really an add-on to already existent mechanical loom systems, which allowed those looms to create patterns more complex and intricate than anything that had been done before. The difference: Punch cards.

When you weave, the pattern comes from changes in thread position — which threads were exposed on the surface of the cloth and which were not. But prior to the Jacquard loom, there were only so many threads that any weaver could control at one time, so patterns were simple and blocky. Essentially, the Jacquard system vastly increased the pixels available in any weaving pattern, by automatically controlling lots and lots of threads all at once. Punch cards told the machine which threads were in play at any given time.

It's a really cool process, and I wanted to share a couple of videos that give you a good idea of how these looms work and how they changed the textiles industry. You can watch them below. But probably the best example is the image above. It's a picture of Joseph-Marie Jacquard, woven in silk on the loom he invented — a fantastic demonstration of the design power that loom offered. In just a few years, people went from weaving simple stars and knots, to weaving patterns that almost look like they were spit out of a printer.

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