Win tickets to see David Byrne and Cory in Toronto, Sept 19

Yesterday, I reviewed the new David Byrne book, How Music Works and mentioned that I'd be interviewing Byrne about it live on stage in Toronto on Sept 19, as part of the Harbourfront International Festival of Authors.

The IFA folks have made a pair of tickets for the event available to Boing Boing readers. To win, answer the following question:

What is David Byrne's favourite mode of transportation?

And send us your answer by midnight eastern on September 16 to authorsmedia@harbourfrontcentre.com with the subject line "BYRNE TIX." One winner will be notified September 17.

The event is called "David Byrne and Cory Doctorow: Wassup Internet?!—Music in the Digital Landscape," and it'll be held at 7:30pm on Sept 19 at the Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay West.

Singularity and its skeptics, in haiku

Jill from Tachyon Books sez, "Is the Rapture of the Nerds just around the corner? Or is the Vingean posthuman technological Singularity the biggest myth since Y2K? You know—and you can prove it in verse. Post or email (tachyon@tachyonpublications.com) Tachyon a haiku that is either pro- (it's totally gonna happen) or con- (as if!) Singularity. There will be two winners, one for each argument. In addition to getting a signed copy of Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology, attendees at Chicon 7, the World Science Fiction Convention, will be treated to A FREE LUNCH with James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel." Cory

Creative Commons music contest: Freedom & Free Beer

Christian sez,

2012's Free! Music! Contest has opened it's gates at july first. It is the fourth time, that this event is being organized by Musikpiraten, a german society that promotes free art and espacially free music. Bands from all over the world participate in it to win a publication on CD, the so called "Free! Music! Sampler" and prizes worth more than 1.000 Euros.

This year's motto "Freedom and Free Beer" reflects the very basic choice, every artist has to challenge: Shall my art be "free" as in "freedom" or "free" as in "free beer"? So unlike last year, where only cc-by and cc-by-sa licenses where allowed, this year music licensed under and creative commons license can be submitted.

The contest is officially supported by Creative Commons and the remixing portal ccMixter. The latter even announced a project featuring the contest, titled "Free Music & Free Beer. Background is, that Musikpiraten e.V., the foundation behind the contest, is being sued by the german royalty collection society GEMA for having published a creative commons licensed song last year without unrevealing the civil name of the artists. GEMA claims, they cannot verify that the artists are really allowed to publish their songs for free in the internet.

Freedom & Free Beer - der Free! Music! Contest 2012 (Thanks, Christian!)

Crack the crypto in Agrippa, win every William Gibson book ever published

Quinn DuPont writes in with "A cracking challenge to cryptanalyse a William Gibson poem ('Agrippa', written in 1992). The winner will receive a copy of every William Gibson book published. Project is academic (non-commercial)."

Gibson's poem is a beautiful work, and it came on a floppy disk that erased itself after displaying the poem's text a single time. Of course, it was cracked almost immediately (..f. all DRM, ever) but that wasn't really the point. The challenge site includes a System 7 emulator, an image of the floppy, some of the sourcecode for the app (which was apparently written in Lisp?!), and more.

Based on the pioneering work of Alan Liu and his team at The Agrippa Files, working in collaboration with Matthew Kirschenbaum at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities and the Digital Forensics Lab, a a bit-for-bit copy of this application has been recovered, along with numerous archival documents.

The first person to successfully crack the code will win a copy of every William Gibson book ever published (except Agrippa). Every runner-up will have their name (if provided) posted on this website. To win you must submit a technical description of your cryptanalysis below, under Creative Commons usage rights (the results of which will be used to further research on Agrippa). The technical description should explain what kind of encryption is used (if any), how it functions, and how it was reversed or cracked (and what the key is, if there is one). Should there be no encryption at all (a possibility), or should the application merely “scramble” or “destroy” the data, this must be technically demonstrated or proved. Since the plain text is known, the cryptanalysis is purely for fun and academic curiosity, and thus the description should provide technical details.

Cracking the Agrippa Code (Thanks, Quinn!)

Liberated Pixel Cup: Creative Commons and Free Software Foundation contest to produce free-as-in-freedom games and game elements

Rob sez, "Do you like classic game graphics? Do you support free culture and free software? Can you see where this is going? Creative Commons, the Free Software Foundation, and OpenGameArt have launched a free-as-in-freedom game design competition, the Liberated Pixel Cup:"

Liberated Pixel Cup is a two-part competition: make a bunch of awesome free culture licensed artwork, and program a bunch of free software games that use it. Hopefully many cool projects can come out of this… but that will only happen if people like you get involved! Liberated Pixel Cup is a great opportunity for the commons in many ways! Right now it’s hard to find free culture content to bootstrap games that match a consistent style and hard for artists to collaborate on such. We’re also very interested in areas where free software and free culture directly intersect, which we don’t always see enough of (and which sometimes can even get a bit complex, so it’s good to have opportunities to think about them when we can), and games are a great example of this overlap. We hope you’ll participate!

Announcing the Liberated Pixel Cup: an epic contest for gaming freedom (Thanks, Rob!)

(Image: Liberated Pixel Cup example outdoor artwork / Lanea Zimmerman / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Contest celebrates paperback for Welcome to Bordertown

The paperback for Welcome to Bordertown is out, this being the most excellent, long-awaited volume of short stories set in the Bordertown shared world, where Faerie has returned to Earth, and the Bordertown is the place where magic and technology meet and mix. To celebrate, the editors are holding a contest:

So you've already found your way to Bordertown. It wasn't easy, but you did it. You've found a place to live, and maybe a friend or two. Maybe you're in a band, or selling your sketches on the street, or just looking for work.... And now you'd like your friend (from the World or from the Realm, depending on your own origins) to come and join you.

Write them a letter, or send them a postcard (a photo or a drawing + a short note) telling them why they should come.

Then post it on your blog, Tumblr, Facebook notes, DeviantArt account... anywhere your friends* can read it. And then, to enter it in the contest (and make sure we know it's there!), put the URL for your post in the Comments on this page. The contest runs from now through Tuesday, April 17th at 11:59 p.m. EST (U.S.A. Eastern Time).

My story Shannon's Law appears in the collection.

WELCOME TO BORDERTOWN paperback

Win a signed copy of Before the Lights Go Out

Neatorama is offering two signed copies of my new book, Before the Lights Go Out, as part of a contest drawing. To enter: Go read the interview Neatorama did with me about energy, infrastructure, and my writing process. Then answer a couple of quick questions in the comments.

Register for a chance to watch a SpaceX launch in style

Plan on being in Florida on April 29/30? Then you should register to watch the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket as part of a NASA Social. There are only 50 spots available, randomly selected from the pool of registrants. If you get in, you'll get a tour of the launch pad and Kennedy Space Center, get to talk to people who work in both public and private space programs, and get to watch the launch from a splendid vantage point with a bunch of other awesome space geeks. Downside: You cover your own transportation. (Via Karen James)

Win a signed copy of Maggie's new book

Would you like a signed copy of Before the Lights Go Out, my new book about the future of energy?

The book comes out on April 10th and pre-orders have already started shipping. Between now and the end of April, you can earn a fun prize for telling other people about my book.

1) Tell people on your social networks that you're reading Before the Lights Go Out. This applies to Facebook, G+, or Twitter. When you talk about it, be sure to tag me in the post—@maggiekb1 on Twitter, Maggie Koerth-Baker on Facebook and G+—so I know that you mentioned the book.

In return, I'll send you a sticker with my signature and personal thank-you. You can put it in your printed book and create an instant signed copy. Or, if you're an e-book reader, you can put the sticker on ... something else. Maybe your e-book reader. Maybe your pet/baby. Either way, it's yours!

UPDATE: I had another part to this, offering cookies to people who would write reviews of the book. It was meant to be fun. But, talking to a few people, I think that cuts too close to bribery. So I'm canceling that part of the contest.

Describe a flame, win a VIP pass to the World Science Festival

What is a flame?

If you can explain that, on a level that an 11-year-old can understand, then you could win a VIP pass to the World Science Festival, May 30 to June 3 in New York City.

This is one of those questions that is harder to answer than it first appears. Alan Alda, the man behind this contest, asked his teacher that question when he was 11. Her answer, "It’s oxidation," meant nothing to him. So this contest isn't just about accuracy, it's about communication.

I often hear people complain about journalists and science popularizers "dumbing down" the science. And I suppose that's something reasonable to complain about, if what you mean is that those people are getting the science grossly wrong.

But that's not usually what "dumbing down" means. In fact, most of the time, when somebody is complaining about a dumbing down of anything, I've found that what they mean is that the topic has been made accessible and entertaining to a broad audience. Dumbing down means taking the information beyond the experts and enthusiasts, and convincing people that this is a topic they should be interested in. That's not a bad thing. It just means that there are different ways to reach different people with the same information.

To me, that's what this contest is about. Explain a flame—without using jargon—and make the science behind it capture a kid's imagination. That's not easy. It will take some dumbing down. But I think some of you can do this. And I'm excited to see the results.

Entries can be turned in as text, video, audio, or graphics. But they're due by April 2, so get to work!

Enter Alan Alda's Flame Challenge

Via Lauren Wolf

Image: Flames, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from juniorvelo's photostream

Prize for best visions for the future of copyright

Jaroslaw Lipszyc sez, "Modern Poland Foundation organizes crowdfunded contest for the best work on the Future of Copyright. Idea is simple: the bigger the prize, the more attention contest will get and more participants will be attracted. All works participating need to be published on the web under free license, so we can all use them as we wish. Independent jury under head of prof. Michael Geist (well known copyright scholar from Canada) and Piotr Czerski (of We, the Web Kids manifesto fame) will decide, who gets the money. All supporters will receive e-book consisting of best works created for the contest, with personalized 'Thank you!' note on the first page - and much more if they pledge more than minimum $5 to the prize. Together we will help society to get more creative ideas on the Future of Copyright. Now it's your turn to show your support and make this contest bigger than Nobel."

This is simple. If you want to take part in the contest, publish the work on the Internet and mail us at contest@nowoczesnapolska.org.pl. Just follow these general rules:

1. On topic
The work may be of any kind (text, video, audio), and of any genre (i.e. legal analisys, dystopian or utopian story, educational video – sky is the limit here), but it must address the general subject of the Future of Copyright. Your work has to be in English or you need to provide an English translation.

2. Limited size
The size of the work is limited to 20,000 characters for text or 15 minutes for audio and video. Small print: we will accept only first 500 works. Sorry, but we are unable to process more.

3. New and original
We accept only original works prepared specially for this contest. You must have all the rights to the work. Team work is acceptable. If your work is a remix, you need to provide the source for the works you re-used.

Future of Copyright Contest (Thanks, Jaroslaw!)

Win $100K worth of 3D printing gubbins

gmoke sez, "Post an Instructable on how to turn a virtual item into a tangible object by April 30, win $100,000 in 3D printing tech and supplies. Examples include 3D printed objects, laser-cut files, and even printed decals using an inkjet printer." Cory

A new name for the Very Large Array

Remember the contest to rename the Very Large Array? (I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that it resulted in one of the best BoingBoing comment threads ever.) The good news: A name has been chosen! The bad news: It's not "Emily". But it's still nice. Starting March 31, the Very Large Array will become the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, in honor of the father of radio astronomy. (Thanks Tim Heffernan!)

Contest winners - Contact me!

Last week, I got to interview astronaut Rex Walheim using questions submitted by BoingBoing readers. Those readers (plus one runner up) are entitled to a Jackhammer Jill pin and an awesome BoingBoing sticker. But to get those prizes, you need to email me. Kansas, Scratcheee, spocko, ganman, and Titus: You should email me at maggie.koerth@gmail.com.

Five questions with astronaut Rex Walheim

Rex Walheim is an astronaut. He’s gone to space three times, including on the last flight of the space shuttle. He has spent an accumulated 36 hours outside the ISS on spacewalks.

Read the rest