Boing Boing 

Rooster-faced warriors of 16th century Germany


16th century German soldiery sure understood how to strike terror into their enemies' hearts: the rooster-headed armored visor (ca 1530) must have been a sight to behold. Now on display at the Met in NYC (Bashford Dean Memorial Collection, Bequest of Bashford Dean, 1928)

Close Helmet with Mask Visor (via Neatorama)

Germany threatens to jail Carl Malamud for making the law available for free


Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "One of the most important public safety laws in Europe is Dir. 2001/95/EC which regulates general product safety. Public.Resource.Org, in our ongoing quest to make legally-mandated public safety codes available, purchased the German instantiation of 40 of these essential codes and made them available on the Internet. Every country in the EU is required to implement and publish these standards.

"Imagine our surprise when we were served notice to appear in Hamburg District Court in Germany."

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Snowden invited to testify in Germany (with safe passage) over NSA spying


Hans-Christian Ströebele, a German Green party leader, has invited NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to a a German government hearing on American surveillance of Germans. The idea has a lot of political juice in Germany, it seems, thanks to the news that the NSA had spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone. Interestingly, the German rules on witnesses at these hearings have the state ensuring the witness's safe passage, which may get Snowden safely out of Russia (where he's been granted a year-long visa) and into a country from which he could apply for asylum. Snowden sent a letter to Chancellor Merkel in which he offered to cooperate in an inquiry on US spying in Germany and expresses his desire to travel to Germany to do so.

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Spooks throw Obama under the bus: He knew about Merkel spying since 2010

An anonymous "US intelligence source" told a German newspaper that Obama had been briefed on the fact that the NSA had tapped German chancellor Angela Merkel's phone in 2010, and that he'd personally let it go. Expect a lot more of this, as spooks who are sick of being kicked around for conducting the spying that high-ranking administration officials had been delighted to green-light start to whisper the names of their collaborators in government.

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19th century 9lb, 100-blade multitool with a pistol


This 9 lb, 1-foot-diameter "multi tool" was designed as a calling card by the F.W. Holler Company of Solingen, Germany, who were seeking to make a name for German knife manufacturers in Solingen (who had a centuries-long reputation for knifemaking) among the emerging market for Swiss Army Knives. It has 100 "blades," including a .22 revolver. And a straight razor.

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US ambassador to Germany summoned to explain NSA bugging chancellor Angela Merkel

John B Emerson, the US ambassador to Germany, has been summoned to a meeting with Guido Westerwelle, the country's foreign minister, over revelations that the NSA bugged chancellor Angela Merkel's phone. Germans are pissed about this. The country's defense minister told a television interview that the allegations were "really, really bad" and that there could be no more "business as usual" in US-German relations. Merkel herself is described as "livid."

Merkel's political opponents, such as the Pirate Party, had criticized her for failing to do enough to bring the US to account over leaks regarding bulk US surveillance of Germany; now they're making great political capital out of the fact that Merkel herself appears to have been directly targeted by US spooks.

Though, as a Guardian commenter observes: "If Merkel has done nothing wrong she has nothing to fear. If she objects to having her phone tapped doesn't that suggest she might be a terrorist?"

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Iphone fingerprint hacker on the limits of biometrics for security

Jan "Starbug" Krissler, the Chaos Computer Club researcher who broke the fingerprint reader security on the new Iphone, had given a long interview to Zeit Online explaining his process and his thoughts on biometrics in general. The CCC's Alex Antener was good enough to translate the interview for us; I've included some of the most interesting bits after the jump.

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More details, new video showing Iphone fingerprint reader pwned by Chaos Computer Club


Starbug, the Chaos Computer Club hacker who broke the fingerprint biometric security on the Iphone, has given an interview [German] to CT Magazine detailing the hack, and released a new video showing how he did it.

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Chaos Computer Club claims it can unlock Iphones with fake fingers/cloned fingerprints

The Chaos Computer Club's biometric hacking team has announced a successful attack on Apple's Iphone biometric fingerprint lock, using a variation on the traditional fingerprint-cloning technique. CCC's Starbug summarizes: "As we have said now for more than years, fingerprints should not be used to secure anything. You leave them everywhere, and it is far too easy to make fake fingers out of lifted prints."

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Grumpy cat wants a gnu Internet


Hugh sez, "EFF'r Parker Higgins tells me this sign was at a rally he spoke at in Berlin recently."

Grumpy Cat builds a GNU Internet [Frerk Meyer/CC BY-SA]

(Thanks, Hugh!)

Spy-gadget photos from Berlin's Stasi museum

Egor Egorov visited Berlin's Stasi Museum and extensively photographed its collection of spy-gadgets from the Cold War (like the squeeze-bulb-operated jacket-button camera above). They're great photos, and at an impressively high resolution.

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NSA secretly broke smartphone security

According to a report in Der Spiegel, the NSA has cracked the protection on Android, iOS and Blackberry devices, and can access protected files, including contacts and location history. Slashdot also notes a WashPo report stating that Obama's justice department had secretly granted permission for the NSA to deliberately spy on Americans' phone calls, and to retain stored phone calls for extraordinary lengths of time.

Read the rest

German animation explains the evils of ubiquitous surveillance

"Überwachungsstaat - Was ist das?" is a short animation narrated in German (with English subtitles) that does a very good job of explaining the evils of mass surveillance. Being German, the narrator is allowed to make comparisons to the Nazis without invoking Godwin's Law, which turns out to be surprisingly useful.

Überwachungsstaat - Was ist das? (Thanks, Stefan!)

Public domain German science fiction novel translated to English

Bradley Hall (editor of the Pirate Party's No Safe Harbor book) says, I've been translating old public domain German-language books that I have been finding on Gutenberg.org. So far I have done two - a book of Japanese Fairy Tales and an old never-before-translated science fiction novel from 1909. The science fiction novel, The Red Comet (or Der Rote Komet), is interesting because it takes place in the year 2439, there's a comet on its way to crash upon the Earth. A comet. Not a meteor. Also, the most noteworthy invention is a special camera created by Romulus Futurus (now that's a Sci-Fi name)."

German language now officially includes "shitstorm"

"Shitstorm" has been inducted into Duden, the official German dictionary. It was a favorite among linguists, who admired its applicability to the plagiarism scandal that led to the resignation of Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. Strangely, an equivalent German word was not created by stringing together 75 other German words. (via The Mary Sue)

New ebook DRM isn't just easy to break, it makes no legal sense

"Lost in Translation," my latest Publishers Weekly column, looks at SiDiM, a new DRM scheme developed by the German Booksellers Association and the Fraunhofer Institute (with funding from the German government). The idea is to produce random variations in the text of ebooks so that each customer's ebook can be uniquely identified.

As I point out, this is an old and long-discarded idea, trivial to break (just compare two copies of the book); but more importantly, it rests on the silly idea that finding "my" copy of an ebook being shared illegally will somehow be bad for me:

The idea that copyright owners might convince a judge, or, worse, a jury that because they found a copy of an e-book on the Pirate Bay originally sold to me they can then hold me responsible or civilly liable is almost certainly wrong, as a matter of law. At the very least, it’s a long shot and a stupid legal bet. After all, it’s not illegal to lose your computer. It’s not illegal to have it stolen or hacked. It’s not illegal to throw away your computer or your hard drive. In many places, it’s not illegal to give away your e-books, or to loan them. In some places, it’s not illegal to sell your e-books.

So at best, this new “breakthrough” DRM scheme will be ineffective. But worse, what makes anyone think this kind of implicit fear of reprisal embedded within one’s digital library is acceptable, or, for that matter, preferable to old-school DRM?

Lost in Translation

Meet Nastygirl, Germany's most beautiful cow

A doe-eyed look would not have won over judges at a contest in Germany this week: it was for cows only. The bovine beauties, 250 of them, even had their own hairdressers at the annual German Holstein Show in Oldenburg: "That way one can display the veins better," said stylist Astrid Ostkämper. There's more from Spiegel.

Long-lost diary of Nazi racial theorist and Hitler confidant recovered


Photo: ICE HSI. Click to enlarge.

In Washington today, US officials and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum representatives announced the seizure of a long-lost diary maintained by a close confidant of Adolf Hitler.

The recovery of this historical document was the result of an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The author of the so-called "Rosenberg Diary" was Alfred Rosenberg, a leading member of the Third Reich and of the Nazi Party during World War II.

Rosenberg was one of the intellectual authors behind key Nazi beliefs, including persecution of Jewish people, expansionist “lebensraum” (living space) ideology, the "master race" theory, and the rejection of modern art as "degenerate." He was tried at Nuremberg, sentenced to death, and hanged on October 16, 1946, after having been convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The diary will eventually be displayed in the Holocaust Museum. More photos, video from the press conference where the seizure was announced, video of Rosenberg speaking, and more of the story behind this important historic artifact are below.

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Documentary on the punk scene in Burma

Apropos of yesterday's post about punks in Myanmar, Rene from Nerdcore sez, " German Journalist Alexander Dluzak did a documentary about the Burma punk scene a few months ago, here's the trailer (with English Subs), he also sent me some pretty awesome pics for my blog which you can see here. They also did a successful crowdfunding campaign and the DVD should be out sometime soon.

Interview with Turkish woman occupying Gezi Park

Rene from the German site Nerdcore sez, "A friend of mine who is staying in Istanbul right now contacted me this morning and I had the opportunity to interview a girl who is occupying Gezi Park in Turkey right now. The situation calmed down, but she told me that actually the whole city of Istanbul is up on their feet roaming the streets."

D: The protests started with only a bunch of people who sat on at Gezi Parc so they don’t turn the only green area at Taksim so it becomes a mall. I must say they have reason. I never go to that parc unless i have to walk through but from Şişhane to where I live there are already 8 shopping malls! it’s crazy. The protestors are aware of that this is not against a shopping mall. It started like that but when the police attacked a bunch of people and continued the second day, the people rised against the brutality of the government. And now it is about the force that he uses against his people, the rules he makes because he wants to and that he bans all kind of freedom for the Turkish people.

NC: What’s the Military doing right now? Can they play a bigger role, although Erdogan pretty much deprived them of power?

D: Well, the military is silent. I don’t know wether they can play a role. If that happens it already sounds very scary. But as you said, Erdoğan did deprive them of power. I have heard that the military house in Harbiye took some people in to protect them but they don’t interfere.

Interview with an Occupy Gezi-Protester in Istanbul

Germany tests anti-graffiti drones

German railway operator Deutche Bahn is to target graffiti artists with surveillance drones: "The idea is to use airborne infra-red cameras to collect evidence, which could then be used to prosecute vandals who deface property at night."

German children use bundled inflationary money as blocks, 1923


Here's a little visual aid for any inflation hawks out there who're looking for just the right graphic to stick in a powerpoint decrying stimulus packages or extolling gold's virtue: a group of Weimar-era kids using bundles of devalued Deutsche marks Reichsmarks as building blocks.

German children using marks as building blocks, when Germany tried to pay its war debts by printing money, causing hyper-inflation. 1923. (via Dark Roasted Blend)

Group whose Wikipedia entry was deleted for non-notability threatens lawsuit against Wikipedian who participated in the discussion

Benjamin Mako Hill writes, "Last year, I participated in a discussion on Wikipedia that led to the deletion of an article about the "Institute for Cultural Diplomacy." Because I edit Wikipedia using my real name, the ICD was able to track me down. Over the last month or so, they threated me with legal action and have now gotten their lawyers involved. I've documented the whole sad saga on my blog. I think the issue raises some important concerns about Wikipedia in general."

Donfried has made it very clear that his organization really wants a Wikipedia article and that they believe they are being damaged without one. But the fact that he wants one doesn’t mean that Wikipedia’s policies mean he should have one. Anonymous editors in Berlin and in unknown locations have made it clear that they really want a Wikipedia article about the ICD that does not include criticism. Not only do Wikipedia’s policies and principles not guarantee them this, Wikipedia might be hurt as a project when this happens.

The ICD claims to want to foster open dialogue and criticism. I think they sound like a pretty nice group working toward issues I care about personally. I wish them success.

But there seems to be a disconnect between their goals and the actions of both their leader and proponents. Because I used my real name and was skeptical about the organization on discussion pages on Wikipedia, I was tracked down and threatened. Donfried insinuated that I was motivated to “sabotage” his organization and threatened legal action if I do not answer his questions. The timing of his first letter — the day after the ICD page was recreated — means that I was unwilling to act on my commitment to Wikipedia and its policies.

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and Wikipedia

Nanoscale 3D printer that runs 100x faster than current models

A German startup called Nanoscribe says it will ship a nanoscale 3D printer in the second quarter of 2013, and that its device will run 100 times faster than similar devices currently in the market:

The technology behind most 3-D microprinters is called two-photon polymerization. It involves focusing tiny, ultrashort pulses from a near-infrared laser on a light-sensitive material. The material polymerizes and solidifies at the focused spots. As the laser beam moves in three dimensions, it creates a 3-D object.

Today’s printers, including Nanoscribe’s present system, keep the laser beam fixed and move the light-sensitive material along three axes using mechanical stages, which slows down printing. To speed up the process, Nanoscribe’s new tool uses a tiny moving mirror to reflect the laser beam at different angles. Thiel says generating multiple light beams with a microlens array could make the process even faster.

The smallest features that can be created using the Nanoscribe printer measure about 30 nanometers, says Julia Greer, professor of materials science at the California Institute of Technology.

Micro 3-D Printer Creates Tiny Structures in Seconds [Prachi Patel/MIT Technology Review]

(via Beyond the Beyond)

Melting hosiery


German fashion brand URB sells a series of "melting" hosiery -- tights and socks -- that appear to be running down your legs.

URB — Home (via Kadrey)

Vehicular tetris plan foiled by German policeman with tragic lack of imagination


This tetris of vehicles was constructed by a Polish truck driver, who conceived of it as a clever means of transporting several trucks and a car in one go. His plan was foiled by a spoilsport German cop, who made him destack it. I say that if there was a problem with this construction, it was in its lack of ambition: why not a motorcycle atop the car? Why not a bicycle atop the motorcycle? Why not a strapping lad in rollerskates on a pogo-stick bouncing on the bicycle?

On the road, the officers stopped the breakdown field daredevil transport (on the way to Belgium). On the Iveco car carrier (1) there was a large truck (2, on the deck again, a smaller VW MAN truck (3 And on the deck one Mercedes (4)!

Police spokesman Acor Kniely: "This tower contradicted all road traffic legislation. Especially as he to make matters worse the trailer still wanted to charge another truck! "

So was hatte Krefelds Polizei noch nicht gesehen: Hochstapler-Laster gestoppt! - Düsseldorf [Ulrich Altmann/Bild.de/Google Translate] (via Neatorama)

Excuses for chocolate, part MCLVI


"Migraine Chocolate, works safely with migraine, fatigue, lassitude and headaches."

Berlin activists create CCTV-smashing street game

Activists in Berlin have created a game called Camover where they move through public spaces in disguise, smashing CCTV cameras, recording the act and uploading it to YouTube for points.

The rules of Camover are simple: mobilise a crew and think of a name that starts with "command", "brigade" or "cell", followed by the moniker of a historical figure (Van der Lubbe, a Dutch bricklayer convicted of setting fire to the Reichstag in 1933, is one name being used). Then destroy as many CCTV cameras as you can. Concealing your identity, while not essential, is recommended. Finally, video your trail of destruction and post it on the game's website – although even keeping track of the homepage can be a challenge in itself, as it is continually being shut down.

East Germany withered under the punishing, spying gaze of the Stasi, whose surveillance was always couched in the language of "public protection" and "crime solving." Today, the CCTVs used by commercial firms are an extension of government surveillance, because their footage can be seized, often in secret, in the name of "fighting terror" and similar rubrics.

Game to destroy CCTV cameras: vandalism or valid protest?

German court awards damages for loss-of-Internet, says net is "crucial part of people's economic living standards"

A case before the German Federal Court of Justice has ended with a man being awarded damages for an erroneous Internet disconnection by his ISP. He sued on the grounds that being deprived of the Internet resulted in economic harm, and the court agreed:

But the plaintiff is entitled to compensation for the lost DSL line because the Internet has been a crucial part of people's economic living standards for a while now, the court ruled.

The internet is important because it offers access to information in the form of text, images, video and audio files. Almost all subjects are covered on the Internet, from light entertainment to highly scientific topics, the court said.

Because of its availability, the Internet increasingly replaces other media such as encyclopedias, magazines or TV, and it also enables a global exchange between its users via email, forums, blogs and social networks, the court said. In addition, the internet is increasingly used for the initiation and conclusion of contracts as well as for legal transactions and the fulfilment of public service obligations, it added.

Internet connection crucial to everyday life, German federal court rules [Loek Essers/IDG]

(via /.)

German soldiers develop left breasts

The German Herald reports that men serving in the elite Wachbataillon unit of the German army are developing breasts on their left pectorals. A doctor who is treating the men says that their trademark close-order drill is at fault, as it has the men repeatedly, violently slamming their guns into the left side of their chest, stimulating mammary growth.

The condition - called one sided gynecomastia - has been diagnosed in 74 per cent of battalion members who presented to army medics with concerns over the growths.

Director of plastic surgery at the military hospital in Berlin, Professor Bjorn Krapohl, confirmed: "There is a very significant link between the activity in the Guard Battalion and the development of the breast on the left side.

"They need to change the way they drill. The constant slamming of the rifles against the left hand side of the chest is clearly a significant factor," he added.

Bra-Gade of Guards (via The Mary Sue)