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Everything is a Remix vs Patent Trolls

Adi from EFF writes, "Engine Advocacy worked with artist Kirby Ferguson (of Everything is a Remix fame) to create this great primer on patent trolls. It beautifully and succinctly lays out the patent problem, which is one of the hottest topics on the Hill right now. EFF, Public Knowledge, and Engine are pushing for people to call their senators to demand strong patent reform, and we have a handy tool at fixpatents.org for all you to do so!"

EU's highest court strikes down mass surveillance under the Data Retention Directive

The European Court of Justice, the highest court in the EU, has invalidated the European Parliament's Data Retention Directive, which required phone companies and ISPs to store your clicks, email subjects and to/from info, your location data, and other sensitive "metadata" for up to two years. The ECJ cited the UN Human Rights Committee's condemnation of this sort of data-retention and its call for the USA to halt its surveillance. We have Digital Rights Ireland and AK Vorrat Austria to thank for the ruling.

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Doubleclicks celebrate the paperback of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember with a new song

The paperback edition of Annalee Newitz's excellent Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction comes out today, and to celebrate, Annalee has commissioned a song about the book from nerd rockers the Doubleclicks. It's terrific.

Here's my original review from the hardcover's publication last May:

Scatter's premise is that the human race will face extinction-grade crises in the future, and that we can learn how to survive them by examining the strategies of species that successfully weathered previous extinction events, and cultures and tribes of humans that have managed to survive their own near-annihilation.

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My daughter Poesy reviews Hilda and the Black Hound


Luke Pearson and London's Flying Eye Books have published the fourth Hildafolk kids' graphic novel, Hilda and the Black Hound. Like the earlier volumes (reviews: Hildafolk and Hilda and the Midnight Giant and Hilda and the Bird Parade), it's nothing less than magical, a Miyazaki-meets-Moomin story that is beautifully drawn and marvellously told.

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Crowdfunding a makerspace for Portland, Maine

Jeremy writes, "I'm helping to build the first makerspace in Portland (Maine), The Open Bench Project. We launched an Indiegogo campaign on April 3rd and have raised about a quarter of our goal so far (not bad for a little town in Maine?)."

They're seeking $27.5K to pay for the first six months' lease on a space.

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Furniture made from recycled boat-wood


All From Boats is a furniture maker that uses lumber recycled from decommissioned wooden boats as raw materials. The individual wooden pieces are each distressed in their own way, and are purchased from sailors on a fair-trade basis. They don't do any direct retail (the minimum wholesale order is $2000), but have a number of retailers around the world, including Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, Tokyo. They also sell raw planking for floors. The boats themselves come from around the Pacific Rim, mainly Bali and Indonesia. I saw a bunch of this stuff in person today and it's absolutely beautiful -- very well made and well designed.

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Edgar Allan Poe bronze coming to Boston


This beautiful life-sized bronze of Edgar Allan Poe with an enormous raven is Stefanie Rocknak's competition-winning entry for the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston's Edgar Allan Poe Square Public Art Project. It beat out 265 other pieces in the competition. Rocknak is also a professor of philosophy at New York's Hartwick College, and describes her work as depicting Poe "just off the train, the figure would be walking south towards his place of birth, where his mother and father once lived. Poe, with a trunk full of ideas -- and worldwide success -- is finally coming home."

Today's jam is Closed on Account of Rabies: Poems and Tales of Edgar Allan Poe , which features Christopher Walken's reading of "The Raven," Iggy Pop performing " The Tell-Tale Heart," Debbie Harry doing "The City And The Sea," Marianne Faithfull's rendition of "Alone" and "Annabel Lee," and loads more improbably fantastic stuff.

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Tech-art making class with Kal Spelletich (San Francisco)

Ingenious tech/robot artist Kal Spelletich of Seemen and Survival Research Labs fame is teaching a maker class in San Francisco on creating art involving technology! It sounds fantastic -- a rare opportunity to learn directly from a master of this genre that blends art, science, engineering, cultural criticism, and high weirdness. (Above, a two-minute video survey of Kal's storied career.) Kal says, "We will explore: building installations, carpentry, home-brewing, guerilla gardening, electric wiring, robotics, fire-making, fixing things, plumbing, pnu-matics, pumps, water purification, high-voltage electricity, video surveillance, electronic interfaces, scavenging for materials, cooking alternatives, solar power, skinning a rabbit, lighting, remote control systems, survivalist contemporary art history, and promoting and exhibiting your art.." Kal Spelletich: Research & Survival in the Arts Class

Girl Talk's first official video: the ultraviolent "Tolerated"

Allen Cordell sends us Tolerated, "an ultra-violent music video I directed. It's Girl Talk's first official video ever!"

Daniel Ellsberg to keynote HOPE X in NYC this summer

2600 Magazine's Emmanuel Goldstein writes, "Acclaimed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg will be keynoting at this summer's HOPE X conference in New York City. Ellsberg leaked the infamous Pentagon Papers, 7,000 pages of documents that wound up changing American history forever. Today's whistleblowers are treated far more harshly, both by the authorities and the mainstream media, often facing lengthly prison terms or a life on the run. Fortunately, Ellsberg has remained involved and connected. A whole new generation will hear his words in person and hopefully be inspired to reveal the truth from whatever corporate or government position they find themselves in." Cory 2

Captain America bathrobe with hood/mask

If I could, I'd live in loungewear: pajamas, bathrobes, etc. If there's one thing that makes a terry bathrobe even more comfy, it's a hood. And if there's one thing that makes a hooded terry bathrobe even more cool, it's eye-holes and Captain America livery so that you can hang around on the sofa all day in your robe, rising only to role-play moments from the new Captain America movie, which is really quite good despite several egregiously stupid plot-points involving computers and the Internet, which I will be detailing at great length when I get an afternoon free to do so.

The robe's from Thinkgeek, it's 100% cotton, and it costs $70. It's got Captain America's shield embroidered on the back!

Captain America Terry Robe

Winnie the Pooh does Darth Vader

Here's voice-actor Jim "Winnie the Pooh" Cummings doing Darth Vader's lines from Star Wars in the voice of Winnie, and other key characters as Darkwing Duck and his other best-known voices; he appears with Lauren Landa, another voice actor with a distinguished resume of anime and game voices. It's pretty much perfect.

Jim Cummings CtCon 2013 - Star Wars with Winnie the Pooh (via Kelly the Mortal Girl)

Open net gets a huge boost in the EU: net neutrality and no roaming fees

Andrew sez, "The fight for the Open Web and Net Neutrality won a big one today after the EU Parliament voted to approve EU Parliamentarian Marietje Schaacke's proposal to codify Net Neutrality in EU law. Here's her statement after the winning vote:"

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When it comes to learning computers, play is seriously important

Game on? Or game over? [PDF], a brief research report from the U Washington Information School, summarizes some of the findings from the TASCHA report on computer skills acquisition. This particular explainer deals with the relationship between playing games and goofing off on computers and learning to do "productive" things with them, finding (as Mimi Ito did, before) that horsing around is a critical component of mastering computers, and that labs that ban games and other forms of playful engagement with computers are hampering their ability to teach the people they're supposed to be serving. Cory 15

Cover and summary for Lauren Beukes's next horror novel

Here's some good news: the next Lauren Beukes novel, Broken Monsters, is up for pre-order, and we've got a taste of the cover and the synopsis: "Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit's standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams? If you're Detective Versado's geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you're desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you're Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you'll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe--and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world."

I loved Beukes's earlier work -- see my reviews of The Shining Girls and Zoo City.

Broken Monsters (via Super Punch)