Boing Boing 

Skulllolly: memento mori confection

David Sykes's Skulllolly series are sculptural confections that serve as mementos mori.

Skulllolly (via Super Punch)

Sack Boris campaign's Oyster card sleeves help Londoners express their support for public transit with each ride

The Sack Boris campaign, which seeks the ouster of London Mayor Boris Johnson, has a nice line of brightly coloured Oyster-card sleeves that can be yours for a mere £3 donation. The mayor has increased bus-fares by 44% since he took office in 2008, and he is up for re-election in 2012.

Sack Boris

Harvesting power-cells from dead laptop batteries for home electronics projects

Geekdad has a bunch of tips for using the round power-cells from a dead laptop battery. These cells, called "18650s," look like AA batteries, but have very different characteristics. Your laptop battery will contain lots of these (I have a mongo long-lived Thinkpad battery that I use while travelling with nine cells), and if any one of them dies, the whole laptop battery is rendered useless.

18650s are incredibly powerful and volatile, so be careful, because it's easy to blow 'em up or start a fire. That said, they're awful handy-dandy for providing a very long charge for very bright LED flashlights, or for powering your RC vehicles.

By the way, a good quality LED flashlight is incredibly bright. I tried to take some pictures and video to demonstrate just how bright, but you really have to see this with your own eyes, in person to appreciate it. And the LED is incredibly power-efficient, so it runs for a very, very long time on a single charge. It’s easy to see that the future of household lighting is not compact fluorescents, but LEDs...

In the video, I’m actually powering the Arduino as well as the motors, and I’m surprised it works. Motors tend to create a lot of electrical noise, and I’ve read about many other people who ran into trouble using a common power source for their Arduino and their motors. I presume I’d start seeing trouble if I was driving a heavier load than those little Lego motors.

18650 Things To Do With An Old Laptop Battery (via Red Ferret)

AT-AT Walker made of pancakes

Jim, the resident genius at Jim's Pancakes, has made an AT-AT Walker OUT OF PANCAKES! PANCAKES!
Total time to create it was about 15 minutes, mostly because it took a while to get the legs “crispy” enough to hold up the body. From there, I placed the parts back on the griddle and used more pancake batter as “glue”. If you let the parts sit on low heat for long enough, the batter eventually cooks through and makes a nice strong connection.
And hey, lookit that, Jim's got a book coming out on making pancake art!

Star Wars Pancakes! (via Craft)

HOWTO make a Buster Keaton hat

Carl sez, "Buster Keaton wore his unique porkpie hats throughout his long career, but what most fans don't know is he was a maker, he made his hats out of 'normal' hats. Here's how he did it."

I think this is my favorite video of the day.


Free/open software to run your election campaign

Richard sez,
Power to the people is a popular theme in elections, but how do you get it there when the election process and rules can be complicated and difficult.

David Lynn's answer was to create and freely distribute the Pennsylvania Political Campaign Management Database to make it easier for people to run for office in Pennsylvania. He hopes his completely free software (he doesn't even ask for your name) will encourage younger people to enter the political process as candidates.

Software and the willing efforts of programmers like David Lynn can be a way to hack the political system and make it easier for regular people to negotiate the often labyrinthine election statutes and get elected. More power to him.

Pennsylvania Political Campaign Management Database (Thanks, Richard!)

Wizzywig hacker history comic finishes

Ed Piskor, creator of the wonderful Wizzywig hacker history comic, has finally finished the story, which now runs to 412 installments. Ed's done three printed collections of the comic to date, and now promises to finish it in paperback and in limited edition hardcovers. Ed's a great writer, a great storyteller, and a great history of the Internet and hackers, and Wizzywig stands with books like Levy's Hackers and Bruce Sterling's Hacker Crackdown in the annals of hacker lore.

BOINGTHUMP! Chapter 1 Page 1

Vintage gag ads

There's a proper treasure-trove of great old gag ads linked off this Vintage Ads group post, but get a load of that bow-tie (and get a load of that awesome type design and color scheme!)


Work begins on Babbage's Analytical Engine

Work has gotten underway on Plan 28, a project to create Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, the never-built successor to the Difference Engine. The Analytical Engine was to have been a general purpose computer, and Ada Lovelace designed the first-ever programming language to run on it. Many factors led to its never being completed -- the state of the art in precision engineering in Babbage's day, finance woes, and so forth. John Graham-Cumming, who founded the project, is also the author of The Geek Atlas, a fantastic book.
This has required building relationships with a number of bodies. I recently announced that the project had been accepted into the portfolio of projects handled by the Computer Conservation Society. They will provide expert advice as needed.

The other vital body to work with is The Science Museum in London. Doron and I have been working with The Science Museum team at many levels to ensure that the project is known about and that we would be able to get access to Babbage's plans and notebooks to perform the vital academic study of the Analytical Engine as Babbage imagined it. The first step to doing that research was to digitize the entire Babbage archive. Digitization greatly facilitates research as these precious documents can be viewed conveniently from around the world.

I am pleased to be able to say that The Science Museum agreed that digitization was vital and undertook this project. The work on digitization started on Monday, September 12 and early in October Doron and I will have access to the digitized versions of Babbage's plans and notebooks for study. This great first step on Plan 28 is, finally, underway. We are very, very grateful to The Science Museum and all we have worked with there for their support and for having undertaken this vital work that will benefit not only Plan 28 but all those who wish to study Charles Babbage's work wherever they are.

Plan 28: Analytical Engine project gets underway (Thanks, John!)

(Image: AnalyticalMachine_Babbage_London, Wikimedia Commons/Bruno Barral, CC-BY-SA-2.5.)

1994 Bill Gibson interview talks ebooks, net balkanization, online radicalism

Robin sez, "William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and inventor of the term 'cyberspace' predicts ebooks, Twitter revolutions and the balkanisation of the Internet in an interview from 1994. (MP3)"

Hydraulic typewriter mixes cocktails out of the letters you type

Morskoiboy created an hydraulic typewriter that mixes cocktails -- the typewriter keys inject different liquids into a big LCD-like display, which then decants them into a waiting beaker.

So, if you’re interested, let me explain this contraption and the mechanism that makes it work. At the top of the machine there is a slot into which a bottle with alcohol, water, or even milk can be screwed. The essence of the art here lies in the ability of the syrups or liqueurs to tint the neutral color of the liquid. In the picture below you can see the connector itself and the regulator (which is actually an IV Rate Flow Regulator I picked up in a drugstore), which opens or closes off the air flow into the bottle and thus acts as an on/off switch. Once it enters the machine, the liquid spreads across the fourteen tubules.

Now I can literally taste the flavor of my words! (Thanks, Sergey!)

TRSF: MIT Technology Review's science fiction anthology

TRSF is a new science fiction anthology of original stories commissioned by Technology Review, the tech magazine published by MIT. They commissioned a story from me, "The Brave Little Toaster," and the brief asked me to look at near future science and technology issues -- I tackled "The Internet of Things," and told a story about a man whose refrigerator ends up hosting an unfortunate (very unfortunate!) Internet of Things object. The book is $7.95 for pre-order.
Featuring all-new stories by a dozen of the most visionary science fiction authors writing today, TRSF takes us to 12 possible worlds of tomorrow. Inspired by the real-life breakthroughs covered by MIT's Technology Review, celebrated writers join the freshest talent from around the world to describe what the future may have in store for the Internet, biotechnology, energy, computing, and more.

Illustrated with an original cover painting by legendary sci-fi illustrator Chris Foss, the TRSF also features classic Foss covers inside its pages.

Order Today: TRSF, a Technology Review Special Publication

Report from 1978's "Second West Coast Computer Faire"

This report from the Second West Coast Computer Faire -- in 1978 -- from Byte magazine is a perfect time-capsule of the heroic age of personal computing:
I enjoyed the many special features of the show, particularly the excellent computer generated art on display in the lobby. The microcomputer chess tournament proved to be one of the hits of the show. Larry Wagner from Atari presided over the 3 day battle of the processors, taking time out to give me a guided tour of the tournament. The level of play was impressive, and the winning program, called SARGON, was a 16 K byte Z-80 assembler program written by a husband and wife team, Kathe and Dan Spracklen. It beat some highly touted com- petition. (A copy of the SARGON program is available for $15 postpaid from the Spracklens, 10832 Macouba PI, San Diego CA 92124.) I was impressed with the professional appearance of the show, which held its own with many of the established engineering and computing shows. The Third West Coast Computer Faire will be held this coming November 3, 4 and 5 in Los Angeles. Plan to see it if you can.”
The Second West Coast Computer Faire (Jul, 1978)

Escher's "Relativity" in Minecraft

Bergenco recreated MC Escher's 1951 House of Stairs Relativity using Minecraft, saying it took: "5 or 6 hours over 2 days. The sandstone room took the longest." Relativity- by M. C. Escher (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Rufus Roo: a bag-of-holding coat for beating airline luggage limits

Rufus Roo jackets are designed to help you beat airline luggage limits (given that they seem to be British, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this was inspired by the awful RyanAir, which treats travelling with luggage as an oligarch-grade luxury and charges accordingly). It's designed to let you carry your shoes, changes of clothes, laptop, reading material, and wine and food in a series of pockets stitched throughout.
Stylish wearable luggage ideal for Holidays and Short Breaks, great for carrying the kids stuff, Commuting to work, Shopping without bags, travelling to Music Festivals or to Sports events.

Lightweight* in a range of sizes comfortably fits most adults or children when worn over clothes and fully loaded.

Rufus Roo (via Oh Gizmo)

Just look at this banana fan.

Just look at it.

Banana Fan

Song-a-day man commemorates 1,000th song with album, video

Jonathan sez, "I've been writing a song and posting it on YouTube every day since January 1, 2009. On September 28, 2011, I will be commemorating my 1000th song by releasing an album. The first single and video from the album is 'Are You A Real Person,' about a friend request I received from an attractive girl who looked vaguely familiar. The video for the song, directed by Albert Birney, combines live action, animation, and family portraits Albert found on the side of the road. The goal was to convey the unsettling experience of wondering whether a pretty face online is a real person you know -- or a spambot."

Jonathan Mann - Are You A Real Person? (official HD) (Thanks, Jonathan!)

Lev Grossman talks Magician King on the Agony Column

Rick sez, "Lev Grossman and Rick Kleffel speak about Grossman's latest book (MP3 link), The Magician King, and its roots in both C. S. Lewis and Evelyn Waugh. Grossman talks about the book as a fantasy that takes the magical utopian aspects seriously and then sends them up with snarky, 21st-century prose. The problem with his magical otherworld, Fillory, he says, is that there are no problems. There are no Enlightenment-style reforms to enact. There are, however, talking animals, and Grossman offers his thoughts on how to create beasts that speak."

Lewis Shiner's new suspense novel DARK TANGOS as a free download; the action-packed, ugly history of Argentina

Lewis Shiner (one of my favorite writers!) sez, "My latest suspense novel, DARK TANGOS, is now available as a free PDF download from my Fiction Liberation Front website. The starred review from BOOKLIST said, 'Delivers its grim story line with artistic mastery....Short and precise, the novel uses the elegance of tango to radiate sensuality throughout. This is an absorbing and surprisingly action-packed tale based in the ugly truths of Argentina's history.'"

The book is also available as an article of commerce, should you be moved to financially support Mr Shiner's outstanding efforts.

Dark Tangos (free PDF)

Dark Tangos (Amazon)

(Thanks, Lewis!)

Kevin Kidney's Hatbox Ghost

Kevin and Jody Kidney created this one-off maquette of Colin Campbell's 1969 illustration depicting The Hatbox Ghost, a very short-lived illusion that was once part of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion. They're bringing it to the Walt Disney World 40th birthday celebration on Sept 30/Oct 1 (gutted to be missing this!)
As far as we know, we've never seen a three-dimensional figure based on Campbell's Haunted Mansion illustrations, so this may very well be the first. Our 8-1/4" tall ghost was cast from my sculpture and then hand-painted by Jody in Campbell's illustrative style, with "hair" fibers added on as a final touch. The maquette is displayed on a wooden base made of antique weathered barn wood, under a glass bell jar. When viewed through the wavy glass, the figure takes on a mildly distorted appearance that makes him even more ghostly.
Ghoulish Delight

Tracking down a con artist with PACER

On Saturday, I posted about Popehat's "Anatomy of a Scam Investigation," in which Ken, a former federal prosecutor, is documenting his work to run down a con-artist who tried to rip him off with the "toner scam." Yesterday, Ken posted a new installment in the series in which he documents the use of PACER, the database of court records, to research crooks. It's gripping stuff.

HOWTO track down a con-artist

Ken, a former "fed" (of some description) on the group blog Popehat, received a "toner-scam" (a scam whereby someone sends you an invoice for a service you never ordered or received in the hopes that you'll pay it without noticing) solicitation in the mail at his business. This pissed him off, so he decided to track down the scammers and document, in lavish detail, the process by which he ran them to ground. The series of posts is up to part four now, and it's fascinating reading.
For some reason, this one seriously pisses me off. Maybe its because the fraud is so blatant. Maybe it’s because the weasel-worded disclaimer designed to give them a defense to fraud claims is so perfunctory and lame. Maybe it’s because after I sent an email to the scammer’s lawyer, the scammer himself called me and tried to run a con on me. Like I’m a fucking rube.

So. I’ve decided to dedicate some time and money to investigating this scam and the people and companies responsible for it. I’ve also decided to write about the investigation, and use it as an opportunity to discuss con man culture and how anyone with an internet connection, a few bucks, and some time can investigate an attempted scam — or, preferably, conduct due diligence on a suspected scammer before they can even try to con you.

I’m going to discuss using Google, using PACER (which allows access to federal court records), using state court records, and taking effective action against scammers.

Anatomy of a Scam Investigation: Chapter One

Anatomy of a Scam Investigation: Chapter Two

Anatomy of A Scam Investigation, Chapter Three

Anatomy of A Scam Investigation, Chapter Four

(via MeFi)

New Daniel Pinkwater novel being serialized online in weekly chapters

Zack sez, "The author of such surreal delights as LIZARD MUSIC and THE HOBOKEN CHICKEN EMERGENCY has gone to the web to premiere his latest work before it heads to hard-copy. Daniel Pinkwater's BUSHMAN LIVES will update with a new chapter every Monday, with the first already online. So far, it involves a giant gorilla and a sacred order of hall monitors. Pure Pinkwater."

Just in case it's escaped your notice, I happen to think that Pinkwater is one of the greatest novelists alive, and I credit him with a large part of my sanity and outlook.

I must have been asleep for an hour or two. I woke up sensing there was someone in my room.


“Ook Ook, Bushman lives,” Geets Hildebrand said.

“Ook,” I said. I switched the light on.

Geets was sitting cross-legged next to my bed. He had done this before. Sometimes I would wake in the morning and there he would be, sleeping on the rug. I could never get him to tell me how he got in–how he got into a building with a doorman, into a locked elevator area, into our locked apartment, and into my locked bedroom. Had he slipped past the doorman, and picked three locks? Had my father, who disliked and mistrusted all my friends, let him in and for some reason agreed not to say anything about it? It was a mystery.

“Drink to Bushman,” Geets said. He pulled four bottles of Guinness out of his jacket, and two bananas. This was our ritual. We would drink to Bushman the Gorilla at the Lincoln Park Zoo, and eat bananas, which actually went quite well with the thick, bitter Guinness.

Bushman Lives | A novel by Daniel Pinkwater (Thanks, Zack!)

Life Neutral: like carbon neutral, but for kids killed by arms dealers' products

Leah sez, "DSEi, the worlds largest arms fair, takes place in London every two years. This year, Life Neutral Solutions announced that it was using the event to launch a new 'life offsetting' scheme. The company claimed that it was working with the defense industry to balance the 'unfortunate side effects' of weapons use by sponsoring the costs of raising a child in the west. After causing a bit of a fuss, it turned to be just an activist prank. The BBC World Service ran the story, but got the hoaxers to reveal their intentions. The culprits were the Space Hijackers, who have harassed the arms fair a few times before. In 2007 they even bought and sold their own tank."
You’ve heard of the importance of being carbon neutral? Well, being Life Neutral is the same - but with people. For every* life lost as a result of the use of products from our member organisations, we make sure that a new life flourishes. Join today and your next child could be a Life Neutral™ child.

Life Neutral Solutions works with the defence industry to provide solutions for balancing the unfortunate side effects of weapons use. Through sponsoring the birth and care of children in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe, Life Neutral™ is committed to offsetting the collateral effects of defence operations in third-world conflict zones.

Life Neutral Solutions is interested in working with you. We are seeking potential parents who are committed to an ethical approach to weapons use and are excited by the possibility of an integrated package that would support you in bringing new life into our world.

Life Neutral - Life Beyond Conflict (Thanks, Leah!)

Open Hardware badges made of open hardware

The Evil Mad Scientist Labs folks made badges for the Open Hardware Summit. Naturally, the designs for the badges are, themselves, open:
Naturally, the badge itself is an example of open source hardware. It's constructed as an extra-thick circuit board, in the shape of the Open Source Hardware logo, with plated gold finish. It was made with our usual open source toolchain, including Inkscape and gEDA/PCB, and the design files are hosted at the Evil Mad Science Wiki.
Open hardware summit badge

Understanding Makers, a conversation with Anil Dash & Dale Dougherty

In "Recognizing The Maker Movement," a 25-minute video in honor of the World Maker Faire in Queens this weekend, Anil Dash and Dale Dougherty talk about the significance of the Maker movement, its history, and what it means for American politics, civic engagement and society. It's a fascinating and insightful conversation, and got me thinking hard this morning.

Recognizing The Maker Movement

Steampunky junkbots

Spaceboy Robot makes beautiful, steampunky junkbot sculptures; he's also a talented photographer of same, and he has an Etsy store (though it's on hiatus).

Spaceboy Robot (via Neatorama)

Ada Lovelace Day is coming, women and tech events in London

Suw sez, "Ada Lovelace Day, the yearly celebration of women in science, tech, engineering and maths, is on 7 October this year. I'm excited to say that we've teamed up with BCSWomen to put on two really awesome events in London:"
Ada Lovelace Day Android Extravaganza, Friday 7 October 2011: This one-day Android development workshop will introduce AppInventor and the basics of mobile development. It’ll be fun and interactive -- no programming experience necessary. Bring your own laptop and an Android phone if you have one. Tea and coffee will be provided, but not lunch so either bring a packed lunch or be prepared to pop out for a sandwich.

Ada Lovelace Day Live! Friday 7 October 2011: Join Helen Arney, Maggie Philbin, Gia Milinovich, Dr Sue Black, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, and a host of women from science and tech for an entertaining evening of geekery, comedy and song on Ada Lovelace Day. Drinks and nibbles provided.

Ada Lovelace Day (Thanks, Suw!)

Shelley Duvall says, "Hello, I'm Shelley Duvall," over and over

In "HELLO, I'M SHELLEY DUVALL !," a short video edited by Goddessshelleyduvall, Shelley Duvall repeatedly says the words, "Hello, I'm Shelley Duvall," while wearing a variety of outfits, for 55 seconds. If you don't understand what's great about that, you should try watching it. Mesemerizing.

HELLO, I'M SHELLEY DUVALL ! (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Crying tights

Love these crying "narrative humor" tights -- striking and funny.
Les Queues de Sardines are an original range of tights notable for their unconventional and unique graphic style. Add a pinch of narrative humor - the result is a choice of elegant and eye-catching tights that will dress up your legs with an unusual stylish and bold pattern. Screen-printed by hand in limited quantities on a farm in rural France by Olivier and Marion, these rare and exclusive articles will never go unnoticed.
Polly Tights (via Super Punch)