Boing Boing 

Cryptofloricon: send bouquet-encoded messages

London's Cryptofloricon encode one of several useful messages into floral code and send the resulting bouquet to your sweetheart. (Thanks, Ed!)

Revisiting Prometheus

Archaeologist Henry Rothwell revisits his epic review of Prometheus: "a deliberate attempt to capture lighting in a bottle is an almost impossible trick to pull off."

Middle class brands collapse, 1% brands thrive

Evidence of the widening wealth gap: Across America, brands that serve middle class customers are shutting down, while businesses that serve the rich are thriving. Good bye $16.50 dinners at Olive Garden, hello $71 checks at Capital Grille. (via Mitch Wagner)

Patriot Act's author to spooks: roll over or you get nothing

James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the architect of the Patriot Act, has repudiated his Frankenstein's monster -- though it took the NSA mass-spying scandal to do it (yo, James, where were you for the 10-ish years of horrors before Snowden's leaks?). He's told American spooks that if they keep on blocking reform to their habits, he'll lead an effort to tank the Patriot Act's spying provisions when they come up for renewal this June, and he sounds serious: "Unless Section 215 is fixed, you, Mr. Cole, and the intelligence community will end up getting nothing because I am absolutely confident that there are not the votes in this Congress to reauthorize 215." (via Ars Technica)

Adobe ebook DRM changeover means

A lot of people are about to lose their ebooks. (Thanks, Florian!)

Rob Ford sued for jailhouse beating of his ex-brother-in-law

Here's a new turn in the saga of Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford, the mayor of Toronto: a lawsuit alleges that he had a couple of his former football team proteges beat six kind of hell out of his estranged brother-in-law in jail. The brother-in-law is suing Ford, saying that when he was in jail, a couple of Ford's former players broke his leg and shattered his teeth as a warning to stay silent about the mayor's drug problem.

Detailed timeline of the Bletchley Park mess

Gareth Halfacree, who has a long history with both the Bletchley Park trust and the National Museum of Computing Trust, has published a detailed timeline of the two institutions, showing how they got into the current (and disgraceful) situation. Halfacree's article includes some very sensible recommendations to both trusts.

Been threatened by Lodsys patent trolls? Take this survey and help fight back

The Application Developers Alliance is trying to nail Lodsys, the notorious troll that uses a bogus patent from Intellectual Ventures to extort money from app developers. Lodsys is shrouded in mystery, uses global banks to avoid tax, and uses its patent claims to try to bankrupt companies that publicly call it out for trolling. The ADA is asking for developers who've been threatened by Lodsys to fill in a survey that will establish the evidentiary basis for fighting back against the Lodsys racket and maybe put an end to it. (via Techdirt)

Network Solutions not sure if it will opt random customers into $1,850 "domain protection" plan

Are you one of those Old Net Hands who has a domain stashed with the always-terrible Network Solutions (now Web.com)? Time to move it somewhere sensible (I use and recommend Hover): Netsol is moving random domains (they say it's high traffic, high Pagerank sites, but who knows what that means) into a $1850 protection racket -- but don't worry, they're only going to auto-bill your card $1,350 per year, per domain, after the first year. Netsol initially insisted that this would be an opt-out program, then changed their tune and said it would be opt-in. But even if you opt in, $1,850 is an awful lot of cash to charge for setting the REGISTRAR-LOCK bit in a database, and it's unclear why they're charging $1,350 a year to leave it that way.

Arrested for "stealing" food that grocery chain threw away

In the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service is pressing criminal charges against three men who dumpster-dived discarded food from the skip behind an Iceland grocery store in London. They've charged under "an obscure section of the 1824 Vagrancy Act." The CPS is going ahead with the charges because "we feel there is significant public interest in prosecuting these three individuals". Pirate Cinema is not an instruction manual, gang.

Texas governor Rick Perry moots pot decriminalization

Texas Governor Rick Perry has endorsed the idea of decriminalizing marijuana. Note that this is not Colorado/Washington-style legalization (which would give Texas access to a flood of tax-dollars from a legal industry), rather, it's decriminalization, which means that you will get a ticket if you get caught with small amounts of pot. That deprives the state of tax revenue, but saves the state some money on the prison system, and allows police the all-important discretion to disproportionately hassle brown people and anyone they find suspicious. (via Reddit)

Snowden's Russian asylum extended

Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Russian Head of Foreign Affairs Alexy Pushkov announced that whistleblower Edward Snowden's asylum would be extended at the end of the year, and that Russia would not deport him to the USA.

Canadian Recording Industry Association of America demands Internet censorship and control of search-results

Graham Henderson, the chief spokesjerk for Music Canada -- the voice in Canada for the big US labels represented by the RIAA -- wants Parliament to regulate the Internet, creating a regime of censorship and surveillance in the name of protecting Canadian musicians (whose worst enemy, it must be noted, are the labels who pay Henderson's handsome wages, and not the fans he wants to attack). Henderson wants to control search-engine rankings because, he claims, the first seven pages' of results for Canadian musicians are pirate sites. Only one problem: he's lying. (via /.)

HOPE X call for participation now open

Emmanuel Goldstein from 2600 Magazine writes, "The call for participation at HOPE X in New York City is now open. There is room for over 100 talks and panels, dozens of workshops, and all kinds of creative artwork with hacker overtones. This is expected to be one of the largest conferences dealing with hacking, whistleblowing, social change, surveillance, and new technology ever presented in the United States. There will be no government agency recruiters, no commercial exploitation, and no shortage of controversy. The doors are now open for imaginative ideas at this very crucial point in hacker (and human) history. HOPE X takes place July 18-20, 2014 at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City."

Today we are 14

This is the 14th anniversary of the first ever post on Boing Boing!

Teach your rooted Android phones to lie to apps about whether it's rooted

There's a funny paradox in rooting your Android phone. Once you take total control over your phone, some apps refuse to run, because they're trying to do something that treats you as untrusted. Now there's a utility called Rootcloak that lets you tell your rooted phone to lie to apps about whether it is rooted. It's both long overdue and a neat demonstration of what it means to be root on a computer.

Haunted by drones

Call me juvenile, but watching a drone in a banshee costume chasing joggers just about made my day.

Events for London hackers and designers who want a better world

Carla sez, "There are two upcoming ways for designers and coders to put a little good out into the world. First, you can land a job that lets you spend your time making positive social change. On February 6 join WebVisions at Essence in London for short presentations from Essence Digital, Buddy App, PaveGen, Streetbank, and Sidekick Studios. Learn different ways that you can turn your vocation into a force for good. Second, be a part of WebVisions' Hackathon for Social Good on February 8. Held at Fjord London, programmers and designers will spend the day working collaboratively to build programs and applications that benefit local nonprofits."

Congress calls on Schneier to give it answers that the NSA won't

Congress has grown so weary of the NSA's duck-and-weave routine when asked to explain its spying that yesterday, six members of Congress called in Bruce Schneier to give it the answers that the NSA can't or won't give. Schneier, who's seen some of the Snowden leaks, called the meeting "surreal" and "extremely freaky."

Rubberstamping FISA court can't be expected to actually oversee surveillance

As we wait to hear Obama's plan to reform the NSA, spare a thought for the poor rubberstamping judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, who are charged with the solemn duty of granting permission for pretty much every stupid, overreaching surveillance plan America's spooks bring before it in its secretive, unaccountable chambers. These hardworking civil servants have sounded the alarm that any burden on them to actually pay attention to whether surveillance is proportional, necessary and legal would put an undue strain on them: "Even if additional financial, personnel, and physical resources were provided, any substantial increase in workload could nonetheless prove disruptive to the Courts' ability to perform their duties." Oh, diddums.

2600's HOPE X conference accepts Bitcoin signups

Emmanuel Goldstein from 2600 magazine writes, "The HOPE X conference (July 18-20, New York City) is now accepting Bitcoin for preregistration. It's believed this is the first time in North America that any conference (other than a couple of Bitcoin conferences) has accepted the digital currency. Quite a few people have been requesting this for a while - and a hacker conference is exactly the kind of place where such experiments should be tried out. In addition to allowing people to preregister with a minimum of identifying information, it also presents attendees and non-attendees alike with a way of making new projects at the conference possible by donating additional bitcoins if desired. It will be most interesting to see if this method of payment is embraced by HOPE X attendees."

Petition: Stephen Colbert, don't speak at the RSA conference

Ever since RSA got caught sabotaging its own products to aid the NSA for a piddling $10M, it's been corporation-non-grata in the security world. Prominent experts are bailing on the RSA conference where they'd been scheduled to speak. Now, a Fight for the Future petition is asking Stephen Colbert to walk away from his guest speaker slot. I hope he does -- Colbert's reputation is worth more than the fee he commands from RSA.

Somali Al Qaeda affiliate orders Internet shutdown

Al-Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-affiliated faction in Somalia, has ordered the nation's ISPs to shut off the Internet, or else. The Somali government has ordered the ISPs not to shut down.

Chronology of Canadian Tories' war on science libraries

As I've written, the Canadian Harper government's purge of environmental and scientific libraries has been a horrific shambles, as priceless and irreplaceable books and documents going back centuries were thrown away or even burned. Science librarian John Dupuis has assembled a comprehensive timeline of the disaster, with links to news stories and first-hand accounts that should have warned us something was amiss.

HOWTO prevent people from sending to your Gmail account via Google Plus

Google continues to try and cram its users into Google Plus, its also-ran social network. The latest move allows people who don't have your Gmail address to send email to your Gmail account by using your Google Plus ID. I have a Gmail account that's associated with my Android devices and the last thing I want is for people to start sending email there. Thankfully, there's a way to opt out (though it would have been much better if it was opt-in). Tl;dr: Gmail -> Settings -> Email via Google+ -> Off. (via Cnet)

EU invites Snowden testimony

The EU's Civil Liberties Committee has MEPs seek video link with Snowden for NSA spying probeinvited Edward Snowden to give it testimony by video-link from Russia.

More experts pull out of RSA conference

On Christmas Day, F-Secure's Mikko Hypponen pulled out of RSA's annual security conference in protest over RSA's collaboration with the NSA (they weakened their own security to make NSA spying easier). He's not the only one: more security experts cancelled their RSA appearances, including Atredis's Josh Thomas and Jeffrey Carr, who has called for a boycott of the event.

Guardian blocked in China

The Guardian has been blocked in China since Tuesday, though no one (apart from China's censors) knows why.

Ubuntu will get a torrent search-tool

Future versions of Ubuntu -- my preferred flavor of the GNU/Linux operating system -- will include a search tool for torrents that will include results from The Pirate Bay. The objective is help locate freely licensed material and to integrate "free culture into the Ubuntu user experience."

Twins born a year apart on New Years eve

I was a midnight birth, born somewhere between 7/16/71 and 7/17/71 (the doctor let my mom choose my birthday). For New Years babies born around midnight, the choice is more momentous -- a whole year's difference! But what about New Years twin births? A woman in DC delivered her twins in two different years, three minutes apart.