Police in Manchester, UK made a huge show out of having seized a "3D printed gun." Then, it turned out that they'd just seized parts for a 3D printer. But it's still very scary, as Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood copsplains: it might have been a 3D printed gun, and they had "intelligence" about a 3D printed gun, and if we search the computers we stole, we might find plans for a 3D printed gun, and also, our botched, humiliating cockup "opens up a wider debate about the emerging threat these next generation of weapons might pose."
Thanks, Officer Hypothetical, for saving us from this dire threat! Read the rest
Bob Slade, a 65-year-old retired British dockworker who's served for four years as a beloved crossing guard ("lollipop man") has quit because his bosses ordered him to stop high-fiving the kids. The local authority -- which initially counselled him to make contact and socialise with the kids -- says that high-fiving kids means that his attention is taken off the road, and they complained that while he high-fives the kids, his hand is not being sternly held aloft, stopping cars. The lollipop lady we used to meet every morning on the way to my daughter's daycare knows the name of every kid who crosses at her street -- and she still recognises me, a year and a half later, and asks after my daughter by name. They're quite a remarkable bunch. Read the rest
Attendees at New York Comic-Con were required to register their new, RFID-bugged badges online, in a process that encouraged them to link them to their Twitter accounts. Little did they suspect that NYCC would use their signups to send tweets from attendees' Twitter accounts, in a loose, conversational style ("So much pop culture to digest! Can't. handle. the. awesome."), linking back to NYCC's website, without any indication that they were spam. I'm reasonably certain that the fine-print on the NYCC signup gave them permission to do this stupid thing, and I'm also certain that almost no one read the fine-print, and that rather a large number of attendees objected strenuously to having their Twitter accounts used to shill for a service that they were already paying a large sum to enjoy. Read the rest
Tony sez, "The UK Department for Culture, Media & Sport is supporting a review of the .uk domain name registration process, suggesting that restricting offensive words in .uk domain names will help to prevent abusive behaviour on the internet. Nominet has already done a great job of debunking why this is not an effective solution and is now seeking comments from the public." Read the rest
You know how Obama and GWB's spin-doctors redefined "imminent" (as in "we attacked pre-emptively to prevent an imminent attack")? Well, if it's good enough for the Prez, it's good enough for Florida's neighbor-shooting yahoos. The yahoo in question is William T. Woodward, whose lawyer argues that he shot his neighbors while they were having a backyard barbecue because they were going to attack him. Eventually. Which is to say, imminently. And that, argues Mr Woodward's lawyers, is just self-defense as defined in Florida's "Stand Your Ground" laws. Read the rest
Jesse Brown writes, "Boing Boing readers may remember Rehteah Parsons, the Nova Scotia teen who, in news media shorthand, was driven to suicide last April by cyber bullies. The public's understandable shock and outrage over her death, and the lack of any charges being laid against her abusers* has resulted in Nova Scotia's Bill 61: the Cyber Safety Act. But pre-existing laws could have brought Rehteah justice while she was alive- they just weren't enforced. Rehteah may have been cyber bullied, but more descriptively, she was (allegedly) gang-raped while severely intoxicated and chronically harassed. But the RCMP closed her case without interviewing the four boys accused, despite the existence of photo evidence."
*The RCMP re-opened Rehteah's case under pressure from the Prime Minister. This morning, they finally laid charges against two individuals, assumedly not under Bill 61, which of course did not exist at the time of the incident. Read the rest
[Ed: An anonymous reader from the publishing industry wrote in with the following. I have every reason to believe it's true -Cory]
Update: An agent writes in to say: "Penguin ALSO doesn't want to give agents the hi-res final jacket image without charging. We can often beg/loophole/cajole -- but the official party line is they are supposed to charge $300. (???!) Mind you, this could pretty much ONLY be used to promote the book. We like to put the book jacket on our agency website, in our agency catalogues for foreign book fairs, make postcards, etc... but obviously we can't authorize any other territory to use this image. So essentially they are saying they don't want us to create promo material on the book's behalf, even on our own dime."
There's something going on at Penguin (interesting to see if it changes now that it's Penguin Random House, though all signs point no) that's so stupid and old school and against all authors that I thought I'd share.
In every contract in publishing, there's language (as you know) that gives an author a certain number of copies of the book, on publication. When ebooks came to play, agents began trying to negotiate for an electronic version of the book too, oftentimes successful. What they /can't/ get from Penguin (and a few other publishers, though notably Penguin) is a final PDF or even a final word doc of the book. Agents are told that Penguin puts work into the layout, edit and design and so agents can't just give that work away to foreign countries for them to use in their editions. Read the rest
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to make pornography filters standard on British Internet connections. This is a remarkably stupid policy, and despite that, it is a recurring silliness in British (and global) politics. Back in 2012, the House of Lords was considering the same question, and I wrote a long, comprehensive article for the Guardian explaining why this won't work and why it will be worse than doing nothing. Nothing I asserted in that essay has changed in the interim.
Consider a hypothetical internet of a mere 20bn documents that is comprised one half "adult" content, and one half "child-safe" content. A 1% misclassification rate applied to 20bn documents means 200m documents will be misclassified. That's 100m legitimate documents that would be blocked by the government because of human error, and 100m adult documents that the filter does not touch and that any schoolkid can find.
In practice, the misclassification rate is much, much worse. It's hard to get a sense of the total scale of misclassification by censorware because these companies treat their blacklists as trade secrets, so it's impossible to scrutinise their work and discover whether they're exercising due care.
When Jeff Olson used chalk to draw an octopus whose tentacles were full of money, and to write "No thanks, big banks," and "Shame on Bank of America," on a San Diego sidewalk, Bank of America complained to the Republican City Atty. Jan Goldsmith. Goldsmith threw the book at him, charging him with misdemeanor vandalism and threatening him with 13 years in prison for writing in water-soluble chalk. Goldsmith was not swayed by the mayor's disapproval of this course of action -- Mayor Bob Filner said it was "stupid" and a "waste of money" -- and pressed on.
Yesterday, a jury acquitted Olson on all charges. The #chalkgate tag is full of congratulatory messages and photos of supportive chalking.
"I am disappointed that Will, a fellow artist, would file a case against me," Pharrell told Rolling Stone. "I am someone who likes to talk things out and, in fact, I attempted to do just that on many occasions. I am surprised in how this is being handled and I am confident that Will's trademark claims will ultimately be found to be as meritless and ridiculous as I do."
Castle View School in Canvey Island, Essex, England, briefly banned triangular flapjacks (not pancakes; the English call granola-bar-like food "flapjacks") after a student sustained an injury when another student threw a cornersome flapjack at him. The school authorities required that all flapjacks must be served in rectangular portions, to increase the safety of food-fights.
The ban did not stand very long. Public mockery seems to have killed it.
According to one report, in 2011 British MP and Education Secretary Michael Gove was prevented from taking flapjacks into a cabinet meeting, after officials cited similar safety concerns. That is the only report of that alleged incident, however—although Gove was (and is) the Education Secretary, there does not appear to be any other evidence that he was ever frisked for flapjacks or that even the British government has actually classified them as a security risk.
Matthew, a young man who blogs about air-travel, was thrown off a United jet after a flight attendant chastised him for taking photos of the new first class seats. She apparently thought he was a terrorist. According to Matthew, she lied (and the captain backed her up) and said that he refused to stop taking pictures when asked. The captain apparently threatened to have him taken off the plane by the police. Matthew says he's logged 950,000 miles with United though he's only 26 years old, and that this has made him question his views of the airline.
Read the rest
Captain: Sir, you are not flying on this flight.
Me: Can you tell me why?
Captain: My FA tells me she told you to stop taking pictures and you continued to take pictures.
Me: That's a lie, captain. She told me stop taking pictures and I stopped. I did try to explain to her why I was taking pictures—I am a travel writer [I offered him one of my business cards and he too refused to accept it].
Captain: Look, I don't care. You are not flying on this flight. You can make this easy or make this difficult. We'll call the police if we have to.
Me: Why are you threatening me? Your FA is lying—I did not disobey any crewmember instruction.
Captain: Look, we're already late. I'd advise you to get off this plane now. Make it easy on yourself. Don't make us bring the police in. Goodbye.
Me: Wait. Captain, may I have one of your business cards?