Defend Innovation: EFF's patent reform plan


Hugh sez, "Today, EFF launched a new campaign against software patents. In this campaign, we outline seven proposals that we think will address some of the greatest abuses of the current software patent system, including making sure that folks who independently arrived at an invention can’t be held liable for infringing on a software patent. But our campaign isn't just about our proposals — we also want to hear, and amplify, the views of the technical community. Many engineers, researchers, and entrepreneurs have suggested that reform is not enough and that software should not be patentable, period. We want to record these views, which is why our Defend Innovation campaign is designed to solicit comments from all of the stakeholders. We'll incorporate what we learn into a formal publication that we can take to Congress that reflects the views of innovators, academics, lawyers, CEOs, VCs, and everyone else who is concerned about the software patent system."

Defend Innovation (Thanks, Hugh!)

Arrêtez-moi quelqu'un! Vowing to violate Quebec's anti-protest law


Arrêtez-moi quelqu'un! ("Someone stop me!") is a site where Quebeckers and their supporters around the world can post photos of themselves holding signs in which they state their intention to violate Special Law 78, which suspends the right to freedom of assembly in Quebec: "Nous nous engageons à continuer à lutter; à rester mobilisé·e·s, en vertu des libertés fondamentales. Si cela nous vaut des poursuites pénales en vertu de la loi 78, nous nous engageons à y faire face."

Arrêtez-moi quelqu’un! (Thanks, PaulR!)

Critical Mass 20th anniversary poster


Hugh sez, "San Francisco muralista Mona Caron has created a stunning to poster to mark the 20th anniversary of Critical Mass in San Francisco this September."

Critical Mass 20th Anniversary Bike Angel Poster by Mona Caron (Thanks, hughillustration!)

SOPA fighters handily fund billboard outside Lamar Smith's office


Holmes sez, "A crowd-funded, Texan-themed billboard for Lamar Smith (R-TX) is currently emblazoned across the Texas sky. The billboard says 'Don't Mess with the Internet', and it just took flight this morning right outside the San Antonio offices of SOPA-sponsor Lamar Smith. The crowdfunding campaign went so well that in just two days in March we raised enough for two billboards, so there's one in up in Austin too (on 'Lamar Blvd', appropriately enough). There’s even a t-shirt, available from Breadpig, Reddit co-founder’s philanthropic merch site. Proceeds support Fight for the Future and its latest project, the Internet Defense League."

SOPA author Lamar Smith (R-TX) gets a crowd-funded billboard... right outside his San Antonio office. (Thanks, holmesworcester!)

Optical illusion tees look different depending on your perspective


Answersquestions sez, "These shirts designed by an Architecture professor friend of mine at Carnegie Mellon depend on perspective and distance in order to be seen. Check out that SKULL!"

Most tees are the same: splashy graphic or logo centered on a shirt for others to read. Vantage Tees are site-specific art pieces using optical illusions and body-specific effects to change everything about how people interact with their attire. Some shirts look different if you are looking at them or wearing them. Some ask you to be really close or really far. Others take time to see them. Vantage Tees will look different to everyone—it all depends on your vantage point.

Vantage Tees — Home (Thanks, Answersquestions!)

Geckos can't climb teflon

Tom Quinn sez, "A gecko struggles with the low van der Waals forces encountered when climbing a non-stick pan." Here's a Google Translate of the French description on the video:

We conducted an experiment with a gecko on a Tefal frying pan, that is to say, a pan made ​​of Teflon. The gecko, despite numerous attempts fails to climb onto the stove, it proves that it not adhere not in this matter.

Gecko.MOV (Thanks, Tom Quinn!)

Unpacking privilege: straight white male is the lowest difficulty setting in the game of life

John Scalzi attempts to explain privilege using a video-game metaphor in "Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is." It's a good metaphor in that is illuminates more than it obscures (the litmus test for metaphors).

Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.

Now, once you’ve selected the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, you still have to create a character, and how many points you get to start — and how they are apportioned — will make a difference. Initially the computer will tell you how many points you get and how they are divided up. If you start with 25 points, and your dump stat is wealth, well, then you may be kind of screwed. If you start with 250 points and your dump stat is charisma, well, then you’re probably fine. Be aware the computer makes it difficult to start with more than 30 points; people on higher difficulty settings generally start with even fewer than that.

As the game progresses, your goal is to gain points, apportion them wisely, and level up. If you start with fewer points and fewer of them in critical stat categories, or choose poorly regarding the skills you decide to level up on, then the game will still be difficult for you. But because you’re playing on the “Straight White Male” setting, gaining points and leveling up will still by default be easier, all other things being equal, than for another player using a higher difficulty setting.

Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is (Thanks, benchatt!)

Avengers box-office success shows pre-release piracy isn't necessarily the kiss of death

The Avengers was both widely pirated ahead of release and the most successful opening in box-office history. As Forbes's Paul Tassi notes, this suggests that piracy and commercial success are not mutually exclusive:

An early copy of The Avengers actually leaked out onto the internet a week ahead of release, and Disney was subsequently flipping out about the prospect of the full film being released on the web. Shortly after, the camcorder version had been downloaded a half million times, likely a record for the format.

However, despite setting piracy records, all that’s really happened is that this has shown how much illegal downloads of in-theater movies really does not effect box office tallies. Even if you’re using the skewed math that says every download is a lost sale, the pirates would only make up 0.5% of the revenues of the film so far.

Of course, that’s not the case, and anyone passionate enough about The Avengers to download it a week early more than likely had a desire to see on the big screen as well. Even if pirates are “cheapskates” the way they’re portrayed, cam copies of movies just aren’t remotely in the same league as seeing a movie in a theater. An apt comparison is that piracy of music does not prevent people from showing up to concerts. It’s just not a true alternative, especially for a film as epic as The Avengers. It’s not a full experience watching a low quality variant on your laptop.

The Avengers Demonstrates Piracy's Overstated Effect on Ticket Sales (Thanks, Lis Riba!)

Pneumatic ping-pong ball delivery system playfully fires balls into "art environment"

r0r0 sez, "Ping Pong Ball Suction Construction is a pneumatic delivery system for ping pong balls as part of an art environment that's actually on display in Lille, France."

In Spring/Summer 2012 both guys were invited to create an installation version of Ping Pong Country in Lille’s Gare St. Sauveur. They were a bit tired of doing the same thing for such a long time over and over again, so they asked me to contribute some machinery to the environment in order to make it a bit different in its actual version. I came up with the devilish plan to offer the audience an opportunity for sabotaging the game in a playful way. “Ping Pong Country / Edition Sabotage” was born.

While some people play ping pong (preferably more than two players which then have to run around the table) another visitor can confuse the players via a separate control panel which is part of the sabotage edition: This destructive master mixer lets you switch the music to Heavy Metal (accompanied by disturbing strobe light); you can turn on fans on the ceiling for an additional wind challenge; you can just add some funny train and animal sounds with a supercool children’s toy, or – and now it comes – you can spill plenty of balls onto the ping pong table which you collected beforehand with the “Ping Pong Ball Suction Construction”!

Ping Pong Ball Suction Construction (Thanks, r0r0!)

Human "Ingredients-List" shirt


Qwantz sends us "A shirt (done in consultation with medical professionals) that not only lists your nutritional information (including how many calories and Vitamin C you contain) but also your elemental makeup and all the cool things inside your body (one spooky skeleton, millions of kilometers of DNA, up to 800 cubic cm of warm urine in a convenient fleshy sack). DISCLOSURE: I did make the design, but I also think it's awesome."

I agree.

One Amazing Person Shirt (Thanks, Qwantz!)

German police fired 85 bullets in 2011

Itwilllbeok sez, "According to the German Police University police officers used exactly 85 bullets in 2011 - 49 warning shots, 36 shots on suspects. 15 persons were injured, 6 were killed. Germany has a population of about 80 million. (This does only take into account shots in connection with crimes. There were an additional 9000 shots on dangerous, sick and injured animals)." Cory

Kiwi ISP offers "global mode" for circumventing regional blocks

Scorchio75 sez, "Having just moved to NZ from the UK, I'd love to be able to access BBC iPlayer, 4 on Demand, etc., but unless I cough-up for a VPN I'm out of luck. 'Fyx' have just launched in NZ and offer a 'Global Mode' that will allegedly allow their customers to access region-locked services such as iPlayer, 4oD, Hulu, etc. They don't guarantee that you'll be able to access these services (and couldn't the content providers block this?), but if it works..." Cory

Using zombies to teach kids geography

Razen Cain sez, "David Hunter is a public school teacher who is trying to raise cash on Kickstarter to create a Standards Based curriculum that uses a zombie apocalypse to get kids invested in learning geography. It's a genius idea and David comes across so passionate in the video that it's impossible to say no to him."

What we’re doing here, is teaching how to be a geographer by learning skills needed to survive a zombie apocalypse. Imagine being in a classroom where instead of reading about maps, you’re designing them to show the spread of a zombie outbreak. Instead of reading about the distribution of resources on Earth in a textbook, you are researching available resources to plan your post-outbreak settlement. I’m not just talking about learning where places are or memorizing capitals of states or countries, I’m talking about learning the deeper concepts of geography that geographers actually use. And all in an exciting scenario.

Zombie-Based Learning: Geography taught in Zombie Apocalypse

Documentary on legendary martial arts pioneer/gangster Count Juan Raphael Dante seeks funding

Floydwebb sez, "I was covered by Boing Boing when I was challenged by the Black Dragon Fighting Society in a fight over my fair use right in making this film. I am in the final days of the Kickstarter Campaign. After 7 years, 4 countries, and with a 3 year court battle behind me, I really need the global community's help to complete this project."

Count Juan Raphael Danté is a forgotten pioneer—and oft considered father of mixed martial arts. He masterminded one of the largest cash heists in history, styled hair at the Playboy Club, and sold used cars in mob-run Chicago, on the side. I met the man behind the urban legend in 1964, at the 2nd World Karate Tournament, when I was a bullied 11 year old child living in a Chicago housing project. Now I'm telling his all-true but still unbelievable story, with a feature-length documentary film, entitled "The Search for Count Dante."

The Search for Count Danté

Kinetic, electrified junkbots from Nemo Gould

Kinetic junkbot sculptor Nemo Gould has completed two new, wonderful pieces. First, the Cycloptopus:

Cycloptopus is a fearsome hybrid of two of my favorite monsters, one real, one mythical. This creature is particularly dangerous because of its irritability. You’d be irritable too if you were powered by an open flame and your body was made of wood.

Materials: Radio cabinets, rocking chairs, fake fireplace, decorative clock elements, cabinet knobs, wall paper, chair parts, lamp parts, wheel hub, motors, LEDs

And then there's the High Voltage piece:

This sculpture uses an effect known as a “Jacob’s Ladder”. A high voltage arc is produced by way of a neon sign transformer, and then transmitted up the electrodes in the sculptures head. I’m personally very pleased with the movement with this one. All the action is generated within the abdomen. The little pistons in the ankles act as shock absorbers to smooth out the motion.

Materials: Industrial water valve, scaffold tubing, street light support arms, glass tube, vacuum cleaners, lamp fixtures, bicycle pedal cranks, neon sign transformer, gears from floor polisher, magnifying lens, drain cover, high voltage vacuum tubes, hydraulic dampers, plastic, phenolic, motor, LEDs

He's got a show in Oakland this weekend, too.