Boing Boing 

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)."

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..."

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.

Privacy icons similar to Creative Commons icons

Jabberwocky writes, "Privacy policies are complicated, and we believe that you should know what's happening with your data when you use a service. In order to help, we've created a set of icons which cover the core components of any policy. We are a group of Yale students taking Control, Privacy, and Technology, and this is our final project. In an ideal world, every website would include these icons."

This is an attempt to use icons to express privacy policies, the same way that Creative Commons licenses express copyright restrictions and permissions. This set is a lot more complex than CC, though the creators have done a good job of narrowing the privacy policies down to the meaningful set of terms:

CHANGES: This website will alert you to material changes/This website may or may not alert you to changes

CONTROL: You, the user, can always access all of your data, export all of your data/You, the user, may or may not be able to access your data, export your data

INFORMATION: This website only collects and uses enough data to provide any necessary services/This website might collect and use more information than is strictly necessary.

SHARING: This website may be collecting data about you. However, they are not selling or trading your data, and they will only share your data with other organizations in order to complete the intended transaction/This website is collecting data about you and may be selling or trading it with another organization, government, or person.

SECURITY: This website encrypts your data/This website does not encrypt your data

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Statutory Process: When an organization receives a phone call, letter, or other legally insufficient request for your data, they don't comply because the law requires the government to take additional steps before getting your data. This website requires the government to comply, at a minimum, with the legal process provided by the law before getting users' data./Compliance: This organization might provide your data to a government that asks for it without following the legally required process.

However, without a compliance mechanism, it's likely that any site that adopts this will only display the icons for their "good" policies and not show the "bad" ones.

Privacy Simplified (Thanks, Jabberwocky!)

Beautifully mechanised miniature Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade

Guygadbois sez, "Two years in the making, this one-of-a-kind mechanized miniature Main Street Electrical Parade runs nighttime shows from a display the size of a coffee table."

This guy is the poster child for Happy Mutantism. What a wonderful video. I want to grow up to be him.

Mechanizing a Miniature Main Street Electrical Parade

Elaborate, geared apparatus for shaking cocktails

Tinkertinker sez, "I am proud to have just finished this mechanical cocktail shaker, called The Post-Imperial Shaker. It is loosely based on a turn-of-the-century machine (the 'Imperial Shaker' of course), although mine is built as a horizontal unit so that it can be mounted on a bar-top. I built this machine for The Touring Pop-up Sideshow Saloon event organized by the Peerless Prodigies of P.T. Barnum. The first Saloon event is this Sunday, May 6th, at the General Beverage Co. in San Francisco. The Post-Imperial Shaker will be there and so will I."

The Post-Imperial Shaker (Thanks, tinkertinker!)

Tribute to Disneyland's "secret restroom"

Disneyland's "secret restroom" is an isolated, disabled-accessible bathroom tucked away to one side of the castle in the Carnation Plaza. Very easy to miss, it is a refuge when all around the park is chaos. This site is a loving (and somewhat tongue-in-cheek) tribute to the toilet that Walt forgot.

The moment you open its door (assume it's unlocked), you will be overwhelmed by just how enormous the Secret Restroom is. As a point of fact, the Secret Restroom is not only larger than the average American home restroom, it's larger than the typical Anaheim apartment that can be afforded on a Disneyland castmember's starting salary.

Because the Secret Restroom is cleaned ever half hour, it is always in a state of perfection and readiness, and even a glance shows the luxuriance of its copious amenities and artistic touches (each of which is detailed elsewhere on this site).

Welcome to the Secret Restroom! (Thanks, dcwaterboy!)

Lost trove of D&D co-creator unearthed, up for auction


Ethan sez, "The personal archives of legendary Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Dave Arneson -- some 10,000 items -- were abandoned by his heirs and lost in storage facility in Minnesota. Now they've been found and catalogued, and they're being auctioned starting this Sunday. Here's a story about it and an exclusive preview of Sunday's auction."

“It was by pure chance that the new owner attempted to find the meaning of some of the boxes of paper rather than deciding that there was no gold or jewelry to be found, and just tossing it all into the nearest dumpster,” wrote Cox on his company’s website.

Cox contacted Stormberg, whose company specializes in handling and evaluating the collections of RPG game designers and artists. They teamed up to buy and save the collection. Cox made an offer to the local auction company. The company agreed and The Collector’s Trove took possession of the materials for processing and auctioning. In an interview with GeekDad, Stormberg would not put a price tag on the collection, but he did say, “it was a substantial amount of money” — more than Cox had ever paid for an entire collection in 18 years of buying and selling for The Dragon’s Trove, which has had its hands on many of the largest and highest quality collections in the world...

...Stormberg said that “About 30% of the items are what I call product: published games, game accessories, periodicals, and books.” The remaining 70% of the collection is “non-product”: all those letters and scribbled notes, maps, objects, and personal and family items. There is Arneson’s Smith Corona: Mark IV typewriter; a set of lead crystal goblets etched with Arneson’s family heraldry; and a model ship made of metal. “Dave loved the age of sail and all things to do with naval military history. Indeed, one of his first published games was Don’t Give Up the Ship which he co-wrote with Gary Gygax and Mike Carr in 1972.”

Among the highlights: unpublished manuscripts that did not make it into the final draft of Dungeons & Dragons that date as far back as 1973. There are even older items from 1971 and 1972 “dealing with the Blackmoor campaign and the Castle itself,” Stormberg said. These may reveal secrets about the game’s origins. Domesday Book Newsletter, among the rarest and highly sought after collectibles by Dungeons & Dragons collectors.

GeekDad Exclusive: Auction Preview of D&D Co-Creator’s Personal Collection and Archives — Game’s Secrets to Be Revealed (Thanks, Ethan!)

Lehman Bros document trove online: childish hubris, laughable idiocy from today's Senior Policy Advisor at US Treasury

Barry sez, "How awesome is this treasure trove of emails, documents, files et. all placed online by the NY Fed? Some of the emails between Lehman execs are laughable — naive, silly, hubristic, childish. But my favorite piece simply has to be the Morgan Stanley research report from June 30 2008 “Overweight Rating” on Lehman Brothers — 'Bruised, Not Broken, Poised for Profitability'. 60 days later, Lehman Brothers filed what was then the largest bankruptcy in the United States. This is (literally) what the category 'Really Really Bad Call' was invented for. Who was the author of this steaming piece of shit, and where is he today? Why, he is Patrick Pinschmidt, and he is a Senior Policy Advisor at U.S. Treasury Department! (You could not make up stuff this un-fucking-believable even if you tried)."

The Lehman Bankruptcy Docs (Buy LEH!) ()

May Day protests: gas, brutality, and baseless arrest

Mike from Mother Jones sends us a link to the magazine's coverage of yesterday's May Day protests: "Mother Jones reporter was close at hand, and got disturbing photos and video of Oakland Police officers tackling a girl on a bike who didn't seem to be doing anything provocative. He then got a nice taste of OPD attitude: 'Fuck, I just got teargassed,' he tweeted. The video clips are about halfway down, but lots of good photos and bicoastal coverage, too."

"#$#! I Just Got Tear Gassed!" and Other MoJo Tales From Occupy May Day

Car-full of kids sing Bohemian Rhapsody on the school-run

Southlandification and his brood perform a high-Wayne's-World orthodox Bohemian Rhapsody ceremony every day on the way to school:

It has become a morning habit to sing Bohemian Rhapsody on the way to school in the morning. Depending on traffic, we can usually start the song as we pull out of the driveway, and pull into the school just as the song ends.

Bohemian Rhapsody On The Way To School (Thanks, Mojo Texas!)

Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" performed on traditional Chinese instruments

Fairmariner from the band Matteo writes, "Our band has been invited to go to China for 6 weeks as musicians-in-residence at Sichuan University! We still can't quite believe this is happening to us. We're going to record an EP while we're there, and we have a Kickstarter for that project.

That's Matteo above, performing my all-time favorite Talking Heads song, "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" on traditional Chinese instruments, and doing a whiz-bang job of it, too.

MATTEO covers Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)

May Day General Strike posters


Hugh sez, "Check out Eric Drooker's latest May Day poster -- he has a bunch that can be downloaded here as well. I've got one as well on my Flickr page.

(Thanks, Hugh!)

95 year old veteran and 85-year-old friend humiliated, searched and robbed at San Diego TSA checkpoint

Omer Petti is a 95-year-old USAF veteran with artificial knees and a heart condition. Madge Woodward, his partner, has an artificial hip. They recently flew home to Detroit from San Diego, and were humiliated and robbed at the San Diego airport TSA checkpoint. The metal in their bodies set off the TSA magnetometer, and Petti was instructed to put his $300 in cash in a bin. Then he was further detained when a swab detected the nitroglycerin residue from his heart pills. He and Woodward were subjected to humiliating patdowns, and then discovered that their $300 had gone missing. When Petti asked where his money had gone, the TSA agent required he and Woodward to remove their shoes again and empty out their pockets, and asked if they were "refusing his request" when they objected. The TSA manager checked the security footage, but reported that it was "too blurry" to see what had happened to the money. The two elderly people were loaded into their wheelchairs and taken to their plane at full tilt, barely making it. They never got their money back.

"Can you imagine an 85-year-old lady and 95-year-old retired Air Force Major in wheelchairs being treated like terrorists?" Petti asked recently sitting in the kitchen of the Bloomfield Township home he shares with Woodward.

On March 29 Petti and Woodward arrived at the San Diego International airport at 10 a.m. for a flight scheduled to leave at 11:36 a.m. As usual, Petti and Woodward removed their shoes, jackets and sweaters and put these along with their other belongings — belt buckles, carry on bags, purse and jewelry, including Petti's money clip — into a total of four rubber bins.

Petti says a security officer asked him to remove Kleenex and $300 in folded bills that he had in his pocket and send it through the detector. "I hesitated and said: 'You really want me to put my bills in there?' " Petti said. The officer said yes, so Petti put the cash into a fifth bin. Then he and Woodward proceeded through the metal detector.

Seniors get the TSA runaround, lose $300 (Thanks, ROSSINDETROIT!)

Missouri police greet Nobel Peace Prize nominee with traditional shield-banging dance

Here we see the traditional dance of the Missouri riot police, performed for three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly and her friends as they gathered at the Whiteman Air Force Base to protest the escalation of drone warfare. The rhythmic shuffle and banging makes for an impressive display, especially when accompanied by the dancers' ancestral garb and clubs.

Trifecta Resista at Whiteman AFB.m4v (Thanks, kcmiccheck!)

Tube: a free/open pro-grade animated film raising money on Kickstarter

Rob sez, "Elephants Dream, the original open movie directed by Bassam Kurdali, proved that it is possible to make high quality 3D animated films using free tools in a studio setting. The Tube Open Movie is a new experiment in distributed collaboration using cutting-edge tools for independent film-making. The Tube Open Movie is inspired by the ancient Gilgamesh poem, which comes down to us as an incomplete, conflicting set of fragments and variations, the clay tablet remnants of more than a few ruined libraries. The epic centers on the Sumerian king who ruled Uruk, in ancient Iraq, who for his tyranny the gods teach friendship and loss, and through them, the fear of his own death. In the end, the immortality he achieves is different to the one he first seeks. Nearly five thousand years later, Gilgamesh, a woman and a soldier, rushes into a station in pursuit of a fragment of paper blown about by the passing of trains. In an ever-accelerating vortex, her hero's journey becomes the animation's own frames."

Tube is the experimental production of a 3D animated short about the dream and failure and achievement of immortality. It's also a love letter to free software and open culture that marks their convergence with independent filmmaking.

Your support will enable us to finish a movie in which a passionate volunteer team has invested years of hard labor.

The finished product will be CC Attribution-ShareAlike, meaning that you can do anything with it, including commercial remixes, but you're required to allow others to remix your work on the same terms.

The Tube Open Movie (Thanks, Rob!)

Minecraft casemod delights progeny


mama_faelynn writes, "My husband and I made an Epic Minecraft CaseMod for our 8 year old. 1200 1/2" blocks, weeks of time, flashing harddrive creeper eyes, our kid is over the MOON!"

Minecraft casemod (Thanks, mama_faelynn!)

Alternate reality dime-store toys with frank labels


Etsy seller NickelandDimeStore produces "concept art" in the form of junky-looking toys packaged with frank labels ("choking hazard," "boring game," etc). The seller says, "Handmade toy from an alternate 1950's universe. A world where the packaging told you exactly what you were getting. Yes, the toy is handmade by me along with the package design. It's meant to be concept art, but you can gag gift it to a friend."

(Thanks, joedwards!)