Boing Boing 

How to fool benchmarking apps

Anand Lai Shimpi and Brian Klug trace the tricks used by electronics giants to bamboozle benchmarking apps--a practice widely associated with Samsung, but also used by at least some of its competitors. At The Observer, Charles Arthur suggests that it's time to stop trusting benchmarking apps altogether.

@tofu_product tries to write like you do

"Sometime during September, the Twitter account @tofu_product came online," writes Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic. "Its cryptic bio reads: “Tofu absorbs flavor. Follow me, then tweet at me. I'll try my best to write like you do.”"

You will soon be able to use gadgets on planes during takeoff and landing

The Federal Airline Administration's quixotic prohobition on the use of gadgets during takeoff and landing is to come to an end, reports Jad Mouawad at The New York Times. But they're digging their heels in on using internet connections, i.e. radios.

But the panel said that restrictions should remain on sending text messages, browsing the Web or checking e-mail after the plane’s doors have been closed. Passengers can do that only when the aircraft’s Wi-Fi network is turned on, typically above 10,000 feet. The use of cellphones to make voice calls, which was not part of the review, will still be prohibited throughout the flight.

A Ripple in the online payment waters

Robert McMillan on Bitcoin "maverick" Jed McCaleb, who started Mt. Gox and now offers Ripple, an alternative to the digital currency. [Wired]

After selling Mt. Gox, McCaleb started thinking more deeply about Bitcoin. He was a huge fan, but he thought he could so some things better. First, he wanted to do away with Bitcoin mining — the process by which computers on the network verify transactions in exchange for Bitcoins. Because miners are rewarded in proportion to the processing power they add to the network, Bitcoin mining has become a bit of an arms race, with very specialized and powerful computers now doing the bulk of the work. McCaleb, a 38-year-old surfer and Berkeley dropout from Little Rock, Arkansas, sees this as excessive. By his reckoning, there’s $160 million spent annually on mining the Bitcoin network, “which is insane,” he says. “And this isn’t something that’s going to go away. It just gets worse and worse.”

Blackberry prospects dim

Announcing a billion dollar operating loss, Blackberry stock trading is frozen and 4500 jobs are to be lost.

Don't want to give up on internet privacy?

Brian Fung offers a quick guide on how to stick it out. [WaPo]

Microsoft's Ballmer to retire

After 13 years at Microsoft's helm, CEO Steve Ballmer is to retire within 12 months. The search for a successor is on.

"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer said in a press release. "... We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."

A committee at Microsoft will begin the hunt for a new leader. Ballmer's tenure was marked by consistent profits but weak growth, the software giant failing to keep pace with industry developments—particularly in mobile computing.

Ballmer's statement follows.

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Wireless baby monitor hacked, baby insulted

A mystery man patched into a camera-equipped wireless baby monitor, watching and yelling abuse at a child--and its parents, when they came to see what was going on. ABC's Alana Abramson reports from the intersection of ill will and appallingly insecure technology.

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Sony makes profit

Just $35m, but its strategy of going back to high-end, high-margin gear seems to be working: expect more fancy Android phones, RX-series cameras, and 4K televisions. [The Verge]

Useful web development resources

The curator puts it a little more succinctly: Shit for making websites. [shitformakingwebsites.com]

BBC cans 3D broadcasts

"The BBC is to suspend 3D programming for an indefinite period due to a 'lack of public appetite' for the technology." [BBC]

Samsung buys Boxee

Leo Kellon for the BBC: "The South Korean electronics giant said it had "acquired key talent and assets" from the company."

Wozniak on Jobs biopic

With a new trailer out to promote Kutcher-starring biopic Jobs, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has new thoughts on the movie—not all of them negative. [Jesus Diaz / Kinja]

Inside Digg's new RSS Reader

It wouldn't be a sexy subject were it not for the imminent demise of "market" leader Google Reader, but Mat Honan's article about Digg's replacement service is a must-read.
The core Digg experience is one of discovery: It constantly has to be showing you something new to work. ... This is where it gets neat: If Digg had its own news reader, it could immediately identify which stories people were actually reading—not just what they click on.

Wireless restoration of sight to the blind (rats)

Stanford researchers developed a retinal prosthesis that wirelessly transmits images from a video camera in a pair of glasses directly to a chip implanted inside the retina tissue. The innovations of lead scientist Daniel Palanker and his colleagues is that their system does away with any cable between the implant and the video eyeglasses, and buries the chip in the sub-retinal layers of the eye instead of on its surface to eliminate a kind of interference. They published their latest breakthroughs in the science journal Nature Communications. From Medical Daily:

In this study, Palanker's team from the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory placed these second-generation implants into the retinas of rats with or without macular degeneration. The researchers found that the new bionic retinas could transmit images into the minds of rats, which was observed by measuring brain activity in the visual centers of the rodents' brains.
"Solar-Powered Bionic Eye Developed By Stanford Scientist" (Medical Daily)

Restoration of Sight to the Blind: Optoelectronic Retinal Prosthesis (Daniel Palanker)

Gigabit wifi isn't

Glenn Fleishman at Tidbits: "Apple’s implementation is technically capable of 1.3 Gbps. But as Apple notes at the bottom of the page, “Actual speeds will be lower.” I’ll say. In practice, I would wager that most home users and some business users will see only modest improvement in net throughput across their networks."

Browser the web with a faraway friend

Liz Stinson: "Swedish artist Jonas Lund ... built a browser that allows people around the world to surf the internet together in one window. Users appear as cursors and can click around to different URLs, type messages in search bars or just sit back and observe what’s happening on the web." [Wired]

How 3D printing will rebuild reality


A 3D model of a complex anaplastology case, created in collaboration with the anaplastologist Jan De Cubber, is seen at the Belgian company Materialise. 3D printing has already changed the game for manufacturing specialized products such as medical devices. REUTERS/Yves Herman

When Star Trek debuted in the mid-60s, everybody geeked out about the food synthesizers. Even my mom, a reluctant but compulsory Trek viewer, recognized the utility of this amazing gadget, particularly with two ravenous boys around the house. My brother and I knew, of course, that the real magic food box was the refrigerator.

Years later, I wasn’t the only one craving the replicators of Star Trek:The Next Generation for my home workshop. TNG’s follow-on concept of a ‘universal build-box’ upped the ante way beyond a hot cup of Earl Grey. The list of things we would have made at home was endless: for the kids, replacement baseball bats, balls and window panes, game controllers and handheld electronic devices. I would have gone in for replacement car parts, repairs for broken appliances and furniture, and an endless supply of consumables like gasoline, toilet paper, kitty litter, and inevitably, a couple of cold—strictly non-syntheholic—beers for afterwards. I note in passing that Starfleet protocol prohibits civilians from replicating weapons.

With the recent rise of the Maker movement and the advent of cheaper, easier-to-use 3D-printing technology, the sci-fi concept of a household device that can manufacture functional objects seems to be gaining reality. But for those who witnessed the technology’s birth and growth, it has been a surprisingly long and winding road—one that has recently reached a significant but mostly unnoticed milestone. For me, it all began with Star Trek and the Silver Surfer.

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Vesper, an elegant note-taking app

Vesper is a simple note-taking iOS app named after a Bond cocktail. Unlike most such apps, it's well-designed and pleasing to look at, though you do have to cough up a fiver for the privilege. Moreover, it's for people who do everything on their phones: there's no sync feature, a drawback for which Federico Viticci knocks it in his otherwise very positive review. I'm gonna give it a whirl.

British Telecom quits Yahoo!

Britain's largest ISP, British Telecom, has ragequit Yahoo! after learning that the internet giant had bought beloved microblogging site Tumblr. Just kidding! It's actually sick of its customers' Yahoo-provided email accounts getting hacked. [Telegraph]

Judge to Google: comply with warrantless FBI data requests

A federal judge has ordered Google to comply with the FBI's warrantless requests for user data, rejecting its claim that the demands are illegal. Google had requested that the court modify or discharge 19 National Security Letters, a form of request that bypasses the courts and which generally forbids the recipient from disclosing their existence. The hearing, presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Ilston, was held in secret, reports CNET; the FBI issued nearly 200,000 of the letters between 2003 and 2006, with 97 percent including a gag order.

Hacker News, "a community for Ex-Redditors"

TechCrunch's Leena Rao reports on Hacker News, the code demo that quickly became a major aggregator. Now enjoying 1.6m page views a day, its success was due in part to minimalism ("he wanted Hacker News to look like your list of processes in a terminal window"), well-made moderation features, and the arrival of technically-minded Redditors overwhelmed by that site's explosion of trivial and trollish subject matter. With growth, however, HN is beginning to observe similar patterns within itself: "I wish the community would behave the way they did when it was a little village," says creator Paul Graham.

Yahoo buys Tumblr

Yahoo announced today that it is buying blogging site Tumblr for $1.1bn, mostly in cash. In the posting, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made clear that the cooler, younger company would not be smothered by her firm's notorious corporate culture, under which many other purchases have withered and died.

I’m delighted to announce that we’ve reached an agreement to acquire Tumblr! We promise not to screw it up. Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently. David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster.

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The world's first website

Back up at its original URL courtesy of CERN: "Twenty years of a free, open web."

Siri, keeper of secrets

Robert McMillan writes: "Not everyone realizes this, but whenever you use Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled digital assistant, she remembers what you tell her. How long does she remember? Apple isn’t saying. And the American Civil Liberties Union is concerned." [Wired]

Falcon occupies cell tower

Mobile reception is spotty in parts of Southampton, England, due to a peregrine falcon nesting in a cellular tower. Vodafone, the operator, is forbidden by law from interfering with the nest until the falcon's chicks have fledged. [BBC]

Google plans sci-fi style supercomputer

Farhad Manjoo: "Google has a single towering obsession: It wants to build the Star Trek computer." [Slate]

Pong on the side of a skyscraper

Britt Faulstick reports on Drexel professor Frank Lee's 29-storey game of Pong:

On April 19 and April 24 Philadelphians young and old will have the chance to grab the arcade-style joystick one more time and engage in that timeless quest to spin the bouncing ball past the opponent’s paddle – writ large on the 401-foot north wall of one of the iconic buildings of Philadelphia’s skyline. More than 500 of the 1,514 LEDs affixed to Cira Centre’s shadowbox spandrels will recreate the game’s classic pixilation as competitors will go elbow-to-elbow from a vantage point across the Schuylkill River on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Apple's security problems

At The Verge, Tim Carmody reports on Apple's seeming inability to get to grips with account security.

"The conventional wisdom is that this was a run-of-the-mill software security issue. ... No. It isn’t. It’s a troubling symptom that suggests Apple’s self-admittedly bumpy transition from a maker of beautiful devices to a fully-fledged cloud services provider still isn’t going smoothly. Meanwhile, your Apple ID password has come a long way from the short string of characters you tap to update apps on your iPhone. It now offers access to Apple’s entire ecosystem of devices, stores, software, and services."

T-Mobile ditches cellphone contracts

Cyrus Farivar: "T-Mobile's offering, dubbed “Simple Choice,” makes the company the first of the big four US-based carriers to drop one-year or two-year contracts in favor of purely month-to-month-based arrangements. T-Mobile outlined the new plan on its website Monday."