E.T. peeping tom caught on video, says abductee

Stan Romanek, who claims he has been repeatedly abducted by extraterrestrials, has released video he says shows an alien peering into his window several years ago. A few nights ago, Romanek was a guest on Larry King along with Jeff Peckman, who is pushing for the city of Denver to create an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission. Link to Larry King video, Link to Denver Post Read the rest

Doug Engelbart's "mother of all demos" video from 1968

Myst co-creator Robyn Miller writes about computer pioneer Doug Engelbart's "mother of all demos" from 1968.

What I didn't know until recently, is that a stunted version of hypertext had been demonstrated as early as 1968. This was no run-of-the-mill boring-vision-of-the-future demo. This was, simply put, "The Mother of All Demos". Steven Levy first gave it that name and it seems to have stuck: The Mother of All Demos (and oh I really love that name). Douglas Engelbart's whirling vision of the future; it was the first public use of a mouse, as well as examples of cutting, copying, pasting, teleconferencing, video conferencing, email, and... hypertext. It's just too damn much for 1968! From Steven Levy in his book, Insanely Great, The Life and Times of the Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything:

"... a calming voice from Mission Control as the truly final frontier whizzed before their eyes. It was the mother of all demos. Engelbart's support staff was as elaborate as one would find at a modern Grateful Dead concert. ..."

Link Read the rest

HOWTO spot a photoshop job

Scientific American has a nice article listing the top five mistakes that photo-fakers make when they use photoshop to doctor piccies.

Surrounding lights reflect in eyes to form small white dots called specular highlights. The shape, color and location of these highlights tell us quite a bit about the lighting.

In 2006 a photo editor contacted me about a picture of American Idol stars that was scheduled for publication in his magazine (above). The specular highlights were quite different (insets).

The highlight position indicates where the light source is located (above left). As the direction to the light source (yellow arrow) moves from left to right, so do the specular highlights.

The highlights in the American Idol picture are so inconsistent that visual inspection is enough to infer the photograph has been doctored. Many cases, however, require a mathematical analysis. To determine light position precisely requires taking into account the shape of the eye and the relative orientation between the eye, camera and light. The orientation matters because eyes are not perfect spheres: the clear covering of the iris, or cornea, protrudes, which we model in software as a sphere whose center is offset from the center of the whites of the eye, or sclera (above right).


(Thanks, Barry!) Read the rest

Homemade "SciFi Channel" for classic sf video online

Wil Wheaton sez, "This guy really loves science fiction, and REALLY hates the Sci-Fi channel for not airing enough classic SciFi. So he found all sorts of shows online, and has created his own incredibly awesome repository of classic science fiction television show links. As far as I can tell, it's all legal, and there are hundreds of hours of programming to choose from."


(Thanks, Wil!) Read the rest

Three wonderful things from the New Yorker

The New Yorker is always excellent, but the recent issue and its associated online components are especially terrific.

Thing 1: Slide show about Buckminster Fuller

Elizabeth Kolbert writes about the life of Buckminster Fuller and about an exhibition about Fuller at the Whitney Museum of American Art. “By staging the retrospective, the Whitney raises–or, really, one should say, re-raises–the question of Fuller’s relevance,” Kolbert writes. “Was he an important cultural figure because he produced inventions of practical value or because he didn’t?” Here is a portfolio of images from the magazine and the Whitney exhibition.

(Shown here: 4D Tower: Time Interval 1 Meter. Gouache and graphite over positive Photostat on paper.)

Thing 2: Audio file about Auto-Tune

Sasha Frere-Jones writes about Auto-Tune, a pitch-correction software program used in pop music. Here Frere-Jones talks about how Auto-Tune has become a pop-music phenomenon, and demonstrates how it can transform the human voice, with the help of the music producer Tom Beaujour.

Thing 3: Mary Gaitskill reads Vladimir Nabokov’s “Symbols and Signs.”

The New Yorker's Fiction podcast is a treasure. Once a month, a contemporary fiction writer chooses a story from the New Yorker's fiction archives, reads the story, and then talks to the host about why they chose the story and what it means to them.

Mary Gaitskill reads “Symbols and Signs,” Vladimir Nabokov’s first story published in The New Yorker, and discusses it with fiction editor Deborah Treisman.

Read the rest

Nanoengineers created blackest-ever black metal

Boston College Physicist Willie J. Padilla and a team from Boston College and Duke Univ. have nanoengineered a material that absorbs all the light that strikes it. How much more black could it be? None more black.

The team designed and engineered a metamaterial that uses tiny geometric surface features to successfully capture the electric and magnetic properties of a microwave to the point of total absorption.

"Three things can happen to light when it hits a material," says Boston College Physicist Willie J. Padilla. "It can be reflected, as in a mirror. It can be transmitted, as with window glass. Or it can be absorbed and turned into heat. This metamaterial has been engineered to ensure that all light is neither reflected nor transmitted, but is turned completely into heat and absorbed. It shows we can design a metamaterial so that at a specific frequency it can absorb all of the photons that fall onto its surface."...

The metamaterial is the first to demonstrate perfect absorption and unlike conventional absorbers it is constructed solely out of metallic elements, giving the material greater flexibility for applications related to the collection and detection of light, such as imaging, says Padilla, an assistant professor of physics.


(via Beyond the Beyond< Read the rest

Google "shell" for your browser

Goosh, a "Google shell" for your browser, is a hell of a lot of fun. Add Goosh to your Firefox searchbar, and you get a bunch of cool shortcuts for powerful searching, and results presented in streamlined, ad-free form:

web (search,s,w) [keywords] google web search lucky (l) [keywords] go directly to first result images (image,i) [keywords] google image search wiki (wikipedia) [keywords] wikipedia search clear (c) clear the screen help (man,h,?) [command] displays help text news (n) [keywords] google news search blogs (blog,b) [keywords] google blog search feeds (feed,f) [keywords] google feed search open (o) <url> open url in new window go (g) <url> open url more (m) get more results in (site) <url> <keywords> search in a specific website load <extension_url> load an extension video (videos,v) [keywords] google video search read (rss,r) <url> read feed of url place (places,map,p) [address] google maps search lang <language> change language addengine add goosh to firefox search box translate (trans,t) [lang1] [lang2] google translation


(via /.) Read the rest

Ring in the shape of the AIDS virus

Andy Kurovets's "Model of AIDS" ring is a bejewelled ring in the form of the AIDS virus.


(via Core77) Read the rest

Steampunk phonograph

This short video demonstrates a working steam-powered photograph on display at a Danish exhibition, though the proud steampunk maker is British. Pato, whose girlfriend shot the video, says, " He stood there playing records all afternoon, tinkering with his machine while spinning tunes. How freaking awesome is that?"


(Thanks, Pato!)

PS: Steampunk, steampunk, steampunk, steampunk, steampunk, steampunk, steampunk, steampunk, steampunk. Steampunk! Read the rest

Today on Boing Boing Gadgets

Today on Boing Boing Gadgets Rob built this GPS Map art generator which allows you to create your own questionable route like the recent hoax. (Pictured here: my version of Boing Boing's Jackhammer Jill on the surface of Mars. I did this all in one breath. I blacked out a little towards the beginning.)

We also looked at platform shoes with Game Boys inside; a trio of pedal-powered vehicles, including an ATV; wrenches shaped like hands; iLounge's new iPod and iPhone guide; my delicious oversized bottom and how you can have one, too; retro AM radio headgear with dual antennas; a fold-up solar panel that recharges AA batteries; and a digital picture frame that can also be used as a secondary display. (Finally!)

We questioned if the new mini-notebook computers were getting too expensive; wondered where we'll get desktop golf toys and die-cast Ferrari now that Sharper Image is closing its doors; saw the cutest camera flash for the too-hip-for-CMOS Diana+; discovered an antique stoplight even more functional than our modern ones; saw the birth of the Egyptpunk casemod (someone better get on Punkpunk right now); noticed that T-Mobile spied on journalists in Germany; saw a company slopping fake fuel additive pills run out of gas in Australia; and took a deep, warm look at gadgets that can go inside of you.

And then skimmed the cream off the deals sites, since we're all depressingly skinflint. We also swapped links with our favorite PC gaming blog Rock, Paper, Shotgun, because they are fantastic. Read the rest

Couple attached by a 15-feet string for 24 hours

Jennifer says: "On Slate V today: a modern married couple makes it through the day without straying more than 15 feet apart. Slate Deputy Editor David Plotz and his wife Hanna Rosin, also a writer, are attached by a 15-feet string, inspired by an Arizona Buddhist couple that recently made the headlines for having spent every minute together for the past 10 years." Link Read the rest

Canada's DMCA: a guide to the likely talking points

It looks like Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice is about ready to roll out the Canadian version of the dread US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a terrible copyright bill that has been drafted without consultation with the scores of Canadian organization clamoring for input into the law (on the other hand, it's a sure bet the US trade rep had quite a lot to say about the text). Michael Geist has a handy guide to the likely talking points that the Minister will use to spin his sellout to his buddies in the American entertainment industry.

The bill is the result of extensive discussions with the Minister of Canadian Heritage to ensure that the Canadian approach strikes the right balance between protecting creators and ensuring appropriate access [in reality, the bill as drafted last December was only modestly amended to include a few user-oriented provisions such as time shifting. As mandated by the U.S. and willingly followed by Prime Minister Harper and Prentice, the DMCA-like anti-circumvention provisions remain largely unchanged].

The bill includes important provisions for consumer rights such as time shifting [while long overdue, the time shifting provisions are rendered ineffective in the digital environment by the bill's anti-circumvention provisions. In the event that the bill also includes a format shifting provision to allow for music to be transferred to iPods, the same concern arises since copy-controlled CDs cannot be legally shifted].

The bill ensures that Canada lives up to its international copyright commitments having signed the WIPO Internet treaties in 1997 [Canada is currently fully compliant with its commitments since signing a treaty does not mandate ratification.

Read the rest

John Hodgman reviews Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus for NY Times

In the NY Times, John Hodgman reviewed Jack Kirby's groundbreaking Fourth World comic book series from DC in the 1970s.

Kirby’s “Fourth World” – a weird saga of warring gods that for a brief moment hijacked the normally staid line of DC Comics and plunged it into bracing, beautiful oddness, and which is now fully and lovingly collected in the four-volume Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus (DC Comics, $(removed) each).

Besides the psychedelic jump-start he gave to Jimmy Olsen, Kirby started three new titles – “The Forever People,” “The New Gods” and “Mister Miracle.” All chart the conflict between two families of the New Gods: those on the peace-loving planet of New Genesis, and those living in the warlike world of Apokolips. Apokolips is ruled by the evil Darkseid, who seeks the “anti-life equation” that will erase all free will in the universe but his own. Pitted against him is his son, the monstrous yet noble Orion, raised on New Genesis to love peace but ultimately doomed by his addiction to war.

It was a cosmic “epic for our times,” with one foot in ancient myth and the other in the wildest science fiction. And unusually for a comic book story, it was designed to be told slowly, over many years, and to come to an end.

But it was also a personal epic. Kirby, as you ought to know, was the King. He got the nickname while working at Marvel comics, where, with Joe Simon, he created Captain America.

Read the rest

Pringles can designer dies; remains buried in Pringles can

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Dr. Fredric J. Baur was so proud of having designed the container for Pringles potato crisps that he asked his family to bury him in one.

His children honored his request. Part of his remains was buried in a Pringles can - along with a regular urn containing the rest - in his grave at Arlington Memorial Gardens in Springfield Township.

Dr. Baur, a retired organic chemist and food storage technician who specialized in research and development and quality control for Procter & Gamble, died May 4 at Vitas Hospice. The College Hill resident was 89.

Link (Thanks, Tomatillo!) Read the rest

The Ladybird Book of The Policeman updated by jokester

Charles says: "Modified children's book, to reflect humorously on modern times." Link Read the rest

Security interrupts Amtrak spokesman who says photos are OK in D.C.'s union station

A BB reader says: "A local news crew was interviewing an Amtrak spokesman at D.C.'s union station who told the reporter that photography is allowed in the station. During the interview, a security guard interrupted them to say that photography/video was not allowed. Brilliant video, and hat tip to DCist who posted the link."

Link Read the rest

Top 11 gadgets that go inside of you

The boys at Boing Boing Gadgets have compiled a list of their favorite gadgets that go inside of you. Seen here is the delightful Facial Flex Facial Exercising and Toning System. Other picks include Tooth Tunes, Swallowable Cameras, and the Artificial Heart. Link Read the rest

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