Boing Boing's top posts of 2011

Ill. Rob Beschizza

2011 was one weird year.

My essential Mac applications

Mark's picks of the very best apps currently available for OS X (with many available on other platforms), in five parts: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

How to attain radical hotel-room coffee independence

There's something really wonderful about having a great cup of coffee in your hotel room, especially when you're on a brutal 6AM-10PM tour schedule that has you bouncing around like a hyperactive ping-pong ball. Here's how to master the art on the lam.

Mark Pescovitz, 1955-2010

Mark was a true Renaissance man — a transplant surgeon, medical researcher, fine artist, and philanthropist.

Dalai Lama receives Amnesty International human rights award

He accepted the award with characteristic humility and good humor, saying, "I am just a single monk; no more, no less," later adding for the Amnesty volunteers and human rights advocates assembled, "Your work is good. Please continue."

Game Deaths

The dreams in which you died were the best you ever had.

Inside the "black box" of power plants

For most, nuclear power is a black box technology. Radioactive stuff goes in. Electricity and nuclear waste comes out. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that set of information is enough to get by on. But them one day, an emergency happens.

The new Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil

Last year, a company called California Cedar Products bought the rights to the Blackwing trademark and manufactured a pencil called the Palomino Blackwing. Will it become Mark's pencil of choice?

Stupid legal threat of the young century

Boing Boing has been on the receiving end of one or two stupid legal threats in our day, but this one from the firm of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh took the cake, the little cake topper, the frosting and all the candles, as well as the box and the cake-stand and the ornamental forks.

High Design

In the world of design, urban mobility is much more than how you get from point A to point B. Urban mobility operates at the intersection of myriad innovation freeways, from architecture to infrastructure, technology to transportation, city planning to style. It's about feet, fashion, bikes, busses, automobiles, and yes, even cars that fly.

Interview: Yoko Ono

"I think I was 12. It was a shock of course, but at the time, initially we didn't know what happened. I heard about it from somebody in the village. It's a very, very different kind of bomb, they said, we have to immediately stop the war. It didn't make sense to me at all, in any way. We didn't understand."

TinyHack, the 9×9 pixel RPG

Just how small can a game go? Here's an adventure only 9×9 pixels in size. It's barely-playable and has all the charm of a malicious lite-brite, but once you've found the sword, shield and the all-important, all-healing pub, you can dash through it in a few minutes.

What is "peer review"?

Peer-reviewed… How often have you read that phrase? If we tried to count, there would probably be some powers of 10 involved. It's clear from the context that peer-reviewed journal articles are the hard currency of science. But the context is less obliging on the whys and wherefores.

Games to play with coffee beans

Service can be slow at the hotels of Costa Rica. Fortunately, coffee beans are in abundance. Mark and his family invented games to play with them; not all were successful.

An interview with Tim Harford

Tim Harford is a Financial Times columnist and the presenter of Radio 4's More or Less, which won the Royal Statistical Society's 2010 award for statistical excellence in broadcast journalism. He is also the author of several books, including The Undercover Economist. His latest is Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure.

Mars Science Laboratory + Curiosity Rover: Interview with NASA JPL's Ashwin Vasavada

Boing Boing visited NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a peek inside the clean room where NASA's next Mars rover, Curiosity, and other components of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft (MSL) have been built for launch in late 2011 from Florida.

Haunted Air

Ossian Brown was a member of the dark, magical electronic music group Coil and is currently in Cyclobe, a duo with his partner Stephen Thrower. Ossian is a strange attractor. Weird things find him. Like his exquisite collection of antique vernacular photographs of Halloweens past.

Mixtape of the Lost Decade

Do you remember the lost decade of the 19A0s, struck from memory by collective cultural trauma? Our secret history is revealed in arty tumblogs, file-sharing forums and garish music videos, by a secretive cabal working to prepare us to learn the truth and its astonishing consequences.

The magnet conundrum

It seems that we all owe the Insane Clown Posse a bit of an apology.

Hiking up the outdoor staircases of Hollywoodland

A guided hike around the old Hollywoodland neighborhood in Los Angeles, guided by Hargobind Singh, or Hargo for short.

"If you're going to publish it. I'm not speaking to you."

After confiscating Cory's belt buckle, security staff at Britain's Gatwick Airport agreed on one thing: Allen keys are allowed. Right then, that's UK aviation security sorted.

The Future of Science 2021: A Multiverse of Exploration

Over the last year, the Institute for the Future researched the future of science to identify big areas of science it thinks will have a transformative impact over the next decade.

Inside Fukushima

Eight months after a disaster crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, foreign journalists got a first look inside.

Such Bravery

In 1212, thousands of vagrants, bandits and starving children converged on Genoa in search of shelter, adventure and heaven's gate. But their footsteps fell on a path already well-trodden.

Tornadoes, climate change, and real scientific literacy

The air grows thick. Dark clouds churn like a pot of boiling water overhead. The colors of reality become oversaturated–greens too green, yellow a sickly gold. This is what tornado weather looks like, and the United States has been hit with a lot of it lately.

Hand drawn "computer game"

Mark's 7-year-old daughter designed a hand drawn "computer game." One plays it a row at a time, from the bottom up, with each apparently imposing its own set of rules.

Pratchett's Snuff: a rural/nautical tale of drawing-room gentility, racism, and justice

Pratchett makes a serious discourse on serious subjects funny, gripping and never trivial; a neat summary of why we love him as much as we do.

El Tren Fantasma: ambient recordings of a ghostly train journey

Chris Watson was a founder of the seminal 1970s experimental music/performance art group Cabaret Voltaire who has since become a highly-respected ambient sound recordist for television, film, and radio.

Sony's little design problem

Sony's latest ultraportable laptop is stunning. It's beautiful and lightweight, with a classy metal chassis and impeccably tasteful trim. It has a powerful i7 CPU, 1600×900 13.1" display and a lightning-fast SSD. It's half a pound lighter than the competition. And it exemplifies everything that is wrong with its creator.

What Fukushima can tell us about coal pollution

The disaster in Japan produced so much radioactive sulfur that it was obvious when the plume reached the shores of California. The sulfur from Fukushima isn't exactly the same thing as the sulfur dioxide from Chinese power plants, but it is close enough that it can serve as a marker.