Turning spam-calls from a hassle into a profit-centre

Lee Beaumont of Leeds, England got sick of unsolicited calls to his home number, so he spent £10 registering a "premium rate" number that costs 7p/m to call, and started listing that as his home number in all of his commercial dealings. Once he'd set things up so that spammers made him money, he started to spread his number around, tweeting it in the clear and telling customer service reps to call him on it. The number paid for itself in two months, and, when the story drew press-attention last summer, the lengthy press-calls he received made him hundreds of pounds. If you want to give Mr Beaumont 7p (or more), you can call him at Read the rest

Amazon patents taking pictures of stuff on a white background

The annals of stupid, sloppy patents have a new world-beating entry: Amazon has received a patent on taking pictures of stuff on a white background. The patent's particulars specify a well-known lighting arrangement that minimizes shadows and post-production cleanup. As DIY Photography points out, there's a huge corpus of prior art on this that Amazon didn't disclose in its filing, and the USPTo appeared to have done no due diligence before giving the company a 20-year monopoly on a common studio technique. Read the rest

A huge slice of the Moon

Steve Jurvetson, VC and space/aviation collector, shares this wonderful photo of a new acquisition that now resides at the Draper Fisher Jurvetson offices. He explains: Read the rest

Convertible Hudson Spaceship from Tinkerbots

Many's the time I've featured the beautiful Tinkerbots of San Diego's Dan Jones. This time, my eye's been caught by his Hudson Skymaster convertible spaceship, which he added to the Boing Boing Flickr pool.

Hudson Skymaster Read the rest

OMG Cats in Space

GIFs aplenty: omgcatsinspace.com. Read the rest

Drone's near-collision with jet in FL highlights new safety risks

"Risk for a small [drone] to be ingested into a passenger airline engine is very real," says FAA. Also: Yosemite bans drones. Read the rest

New US policy bans citation of leaked material that's in the news

James Clapper just prohibited all past and present US intelligence officials from publicly acknowledging reality. [HT: Trevor Timm] Read the rest

Web host gives middle finger to FCC

"We are rate limiting the FCC to dialup modem speeds until they pay us for bandwidth," says Neocities. [via Ars] Read the rest

Polio's return to Pakistan may be CIA's greatest fail ever

The CIA helped polio return to Pakistan, where it had been eradicated. Why has US media forgotten the story? [fair.org] Read the rest

The world's weirdest fruits

Some thoughtful internet person dumped a bunch of photos of exotic fruits on imgur. I suppose if you live in a tropical climate where there's a wide variety of such fruits, there's nothing weird about them. I've eaten like half of these! I love traveling to new places and seeing others on this list I've never seen before. The world is so diverse and delicious. [via reddit]

Read the rest

Wet Dogs

Sophie Gamand's “Wet Dog” is a series of portraits of dogs photographed during their least favorite activity: bath time. (2013) Read the rest

Download 55 free online literature courses: from Kerouac to Tolkien

Open Culture's online literature courses look good, especially the ones by “Tolkien Professor” Corey Olsen. Read the rest

When chimps play the game of thrones

In the early 1970s, the death of an old, male chimpanzee called Leakey precipitated what researchers describe as the only known chimpanzee war — as Leakey's replacement, and his followers, battled a host of would-be usurpers. Read the rest

Sounds of the Friendstrument

[Video Link] Here's the circuit that started out as a lie detector but turned out to be more fun as a way to turn your friend into a music instrument. It can be packaged in a bracelet or other small container.

Here are step-by-step instructions for making a Friendstrument, which is featured in my new book Maker Dad. Read the rest

Japanese man arrested for 3D printing and firing guns

Japanese police arrested a 27 year old man called Yoshitomo Imura, alleging that he 3D printed several guns and posted videos to Youtube of himself firing it. They say they seized five guns from Imura's home in Kawasaki City. The videos showed that two of these guns were capable of firing rounds -- what sort isn't specified -- through a stack of ten sheets of plywood, and this caused Japanese police to class them as lethal weapons. A Japanese press account has Imura admitting to printing the guns, but insisting that he "didn't know they were illegal."

As I wrote a year ago when 3D printed guns first appeared on the scene, the regulatory questions raised by them are much more significant than the narrow issue of gun control. But there's a real danger that judges, lawmakers and regulators will be distracted by the inflammatory issue of firearms when considering the wider question of trying to regulate computers. Read the rest

The life of an orangutan and the life of zoos

Zoo evaluator Kathayoon Khalil writes about the life of an orangutan named Kutai, who was born, lived, and died in zoos and whose life traces the evolution of those institutions for the better. Read the rest

London may host 2016 games

Rio isn't ready. It wouldn't be the first time London took over for other cities. Read the rest

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