Tinkerers take over at White House Maker Faire

DIY enthusiasts gathered at the White House today at President Obama's invitation, showing off their work at the first-ever White House Maker Faire. Read the rest

HTTP status dogs

"Hypertext Transfer Protocol response status codes. And dogs." Read the rest

3D printed tilt-shift adaptor for Nikon SLRs

PetaPixel shares this fantastic 3D printed tilt-shift adaptor for Nikon F bayonet lenses. I'll likely fight with my Replicator 2 for a few hours and then give up. Read the rest

Adventures in scientific cake cutting

Francis Galton is infamous for pioneering the field of eugenics. But he was also, apparently, interested in baked goods, as demonstrated by a 1906 letter to the journal Nature on the proper way to cut a round cake. (Thanks, Stephan Zielinski!)

Image: Scheinwerfermann via public domain

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The world's busiest air hub? It's Dubai, and it's fabulous.

There's a gorgeous feature in this month's Vanity Fair on the "new jet age" opulence of Dubai International Airport, which has surpassed London's Heathrow as the world's busiest global hub. Read the rest

SF: We Players' Macbeth in Fort Point til June 29th

Running Thursday thru Sunday, with the finale on June 29th, We Players' Macbeth at Fort Point has returned. I was fortunate enough to see it last year and will certainly be enjoying it again.

Performed inside of San Francisco's historic Fort Point, after dark, the most dramatic character in We Players' presentation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth is the stage itself. We Players' specializes in using the physical space as an integral part of the show, the result is fantastic! Read the rest

Germany is NSA's largest listening post, according to new report based on Snowden leaks

Using documents leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel reports that the NSA has turned Germany into its most important base of operations in Europe. "NSA is more active in Germany than anywhere else in Europe," reports the paper, "And data collected here may have helped kill suspected terrorists."

The German archive provides the basis for a critical discussion on the necessity and limits of secret service work as well as on the protection of privacy in the age of digital communication. The documents complement the debate over a trans-Atlantic relationship that has been severely damaged by the NSA affair.

They paint a picture of an all-powerful American intelligence agency that has developed an increasingly intimate relationship with Germany over the past 13 years while massively expanding its presence. No other country in Europe plays host to a secret NSA surveillance architecture comparable to the one in Germany. It is a web of sites defined as much by a thirst for total control as by the desire for security. In 2007, the NSA claimed to have at least a dozen active collection sites in Germany.

The documents indicate that the NSA uses its German sites to search for a potential target by analyzing a "Pattern of Life," in the words of one Snowden file. And one classified report suggests that information collected in Germany is used for the "capture or kill" of alleged terrorists.

"New NSA Revelations: Inside Snowden's Germany File" [Der Spiegel]

Related: Read the rest

The Japan Diaries, by Formento and Formento: photography

Husband-and-wife photography duo BJ and Richeille Formento's "Japan Diaries" series. Read the rest

Every congresscritter now has an email address, thanks to Sunlight and EFF

Many congresscritters don't have public email addresses -- instead, they have hard-to-locate webforms that slow down activist email campaigns and make it harder for constituents to get in touch. EFF and the Sunlight Foundation has fixed this, giving every member of Congress her or his own email address -- an address that you can send to that will be automatically forwarded through the appropriate webform.

Sunlight has some spam-checking to stop this from being abused, and gathers some of the other information the forms collect so that they can be fully populated by the scripts. Once you're setup in the system, you can email "myreps@opencongress.org" and your message will automatically be forwarded on to you senators and house reps.

88% of Congressional staffers say that their bosses' decisions are affected by constituent email. The data and scripts are up on Github for you to build on. Read the rest

'World's first riot control copter' drone unveiled, shoots pepper spray, plastic bullets

An eight-armed UAV designed by a South African firm to fire dye markers, pepper spray pellets, plastic bullets, and other "less-lethal" ammunition was shown off in London this week. Read the rest

Earth's largest volcano, Mauna Loa on Hawaii's Big Island, awakens from slumber

After a peaceful nap three decades long, Mauna Loa seems to be stirring. "While there are no signs of impending eruption, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has recorded an increased level of seismic activity on the flanks and summit of Mauna Loa over the past 13 months," reports Big Island Now. "Four distinct earthquake swarms — clusters of earthquakes occurring closely in time and location — have occurred since March 2013."

Mauna Loa is "one of five volcanoes that form the Island of Hawaii in the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi in the Pacific Ocean, [and] the largest subaerial volcano in both mass and volume, historically considered the largest volcano on Earth."

From a Wired Science blog post by Erik Klemetti, assistant professor of Geosciences at Denison University.

As of right now, there is little evidence of deformation or increasing carbon dioxide or sulfur dioxide emissions from Mauna Loa — all key signs that an eruption might be about to start at a shield volcano like Mauna Loa. HVO also notes that the earthquake activity is much less intense now that it was in the years just prior to the 1984 activity. Remember, lava flows from Mauna Loa are definitely a hazard for people living between the volcano and Hilo and Hawaii has been preparing for the volcano’s awakening. Nothing is going on right now, but you can get quite a view from the webcams set up at the Mokuʻāweoweo summit area.

Check out the USGS report, and don't miss out on those webcams. Read the rest

Iraq asks for US air strikes, as extremists take control of largest oil refinery

The Iraqi government today asked the US to execute air strikes on Sunni insurgent strongholds. Read the rest

How do you keep your dog so white?

Every single day people ask me how I keep Nemo, my Great Pyrenees, so white? Mostly a pyr handles it solo and just sheds dirt, but for the rare times he needs a bath I use Earthbath's all natural light coat, brightening shampoo.

This lavender scented shampoo is gentle on his skin and leaves him smelling great. Nemo's coat may or may not be lighter after a bath, but other shampoos have turned him spotty or slightly orange. Can you imagine an Oompah Loompah/Pyrenees hybrid?

If you want a dog that gets you a lot of attention, I suggest calling Nemo's friends at the Great Pyrenees Rescue of Northern California. If you want to keep their coat looking its best, Earthbath's light color brightening shampoo has offered me great results.

Earthbath All Natural Light Color Coat Brightener Shampoo, 16-Ounce Read the rest

Vancouver school-board adds genderless pronoun

Xe, xem, xyr are the new preferred pronouns for transgendered students in the Vancouver school system. Although the National Post is skeptical that this attempt to add a nongendered pronoun to English is doomed -- based largely on the fact that every other attempt has failed abominably -- the VSB's manager of social responsibility and diversity reminds us that not so long ago, no one said "firefighter" while today, "fireman" fairly clangs on the ear. Read the rest

Italian tomb probably does not contain Dracula

Word on the Internets is that some Estonian researchers found the tomb of Dracula in Naples and are petitioning to open it and inspect the occupant. (Insert jokes here.) But at Discovery News, Rossella Lorenzi explains why this story shouldn't be taken seriously. Read the rest

US Patent Office cancels Redskins trademark

Ruling that the term is "disparaging to Native Americans", the U.S. Patent office has canceled six federal trademarks registered by the Washington Redskins.

A case filed by Native Americans argued that the trademark was built on an offensive racial slur, and many others—including U.S. Congress members—have called on the team to change its name.

"We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered," the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board wrote in its ruling. The team retains trademark protections, however, until an appeals process concludes, writes The BBC

The six trademarks include logos based on, and typed and drawn forms of the words "Redskins" and "Redskinettes." The ruling, if it goes into effect, would not force the team to change its name. But it would strip it the legal protections afforded by trademarks, such as exclusive use of the term in its line of business.

The team's owner, Daniel Snyder, says the word "honors" Native Americans and that most Americans consider it acceptable. A statement issued by the team detailed its plans to appeal.

"We’ve seen this story before. And just like last time, today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo," said Bob Raskopf, the team's trademark lawyer. "We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s divided ruling will be overturned on appeal. Read the rest

Plants that "eat" metal

A cool graphic by Maki Naro explains the science of hyperaccumulators, plants that are capable of absorbing toxic levels of potentially dangerous minerals without harming themselves. Read the rest

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