Minecraft: The Complete Handbook Collection just $(removed)

I reviewed this beautifully designed Minecraft boxed set of four hardcover handbooks in December. The price has since dropped to $(removed), which is a great deal. Read the rest

EFF busts podcasting patent, invalidating key claims at Patent Office

A patent troll that claims that its failed 1990 cassettes-by-mail business is the same thing as podcasting got cut off at the knees today when the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) invalided its bogus claims.

Over one thousand people (myself included) donated to the EFF's Save Podcasting campaign to defeat the troll.

The “podcasting patent” became big news in 2013, when a company called Personal Audio, LLC, began demanding licensing fees from podcasters including comedian Adam Carolla and three major television networks. Personal Audio doesn’t do podcasting itself, but instead used its patent to claim infringement and collect payouts from actual creators.

In petitions filed with Patent Office, EFF showed that Personal Audio did not invent anything new before it filed its patent application, and, in fact, other people were podcasting for years previously. Earlier examples of podcasting include Internet pioneer Carl Malamud's "Geek of the Week" online radio show and online broadcasts by CNN and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

Personal Audio claimed to have invented podcasting, but the EFF convinced the USPTO that this was not the case:

In petitions filed with Patent Office, EFF showed that Personal Audio did not invent anything new before it filed its patent application, and, in fact, other people were podcasting for years previously. Earlier examples of podcasting include Internet pioneer Carl Malamud's "Geek of the Week" online radio show and online broadcasts by CNN and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

I hope the podcasters who were bilked by Personal Audio get their money back. Read the rest

Big Hero 6 fabric excludes girl characters because boys think girls are "yuck": manufacturer

UPDATE (4/10/2015, 3:30pm PT): See comment from Springs Creative below. Read the rest

Amazing demo gets 1000 colors out of 4-color CGA PC card from 1981

"Because there are so many technological world-firsts in the demo, and because we’re bending the hardware in ways that people have never thought to do so, it’s only fair that we try to explain exactly how this was achieved."

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Doctor raising money for first human head transplant has a volunteer

Italian physician Dr. Sergio Canavero is collecting funds to conduct the first human head transplant. He has a volunteer: Valery Spiridonov, 30, who suffers from a rare genetic disease causing his spinal muscles to atrophy. Read the rest

Watch: non-stick yogurt lid

Demonstration of a yoguphobic material. Probably LiquiGlide, or something similar. Read the rest

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 tips on how to write a good short story

From Kurt Vonnegut’s introduction to his short story anthology, Bagombo Snuff Box, 8 tips on how to write a good short story. Read the rest

Watch an NYPD Detective pocket $2,650 during a loose cigarette sting

At least this NYPD detective didn't kill someone for selling loose cigarettes. Instead, he allegedly stole $2,650, perhaps as a way of rewarding himself for a job well done.

Ian Cyrus, a 12-year veteran of the department, was helping his fellow officers conduct the raid after a store employee allegedly sold loose cigarettes to an undercover officer. They took $593 from the cash register as well as packs of cigarettes as evidence, WABC-TV reported.

But deli owner Ali Abdullah noticed something else was missing — about $2,650 in rent funds hidden in a box under the store's counter. After looking at the security footage, the money appeared to have disappeared into Cyrus's pocket. The moment comes around the 1:20 mark in the video [above].

Ian Cyrus, the detective seen in the video stuffing the wad of cash in his pocket, has been suspended, but not arrested. Read the rest

How to survive a mega-drought

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Tomorrow is "International Louie Louie Day"

Saturday (4/11) is International Louie Louie Day and the birthday of Richard Berry who wrote the song in 1955. Read the rest

Amazon is suing company that sells reviews

Amazon is suing the owner of the website buyazonreviews.com, which sells 4- and 5-star reviews for about $20 per review. I hope we get to see the subpoenaed records so we can find out which authors, publishers, and manufacturers buy shill reviews to boost their products on Amazon.

The home page of the site promises, “Never has it been easier to get multiple 4 and 5 star reviews on your Amazon product page. We provide real reviews from aged accounts with real buying activity. Most products in the Amazon marketplace will never even be seen. The more positive reviews you have the better your chances are.”

Geekwire learned that buyazonreviews changed its FAQ after it ran a story about the lawsuit:

Amazon files first-ever suit over fake product reviews, alleging sites sold fraudulent praise Read the rest

Ted Cruz: The Gays are waging 'jihad' against 'religious freedom'

Good old Ted Cruz. Read the rest

Watch contortionist's slithering Snake Woman dance

Fantastically flexible contortionist Nokulunga Buthelez performs her "Snake Woman" dance. Read the rest

The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987

Top 100 (or insert random number here) books have been around for ages. They tend to make great coffee table books, but it takes something really special to start a conversation. Brett Weiss has done just that with his book The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987. Instead of just throwing together a full multiple-page spread with a few generic tidbits and “personal feelings,” this Top 100 book reads more along the line of a great educational text-book. I mean this with only the highest of compliments. With each game featured readers are given a surprisingly in-depth history lesson and a succinct explanation on just why it made this list. The book covers amazing pieces of video game history, some of which are new even to an aficionado like myself.

It is important to note that this isn’t the kind of book that typical gamers today might be expecting. As the book covers the early years of gaming (1977-1987 to be precise), most gamers weren’t even born yet – heck, some of their parents might not have even been born or gaming yet. This means you aren’t going to be seeing any Call of Duty of Mass Effect here. Rather, you’ll see the games that helped inspire the games that the youth are playing today. This text opens up a world that will no doubt be foreign to many, but one that is important and necessary to all gaming fans. It doesn’t matter your age – if you are a hardcore collector, or if you only have a passing interest in video games, The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987 will educate everyone on a much simpler time when making games was the wild west and full of limitless possibilities. Read the rest

Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' played on floppy and hard drives

Pure genius by Arganalth.

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Golden Girls LEGO set may become a reality. Thanks, internet!

LEGO responds to the Golden Girls and LEGO fan who asked the internet to sign on to the concept of a LEGO set to honor the classically camp eighties sitcom. 10,000 people said yes, and so did the Danish toy maker. Read the rest

Artists and their cats

Alison Nastasi's new book Artists and their Cats is just that, a collection of fantastic photos depicting fine artists and their feline friends. Above, Salvador Dali. Below, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Georgia O'Keefe.

Artists and their Cats (Amazon)

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