MIT and EFF's Freedom to Innovate Summit: defending students' and hackers' right to tinker

The Oct 10/11 event is run jointly by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Civic Media at MIT and will be hosted at the MIT Media Lab. Read the rest

Adorable kid can't blow out birthday candle. Dad steps in with a clever hack.

“Our son was having some trouble blowing out his birthday candle,” explains Ashleigh Williamson of her adorable two-year-old son. Read the rest

Endangered and beloved Sumatran elephant Yongki killed in apparent ivory poaching

There may be as few as 2400 Sumatran elephants still alive on the planet. One of their tame brethren, who worked with humans to protect wild ones from being killed, was killed on Friday--apparently for his tusks. Indonesian authorities today described the incident as a “murder and a theft,” and called for a criminal investigation. Read the rest

Republican Scott Walker quits presidential race

"I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race," said Walker, to the mirth of many, the lament of few, and the disinterest of all.

Once a considered a front-runner, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has decided to end his campaign for US president amid dwindling contributions and plummeting poll numbers.

Unlike some rivals, the Republican had a large and costly campaign operation.… A recent CNN poll shows he had support of less than one half of one percent of Republican primary voters.

Read the rest

JFK TSA agent arrested for stealing $61 out of passenger's wallet during screening

The TSA will fire Joe Bangay after security footage showed him emptying a passenger's wallet of its cash during screening. Read the rest

Kickstarter re-incorporates as a "public benefit corporation"

By reforming as a special purpose company, they are able to escape the cult of fiduciary duty that insists that management must screw people over whenever it will enhance shareholder value; they are legally able to put people before profits. Read the rest

Watch random kids say some very funny things in these home video clips

Oh, this is full of some real gems, and will very likely improve your mood. The part where the mom is trying to teach her daughter about the planets, specifically how to say “Uranus,” is my favorite. Perhaps second only to the kid who does a spot-on impression of some of my least favorite former U.S. Presidents. [AFV] Read the rest

The Ultimate Hard Tech Starter Kit: Use Conductive Ink to Draw & Tinker with Circuits!

This Circuit Scribe Basic Kit gives users a hands-on way to discover the world of electronics. At its core is a rollerball pen filled with conductive silver ink, allowing you to literally draw a circuit on paper. You can then augment your circuit using any of the six included modules: a power-supplying battery adapter, an SPSTswitch that turns your circuit on and off, and more. Consolidate your knowledge with the workbook’s lessons on electronics terms, and you’re sure to be a certified tech expert in no time.

Draw circuits using a pen filled w/ conductive silver ink Tinker w/ your circuits using 6 modules: battery adapter, LED light, etc. Easily interact w/ circuits thanks to modules’ simple & easy-to-use designs Learn about basic electronics concepts: transistors, resistance, etc. Easily trace circuit designs using the circuit stencil Use the workbook’s lessons to expand your understanding of electronics

Circuit Scribe Basic Kit - 16% Off Read the rest

Hands-free magnifier great for detailed hobby work

I use this magnifier to doctor playing cards for magic tricks, but I imagine a 2X magnifying glass with foldable legs ($(removed) on Amazon) has other uses as well. It also comes with a 10X spotter and has a handle when you need to use it like a traditional magnifying glass. Read the rest

Pizza rat

New York's alright if you like rats dragging pizza down the stairs to the subway.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson talks with Edward Snowden

This week on the Startalk podcast, America's best-loved astronomer talks with my favorite whistleblower (MP3). Read the rest

New online store for design-minded stoners

Tetra is a new online shop dealing with pot paraphernalia for people who appreciate fine design. A few weeks back I happened to meet co-founder Eviana Hartman, a well-known fashion and design writer, and really dug her enthusiasm and vision for this project. Congratulations, Eviana and crew! From the New York Times:

The team has lined up an impressive group of designers, who have created devices and accouterments in a wide range of strikingly original materials and styles. “The only unifying aesthetic,” Khemsurov says, “stems from the interest we all share in timeless natural materials like marble, brass and ceramics, plus our determination to make this collection as sophisticated and relevant, from a design perspective, as possible.” To that end, the initial batch of products include two ashtrays and a pipe made by Katie Stout and Sean Gerstley, which utilize the same hand-formed ceramic and gold luster technique as their eye-catching lamps sold through the Johnson Trading Gallery; a polished-copper sphere by Fort Standard that opens into a small snuff box; and, in Wu’s words, “a vibrant dichroic-glass ashtray hand-cast by Andrew Hughes that changes color according to one’s vantage point and the kind of light it’s viewed in.”

"A New Design Shop that Aims to Elevate the Smoke-Filled Room" (NYT, thanks, Jordan Kurland!)

Tetra ( Read the rest

First issue of new feminist hacker zine

Audrey writes, "The Recompiler is a new feminist hacker magazine dedicated to learning about technology in a fun and inclusive way. The first issue of the magazine is now online, with articles about glitchy art, 80s tech, SSL bugs, and the flaws in DNS." Read the rest

The Concorde will fly again! (maybe)

Fans of the iconic supersonic Concorde aircraft hope to bring the plane back into the skies in the next few years. Club Concorde, a group of enthusiasts including pilots and frequent fliers, has more than $250 million they will use to buy one of the planes for display as a London tourist attraction and to purchase and restore another for air shows, special events, and private charter. The last flight of a Concorde was in 2003. From The Telegraph:

(Club Concorde president Paul) James will be well placed to cater to that demographic. During the aircraft’s heyday, he worked as a tour operator and chartered Concorde 19 times for luxury trips. A particularly extravagant excursion was a one-day visit to the pyramids in Cairo in 1982; priced at £780, it was marketed as the most expensive day trip in the world. He suggests that this future incarnation of the plane could be used, for example, to take groups from London to Monaco for the Grand Prix...

Jonathan Glancey, author of Concorde: the Rise and Fall of the Supersonic Airliner, believes the group could well succeed in their efforts. “So many people miss Concorde [and it] could certainly fly again given both financial and technical wings, while from a technical point of view there is nothing a team of expert and motivated engineers can’t tackle. For the moment, we should support it."

And of course, don't miss designer Lawrence Azerrad's Boing Boing feature about his love for this very special aircraft. Read the rest

Hedge fund manager buys drug company, raises price of pill from $13.50 to $750

Martin Shkreli (above) is a former hedge fund manager and the current CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. In August Shkreli bought a drug called Daraprim. It's been around for 62 years and is used to treat toxoplasmosis, a life-threatening parasitic infection. "Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars," reports the New York Times.

It's fun to single out Shkreli for his questionable ethics, but plenty of other pharmaceutical companies also jack up the the price of formerly cheap drugs to levels that will bankrupt people who need them. The antibiotic Doxycycline was $20 a bottle in 2013. Today, the same bottle costs $1,849. Cycloserine, a tuberculosis treatment, used to cost $500 for a 30 pill bottle, until Rodelis Therapeutics acquired the drug and increased the price to $10,800.

As seen by his tweet last night, Shkreli's response to the overwhelmingly negative reaction to his price increase is basically "fuck you."

Watch Bloomberg's interview with Shkreli about his decision to raise the price. He admits it costs less than $1 a pill to manufacture Daraprim, yet insists at $750 a pill, "Daraprim is still underpriced relative to its peers." Read the rest

Build a 5-story school building, then knock it down with SmartLab's demolition Wrecking Ball

See more photos at Wink Fun.

With toys, sometimes simple is best: no batteries, no electronics, all kid-powered. Such is Wrecking Ball, the latest addition to SmartLab’s line of award-winning Demolition Lab build-‘em-and-wreck-‘em DE-construction toy sets. Build the five-story school building, then knock it down with the wrecking ball. Simple concept – and that’s where the fun just begins.

First you assemble. Punch out the realistically illustrated wall and roof panels and add the plastic stand-up feet. Each panel depicts part of an abandoned schoolhouse, complete with hazard tape warnings, broken windows and bell tower. Also snap together the wrecking ball crane with extension feet and pre-assembled lever mechanism. Colorful stickers add a finishing touch to the wrecking crane.

Then build the five-story schoolhouse by stacking the walls and roof panels. The stand-up feet make this easy so even the youngest kid can do it without needing delicate “house of cards” dexterity. Add the bell tower on top to finish.

Now for the big moment. Adjust the telescoping arm to aim the wrecking ball so you can strike the building just where you want. Pull back on the handle as the wrecking ball s-l-o-w-l-y swings back and rises up with a dramatic “click-click-click…” Make any last minute fine adjustments, then press the red button to release the wrecking ball. The ball swings down and – kaBLAM!– the panels tumble as the school walls and roof collapse. Classic tension/release play pattern.

Simple enough for any kid. But there’s more: suggestions in the instruction propose other challenges. Read the rest

Man built full-size emoji keyboard(s)

Tom Scott built an "full-size, real-life emoji keyboard" from 14 keyboards labeled with 1,000 stickers to cover everything from Unicode 8. "It's a bit ridiculous," Tom says. 👏 Read the rest

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