Ifixit is the new Justice League of America and Kyle Wiens is its Superman

Motherboard's Jason Koebler follows Kyle Wiens around the Electronics Reuse Conference -- Burning Man for the service-people who fix your phones, laptops, and other devices -- in New Orleans. Wiens is founder and CEO of Ifixit, whose mission is to tear down every single thing you own, write a repair manual for it, and source or manufacture the parts you need to fix it yourself. Read the rest

Ancient adventure texts at last unearthed

Well, this is wonderful—Jason Scott, creator of the GET LAMP documentary and tireless historian in the service of games, is releasing a huge trove of scans from the archives of Infocom veteran Steve Meretzky.

Infocom, of course, was a leading developer of mysterious and beautifully-written computer text adventure games in the 1980s. Meretzky's carefully-kept notes—over 9000 scans, says Scott—document numerous aspects, from design to business, of what was widely considered the company's golden age, in which it produced famous games like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall, and the remarkable, pioneering A Mind Forever Voyaging, written and made by Meretzky himself, among others.

Jason Scott writes of these documents, which will live at The Infocom Cabinet:

For someone involved in game design, this is priceless work. Unfettered by the crushing schedules and indie limits of the current industry, the designers at Infocom (including Steve, but not limited to him by any means) were able to really explore what made games so much fun, where the medium could go, and what choices could be made. It’s all here.

One of the challenges in the video game space is that design knowledge is often prized tightly behind the doors of competitive game companies, and then lost when the tides of business change or studios close their doors. Software and hardware age, and works younger than a decade can be fundamentally impossible to access. The work of archivists like Scott is often unsung but essential to the memory of the medium, and his TEXTFILES.COM Read the rest

Hoverboard: massive, mysterious XKCD game (with a hidden story?)

Sgt Crispy writes, "XKCD creator Randall Munroe, has made a spiffy little hoverboard game. Looks to be small, however, when you realize that boundaries are made to be broken, A massive world opens up to be explored." Read the rest

Why we enjoy stroking animals and popping bubblewrap

In Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, one of the central characters is Lennie, a man with some form of mental development disability who enjoys petting mice and puppies. Only he enjoys it so much he can’t stop and often ends up squashing them literally to death.

The thing is, evidence suggests that the mice and puppies were probably enjoying the petting before Lennie’s fat fingers squashed them. In 2013 researchers from the California Institute of Technology published the results of a study done on mice that showed there is a specific type of sensory cell in skin that responds to careful stroking. The lead researcher on the study suggested we could one day have a skin lotion that makes us feel better.

It’s all very well that mice enjoy being stroked, but why did Lennie -- and why do many other people -- derive pleasure from stroking soft animals? Numerous research studies suggest that during stroking, receptors in the skin send signals to various parts of the brain. This can be measured using MRI scans of the brain during stroking that show increased neuronal activity associated with increased blood flow. The affected areas of the brain light up even when the person involved is unconscious.

I think Lennie should have been given a stress ball or something to occupy him, although I’ve no idea if it would have been a sufficient alternative to petting mice. Sometimes such toys are not always what they seem:

As we know, there are plenty of materials that are lovely to touch. Read the rest

Glorkian Warrior stickers

They're $4 from Stickermule -- a great way to show your Glorkian pride. Read the rest

Cultural appropriation? Hindu nationalists used yoga as an anti-colonialist export

A kerfuffle about a Canadian university where yoga classes were cancelled after concerns about cultural appropriation were raised by the Centre for Students with Disabilities sparked Michelle Goldberg, author of a biography of yoga pioneer Indra Devi to discuss the complicated issue of cultural exports, cultural appropriation, and the history of yoga. Read the rest

Leaked recording: pollution lobbyists discuss exploiting Syrian refugee crisis

A leaked recording made of a conference call hosted by the Edison Electric Institute, which lobbies for the power industry, reveals lobbyists for high pollution companies talking about how they can exploit the Syrian refugee crisis to get a rider inserted into a pending bill that would kill the EPA's Waters of the United States rule, which protects America's waterways from pollution. Read the rest

Dell apologizes for preinstalling bogus root-certificate on computers

Yesterday, Dell was advising customers not to try to uninstall the bogus root certificate it had snuck onto their Windows machine, which would allow attackers to undetectably impersonate their work intranets, bank sites, or Google mail. Today, they apologized and offered an uninstaller -- even as we've learned that at least one SCADA controller was compromised by the bad cert, and that Dell has snuck even more bogus certs onto some of its machines. Read the rest

Veronica Belmont on being overtaken by a meme

A long time ago, Veronica Belmont was featured in a blooper reel for her old TV show in which she clowned around with a Cthulhu t-shirt, wiggling back and forth and saying "So lifelike." A creepy Internet person turned the moment into a GIF that has followed her around ever since, so that other creepy Internet people post it every time she opens her mouth online, and creepy Internet porn companies use it in their ads. Read the rest

J Edgar Hoover was angry that the Boy Scouts didn't thank him effusively enough

Michael from Muckrock writes, "From Boy Scouts to movie stars, no one was safe from J. Edgar Hoover's all-watching surveillance apparatus at the FBI -- or his sharp tongue. MuckRock has put together a collection of his most biting insults to serve up at Thanksgiving, in case you need to put any of the in-laws on notice." Read the rest

This fun and fruity toilet paper looks good enough to eat

Most folks use paper,

Some use their hand,

Outdoors they use leaves,

In the desert they use sand.

But what about fruit? You've never wiped your keister with a kiwi?

They make every thing for every purpose in Japan, and now they're making fruit toilet paper. The original article on Rocket News notes that the company which created this bit of fruity foolishness won a design award of note for the product.

The simultaneously strange and endearing qualities of Japan are laid bare in this quote from the manufacturer's website, so helpfully pointed out by Rocket News: "Latona Marketing says of their sweet creation 'Many companies and stores throughout Japan give a roll of toilet paper to customers as a novelty gift to show their appreciation.'"

I want you to try that this upcoming holiday season and let me know how it goes.

You can buy this unique gift here. Unfortunately they are not scented. So while fruity they may look in the bathroom, fruity they will not smell. Read the rest

Meet the Sweden Democrats, a creepy far-right nationalist group

The Guardian has a video report on the Sweden Democrats, the third largest party in the country, which runs on a platform of blatant racism, anti-immigration, and nationalism. Read the rest

This is the best restaurant spiciness scale

[via] Read the rest

North Korean interiors look like a Wes Anderson film set

Architecture critic Oliver Wainwright recently went to North Korea and took photos of colorful, symmetrical building interiors that look a lot like a Wes Anderson film set.

Read the rest

Video time-lapse of terrorist attacks from 2000-2015

Designer Milan R. Vuckovic produced this video time-lapse of terrorist attacks around the world over the last 15 years. Only attacks with 20 or more fatalities were included. Read the rest

Lightning nearly strikes a car

The video has a terrific crack of thunder. There's no information about where this happened.

[via] Read the rest

What's the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

After watching this video, I realize I've never eaten a yam. According to the President of the Sweet Potato Council, yams in the United States are only found in "specialty stores." Yams have been a staple in some African countries for centuries, and when slaves were brought to the US, they referred to sweet potatoes as "yams." The name stuck. Read the rest

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