Gallery of all (?) 7 undercover NYPD cars disguised as yellow cabs

Herman Yung is an enthusiastic photographer/taxi-spotter and over the years, he's managed to spot seven NYPD police cars disguised as yellow cabs (cab numbers 2W97, 6Y19, 6Y17, 2W95, 2W68, 6Y13, and 6Y21). Inspired by today's post about a Freedom of Information Act request about the cars, he's made his collection public for the first time, along with a spotter's guide for people who want to find their own. Read the rest

Justice Department to drop 'FBI vs. Apple' case, because they've unlocked the iPhone

The #FBIvsApple legal case may be over, but the fight over security, privacy, and the right to live free of surveillance has just begun. The Justice Department is expected to drop its legal action against Apple, possibly as soon as today, because an 'outside method' to bypass security on the San Bernardino gunman's iPhone has proven successful, a federal law enforcement official said Monday. Read the rest

Amazing Mario glitch allows game to be turned into Flappy Bird

A bizarre glitch in Super Mario World, and an incredible amount of patience, and the SNES classic is transformed into Flappy Bird.

It's incredible to watch SethBling in action. Once the glitch (triggered by giving Mario too many power-ups) is active, machine code can be arbitrary rewritten in memory by carefully moving Mario around. This code can, ultimately, be executed. The process takes an hour of careful pixel-perfect actions in the game world, which becomes stranger and more nightmarish as Mario's universe-editing rituals proceed.

Welcome to the weirdest, most painful, most existentially-nightmarish IDE—and a reminder that our own reality is probably an abandoned simulation waiting for someone to take too many power-ups and turn it all into a sadistic casual game. Read the rest

How to Talk About Videogames: a book that is serious (but never dull) about games

Ian Bogost's How to Talk About Videogames isn't just a book about games -- it's a book about criticism, and where it fits in our wider culture. Bogost is the rare academic writer whose work is as clear and exciting as the best of the mainstream, and whose critical exercises backfire by becoming enormous commercial/popular successes.

Lest we forget the corrosive strength of sulfuric acid

Ancient alchemists referred to H2SO4 as "oil of vitriol."

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How libraries can save the Internet of Things from the Web's centralized fate

Everyone thinks libraries have a positive role to play in the world, but that role differs greatly based on whether you’re talking to a librarian or a patron. Ask a patron what libraries have in common and they’d probably answer: they share books with people. Librarians give a different answer: they share a set of values. It’s time for libraries to step up to those values by supporting access to the Internet and taking the lead in fighting to keep the Internet open, free, and unowned.

Douglas Rushkoff in conversation with Institute for the Future's Marina Gorbis

Last week, Boing Boing pals Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and Marina Gorbis, executive director at Institute for the Future (where I'm a researcher), took the stage at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club to discuss why we've lost sight of the open Web and how the digital economy has gone terribly wrong. It was a fantastic freeform barrage of brilliant and witty criticism, insights, and ideas for rewriting the rules of this game that right now nobody can win.

Listen to it here!

Or download the podcast here.

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Powerful Things Come in Tiny Packages, and This Mini-Linux Computer for Only $39 Proves It

In a world dominated by Instagram, SnapChat, and Facebook, it’s easy to think that technology comprises only the Internet. But of course, it’s more than that, also encompassing computer hardware we can tinker with using our own hands. The Mini Linux Computer certainly proves the point.

This machine is certainly small. But pound for pound, it’s just as powerful and versatile as any computer you’ve seen. You can use it as a standalone device, or integrate it into a larger system as it works on open source hardware. It runs on the OpenWRT Linux platform, connects to peripheral devices in a cinch, and includes its own built-in Wi-Fi adapter. It extends Ethernet and the USB interfaces with the included Dock, and even works as a fully functional 2.4GHz router.

All necessary hardware and source code is included, so you have all you need to start your next amazing project. Its small size is a blessing that allows you to easily embed it into any system you want. So, don’t wait another second, and get your own Mini Linux Computer for just $39, before time runs out. Check out the link below for more details.

Take 13% Off the VoCore Mini Linux Computer in the Boing Boing Store.

Can’t get enough Linux, and want to become a power user? Check out the (aptly named) Linux Power User Bundle , available for just $19.

This bundle comprises 5 courses that cover important Linux subjects, ranging from the LAMP Stack to command line essentials. Read the rest

The singing road that plays "America the Beautiful"

On a stretch of Route 66 between Albuquerque and Tijeras, New Mexico, engineers at Sand Bar Construction, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, and the National Geographic Channel installed a series of rumble strips that play “America the Beautiful" as you traverse them at 45 miles per hour. Apparently, the jingle of corporate sponsor Nationwide was originally included in the road's repertoire but it has since been removed. Watch the video above about the installation, meant keep to drivers at a safe speed.

(via TIL)

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MSG is safe enough for me

Monosodium Glutamate. I grew up in an era of terrifying tales about how MSG was a horrible scientifically engineered food additive that was killing me. Now I know the truth: this magic sodium salt of glutamic acid simply makes food taste better, and it doesn't hurt me. Read the rest

Cop Cabs: The NYPD has at least three fake taxis on NYC's streets

Michael from Muckrock writes, "Watch what you say: That next taxi you hail could be driven by New York's Finest. A MuckRock FOIA request has found that the NYPD has at least three undercover cop cars posing as taxis ... and quite possibly many more." Read the rest

Peer-reviewed online expert system will help you if you've been poisoned

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "There's been a lot of talk about computer-assisted medicine, but in most cases these are tools to help you talk to a doctor. For a year, I've been tracking a remarkable new service that actually dispenses medical advice about toxicology and poisoning using software algorithms. Read the rest

The Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons

Teen hacker Gibson Vaughn embarrasses a US Senator, and is made an example of. Now, ten years later, the same folks who turned him into a pariah need his help solving one of the greatest abduction stories in US history. Part political thriller, part who done it, The Short Drop is a fantastic read.

This novel has it all. A teen hacker unfairly made an example of by the government and struggling to make his way, the establishment's front-running presidential candidate being overtaken by an upstart US Senator, and a 10 year old missing persons case to tie them together. This is one heck of a fun novel to read this primary season!

While some of the plot twists and turns may be a little more obvious to the reader than the characters in the novel, the pacing and story line are a lot of fun. I really enjoy the small details FitzSimmons colors his story with, and his representation of the Internet as a personality. I think he gets is right.

The Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons via Amazon Read the rest

The "American College of Pediatricians" is a hate group with fewer than 200 members

Not to be mistaken for the legitimate American Academy of Pediatrics, which has 60,000 members! Read the rest

Listen: Bruce Sterling's "Black Swan (a cyberpunk story)"

Bruce Sterling's 2010 short story Black Swan (a cyberpunk story) comes to life in a fine reading by Paul Cram (MP3) on the Starshipsofa podcast. Read the rest

Ransomware gets a lot faster by encrypting the master file table instead of the filesystem

In just a few short years, ransomware -- malware that encrypts all the files on the computer and then charges you for a key to restore them -- has gone from a clever literary device for technothrillers to a cottage industry to an epidemic to a public menace. Read the rest

The Art of Magic – a card index and nature guide to Zendikar

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

It was right before Christmas and I was desperate for a present for a Magic: The Gathering player. When I asked knowledgable friends if there was such a thing as a Pokédex-style guide to all the MTG cards available, I was directed towards The Art of Magic: The Gathering: Zendikar.

This coffee-table book is limited to art from the Zendikar set, the most recent card collection published by Wizards of the Coast. There is no reference book showing all MTG cards from its 20-plus year history, and this book will not scratch that itch; there are too many cards out there, thousands and thousands, for that to be a reasonable project in 2016. But if you’re someone who would like a MTG-dex to exist, then you’re going to want this on your coffee table.

The text isn’t an analysis of the artwork, but instead is closer to a nature guide to Zendikar — the plane (or planet) of this set — and a retelling of the plot behind the collection. Parts are amusingly reminiscent of Lonely Planet travel guides: “In one spot on Murasa’s towering cliffs, the Tajuru elves created a passable route over the wall. The route, consisting of steep, winding switchbacks and a few rickety wooden lifts, ins now maintained by humans and guarded by ogres, all in the service of an ogre named Kazuul. Upon reaching the top, travelers must pay tribute to Kazuul, and if the Tyrant of the Cliffs is not satisfied, he hurls them right back down the way they came as punishment for their impudence.”

A six-page appendix is the only place where the book breaks character, as Mark Rosewater — the designer of the Zendikar and Battle for Zendikar card sets — describes the years-long process by which the writers, artists, and art directors create a new world. Read the rest

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