In one take, this guy shows all the cool skills he learned in 2016

Mike Boyd decided to make a show called "Learn Quick," where he tries to learn a skill from scratch as quickly as possible. As a roundup for 2016, he did them all in one single impressive long take. Read the rest

Need a cheap diffuser for your camera flash? Try a white balloon

The Koldunov Brothers put together this simple demonstration of how using a standard white party balloon can give your flash photography a nice diffused look. Read the rest

Adult site data reveals 2016's top trends: Melania and Matures are way up

Adult tube site xHamster released its first comprehensive survey of porn viewership in 2016. According to them the most visited category moved from MILFs to Matures (women in their 40s and 50s). They also found that searches for "Melania" beat out "Donald Trump" and "Hillary Clinton" combined. Read the rest

No, Russia didn't hack Vermont's power grid

Despite what you might have read in this alarming story in the Washington Post, Russia did not hack Vermont's power authority. Read the rest

White House report documents the "hidden fees" that pick America's pockets

In The Competition Initiative and Hidden Fees, the White House's National Economic Council documents the widespread use of deceptive "service charges" that businesses levy, allowing them to advertise prices that are wildly divergent from what you'll actually pay -- think of the $30, unavoidable "resort fees" added to a hotel bill; the $25 "processing fees" added to concert tickets, the random fees added to telecom bills, etc, all adding up to billions transferred away from American shoppers to big business. Read the rest

Your smart meter is very secure (against you) and very insecure (against hackers)

In On Smart Cities, Smart Energy, And Dumb Security -- Netanel Rubin's talk at this year's Chaos Communications Congress -- Rubin presents his findings on the failings in the security of commonly deployed smart meters. Read the rest

The best deals of 2016 from the Boing Boing Store

The Boing Boing Store had plenty of great items over the past year, but these 8 deals top each catagory. From course bundles in an array of professional programming and IT subjects to futuristic vaporizers, this guide features healthy discounts on leading tech finds.

Twisty Glass Blunt – $34.99

Rolling your own without destroying the paper with saliva is tricky without ample practice. This elegant glass pipe eliminates the hassle with a clever corkscrew design that holds up to 1.5 grams of tobacco. This deal will only be available until midnight of December 26th .

Buy Now: $34.99, 30% Off

Ultimate Unity3D Game Building Bundle – $32 

The Unity3D development environment has made creating video games remarkably accessible. With this game development bundle, you will learn the fundamentals of 3D modeling, physics simulation, and game analytics. 

Buy Now: $32, 90% off

A-Audio Legacy Noise Cancelling Headphones – $79.99

Eliminating background noise is an easy way to significantly improve your music listening experience. These headphones go beyond passive over-ear sound isolation with additionally enhanced bass and active noise cancelling. This deal goes away at midnight on December 27th.

Buy Now: $79.99, 73% off

The Complete Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kit - $99

The Raspberry Pi compact computer offers a welcoming platform for creating custom electronics projects. This introductory bundle supplies a Raspberry Pi 3, a variety of components, and six detailed courses. 

Buy Now: The Complete Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kit

Python Programming Bootcamp – $39.00

With a design that encourages equally readable code in small- and large-scale programs, Python is one of the most popular programming languages around. Read the rest

Are you ready for robots skinned with sensitive hairs?

Biomimicry in robotics has led to robots that can climb, fly, and swim better. Now researchers have developed hair-like filaments for robots that allow them to have more fine-grained senses of touch, sensing even forces as delicate as coming in contact with a piece of tissue. Read the rest

Artisans revive the polissoir, a nearly-forgotten woodworking tool

André Roubo's series on carpentry called L'Art du Menuisier mentions a polissior, a small device made of broom straw for polishing wood. In the two centuries since Roubo's book, the device had faded from memory until a couple of years ago, when Don Williams recreated one from an illustration in Roubo's book. It turned out to work amazingly well. Read the rest

World's highest bridge opens to traffic

Duge Beipanjiang Bridge crosses a gorge 565 meters above China's Nizhu River. That's a bigger height than One World Trade Center, and beats the previous record-holder by about 70 meters. Read the rest

More than 20,000 dead fish mysteriously washed up in Nova Scotia

Tens of thousands of fish, starfish, scallops, crabs, lobsters, and other ocean life washed up dead this week at Savory Park on the western coast of Nova Scotia. The cause of the massive fish death is not yet known. From CNN:

Environmental officials are testing the water for pesticides and oxygen levels for possible clues...

While toxic chemical exposure can be one cause, most fish kills are attributed to low concentrations of dissolved oxygen in the water, according to the USGS.

Just this year, mass fish deaths were reported in Florida's Indian River Lagoon and Hongcheng Lake in Haikou,China.

Read the rest

The 20 games you shouldn't miss in 2016

Since I last presented a year-end videogame wrap-up for Boing Boing readers, it's become an exponentially harder task. The number of games released per day has - even just since 2014! - risen a few times over, so narrowing a list down means leaving amazing and creative work behind. That's not even to mention the herculean task of staying on top of the pile of games still unplayed.

2016 gave us a generous amount of powerhouse titles hoisted by massive budgets and massive marketing efforts: hello Overwatch, Dark Souls III, Doom, No Man's Sky, Pokémon Sun & Moon, and especially Uncharted 4. But I did my best to wander the far corners of the internet, searching and sometimes blindly stumbling upon weird, beautiful, thoughtful videogames.

Below you'll find 20ish games (actually quite a good number more) that sang to me the most, and I think exemplify the best that 2016 had to offer. You'll find interesting places to explore, unique achievements and re-inventions of old standards, and brilliant ideas executed simply. I hope you find them as surprising and delightful as I did.

👾

Beglitched

by A.P. Thomson & Jenny Jiao Hsia • Get it: Windows/Mac/Linux

Beglitched is, on its face, a fairly simple match-3 type game, on the same family-tree branch as Bejeweled or Candy Crush or any other number of similar clones you may have spent all your idle moments thumbing around with on your phone over the past few years. Read the rest

Watch Zach Mueller's card wizardry from California

Cardistry wizard Zach Mueller works his magic on the Santa Monica Pier. Special guest appearance by cardist CJ Ocampo.

Read the rest

Watch George Michael and Morrissey discuss breakdancing and Joy Division

In May 1984, George Michael and Morrissey, promoting respectively “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and The Smiths' "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now," appeared on the BBC program Eight Days A Week. They discuss such urgent matters as the film Breakin' (released as Breakdance outside the US) and Mark Johnson's book An Ideal for Living: A History of Joy Division.

(via Dangerous Minds)

Read the rest

Will malfunction or incompetence start World War Three?

Eric Schlosser's book and film Command and Control look at the terrifying prospects of nuclear friendly fire, where one of America's nukes detonates on US soil. It also looks at what might happen if a false alarm gets relayed to a trigger-happy general or President. He starts this New Yorker piece with a terrifying story from June 3, 1980:

President Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was asleep in Washington, D.C., when the phone rang. His military aide, General William Odom, was calling to inform him that two hundred and twenty missiles launched from Soviet submarines were heading toward the United States. Brzezinski told Odom to get confirmation of the attack. A retaliatory strike would have to be ordered quickly; Washington might be destroyed within minutes. Odom called back and offered a correction: twenty-two hundred Soviet missiles had been launched.

Brzezinski decided not to wake up his wife, preferring that she die in her sleep. As he prepared to call Carter and recommend an American counterattack, the phone rang for a third time. Odom apologized—it was a false alarm. An investigation later found that a defective computer chip in a communications device at norad headquarters had generated the erroneous warning. The chip cost forty-six cents.

Lots more scary info at the Command and Control film website.

World War Three, by mistake (New Yorker)

Image: Maxwell Hamilton Read the rest

One professor's nightmare renting her house through the sharing economy

SabbaticalHomes.com is like Airbnb for academics looking to rent their homes during sabbaticals. Sounds genteel, but many states allow long-term guests to establish tenancy, often after 30 days. Mother Jones has an infuriating and cautionary tale about the homestay marketplace: the sharing economy can intersect with tenant rights, and the people who know how to work that system might decide not to pay rent or leave until evicted. Read the rest

Making rainbow magic with dissolving Skittles

Hot water on a ring of Skittles! (via The Kid Should See This) Read the rest

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