• Flag's Kickstarter to build the world's best photo printing facility

    Hey, it's your ol' pal Joel! Used to write a gadget blog that wasn't about gadgets? Man, great to see you. No, no, have a seat. Can we get a couple of…yeah, no ice, thanks.

    So let's get business out of the way before we eat: One of my clients is launching a Kickstarter today and I hope you'll check it out.

    (I have clients now! I started a company. It isn't a media company or even a gadget blog. Just a regular, ol' fashioned intragalactic-HUMINT-and-covert-ops-themed strategic comms company, where people hire me to help them solve problems. I like it.)

    The Kickstarter is set at $500k, which is a lot of money; it's also how much is needed to build a dedicated printing facility under one roof that can provide 20 museum-quality, ad-supported prints to tens of thousands of customers for free each month. That's what they need to increase production, in both volume and speed. Bear in mind this is a company that took an initial $160k Kickstarter success and 1) made a functional iPhone app 2) established a printing process that exceeds all other consumer printing quality, and 3) spun up production that is putting out 80-100k prints a month. There were many pitfalls along the way—screwed up batches of prints that had to be reprinted before delivery, equipment that was promised that didn't work, greater-than-expected software delays—but they didn't walk away from it. They pushed through it and have built a company. They've got major advertisers lined up to start sponsoring prints. They've got a plan for expansion. They're focused on making people really excited to hold memories in their hands again.

    If that has caught your eye, go click on their Kickstarter and read through all stuff, maybe watch that "Robots & Lasers" video which sounds like a cheesy faux nerd reference but is quite literal, maybe kick the tires on the business model and ask some questions.

    Hrm, I guess that was all business! No, ha ha, let me get it. In fact, I've got to get to another meeting. Yeah, no, for sure! Let's do this again.

  • How to know if the Overland Expo is for you

    Not sure if you'd enjoy the Overland Expo? This video should serve as a simple litmus test: if you don't enjoy watching a $125,000 Sportsmobile (née Ford Econoline) being towed out of a self-inflicted mud bog by a $250,000+ MAN-based camper, then the outdoor show and clinic series probably isn't for you.

    Last weekend's event was mired in a mud flat outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, a hard-packed clay that was coated in a two-inch layer of friction-breaking snot. All the better to test out driving a new Range Rover Sport on the off-road course with a provided navigator in the passenger seat, to guide me through each obstacle and to chirp disapprovingly when nearly putting the supercharged SUV into a pond. (Street tires were not the best choice when trying to stop sliding down a six-foot mud hill, but there's nothing more fun than learning the vagaries of a new machine that you don't have to pay to repair.)

    Classes include off-roading basics like mechanical repair and winching, as well as more quotidian advice for long-term adventures like budgeting and relationship maintenance. Not every attendee will be driving to Tierra Del Fuego or spend their winters on safari in Africa, but some do, and there's no better place I've been to get a taste for all the methods available that involve gasoline and a vehicle of your own: BMW and KTM adventure bikes are parked in between road warrior ultra-RVs and beautifully restored 4×4 classics; there's a flavor for everyone but the backpackers. (Bless them.)


    Every shade of compromise on the comfort-to-capability gradient is on display: motorcyclists with tents; small trucks with self-contained fiberglass rooftop tents; slide-in campers for pick-ups that can withstand some light wheeling; quarter-million-dollar all-but-custom rigs from the likes of Earthroamer and GlobalXVehicles, the latter of which has sold something like 60 large-scale vehicles in the last few years, according to its owner Michael Van Pelt. It's a first-world market for third-world tourism, to be sure, but Van Pelt told me not every client is rich—just wealthy enough to be able to invest in a bit of highly mobile real-estate welded to the chassis of used military trucks. (The resale value is, at least according to Van Pelt, pretty decent; they don't appreciate, necessarily, but they don't lose value as quickly as your garden-variety truck.)

    As in every endeavor, when it comes to overlanding there are options for the rich and for those willing to make themselves rich by targeted deletion of their need for security. The Overland Expo is a great place to get a taste for the lifestyle, should it tickle you, without jumping headlong into a commitment. I learned a lot in my short stay (although not much from the vendors, all of whom were perfectly nice, but simply showing gear you can read about online; most offered on-site discounts, however). And as the drizzle turned into sleet that gave no sign of letting up, I was just as happy to be able to hop in my little truck and drive towards sunny weather and a warm, dry bed.

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  • RIP Michael Jackson

    It's all over the everywhere, but I just felt like it was worth mentioning here, too. Michael Jackson was a supreme talent and dealt with a tremendous amount of pain. He made many critically bad choices over the years, but it's impossible for me to not still respect his talent and imagination.

    Image: Bijioo

    Update: This is heartbreaking. And it's apparently a Pepsi commercial. (via Anil Dash)

  • Everything you need to know about Nintendo's next games

    There aren't any huge surprises from Nintendo: more games in existing franchises, more hardware, but more riffs on existing themes. But we knew that was; it's how they're riffing that is always interesting.

    To whit: The new "Wii Vitality Sensor" (I titter so you don't have to), a heart rate monitor that clips onto your finger that will let the Wii know when you're really blissed out.

    Brandon's got everything you need to know about Nintendo's upcoming product lineup, including new titles (New Super Mario Bros. sidescroller! A create-your-own-minigame WarioWare: DIY title?!) and such over at Offworld.

  • Microsoft "Project Natal" invents a better Wii

    Microsoft had a killer day today, revealing all sorts of updates to the Xbox 360, including full retail game downloads, 1080p live streaming of movies and TVs, and most notably "Project Natal", an attempt to beat the Nintendo Wii at its own game by creating a virtual reality interface that doesn't use control hardware at all, but instead does real-time motion capture using an array of cameras.

    It actually looks pretty amazing. Brandon's got everything you need to know, including video, over at Offworld.

  • Offworld gets an exclusive peek at Henry Hatsworth concept art

    Brandon has scored a major coup: Electronic Arts has presented Offworld with access to the concept art for Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure, one of the most interesting games to come out this year, both in play and in art direction. Brandon's put together a galley showing the environments, characters, and enemies. It's an awesome peek into the creative act that happens before pixel is ever put to sprite.

    We hope this will just be the first of many "Concept Albums" on Offworld.

  • Welcome Lisa Katayama and Steven Leckart to BBG

    Join me in welcoming Lisa Katayama and Steven Leckart to the Boing Boing fold. They'll be coming aboard with Rob and I to work on BBG, although I wouldn't be surprised to see them contributing to Boing Boing and Offworld just every now and again, as well.

    You'll get to know them through the blog-o-squawk soon enough, but it'd be a shame to waste such bona fides as our two new contributors have collected.

    Lisa you guys will know as a former guestblogger at Boing Boing, as well as her blogging about Japanese culture and tech at her blog Tokyo Mango. She's also contributed to WIRED, Popular Science, and the The New York Times Magazine. (There's a big feature coming up there, isn't there, Lisa? Can you talk about that yet?) And of course she's the author of Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan. She has two min-pins named Malcolm and Ruby (no relation to my car), as per the requirements for BBG contributors. She's @tokyomango and will be her first name at boingboing.net once I figure out how we actually do our email forwards here.

    Steven's work has been seen at WIRED, DVICE, GOOD (and was the founder of ALL CAPS MAGAZINE), as well as the editor of our friend Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools. He also helped Chris Anderson with the books The Long Tail and the upcoming Free as a writing assistant. He has a pug named Gus, as per the requirements for BBG contributors. He's @stevenleckart on Twitter and will be his first name at boingboing.net once I get off my ass and set up that email account. [photo by Jonathan Snyder]

    Come on over to BBG and slap them around a little! And welcome, you two! I've stoked to have you aboard our undulating tanker ship of bubbling mutant goo.

  • Driving from Brooklyn to Oregon next week; What weird should I espy?

    I am moving to Eugene, Oregon, because I am in love with a girl.

    I'm also in love with my dog Porter who, as an English Bulldog, has a not-impossible chance of dying in the cargo hold a jet (even one heated and pressurized; bullies have breathing issues). So I'm gonna lash him in to the passenger seat of a rented minivan, test out my new awkwardly large Pioneer GPS unit, and bop across the country from Brooklyn listening to my first audiobook ever. (Ender's Game, which I've never read. I know.)

    Along the way, I'll be doing the things one does when hauling ass on the interstates—gulping coffee, then slathering umeboshi plum paste on my teeth to try to counteract the acidity; asking truckers where to find the best chicken-fried steak with cream gravy, America's perfect food; falling asleep in the mountains to die in flames at the bottom of a ravine, my organs shimmering on my outsides like a grotesque Nudie Cohn suit—and I'll be recording them all on the video machines.

    I have to cut through Kansas City to drop off an old Kustom amp that my buddy Jason had to leave when he moved back home. And I hope to be rolling into Oregon by the weekend. But along the way, I've got a little time to sightsee and visit. What should I see? Want to meet up?

  • Tweet Week continues with scanning and sleeping stuffs to win

    Thought I forgot Tweet Week? Well, I sort of did, but it's because I've been busy today getting ready for my move to Eugene, Oregon. (More on that tomorrow!) But in the meantime, let me give out some more stuffs. Up first is a NeatReceipts, a scanner designed specifically to get your documents, receipts, and business cards in order and slurped into your PC or Mac. (I've actually got one in here for review, but this whole moving thing has got me in the weeds.)

    Tonight I'll also give away a SleepTracker Pro watch that monitors your night thrashings and wakes you at the most opportune time for restfulness. (I did review that and liked it quite a bit.)


    Haven't put in your entries for Tweet Week yet? Here's how: Follow us on Twitter and you'll be entered to win. Here are our accounts again; Each follow is an entry: • @joeljohnson; @xenijardin; @beschizza; @brandonnn; @doctorow; @johnbattelle; @frauenfelder

    (By the way, it's been awesome to get to know so many new people over the last few days. I am a very lucky person to be able to get to know so many quick and clever people. The lesson: It's easy to make friends when you give away prizes!)

  • Tweet Week: Win Dirty Dolls Lingerie, LeapFrog Didj, iVoice headsets today

    We're starting off today's Tweet Week giveaways with a bang: I'm going to pick one of you to win some panties from Dirty Dolls, a just-launched lingerie company that "specializes in catering to the needs of voluptuous women." (Bless them.) Founder Courtney Leigh Newman is giving us two items, the Organic Cha Cha Cheeky Short [pictured] and the Organic Thrilling Thong. (Which, despite first glance, is a technically SFW image. Subtle!)

    On deck for later today: Five Didj handheld gaming systems for kids from LeapFrog, plus three games for each. (Unintentional awesome: We give away videocameras, then lingerie, then kids' toys. Narrative is a powerful form.) We've also got a couple of Bluetooth headsets from iVoice, the Diamond-X and GX7.


    How do you get a chance to win this stuff? I've explained the details already, but in short: if you follow the Boing Boing editors on Twitter this week, you have a chance to win fabolas prizes. Here are our accounts again; Each follow is an entry: • @joeljohnson; @xenijardin; @beschizza; @brandonnn; @doctorow; @johnbattelle; @frauenfelder

  • Tweet Week: Follow us on Twitter, win prizes

    Do you like stuff? We like to give you the stuffs. So here's how we're going to do it: Every time you follow one of the Boing Boing editors' Twitter feed, we get an email. We'll select from those emails at random and award a prize. If you've won, I'll let you know by direct message on Twitter. We'll do this all week or until we're out of prizes. (That's how I getcha! So at the least, you should follow us this week before you leave en masse next Monday.)

    For each editor you follow you'll gain another entry, so if you're already following some of us you can still get a crack at winning by following another editor. (We started collecting entry emails since yesterday and will put all of those in the hat.)

    That's it. Easy. We get followers to squawk at about our bunions, you get stuff. I'll be putting up a post a day until we have all the prizes distributed. As befits a Boing Boing contest, we've got a bunch of different stuff: a guitar; a videophone; some random iPod and iPhone cases; lingerie (!); and what I'll be starting with today, three of these custom-printed Flip Mino HD camcorders from CafePress. (One per winner, of course.) More on the prizes as we go along.

    Here are our accounts. Collect them all!:
    @joeljohnson (Boing Boing Gadgets)
    @xenijardin (Boing Boing/Video)
    @beschizza (Boing Boing Gadgets)
    @brandonnn (Boing Boing Offworld)
    @doctorow (Boing Boing)
    @johnbattelle (Boing Boing)
    @frauenfelder (Boing Boing)

    (We always have questions about if these contests are okay for readers outside the U.S. or not. Because most of these prizes are being shipped direct from the companies, I can't always promise that they'll be able to be shipped to everyone, but I'll do my best to work it out if it comes up. Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions.)

  • Boing Boing on GOOD: Why I Like the Amazon Kindle 2 (or will once I get one)

    I only did a couple of things today, but one of them was paw the Kindle 2. Unlike a lot of other skeptics and their quite reasonable criticisms, I'm actually a pretty big Kindle fan. (I have no problem viewing it purely as a paper book adjunct, a role at which it excels.) I took a crack at explaining why—and why the Kindle 2 is better than the first one—in this article at GOOD.

    Reviewing the Kindle 2

  • Boing Boing on GOOD: Digital TV Now!

    My first contribution to our series of essays by Boing Boing editors on GOOD—a fairly high-level explanation of why I wish Congress would just force the switch to digital television broadcasts—is online.

    The televisions in 6.5 million American households will stop working when stations are forced to switch to the digital format–and I don't care.

    Although it's been pushed back time and again (yesterday Congress postponed the transition deadline once more, from February 17th to June 12th), the switch from analog to digital television will happen eventually. When it does, valuable radio spectrum will be freed up for new uses, like "white space" wireless networking. (Think Super Wi-Fi.)

    The Obama administration was behind the latest delay. It asked Congress to postpone the transition again, fearing that the 5.7 percent of American households without the proper digital-to-analog conversion boxes–boxes that can be had for free simply by requesting a voucher from the FCC–would wake up on the 17th, find themselves greeted by only static, and march in the streets.

    Digital Television Now!

    PreviouslyMy Ecologically Correct Move
    All the Web's a Stage
    The Return of Amateur Science
    A Mayan Village Reacts to Obama

  • Blog War! Join Boing Boing Offworld in MMO shooter Planetside

    Offworld has been challenged to a three-way online scrap with fellow gaming sites Rock, Paper, Shotgun and The Escapist. We've got 70 free accounts to use in Sony's Planetside to use to recruit our own army of Happy Super Mutants to destroy the enemy in good-natured virtual massacre. If you want to join us, pop over to Offworld to find out how to get a free key from me.

    Blog War! [Offworld]

  • Arcade Mania by Brian Ashcraft and Jean Snow

    Arcades are dead. And rightfully so: American arcades never bothered to change with the times (despite a brief dalliance with the public spectacle of games like Dance Dance Revolution).

    Not so in Japan, where arcades continue to evolve in surprising ways, in the stereotypical "bigger, crazier" Japanese method, as well as the more pedestrian. Case in point: Yuka Nakajima, queen of "Crane Games", those funny claw machines that are commonly ignored in department store vestibules in the States but big business in Japan. Nakajima is so adept at "UFO Catchers" (the Japanese moniker for all claw machines) that she has an entire room filled with the stuffed bears she has won and is the star of video tutorials included in the games themselves.

    I learned about Nakajima in the new book Arcade Mania: The Turbo-charged World of Japan's Game Centers by Brian "The Sweetest Man in Games Journalism" Ashcraft and Jean "Pretty Sweet Himself" Snow. Ash is a pal, so I was a bit worried when I first got my copy; how interesting could a book about arcades be? Turns out I had nothing to fret about. There's a whole new set of human experience happening inside Japan's game centers and it's just as varied and weird and surprising as you could hope it would be.

    I too often have an expectation, a caricature, in mind about Japan and its culture that occludes my perception of the people living and playing there. That's natural, of course, and perhaps even welcome: it makes a reading a book that supplants many of my preconceptions so effectively even more exciting.

    Arcade Mania: The Turbo-charged World of Japan's Game Centers [Amazon]

  • Interview: Michael Chertoff on the TSA and "Security Theater"

    Last week Boing Boing was invited along with a small group of political bloggers and analysts to a sit-down Q&A with departing Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. I had a chance to ask Secretary Chertoff a few questions about the TSA screening process. (Although had I more time, there would have been plenty of other questions I would have loved to ask, such as why U.S. Customs confiscates laptops; more on that in another post.)

    While I will be posting the complete transcript of the interview with everyone's questions (along with the audio recording if anyone is interested), I've excerpted the discussion about the TSA with questions from me and Security Catalyst's Michael Santarcangelo. I've edited the transcript slightly for clarity.

    "Joel Johnson: What's the number of direct terrorist actions that have been interfered with by TSA screening?"

    Michael Chertoff interview [BBG]

  • Fünde Razor for Child's Play in NYC, Denver, and SF tonight!

    Hey, folks. I'm getting ready to head into Manhattan to get ready for Fünde Razor, our yearly fund raising event for the Child's Play Charity. If you like to drink beer, play Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and win prizes to raise money to keep kids entertained when they're at hospital, please stop on by. Unless you hate children/to rock.

    And it's not just New York: there are sister events happening in Denver and San Francisco. But if you can make it to the New York event (now in our fourth year!) please come say and tell me hello! And as always, if you can't make it, you should toss a few bucks in the box for the kids.

    Times, locations, information, and more (not that much more, really) [FundeRazor.com]

  • Fünde Razor: Charity night for Child's Play in NYC, Denver, and SF

    A few years ago I held an event each year to raise money for the Child's Play Charity that puts videogames into the hands of kids staying at children's hospitals. We called it, in proper rock style, Fünde Razor. We're now in our fourth year, and thanks to help from friends in the industry — Kotaku, Game|Life, Rock Gamer, Gizmodo, not to mention tons of game and gadget manufacturers — we've raised thousands of dollars that we give over in its entirety to Child's Play. We've even moved beyond our original New York event to add a Denver and San Francisco event, all next Wednesday evening. (Location and times over on FundeRazor.com. [There's a similar event on Tuesday in Chicago.])

    Prizes will vary a little bit from event to event (a lot of what we bring in are review items and such that all we bloggers have in our closets) but here's a partial list of what you can expect to win in the raffle or as door prizes at all three cities' events.

    It really is a blast. If you make it to the NYC event, come tell me hi! And if you can't make it out to any of the nights (or even if you can), please consider donating to Child's Play anyway. They're amazing.

    All the prizes that you could maybe possible win but if not you can still drink beer and play Rock Band [Offworld!]