Epic Bill Gates e-mail rant from 2003

In 2003 Bill Gates tried to download Microsoft Movie Maker from Microsoft.com. His confusing, frustrating, futile experience prompted him to write a terrifically scorching email to the managers in charge of the project. It starts off pretty mild, with just a hint of the brutally funny sarcasm to come. ("I typed in movie maker. Nothing. So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying – where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist? So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.") It gets better from there.

The best way to experience Bill's rant is by listening to Dave Ross of KIRO-AM/710 in Seattle give a dramatic reading:

And if you read the finger-pointing, ass-covering, wheel-spinning internal email conversation between the people Bill flamed, you will understand why the product sucked so hard.

Hey, Bill, welcome to the Windows user experience! It reminds me of what I still have to go though every time I try to connect my kid's Windows machine to a new hotspot.

How do pinball machine solenoids work?

Solenoids are common electromechanical devices. They're used in pinball machines to make the ball shoot away when they hit a bumper. If you've ever have the opportunity to touch an energized pinball bumper, you will immediately gain an appreciation for its explosive power.

In this video, famous hardware hacker Jeri Ellsworth takes apart a pinball machine solenoid to show how it works.

[via Hackaday]

Image: Youtube screenshot

Beloved Kura Toga mechanical pencil on sale for $4.90

Available as an add-on item on Amazon, this Kuru Toga pencil has a cool feature that rotates the lead incrementally every time you press it down on paper. That way, the tip stays nicely rounded. Here's a video of the spring-loaded clutch mechanism in action:

The pencil also has a metal sleeve that protects the lead, sliding into the pencil as the lead gets shorter. The sleeve retracts completely so you can lug it in a bag without having to worry about it getting bent or breaking off.

Toronto cops eat drugs, freak out, and charged with Attempting to Obstruct Justice

If you’re a cop who calls for backup to save you from drug-induced hallucinations, you’re going to have a bad year.

This past January, Toronto Police Service Constable Vittorio Dominelli and his partner, whose name has yet to be released, were on duty when, allegedly, they decided to chow down on some marijuana-laced edibles. Apparently, they snatched up the Scooby snacks during a raid on a pot dispensary.

It is here that Toronto radio station News Talk 1010 reported that shit began to get weird:

… after carrying out a warrant at a local dispensary Saturday night, two officers, still on the clock, ingested marijuana-infused goodies meant to be taken from the scene as evidence. When they didn't feel the effects of the drugs right away, the pair ate more. Then more.

And then the drugs kicked in.

Oh, and kick in they did: while sitting in their cruiser, the pair of police began tripping balls. Their high was so rough that they called an ambulance and, in a panic, their station house, saying that they needed assistance. For the uninitiated, an officer assistance call is taken very seriously. Any cop in the area that’s not on call, and sometimes, even if they are on a call, will drop what they’re doing and come a-running, full speed, as if the officer who made that call’s life depended on it – because it often does. When backup arrived, one of the dope-addled cops burst from his cruiser and took off running, with responding officers in tow. During the foot chase, one of the responding officers slipped on the ice, and cracked his head open. Not cool.

Fast forward to this week: The cops that allegedly snatched up the edible treats during last January’s drug raid? They’re suspended and have been charged with Attempting to Obstruct Justice and Breach of Trust – heavy charges, in Canada, to be leveled against any public servant.

According to the Globe & Mail, they’ll have their day in court on June 7.

Image: User:Jennifer Martin - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Can you solve the wizard standoff riddle?

Math 4 Love founder Dan Finkel writes:

You’ve been chosen as a champion to represent your wizarding house in a deadly duel against two rival magic schools. Your opponents are a powerful sorcerer who wields a wand that can turn people into fish, and a powerful enchantress who wields a wand that turns people into statues. Can you choose a wand and devise a strategy that ensures you will win the duel?

(TEDEd)

US consulate worker in China injured by mysterious sonic attack

Remember when 15 US government workers in Cuba got sick from some kind of unknown "sonic attack" a couple of years ago? Well, today it was reported that a US consulate staffer in China was the victim of a “medically similar” attack.

Via Reuters:

The worker was sent to the United States for further evaluation. “The clinical findings of this evaluation matched mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI),” the embassy said.

The State Department was taking the incident very seriously and working to determine the cause and impact, the embassy said. [U.S. Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo said that medical teams were heading to Guangzhou to investigate the incident.

The State Department added the Chinese government told the embassy it is also investigating and taking appropriate measures.

“We cannot at this time connect it with what happened in Havana, but we are investigating all possibilities,” a U.S. embassy official told Reuters.

A robot found the "holy grail of shipwrecks" containing billions of dollars in cargo

In 1708, British ships sunk a Spanish galleon called the San José that contained a cargo of gold, silver, and emeralds believed to be now valued at billions of dollars. Now it's been revealed that in 2015, a robot found this "holy grail of shipwrecks" off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. The efforts were led by Maritime Archaeology Consultants with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists using an autonomous underwater vehicle named REMUS 6000.

REMUS 6000 had previously located the wreckage of Air France 447 off the northeastern coast of Brazil and in 2010 mapped and captured images of the Titanic wreckage. The Colombian government will build a museum to display and protect the wreckage and its cargo. From the Boston Globe:

Because of a legal battle between the Colombian government and an American salvage company over the treasure, the institution was not authorized to reveal its involvement in the discovery until Monday.

The institution released pictures taken by REMUS, including one of jumbled cannons and another of scores of teacups scattered on the ocean floor...

REMUS, a 13-foot-long and 26-inch-wide torpedo-like vehicle, was able to snap photos of a few distinguishing features of the ship, including its unique bronze cannons and dolphin engravings, the (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) statement said.

“The San José discovery carries considerable cultural and historical significance for the Colombian government and people because of the ship’s treasure of cultural and historical artifacts and the clues they may provide about Europe’s economic, social, and political climate in the early 18th century,” the institution said.

The treasure has been the subject of legal battles between several nations as well as private companies. Several weeks ago, UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, called on Colombia not to commercially exploit the wreck.

"New Details on Discovery of San Jose Shipwreck" (WHOI)

Boring company makes "the world's most boring billboard" and promises to keep it up for 12 years

Sioo:x Wood Protection is a boring company. That doesn't mean its products aren't important. It's just hard to jump up and down with glee over wood protection. Nevertheless, the "world's most boring billboard" that Sioo:x installed in Malmö, Sweden is pretty cool. It's a triple sided outdoor display made of wood that's been treated with preservative. The billboard will remain outdoors for 12 years as a way to demonstrate the effectiveness of Sioo:x's treatment against long term exposure to the harsh environmental insults handed out by Sweden's unforgiving weather.

Bringing DNA testing to the Loch Ness Monster mystery

For more than a century there have been reports of a strange sea "monster" living in Loch Ness yet hard evidence is, er, lacking. Now, evolutionary biologist Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago is hoping that DNA testing could perhaps shed some light on what people claim is Nessie. For two weeks, Gemmell and his team will collect skin and scale samples from Loch Ness and compare those DNA sequences against known animals. Here's what Gemmmell told the BBC News:

"I don't believe in the idea of a monster, but I'm open to the idea that there are things yet to be discovered and not fully understood. Maybe there's a biological explanation for some of the stories."

"While the prospect of looking for evidence of the Loch Ness monster is the hook to this project, there is an extraordinary amount of new knowledge that we will gain from the work about organisms that inhabit Loch Ness - the UK's largest freshwater body..."

"There is this idea that an ancient Jurassic Age reptile might be in Loch Ness. If we find any reptilian DNA sequences in Loch Ness, that would be surprising and would be very, very interesting."

Above, "The Surgeon's Photograph" of 1934, known to be a hoax.

Young girl shocks parents with hilarious answer to why people get married

When parents ask their daughters why Prince Harry is getting married, the younger of the two says, "Harry is getting married because they want to get married." But when asked what you do when you get married, the younger girl is stumped. That's when her older sister jumps in with a hand gesture that could be interpreted as crude.

She points her index finger with one hand and sticks it into a circle made with the other hand. "Don't do that!" a man – presumably her father – says. "Whoooa! What are you doing?" a woman – presumably her mother – says.

The girl responds with a heartwarming, logical and very innocent answer. Or, maybe the girl is just really great at thinking on her feet.

Andy Warhol's Interview magazine shuts down after 49 years

In 1969 Andy Warhol and John Wilcock launched Interview, "The Crystal Ball of Pop." True to its name, the magazine ran interviews of artists, actors, musicians, and celebrities.

From The New York Times:

Ezra Marcus, an associate editor at the magazine, said by email that the staff was notified in an all-hands meeting earlier in the morning that Interview, which was founded in 1969, was closing and filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Phone calls to Brant Publications, which acquired Interview magazine in 1989, two years after Andy Warhol died, went unanswered.

With its striking style, Interview had long wielded outsize influence in the industry, inspiring the look and feel of many other publications. But questions about the magazine’s fortunes have lingered for years, as it faced ever-thinning ranks and churned through staff.

Madman attacks car and passenger with a sledgehammer

An irate gentleman wearing shorts and a lime green shirt was caught on a security camera attacking an SUV – and then a passenger – with a sledgehammer.

He followed the SUV into a parking lot, and when the SUV stops, the enraged man jumps out with a sledgehammer in his hand, which he uses to whack at the driver's window. The SUV starts to drive away, when someone on the passenger side falls out. The SUV keeps going while the passenger limps towards it. The madman looks like he's finished and huffs back to his pickup truck, but then decides he's still angry. He whacks the passenger, and then for good measure swings at the SUV one more time.

The motive? One witness heard the attacker shouting, "You're cheating on my girlfriend," according to NBC10. Also from NBC:

The witness also said that the pickup truck driver tried to chase after the SUV with his vehicle after leaving the parking lot. This was not captured on surveillance video however.

Nobody involved in the attack has come forward with information.

How stalking is romanticized in movies

This episode of Pop Culture Detective is called Stalking for Love, and explores the movie trope about "nice guys" who relentlessly stalk and harass women they are obsessed with. It's remarkable how frequently this trope appears in movies.

Stalking For Love is a popular media trope where invasive stalker-like behavior is presented as an endearing or harmless part of romantic courtship. The hero will often go to extraordinary lengths to coerce, trick or otherwise manipulate his way into a woman's life.

Mindbendingly cool Mexican psychedelic music from 1981

I'm familiar with the psych music scene that emerged in the 1960s-1970s in some Latin American countries like Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, thanks to fantastic reissues of rare LPs on labels like Luaka Bop, Goma Gringa, Now Again, and Mr Bongo. Now, the esteemed diggers at Mr Bongo have brought us a stunningly spacey psych record from Mexico: Luis Pérez's "Ipan In Xiktli Metztli, México Mágico Cósmico, El Ombligo de la Luna."

In the 1970s, Pérez studied the pre-Columbian instruments and musical traditions across Mexico, from the Maya and Nahuatl to Raramuri and Wixarika. He then channeled those influences into his own gorgeous electronic and experimental psychedelic songs that make up this record first released in 1981. Listen below.

As Mr Bongo writes, Pérez "delves deep into the past but also exists entirely outside of time."

Far fucking out.

Adam Savage at Maker Faire: the importance of sharing

Adam Savage gives a talk every year at Maker Faire. It's one of the highlights at the Bay Area event. This year, Adam talked about why sharing is such an important part of the maker movement.

I'm here to defend sharing as a vital aspect of maker culture that is intrinsic to the underlying ethos of what it means to be a maker, and by extension, a human being.

Some people don't want to share

I once attended a gallery show where the artist had done some fairly novel executions of portraits using common materials in a way that was really surprising. I asked them about their process and they told me they didn't want to share it with me. They wanted to keep the technique a secret

At one point, when I was working in a special effects studio, a friend of mine was making these large round forms using a very specific set of techniques. He was doing it for a week and a half, and it was fascinating -- all the levels that he went through. I asked him if I could take pictures of the process and he said yes, but he would withhold key parts of the information from me so that I could not learn how to do this. He considered it part of his job security

For years the makers of Barbie dolls have shut down any and all Barbie themed art shows and artwork. This is a grossly misguided form of copyright and trademark protection. It seems that they imagined somehow that they can dictate how people think about and discuss Barbie through their enforcement.

I disagree vehemently with this stance. I view it as antithetical to making as a practice, as a discipline, and to being a member of any community. As a member of a community of humans, art is one of the key ways in which we converse about the world and what is going on around us. Human progress is made not simply because of how we make things but also because we share what we make and how we made it.

The first two examples I gave are examples of people mistaking the techniques that they know for a commodity. The third is based on the specious idea that one can control everything about a brand

And I know that unique processes have a value and the inventor of those processes should benefit from that value. I believe that - that's what our patent and copyright acts are built to address. But each of the three examples I gave are about treating something as a scarce commodity when it is not scarce at all because sharing defies the laws of physics -- the more you give away the more you have.

Image: YouTube screenshot/Make

Plane flying from Austin TX to Honduras crashes and breaks in half, and everyone survives

A private plane carrying at least six US passengers from Austin, TX crashed on the small runway at Toncontin airport in Honduras's capital, Tegucigalpa. The plane split in half, but miraculously nobody was seriously injured.

According to the BBC:

The Gulfstream G200 aircraft was on a private flight from Austin, Texas, when it skidded off the runway and into a ditch at Toncontin International Airport.

Surrounded by mountains and with a very short runway, the Toncontin airport is considered one of the world's most treacherous.

Working replica of Snake Plissken's Lifeclock countdown timer watch from Escape From New York

The Lifeclock One: Snake Edition is a $300 licensed replica of the countdown timer watch worn by Snake Plissken in Escape From New York: it's very cool looking and faithful to the original prop, but regrettably, the designers have added in a bunch of "smart-watch" features (Bluetooth, an app, text-message and app notifications from your phone) that raise the price, create needless attack surface, and add complexity. (more…)

These mini cinder blocks let you build your own desk gear

The workday is long, and inevitably, you're going to find yourself needing to take a break from the daily grind. With Mini Materials Miniature Cinder Blocks, you can take some time for yourself and decompress by turning your desk into a miniature construction site. They're available today in the Boing Boing Store for $22.49.

Handmade out of real cement, these 1:12-scale mini cinder blocks make fun toys for DIY-ers and tinkerers alike. You can use them to decorate your desk and build pen holders, platforms, and whatever else your mind can envision. Plus, they come on a wooden pallet that doubles as a coaster for extra utility.

24-packs of Mini Materials Miniature Cinder Blocks are available in the Boing Boing Store for $22.49.

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