HOWTO guide: Soldering is easy!

Mitch Altman, inventor of TV-B-GONE and co-founder of San Francisco's Noisebridge hacker space, is a master maker and educator who finds great joy in teaching people of all ages how to get creative with electronics. At last year's Science Hack Day SF, Mitch taught my 7-year-old son how to solder and he's been at it ever since, making increasingly-complicated kits from Mitch's Cornfield Electronics, Maker Shed, and Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. Mitch even taught a weeklong Creative Electronics camp for elementary school kids at my son's school over the summer and it was a huge hit. If you (or your kids) want to learn to solder too, I highly recommend the "Soldering Is Easy" comic book (PDF) that Mitch created with Andie Nordgren and Jeff "mightyohm" Keyzer. You can download the free PDF in multiple languages from Mitch's site. And there's also a single-page "Soldering Is Easy" reference sheet too. Thanks for all that you do to inspire young makers, Mitch!

"'Soldering Is Easy' and other DIY projects!" Read the rest

Fun & Games: fast paced pulp thriller about an evil secret society of assassins in Los Angeles

Duane Swierczynski, a veteran comic book and TV writer, takes this over-the-top premise and turns it into a terrifically entertaining, white-knuckle roller-coaster-ride of narrow-escapes, double-crosses, and cat-and-mouse moves.

The Ed Piskor Interview

Ed Piskor is one of the most fascinating young cartoonists in America. Marc Sobel talked to him about his influences, his art, and his forthcoming book, The Hip Hop Family Tree.

RIP, Aaron Swartz

Click for ongoing posts about Aaron, his memorial service, his death, and the malicious prosecution brought by the DoJ against him

To the extent possible under law, Cory Doctorow has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to "RIP, Aaron Swartz."

Update: Go read Lessig: "He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius. A soul, a conscience, the source of a question I have asked myself a million times: What would Aaron think? That person is gone today, driven to the edge by what a decent society would only call bullying. I get wrong. But I also get proportionality. And if you don’t get both, you don’t deserve to have the power of the United States government behind you."

My friend Aaron Swartz committed suicide yesterday, Jan 11. He was 26. I got woken up with the news about an hour ago. I'm still digesting it -- I suspect I'll be digesting it for a long time -- but I thought it was important to put something public up so that we could talk about it. Aaron was a public guy.

I met Aaron when he was 14 or 15. He was working on XML stuff (he co-wrote the RSS specification when he was 14) and came to San Francisco often, and would stay with Lisa Rein, a friend of mine who was also an XML person and who took care of him and assured his parents he had adult supervision. In so many ways, he was an adult, even then, with a kind of intense, fast intellect that really made me feel like he was part and parcel of the Internet society, like he belonged in the place where your thoughts are what matter, and not who you are or how old you are. Read the rest

Gift Guide 2012

Welcome to this year's Boing Boing Gift Guide, a piling-high of our most loved stuff from 2012 and beyond. There are books, comics, games, gadgets and much else besides: click the categories at the top to filter what you're most interested in—and add your suggestions and links in the comments.

Mind Blowing Movie: Chameleon Street

Last week, Boing Boing presented a series of essays about movies that have had a profound effect on our invited essayists. We are extending the series for several additional days. See all the essays in the Mind Blowing Movies series. -- Mark

[Video Link] "The film you are about to see and hear is based on the life experiences of William Douglas Street, Jr. and Erik Dupin. Many of the characters appear as themselves, while others assume fictional personae."

Chameleon Street is a movie that blew my mind even before I saw it, and then once more when finally, after nearly a decade without a theatrical run, it was finally released on video.

What do I mean by that? In the early '90s, I was a teenager making a VHS tape of a short-lived news magazine TV show called Edge one evening, which happened to feature a curious story about a Sundance Jury Prizewinning film which, oddly, could not get a distributor to release it. There was no graphic content. It wasn't inaccessibly "arty," indeed it was very plainspoken. The root of the problem, the show explained, was that the plain speaking -- even if elegantly-worded -- was delivered by a very sharp-witted black guy. Wendell B. Harris Jr. not only wrote and directed, but he actually spoke every nuanced piece of dialog into the camera as the lead actor portraying Doug Street; who, more incredibly, was a real guy. From Wikipedia:

Chameleon Street is a 1989 independent film written, directed by and starring Wendell B.

Read the rest

RAW Week: Wilson and I, by Richard Metzger

As "outsider" teenage readers of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's classic Illuminatus! Trilogy in the early 1980s, it seemed to some of my friends at the time (all big Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan and Philip K Dick fans, too) that the novel's authors were trying to communicate something "in code" to their readers, like it was a message about "the conspiracy" that was coming from an underground resistance group. I thought that was bunk and fanciful nonsense, but it goes to show how strong of an effect that book had on kids' imaginations back then.

Illuminatus! was a touchstone for freethinking weirdos of that era, one of the rare books that even attempted to make sense of being born into an ever increasingly surreal world still reeling from things like the JFK/MLK/RFK assassinations, Watergate and the Vietnam war and where Ronald Reagan, a bad actor who once worked with a chimpanzee, had just become President.

It was also an interesting experiment in mass occult initiation -- sold at shopping malls across America -- that satirically tore away the veils of the modern world and (actively, not passively) imprinted a skeptical worldview on the reader. Read those books from cover to cover and there was virtually not a chance in hell that you'd be a normal person ever again. The Illuminatus! trilogy really made quite an impression, let's just say.

Wilson's non-fiction work, Cosmic Trigger, was of even greater interest to me with its cheerful speculations on Timothy Leary's channeled communications from "holy guardian angels," psychedelic drugs and Aleister Crowley. Read the rest

Imperial Teen: "Runaway" (MP3)

Sound It Out #9 -- Imperial Teen: "Runaway"

It's been nearly five years since Imperial Teen's last record and I have missed them terribly. The band started in San Francisco in 1996 and have managed to put out consistently sassy and exuberant records every few years or so. All of the members appear to have real lives: Roddy Bottum is in (newly re-reunited) Faith No More and writes scores for film and TV, Lynn Truell played in Sister Double Happiness and The Dicks and now has two kids, Jone Stebbins is a hairstylist/ukelele player and Will Schwartz is one of the founders of the band hey willpower.

So, this is a band of grownups, though you would never guess from their newest record "Feel the Sound" (out 1/31/12). True to the album's name, Imperial Teen focused on maturing their sonic output, with lyrics and meaning taking a back seat to more sophisticated rhythms and vocal layering than their previous efforts.

"Runaway" is a masterfully crafted pop song where every member of the band sings lead at once. The sing-song chorus is a whole lot of fun and is destined to become a workout classic.

Download an MP3 pf Imperial Teen's "Runaway"

Bonus: Help us create the ultimate playlist of counting songs! Read the rest

IR Jammer Kit: a TV-B-Gone-B-Gone

You probably have heard of the TV-B-Gone. If you haven't, it's a small wireless gadget that will turn of any TV. Now, for people who hate the TV-B-Gone, or for people who hate it when someone changes the channel on a TV set in a public space, there's the IR Jammer Kit.

You know those people that just love to change the channel on the TV? Put an end to it with this, the IR Jammer Kit from the Maker Shed. Just press the button and you can render infrared remotes completely useless. Works with almost all IR controlled devices by corrupting IR data from the six commonly used transmission frequencies. Perfect for pranks and for showing the channel surfers who’s boss.

Alan Parekh (creator of the IR Jammer) and Mitch Altman (creator of the TV-B-Gone) should join merge companies and call the new business Sylvester McMonkey McBean Incorporated.

IR Jammer Kit. $18.99 in Maker Shed Read the rest

Stealth TV-B-Gone in a jacket

Becky Stern models her clever TV-B-Gone automated TV-switcher-offer sewn into a jacket: "Whenever I bring my TV-B-Gone out to restaurants, I look suspicious pointing it around. So I embedded the device into a jacket and turned it into a wearable TV silencer. For the switch, I sewed paths of conductive thread that become bridged by the metal zipper pull when it passes by. At the restaurant or bar, all I have to do is unzip my jacket to turn off the TV(s)."

TV-B-Gone Jacket Read the rest

Video tour of Noisebridge hackerspace in San Francisco

KQED-PBS's QUEST visited San Francisco hackerspace Noisebridge, co-founded by virtual reality pioneer Mitch Altman, who is best known today as the brain behind TV-B-Gone. "Science on the SPOT: Open Source Creativity - Hackerspaces" Read the rest

TV-B-Gone jacket by Becky Stern

Brooklyn based Becky Stern was invited to contribute to a fashion show at CES 2011, so she whipped up this jacket with a built in TV-B-Gone.

Wearable tech is cool to begin with, but when that technology is performs a function you'd actually want to use, it's even better— and if that function is turning off TVs in public, that's like a high-tech hat trick.

I'm going to try to make a version of this at the next eTextiles event at CRASHspace.

More pics of Becky's jacket are on Flickr. Read the rest

Car immobilizers cracked due to crappy proprietary crypto

Karsten Nohl of Security Research Labs, a white-hat hacker, believes that a recent spike in car theft is due to a break in the car immobilizer security systems; thieves are able to re-mobilize the immobilized vehicles. My question is: how long until someone builds a TV-B-Gone for car engines that lets you stop cars with the click of a button?

Juels says that these cracks were possible because the proprietary algorithms that the firms use to encode the cryptographic keys shared between the immobiliser and receiver, and receiver and engine do not match the security offered by openly published versions such as the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) adopted by the US government to encrypt classified information. Furthermore, in both cases the encryption key was way too short, says Nohl. Most cars still use either a 40 or 48-bit key, but the 128-bit AES - which would take too long to crack for car thieves to bother trying - is now considered by security professionals to be a minimum standard. It is used by only a handful of car-makers...

What's more, one manufacturer was even found to use the vehicle ID number as the supposedly secret key for this internal network. The VIN, a unique serial number used to identify individual vehicles, is usually printed on the car. "It doesn't get any weaker than that," Nohl says.

Criminals find the key to car immobilisers

(via Schneier)

(Image: Invalidka - Soviet car for disabled people, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from dittaeva's photostream)

  Adobe issues security advisory for Flash Player, plans fix "during ... Read the rest

HOWTO make a proto-mute-button for your 1954 TV: the SHADDAP!

This 1954 HOWTO from Mechanix Illustrated invites the reader to take apart the family TV set to make a remote-controlled mute button (called a "SHADDAP") (!). Remember, Zenith's first TV remote control was decried by the broadcasters as a tool of piracy, because it made it too easy to switch away from the commercials:

ARE some of those long-winded commercials spoiling your TV pleasure? You can cut them off temporarily, without getting up from your chair, by means of a simple gadget you can assemble and install in twenty minutes. It's nothing more than a push-type fixture switch mounted in a small box and connected by a length of lamp cord to the loudspeaker of the TV set. Or, for that matter, to the speaker of a radio set.

Look for a little transformer mounted di- rectly on the loudspeaker, or very close to it. Two wires run from it to terminals on the speaker frame; these are the voice coil connections. Cut either wire, and to the two ends thus formed solder the ends of the wire leading from the pushbutton box. The latter should be long enough to reach your normal viewing position. There is absolutely no danger of shock, as the speaker is isolated from the high-voltage section of the chassis and the juice across the voice coil proper is only a fraction of a volt.

When the selling spiels become too obnoxious, press the switch, and the room will be flooded with silence. Peace, it's wonderful!

make a "SHADDAP" (May, 1954)

TV-Be-Gone mischief at CES Video of TV-B-Gone in action Man smashes 27 TVs at Wal-Mart MAKE Volume 22: Remote Control Mute button Read the rest

Hackerspace video series

Vimby is producing a very well made series of videos about hacker spaces called "Take On The Machine," hosted by my friend and and MAKE contributor Mitch Altman (inventor of the TV-B-Gone, a universal TV power remote control keychain).

Steve of Vimby says:

Presented by Scion, "Take On The Machine" is a competition reality series hosted by the "dean of hackerspaces" Mitch Altman. Scion gave 5 hackerspaces across the US a $(removed),000 grant and a challenge to create a unique project.  We just posted the project NYC Resistor created, using a slot machine they bought on Craig's List.  We split the action into two parts:

Take On The Machine/NYC Resistor Part I | Take On The Machine/NYC Resistor Part II

Above, the intro episode where Mitch takes us into the hackerspace world and describes the overall competition.

Read the rest

My favorite makers at Maker Faire Detroit

I was in Detroit this past weekend for Maker Faire Detroit 2010. It was held at the Henry Ford Museum (look for an upcoming post about this incredible museum) and I'm guessing 20,000 people showed up. There was a great deal of excitement and energy in the air, and I went home with the feeling that Detroit is going to rise to greatness again very soon.

I met a lot of terrifically inventive makers in Detroit, and I managed to take photos of a small fraction of them.

These three boys are about to enter 6th grade. They demonstrated their Blackjack dealer robot, which sensed the presence of players sitting at a table and dealt cards to them. It worked flawlessly, and won first prize in a Robotics competition held by the US Army RDECOM (I served as a judge in the competition).

Read the rest

MAKE Volume 22: Remote Control

MAKE Volume 22 is on newsstands now! Automate your world with remote control. From pet care to power outlets, from toys to telepresence, we'll show you how to add a joystick, push-button, twist-knob, or timer to just about anything.

Remote control projects in MAKE Volume 22 include:

The Lawnbot400 R/C lawn mower--sit back and enjoy the mow! Kitty Twitty cat toy that tweets (on Twitter) when your cat attacks Automated chicken coop controlled by iPhone Motion-detecting Nikon camera remote Stealthy TV-B-Gone hoodie sweatshirt that turns off TV sets Remote control pet feeder using web chat Solar tracking platform that automatically follows the sun How to hack R/C power outlets--control your whole house from one computer Robots you can control with your mind! (Okay, this one involves a trick, but it's still cool)

In addition, you'll learn how to:

Replace your broken iPhone screen Make the Double Pendulum--a simple project that creates absolute chaos Make fresh cheese from goat's milk Make a monster USB MIDI controller with 8 microphones Extract your own perfumes and essential oils Wind your own electric guitar pickups, and make a Diddley Bow (the primal electric guitar made famous by Jack White of The White Stripes)

Plus, filmmaker and YouTube sensation PES shows how he creates his amazing stop-motion animation; and 8 top hobbyists and industry leaders tell what's hot in Remote Control. What on earth are foamies, Frankensteining, and aqua modeling? Get MAKE Volume 22 and find out.

Don't forget - subscribers can always read the digital edition here. Read the rest

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