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Preview: Boing Boing

Boing Boing

Brain candy for Happy Mutants

Last Build Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2017 16:56:50 PST


Review: 8bitdo's Zero is the little bluetooth gamepad that could

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 16:42:42 PST


8bitdo's Zero is a wee, well-made and thoroughly wonderful bluetooth game controller. I bought it by accident, thinking I'd found a surprisingly cheap wireless pad, only to learn (to my shrieking amusement) that its low price is caused by its low volume.

It really is tiny, at about 2.75" long and 1.5" high. It comes with a keychain ring and is by no means unreasonably large for this purpose: (image) There's a D-pad, four buttons under the right thumb, two trigger buttons and, in the middle, a start and select button. A short USB cable is provided for recharging, but it doesn't function as a USB controller. Just wireless.

It comes in white with a blue or red back; the red one has a vaguely Nintendo-esque stripe across the front, too.

That is not only works but is well-made and durable makes it an absolutely fabulous stocking stuffer for people who play games -- especially given that it's compatible with virtually everything that hosts bluetooth, including Android, iOS, Windows and MacOS, and Linux/RetroPi. There's even a remote shutter mode for cameras, though I didn't test it.

It's not plain sailing all the way, though. Pairing it with my MacBook was easy, but it took a couple of attempts on my Windows 10 Zotac ZBox. Moreover, it lost its connection twice in a month, requiring unpairing and re-pairing to get working again.

Part of the problem is the inadequate instructions for shifting it between compatibility modes that apply to each system. Use the wrong sequence of presses and it'll show up as a keyboard instead of a joypad, or as some random zalgo gadget that does nothing except stay rudely paired with your PC.

Oddly, there's no button 3 in Windows joystick mode. It jumps from 2 to 4. So anything that expects it (e.g. MAME) will need to be configured likewise.

Finally, it is perhaps too small, at least for twitchy arcade play. I tended to find myself holding it like a harmonica to get precise control -- but in that position, the triggers are much harder to hit.

At about $17, though, who's complaining?

PROS: Tiny but well-made; Cheap; Works on everything. Tiny USB cable.
CONS: Too tiny. Finicky Blueooth. Crap instructions. Bluetooth only.

8BITDO Zero Wireless Game Controller for Android/ iOS/ Windows [Amazon]

Washington Post tricked defeated transphobe into respectfully gendering Danica Roem

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 14:08:37 PST


Bob Marshall, the anti-trans bigot who just lost his delegate seat to transgender delegate-elect Danica Roem, wrote an angry letter to the Washington Post, misgendering his successor. WaPo corrected his insults, which did not sit well with him. (more…)

Can you guess what they found this anti-gay conservative Republican doing with another man?

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 11:23:11 PST


Spoiler: it's Flesh Jenga. Wes Goodman, a Republican representative in the Ohio state house who championed anti-gay causes, quit Friday after being caught having sex with another man in his office. Moreover, he reportedly was known for making unwelcome advances toward younger men, reports

Another conservative with Ohio ties told that Goodman engaged in predatory behavior toward younger men after leaving Jordan's office, sending inappropriate material and propositioning them via text message and Facebook messenger.

The conservative operative said he'd target college kids who wanted to have him as a mentor and were scared to report his sexual advances because they didn't want to damage their own careers. A former co-worker shared screenshots of messages Goodman sent him that the operative likened to the lewd texts that derailed the congressional career of New York's Anthony Weiner.

There's a lot of laughter being aimed at this creep, but it's important to remember this sort of self-hatred isn't just directed inward. The consequences are always felt by family, friends, and their powerless victims.

Wall Street and Trump are about to kill the CFPB, the only government agency that effectively polices bank scams, crimes and frauds

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 10:48:31 PST


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (previously) is practically the only US regulator we can be proud of -- founded by Elizabeth Warren before she ran for the Senate, the CFRB is a consumer protection agency that has been at the forefront of reining in criminal activities like Wells Fargo's nationwide frauds and Equifax's dox attack on the USA, as well as being the best defense Americans have against predatory loan-sharks masquerading as "payday lenders," abusive debt-collectors, racial discrimination in lending, and the student loan racket. (more…)

How to investigate and report on modern slavery

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 10:27:48 PST


Thalia Holmes summarizes the "Exposing Human Trafficking and Forced Labor" panel at the 10th Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Johannesburg, where veteran reporters who've broken major modern slavery stories discussed their methods and offered advice for others pursuing similar stories. (more…)

Candid Wall Street barons worry that GOP tax plan will lead to literal euthanasia of the rentier

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 10:07:30 PST


In 1936, John Maynard Keynes suggested that a fair economic system would lead to "the euthanasia of the rentier, and, consequently, the euthanasia of the cumulative oppressive power of the capitalist to exploit the scarcity-value of capital" -- implying that we have a choice between fairness and extreme wealth, and that the two couldn't peacefully co-exist. (more…)

The Trump-funding, democracy-denying, Gawker-destroying Peter Thiel is finally no longer involved with Y Combinator

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 09:21:14 PST


Peter Thiel was always a controversial figure in tech, known as an acerbic doctrinaire libertarian who'd publicly declared that "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible," a situation he blamed in part on "the extension of the franchise to women," -- but people still took his money and sought his help in part because he was viewed as a mostly harmless crank and in part because he had a titanic amount of money and connections to throw at organizations that legitimized him by affiliating themselves with him. (more…)

Review: No Man's Sky

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 08:21:05 PST

Overtaking the sunset, I glide into the mesosphere hours ahead of darkness. Scattered islands beckon under shifting banks of white stratus. I veer toward one but lose sight of it in the clouds, emerging over an isthmus broad and gray in the oceans of Lahellt II. Knuckertail soars down and I land her upon a grass-topped arch, coiled slender and ominous over the shallows like an immense fossil. After visiting a hundred vicious worlds, frozen or burning, gassing me with oxides or crackling with radioactive menace, I think I've found home. Dropping from the canopy to make footfall, I look at the glittering sea. A world warm and quiet and mine declares itself to the exosuit's sensors. Something's not right. • No Man's Sky is a spectacular toy for exploring 18 quintillion uncannily similar worlds. Released a year ago to astronomical hype and sour reviews, it's since become a decent (and improving) game as its creators bolt on base-building, factions, planetside vehicles, narrative threads and evocative if slight multiplayer elements. As of the Atlas Rising update, it's widely hailed as a much more involving journey. But for me, it's neither one thing nor the other. The procedurally-generated worlds still lack depth and intrigue, limiting the appeal of exploration, while the gamery additions call for endless self-directed fetchquesting to make progress. Tweet-length nibbles of story string one instantly-forgotten Mr. Potato Head alien to the next, all immobile but for their looping busywork animations. But the weird dream at the heart of it — jumping to distant solar systems, visiting fabulous unchartered worlds, coasting over psychedelic meadows where bizarre and ungainly alien fauna swarm — sticks with me. Get a glimpse of what we hope our descendants will spiritualize on other worlds, knowing we'll never experience it. Sixty dollars, though! See, then there's the fiddly travel, maddening inventory management, and grinding repetitions. The generated worlds are smoothed noise with no suggestion of geology, nothing hot under the surface. Everything has a meaningless alphabetti-spaghetti name. Though every world is flavored with local color, all have the topology of a lightly whipped frosted cake, uniformly sprinkled with candy bits from the same jar. There are no cities or civilizations, no gas giants, no balls of boiling lead, no forests or fens. Just lots of porta-potties, abandoned prefabs, and glowing relics. What's the point of going anywhere I want if the same things are everywhere? This problem afflicts the flora and fauna too. Though adorable and strange, they're a roll of the dice with no suggestion of ecology, adaptation or habitation. Nothing connects to anything. Darwin would return to England certain both of God's hand and His zero fucks given. Sentient aliens are, like the dumb ones, a hodgepodge of parts with no personality and nothing to remember them by. There are three species, hints of political backdrop, and actions and events described in dialog, but nothing is seen to happen or change. More interesting are the tech tree and trade elements, especially the elaborate bases you can build and the ships you can buy, should you have the determination to earn them. Making a home, a career and a pile of money kept me going for twenty or so hours after I bored of visiting new planets — the key difference between No Man's Sky in late 2017 and last year — until I realized the next objective on my list might take twenty more. The ships are the coolest thing about No Man's Sky, the hard steel heart of its splendid late-seventies aesthetic. Space battles are dumb fun, especially once you have some power-ups. The pleasure of flight is occasionally marred by shifting and glitching in the middle distance, things popping into view and landforms deforming at different levels of detail. T[...]

DevOps and cloud computing are two skills in huge demand

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 07:00:45 PST


The Ultimate DevOps and Cloud Computing Bundle will familiarize you with Amazon Web Services infrastructure management, as well as continuous integration and delivery practices. It’s being offered in the Boing Boing Store now for $49.

Even with Amazon’s developer-friendly tools, rolling out changes to thousands (or millions) of users is no easy task. That's why DevOps engineers are so valuable — they make software updates happen, and ensure that added features won’t sink the ship. To teach you the tricks of this essential tech trade, this collection includes the following seven courses:

  • DevOps with AWS CodePipeline, Jenkins and AWS CodeDeploy
  • Jenkins: Continuous Integration & DevOps with Java and .NET
  • TeamCity: Continuous Integration & DevOps with Java and .NET
  • AWS MasterClass: Storage & CDN
  • AWS MasterClass: Monitoring and DevOps with AWS CloudWatch
  • AWS MasterClass: DevOps with AWS Command Line Interface
  • DevOps: CI/CD with Jenkins Pipelines, Maven, Gradle

Aside from advanced AWS administration, you’ll learn how to build and deploy apps automatically, and scale services to meet user demand. This bundle comprises 7 courses and 20 hours of content, and you can get it all in the Boing Boing Store for $49.

Whole Earth contributor Lloyd Kahn walks us through a rare first edition of the iconic catalog

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 05:47:10 PST


When I was a teen, I traded the first nickle ($5) bag of weed I'd ever acquired for a friend's copy of the 1971 Whole Earth Catalog. I traded intoxication for knowledge, for "access to tools," and I have never looked back. That 1971 catalog set me onto the DIY path and I have never wavered from it.

In this wonderful video, by way of Kevin Kelly's Facebook feed, another hero of mine from that era, Lloyd Kahn (of the amazing Shelter books) thumbs through his copy of the very first Whole Earth Catalog, the 64-page, fall of 1968 edition. Lloyd claims in the video that not even Stewart Brand has a copy of this edition.

I love how Lloyd's copy is all marked up. I recently found my 1971 edition in the attic. I too had marked, circled, checked, and made notes to the entries where I'd sent off for books, magazines, and other resources. It's so surreal to be able to lay my eyes upon the moment I discovered books, tools, places, and people that would go on to become hugely important in my life.

BTW: If you want to learn more about the history of the Catalog and read some of its seminal essays, check out The Whole Earth Field Guide from MIT which I reviewed here on Boing Boing earlier this year.

Get outraged with possible lesbians holding hands on a Starbucks coffee cup

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:46:07 PST


With Christmas quickly approaching, the imaginary war on everyone’s favorite imaginary holiday always helps me get in the spirit.

The latest Christmas offense is from Starbucks’ recent marketing campaign and “suggestive” coffee cup promoting the LGBTQ community.

A commercial unveiling the cups briefly shows two women drinking coffee and placing their hands together while across a table in what is an “obvious” attack on our nation’s faltering morals. The mind-numbing outrage is only being furthered since Starbucks decided to place a pair of unknown hands gripped together that many are debating belong to a same-sex couple.

This so called “gay agenda” that Starbucks is said to be pouring down our coffee-addicted throats has given rise to another series of boycotts for the coffee giant, according to the New York Daily News.

Via the New York Daily News:

Starbucks hasn’t resolved the issue of whether the hands are same-sex or not.

The theme of the cups is “Give Good.” Customers are invited to color in the drawings of hearts, presents and a Christmas tree — and those hands.

“Each year during the holidays we aim to bring our customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season,” the coffee chain said in a statement. “And we will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world.”

Shane Speal tries out his 2-string cigar box guitar

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:10:32 PST


Cigar box guitar maker and player Shane Speal made a 2-string cigar box guitar and took it for a spin. Sounds great! He says: "27.5" baritone scale. Strung with E and A strings. Not sure what it's tuned to...some sort of power chord. I just tightened the strings and hit record."

How do you train for the most polluted race in the world?

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:34:31 PST


Emily James (previously) writes, "The air in Delhi is so polluted the government’s instruments can't measure it but they are still going to run a half marathon on Sunday!" (more…)

Navy admits its pilot sky-wrote a giant cloud-wiener

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 11:48:28 PST


A spokesman from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Ault Field, WA, said of the unnamed crew behind the giant sky-dong, "we find this absolutely unacceptable, of zero training value and we are holding the crew accountable." (more…)

Chambong: for rapidly ingesting beverages

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 11:18:23 PST


Check out these wonderful commercials for Chambong, the beverage bong.

Drinking things, quickly or slowly, requires that you exercise caution and judgment. Rapidly ingesting alcohol can have some unpredictable effects.

Chambong - Glassware for rapid Champagne consumption via Amazon

Pentagon mass surveillance slurped up the world's social media traffic; then they dumped it on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 11:14:40 PST


The Upguard Cyber Risk Team has found three Department of Defense mass-storage "buckets" on Amazon that are world-viewable, containing 1.8 billion of social media posts that the DoD scraped from social media over 8 years as part of its global surveillance program. (more…)

Gentleman accidentally shoots wife and himself in church during gun-violence talk

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:35:43 PST


An 81-year-old gentleman from Tennessee was showing off his gun in a Tennessee church during a "gun-violence at houses of worship" chat, when he accidentally shot himself and his wife. A woman in the church kitchen heard the gunshot and called the police thinking they were under attack, causing local schools nearby to go into lockdown.

According to Reuters:

The man removed the magazine and cleared the chamber to show the pistol to the others. He then reloaded it, put a round in the chamber and put it back in his pocket, Parks said.

When another person asked to see the pistol, the man took it out of his pocket and his finger accidentally hit the trigger. The bullet struck his right hand and then went through his 80-year-old wife's abdomen and right forearm, according to the police chief.

Fortunately for the gun-toting man, who had told the other churchgoers, "I carry a weapon with me everywhere," he and his wife got lucky and are in stable condition at the hospital.

Image: Max Pixel

Outstanding rant about the surreal design ethos of The Cheesecake Factory

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:29:17 PST


Cleveland games developer Max Sledroom went on a Twitter tear about the amazing, surreal, awful design experience that is The Cheesecake Factory, a place whose calorie bombs rank among America's deadliest, and whose strange religious projects have made headlines. (more…)

Help Kate "Hark! A Vagrant" Beaton raise money for her sister's experimental cancer treatments

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:20:12 PST


Kate Beaton (previously) is the creator of the astoundingly great Hark! A Vagrant webcomic) and is a bona fide Canadian culture hero; she is also in the midst of a terrible family crisis and wants our help. (more…)

EFF's Security Education Companion: essential materials for people helping their communities practice good information security

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:11:01 PST


EFF has just launched its new Announcing the Security Education Companion, a beautifully organized, clearly written set of materials to help "people who would like to help their communities learn about digital security but are new to the art of security training." (more…)

Earth & Moon: surreal, vaguely sexual experimental 3D animation

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:00:59 PST


Cool 3D World's "Earth and Moon" is just over 2 minutes' worth of goopy, poopy, sexy, planetary, grotesque and wonderful experimental 3D animation; it's like a hand-turned, grownup version of those super-weird algorithmically generated Youtube Kids spam videos, but in a really, really good way. (via JWZ)

The Revolver: locksport practice gadget that makes four locks out a single core

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 09:54:26 PST


Sparrows Lockpicks (previously) has just released an extremely clever practice lock called "The Revolver" that makes four locks out of a single core: "Pinning configuration starts with Standard pins at 12 o'clock (Marked with a small arrow) and then moves clockwise to Spool, Serrated and finally Mushroom pins. The end result is a lock that gets progressively harder to pick open." (more…)

Tamil pulp fiction is basically totally amazing

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 09:47:05 PST


On Strange Horizons, Rachel Cordasco reviews the latest Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction, the third such volume, and makes a compelling case for exploring the amazing world of Tamil pulp, expertly translated into English. (more…)

Poor Detroit neighborhoods, abandoned by telcos and the FCC, are rolling out homebrew, community mesh broadband

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 09:35:33 PST


40% of Detroiters have no internet access. The Detroit Community Technology Project and similar projects across the city are skipping over the telcos altogether and wiring up their own mesh broadband networks, where gigabit connections are transmitted by line-of-site wireless across neighborhoods from the tops of tall buildings; it's called the Equitable Internet Initiative. (more…)

70% of poor people on broadband subsidy will lose their connections thanks to Trump's FCC

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 09:26:08 PST


Trump's FCC is gutting the Lifeline service, which gives poor families a $9.25/month subsidy for fixed or mobile broadband; under the new rules, poor people will have to buy their connections from major carriers (who often don't offer Lifeline plans), and will no longer be able to use the resellers who presently constitute 70% of the Lifeline connections. (more…)

Ex con fraudster felon Jim Bakker claims 'Merry Christmas' was outlawed

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 09:13:02 PST


Criminal televangelist cum soup bucket peddler Jim Bakker told his infomercial fans that the government had banned the phrase "Merry Christmas," but it's OK to say it again because Christian fought long and hard to reclaim the right. From Yahoo:

“They outlawed ‘Merry Christmas’ a few years ago and you know it,” he said on his show on Thursday. “You couldn’t even say ’Merry Christmas’ at Walmart and the Walmart greeters told me they weren’t allowed to say it.”

Bakker claimed “we all started writing” and “changed it.”

Actor on Transparent says Jeffrey Tambor sexually assualted her

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:59:02 PST


Trace Lysette plays Shea on Amazon Studios' Transparent, one of my favorite shows. Lysette says the star of the show, Jeffrey Tambor, sexually harassed and assaulted her during the second season.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

According to Lysette, when she emerged from wardrobe in her costume — a salmon-colored lingerie top and matching short-shorts — Tambor remarked, "My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually." Alexandra Billings, the third actor in the scene, was present to hear the remark, she confirms. Both "laughed it off because it was so absurd," Lysette says.

A few minutes later, while waiting for a camera setup between takes, Lysette was standing in a corner of the soundstage set. That's when she says Tambor, dressed as Maura, wearing a green satin kimono and gray wig, approached her.

"He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrust back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas," Lysette says.

Lysette pushed Tambor away and "rolled my eyes." Billings was not present for this alleged incident, and several crewmembers were nearby "but they were focused on their jobs. It was discreet. If you were behind Jeffrey you might have thought he was giving me a hug."

This is the second woman who has accused Tambor of sexually harassing her. Amazon Studios has opened an investigation into Tambor's conduct.

Image: Trace Lysette as Shea on Transparent

World's cheapest electricity is Mexican solar power

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:39:59 PST


Electricity here in Los Angeles is 17.8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Not far away, Mexicans get solar electric for one-tenth the price. And by 2019, the price could drop to 1¢/kWh.

From Electrek:

Soon we’re going to have to confront new questions as solar power costs less than anything seriously considered before, and will offer new opportunities never thought of before. What will we do with all of this cheap energy? How do we move from fossil systems toward solar sources without destroying the social fabric of those dependent on revenue from gas and coal? How will our post scarcity society continue to advance? It’s going to be more difficult to live up to the potentials of solar and ‘free energy’ than we think.

Image: Electrek

Watch what a cop does when a teen boy tells him to F off

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:38:15 PST


A police officer tries to get a group of boys to stop hanging out in an alley. The boys argue and argue, until one says, "Fuck you," while flipping him the bird. What the cop does next is surprising and a bit bizarre. Too good to be true!

Trump building in Panama carried "deep ties" to Russian mafia, drug trafficking

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:29:04 PST


An NBC News and Reuters joint investigation found deep ties between investors of the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City and the Russian mafia, organized crime, and drug traffickers. The Trump Organization issued a statement disavowing any knowledge or involvement with the criminals who financed the property. Even if that's true, it doesn't meant they are innocent, however.

“The Trump Organization was not the owner, developer or seller of the Trump Ocean Club Panama project,” the statement said. “Because of its limited role, the company was not responsible for the financing of the project and had no involvement in the sale of units or the retention of any real estate brokers.”

From The Hill:

Still, legal experts contacted by Reuters for the story said Trump should have asked those questions.

Because Panama is “perceived to be highly corrupt,” said Arthur Middlemiss, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan and a former head of JPMorgan’s global anti-corruption program, those who do business there should perform due diligence on others involved in their ventures.

If they fail to do so, he told Reuters, they risk being liable under U.S. law of being found having turned a blind eye to wrongdoing.

Photo of Trump: Flickr/Gage Skidmore