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Brain candy for Happy Mutants

Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Dec 2016 03:16:08 PST


Boston Dynamics Christmas video: 3 robot reindeer pulling Ms. Santa's sleigh

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 23:06:41 PST


Elite engineering and robotics design firm Boston Dynamics released this holiday video for the holiday 2015 season, and it holds up well in the weird year that followed.

[via Laughing Squid]

Epic doggo sneeze

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 22:53:28 PST


Roux the Pomeranian is best known for spectacular sneezes.


Has anyone tried the ALLPOWERS 80W foldable solar panel?

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 12:26:51 PST


I'm looking for feedback on this solar panel. I am looking to charge a 37 qt ARB portable fridge while rolling about Baja in my Vanagon. I believe this panel, with good sun, should out put more than enough power to run the fridge.

The Dometic fridge that has been in my VW for 29 years has sucked for 29 years. It barely gets cold enough for cans of soda.

Forums on line claim the fridge peaks around 1.5Ah use on hot days, and this panel should deliver (80w/18v) 4.4Amps. My smallish deep cycle battery is a 44Ah unit. I'm hoping that 6hrs of strong sun a day will get me to just around 24hrs of power.

Unless I get flagged off in the comments, I'm going to order one tomorrow or the next day, and run a test load on the system at my house this weekend. I can't be sure to have strong sun in the SF Bay Area, however.

ALLPOWERS 80W Foldable Solar Panel Sunpower Solar Charger with iSolar Technology via Amazon

ARB 37 Quart Fridge/Freezer via Amazon

Laser projected Christmas lights

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 11:19:27 PST


We have a large tree in our front yard. For the holidays I usually wrap a couple of strands of colored LED bulbs around its trunk. I can't put lights into the branches because my ladder isn't long enough, and even if I did have a taller ladder, I would be too scared to climb much higher.

This year I tried one of those laser landscape projectors. It has a red laser and green laser that shines through a piece of film that breaks the light into hundreds of beams. I put the projector near the tree and pointed it up at the branches. At night the effect was amazing. It looked like the tree branches were filled with hundreds of colored lights that would have taken hours and hours of dangerous work to install. I called out Carla to look. She didn't know I bought the projector. I told her that I had climbed the tree and strung the lights in the branches forty feet overhead. She even believed it for a second, until she remembered that I don't like climbing trees.

It looks so good I bought another last night so I could use it on another tree. (image)

A catalog of Indian style and design

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 11:03:14 PST


Look, it’s Indian design! Everyone has heard of Japanese and Scandinavian design, but few know that India also has a long history of design. It doesn’t permeate the culture as deep as Japan or Scandinavia, but I know from living there that India does have a critical mass of distinctly unique objects. To help pin down the essentials of that style, this catalog of India design examples makes a case that there is a very functional design approach both in historic and modern India. This is the first book I know of that presents that style in one place.

Sar: The Essence of Indian Design
by Swapnaa Tamhane and Rashmi Varma
Phaidon Press
2016, 304 pages, 8.2 x 1.0 x 10.6 inches, Hardcover
$52 Buy one on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.




University student gets a zero because her art project violated dress code

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 10:51:05 PST


"I knew I went to a conservative school, but I didn't anticipate getting 0/100 points for my assignment because the subject was inappropriate," tweeted Brigham Young University freshman Waverly Giles, who received a score of zero because her photography project violated the university's dress code. The photos showed a woman's bare shoulders.

“It’s very frustrating,” Giles told KUTV in a phone interview. “I feel my professor might be doing a disservice by not being able to look at my art objectively. It was implied nudity, there isn’t even nudity, there is just collarbone.”

Giles said the model in the photos wore a tube-top and wasn’t ever nude.

Hugo Gernsback's 1963 television eyeglasses anticipated virtual reality

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 10:33:05 PST


This oft-seen wonderfully weird photo depicts Hugo Gernsback wearing his "teleyeglasses" in 1963. Gersnback, an inventor of such innovations as a combination electric hair brush/comb and a battery-powered handheld illuminated mirror, is best known to science fiction fans as the founder of Amazing Stories magazine! Gernsback coined the term "science fiction" and the Hugo Awards are named in his honor. But back to the history of his teleyeglasses, as discussed in IEEE Spectrum:

A Life magazine profile of Gernsback in July 1963, when he was 78, described his “teleyeglasses”:

He now invents only in broad outline, leaving the actual mechanics of the thing to others. His television eyeglasses—a device for which he feels millions yearn—constitute a case in point. When the idea for this handy, pocket-size portable TV set occurred to him in 1936, he was forced to dismiss it as impractical. But a few weeks ago, feeling that the electronics industry was catching up with his New Deal-era concepts, he orders some of his employees to build a mock-up.

The teleyeglasses weighed about 140 grams and were built around small cathode-ray tubes that ran on low-voltage current from tiny batteries. (The user faced no danger of being electrocuted, Gernsback promised.) Because there was a separate screen for each eye, it could display stereoscopic images—much like today’s 3D virtual-reality glasses. Noting the massive V-type antenna protruding from the teleyeglasses, Life described the effect as “neo-Martian.”

"The Man Who Invented VR Goggles 50 Years Too Soon" (IEEE Spectrum)

This smartphone tripod is a thoughtful piece of industrial-design origami

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 10:29:01 PST


The Pocket Tripod PRO had massive Kickstarter success in 2013, raising almost $85,000 in a single month. But this isn’t just another case of pre-release product hype.


This ingenious little device folds out from a credit-card-shaped plastic slab into a sturdy stand with a surprisingly wide range of motion. In portrait orientation, your phone slides snugly into the two rotating brackets, allowing a full 90-degree tilt.

To support a phone in landscape without blocking the screen or camera, the tripod splits in two to allow for attachment anywhere on the phone’s bezels. Since not all smartphones are created alike, this 2016 update features a newly designed universal bracket that fits a wide range of smartphones and cases.

Having a dedicated tripod for a phone has always seemed kind of silly, even for the most dedicated mobile photographers, but this one completely changed my mind. When not in use you forget it’s even there. That’s a good thing. For a limited time, it’s on sale for $19.99 in the Boing Boing Store.

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Magician tricks doggie

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 10:17:08 PST


This little dog patiently waits for its treat, but its impish human companion would rather trick it.

Video about Amazon Go, retail store with no checkout lines or registers

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 10:07:21 PST


Amazon Go, an 1,800-square foot min-supermarket in Seattle, doesn't have human cashiers or checkout lines. Sensors and cameras see everything you add to your cart or bag and charge your account when you walk out the door.

Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.

How to browse privately in public

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:47:31 PST


This fellow cut the polarizing film from a $20 thrift store monitor and put film on a pair of eyeglasses to make a display that looks like a black screen to everybody but him. This is a good way to enjoy photos of Rubik's Cubes without anyone catching you.

Self-leveling spoon for people with disabilities

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:35:21 PST


Liftware makes two kinds of spoons - one for people with hand tremor, and another for people with limited hand and arm mobility. class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='970' height='576' src='' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'> class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='970' height='576' src='' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'>

Making of the creatures in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:31:21 PST


Enjoy this "creature featurette" with director Gareth Edwards and Creature Effects Supervisor Neal Scanlan introducing us to the strange characters in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.





My friend Ekundayo, a genius with a paintbrush

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:24:43 PST

I’d like you to meet a man that I've worked with for over a decade.   His artist name is Ekundayo and I'll be darned if I know what else to call him.  He pours his life into his work - it's everything to him.His painting style style is emotion filled, kinetic, and unforgettable.I met Ekundayo in 2005 and since then, I’ve seen his work pop up on billboards, in movies and on murals around the globe.  The content he chooses to create goes beyond our comfort zone, and because of that, it's impossible to mistake his artistic fingerprint.Each of his art pieces drips with emotion and has amazing stories buried within them.In 2007, Ekundayo helped our company create a mural for Trent Reznor’s, Year Zero. The piece was painted in London with other artists Johnny Rodriguez, Josh Clay and Mike Maxwell.Reznor's mural was stolen 2 days after it was completed and to this day, fans around the world are on the lookout for it.By the time the Year Zero project was complete, Ekundayo had become very special to me and as his technique evolved, I marveled at his ability to quickly fill vast spaces with his unique vision.I'd love to have a peek at the sketchbook in his head and see the art before it unfolds.My friend is truly a genius with a paintbrush and you can check out the rest of his work at [...]

This Sesame Street song made me cry

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:23:41 PST


I've never admitted this to anyone before but I feel especially comfortable with you.

I was sitting in an oversized La-Z-Boy chair when it first saw this clip, and luckily there was no one around to see my tears.   I'm not sure if it happened because the character was so lonely or because everything turned out fine but I'll tell you this - I still get goose bumps whenever I see it.

Grab some tissues and enjoy the story of The Lower Case n.

Own your own two-headed calf taxidermy

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:23:09 PST


Start your own odditorium by spending $15,000 on "Mike & Ike - they look alike," a purportedly real two-headed calf taxidermy mount that was previously part of the the Museum of Lost Arts – International Historical Exhibition. Only available for local pick up in New Castle, Pennsylvania. From the eBay auction description:

This is a real life-size two headed black and white calf mount cow in great condition with some light fur around the heads and body due to age and exposure to sun and light. The mount measures 40” long from the tip of the nose on the longer head to the back tail and 35” high from bottom of hoofs to top of ears and 39” high from bottom of wheels on the base to top of ears. A superior mount by a professional taxidermist. Genuine oddity taxidermy mounts like “Mike & Ike – they look alike” are exceptionally rare. This unique mount is a full size black and white calf with fully developed heads and complete facial characteristics along with it’s long necks is an extreme rarity in two headed calves. The mount was purchased by “The Museum of Lost Arts” at a farm estate auction many years ago in Ellwood City, PA where the calf was born. The provenance (history and origin) and physical attributes to support the fact that it is entirely genuine and this coupled with the strong market for well executed oddities in taxidermy, makes it especially desirable and rare.


Kodachrome, Pt. 2

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:21:37 PST


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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.:

Who were we? How did we live, and what did it look like? The vast archive of castoff slides captures, in vivid colors, images of the American family at midcentury. But the stories that go with the pictures are most often lost, and we’re left to create our own, and reflect on millions of conscious decisions to untie the knot of memory.

HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network. If you like what you hear, please take a second to leave the show a rating and/or review at the iTunes Store. It's a little thing that means a lot, so thanks. And don't forget to subscribe, at any of the usual places:

iTunes | Android | Email | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

Long lost Robert Anton Wilson book, Starseed Signals, to be published

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:18:49 PST

(image) announced yesterday that a manuscript by Robert Anton Wilson has been found and will be published by RVP Publishers in the first half of 2017. The manuscript appears to be substantial, weighing in at 340 pages.

RAW and Discordianism scholar Adam Gorightly rediscovered the book and wrote a forward for it. And although the book was never published, it formed the basis for later work, Gorightly writes in his forward: "Starseed Signals laid the foundation for RAW’s landmark work Cosmic Trigger, The Final Secret of the Illuminati, so don’t be surprised if some of the passages in this book seem familiar, to be later lifted and inserted into the Cosmic Trigger narrative."

I assume this book chronicles, at least in part, the period in the early 70s when Wilson and Timothy Leary were convinced that they were in communication with beings from the dog star, Sirius. In the end, RAW wrote off much of the episode to drugs, delusion, and wishful thinking -- and found it all a fascinating experiment in extra-human communications.

[Image via Robert Anton Wilson: The Map Is Not The Territory: The Future Is Not The Past]

Questioning the nature of reality with cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:16:32 PST

Back in the early 1900s, the German biologist Jakob Johann Baron von Uexküll couldn’t shake the implication that the inner lives of animals like jellyfish and sea urchins must be radically different from those of humans. Uexküll was fascinated by how meaty, squishy nervous systems gave rise to perception. Noting that the sense organs of sea creatures and arachnids could perceive things that ours could not, he realized that giant portions of reality must therefore be missing from their subjective experiences, which suggested that the same was true of us. In other words, most ticks can’t enjoy an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical because, among other reasons, they don’t have eyes. On the other hand, unlike ticks, most humans can’t smell butyric acid wafting on the breeze, and so no matter where you sit in the audience, smell isn’t an essential (or intended) element of a Broadway performance of Cats. Uexküll imagined that each animal’s subjective experience was confined to a private sensory world he called an umwelt. Each animal’s umwelt was different, he said, distinctive from that of another animal in the same environment, and each therefore was tuned to take in only a small portion of the total picture. Not that any animal would likely know that, which was Uexküll’s other big idea. Because no organism can perceive the totality of objective reality, each animal likely assumes that what it can perceive is all that can be perceived. Each umwelt is a private universe, fitted to its niche, and the subjective experiences of all of Earth’s creatures are like a sea filled with a panoply of bounded virtual realities floating past one another, each unaware that it is unaware. Like all ideas, Uexküll’s weren’t completely new. Philosophers had wondered about the differences in subjective and objective reality going back to Plato’s cave (and are still wondering). But even though Uexküll’s ideas weren’t strictly original, he brought them into a new academic silo – biology. In doing so, he generated lines of academic research into neuroscience and the nature of consciousness that are still going today. For instance, when the philosopher Thomas Nagel famously asked, “What is it like to be a bat?” he thought there was no answer to his question because it would be impossible to think in that way. Bat sonar, he said, is nothing like anything we possess, “and there is no reason to suppose that it is subjectively like anything we can experience or imagine.” All one can do, said Nagel, is imagine what it would be like for a person, like yourself, to be a bat. Imagining what it would be like for a bat to be a bat is impossible. This was part of an overall criticism on the limits of reductionist thinking, and is, of course, still the subject of much debate. The siblings of these notions appear in the writings of everyone from Timothy Leary with his “reality tunnels” to J.J. Gibson’s “ecological optics” to psychologist Charles Tart and his “consensus trances.” From the Wachowski’s Matrix to Kant’s “noumenon” to Daniel Dennett’s “conscious robots,” we’ve been wondering about these questions for a very long time. You too, I suspect, have stumbled on these problems, asking something along the lines of “do we all see the same colors?” at some point. The answer, by the way, is no. The assumption in most of these musings is that we humans are unique because we can escape our umwelten. We have reason, philosophy, science, and physics which free[...]

Media Files:

BDSM mask or hot water bottle?

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:13:04 PST


From the Akron Beacon Journal, January 1, 1948, as spotted by the esteemed curators of Weird Universe:


Guitar made from shotgun that still shoots

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:07:29 PST


Rev. Peyton of the Big Damn Band plays a three-stringed "Guitgun" that he designed and Bryan Fleming fabricated.


A new edition of the Information Doesn't Want to Be Free audiobook featuring Neil Gaiman

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:03:37 PST


"Information Doesn't Want to Be Free" is my 2014 nonfiction book about copyright, the internet, and earning a living, and it features two smashing introductions -- one by Neil Gaiman and the other by Amanda Palmer. (more…)

W3C at a crossroads: technology standards setter or legal arms-dealer?

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 08:53:07 PST


The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an amazing, long-running open standards body that has been largely responsible for the web's growth and vibrancy, creating open standards that lets anyone make web technology and become part of the internet ecosystem. (more…)

The screenwriter of Arrival on how hard it was to adapt Ted Chiang for the screen

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 08:20:30 PST

Eric Heisserer adapted Ted Chiang's novella Story of Your Life as the screenplay Arrival. Both are brilliant, but in different ways. It wasn't easy. In all my draft work on the adaptation, I spent the most time on the intellectual and political challenges of the story. But if I ever encroached on the intimate, emotional through-line of Louise’s journey, the story fell apart. Other scenes could be sacrificed, reworked, moved, or cut to the bone. But director Denis Villeneuve and I found a bare minimum of steps to Louise’s personal journey, and that became our Alamo; our hill we would die defending. Denis had a knack for visuals that spoke on an emotional level while also dovetailing with the intellectual challenges our characters faced. Marrying those two, sometimes in a single line of dialogue or image, made the film come alive. It made us feel the story. And at the end of the day, what drew me most to Ted Chiang’s story was the way it made me feel, and above all else we wanted to transport and share that feeling with audiences It's always fascinating to see how the sausage is made. Screenwriters must write for several audiences--the author being adapted, producers, directors--at different stages of the process, while keeping moviegoers in mind all along. You can see here how a master makes his script align with each on its journey to the screen, somehow without alienating everyone. Also interesting is the fact Final Draft, the expensive and mandatory screenplay production software package, can't handle images—an unusual but unavoidable requirement for a movie full of alien logograms to be deciphered. Your first thought is probably to marvel at Hollywood's cultish traditionalism and what happens to software when a market gets locked in. But it strikes me that screenplays are like code or markup, a form of plaintext tightly attuned to an expensive technical process. Embedded graphics would tend to be a disruptive amateurism, at war with functions of the document that aren't easily visible to observers. I saw the movie this weekend. It's great: moody, beautiful, sweeping, fascinating and touching science fiction that honors Chiang's original while borrowing heavily from Contact to generate dramatic tension and scope. It literalizes the novella's key theme--the immanence of time--in a way that I thought was too on the nose. Removing just one scene, where a Heptapod literally explains the movie (with English subtitles!), and we'd have been left with Louise's visions and her encounter with General Chiang to do the same work--a more mysterious and ambiguous movie, perhaps.[...]

Virginia State cops have blown a fortune on useless cellphone spying gear

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 07:54:05 PST


Muckrock has been sending Freedom of Information requests to state police forces to find out how they're using "cell-site simulators" (AKA IMSI catchers/Stingrays), and they hit the motherlode with the Virginia State Police. (more…)

UK cops beat phone encryption by "mugging" suspect after he unlocked his phone

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 07:39:20 PST


Detectives from Scotland Yard's cybercrime unit decided the easiest way to get around their suspect's careful use of full-disk encryption and strong passphrases on his Iphone was to trail him until he made a call, then "mug" him by snatching his phone and then tasking an officer to continuously swipe at the screen to keep it from going to sleep, which would reactivate the disk encryption. (more…)

Accelerando: once you teach a computer to see, it can teach itself to hear

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 07:30:34 PST


In SoundNet: Learning Sound Representations from Unlabeled Video, researchers from MIT's computer science department describe their success in using software image-recognition to automate sound recognition: once software can use video analysis to decide what's going on in a clip, it can then use that understanding to label the sounds in the clip, and thus accumulate a model for understanding sound, without a human having to label videos first for training purposes. (more…)

Bravo Twitter: company promises not to help create Trump's Muslim registry

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 07:25:53 PST


The Intercept's Sam Biddle asked nine tech companies if they would help authorities create a national registry of known muslims—one of president-elect Donald Trump's campaign suggestions. Only Twitter would go on the record to state that it would not co-operate with such a list.
Twitter: “No,” and a link to this blog post, which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.” which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.”

Bravo. It takes courage and planning for publicly-traded businesses to take a hostile stand on hot potatoes like this, and Twitter bothered. Compare to IBM, whose CEO wrote Trump a slobbering mash note promising the services of her company.

Seven of the other companies didn't respond at all. Microsoft responded with "We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point."

We're asking if tech firms are going to cooperate. But when it comes to inferring affiliations from the mass surveillance of private data, it's just the sort of thing whistleblowers warn us is already going on. Trump's off-the-cuff blather about official registries isn't about what is known, but about making it acceptable.

That said, Biddle's post was met this weekend by dismissive sneering from the Gilfoyles: a good reminder that Silicon Valley is cynical and willing, and that fatalism is the best policy.

Update: Duped Cory.

How governments and cyber-militias attack civil society groups, and what they can do about it

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 07:24:08 PST


The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (previously) is one of the world's leading research centers for cybersecurity analysis, and they are the first port of call for many civil society groups when they are targeted by governments and cyber-militias. (more…)