Saturday, September 24, 2011

Awesome Dad photoshops EWOKS into 4 family photos to impress kids

Awesome Dad photoshops EWOKS into 4 family photos to impress kids

Anthony Herrera is a geek dad. So when he took his two children hiking in Sequoia National Park—close to Redwood National and State Parks, where Return of the Jedi was filmed—he told them that this is where Ewoks lived.

Sent from James' iPhone

People pointing at things

Boing Pointy2
Boing Pointy1
Over at LIFE, our pal Ben Cosgrove put together an image gallery of people pointing at things. Why is that interesting, you ask? Just start clicking through the pictures and you will slowly be confounded by the surreality of the act. Looking at these photos is like a visual form of semantic satiation, the mindfuck you get when repeating a word in isolation causes it to seem weirdly meaningless. "People Pointing at Stuff"

Sent from James' iPhone

Extreme Polymer Research’s Polymer Handgun Cartridge Cases

A Spanish company called Extreme Polymer Research has developed a line of polymer cases for a number of handgun cartridges and plan to bring them to market next year.

.380 polymer case (middle)

Unlike polymer shotgun cases, these cases do not have a steel base, they are entirely polymer. I asked the company if they have had any problems with the polymer melting or malfunctions in high temperatures. They responded in saying that the polymer selected for the cases is also used to build automotive parts and has been tested in temperatures ranging from -40 to +150 degrees celsius without problems. They tried some transparent polymers, which would allow visual inspection of the power load (and be very cool!) but these did not function correctly under stress.

The primary benefits of these rounds is consistent quality and pricing that is not dependent on the rising cost of copper.

Extreme Polymer Research will only be producing cases for straight-walled low-pressure handgun rounds (.380, 9mm, .40 & .45) because of the problems inherent with polymer cases necked rifle rounds. A few companies have tried producing rifle ammunition with polymer cases but they have all failed.

foto 2 tfb Extreme Polymer Researchs Polymer Handgun Cartridge Cases photo

The ammunition will go on sale next year in Europe and hopefully the USA. The retail price in the USA will be in the 6 to 8 cents/case range.

Sent from James' iPhone

Hell is Syria: 18-year old woman dies gruesome death in detention

According to Amnesty International, an 18-year-old woman was killed in a Syrian prison to pressure her brother, a political activist. Her body had been decapitated, the arms cut off, her skin removed.

"If it is confirmed that Zainab was in custody when she died, this would be one of the most disturbing cases of a death in detention we have seen so far," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

(BBC News via @kaepora)

Sent from James' iPhone

New look

Having moved Boing Boing to WordPress, the old design hung loose on its bones. It's time for an update!

The revision is simpler than before, with a smaller bandwidth "footprint", less clutter, and more whitespace. Boing Boing now has a fluid layout that adapts to different browser and device sizes, instead of serving a separate mobile website. Make the browser window smaller (or access it from a cellphone or tablet) and you'll get a single-column layout.

People who have larger displays, on the other hand, will see more, including background art at the widest widths. If you'd like to suggest or submit your own work, please do! We're planning on having a neat 'hide site' switch so people can see suggested background art in all its glory.

At the top, there are now links to our podcast, Gweek, and to a new category, B-side, which is for unwieldy or alarming amusements that don't fit well on the homepage or in the main RSS feed. It's rather empty now, but I can assure you there is no shortage of 5MB animated GIFs waiting to be posted.

Apart from a few other modern touches (and a few old ones -- hit j and k to scroll between posts!) there's not much else to boast of. Given how time-consuming this project was, it's easy to see the temptation of radical change. A new platform means you're starting from scratch, after all. The best thing about that, though, is we can now make smaller, smarter changes much more easily. Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Sent from James' iPhone

Thursday, September 22, 2011

HOWTO make a Buster Keaton hat

Carl sez, "Buster Keaton wore his unique porkpie hats throughout his long career, but what most fans don't know is he was a maker, he made his hats out of 'normal' hats. Here's how he did it."

I think this is my favorite video of the day.


Sent from James' iPhone

Financial Balance and the 80/20 Rule

One of the most fascinating things I've discovered since starting The Simple Dollar is the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle. Simply put, it means that 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes.

It's perhaps easiest to explain this principle by giving you several examples of how I see it popping up again and again in my life – and how I use my understanding of it to my advantage.

80% of our total grocery bill comes from 20% of the items. This is actually true. If I take a typical grocery receipt and count only the top 20% of items in terms of cost, those items will make up close to 80% of our grocery bill.

Thus, if I want to save money on my grocery bills, I need to address those items instead of the staples. Is this expensive item really the best bang for the buck here?

You don't save a whole lot of money by fretting over the items that cost less than a dollar. You save money by not buying (or finding a less-expensive equivalent to) the ten dollar items.

80% of my clothes-wearing is done by 20% of my clothes. I usually rotate about five pairs of pants and about eight shirts all the time until something wears out. If I actually look through my clothes, I own substantially more shirts and more pants than that.

So why buy them? Why own them? Eight shirts and five pants gives me forty outfits – and more if I combine some of the shirts together into a layered look.

Simply put, I don't buy new clothes unless they're on sale or at a thrift store, period. If I do pick up new clothes, they will simply wait to go into the normal clothes rotation until another item wears out.

80% of my time in my home is spent in 20% of the space. Think about it. How much time is spent in your bed? How much time is spent in your favorite chair? For most of us, that eats up the vast majority of time they're in their living quarters.

I spend most of my time in my home either at my desk in my office, in my bed asleep, or in the family room. I spend very little time in the rest of the house.

The only reason to have a large home is so that you have room to store lots of stuff.

80% of my entertainment enjoyment comes from 20% of my collection. I tend to re-read my favorite books, re-listen to my favorite albums, and re-watch my favorite television shows and movies fairly regularly. I'd far rather watch the run of Freaks and Geeks again than a new episode of most of the things currently on television. When I'm listening to music, I'm much more likely to throw on an old Pearl Jam CD than anything new.

This realization has moved me towards trying to find free or very inexpensive ways to expose myself to new media. I use the library. I watch free samples online. I read free sample chapters of books I'm interested in.

This way, I'm not actually investing my money into something that doesn't click deeply with me.

To put it simply, the reality of my behavior leads me to frugality. I just have to sit down, look at what I'm actually doing, and make sensible financial choices accordingly.

Sent from James' iPhone

49 Drop-Dead Gorgeous Reasons You Should Run Your Website on WordPress

image of StudioPress logo

Yeah, you can pick up a theme to bolt onto your WordPress website just about anywhere these days.

But why would you go just about anywhere to find something that's so vital to your work? This is 2011 after all.

Your website should be stunningly designed.

It should make performing the basics of good SEO very simple.

You shouldn't have to worry about things like state-of-the-art security, hassles with manual updates, or wondering if the underlying code of the theme you're using is silently undermining all your work.

Oh, and it'd be cool if all of the above was found in one place. In 49 unique variations to choose from. Right?

Well, check this out …

Our StudioPress team has done the heavy lifting for you when it comes to website design, search optimization, and security.

Between our in-house StudioPress themes and our newly-built, StudioPress-approved, Theme Marketplace, we've got 49 stunning WordPress themes for you to lay on top of our rock-solid Genesis Framework for WordPress.

And, as always, there's more going on over there than I can keep up with.

I'll write more later about all the powerful plugins, the free (and growing) graphics library, etc.

For now, check out these two hand-made theme designs from the workbench:

Scribble down a little note, or much more

image of the Scribble theme for WordPress

Sometimes it's personal.

Sometimes it's business.

Either way, you need a place that's yours to get it down.

Click here to straighten out your website with the Scribble theme.

Every company is a media company

image of the Magazine theme for WordPress

Small business or large, you're in the game.

Suburban, exurban, urban, or rural, you've got the opportunity to speak to the world.

We talk a lot around here about content and media. Take a step toward dominating your industry with this killer 21st century printing press.

Click here to setup your publishing empire on the Magazine theme.

Meanwhile, over at the StudioPress Theme Marketplace …

We introduced the StudioPress Theme Marketplace to you last month, and have since doubled the number of approved third-party themes available.

Ummm, there's going to be no stopping this little shop.

Below is just a taste of what's going on (and what's coming) over at the StudioPress Theme Marketplace

What will your grandchildren say?

image of the Legacy theme for WordPress

We often think about the Internet (and what we do with it) as ephemeral. What if you thought different?

You may not be writing War and Peace, but you definitely want your best stuff out there in the wild.

Click here to leave your mark with the Legacy theme.

Legacy was designed by Wes Straham.

Style is the answer to everything

image of the fashionista theme for WordPress

Come on, it's time your content got the same treatment as those folks in the fashion industry.

You may not be in a professional makeup chair for three hours every morning, but your website can be in the equivalent. Ready for your closeup?

Click here to get your style on with the Fashionista theme.

Fashionista was designed by The Genesis Ninja.

56,459 people take WordPress further with StudioPress

OK, here's the short version:

Our Genesis Framework from StudioPress empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress.

With search-optimized code and functions, 49 turn-key designs, and unlimited support, updates, and websites you can build, Mashable calls Genesis the "best of the best" among premium WordPress themes.

56,459 online publishers trust Genesis to provide a solid foundation for their sites.

Whether you're a novice or an advanced developer, Genesis provides you with the rock-solid infrastructure to take WordPress places you never thought it could go.

Get Genesis (and one, or all of the 49 themes) right here.

Sent with Reeder

Sent from James' iPhone

Image of the Day: Han and Leia engagment rings

SCI FI Wire Atom Feed
Image of the Day: Han and Leia engagment rings

Presented without comment.

Sent with Reeder

Sent from James' iPhone

Movie-industry self-piracy proves that IP addresses aren’t people, invalidates copyright enforcement schemes

TorrentFreak has excellent analysis of the revelation that a user in the Swedish Film Institute's IP block has been accused of illegally downloading movies in a report from one of the motion picture industry's copyright bounty-hunters. Rather than sniggering at the sight of the entertainment industry being hoist on its own petard, we should be noting this as even more evidence that IP addresses aren't people, and the entertainment industry's legal campaign to sue people all over the world by the hundreds of thousands on the strength of an IP address alone is an unfair and unsuitable remedy for its copyright problems. After all, if the Swedish Film Institute can't figure out who is responsible for downloading movies from its Internet connection, how can a university, employer, or family?
Although SFI acknowledge that the IP address (or addresses) logged by DoubleTrace does indeed belong to them, they reveal that it's hardly trivial to discover the real-life person behind it. Not only do all of SFI's staff share that IP, but several tenants (such as film and TV producers) do too. And visitors to their library, and visitors to some of their cinemas, and diners in the restaurant, not to mention those using the open WiFi in the cafe and foyer areas.

As indicated by the way they have been proactive in this case by calling in the police, the SFI really seem to want to get to the bottom of the allegations. They say they have firewall logs that could show when and from where in their infrastructure the movies were being shared.

But – and little surprise here – DoubleTrace, the anti-piracy company behind the allegations, aren't being forthcoming with their evidence.

"The week before the incident became public we carried out intensive work in which we asked the information technology company DoubleTrace AB and production company Strix to show us the data that they claim to have, to get a chance to see if the sharing actually took place here, and if so, from where," the SFI explains. "Since we are being denied the material it means that we can not verify whether the information is correct."

Movie Institute Feels Pain Of IP Address-Only Piracy 'Evidence'

Sent from James' iPhone

LA firefighters in hot water over use of f(ire tr)uck in porn

Los Angeles firefighters are under investigation by the LAFD for apparently allowing porn producers to use their fire engines (the actual fire engines, not a euphemism for their hubba-hubbas) in an adult film. This follows reports in April that two LA traffic cops from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation appeared in a porno.

In one of the movies, shot at Venice Beach, LAFD Engine 263 is used as the backdrop by an actress performing lewd acts.

"Look at this fire truck," says porn actress Charley Chase, as she climbs on the engine and repeatedly exposes herself. "Isn't that nice."

It appears that a group of firefighters are watching the movie being shot.

"I know them," one man says on camera in the reality-style porn flick. "I'm a firefighter."

For several minutes of the movie, the actress appears to have free access to the engine, and asks numerous passersby to fondle her. "Look, I think we have more friends," she says, as a group of men stop to fondle the actress.

I'll tell you what's a lewd act. That goddamned lousy excuse for dialogue, that's what.

More at NBC Los Angeles.

The incident in question involves LAFD staff and equipment in Venice, but there's more: a second investigation is under way involving a fire engine from LAFD in Hollywood in another pornographic film.

Sent from James' iPhone

Saturday, September 17, 2011

HOWTO track down a con-artist

Ken, a former "fed" (of some description) on the group blog Popehat, received a "toner-scam" (a scam whereby someone sends you an invoice for a service you never ordered or received in the hopes that you'll pay it without noticing) solicitation in the mail at his business. This pissed him off, so he decided to track down the scammers and document, in lavish detail, the process by which he ran them to ground. The series of posts is up to part four now, and it's fascinating reading.
For some reason, this one seriously pisses me off. Maybe its because the fraud is so blatant. Maybe it's because the weasel-worded disclaimer designed to give them a defense to fraud claims is so perfunctory and lame. Maybe it's because after I sent an email to the scammer's lawyer, the scammer himself called me and tried to run a con on me. Like I'm a fucking rube.

So. I've decided to dedicate some time and money to investigating this scam and the people and companies responsible for it. I've also decided to write about the investigation, and use it as an opportunity to discuss con man culture and how anyone with an internet connection, a few bucks, and some time can investigate an attempted scam — or, preferably, conduct due diligence on a suspected scammer before they can even try to con you.

I'm going to discuss using Google, using PACER (which allows access to federal court records), using state court records, and taking effective action against scammers.

Anatomy of a Scam Investigation: Chapter One

Anatomy of a Scam Investigation: Chapter Two

Anatomy of A Scam Investigation, Chapter Three

Anatomy of A Scam Investigation, Chapter Four

(via MeFi)

Sent from James' iPhone




Sent from James' iPhone

Friday, September 16, 2011

Do users change their settings?

Back in the early days of PC computing, we were interested in how people used all those options, controls, and settings that software designers put into their applications. How much do users customize their applications?

We embarked on a little experiment. We asked a ton of people to send us their settings file for Microsoft Word. At the time, MS Word stored all the settings in a file named something like config.ini, so we asked people to locate that file on their hard disk and email it to us. Several hundred folks did just that.

We then wrote a program to analyze the files, counting up how many people had changed the 150+ settings in the applications and which settings they had changed.

What we found was really interesting. Less than 5% of the users we surveyed had changed any settings at all. More than 95% had kept the settings in the exact configuration that the program installed in.

This was particularly curious because some of the program's defaults were notable. For example, the program had a feature that would automatically save your work as edited a document, to prevent losing anything in case of a system or program failure. In the default settings for the version we analyzed, this feature was disabled. Users had to explicitly turn it on to make it work.

Of course, this mean that 95% of the users were running with autosave turned off. When we interviewed a sample of them, they all told us the same thing: They assumed Microsoft had delivered it turned off for a reason, therefore who were they to set it otherwise. "Microsoft must know what they are doing," several of the participants told us.

We thought about that and wondered what the rationale was for keeping such an important feature turned off. We thought that maybe they were concerned about people running off floppies or those who had slow or small disks. Autosave does have performance implications, so maybe they were optimizing the behavior for the worst case, assuming that users who had the luxury to use the feature would turn it on.

We had friends in the Microsoft Office group, so we asked them about the choice of delivering the feature disabled. We explained our hypothesis about optimizing for performance. They asked around and told us our hypothesis was incorrect.

It turns out the reason the feature was disabled in that release was not because they had thought about the user's needs. Instead, it was because a programmer had made a decision to initialize the config.ini file with all zeroes. Making a file filled with zeroes is a quick little program, so that's what he wrote, assuming that, at some point later, someone would tell him what the "real defaults" should be. Nobody ever got around to telling him.

Since zero in binary means off, the autosave setting, along with a lot of other settings, were automatically disabled. The users' assumption that Microsoft had given this careful consideration turned out not to be the case.

We also asked our participants for background information, like age and occupation, to see if that made a difference. It didn't, except one category of people who almost always changed their settings: programmers and designers. They often had changed more than 40% (and some had changed as much as 80%) of the options in the program.

It seems programmers and designers like to customize their environment. Who would've guessed? Could that be why they chose their profession?

(Big takeaway: If you're a programmer or designer, then you're not like most people. Just because you change your settings in apps you use doesn't mean that your users will, unless they are also programmers and designers.)

We've repeated this experiment in various forms over the years. We've found it to be consistently true: users rarely change their settings.

If your application has settings, have you looked to see what your users do? How many have changed them? Are the defaults the optimal choice? Does your settings screen explain the implications of each setting and give your users a good reason for mucking with the defaults?

Sent from James' iPhone

Republicans wage war on good government, and no one notices

Republicans are probably just as surprised as anyone that it turns out that there are no political consequences for unprecedented legislative obstructionism. They have just kept at it for so long that it's no longer a fresh story. It has, in fact, become just the way things are, that proposals that in past Congresses would've been utterly uncontroversial a few years ago now require 60 votes to be considered. Did you know that a vote to fund FEMA failed in the Senate yesterday?
Sent from James' iPhone

Republicans wage war on good government, and no one notices

Republicans are probably just as surprised as anyone that it turns out that there are no political consequences for unprecedented legislative obstructionism. They have just kept at it for so long that it's no longer a fresh story. It has, in fact, become just the way things are, that proposals that in past Congresses would've been utterly uncontroversial a few years ago now require 60 votes to be considered. Did you know that a vote to fund FEMA failed in the Senate yesterday?
Sent from James' iPhone

USB Typewriter Interview

USB Typewriter

Want to renew your faith in humanity? Grab a slice of inspiration this weekend at the second Maker Faire New York, taking place September 17 and 18 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. The amazing array of makers who will be present, each making a difference in their tiny corner of the world, is guaranteed to induce joy. Next up in our interview series is Jack Zylkin, who is on a mission to save old typewriters from obsolescence by giving them a hand into the 21st century. He is the inventor of the USB Typewriter.

1. Tell us about your USB Typewriter invention. What inspired you to make it and how long did developing it take?
I am a little upset by how disposable all of our modern gadgets have become — how the cycle of obsolescence has been driven to an absurd pace, with people junking their iPhone 3s to buy iPhone 4s, for example. Antique typewriters, meanwhile, are elegant, timeless machines, but no one uses them anymore because of the computerized world's need for immediate access and instant gratification. I think typewriters are just a more intimate, personal, thoughtful way to write, and what's more they're also amazingly beautiful works of classic engineering and design.

In terms of build quality and appearance, there is no comparison to modern plastic keyboards — it's like comparing a grand piano to a Casio synthesizer. So when I saw that most people who owned typewriters were either letting them collect dust, using them as mantle-piece decoration, or *shudder* cutting off the keys to make Etsy jewelry, I decided I needed to rescue these typewriters from irrelevance by reincorporating them into the routine of daily life — which meant taking them out of the attic and putting them on the computer desk.

2. What kind of reaction have you gotten since you launched your product?
The response from the maker community has been great. So many people wanted to buy USB Typewriter kits that I was able to quit my job and work as an inventor full time. There have also been lots of great suggestions from makers, including a suggestion for a portable model that saves to a memory stick (I'm still working on that one), and using a typewriter as a MIDI device.

3. How did you hear about Maker Faire and why did you decide to participate?
A few years ago I would have killed just to go the Maker Faire, ever since I first read about it in MAKE magazine, but it was all the way in SF back then. I can't believe I'm actually IN it now. I am so excited.

USB Typewriter

4. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started making things and who are your inspirations?
I'm an electrical engineer by training, but I originally wanted to be an artist or musician. As I went through engineering school I alternately turned my bedroom into a recording studio, and then a screen-printing studio — both with disastrous results. It wasn't until I found a home at Philly hackerspace Hive76 that I realized that engineering itself could be a mode of expression. The other hackers at Hive76 are also an inspiration, both as inventors and friends. However, my greatest inspiration is Doc Brown, who I hope to be just like when I grow up.

5. Is your USB Typewriter strictly a hobby or part of a budding business? Does it relate to your day job?
The USB Typewriter started as one of many inventions I was tinkering around with, but it took over, and now I've quit my job and work full time making USB Typewriters, selling kits, and investigating new inventions. I actually made up some business cards that say "Jack Zylkin: Inventor". I'm also about to unveil a brand new invention at the Maker Faire — it's a six-sided dice that changes color randomly when thrown. I don't have a name for it yet, but I'm thinking along the lines of LazerDice. There's a whole crazy boardgame that goes with the dice, too, involving Vikings, unicorns, and tarot cards, but it's still in development. Hopefully I can challenge some Maker Faire visitors to a few rounds!

6. What new idea has inspired you most recently?
Lately I've been marveling over the crisping sleeve — it might be the most incredible invention ever, or maybe a close second after penicillin.

7. What advice would you give to the young makers out there just getting started?
Always be working on something. Even if you don't have any good ideas at the moment, pick a bad idea and work on it. Even if a project has no chance of success, you will learn from it and it will hopefully take you somewhere new.

USB Typewriter

8. What's your motto? Favorite tool?
My favorite tool is the Craft Robo. It's a $200 CNC paper-cutting machine! It's so cool! I know a lot of my projects would have stalled if I didn't have the ability to cut precision pieces and templates right there on my desk. I don't understand why the Craft Robo isn't on every maker's desk already.

9. What do you love most about NYC?

Thanks Jack! For all the 411 you need to join in on the action this weekend, head on over to the Maker Faire website!

Sent from James' iPhone

Author’s Guild versus university libraries: a dead letter

You may have heard that the Author's Guild is suing the HathiTrust, a coalition of libraries that is proposing to share their scans of some out-of-print books whose authors can't be located, passing them around among themselves. Corynne McSherry from the Electronic Frontier Foundation reviews the AG's lawsuit, and concludes that they don't have a snowball's chance. I'm in Ann Arbor, MI today, where the local university has been named in the suit -- I had a couple conversations with Hathi-ers today, and they all seem pretty sanguine about the Guild's suit.
Instead, the Guild makes much of imminent plans to make a small set of orphan works (i.e., in-copyright works where the rightsholder cannot be found) available to the university community – but here's where the Guild's standing problem arises. None of the owners of those works are part of the lawsuit. The Guild cannot sue on behalf of people who aren't members, and who aren't even known. Since it filed the lawsuit, the Guild has managed to identify a few potential rightsholders that the libraries had categorized as orphans, but they are still not parties to the lawsuit (and the libraries are pulling them from the list, as was always promised if a potential rightsholder came forward). To top it off, most of the defendants are state institutions, and therefore cannot be held liable for money damages for copyright infringement. See here and here for more detailed analyses.

The lawsuit gamely claims the libraries are causing "great and irreparable injury" to the authors the Guild claims to represent, as well as several additional individual authors, but it is hard to imagine what that harm might be. Presumably, most authors would like to have their works preserved, which is what the original scans are for, and can hardly object to the public having access to bibliographic information about them. The Guild claims there is an "intolerable" risk that the repository will be hacked – but offers no reason to imagine this will happen, or that the digital repository is less secure than the places where physical books (and digital works on microfiche, etc.) are stored. The Guild also complains that the problem of orphan works should be solved by Congress. That would be great, but it doesn't seem to be happening anytime soon and denying academic communities (and indeed all communities) access to these works while Congress fiddles seems deeply wrong.

No Authors Have Been Harmed in the Making of This Library

Sent from James' iPhone

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to Become an Unforgettable Writer

image of charles bukowski

Style is the answer to everything
A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous
To do a dull thing with style is preferable
to doing a dangerous thing without it
To do a dangerous thing with style, is what
I call art

Bullfighting can be an art
Boxing can be an art
Loving can be an art
Opening a can of sardines can be an art

Not many have style
Not many can keep style
I have seen dogs with more style than men
Although not many dogs have style
Cats have it with abundance

When Hemingway put his brains
to the wall with a shotgun, that was style
For sometimes people give you style
Joan of Arc had style
John the Baptist
GarcĂ­a Lorca

I have met men in jail with style
I have met more men in jail with style
than men out of jail
Style is a difference, a way of doing,
a way of being done

Six herons standing quietly in a pool of water,
or you, walking out of the bathroom without seeing me

"Style" by Charles Bukowski

Sent from James' iPhone

danah boyd: “Guilt Through Algorithmic Association”

Snip from a thought-provoking post by danah boyd:

You're a 16-year-old Muslim kid in America. Say your name is Mohammad Abdullah. Your schoolmates are convinced that you're a terrorist. They keep typing in Google queries likes "is Mohammad Abdullah a terrorist?" and "Mohammad Abdullah al Qaeda." Google's search engine learns. All of a sudden, auto-complete starts suggesting terms like "Al Qaeda" as the next term in relation to your name. You know that colleges are looking up your name and you're afraid of the impression that they might get based on that auto-complete. You are already getting hostile comments in your hometown, a decidedly anti-Muslim environment. You know that you have nothing to do with Al Qaeda, but Google gives the impression that you do. And people are drawing that conclusion. You write to Google but nothing comes of it. What do you do?

This is guilt through algorithmic association. And while this example is not a real case, I keep hearing about real cases. Cases where people are algorithmically associated with practices, organizations, and concepts that paint them in a problematic light even though there's nothing on the web that associates them with that term. Cases where people are getting accused of affiliations that get produced by Google's auto-complete. Reputation hits that stem from what people _search_ not what they _write_.

More: Guilt Through Algorithmic Association.

Sent from James' iPhone

Guerrilla planter on a bike-locking stand

On the Boing Boing Flickr Pool, Half My Dad's Age's beautiful action shot of a guerrilla planter perched atop a bicycle locking-stand on the streets of Toronto. I like the way this beautifies the lock-up without making it less useful to cyclists.

I hadn't seen the gorilla planters on the bike stands yet. They are cool idea. Heard about it one day on the CBC.

Sent from James' iPhone

Mexico: two tortured, murdered, hung from bridge as warning to those using Twitter, blogs to report narco-crime

In Nuevo Laredo, Mexico today, bloggers and Twitter users who share information on crimes of drug cartels and related gangs received a gruesome warning. The tortured bodies of two people in their mid-twenties "hanging like cuts of meat from a pedestrian bridge" were found with posters warning various sites that publish news of narco-terror incidents to stop, or suffer a similar fate.

One of the blogs named, Blog Del Narco, was the subject of a recent Boing Boing feature: guest contributor Raul Gutierrez interviewed its anonymous author.

This is the first incident I am aware of in Mexico in which social media users and bloggers, as opposed to journalists working for more conventional news organizations, have been targeted in this manner.

The identities of the victims have not been reported, and it is not yet clear what their relation was, if any, to the blogs named on the accompanying placards.

One of the messages near the corpses read:

This happened for snitching on Frontera Al Rojo Vivo (A Grupo Refroma internet forum created to both inform of and denounce cartel activity)

The other message read:

This will happen to all the internet snitches (Frontera al Rojo Vivo, Blog Del Narco, or Denuncia Ciudadano) Be warned, we've got our eye on you. Signed, Z

From CNN:

A woman was hogtied and disemboweled, her intestines protruding from three deep cuts on her abdomen. Attackers left her topless, dangling by her feet and hands from a bridge in the border city of Nuevo Laredo. A bloodied man next to her was hanging by his hands, his right shoulder severed so deeply the bone was visible. Signs left near the bodies declared the pair, both apparently in their early 20s, were killed for posting denouncements of drug cartel activities on a social network.

Commenting on the news today, Nick Valencia of CNN tweeted,

This new development in the drugwar of threats to social media users speaks volumes to the subhuman nature of the cartels and narcos. Seemingly anyone is fair game for the narcos in their brutal campaign for money and power in Mexico. [But] social media users in Mexico have vowed to stand strongly united in the face of the narcos cowardly expressions of violence.

More: Mundo Narco, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

Sent from James' iPhone

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Star Trek Vertical Comics: Wesley Crusher Gets What’s Coming To Him

Crude, hilarious comics starting our favorite Star Trek characters? I want this like a Klingon craves combat! Creating vertical comics gives us a chance to push outside the confines of the sometimes stuffy Star Trek universe, so it should come as no surprise that the fanboys that made these things add a healthy dose of NSFW. Check out our favorites of these Internet created comics.

Via Reddit

Via Reddit

Via Reddit

Via Look and Smile

Via Justcapshunz

Via Reddit

Via Comixed

Via Memebase

Via Reddit

Via Reddit

Via Reddit

Via Reddit

Via Reddit

Sent from James' iPhone

Tiny paper people and scenery

TERADA MOKEI, a Japanese company, makes dense sheets of punch-out people, animals and scenery intended for use in architectural models. The sets include sports matches, mass transit, street scenes, construction sites, and an orchestra. Sounds like a fun thing to have around on general principle, for models, art projects, and entertainment value.

TERADA MOKEI (via Core77)

Sent from James' iPhone