Wednesday, 25 May

14:00 EDT

EgyptAir 804 explanations? [Philip Greenspun's Weblog]

Friends keep asking me to explain the loss of EgyptAir 804, but of course I am just as confused as everyone else.

The only thing that I learned from my airliner-flying days (sample) that might be relevant is that most of the important stuff in an airliner is under the floor. I still wonder “Why doesn’t a passenger spilling a Diet Coke take out half of the radios?”

The flight deck door is now armored but the floorboards under the bathroom aren’t. So in theory a malicious passenger could perhaps open a hole in the bathroom floor and put an incendiary device into the avionics bay. This would explain the “lavatory smoke” message that was received and also result in a catastrophic problems for a fly-by-wire Airbus A320. Perhaps a malicious passenger could shortcut the process by pouring explosive/flammable stuff down the drain and lighting it on fire? I don’t know enough about the plumbing in an A320 to make an educated guess about that. (I do know that the Ryanair proposal to charge passengers to use the bathroom made a lot of sense; it is hard to think of anything more costly than putting tanks of liquid into the pressure vessel of an aircraft.)

It is sad that 66 people died to leave us this puzzle, but the puzzle yet remains.

Federal government: Do what we say, not what we do [Philip Greenspun's Weblog]

“FAA Taking Its Time On ADS-B Equipage” is about the contrast between what the FAA says (install the 25-year-old ADS-B technology in your airplane well before the January 1, 2020 deadline) and what the FAA is doing (taking a leisurely and minimalist approach toward equipping its own aircraft).

Tesla driver sleeping at the wheel while car drives itself [Boing Boing]


Here's a gentleman taking a nap while his Tesla drives for him. From Electrek:

Tesla’s Autopilot requires the driver to always monitor the vehicle and be ready to take control. If the system lacks data to continue to actively steer the vehicle safely, it will show an alert on the dashboard.

If the driver ignores the alert for too long, it will emit a sound and decelerate while activating the hazard lights and moving the vehicle to the side of the road. The vehicle basically assumes that the driver is unconscious if he can’t take control after visual and audible alerts.

In this case, it seems like the Autopilot is still very much in control and therefore is not bothering the sleeping driver – now a simple passenger.

California lake trashed, University of Oregon students suspected [Boing Boing]

photo via Jennifer Cox/Facebook

Over 90 tents, sleeping bags, coolers full of food, and of course trash were left strewn about California's Lake Shasta. Some of the detritus was proudly emblazoned with University of Oregon logos, and those of the fraternal organization Lambda Chi Alpha. Unsurprisingly, the images have made their way to social media.

Via Oregon Live:

While the university can't confirm that UO students were at the site, Holmes acknowledged that Duck gear was strewn across the landscape. She added the school could discipline students who are involved in the situation, adding those students would have violated the school's code of conduct.

In a statement, Holmes said national fraternity Zeta Omicron Zeta was suspending all of its chapters' activities until the "situation is addressed."

One photo showed a cooler emblazoned with one of that fraternity's chapters, Lambda Chi Alpha's Greek lettering and the phrase, "Do you wanna do some blow man?"

World of Warcraft Chronicle takes you to the very beginning of the WoW universe [Boing Boing]


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

World of Warcraft Chronicle
by Blizzard Entertainment, Peter Lee (artist) and Joseph Lacroix (illustrator)
Dark Horse
2016, 184 pages, 9.3 x 12.3 x 0.7 inches
$25 Buy a copy on Amazon

Real chronicles for imaginary places are nothing new. I'm pretty sure my first one detailed all the secrets of Krynn. But it might have been Pern. Or maybe Thra. It's hard to remember. And these days, the market boasts a surfeit of atlases, histories, dictionaries, and art books big enough to satisfy even the most die-hard fan.

Dark Horse's World of Warcraft Chronicle Vol. 1 fills all these roles beautifully. Formatted as a history (hence "chronicle") the book takes the reader from the very beginning of the WoW universe to a time 45 years before the Dark Portal, when a young boy named Medivh awoke from a long coma...

WoW is famously lore-dense. It is one of the most captivating things about the game for many players. Each new expansion brings new races, new characters - each with their own complete story - as well as new back stories for old favorites. And then, too, WoW has a nifty habit of either adding new locations (and new stories!) or completely destroying the old lands and kingdoms and rebuilding in the same spots for, you guessed it, new stories!

This book is an attempt to corral all those stories into something coherent and readable. Two things help the book achieve its goal: the history is laid out chronologically (chronicle!) and supported by numerous maps and stunning artwork. The maps show the same locations again and again, noting how things have changed since the last time they were presented. And the art...Blizzard's own Peter Lee illustrated Chronicle with lush paintings that depict key scenes instantly familiar to anyone who has spent time in World of Warcraft.

As a physical object, Chronicle is another in a long line of beautifully constructed books from Dark Horse. The covers are sturdy (and sans jacket, instead having fixed illustrated panels on the front cover) and the paper is heavy enough to survive being leafed through repeatedly without tearing. Likewise, though glossy, the paper resists being smudged or marked by skin oil. The font and typesetting is clear and easy to read. As I said, it is a beautiful book.

With the (hopefully first of many) Warcraft movie set to debut this summer, World of Warcraft, the game, is sure to gain a bunch of new fans as well as see the return of lapsed players like yours truly. This book is the perfect companion piece for those new to Azeroth and those whose recollection may have faltered a little and even those who are already experts because, if nothing else, this book will make you want to take up your sword, climb on your mount, and join the battle. For the Horde! (Alliance!) – Joel Neff

Documentary about men who live as dogs [Boing Boing]


Secret Life of the Human Pups is a Channel 4 documentary that takes a "sympathetic look at the world of pup play, a movement that grew out of the BDSM community and has exploded in the last 15 years as the internet made it easier to reach out to likeminded people."

From The Guardian:

While the pup community is a broad church, human pups tend to be male, gay, have an interest in dressing in leather, wear dog-like hoods, enjoy tactile interactions like stomach rubbing or ear tickling, play with toys, eat out of bowls and are often in a relationship with their human “handlers”.





Lightning storm recorded at 7,000 frames per second [Boing Boing]


In this video from the Florida Institute of Technology, professor Ningyu Liu at the Geospace Physics Laboratory "caught a beautiful lightning show from a recent storm. It’s recorded at 7000 frames per second and the playback speed is 700 frames per second."

This seven-minute video shows amazing Hong Kong [Boing Boing]


When Brandon Li, a 34-year-old American, went to Hong Kong, he was so taken by the city that he made this stunningly beautiful short video about it, which shows the people, both rich and poor, eating, playing, working, competing, and celebrating.

Li told the South China Morning Post, “Hong Kong is a city which feels like it cannot exist. It is this mix of British and Chinese culture – it is filled with an uncontainable energy of beautiful corners that are sometimes hidden.” hongkong10 hongkong11 hongkong5 hongkong6 hongkong7 hongkong8 hongkong9 hongkong1 hongkong2 hongkong3 hongkong4

Star Wars: Episode IV, the massive infographic [Boing Boing]


Zurich-based Illustrator and graphic novelist Martin Panchaud created a massive infographic adaptation of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. If printed, the document would be more than 400 feet long. You might think of it as a visual Star Wars Torah scroll. SWANH.NET





GOP budget bill would kill net neutrality and FCC’s set-top box plan [Ars Technica]

(credit: Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock)

House Republicans yesterday released a plan to slash the Federal Communications Commission's budget by $69 million and prevent the FCC from enforcing net neutrality rules, "rate regulation," and its plan to boost competition in the set-top box market.

The proposal is the latest of many attempts to gut the FCC's authority, though it's unusual in that it takes aim at two of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's signature projects while also cutting the agency's budget. The plan is part of the government's annual appropriations bill.

"The bill contains $315 million for the FCC—a cut of $69 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $43 million below the [agency's] request," said an announcement by the House Appropriations Committee chaired by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who received $25,500 from the telecom industry in the current campaign cycle. "The legislation prohibits the FCC from implementing the net neutrality order until certain court cases are resolved, requires newly proposed regulations to be made publicly available for 21 days before the Commission votes on them, prohibits the FCC from regulating broadband rates, and requires the FCC to refrain from further activity of the recently proposed set-top box rule until a study is completed."

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Only Three Types of Sandpaper You Really Need [Lifehacker]

When you’re laboring away on a woodworking project you’ll likely need multiple types of sandpaper, from a course grit for rough surfaces to a finer grit as you finish. But sandpaper is available in a wide spectrum of grit, so how do you know which to buy? Here are the only three types you’ll really need.


Stop Turning Off Your Lock Screen, Use Android Smart Lock Instead [Lifehacker]

Regularly locking your phone’s screen can be an annoyance. So much so that a third of Android users don’t even lock their phones at all, and those that do choose painfully obvious PINs or patterns. Fortunately, there’s a better way: It’s called Smart Lock for Android.


This Bill in Congress Would Remove Credit Report Strikes After Four Years [Lifehacker]

Bad credit can haunt you for years. It affects everything from your home purchase to your bills to renting an apartment. Some employers even check your report before hiring you. A newly proposed bill aims to improve the system.


Stop Working Out So Much On Your "Rest Days" [Lifehacker]

Workout days in your exercise program are simple to follow: you just do the workout. Then, on your “rest days”, you feel like a lost duckling. Do you run on the treadmill? Or maybe do lighter weights ? A bike ride on a unicycle up a mountain sounds nice. How about this: try actually letting your body rest.


Genius' Web Annotations Undermined Web Security [Slashdot]

New reader BradyDale shares an article on the Verge: Until early May, when The Verge confidentially disclosed the results of my independent security tests, the "web annotator" service provided by the tech startup Genius had been routinely undermining a web browser security mechanism. The web annotator is a tool which essentially republishes web pages in order to let Genius users leave comments on specific passages. In the process of republishing, those annotated pages would be stripped of an optional security feature called the Content Security Policy, which was sometimes provided by the original version of the page. This meant that anyone who viewed a page with annotations enabled was potentially vulnerable to security exploits that would have been blocked by the original site. Though no specific victims have been identified, the potential scope of this bug was broad: it was applied to all Genius users, undermined any site with a Content Security Policy, and re-enabled all blocked JavaScript code. Vijith Assar dives deep into how Genius did this :The primary way Genius annotations are accessed on the web is by adding "" in front of any URL as a prefix. The server reads the original content behind the scenes, adds the annotations, and delivers the hybrid content. The Genius version of the page includes a few extra scripts and highlighted passages, but until recently it also eliminated the original page's Content Security Policy. The Content Security Policy is an optional set of instructions encoded in the header of the HTTP connection which tells browsers exactly which sites and servers should be considered safe -- any code which isn't from one of those sites can then be ignored.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Tech Billionaire Peter Thiel Secretly Bankrolled Hulk Hogan's Lawsuit Against Gawker: Reports [Slashdot]

If you're a powerful Silicon Valley billionaire, and there's a media house which actively points out flaws in your investments, can you do something about it? If you're Peter Thiel, you certainly can. The New York Times and Forbes magazine have independently reported that Thiel has been funding a steady stream of lawsuits -- including three different ones filed by Hulk Hogan -- to destroy Gawker Media. Gawker reports: Gawker and Valleywag, Gawker Media's defunct tech gossip vertical, have often written critically of Thiel, a self-identified libertarian (and, it turns out, a California delegate for Donald Trump) and his investments, covering the failure of his hedge fund Clarium Capital, his right-wing politics, and his personal life. In just the last month, Gawker Media's tech site Gizmodo published a series of stories on Facebook's use of "news curators" to manipulate the site's "trending" module, sparking a congressional investigation into the social network's practices.Jay Rosen, media critic and a professor of journalism at New York University, said: Trying to kill a publication you don't like by funding lawsuits against them isn't very libertarian, is it?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Dear Hollywood, This Is How You Make A Movie With African Characters [News : NPR]

Sean Penn's new movie set in Africa got booed at Cannes. Critics said its African characters were "bleeding wallpaper." Here are 4 films that give African characters (and actors) their due.

Watchdog: Hillary Clinton Violated State Dept. Policies By Using Private Email [News : NPR]

A report issued by the department's inspector general found that previous secretaries of state also failed to comply with record-keeping and security policies.

For Female Fruit Flies, Mr. Right Has The Biggest Sperm [News : NPR]

It's not unusual for males to try to impress females with big body parts. Consider antlers on deer, or elaborate tails on peacocks. Some male fruit flies take a different approach: giant sperm.

Defiant Female Ukrainian Pilot Freed From Russia In Prisoner Swap [News : NPR]

Ukrainian pilot and national hero Nadiya Savchenko had been held by Russia for almost two years. Russia had sentenced her to 22 years in prison for murder — she called it a propaganda stunt.

Foxconn replaces 60,000 factory workers with robots [The Verge - All Posts]

Foxconn, the largest contract electronics manufacturer in the world, says it has automated away 60,000 jobs in one of its factories, according to the BBC. The cuts are part of an ongoing process to replace humans responsible for "many of the manufacturing tasks associated with our operations" with robots, the company said in a statement. Foxconn helps manufacture Apple's iPhone and iPad, Samsung's Galaxy phone line, and Sony's PlayStation 4, as well as other devices from many of the world's biggest tech brands.

"We are applying robotics engineering and other innovative manufacturing technologies to replace repetitive tasks previously done by employees, and through training, also enable our employees to focus on higher value-added...

Continue reading…

Intel awarded reality show contestants $1 million for creating a smart toothbrush [The Verge - All Posts]

Apparently kids hate all remotely healthy activities unless games are involved. Yesterday it was a smart water bottle to encourage kids to drink more water. Today, it's a connected toothbrush to encourage them to brush their teeth more thoroughly. Intel just awarded Grush: The Gaming Toothbrush $1 million for its toothbrush, which "transforms the brushing chore into a fun and interactive game." Basically kids follow commands on a smartphone screen while wielding their toothbrush. It results in clean teeth! Sonicare released a similar product last year, except it required an iPad to work.

Here's one game kids can see when they're brushing:

Grush was introduced on "tech reality TV challenge" America's...

Continue reading…

Romanian hacker who revealed George W. Bush paintings pleads guilty [The Verge - All Posts]

The Romanian hacker Marcel Lehel Lazar, better known as Guccifer, pleaded guilty today on hacking-related charges, prosecutors on the case announced in a statement. He faces seven years in prison.

Continue reading…

True Detective might be dying, but its memes can live forever [The Verge - All Posts]

The Hollywood Reporter published a profile of HBO's incoming head of programming Casey Bloys this morning, one that suggests Nic Pizzolatto's anthology series True Detective is unlikely to return for a third season. The writing's been on the wall regarding the show's fate for a few months at this point: HBO avoided mentioning renewal when it announced it had signed Pizzolatto to an exclusive deal through 2018, and Pizzolatto himself once said that he couldn't imagine doing more than three seasons of the show because of the heavy workload. A few eagle-eyed observers also noted that HBO's pre-Game of Thrones sizzle reel referred to "the complete series" of True Detective rather than "every episode," a subtle indication no further episodes...

Continue reading…

The 2016 Toyota Prius is the most fuel-efficient car Consumer Reports has ever tested [The Verge - All Posts]

The 2016 Toyota Prius has better fuel economy than any car Consumer Reports has tested, besting the 16-year-old Honda Insight by a single mile per gallon. CR found the new Prius scored an average of 52 mpg, handily beating the 44 mpg made by the 2015 Prius.

That's because the new Prius is more aerodynamic, has a better battery, and uses that on-board electricity more efficiently. In a 65 mph highway test, the 2016 Prius achieved 59 mpg, a better rating than any diesel car the magazine has ever tested. In city tests, it notched 43 mpg.

When I drove the 2016 Prius last year, I said it isn't just a good hybrid — it's a good car. Now we know, thanks to CR's trustworthy testing, it's a fuel-sipping one, too.

2016 Toyota Prius review


Continue reading…

A record player with a built-in whiskey bar is all you really need in life [The Verge - All Posts]

The Luno EGB2 is a beautiful mid-century record player with AirPlay support. You can stream music from your favorite AirPlay-enabled app or throw on a record and enjoy the two-way speaker system with a built-in subwoofer.

This is the second mid-century sound system we've come across in as many weeks, but Luno has one big advantage over its competition: a whiskey bar. Yes, the EGB2 comes with four gold-rimmed whiskey glasses and a mini-bar, so you can drink Johnnie Walker while listening to Johnny Cash, just as God intended. If you want to order a EGB2 — and you probably do — you'll need to call or email Luno, as all of their products are built to order.

Continue reading…

Neanderthals were building complex cave structures much longer ago than we thought [The Verge - All Posts]

Ancient piles of broken stalagmites found deep inside a cave in France were made by Neanderthals about 176,000 years ago, way before modern humans were around. This is the first time archaeologists have concluded that our cousins ventured underground and built complex constructions. The structures are proof that Neanderthals were pretty smart and organized, according to the study authors. The meaning of these constructions remains a mystery, but for at least one archaeologist they suggest that Neanderthals may have been religious.

Continue reading…

Canada's oil sands are a major source of air pollution, airplane study shows [The Verge - All Posts]

Canada's oil sands are an important source of fossil fuels, but they also emit high levels of air pollutants, according to a study published today in Nature. The emissions equal what's produced by the entire city of Toronto, researchers from Environment Canada say. And that raises concerns over the potential health effects these air pollutants may have.

Continue reading…

How to make clouds from pine trees: a recipe from physicists [The Verge - All Posts]

Wanna make it rain? Try pine trees. It turns out that the delightful, Christmas tree scent may lead to precursors of clouds, according to two studies from CERN. And what’s more, it may mean that scientists have to slightly scale back their current climate change projections.

Continue reading…

Starless Dreams [Latest Articles]

This article appears in our Summer 2016 issue, Money. Subscribe today!

Iranian documentarian Mehrdad Oskouei says that his goal in filmmaking is to “delve into the spirit of my people and their everyday lives and understand what made them who they were and express this in art.” His most recent film, Starless Dreams, is the third in a trilogy about life in youth detention centers in Iran. His previous films, It’s Always Late for Freedom and The Last Days of Winter, entered detention centers for young teen boys; Starless Dreams intimately chronicles the lives of teenage girls in a juvenile detention center outside Tehran.

The film opens as a new resident, Khateneh, gets her fingerprints and handprints recorded in ink. Oskouei takes great care to show the gentle invasiveness of the booking process, but he is filming neither the center nor the girls with a disparaging eye.

Common threads run throughout the girls’ stories, including poverty, addiction, abuse, and exploitation. While this is a story about individuals, it’s really—quietly—a story about the society that creates them.

Oskouei’s style as a documentarian would seem invasive if it weren’t so empathetic. His voice is present and strong, and he asks the girls probing questions: about their crimes, about their histories, and about their hopes. “What is your dream?” he asks Khateneh. “To die,” she answers, overwhelmed by abuse and depression.  

The girls are empowered by one another and by telling their stories to Oskouei. While the “walls drip with pain,” as one girl says, they seem to be given life amongst one another, protected from cruel circumstances outside.

When Khateneh is released, Oskouei again asks her what her dream is, and this time she says she wants to live. The restorative power of female companionship—of shared laughter, music, tears—has healed her. For now, at least: Oskouei has pointed out in interviews that it’s much more difficult for young women, relative to men, to be accepted back into society.  

When he recently accepted the True Vision Award at the True/False Film Festival, Oskouei dedicated the prize—and the film itself—to “the girls to whom no one dedicates anything.” Starless Dreams doesn’t offer much hope, but it is a compelling portrait of girls whose dreams darken with their years.

View profile »

Leigh Kolb is an English and media instructor at a community college in rural Missouri. She writes for Bitch Flicks, and her work has appeared at Vulture, xoJane, Women and Hollywood, and Shadow and Act. Follow her on Twitter @leighkolb.

This article was published in Money Issue #71 | Summer 2016

On Our Radar: Feminist News Roundup [Latest Articles]

Happy Wednesday! Want to get this weekday roundup in your inbox? Sign up at the bottom of this post!

• Yesterday, a judge decided that there is enough evidence to proceed with a sexual assault trial against Bill Cosby in Pennsylvania. Cosby could face up to 10 years in prison. [The Guardian]

Across the Line is a seven-minute virtual reality film that puts the viewer in the shoes of a woman going to a Planned Parenthood clinic. All of the audio is from real anti-choice protestors, and it’s all especially scary when you consider that threats and violence against abortion providers and patients are at an all-time high. [Cosmopolitan]

• This week, the Senate passed the Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act with an amazing final vote of 89-0. The bill was inspired by the red-tape a 24-year-old rape survivor faced to preserve her rape kit and is the first federal law that will stipulate what basic services victims of sexual violence are entitled to. [ELLE]

• Good ol’ David Brooks wrote a piece titled “Why Is Clinton Disliked?” that did not include the word “woman” anywhere. Curious. [Jezebel]   

Not so fast, Ohio Republicans! [Rewire]

Here's what we published yesterday at Bitch!

Kiki documents current ballroom culture.

• What’s up with the 23% of American women who actually like Trump?

• In this Ask Bear, a reader's family disapproves of them no longer having a relationship with their dad. "You'll come around," they say.

You're reading a post from the Bitch Media HQ Crew!

13:00 EDT

Google's former "design ethicist" on "How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds" [Boing Boing]


Tristan Harris was Google's "Design Ethicist" where he studied how design choices directly affect people's behavior in conscious and unconscious ways. He's also a practicing magician! As he says, "Magicians start by looking for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it." Over at Medium, Harris wrote a fascinating post about persuasive technology and how design can "exploit our minds’ weaknesses." From Medium:

Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make “free” choices, while we ignore how those choices are manipulated upstream by menus we didn’t question in the first place.

This is exactly what magicians do. They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose. I can’t emphasize enough how deep this insight is.

When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:

• “what’s not on the menu?”

• “why am I being given these options and not others?”

• “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”

• “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)

"How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist" (Medium)

Harris's piece supports the essay that my Institute for the Future colleagues Marina Gorbis and Devin Fidler recently posted about the incredibly high stakes of on-demand platform design: "Design It Like Our Livelihoods Depend on It" (WTF?)

Smartphone maker Foxconn replaces 60,000 workers with robots [Boing Boing]

Image: Wikimedia/Steve Jurvetson

A Chinese government official told the South China Morning Post that a Foxconn factory has "reduced employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000 thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labour costs. More companies are likely to follow suit."

As many as 600 major companies in Kunshan have similar plans, according to a government survey.

The job cuts do not augur well for Kunshan, which had a population of more than 2.5 million at the end of 2014, two-thirds of whom were migrant workers.

The workhorse of bubble machines [Boing Boing]


Bubble machines tend to be flakey, touchy things that break a lot. Dan Das Mann, creator of the Funn Machine, the Funn Beast, and now the Funn Pack swears by the Bubbletron.


Designed to be an entire festival-in-a-backpack, the Funn Pack comes complete with lasers, smoke machines, disco balls, and a huge sound system! Nothing impressed me more, however, than the sheer volume of bubbles the thing throws out. Perched a-top Dan's amazing contraption, the American DJ Bubbletron put out hours of uninterrupted bubbles, filling a several thousand square foot roof-top deck with joy!

If you're throwing a party, or a festival, and want to add instant energy, Dan can bring you the Funn. If you just need a bubble machine to fill the air with glistening, soapy fun, go with the Bubbletron!

American DJ Supply Bubble Tron Compact High Output Plastic Bubble Machine via Amazon

The Funn Machine: bring a Funn Pack, the Funn Beast or Funn Machine for your party!

You can buy Don Draper's sweet red convertible and other Mad Men props [Boing Boing]


Lions Gate Entertainment is auctioning off a slew of screen-used props from Mad Men, including Don Draper's 1964 Imperial Crown Convertible. Less than 1,000 of this car were made and fewer than 200 are still around. Also in the Mad Men lot are the likes of Pete Campbell's Globe Bar Cart, Don's Ray Bans and copy of Dante's Inferno, clothing and, um, a bunch of fake grocery items from Betty's kitchen. The online auction commences June 1.



screenshot (via Uncrate)

Watch Supaidāman, the 1970s Japanese live action Spiderman [Boing Boing]

Supaidāman (スパイダーマン) aired in Japan for one season from 1978-1979. Spider's suit is familiar, but in this series his main power is that he, um, pilots a transforming robot named Leopardon. From Wikipedia:

Although the show's story was criticized for bearing almost no resemblance to the Marvel version, the staff at Marvel Comics, including Spider-Man's co-creator Stan Lee, praised the show for its special effects and stunt work, especially the spider-like movement of the character himself.[5] While it is said that Marvel initially opposed the addition of Leopardon, the robot was viewed as a necessary gimmick to attract younger viewers and was ultimately kept. The show's mechanical designer, Katsushi Murakami (a toy designer at the time), expressed concern about Toei's capability to market Spider-Man to Japanese audiences and was given permission by producer Yoshinori Watanabe to take whatever liberties he deemed necessary. Murakami came up with the idea of giving Spider-Man an extraterrestrial origin, as well as a spider-like spacecraft that could transform into a giant robot (due to the popularity of the giant robot shows in Japan at the time).



(via r/obscuremedia)

Towel Day, remembering Douglas Adams [Boing Boing]


May 25th is celebrated as Towel Day! a tribute to the late author Douglas Adams, 1952-2001.

From Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost." What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is."

Google to bring official Android support to the Raspberry Pi 3 [Ars Technica]

The Raspberry Pi 3. (credit: Raspberry Pi Foundation)

The Raspberry Pi 3 is not hurting for operating system choices. The tiny ARM computer is supported by several Linux distributions and even has a version of Windows 10 IoT core available. Now, it looks like the Pi is about to get official support for one of the most popular operating systems out there: Android. In Google's Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository, a new device tree recently popped up for the Raspberry Pi 3.

Raspberry Pis, if you're not aware, are cheap, credit card-sized, single board ARM computers with a focus on education and open source software. Hardware hackers and DIYers love the Pi due to its open nature, small size, and plethora of ports and software.

For just $35, you get a 1.2GHz 64-bit Broadcom BCM2837 ARMv8 CPU, 1GB of RAM, a VideoCore IV GPU, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1. From there, it's up to you to add all the missing components via external devices. For storage, toss in a MicroSD card. For a display, hook up to the full-size HDMI port. For sound, use the 3.5mm audio/composite video jack. For everything else, use the 4 USB ports, Ethernet jack, 40 GPIO pins, CSI camera port, or the DSI display port.

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Reports: Microsoft preparing multiple Xbox upgrades over next two years [Ars Technica]

A pair of reports from anonymous Microsoft sources suggest the company is preparing to launch at least one downsized version of the Xbox One later this year and a more powerful, potentially VR-capable version of the console next year.

Kotaku cites "three people familiar" with the matter describing the new, more powerful Xbox One model. Codenamed Scorpio, this version is set for 2017 release according to the report. Kotaku writes that the console will be able to support the Oculus Rift, and it could have a GPU technically capable of supporting 4K resolutions. This year, meanwhile, the anonymous sources suggest Microsoft will release a cheaper, smaller Xbox One, perhaps with an upgraded 2TB hard drive.

Elsewhere, Brad Sams at the Microsoft-focused Thurott Report posted a podcast with similar but slightly different information on Microsoft's Xbox hardware plans. Sams' sources suggest that Microsoft will announce two "miniature" Xbox systems for release this year. The smaller one (priced around $100) will reportedly be a streaming-focused stick comparable to devices like the Chromecast and Amazon Fire. The larger one, coming in "a little bit smaller than a large lunchbox," might be able to play "lightweight" Windows Store games thanks to Microsoft's recent integration with Universal Windows apps, Sams suggested.

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Apple said to open up Siri with SDK, debut an Amazon Echo competitor [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook. (credit: Chris Foresman)

On the heels of Google announcing its Home voice assistant device, Apple isn't far behind with its own competing software and hardware. A report from The Information claims the company will open up Siri, its voice assistant launched in 2011, with an SDK, and it will soon reveal a device equipped with Siri to compete with Google's upcoming product and Amazon's Echo.

According to "a person with direct knowledge of the effort," Apple could release the Siri software developer kit at its annual WWDC event in June. It would allow app developers to integrate their programs into Siri so users could access the app's features with voice commands. Through direct deals with companies including Yelp, Siri can already access some apps, but the SDK would open up this integration to any developer that wants to use it. Developers would also be responsible for making sure Siri is connected to their apps "when appropriate."

As for the Amazon Echo competitor, it seems like it's only a matter of time before Apple does something to get into this space. The unlikely success of Echo and its Alexa voice assistant already brought Google into the space with its tabletop Home device. According to The Information's report, though, Apple's voice-assistant device has been in the works since before Amazon came out with Echo.

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Comcast limits data cap overage fees to $200 a month [Ars Technica]

(credit: Getty Images | Andrew Brookes)

Starting June 1, Comcast customers who face data caps will not be able to rack up more than $200 worth of overage charges in a month.

Comcast will continue to charge an extra $10 for each 50GB allotted to customers beyond the standard data plan. But prior to this change, there was apparently no limit on how many times per month a customer could be charged the extra $10.

Comcast confirmed the change in one of its data cap FAQs. On a DSLReports forum, a customer in Georgia posted a copy of a letter in which Comcast describes the change.

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