Hurray – Google Chrome will stop autoplaying content with sound in January

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It sucks when you load a webpage and it starts playing a video with sound. It’s startling and bothers people around you. (When it happens I right-click on the tab and select “mute tab” from the menu – a top I learned on the Recomendo newsletter I co-write.)

Fortunately Google announce that it will being introducing new controls to allow users to disable audio on individual sites, followed by another release that will disable autoplay completely (unless you are that 1 person out of 10 million who like to be surprised with obnoxious blaring.

The company justifies this new approach by saying that while “autoplay can make it faster and easier to consume on the web,” unexpected media playback is also “one of the most frequent user concerns” because it “can use data, consume power, and make unwanted noise while browsing.” A side benefit, Google argues, is that these changes will also unify desktop and mobile web behavior, making web media development more predictable across platforms and browsers.

When it comes to unwanted content while browsing, Google is just getting started. The company announced in June that Chrome is getting a built-in ad blocker. The feature will block all the ads on a site (including Google’s own ads) if just one ad doesn’t meet certain standards. Chrome’s ad blocker is slated to arrive in “early 2018” — right after Chrome has won its war on autoplay.

Via Venture Beat:

John Carpenter’s new music video (and vinyl release) for the “Christine” movie theme

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Along with directing such classic films as Escape from New York, Halloween, The Fog, and The Thing, John Carpenter also composed the soundtracks. For those who want a survey of Carpenter’s synth stylings, I recommend the new compilation from Sacred Bones Records, titled “John Carpenter Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998.” The celebrate the release, Carpenter created this music video for the theme from Christine (1983), in which a woman summons an Uber and the demonic driverless 1958 Plymouth Fury shows up. Just kidding about the Uber part.

Does the bidet industry run Boing Boing?

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If you yearn for the sophisticated cleanliness of a European bathroom, the BioBidet A3 adds a bidet to your conventional toilet with minimal effort. And yes, it is available in the Boing Boing Store.

This simple attachment hooks into a nearby water line, and hangs on the inside of the bowl to provide a controlled stream of water to keep those hard-to-reach spots squeaky clean. It doesn’t require any electricity, just pressure from its connection, and the intensity of the water is adjusted by an easy-to-reach knob.

The BioBidet A3 Self-Cleaning Bidet Attachment is a highly economical way to get a more sanitary bathroom without expensive renovation, and will definitely save you money on toilet paper. You can pick one up here for $31.99.

You should invest in a can of this artist’s poop

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In 1961 artist Piero Manzoni preserved his excrement in 90 signed cans, each containing 30 grams of his solid waste. The “Merda d’Artista” are becoming more valuable over time.

Via Oddity Central:

In 2007, the Tate art gallery in London, bought one of Manzoni’s 90 cans for £22,350 ($30,000), and while that may seem like a lot for what is literally just canned crap, they actually got a great deal. In 2007, another can of “Merda d’Artista” was auctioned off in Milan, for a whopping £81,000 ($108,000). Crazy, right? Not really, just another good deal, because Manzoni’s cans of poop are currently worth around $300,000 apiece. Last year, someone bought can no. 54 for £182,500 ($242,000).

Disney’s exclusive Club 33 to open in four new locations

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A few years ago, I was invited for a bartending demo at 1901 Lounge, California’s Adventure Club 33 counterpart. It was cool but I still dream of knocking Club 33 off my bucket list.

Well, acccording to the Orlando Sentinel, my chances for getting in are increasing, though I will have to travel to Florida. The news outlet is reporting that four new “versions of the high-end establishment will open in each of the four WDW (Walt Disney World) theme parks by this fall.” Those four parks being the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Sentinel article continues:

Disney has not revealed the price structure for Florida’s Club 33s, although a spokeswoman says one fee will cover all four clubs. The “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” adage springs to mind.

Disney also has not shared where in the parks its new “limited membership clubs” will be or their themes. They might not mirror the California version; we’re not even sure that the ones in Florida will include restaurants.

photo by Sam Howzit

We regret to inform you the Adorable Irma Cop is racist

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Michael Hamill is a 28-year-old Gainesville police officer whose mug went viral just days ago during Hurricane Irma. Sadly, his Facebook is full of comments like “who knew that reading jewish jokes before I go to bed would not only make me feel better about myself but also help me to sleep” and “put them in an oven and deal with them the hitler way.”

He’s apparently still on duty while a “confidential” investigation is conducted, writes local reporter Deborah Strange. The viral mugshot does, at least, serve one useful purpose: if you’re a Jewish person in Gainesville, you now know one face in the thin brown line.

How Sam Harris Became Sam Harris (plus, many a thought on terrorism and AI risk)

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Hit play, below, to hear an unhurried interview with author, podcaster and neuroscientist Sam Harris. Few have denounced President Trump at greater length, or on more certain terms than Sam. He is equally denunciatory about political correctness – which, he believes, threatens free speech – and anyone he deems soft on Islamic terrorism. All this triggers gales of outrage on the left and the right alike – making Sam, in his way, a unifying figure. I should note his fans also span the spectrum.

This is the sixth episode of my podcast series (co-hosted by Tom Merritt), which launched here on Boing Boing last month. The series goes deep into the science, tech, and sociological issues explored in my novel After On – but no familiarity with the novel is necessary to listen to it.

In our interview, Sam and I have a deep discussion about nihilistic terrorism – a major preoccupation of his, and of my novel. We also spend about an hour discussing the journey that shaped his unusual worldview.

Oddly for a strong student at a top school (Stanford), Sam dropped out of college for ten years. Oddly for a 10-year dropout, he suddenly returned to finish his philosophy degree with honors. Oddly for a philosophy major, he then got a Ph.D. in neuroscience, while – flat-out bizarrely for a neuroscientist – writing a bestselling geopolitical book (The End of Faith). Yes, drugs were involved. As were entire years spent in silent meditation, plus boundless hours steeping in spirituality. Which (to give the lifeless colt a parting thwack) is a rather odd pastime for an atheist.

Although he’s written five bestsellers, Sam’s podcast now reaches more people in a week than his books have reached over the past decade and a half. Our interview won’t have that reach! But it’s a thorough exploration of Sam’s history, and of much of his philosophy.  

You can subscribe to the podcast within any podcast app. Simply use your app’s search function (type in “After On”) to find and subscribe. To subscribe via your computer on iTunes, just click here, then click the blue “View on iTunes” button (on the left side of the page), then click “Subscribe” (in a similar location) in the iTunes window. Or follow the feed

Photograph of Sam Harris by Christopher Michel

Double jeans

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Yours for $695, though sold out at the moment, are the Natasha Zinko High Waist Double Jeans.

Layered waistbands give these wide-leg Natasha Zinko jeans a modern high-low profile. Contrast side stripes. 7 pockets. Button closure and zip fly at each waist panel. Raw hem.


Ultrathin “blanket” spacecraft could someday wrap up dangerous space junk for destruction

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There are more than 500,000 pieces of dangerous space junk orbiting the Earth, not including paint flecks and other tiny bits flying around at 17,500 miles per hour that put spacecraft at risk. The Brane Craft, in the conceptual phase at Aerospace Corporation, is a bulletproof “blanket,” one yard across and thinner than a human hair, that the company thinks could wrap around space junk and pull it into the atmosphere where it will safely burn up. The project just received another grant from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program that funds radical concepts that may never work but would have great impact if they do. From

The thin spacecraft is not only lightweight, which reduces fuel consumption, but is easy to stack in a launcher and deploy in a swarm of dozens of bots, each on a track to a different rogue piece of debris. Brane Crafts will be powered by ultrathin solar cells as well as a little bit of propellant. The company plans to launch the craft frequently, with many Branes deployed at the same time, helping to reduce costs…

The NIAC grant provides two years of funding for laboratory demonstrations of the thin film. The investigators plan to outline how to develop the technology and which fabrication technologies hold the most promise.

“We’re also looking at how we can get government or other companies interested in this to take this to the next level,” (Aerospace Corporation principal investigator Siegfried) Janson said, pointing out that readiness for space would likely take a few million dollars.

But once Brane gets going, if enough spacecraft are deployed, the concept should be able to pull down most objects of 0.9 kilograms (2 pounds) or less within a few years, he said.

Regret not getting a CS degree? Give this bundle a try

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The Ultimate Careers in Computer Science Bundle is currently being offered in the Boing Boing Store, and features eight introductory courses from a variety of tech fields.

Aside from offering generally helpful technical interview advice in the Break Away course, this bundle will allow you to start preparing for a new career in the following areas:

QA Testing

Quality Assurance is a critical part of the software release pipeline. QA engineers ensure that no major bugs make it through to production using an array of automated testing tools. You can study the fundamentals of QA in Software Testing Omnibus: Sikuli, Selenium, JUnit and Principles of Testing.


If you’re more of a numbers person, a job in financial tech will have you modeling economic behavior and financial risks to help you make sound market predictions. 

In the Fintech Omnibus, you’ll get familiar with the tools of the trade, and the theory behind the practice.

Data Science

Big Data plays a role in countless industries, from global logistics to meteorology, and there are not nearly enough skilled data scientists to fill the available roles. If you want to learn how to glean insight from massive volumes of data, this bundle includes two courses tailored for just that: The Big Data Omnibus: Hadoop, Spark, Storm and QlikView, and GCP: Complete Google Data Engineer and Cloud Architect Guid.

Web Development

Since the web has become a viable platform for application delivery, talented developers can expect to stay highly employable for the foreseeable future. To get familiar with the front-end, the Web Development Omnibus gives an overview of essential JavaScript tools for building interfaces: JQuery, Angular, and React.

Machine Learning

Machine learning has vastly simplified the parsing of messy data. AI tech like voice recognition and computer vision have become more prevalent, and tools like TensorFlow have made machine learning accessible to a wider audience. You can explore this exciting field with Machine Learning and TensorFlow on the Google Cloud.

Product Strategy

Technology businesses need more than well-engineered products. Without proper market insight, even the best tech will flounder. For anyone who wants to learn from history’s mistakes, Time Capsule: Trends in Tech, Product Strategy will let you take look back at the last 23 years.

Great Simon and Garfunkel “Sound of Silence” parody about Trump

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There are some great music parodies coming from Parody Project, which look at today’s politics in all of its strangeness. “Confounds the Science” is about Trump’s tweets and stupidity. Here are the first two verses:

Hello darkness my old friend.

It’s time for him to tweet again,

but first he’ll have to check in with Fox news

‘cause that’s the only place he gets his clues.

That’s how things get planted in his brain,

where they remain,

and it confounds the science.

The problem is he’s not alone.

He tweets to people on his phone

that global warming is a giant hoax

perpetuated by the liberal folks,

and he hires people that all think the same,

that play his game

and it confounds the science.

If you like this one, here’s another one of their other Simon and Garfunkel spoofs, The Tweeter (Lie Lie Lie), which parodies The Boxer.

Watch this beautiful visualization of the sounds of the Amazon rainforest

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Multimedia artist Andy Thomas translated the soundscapes of the Amazon rainforest into a mesmerizing 3D animation titled the Visual Sounds of the Amazon. He and Reynier Omena Junior made their field recordings in 2016 around Presidente Figueiredo in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. The result, he says, is “a symbolic representation of nature’s collision with technology.”

“What I’ve realized is that people have compassion fatigue these days,” Thomas says. “They hear about the destruction of rainforests and decimation of species across the world, and they become numb to it.”

From Smithsonian:

Thomas uses the animation software Houdini to bring sounds into sight. Unlike Adobe Photoshop, which is a layer-based program (effects are applied to a background like a stack of pages), Houdini is a node-based software. This means that the final image is a product of the interaction of a network or web of effects.

Using this program, Thomas creates an abstract form for each creature and layers it with a series of effects—selected as he thinks about the birds’ coloring, nests, habitat and even diet. Many of the animations focus on the male birds’ coloring, since they are often the ones to sport the most outlandish tones and patterns. Then he feeds in the animal recording, which activates particular parts of this complicated framework, converting the sequence of sounds into a pulsing, writhing burst of color. Though the bird calls are clearly the featured sound, every tick and trill in the background of the recording influences the final shape…

“There’s no magic button that creates this stuff. I’m actually sitting there and sculpting these things bit by bit,” Thomas says.

Watch: Clever squirrel uses slinky to shoot chipmunk away from its food

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This is one smart squirrel! Someone taped down five slinky toys and filled them with peanut butter for the backyard squirrels to eat. While a squirrel is gorging itself, along comes a chipmunk, trying to get in on the feast. But the squirrel isn’t about to share. It takes a slinky, stretches it out about two feet, and wham! Knocks the chipmunk away from the its treats. Chipmunk, go find your own slinky!

Far from critics’ top lists, Voyager dominates Star Trek’s most-rewatched episodes

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Star Trek episode top lists generally center on highlights from the original series (The City on the Edge of Forever) and Next Generation (The Inner Light). But it is episodes of Star Trek: Voyager that occupy six of the top ten slots in Netflix’s list of most-rewatched episodes&dashand the most rewatched episode of Star Trek is the spinoff’s terrible finale!

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