Halifax! I’m speaking at Atlseccon on April 24 (then Toronto, Ottawa, Berlin and Houston!)

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I’m coming to Halifax to give the closing keynote on day one of Atlseccon on April 24th: it’s only my second-ever visit to the city and the first time I’ve given a talk there, so I really hope you can make it!

From there, I’m headed to Toronto, where I’m giving a keynote called The Internet Isn’t What We Fight FOR, It’s What We Fight WITH on April 29th at the FITC Technology and Creativity Conference.

Then I’m appearing at the Ottawa Writers Festival on May 4, presenting my newest book, Radicalized.

After that, it’s a quick trip to Berlin, where I’m the keynote speaker at this year’s Re:publica conference, presenting a talk called It’s monopolies, not surveillance on May 7th.

Then I’m headed back to the USA for a weekend’s worth of events at Houston’s Comicpalooza, May 10-12.

Hope to see you!

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Review units of Samsung’s $2000 folding phone are failing after hours of use

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Samsung’s folding phone, which will ding buyers about two grand after tax, is already in deep trouble: the review units sent to journalists are dying after hours of use.

CNBC’s Todd Haselton writes that it was “a tantalizing glimpse of the future — before it broke.”

During my second day of testing, the screen began flickering and would turn off and on at a rapid pace. It became completely unusable and at times wouldn’t turn on at all.

Samsung had said not to remove a thin layer that sits on top of the screen. Other reviewers accidentally removed this layer and ran into similar issues that I saw. But I never removed the protective film or used the device outside any way a normal user might.

The Verge titled its video review “after the break” and awarded it the not-so coveted “Yikes” rating.

Whatever happened, it certainly wasn’t because I have treated this phone badly. I’ve done normal phone stuff, like opening and closing the hinge and putting it in my pocket. We did stick a tiny piece of molding clay on the back of the phone yesterday to prop it up for a video shoot, which is something we do in every phone video shoot. So perhaps a tiny piece of that snuck into a gap on the back of the hinge and then around or through its cogs until it lodged in between the screen and the hinge. It’d be sort of like Charlie Chaplin getting caught in the gears in Modern Times.

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Herbie Hancock’s killer original music for the Fat Albert TV special (1969)

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In 1969, Herbie Hancock found the funk for a collection of music he composed for “Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert,” a TV special that eventually led to the long-running cartoon “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.” Hancock collected those tracks on Fat Albert Rotunda, the band leader’s first LP after bailing on the Blue Note label. It’s a deeply soulful affair that presaged Hancock’s 1973 jazz-funk classic Head Hunters. Now, Fat Albert Rotunda is readily available again as a high-quality vinyl reissue from my friends at the Antarctica Starts Here label. Dig it.

Herbie Hancock – Fat Albert Rotunda LP (Antarctica Starts Here/Superior Viaduct)

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Read the source code for every classic Infocom text-adventure game!

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Jason Scott has made the source available for every one of Infocom’s classic and genre-defining text adventure games (previously) for the Apple ][+ and its successors, posting it to Github under the historicalsource account.

The code is written in Zork Implementation Language, a Lisp-like programming language that you can learn with this manual.

The source seems to have been posted under the general rubric of archival preservation, which is an activity that can fall under copyright’s fair use doctrine. If Activision — owner of the rights to Infocom titles — decides to push the matter, we might end up with a fascinating and precedent-setting court battle.

Included in the collection are all the Zork games, as well as the notorious and brilliant Douglas Adams game “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and partial sources for its unreleased sequel “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” and the complete sources for an unreleased adaptation of “The Abyss,” James Cameron’s 1989 movie.

Dive in and you’ll find that things are very different now than they were then. At the time Infocom was active, personal computers did not have a widely shared architecture, so the path ZIL’s architects took was to allow game creators to write instructions for a virtual machine called the Z-machine, which was then brought to the various platforms of the day. There are interpreters available today for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android, among other platforms.

The interactive fiction community is still quite lively, and people are still making games using ZIL and the Z-machine today.

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MandalaGaba, a drawing board for creating recursive, symmetrical, tessellating art

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MandalaGaba is a drawing board that specializes in mandalas and other artistic mathematical magic. Click and drag and watch what happens! You can save and share your work; the creators have a blog and an instagram featuring quality examples.

After radial symmetry (mandalas) and tessellations, I just finished implementing recursive drawing. Do tweak the buttons & sliders, seeing their effect on a pen stroke is the best way to understand what they do. I hope this is fun.

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“Why I Take All My First Dates to Olive Garden”

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At Bon Appetit, Kristen Arnett wrote a very funny appreciation of Olive Garden as the perfect place for her to take first dates. From Bon Appetit:

The right kind of woman for me is someone who won’t give me a hard time about the things I like. The kind of woman who will let me pocket all the leftover breadsticks and doesn’t care if we only discuss our favorite sexual positions and what kind of appetizers look best off the limited-time-only menu. We’re at Olive Garden because it’s kitschy and cute. Nothing that happens needs to be a serious thing. It’s no big deal…

Two people eating means you get three sticks total. I like to think Olive Garden did that on purpose, so that you’re forced to break bread with your date. You must share with each other, touch hands. It’s all very romantic, if romance is deciding who gets to take the bigger share of the carbs.

Why I Take All My First Dates to Olive Garden
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Super Mario Bros. released for C64

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A pixel-perfect implementation of Super Mario Bros. is now available for the Commodore 64, a good three decades after that computer’s (and the Nintendo Entertainment System’s) heydey.

This is a Commodore 64 port of the 1985 game SUPER MARIO BROS. for the Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment System. It contains the original version that was released in Japan and United States, as well as the European version. It also detects and supports a handful of turbo functionalities, and has 2 SID support.

Home computers of the era typically saw sub-par conversions of console hits, even when there was no real technical reason. Below, see Super Mario Bros. as originally released on 8-bit computer platforms; quite a disaster.

The Great Giana Sisters was a more accurate unofficial port that, for obvious reasons, displeased Nintendo and led to “pressure” that saw it withdrawn from sale (though it did not, per gamer legend, file a lawsuit). It ultimately became a franchise in its own right.

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Get free HDTV the old school way with this indoor antenna

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The digital age is well and truly upon us, but let’s not forget there’s a load of free TV content floating literally over our heads. No, we’re not talking about the internet. Signals from major broadcast networks are still gratis for anyone who can pick them up with an antenna. And before you envision those ugly metal “rabbit ears” above your TV set, get a load of the ANTOP Paper Thin 30-Mile AT-105 Indoor HDTV Antenna.

As advertised, it picks up signals within approximately 30 miles of the broadcast area, unaffected by windy or rainy days. That’s shows from ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox, Univision and more, relayed with support for HD and Ultra 4K content. At a mere .02 inches thick, it comes with a kit for mounting discreetly indoors and is fully compatible with existing digital TVs and converter boxes.

Right now, the ANTOP Paper Thin 30-Mile AT-105 Indoor HDTV Antenna is more than 50% off at $16.99. Read the rest

Turn your LEGO® characters into pilots with this DIY drone kit

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Who said LEGO® had to be ground bound? With The Force Flyers DIY Building Block Fly ‘n Drive Drone, you can turn LEGO® and other building-block creations into fully-functional flying machines. It’s available now in the Boing Boing Store for $39.99.

This kit comes with everything you need for remote-controlled long distance flight, including a 6-axis gyroscope, a 2.4 GHz wireless transmitter, and extra rotors for when you inevitably crash. Its plastic frame is covered in studs that are compatible with most brick-building toys, so you can get creative with your quadcopter’s design. Once assembled, you can precisely pilot your flyer through all kinds of tight spaces with the bundled digital proportional controller.

Children of all ages will have fun learning about the physics of flight with this hands-on project. Pick up the Force Flyers DIY Building Block Fly ‘n Drive Drone here for $39.99. Read the rest

Ingenious DIY Etch-A-Sketch digital camera

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Martin Fitzpatrick built the Etch-A-Snap, a digital camera with an automated Pocket Etch-A-Sketch as its display on the back. Each photo takes between 15 minutes to one hour to be sketched. From Two Bit Arcade:

Photos are processed down to 240×144 pixel 1-bit (black & white) line drawings using Pillow and OpenCV and then translated into plotter commands by building a network graph representation with networkx. The Etch-A-Sketch wheels are driven by two 5V stepper motors mounted into a custom 3D printed frame. The Etch-A-Snap is entirely portable and powered by 4xAA batteries & 3×18650 LiPo cells.

Find links to the plans and code here: “Etch-A-Snap: The Raspberry Pi powered Etch-A-Sketch camera(Two Bit Arcade)

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Get your e-degree in DevOps with this training bundle

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When businesses need big cloud projects done right, they need experts in DevOps. For the uninitiated, that’s shorthand for the framework that allows development and operations teams to work together toward the same goal – not as independent departments with their own agendas. There’s an arsenal of software that has cropped up to help in the workflow, and the Complete DevOps E-Degree Bundle is the easiest way to learn them all.

The six-course package includes a big-picture primer on the concepts that make DevOps work, then dives right in to show you how to install and manage a Linux framework. From there, you’ll learn how to monitor it with Nagios and link up remote servers like RedHat, CentOS, and Ubuntu. Two entire courses are dedicated to the essential pieces of the development pipeline, including Jenkins, Ansible and Chef. All in all, it’s more than 80 hours of reference materials and lessons, leading to a career-building e-degree in DevOps.

Lifetime access to the Complete DevOps E-Degree Bundle is currently $25, more than 85% off the MSRP. Read the rest

“Strarcrossed,” the hot disco track from the Price is Right (1976)

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Come on down and, more to the point, get on down to this full version of “Starcrossed,” one of the many disco jams from Score Productions used as a musical cue on The Price is Right starting in 1976.

Also, I hadn’t realized before that Crystal Waters’ 2001 cover of Score Productions’ “Come on Down,” aka the main Price is Right theme, hit number one on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs Chart! I much prefer the original lyric-less version. Both are below.

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eBoy’s new design-your-own Swatch watch

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Check out the new “Swatch x You” artist edition from longtime Boing Boing pals eBoy, the pixelmasters whose dingbat font FF Peecol birthed our own Jackhammer Jill mascot! With the new Swatch, you get to choose from a variety of eBoy characters in a pre-determined pattern to “design” your own watch. From Swatch:

Three designers, never-ending 8-bit paradises. The always-surprising pixel creations by the Berlin-based trio have been on the cover of numerous magazines, ad campaigns and many art galleries. Since 1977, eBoy keeps building, pixel by pixel, the most original digital environments and characters that invite people on a journey of discovery and wonder.

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Oblivion Factory: new sculptures from Jud Turner

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Sculptor Jud Turner (previously) sends us two new pieces: Deindustry (“a meditation on the industrial divinity of late-stage capitalism, and combines my fear of heights with my fear of over-industrialization”) and Scale of Themis (“an imagined tool for the Greek goddess Themis to weigh possible civilizations against each other. The tiny differences in these two — vertical stackers vs. horizontal placers — seem to balance out”).

Deindustry: 40″ x 30″ x 10″

Scale of Themis: 32″ x 40″ x 8″

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