We're big fans of Dan Hillier's work around here -- the iconic, instantly recognizable grotesque Victorian collages. Now he's branched out into 3D printing. He writes: "I recently collaborated with a 3D printing design consultancy called Modla, for The Other Art Fair. Having met with their Creative Director, Jon Fidler, we worked on the creation of a 3D version of my work, 'Nothing Matters'. The piece is now available in a limited edition of 20." (Thanks, Dan!)
Android privacy just got a lot better. The 4.3 version of Google's mobile operating system now has hooks that allow you to override the permissions requested by the apps you install. So if you download a flashlight app that wants to harvest your location and phone ID, you can install it, and then use an app like AppOps Launcher to tell Android to withhold the information.
Peter Ecklersley, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has written up a good explanation of how this works, and he attributes the decision to competitive pressure from Ios, which allows users to deny location data to apps, even if they "require" it during the installation process.
I think that's right, but not the whole story: Android has also always labored under competitive pressure from its free/open forks, like Cyanogenmod. In the days when Android didn't allow tethering (as a sop to the mobile carriers, who are the gatekeepers to new phones for many people), Cyanogenmod signed up large numbers of users, simply by adding this functionality. Google added tethering to Android within a couple of versions. Some versions of Cyanogenmod have had the option tell your phone to lie to apps about its identity, location, and other sensitive information -- a way to get around the "all or nothing" installation process whereby your the apps you install non-negotiably demand your "permission" to plunder this information. I'm not surprised to see the same feature moving into the main branch of Android.
This dynamic is fascinating to me: Google has to balance all kinds of priorities in rolling out features and "anti-features" (no tethering, non-negotiable permissions) in Android, in order to please customers, carriers and developers. Free/open forks like Cyanogenmod really only need to please themselves and their users, and don't have to worry so much about these other pressures (though now that Cyanogenmod is a commercial operation, they'll probably need to start playing nice with carriers). But because Android competes with Cyanogenmod and the other open versions, Google can't afford to ignore the featureset that makes them better than the official version. It's a unique, and extremely beneficial outflow of the hybrid free/commercial Android ecosystem.
In the early days, that model was at an improvement on its major competitor, Apple's iOS, which didn't even have a permissions model. But after various privacy scandals, Apple started forcing apps to ask for permission to collect data: first location and then other categories, like address books and photos. So for the past two years, the iPhone's app privacy options have been miles ahead of Android's.
This changed with the release of Android 4.3, which added awesome new OS features to enhance privacy protection. You can unlock this functionality by installing a tool like App Ops Launcher. When you run it, you can easily control most of the privacy-threatening permissions your apps have tried to obtain. Want to install Shazam without having it track your location? Easy. Want to install SideCar without letting it read your address book? Done.2
Despite being overdue and not quite complete, App Ops Launcher is a huge advance in Android privacy. Its availability means Android 4.3+ a necessity for anyone who wants to use the OS while limiting how intrusive those apps can be. The Android team at Google deserves praise for giving users more control of the data that others can snatch from their pockets.
Keith Jones was scammed out of US$110,000 by a fraudulent investment firm. Not surprisingly, law enforcement initially had little interest in the case, so Mr. Jones decided to track down the criminals on his own, leading him from his home in Australia to Thailand. He made this high-quality and fascinating documentary of his sleuthing.
HSBC bank, which gave the scammers an account to rip off Mr. Jones, also refused to help him. (That's not surprising either, once you read Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone article, "Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it.")
Above, an update to Jones' story. Unfortunately, the criminals are still at large.
This story is one of deceit, theft, police incompetence, international loopholes and the apathy of a major corporate bank. It is also his story of how almost entirely on his own he tracked down a sophisticated gang of fraudsters.
This is his second time in Bangkok in two years, and exactly as before, he’d rather not be there, but unfortunately, sometimes, there are things that you just have to do whether you like it or not. He’s about to board an overnight train to Chiang Mai, a 14 hour journey to the north of Thailand. He’s making this film as a record of the atrocious and ridiculous events that have lead him to this point. He’s also making it as some sort of catharsis. Finally, he’s making it as a stark warning to others.
Life can be strange sometimes. One minute, you can be travelling along thinking that everything is okay, and almost out of nowhere, the malicious actions of another person can affect your life forever. His story begins back in Australia. He was working from his office one day, when the phone rang. It was the company calling themselves Humphrey Capital Investments, a global financial services group with offices in California and Singapore. Over the coming weeks, he had several informal conversations with their senior portfolio manager John Thompson. One of his recommendations was to invest in Nokia shares. This seemed to present a good buying opportunity.
Humphrey Capital Group sent him client forms, and after processing his application, they bought Nokia shares on his behalf. He subsequently paid the invoice by bank transfer to their company account at an HSBC bank in Hong Kong. Over the coming weeks, John Thompson rang him several times to discuss his portfolio, but at the end of the month, he rang to tell him that his company had been bought out by a group called Wellnic Investments. His new advisor would be Edward Martin, the Vice Chairman of Wellnic Investments. Wellnic’s credentials looked similarly impressive, and their website showed detailed information on the company.
A few days later, he had a call from Edward Martin, and like his predecessor, Edward had an American accent and came over as professional and friendly. He explained that he’d be his new advisor, and he looked forward to a long and profitable relationship, and that’s exactly how it turned out to be. Over a very long period, Keith Jones purchased a variety of low-risk US stocks, trusts and deposits. All trades were paid for through account at a HSBC Bank in Hong Kong.
Subsequently, like the proverbial lamb to the slaughter, he continued to make investments through the Wellnic Group. Within 12 months, he’d invested over $110,000 US dollars. Even saying it now makes him feel quite sick. You often hear that people are scammed through greed, and where unrealistic returns are involved, but most of his investments with Wellnic were supposed to pay around 10 to 12 percent per annum; good, but at the time, not unrealistic. In fact, it was only when things started to sound too good to be true that he became suspicious.
One year ago today
Sumo: debut graphic novel from Level Up illustrator Thien Pham: Thien Pham has just released his first solo graphic novel, Sumo.
Five years ago today
Report: Pentagon Pro-Troop Group Misspent Millions: A Defense Department project, supposedly designed to support U.S. troops, was used instead to channel millions of dollars to personal friends and allies of its chief.
Ten years ago today
Eyesore of the Month photos and commentary: Architectural critic James Howard Kunstler has a section on his website called "Eyesore of the Month," which includes a monthly photo of a hideous architectural blunder along with scathing commentary
The New Disruptors launched on December 5, 2012. I wanted to talk to people making stuff, creating art, or helping others get their work out there. The show is now at episode 53, and it's been a delightful year. I wanted to look back at early guests, and was able to get the folks who appeared on the first four episodes to chat briefly about what happened next. I talk in this show with Lisanne Pajot and James Swirksy, Indie Game: The Movie; Chris Anderson, then Wired and now 3DRobotics; Tony Konecny, Tonx (coffee); and Evan Ratliff, of The Atavist and Creativist. This episode is sponsored by TextExpander from Smile Software. http://smilesoftware.com/nd
Thanks to Smile Software's TextExpander for sponsoring this week's episode! TextExpander avoids the tedium of retyping common text, shortening URLs, and much more.
Things we mention in this episode:
I know regular listeners will be disappointed, but the show notes this time around are exceedingly short, as it's a reflective episode. These are the original episodes (in order that they appear in this anniversary check-in) for each guest or guests:
Pac-Man Fever with Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, December 5, 2012.
Long Stories Still Told with Evan Ratliff, January 2, 2013.
Good from the First Drop with Tonx and Nik Bauman, December 19, 2012.
Come Fly with Me, Let’s Fly, Let’s Fly Away, December 12, 2012.
The New Disruptors is a podcast about people who make art, things, or connections finding new ways to reach an audience and build a community. Glenn Fleishman is the host, and he talks with new guests every week. Find previous episodes at the podcast's home.
Support The New Disruptors directly as a patron at Patreon starting at $1 for each podcast episode, with on-air thanks, premiums, and more at higher levels of support. We do this show with your help.
December 5, 2013
This terrifying, betentacled vision of a globe-circling monster octopus is the actual, no fooling new logo for the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that operates America's spy satellites. A spokewoman explains: "NROL-39 is represented by the octopus, a versatile, adaptable, and highly intelligent creature. Emblematically, enemies of the United States can be reached no matter where they choose to hide."
Male employees are suing Archie Comics' CEO Nancy Silberkleit for gender discrimination. Her alleged workplace behavior, reported in the New York Daily News, is bizarre:
- refuses to call male employees by their names and instead refers to all of them as “Penis.”
- frequently yells “Penis! Penis! Penis!” in staff meetings.
- invites Hell’s Angels into the office to intimidate employees.
- frequently inquires about the location of a handgun and 750 rounds of ammunition she believes her late husband kept in the office.
- stalks employees and their families
"Silberkleit contends that the case should be tossed out because white males are not 'a protected class.'"
Street artist Maldito Juanito installed this perspective-driven paste-up in Geneva. It wraps around the corner of a concrete pillar, and depending on your angle of approach, you see a boy's face, a skull, or a half-boy/half-skull. (via Kadrey)
Each week, Ed Piskor posts the latest installment of the Hip Hop Family Tree here at Boing Boing. But nothing beats having the whole thing in print, and the first volume is out now from Fantagraphics.
Ed's signed -- and illustrated! -- one copy here just for a lucky Boing Boing reader. If you want it, say why you want it on Twitter with the hashtag #hiphopfamilytree. The funniest, smartest, strangest or craziest tweet will be selected and its author will get this outsize, beautifully-designed book in their mailbox.
ADVERTISEMENTSPONSORED: The following post is brought to you by Kohler.
Bathroom enhancements for the discerning restroom aficionado with a penchant for high technology, deep geekery, and wet whimsy:
• Kohler Moxie Showerhead and Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Music to accompany even the most accomplished shower-singer! This showerhead packs bluetooth connectivity to an embedded speaker!
• Crayola Bath Dropz Make bathing a bright and colorful experience, add color to your bath water!
• Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale The Fitbit tracker gives you a wonderful idea of how much energy you burn. This wifi enabled scale syncs your weight with your activity data and makes fitness 'smarter.'
• Temperature Sensitive Color Changing Tiles Touch the tiles to make them change color!
The podcast is presented as a series of community radio broadcasts from the fictional town of Night Vale, a place where all the conspiracy theories are true. Episode by episode, the team build up a roster of characters (each with their own epithet, like "John Peters -- you know, the farmer") who are woven in and out of each others' storylines through bulletins from Cecil, the station's announcer.
There are recurring moments of brilliant and surreal comedy, especially the messages from the advertisers:
You come home. The lights are off. You get an uneasy feeling. Suddenly, the phone rings! You remember that you do not have a phone. It rings some more.
“They are waiting for you,” a whispery, gender-indeterminate voice tells you. “It is your time,” it says.
You turn on the light. You laugh again, wondering why it took you so long to turn on the light. Gosh, it was dark, you think. “Hello?” the voice asks.
You hang up, glad you remembered to buy Tropicana Orange Juice, at least. Tropicana Premium Orange Juice is made from the freshest oranges, with no added flavors or preservatives. Also, you should get caller ID! It’s the 21st century; how do you not have caller ID? Really.
And the traffic reports:
Let’s have a look now at traffic.
There’s a man. Imagine him. He’s leaning on a fence, shirtless and weary. He seems wise near the eyes, but his impatient feet suggest insidiousness. He’s marked with dried mud, and maybe some very deep but quickly-healing cuts – from the tree branches, most likely, or perhaps the birds.
OK, I’m not telling you the whole truth. It was definitely the birds.
Imagine these cuts and scratches, dry and brittle now, but tender to the touch. He is certain he did not offend the birds, but he is uncertain whether his complacency was construed as equal to said offense.
Picture this. Picture the man leaning on the criss-crossing metal wires, waiting. The birds are gone, but other things are coming. He doesn’t know specifically what, but he knows it’ll come for him.
You know this, too, because I have told you.
The man says nothing.
There’s never not something that has been displaced, marginalized. There’s never not something that, when feeling pressed to the wall, to a place with no room left to run, gathers its numbers, gathers its forces, and turns, savagely, on its oppressor. Turns viciously, and without inhibition, even on those who merely look like its oppressor.
Do you catch my meaning? Can you imagine the scene I am explaining?
How much of the world makes sense to you?
What does it mean to be a hero? To be a human?
The man thinks about his heart. It beats. It beats normally. Earlier, it did not beat normally.
Think about your own heart. Is it beating normally?
Listen. I’ll give you a long moment.
How is your heart?
Do you remember the man? The one on the fence, shirtless and scarred, with the normally-beating heart? He’s not real. Take him out of the story, but leave the story. Take him out, leave the story.
Do you catch my meaning?
This has been traffic.
As you can see, there's an awful lot of use of the second-person in the writing, which is surprisingly effective at conveying both comedy and horror.
Every episode also features a musical interlude (presented as "the weather") from an independent artist. These are incredibly eclectic and they miss for more more than they hit, but when they hit, they skewer me. Exhibit A: The Tiny's "Closer," which I have now listened to about 10,000 times:
Night Vale is a widely loved phenomenon, and it's easy to see why: the writers have managed to find a sweet spot between the deadpan, gnarled intricacies of Lovecraftian horror, conspiracy theory, and New Weird; and the giggling, giddy, self-aware, silliness that makes Bizarro so much fun. Every single episode has moments of genuine spookiness (aided in great part by the superb sound-design and voice-acting), but also moments of utter hilarity.
If you want more, including a thoroughgoing compendium of all the characters and situations, as well as fan-transcripts of all the episodes, check out the Night Vale wiki on Wikia.
A friend of ours shared a curiously familiar-looking dog picture; turns out Tricksy Beschizza had gone viral! Congratulations, pup! After the jump, the full-size pic.
One of my favorite things about Boing Boing's movie, The Immortal Augustus Gladstone, is the soundtrack, which was composed by Robyn Miller (also the film's writer and director) on a Teenage Engineering OP-1 synthesizer (Here's Robyn's review of the tiny but amazing synthesizer.)
The song above, "Ballad to Augustus," was not composed by Robyn. It was written and performed by Alex Miller, and we like it so much that we are including it on the 22-track soundtrack, which you can buy as a DRM-free MP3 album for $6.99.
Cowpea weevils and four other insects whose sex lives you do NOT want to be involved in, according to the fine folks at Buzz Hoot Roar. (Which is seriously a blog that you need to be following, like, yesterday.)
Join the intergalactic Boing Boing community on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Flickr (we have a pool where readers share photos), and YouTube. We even do IRC! And of course, check out our beloved BBS.
Bundle of Holding -- a name-your-price download service -- is currently promoting a collection of family-friendly RPGs, including several games that are suitable for age 5 and up. Ten percent of the purchase price goes to two worthy kids' charities (Save the Children and St Jude's Children's Hospital), and you can choose how much you pay (the recommended payment is $17). If you give more than $14.14, you get six bonus games, as well. Click through below for a list of the games in the bundle:
* Hero Kids: An ideal introduction to fantasy roleplaying for children aged 4 to 10.
* Mermaid Adventures: Exciting undersea adventures and strange mysteries. (Ages 6-11.)
* The Princes' Kingdom: Young heirs to the throne of Islandia, visiting the citizens of their land and solving problems. This bundle is the first .PDF version of The Princes' Kingdom sold anywhere! (Ages 5+, plus an adult.)
* Happy Birthday, Robot!: The charming storytelling game by Daniel Solis for families or classrooms. (Ages 9+ -- and especially good for grownups.)
* * Adventures in Oz - Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road: A loving journey into the lands of L. Frank Baum. (Ages 8+.)
* Camp Myth: The RPG: Third Eye's adaptation of the Chris Lewis Carter YA novel series about mythic creatures at summer camp. (Ages 8-13.)
* Project Ninja Panda Taco: Jennifer (Jennisodes) Steen's game of competing Masterminds and their biddable Minions. (Ages 8+.)
* School Daze: It's high school the way you wish it could be. (Ages 13+.)
* The Zorcerer of Zo: Chad Underkoffler's classic game of fairy tales set in the Zantabulous Land of Zo. (Ages 5+.)