Michael Goodwin, a freelance writer and the author of the comic book Economix: How the Economy Works (and Doesn’t Work) in Words and Pictures. Like many freelance writers, he lives in New York City with cats.
This episode of Gweek is brought to you by: 99designs, the world’s largest online marketplace for graphic design. Visit 99designs.com/gweek and get a $99 Power Pack of services for free. Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create you own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and 10% off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code UNIZILLA
99designs, the world’s largest online marketplace for graphic design. Visit 99designs.com/gweek and get a $99 Power Pack of services for free.
Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create you own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and 10% off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code UNIZILLA
Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works, a comic book by Jonathan Gruber and Nathan Schreiber
The First Law, Joe Abercrombie
Carol from the wonderful Cheapass Games writes, "Pairs is our latest project: a classic pub-style card game, designed by James Ernest and Paul Peterson. We've teamed up with Patrick Rothfuss to make decks with themes and artwork from the world of his Name of the Wind novels. We still have 10 days left in the Kickstarter, and we've got over 3000 backers, and support that's passed $100,000. As the campaign grows, we're adding more card decks for backers to choose from."
As of this morning, we've unlocked seven different card decks: two "Name of the Wind" decks with art by Shane Tyree, a pirate deck from Brett Bean, a barmaid deck by Echo Chernik, a clip art Fruit deck, a Goblin deck from Pete Venters, and a new edition of the classic Cheapass Game, "Falling". Next up are decks from Cheyenne Wright, Phil Foglio, and John Kovalic, as well as two decks by Nate Taylor: another "Name of the Wind" deck, and a "Princess and Mr. Whiffle" deck, from Rothfuss' not-for-children children's book.
In a typical James Ernest move, James will be tweeting the final hour of the campaign from a steakhouse in Las Vegas. He'll be in Vegas anyway for the GAMA game-industry trade show, and he figured there was no better place to chill after a grueling Kickstarter campaign. The party begins at 8:00 pm Pacific, on Friday March 14.
Not many people bought the first bOING bOING T-shirt when it came out in 1990. We charged $12 for it. Since you waited 24 years, you will have to pay $19.95. If you wait until 2038, the price will be $39.90.
Tim sends us, "A way of encoding binary numbers into playing cards that I thought up. It usually allows many more bits than there are cards. The method can also store binary encoded letters of the English alphabet at less than 2 cards per letter on average, and has a theoretical ability to do less than 1 card per letter."
Tim isn't sure if his method of data-compression is novel or not, and neither am I. If you know of related work, please add it in the comments. The method treats cards as representing a 1 or 0. Its ability to store more data than just 52 bits comes from the way that cards which can have their position deduced by examining the rest of the pack can be taken out and reused to encode more data.
The data in the cards can also be encrypted to the level of a one-time pad.
I don't know if the method is any use outside of being an interesting mathematical puzzle. It's fairly simple, but I haven't heard of the method anywhere else so I'd be interested to know if I'm the first person to think of it. If not I'd love to know who else has thought of it.
My family ships a lot of boxes during the holidays, and we go through a few rolls of packaging tape. Large pistol-grip tape dispensers don’t work well on smaller boxes — I have never been able to get the hang of using the serrated blade to cut off the tape.
I was happy to find out about Scotch’s Tear-by-Hand packaging tape. I (and more importantly, my wife) can easily tear off strips with our hands. It’s easy to get the length you desire, and the tear is perfectly perpendicular. Also, it’s easy to find the end of the tape on the roll by running your fingernail along it. This stuff is like magic. I never want to use any other kind of packaging tape. -- Mark Frauenfelder
The Intergalactic Travel Bureau is a cool combination of science education outreach and performance art that gives people a chance to interact with real scientists. All you have to do is just walk into an ITB office and start asking questions about space, planetary travel, and astrophysics. The ITB has set up shop before in New York and London. Now they're trying to raise money to take the show on a larger tour of the US and UK. When you donate you get a chance to help decide where the tour will go and you can earn some great rewards, including custom, vintage-travel inspired postcards. There's more details and a video on Kickstarter.
Jeff sez, "On Saturday, March 29, 2014, there will be an epic Disney event in San Francisco. The Disney Project proudly presents: Walt, WED, and WESTCot. The evening will consist of two multimedia presentations, hilarity, videos, goodie bags, Disney Legends, raffle prizes, and more!" Presentation 1: Secrets of WestCOT
Your hosts Keith Gluck and Jeff Heimbuch take a look at the estimated $3 billion project Disney had in store for adding a second theme park to their Anaheim property back in the 1990s: WestCOT. Meant to be the West Coast version of EPCOT, Keith and Jeff explore the Future World pavilions, World Showcase countries, and additional on-property hotels planned for the expansion. Presentation will include rare concept art.
Presentation 2: Walt and the Evolution of WED
Disney Legend and former Imagineer Bob Gurr looks back on the early days of Walt Disney Imagineering (known then as WED), and talks about his impressive body of work including projects for Disneyland, the 1964 New York World's Fair, and Walt Disney World.
Bob will also be available for autographs at the end of the evening. There will be an autographed photo of Bob in every goodie bag, so if you don't need another autograph, technically you can leave when the last presentation ends (9:30ish). Although you're more than welcome to hang out till 10:30!
Thinkgeek's Tauntaun Costume Hoodie not only has horns and ears, but its lining includes line-art innards and gore, to really bring home the feeling of climbing inside your trusty steed's guts to be shielded from the elements.
Our friend Gareth Branwyn has just announced the publication of his new 20-page booklet, "Gareth's Tips on Sucks-Less Writing." This is loaded with excellent advice for writers. Gareth became a senior editor of bOING bOING around 1990 or so, and I learned a great deal about writing and editing from him. Gareth is a terrific writer and a terrific teacher.
Hot off the presses! It’s a print version of "Gareth's Tips on Sucks-Less Writing." 20-page booklet, color cover on cover stock. $6 postpaid (US and CND), $9 elsewhere. Inscribed by me. Paypal or Amazon Payments to email@example.com.
First released on the eve of the blogging revolution in the late 90s, “Gareth’s Tips on Sucks-Less Writing," was widely disseminated as a wise, useful, and entertaining good-writing tips sheet for newbie bloggers and writing pros alike. It was adopted by several creative writing classes in colleges and is still being taught in at least one second year writing class today. Excerpted here as part of Gareth Branwyn’s forthcoming collection, Borg Like Me (& Other Tales of Art, Eros, and Embedded Systems), “Gar’s Tips…” has been refreshed and expanded, with all new tips, new resources, and a new introduction.
To learn more about Borg Like Me (& Other Tales of Art, Eros, and Embedded Systems), to download another PDF except, and to pre-order the book, visit Sparks of Fire Press.
"Albedo" is derived from the Latin word for "white". Scientists use it to describe the reflectivity of a surface — how what a surface is made of changes the amount of light it reflects. The melting of snow, ice, and permafrost in the Arctic changes the albedo of the Earth and that process inspired the gauzy, fabric art pictured above. It's part of a whole show of pieces inspired by the effects of climate change on the Arctic. Created by artists Michele Banks, Jessica Beels, and Ellyn Weiss, the show can be seen in person in Washington D.C. though May 31. But you can also check out photos and video of the art online.
I love Toca Boca’s iPhone apps for kids. They aren't games; they are open-ended interactive toys. The art is beautiful. (So many other kids' apps have depressing 1970s Saturday morning cartoon style art.) Also, they have no in-app purchases! Jane and I have reviewed a bunch of Toca Boca apps on our podcast, Apps for Kids. Our favorites include Toca Doctor, Toca Hair Salon, Toca Train, and Toca Band.
Here's an interview with Jens Peter de Pedro, creative director for Toca Boca, about kids' education in Scandinvia:
We trust children with freedom to a larger extent. For instance, no grades are given until age 12, which I would say is proof that we trust children longer to learn without threats. School itself starts later, at age seven. There are little academics before then. The goal for a child at seven is to be able to write his or her name and to know that reading is done form left to right. Other than that, it’s all play, and some exercises are meant to foster students’ sense of trust and safety in each other.
We also hold a very romantic view of nature which relates to our view of children. We believe in our hearts that the forest is the ultimate backdrop for childhood. Nature is there for children to explore and develop independence. Scandinavia has many forest schools. These are preschools that have only a small indoor space that the children spend a minimal amount of time in, only really during extreme weather conditions. Other than that children are dropped off, picked up, eat, play and sleep outdoors. In Sweden, there are about 200 schools like this, which means every larger town has one or two.
Toca talks: Why freedom is best for kids and apps (Thanks, Bob!)
Valerie Hegarty makes mixed-media painting/sculptures where the paintings appear to be taking on three dimensionality and bursting out of their frames and off their canvases. The effect is very convincing and disturbing, conveying a sense of collapse and destruction. A selection of Hegary's work was recently exhibited on the High Line in NYC.
A London court has found a man named Andrew Meldrum guilty of "unauthorised access to computer material" and "voyeurism." Meldrum "helped" young women fix their computers and covertly installed snoopware on them, and subsequently spied on them via their webcams. He is to be sentenced in April. A forensics expert claims that this sort of thing is "very common."
One of the victims, aged 21, contacted police in November 2012 after she found software on her computer that allowed for her webcam to be accessed remotely. She suspected it had been placed there by Meldrum since he had recently helped her with some computer trouble.
Police started to investigate the case and Meldrum was arrested on 13 November 2012, only to be bailed while further forensic examinations of the computer were carried out.
The victim mentioned the issue to another woman, who was then 23, and she checked her computer -- which had also been meddled with by Meldrum -- and found the same software. This second victim mentioned it to another friend, who -- surprise, surprise -- found the program; it had most likely been installed on her computer for 15 months.
Man 'fixes' women's computers, watches them through webcams [Olivia Solon/Wired]
Kevin writes, "A motion just filed by the defense in Barrett Brown's case makes the argument that merely linking to information which is already publicly available should be protected by the First Amendment. The government has charged Brown with multiple counts of fraud and identity theft for copy and pasting a link from one chat-room to another. The URL pointed to data that was obtained during the late-2011 hack of Stratfor and the unextracted file happened to contain some credit card numbers."
As Hanni Fakhoury at the EFF has pointed out, this case would establish a precedent that "equat[es] the posting or sharing of a link with possessing the underlying information." If allowed to proceed it would criminalize a large swath of Internet behavior. In line with the danger this poses to information sharing and routine journalism practices, as well the way this would affect security researchers and reporters engaged in verification of sources, the defense has strenuously opposed the indictment and asked for the Court to dismiss it entirely.
Barrett Brown’s Defense Moves to Protect the Right to Link (Thanks, Kevin!)
In 2010, Ed Fries, a former Microsoft VP of game publishing, programmed an Atari 2600 version of Halo. The game, titled Halo 2600, has now been added to the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian magazine interviewed Fries: I don’t want to get too caught up in "Art" with a capital A in a sense, because then it becomes this whole kind of pointless argument about what is art to begin with. I think what matters is, can we tell human stories in a way that affect people—maybe change how they feel about themselves, or the world or exposes them to something that they haven’t been exposed to before? And in the game business, that simple thing is actually pretty hard. I mean, it’s taken us many years and a lot of technological advance to be able to make realistic characters on a screen that look like people, that don’t look like robots, that move like real people, that when they talk, the way their mouths move or eyes sparkle. You know, that doesn’t make you feel like you’re looking at a puppet—that makes you feel like you’re looking at a real human being. Once you get past that, then you open up the door to tell real stories about real people but in a way that’s different than a movie because the player’s in control. And that’s the promise for video games. "Demaking Halo, Remaking Art: 'Halo 2600' Developer Discusses the Promise of Video Games" (Smithsonian)
Above is the Centaur rocket, "America's Workhorse in Space," that NASA used in more than 200 missions, from Voyager to Viking, Cassini to New Horizons. To celebrate the Centaur's 50th anniversary, NASA and our friends at Ingenuity Cleveland are holding an art competition to creatively convey the unique engineering and features of the Centaur Program. The prizes include tours of NASA, viewing of rocket test-fires, and display at IngenuityFest 2014 and NASA Glenn Research Center. Artists of all disciplines and ages are encouraged to submit proposals or finished work! More details: NASA Centaur Art Challenge