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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Flowchart: How will you vote in the next election?

Flowchart: How will you vote in the next election?: "Holytaco has a very funny flowchart to help you determine how you will vote in the upcoming U.S. elections.


Lola Dupre's strange photomontage portraits

Lola Dupre's strange photomontage portraits: " 1326 5105488836 A3C3086Aaf B

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Scotland-based artist Lola Dupre cuts up photographs and collages the snips into mind-bendingly weird and witty deformed portraits. She is a master of scissors, glue, and surrealism. Hi-Fructose posted an interview with Dupre and includes shots of the cutting room floor too. From Hi-Fructose:

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First an image for manipulation has to be selected and sometimes this is what takes most of my time. Going into a project I often have a very fixed idea of what I want to work with: finding the image with the right background, foreground, resolution, and content can take all day sometimes! I usually search Google images for sources, or alternatively I scan images that myself or my contacts have.

When I have selected the right image to use, I crop and print this at various sizes and edits on various sizes of paper. Working like this, the only limitation is the resolution of the source image. I am currently planning to do some giant paste up art works on buildings and walls, and this requires just the same formula but slightly tweaked...

Originally I would cut up perhaps two or three images or work from a small handful of duplicates. But with time my technique has developed and now I need more! This is just technique development - like how a young painter might begin work with just a few colours of poster paints and one large brush, and years later they are working with multiple colours and honed techniques to blend and create with all the experiences they have learned through practice and exploring their medium.

For me, I take a certain delight in the ready-made colour schemes and the detail of the images I work from.

Lola Dupre interview


Jessica Joslin's Hybrids show

Jessica Joslin's Hybrids show: "Joslin_LG_Clio-and-Loci.jpg
Sculptor Jessica Joslin will be exhibiting her fantastic new work at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Hollywood, November 5 - 28, 2010.

La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Artist Reception: Friday, November 5th; 8-11

Book Signing to precede from 7-8

Jessica Joslin's Hybrids show is a circus of oddities, a mixed-media menagerie of unexpected creatures. A whimsical cat in a red leather harness harness pulls a polycephalic partner on a wooden cart. An exquisite two headed tropical bird with lush brass plumage preens on it's perch and a troupe of monkey-cat hybrids engage in mysterious shenanigans. 'Hybrids' is a menagerie of distinctive creations, its frolicsome fauna beckon you to come see the show!

Preview Jessica's Hybrids show


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ambitious and improbable gears: video

Ambitious and improbable gears: video: "

Back in September, I blogged Quilty1987's mesmerizing YouTube tutorial on making weird, erratically shaped gears that really mesh and spin. At the time, I pondered what these would look like if they were part of a larger, more ambitious project. Now I know: here's another Quilty1987 (AKA Clayton Boyer) video of several geared creations that do improbable and wonderful tricks with teeth and spins.

These Gears Really Work?

(via JWZ)


Liar, Liar, Sheep on Fire

Liar, Liar, Sheep on Fire: "4797488117_d0b7fbf989_z.jpeg

Photo: Prasad Kholkute

Firesheep should freak you out, at least for a moment. It's a Firefox extension that lets any normal human being--I'm not talking about you, BoingBoing readers--install the add-on and then steal the active sessions of people using unencrypted browsing sessions with popular online services on the same Wi-Fi network. This involves no Wi-Fi foolery, because the necessary network traffic is openly available.

Walk into any busy coffeeshop, fire up the 'sheep, and a list of potential identities to assume at any of two dozen popular sites appears. Double-click, and you snarf their identifying token, and log in to the site in question as that person.

Firesheep is a business-model tour de force, not a zero-day technical one. It's a proof of concept that repackages and expands on earlier security research to expose a failure in the risk profile adopted by Web sites on behalf of their unsuspecting users. There's no money to be made by a Web site in fixing this problem for its customers or readers. Thus, only a security-conscious CIO might be able to push through the budget item necessary to bump the back-end systems up to the level needed.

Firesheep is a public relations exploit, too; it's so easy to use and to demonstrate that it shot round the world. Previous demonstrations spread the word in the tech community, and a little beyond. Firesheep is telegenic.

The add-on is the latest effort to lay bare a well-known problem in how major (and minor) Web sites identify users after login. Even if you log in using a secure SSL/TLS connection, a reliable method of end-to-end encryption, many sites still hand you back to plain old HTTP. In the process, sites brand you with a token that stands in for the login process you completed. This is a separate issue from involuntary ad tracking or the undeletable evercookie. (BoingBoing is a practitioner of tokens for both commenting and the Submitterator, which arguably means that someone could post nonsense under your name from a coffeeshop, but don't do that already?)

Because the open Web is stateless, a sequence of pages viewed by the same browser might as well be pages viewed by entirely different browsers. A login token placed in a cookie glues a binding on the edge of those pages, creating a session. The token doesn't let a third party sniff your user name or password, but it does let a browser lay claim to your identity for a set period of time. (HTTP does have a stateful account-based authentication system, but it has weak cryptographic elements, and browsers have unchangeable interface elements for handling failed logins, lost passwords, or add-ons, like a CAPTCHA.)

The developer of Firesheep, Eric Butler, traces the understanding back to 2004, but 2007 is when knowledge went over the top. Robert Graham of Errata Security coined the term in 2007 in a Black Hat presentation. He created a proof-of-concept not much different in intent or function than Firesheep, but without the click-to-install simplicity, the long list of sites to snarf, and browser integration.

Of the large firms with this flaw, I'd argue that Google took this most seriously. In the intervening three years, Google has been layering SSL/TLS on ever more of its services. Gmail even added an option to kill other sessions. (Scroll to the bottom of the Gmail screen, and click Details at the end of the 'last account activity' line to view the option.)

Many other sites have let the problem remain, though, beefing up security through the sop of offering secure logins, as noted above. It's quite rare to find any major site allowing an unencrypted login, which is a big improvement over a few years ago. Firesheep comes with 26 prefabricated sidejacking tools for sites like Facebook, Amazon, and Amazon and other sites that have a mix of plain HTTP and SSL/TLS-protected pages require re-authentication and SSL/TLS when you move into making a purchase, canceling an order, or other account-based activities. But you can place a 1-Click order without logging in again.

Less-visited sites in the millions have this sheepish problem, and some use identical software (and thus token names in the browser) making a mass-exploit via a Firesheep update the work of minutes. But it's far less likely a random coffeeshop ne'er-do-well would sidejack such a session, or get anything out of it.

The remaining question is, of course, what can you do to prevent your credentials from making you go baaaaaaaaaa? Lots.

* Firefox users should install HTTPS Everywhere, a joint effort of The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This forces SSL/TLS connections for sites that offer, but don't require, continuous secured browsing, including content sites like the New York Times and Wikipedia. You can use the Tools > Add-Ons option to disable specific sites if you have trouble.

* Engage in no unsecured Web logins when working on an untrusted network, public or otherwise. This is my primary approach after HTTPS Everywhere. It's easier than it sounds. If I can't use SSL/TLS through a session, I don't do it unless I use a VPN (see below).

* Secure all the services you use. Most email hosts offers SSL/TLS protected POP, IMAP, and SMTP sessions. FTP is absolutely in the clear; use SFTP (an SSH-based variant) or FTPS (FTP with SSL/TLS encryption). Check the box for SSL/TLS anywhere it's available. Twitter's API for third-party clients defaults to unprotected transactions; Echofon, at least, has a 'use SSL' box I check.

* Use a VPN. A virtual private network connection creates an encrypted tunnel for all your data between your computer or mobile and a server somewhere else on the Internet. That's typically more than enough to protect you from sniffing on the local link. I've used WiTopia for years, which is a fee-based service offering PPTP and SSL VPN connections. AnchorFree offers Hotspot Shield at no cost.

* Instead of a VPN, set up an SSL/TLS Web proxy through which all your browsing is rerouted. That also protects the local link, and can be easier if you have a server elsewhere that you can set this up, or use a paid service.

Eric Butler has complementary advice in a post on his site about the day after releasing Firesheep that he wrote with co-presenter Ian Gallgher. Read that for more on what does not work, too.

Firesheep is named after the famous Wall of Sheep at Defcon, which displays selected details of unencrypted logins and other sessions over the event's Wi-Fi network from people who, by attending Defcon, should know better than to ever send anything unencrypted over a public Wi-Fi network. If Firesheep succeeds, the whole world becomes a Wall of Shame, with the shame reflecting on the sites that haven't updated their costs and systems to reflect the current reality of basic security when their users surf in public.

Glenn Fleishman contributes continuously to the Economist's Babbage blog, and is a senior editor at the Mac journal TidBITS.


On the Street....The Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

On the Street....The Jardin des Tuileries, Paris: "

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Remarkable unicycle riding (video)

[Kinda hot backing track, too. -egg]

Remarkable unicycle riding (video): "

Video link. This footage prepared for the North American Unicycling Championships and Convention contains some pretty unbelievable footage, including jumping over a picnic table, up a flight of 7 stairs in one hop, and the you-gotta-see-it-to believe-it 'maxwhip.' Also some amazing Kris Holm vids here and here.


3M claims ownership over purple

3M claims ownership over purple: "

'The color PURPLE is a trademark of 3M.'

I wonder if Alice Munroe Walker knows about this.

(Thanks, Airshowfan, via Submitterator!)


Robotic hand attains sensitivity and strength with coffee grounds and balloons

Robotic hand attains sensitivity and strength with coffee grounds and balloons: "Here's a fascinating report from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on a novel kind of robotic gripper that uses balloons and coffee grounds to attain strong, sensitive grips:

Here we demonstrate a completely different approach to a universal gripper. Individual fingers are replaced by a single mass of granular material that, when pressed onto a target object, flows around it and conforms to its shape. Upon application of a vacuum the granular material contracts and hardens quickly to pinch and hold the object without requiring sensory feedback. We find that volume changes of less than 0.5% suffice to grip objects reliably and hold them with forces exceeding many times their weight. We show that the operating principle is the ability of granular materials to transition between an unjammed, deformable state and a jammed state with solid-like rigidity. We delineate three separate mechanisms, friction, suction, and interlocking, that contribute to the gripping force. Using a simple model we relate each of them to the mechanical strength of the jammed state. This advance opens up new possibilities for the design of simple, yet highly adaptive systems that excel at fast gripping of complex objects.

Universal robotic gripper based on the jamming of granular material

(via IO9)

(Image: Turkish Coffee grounds - degustation - Ottoman Cuisine, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from avlxyz's photostream)


Monday, October 25, 2010

On the Street....Place Vendôme, Paris

[I don't like the overall outfit, but I love the coat. -Egg]

On the Street....Place Vendôme, Paris: "The playful mix of three patterns is great.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Self-abusing kinetic sculpture

Self-abusing kinetic sculpture: "

Nemo Gould's kinetic sculpture, 'Nowhere Fast,' is a moving meditation on self abuse: 'Not the intentional kind mind you, but the unwitting variety. Our poor hero pedals diligently at his machine to get away from the persistent clubbing on his head, while all he needs to do for relief is to stop pedaling.'

Nowhere Fast 2009 (72' x 72' x 26')

(via Super Punch)


LIFE magazine on "LSD Art," 1966

LIFE magazine on "LSD Art," 1966: " Images  Images Lsdart

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From the LIFE magazine September 9, 1966 cover story about psychedelic art:

'Amid throbbing lights, dizzying designs, swirling smells, swelling sounds, the world of art is 'turning on.' It is getting hooked on psychedelic art, the latest, liveliest movement to seethe up from the underground.'

More LIFE images from that story and the 1960s psychedelic culture