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Friday, December 16, 2011

Nonsense Shopping List Prank

Nonsense Shopping List Prank:

Fancy Boy lip glitter, fish poison, left-handed washing glove, turtle mix, non-alcoholic whiskey, daddy butter, and an eye removal kit. These are just a few of the items Greg Benson and Ryan Smith of Mediocre Films asked employees of Target and Walmart to help them find on a recent shopping errand. Also, Greg wrote Ryan's list without Ryan reading it before Ryan entered the store, and vice versa. (Via Laughing Squid)

Gear cube

Gear cube:

This cube made of gears is a great example of some of the really brilliant stuff coming out of the 3D printing scene; it's a phenomenon on Thingiverse, where the method for turning any solid shape into a geared wonderment has been generalized into a formula that can be applied to your 3D model-file.

Cube Gear

(via Making Light)

58 donors responsible for 80% of SuperPAC funding

58 donors responsible for 80% of SuperPAC funding:

With the Citizens United ruling, the Supreme Court turned money into a form of political speech, paving the way for enormous influxes of cash from the American ultra-elite one-percent-of-one-percent, and, to a lesser extent, organized labor (money given to the GOP by big business dwarfs labor's contribution to the Dems by a factor of about 2.5). The extent to which this has distorted American politics is only now becoming apparent, as statistics about SuperPACs and their "donations" are gathered and published. In this Salon report, Justin Elliott publishes some eye-opening figures about the new political reality in money-as-speech America.

Especially concerning: 80 percent of the money sloshing around in America's SuperPACs' warchests came from just 58 donors.

The Super PACs are not paragons of transparency, but what has been disclosed gives a sense of where the money is coming from and the interests of those giving it. Based on the donors and the origins of these groups, we can already discern what messages the Super PACs will generate in the home stretch of the campaign.

Red money, blue money: The making of the 2012 campaign

Close-order drill from hacked Elmobots

Close-order drill from hacked Elmobots:

In this video, an artist skins and skeletonizes a cadre of Elmo robots, installs Arduinos in them, and hacks them to do synchronized maneuvers. Yes, I am well aware that I wrote this into a novel. Dang, I wish they showed more of the bots moving!

Adrianne Wortzel first saw Tickle-Me-Elmo-TMX during her residency in the Artificial Intelligence Lab in Zurich, Switzerland, and noticed something interesting about the robotic toy. It wasn't long before she amassed an army of them. And what army is complete without synchronized maneuvers...

Choreographing a Well-Armed Militia Bearing Arms: Adrianne Wortzel

The world's first audio recording is creepy, not made by Edison

The world's first audio recording is creepy, not made by Edison:

At the French site Anecdote du Jour you can listen to the world's first audio recordings, made in 1859 and 1860 by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. The recordings, one of a tuning fork being struck and two of de Martinville singing, are scratchy and thoroughly eerie. All the more so because de Martinville himself never heard them. In fact, nobody heard them until 2008.

The reason we credit Edison with the invention of recorded audio and not de Martinville is that de Martinville failed to invent a way to play back his recordings.

De Martinville's phonautograph turned sound waves into 2-dimensional squiggles on soot-blackened paper or glass. It was meant to be a lab instrument, to help study acoustics, not a method of recording and playing back sound. Apparently, several decades passed before anybody even realized the sounds could, theoretically, be played back.

Via Greg Gbur

Image: One of de Martinville's phonautograms. A recording of a tuning fork made in 1859.

US-funded Open Technology Initiative takes to Occupy

US-funded Open Technology Initiative takes to Occupy:

The New America Foundation's Open Network Technology Initiative, a US State Department-funded project to build an "Internet in a suitcase" that can be dropped into repressive zones where protesters need network access and the state is trying to take it away. The project -- a very complex piece of technology -- has gotten to the point where it needs a live test, and lucky for the Open Technology engineers, Occupy DC is just down the street, and that's a great testbed.

The idea is that the system will automatically set itself up. Drop a unit near another unit and they’ll start talking to one another and trading data. Add another and all three will talk to one another. Add a thousand and you can cover a whole city. Then if one of those routers is hooked up to an internet connection, everyone on the network can connect. If that connection disappears, users can still try to update an application like Twitter or send e-mail to the larger internet and the outgoing notes will go into a holding pattern until the mesh network finds another connection to the greater net.

That’s harder to pull off in practice, even under ideal conditions — as anyone who’s tried to link even two Wi-Fi access points in their own home could attest. Now throw in the variables that the access points should work in urban and exposed environments, as well as protest zones like Tahir Square. You’ll want to protect dissidents with encryption and deniability. And you don’t want your beta-testers to be arrested or even killed because of a software bug. All together it’s the kind of challenge engineers like to call “non-trivial”.

“Finding a place to use the system is difficult,” Meinrath said. “Thank God for the Occupy movement.”

U.S.-Funded Internet Liberation Project Finds Perfect Test Site: Occupy D.C.

(Image: Brendan Hoffman/

Vader Christmas Choir Flash Mob

Vader Christmas Choir Flash Mob:

Video Link. More about the making of at the Official Star Wars Blog.