Jen from Cake Wrecks made this amazing AT-AT rocking-horse, documenting the build online (she's promised plans to follow). It will be auctioned for charity at Megacon by the Florida chapter of the 501st Legion.
As I said, little Isaiah (son of my Wrecky minion Julianne - and resident of the Ninja Nursery, if you remember that!) was afraid of rocking on the AT-AT, even though he loved it and kept standing next to it and patting it. So to help him feel brave, I got him a Vader mask and cape. And, hey, never underestimate the power... of a Vader mask and cape:
Isaiah is rocked all the way forward here, so as you can see the bumpers really prevent it from going very far. (He didn't want to rock backward at all. Heheh.)
If you missed it, you can see some construction shots of the AT-AT here. Oh, and I still don't have a pattern for you guys, but I promise it's on the to-do list!
A major, critical security flaw in a key cryptographic program used by most flavors of GNU/Linux as well as other free/open operating systems has been reported. The bug, which appears in the Gnutls code, allows for undetectable man-in-the-middle attacks against affected systems. My operating system, Ubuntu, had an update waiting for it this morning that patched this. If you're running any flavor of Linux or BSD, you should immediately check for, and apply, any TLS patches offered through your distribution.
The bug is the result of commands in a section of the GnuTLS code that verify the authenticity of TLS certificates, which are often known simply as X509 certificates. The coding error, which may have been present in the code since 2005, causes critical verification checks to be terminated, drawing ironic parallels to the extremely critical "goto fail" flaw that for months put users of Apple's iOS and OS X operating systems at risk of surreptitious eavesdropping attacks. Apple developers have since patched the bug.
"It was discovered that GnuTLS did not correctly handle certain errors that could occur during the verification of an X.509 certificate, causing it to incorrectly report a successful verification," an advisory issued by Red Hat warned. "An attacker could use this flaw to create a specially crafted certificate that could be accepted by GnuTLS as valid for a site chosen by the attacker."
GnuTLS developers published this bare-bones advisory that urges all users to upgrade to version 3.2.12. The flaw, formally indexed as CVE-2014-0092, is described by a GnuTLS developer as "an important (and at the same time embarrassing) bug discovered during an audit for Red Hat." Debian's advisory is here. Critical crypto bug leaves Linux, hundreds of apps open to eavesdropping [Dan Goodin/Ars Technica]
It was a lot of work, rowing The Father Skolnik Maru, but it wasn't torture. It wasn't like Les Miserables or anything.— Daniel Pinkwater (@DanielPinkwater) March 4, 2014
We got 10 minute breaks, every 30 minutes.— Daniel Pinkwater (@DanielPinkwater) March 4, 2014
Geets and I were able to fake-row some of the time. We let the Lake Scouts do the heavy pulling, and just skimmed the surface.— Daniel Pinkwater (@DanielPinkwater) March 4, 2014
Daniel Pinkwater's Bushman Lives! was one of my favorite young adult novels of 2012. Unfortunately, his publisher refused to give him an advance contract for the sequel, so he's seemingly parted ways with them. Instead, Pinkwater is serializing the sequel through his Twitter account. It's (unsurprisingly) wonderful so far.
I had a book in mind, but the publisher changed its policy. Instead of offering a contract in advance, after which I would write the book, as they had for The Neddiad, The Yggyssey, Adventures of a Cat Whiskered Girl, and Bushman Lives, they said they would be willing to look at a finished manuscript for another book, and possibly publish it. I had no confidence in the editor, and besides I’ve never done it that way with a novel. There didn’t seem to be any point in approaching another publisher with what they would regard as part of a series published by another company. So I haven’t written that book. I would like to write it, and I’m considering publishing it as an ebook, or possibly offering it as a serial online, chapter by chapter.
Vi Hart, the Internet's favorite manic vlogging mathematician, has released a new video in which she teams up with math artists Andrea Hawksley and Gwen Fisher, and Gwen's sister Ruth of Sweets by Ruth. The four of them bake satisfyingly precise and geometric gingerbread polygons, then build up a variety of astounding three dimensional forms by piecing them together with icing. The video is both hunger-inspiring and brain-inspiring, and is likely to be the best thing you watch this week.
Ryan Calo, the organizer of the annual Stanford conference on Robots and the Law has written a new paper called Robotics and the New Cyberlaw , examining the new legal challenges posed by the presence of robots in our public spaces, homes and workplaces, as distinct from the legal challenges of computers and the Internet.
I'm not entirely convinced that I believe that there is such a thing as a robot, as distinct from "a computer in a special case" or "a specialized peripheral for a computer." At least inasmuch as mandating that a robot must (or must not) do certain things is a subset of the problem of mandating that computers must (or must not) run certain programs.
It seems to me that a lot of the areas where Calo identifies problems with "cyberlaw" as it applies to robots are actually just problems with cyberlaw, period. Cyberlaw isn't very good law, by and large, having been crafted by self-interested industry lobbyists and enacted on the basis of fearmongering and grandstanding, so it's not very surprising that it isn't very good at solving robot problems.
But the paper is a fascinating one, nevertheless.
Two decades of analysis have produced a rich set of insights as to how the law should apply to the Internet’s peculiar characteristics. But, in the meantime, technology has not stood still. The same public and private institutions that developed the Internet, from the armed forces to search engines, have initiated a significant shift toward robotics and artificial intelligence.
This article is the first to examine what the introduction of a new, equally transformative technology means for cyberlaw (and law in general). Robotics has a different set of essential qualities than the Internet and, accordingly, will raise distinct issues of law and policy. Robotics combines, for the first time, the promiscuity of data with the capacity to do physical harm; robotic systems accomplish tasks in ways that cannot be anticipated in advance; and robots increasingly blur the line between person and instrument.
Cyberlaw can and should evolve to meet these challenges. Cyberlaw is interested, for instance, in how people are hardwired to think of going online as entering a “place,” and in the ways software constrains human behavior. The new cyberlaw will consider how we are hardwired to think of anthropomorphic machines as though they were social, and ponder the ways institutions and jurists can manage the behavior of software. Ultimately the methods and norms of cyberlaw — particularly its commitments to interdisciplinary pragmatism — will prove crucial in integrating robotics, and perhaps whatever technology follows.
Robotics and the New Cyberlaw [Ryan Calo/SSRN]
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.
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!
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.