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CC Reader

Did you see that Hearst is looking to launch a "reader"?  The biggest idea in the press release is the idea of downloading the whole newspaper. It's like a podcast, but text, so you can read it when you're not connected to the internet.  Instead of "synch up."  I'm not totally sure why a special reader is necessary, but I have to think it has something to do with anticipated technology like e-paper.  I clicked this blogger's coverage, which includes links to people who think a reader is redundant.  And I clicked Susan Mernit's criticism that the reader is a desperate measure by old media to "preserve a print experience."  I understand those criticisms, but at the same time, the way I read a newspaper is different from the way I read from a computer.  As you know, I sometimes deliberately print out articles because I prefer to read from paper instead of a screen.  If newspapers want to open a new front in the browser wars by finding a more comfortable way to read their content, I'm not going to get in their way.  For so many people, the computer is still that beige thing in the distant extra room/home office with the knot of wires in the back and the laundry draped over the chair.  There was some idea that by making video game systems that are also powerful computers, the computer industry could drag computer capability out of that back room and engage a new audience.  It could be that newspaper "readers" perform a similar role.  For the time being I'll ignore the possible nefarious motive of rendering content in a controlled, proprietary shell.

No I won't.  Speaking of nefarious motives and controlling media with proprietary shells, this isn't new but it's seeing a bit of a revival.  You're likely already familiar with the concept of Net Neutrality and if you're not, this video will teach you about it from scratch.  But it makes one argument I hadn't heard before, responding to a mental retort I was only barely conscious of making.  How could the Internet just go away?  How could something this big and useful and ingrained be taken away by corporations?  They answer by showing how newspapers and radio were once accessible media and were eventually controlled almost exclusively by corporations.

Alternative uses for your laptop on Shutdown Day.

Will glow sticks blend?  (Part of the Will It Blend series.)

Rehab remix - Was this already a song?

I was caught off guard by how much this photo of the sharpest manmade thing set my mind reeling.  Those are individual atoms for Pete's sake.

Fon Starbucks router - This took some clicking and thinking before I understood what they're doing.  Remember Fon is a company that seeks to spread public wifi.  This device is like a wifi relay.  If you receive a Starbucks wifi signal, instead of connecting with your computer, you connect with this device and resend the signal so others can connect to it either by paying you or through the Fon network.

I don't have enough notes that I'd need to print up a special template, but the idea of putting post-its on a piece of paper and running in through the printer to make custom stickers piques my interest.

How many votes have your senators missed?

People kill when God tells them to - The title is a bit inflammatory but the study is fascinating.  The result, as I understand it, is that people (both believers and non-believers) are more likely to be aggressive when they are informed that violence is sanctioned by religion.

"A French designer of engines for Formula One racing cars has turned his attention to creating an engine that runs on, and emits, only air!"  Cue whoopee cushion sound effect.

Desks made from actual Minis - The site is a little rough to navigate.  Check out the Hall of Fame gallery for larger photos.

Hey by the way, that McMissile lady got probation, no jail.

Amazing sinkhole photos - Looking at the first shot when the page loads I thought it was some kind of trick, like that guy who does the 3D chalk drawings on the sidewalk.

It also reminded me of this recent piece in the NYTimes about an artist who cut holes in buildings.

Speaking of links to slideshows in the Times that I can't find a universal URL for, I know this sweater is for women and I'd probably look ridiculous in it anyway, but in the same way that I think Hagrid is cool I really like the idea of gargantuan knit overclothes.

If my colleagues in the Entertainment section had told me they were going to ask people to send in photos of themselves looking like Will Smith or Kate Winslet I'd have told them they were wasting their time so the few close ones they got is pretty amazing.

"The truck ornament industry is not amused. 'It's not a perverted sexual thing at all,' said David Ham, founder of Your Nutz, a San Diego-based business that sells more than 200 kinds of fake testicles."  I don't think I could even name 200 kinds of testicles.

Justice League Rumored to Happen, But it Won't


Seven Best Add-Ons for IE7 - We hear so much about Firefox extensions that I was surprised to see IE in a similar headline.  I'd settle for an extension that prevents the browser from locking up periodically or asking me permission for every little thing.

Emotion robots learn from people - This sounds more annoying than scary.  Hopefully these robots will also learn how to tell when they're being annoying.

The Rosie O'Donnell "ching chong" comment scandal is pretty much dead and gone.  If you don't remember it, she was making a joke about how  a story was being discussed around the world, including China.  She then did an impression of a Chinese person talking about the story using "ching chong" to represent the sounds in the Chinese language.  At the time I wondered if it was the actual use of "ching chong" that made her remarks offensive.  This kid's very compelling reply to Rosie confirms that suspicion.

 Speaking of kids on YouTube...

Hey Will, have you seen "Angry Kid" on Youtube yet? What kind of marketing research did Greenpeace do on this one? I don't know if it's really funny or the most annoying thing I've ever seen in my life. I can't imagine anyone watching this and not involuntarily drawing their hand back to smack the little *beep*.

Will replies:  Sean, I'm with you on this one.  I also ran into this video and found it persuasive for about 5 seconds.  The next 5 seconds were entertaining because of the kid's precociousness.  The rest was annoying and ultimately offensive that this stupid kid thinks he understands more than I do about the state of the world and then has the nerve to threaten me.  Go ahead kid, make my day.

As long as I'm in the mailbag...

Hey Will-
This guy beatboxes like no one else I've ever seen.  He remixes his beats on the fly and creates a crazy Trip-Hop sounding mix that is fantastic. 
Check it out.

Will replies:  Thanks Keith.  What really strikes me when I watch this video is that he's singing an actual song.  I wonder if beatboxing will eventually be seen as something like scat singing.  By coincidence I clicked this piece on the San Francisco beat box scene while reading this bit on live looping.  Some of it reminds me a little of Bobby McFerrin.  One thing that troubles me about beatboxing is the way it's meant to immitate actual DJ sounds.  As amazing as it is that these kids can make themselves sound like scratching records and digital delay machines, I have to think the form could shed its novelty status if there was more emphasis on finding their own sounds.

** I meant for today's headline to be a reference to Creative Commons, but this is the song in my head.