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20 Nov 17:55

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - A Vicious Cycle


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I'm not sure why, but I find the idea that the bicycle has a switchblade to be comedy gold.

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19 Nov 20:57

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Pareto Romantic


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You're the best you can be, which is technically the highest true compliment I can pay you, so why do you look sad?

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17 Nov 09:51

How to Make Friends

No, wait, come back! I want to be friends at you!
16 Nov 21:01

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Life Philosophy


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I hope Heaven has a periscope to Hell, because humans are really only happy relative to other humans.

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Hey geeks-- if you're any kind of a wecomics fan, you're surely familiar with Kate Beaton. I consider her to be the highlight of my "generation" of cartoonists. A sister of hers is dealing with an aggressive form cancer and is getting to the point where few options remain, and what remains is liable to be quite expensive. They're running a fundraiser to make sure she can get the right treatment. Please give it a look if you have a moment.

16 Nov 10:44

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Fascinating


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Eventually, someone will be able to look at photos of a Renaissance fair and not know who's in costume.

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16 Nov 10:43 But good try.

by Minnesotastan
15 Nov 19:54

Temperature Preferences

There's a supposed Mark Twain quote, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." It isn't really by Mark Twain, but I don't know who said it—I just know they've never been to McMurdo Station.
14 Nov 04:58


by Robot Hugs

New comic!

A few things kind of going sideways here but you know what, it’s basically all entirely my fault so.


14 Nov 04:55

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Flawed


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The garden of Eden was the one time I tried to fix things and that went JUST GREAT.

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13 Nov 20:06

Nightmare Email Feature

"...just got back and didn't see your message until just now. Sorry! -- TIME THIS MESSAGE SAT HALF-FINISHED IN DRAFTS FOLDER: 3 days, 2 hours, 45 minutes."
12 Nov 02:06

Tremendous timorous beastie

by Rod

It’s not often you see a LEGO animal built almost exactly to scale. But this fantastic mouse by Thomas Poulsom (of LEGO Birds fame) looks almost ready to scuttle off around your house in search of cheese. I love the beady black eyes, the pink nose, and the way Tom has done the ears. And the whole creation is enhanced immensely by the short depth of focus — adding a fuzzy close-up feel which further reinforces the small scale. Squeakily-good stuff.

Squeak Squeak 🐁

The post Tremendous timorous beastie appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

12 Nov 00:57

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Specialization


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People who say we'll become one with the machines should really specify the machines they're talking about.

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Tomorrow we will return to my low-quality scribbling. If you enjoyed Abby's style (you did), click here for more.

11 Nov 06:53

Amazing detailed recreation of a city train station in Germany

by Edwinder

The City Station of Trossingen in Germany built by Steffen Rau is simply breathtaking. The architectural detailing and color are astounding and eye-popping, with intricate features on the facade that look like it took some marvelously complex techniques to achieve that even an architect would be proud of. The siding just below the roof which was most likely wooden gives a beautiful compliment in color to the red roof tiling and a nice contrast with the mid-section in black and white.

Trossingen Station 6

The back of the building features the train tracks and a platform with minifigure commuters waiting for their train to arrive.

Trossingen Station 5

Trossingen Station 3

Steffen even shared a bit about the construction of the detailing and the techniques used for the upper facade.

Trossingen Station Details4



It was featured as part of a larger display at the Museum Auberlehaus with a proper set of trains chugging along. Trossingen is known to have one of the oldest electrical railways.


The post Amazing detailed recreation of a city train station in Germany appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

10 Nov 20:54

Twitter Verification

When we started distributing special status tokens that signify which people are important enough to join an elite group, we never could have imagined we might be creating some problems down the line.
10 Nov 20:53

Nightmare On Elmo Street

by Jen

Today's post is brought to you by the letter AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA













AAA... huh? Those are adorable!


Oh. That's more like it.

[huge breath]



That's eight! EIGHT Nightmares on Sesame Street! AH. AH. AH.


Hey Kevin H., Lisa K., Marc Y., Sheilah G., Beth S., Laureen, Rachel, & Stacy S., could you tell me how to get to the local therapist's office?

Oh, and happy Sesame Street Day, everyone.


Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

10 Nov 20:06

Maps of the world's forests

by Minnesotastan

Found at EarthArtAustralia, which also has maps of waterways and other physical features.
09 Nov 00:13

MINIX: Intel's Hidden In-chip Operating System

by msmash
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, writing for ZDNet: Matthew Garrett, the well-known Linux and security developer who works for Google, explained recently that, "Intel chipsets for some years have included a Management Engine [ME], a small microprocessor that runs independently of the main CPU and operating system. Various pieces of software run on the ME, ranging from code to handle media DRM to an implementation of a TPM. AMT [Active Management Technology] is another piece of software running on the ME." [...] At a presentation at Embedded Linux Conference Europe, Ronald Minnich, a Google software engineer reported that systems using Intel chips that have AMT, are running MINIX. So, what's it doing in Intel chips? A lot. These processors are running a closed-source variation of the open-source MINIX 3. We don't know exactly what version or how it's been modified since we don't have the source code. In addition, thanks to Minnich and his fellow researchers' work, MINIX is running on three separate x86 cores on modern chips. There, it's running: TCP/IP networking stacks (4 and 6), file systems, drivers (disk, net, USB, mouse), web servers. MINIX also has access to your passwords. It can also reimage your computer's firmware even if it's powered off. Let me repeat that. If your computer is "off" but still plugged in, MINIX can still potentially change your computer's fundamental settings. And, for even more fun, it "can implement self-modifying code that can persist across power cycles." So, if an exploit happens here, even if you unplug your server in one last desperate attempt to save it, the attack will still be there waiting for you when you plug it back in. How? MINIX can do all this because it runs at a fundamentally lower level. [...] According to Minnich, "there are big giant holes that people can drive exploits through." He continued, "Are you scared yet? If you're not scared yet, maybe I didn't explain it very well, because I sure am scared." Also read: Andrew S. Tanenbaum's (a professor of Computer Science at Vrije Universiteit) open letter to Intel.

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09 Nov 00:10

4.5 megabytes of data

by Minnesotastan

Stored on 62,500 punched cards (1955).
08 Nov 23:38

"We just wanna talk"

by Minnesotastan
08 Nov 23:17

Landlord Who Banned “Coloured” Tenants Claims It Was About the Curry Smell

by Kevin

In March, the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission said it was looking into a report that Fergus Wilson, described by The Guardian as a “property tycoon” and “Britain’s biggest buy-to-let landlord,” was discriminating based on race. This was largely because Wilson told his agent in an email that he wanted “no coloured people because of the curry smell at the end of the tenancy.”

The Guardian reported today that a judge rejected Wilson’s argument that he was only joking.

This was a “joke” that Wilson kept telling, it seems, even after the email came to light. In fact, he told the funny joke to EHRC itself when it investigated. “I refuse to take tenants from a group of people that produce curry smells,” he told it. (Oh, so any people who produce curry smells are—) “I take just about anyone except Pakistanis and Indians,” he continued. (Never mind.) He also told it in the media. “To be honest, we’re getting overloaded with coloured people,” he told the Sun newspaper. Wow, that sounds racist, but then he followed up with the curry punchline: “It is a problem with certain types of coloured people—those who consume curry—it sticks to the carpet. You have to get some chemical thing that takes the smell out. In extreme cases you have to replace the carpet.” I don’t know if that’s even possible—I’m no expert, but I don’t think you use curry by pouring it on the carpet—but again, the problem with the curry explanation is that Wilson never denied he refused to rent to “coloured people,” not just anybody who uses a lot of curry.

Strangely, though Wilson is believed to be worth (in monetary terms) as much as £250 million, which these days is a lot of money, he was apparently too cheap to hire a lawyer for the hearing. He represented himself, and not surprisingly, “was repeatedly admonished by the judge for bringing up issues that were not relevant to the case.” But he also brought up issues that were relevant to the case, given the relevancy of whether he is a racist, because they tended to show that the answer to that question is yes.

For example, the judge did not believe Wilson’s claim that these were only jokes partly because he also argued he was not joking: “Wilson’s defence ranged from asserting that the email containing the ban on ‘coloureds’ was just a joke and banter with a young letting agent, through to defending it on behalf of all landlords.” (Emphasis added.) A lawyer would likely have advised him that, if he planned to argue he did not intend to discriminate, he should not say at the hearing that he believed all landlords should discriminate in the way he had.

Another example: Wilson argued that those in the group he banned would not be able to get rent-guarantee insurance, because the insurers also did not want to do business with south Asians. “The reality is,” he told the judge, “that with some of the rent insurers, if your name is Patel, you won’t get [insurance] as you are more likely to claim on it.” Again, a lawyer might have said, “You know, Fergus, arguing that other people are also racist doesn’t help show that you are not racist. In fact, the other side could argue it supports the view that you are.” This is the sort of thing we get paid to do.

But then Wilson would likely have lost anyway. “This policy clearly amounts to discrimination,” the judge held, and “has no place in our society.” The judge ordered him to lift the ban, and Wilson said he wasn’t sure he would appeal. Not because he was wrong, though, but because “I’m retiring soon.”

That’s good for other reasons too, because judging by The Guardian’s reporting, Wilson is a real peach of a human being in general. In 2009, Wilson—who, again, is said to be among the wealthiest men in the UK—sued two tenants for £3,000 because they broke a toilet-seat lid. (He apparently wanted them to pay for a whole new bathroom suite, but a judge threw out the “exaggerated” claim.) In another charming example, Wilson “is said to have barred domestic violence victims from renting his homes, as he reportedly claimed that jealous or angry partners would cause damage by kicking down front doors and punching holes in the interior.” He is also said to have barred at various times, among others, families with children, single parents, and single adults—all of which would also be illegal discrimination under at least some laws—and plumbers. Plumbers? Plumbers.

Even more oddly, he has a hobby of writing and self-publishing children’s books (which is not odd) and alternative-history books that tend to feature young girls mating—willingly and otherwise—with SS officers in a Britain that lost World War II (which really kind of is). At least in such a world the plumbers could be dealt with once and for all, but otherwise it seems kind of weird.

I only read part of the preview of “Hilda’s War,” but like the rest of Fergus Wilson’s work, it doesn’t seem funny at all.

08 Nov 19:54

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Happy


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Wonderful WONDERFUL ashes!

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08 Nov 06:58

How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You've Ever Met

by msmash
"I deleted Facebook after it recommended as People You May Know a man who was defense counsel on one of my cases. We had only communicated through my work email, which is not connected to my Facebook, which convinced me Facebook was scanning my work email," an attorney told Gizmodo. Kashmir Hill, a reporter at the news outlet, who recently documented how Facebook figured out a connection between her and a family member she did not know existed, shares several more instances others have reported and explains how Facebook gathers information. She reports: Behind the Facebook profile you've built for yourself is another one, a shadow profile, built from the inboxes and smartphones of other Facebook users. Contact information you've never given the network gets associated with your account, making it easier for Facebook to more completely map your social connections. Because shadow-profile connections happen inside Facebook's algorithmic black box, people can't see how deep the data-mining of their lives truly is, until an uncanny recommendation pops up. Facebook isn't scanning the work email of the attorney above. But it likely has her work email address on file, even if she never gave it to Facebook herself. If anyone who has the lawyer's address in their contacts has chosen to share it with Facebook, the company can link her to anyone else who has it, such as the defense counsel in one of her cases. Facebook will not confirm how it makes specific People You May Know connections, and a Facebook spokesperson suggested that there could be other plausible explanations for most of those examples -- "mutual friendships," or people being "in the same city/network." The spokesperson did say that of the stories on the list, the lawyer was the likeliest case for a shadow-profile connection. Handing over address books is one of the first steps Facebook asks people to take when they initially sign up, so that they can "Find Friends." The problem with all this, Hill writes, is that Facebook doesn't explicitly say the scale at which it would be using the contact information it gleans from a user's address book. Furthermore, most people are not aware that Facebook is using contact information taken from their phones for these purposes.

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08 Nov 06:54

Flaw crippling millions of crypto keys is worse than first disclosed

by Dan Goodin

Enlarge / A digital identity card issued by the Republic of Estonia. (credit: Republic of Estonia, Interior Department)

A crippling flaw affecting millions—and possibly hundreds of millions—of encryption keys used in some of the highest-stakes security settings is considerably easier to exploit than originally reported, cryptographers declared over the weekend. The assessment came as Estonia abruptly suspended 760,000 national ID cards used for voting, filing taxes, and encrypting sensitive documents.

The critical weakness allows attackers to calculate the private portion of any vulnerable key using nothing more than the corresponding public portion. Hackers can then use the private key to impersonate key owners, decrypt sensitive data, sneak malicious code into digitally signed software, and bypass protections that prevent accessing or tampering with stolen PCs. When researchers first disclosed the flaw three weeks ago, they estimated it would cost an attacker renting time on a commercial cloud service an average of $38 and 25 minutes to break a vulnerable 1024-bit key and $20,000 and nine days for a 2048-bit key.

Organizations known to use keys vulnerable to ROCA—named for the Return of the Coppersmith Attack the factorization method is based on—have largely downplayed the severity of the weakness. Estonian officials initially said the attack was "complicated and not cheap" and went on to say: "Large-scale vote fraud is not conceivable due to the considerable cost and computing power necessary of generating a private key." Netherlands-based smartcard maker Gemalto, meanwhile, has said only that its IDPrime.NET—a card it has sold for more than a decade as, among other things, a way to provide two-factor authentication to employees of Microsoft and other companies—"may be affected" without providing any public guidance to customers.

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08 Nov 06:50

The 100-megapixel Moon

by Jason Kottke

100 Megapixel Moon

Seán Doran used images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to create this 100-megapixel image of the Moon (full 10000x10000 pixel image here). Phil Plait explains how Doran made the image:

LRO WAC images have a resolution of about 100 meters per pixel over a swath of about 60 km of lunar surface (using what’s called the pushbroom technique, similar to how a flatbed scanner works). They are usually taken straight down, toward the spacecraft nadir (the opposite of the zenith). To get the correct perspective for the Moon as a globe, Doran took the images, along with altimeter data, and mapped them onto a sphere. That way features near the edge look foreshortened, as they really do when you look at the entire Moon. He also used Apollo images to make sure things lined up. So the image isn’t exactly scientifically rigorous, but it is certainly spectacular.

The image is also available at Gigapan for easier exploration.

Tags: astronomy   Moon   science   Sean Doran   space
08 Nov 05:17

The Existential Terror of Battle Royale

by Jeff Atwood

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post, I guess in general, but also a blog post about video games. Video games are probably the single thing most attributable to my career as a programmer, and everything else I've done professionally after that. I still feel video games are one of the best ways to learn and teach programming, if properly scoped, and furthermore I take many cues from video games in building software.

I would characterize my state of mind for the last six to eight months as … poor. Not only because of current events in the United States, though the neverending barrage of bad news weighs heavily on me, and I continue to be profoundly disturbed by the erosion of core values that I thought most of us stood for as Americans. Didn't we used to look out for each other, care about each other, and fight to protect those that can't protect themselves?

In times like these, I sometimes turn to video games for escapist entertainment. One game in particular caught my attention because of its meteoric rise in player count over the last year.


That game is Player Unknown's Battlegrounds. I was increasingly curious why it was so popular, and kept getting more popular every month. Calling it a mere phenomenon seems like underselling it; something truly unprecedented is happening here. I finally broke down and bought a copy for $30 in September.


After a few hours in, I had major flashbacks to the first time I played Counter-Strike in 1998. I realized that we are witnessing the birth of an entirely new genre of game: the Battle Royale. I absolutely believe that huge numbers of people will still be playing some form of this game 20 years from now, too.


I've seen the Japanese movie, and it's true that there were a few Battle Royale games before PUBG, but this is clearly the defining moment and game for the genre, the one that sets a precedent for everyone else to follow.

It's hard to explain why Battlegrounds is so compelling, but let's start with the loneliness.

Although you can play in squads (and I recommend it), the purest original form of the game is 100 players, last man standing. You begin with nothing but the clothes on your back, in a cargo aircraft, flying over an unknown island in a random trajectory.


It's up to you to decide when to drop, and where to land on this huge island, full of incredibly detailed cities, buildings and houses – but strangely devoid of all life.


What happened to everyone? Where did they go? The sense of apocalypse is overwhelming. It's you versus the world, but where did the rest of the world go? You'll wander this vast deserted island, scavenging for weapons and armor in near complete silence. You'll hear nothing but the wind blowing and the occasional buzzing of flies. But then, suddenly the jarring pak-pak-pak of gunfire off in the distance, reminding you that other people are here. And they aren't your friends.


the dread of never knowing when another of the 100 players on this enormous island is going to suddenly appear around a corner or over a hill is intense. You'll find yourself wearing headphones, cranking the volume, constantly on edge listening for the implied threat of footfalls. Wait, did I hear someone just now, or was that me? You clench, and wait. I've had so many visceral panic moments playing this game, to the point that I had to stop playing just to calm down.


PUBG is, in its way, the scariest zombie movie I've ever seen, though it lacks a single zombie. It dispenses with the pretense of a story, so you can realize much sooner that the zombies, as terrible as they may be, are nowhere as dangerous to you as your fellow man.

Meanwile, that huge cargo airplane still roars overhead every so often, impassive, indifferent, occasionally dropping supply crates with high powered items to fight over. Airstrikes randomly target areas circled in red on the map, masking footfalls, and forcing movement while raining arbitrary death and terror.


Although the island is huge and you can land anywhere, after a few minutes a random circle is overlaid on the map, and a slowly moving wall of deadly energy starts closing in on that circle. Stay outside that circle at your peril; if you find yourself far on the opposite side of the map from a circle, you better start hunting for a vehicle or boat (they're present, but rare) quickly. These terrordome areas are always shrinking, always impending, in an ever narrowing cone, forcing the remaining survivors closer and closer together. The circles get tighter and deadlier and quicker as the game progresses, ratcheting up the tension and conflict.

Eventually the circle becomes so small that it's impossible for the handful of remaining survivors to avoid contact, and one person, one out of the hundred that originally dropped out of the cargo plane, emerges as the winner. I've never won solo, but I have won squad, and even finishing first out of 25 squads is an unreal, euphoric experience. The odds are so incredibly against you from the outset, plus you quickly discover that 85% of the game is straight up chance: someone happens to roll up behind you, a sniper gets the drop on you, or you get caught in the open with few options. Wrong place, wrong time, game over. Sucks to be you.


You definitely learn to be careful, but there's only so careful you can be. Death comes quickly, without warning, and often at random. What else can you expect from a game mode where there are 100 players but only 1 eventual winner?

There haven't been many Battle Royale games, so this game mode is a relatively new phenomenon. If you'd like to give it a try for free, I highly recommend Fortnite's Battle Royale mode which is 100% free, a near-clone of PUBG, and quite good in its own right. They added their Battle Royale mode well after the fact; the core single player "save the world" gameplay of building stuff and fighting zombie hordes is quite fun too, though a bit shallow. It also has what is, in my opinion, some of the most outstanding visual style I've ever seen in a game – a cool, hyperbolic cartoon mix of Chuck Jones, Sam & Max, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It's also delightfully diverse in its character models.


(The only things you'll give up over PUBG are the realistic art style, vehicles, and going prone. But the superb structure building system in Fortnite almost makes up for that. If nothing else it is a demonstration of how incredibly compelling the Battle Royale game mode is, because that part of the game is wildly successful in a a way that the core game, uh, wasn't. Also it's free!)

I didn't intend for this to happen, but to me, the Battle Royale game mode perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the current moment, and matches my current state of mind to a disturbing degree. It's an absolutely terrifying experience of every human for themselves, winner takes all, with impossible odds. There are moments it can be thrilling, even inspiring, but mostly it's brutal and unforgiving. To succeed you need to be exceedingly cautious, highly skilled, and just plain lucky. Roll the dice again, but know that everyone will run towards the sound of gunfire in hopes of picking off survivors and looting their corpses. Including you.

Battle Royale is not the game mode we wanted, it's not the game mode we needed, it's the game mode we all deserve. And the best part is, when we're done playing, we can turn it off.

07 Nov 08:35


by Robot Hugs

New comic!

On being overwhelmed.


06 Nov 21:04

Hauling bricks across the ocean

by Nannan

This impressive 3-foot long container ship by Jussi Koskinen can transport over 700 2×4 brick-sized containers from across your living room to wherever you need them. The use of the curved slopes helps create the gently curved contour of the hull, which is reinforced with a sturdy Technic frame that allows one to pick up the ship from either end. Smooth sailing ahead!

Container Ship (commissioned model)

The post Hauling bricks across the ocean appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

06 Nov 09:24


Your problem is so terrible, I worry that, if I help you, I risk drawing the attention of whatever god of technology inflicted it on you.
05 Nov 20:34

Building will bring you focus

by Rod

What better way to relax than to rake through the brick bins and create an Oriental pavilion? At least that’s what David Hensel appears to have decided. David clearly felt the roof was the key element of this LEGO creation — and no surprise, it’s wonderfully detailed, and a nice mix of colours without appearing garish. That would explain the shallow depth of field in the photography, bringing the roof into sharp focus and rendering the rest of the scene with something of a haze. This, coupled with the lack of minifigures, creates a strange dreamlike atmosphere. I like it.


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04 Nov 20:19

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Other Girls


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Other girls don't love you like I do, in the sense that they don't love you in a specific and uncomfortable way.

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Hey London! We're coming your way, and we're doing 3 public shows. They are ticketed, so buy soon!