Chess 2 

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

The game of chess is known the world over, and it’s remained largely unchanged for its 1,500 year history. However, there are many variations on chess out there. Polygon has an interesting piece on one such variant, known simply as “Chess 2”. While it has many seemingly-bizarre rules, the concept and thought involved are fascinating, and I’ll be interested to try it out when the digital versions are released.

Looking Sharp, USPS 

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Readers in America may have noticed that the post office has gotten better looking of late, and Brand New has the scoop.

USPS Redesign
Nice.

Previously in the USPS: Hey, it’s not all coverage of postal foul-ups (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) here.

Strike Two, Amazon 

Monday, August 11th, 2014

In 2009, Amazon “unpublished” some digital books, including George Orwell’s “1984”. Now, in 2014, they’re at it again. In a letter to authors about an e-book fight involving Amazon and publisher Hachette, Amazon quoted George Orwell, citing him as an opponent of low cost paperback books.

The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.

It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.

The only problem? Orwell didn’t oppose paperbacks, and Amazon is grossly misrepresenting his feelings.

Misdirected Email 

Friday, August 8th, 2014

After years of receiving other people’s email, Sesse Seko had had enough, and decided to fight back.

Help, I’m Trapped in a Blog Post Factory

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

You might have thought that wearable technology had reached its nadir with the dog pedometer of 2012. However, just two years later, we’ve hit a new low. Allow me to introduce you to Bondara’s “SexFit”:

The SexFit
Colors Pictured: Black & Pink. Colours [sic] Available: White & Pink.

Yes, gentleman, it’s a fitness tracker for your penis. It’s also a cock ring1 that’s equipped with Bluetooth and wifi. Why have just one type of radio wave transmitted all over your genitals when you can instead have two? In addition to stimulating a better erection, the SexFit will track you performance during sex, and provide feedback with an accompanying app:

The SexFit App

This is certainly something the world needs. After all, who doesn’t want to receive a letter grade after sex? And if you want to improve your performance, there’s no need to pull an all-nighter cramming. Just bone up with the “personal trainer vibration mode”, fellas.

It’s difficult to fathom how one might tactfully bring this into the bedroom. Women may be able to go “freshen up” but how exactly does a guy explain that he needs a moment to attach a flashing sex tracker to his penis? That’s not exactly “slipping into something more comfortable”. Lest you think that’s the most awkward part of the SexBit, however, be sure not to miss this note from their press release:

Much like other similar fitness tracker innovations, the SexFit allows the most dedicated users to share and compare their favourite [sic] sessions and impressive individual milestones with their peers on social media.

Hot damn, that’s classy!

My favorite part of all this may actually be relatively unrelated to the product itself. Have a look at the end of the URL slug on the Engadget post where I first saw this:

http://www.engadget.com/2014/08/07/bondara-sexfit-i-used-to-be-a-serious-journalist/

It may be a joke, or it may actually be a cry for help. Either way, one can’t help but feel a little sad for writer Daniel Cooper, who is no doubt wondering how it all led to this. Fortunately, covering this sort of absurdity is pretty much One Foot Tsunami’s raison d’être, so I don’t have to feel bad about it.


Footnotes:

  1. Despite diligent research, I was unable to find a less crass term for that. Sorry, Mom.

Monkeying With Copyrights

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Do you remember the “Monkey Selfie”? Back in 2011, a wild crested black macaque got ahold of photographer David Slater’s camera, and snapped this image (among many others which were less in-focus and less delightful):

The Monkey Selfie in question.
Looking good.

Recently, Slater has objected to the image appearing on Wikipedia, as he hopes to collect royalties for licensing the use of the image. However, Wikimedia (the American organization behind Wikipedia) believes the item is in the public domain. Because it is the photographer who generally owns copyrights on an image, and because a macaque took the photo, stories around the world are reporting this as “monkey owns copyright“. Slater echoes this:

“If the monkey took it, it owns copyright, not me, that’s their basic argument. What they don’t realise is that it needs a court to decide that,” he said.

However, this appears to be a misrepresentation of Wikimedia’s position. They are not claiming that the monkey owns the copyright. If they were, they would then need the monkey’s permission to use it, and good luck getting that.1 No, a closer look reveals the following permission statement on the page for the image:

Wikipedia's Copyright Statement: This file is in the public domain, because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.

In short, animals can’t own copyrights (at least not in the US), and since an animal created this, it can’t be copyrighted. This argument is actually quite clever. If it’s legally valid, it allows Wikipedia to post the photo without permission from either Slater or the macaque.

Whether that legal interpretation is correct is something the courts may need to decide. The underlying questions here are quite interesting to consider. If a photographer sets up an elaborate system, but an animal presses the final button to capture a photo, who exactly took the picture? Ultimately, it does feel as if the photographer ought to own the rights in that case, and likely in this, but we’ll see in time how the courts rule.


Update (August 7th, 2014): Here’s a tangential story about photographers, their assistants, and shared copyrights, courtesy of Joel Irwin.

Update (August 22nd, 2014): It looks like US copyright regulators have weighed in, and the photo can’t be copyrighted.


Footnotes:

  1. Monkeys are notoriously protective of their intellectual property.

Triple Fail 

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Producing tens of millions of cars which now require a recall, as GM did, is bad. Moving slowly in reporting issues and ensuring customer safety, also as GM did, is worse. But when you can’t even properly run the website owners use to check if their car needs a recall, thereby causing them to think their car is fine when it isn’t? Well that’s truly abysmal.

All 30 Mario Kart 8 Characters, Reviewed 

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Mario Kart 8 recently came out, and The A.V. Club has a delightful review of all 30 playable characters.

You Were Born to Live and Be Loved 

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Every Wednesday New York City’s own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions, and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose or — no surprise here — a party.

Well, if you know anything about party-rocker Andrew W.K., you can guess that this is worth reading. What you might not expect is that W.K.’s advice is damned good.

The Last Stand for the Middle Class 

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Up here in Massachusetts, there’s a rather incredible fight going on between the owners of Market Basket, a local grocery store chain. Esquire has a fascinating overview of the clash, which features empty store shelves, non-unionized employees walking out to protest, and not one, but two, Arthur Demoulases.

For handy reference, Arthur T. Demouslas (“Artie T.”) plays the role of hero here, with Arthur S. Demouslas playing the villain.