« January 23, 2013 | Main | January 25, 2013 »

January 24, 2013

You Complete Me Jigsaw Puzzle


From the website:


Romantic and fun, the You Complete Me Jigsaw Puzzle is an exciting Valentine's present to give or receive, and one that comes across as more thoughtful than the usual gift of flowers and chocolates.


The 11 lovingly crafted heat-stamped wood pieces fit together to make a heart shape, with a mini heart-shaped piece in the center.

No ordinary jigsaw puzzle, the idea is to build the puzzle, turn it over, and write a special message on the reverse for your beloved. 

Break up the puzzle and present it in the box ready for your partner to read the message that you've written just for them.

Finished puzzle measures 5.9" x 5.9" x 0.1".




January 24, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Huck Magazine — On The Road Issue


Love this cover for the latest issue of this bi-monthly UK lifestyle magazine

A good cover — magazine or book — makes people want to be seen with it.

British author Joan Brady once wrote that in a letter and it instantly struck me as profound and true.

She used the word "proud."

Fair warning to those magazines trying to make some sort of point about how out there and in your face they are: we don't want to be seen carrying you nor do we want your creepiness on our coffee tables.

[via Coverjunkie]

January 24, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"Anti-Lonelineness" iPhone Noodle Bowl — WANT


From Pat's Papers: "This is ridiculous. But it's also kind of awesome. Yes, that's a ramen bowl in the above photo, complete with a built-in iPhone dock. Inspired by a noodle-eating man who refused to put down his phone, the designers say their hi-tech bowl is more tongue-in-cheek than practical: 'We did it for fun — it's kind of sarcastic, we're not trying to promote everyone looking at their screens all the time.' The New York Daily News advises caution if you decide to try it out — there’s nothing to prevent your screen from broth splashes."


According to the Daily News, "The designers of the... vessel said they got the idea after seeing a solitary Taiwanese man chowing down with one hand while holding his phone with the other."


"'He just couldn't let the phone go!' said Minnie Jan, 33 [below, next to co-designer Daisuke Nagatomo].


'We thought it would be a good idea to help him restore his manners.'"

Jan and Nagatomo, who run Taiwan-based MisoSoupDesign, named their creation the "anti-loneliness bowl."

Said Jan, who along with Nagatomo attended Columbia University, "We're not trying to promote everyone looking at their screens all the time."

"Nagatomo, 35, said the pair would love to break into the U.S."

"One downside to the iPhone bowl? There's nothing to protect the device from splashes."

"'If you're afraid of getting your screen messy you're probably not looking at it while eating, anyway,' Jan said."

Note to the designers: These just might make it into the Apple Store — can't hurt to try.

Email Tim Cook (tcook@apple.com) and tell him I sent you.

Yeah, that'll work.

But I digress.

From the bowl's Facebook page: "We are currently accepting a limited number of pre-orders. The available date will be around April to May. If you are interested please contact us via email (info@misosoupdesign.com) or send us a message via our Facebook page."


These bowls are so in @Jane Friedman's wheelhouse, it's not even funny.

[via the irrepressible J.D. Biersdorfer, doing what she does best.]

January 24, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

"Plan 9 From Outer Space"

This 1959 classic is "considered one of the worst films ever made."

Free, the way we like it.

January 24, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

4:01 a.m. Keychain Bottle Opener Series: — Episode 5: S-Biner Ahhh


So far this one's the cheapest of them all.


From the website:


Like our classic S-Biner, both ends of the S-Biner Ahhh feature sturdy gate closures, making it a multifunctional carabiner that you can use to attach and carry keys, water bottles, and camping gear; hang lanterns and lights; or clip two items together.

But we didn't name this little puppy the "Ahhh" for nothing — both ends function as bottle openers, too. 

That means that when you carry the S-Biner Ahhh wherever you go, you'll always be able to pop open a bottle of your favorite beverage, making you the envy of thirsty people everywhere.

Store valuables on one end, clip with the other.


Black or anodized stainless steel: $3.99.

January 24, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: You can be personally identified from an anonymous DNA sample

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 7.30.57 PM

That's the gist of Gina Kolata's explosive New York Times front page story last Friday.

You know how everyone's got their baggies in a twist about Facebook's privacy settings?

That's small beer compared to this.

Consider that when you send a DNA sample to 23andme along with your credit card number to pay for a detailed, state-of-the-art, up-to-date analysis that you believe to be private and eyes-only, there may be enough information there to pinpoint exactly who you are — and whom else you might be related to in the company's data bank.

From the article: "The genetic data posted online seemed perfectly anonymous — strings of billions of DNA letters from more than 1,000 people. But all it took was some clever sleuthing on the Web for a genetics researcher to identify five people he randomly selected from the study group. Not only that, he found their entire families, even though the relatives had no part in the study — identifying nearly 50 people."

More excerpts below.

The researcher did not reveal the names of the people he found, but the exercise, published Thursday in the journal Science, illustrates the difficulty of protecting the privacy of volunteers involved in medical research when the genetic information they provide needs to be public so scientists can use it.

Other reports have identified people whose genetic data was online, but none had done so using such limited information: the long strings of DNA letters, an age and, because the study focused on only American subjects, a state.

"I've been worried about this for a long time," said Barbara Koenig, a researcher at the University of California in San Francisco who studies issues involving genetic data. "We always should be operating on the assumption that this is possible."

The data are from an international study, the 1000 Genomes Project, that is collecting genetic information from people around the world and posting it online so researchers can use it freely. It also includes the ages of participants and the regions where they live. That information, a genealogy Web site and Google searches were sufficient to find complete family trees. While the methods for extracting relevant genetic data from the raw genetic sequence files were specialized enough to be beyond the scope of most laypeople, no one expected it to be so easy to zoom in on individuals.

"We are in what I call an awareness moment," said Eric D. Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

There is no easy answer about what to do to protect the privacy of study subjects. Subjects might be made more aware that they could be identified by their DNA sequences. More data could be locked behind security walls, or severe penalties could be instituted for those who invade the privacy of subjects.

... Opinions about just what should be done vary greatly among experts.

But after seeing how easy it was to find the individuals and their extended families, the N.I.H. removed people's ages from the public database, making it more difficult to identify them.

But Dr. Jeffrey R. Botkin, associate vice president for research integrity at the University of Utah, which collected the genetic information of some research participants whose identities were breached, cautioned about overreacting. Genetic data from hundreds of thousands of people have been freely available online, he said, yet there has not been a single report of someone being illicitly identified. He added that "it is hard to imagine what would motivate anyone to undertake this sort of privacy attack in the real world." But he said he had serious concerns about publishing a formula to breach subjects' privacy. By publishing, he said, the investigators "exacerbate the very risks they are concerned about."

The project was the inspiration of Yaniv Erlich, a human genetics researcher at the Whitehead Institute, which is affiliated with M.I.T. He stresses that he is a strong advocate of data sharing and that he would hate to see genomic data locked up. But when his lab developed a new technique, he realized he had the tools to probe a DNA database. And he could not resist trying.

The tool allowed him to quickly find a type of DNA pattern that looks like stutters among billions of chemical letters in human DNA. Those little stutters — short tandem repeats — are inherited. Genealogy Web sites use repeats on the Y chromosome, the one unique to men, to identify men by their surnames, an indicator of ancestry. Any man can submit the short tandem repeats on his Y chromosome and find the surname of men with the same DNA pattern. The sites enable men to find their ancestors and relatives.

So, Dr. Erlich asked, could he take a man's entire DNA sequence, pick out the short tandem repeats on his Y chromosome, search a genealogy site, discover the man's surname and then fully identify the man?

He tested it with the genome of Craig Venter, a DNA sequencing pioneer who posted his own DNA sequence on the Web. He knew Dr. Venter's age and the state where he lives. Bingo: two men popped up in the database. One was Craig Venter.

"Out of 300 million people in the United States, we got it down to two people," Dr. Erlich said.

He and his colleagues calculated they would be able to identify, from just their DNA sequences, the last names of approximately 12 percent of middle class and wealthier white men — the population that tends to submit DNA data to recreational sites like the genealogical ones. Then by combining the men's last names with their ages and the states where they lived, the researchers should be able to narrow their search to just a few likely individuals.

Now for the big test. On the Web and publicly available are DNA sequences from subjects in the 1000 Genomes Project. People's ages were included and all the Americans lived in Utah, so the researchers knew their state.

Dr. Erlich began with one man from the database. He got the Y chromosome's short tandem repeats and then went to genealogy databases and searched for men with those same repeats. He got surnames of the paternal and maternal grandfather. Then he did a Google search for those people and found an obituary. That gave him the family tree.

"Now I knew the whole family," Dr. Erlich said. And it was so simple, so fast.

"I said, 'Come on, that can’t be true.'" So he probed and searched and checked again and again.

"Oh my God, we really did this," Dr. Erlich said. "I had to digest it. We had so much information."

He and his colleagues went on to get detailed family trees for other subjects and then visited Dr. Green and his colleagues at the N.I.H. to tell them what they had done.

They were referred to Amy L. McGuire, a lawyer and ethicist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She, like others, called for more public discussion of the situation.

"To have the illusion you can fully protect privacy or make data anonymous is no longer a sustainable position," Dr. McGuire said.

When the subjects in the 1000 Genomes Project agreed to participate and provide DNA, they signed a form saying that the researchers could not guarantee their privacy. But, at the time, it seemed like so much boilerplate. The risk, Dr. Green said, seemed "remote."

"I don't know that anyone anticipated that someone would go and actually figure out who some of those people were," Dr. McGuire said.


Above, Dr. Botkin "added that 'it is hard to imagine what would motivate anyone to undertake this sort of privacy attack in the real world.'"

All I can say is thank God this guy is up there in his ivory tower and not responsible for securing anyone's personal safety.

It's people like this — isolated and insulated from the real world we live in, where people do terrible things to others both online and in real life simply because they can — who endanger us all.

January 24, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

« January 23, 2013 | Main | January 25, 2013 »