Photo booth

I've been thinking of making another attempt at building a photo booth for DNA Lounge.

I last tried this back in 2007, and gave up, because back then, no cheap video cameras were good enough in low light, and getting a Mac to remotely control a DSLR and then get images out of it was basically impossible.

But hey, eight years later! And the world has changed so much that there are not only a ton of people out there selling photo booths, but there are a ton of people selling just the software to turn a DSLR, a printer and a tent into a photo booth. With anim-GIFs.

The world has changed so much that there is a Photo Booth Expo. Yes, there really is a convention for everything.

So, Lazyweb, what do you know about this stuff?

Have you used photo booth software? Have you maintained a photo booth and seen what happens upon contact with the enemy?

Which software, cameras and printers are any good? I guess I want:

  • Mac-based, not Windows;
  • Live video preview;
  • The preview works well enough in low light that the booth doesn't have to leak light all over the nightclub (a flash is ok, but a constant-on 100 watt bulb is not);
  • Auto-upload all photos to our own web site;
  • A photo printer that can stand up to an extraordinary amount of abuse;
  • Ability to take cash or credit cards to pay for the prints;
  • Is not going to require an operator to fuss with it multiple times a night.

There are lots of companies out there who will happily put a photo booth inside your business, charge for the photos, and keep all of the money, but if I've learned anything from owning my own ATMs and owning my own ticketing service, it is this: "never, ever do that."

The turnkey photo booths you can buy seem to go for $8,000 to $15,000, which seems crazy for a fabric tent that has at best $1,600 worth of hardware and off-the-shelf software in it. But, maybe answering the questions I asked above is harder than I think it is.

(If you are about to suggest running Apple's "Photo Booth" application then you are missing the point about how combat-hardened this solution needs to be. In fact if you're about to begin a sentence with "Why don't you just...", please don't, that means you haven't thought it through and you're not helping.)

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Today in "Glistening Fatberg" news...

Sewer Snake: Boss Level

A 10-tonne lump of wet wipes and fat has been removed from a sewer in Chelsea, west London.

The toxic lump of congealed fat and household waste -- known as a fatberg -- was 40 metres long and so heavy that it broke the 1940s-era sewer.

Repairing the damaged sewer is expected to cost Thames Water £400,000 and take more than two months, the company said.

Stephen Hunt, a repair and maintenance supervisor at Thames Water, who is overseeing the fatberg's removal, said its size was staggering.

"We see blockages all the time on household sewer pipes, which are about big enough for a cricket ball to pass through, but to have this much damage on a sewer almost a metre in diameter is mind-boggling.

"The original sewer has been so badly abused by fat being chucked down the plughole we've had to opt for the time-consuming and disruptive option of replacing many metres of pipe."

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A dialog with some DMT entities

"Universal Love," Said The Cactus Person.

"Transcendent joy," said the big green bat.

"Right," I said "I'm absolutely in favor of both those things. But before we go any further, could you tell me the two prime factors of 1,522,605,027, 922,533,360, 535,618,378, 132,637,429, 718,068,114, 961,380,688, 657,908,494 ,580,122,963, 258,952,897, 654,000,350, 692,006,139?

"Universal love," said the cactus person.

"Transcendent joy," said the big green bat.

The sea was made of strontium, the beach was made of rye. Above my head, a watery sun shone in an oily sky. A thousand stars of sertraline whirled round quetiapine moons, and the sand sizzled sharp like cooking oil that hissed and sang and threatened to boil the octahedral dunes.

"Okay," I said. "Fine. Let me tell you where I'm coming from. I was reading Scott McGreal's blog, which has some good articles about so-called DMT entities, and mentions how they seem so real that users of the drug insist they've made contact with actual superhuman beings and not just psychedelic hallucinations. You know, the usual Terence McKenna stuff. But in one of them he mentions a paper by Marko Rodriguez called A Methodology For Studying Various Interpretations of the N,N-dimethyltryptamine-Induced Alternate Reality, which suggested among other things that you could prove DMT entities were real by taking the drug and then asking the entities you meet to factor large numbers which you were sure you couldn't factor yourself. So to that end, could you do me a big favor and tell me the factors of 1,522,605,027, 922,533,360, 535,618,378, 132,637,429, 718,068,114, 961,380,688, 657,908,494, 580,122,963, 258,952,897, 654,000,350, 692,006,139?

"Universal love," said the cactus person.

"Transcendent joy," said the big green bat.

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Uber might have safety training, but if they do, it's secret.

Safety Courses Not Required For Uber, Lyft, Others

In the wake of an Uber driver arrested after allegedly hitting and injuring a cyclist in Fisherman's Wharf on Sunday, more questions are being raised about driver safety requirements.

Specifically, taxis are regulated by SFMTA and are required to take 28 hours of classes through one of four approved private driving schools, and another day of training through the SFMTA. An hour of the SFMTA training includes instruction on sharing the road with bicyclists and pedestrians, is taught by a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. At least two hours of testing is required. And as part of the city's Vision Zero plan, which aims to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024, SFMTA is instituting a large vehicle urban driving safety program for all large vehicle drivers who work for the city.

All told, as Central City Extra covered in their latest issue, there are 71 pages of dense regulations for cab drivers to follow. Not so for drivers working for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar or limo companies, which are not regulated by the SFMTA -- they only have 28 simple regulations to follow. [...]

Frisbee confirmed that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is in talks with Lyft to include online safety training. What about Uber? "At this point, Uber has decided that our safety training is not worth their investment," Frisbee said. She said Uber told the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition the company "found someone else to do it," but when it asked for details, including who was giving the training, how long it lasted and what was included, "they said 'we're not sharing it'," she said.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein I ridicule Facebook some more, then collaborate with the Panopticon.

In my last update, I busted on Facebook for their relentless -- yet halfassed and inconsistent -- morality policing. They had blocked a bunch of ads that Hubba Hubba Revue had purchased, claiming that the ads didn't follow the rules, when in fact they did. Eventually they relented -- who knows why. But some of the most telling responses I got were from several people who said, "I sent this to my friend who works at Facebook, and they said that that definitely should not have happened, and they probably could have fixed it, but they weren't going to because they didn't like your tone."

So let's get this straight: Facebook has a widely known, years-long reputation for capricious, fickle enforcement of their policies; a corresponding reputation for giving the victims of their inconsistencies no recourse; and despite this, when these fine employees of theirs hear of a problem, their response is, "Well, because that guy pointed out a bug without also blowing sunshine up my ass, I'm going to just leave our product buggy." They seem to love their company so much that they're willing to let their own product suffer, so that they don't have to open their eyes to the problem. It's the other kind of "tech bubble".

Say you're driving at night, and someone yells, "Hey jerk, your headlights are out!" Do you say, "That guy was mean, so I'll show him, I'm going to keep driving in the dark!"

I ended that post with:

Fuck Facebook. They really are just the worst.

If you work there, I implore you to quit. I'm sure you can find a job working for a company that you don't have to apologize for all the time. You can do it. I believe in you.

But, you know, maybe they have attracted exactly the employees that they deserve: the kind who care more about their feels than about shipping products that work.


Facebook remains the 800 pound gorilla in the room, and you've just got to hope it doesn't poop too much. And this brings me to a change I made to our web site recently that makes me feel really, really dirty. But I went and did it just the same.

You're probably aware that Facebook knows just about every single web page you've ever looked at. If you're logged in to Facebook, and you visit some other page that has a Like button on it, Facebook knows what page you visited, even if you didn't click the button. In fact, they probably know who you are and what page you visited even if you aren't logged in to Facebook at the time. There are ways, and they've been sued over that sort of thing before.

You've probably noticed this if you ever browsed something on Amazon that you've never looked at before, and suddenly Facebook has ads for it. That's how it happens. Facebook knows all about your dildos and hemorrhoids. (And the NSA has all your dick pics.)

(Google has just as much information as Facebook, not because of Like or Plus buttons, but because everyone in the world uses Google Analytics, which invisibly tracks you just as well as those buttons do.)

Anyway --

We buy ads on Facebook, because they work. When you buy ads, you try to narrow the scope to one that makes sense: geographically, and by using keywords like the band that is playing, or other bands that they sound like, and based on that, Facebook shows those ads to some random set of people that they think are most likely to click it. But buying ads is always kind of a gamble, because it's really hard to tell whether that ad turned into a sale.

Except, you can add "conversion tracking" to your checkout page, which basically means we added an invisible piece of Javascript similar to a Like button to the checkout page that says, "Hey Facebook, twenty bucks just got spent, ka-ching!"

We don't have to give them any identifying information about who spent the money, like name or email address -- because they already know, by virtue of the fact that you left yourself logged in to Facebook in another window.

So what this means is, the ad report now says things like: "This ad was shown to 500 people, 50 of them clicked on it, and shortly after those clicks, 20 of those same people spent a total of $300 with you."

So that's some pretty positive evidence of whether the ad was worth buying! Maybe those 30 people would have found out some other way and bought tickets anyway, but drawing a direct line between an ad purchase and a sale is not something you can often do.

It's so gross, though.

The first gross part is that it just highlights how heavily surveilled you are by Facebook, all across the web. Even before we put this checkout tracker on, we already had Like buttons, because everyone does it and those drive traffic. This new thing feels like snitching on our customers, but those Like buttons were already "game over".

The second gross thing is that we've given just one more piece of information about our customers to Facebook, but not in a way that is directly useful to us. Even though we're doing the leg work to build up this dossier on our customers, we don't actually get to look into the file. Only Facebook does. When Facebook eventually goes away, the information is gone. When Facebook becomes more extortionate, the information is gone.

The future of this looks a lot like all of those bands who spent years building up subscriptions to their Facebook fan pages, only to have Facebook turn around and tell them, "We've changed our mind, if you want to actually reach those fans, suddenly you have to pay."


I'm sure now someone in the peanut gallery is going to pop up and call me a hypocrite for despising Facebook's business practices, and yet still taking advantage of their services. Well, I don't like it, but I am pretending to run a business here, and that leaves you with something less than absolute moral clarity.

So I guess what I'm saying here is:

Run an ad blocker.

Clan of Xymox
La Plebe
So Stoked

Pig Destroyer
Death Guild 22nd Anniversary
Death Guild 22nd Anniversary
Strung Out
Hubba History of the World

Adult Wednesday Addams pulled from Youtube

Unlimited copyright extension encourages innovation! Youtube's algorithmic interpretation of "fair use" use is reasonable and even-handed!

Hi everyone! Thank you for the outpouring of support and concern about the disappearance of Adult Wednesday Addams from the internet. As many of you have seen, the Tee & Charles Addams Foundation flagged the show and, for now, it is off of YouTube. I am working actively on coming to a resolution and will not let Wednesday be caged in internet purgatory. I appreciate your patience and support while... I sort this issue out!

Obviously, this is very upsetting that the videos aren't online. Wednesday means so much to me as I know she does to you. Thank you for all of your enthusiasm. Your support every step of the way has meant the world to me.

UPDATE: At this point, the Tee & Charles Addams Foundation cannot do anything to change the status of this issue, so sending messages and donations will not remedy the situation. If there is anything that can be done in support of the series, I will let you know. Thank you again for everything!

Full Heart, Dead Eyes, Can't Lose.

Her now-mostly-empty Youtube channel is here. If you haven't seen all 13 episodes of this hilarious series, it's still easy for you to do so: oh look, torrents. That doesn't give her the ad money, though.

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Emoji taxonomy:

"Happy faces, sad faces, hearts, hand gestures, romance, other, monkeys, party, holiday, violent, flowers, clocks."

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Youtube has finally destroyed their RSS feeds

A few days ago they turned off the v2 API in favor of v3, but v3 has no mechanism to get an RSS feed (or any other kind of listing) of a Youtube user's uploaded videos without authenticating first.

Because RSS feeds are not a thing that you should want.

Youtube: every day, making everything worse, in every way.

I don't know if anyone but me is using my youtubefeed program, but if you are, and you had Youtube users in your feeds list, you'll need to upgrade, and cope with the horrible fact that it now has a dependency on (You'll need the latest version of that, as well as of youtubedown.)

But using at all means that first you have to jump through a bunch of hideous hoops to generate authentication keys and session IDs, pretty much ensuring that it's far too much of a pain in the ass for anyone to actually use it. Are you using it? Let me know.

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How a pro-domme, a Russian diplomat, U.S. intelligence and Mary Tyler Moore's landscaper conspired to create a dance classic

In 1978, the CIA was caught up in a BDSM Cold War affair.

A potential Soviet asset had fallen for a professional dominatrix who made decent money peeing on entertainment lawyers. Also in play was Mary Tyler Moore's landscaper, merely because he was sweet on the dominatrix and her record collection.

The most actionable intelligence from these black leather ops would not be obtained by the Agency, but by the landscaper himself, Stuart Argabright. Under the alias Dominatrix, Argabright recorded "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight," a New York club hit released in 1984. [...]

This all started like so many high-school dreams: with no wheels and dumb luck. In 1977, Argabright was picked up while hitchhiking back home on the Key Bridge crossing the Potomac from Washington, D.C. He was 18, wearing a Tubes T-shirt and had just won tickets to see the Stooges. He was six years away from borrowing Iggy Pop's swim trunks in West Berlin, and seven from Dominatrix turning Iggy and Bowie's "Play It Safe" into a post-punk seizure.

The woman driving was older, and her red Corvette Stingray smelled of spy perfume. [...] They began seeing each other, spending nights at her East Side apartment, getting high and listening to Bowie records. After Argabright noticed the bull whips and manacles hanging in the closet, it became apparent that his friend's occupation entailed visiting all manner of welt and contusion upon the no-account hides of wealthy degenerates.

They soon compared clientele: He had Dylan, Paul Simon and Rock Hudson. She had music executives and a Russian official in D.C., who apparently had been beaten senseless enough to fall in love, with ambitions of defection and marriage. ("But a dominatrix doesn't often entertain marriage thoughts," says Argabright.) Always game for defection, the CIA contacted the dominatrix and encouraged her to "play ball." She reluctantly agreed while continuing to make the landscaper late for his mulching appointments on the Upper West Side. [...]

"The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight" was recorded in the studio of Tangerine Dream's Peter Bauman, with vocalist Claudia Summers, Ken Lockie of Public Image, Ltd., and Bow Wow Wow remixer Ivan Ivan. [...] One imagines the boys at Langley picking up this 12-inch and adding it to the Argabright-Argabright folder, somewhere between "weeded Paul Simon's periwinkle bed" and "shared stage with Klaus Nomi." Not to mention those gigs with Rammellzee, G.G. Allin, and good lord, Max Headroom. Best keep that tab open.

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If You Add Drunk People to Fitness Quotes, Things Get Hilarious.

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