Category Archives: My Articles

Matteo Borri in Mondo 2000

I have been doing a fair bit of writing again, and just wrote this piece for Mondo 2000 about my friend and collaborator, Matteo Borri.

(Matteo is on the Aaron Swartz Day Advisory Board and the Swartz-Manning VR Destination Advisory Board.)

Meet Matteo Borri & His Most Recent Inventions

Matteo Borri, 2018.

From the Mondo 2000 article:
LR: Tell me about this stuff you invented to help Puerto Rico. It is really interesting. The solar cell phone charger and the thing you call a “Vampire Charger,” that enables you to get whatever battery power is left out of any battery without the danger of blowing up your phone if the voltage doesn’t match.

MB: Yes. I named it the “Vampire Charger.” It is an inefficient but flexible device which will take any voltage that you might find in the world – from 1.5 volts to 12 volts – to even 110! (That’s when it stops, as 220 will blow it up, but 220 is not a common voltage in the U.S., so if you’re over here, it’s not a problem. I’ll have to come up with an European adapter 🙂

LR: So this is for when something bad has happened, obviously, and you need whatever power you can get, right?

MB: Yes. The idea is that you can use it with any kind of source of power that still works. You don’t know the voltage, you don’t know the current. You don’t even know which is plus and which is minus. You don’t even know if it’s AC or DC!

It has two alligator clips.You connect them to ANY two contacts of the part in question, in any way. (To be clear: the color it doesn’t even matter, in this case.) And it gives you USB power, safely!

LR: I’ve never seen anything else like these Vampire Chargers – in terms of options to keep your phone alive after a disaster. I mean there are batteries that you can keep charged up; and this. Right?

Vampire Charger – How It Works
Here’s a short video where Matteo explains how the Vampire Charger works.
Step 1: find a battery in some device, and you don’t know exactly:
-what exactly the voltage is
-what exactly the current is
Step 2: Connect the contacts to your phone:
– plus or minus/color doesn’t matter
– AC or DC

LR: Why doesn’t the plus or minus or AC/DC matter? What is going on technically?

MB: It has a Schottky rectifier. Then it has a step up. Then it has a step down. So, it’s a bit inefficient, but flexible.


Published Articles By Lisa Rein

Rein, L. (2017, August 30). Interview with Timothy Leary’s Archivist Michael Horowitz [Article]. BoingBoing.

Rein, L. (2017, April 19) Today is the 74th anniversary of Albert Hofmann’s first LSD trip [Article] BoingBoing.

Rein, L. (2016, November 24) Never before published photos from Psychedelic Conference II in Santa Barbara, 1983 [Photographs by Cynthia Palmer]

Rein, L. with Doctorow, C. and Keith, M. (2016, August 1) Chelsea Manning, on facing life in solitary after attempting suicide

Rein, L. (2016, June 20) Acid Bodhisattva: The History of the Timothy Leary Archives During His Prison and Exile Years, 1970-1976 (Part Two) [Article]

Rein, L. (2015, November 23) Acid Bodhisattva: The History of the Timothy Leary Archives During His Prison and Exile Years, 1970-1976 (Part One) [Article]

Rein, L. (2014, November 7). How to Celebrate Aaron Swartz’s Legacy? Go to a Hackathon This WeekendA co- founder of Creative Commons talks about the Internet activist. [Article]

Rein, L. (2014, June 2). 7 Things You Might Be Doing Online That Could Get You Arrested: The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a criminal statute originally intended to prosecute felony computer hacking, can now result in a person’s going to prison for failing to abide by a website’s terms of service or end user agreement. [Article].

Rein, L. and Horowitz, M. (2014, June 5). Timothy Leary and Marshall McLuhan, turned on and tuned in [Article]. BoingBoing.

Rein,L. and Horowitz,M.(2014,June5).Leary,McLuhan and ElectronicTechnology[Article]. TimothyLeary

Rein, L. (2013, August 6). HRDAG and the Digital Commons [Article]. the-digital-commons/

Rein, L. and Horowitz, M. (2013, July 1). Prototype dissidents: Timothy Leary and Václav Havel at the dawn of the internet age [Article]. BoingBoing.

Rein, L. and Horowitz, M. (2012, October 15). Inner space and outer space: Carl Sagan’s letters to Timothy Leary (1974) [Article]. Timothy Leary timothy-leary-1974/

Rein, L. and Horowitz, M. (2012, September 10). Dock Ellis, Timothy Leary, LSD and America’s favorite pastime [Article]. Timothy Leary americas-favorite-pasttime/

Rein, L. and Horowitz. M. (2012, June 25). Never before published transcript of a conversation between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Timothy Leary and Rosemary Leary – at the Montreal Bed-In, May 1969 [Article]. Timothy Leary conversation-between-john-lennon-yoko-ono-timothy-leary-and-rosemary-leary-%e2%80%93-at-the- montreal-bed-in-may-1969/

Rein, L. (2010, October 18). Hey, Mr. Spaceman: An interview with Edgar Mitchell [Article]. Humanity + Magazine.

Rein, L. (2009, August 24). Crashing Into The Moon. [Article] Humanity + Magazine.

Rein, L. (2009, July 5). Vint Cerf at Singularity University on social networking [Article]. Humanity + Magazine.

Rein, L. (2009, June 26). Life on Mars with Pete Worden [Article]. Humantiy+ Magazine.

Rein, L. (2007, October 24). Of mice and mitochondria… applying AI to bioinformatics to cure disease – interview with Ben Goertzel [Article] On Lisa Rein’s Radar.

Rein, L. (2004, December 29). It ain’t over till it’s over: A roundup of the recent events surrounding election 2004’s Ohio recount and voting machine fraud situation [Article]. Lisa  (The documentary film, Stealing America: Vote by Vote, Produced and Directed by Dorothy Fadiman, and using footage from my television archive, was based on the above article.

Rein, L. (2004, January 22). Brewster Kahle on the Internet Archive and people’s technology [Article].

Rein, L. (2003, September 11). Commentary: What’s real and make-believe with the RIAA subpoenas? [Article].

Rein, L. (2002, March). The world of XML tools – update [Article]. IEEE’s Internet Computing Magazine

Rein, L. (2001, September 21). Hot debate over the future of webcasting [Article]. CNET.

Rein, L. (2001, July 24). And justice for Adobe [Article]. O’Reilly Network.

Rein, L. (1999, May 5). The evolution of a privacy standard [Article].

Rein, L. (1998, December 19). XML in Ship-to-Shore Telemedicine [Article].

Rein, L. (1998, September). The next big picture: Scalable Vector Graphics for the web [Article]. Web Techniques

Rein, L. (1998, August 19). MS, Sun Weave Tangled Path [Article] Wired News.

Rein, L. (1998, August). The world of XML tools [Article]. IEEE’s Internet Computing.

Rein, L. (1998, July 8). Browser battles script on [Article]. Wired News.

Rein, L. (1998, July 7). Microsoft frowns on SMIL [Article]. Wired News.,1282,13478,00.html

Rein, L. (1998, June 12). The smarter classified [Article]. Wired News.

Rein, L. (1998, June 2). Your data as online commodity [Article]. Wired News.

Rein, L. (1998, May 15). How will PDAs paint pictures? [Article]. Wired News.

Rein, L. (1998, March 17). Perl opens arms to XML [Article]. Wired News.

Rein, L. (1998, February 3). Netscape: Bring on the frankenbrowsers [Article]. Wired News.

Rein, L. (1997, December 15). A truly organic network [Article]. Wired News.,1282,9154,00.html

Rein, L. (1997, December 9). XML and the new industry order [Article]. Wired News.

Rein, L. (1997, November 12). Browsers mask a bug in feature’s clothing [Article]. Wired News.,1282,8464,00.html

Rein, L. (1997, October 17). XML ushers in structured web searches [Article]. Wired News.,1282,7751,00.html

Rein, L. (1997, October 10). Interpreting the Java earthquake [Article]. Wired News.,1282,7616,00.html

Rein, L. (1997, October 9). XML Wins [Article]. Wired News.,1282,7592,00.html

Rein, L. (1997, October 6). XML rules. Any questions? [Article]. Wired News.,1282,7443,00.html

Rein, L. (1997, September 30). Microsoft Pushes Java Aside [Articles]. Wired News.,1282,7324,00.html

New Article for Boing Boing: Timothy Leary and Marshall McLuhan, turned on and tuned in

Marshall McLuhan and Timothy Leary

Marshall McLuhan and Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary and Marshall McLuhan, turned on and tuned in

By Michael Horowitz and Lisa Rein, for BoingBoing.

From the article:
McLuhan urged Leary to promote LSD the way advertisers promoted a product: “The new and improved accelerated brain.” He advised him to “associate LSD with all that the brain can produce—beauty, fun, philosophic wonder, religious revelation, increased intelligence, mystical romance.” But above all, he should stress the religious aspect. “Find the god within.” He encouraged Leary to come up with a winning jingle or catch-phrase along the lines of: “Lysergic Acid hits the spot/Forty billion neurons, that’s a lot.”

McLuhan told Tim to “always smile” and radiate confidence, never appear angry. He predicted that while Leary would “lose some major battles on the way,” he would eventually win the war. “Drugs that accelerate the brain won’t be accepted until the population is geared to computers.”

Leary wrote: “The conversation with Marshall McLuhan got me thinking [that] the successful philosophers were also advertisers who could sell their new models to large numbers of others, thus converting thought to action, mind to matter.”

Inspired by McLuhan, Leary took LSD and devoted several days to creating a slogan. He claims he was in the shower when he came up with “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.”

My New Article for on what’s wrong with the CFAA

7 Things You Might Be Doing Online That Could Get You Arrested
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a criminal statute originally intended to prosecute felony computer hacking, can now result in a person’s going to prison for failing to abide by a website’s terms of service or end user agreement.

(Here’s the list of references I used to write this article.)

By Lisa Rein for

(The CFAA) makes it illegal to intentionally access a computer “without authorization” or “in excess of authorization,” yet the meaning of those phrases is the subject of considerable dispute, and the law doesn’t provide much in the way of guidance.

Creative prosecutors have taken advantage of this confusion to bring criminal charges for acts that are more about information accessed in a way other than what was originally intended than they are about any kind of “fraud and abuse.” For instance, in Swartz’s case, his “crime” was having a script download the journal articles rather than sitting there and downloading them one at a time himself. Yet it’s not clear that such automation even violates MIT and JSTOR’s terms of service. As computer expert Alex Stamos describes it: “[Aaron] was an intelligent young man who found a loophole that would allow him to download a lot of documents quickly. This loophole was created intentionally by MIT and JSTOR, and was codified contractually” in documents revealed during the discovery phase of the government’s case against Swartz.

My “Crashing Into the Moon Story” for h+ Magazine

I’ve been writing a lot lately for h+ magazine.
My latest story is about the Moon and the hydrogen that NASA found there.

…the building blocks of water, hydrogen and oxygen, are already everywhere — all over the Moon. We know that water is created naturally from meteors striking the surface and flash-heating the regolith, which causes iron oxide to be gradually reduced by the hydrogen implanted by the solar wind. The hydrogen in the regolith reacts with the oxygen in the iron oxide to create water. This water, generated on or deposited onto the Moon, is either lost to space or migrates to higher latitudes. The southern polar region, with its permanently shadowed craters, is thought to retain water and other volatiles more efficiently than any other region. We also know that water is deposited into the poles directly via cometary tails that periodically envelope the entire Moon.

Does that mean we can just use the water that’s already there? Well, most experts agree there are two main sides to that issue. “Water is water. If you can find it naturally, that’s better than having to resort to a chemical combination of hydrogen and oxygen, which requires energy to activate the process,” explains Donald Sadoway, a Professor of Materials Chemistry at MIT who has developed a “molten oxide electrolysis” technique for extracting oxygen out of Moon regolith. “However, if the water is to be potable, then purity is an issue. So in any given situation, you need to assess whether it is more costly to purify existing water or to synthesize water from hydrogen and oxygen.”

(Above: NASA LCross photo by Northrop Grumman)

To get to the bottom of things, NASA is dropping a completely empty upper stage of the Centaur rocket smack into one of these southern polar craters. Contrary to some inaccurate reports in the popular media, there will be no explosives or military weapons involved. The upper stage is from the LCROSS and LRO’s launch back in June, which was retained for this experiment.

“It weighs roughly 2,200 kilograms, and will be moving at about 2.5 kilometers per second (5,600 miles per hour),” explains Day. “It will be coming in very steep, at about 80 degrees, and will make a large enough impact to loft approximately 200 metric tons of material about 10 kilometers into the lunar sky, where it will remain long enough for the LRO and ground-based assets to obtain their data.”

NASA is making sure that it comes in at a sharp enough angle this time to cause a recognizable plume or other reaction from the surface. The angle wasn’t steep enough when they crashed the Lunar Prospector into the crater in 1999, with no discernable results.

Interview With Brewster Khale On

an interview
that was published last month in with Brewster Khale.

“Universal Access To All Human Knowledge” is a motto of Raj Reddy from Carnegie Mellon. I found that if you really actually come to understand that statement, then that statement is possible; technologically possible to take, say, all published materials — all books, music, video, software, web sites — that it’s actually possible to have universal access to all of that. Some for a fee, and some for free. I found that was a life-changing event for me. That is just an inspiring goal. It’s the dream of the Greeks, which they embodied, with the Egyptians, in the Library of Alexandria. The idea of having all knowledge accessible.
But, of course, in the Library of Alexandria’s case, you had to actually go to Alexandria. They didn’t have the Internet. Well, fortunately, we not only have the storage technology to be able to store all of these materials cost-effectively, but we can make it universally available. So that’s been just a fabulous goal that causes me to spring out of bed in the morning.
And it also — when other people sort of catch on to this idea that we could actually do this — that it helps straighten the path. You know, life, there’re lots of paths that sort of wander around. But I find that having a goal that’s that far out, but also doable, it helps me keep my direction, keep our organization’s direction. And I’m finding that a lot of other people like that direction, as well.

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New Article For — Interview With LimeWire COO and P2P United President Greg Bildson

Interview with
LimeWire COO Greg Bildson

By Lisa Rein for

Lisa Rein: So, you guys paid Brianna’s RIAA fine?
Greg Bildson: Yes, we cut the check to her mother to reimburse her. We felt that suing a 12-year old in the Bronx wasn’t the answer.
LR: Tell me more about P2P United.
GB: P2P United is basically trying to make sure that Congress doesn’t do anything stupid, which they’re apt to do in the technology world. We’re trying to make sure to protect our rights to innovate and write software, and to address all of the bad mouthing the RIAA is constantly doing to P2P.
P2P was proven to be legal in that California decision. If there’s anything we can do with respect to the overreach of the DMCA and invasion of privacy and, basically, due process — we feel that there should be due process, and there should be an actual lawsuit before they are able to get information about users.
Congress is writing bills targeting P2P, and the RIAA is talking about pornography and homeland security and identity theft and all of these things that are really minor concerns, with regard to P2P. For the most part, Congress is either overreacting or doing the bidding of the RIAA.
O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference.
For instance, there was a hearing regarding P2P and porn a few weeks ago. There are already laws that exist to punish people for being pedophiles; P2P’s got nothing to do with it. In these cases, the content itself is illegal. P2P is not the concern when it comes to child endangerment, but they are constantly targeting P2P. They should go look at AOL and Yahoo chat rooms rather than P2P networks. Orin Hatch’s presentation of child pornography began with a movie sponsored by the RIAA. The record industry is probably the last group of people to be protecting children, when their lyrics and videos are so explicit.
So the RIAA is basically using the high $150,000 per infringement to extort a settlement out of people who wouldn’t even consider fighting it. People view this more like a speeding ticket instead of something where one act of infringement can cost you $150,000. We’re in favor of people being able to protect their copyrights, but in a way that is fair. If the government is going to regulate, they need to know what they’re doing. They shouldn’t be getting their information only from the RIAA.
LR: So are you trying to educate Congress?
GB: Yes. P2P United is trying to educate Congress. However, their staffers need to be willing to be educated. So far, they’ve been willfully blind or ignorant.

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The RIAA Subpoenas and Amnesty Program: What’s Real And What’s Make Believe

I’ve written my first article in almost two years! I’ve got the bug again and there will be plenty more where that came from, promise.
This ones about — you guessed it, the RIAA’s latest bait and switch mechanism for fighting file sharing. Hope you like it.

Commentary: What’s Real and Make-Believe with the RIAA Subpoenas?

By Lisa Rein for

A key issue remains that the RIAA does not even have the right to grant full amnesty in the first place. The songwriters and music publishers that aren’t represented by the RIAA (such as Metallica) could opt to sue infringers on their own. “The RIAA doesn’t have the right to give full amnesty for file sharing. True, they represent 90% of all sound recording copyright owners. But there are still 10 percent out there who could sue you even if you take amnesty program,” said Jason Schultz, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It’s still unclear if amnesty saves you from being sued by the songwriters/music publishers.”
Clean Slate’s Privacy Policy raises other questions. It states that “information provided on the Clean Slate Program Affidavit will be used solely in connection with conducting and enforcing the Clean Slate Program” and not used for “marketing, promotional, or public relations purposes” and will “not be made public or given to third parties, including individual copyright owners,” but then there’s a big exception: “except if necessary to enforce a participant’s violation of the pledges set forth in the Affidavit or otherwise required by law.” This language, translated, means that the affidavit records would in fact be made available to other infringement lawsuits.
“We’re calling it a ‘Shamnesty.’ It’s more like a Trojan Horse than a ‘clean slate.’ It fools you into thinking you’re safe, when the reality is that, if anything, you’re more at risk for participating,” explains Jason Schultz, Staff Attorney for the EFF. “It’s not ‘Full Amnesty’ at all. The agreement doesn’t give file sharers any real peace of mind, because it only covers being sued by the RIAA itself — not any of its member companies. This means that, under the Clean Slate agreement, recording companies, copyright owners, and music publishers can all still sue you. It only means that the RIAA won’t ‘assist’ them in the lawsuit. They are basically getting you to admit to the conduct so your own statement can be used against you later.”

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