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"You Two! We're at the end of the universe, eh. Right at the edge of knowledge itself. And you're busy... blogging!"
— The Doctor, Utopia


Friday, February 22, 2008

Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Death by Black Hole

I'm so buying his book this weekend!

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Random House Audio abandons audiobook DRM

I posted earlier this week about DRM-free free eBooks. Now it looks like Random House is going through with DRM-free (though not $$$ free) digital audiobooks. It seems they've been doing this for a while through eMusic but will be extending it to all other online services (such as Audible and Overdrive I assume.) The most interesting part was this reason given for going through with the change:

[W]e have not yet found a single instance of the eMusic watermarked titles being distributed illegally. We did find many copies of audiobook files available for free, but they did not originate from the eMusic test, but rather from copied CDs or from files whose DRM was hacked.

In other words, people that legally purchased the music and could do what they wanted with it due to the lack of DRM felt no need to redistribute said content in legally questionable ways. Yep. Give us something we can actually use the way we want and we'll pay for it. Don't make us pay for something that locks us out of what we've paid for.

More at Boing Boing.

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Learning 2.0, Thing #3

Well, it's NLCL2 time again folks and this is the first blog-based assignment. Thing #3 has us creating a blog and writing some posts. Well, I've got the blog already and I don't seem to have any problems coming up with topics lately. However, as part of the assignment we're supposed to blog about the 7 and 1/2 lifelong learning habits and "which one might be easiest for you and hardest for you & why?"

This is a hard one for me. I just skimmed through the list again and honestly, I don't find any of them difficult. My guess is that this is because it's my job to constantly learn new things and that I'm a trainer so I'm constantly teaching others. This does put me in a unique situation compared to many others on our staff but I know I'm not totally alone.

As for what's easiest, habit 7.5 most definitely: play. In some ways though this makes separating my work life from my non-work life somewhat difficult. I'm allowed to play at the office and many things I play with outside of work have job-related outcomes. I'm not complaining, I just have to force myself to separate some times.

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I've been BoingBoing'd

Honestly, after my conversation with Cory about the project I was hoping this would happen. There is now a BoingBoing.net post about the Creative Commons project I've been working on at the Commission. As a result the story has also been picked up by LISNews. (I'm now off to give a heads-up to our computer team about the potential spike in Web traffic.)

Boing Boing - A directory of wonderful things

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Lunar Eclipse

I braved 20 degree weather and a wind chill in the single digits last night to get some shots of last night's lunar eclipse. Here's the one that I think came out the best. A set of the best 15 can be found on flickr.

Lunar Eclipse 11

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Still a bit bitter

But at least I know I was right...

Wilson also suggested that consumers would really have been better off with the HD format than with Blu-ray. [emphasis added]

"Storage capacity is the one area [where Blu-ray] can claim an advantage," he elaborated. But the outcome of the format war, which became official on Tuesday, "doesn't benefit anyone today and it comes at a cost. [Blu-ray] discs and players are both more expensive to manufacture. The DVD format was less expensive to implement and further along in its deployment. [Blu-ray] is twelve months behind in terms of its feature set."

Via BetaNews: Analysts: Studios will gain from HD DVD's exit, but consumers' won't

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Another Hall of Shame entry

Yep, another Web site that won't accept my .info e-mail address. Disaapointingly, it's Lessig08.org (mentioned in my previous post). I'm still supporting him but he needs a better e-mail validation script.

Email Fail (Lessig08.org)

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Lawrence Lessig launches "Change Congress" and makes another announcement

You'll have to watch the video to find out.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Security: Unclear on the Concept

image I recently accepted SallieMae's constant suggestions that I should switch to receiving all of their communications via e-mail instead of paper mail. (I was holding out for a small decrease in my outstanding debt since I'd be saving them a lot in postage over the next 15 years, but we never did see eye to eye on that one.) Anyway, today I received my first "official" e-communication from them. It was a simple e-mail telling me that my account had been updated and my new bill was available for viewing on their Web site. So far, so good.

Attached was a 48k PDF file. Using Outlook 2007 I clicked on the attachment to preview it. This failed for an unspecified reason. So, I double-clicked the attached file to open it in Adobe Reader. At this point I was prompted for a password. I drew a blank. But then something made me try my Social Security Number as the password and viola, the document opened. It was the exact same text that was in the body of the e-mail message but this one was on SallieMae letterhead.

WTF? Either send me something that deserves to be behind a password or don't. Don't send me text "protected" by a password that's also being sent in the clear in a standard unsecured e-mail message.

SallieMae, just what point are you trying to make here?

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Ladies and Gentlemen...Will Ferrell and Dave Grohl

Contains some adult language

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Creative Wikipedia solution to images of Muhammad controversy

Just edit some Wikipedia-specific CSS:

How can I hide the images using my personal Wikipedia settings?
See also: Wikipedia:How to set your browser to not see images

If you are offended by the images (and you have an account), you can change your personal settings so that you don't have to see them, without affecting other users. This is done by modifying your CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) page, which is individual to each user.

To do this:

  • Click on this link to modify your monobook.css page
    • If no page is there already, just go ahead and create a page
  • Add the following line to your css page:

body.page-Muhammad img {display: none;}

This will permanently hide the images on the article for you as long as you are logged in.

From Talk:Muhammad/FAQ

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Are publishers finally starting to understand

First there was Lawrence Lessig, then Cory Doctorow (or was it the other way around?) who offered the complete texts of their books online, for free. You could read them on the Web site, download them, read them on your computer in Word, put them on your phone, iPod and/or eBook. Finally, you could print your own copy. Many readers ended up buying the publisher-printed copy anyway. Those who didn't make the purchase probably wouldn't have regardless of the availability of the free version. Other authors have started to follow.

And all was good.

But where were the publishers in all of this?

Then came the Baen Free Library. Long-time publisher of science fiction and fantasy, Baen offers more than 100 complete titles in formats from HTML to Rocket eBook (there's a dead format) to RTF. Just read online or download it to go. 4.6 million visits later, they're periodically adding new titles.

Neil Gaiman's publisher, HarperCollins, has started offering complete book for free online. Neil recently asked his readers to pick which of his books would be offered up. Much to his surprise, his largest book, American Gods was chosen and will be made available in the near future. I was excited. I'm not any longer. The problem is that in order to read the book you must do so on their site, in their reader.  The books are not portable in any way, shape, or form. Sure, you can search the contents (nice) and you can embed the book into your site (a la YouTube) but how does that help me read it on my device, when I want, when I don't have a WiFi connection?

Close, but no soup for you!

Next on deck, TOR books. Publisher of Cory Doctorow and many, many other authors I love to read. (L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Brian Lumley, and Brian Herbert, just to name a few.) They're about to launch their new site "Watch the Skies" and if you sign up, they'll e-mail you the link to a free eBook every week. No word on the level of control that they'll give you over said books but with Cory Involved and the word "download" being bandied about, I have all sorts of hope.

So publisher's, who's next?

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Toshiba Officially Drops HD DVD

Following several days of rumors, Toshiba has confirmed that it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders, effectively ending the high-def format war.
Toshiba Officially Drops HD DVD | High-Def Digest

Yes folks, it's finally officially over. Can we all shut up about it now. (Of course, this means I picked the wrong side no matter how justified. Let the fire sales on the discs commence.)

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Cloudbook delayed

Here's the e-mail I received yesterday from ZaReason:

Dear Cloudbook customers,
Today we shipped out the first Cloudbooks to hit the open market. If you received an email with your tracking number, then you are among the lucky early orders. If you did not receive a confirmation email, your Cloudbook will be the first ones to go out with the next batch that completes our original allotment of preorders. The best estimates we are getting now are that the next batch will be here in a week. We are not giving a firm date until we hear more details, but at least this gives you a time frame. If you did not receive a shipping confirmation today and want to cancel your order, we will gladly refund your order. We want *all* our customers to be happy and so far we have a great track record giving you the best solutions possible.
Thank you,
--Vincent in Shipping
www.zareason.com

Needless to say, I did not receive a confirmation e-mail so I'm SOL for another week or two. Here's the full story on the delay. I'm not upset at ZaReason at all. I'm disappointed but it sounds like they're doing their best. As for some of the early reviews of the Cloudbook (which haven't all been positive), I'm holding my judgement until I get my hands on one.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Warrantless wiretapping explained by Snuggle the Security Bear


Click the image to get the the video.
via BoingBoing

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Tips for Conference Bloggers

I printed this out a while ago and just found it again in a pile on my desk. In preparation for the upcoming spring conferences I feel this is something that everyone planning on conference blogging should read. (Also, it's a great excuse to play with embedding documents via my Scribd account.)

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E-books will never be our friends

Here's a great article from the Times Online about eBooks. Considering I gave a presentation on the Sony Reader and the Kindle earlier this week (video available on the NLC blog), I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who still thinks that they have their place, but won't ever replace printed books. Here's a sample:

None of this, however, spells doom to the physical book. A reader who falls in love with a book, even if first read in electronic form, will still want to own it. Books do more than furnish a room: they are our intellectual companions.

Some books are worth sacrificing a tree to make; others are not, and that is the distinction that the electronic book offers. Ruskin once observed that literature is “divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time”. The books of all time will remain on paper, but those of the hour will increasingly be digital: the airport novel, the reference book, the celebrity memoir. A personal library will no longer be the repository of unread paperbacks, but a genuine index to individuality, as it was in the days when books were rare and precious.

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Keith Olbermann Special Comment ‘We will NOT fear George W. Bush!’


via RawReplay

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Two great quotes

From We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age by Scott Gant.

"The Web makes it possible for citizens to think in public together. That is not a fad. That is the underlying reality of the news industry for the next 30 to 50 years."
— Lew Friedland, University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Journalism

"We must no longer accept uncritically the idea that professional journalists can be anointed with special perks and protections denied to others engaging in essentially the same activities"
— Scott Gant

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Learning 2.0 in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City Public LibraryIt looks like the folks over at the Salt Lake City Public Library are also currently in the midst of a Learning 2.0 program. According to Elizabeth's Endeavors they seem to be a few things ahead of us as she found this blog via Technorati. I will add that I've been to SLCPL many times and it is one of the most beautiful public libraries I've ever been in. (I also got out there several times during the construction. Unfortunately all of those photos I took before I started using flickr.)

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