Wednesday, January 22, 2003
No, Please Don't Read That!
"A friend from Microsoft completely floored me today when he pointed me to a note from Dave Winer that pointed to a comment by Jenny Levine referencing a paper I wrote for a Stanford course on the history of computer games.
When I received the link to the paper, I wondered if the 'Eric Albert' who authored it was me. I didn't recall writing it. Now that I've skimmed it, I remember writing it, and I can't believe it's online. Even more than that, though, I can't believe that someone not only found the paper, but read it. Wow. I don't know how I think about having random people (and especially friends) reading a paper that I probably wrote at the last minute and which certainly shouldn't be held up as a shining example of historical writing.
For what it's worth, the only thing I really recall from that paper is my work to get the DOS version of SimCity to run on any computer I had access to. I think I finally did it by installing DOS in Virtual PC, but I couldn't get it to run under Windows." [Eric's Weblog]
Live on the Web: Kevin Mitnick
"After an absence of eight years, hacker Kevin Mitnick rediscovered the Web on Tuesday afternoon. He did exactly what everyone does when they first log on: He vanity surfed, wrestled with browser plug-ins and was assailed by pop-up porn ads.
Mitnick, once labeled 'the most wanted computer criminal in U.S. history,' hadn't surfed the Web since 1995, when he was arrested for breaking into the networks of software and phone companies....
When Mitnick was locked up, the Web was mostly text. Pop-up ads and multimedia were nonexistent. The last browser he used was an early version of Mosaic....
'The Internet is like the phone,' Mitnick said on-air. 'To be without it is ridiculous. I could not use an electronic toilet without permission from the U.S. government.'
Ironically, The New York Times on Tuesday reported that two federal appellate courts ruled Internet prohibition was too broad a punishment for computer criminals. The Internet is as essential as a phone, the courts said.
'The day I get off,' Mitnick said with a shrug." [Wired]
Counter: Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources
"The use of online information resources is growing exponentially. It is widely agreed by producers and purchasers of information that the use of these resources should be measured in a more consistent way. Librarians want to understand better how the information they buy from a variety of sources is being used; publishers want to know how the information products they disseminate are being accessed. An essential requirement to meet these objectives is an agreed international Code of Practice governing the recording and exchange of online usage data. COUNTER has developed just such a Code of Practice.
Release 1 of the COUNTER Code of Practice, which focuses on journals and databases, was agreed in December 2002 and is published in full on this website. Future releases of the Code of Practice will extend its coverage to other categories of online content.
COUNTER is widely supported by the international community of librarians and publishers, as well as their professional organizations, including:
- AAP, Association of American Publishers
- ALPSP, The Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers
- ARL, Association of Research Libraries
- ASA, Association of Subscription Agents and Intermediaries
- JISC, Joint Information Systems Committee
- NCLIS, National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
- NISO, National Information Standards Organization
- PA, The Publishers Association
- STM, International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers
- UKSG, United Kingdom Serials Group" [via TVC Alert]
Trans-atlantic GPRS Walkie-talkie
"FastMobile, an Illinois based mobile phone services company, has successfully completed a voice push-to-talk test between Chicago and London over GPRS on Symbian OS devices.
Using off-the-shelf Nokia 7650 and not-even-on-shelves-yet 3650 handsets with Symbian operating systems, FastMobile recently tested push-to-talk voice over conventional GSM/GPRS networks. A FastMobile server, located in suburban Chicago and untethered to any operator, routed the digitized voice and text conversations across the GSM/GPRS networks of US operator, T-Mobile, and UK operators, Orange and Vodafone.
The successful test was completed without requiring any special hardware to be added to the either the mobile handset or the operators' networks, an saw group voice and text instant messages sent simultaneously among the participants using a FastMobile application running on Series 60 handsets from Nokia." [infoSync]
Adobe Photoshop Album review
"Think of Adobe Photoshop Album as a digital-photo Dewey decimal system. This $50 photo manager, which will ship in February, skillfully sorts the images scattered around your hard drive and catalogs them in an easy-to-browse format that becomes more useful as your collection grows. While we found the program truly helpful, it's best for photographers who already own other Adobe programs. Many other software companies--Jasc, for example--are offering up their own photo managers with similar toolsets, and there are countless free, downloadable programs that will do the job just fine though perhaps not as artfully." [CNET.com]
It's too bad it doesn't organize by a true Dewey-like system. Your pictures of the kids in the 600s, travel pictures in the 900s, etc. ;-)
"This past month, I attended a gathering of top creatives from Hollywood and the games industry, hosted by Electronic Arts; they were discussing how to collaboratively develop content that would play well across media. This meeting reflected a growing realization within the media industries that what is variously called transmedia, multiplatform, or enhanced storytelling represents the future of entertainment.
Letís face it: we have entered an era of media convergence that makes the flow of content across multiple media channels almost inevitable. The move toward digital effects in film and the improved quality of video game graphics means that it is becoming much more realistic to lower production costs by sharing assets across media. Everything about the structure of the modern entertainment industry was designed with this single idea in mindóthe construction and enhancement of entertainment franchises.
And the push isnít just coming from the big media companies. The kids who have grown up consuming and enjoying Pokemon across media are going to expect this same kind of experience from The West Wing as they get older. By design, Pokemon unfolds across games, television programs, films, and books, with no media privileged over any other. For our generation, the hour-long, ensemble-based, serialized drama was the pinnacle of sophisticated storytelling, but for the next generation, it is going to seem, well, like less than childís play. Younger consumers have become information hunters and gatherers, taking pleasure in tracking down character backgrounds and plot points and making connections between different texts within the same franchise. And in addition, all evidence suggests that computers donít cancel out other media; instead, computer owners consume on average significantly more television, movies, CDs, and related media than the general population." [Technology Review, thanks Dad!]
All of this taps directly into the whole information shifting thing, because these media are all portable now and can be sliced and diced because they're digital.
RIAA Chief to Step Down
"The chief executive officer of the Recording Industry Association of America said Wednesday she would step down as head of the organization at the end of 2003, after a controversial five years at its helm....
The outgoing chief executive said she wanted to spend more time with her family....
During the past several years, Rosen has served as a focal point for all the criticism and complaints levied by advocates of unfettered technology. Indeed, she was featured in the most recent issue of Wired magazine as 'The Most Hated Name in Music'--a bold statement in an industry notoriously rife with avaricious record producers and label executives....
More recently, Rosen has extended an olive branch to the technology industry, worrying that rhetoric on both sides had created an artificial gulf. Last week, she signed an agreement to work with counterparts in the Business Software Alliance and the Computer Systems Policy Project, each of which represent large technology companies on common goals." [CNET News.com]
Can't say that I really blame her. You have to wonder, though, if last week's "olive branch" was the first resignation on her part. Did she see the writing on the wall? Did a life of constant fighting and arguing become too much? I think she's probably being honest that this is motivated by family concerns. Who wants their kids to grow up and read about how mom helped eradicate fair use? She can explain to her kids that she was fighting for the rights and livelihoods of artists, but it gets harder when your organization starts subjugating the legal process, asks for legislation to hack into personal computers, and helps stamp out internet radio.
No Stopping Vice City
"Almost 1.5m copies of the smash hit Grand Theft Auto: Vice City were sold in the US in December, bringing its total to 4.4 million since its launch in October....
The figures mean Americans spent a record $10.3 billion on video games in 2002.
Of the top 20 best-selling games, 13 were for the PlayStation 2, with five for GameBoy Advance and one each for the GameCube and the Xbox." [Digital Zeitgeist]
Inkjets "Print" Living Tissue
"Inkjet printer technology doesn't get enough credit. From vendors who fill the reservoirs with edible inks and lay down photorealistic images on sheet-cakes to "Napster fabbers" who lay down successive layers of goop to make three-dimensional images, and let's not forget the doomed odorama startup that mixed perfumes in inkjet carts and vaporized them to create aroma-on-demand tech for PCs. Now, though, we have 'tubes of living tissue' coming out of inkjets.
Many labs can now print arrays of DNA, proteins or even cells. But for tissue engineers, the big challenge is creating three-dimensional structures. Mironov became interested when Thomas Boland of Clemson University, also in South Carolina, told Mironov how he could print biomaterials using modified ink-jet printers." [Boing Boing Blog]
Library Set to Book Wireless Internet
"Wireless Internet access soon be may available through the Homewood Public Library.
The library's proposal to install an antenna for on the village water tower to provide wireless Internet access has received tentative approval from the Homewood Village Board.
An agreement between the library and village for the space will come back before the board in the next few months.
The antenna would provide the library with a high-speed Internet connection at a low cost, administrative librarian Cindy Rauch said.
The library uses a T-1 line from the Harvey Public Library, which is expensive, she said.
Businesses also may be able to use the wireless access, Rauch said.
If the library is able to offer the service to businesses, an antenna on top of the library building would transmit the service to businesses....
The wireless Internet system will move data as at 3.5 megabits per second, compared about 1.5 megabits per second for the library's T-1 connection, Pfaff said.
Mayor Richard Hofeld noted a range of 10 miles would be enough to cover the entire village, including residents.
'It's a great idea,' Hofeld said.
Trustee Bob Wilson wants to know how the library will use the service. If the library plans to use it as a profit center, the village might charge a higher lease rate for space on the water tower, he said." [The Daily Southtown, thanks Gloria!]
Homewood is one of my SLS libraries (how come I had to hear this through the newspaper?!), so I'll keep you posted.
Hey, Homer Glen has a water tower that's only a couple of miles from my house! :-)
Sometimes when I'm blogging late, I listen to some of the music channels from my digital cable box. It's nice to have on with the background and there are no commercials. There are 36 channels, so it's almost like a pared-down satellite radio service. A particularly nice feature is that they show the artist and title when each song starts.
Tonight I had to go grab some clothes out of the dryer when a song I really liked was on and out of habit, I paused the music on the TV (thanks to my ReplayTV). It hadn't occurred to me to do this before, but I've been wishing for a pause button on my car radio, for my conversations with people, etc. and all this time I didn't realize I could do this with music channels on TV!
Although I'm always 3-4 weeks behind reading Entertainment Weekly, my only remaining print magazine subscription, whenever I get a new one in the mail I immediately turn to the television section. I pick which shows I want to watch and set my ReplayTV for the week. So here are my picks for this week from their guide:
- Chapelle's Show (Comedy Central, 9:30 pm CST, Wednesday)
"Here's how comedian Dave Chappelle describes his new sketch series. 'There's no regular cast but me. I'm writing everything. I named it after myself. This is the most egotistical s--- you could possibly do on television, and I just hope people enjoy me as much as I do.' In the debut ep, not only does Chappelle take down that annoying Mitsubishi Eclipse commercial with the break-dancing chick, he plays a blind white supremacist who doesn't realize he's actually black. How can that not be the must-see skit of 2003?"
- The Office (BBC America, 9:20 pm CST, Thursday)
"This hilarious BBC mockumentary series provides a wincingly well-observed view of banal office life at a paper company. Squirrelly middle manager (the brilliant Ricky Gervais, also cowriter/director) spends all day either failing as office jokester or parroting Management 101 maxims he doesn't fully understand. And his employees are so staggeringly identifiable that you'll think Gervais has been crouching behind your office copier, taking notes."
- Penn & Teller: Bulls---! (Showtime, 10:00 pm CST, Friday)
"We'd like to tell you what magician Penn Jillette has to say in this new series in which he and silent partner Teller profile schemers and scam artists, but, well, this is a family mag and we, unlike pay cable, have standards of decency.... Tonight, Jillette takes on 'psychic scumbags' like John Edward who claim to communicate with the dead. The argument is passionate, but too bad the duo's sense of fun seems to have magically disappeared." (I'm still going to watch this, since anything Penn & Teller do can't be all bad.)
Dance Dance Revolution Masters in Tokyo, Caught Live on Tape
"Japan pop-culture connoisseur Sam Humphries sez:
This page has insane video of Dance Dance Revolution masters from Tokyo scoring perfect games on the hardest setting with crazy/insane insane/crazy moves. They're the cup stacking girls of Japanese arcades. I recommend the third video, Take getting 10 Greats/3 Misses on Maxx Unlimited Reverse Stealth." [Boing Boing Blog]
Wait until I show these to the kids - they've never seen an arcade DDR, only the one we have for Playstation!
Home Office: Not-So-Stupid Browser Tricks
"These seven utilities make tooling around the Web safer, faster, and more fun....
Broken Web site links in e-mail messages drive me batty--and pasting the link into the browser address bar gets me nowhere. So I copy the link to the Clipboard and grin while Sells Brothers' UrlRun strips it clean and sends it to my browser's address field. Download the free program to your desktop, and drag and drop it to your Quick Launch bar to give yourself immediate access to this gem. If you use Outlook, get the free plug-in version....
I was nearly at my wit's end trying to deal with Internet Explorer's intermittent inability to open as a maximized window. Then reader Bryan Villarin of Temple City, California, informed me about Jonathan Dahl's IE New Window Maximizer, a nifty tool that does just what it claims. But this free utility goes one step farther by doing a pretty decent job of blocking pernicious pop-up ads, too....
I get a kick out of Tenebril's $40 GhostSurf Pro, a one-stop privacy tool for Internet addicts. The program lets me surf anonymously, covering my Internet tracks from my ISP as well as from the sites I visit. It blocks ads, keeps spyware from reporting on me, and tells me what data is entering and leaving my browser. GhostSurf Pro is packed with features, but it's pretty easy to learn (I got a handle on it after only a couple of days of fiddling). Get a trial version from our downloads page and see for yourself.
Total Recorder is my last pearl. It's a $12 program from High Criteria that lets me record audio from Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, or other players, and save the resulting sound as an MP3 file. I can snatch radio interviews (by Terry Gross of National Public Radio's Fresh Air, for instance) for playback on my MP3 player. The $36 Pro version even lets me schedule everything from opening NPR's site to starting and saving the recording." [PC World, via TVC Alert]
A New Tablet Toy
"I've been playing around with my new Acer tablet PC for about a week now and it's pretty incredible in terms of handwriting recognition and portability. Now comes this DesXcape thingy from Philips which looks like basically a tablet PC that you can dock and use as a desktop. What a very cool idea. I really like the tablet concept in general, and some of the supervisors who I have shown are chomping at the bit to try one out as they could WRITE notes during observations, translate them into text and have most of their work done by the time they leave the room. Student use has some interesting potentials too.
What about this vision...My journalism students settle down after the bell rings and take out their tablets and fire them up. I give them five or ten minutes to do some freewriting which they then post to their Web logs using the built in 802.11b LAN. When they're done, we spend some time talking about feature leads, and they check their news aggregators for some samples that I 'sent' them earlier and have projected on screen via LCD. They do some quick edit and response using the stylus, and post to their Web logs. One click and those posts are aggegated into my computer, and I open a few at random that we discuss together on screen. I ask them to take a few minutes to search for more feature lead examples from today's papers online. They post, I aggregate, we talk. Finally, I upload a fact sheet from which they write their own leads and post to their Web logs/notebooks/portfolios which I again collect and read in my own Web log...and so it goes. Sheesh...
Laptops are one thing, but just from a tap, tap, tap standpoint, they can be distracting. Think about creating quiet text and graphics all at once and then just clicking a button... [weblogged News]
Mr. Richardson, meet Mr. Scoble!