Friday, July 31, 2009

Old Maps app for iPhone

Old Map App allows an iPhone user to explore the effects of time on geography and urban development. While it isn't in general release quite yet, you can register at the site and you will be notified when it is released or when beta testers are needed.

The application displays layers of geo-referenced historical maps projected onto a modern coordinate system, so that the same location can be compared over time. Layers can be faded, adjusted, and explored freely. If the user is located within the region of the historical map, the user's position will be mapped on the old maps to the position of the compass indicator.

Several maps of New York City & Region are included from the 17th to 19th centuries. All are high-resolution images from the Library of Congress. I am an old map nut and can not wait!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Libraries of the Future

In a library environment which is increasingly moving to the delivery of online rather than print resources, what of the academic library’s traditional place at the heart of campus life? What about the impact of repositories and open access on the delivery of library resources? And the need to digitise and make more widely accessible key scholarly resources? And what of the calls for libraries to play a central role in the promotion of ‘information literacy’?

Through ‘Libraries of the Future’, the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) is hoping to explore these and many other questions, to open up - with partner organizations and librarians themselves - a debate about the future of the academic and research library.

Your Tweets can get you sued!

TG Daily carried an article this morning that referenced a lawsuit filed by Horizon Realty Group against a tenant after she complained about mold in her apartment via Twitter.

The real estate firm says it stumbled across the tweet while defending a class action lawsuit Amanda Bonnen filed against it last month. It is now filing a libel lawsuit against Bonnen.

The tweet read: "Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it’s okay."

Apparently water leaked into several apartments when a contractor made mistakes with roof repairs and, in a statement, Horizon says the apartment wasn't moldy - just damp. I am pretty sure a damp apartment is a moldy apartment. Lord, do you think they will sue me?

Horizon Realty's manager, Jeff Michael, had this to say about the lawsuit:
"We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization".
Just fills you with warm fuzzies doesn't it.

From Fast Company:
It may all sound trivial, but the reality is that your tweets are under scrutiny. In December, the National Law Journal reported that Twitter conversations don't really differ from letters, emails or text messages, calling them "damaging and discoverable."

This isn't the first time something like this has happened. In 2008, a Yelp user faced a defamation lawsuit for posting a poor review of a chiropractor. And just earlier this year, a New York teen who said she was harassed by classmates on Facebook (she said they created a Facebook group that made false claims about her) sued not only her classmates and their parents, but Facebook itself.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which works to defend digital rights, states on its Web site that bloggers (and technically, Twitter is a blog) are entitled to free speech, and "internet bullies shouldn't use copyright, libel or other claims to chill your legitimate speech."

We'll see how this pans out, but in the meantime, be careful what you tweet.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Are eBooks Apple's next frontier?

Having sold more than 6 billion songs to date, the iTunes Store has revolutionized the music industry. It also turned mobile software into a goldmine via the iPhone’s App Store, which recently surpassed 1.5 billion downloads. Apple has yet to enter the e-book market, but it is a short hop from music and software to literature. eBook downloads is the obvious next step for the entertainment mogul Apple has become. Lookout Amazon. To quote Wired:
"What can Apple do better with e-books? For textbooks or anthologies, Apple can give iTunes users the ability to download individual chapters, priced between a few cents to a few bucks each. It would be similar to how you can currently download individual song tracks from an album. It might even have the same earthshaking potential to transform an entire industry by refocusing it on the content people actually want instead of the bundles that publishers want them to buy. (Of course, Apple would likely offer the à-la-carte purchase model in addition to the option to purchase the entire book as one download — a more attractive option for shorter works such as novels.)"

"College students would love this: Teachers rarely assign an entire textbook, so they would save hundreds of dollars by downloading only a few chapters of each textbook. Apple is already popular in the education sector, so here’s even more money to milk from students, with the textbook industry worth an estimated $9.8 billion."

"Sci-fi fans might only want one story from an anthology, or a historical researcher might target certain subjects. All Apple has to do to secure the book publishers’ enthusiastic cooperation is to offer them a generous cut of the revenues, like the 70 percent it currently offers app developers."

When Wired asked students about their interest in Amazon’s large-format Kindle DX reader. Several of them said they couldn’t imagine ditching textbooks for a Kindle DX, foreseeing challenges with tasks such as notetaking, highlighting and switching between books while writing essays.

If its interface and capabilities are anything like the iPhone’s, a touchscreen tablet would make these student-oriented tasks as easy as a few swipes and taps — far more pleasant than clunking around with the Kindle’s cheap buttons and sluggish interface. Also, students would be able to type their papers on the tablet.

Finally, an Apple tablet would have color, making it better for displaying magazine pages, which could also be purchased through the iTunes Store. It wouldn’t be saddled with a slow e-ink screen, so it could display video and browse the web.

More from Wired:
"Let’s not forget to mention the multitude of other tasks an Apple tablet will likely be able to perform if developers decide to code applications for it. Think along the lines of an interactive remote control to enhance the movie-viewing experience on your TV, or a music video player to accompany the tunes blasting from your stereo. Or, heck, even an album-cover display screen for you to gaze at while listening to music. (For more on an Apple tablet’s advantages versus current e-book readers, see Dylan Tweney’s story “Large-Screen Kindle Won’t Mean Squat if Apple Tablet Arrives.”
The market for Apple here is huge. The challenge lies in establishing the right partnerships. If Apple weaves e-books into the iTunes Store, will book publishers hop on board? Given Apple’s success in numbers, probably.

Social-media skills and job hunting

Having recently posted about BestBuy's 250 Twitter followers requisite for a marketing position, we now notice the Atlanta Journal and Constitution has published a piece about the growing significance of a "social presence" in the résumés of those applying for positions in advertising, marketing or communications. It seems the horse is definitely out of the barn and you Twitter-haters are gonna be trampled. The article cites several recent job listings in the Atlanta market:
A senior account executive position at Softscribe Inc. requires “5 years Tech PR Agency Record + Twitter.”

Mosaic Sales Solutions describes the “key characteristics” of its ideal Atlanta market training specialist as “an avid user of the Internet, blogs, Twitter and/or has a facebook page or other social networking account.”

Valtech Technologies seeks an Atlanta scrum master/project manager whose critical responsibilities will include “social collaboration including work spaces like Wiki’s, blogs, Twitter, etc.”

“It is now the rage,” said Brett Stevens, president of SearchLogix recruiter company. “Do you Facebook? Do you Twitter?”

Stevens said social media skills are particularly important for jobs in tech business, sales, public relations and media. In non-marketing or PR jobs, Stevens said, social media skills are not as critical, but they can indicate to employers how technologically savvy an applicant is.

“They just want to know can you do it,” Stevens said. “It’s not a must-have.”

"This social media craze among employers is creating some complications for job applicants and employees such as blurring the lines between personal and professional lives", said Bob Van Rossum, president of MarketPro, a marketing recruitment company,

“Facebook pages aren’t about business, they’re about you as a person, but how people perceive you as a person will ultimately impact how they perceive the place where you work,” Van Rossum said. “It’s a very complicated challenge.”

Van Rossum’s advice to job applicants? Use social media to search for jobs and use your own Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to protect your “brand” image.

Van Rossum said his company uses Facebook, blogs and LinkedIn to advertise positions and “reach people where they are,” and that social media provides opportunities to show you’re an expert in your field by generating interesting content that will get you noticed by employers.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Duke University's Archive of Vintage TV Ads

AdViews is a digital archive of thousands of vintage television commercials dating from the 1950s to the 1980s. These commercials were created or collected by the ad agency Benton & Bowles or its successor, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B). Founded in 1929, Benton & Bowles was a New York advertising agency that merged with D'Arcy Masius McManus in 1985 to form DMB&B. Major clients included are Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Schick, Vicks, and Post, among others. Commercials will be added in phased batches over several months in 2009.

Unfortunately, the videos are only available on an iTunesU channel, which allows for downloading but not much else. The archive is still a work in progress, though, and greater accessibility is planned for the future.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Associated Press auto-flagellates

As further proof that the print media just doesn't get it, Richard Perez-Pena, reporting for the NYT on the AP’s latest announcement regarding their attempt to restrict their articles from being linked to or appearing in search results writes (I read it online, btw...):
"Tom Curley, The A.P.’s president and chief executive, said the company’s position was that even minimal use of a news article online required a licensing agreement with the news organization that produced it. In an interview, he specifically cited references that include a headline and a link to an article, a standard practice of search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, news aggregators and blogs."
"Each article — and, in the future, each picture and video — would go out with what The A.P. called a digital “wrapper,” data invisible to the ordinary consumer that is intended, among other things, to maximize its ranking in Internet searches. The software would also send signals back to The A.P., letting it track use of the article across the Web."
Full NYT Article here.

Trompe-l'œil video projection on a building - amazing!

OK, this has to have some information science applications. Truly amazing!

Found at BoingBoing

Had to post....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Things to do with books other than (or after having) read them.

We are NOT advocating in any way the destruction of books, but these seemed clever and provocative. A few more here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wheel of Lunch

Enter your ZIP, select a meal or cuisine (Chinese, Seafood, etc.) and
Give it a Spin!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Usability, accessibility and affordance.

I have recently been associated with a workgroup that is evaluating our organization’s web-based products and services for accessibility and to help chart a course for the organization that will lead us to develop new products and services with accessible usability (!) in mind. That has caused me to revisit my personal understanding of the concept of “universal accessibility” and to try and better understand its implications for our organizational future.

For many of us designers, accessibility is often served by a small, nondescript hyperlink usually at the bottom of a web page that leads to a Section 508 statement which sounds something like: “We are committed to making our site accessible to everyone. Contact us if you have any problems accessing any of our content.” While that may be in the spirit of accessibility, it certainly falls short of the ideal. And, very often we wait for criticism or comment before expending the effort required to address accessibility issues. Basically, “if they ain’t ain’t broke.”

It was helpful to remind myself of the differences between universal and accessible design, and there are many. To further muddy the water, there is another term that is bantered about in this arena and that is “affordance”. Affordance refers to an object’s inherent understandability. If a user can look at a web page (or cell phone, for that matter) and intuitively understand how it works and what actions need to be taken to get desired results - then the design is good and universally usable - right? Nope - that is affordance. I may understand that certain buttons on my cell phone need be pressed to reach my desired party, but if I have no fingers that knowledge does me little good. On the other hand, curb-cuts - those wheelchair-friendly ramps at street crossings and the like - not only benefit those rolling in wheelchairs but also benefit parents with strollers, movers with dollies and me on my speed skates. That is universal design. When affordance meets universality there is often a true accessibility. (Just kidding about the skates).

So, is a universally accessible design always the best solution? Not necessarily, and that is a point frequently driven home in my day to day work as a web designer for it is not always required that we build to the least common denominator, and it is often simply wrong to do so. What may seem obscure and confusing to a casual web user or one accustomed to doing things in a particular way, may seem efficient and intuitive to the savvy users you are addressing with your latest product. The key to that dilemma is to understand completely who your customer is and what his expectations and capabilities are. It seems we often miss that.

All that said, it is almost always better to develop products with accessibility in mind - not just for those who “need” it, but for all of us who may simply use it. We should stop thinking of all of this in an “us” and “them” context and focus on doing what is best for everyone. Usually.

BestBuy expands their Twitosphere

As a follow-up to our previous post regarding BestBuy and Twitter the electronics retailer is encouraging hundreds of employees to handle online customer service and company promotions via Twitter. Twelpforce was debuted over the weekend but so far hasn’t garnered a lot of notice. Currently it has less than 2000 followers.

Best Buy employees can use their company and Twitter ID to register for the service, after which tweets from all of them will be displayed in a single stream on the same page.

Once registered, tweeting Best Buy employees from across all operations can send messages from the @Twelpforce account, and if they add the hash-tag #twelpforce, their messages will automatically show up under the twelpforce handle with a credit to their proper Twitter account.

I am not really sure how I feel about all of this except to say it is at least encouraging that the company is trying to engage customers. We'll see.

Barnes & Noble launches eBook store

With what the company claims is the world’s largest eBook store, holding more than 700,000 titles, Barnes and Noble has entered the downloadable e-Book market in a big way. Furthermore, Barnes & Noble said that it will have exclusive rights to distribute Plastic Logic’s fantastic reader device, which may be the Kindle’s biggest threat today.

More than 700,000 titles are available, which, according to Barnes & Noble, include “hundreds of new releases and bestsellers at only $9.99.” More than one million titles will be available by next year, “inclusive of every available eBook from every book publisher and every available eBook original,” the company said. The current stock also offers more than a 500,000 public domain books from Google, which can be downloaded for free.

Barnes & Noble uses and upgraded version of its eReader application, which was part of the company's Fictionwise acquisition earlier this year and is available for the iPhone and Blackberry smartphones, as well as regular Mac and Windows computers.

List of common misconceptions

The sad reality is that much of what we "know" is simply wrong. Hardly a day goes by without someone, usually me, espousing some half-truth we have heard most of our lives but which we have never bothered to verify. You want examples? Well, here you go:

• Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day. Wrong.

• Napoleon Bonaparte was short. Wrong.

• Searing meat seals in moisture. Wrong.

• Naked exposure to the vacuum of space means immediate death. Wrong.

• Exposure to cold or wet weather increases the likelihood of catching a cold. Wrong.

• The Bible says God made Eve from Adam's rib and it was an Apple that Eve ate that caused so much trouble. Wrong...and, wrong.

It is almost depressing how often we are just plain wrong. Much more illumination here courtesy of Wikipedia.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Restore the noble purpose of libraries

Community college librarian William H Wisner worries that librarians focusing to much on technology may be deconstructing the very libraries they serve.
"Libraries were once a sacred secular space of silence and reverence – a place where one automatically lowered one's voice ... a testament to the self-evident integrity of mankind, the belief that we all desire to find the truth through knowledge ... before libraries became the noisy computer labs they now are, with their jingle of ringtones, clattering keyboards, and unquenchable printers. And we reference librarians had a higher, more dignified calling than merely changing the printer paper."

He offers ideas for restoring the higher calling of knowledge over information.

William H. Wisner has been a librarian for 22 years. He is the author of "Whither the Postmodern Library?"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Probability Theory, the Birthday Paradox, Web Security and Free Beer

On the off-chance that the above doesn't make it crystal clear for you, what I am trying to say is the probability that in a set of randomly chosen people some pair of them will have the same birthday. In a group of at least 23 randomly chosen people, there is more than 50% probability that some pair of them will both have been born on the same day. For 57 or more people, the probability is more than 99%, and it reaches 100% when the number of people reaches 366 (by the pigeon hole principle, ignoring leap years). The mathematics behind this problem leads to a well-known cryptographic attack called the birthday attack, often discussed as a potential weakness of the internet's domain-name service system and digital signatures.

Actually, I don't really care about all of that, but was trying to figure the odds of winning a bar bet and a free beer by exploiting the stats.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This should be fun....Microsoft to open retail stores "right next to Apple"!

I'll quote Fast Company right out of the box:
Why is it that everyone competing with Apple chooses to compete on Apple's terms? If you've got to beat Lance Armstrong at something and you get to choose the game, would you really roll up to his front door, pedaling your Huffy?
I am completely willing to eat crow a year from now if proven wrong, but this can not possibly end well for Microsoft. After all, this is the company that brought you the brown Zune, a device so repugnant that a hollowed-out example was billed as the perfect place to safely hide your iPod as NO ONE would want to steal it.

While store designs have not been revealed, their recent "concept" store on the Redmond campus manages to look exactly like the love child of a Circuit City and a Walgreens, to again quote Fast Company.

Speaking at the Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans on Wednesday, Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told people to "stay tuned" for more news on the retail front.
"And stay tuned, because we're going to have some retail stores opened up that are opened up right next door to Apple stores this fall," he said. "Stay tuned, just stay tuned."
I can't wait.

Nokia Fail - profits down 66%

OK, I know Nokia is big in Europe and that their smartphone share is hovering around 40%, but this can not be good news for the Finnish firm (no pun). In a recently released performance statement, the company turned in a second quarter net profit of €380 million on sales of €13.15 billion - that compares badly with a net profit in the same period last year of €1.10 billion on sales of €13.15 billion. The statement also predicted that volumes for the third quarter will be about the same as for the second quarter, and overall the entire mobile industry is expected to fall 10 percent from levels in 2009.

Originally, Nokia had expected market share to rise in 2009, presumably based on a successful launch of the N97 flagship device. However, the N97 has been almost universally panned as out of date, cumbersome and behind the curve. Furthermore, Generator Research says that Nokia's smartphone marketshare will plummet from over 40 percent today to only 20 percent by 2013. On the other hand, they predict that Apple will hit 33 percent market share by that point, matching Nokia sometime in 2011—just two years away—with 77 million phones. There is always a chance that Nokia could pull out of the slide, but it will take something a lot more compelling than the N97. And, that 77 million number that Apple needs to hit is looking pretty big - even for an admitted fanboy like me.

Everything ePaper

What's next for the Kindle and other eReaders? Here's a roundup of the latest developments in displays and devices.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bill Gates' Project Tuva and Richard Feynman

There is no one I admire more or have studied more thoroughly than the late Richard Feynman. His Lectures on Physics and The Pleasure of Finding Things Out sit prominently on my office bookshelf.

It has only been recently that I have discovered Bill Gates' passion for the man and his work. Feynman, known for a quirky sense of humor and eccentric and wide ranging interests had a way of making science both practical and understandable (usually!). His lectures are engaging, fascinating and downright fun!
"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird. So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing - that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."
Thanks to Microsoft Research and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Feynman's acclaimed "Messenger" lectures given at Cornell University in 1964 are available using Microsoft's Silverlight technology and feature complete transcripts, commentary and interactive annotation.

Feynman was that professor you remember from school that changed your life. Do yourself a solid; install Silverlight (if you haven't - and yes it is available for Macs) and go take a look.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wonderful Flickr Stream of County Fair Pics

An amazingly beautiful, poignant, evocative and nostalgic look at a part of America's Heartland by photographer extraordinaire, Notley Hawkins. Please look!

I think I used to work for this guy...

Found at BoingBoing

International Free and Open Source Software Law Review

If you are interested in this sort of thing, here is a link.

Found at BoingBoing

USA launches an online news aggregator

USA Today has launched Newsdeck, a site that aggregates the top news stories from the paper’s site. Each topic of news has an individual widget on the site with links to news stories. The site features stories on 8 different topics, including “News,” “Money,” “Life,” and more.

The site is similar to the New York Times’ Skimmer. USA Today also recently launched an iPhone app and Android App and has seen a total of 1.88 million downloads of its mobile apps. Currently, USA Today’s iPhone app is the second most popular free news app, behind the New York Times’ app.

Morgan Stanley intern: Teens don't use Twitter and don't buy music

According to an article on, Matthew Robson, the 15 year-old intern, was asked by the bank’s European media analysts to report on what he and his peers look for in the information-entertainment industries. What they got was one of the “clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen,” the analysts said.

“Teenagers are consuming more media, but in entirely different ways and are almost certainly not prepared to pay for it,” Morgan Stanley analysts Edward Hill-Wood, Patrick Wellington and Julien Rossi said in a note, citing Robson.

More findings:

• Teens don’t want to pay for music, and certainly not CDs. They’ll either download it illegally or going on streaming sites to listen to what they want, when they want.

• Radio is dead to teenagers

• Teens hate intrusive advertising.

• Teens still spend money going to the movie theater, but merely because it’s a social activity.

• Print media is irrelevant to them. Irrelevant!

Teens don’t use Twitter because no one is reading their tweets. Twitter is totally different when you have thousands of people following you versus only a handful of your co-workers. In a related article, TechCrunch states that teens feel “unsafe” about posting their content there, because who knows who will read it. Sure, you get emails notifying you when you have new followers, but that doesn’t compare to the level of detail you get when someone on Facebook adds you, and you get their information.

• Teens use Facebook like it’s their job.

• Teens don’t watch live TV anymore, preferring to watch content online.

• Well-to-do teens listen to music on the iPod while less well-off teens use their cellphone.

In his own summary on “what is hot,” Robson says it includes “anything with a touch screen,” “mobile phones with large capacities for music,” “portable devices that can connect to the internet such as iPhones” and “really big” television sets.

Not hot are “phones with black and white screens, clunky brick phones, devices with less than ten-hour battery life and anything with wires.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

500 years of women in art - amazing!

Gratefully found over at : TYWKIWDBI

11 Undocumented Features Of Google Chrome OS (just for fun)

  1. Your family photos are accompanied by text ads for skin care and diet plans.

  2. Removes all Falun Gong references from your files.

  3. Every month, the hard drive is automatically defragged and investigated for anti-trust violations.

  4. Invests in, develops, acquires, and abandons your best ideas.

  5. Integrated tax preparation software includes "I'm Feeling Lucky" deductible button.

  6. Changes your icons daily, forcing you to look up which obscure scientific figure is having a birthday.

  7. Spends 20% of its time not doing what you tell it to do.

  8. Prevents all evil activity unless it is deemed to be for the good of the shareholders.

  9. Masseuse comes by every Monday afternoon.

  10. Constant crashes won't bother anybody as long as it's labeled "Beta".

  11. "Beta" status won't expire until 2038.

Found at: Woot Blog

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Inefficient, creative people = Quality!

Achieving quality in your life can be seen as inefficient: you must work hard, devote plenty of time and resources to it, and pretty much defer other things not so serious. I sometimes think the eschewing the “efficient” path may often lead to much valuable achievements and probably a more rewarding life.

I stumbled across a little blog post on WLC by Shane McCarron entitled "Work and Life vs. Creativity". He talks about his experiences working with teams that create computing standards. He has noticed you cannot manage these people to be “efficient” and expect results. Only through being inefficient and allowing these creative people to run their course do they end up with quality.

Daryl Furuyama at White Hat Black Box has expanded on this thought:

How Efficiency Has Decreased Quality

Lately I’ve seen many instances of people stating the hidden costs of efficiency, which usually results in the degredation of quality. Here are a few examples:
  • Food: I was watching a video about the movie, Food, Inc., and they discussed the efforts of the United States to reduce the costs of food through various programs and subsidies to corn and soy. The result is the average American only spends about 9% of their income on food, when 40 years ago it was 15%. The hidden cost is that the food is less nutritious. It looks nice on the outside, but is lacking of substance.

  • Leisure: I finally had a chance to read Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s book, Finding Flow, and it was amazing. Csíkszentmihályi states that a reason people are unhappy is because they do not know how to spend their free time. It often takes up to a half an hour to “get into” what they are doing and reach a state of flow. Many people do not have the patience to overcome the initial obstacle and get into a state of flow. Rather, people choose the activity that is more accessible (i.e. easy) such as watching TV that leads to distraction, but not fulfillment.

    Bill Cosby also noticed that people don’t know how to enjoy themselves. There seems to be a confusion between what people enjoy and what they think they should enjoy. Csíkszentmihályi states that nothing is interesting in itself, but it becomes interesting once we focus on it and begin to notice the subtleties that we didn’t notice before.

  • Shelter: I was out with my girlfriend a few weeks ago looking into apartments for her. We were looking a wide range in quality, with some being 40 years old and some being 4 years old. The 40 year old complex was recently renovated and looked nice on the outside. On the inside, the elevator wobbled and made noises, the halls were dark and enclosed, and it generally felt not secure. Once again it looked nice, but lacked substance.

    The 4 year old complex had a security patrol, open and well lit hallways, and felt study and comfortable. Going on price alone, the 40 year old complex was a more “efficient” choice, but she would have sacrificed comfort, security, and general peace of mind.

How to Obtain Quality

Efficiency is often interpreted as being “what is easy”. When things are easy, they often suffer from a lack of quality. To obtain quality in your life, you must determine your worth and what is appropriate to you. If fast food is good enough for you, you can continue to eat fast food. If it isn’t good enough, then you will look for something better.

Tina Su from Think Simple Now wrote about her experiences in overcoming her limiting beliefs and realizing she is worthy of having a nice laptop. Often the costs (both monetary and effort) act as a filter for those worthy of obtaining quality. If you believe you are worthy, you will be willing to spend the extra effort, time, or money necessary to obtain the quality you seek.

Having quality in your life beings with picking the things that are worthy of you and choosing to reject everything else, even if it comes easy

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Kindle now under $300.

Amazon has lowered the price point of its original Kindle to $299. The Kindle - which debuted in 2007 - was initially priced at $400 and subsequently reduced to $360 in May 2008.

Amazon Spokeswoman Cinthia Portugal told the Associated Press that the reduction was not just a short-term promotion. "We've been able to increase the volume of Kindles we're manufacturing and decrease the cost of doing so," explained Portugal.

Nevertheless, the above-mentioned price cut does not apply to Amazon's recently unveiled widescreen Kindle DX which is still priced at $489.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Top 10 Tools for a Free Online Education

This March post from Lifehacker lists great tools for online education. If you want to learn to code, start learning a foreign language, master Ubuntu or more try this list of top ten online tools. As Lifehacker says, "It's easy to forget these days that the internet started out as a place for academics and researchers to trade data and knowledge. Recapture the web's brain-expanding potential with these free resources for educating yourself online."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Only a year! The iTunes app store turns one!

Personally, I can hardly believe the Apple app store is only a year old! It seems like it has been around forever and my list of downloaded applications would only reinforce that conclusion! And what a year it has been... more than 50,000 applications available, over 1 billion downloads and a seemingly endless stream of "what will they think of next" applications. Every time I think there is no way a particular app can be surpassed for "wow" factor another comes along that I wonder how I ever lived without. Great job guys, and we fanboys look forward to even more amazing stuff from Cupertino.

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (It was a dark and stormy night....) 2009 Results

I look forward to this every year and this year's results certainly do not disappoint. The winner of 2009 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is David McKenzie, a 55-year-old Quality Systems consultant and writer from Federal Way, Washington. A contest recidivist, he has formerly won the Western and Children's Literature categories. McKenzie is the 27th grand prize winner of the contest that began at San Jose State University in 1982. His winning entry:
"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the "Ellie May," a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests."

The runner up, Warren Blair of Ashburn, VA:
"The wind dry-shaved the cracked earth like a dull razor--the double edge kind from the plastic bag that you shouldn't use more than twice, but you do; but Trevor Earp had to face it as he started the second morning of his hopeless search for Drover, the Irish Wolfhound he had found as a pup near death from a fight with a prairie dog and nursed back to health, stolen by a traveling circus so that the monkey would have something to ride. "

Complete results here:

Monday, July 06, 2009

World's Oldest Bible is online via The British Library

Visitors to the British Library's website can see high resolution digital images of the pages of the 1,600-year-old manuscript. As a result of collaboration between institutions in the UK, Germany, Egypt, and Russia which hold parts of the original, the images are being published for the first time.

The book was written in Greek on parchment leaves by several scribes, and shows that the Bible as we know it today is very different from the earliest versions. Some of the pages were found in a blocked-off room at the Monastery of St Catherine in 1975.

The manuscript shows thousands of alterations, and includes two New Testament books that have since been dropped, the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas. The latter is particularly controversial, as it clearly states that it was the Jews, not the Romans, who killed Jesus - indeed, it quotes the Jews as crying "His blood be upon us."

And, like other early Bibles, the Codex also omits references to the Resurrection and to Jesus' ascension into heaven. Nor does it contain Jesus' words from the cross: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

From the site:
“This 1600-year-old manuscript offers a window into the development of early Christianity and first-hand evidence of how the text of the bible was transmitted from generation to generation," said Dr Scot McKendrick, Head of Western Manuscripts at the British Library. "The project has uncovered evidence that a fourth scribe – along with the three already recognised – worked on the text; the availability of the virtual manuscript for study by scholars around the world creates opportunities for collaborative research that would not have been possible just a few years ago.”

Second Life as an educational resource: Is it worth it?

For more than three years the College Center for Library Automation (CCLA) has had a presence in Second Life. It is a modest site (click for the SLURL if you are a resident), but from there you can access information about the organization and link to CCLA’s online research resources and the library catalogs of all 28 of our represented Florida colleges. We have just renewed the lease on our virtual property for another year so we will remain there until at least next July. Is it worth it?

That is hard to answer. The returns are almost impossible to measure since web usage statistics do not let us easily determine how many users access CCLA resources from Second Life, directly. We typically get only IP addresses that can not easily be resolved. Nonetheless, it is apparent that the usage is insignificant to the point of being almost non-existant. We visit the site regularly and though the visits last only a few minutes to check that all is working at the site, it is apparent that there are no “residents” anywhere nearby and, anecdotally, their numbers appear to be dwindling in the area we inhabit (Eduisland3).

Second Life’s parent, Linden Lab, has been around for nearly 10 years, and with its product Second Life celebrating its sixth birthday since launching publicly in June 2003, we thought it would be a good idea to take at how the company’s doing according according to the analysts.

During the past 30 days, one million users logged in, according to Second Life’s own statistics. Second Life in fact trounces all other Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPGs), In average time spent per user per week, including World of Warcraft and Civilization IV. The number of hours users spend on Second Life has been increasing steadily and is currently at historic highs, totaling approximately 124 million hours in the first quarter of this year. Perhaps traffic to CCLA’s site will benefit from that growth and there is obviously a marketing opportunity there we need to exploit.

So, what does this mean for CCLA? Two years ago, in its strategic plan, CCLA made a commitment to be “where and when” our users were. As a result our services are available through conventional web access 24/7 and we have produced applications and access for both Facebook and many mobile devices (smartphones). Our commitment to “mobile” is strong and we will continue to make our products and services mobile-friendly. Our presence in the “sociosphere” will also continue if for no other reason than it is “done” and is inexpensive ($300 annually) and is relatively maintenance free. We have also made a commitment to such social-friendly technologies as tagging, user generated content and will continue to monitor the social web and develop or adapt products that meet the needs of our customers.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

60 scientific symbols explained in a fun way

Ever been confused by all the letters and squiggles used by scientists? Sixty Symbols is a collection of videos about physics and astronomy presented by experts from The University of Nottingham.

They aren't lessons or lectures - and this site is not an online reference book. The films are just fun chats with men and women who love their subject and know a lot about it! It's worth noting many symbols have multiple uses across scientific disciplines and they are somtimes approached from an unexpected viewpoint. Click on "gamma" and you'll find a professor of physics talking about cricket balls... Click on "rho" and they're stuffing paperclips into coffee cups.

However whatever symbol you click on, you'll see something interesting and maybe learn something new. Take "Venus", represented by the universal symbol for female, , for example.....

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The perils of self-publishing without an editor - or at least a proof reader!

The image below is the opening page of Moon People by Dale M. Courtney and was self-published on Xlibris. See how many errors you can spot on just the opening page. At least he is writing. Sorta.

Click image to enlarge

Apple releases iPhone OS 3.1 Beta

Just a week after the release of iPhone 3.0, Apple is delivering bug fixes and much needed updates.

Users will find that the beta updates gives the iPhone OS 3.1 tactile feedback (a vibrate function) when icons are moved, Bluetooth compatible voice control, paste capabilities when utilizing the dialer application, which will now also convert alphanumeric numbers into regular numbers after they are pasted, and a “Save a Copy” option to the video editing feature. The new update also delivers an update to the modem firmware (version 5.08.01).

AT&T customers will also be happy to find the MMS button, though it has not been determined whether or not this will signal the start of the carrier actually providing this service.

Developers will notice improvements to Quartz and OpenGL. The OpenGL update will allow for games with more elaborate graphics to be played aside from applications. Video editing will be available to third party applications via a Video Editor Controller API.

Undetermined is whether or not this update fixes the overheating issue that many users have reported.

Found at TG Daily

Google reserves 1 million Level 3 phone numbers

Google Voice promises to give you one number for all your phones - includng voicemail that is as easy as email, and many enhanced calling features like call blocking and screening, voicemail transcripts, call conferencing, international calls, and more. The service is currently available for GrandCentral users only, but will be open to new users soon. And in anticipation of that - and apparently in anticipation of mass acceptance (highly likely) Google has reserved 1 million phone numbers with Level 3, signaling indicating that it may finally be ready to roll out the service. Google last month reserved 1 million phone numbers with Level 3, signaling that it may finally be ready to roll out its long-anticipated Google Voice service.

The free service, announced in March, lets users unify their phone numbers, allowing them to have a single number through Google Voice that rings a call through to all their phones.
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Sources could not say when the 1 million numbers may be assigned. Level 3 has been supplying Google with phone numbers since the introduction of Google Voice, so the 1 million numbers are an indication Google is close to adding a significant amount of users.

Google Voice has a number of unique features including call transfer between a user's devices, multi-party conferencing, conversion of voice calls to text messages, cut-rate international calling, and call transcription.

Google also has integrated the Voice service with Gmail contact lists. But the gem is the fact that a user can have one phone number people can dial to reach them regardless of where they are located, either home or mobile. Google Voice uses VoIP to link collections of phone numbers.