Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forJanuary, 2005 | back to home

31 January 2005
Filed under:Gadgets,Personal at3:31 pm

My new iBook arrived around 13:00 – it is already up and running and connected to the Internet and I’ve installed and configured all the apps I need for the moment. The whole process has been pretty painless (as one might expect from an Apple product).

I can hardly wait to bring it in to the LSE and show it off…

28 January 2005
Filed under:Personal at5:15 pm

When I ordered my iBook I am sure I ticked the ‘home’ delivery box. Nonetheless I found out that TNT tried to deliver it (finally) at mid-day yesterday (13 days after my order) when I was out of the house. No card was even put through my door – I only found out when I checked the website. So I made sure that I was home as much as possible today and… TNT didn’t even try to deliver. Now I have to wait until Monday. Grr! Oh well – all good things come to he who waits.

26 January 2005
Filed under:Gadgets,Personal at9:39 am

I feel like “Mark”:http://home.btconnect.com/glottalstop/blog/2004/11/shanghai-not-that-im-going-on-too-much.html as I wait increasingly impatiently for my iBook to arrive (especially after reading Mark’s “glowing review”:http://home.btconnect.com/glottalstop/blog/2004/12/powerbook-i-thought-id-give-quick.html of his Powerbook. I know my machine has this morning arrived in Holland from the Far East – I hope it hops the channel soon – I’ve been waiting since forever (well since the 14th anyway).

25 January 2005
Filed under:Arts Reviews,Personal,Search Engines at7:44 am

You should try listening to Federico Mompou. I saw a CD of music of his by chance in the home of a musical friend over Christmas and noticed that it had won the editor’s choice from Gramophone so I made a note to find some Mompou when I got back. The music turns out to be delightful (if a little lacking in variety after a while).

I found myself asking, characteristically, whether there is any way I could have found out about his work through some kind of automated Internet tool (rather than just participating in a “classical music related forum”:http://www.good-music-guide.com/forum/). Doing a Google Set search with the names of the two composers he’s closest to just gave me a “list of other famous composers”:http://labs.google.com/sets?hl=en&q1=debussy&q2=satie&q3=&q4=&q5=&btn=Large+Set, not of others who were similar. The excellent “All Music Database”:http://www.allmusic.com does provide “see also” information for Debussy and Satie but neither entry mentions Mompou (even though he’s in their database).

If you want to find some Mompou to listen to without resorting to peer to peer piracy, “here”:http://search.singingfish.com/sfw/search?last_query=mompou&query=mompou&x=62&y=14&adult_results=&a_submit=1&aw=1&sfor=a&dur=1&fmp3=1&freal=1&fwin=1&fqt=1&cmus=1&rpp=20&persist=1&a_eml_search=1&email_type=2 are 67 entries of at least a minute’s length from the SingingFish audio and video search engine. Altavista “only finds 14”:http://www.altavista.com/audio/results?q=mompou&maf=mp3&maf=wav&maf=msmedia&maf=realmedia&maf=aiff&maf=other&mad=long (and only lets you specify more or less than 1minute length) and “Lycos finds 63”:http://search.lycos.com/default.asp?tab=multi&adf=&query=mompou&submit.x=21&submit.y=9&submit=Search&cat=audio&loc=searchbox&agree=1 but doesn’t let you specify a minimum length.

P.S. Can anyone help with a query about anti-Chomsky media scholarship over at the Media@LSE blog?

22 January 2005

Ethan Zuckerman has written thoughtfully about Wikipedia in response to a recent “article”:http://www.techcentralstation.com/111504A.html (by a former editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica) suggesting it is impressive but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Zuckerman points out that Wikipedia is great if you are looking for in-depth coverage of (say) how “GSM”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSM works but, ‘when I use Wikipedia to obtain information that I could find in a conventional encyclopedia, I often have a terrible experience, encountering articles that are unsatisfying at best and useless at worst.’

Danah Boyd notes usefully that one of the benefits of signed, scholarly resources over community ones like Wikipedia is that “scholars have something to lose”:http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2005/01/08/on_a_vetted_wikipedia_reflexivity_and_investment_in_quality_aka_more_responses_to_clay.html when they get things wrong.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the debate about the quality of Wikipedia has spread fairly widely across the Internet punditsphere. It now even has its own “wiki page”:http://www.emacswiki.org/cw/WikipediaQualityControlDebate which attempts to summarise the debate (and if you use a blog search tool like “Bloglines”:http://www.bloglines.com/citations?url=http://www.techcentralstation.com/111504A.html you’ll find 83 more sites with something to say on the subject).

P.S. Sorry if this is coming to the debate rather late – I am not doing as much blogging as I used to to free up time for writing my PhD about it instead – and where I am blogging I tend to do it on the “Media@LSE Group Weblog at get.to/lseblog”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php I set up. In the last few weeks I have blogged about “Korea leading the world in numbers of bloggers”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=39, a “database of predictions about the Internet”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=28 “Santa Studies”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=23, “Online transcription services”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=22, “The Economics of Search”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=15 and the “global broadband digital divide”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=20 (and my colleagues in the LSE’s PhD programme have also had several interesting things to post). Pleas come and take a look (at least if you want to hear about the academic side of my life).

16 January 2005

If you have a Windows PC (running Win 2000 or later) it would be well worth your while to visit Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) and download and run it. Even if you have other anti-spyware programs you run from time to time each manufacturer seems to have their own database of spyware and each catches different things.

Oh, and if the scan does find spyware, one of the first things you should consider trying is switching browsers to “Mozilla or Firefox”:http://www.mozilla.org/ as Internet Explorer is more of a target for hackers…

14 January 2005
Filed under:Personal at5:12 pm

It is hard to complain these days given the kind of “horrors others have had to bear recently”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/world/2004/asia_quake_disaster/default.stm but I confess to being a little disgruntled when after returning from holiday with my family we had to face:

  • My wife’s laptop’s batteries seem to have died
  • Our shower/bath leaked through to the neighbors below us ruining their ceiling while we were gone so the bath will probably have to be torn up around our ears to find the problem (we had a similar problem with our washing machine in the kitchen in the middle of the year to boot!)
  • A few days after our return an enterprising thief managed to steal the pannier bag off my bicycle while I was riding it without my realising it (probably while I was at a stoplight). Now he or she has my Palm T3 and keyboard as well as a very good bag of a kind I don’t think they make any more. While I wait for the insurance to come through I’m having to note things to do and other thoughts down on pieces of paper which I hate doing.
  • I haven’t made enough progress on my thesis methodology over the break and dealing with the above has slowed me down further.

    So where is the silver lining? The failure of the batteries on the old PC laptop provided just the excuse needed to justify my “long delayed”:http://blog.org/archives/001282.html purchase of a “new 12 inch Apple iBook”:http://www.apple.com/uk/ibook/specs.html. So after a 14 year gap I will be a Mac user again. The last time I used one extensively (when working at “Mac User”:http://www.macuser.co.uk/) I was using System 7 – I look forward to discovering how things have changed! Who says you can’t spend your way out of a depression?

  • 2 January 2005

    Or has this been festering behind the scenes for months and only recently become public? (Or has there been argument somewhere I just haven’t been noticing?) It’s becoming clear that “Chris Anderson”:http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/andersonw.html – the Editor in Chief of Wired – has views on copyright that differ somewhat from the ‘bits want to be free’ ideology that the magazine has tended to espouse.

    I noticed “last month”:http://blog.org/archives/cat_ecommerce.html#001325 that Chris A (as befits an ex-Economist writer) is keen to encourage commercial companies to sueeze every last penny of value out of their intellectual property while people like “Cory Doctorow”:http://www.craphound.com/ and “Lawrence Lessig”:http://www.lessig.org/ would rather copyright protection was somewhat loosened to make it easier for people to exercise their existing rights and to encourage more theoretically-marketable but marginal content to enter the public domain.

    Now Cory and Chris have “locked horns on digital rights management”:http://www.boingboing.net/2004/12/29/cory_responds_to_wir.html. Cory it seems never saw a DRM implementation he liked – Chris is a little more open to persuasion. Certainly both Cory and Larry have been able to dig up plenty of examples of how stupid DRM software rules sometimes mess up consumers’ rights and how it is always possible to circumvent DRM if you try hard enough. But my guess is that even the clumsy DRM implemented today seldom inconveniences most consumers much and most consumers don’t bother trying to get around it, unless they are trying to do something they shouldn’t like giving away copyrighted content to their friends.

    If companies managed to develop sophisticated DRM that didn’t significantly impede people’s legitimate desires to share media with their friends and their other devices I wouldn’t be against it if it encouraged companies to make more of their back catalogues available more inexpensively and conveniently online. At the moment the absence of a convenient and comprehensive commercial alternative naturally drives people to the free P2P networks (particularly for more obscure fare) and this just makes the ultimate day of digital convergence further away.

    The EFF and others should be encouraging responsible DRM development not just slamming it. How about a code of conduct for responsible DRM coding?