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

Archive forFebruary, 2004 | back to home

29 February 2004

some kind soul has set up dropload – you upload a single file (up to 50Mb) then an email is sent to the recipient telling them how to pick it up. Much better than trying to email it…

28 February 2004

Telltale Weekly is a scheme which offers audio books in MP3 or Ogg format charging from $0.25 a story. After five years (or 100,000 downloads) each audio clip will be put into the public domain. It’s great way to fund the development of a public domain library. I have my doubts about whether they will get anything like enough customers to make it worthwhile but it is certainly an interesting and valuable thing to try.

Alas the list of “upcoming releases”:http://telltaleweekly.com/index.php?Show=Schedule is not very exciting – but you are encouraged to “make your own suggestion”:http://telltaleweekly.com/index.php?Show=Feedback – personally I would like to hear an English translation of Flaubert’s Sentimental Education…

I wonder if librarians could get together and give Project Gutenberg and other similar projects like this one an idea of which are the most important texts to work with? I can’t believe that what the world needs next is texts like “The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction”:http://www.gutenberg.net/1/1/3/4/11348/11348-h/11348-h.htm (the latest text produced by the “Distributed Proofreader”:http://www.pgdp.net/ project.

Thanks to “BoingBoing”:http://boingboing.net/ and “Ben Hammersley”:http://www.benhammersley.com/dparchives/008110.html for the link.

27 February 2004

Check out the “Dead Thesis Society”:http://freewebhosting.hostdepartment.com/d/deadthesissociety/resources.html which runs a “Yahoo Groups email list”:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/deadthesissociety/ for peer support and also has an excellent “resource library”:http://freewebhosting.hostdepartment.com/d/deadthesissociety/resources.html (displacement activity?). I checked out some of the humour sections – “how to tell you are a grad student”:http://www.cs.umbc.edu/www/graduate/how-to-tell.html is quite good, and I always liked the earlier, funny Matt Groening but I didn’t realise (or forgot) that he “wrote about grad school”:http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/~dmirman/gradschoolhell/schoolishell.html. This one – “Why God Never Got Tenure”:http://www.stanford.edu/~smarti/Fun/godtenure.html particularly tickled me.

Thanks to Marcelo Vieta for the link

26 February 2004

Edward Felten posted defending the way Google search results are delivered, suggesting the ‘votes of web authors’ is a fair way to determine website prominence in search. This touched off an interesting argument. As one poster pointed out, “think about how you will feel when a search on evolution brings up creationist sites explaining why evolution is wrong and evil. That’s a widespread view in the U.S., currently under-represented online but that may well change as the net penetrates more deeply into society.”

I was also struck by the comment by “Armature”:http://abstractfactory.blogspot.com/ in which he points out, “One interesting side effect of Vivisimo’s clustering of search results is that Vivisimo’s less vulnerable to tyranny of the majority than Googlocracy.”

25 February 2004

It’s called “The Spoke”:http://www.thespoke.net/ and I heard about it via Microsoft-Watch. It’s aimed at, ‘a restless generation of designers, programmers, and inventors’. Interestingly it allows you to see only those blog entries that are on a given (pre-configured) subject-category across the whole of ‘spokespace’. It’s hard to see how that could scale up on an open service though it could be very useful across a limited domain…

24 February 2004

I am not an online roleplaying game player myself but I know enough about how they work that this article – “The Automated Online Roleplayer”:http://www.gamespy.com/fargo/august03/autorpg/index.shtml made me laugh long and loud.

23 February 2004
Filed under:Software reviews at1:31 pm

Just a few days ago I was griping I couldn’t find how to do conference calling via Internet telephony. Now I read that Skype is going to provide “free five-way conference calling”:http://news.com.com/2100-7352-5162119.html with the next version of its software. And it is also planning a version that will run on broadband-enabled PDAs – as I hope my Palm will be as soon as I manage to get a wireless card “with a driver for it”:http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/68/34458.html!

22 February 2004
Filed under:Software reviews at3:22 pm

“Adobe Reader Speedup”:http://homepage.ntlworld.com/bootblock/files/misc/ar-speedup.zip does what it says (by telling Acrobat not to load up a lot of plug-ins you probably weren’t using anyway). While there is a “restore” option it only works once so if you do discover later that you need to use a tool you removed you may have difficulty in restoring your settings without reinstalling Acrobat. Still, it’s probably worth doing for most Acrobat users.

Thanks to Need To Know 2004-02-20 for the link

21 February 2004

new yorker phone cartoon.gif
Published in The New Yorker February 16, 2004

(NB you can browse all the cartoons in the New Yorker’s current issue each week “here”:http://www.cartoonbank.com/prints_currentissue.asp)

20 February 2004

A 23-year-old Oxford student with no knowledge of economics bluffed his way into a trip to China to teach a course on the subject at Beijing University to business leaders. He thought he was just going to be delivering a single lecture to school students so he figured he could get away with it. He was probably offered the work because he shares the same name as a New York University professor. See BBC News and “The Telegraph”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/02/20/nchina20.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/02/20/ixhome.html (requires registration) for more complete details – they broke the story originally.

(Note for non-Brits – the textbook he used to produce his lectures – “An Introduction to Global Financial Markets”:http://www.palgrave-usa.com/Catalog/product.aspx?isbn=0312233477 – is aimed at advanced high school students).

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