Monday, September 26, 2011
Tom PappalardoCartooning is, to me, an art form of simplification. The artist uses a minimal amount of lines to communicate characters and place to a reader. Mouths are often oddly-shaped black holes. Cartoon evolution often does away with lips, body hair, elbows. Eyebrows are reduced to lines. Eyes become dots. A background might be a line indicating where the floor and wall meet. Maybe a squiggle of distant trees, or a cloud. Maybe just a flat field of color. Cartooning is also about communicating an idea in the briefest terms possible. It is literally a shorthand form of storytelling. If you’re making a comic strip, and that joke takes place in a restaurant and the setting is important to the joke or narrative, you damn well better explain that as quickly as possible in the first frame so you can get on with what you’ve got to say. In short, in gag cartooning things need to be made apparent.
If you still love bookstores...
Posted on Sep 26, 2011
Flickr / photosteve101 The 2011 uprisings in the Arab world showed the Internet’s potential as a tool for both liberation and oppression. Protesters logged on to organize rallies that toppled dictators, while some leaders commandeered the Web to silence opposition.
Making good on their gruesome warning of targeting "internet snitches," members of Mexico's Zetas drug cartel decapitated a woman who was a frequent poster to a website where citizens could post information about drug gang violence.Gawker.com
The victim, Marisol Macias Castaneda, was a newsroom manager for Primera Hora, a newspaper for the border city of Nuevo Laredo. But it was her activity on the site Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, or Nuevo Laredo Live, that seemed to be the source of her murder. The site "prominently features tip hotlines for the Mexican army, navy and police," the AP reports, and "includes a section for reporting the location of drug gang lookouts and drug sales points."
A particularly gross genre of Internet erotica has sprung up around alluring self-pictures of underage girls found on social media sites. But did you know there are actual people with real lives in those pictures? Meet Miami teen Angie Varona, whose life was turned upside down when she became an online sex symbol.
A hacking group took over USA Today's twitter account this weekend and did absolutely nothing fun with it at all. Why do hackers who gain the power to screw with hundreds of thousands of people have to be such humorless famewhores?Gawker.com
Anonymous is on the hunt for the cop featured in a video pepper-spraying Occupy Wall Street protesters for no apparent reason. They say they've found him, and are circulating a document with his and his family's personal information. This could get ugly.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
The Obama administration has launched a new website for people to submit petitions, because, well, the government's broken, so why not see what the internet is up to? And what the internet is up to is, as usual, demanding the legalization of weed.Gawker.com
The White House has promised to "review and "issue an official response" to any petition that gets more than 5,000 "signatures" in 30 days. And as of this post, five of the twelve most popular—including the number-one most-signed—petitions on their shiny new website concern marijuana and the war on drugs.
At the library book sale you'll find dog-eared classics, homemade apple pie and maybe a fistfight.
MetroWest library volunteers said in the past five years, "I saw it first!" has risen to a whole new level.
Armed with electronic ISBN scanners and Santa-sized loot bags, people who resell books on the Internet camp outside the door, shove others out of the way and cover piles of valuable books with blankets, sale organizers said.
Ending Saturday delivery means massive lay offs for mail carriers. The usual mail carrier schedule is that regular carriers have a five day work week, starting on a Saturday. Sunday (of course) is skipped, and an alternate day of the week is given as a day off (their 'non sched'). Often, the 'non sched' is on a rotating basis. So, if you have a Monday off one week, the next may be Tuesday, followed by Wednesday, Thursday... When you get to Friday (the end of the work week) the day that follows would be Saturday, so you get a three day weekend, followed by a six day work week (Monday through Saturday), even though officially you only worked five days in a row.
The way this system works is that enough mail carriers are hired to fill in for the absent regulars on their routes. These may be T 6s, regulars without one regular route but a schedule of changing routes, or PTFs (part time flexibles) who are not guaranteed a forty hour work week. Or, the regulars on other routes may be assigned to 'pivot' onto a vacant route for a limited period of time ( a 'hit'). This will mean overtime pay for them. Though some carriers actively seek overtime, others would often prefer a more regular schedule... Tough! Overtime can be 'forced', if the needs of the office require it. So, a carrier's family shouldn't expect him/her at an appointed time of day (or night). Change the schedule to five day delivery, and the need for 'pivots' and T6s and PTFs changes... Everyone will have the exact same day of the week off, hence no need for someone to fill in..
Does that mean, then, the end of overtime? No. After every Sunday, there is a surge in mail volume due to the fact that mail still travels 24/7 to the regional distribution centers. Mail delivery may be curtailed, but the sorting process will continue. Thus, every Monday, the carriers have more mail to deliver than previous days. And more packages, too. Add Saturday's mail to the back log, and you're creating a huge glut of work for one day of the week, and possibly creating delays. Mail may be left behind so carriers can meet their schedules.
What else does the end of Saturday delivery mean? Retail businesses that rely on the USPS for deliveries on Saturdays will no longer receive important shipments. The chances of finding the recipient of a certified, registered or insured delivery at home is drastically reduced, as most people are not home during a Monday to Friday work week.
There's a saying I've recently learned: "saving dimes while losing dollars". It tends to apply to those business strategies like Six Sigma training that optimize bottom line expenses at the cost of good service and growing the customer base. Businesses that do so often alienate their clients by becoming inflexible and unadaptive to their client's needs. I'm afraid that the USPS has been too long down that path of self-immolation...
No Saturday mail, no problem?
AOL Govt.The Postal Service presented a proposal to Congress on Tuesday that might stave off financial collapse but would have far-reaching ramifications for federal workers.
Postal officials say they will be unable to make this month's $5.5 billion payment to cover future employee health care costs because the agency will have reached its borrowing limit and doesn't have enough cash. The Postal Service has proposed ending Saturday mail delivery and is considering cutting as many as 120,000 jobs as it faces a second straight year of losses of $8 billion or more. A decline in mail because of the Internet and the loss of revenue from advertising amid the economic downturn have taken a toll on the agency.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
History contains many examples of medical functions performed by frighteningly unqualified people. Barbers once were also dentists. Whoever was the oldest lady in the village was also a midwife. And x-rays were shot through children's feet - by shoe store attendants.io9
It's no secret that people of the 1930s and 1940s had an unhealthy fascination with radiation. People put radium in health tonics, food, and toothpaste. They boiled themselves under UV lamps. They used radiation to mutate garden vegetables. So when they found a way to check the fits of a shoe, and all it took was shooting an x-ray through a child's foot, naturally they jumped on it.
Working on the internet full time, it’s hard to remember an era where the service was primarily used as a leisure activity, as schools and businesses were just starting to integrate themselves into it.Unreality
I spent a big chunk of my youth on the internet, but doing very different things than I do today. I decided to take a look at some of the relics of a bygone era, sites and places that used to take up huge chunks of my time. Many might still exist in some form or another, but their glory days have long passed.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
www.zdnet.co.ukQ&ANasa consultant, scientist and writer David Brin has long concentrated on the effects technology can have on people. In 1998, he wrote The Transparent Society, an award-winning book investigating privacy, surveillance, people's rights and the state.
Famously, he considered the solution to too much surveillance by the state was even more surveillance — but by the people, guarding their rights by checking up on the activities of the watchers.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
The Internet isn't only on your screen. Or behind your couch. Or in Google's data centers. It's also underwater, where fiber-optic cables stretch across oceans and loop around continents.
Satellites are like dial-up. Nobody uses them.Undersea cables make the Internet global, with the most sophisticated of them capable of transmitting nearly ten terabits of data per second, compressed through just a handful of fiber-optic strands. There are only hundreds of these cables in waters around the world. And they are all preposterously proportioned, as thin as a garden hose and as long as-actually, nothing. No human construction matches them. They are the longest tubes ever made, and, for the first time ever, there's a truly accurate interactive online map of them.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Four incidents of late challenge the very notion of journalism. Michael Arrington, Henry Blodget, Wikileaks, and TV’s Irene coverage each in their own way raise the question: What is journalism? And does it matter?
When Michael Arrington announced that he was starting an investment fund at Aol with capital from other VCs, Kara Swisher went after him for violating canons of journalism. Just one thing: Arrington rejects the title of journalist. At his Disrupt conference, I tried to get him to take on the mantle and alter it. But he sees nothing to aspire to there.
How to Assure IT Services Better, Faster and CheaperService Assurance Daily: Anything and everything that affects IT performance, from the mundane to the bizarre - Network Performance Blog
'The Internet of Yesterday and Today' Travels from 1996 to 2011If you’re old enough to remember the early days of the Web, ‘The Internet of Yesterday and Today’ will be an awesome adventure back in time—and if the “early days” to you means the beginning of Facebook, this infographic will serve as a technology history lesson.
The carbon cycle, upon which most living things depend, reaches much deeper into the Earth than generally supposed—all the way to the lower mantle, researchers report.Lab Spaces
On Friday, NASA has said that their doomed 6-ton Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) will most likely crash to Earth on, or around, Sept. 23.More
Earlier, there was some ambiguity as to when the satellite may reenter, but since the recent uptick in solar activity, the UARS demise has been sped up somewhat.
If you're like me, the first time you ever heard the phrase "intellectual property" was when David Letterman left NBC to start "The Late Show with David Letterman" on CBS. However, the battles over who owned what rights to created works were in the news before that. I was actually more informed prior to that, as I'm a student of the history of comic books.
Indeed, the history of comics is rife with examples of injustice due to the "work for hire" system. And the occasional victory of the creator (though possibly at the expense of other artists collaborating) through shrewd foresight. Nor were the injustices limited to the early years of the industry. Some of the legal wars were over the nature of the material being published, and what constituted "fair use" of copyrighted material.
Not that comic books were alone in such troubles. Work for hire property issues affected recording artists such as Prince and George Michael . It seemed that whole era was devoted to recording artists struggling against their record labels for more control. But that was before Napster entered the scene..
Media conglomerates such as Paramount, Disney, and Lucasfilm have all defended their rights to control their intellectual properties (though, to be fair, the copyright system demands any infraction be challenged in court, in order to preserve rights. Even a situation that would be dismissed as inconsequential use would revert the property to public domain ).
However, another perspective on property rights has been entering the fray, and we return to the world of recording music...
Just why Jamaica would become the focus of all the changes in the recording industry, and how principles it first practiced would extend globally, is a mystery. The roots of punk rock, hip hop and dance music are in the evolution from ska to dub to dance hall, as was the increased importance of the DJ as artist. The "do it yourself" , often illegal, obtaining of equipment to record and perform with, that too is often traced to Jamaican influences. Music sampling, which formed the basis of hip hop, originally started outside the jurisdiction of US courts.
Steven Levy, in his book Hackers, showed that the culture of computing has some roots in what is known as "open source" dating back to the Homebrew Computer Club of the 1970s & The Well during the 80s. Both Levy and Bruce Sterling (in his book, The Hacker Crackdown: Law & Disorder on the Electronic Frontier ) describe the hacker mentality as being one who is often chaotic neutral: the hacker is often not concerned about morality, but is offended by restriction. The motto "information should be free" arose from this culture.
The rise of recording 'bootlegs' of public performances, as well as making 'mixtapes' for personal use, exceeded and overlapped instances of piracy of recordings, thus confusing such issues as the rights of the consumer over property purchased. Disclaimers stating that any unauthorized use of a recording (of any media) will be prosecutable by law appear on commercial sales, and broadcasts. Non profit P2P file sharing has been lumped into the definition of piracy by the legal system. Meanwhile, some artists, sympathizing with fans, defected from the recording label's position.
The controversy and debate over intellectual rights has morphed to the point that a political party has formed to support the freedom to share & exchange media.
So, we have the stand off: the creators and corporations that view copyright fees as bread and butter, and the hackers who see them as toll fees for roads long since effectively paid for...
Friday, September 16, 2011
iPad iPhone Smartphones Apple Windows Facebook Google Android More Ways to Get Us... RSS Feed | Free E-Mail Newsletter Add to: Google | Yahoo | More Twitter: Harry | All Technologizer Join Our Facebook Page A Brief History of the Rise and Fall of Telephone Competition in the US, 1982-2011
So much for quiet Sundays. AT&T announced today that it’s agreed to acquire T-Mobile US from Deutsche Telekom, a merger which, if completed, will make it by far the country’s biggest wireless phone company. It’ll also leave us with three national carriers: AT&T, archrival Verizon Wireless, and the much smaller Sprint.Technologizer
Good News, Everyone! Yesterday, there were local elections in the German country of Niedersachsen, andFalkvinge & co.
59seats were captured by the German Piratenpartei.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Lawyers For Thomas Cooley Law School Skirt Legal & Ethical Questions In Uncovering Anonymous Blogger They're Suing
Remember the Thomas M. Cooley law school? The school, generally considered a 4th tier bottom of the barrel law school, made some news last month by suing some anonymous critics, who appeared to be unhappy former students blogging about the school. The school has also been sued for apparent misleading employment stats. Of course, somewhat related to all of this is the ridiculously laughable attempt by Thomas Cooley to hide its poor reputation by creating its own ranking system that puts itself as the number 2 law school in the country. Of course, its ranking methodology leaves a lot to be desired, using things like "total law school square footage," and "total volumes in library," and giving them equal rank to things like "bar passage rate" and "employment upon graduation."TechDirt
From protests precipitated by Facebook posts to internet censoring by authoritarian regimes technology has played a prominent role in the world’s recent moments of social unrest. We all know that the governments of Iran and Egypt and Libya eavesdrop when their citizens talk, but to listen in on Yahoo chat or Skype they needed help. Where that help came from might surprise you. Companies in the UK, Germany, France, the US and other countries in the West have sold software to regimes that enable them to spy on their citizens – ironically the same regimes those countries are now trying to topple.Singularityhub.com
(Reuters) - Controversial new Internet rules adopted late last year by the Federal Communications Commission will soon be published officially, a step expected to trigger legal challenges.
The White House's Office of Management and Budget signed off on the rules on Friday, according to a notice on the OMB's website, clearing way for publication in the Federal Register, a process which generally takes one to three weeks.
Monday, September 12, 2011
We’ve reached the point now where almost all the world’s under-18s in the developed world don’t remember a time when the Internet wasn’t a major part of everyday life. Growing up with a direct connection to the whole world gives today’s children a view on the way the world works that is vastly different from the older generations. What can we learn from the ‘digital natives’? That’s one of the questions that research firm Latitude is looking to answer with its KIDS – Kids Innovation Discovery Series initiative.The Next Web
Sunday, September 11, 2011
...In May of 2011, when President Obama announced the killing of Osama Bin Laden, I did not rejoice. My only thought was: "Finally". Not that I thought anything was over, not Al Queda, not the battle against terrorism we had been fighting for so long, just that we finally took him out.
Everyone, including Bin Laden, had to realize he was living on borrowed time the moment he took credit for the 9/11 attacks. Hell, even when he first proposed the idea, he must have known how it would end. Anyone who remembers Munich in 1972 and how much effort the Mossad put into finding and executing the terrorists responsible for that knew America would not suffer to do less. Even if Bin Laden was captured alive, I doubt very much that the temptation to just shoot him then and there could be resisted for long.
Let me tell you about what I felt on September 11th, 2001. But first, let me explain why...
Back in 1980, I knew Iranians. Some had moved to my home town, and surrounding towns, started businesses. They were refugees from the Ayatollah's cultural revolution who, as bad as the Shah had been, could not imagine living under Sharia Law and cultural backwardness. We here were still remembering the Iranian Hostage crisis of 1979, so I often heard derogatory remarks made about these folk, though they were blameless, and probably the least likely to have participated...
When I went to college, I met more Iranians. They were fellow students of Chemical Engineering, which made sense as they were training to operate the petroleum drilling and processing facilities (and possibly, the future Nuclear Power plant) of their country. One time, when proposals of raising student tuitions were circulating through the campus, many of us students were organizing protests. When we asked the Iranians if they would like to participate, they refused with a haunted look on their faces. Later, someone would suggest that they were likely being monitored by Iranian officials for signs of political activism, and were afraid for their lives and those family members still in Iran. I believe this to be true.
I had made the acquaintance of one remarkable fellow, Sayid, through the school's fencing club. We never talked too much about his past, but I knew that he also had fled Iran prior to the Ayatollah's return.
I also met my first Pakistani, a young girl whose name escapes me now. She wore what I took to be traditional garb, but was not the inhibiting Burkha. Instead, she wore colorful robes and scarves that framed her lovely face. We only met a few times, in passing on the campus grounds, and I had struck up conversation. My father, ever the historian, noted the irony of my heritage being linked to the British expeditionary forces that had occupied her lands at one time or another, after I mentioned meeting her.
One time, while walking & talking on Huntington Ave. with a friend, we passed a student handing out flyers that denounced the CIA's involvement with the US embassy in Iran. He asked us if we had known about it.. I thought the question ridiculous. Of course our State department would be aware and supportive of CIA operations in that country! How naive and credulous could you be about espionage to think otherwise?
In 1981, President Reagan ordered the breaching of blockade of Muammar Gaddafi's "Line of Death". This incident would eventually resonate with me.
In 1984, after dropping out of college, I had joined the US Navy. Because I spent so much time in training, it wasn't until 1987 that I actually served on a ship. The USS Capodanno was stationed in Newport, RI, near enough to my home town. Most of our time was either spent in Newport, or in Boston for extensive ship refits. We finally deployed for the Mediterranean in spring of 1988. While we were berthed in Naples, Italy, the crew had planned to hold a talent contest for the crew at the local USO club. On April 15th, at about 11 pm Naples time, I had just turned into my bunk after my watch. An hour later, I was shook awake, and told we were to prepare to light the boilers. So, I headed back to the engineering department, received my orders, and went to my station. After performing the prefunctory duties, I headed back to the control cabin of the engine room, and asked what had happened. A car bomb planted in front of the USO had exploded. Luckily, none of my crewmates had perished in the explosion, though a few had been hospitalized. Unfortunately, one of the casualties that night was RM3 Angela Maria Santos, of the Naples NATO base. She had been asked to be there to act as a judge of the talent contest.
NCIS (yes, there really is such a thing...) had deputized many warm bodies to interview our crew, for clues to possible leaks that there would be a large gathering that night. Also, our ship, and our berth mate the USS Paul, had both been part of the original 'Gulf of Death' deployment. Later, when things quieted a bit, I would take a look at the blast site. I, and my shipmate companion, could not really see much, as the area was still cordoned from through traffic. In bars that night, I remember asking a stranger why anyone would do such things. He mentioned the ever present Carabinieri we had seen on the streets of Naples, even as we had arrived, and told us that Italy still had a compulsory draft for young men. Many political radicals were recruited who were protesting this state of affairs.
After I had left the Navy, finding a good job was difficult. The only certifications I had was my high school diploma, and my service record. In 1991, I was working as a taxi driver for a local company. In October, I was to meet with my parents, who had returned to town from their retirement in Wareham for a friend's funeral. That Sunday, we met at a favorite Chinese restaurant for the buffet. Even as I had just arrived, my father rose to get seconds from the buffet table. He then spun around and collapsed. Immediately, I rushed to his side, shouting for someone to call for an ambulance. I checked for pulse, responsiveness, cleared his mouth of obstructions, asked if anyone there knew CPR. I asked my mother, who had been a registered nurse, if she would perform CPR, but she was too overcome with grief and panic. So, I started compressions and breaths. All this time, I thought how I had failed every time I tried to qualify for CPR credentials. This time, I had no choice but to do my very best.
It's odd, looking back, at how little panic I actually felt. I had been trained to respond to emergencies by the Navy, and merely did what I had to.
Eventually, a young woman who had been in the restaurant relieved me from performing CPR, so I could comfort and quiet my mother. I never learned that woman's name, but after the EMTs arrived and started treatment, she cried on my shoulder.
My father died that night, probably while still in the restaurant. We had only managed to keep him functioning for a few scant minutes. It was at my father's funeral that found out that I had a new job available with the Post Office.
In 2000, I heard about the attack on the USS Cole, and thought: "There but for the grace of God"..
So, I found myself working on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. I had been told that there was something on TV I ought to see, so I went to the break room and saw the Today show broadcast of the North tower fire. Prior to this, the news had reports of airline pilots being caught sleeping, or drunk while flying. So, even as I saw the horrible results of the crash, I had a flash of black humor that it was an accident. Then, I saw the South tower crash.
As soon as it had sunk in, I had that feeling of ice water flooding my guts. A terrorist attack. In New York City. My thoughts immediately went to those Iranians I knew, the young Pakistani of my college years. I feared for them, knowing what was to come. When the news footage of Palestinians celebrating the attack by dancing in the streets, I thought to myself; "Don't you realize?"
When I heard about United flight 93, I was awed. A few passengers, given little time to discuss what was to be done, but having been given the chance to learn the stakes of what could happen, decided the fate for the entire flight. I doubt seriously that all passengers would have agreed to their plan, had they been given the opportunity. Many were afraid, and would have wanted to do nothing in hopes that they would be spared. I had been to Masada, in Israel, during my Mediterranean deployment. What happened on Flight 93 was nothing short of the choice of Eleazer, as Josephus recorded it. People died, but not by the terms of their oppressors.
After the successful attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy was reputed to say; "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
On this tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack, I have learned many interesting things:
- National Security Advisor Condaleeza Rice, having called then Russian President Putin, to advise him that our alert status was at Defcon 3, but we would not attack them, heard him say; "I know, we saw the news. We have stopped our military exercises. How can we help?". At this, she thought; "the cold war really is over.."
- Communications at the Pentagon after the plane crash had been so disrupted that many high ranking officials had to rely on personal cell phones to communicate w/ each other. Unguarded, unencrypted cell phones.
- Many of the survivors of the Twin Tower attacks, and those who worked at Ground Zero to remove debris and retrieve bodies, were exposed to highly toxic dust. This was known at the time, and notifications had been made to the workers, even as public officials tried to calm the public by saying the air and water was safe...
- The reason for the collapse of the seventh tower was not only due to debris, but the underground network of connecting maintenance tunnels that transmitted the shock waves from the collapse of the Twin towers.
On the morning of the 12th, having been notified that there now existed hold on all commercial flights, there was an eerie silence. You never think about contrails of jet planes crossing the sky, until they aren't there. Where I live, you occasionally hear the engines of planes approaching Logan airport, but not that day. The day was especially silent, as I went about my work. A haunted silence of indecision and fear.
There have been many worse disasters, since 9/11. Hurricane Katrina caused much more damage, cost many lives. But, the events of 2001 still linger. We are still haunted.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Mike Perlman on September 9, 2011
Greetings, kids. The Grandpa of TechnoBuffalo is back with yet another caustic episode of tech-related castigation. Today I’ll be delving into the squalid mind of the Internet Troll, or as I like to call them, “Keyboard Commandos.” Equipped with an arsenal of cyber-bullying tactics, Trolls use the Internet as their master trebuchet, catapulting ostentatious, sardonic and often vile comments at those around them in order to extract some sort of reaction that usually resides within the realm of defense. Although Trolls have been roaming the Digital Interglobe for a few decades, looting and pillaging the elation and self-confidence of others, I feel as though certain websites are fructifying the tainted soil that sprouts these insidious weeds.
Set thirty meters (100 feet) underground, deep within the bedrock and in what was once used as a Swedish atomic bomb shelter, lies this high security internet center. What sounds like the perfect hideout for a CIA facility or a film set for the next Jason Bourne film, is actually the HQ for the Swedish internet server provider, Bahnhof. Named "Pionen, White Mountain," the internet service facility is centrally located in Stockholm, directly below the Sofia Church, where the cave-like formation houses server halls and offices.Gizmag
Digital TrendsMichael Hart, the inventor of the e-book and founder of online book resource Project Gutenberg, died this week at his home in Illinois.Michael Hart, the man who created what is considered to be the first ever e-book, has died aged 64.
1. commonwealth of information 1 thumb up
A generic term for the vast resources of information democratically available in the digital, social networked and crowd sourced era.
"Wikis are an example of interactive databases made possible by the commonwealth of information."
The Commonwealth of Information is an idea I came up with, to describe how information is being organized in our digital era. It came to me because I was reading the book; Re-Inventing Knowledge : From Alexandria to the Internet by Wolverton & McNeely. In it, they described the creation and consequences of the Republic of Letters. I was especially captured by the use of the term "Republic" in this sense...
"Republic" implies representation. In this case, representatives of knowledge, chosen by a process of education and made legitimate by degrees documenting their authority on the matter. It's from the time of the 'natural philosophers' to the doctorates in the sciences. One particular exemplar has special implications...
Alexander von Humboldt was a fellow of the 'Republic of Letters' that utilized the social network created by the 'Republic' to amass and organize information. Not any specific information, but a gathering of various details that made up the environment of the Earth. He accomplished this by crowd sourcing the work to individuals he had contact with, in the right locations, and asking them to record the same data sets from the same sets of instruments. No one individual involved with the collection of data would necessarily know the whole of what was amassed, until it was processed (if it ever would be..). Because of this type of data collection, patterns began to become apparent. Such as Isobar charts, detailing weather and climate information barely known before. Does Humboldt's methodology sound vaguely familiar?
What do you know of wikis? You, no doubt, are quite familiar with the omnipresent Wikipedia, but do you know who Ward Cunningham is? The idea of crowd sourcing information collection is not very new, as we have seen. Yet, the difference is that, for a wiki, we are not necessarily reliant upon an authority with a degree to collect and decide it's nature. It is more democratically represented. And also prone to abuses of it's system. The idea was that, a perfectly created wiki would be self-monitoring, as errors or abuses in definitions would be discovered and corrected by future users and contributors.
But, there is a sense of arrogance that all would be perfectly executed, and cynicism in the concept of documenting all pertinent knowledge. Indeed, a satire of Wikipedia (Encyclopedia Dramitica) was created to lampoon the sense of mission that Wikipedia contributors have. And there are the media reports of how Wikipedia entries for celebrities and pop culture are more often longer than what is considered 'real information'.
It is this movement from a system reliant upon authoritative, documented authority to a catch all, democratically level field of participation that I refer to when I say society is traveling from the Republic of Letters to the Commonwealth of Information..
Thursday, September 8, 2011
By Joe Davidson, Published: September 5
Patrick Donahoe will beg for the life of the U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday, a role he has known before. But when he addresses a congressional committee this time, his pleas will go beyond the familiar and reasonable and into areas more drastic and radical.
The postmaster general will ask Congress during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to approve measures that once would have been unthinkable.
...|I Eventually have to talk about Elmyr, so this is a good place to start...
September 8, 2011, 2:46 pmNew York Times, Pogue's Post
In the olden days, it was simple to keep up with pop culture. There were only three channels on TV, and everybody saw the same shows at the same time.
These days, of course, not so much. There are 500 channels on TV, and you can watch anything at any time. That doesn’t mean, however, that we no longer have a common pop-culture base. We do — it’s just moved online. Show me somebody under 20, and I’ll show you someone who can laugh at “Friday,” sing the “Bed Intruder Song” or “plank” in an incongruous place.
Monday, September 5, 2011
The bizarre saga involving a lost prototype of the iPhone 5 has taken another interesting turn. Contradicting past statements that no records exist of police involvement in the search for the lost prototype, San Francisco Police Department spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield now tells SF Weekly that "three or four" SFPD officers accompanied two Apple security officials in an unusual search of a Bernal Heights man's home.More
September 5, 2011 10:49 AM EDT
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Thankfully, one of the jobs my Grandmother Soucie had was as ticket taker at the Brunswick Cumberland Theater. This meant that my mother could take my sister and I to see matinees from the balcony for free..
I remember the Cumberland as a beautiful place, a true movie palace. I remember the placards for now playing and coming attractions hung about the lavish entrance, the chrome steel of the ticket machine, the florescence of the lights around the concession stand....
Back at home, my family had the choice of two theaters, one in Franklin, and one in Milford, MA. The Milford Cinema was like the one in Brunswick, with it's own balcony. But, always seemed a bit shabbier, for some reason. The Franklin Cinema, I don't remember a balcony. But, it was a large amphitheater with plenty of seats...
Of course, during the summers, our family would round us up, my sister and I in sleepwear, and we'd go to the Drive In. There was the Drive In on the VFW Parkway in W. Roxbury, near the MDC skating rink (now a High School). In Natick, there was a Tri-view drive In, where the Sam's Club and Cloverleaf Mall is today. When we went to visit with my father's family on the south shore, there was the Fairhaven Drive In, and the Wareham Drive In ( it has since occurred to me that, at the same time I had been playing on the play sets there, the future Geena Davis might have also been playing...). Closer to home, there were Drive Ins at Bellingham, and Mendon. The Drive In experience is sort of like tail gating, except that back then, no one brought their own grills, and you had those clunky speakers to hang on the windows of your vehicle...
I don't recall which theater it was that I got to go to solo, but I recall that the movie was "Diamonds Are Forever" .
A bit later, things changed....
The Movie Multiplex began to creep in.. In Milford, a three screen theater opened in the strip mall on rte 109. In Framingham, a multiplex opened both at Shopper's World, and the Loew's Big Box Multiplex opened across Rte 9. Eventually the old Milford theater re-purposed it's balcony as a second (much smaller) screen room.
Soon after, they tore down the Milford Theater for a parking lot.. A New, larger Multiplex opened in Franklin, with 4 screens and more seating. Then the dinky little Milford multiplex was emptied out and sold as a store front.
The Bellingham Drive In closed, the Natick was long gone, and the Mendon Drive In was showing R and X adult films...
This brings us to the 80s, and the time I was in Orlando, FL while in the Navy. Just outside the Naval Base was a theater of a type I had never seen before: The Century 21 Theater. They didn't show first run films, but they did show second runs, and cult films. And instead of the traditional theater seating, there were couches and coffee tables. You could order food and drink from your seats. If you wanted a pizza, they ordered it from across the street (Twins Pizza). I saw films like The Man Who Fell to Earth and Flesh Gordon there...
Later, when I was stationed in New London, Conn., the base there had it's own old style movie theater. I saw Naussica of the Valley of the Wind for the first time, there..
By the time I returned home, the Franklin theater had divided it's space into three screens, The Fairhaven and Wareham Drive Ins were gone..
What's left, now? The Mendon Drive In no longer shows adult only films, but shows new releases, and has two screens. The Franklin multiplex is now a steakhouse, being supplanted by a new Multiplex in Bellingham, w/ more screens and stadium seating. The Natick Loews is long gone, turned into a shopping plaza . There's a multiplex between what was Shopper's World and the Natick Mall. If I want the old time theater experience, I suppose I could make a pilgrimage to the Coolidge Corner theater..
When we think about social media, it’s very easy to keep it sectioned off into nice, little containers. A thought passed along on Twitter might elicit a response, perhaps even a retweet. A Facebook status message is passed along and it gets a like or two. But what about when it becomes something much more than the sum of its parts? What happens when lives change because of social media interaction? That was the question on my mind this week, so I turned (naturally) to social media in order to find some answers.More...
Saturday, September 3, 2011
During the 1960s, if you wanted coffee at home, you probably either heated some water in a kettle and poured it into a cup with a spoonful of freeze dried coffee, or you used ground coffee in a percolator.
Freeze dried coffee, coffee that had been dehydrated after brewing using a vacuum freezing method, was quick and easy to use. But, the taste suffered from the process.
A percolator works by forcing hot water to flow up a central pipe, using the steam produced by heating the water. Then, the hot water spills onto the coffee grounds held by a porous basin attached to the top of the pipe. The vapors would bubble up, into an inverted glass cup that showed you it was working. The unfortunate effect of letting this process continue too long was to 'burn' the coffee, either by making the coffee too strong, or boiling off too much water.
If you wanted slow drip coffee, there were fancy glass pots that allowed you to pour the hot water directly over the grounds. These were early versions of the Melitta pour over system, and were usually held in reserve for formal dinners. If you were a European immigrant, you might've had a simple Espresso percolator, or a French Press.
Some folks probably settled on the 'cowboy coffee' method: pour the ground coffee directly into a kettle of hot water, then tap the sides to get the grounds to settle. Then decant the coffee...
With Greek coffee, you left the grounds in the coffee, and let them settle in the cup.
You probably bought brands like Hills Bros., Maxwell House, Folgers, Chock Full O'Nuts. Or, if you shopped at the A&P, you might have ground your own Eight O'Clock coffee beans at the store, or at home using a hand cranked grinder.
In the diners and restaurants, coffee was often made in large urns, which were usually just large scale percolators. Or, a Bunn automatic drip coffeemaker
was used to make a pot at a time. The Drip method was often thought the best, but Bunn was only available commercially at the time..
In 1972, Mr. Coffee, the first automatic drip coffee maker retailed for home use, hit the market. And immediately caused a change in coffee culture. For one thing, coffee brands had to tweak their grinds to accommodate the new method of brewing. For another, people began to become more discerning in their coffee palette..
A small coffee house in San Francisco opened in 1971. It sought to bring the European experience of coffee to Americans. It also provided a template for many others to follow suit. In the 1980s, this market blew wide open. Soon, people were learning about espressos, cappuccinos, lattes... Talking about the difference in quality of Kenya AAs, Jamaican Blue, Arabica vs Robusta.. Americans were growing more sophisticated in their coffee selections.
And the equipment to make sophisticated coffees were finding their way into the homes. Braun, Krupp, & DeLonghi all started exporting coffee makers and bean grinders to an eager America. You might not have been a true barista, but you probably could make a good cup of Joe if you had to...
Folgers tried to create a new way of making an instant cup of coffee by imitating the tried and true methods of brewing tea... The single serve coffee bag.
The new millennium brought a new idea to coffee: Instead of having a pot of coffee sitting there, deprecating in taste over time, why not brew a single cup of perfect coffee? What was needed was a coffee maker with a small capacity filter chamber, a sealed packet of coffee of just the right measure, and a quicker means to force hot water through the grounds. Keurig co. created the "K" cup method, which quickly dominated the market in commercial use, and found it's way onto the home kitchen counter.
Meanwhile, new methods of evaporating coffee have begun to create new interest in 'instant' coffee in single serve packs....
The discerning coffee drinker no longer has to settle for a simple cup o' mud, but has a variety of caffeine experiences easily available...
The Justice Department is suing to prevent AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA, saying the deal would raise prices and not help customers, despite AT&T's claims it would improve service by giving it more spectrum to deploy for 4G and 3G services. I never took AT&T's arguments seriously; it sits on a lot of unused spectrum despite its cries of bandwidth poverty, and the real issue on spectrum is that it is too carved up by carrier, geography, and technology, so it can't be used flexibly in a fast-changing world. I'd unify all the spectrum and lend it to carriers -- not exclusively license it as done today -- based on actual usage and demand, which would spur meaningful innovation and price competition.More
The digital age is upon us and there is no turning back. People all over the world are becoming increasingly connected via the global telecommunications network that we call the Internet. Perhaps the best, and certainly the most cited, definition of the Internet can be found in the now famous district court decision in American Civil Liberties Union v. Reno, 929 F.Supp. 824, 830-31 (E.D. Pa. 1996), which defines the Internet as follows: “The Internet is not a physical or tangible entity, but rather a giant network which interconnects innumerable smaller groups of linked computer networks. It is thus a network of networks.”
“Significant change is unlikely soon,” writes Jordanian molecular biologist Rana Dajani in today’s Nature. “Six months on from the first events of the Arab Spring, there have been no concrete improvements for scientists here in Jordan, and I get the same impression from colleagues in Egypt and Tunisia.”More
But that does not mean scientists in the Middle East are discouraged, she says. Indeed, she and many of her colleagues see reason to hope for the long term, though it will require rebuilding many institutions–in education and government–from the ground up.
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:37 pm
A Google shareholder sued the search giant for accepting ads from Canadian online pharmacies, indicating the company's legal woes over its advertising practices are not yet over.
By TERRI LANGFORDfirstname.lastname@example.orgA cyber attack on the email accounts of Texas police chiefs revealed the vulnerability even of the state’s top cops and appears to have prompted a new investigation into a notorious hacking group.
The stealthy group known as Anonymous claimed responsibility for “Texas Takedown Thursday.” The email accounts of 25 members of the Texas Police Chiefs Association were compromised and their contents posted online.
In the San Antonio area, the group apparently only hacked accounts belonging to Olmos Park Police Chief Fred Solis and Morton Ault, the ex-Helotes chief fired in October amid fraud allegations.
By Mayumi NegishiMore
TOKYO, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Japan's Sony Corp , Toshiba Corp and Hitachi Ltd will merge their liquid-crystal display operations using $2.6 billion of government-backed funds to fend off growing competition from rivals in South Korea and Taiwan.
The merged entity will be the world's largest maker of small panels used in smartphones and tablet PCs, leapfrogging leaders Sharp Corp of Japan and Samsung Electronics of South Korea and keeping at bay the likes of Taiwan's AU Optronics .
Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi were all making losses on small panels until last year so the merger will allow them to focus on their main operations.