Thursday, April 30, 2009

British schoolchildren will learn to read on Google in 'slimmer' curriculum

Pupils in English primary schools will learn to write with keyboards, use spellcheckers and insert internet "hyperlinks" into text before their 11th birthday under the most significant reform of timetables since the National Curriculum was introduced in 1988. They will also be taught to read using internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo in the first few years of school, it is announced.

The review by Sir Jim Rose, former head of inspections at Ofsted, also recommends the use of Google Earth in geography lessons, spreadsheets to calculate budgets in maths, online archives to research local history and video conferencing software for joint language lessons with schools overseas. Sir Jim insisted the changes would not replace come at the expense of traditional teaching, saying: "We cannot sidestep the basics".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today program: "We've let the curriculum become too fat. We need to give teachers the opportunity to be more flexible." His report, which will be accepted in full by ministers, also proposes more IT training for teachers to keep them ahead of "computer savvy pupils".

It is also hoped that it will stop the creation of a "digital underclass" amid fears poor pupils lose out as those from affluent homes are bought the latest gadgets, it adds. The proposals have been criticised by the Conservatives who accused the Government of "giving in to the latest fads".

Here is a brief excerpt from the interview with Sir Jim Rose:

Amazon to offer free cloud services to academics

AWS in Education provides a set of programs that enable the worldwide academic community to easily leverage the benefits of Amazon Web Services for teaching and research. With AWS in Education, educators, academic researchers, and students can apply to obtain free usage credits to tap into the on-demand infrastructure of Amazon Web Services to teach advanced courses, tackle research endeavors and explore new projects – tasks that previously would have required expensive up-front and ongoing investments in infrastructure.

Amazon is inviting students, educators and researchers to apply for grants that will give them free access to the company's hosted computing services. The company expects to dole out up to $1 million per year worth of services, depending on the quality of the applications, it said.

Amazon services available to people applying for the teaching grants include the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Simple Storage Service, SimpleDB database service, Amazon Simple Queue Service, the CloudFront content delivery service, and Elastic MapReduce for processing large amounts of data.

Electrofluidic e-Paper

Gamma Dynamics new display tech, electrofluidic paper, is exciting because it appears to be the closest approximation yet to "real" printing. The current crop of electrophoretic displays - as used in most eBook readers - work pretty well and have low power consumption, but have just 40% reflectance of ambient light--not at all as high as the light scattered back from a real sheet of paper. GD's new electrofluidic works with 55% reflectance, and the company is confident it can raise that to 85%, meaning it'll be the closest to resembling ink on paper ever made.

It works by having a minuscule reservoir of pigment hidden in the center of a hollow display pixel: when a voltage is applied, the pigment splurges out to fill the pixel in a controlled manner, turning the pixel from transparent to opaque. It's simple, and the optically active layer is just 15 microns deep, meaning its also possible to make the display very flexible. Better yet, the technology can reproduce thousands of colors, and has a pixel response time of just 1 milli-second: fast enough to shame the average LCD monitor, and light years ahead of the display tech used to power the Kindle.

Amazing "tilt-shift" video

Tilt-shift photography is amazing enough, in itself. As shown in the photo below, it can make a absolutely "real" world loog absolutely "unreal".

However, when applied to video, it becomes even more amazing. Posted herre just to remind us that new media is worth blogging about. Enjoy the excellent soundtrack by Megan Washington.

Playing for Change

Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The "episodes" are filmed and recorded around the world and feature some of the most talented people you will ever encounter - mostly amateurs. I will post a couple of episodes here for you to sample. Visit Playing for Change for the full set and some really good info about how you can get involved.

Don't Worry My Brother

War–No More Trouble

BeBook Mini - 5" eBook reader announced

Endless Ideas official Twitter has released an image of a smaller variant of its current e-book reader, dubbed the BeBook mini. It's got a 5-inch e-ink display and reportedly all the same features as its older brother. Manufacturer Tianjin Jinke Electronics also happens to sell products under the Hanlin brand, and this looks to be the same device as the upcoming Hanlin v5, which according to Chinese site mobread would indicate SD card support and a May release window locally. As for elsewhere in the world, there's no indication of a release date, but BeBook Twitter feed did tease about staying under the $200 / €200 price barrier.

Found at: Engadget

$100 million in tax cuts visualized - amazing!

This is not posted as a criticism of this administration, but as a brilliantly executed example of how hard it is to visualize incredibly large numbers.

Will universities become irrelevant?

Will universities become irrelevant? It's already happened to a lot of other 'knowledge producing' industries – the death of newspapers, the continuing irrelevance of the physical book, the CD etc etc. So is it time for Universities to rethink their business models? What, who and how they teach? David Wiley, professor of psychology and instructional technology at Brigham Young University seems to think so. Last fall, he stood in front of a room full of professors and university administrators and delivered a prediction that made them squirm: "Your institutions will be irrelevant by 2020."

Elaine Jarvik over at Salt Lake City's Desert News has an insightful article that states succinctly Wiley's take on the future of education. Here is an excerpt
America's colleges and universities, says Wiley, have been acting as if what they offer — access to educational materials, a venue for socializing, the awarding of a credential — can't be obtained anywhere else. By and large, campus-based universities haven't been innovative, he says, because they've been a monopoly.

But Google, Facebook, free online access to university lectures, after-hours institutions such as the University of Phoenix, and virtual institutions such as Western Governors University have changed that. Many of today's students, he says, aren't satisfied with the old model that expects them to go to a lecture hall at a prescribed time and sit still while a professor talks for an hour.

Higher education doesn't reflect the life that students are living, he says. In that life, information is available on demand, files are shared, and the world is mobile and connected. Today's colleges, on the other hand, are typically "tethered, isolated, generic, and closed," he says.

Society of Publication Designers Magazine Design Awards

The Society of Publication Designers, SPD, announced the finalists for its yearly magazine design awards. This year's entrants are terrific eye candy. The awards are considered one of the industry's premier laurels. You can view all of the finalists here.

CheckFacebook charts the service's global growth tracks data reported from Facebook's advertising tool to help marketers and researchers understand how Facebook is spreading across the globe. The site is primarily meant for advertisers, who can use it to gauge where to deploy campaigns, but it also offers an interesting look at each nation’s basic demographic information in an easily digestible format. The site pulls from data that Facebook publicly discloses to advertisers, but isn’t normally readily available because it’s tucked away into the ad sign-up process.

Each country on the map is shaded according to how popular it is on Facebook, with the darkest shades of green representing the most popular countries (unsurprisingly, the United States is by far the most popular single country, though it only accounts for around 30% of Facebook’s total audience). You can also see some basic demographic information, including gender and age distributions in each nation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TrueCar: a neat little research weapon for new car shopping

TrueCar, is an information service that aims to give potential new car buyers an idea of what the price tag of the vehicle they’re considering purchasing should really be reading, is officially launching its free consumer-focused website today by taking the beta label off.

In essence, the service allows car buyers to check if the price for their next car is on par with the price others have paid for the same vehicle in the past, hopefully bringing some transparency to the automotive retail industry.

So how does it work? When a new car buyer visits the TrueCar website, they are asked to enter their zip code and all vehicle details down to the specific options. TrueCar then generates a complete Price Report with nifty graphs, displaying the full distribution of prices paid by other people for the exact same vehicle in a given market area. In addition, the web service calculates the actual dealer cost structure of a particular vehicle.

Amazon acquires Lexcycle - maker of the Stanza eBook reader has acquired Lexcycle, makers of electronic book reader Stanza. Lexcycle revealed the purchase on its Web site Monday afternoon.

Stanza is a desktop and iPhone application that allows users to download and read ebooks in multiple formats. Currently Stanza supports Adobe PDF, EPUB format, the XML-based standard format and support for Adobe’s eBook content protection technology, allowing users to purchase commercially published eBooks. Stanza on the Mac also has the ability to export books as an MP3 file and then added to iTunes as an audio book.

Stanza has more than 1.3 million users in 60 countries, according to the company's Web site. With the acquisition by Amazon, Stanza users may think that the app will change significantly, but Lexcycle says not to worry.
"We are not planning any changes in the Stanza application or user experience as a result of the acquisition," the company said on its Web site. "Customers will still be able to browse, buy, and read ebooks from our many content partners. We look forward to offering future products and services that we hope will resonate with our passionate readers."

Scientists invent walking goo!

Researchers at Waseda University in Tokyo have developed a chemical gel that walks like an inchworm. It's true! Watch the video! The color-changing, motile gel reacts to chemicals in its environment to create its own oscillating locomotion without the need for electrical stimulation. The idea is to augment the electronics in future robotics with these "self organized" chemical systems to avoid additional circuitry complexity and external controls. No idea how this relates to information science, but it is amazing!

Found at Endgaget

Monday, April 27, 2009

H1N1 Swine Flu on Google Maps

H1N1 Swine flu in 2009
Pink markers are suspect
Purple markers are confirmed
Deaths lack a dot in marker
Yellow markers are negative

Link to map here.

Great Lake Swimmers - Pulling on a Line

Posts are a bit slim this morning, so how about a great song from a band you may not know - Great Lake Swimmers

Lip-reading computer speaks multiple languages

Scientists in England have developed a computer that can not only read lips, but can tell the difference between languages. Researchers at the University of East Anglia's School of Computing Sciences developed the technology by statistically modeling the lip motions of 23 bilingual and trilingual speakers. The resulting system is able to identify the language spoken by an individual with "very high accuracy," according to the university. Identifiable languages included English, French, German, Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, Polish, and Russian.

How does it work? When you move your tongue, jaw, and lips, you are generating the measurable characteristics of visual speech, the recognition of which is known as lip reading. Computer vision has already been used in lip reading, or "feature extraction," but this is the first time computers have been "taught" to recognize different languages, according to UEA (PDF).

The discovery could have practical uses for the deaf, law enforcement, and military units serving overseas, the researchers predict.


Friday, April 24, 2009 converts YouTube audio to downloadable MP3

YouTube is full of all sorts of interesting lectures, polemics, diatribes, and other things that could be easily be enjoyed audio-only. If you find some gems on YouTube you'd love to listen to while commuting or working out at the gym, don't skip over them because you can't YouTube on the road. ListenToYouTube is a simple web-based application for pulling the audio out of a YouTube video and converting it to MP3. The service is free and simple: you plug in the URL for the video, it grabs the audio, you download the MP3. Oh, and it works quite well for music, too.

Found at LifeHacker

Espresso Book Machine - print any book in minutes

The Espresso Book Machine—which actually is a self-contained 150 pages-per-minute printing and binding machine—can produce a full book in five minutes from a catalog of 400,000 references. It only takes one button.

High-speed all-in-one printing-and-binding machines are not new, but this idea is. Using the Espresso Book Machine, any customer can walk in, pick any book from a touchscreen (or bring its own in CD or USB stick,) and walk away with a "real book" in five minutes. The price? Around $43 for a 300-page out-of-copyright book.

According to the company, this is the future of book distribution, allowing readers to get out-of-print volumes on the spot, rather than having to wait an online purchase to arrive or, worse, hunt them down in second-hand shops. It should also be a boon to aspiring novelists as they can show up with a CD containing their work and walk out with a bound copy in five minutes.

Not sure where the Kindle fits into all of this.

Found at The Daily Mail

Google Product Search Goes Mobile

Want to know if you are getting the best price possible for that stuff you really must have? Google's added a customized Product Search view for iPhones and Android handsets.

Like other Google products getting the mobile makeover recently, Shopping/Product Search uses JavaScript drop-down menus to reduce data lags and let you see just what you want. You can search in the standard Google search bar and click "See shopping results," or click the "More" button from Google's main page and select Shopping to get to it.

The price comparison tool itself is pretty familiar, and lets you re-order by price, availability, seller rating, and other criteria from a right-hand menu. There are, of course, other ways to compare prices on the run—Amazon's own iPhone app and SMS capabilities, among them. But if you're a Google fan, Product Search should fit nicely into your routine. Below is a rather cheesy demonstration video.

Harperstudio pays authors 50-50

HarperStudio - mentioned earlier this week as offering a free audio book download of recently found Mark Twain essays - is rethinking both the format of books and the business model. HarperStudio will publish just two books a month and offer authors 50-50 profit sharing, rather than a traditional 7% to 15% royalty.
"There's this sense of doom and gloom in the publishing business, but this is an amazing moment. Ultimately, technology is going to not only enable people to read more but also enable new art forms. At HarperStudio, there's an R&D element to what we're doing. For instance, we gave all of our authors Flip cameras and asked them to start video blogging, opening up their writing process and cultivating an audience as soon as a book is acquired. We're looking at multimedia packaging, such as including a DVD of Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno films along with her new photo book. Dynamic e-books may incorporate video or narrative asterisks, in the same way that you'd go into a museum, put on headphones, and listen to an explanation of the art on the wall. With each project, we think about what kind of experimentation is appropriate. We don't want to sprinkle Cheetos on top of foie gras." - Julia Cheiffetz, senior editor.

Found at Fast Company

Mobile Learning - Free eBook

Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training is for anyone interested in the use of mobile technology for various distance learning applications. Readers will discover how to design learning materials for delivery on mobile technology and become familiar with the best practices of other educators, trainers, and researchers in the field, as well as the most recent initiatives in mobile learning research. Businesses and governments can learn how to deliver timely information to staff using mobile devices. Professors can use this book as a textbook for courses on distance education, mobile learning, and educational technology.

Select "eBook" for the free PDF download.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Opinion Space

Opinion Space is an experimental model of opinion and dialogue being developed at the Berkeley Center for New Media, designed to go beyond one-dimensional polarities such as left/right, blue/red to actively encourage dialogue between people with differing viewpoints.

Opinion Space allows users to express their opinions and visualize where they stand relative to a diversity of other viewpoints. It introduces an innovative method for automatically highlighting the most insightful comments and participants.

Opinion Space charts individual participants in a constellation of opinions and connectivity. The first Opinion Space and discussion questions focus on topics related to U.S. politics. In the coming months, new Opinion Spaces will be created on topics such as the Economy, Education, and the Environment. As users participate, researchers at UC Berkeley will refine the system, adding new functionality and features.


Bookarmy is a social networking website for readers. Whether you’re a bookaholic or someone who picks up a book only once a year while relaxing on holiday, bookarmy is the place to discuss and review books, build reading lists, get the best book recommendations, and where you and your friends, family or classmates can read books together.

What makes bookarmy different from other book sites is that you can make direct contact with authors; see what star rating they have given books, browse their reading lists, ask them questions about their own writing, and recommend titles to them.

A month into public beta, the site is already making some curious connections. Neil Gaiman and Lewis Caroll? Ray Bradbury and George Orwell? Charles Stross and Fyodor Dostoevsky? Bookarmy recommendations are generated by members themselves, who can mix and match similar reads from a full bibliographic database. The site also give readers space to host online libraries of their favorite books -- and compares their tastes to refine its recommendations.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

PBS launches new video site

Featuring a slick Apple-like interface with coverflow goodness, the Public Broadcasting Service has launched PBS Video beta. Frontline, The American Experience, Masterpiece Classics, NOVA, Antiques Roadshow and much, much more is available for your viewing pleasure. Very, very cool! Thanks PBS!

The Periodic Table of Awsomeness

Click to enlarge

Chairlift's "Evident Utensil"

I don't think we have ever posted a music video here, so this is a first. "Evident Utensil" by Chairlift is not only a catchy and clever tune, but it exploits the medium of bad video compression and poor rendering to the max and to a most excellent end. Enjoy!

Twistori - Let 'em eat Tweets!

Twistori is a web site that sorts and organizes Twitter posts that use emotionally laden words like "wish" or "hate" or "love," thereby building an image of the collective Twitter psyche. The vibe of Twitter seems to have changed: a surprising number of people now seem to tweet about how much they want to be free from encumbrances like Twitter. "I wish I didn't have obligations," someone posted not long ago. "I wish I had somewhere to go," wrote an other. "I wish things were different." "I wish I grew up in the '60s." "I wish I didn't feel the need to write pointless things here." "I wish I could get out of this hellhole." There is also a stand-alone desktop client for Macintosh.

Found over at: The New York Times

Library Culture vs. Information-Retrieval Culture

A co-worker (thanks Susan!) sent me this and I felt it interesting enough to post. It pretty much sums up the current state of affairs in an easy to read chart format. It was found over at Snarkmarket and is attributed to an apparently unpublished lecture by Terry Winograd as quoted here by Heidegger scholar, Hubert Dreyfus. Says Dreyfus:
"It is clear from these opposed lists that more has changed than the move from control of objects to flexibility of storage and access. What is being stored and accessed is no longer a fixed body of objects with fixed identities and contents. Moreover, the user seeking the information is not a subject who desires a more complete and reliable model of the world, but a protean being ready to be opened up to ever new horizons. In short, the postmodern human being is not interested in collecting but is constituted by connecting."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who Is Mark Twain? A new book of previously unpublished Mark Twain essays.

Published today by Harper Studio, here, for the first time in book form, are twenty-four remarkable pieces by the American master—pieces that have been handpicked by Robert Hirst, general editor of the Mark Twain Project at the University of California, Berkeley. In "Jane Austen," Twain wonders if Austen's goal is to "make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters." "The Privilege of the Grave" offers a powerful statement about the freedom of speech while "Happy Memories of the Dental Chair" will make you appreciate modern dentistry. In "Frank Fuller and My First New York Lecture" Twain plasters the city with ads to promote his talk at the Cooper Union (he is terrified no one will attend). Later that day, Twain encounters two men gazing at one of his ads. One man says to the other: "Who is Mark Twain?" The other responds: "God knows—I don't."

Wickedly funny and disarmingly relevant, Who Is Mark Twain? shines a new light on one of America's most beloved literary icons—a man who was well ahead of his time. Available from Amazon.

Below is one of the stories narrated by John Lithgow and animated by Flash Rosenberg:


Worldmapper, the world as you've never seen it is amazing! I learned about this site from an article by Peter Jasco in the May/June 2009 issue of Online Magazine. It's a fascinating map site. As the article says, the site offers topographic maps transformed into cartograms of density equalizing maps. In this type of map, the country is resized, while the shape is preserved to reflect the data. Researchers at the University of Sheffield and the University of Michigan came up with this fascinating concept. there are nearly 600 maps on the site and several are animated. Here are views of from the animated map internet users from this site. Look at the change for India, China and South America! (Try the animation on income for a really startling look at the world!)

Internet Users in 2000

Internet Users in 2007


A fun blast from the past via Gizmodo

Old peripherals play Bohemian Rhapsody

The whirrs, beeps and noises of old computers and peripherals that were formerly so annoying have been lovingly and painstakingly transformed into art. YouTuber bd594 orchestrated a collection of outdated gear to cover Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Starying with an HP ScanJet 3C playing the part of Freddie Mercury, then an Atari 800XL makes the organ sounds, TI-99/4a handles guitar duties, and a selection of other archaic goodies make visual and aural appearances. While the scanner did need to be recorded four separate times for all the "vocal" tracks, nothing was pitch-corrected. Pretty cool stuff!

Word-by-Word: Federal Tweets – which covers the use of technology in the federal government — released an analysis of the Twitter pages of 10 different government entities, pinpointing the most popular words in 100 of each group’s Tweets between March 30 and April 10.

The groups’ interesting finds include:

• Government groups can get self-referential with their Twitter accounts. The Army uses “army” the most, while the Labor Department’s number one word was labor. Office of Personnel Management uses “opm.”

• “Socialism” is making a comeback in Congress, thanks to Republican lawmakers like Representative Paul Broun of Georgia and Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas.

• The National Science Foundation is becoming fluent in Twitterese (Twenglish?), shortening announcements to “anncmts”

• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s two favorite words over a recent year-long span were “Republicans” and “Republican.” Meanwhile, “Democrats” came in at number 17.

• The ten most reticent members over the last 60 days, all Democrats, are credited with a combined 618 words. During that same span, the Congressional Record attributes 70,353 words to Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois.

Monday, April 20, 2009

How long will it last?

While our dwindling energy reserves seem to get all the press, that may be the least of our problems. In a nutshell, we are running out of everything! This graphic (click to enlarge) shows just how critical the issue is and portends a poor future for humanity as we literally run out of the stuff we make stuff out of. Energy could be harnessed from eternal sources, like the sun, the wind, or the seas, but there is only a limited amount of elements in planet Earth and—what's worst—bringing them from other planets will prove impractical with our current technology or any technology in our near future.

In the meantime, copper—which is everywhere around you—will be gone in about 61 years; antimony—widely used in medicines—will be depleted in 20 years; while indium, rhodium, platinum, or silver—which are present in many essential consumer electronics—won't last much longer. And those estimations are only valid if we manage to consume half of what we are consuming now.

British History Online

British History Online is the digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles. Created by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust, the library aims to support academic and personal users around the world in their learning, teaching and research. The information is searchable and can be viewed by place, subject, period and source. There are also maps.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Eisenhower Interstate System

I stumbled across this very interesting and easily understood image of the original U.S. Interstate Highway System.

YouTube adds TV shows and movies to its lineup

YouTube adds a "Shows" button to its main navigation bar, showcasing dozens of officially-licensed TV shows and movies, even if most of them are more than a decade old.

The content from MGM, Sony, CBS, and a few other Hollywood firms comes with advertisements, as you might expect, and most of it seems like deep archive or under-monetized stuff—you get the full runs of The Addams Family and Married with Children, and films like the prom horror classic Carrie and the Mod Squad remake you may or may not recall from 1999.

It has long been rumored that YouTube wants to get away from so much user-generated content and more into mainstream media ala Hulu. Perhaps this is a step.

First Mac OS X botnet (trojan) activated - free removal tool available

Macworld reported in January that illegal copies of iWork '09 and Photoshop CS4 – distributed via peer-to-peer networks – were infected with a trojan called iServices. It now appears that the botnet created from this trojan has been activated, marking this the first time a Mac OS X botnet has appeared. If you have not downloaded any bootleg software it is highly unlikely that your Mac is infected. However, if you have been bad - or just want to be safe - the remedy is available here.

Is Twitter a useful communication tool for health librarians?

Dean Giustini and Mary-Doug Wright have published a useful article describing the potential benefits and possible pitfalls of using Twitter by health librarians. The article was published in last Winter's edition of the Journal of the Canadian Health Librarians Association. You can dowload the PDF here.

Twitter is representative of a new generation of information tools—including handhelds and mobiles like the iPhone and BlackBerry—that help to promote ambient information access and on-the-go communication through a phenomenon called "microblogging".
"School teachers are beginning to experiment with microblogging as are academics. Microblogging is starting to gain some currency in all kinds of educational contexts. As a professional development tool, we believe that Twitter can play a role in informal “on-the-fly” learning in the workplace, particularly for health librarians who work in isolation."
Medical library twitterers can join the group tweet MedLib Geeks ( keep up with changes to PubMed, upcoming health care events, and news about biomedical and health databases. Further, health libraries share information about new programs and alert each other about new Web resources.

We Are Hunted - a new online music source

We Are Hunted is an online music service that listens to what is happening in online music across blogs, social networks, forums, Twitter and P2P networks to chart the top songs online. In the physical world, charts are built on shipped albums. Online, traditionally, they have been a count of digital downloads. We Are Hunted is different in that it tracks sentiment, expression and advocacy.

Visually driven, intuitive and simple, We Are Hunted lets music fans discover and listen to new music and more importantly, join the conversation about it.

We Are Hunted is a collaboration between Wotnews and Native Digital. All they ask in return is that if you like the music featured on We are Hunted, support the artist and buy their music on iTunes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Free public domain sheet music library

The Petrucci Music Library's goal is to create a virtual library containing all public domain music scores and/or sheet music, as well as scores from composers who are willing to share their music with the world without charge.

The Petrucci Music Library also encourages the exchange of musical ideas, both in the form of musical works, and in their analysis. You may post your analysis of a particular piece on the "discussion" pages, or join a forums for interactive discussion with the community.

nu-real : fantastic photomontage and its possible influences, 1857 - 2007

Photoshop was released in 1990, but photomontage — the art of joining separate images to create startling and/or impossible composites — dates back to the early 1850s. This gorgeously illustrated timeline lets you trace the form’s development all the way back to its starting point. It seeks to be a preliminary critical survey that traces a possible alternate history of photomontage and fantastic photography, and the possible influences upon it. It is not about the classic propagandist photomontage that juxtaposed elements in the manner of modernist graphic design. It only briefly touches on the surrealist photographers of the same period.

Tour the AlloSphere, a stunning new way to see scientific data

JoAnn Kuchera-Morin demos the AlloSphere, an entirely new way to see and interpret scientific data, in full color and surround sound inside a massive metal sphere. Dive into the brain, feel electron spin, hear the music of the elements. Pretty amazing stuff!

Based at UCSB, the Allosphere and its 3D immersive theater maps complex data in time and space. Kuchera-Morin founded the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE) and has been the director since its birth in 1986. In 2000 she began work on a Digital Media Center within the California NanoSystems Institute at Santa Barbara. Her fascinations include gestural interfaces for performance and the expression of complex data in nontraditional forms.

Found over at: The Lone Wolf Librarian

Library book returned after 145 years

A library book stolen by a US soldier during the War to Prevent Southern Independence has been returned, 145 years later, in good shape other than a loose binding. US soldier CS Gates took the book on June 11, 1864 from the library of Washington College, before the raiding party of the Army of West Virginia General David Hunter burned the college. Mike Dau, who inherited the book more than 20 years ago from the estate of Myron and Isabel Gates, descendants of CS Gates, recently returned Volume 1 of "History of the War in the Peninsula and in the South of France From the Year 1807 to the Year 1814" to the Washington and Lee University library in Lexington, Virginia. He was glad he wasn't responsible for any fines!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vote on whether to migrate Wikipedia to Creative Commons

Voting has begun on whether to migrate Wikipedia to a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike primary content license.

Click here for voting instructions. To qualify, you must have made 25 edits prior to March 15 on Wikipedia, the world's most read online reference guide.

"This migration would be a huge boost for the Free Culture movement, and for Wikipedia and Creative Commons — until the migration happens there is an unnecessary licensing barrier between the most important free culture project (Wikipedia of course, currently under the Free Documentation License, intended for software documentation) and most other Free Culture projects and individual creators, which use the aforementioned CC BY-SA license," wrote Mike Linksvayer, a Creative Çommons vice president.

wi-fi radio - one user experience

After seeing the Pandora Radio ads and learning about reciva radio portal my interest in wi-fi radio peaked. I made the leap. I've been listening to international radio and Pandora for sometime, but only at the computer or with laptop/usb speakers. Somehow the idea of a familar, dedicated device that would perform the usual radio functions(presets, alarm clock, sleep timer, etc.) and let me access the whole world instead of making a universal device (laptop/desktop) do those tasks was appealing. I think that familiarity is also one reason Netflix is able to sell many Roku players.

I bought a Grace Radio. The first one was defective and had to be returned after failing to find any network after the first successful try. The second one (arrived quickly and without hassle) is working very well and does everything I want. If you're learning another language and want to improve listening skills, miss a station from your home town and want to stay in touch or just really enjoy your Pandora stations or certain streams or podcasts, you might want to consider a wi-fi radio.

Jazz in the stacks at West St. Petersburg Community Library April 21st

Our friend Chad just posted this online and we thought it merited some publicity:
In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, St. Petersburg College will host Jazz in the Stacks, a free concert featuring the Helios Jazz Orchestra, on April 21, 2009, at 7:30 p.m. at its West St. Petersburg Community Library, 750 66th Street North, St. Petersburg. This concert is sponsored in part by the Friends of the Library, the EMIT series, and the City of St. Petersburg.

The Helios Jazz Orchestra, a 22-piece jazz big band that performs swing, bebop and Latin jazz, is led by Director David Manson and made up of some of the most talented musicians in the Tampa Bay area.

Visit Helios Jazz Orchestra or The St. Petersburg Library for more information.

The M. M. Bennett Library of St. Petersburg College in its support of the philosophy and objectives of the College provides comprehensive library and information services to meet the curricular, research, cultural and recreational needs of the college community. For more information, visit them here.

Contact Help - talk to a human for a change!

ContactHelp is a free, user-maintained resource providing fast access to the customer service information that is too often only found out the hard way. It provides phone numbers, shortcuts to reach live human beings, multiple departments for many listings, direct links to corporate customer service, options to add user comments, ratings and even uploading of phone call recordings. Cut to the chase when you need help and talk to a human for a change!

Recive - 50,000 audio streams from aroound the world

I can't remember if this was blogged here, but it certainly merits a post. My friend Susan turned me on to Reciva and it is pretty amazing. Reciva stereams literally tens of thousands of radio stations and on-demand streams. In fact, currently there are 16,529 stations and 21,242 streams. Amaazing! And from all over the world. 741 stations from France, 93 from Peru and almost 9000 from the USA. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amazing collection of Bob Dylan Album Covers - and many more!

Who knew Dylan's covers could span 77 pages with 18 covers per page! Wow!

Found at: The J-Walk Blog

iPhone continues to penetrate the enterprise market

Market-research firm Forrester on Monday released a report that looks at several companies using the iPhone in the enterprise market. That's significant for Apple because one of the knocks against the iPhone when it first came out was that it didn't have sufficient security for large businesses.

Based on interviews with IT executives from Kraft Foods, Oracle, and Amylin Pharmaceutical, the report explores how the iPhone made it on the list of approved devices for each company.

Todd Stewart, IT senior director at Amylin Pharmaceutical, says the iPhone has become the company's "enterprise netbook," and said the iPhone is easier to support than other mobile platforms. “It took all of three days to get the systems running to support iPhone. We also saw significant costs savings for our voice and data plans by moving to iPhones," said Stewart.

Dave Diedrich, vice president of information systems at Kraft, said he used the iPhone to demonstrate that IT is serious about supporting culture change. The company has about 100,000 employees and Diedrich said that as of January 2009, almost half of the company's mobile users have iPhones. Kraft orders about 400 new iPhones each month.

And Oracle has about 4,000 employees using the iPhone globally, according to IT Vice President Campbell Webb.

While the companies reported positive results overall, they did have some problems. The biggest problem is support for Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007, which didn't always work as expected. A lack of management tools and full support for VPNs were also mentioned as drawbacks.

iPhone OS 3.0 should resolve most, if not all, of these concerns when it is released sometime this summer, helping Apple continue making inroads into the enterprise market.

"Apple is redefining its third industry: first the computer industry, next the music industry, and now the mobile industry," said Ted Schadler, the Forrester analyst who wrote the report. "With iPhone, Apple has breached walled gardens that have long slowed innovation and kept advanced applications from reaching the US mobile market."

Via: MacWorld

Tate, Chateau de Versailles and Fondation Cartier join wealth of iTunes free resources

Three of the world’s leading cultural institutions, the UK's Tate, along with France's Chateau de Versailles and Fondation Cartier, have signed up to Apple's iTunes U to make 100's of interviews, short films and lectures available to download for free digitally.

iTunes U, part of the iTunes Store, is billed as possibly the world’s greatest collection of free educational media available to students, teachers, and lifelong learners. Currently over 100,000 educational audio and video files available and this current deal will see many more added.

The Tate currently has 3 main sections listed on iTunes U store. 'Tate Symposia', brings together experts and scholars to present new research or to discuss aspects of a particular exhibition or wider issues around visual culture.

'Talk & Discussions,' includes talks and debates from artists and art historians as well as celebrity visitors to the Tate such as Michael Palin and Jarvis Cocker.

Finally 'Courses. Workshops & Study Days,' looks at historic, modern and contemporary British art. Courses, says the Tate, cater for different levels of learning offering a range of specialist tutors skilled at encouraging discussion and debate.

"Tate is delighted to come on board with iTunes U", said Will Gompertz, Director of Tate Media. "In the world of new media nothing can be achieved alone; by working with exceptional companies such as Apple we can use the Internet to help fulfil Tate’s mission to make art available to all."

The Chateau de Versailles iTunes U site includes English language content covering Marie Antoinette, while several musical performances are also available.

The Fondation Cartier section includes supporting media for current exhibitions as well as archived material, conferences and lectures.

More widely, iTunes U offers a wealth of content created by the like of Yale, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Oxford, Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and US PBS stations.

Found at:

Disney rips off Disney - wonder if they'll sue themselves?

A fun look at Disney's best and how obvious it is that they were reused a few times. Pretty interesting and fun!

James Boyle's "Public Domain" lecture

From Princeton University's UChannel, professor James Boyle delivers a highly entertaining and informative lecture describing how intellectual property laws have a significant impact on many important areas of human endeavor, including scientific innovation, digital creativity, cultural access and free speech. And so Boyle argues that, just as every informed citizen needs to know at least something about the environment or civil rights, every citizen in the information age should also have an understanding of intellectual property law.

Awesome Library Contest!

Great idea and good for them!

Found over at:Tame the Web via The Shifted Librarian

Monday, April 13, 2009

ScreenCastle Records Your Screencast without Software

ScreenCastle is a dead simple screencasting tool. Visit the website, click the big red button, and ScreenCastle will load a small Java control application—seen to the left here. At that point you specify if you want the whole screen to be recorded or a portion you select, as well as whether or not you want audio from your computer's microphone to be included. Those are the only two settings you'll be using, once you make your selection a black bar appears at the top of your screen with a record button on it and the instruction to touch your mouse cursor to the top of the screen when you are done recording. If you're not recording the full screen, you'll have a focus window with a stop recording button on it.

There is no limit on the size or length of your recording, but remember that the file will be uploaded from your computer when you're done so lengthy sessions will take longer to upload. Each screencast is given a unique URL and when you're done recording you'll be given a list of formatted URLs you can use including a link to the Screencastle player, an HTML embed code, and a direct link to the file in case you want to download it it. There is no way to edit your screencast so you'll have to live with mistakes or start over, a small trade off for the extreme simplicity of the service and free hosting. ScreenCastle is a free web-based application, a web browser with Java Script support is required.

Found at: Lifehacker

Friday, April 10, 2009

What it costs

What It Costs is an online service that provides information on the costs associated with a wide variety of services and concepts. Whether you want to know the price range of practical activities -- such as removing a tree stump from your yard, having your teeth whitened or joining a gym – or are interested in our more unusual articles – such as the cost of climbing the Seven Summits, being cryogenically frozen or cleaning up a murder scene – you will find all this and more on their website.

A few examples:

  • Have your septic tank pumped: $125 to $250

  • Climb Denali: $1,225 to $6,850

  • Learn to play drums: $800 to $1,300 (plus $100/month for lessons)

  • Hire a bodyguard: $200 to over $900 per day, plus expenses

  • Liposuction: $2,000 to $9,000 for treatment of one area

  • Run in the Boston Marathon: $3,100

Found over at The J-Walk Blog

Sprint working with Barnes & Noble on e-reader

From MacWorld

Barnes & Noble is reportedly working with Sprint Nextel and an unnamed manufacturer to build an e-reader device to compete with Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s digital book reader.

According to, one unnamed wireless industry insider said that Barnes & Noble was working with Sprint after discussions for a similar deal ended with Verizon Wireless. The article also indicates that AT&T could be interested in working with the bookseller.

From the article:
An AT&T spokesman today said he couldn’t confirm any information on an e-reader deal with Barnes & Noble. “We’ve said we want to wirelessly enable e-book readers along with many other devices, but we’re saying nothing specific,” he said.

A Barnes & Noble spokeswoman declined comment. However, CEO Steve Riggio hinted at the company’s plans to delve into digital content during a recent earnings call. “We plan to return to the business of offering customers digital content inclusive of e-books, newspapers and magazines,” Riggio said during the call. “We have a large number of assets in place to enable us to sell digital content,” citing the company’s e-commerce platform, in-house customer service and its recent acquisition of Fictionwise.

Riggio said the company has several initiatives in development and would announce them as they launch.

A Sprint official also would not comment, but in an e-mailed statement, said many “fun” devices will be unveiled in coming months.

“Look to Sprint to continue to bring a variety of new and exciting devices out in 2009. … Sprint does not comment on rumors about our device portfolio, however, I promise you there are several fun products in the works for this year and we are anxious to bring them to our customers as soon as possible.”

Steven Pendergrast, president of the new e-reader segment at Barnes & Noble recently predicted a “huge surge” in e-book sales in 2010. Pendergrast was part of Fictionwise before Barnes & Noble purchased the company for $15.7 million last month. noted that Barnes & Noble ended a three-year e-book partnership with Microsoft Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc. in 2003 because of disappointing demand for a tablet device they produced.

But the segment seems to have been re-invigorated, several analysts said. Amazon expects to net $63 million in profit from the Kindle, with more than $280 million in sales in 2009, according to Sandeep Aggarwal, an analyst at Collins Stewart.

1 Billion iPhone App Downloads

The countdown has begun. Apple posted a Web page on Friday counting down (or actually counting up) to the one billion app downloaded milestone on the App Store. You can win some cool stuff if you download an app between now and the time that Apple reaches the one billion mark

All you need to do to enter the contest is go to the App Store and download an app. You are automatically entered to win a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card, an iPod touch, a Time Capsule and a MacBook Pro. You can enter up to 25 times per day, according to the contest rules. You can also enter the contest without a download.

In addition to the one billionth app download, Apple has posted the top 20 apps of all time on the App Store. Unfortunately, that page isn't working as of this writing, so I can't tell you what they are.

Using Google Scholar

In the five years that Google Scholar has been available many academic institutions and librarians have marketed the search engine as a useful tool in academic research. Many libraries have developed tutorials and seem to have moved away from issuing warnings about using Google scholar to contextualizing its utility. This is a it should be.

In their “Library Channel Spotlight“ the Arizona State Library says Google Scholar can be handy for pre-searching - similar to Wikipedia. This short video explains many of the strengths and weaknesses of the service and offers valuable advice to researchers.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

DC Public Library makes their iPhone app code public

A short time ago the District of Columbia Public Library launched an innovative and highly useful application for the iPhone which allows users to:

  • search for library materials

  • see an item’s cover and reading a summary

  • place a hold for pickup at the location of your choice

  • and find the hours, locations and phone numbers of DC public libraries

It has been highly successful and to their credit the developers have made their code public under a Creative Commons license here. Thanks folks!