Friday, July 30, 2010

Jardin de la Connaissance

By introducing the book as a material in the formation of spatial elements within the landscape, Jardin de la Connaissance, a project by Thilo Folkerts and Rodney Latourelle for the International Festival des Jardins de Metis (Quebec), Canada, offers an evocative cultural frame to examine transformational processes inherent in the nature of the forest. Walls, benches and floors made of used books structure a series of rooms at once framing and dissolving into their environment (approximately 40,000 books were used). Full article here.

APS Online Journals Available Free in U.S. Public Libraries

This is very cool. From the APS press release:
The American Physical Society (APS) announces a new public access initiative that will give readers and researchers in public libraries in the United States full use of all online APS journals, from the most recent articles back to the first issue in 1893, a collection including over 400,000 scientific research papers. APS will provide this access at no cost to participating public libraries, as a contribution to public engagement with the ongoing development of scientific understanding

More here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fun geography game for a good cause

A fun game and a good cause:

Amazon debuts a $140 iPad counter strike

  • All-New, High-Contrast E-Ink Screen – 50% better contrast than any other e-reader
  • Read in Bright Sunlight – No glare
  • New and Improved Fonts – New crisper, darker fonts
  • New Sleek Design – 21% smaller body while keeping the same 6" size reading area
  • 17% Lighter – Only 8.5 ounces, weighs less than a paperback
  • Battery Life of Up to One Month – A single charge lasts up to one month with wireless off
  • Double the Storage – Up to 3,500 Books
  • Built-In Wi-Fi – Shop and download books in less than 60 seconds
  • 20% Faster Page Turns – Seamless reading
  • Enhanced PDF Reader – With dictionary lookup, notes, and highlights
  • New WebKit-Based Browser – Browse the web over Wi-Fi (experimental)
Read about it here. And Amazon chief Jeff Bezos poured a little gas on the fire in the WSJ this morning. Talking about the iPad/Kindle experience:
"For the vast majority of books, adding video and animation is not going to be helpful. It is distracting rather than enhancing. You are not going to improve Hemingway by adding video snippets."

The bookshelf art of James Hopkins

A few more here.

Found at Coudal Partners

Who is most detrimental to your health

Posted for its reference value:

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Book voyeurism

The Book Depository has a mesmerizing interactive map that second by second maps book purchases across the globe. What fun to see what people are reading!
Found via Coudal Partners

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Plus Fours Routefinder

Before Global Positioning Systems (GPS), people had to navigate using devices like the Plus Fours Routefinder, shown below. It’s from 1920 and consisted of a collection of small scrolling maps that you’d “load” into the watch-like device before your trip. As you progressed along your route, you’d scroll the map forward to reveal your next turn, mileage, and where to stop.

Found at Crunch Gear

A tour of Edinburgh Centrtal Library in Scotland

Found at The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian

The Best Book Recommendati0on Service

Last week Boing Boing polled its readers asking for suggestions on The best book recommendation service. Here are the results:

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In first place was GoodReads (39%), a book lover's web site with lists, lists, and more lists to fit your interests. Second was the recommendation engine at (27%), followed by Shelfari (13%), and then LibraryThing (11%). In last place were "Other" (7%) and GetGlue (5%).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

85 Reasons to be Thankful for Librarians

1. Librarians take care of libraries, which are still invaluable today.
2. Not all information is on the internet.
3. Older books still hold great cultural significance.
4. Libraries are still repositories for some of the most valuable works of literature in the world.
5. Even with the internet, the library is still the best place to do research.
6. Girls with glasses can still rock the “sexy librarian” look.
7. “Sexy Librarian” is still a popular costume at Halloween.
8. You can’t exactly find periodicals like The New England Journal of Medicine in Barnes and Noble.
9. For that matter, looking at turn-of-the-century National Geographics is still pretty entertaining.
10. Colleges need something to remodel every so often.
11. The library is still the best meeting spot for college students working on group projects.
12. Libraries are where most colleges store some of their history (choir CDs, videos of athletic matches, etc.).
13. A library is one of the few places people can have free internet access.
14. This means some libraries even hold LAN parties during later hours.
15. Somebody has to help lazy people find what they want.
16. Even online collections of books usually connect directly to a library.
17. “Librarian” is still a better career choice for spinsters over “School Lunch Lady.”
18. Studies have shown libraries and librarians improve student test scores.
19. They also have been shown to improve students’ individual learning skills.
20. With their training in instructional design, librarians can help teachers find resources for their curriculum.
21. Librarians also help teachers to use a variety of media in the classroom.
22. Many libraries today offer enough DVDs to serve as a poor man’s Netflix or Blockbuster.
23. Librarians often put together special programs to get children to read early on.
24. While teaching children to use the library, librarians end up teaching them valuable problem solving skills.
25. They also teach children to use multiple resources to form their own original works.
26. If librarians were no longer around, kids wouldn’t understand the opening scene from Ghostbusters.
27. Librarians know a lot about proper citation skills, as well as ethical uses of information, in order to avoid plagiarism issues.
28. Libraries are still a cheaper place to make photocopies than FedEx Kinko’s.
29. Despite the advances in computer technology, a human will still find information better than a search engine.
30. Librarians can also find information better suited to the person who needs it.
31. A library is much MUCH more well cataloged and organized than the internet.
32. Libraries have much better quality control than the vast majority of websites.
33. Who else is going to learn the Dewey Decimal System? You?
34. Seriously though, no one wants to learn the Dewey Decimal System.
35. For that matter, who else is going to show you how to use that microfiche machine?
36. Experienced librarians often know exactly what resources students need for particular courses.
37. Many libraries collaborate and offer book exchange programs, offering users an almost limitless supply of books and media.
38. Librarians can help relieve some of the workload from teachers by helping students to understand information better.
39. Some engineering teams have already explored the idea of a fully digital library…and ended up designing a traditional library with some advanced technology.
40. The copyright costs for digitizing all literature would be astronomical without even factoring in distribution and storage.
41. Even without the costs, digitizing all books in existence would take hundreds of years at the current rate.
42. The internet still mostly only holds information from the past 15 or so years, compared with the hundreds of years of knowledge found in a library.
43. Even though libraries themselves may be losing attendance, their online archives and websites are still receiving plenty of visitors.
44. Despite the rising popularity of e-books, 80% of people surveyed say they still prefer paper books.
45. The experience of reading an actual book is being preserved by libraries.
46. Libraries provide one of the few places for anyone to find quiet area to just read or study.
47. Sometimes, but not always, libraries have free coffee.
48. Sometimes there are even free snacks.
49. Unlike the internet, libraries are careful that the information they contain is checked for usefulness before being included.
50. Also unlike the internet, libraries are much less influenced by corporate interests.
51. They are also less likely to be manipulated by individuals, like search engine optimizers.
52. Information on more specific topics can be much easier to find in libraries.
53. Digital or not, a library still needs a human staff to run it.
54. The resources of a library are well indexed and will always deliver reliable results (I.e. no “broken links”).
55. Many popular news publications still require subscriptions to view their content online, but are still available for free at the library.
56. Libraries provide free and abundant knowledge to everyone (a privilege people didn’t always have).
57. Not everyone can afford books, but everyone has access to the library.
58. Someone has to buy all those books that college professors write.
59. Public bathrooms in libraries are usually cleaner than most places.
60. A library can mold itself for the specific community it’s in, whereas websites usually try to bring in everyone.
61. At libraries, you can take practice qualifying tests for almost any profession.
62. You can always make suggestions to librarians for specific books you’d like to see.
63. Many libraries also display original works of art or even have separate galleries.
64. Some libraries also hold a limited number of free museum passes that anyone can use.
65. If you don’t have a computer, you can always use the ones in the library.
66. The same goes for certain premium software and special databases.
67. If your library offers wi-fi, it’s probably free.
68. Several libraries also offer programs that cater to senior citizens.
69. Believe it or not, studies show that libraries are good for their local economy, since they make their community for attractive to potential businesses and individuals.
70. Libraries are still a cornerstone for free speech and open access to information.
71. When dictators like Hitler and Mao Zedong set out to eliminate a country’s culture or history, they started by shutting down the public libraries.
72. A library still provides a neutral environment for the free exchange of ideas.
73. Public libraries are surprisingly cheap to maintain, but benefit everyone in the community.
74. If you’re a comic book lover, you can probably find plenty at your local library.
75. They might even have some of those expensive indie graphic novels available.
76. We’re still an incredibly long ways away from a paperless world.
77. You might as well use the library, since you’re already paying for it through taxes or tuition.
78. There’s less risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome from reading books.
79. A library is a great excuse to get out of the house (seriously, why would anyone argue with you about it?).
80. Books are very portable and never need recharging.
81. With the economy these days, going to the library is a great source of free entertainment.
82. You can “try before you buy” any number of books without spending a dime.
83. Some libraries even have bookmobiles or mailing programs that deliver books right to you.
84. Studies have repeatedly shown that reading improves your basic vocabulary and just generally makes you smarter.
85. Regardless of what form a library takes, a librarian will always be ready to guide you to the information you need.

Found and blatantly borrowed from Zen College Life

Zen College Life was started in 2007 as a popular blog for current and prospective college students. Over time they have expanded and try to education and inform prospective students about their various options available when pursuing education, both online and off.

Monday, July 26, 2010

John Grisham on the value of libraries and librarians

Found at The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian

"The Masters" of library science.

Antique radio dials

I have been fascinated with radio since I was a small boy and still use a shortwave to stay in touch with the world. Here is a beautiful collection of 86 radio dials from the past - all basically conveying the same information, but each with a style of its own. Sort of an early take on developing the best "user interface". The entire collection is here. Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

How to handle a pirate attack....really.

The organization Maritime Security Centre - Horn of Africa has published a free pocket-sized booklet on how to "avoid, deter, or delay piracy attacks." It's titled: "Best Management Practice: Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and Arabian Sea Area."

Found at Boing Boing

A collection of 190 popular songs with chords and lyrics. Handy.

Sorted by title, artist, and by first line.

Barnes and Noble's "Nook" eReader released for Android

Press release here

Main features
  • Access to one million-plus titles.
  • Access to ebooks you've purchased on other platforms.
  • Share books with friends.
  • Scalable fonts, landscape, portrait views and orientation lock.
  • Animated page turns, navigation scroll, bookmarks.
  • Syncing with other platforms to share your bookmark info.
  • Support for ePub format books (a BIG feature!)

WW II food posters from "Beans are Bullets" and "Of Course I Can!"

Many more here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Amazing physical simulations

Lagoa Multiphysics, the software creation of Thiago Costa, allows for highly detailed, precisely tunable physics simulations of such phenomena as falling shovelfuls of moist earth, buckets of water being tossed at innocent bunnies, silk sheets crumpling and sliding, and unsavory-looking wobbly extrusions of an undefined plasticky substance that oozes and shivers. This video is astounding....

Lagoa Multiphysics 1.0 - Teaser from Thiago Costa on Vimeo.

The Periodic Table of Irrational Nonesense

Click to enlarge

Found at Coudal Partners

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

1000+ free audio books

More than 1000 free audio books ready for download, categorized by genre and fully searchable. The site is a bit dated, but the content is excellent.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Incredibly Strange Recipes

Here is a delightfully disgusting Flickr stream of strange foods and recipes from our collective past. A few below and many more at the link.

Found at Coudal Partners

UCSB's cylinder digitization project

The cylinder digitization project began in January 2002 as a pilot project with the goal of exploring the feasibility of digitizing the Library's collection of cylinder recordings for online access.

The UCSB Library has several major collections of cylinders and most are available for streaming at the site. The Todd Collection consists of approximately 6,000 cylinders, ranging from brown wax to late Blue Amberols. It is especially strong in two- and four-minute Edison wax cylinders. The Blanche Browning-Rich Collection consists of approximately 1,200 Blue Amberol cylinders from unplayed dealer's inventory, acquired by the library in 2002 from the Rich family of Ogden, Utah. The collection of the late author and discographer William R. Moran is especially strong in operatic cylinders, including many Edison rarities. The Library of Congress and Bowling Green State University also contributed cylinders to the project for digitization. The Fred Williams collection consists of over 1,000 cylinders of concert and military band recordings. The Edouard Pecourt collection contains over 3,000 French cylinders.

50 years of cataloging

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a nice article today about one librarian's career, a career that saw libraries move from the era of card catalogs and electric typewriters into computers and the internet.
Pre-computers, the library used blue-and-white cards to keep track of what had been checked out; in the early 1980s, a system using bar codes replaced the cards kept on file at the circulation desk. It took eight or nine months to enter all the items in the library into the new system, Ms. Lucas remembers. "Cart after cart after cart of books" had to be processed. "I thought of it as kind of fun, because I was a young kid."
The Chronicle asked Ms. Lucas for her thoughts on the future of libraries. "I really don't know what direction we're heading in. We seem to be getting more and more away from the print collections, but we're still buying books," she says. "I don't think there's ever going to come a day when there's no more books in the library. I think there's just going to be a lot more of the other stuff."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Amazon offers free shipping for students

Amazon launches Amazon Students which offers a free one-year subscription to its premium Amazon Prime service, which normally runs $79 a year. What that means is free two-day shiping and overnight delivery for $3.99. The program also promises exclusive deals and promotions. To join, you’ll need to have an .edu email address and be enrolled in at least one college course (this is US only).

If you’re not a student, you may still be eligible for a free trial of Amazon Prime. I jave had a Prime account for several years and it has paid for itself many times over.

Biblioburro or Library Donkey

Watch this. It will make you happy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Newly published Mark Twain Essay: "Concerning the Interview"

PBS has published a previously unreleased essay by Mark Twain on the subject of the interview. Says Twain:
"No one likes to be interviewed, and yet no one likes to say no; for interviewers are courteous and gentle-mannered, even when they come to destroy. I must not be understood to mean that they ever come consciously to destroy or are aware afterward that they have destroyed; no, I think their attitude is more that of the cyclone, which comes with the gracious purpose of cooling off a sweltering village, and is not aware, afterward, that it has done that village anything but a favor. The interviewer scatters you all over creation, but he does not conceive that you can look upon that as a disadvantage."
Full text and scans of the original mansucript are here.

Sony cuts the price of their eReader

Since its launch, Sony has steadily dropped the price of its eReader from its original $199 to $169 and now to $149. Frankly, I think it is too little, too late. As dedicated eReaders go, the Kindle still rules the roost. And, with the appearance of the iPad Sony's outdated e-Ink technology and lack of mobile connectivity pretty much relegate it to the "also rans".

UPDATE: Sony has completely discontinued their eReader and Books-a-Million is offering it for $99 or for club members at $79.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Infographic: The rise of a startup

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Found at HackFwd

College Web sites using Adobe Flash risk exposing students’ personal data

Computer science lecturers at the University of Worcester scanned 250 college websites and tested them for security risks. 20% of the sites were running applications that contained students' personal information within Flash plug-ins and six had "high-critical" problems as described by the investigators.

The problem arises when individual professors, departments, organizations or even students create separate pages through the main university Web site - sites that are not maintained by the institution's IT department. Some have their own individual servers, which also are not set up through the school’s IT department. These may pose security risks. Mustaque Ahamad, a computer-science professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said Flash software contains bugs that may leave the machine vulnerable to hackers.

“From what I understand, hackers have exploited Web-security holes to taint and upload Flash files to university Web sites,” he said.

“Universities need to implement better Web security to ensure that hackers cannot upload tainted content that is hosted by their Web sites,” Mr. Ahamad said. “We are nowhere near achieving perfect security, but the risk can be reduced by being diligent about Web security.”

From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Kitchen Myths

These are all false. Details and many more here.
  • Searing meat seals in the juices

  • "Real" chili cannot contain beans or tomatoes

  • A box of baking soda in the fridge or freezer absorbs odors

  • Sushi means raw fish

  • Hot pan, cold oil food won't stick

  • If you put the pit in the bowl, guacamole won't turn brown

  • Cold water boils faster than warm water

The Edward Gorey Alphabet

A perennial favorite:

The rest are here.

Infographic: Business and Social Media

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From iStrategy

BP and the rest of the energy industry

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The American Energy Alliance (AEA) has accosted BP with Save U.S. Energy Jobs, aiming to preserve the offshore oil and gas industry by emphasizing just how much the Gulf oil disaster is the direct result of negligent oversight from BP.

From the site:
Save U.S. Energy Jobs will also help educate voters about the unfortunate divergence in safety and health approaches between BP and the remainder of the industry. The record shows that BP has operated outside industry-accepted, standard operating procedures. To tarnish an entire industry because of the continuing incompetence of one company is not only wholly unfair, it is a misrepresentation of the facts. The numbers speak for themselves – 760 'egregious, willful' safety violations administered to BP by OSHA compared to Sunoco's eight, two for Conoco-Phillips and CITGO and one for ExxonMobil, the industry's safety leader. Other companies maintained these impeccable records while drilling over 50,000 wells safely in federal waters. This is not an industry problem. This is a BP problem.

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Interactive version here.