31 October 2005

Google Print

I haven't written specifically about Google Print (although I've alluded to it a couple of times), but I thought, hey, better late than never.



There are literally millions of posts all over the Web about this, so I won't bore you with a recap. What I will do is ask a question that has been bothering me and that keeps me from fanboying about Google Print.



First, some back story. In college, I had more than one professor who chose to use a text that wasn't in print anymore. What this usually meant was photocopies of the pages of the book in question from the university library. If I made the copies (and didn't get called out for copying "too much" of the book), the library staff didn't seem to mind. However, if the professor did so (or his staff) and handed those copies out to the students, that had to be cleared for all the copyright BS, as if the University were reprinting the entire book. (There was some arbitrary threshold if I remember correctly.) It basically boiled down to a huge legal mess if the professor needed to use the text. Some did, some didn't. In the "didn't" case, the class was basically left to their own devices to obtain the text as they could.



Google claims that scanning (copying), running OCR, and shoving all the text of these books into their database is fair use. Many claim this should be so because it furthers society somehow (I'm not contending that). For example, David Weinberger says "...as a citizen who wants to live in an ever smarter world, I hope Google Print goes ahead." Ok, I can buy that. But if University professors, who certainly are making the world smarter, can't do essentially the same thing as Google wants to do without paying their dues, why is Google suddenly exempt from those rules?


Until someone gives me a clear answer to that, I can't fault any author that raises an objection. Don't get me wrong, I think a Google Print-like service is inevitable, but why do we have to strongarm people into the system if they don't want to? Enough people are dying to get in (*hand up*); Google is wrong to use their muscle to force anything down people's throats.

HOW TO: Tune an HDTV with a THX-Optimized DVD

I wonder how far off our TV is.

Link

29 October 2005

Why Does God Hate Amputees?

A totally biased, simple, attack on the religious. It's the same, tired, "religious people are mindless idiots" argument. WIth a clever title. And lots of straw men. Actually, one big straw man, but that never seems to matter.

By the way, God is bad because men are mortal. And he doesn't exist because the Bible is fake (I love self-referential arguments). Shove that in your philosophical... pipe and smoke it.

If you want an interesting topic for discussion about God, try God, A Biography by Jack Miles.

Link

28 October 2005

Digital Lust - Deskloops

Imagine all of your windows in a continuous strip, accessible by moving your cursor to the side of your screen. Imagine being able to save an entire set of windows and load them later on. This is Deskloops. Eye candy? Oh yeah. But since when has that stopped anyone (I'm looking at you, iTunes)?

Download Deskloops [via Lifehacker]

Common Census

Via S.S. Trudeau we get a link to the Common Census map, drawn not by political boundaries, but by influence. Influence in this case is measured by respondants to the (brief) survey about what you feel is your community.

This is a very interesting map and illustrates a commonly held perception about Michigan; that of the sphere's of influence within the state. I wonder if this holds true for the other regions of the country.

Check it out and contribute; it's only as good as people's input.

CommonCensus Map Project

Attack of the Blogs - Let the Games begin

BoingBoing, Dan Gillmor, Steve Rubel, Robert Scoble, Paul Kedrosky, Mike from Techdirt, and Gary Stein have all weighed in. Can't wait to see what Jeff Jarvis has to say about this.

27 October 2005

Attack of the Blogs

Congratulations to Forbes for having one of the most poorly written articles on blogging ever. Daniel Lyons, who obviously falls squarely on the side of the older styles of journalism (those would be nepotism, invective, and abuse), pens a mighty blow against "the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns", blogs. Here's a nice sampling:



Often a bashing victim can't even figure out who his attacker is. No target is too mighty, or too obscure, for this new and virulent strain of oratory.

"Bloggers are more of a threat than people realize, and they are only going to get more toxic. This is the new reality," says Peter Blackshaw, chief marketing officer at Intelliseek...

"I'd say 50% to 60% of attacks are sponsored by competitors," says Bruce Fischman, a lawyer in Miami for targets of online abuse.

One blog, Groklaw, exists primarily to bash software maker SCOGroup in its Linux patent lawsuit against IBM, producing laughably biased, pro-IBMcoverage; its origins are a mystery.

Google and other services operate with government-sanctioned impunity, protected from any liability for anything posted on the blogs they host. Thus they serve up vitriolic "content" without bearing any legal responsibility for ensuring it is fair or accurate; at times they even sell ads alongside the diatribes.


Ah yes, the sweet sounds of balanced reporting. Welcome to blogging world, Mr. Lyons. I'm guessing your next story will be about the poor quality of the millions of emails you are about to receive. And, not to take the bait too hard, but you are also an idiot, Mr. Lyons. Blogs are more than a cheap product-bashing tool. They are also important tools for communicating to millions of people. Even Presidential candidates use blogs to campaign. Blogs are social barometers. Blogs are ways for companies to talk with, not to, their customers. Companies also put on human faces with blogs (see Microsoft). Oh, and Groklaw is a pretty interesting study in the power of blogs to overcome the disinformation you obviously fell for, Mr. Lyons. (Hot Tip: SCO is going to lose.)



So, the next time you, Mr. Lyons, want to write a story about blogs or anything related to the Internet, pull your head out of you ass (or at least quit kissing the ass of what I'm guessing are sponsors) and try to present the entire story. And if a Forbes editor wants to prevent your brand name from ending up like a blog-bashed diet-pill, you'd do well to sort out Daniel Lyons.



Read the whole article (BugMeNot required; wonder what Forbes thinks of that extension?) and the original story on MeFi.

Scourge of the Earth

The comments situation here will continue as I just had a fun peek into my server stats. 22.09% of the requests to my site are to mt-comments.cgi. Oddly, the most bandwidth passes from my Politics category, but that's another story.



Now, I don't pretend to be in any way important to the community; this is a vanity site and a chance for me to screw around with a server without nuking one my own machines. Still, I was amazed at the traffic that spammers bring to this back-woods URL. In the last 80 days, 7691 hits were recorded to just mt-comments.cgi. That's a little under 100 a day. That's almost, well, 100 times more than the legit visitors I get. (Thanks to AAiOR for continuing to read, BTW; if you're ever coming to Chelsea, drop me a line. I think I owe you a beer.)



Anyway, as humbling as a stats check was, I'm going to keep the comments open to registered users only. Sorry, but mainland China is a little too friendly to the scum of the internet.

26 October 2005

Comedy Central Drops a Motherload

Comedy Central has announced that on November 1, they will launch Motherload, a broadband IPTV service. Yes, it will include The Daily Show because, if it didn't, no one would have noticed the press release.

This is a cool idea; Comedy Central has decent traction among the high-bandwidth crowd thanks to the Daily Show and they probably realize that they get a lot of publicity from the file trading of clips of the show. They don't issue C&Ds to everyone who posts them because it gets them more viewers. Motherload gives them the ability to bring those people back to their site (read: more advertising), but also gets eyes on new shows. It's an incubator for new content.

We'll see how they screw this up (they have the dreaded "$SERVICE Video player" phrase in the press release, so some kind of wonky DRM is obviously going to be a part of this (WMV? Real Player?) Hopefully it's not too intrusive.

Hey Comedy Central, chuck some bucks at Odeo and get video enclosures set up for you content so it can get fed right into iPod with Videos. Mmmm.... RSS Tivo.

24 October 2005

Rosa Parks has died

Link to Freep Story

My blog is worth how much?

I take Paypal, bad checks, and whompum.



Hell, at this price, I'll be busy for the next week setting up Splogspot accounts.




My blog is worth $3,951.78.
How much is your blog worth?



Link

Extending Google Print

Funny stuff.

"Never mind those. Listen -- I can use Google's logic to get free copies of films, music -- anything I want! All I have to do is borrow the CDs or DVDs, downloaded music or video or whatever, copy them, and then offer some sort of 'fair use' excerpt index service, just like Google is doing with the books. It's the perfect gimmick. Maybe I could runs ads with them too -- that's where Google is really raking it in. Hell, if Google can do this sort of thing with one kind of copyrighted work without paying, why can't anyone else do it too, and why should it be restricted just to books?"


REALITY RESET: "Free for All: The Google Excuse" [via Kottke]

23 October 2005

Wow, I didn't think it was possible...

...but I like Anne Rice even less now. She found the Lord (he's been missing, yah know).



Link

Google Goes Exclusive

Via Dan Gillmor, we get a link to Dave Winer. I'm not a huge Dave Winer fan, with all that "I did this so you must credit me" crap for technology that is everywhere. We all know that Tim Berners-Lee came up with the web, but we don't put his name next to every mention ("See our website; thanks to Tim Berners-Lee"). Dave essentially crabs about the same thing with RSS and podcasting (and don't get me started on Adam Curry).



But, I'm off track. Dave is one of those people that, well, you either know about him or you don't. He's got his moments of stupendous annoyance and other moments, like today, where he has flashes of deep insight.



Dave's target this time is a Silicon Valley behemoth that is forgetting how it got to where it is: Google.



Later this week Google will have their invite-only Zeitgeist conference. It's as closed as a conference can be. And this is the company we lifted on our shoulders and held up as a shining example of the web at its best. We were wrong to do that, but forgive us for having hope. At some core level Google did understand the web, but there was also a lot about Google that was against the web, and now that's most of what they are.


And he's right. From email to IM to information retrieval to micropayments, Google has been telling everyone that they've been doing it wrong and Google now has the real answer. Is scanning books to make the searchable bad? No, of course not, but you need to have everyone's buy in. Google has been making the rounds pissing off group after group with their projects. We, the technorati, laugh at the outmoded industries who succumb to Google's Better Way, but what happens when they come for your work? What happens when you're not in on the Way It's Going To Be meeting? What happens when Google wants to do something radically different instead of just a little different?



We often ridicule Microsoft for being a soulless, stodgy company, a reputation that Microsoft has sent Bill Gates to overcome with his nerdy demeanor and the candor of a marketing VP. Google learned well from that, recruiting the elite from the Web to be their prophets; better a zealot than the cult leader to spread the word. But Google is no different than Microsoft; both are enormous machines that take what they want and apologize later. Both are drains on the local brain trust, an intellectual equivalent of dropping a Wal-Mart in the center of your town. Both are trusted with more information about you and me than we probably realize.



Now Google is starting down the path that feels, well, evil. Web 2.0 is the latest buzz word, the best explanation of which that I've heard goes like this: Web 1.0 was a monologue, Web 2.0 is a conversation. Blogs obviously fall here, but so does the Skype phenomenon, enterprise IM (??), and a bunch of other lofty ideas. Sound familiar? The Google Zeitgeist meeting, which is invite-only, happens soon. The Zeitgeist is bascially a list of what's hot, based on Google searches and indexing. You and I make the Zeitgeist with our blogs and comments, links and photos. Web 2.0 is certainly on the Zeitgeist, but this meeting is closed to all but a select few: the Prophets. Our input is not welcome there, but our data is.



And so, as Dave puts it, "we follow them down into bad years". It was bound to happen; you don't flirt with a market value of $100 billion (with a b) and not let it go to your head. The real question is: What's next? Where does Google go from here? They can't remain the industry darling without new products or services. Search can only be that good for so long. Logic dictates that some time, probably very soon, someone will do search better. Many already do email better, many already do IM better. Google has ridden it's name for a long time and the fare is coming due. Let's hope it doesn't get too bad.



Link

19 October 2005

Jack Thompson - The Saga Continues

Quick follow-up. Ars Technica has a great summary of the events along with some new details.



The Penny Arcade fans have banned together and worked up a detailed account of Jack's activities. One of the forum members has reported the entire incident to the FBI, including the detailed report (forum thread here [NSFW language]). The letter has also been sent to the Florida Bar Association who has already once reprimand Thompson in 1998.



Disbarment might be a pipe dream, but it's one more step on Jack's way to the bottom. By the way, search for John B. Thompson on Google for some hilarious reading.

Arbor Update Flips the Racists

Arbor Update, a local Ann Arbor blog, recently posted about the riots in Toledo (CNN story). Throughout the day, I've been following the hilarious thread as trolls are driven to the post, likely from a search or some post in the neo-Nazi forum somewhere. After some people called for the racist crap be deleted, one of the mods at Arbor Update flipped the comments and proposed donating $1 for each racist comment made in the thread. Many others have joined in, and the flames continue.



Of course, being Ann Arbor, someone had to ruin a highly entertaining troll-bashing by starting the "conservative are Nazis" BS; nice to see everyone's true colors are starting to show through.



But, it's a good cause, in a macabre sort of way. Check it out, make a donation. Help fight racist, anti-Semitic, idiots.

Dear Channel 7

I tried to post the following message on your "forums" in response to the hit piece tonight on the governor, but you have a character limit. My commend got deleted as well; must be a technical problem. So, if someone would get get lucky enough to surf over here, here's my response to Steve Wilson's "report" Mackinac Mansion Part I.



Note to the management: you lost a viewer tonight.

What's next? "See Steve's next report where he continues to insinuate that the First Gentleman is living a swingin' bachelors lifestyle, tomorrow at 7!

Whats the matter Steve, Granholm put you in your place? The juices running a little slower lately? Needed a little yellow journalism fix to get your warmed up for the election cycle?

With an election as important as this mayors race, a budget crisis that could bankrupt the City of Detroit, and real problems everywhere in between, Channel 7 could better serve the community with real stories, not this kind of sensationalist tripe.

Thanks,

A Former Viewer

Personal Peltier Beer Cooler

I must build this! A homemade Peltier Beer (erm... Beverage) cooler.

Ok, not really (I can't solder to safe my life), but this is pretty cool.

Link [via Engadget]

Converting a 48-Quart Cooler into a Mash Tun

Sweet, pictures and everything.

Link

18 October 2005

20 license-free fonts

Vitaly Friedman has compiled a list of 20 License-Free Fonts (that's free). Fonts are one of those beautiful things that no one pays attention to, at least until you get that invitation made in Kidnap or something. Pretty good list; I especially like Pigiarniq and JustOldFashion.

Link [via mezzoblue]

Penny Arcade is going to be even funnier than usual in a little bit

I'm going to stop apologizing for it and just give into the farce that has become Jack Thompson. (Note to certain readers, it must be something about the last name.)

Jack has now faxed a letter to the Seattle PD (where PA is located) asking that the authors of PA, Gabe and Tycho, be arrested. Of course, he got their website wrong, but that doesn't detract from the fun language and defamation suit he brought on himself. He accuses PA of extortion and criminal harassment, both of which I'm pretty sure require evidence in order to prosecute.

Jack, you have made yourself a public figure and, as such, are open to a whole level of mockery and satire the likes of which you obviously are unable to deal with. "I Hate Jack Thompson" T-shirts are not harassment, they're hella-funny. I highly recommend you crawl back under a rock and bother us no more. Cops are smarter than you pathetic, emotional pleas and insinuations. They're not dumb enough to arrest people who donate money to sick kids in the name of the person falsely accusing them of crimes.

gamepolitics: BREAKING NEWS: Will Seattle's Finest Be Raiding Penny Arcade?

Orson Scott Card's webzine

Orson Scott Card's webzine, Intergalatic Medicine Show, is up. Each issue costs $2.50 and Card has on the front page that he'll publish a new story in Ender's world every month (what's that little tickle in the back of my mind?).

Ender's Game is one of the best sf stories around and Card is quite a character.

[via Sci-Fi Storm]

IGMS

17 October 2005

Sorry, one more Jack Thompson post today

I don't know what gets this guy under my skin and, yes, I'm playing right into his sick need for attention, but I got drop one last post about this twit.

Not only does he whelch on charities, but others have to make up for him. The guys at Penny Arcade have donated $10,000 to The Entertainment Software Association Foundation in Jack's name.

Jack, as he will remind you, is a lawyer and, as such, likes to make wild, legal-sounding threats. See the Penny Arcade link above as well as this page over at VG Cats.

And the worst part, people like my folks don't hear this side of the story. Will someone from a responsbile news orginization (not C|Net) pick this up and wipe Jack Thompson off the map? Please? There are people doing far worse damage to society, and we really need to get back to them.

Jack Thompson chickens out

Following up on this post, Jack Thompson, lawyer, psychic, and now, apparently, back-peddling fool has rescinded his offer of $10,000 to charity if someone built his proposed violent video game. Why? Because someone did it. Jack now claims, in totally lawyerly fashion, that his original offer was satire. Unfortunately, we know that's not true as Jack can't actually identify satire, based on his reaction to the produced mod of GTA:SA where you can play as Jack Thompson.

So, either one of two things occurred here. Either Thompson's original piece was satire and he never intended to donate money to charity or he's lying now to get out of donating the money to charity. We await his explanation soon.

16 October 2005

Beer of the Moment

Every brewer has the passion for a good beer. I'm attempting to pose as a brewer, so why not take on some accoutrement? With that, I begin the Beer of the Moment segment (with a Beer category), wherein I gush about the beer that I have currently fallen for and avoid committments to some "of the $TIMESEGMENT" titling.



This edition of Beer of the Moment (or BotM, since everything deserves an acronym) is Great Lakes Brewing Company's Dortmunder Gold. Dortmunder is a Golden Lager (according to the label) brewed in the style of the town of Dortmund, Germany.



Vitals



  • ABV: 5.8%

  • ABW: 4.3%

  • IBU: 30


(Ratebeer page)



Reading the Ratebeer page makes you think you have try to like this beer, which is like saying you need to work up to sweet chocolate. Sure, you might have to if you come from the dark chocolate world, but most don't. The beer is a dark straw color; it reminds me of a dark Scotch. There is very little head, but a medium body. I expected something much heavier.



It smells slightly fruity, but I don't detect the cinnamon that some claim to smell. It's medium thickness in the mouth lingers after you swallow, but not in an unpleasant way. This is currently my favorite lager and something I have already bought two 6-packs of, which is saying something. I like IPAs, so this lager was a refreshing change. I highly recommend this beer.



Side note, on the same trip I also got a single (thankfully) of Founder's Devil Dancer IPA. Wow. Way over the top. 13% ABV, 200+ IBUs, thick as soup. I love Founder's Red's Rye, I'll even drink a Dirty Bastard now and then, but I couldn't like this one. Sometimes I think they make this kind of thing just so people can brag that they like it.



Anyway, go get the Dotmunder and have some chicken wings; I personally vouch for the combo.

DIY $100 PC?

Not quite, but this guy did it for $126. Not bad



Link [via digg]

15 October 2005

HOW-TO: Convert a DVD for your iPod (with video) in Windows

It took about 2 days, but Engaget has alread posted a HOWTO on how to your movies onto an iPod with video.



Link

14 October 2005

Jack Thompson goes after Penny Arcade

For those that don't know, Jack Thompson (notice the subtle URL) is the lawyer-cum-vigilante who is trying to make himself the face of the anti-video game movement. He gushes over these idiot laws over video games passed all over the country. (Side note to our Governor, Jennifer Granholm; you lost my vote.) He's basically the latest incarnation of the hysterical crowd that first blamed music, then blamed movies, and are now blaming video games for people's lack of responsibility. His equation usually goes like this: innocent child (think teddy bears and butterflies) plays big, bad video game, the goes on a Natural Born Killers-style rampage, slaughtering person, beast, and plant.

According to his website (see subtle URL above), he's also a psychic. He predicted "...in an interview by Matt Lauer on NBC's Today show three weeks before the Beltway Snipers were apprehended, that one of the snipers "might very well be a video gamer as young as 15 trained on a game switched to sniper-mode or God-mode." Nevermind that he says this about every crime spree to anyone who will listen; luck often favors the undeserving. Hell, even John Edwards gets one right once in a while.

The fact is Jack Thompson is not a psychologist, he's not a doctor, he's a lawyer and has much to gain from his notoriety. He conveniently ignores statistics that refute his claims and uses straw man tactics in his attempt to make a point. Oh, by the way, good luck to Mr. Thompson on his case in the Grand Theft Auto murder case; that guy got convicted because he's a murderer, not mentally deficient.

Which brings us to Penny Arcade. Gabe and Tycho, the two proprietors of Penny Arcade, are about the most generous gamers you can find. They have donated about half a million dollars through their charity, all raised through grassroots efforts among gamers. Jack Thompson, as far as I know, has offered ten grand and donated none. They sent him an email (scroll down) with their phone number on it. Jack called them (article). I'm not exactly sure what law you sue someone under for emailing you, but if Jack can figure it out, I have about (counting.... ) 45 spammers I'd like to contact.

Jack Thomson is so bad at spreading the word about violent video games, even the people he's quoting are asking him to stop using their names. As the Dutch would say: Als alle gekken konden vliegen hadden we een permanente zonsverduistering - If all fools could fly, the sun would be eclipsed forever.

May Jack drift into irrelevance as quickly as New Coke.

12 October 2005

Comment spammers win again

Once again, comment/trackback spammers have blasted this site. It's taken me the better part of an hour to change the settings for Movable Type.



For the foreseeable future, comments are for registered commenters only and trackbacks are off. If you have a comment and don't want to register, email me.

10 Registry Tools Tested

Some interesting results and good tools.

PC Maintenance > Langa Letter: Testing 10 Windows 'Registry Cleaning' Software Packs > October 10, 2005" href="http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=171203805">Link

Digital Lust - Part, uh, it's a long-running thing

I'm sitting in a training session right now (thank God for WiFi and Bloglines).

Can I just say that I almost bought a video iPod while someone was droning on about sub-contracts? I'm not a fanboy or anything (see previous posts), but iPod + video + ability to buy TV shows to watch on iPod? Wow... nice work Apple.

BTW, the Apple site is at a crawl, but go check out the new stuff... very cool.

Apple

03 October 2005

Dark Chocolate; What Can't It Do?

Hot on the heals of chocolate's positive effects on your heart, a new study confirms a bit of folk wisdom: dark chocolate helps with diarrhea.

What can't that stuff do?

Free Music Monday

That title sounds like I'll do that every week, which I won't. I should, but I won't.

Anyway, Harvey Danger has released their latest album via bittorrent on their site. I haven't heard it yet, so no comment on quality.