Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I/O Brush

Instead of painting with paint, you can paint with . . . video of real objects. From the MIT Labs, the I/O Brush (a prototype) looks like a large brush with a circular head. When the brush touches a surface an embedded video camera takes a video of the object. You can then use the brush on a canvas (currently, they are using a touch screen with rear projection). The resulting "paint" is the video just shot. It really didn't make sense to me until I saw it work. From the website:
There are many paint/drawing programs on the market today that are designed especially for kids. These let kids do neat things, but kids usually end up playing only with the "preprogrammed" digital palette the software provides. The idea of I/O Brush is to let the kids build their own ink. They can take any colors, textures, and movements they want to experiment with from their own environment and paint with their personal and unique ink. Kids are not only exploring through construction of their personal art project, but they are also exploring through construction of their own tools (i.e., the palette/ink) to build their art project with.
[from SIGIA-L]

Monday, November 28, 2005

State of Texas Sues SONY

The Texas Attorney General has sued SONY BMG for infringement of the state's Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act of 2005. (If someone can find the text of this Act, please let me know.) From the press release:
According to SONY’s Web site, the company recently distributed millions of CDs across the nation on 52 CDs by various artists. These CDs contained embedded files used for copy protection – or XCP technology. The files prompt consumers to enter into a user agreement to install SONY’s audio player. By opting into the agreement, which Sony represents is the only way a consumer can listen to these CDs on a computer, the consumer is unaware that SONY secretly installs files into the computer’s Microsoft Windows folders. Consumers are unable to detect and remove these files.
SONY states that the files only prevent unlimited copying. The Attorney General states that the files are hidden and active at all times. This makes them difficult to remove and to determine what the files are actually doing. From SONY BMG's FAQ: They have instituted a mail-in program for anyone who has purchased a CD with XCP technology. They will replace the XCP CD with the same CD without copy protection. They have also provided the major software and anti-virus companies with a software update and have provided access from their web site. A list of specific CDs affected is also included. [from beSpacific]

Single-Letter Domains

ICANN will be discussing the possibility of letting go of the single-letter domains. They have been kept in reserve as early Internet engineers were not sure if they would be able to keep up with the number of domains needed. They now believe this is not an issue. Only six have been allowed to keep their single-letter domains (q.com, x.com, z.com, i.net, q.net, and x.org). We may be seeing more of them as early as next year. [from Edupage]

Working Out with Computers

The University of Minnesota-Mankato has installed computers in their exercise area. If you're working on a treadmill, stationary bike, or stepper, you can surf the Net or check your email. The interest is so great that students have to sign up ahead of time. [from Wired]

Friday, November 11, 2005

Filtering Cell Phone Content

According to the New York Times, major cell phone carriers have agreed to provide ratings, similar to those used for movies and video games, for content they provide. This does not include Internet content downloaded to these devices. They will start with just two ratings -- general interest and restricted content (appropriate for those over 18). They have agreed that they will not start this rating system until they have developed a filtering technology for their content. A couple of things -- the carriers will be rating only content that is purchased via the cell phone. I assume this would include options such as movies, games, and TV shows. Much of this content is already rated, so that should make it easier. The most interesting thing is that the carriers are developing filtering technology. Don't we already have companies selling filtering technology? Many of us use it on a daily basis. So, why would major corporations have to develop their own? Why not just purchase one of the filtering companies or use an existing product? I'd love to know what they're developing. [from Edupage]

Upgrade Your Flash Player

Plug-ins are usually among the last programs that we upgrade. Do yourself a favor and upgrade your Flash player to version 8.x. There is a critical vulnerability which can allow hackers to run programs on your computer. Everyone on versions 6 and 7 should upgrade. If you aren't sure which version you are running, go to this Windows web page. You'll see the version. [from eWeek]

Carelessness and Computers

A study done at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor looked at over 300 computer/network problems at 36 institutions. They found that 40% of the problems were caused by the careless actions of students or staff. As opposed to external factors like viruses, the problems resulted from "inadequate training to help computer users avoid trouble and insufficient policies to deal with problems that do arise." So keep up with training and policies! [from Chronicle of Higher Education - subscription required] [from Edupage]

Friday, November 04, 2005


E-LIS is an open archive for library and information science. From their website:
E-LIS is an open access archive for scientific or technical documents, published or unpublished, on Librarianship, Information Science and Technology, and related areas. E-LIS relies on the voluntary work of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and is non-commercial. It is not a funded project of an organization. It is community-owned and community-driven. We serve LIS researchers by facilitating their self-archiving, ensuring the long-term preservation of their documents and by providing word-wide easy access to their papers.
[from Library Stories]

Studying Wireless Use at MIT

As of October, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has more than 2,800 access points. Through the iSPOTS project, they can see how much use is made of wireless across the campus. They can tell what types of devices are using the network, and if given permission, can track the location of users. They are finding that wireless users:
  • log on from their dorm rooms late at night or early in the morning
  • log on from their classrooms during the day
  • are not using study labs, but are using cafes and lounges
Since this upgraded network just went live last month, so it is very early to make many assumptions, but the research and statistics they find should help inform other organizations planning for overall wireless -- whether in an academic situation or not. [from LJ Tech Blog]

Purchase Parts of Books from Google and Amazon

Both Google and Amazon allow you to see parts of books (both copyrighted and non-copyrighted). They are both developing systems that will allow you to view full pages or chapters of books online for a cost. Downloading or printing those pages might cost more. Google's would work through Google Print; Amazon through its Search Inside service. Random House has put forward the possibility of charging 5 cents per page for viewing: 4 cents to the publisher and creator and 1 cent to the distributor (Google, Amazon, etc.). [from New York Times]

Google Desktop Out of Beta

Google has been putting out many services lately which have all been in beta. Google Desktop is the first in a long time that has now moved to production status. [from Official Google Blog]

Looks Too Good To Be True.com

Looks Too Good To Be True.com is a web site to aid consumers in identifying fraud on the Internet. From the website:
This website was developed to arm you with information so you don’t fall victim to these Internet scam artists. Education, good judgment, and a healthy dose of skepticism are the best defenses against becoming a victim. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
The web site is divided into sections:
  • Types of fraud -- identity fraud, financial fraud, auction fraud, sweepstakes/lottery fraud, counterfeit payments fraud
  • Victim stories
  • FAQs/tips
  • Share your experience
Partners in this website include the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, Monster, the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, The Spamhaus Project, the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center, Target, and the Merchant Risk Council. [from beSpacific]

Thursday, November 03, 2005


The EULAlyzer will analyze those End User License Agreements (EULA) you have to accept before using any software. It looks for interesting words and phrases and lists them for you before you accept the agreement. There is a free version (EULAlyzer Personal 1.0 for Windows) and a for-cost version (EULAlyzer Pro 1) for $19.95 per year. The Pro version will automatically detect a EULA and will give you results almost instantly. [from ResourceShelf]

Lufkin RSS Feeds

The Lufkin Daily News has RSS feeds:
  • Local News
  • Local Sports
  • Local Features
  • Local Opinions
  • National News
[from RSS Compendium]

Blog People Survey

A doctoral graduate student at the University of North Texas School of Library and Information Science -- Michael Stephens -- is asking librarians and library workers who have a weblog about libraries to fill out this survey.
The purpose of this research study is to help better understand the motivations of librarians who write independent Weblogs about libraries, technology or their experiences in libraries. It seeks to identify who, exactly, are the "blog people" of librarianship.
If you have a few minutes, take the survey. [from Tame The Web]

Library Instruction Wiki

If you teach library skills, you should look at the Library Instruction Wiki. There are sections for: Once you have a good idea of what is already there, remember that you can add content yourself. It does require authentication, but that part is easy. You can also subscribe to a feed of the changes/updates to the wiki.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Web 2.0

Tim O'Reilly has authored an article called "What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software." It is his attempt to explain what the differences between Web 1.0 (the current web) and Web 2.0 are. Overall, he identifies:
  • The Web as the platform, not an operating system like Windows
  • Collective intelligence, e.g., Wikipedia, del.icio.us, Flickr, blogging, RSS
  • Data is the core, e.g., companies using user-supplied data
  • Continual software development as opposed to software releases
  • Lightweight services (web services, RSS)
  • Software that connects multiple devices, e.g., handhelds, PCs, iPods
  • Rich user experiences over the web, e.g., email, address book, word processor, contact record management
O'Reilly does a great job of explaining each of these and providing examples of you can see each in action right now. A definite read!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Patent on XML

Scientigo owns two patents which covers "the transfer of 'data in neutral forms.'" They feel that the use of XML infringes on these two patents. Scientigo is planning on licensing this work, but others feel that the basis of XML goes back to SGML, which was created in the 1980s and which is based on prior work done in the 1960s. [from ZDNet]