Archive for July, 2005

Without entirely realizing the theme or the local connections, Tucker and I watched two great father-son movies with Chapel Hill connections on this rainy Sunday.

Danny Wallace‘s Big Fish as interpreted by Tim Burton is dazzling and funny. The father here is a teller of tales which are nearly true and to everyone but his son better than the truth. they are mythic and aspire to more than the father has actually achieved which drives his son now a reporter in france up the wall. the son tries to get at the truth — the wrong truth it turns out — until the last moments of his father’s life when he must create the final mythic tale for his father. then the funeral comes and we see that there are pieces of fact among the stories. just pieces but enough to give the myths meanings and to make them more than just fantasy.

October Sky, an anagram as it turns out for Rocket Boys the title of the memoir by Homer Hickham, has an appearance by Chapel Hill’s Mark J. Miller as the alcoholic stepfather of one of the boys. The tension in the story of Hickham and his friends is between Hickham’s father who is secure only in his work in the coal mines and is threatened by his son’s going interest and success in rocketry. The father has his reasons: people are dying in the mines, the local mine isn’t producing up to the expected levels, the United Mine Workers are calling for a strike, there are layoffs called for, and the town, a company owned town, might close down with the mine. Still the son must follow his dream of creating rockets with his friends and of reaching beyond the small coaltown to some other larger world — to be as it were a big fish.

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Technology to the rescue! Teen age drinking is a problem in Chapel Hill and elsewhere. Anti-drinking crusader Dale Pratt-Wilson is on the case and is featured as Tar Heel of the Week in the News and Observer (note: I was TotW back nearly 10 years ago. My being there had nothing to do with drinking.). Pratt-Wilson was a strong proponent of keg registration laws which if put in place would create stronger controls on kegs than on firearms. DPW makes sense on at least one point since more teens die in drinking related accidents than from gun shots. But as opponents point out, teens are not buying or drinking most of the beer. Immediate civil liberty questions come to mind. There was even a move to put RFIDs on kegs.

Leave it to the folks at Make Magazine. These technologists have gone several steps better with the kegbot kegerator. The Kegbot keeps up with all kinds of information including temperature, amount of beer remaining, etc but more importantly Kegbot keeps up with who is drinking how much using an iButton key. It can cut off heavy drinkers. And it does create an amusing way of measuring beer usage.

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Installed the Fire Fox version of the Google Tool Bar and am checking out the features. One amusement is the PageRank meter. Not to be confused with the Google PigeonRank meter.

Google 10
New York Times 10
Duke University Home Page 9
whitehouse.gov 9
slashdot.org 9
ibiblio.org 8
UNC Home Page 8
newsobserver.com 7
EdCone.com 7
School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC 7
The Real Paul Jones 6
GreeneSpace 6
Orange Politics 6
Independent Weekly 6
NC State Home Page 6
Audio Activism .org 5
WCHL 5
WCOM 4
News and Observer Blogs 3
School of Information and Library Science at UNC 0
News and Record 0

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What: Podcastercon
Where: 116 Murphey Hall, UNC, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, January 7, 2006 11am – 4pm
More: See www.podcastercon.org and the Podcastercon Blog.

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After spending years and mucho $$$, feds have decided to recall the Global Information Locator Service (GILS) standard (according to Federal Computer Week). For those of us involved in searching via WAIS and other now decade old searching schemes (back in the day when they were new), this is not a surprise but a relief. Eliot Christian has had a very long ride on GILS (he declined to comment on the story linked above), but will now have to consider how work done for GILS might fit with W3C standards and with current searching standards used by Google and Yahoo! Could these old school GILS problems point to similar problems with the semantic web? And what does this mean for state standards based on GILS like NC GILS?

What say you old school searchers?

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Paul is 128 for 2004. The Social Security Adminstration’s list of the most popular baby names for 2004 has been released at their amusing website of first names. Paul came in at 128th most popular. A search across the history of Paul for the past 55 years shows that Paul was way up at 18 in 1950. The name hovered in the top 20 for 18 years hitting 15th at the most popular year (1958) before entering a steady decline which continues to this day.

The most popular for 2004? Jacob and Emily. In North Carolina, Emma and William are more popular than the top national choices.

Check out your own name.

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Doesn’t take much to be cuter than Philip K Dick or the Philip K Dick Android. The BBC reports that the more attractive Repliee Q1 has even passed for human in a situations already. The goal is to have her “pass for human” for up to 10 minutes, says creator Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University.

Blade Runner jokes and references surely follow.

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Our friend Sylvia Garrard is not only a painter but also a singer. She just made a demo CD of four jazz pieces with pianist Chris Reynolds. In honor of that, we met at the Southpoint mall restaurant where Chris was scheduled to play with a guitarist as a duo. Things were a little confused. Our friend Jane couldn’t make it at the last minute. Chris has split with the guitarist and so had also split the dates. This week turned out to be the guitarist’s week at Maggiano’s. We listened a while then walked out and heard some funky jazz down the street. Playing in the 100 degree heat were the Usual Suspects, a local to Durham band that featured the wonderful Beverly Botsford on percussion. The jazz was hot and so was the air and anything that had been in the sun even a few minutes. We ducked in for a bite and caught the closing numbers after sunsite when the temperature had dropped to only 93 degrees! Good funky jazz and the band was paying some serious dues.

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The Honorable Dr. Sally Greene, Esquire will be returning to her reporting roots when she interviews the Duke of Devonshire as he visits Tyler, Texas. The Duke is there to promote a showing of selections from his family’s collection of art and fine objects opening at the Tyler Museum of Art called “The Devonshire Inheritance: Five Centuries of Collecting at Chatsworth.”

Sally will be taking a break from helping out her mother who is recovering from an automobile accident at East Texas Medical Center Rehabilitation Center in Tyler.

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Just got a call from WCHL (1360 AM) asking me about a supposedly unique webcast scheduled to come from the University of Pittsburgh in September. The pitch here is that the producers of the event say that the webcast lecture will be have the largest audience of any academic lecture in history. Sounds like high-hopes promotion and wishful thinking. The talk is the Cutler lecture on public health for 2005, “The Public Health Consequences of Disasters: Challenges for Public Health Action” by Eric Noji.

I’m dropping my Gameboy and tuning right in!

Seriously, why is this news? We’ve been doing webcasts for years and years. SunSITE did a live webcast of Bill Clinton’s visit to Chapel Hill for the 200th anniversary of the founding of UNC back in October 1993. Live webcasts without interaction are most interesting if they are of a historic event like today’s space shuttle launch or the Victoria’s Secret annual show. Just check out Technorati for recent listings of webcasts, not to mention Google; there are no shortage of webcasts of every variety.

Stored webcast that can be played at leisure (via timeshifting) make more sense when you don’t want or need to provide real-time interactivity. We do that with the ibiblio speakers series for talks by Larry Lessig, Cory Doctorow, Dan Gillmor and even the Triangle Bloggers Conference. Heck, we even make the talks available through BitTorrent using Osprey.

If the talk were to allow some kind of intense and interesting and innovative interactivity, then we’d have a story. “We’ll have a million people listening to an academic talk on bioterrorism” is an amusing claim. A stunt really. And without added value to the lecture or its contents.

BTW Pittsburgh says “This year we plan to offer a live webcast of the John C. Cutler memorial lecture. The lecture will also be made available on the Pitt Media Site archive after the event.”

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JJB cajoles me about the cease and desist letter that he and other members of the Freedom of Expression® Security Consortium sent to Leo Stoller of Rentamark.com.
Read the letter at JJB’s blog. Read the background on Stroller and the posting by Cory at boingboing.net

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Scott Adams and Les Chaffin are getting air tonight on ABC News Channel 11 about their mountain Run for Jay Clark. I blogged a bit about the 200 mile run on the Blue Ridge Parkway a couple of weeks back.
Visit their site, donate and be informed.

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Today’s News and Observer’s Sunday Journal’s Sunday Reader section features one of my sevens based poems, “Lesser Light.” The online version screws up the stanzas; it leaves out the concept of stanzas completely. Imagine that you are reading seven lines at a time as a stanza and you’ll get the intent (until I hack a version of the html on this server).

I love it that poetry shows up in a section called “Lifestyles.”

UPDATE: Incompletely hacked but poeticly correct version is here.

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Having finished Harry Potter number 6, I’m ready to make some guesses as to what will happen in the next book. Not exactly what, but at least two questions that must be answered.
1) Who is RAB? I agree with wikipedia posters that RAB must be Regulus Black. I had guessed that when I decided to check wikipedia — and damn if there wasn’t a well argued conjecture there that agreed.
2) Where is the final horcrux of The Dark Lord? In Harry Potter of course. Harry and Voldemort cannot kill each other — and they have tried. Not sure how it got there but I suspect via RAB in some way. Also what does this have to do with all this “power of love” talk by Dumbledore?
3) Speaking of Dumbledore, is he really dead? Possibly not since the organization is called “The Order of the Phoenix” afterall.

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Brian Russell of audioactivism.org turned me on to the Gizmo Project which is a free VoIP competitor to Skype. Gizmo has several big advantages over Skype. The most important is that Gizmo is SIP compliant and will interoperate with other SIP compliant VoIP systems. Gizmo also has free voice mail which is mailed to you as a .wav file. It has a cute mapping feature, a friendly block message, call recording which is great for podcasters and more.
I’ve been very very impressed with the Gizmo quality and reliability so far.

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The Aussie “multiple medium” magazine, Gizmag, in print form is “distributed in environments where affluent males congregate.” This may be the reason that I’ve never seen it. That and that I think they are limited to Australia in the print edition.

Nonetheless I was delighted to discover that in their article on the 60th anniversary of the publication of Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think” essay, they included two links to ibiblio sources. ibiblio link and the link to Ted Nelson in the article [they should have used this link for Nelson] go to a JOMC master’s project by Scott Griffin from 2000 on Internet Pioneers. Unfortunately, they misspell Dr. Bush’s name regularly.

Anniversary of Vannavar [sic ] Bush’s famous essay describing the MEMEX machine

[...]
Bush was a visionary and his work in creating the environment which nurtured
the development of what became the internet is well documented in several
excellent articles in Wired magazine and ibiblio.
[...]

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Poet of a sort or at least a creator of bon motes. My collegue Gary Marchionini has a gift or a curse for creating oddly specific words for the field of Information and Library Science. He has not been as widely recognized for this gift/curse as he deserves. In order to rectify that, I present this short list.

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I’ve always thought of ibiblio as international going back to our original sunsite proposal in 1992. But when you get in good company on a list of things appreciated, it’s not polite to whine.

As Barbara Solow leaves NC, she writes one last Independent article about
what she will miss
. ibiblio is included under the heading of National
Models:

[...]
National Models: What is it about the Triangle that has us so chock full of nationally recognized institutions and model programs on a host of social-change issues? Maybe it’s that the region is still small enough so that grassroots organizing feels doable. Or maybe it’s because our economy has kept us on the cutting edge–tobacco manufacturing to RTP to the City of Medicine. But I think it goes deeper, to the progressive element that’s in the water around here. Among some of the leaders in this arena: The Self-Help Credit Union, Ladyslipper Music, The Institute for Southern Studies, Full Frame documentary film festival, Public Allies, Smart Start, ibiblio, The Triangle Community Foundation, Lincoln and Piedmont Community Health centers, The Coalition for Family Peace–and for that matter, the University of North Carolina and its 16 campuses.
[...]

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Carolina RollerGirls
Who am I to judge? I mean if a bunch of 30-something chicks wanna take on some badass names and lace up skates and bang the hell out of each other, let ‘em got for it. I personally avoid pain the way that the Buddha avoids duality and the men in my family all get osteoporosis very early. These chicks, some of whom I know and I woulda thought were settling down, are not going gentle into a good night or to anywhere else.

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Today in celebration of the 36 anniversary of the first moonlanding, Google not only spiffed up the logo on their search page, but they released a Google Maps version for the moon. Landing sites and more are noted. Now if they will only add bike paths and public transportation mapping too. (yes on the moon and on the earth too).
They do keep the Google off-earth site meme going.
Hint: zoom in to on the Google Moon Map for a cute surprise.

Not moon-related, but Google Maps related: The folks at housingmaps.com have taken the Google Maps API and added the Craig’s List housing datastream and ended up with a great service if you are looking to buy/rent/lease a place to live (Triangle included as Raleigh).

Also [spoiler here], today’s New York Times Crossword theme is the first moon landing. And yes I finished it over coffee!

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