Showing posts from May, 2013

[Book Review] Carnal Machines

Carnal Machines : Steampunk Eroticia / D. L. King (ed) ( Powell's Books ) The Victorians wrote some of the best and most enduring erotica. For such a tightly-laced age, people spent a lot of time thinking about things carnal. Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, et al enthralled us with their visions of new possibilities. The rich and slightly decadent visuals of the steam age lend themselves perfectly to the new carnality of post-punk era. And, of course, what is repressed will be even more exciting once the corset is unlaced. Steampunk, even without sex, is erotic; with sex, it’s over-the-top hot. A widowed lady engineer invents a small device that can store the energy from sexual frustration and convert it to electricity to help power a home. Teresa Noelle Roberts shows us what it can do, confronted with sexual fulfillment. What volume of steampunk would be complete without a tale of sailing ships and the men who sail them? If your ta

Link Smorgasbord, May 20-26

Book Inspired Makeup Some pretty and themed ways that someone with something resembling skill with makeup (not me) can adorn themselves. A Calendar of Tales I think I'm about to give in and create a tag for Neil Gaiman. "Take a journey across timescapes and angry seas. Here lie twelve tales of magic rings and long-lost relatives, pirate ships and haunted forests, written by Neil, inspired and illustrated by you." A PDF of all the stories (and their inspiring tweets) can be found here but I recommend exploring the website as well to see all the art and to listen to Gaiman read the stories. The "Don't Be A Dick" Public License This makes me happy.  Also see the WTFPL . Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim or modified copies of this license document, and changing it is allowed as long as the name is changed. DON'T BE A DICK PUBLIC LICENSE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR COPYING, DISTRIBUTION AND MODIFICATION Do whatever

[Book Review] Sex and the Office: A History of Gender, Power, and Desire / Julie Berebitsky

 Sex and the Office: A History of Gender, Power, and Desire / Julie Berebitsky ( Yale University Press , Powell's Books ) "In this engaging book—the first to historicize our understanding of sexual harassment in the workplace—Julie Berebitsky explores how Americans’ attitudes toward sexuality and gender in the office have changed since the 1860s, when women first took jobs as clerks in the U.S. Treasury office. Berebitsky recounts the actual experiences of female and male office workers; draws on archival sources ranging from the records of investigators looking for waste in government offices during World War II to the personal papers of Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown and Ms. magazine founder Gloria Steinem; and explores how popular sources—including cartoons, advertisements, advice guides, and a wide array of fictional accounts—have represented wanted and unwelcome romantic and sexual advances. This range of evidence and the study’s long scope exp

Fun with legacy barcode scanners and PS/2 to USB adapters

So one of the "joys" of upgrading hardware is inevitably you have some sort of legacy component that still needs to work with the new system.  For us it was our barcode scanners as legacy components as I upgrade our staff computers.  Computers that work are awesome, even more so when they work well.  Unfortunately we have a slew of barcode scanners with PS/2 connectors intended to share a port with a PS/2 keyboard. Simple solution, right?  Just get a PS/2 to USB adapter, plug tab a into slot b, and go!  As it turns out, not so much.  I can connect everything, the scanner is powered, but when I scan a barcode I get only a few characters printed to screen.  Now, in the past I was provided with several $30 adapters from Staples that worked like a charm.  This time around I am in the position of making most technology purchase recommendations, and I went for a generic adapter from Monoprice .  At $6 total for shipping and two adapters, I hold the brief hassle of figuring this o

Summer School

Now that the two MOOCs I enrolled in finished, it seemed time to move on to other things... like more MOOCs.  I was sad to see no courses on Copyright, even an intro one, on either Coursera or Canvas. I don't care that I've taken Intro to Copyright courses before, I will keep taking them when offered (or a more advanced one if possible) because it is such a convoluted subject.  Two courses did snag my attention: Internet History, Technology, and Security Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World I also found a third course through a friend, Building a Basic Website , which should actually be a basic course so I am excited.  I can do some basic site design working within templates but I remain incredibly conscious of everything I still do not know.  My hope is to gain more confidence with my base level of web design knowledge to grow into more advanced aspects.  This class just started and marks a first for UMass as they explore offering MOOCs.

Link Smorgasbord, May 13-19

Cosmos Remake Coming To Fox In 2014 " It will star astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson."  I may be squeeing about this.  Members of Congress finally introduce serious DMCA reform Perhaps a ray of hope? "New legislation sponsored by Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Jared Polis (D-CO) takes a broader approach to the issue. In addition to explicitly legalizing cell phone unlocking, the Unlocking Technology Act of 2013 also modifies the DMCA to make clear that unlocking copy-protected content is only illegal if it's done in order to "facilitate the infringement of a copyright." If a circumvention technology is "primarily designed or produced for the purpose of facilitating noninfringing uses," that would not be a violation of copyright." Georgia Tech Announces Massive Online Master's Degree In Computer Science Interesting project, and considering how much a Masters costs to earn normall

Class Review: Surviving Disruptive Technologies and Gender Through Comic Books

I recently finished two MOOCs on drastically different topics and on different platforms.  I enjoy learning and intellectual stimulation.  One of the reasons I am such a dedicated Science Fiction fan is the wealth of genre literature that provokes thought, at times handling content that would be found threatening or uncomfortable outside of the realm of the fantastic.  It has yet to really show if certifications earned through MOOCs are treated as a valuable part of professional development, but I find them valuable for my own development. Surviving Disruptive Technologies No, this isn't about how to deal with someone who fails to realize that everyone around them can hear at least their side of the cell phone conversation.  Instead it is about technology that changes the status quo.  Digital cameras changed how we take photos, Kodak went from the overwhelming leader of the photography business to filing for bankruptcy.  Think of all the wildly popular technology innovations i

Booklikes, or Reviewing a Review Site

After Goodreads announced their purchase by Amazon I started to look for other options.  I have discovered of the course of this past year that I really like the ability to track and organize my reading.  I say over the course of this past year because I've had LibraryThing and Goodreads accounts for something approaching 5-6 years, and this past year and a half really marked the first time I've ever fully embraced them. I imported my entire Goodreads collection into LibraryThing, which has some fantastic tools but I'm just not satisfied with the layout.  Additionally I am WAY past the 200 book limit for a free account and need to buy a lifetime membership (makes little sense to me to buy the annual membership) in addition to tweaking the imports and their shelving/tagging schemes. I also imported my entire collection to a new site called Booklikes which didn't possess everything I was looking for, but was well packaged with appealing visual design.  Since I import

OverDrive's Big Library Read pilot start

Today marks the start of OverDrive's Big Library Read experiment, where for two and a half weeks The four corners of the sky by Michael Malone will be available for unlimited, simultaneous access through participating libraries' OverDrive collections.  Similar to a Community Reads event or perhaps a 'global book club,' this is described as the "first" Big Library Read by OverDrive.  During this pilot run data will be collected and tracked relating to this book and others by Michael Malone, including check outs and purchases.  Many of us are hoping that this data will showcase a positive correlation between library discovery and book sales. I've never heard of Michael Malone before, so I cannot comment on his writing from my own experience.  I read prolifically, but still don't hear of every author, particularly as I tend to read non-fiction and genre fiction.  He seems to be well regarded as an author of literature based in the southern United St

Corey Doctorow - A Digital Shift: Libraries, Ebooks and Beyond

I fully admit to my abiding interest in copyright, DRM, privacy, and many problems related.  Corey Doctorow's understanding and ability to explain these topics makes my attempts to elucidate feel like the type of mocked verbal fumbles by pageant contestants.  Needless to say I was very excited when an annual online summit I attend announced that Corey Doctorow was their keynote speaker.  And then they experienced extreme technical difficulties preventing the speech, though some of the attendees and all of the organizers got to hear him recite The Jabberwocky . Well, happily he did the speech for the Library of Congress as well, and that speech is here for everyone to listen to. If you've ever wondered why DRM, copyright, or privacy matters so much to me, or if are just curious, please listen.  For me it was an overwhelming experience of "that's exactly it." Library of Congress Webcast, including a transcript: A Digital Shift: Libraries, Ebooks and Beyond

Link Smorgasbord, May 6 - 12

Why Isn't Gatsby in the Public Domain? (in the United States at least) Coursera leaps another online learning hurdle, partners with Chegg and 5 publishers to give students free textbooks Fine Print: "eTextbooks and supplementary materials will be delivered via Chegg’s DRM-protected eReader ."  After the course ends access to the texbooks (unsurprisingly) ends unless students want to buy them.  I am of mixed feelings, I'm OK with lending models for books in general.  For textbooks on a free education platform I start feeling like it's a vector for marketing but at the same time (temporarily) opens up the course to a wider range of materials.  I know there are classes I have taken where I wanted to keep the text book because I enjoyed the subject matter, and in a MOOC I am likely taking the class specifically because the subject matter interests me, so I imagine disgruntlement at this model.  It also greatly detracts from highlighting and note taking features

[Book Review] Copyright and other fairy tales

Copyright And Other Fairy Tales : Hans Christian Andersen and the Commodification of Creativity / Helle Porsdam ( Publisher Website , Google Books ) I was WAY too excited upon finding a copy of this through Inter-Library Loan (for those who are not familiar with the full range of Massachusetts ILL offerings, they are quite awesome, including extended ILL options outside of your library's network or beyond).  I would love to own a copy, but with print copies starting at $100, and the ebook at $30, I sadly do not see a copy falling into my hands anytime soon.   I find it ironic that price is such a barrier to acquiring a copy of this book.  The essays largely discuss the faults of our current (and historical) copyright laws, how they negatively impact the creator and culture, and about remix, copyleft, and open source culture.  While I did find a copy within the state libraries, I found just this single copy that was available for use outside of the library.  At 172 page

Link Smorgasbord, April 29-May 5

SOPA Creator Now In Charge of NSF Grants Because nothing could go wrong with this idea ever.  Oh wait, what are his proposed guidelines?  Grants must "benefit 'national defense', be of 'utmost importance to society,' and not be 'duplicative of other research.'"  *headdesk* Who Has Your Back? 2013 (EFF) The Electronic Frontier Foundation's 2013 report on how popular companies act to protect your data and respond to requests.  The EFF regularly does a fantastic job of presenting information and reports in a clear, concise, and generally comprehensible manner, something I always appreciate.  This year's report looks at Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Comcast, Dropbox, Facebook, Foursquare, Google, LinkedIn, Loopt, Microsoft, MySpace, Skype,, SpiderOak, Tumblr, Twitter, Verizon, WordPress, and Yahoo!. Coursera to Offer K-12 Teacher Development Courses Could be interesting.  I know that I use MOOCs to supplement my own professional dev

[Book Review] Variable Star

Variable Star / Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson ( book website , Powell's Books ) A never-before-published masterpiece from science fiction's greatest writer, rediscovered after more than half a century. When Joel Johnston first met Jinny Hamilton, it seemed like a dream come true. And when she finally agreed to marry him, he felt like the luckiest man in the universe. There was just one small problem. He was broke. His only goal in life was to become a composer, and he knew it would take years before he was earning enough to support a family. But Jinny wasn't willing to wait. And when Joel asked her what they were going to do for money, she gave him a most unexpected answer. She told him that her name wasn't really Jinny Hamilton---it was Jinny Conrad, and she was the granddaughter of Richard Conrad, the wealthiest man in the solar system. And now that she was sure that Joel loved her for herself, not for her wealth, she revealed her

Choose Privacy Week

Today we kick off the ALA's Choose Privacy Week , running from May 1-7. Privacy is one of those big issues for libraries, even if the patrons are not always aware of how important keeping their privacy is to us.  Mostly it comes up when someone wants to us to look up someone else's record or we insist on ID when they don't have their library card on hand.  I promise that those policies exist for purposes other than to frustrate you.  Actually, librarians have earned a bit of an "uppity" reputation when they argued back against government requests for patron records under the Patriot Act.  We deliberately do not keep a history of what you have borrowed unless we're waiting for payment.  And privacy does go beyond that, we want patrons to feel safe, and sometimes that is keeping what they borrow from an abusive ex (or hopefully soon-to-be ex) or allowing someone to research topics of a personal nature as a private activity. The more we engage in activiti