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Webitz - Checking out the Web from an amateur's point of view

Webitz - November 2008

Speed of news

November 27th 2008 08:56
Just read about the Mumbai terrorism this afternoon. The Deccan Mujahideen have claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to Indian news reports. They are demanding equal rights for Muslims in India, and that all Mujahideen prisoners in India be released.
One of the most amazing things to come out of the situation already is the series of photos Vinukumar Ranganathan managed to put on within a very short time after the shootings and rioting.
On top of this are a bundle of You Tube videos. One of these is from an Aljazeera broadcast, which in two and a half minutes gives a good overview of the situation.
Hundreds of Twitter messages have appeared, documenting the details of the act in grisly detail. These messages appeared long before there was anything on television. And in fact, the Internet has provided information about the attacks in enormous detail, far beyond anything television can manage.
For example, the Ultra Brown blog is adding posts continually about the terrorism. These are from people living close by to where the main events have taken place. Already thereís an entry on Wikipedia, and on another (less well-known to me) encyclopaedia site, Mahalo.
The Ďcitizen media aggregatorí sites, NowPublic and GroundReport are both full of information. Iíve never come across these sites before, so itís interesting to discover them Ė though it would have been preferable in less horrific circumstances. Plainly theyíre widely used; the information on them is extensive.
One of the best things about all this non-professional coverage is that itís been able to keep people up to date when the professional media has struggled to do so, because so many sites have been attacked almost simultaneously.
Without being facetious, itís times like these that make you think seriously about getting a health insurance quote.

McCall Smith

November 24th 2008 09:31
I'm quite a fan of Alexander McCall Smith's books, having read pretty much everything he's produced over the last decade, including the Isabel Dalhousie series, which haven't grabbed quite so much as his other books.

McCall Smith made publishing history a few years back when he began writing one of his novels in serialized form in a Scottish newspaper, The Scotsman. Each day a chapter would appear in the paper, a shortish chapter of around a 1000 words. And he went on to produce three more books, using the same characters, in the same way. This method of writing has some perils: you can't go back and fix anything (not even when the story is published as a 'proper' book), and the first in the series had some odd holes. On the other hand, it had some wonderful humour, and brought to life Bertie, the
Corduroy Mansions
five-year-old saxophone-playing, Italian-speaking son of a woman with ambitions to live her life through him. He is one of McCall Smith's great creations.

Now the author has moved up a notch; his current serial, Corduroy Mansions, is being written online (not quite literally) and has been appearing via the Daily Telegraph's website.

This allows him greater scope in some ways - or at least the marketing of the book has increased exponentially.
You can listen to the book as well as read it (the reader is Andrew Sachs, who played the much-maligned Manuel in Fawlty Towers),
you can read up on McCall Smith's approach to writing in serial form,
you can have the chapters sent by email or feed,
you can read the author's responses to readers' comments (the readers have been invited to suggest directions the story might go in),
you can compete with McCall Smith and write a story in twenty weeks yourself,
you can be part of the Facebook Corduroy Mansions community,
you can find Corduroy Mansions on a Google map,
you can read up about the illustrator, Ian McIntosh, and view his sketches of the main characters,
and no doubt plenty more.

Who said the book was dead? This whole process is doing its darndest to keep the book, and storytelling, alive and well. In spite of the book having been serialized here, there will still be a (bestselling) print version of it in the near future. Can't you just see it being one of the bestsellers of the century, because of all the hype that already surrounds it?


Spam reduced by two-thirds!

November 15th 2008 03:33
spam on shelves
Some people like spam!
As regards spam, I'm fortunate that Gmail sideswipes most of it before it makes it to my desktop. That is, it doesn't let it turn up in my Inbox, but parks it for 30 days in the spam box. And from there it's easy to flick your eye over it once in a while and check whether there's anything gone in there that shouldn't. (It's rare for anything to do so.)
Equally, at work, my Outlook system is set up (by some predecessor) in such a way that very little spam turns up, and what does usually winds up in the Junk Box.
We had a brief time a couple of months ago where important things were managing to go into the Junk Box, but that's been fixed.
Now I read that we might possibly get less spam being sent, because one of the major spam hosts has been shut down.
Oh, dear, thousands of ads for enlarged male parts won't be going out, thousands - or is it millions? - of ads for creams that wipe away every wrinkle will cease to annoy us, and millions - or is it billions? - of other pieces of rubbish will suddenly have no home on the Internet.
Spam hosting company McColo Corp has been identified as the base for machines responsible for roughly 75% of the spam generated worldwide each day. 75%. Crikey! What will all the little spam stoppers do?
Unfortunately, the news isn't all good. McColo is likely to find another provider to host its content, or the botnetsí backers could simply move their command and control offshore.
ďIn a couple weeks, spam volumes will rebound to all-time highs (just in time for the holiday season)Ē, IronPort said in a statement.
Just like germs, spam and spammers don't go away easily.

Move over Skype?

November 15th 2008 03:21
Anyone who uses Gmail regularly will notice a new, bright red link at the top of the page, which announces New! Video Chat.
Once you've clicked on the link, you're told that you can See and hear family and friends right inside Gmail . Of course, there's one small problem: you have to have a webcam and you have to have it set up, but apart from that, this new video chat sounds promising.
My [geek] son and I occasionally use Gmail chat when we're at work - it's a quick way to get a response about some question or other, and, as he says, he thinks he's better at teaching by chat than he is on the phone. Certainly on the phone it's difficult to do things with one hand while holding the phone with the other. I guess that was always one of the benefits of chat, even apart from the Gmail version

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Changing face of publishing

November 13th 2008 08:33
At the end of October this year, Google settled with publishers around the world after a three-year long battle regarding the former's book-search program.

Google had virtually stepped in with all its muscle and begun to offer scanned versions of both out-of-print and in-print books - without paying anyone a penny. It wasn't surprising that there was a hue and cry. Google claimed, basically, that it was doing the world a service. Authors (and publishers along with them) claimed they were robbing the writers of their financial dues

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New Bond

November 4th 2008 07:31 (which I mentioned in passing in my last post) is an interesting site. Iíve only just come across it today, but itís obviously been going successfully for a while. (Found it in one of those little ads on Facebook.)
Unlike some movie sites, this one provides not just synopses of the movies, but up-to-date trailers. Iíve just been watching the one for Quantum of Solace, the new James Bond movie. Itís loud, full of explosions and people shooting each other, people falling off, down and through things, and a sulky-looking girl who has a sad back story, like Bond himself. Plus itís technologically up to date, and has Judi Dench. Oh, yes, and Daniel Craig.
How did it get a title like that? Apparently it started life out as a short story in the Bond canon, as did Octopussy, The Living Daylights and For Your Eyes Only. You donít have to be big to become a Bond movie, obviously. But does Quantum of Solace mean anything? It sounds good, but I suspect the title barely makes a scratch on the average moviegoerís consciousness as he/she takes in all the usual Bond mania

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Rubbings from a Live Man

November 4th 2008 07:11
While checking out, I watched a short and strange film clip online from a documentary called, Rubbings From A Live Man. Itís billed as being a documentary performed by Warwick Broadhead and directed by Florian Habicht. A documentary thatís performed? OK.

The director of this documentary is Florian Habicht, whose name doesnít mean anything to me, but whoís obviously already well known in this scene. The movie is listed as Ďa flamboyant, tour-de-force exploration of the life and times of the incomparable Warwick Broadhead.Ē Broadhead is equally unknown to me, but apparently his career as a performing artist and director has spanned four decades. Apparently his work hasnít ever been recorded before

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