One of the founders of the cyberpunk genre, Bruce Sterling needs little introduction to science fiction fans. You can read what "Chairman Bruce" has to say at Beyond the Beyond on Wired and the Sterling tumblr. He has agreed to to sit down and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
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Preston Gralla hasn't really been following Microsoft since 1820, but he's been doing it so long that it sometimes seems as if he has. His popular Seeing Through Windows blog on Computerworld.com or possibly his IT World blog, The Power of One, may be the main reasons his name is familiar to a lot of people, but he's also written an amazing stack of IT-related books. Obviously, if you look at the lists of blog posts and books Preston has written, he writes about plenty besides Microsoft, and isn't particularly pro-Microsoft. In fact, when we asked him for tablet-buying advice, he recommended iOS tablets if you have plenty of budget, and maybe an Android tablet (specifically the Nexus 7) if your budget is a little tight. Windows? He didn't recommend Windows at all in this context. (Sorry, Microsoft.)
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Earlier this year, it was London. Most recently, it was a university in Germany. Wherever it is, [artist Aram] Bartholl is opening up his eight white, plainly printed binders full of the 4.7 million user passwords that were pilfered from the social network and made public by a hacker last year. He brings the books to his exhibits, called 'Forgot Your Password,' where you're free to see if he's got your data—and whether anyone else who wanders through is entirely capable of logging onto your account and making Connections with unsavory people. In fact, Bartholl insists: "These eight volumes contain 4.7 million LinkedIn clear text user passwords printed in alphabetical order," the description of his project reads. "Visitors are invited to look up their own password.""
doom writes "Charles Stross has announced that there won't be a third book in the Halting State trilogy because reality (in a manner of speaking) has caught up to him too fast The last straw was apparently the news that the NSA planted spies in networked games like WoW. Stross comments: 'At this point, I'm clutching my head. Halting State wasn't intended to be predictive when I started writing it in 2006. Trouble is, about the only parts that haven't happened yet are Scottish Independence and the use of actual quantum computers for cracking public key encryption (and there's a big fat question mark over the latter-- what else are the NSA up to?).'"
New submitter LordWabbit2 sends this quote from an AP report: "The Vatican Library and Oxford University's Bodleian Library have put the first of 1.5 million pages of ancient manuscripts online. The two libraries in 2012 announced a four-year project to digitize some of the most important works of their collections of Hebrew manuscripts, Greek manuscripts and early printed books. Among the first up on the site Tuesday, are the two-volume Gutenberg bibles from each of the libraries and a beautiful 15th-century German bible, hand-colored and illustrated by woodcuts. ... The Vatican Library was founded in 1451 and is one of the most important research libraries in the world. The Bodleian is the largest university library in Britain."
hessian writes "Despite being extensively pirated worldwide, Iron Maiden have managed to put themselves in the £10-20m for 2012. This means that despite the growing popularity of the band on social media, and the extensive and pervasive torrent downloading of the band's music, books and movies, the band is turning a profit. This is in defiance of the past business model, and the idea that piracy is killing music. In fact, piracy seems to be saving music in Iron Maiden's case. One reason for this may be metal itself. It has a fiercely loyal fanbase and a clear brand and identity. The audience identifies with the genre, which stands in contrast to genericized genres. It doggedly maintains its own identity and shuns outsiders. As a result, fans tend to identify more with their music, and place a higher value on purchasing it."
192_kbps writes "Catcher in the Rye author J. D. Salinger wrote the short story The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls and left depository copies with a few academic libraries with the understanding that the work would not see mass distribution until the mid-21st century. The only authorized place to read the story is in a special reading room at Princeton where electronics are not allowed and a librarian continuously babysits the reader. A PDF of the story, as well as two other unpublished stories, appeared on private bittorrent site what.cd where a huge bounty had been placed for the work. Incredibly, the uploader (or someone connected to the uploader) bought an unauthorized copy on eBay for a pittance. The file, Three Stories, is making the bittorrent rounds but can also be read on mediafire."
An anonymous reader writes "On Cyber Monday, millions of Americans will take to the Internet in search of the newest gadgets to bestow upon their loved ones. Most of these 'gifts' are trojan horses that will spy on their recipients, prevent them from doing what they want with their device, or maybe even block access to their favorite books or music. The Free Software Foundation is proud to introduce a map through this minefield: our 2013 Giving Guide. The Giving Guide features gifts that will not only make your recipients jump for joy; these gifts will also protect their freedom."
assertation writes "According to The Guardian, 62% of readers between the age of 16 and 24 prefer physical copies of books over ebooks. Reasons given were the feel of 'real books,' a perceived unfairly high cost for eBooks, and the ease of sharing printed books. 'On questions of ebook pricing, 28% think that ebooks should be half their current price, while just 8% say that ebook pricing is right.' The preference for physical copies was in contrast to other forms of media, such as games, movies, and music, where a majority preferred the digital version."
First time accepted submitter windwalker13th writes "Recently the New York Times ran an article highlighting the pull that a State Board in Texas holds over that state and rest of the Nation. Because of the unique way in which Texas picks school textbooks (purchasing large volumes of textbooks at once to be used for the next decade) publishers pander to this board to get their books approved. The board currently holds several members (6 of 28 who are known to reject evolution) who hold creationist views and actively work to ensure that the science textbooks do not use as strong language or must include "critical thinking" about possible alternate explanations for evolution."
benrothke writes "Many of us have experimented with what it means to be disabled, by sitting in a wheelchair for a few minutes or putting a blindfold over our eyes. In Digital Outcasts: Moving Technology Forward without Leaving People Behind, author Kel Smith details the innumerable obstacles disabled people have to deal with in their attempts to use computers and the Internet. The book observes that while 1 in 7 people in the world have some sort of disability, (including the fact that 1 in every 10 U.S. children has been diagnosed with ADHD), software and hardware product designers, content providers and the companies who support these teams often approach accessibility as an add-on, not as a core component. Adding accessibility functionality to support disabled people is often seen as a lowest common denominator feature. With the companies unaware of the universal benefit their solution could potentially bring to a wider audience. " Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Washington Post reports that a rigorous, six-month training program launched by successful tech entrepreneurs for inmates in the decaying San Quentin State Prison is teaching carefully selected inmates the ins and outs of designing and launching technology firms, using local experts as volunteer instructors and the graduates, now trickling out of the penal system, are landing real jobs at real dot-coms. 'We believe that when incarcerated people are released into the world, they need the tools to function in today's high-tech, wired world,' says co-founder Beverly Parenti, who with her husband, Chris Redlitz, has launched thriving companies, including AdAuction, the first online media exchange. During twice-a-week evening lessons, students — many locked up before smartphones or Google— practice tweeting, brainstorm new companies and discuss business books assigned as homework. Banned from the Internet to prevent networking with other criminals, they take notes on keyboard-like word processors or with pencil on paper. The program is still 'bootstrapping,' as its organizers say, with just 12 graduates in its first two years and now a few dozen in classes in San Quentin and Twin Towers. But the five graduates released so far are working in the tech sector. 'This program will go a long way to not only providing these guys with jobs, but it is my hope that they hire people like them who have changed their lives and are now ready to contribute to society, pay taxes, follow the law, support their families,' says former California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation director Matthew Cate who adds he made the right decision to approve the training course. 'All those things contribute to the economy.'"
rjupstate sends an article comparing how an IT infrastructure would be built today compared to one built a decade ago. "Easily the biggest (and most expensive) task was connecting all the facilities together. Most of the residential facilities had just a couple of PCs in the staff office and one PC for clients to use. Larger programs that shared office space also shared a network resources and server space. There was, however, no connectivity between each site -- something my team resolved with a mix of solutions including site-to-site VPN. This made centralizing all other resources possible and it was the foundation for every other project that we took on. While you could argue this is still a core need today, there's also a compelling argument that it isn't. The residential facilities had very modest computing needs -- entering case notes, maintaining log books, documenting medication adherence, and reviewing or updating treatment plans. It's easy to contemplate these tasks being accomplished completely from a smartphone or tablet rather than a desktop PC." How has your approach (or your IT department's approach) changed in the past ten years?
Nathan Myhrvold's six-volume foodie encyclopedia, Modernist Cuisine, writes reader SmartAboutThings, is one of the most expensive cooking encyclopedias, the original six-volume version retailing for $500, with the two-volume addition that followed after that selling for $115. "Now, Nathan and his team have transformed their huge food encyclopedia into an iPhone/iPad app. It's not just a digital book, but rather an expensive $80 interactive app that can do more than just provide recipes. The interactive digital cookbook is the fruit of a development team of 10-15 people that have worked over nine months on the project. The app contains 37 technique videos, 416 recipes and 1,683 photos."
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In a case of major importance, the long simmering battle between the Authors Guild and Google has reached its climax, with the court granting Google's motion for summary judgment, dismissing the case, on fair use grounds. In his 30-page decision (PDF), Judge Denny Chin — who has been a District Court Judge throughout most of the life of the case but is now a Circuit Court Judge — reasoned that, although Google's own motive for its "Library Project" (which scans books from libraries without the copyright owners' permission and makes the material publicly available for search), is commercial profit, the project itself serves significant educational purposes, and actually enhances, rather than detracts from, the value of the works, since it helps promote sales of the works. Judge Chin also felt that it was impossible to use Google's scanned material, either for making full copies, or for reading the books, so that it did not compete with the books themselves."