00_NOP writes "Researchers from the New School for Social Research in New York have demonstrated that if you read quality literary fiction you become a better person, in the sense that you are more likely to empathize with others [paper abstract]. Presumably we can all think of books that have changed the way we feel about the world — so this is, in a sense, a scientific confirmation of something fairly intuitive."
Nick Kolakowski writes "Here are the lessons imparted by Dave Eggers' The Circle, his new novel about the rise of a fictional technology company clearly modeled on Google or Facebook: 1) Sharing content with people online is a poor substitute for having real-life experiences with, like, kayaking and family gatherings and drinking and stuff. 2) Unless stopped, companies that build social-networking tools will create increasingly intrusive software. 3) The only sure way to stay sane in our increasingly interconnected (Eggers would say over-connected) world is to drive at high speed off a bridge." Read below for the rest of Nick's review.
The original Warcraft and Diablo games hold a special status in the hearts of many gamers. Each game brought its genre into focus, and their success elevated the status of Blizzard Entertainment and Blizzard North to the point that further games are still hotly anticipated more than 15 years later. In an effort to discover and document that part of gaming history, author David L. Craddock conducted extensive interviews with early Blizzard developers. His intent was to investigate how both of the Blizzard studios succeeded at breaking into a saturated and competitive industry, and how their design process influenced both their acclaimed releases and the projects they discarded along the way. He's writing a series of books about the history of Blizzard, titled Stay Awhile and Listen. The first is due out on October 31st, and David has agreed to answer your questions about his investigation into those early games. David will be joined by Blizzard North co-founders David Brevik and Max Schaefer. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
guttentag writes "The author of The Hunt for Red October and many military and espionage novels which inspired a number of movies video games died last night in a Baltimore Hospital. The news was first reported by Publishers Weekly's Twitter account this morning and confirmed by New York Times Book Reporter Julie Bosman's Twitter account."
KentuckyFC writes "Stories are a powerful channel for communicating emotions. But while they have been studied in detail by generations of critics, there is little in the way of objective tools for analyzing and comparing their emotional content. That looks set to change thanks to one data mining researcher who has applied the process of sentiment analysis to novels and fairy tales that have been digitized on Project Gutenburg and the Google Books Corpus. The results show the density of emotions in different parts of a story and how the emotional 'temperature' changes throughout the tale. For example, this guy has used the technique to compare the emotional content of the entire collection of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales to reveal that the darkest story is a tale called Gambling Hansel; clearly a lesson to us all."
Nate the greatest writes "Scribd threw its hat in the ebook subscription ring today. The site is expanding on its existing ebookstore with a new $9-a-month all-you-can-read ebook subscription service which offers a selection of ebooks from a number of publishers, including HarperCollins, E-Reads, Kensington, Red Wheel/Weiser, Rosetta Books, Sourcebooks, and Workman. That's a better selection of commercial ebooks than the Kindle owner's lending library, but not quite as broad of a selection as the recently-launched Oyster. However, Scribd is charging less and they're offering better platform support. While Oyster is only available on the iPhone, Scribd has apps for both Android and iOS, and you can read the ebooks in your web browser."
Frosty Piss writes "Delta Air Lines plans to buy 11,000 Microsoft Surface 2 tablets for its pilots to replace the heavy bundles of books and maps they haul around now. Delta says the Surface tablets will save it $13 million per year in fuel and other costs. Right now, each pilot carries a 38-pound flight bag with manuals and maps. Other airlines, including American and United, have been buying Apple's iPad for that purpose. One reason Delta picked a Microsoft device was that it's easier to give pilots separate sections for company and personal use, said Steve Dickson, Delta's senior vice president for flight operations. Another reason for picking the Surface tablet is that Delta's training software also runs on the same Windows operating system as the tablets, reducing the need to redo that software for another device, Dickson said."
Sally Wiener Grotta and her husband Daniel wrote some of the first books and articles about digital photography. Sally was an award-winning photographer in film days, and has maintained her reputation in the digital imaging age. In this interview, she talks about how to buy a digital camera -- including the radical idea that most people really don't need to spend more than $200 to take quality photos. (We had some bandwidth problems while doing this remote interview, but the sound is clear so we decided to run it "as is" rather than try to remake the video and lose the original's spontaneity.)
benrothke writes "Of the books that author Pete Loshin has written in the past, a number of them are completely comprised of public domain information that he gathered. Titles such as Big book of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) RFCs, Big Book of IPsec RFCs, Big Book of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) RFCs, and others, are simply bound copies of publicly available information. In two of his latest books, Practical Anonymity: Hiding in Plain Sight Online and Simple Steps to Data Encryption: A Practical Guide to Secure Computing, Loshin doesn't do the wholesale cut and paste like he did from the RFC books, but on the other side, doesn't offer much added information than the reader can get online." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
harrymcc writes "On Saturday, I picked up a copy of a book called How To Use the Internet at a flea market. It was published in May, 1994, and is a fascinating snapshot of the state of the Net at that time — when you had to explain to people that it wasn't a good idea to say 'thank you' when issuing commands to a machine, and the World Wide Web was an alternative to Gopher that warranted only four pages of coverage towards the end of the book. I selected some choice excerpts and wrote about them over at TIME.com."
theodp writes "This week's NY Times Magazine cover story, We Like You So Much and Want to Know You Better, is an adaptation from The Circle, the soon-to-be-published novel by Dave Eggers which tells the tale of Mae Holland, a young woman who goes to work at an omnipotent technology company and gets sucked into a corporate culture that knows no distinction between work and life, public and private. The WSJ calls it a The Jungle for our own times. And while Eggers insists he wasn't thinking of any one particular company, the NYT excerpt evokes memories of Larry Page's you-will-be-social edict and suggests what the end-game for Google Glass might look like."
toygeek writes "'Scout,' a 4-meter-long autonomous boat built by a group of young DIYers, is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It is traveling from Rhode Island, where it launched on 24 August, to Spain, where all being well it will arrive in a few months' time. Scout has now gone about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of its planned 3,700-mile (5,900 kilometer) journey. Should it complete this voyage successfully, its passage will arguably belong in the history books."
colinneagle writes "Members of an FAA advisory panel are reportedly meeting this week to make changes to the ban on the use of electronic devices on an airplane during takeoff and landing. The new regulations will allow the use of electronic devices to access content stored on the devices, including e-books, music, podcasts, and video. Sending emails, connecting to Wi-Fi, and making phone calls will still be prohibited. The announcement is expected to be made later this month, and the rules put into effect next year, according to the report."
First time accepted submitter gbrambilla writes "A problem every system administrator has to face sooner or later is to improve the performance of the infrastructure that he administers. This is especially true if the infrastructure is a Citrix XenApp farm that publishes applications to the users, that starts complaining as soon as those applications become slow. A couple of weeks ago I was asked to publish a new ERP application and suddenly all the hosted applications started to suffer performance problems... after some basic tests I looked on Amazon for an help and found the book I'm reviewing: Citrix XenApp Performance Essentials, by Luca Dentella, is a practical guide that helps system administrators to identify bottlenecks, solve performance problems and optimize XenApp farms thanks to best-practices and real-world examples." Read below for the rest of gbrambilla's review.
theodp writes "Nate West has a nice essay on the importance of whimsy in learning to program. "It wasn't until I was writing Ruby that I found learning to program to be fun," recalls West. "What's funny is it really doesn't take much effort to be more enjoyable than the C++ examples from earlier...just getting to write gets.chomp and puts over cout > made all the difference. Ruby examples kept me engaged just long enough that I could find Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby." So, does the future of introductory computer programming books and MOOCs lie in professional, business-like presentations, or does a less-polished production with some genuine goofy enthusiasm help the programming medicine go down?"
g01d4 writes "I volunteer at a used bookstore that supports the local library. One of my tasks is to sort book donations. For > 5-year-old computer books the choices typically are to save it for sale (fifty cents soft cover, one dollar hardback), pack it, e.g. for another library's bookstore, put it on the free cart, or toss it in the recycle bin. I occasionally dumpster dive the recycle bin to 'rescue' books that I don't think should be pulped. Recently I found a copy of PostgresSQL Essential Reference (2002) and Programming Perl (1996). Would you have left them to RIP? Obviously we have very limited space, 20 shelf feet (storage + sale) for STEM. What criteria would you use when sorting these types of books?"
cold fjord writes with this Business Week report: "LinkedIn Corp. ... was sued by customers who claim the company appropriated their identities for marketing purposes by hacking into their external e-mail accounts and downloading contacts' addresses. The customers, who aim to lead a group suit against LinkedIn, asked a federal judge in San Jose, California, to bar the company from repeating the alleged violations and to force it to return any revenue stemming from its use of their identities to promote the site ... 'LinkedIn's own website contains hundreds of complaints regarding this practice,' they said in the complaint filed Sept. 17. ... LinkedIn required the members to provide an external e-mail address as their username on its site, then used the information to access their external e-mail accounts when they were left open ... 'LinkedIn pretends to be that user and downloads the e-mail addresses contained anywhere in that account to LinkedIn's servers,' they said. 'LinkedIn is able to download these addresses without requesting the password for the external e-mail accounts or obtaining users' consent.'" "This puts an interesting twist on LinkedIn's recent call for transparency," adds cold fjord. (More at Bloomberg.)
occidental writes "Sanders Kleinfeld writes: In the past six years, the rise of the ebook has ushered in three successive revolutions that have roiled and reshaped the traditional publishing industry. Revolution #3 isn't really defined by a new piece of hardware, software product, or platform. Instead, it's really marked by a dramatic paradigm change among authors and publishers, who are shifting their toolsets away from legacy word processing and desktop publishing suites, and toward HTML5 and tools built on the Open Web Platform."
judgecorp writes "There's more than $13,000 pledged for a crowdfunded bounty for bypassing an iPhone 5S's fingerprint reader. The bounty, set up by a security expert and an exploit reseller, requires entrants to lift prints 'like from a beer mug.' It has a website — IsTouchIDHackedYet — and payments are pledged by tweets using #IsTouchIDHackedYet. One drawback: the scheme appears to rely on trust that sponsors will actually pay up." Other prizes include whiskey, books, and a bottle of wine.
Nate the greatest writes "Rumors are circulating that Barnes & Noble is going to release their new hardware soon. Two different sources inside B&N have confirmed that a launch is imminent, with one saying B&N will launch both a tablet and an ereader. The other says that a new tablet is coming. I tend to think that the first source is probably right because product pages for several accessories leaked in early August. The pages referenced 2 different new models. Also, B&N recently announced plans to continue to develop both new ereaders and tablets, though they've changed their minds so much that I don't know if that announcement is worth anything."