First time accepted submitter NewtonBoxers writes "Considering the amount of time most of us spend at work, it's surprising how few novels are set in the workplace and base their plot on the goings-on there. Perhaps, having spent a long day slaving in the corporate salt mines, many of us would rather forget about such humdrum matters and take refuge in books that offer us more excitement. Others, though, seem to enjoy the humor that can derive from the very things that drive us mad – management incompetence, byzantine procedures, pointless meetings... in short the stuff of everyday office life. We read Dilbert, we watch The Office, and we could do a lot worse than read Augustus Gump's very funny second novel, The Rise and Fall of T. John Dick. " Read on for the rest of NewtonBoxers's review.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Nerval's Lobster writes "The U.S. Department of Justice has just settled with book publisher Macmillan in an ongoing case over the price of e-books, bringing its number of settlements with big-name publishers up to five. Justice claims that those five publishers, along with Apple, agreed to 'raise retail e-book prices and eliminate price competition, substantially increasing prices paid by consumers.' Apple competes fiercely in the digital-media space against Amazon, which often discounts the prices of Kindle e-books as a competitive gambit; although all five publishers earn significant revenues from sales of Kindle e-books, Amazon's massive popularity among book-buyers — coupled with the slow decline of bricks-and-mortar bookstores — gives it significant leverage when it comes to lowering those e-book prices as it sees fit. But Justice and Apple seem determined to keep their court date later this year."
Michael Ross writes "Web designers, graphics artists, and others who create and edit digital images, have a number of commercial image-manipulation packages from which they can choose — such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Fireworks (originally developed by Macromedia). Yet there are also many alternatives in the open-source world, the most well-known being GNU Image Manipulation Program. GIMP is available for all major operating systems, and supports all commonly-used image formats. This powerful application is loaded with features, including plug-ins and scripting. Yet detractors criticize it as being complicated (as if Photoshop is intuitively obvious). Admittedly, anyone hoping to learn it could benefit from a comprehensive guide, such as The Book of GIMP." Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
New submitter jzoetewey writes "An author I know (MCA Hogarth) recently had her book Spots the Space Marine taken off Amazon because Games Workshop claimed it violated their trademark. The interesting thing? Their trademark doesn't include ebooks or novels. Unfortunately, she doesn't have the money to fight them. Plus, the idea of a space marine was around long before they were: 'In their last email to me, Games Workshop stated that they believe that their recent entrée into the e-book market gives them the common law trademark for the term “space marine” in all formats. If they choose to proceed on that belief, science fiction will lose a term that’s been a part of its canon since its inception.' Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing also made this important point: 'Amazon didn't have to honor the takedown notice. Takedown notices are a copyright thing, a creature of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They don't apply to trademark claims. This is Amazon taking voluntary steps that are in no way required in law.'"
theodp writes "Back in Biblical times, creating abundance was considered innovative. That was then. Last Tuesday, GeekWire reports, the USPTO awarded Amazon.com a broad patent on reselling and lending 'used' digital goods for an invention that Amazon boasts can be used to 'maintain scarcity' of digital objects, including audio files, eBooks, movies, apps, and pretty much anything else."
judgecorp writes "TotalBoox, a startup from Tel Aviv, plans to sell pay-as-you-read eBooks, charging for each page read. 'We are trying to rid the world from outdated, expensive ritual of buying a book before you read it,' says founder ~Yoarv Lorch, saying that readers can save money and move on if they start a best-seller on the spur of the moment and it turns out to be a turkey. But what about slow-burning classics that you have to 'get into'? What about reference books? And all the bits of a reference book that you don't actually need? The company has a beta app on Google Play for Android tablets."
benrothke writes "In its first week, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief was #3 on the New York Times Best Sellers list and will likely be #1 soon. The fact that the book is in print is somewhat miraculous given the voracious appetite Scientology has for litigation. It is the first time that such an expose could have been written and found such wide-scale reading. An interesting analysis of this fact is found in Why the Media Is No Longer Afraid of Scientology by Kim Masters. But as mesmerizing an expose as the book is, I doubt that this will be more than a speed bump to Scientology's growth and fund raising." Keep reading to be clear about what Ben has to say.
The recipient of nineteen honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents, Ray Kurzweil's accolades are almost too many to list. A prolific inventor, Kurzweil created the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments. His book, The Singularity Is Near, was a New York Times best seller. and is considered one of the best books about futurism and transhumanism ever written. Mr. Kurzweil was hired by Google in December as Director of Engineering to "work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing." He has agreed to take a short break from creating and predicting the future in order to answer your questions. As usual, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
Matt Steelblade writes "I've been in love with computers since my early teens. I took out books from the library and just started messing around until I had learned QBasic, then Visual Basic 5, and how to take apart a computer. Fast forward 10 years. I'm a very recent college graduate with a BA in philosophy (because of seminary, which I recently left). I want to get into IT work, but am not sure where to start. I have about four years experience working at a grade/high school (about 350 computers) in which I did a lot of desktop maintenance and some work on their AD and website. At college (Loyola University Chicago) I tried to get my hands on whatever computer courses I could. I ended up taking a python course, a C# course, and data structures (with python). I received either perfect scores or higher in these courses. I feel comfortable in what I know about computers, and know all too well what I don't. I think my greatest strength is in troubleshooting. With that being said, do I need more schooling? If so, should I try for an associate degree (I have easy access to a Gateway technical college) or should I go for an undergraduate degree (I think my best bet there would be UW-Madison)? If not, should I try to get certified with CompTIA, or someone else? Or, would the best bet be to try to find a job or an internship?"
jjohn writes "Wizards of the Coasts, holders of the TSR catalog, have released rulebooks and modules for most editions of Dungeons and Dragons through a partnership with DriveThruRPG.com. The web site, dndclassics.com, may be a little overloaded right now. Most module PDFs are $4.99 USD." The article points out that these are all fresh scans of the old books. It's also worth noting that the decision to make these PDFs available reverses WotC's 2009 decision to stop all PDF sales because of piracy fears. The only reference to this in the article is a quote from the D&D publishing and licensing director: "We don't want them to go to torrent sites. Why not give them a legal route?"
mynamestolen writes "In order to read paper-based books many visually impaired people want to attach a webcam to a computer and attach the computer to a TV. Some Electronic Magnifiers are purpose-built to provide a similar solution. Different organisations around the world (such as in the UK) have help pages. But I have not been able to find a guide to set up my own system. So I'm asking Slashdot readers how to go about it. What is the best camera to use if I want to hold the camera in my hand and point it at book or magazine? What parameters should I adjust, either in the software or on the camera? Depth of view, refresh rates, contrast, color balance and resolution might be key problems. My system is Linux and getting drivers for a good camera might also be a problem."
Bennett Haselton writes "Here are three hacks that I adopted in the last few weeks, each of which solved a minor problem that I had lived with for so long that I no longer thought of it as a problem — until a solution came along, which was like a small weight off my shoulders. None of these hacks will help impress anyone with your technical prowess; I'm just putting them here because they made my life easier." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
benrothke writes "In the 4th edition of A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computing Technology, author Sara Baase takes a broad look at the social, legal and ethical issues around technology and their implications. Baase notes that her primary goal in writing the book is for computer professionals to understand the implications of what they create and how it fits into society. The book is an interesting analysis of a broad set of topics. Combined with Baase's superb writing skills, the book is both an excellent reference and a fascinating read." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
jones_supa writes "The classic hacker book publisher O'Reilly is releasing their book Open Government for free as a tribute for Aaron Swartz. The book asks the question, in a world where web services can make real-time data accessible to anyone, how can the government leverage this openness to improve its operations and increase citizen participation and awareness? Through a collection of essays and case studies, leading visionaries and practitioners both inside and outside of government share their ideas on how to achieve and direct this emerging world of online collaboration, transparency, and participation. The files are posted on the O'Reilly Media GitHub account as PDF, Mobi, and EPUB files."
sciencehabit writes "Scientists have found that, when it comes to mental recall, people are far more likely to remember the text of idle chitchat on social media platforms like Facebook than the carefully crafted sentences of books. The team gathered 200 Facebook posts from the accounts of undergraduate research assistants, such as 'Bc sometimes it makes me wonder' and 'The library is a place to study, not to talk on your phone.' They also randomly selected 200 sentences from recently published books, gathered from free text on Amazon.com. Sentences included, 'Underneath the mass of facial hair beamed a large smile,' and 'Even honor had its limits.' Facebook posts were one-and-a-half times as memorable as the book sentences (abstract). The researchers speculate that effortless chatter is better than well-crafted sentences at tapping into our minds' basic language capacities — because human brains evolved to prioritize and remember unfiltered information from social interaction."