Trying to catch up on what’s been happening since Feb. 6 has been a job. I have had to scour through a number of sites and and try to pick out the most interesting and most to the point of our forum here. One thing on The Scholarly Kitchen did jump out at me. A new version of something called E-PUB 3 has been released. This is a format in which digital materials can be composed and released. Prepared by the International Digital Publishing Forum ((IDPF), EPUB 3 was launched as a platform for digital books, some 16 months ago. But the version 3 release has features which may prompt some journal publishers to consider this specification for distributing scholarly articles. If the new format gains any following, it will be at the expense of the venerable PDF format, which has pretty much owned the place for a while and was viewed as some kind of ultimate, at least by some people. Alas, the twenty years we have just rocketed through have certainly proved that ‘ultimates’ of any kind don’t last very long. All early days yet. But it’s worth keeping an eye on this newcomer.
Well, your correspondent has been in and out of the hospital and is slowly, slowly returning to something like normal life, thanks to the aid of a kind and patient spouse and the skilled ministrations of the blessed corps of physical therapists. The bone surgeons and their assorted Merry Carpenters did not have to do the whole shoulder, deciding instead on a ‘hemi-arthroplasty’ or partial reconstruction of the joint. Muscles atrophy and tendons freeze while the arm is in a sling to assist in soft tissue healing, so it will be a while before full range of motion is restored. Many thanks to all who have inquired and sent expressions of concern. Orthopedic surgeons are very skilled, but I couldn’t help wondering about how all this will sound in fifty years time; about like battlefield surgery in the Civil War is my guess. In the future, it will probably be possible and easy to regrow tissue or even whole organs and the days of operating with knives, saws, drill and hammers will sound like something from the dungeons of the Inquisition.
Your correspondent will be out for a while, undergoing and recovering from shoulder surgery. I hope to be able to peck out a few posts while do so, but, I’m told it’s not an easy gig and I may not be able to. We shall see. So, for now, signing off.
Richard III, RIchard Crookback, the figure behind the nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty” was buried after the Battle of Bosworth Field…” a horse, a horse” and all that. Actually, Dickie was yelling for a steed so that he could clear out when the battle turned out not to be going his way. Richard III is best known through Shakespeare’s play of the same name, and he is painted as a supreme villain, rat, murderer, and all around bad guy. For many, many years the whereabouts of the king’s corpse was unknown. But he seems to have surfaced, sort of. A skeleton was discovered near the field, just dumped into a grave and lacking any ornaments or signs of royalty. So, it looked like some ordinary guy. It did, until somebody noticed the odd cure in the spine. Hmmmmmm! Could it be? No way, mate. But the circumstances were so suggestive that it was impossible to dismiss the possibility. Expert opinion now accepts that the skeleton is that of Richard III.
For a long time, people have doubted that Richard was as bad as Shakespeare made him out to be. The playwright, after all, was working in the era of the Tudor monarchs, who just happened to be the group that got rid of Richard and took the throne for themselves. And Shakespeare wanted to be in good with the rulers, so it was wise to portray him as cruel, ambitious, scheming louse and unwise to mention some of the other things about him. There even is, or at least was, an Anti-defamation of Richard III Society , devoted to re-habing the king’s image and place in history. A great deal depends on who’s writing the history and why.
Well, as the theater people say, the reiviews are in. BlackBerry seems to have hit a homer with the release of its new phone Z10…it’s pronounced Zed Ten, because that’s the way Canadians pronounce it. Ars Technica has a review, sort of, since handling time with the two products was limited. But the writer thinks the company has done it.http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/01/the-keyboard-weve-been-wishing-for-hands-on-with-the-blackberry-z10/
This morning also the Times’s tech writer David Pogue had an article on the new things and his tone was favorable.
Now all that needs to happen is for people to buy the thing. Maybe the wait was actually worth it. It’s nice to have another competitor in the ring. It was looking too much like a one horse race for a while there. Now Google and Samsung are in it, and BlackBerry makes a compatible fourth.
If you’re not in Show Biz, you’re not in Biz. I don’t know who said that, but there does seem to be kind of logic in it. At least, it seems to be the case that corporations have gone the glitzo-schmitzo route when launching new products. The CEO is on stage, casually dressed, in the style made mandatory by the late Apple Chairman. Notice I said stage. It’s a show, with an audience, cast, production values ( lights, music, smoke from dry ice packs for all I know). The star is not the CEO, who is more like the Stage Manager in Our Town. The star is the Wonderful Gadget, or WG for short. There is a script, the proceedings have been rehearsed, more than once probably. Somebody recounts the story of the WG’s coming into existence. Somebody else describes the WG’s marvelous feaures, etc, etc, etc. All that is going on today as the new BlackBerry WG was unveiled at a lollapallooza in downtown New York. Simultaneous events were staged in Dubai, Toronto and a couple of other places. so that BlackBerrians world wide could testify to their excitement. All id all up, and if it ain’t Show Biz, then what is it? The guy from MIT was live-blogging the proceedings and you can review comments at the link. It seems that there are some interesting features to the new device. None of the observations or any of the gush can be taken as a ‘review’. That won’t happen for a little while, but, the great interest surrounding the new BB and the ‘back-from-the-grave’ character of RIM’s comeback will certainly mean that reviewers get busy and start producing analyses of how the BB10 works, with strengths and weaknesses.
From Ars Technica, sidebars on the left
Samuel Arbesman writing in WIRED makes a useful suggestion. It’s an obvious one, and that is not intended as a sneer. Re-seeing the obvious is a great gift, as you may have noticed when you ask a friend to look at something you wrote and s/he spots a typo right off, a glaring one too, that changes the whole sense of what you meant. So, Mr. Arbesman usefully directs our attention away from the hoopla about the importance of big sets of data to a consideration of data over time…what he calls “long data”. If your doctor tells you that your blood values are a little odd, and that X is a little low and Y a little high, that might be better understood in a context in which, over a number of years, X and Y have always been that way, and at about the same value too, and you’re not sick and weren’t then. It’s a better picture. You’re a ‘low normal’, with a slight anemia, maybe. So, eat liver. He offers several examples, but the one that impressed me the most was that from the Atlantic cod fishery, which almost collapsed. People were paying attention to the yearly harvest but much less attention to tracking the harvest through time. They would not have been surprised to see declines, due to over-fishing. His point is that we should calm down about the Big and figure out ways to turn it into the Big and the Long.
Marissa Mayer was brought in as CEO of Yahoo, a move some thought equivalent to letting the fox own, manage, landscape, paint and scrub floors in the hen house. After all, she was a really Big Noise at Google, in fact she was one of the First Few Founders, that little band that began it all. Well, the lady has been in charge for a while now and according to the news today Yahoo is looking a little bit better, in fact, quite a bit better. MM was on a conference call with financial types and industry ‘observers’, and she laid out a kind of agenda for the next steps. Yahoo has to move into mobile technology more aggressively, clean up its home page, improve its mail system, and get a whole lot better at search. I’m anything but a financial type and not much of an observer, but nobody can argue that she’s wrong. I use Yahoo mail because it was the first non-corporate account I set up, and laziness keeps me there. I can’t speak about mobile technology, since making phone calls is about as far as I’m prepared to go. I rarely use search, since I don’t want to be tracked, so I use an engine that promises not to. The home page is familiar, and they do seem to keep tinkering with it, but maybe it’s time for a redo. So MM is clearing the decks. It’s long term, will cost, and will be disruptive. But that’s what the Yahooligans wanted, no?
Research in Motion (RIM) is based in Waterloo, ON, Canada. It’s a nice little city, and it’s home to the company that designed, built, launched and supported the BlackBerry cell phone. The incoming President of the USA, one B. H. Obama, was a dedicated BlackBerrian, and the Secret Service and other spook agencies had to be sure that the Prexy’s gadget was really, really secure. The Prez had lots of company, since enthusiasts for the the BB were legion and their devotion fierce. So, it was bad news when the high-flying company ran into very stiff storm winds in the form of phones from Apple and Google and Samsung and all. RIM was not ready with a comparable product and the design/production schedule started to slip. As vultures began to circle, industry observers were not cheery about the outlook. But, according to a piece today in Technology Review, the embattled Canadian Empire may be ready to strike back, hard. RIM has a new phone, the BlackBerry 10, which can/should/might go a long way toward retrieving RIM’s sagging fortunes. You can review the tech specs at the link, but what I found interesting were two points: despite the drop in subscribers, RIM still has almost 70 million customers, and these customers are very loyal. They really like the device and the secure email feature, which was one of RIM’s major strengths. It seems that a lot of the BB owners did not abandon RIM when the going got rough and the other options seemed very glitzy, simply because they like their BBs and were hanging on, confident that RIM could catch up. That’s real faith. So, be on the watch for BB10.
Well, it does sometimes anyway. And that’s good.The G demands a warrant showing the Organs of State Security have reasonable cause to request the materials. Certain types of information are released with warrants, and the Federales and their “requests” are pretty generally not covered…the “Patriot” Act dontcha know…the one that nobody in Congress read before they voted on it, the one that suddenly materialized right after the 911 attacks, all those pages, just suddenly conjured into existence. Hmmmmm… Google’s position is made possible by the conflicting appellate court decisions on whether the Organs need warrants. Some seem to imply yes and others seem to imply no, and the Supremes have not yet been drawn in and nobody is anxious to do push it. For my money, the Nine would roll over and bow down to the Executive, as they consistently have in “security” matters.