Fallout is a funny word. It’s used to describe unintended effects or consequences, but originally it meant just what it said: something that fell out. What fell was radioactive by-products of a nuclear or thermonuclear explosion. See, all that stuff was carried up in the atmosphere and then, fell out onto the earth, water or in one famous case, a Japanese fishing boat that somehow wandered into the test zone and got heavily doused with all kinds of nasty particles. The writer at Scholarly Kitchen has a post about the Google Book Deal. We’ve been watching that in these lines, and the last news is that the judge presiding told the parties it was no soap. So, publishers, authors and about two battalions of lawyers are huddling to see if they can salvage something that on the one hand will meet the interests of the parties and on the other, get by the judge. In the Kitchen piece, the interesting point is made that it doesn’t matter in some ways. The mere possibility of Google’s being the sole and absolute owner of digitized book content on such a scale propelled a number of interests to work jointly on other digitization efforts that would lie outside the terrain marked out as Google’s playground in the suggested settlement. the Hathitrust, European digitization projects and some consolidations and acquisitions in electronic publishing would not have happened without the stimulus provided by what seemed to a ‘done-deal’ between Google and the publishers’/authors’ guild. These other efforts are well underway and will probably continue at or near ‘full speed’ status, while Google tries to get its own donkey out of the ditch. It’s an interesting proposition. Google set the standard for big-scale digitization and went off to do in fact what many others had been speculating and whining about. They pushed the technology also, and showed where some of the pitfalls are likely to be. Image quality is one of these. So, let’s hear it for Google. No matter what the outcome of negotiations on revising the Deal, the other projects are going on, without legal challenge or hassling, and we owe it all to those imperial ambitions.
Amazon had a rather rough patch last week when performance failures on some of its servers took some major customers offline for various periods of time. The clients were using the A’s ‘cloud’ data storage capabilities and the inability to reach the data was a serious business handicap for many users. In the geek press there have been a number of items about this situation, many of them scolding Amazon and others scolding the companies that used it. Storing data on systems geographically remote from you own business has some advantages. You can take yourself out of the data storage loop and save all that money you would have spent on equipment, people, and so on. The penalty is that you don’t have your data: it’s now hostage to circumstance, a long way away. Of course, companies have data outages in their own shops, so what’s the dif? On the Technology Review web site there is a comment on the recent events and what they might mean. I found it rather thoughtful and I think it puts things into perspective. Anybody thinking about “clouding” has to evaluate carefully the benefits and risks. Life is trade-off.
The Gallipoli penninsula sitcks out into the Aegean Sea, and forms a part of the European side of the Dardenelles, the watery division between Europe and Asia. In 1915, Britain landed an army there in an effort to capture the penninsula, advance to Constantinople and “knock the Turks out of the war”. The force landed in late April, and was composed in part by troops from the pacific Dominions: Australia and New Zealand, which were collectively called the Australian-New Zealand Army Corps, or ANZAC for short. The first plans called for a naval attack only, but that failed and rather than give up, the brass recast the scheme into a land attack, to clear the heights and allow the warships to pass. Surprise was essential, and so was lots of tactical initiative on the part of troops to push inland as fast and as far as possible. But that part didn’t happen, so the Brits, Aussies and Kiwis were stuck cliniging to very narrow beaches and trying to claw their way forward, uphill and against stiff resistance. It all turned into a bloody slog, with little progress and very high losses. Finally, the British gave up and withdrew in a slickly organized evacuation. Now, people are getting ready for the Gallipoli centenary in 2015. And in preparation, battlefield archeologists are arriving on the penninsula in force, to excavate former positions and retrieve artifacts. Of course, they run a substantial risk of retrieving a lot of things that go bang and hurt people, including archaeologists. Supposedly this is the first significant field survey of the Gallipoli battleground since a rather quick one by the Australian official historian in 1919. ANZAC is a very big deal in the Antipodes. ANZAC Day is national celebration and an official holiday. And the centennary will probably be a rather big event down South. The archaeologists will be ready.
People were all aflutter recently when it came out that Apple’s Iphones were storing all kinds of location information about the owner’s whereabouts. This data was so detailed that it was possible to create a map detailing where Joe Bloe had been and how long he had stayed there. Apple was, predictably, amazed that anybody should object. But privacy advocates were pretty caustic about the practice. Apple says, oh that, well not to worry. We don’t track like, to track. We store all this stuff because it may come in handy to, say , send you annoying commercial messages when you approach a hamburger joint that you had visited once before. It’s all for business purposes. Senator Franken sent a rather pointed letter to The Chairman, with some very specific questions not likely to be waved away so easily. It turns out that Apple is not the only company doing this. In fact, most phones are doing something like it. The guys at Technology Review note that many people taking photos with their phones are unaware that the litttle guys are storing geographic informatio…lattitude and longitude…on the site being snapped.
This is all part of a larger development. Gadgets are getting more powerful as they are getting cheaper and smaller. Soon, card readers will be able to pick up account information from people swiping the credit/debit cards, and maybe even from the card while it’s in your wallet. There was a segment on Market Place last night about the growth in “little Brother” surveillance and data gathering. It was all rather scary, frankly. We used to think that the realm of confidentiality could be breached only by some large organization, with enormous resources, such as a government agency or maybe a Big Company. But the capacity to snag data from all kinds of devices with tools that are both capable and cheap is opening the field to all kinds of small criminal entrepreneurs, or simply to the idly curious. If you want to be safe, don’t go online. Write in longhand and use the Postal Service. Anytime you turn on a device that employs RF (radio frequency) technology, you are sending a message, like it or not. During WWII, the British stole a march on the Germans by developing a radar small enough to be carried in an aircraft and this made it easier to detect U-boats on the surface. Naturally, the Germans were curious about the sudden attention, at night and in all weathers. They questioned shotdown aircrew, since they had a hunch about airborne radar. One captured office tried a bluff. He scared the poop out of them when he said, no, you’re all wrong. We’re not using radar. We know you have radar detectors, and they emanate and those signals are what we are tracking. Suspicious about being led up the garden path, the Germans got hold of some of the Metox radar detectors fitted on all U-boats and tested them. Their eyes popped when they saw the readings. The sets WERE emanating and at theoretically detectable signal strenghts too. Everything emanates, Boys and Girls and that’s all there is to it. Protect yourself at all times, as the Marquess said.
Welcome to blogs.tdl.org. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!