Sun and Linux: Why not just buy MandrakeSoft?In their on-again, off-again relationship with the Linux community, Sun Microsystems has now announced that their branded Linux distribution has been extinguished before it ever even caught a light. This is another weird turn of events in the relationship between Sun and PC-based Solaris, with the first chapter of this latest episode the release of Solaris 8/Intel, then their announcement of, then denial of, then reannouncement of Solaris 9/Intel.
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Potter casts spell on Scholastic, execs do about-face on book salesA few weeks ago, I wrote extensively about the uproar in the publising and bookstore world when Scholastic announced that they were going to try direct sales of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In the dot-com days we'd have called this step disintermediation, but now it's just plain as poaching on your retail channel and a bad idea.
Apparently the execs at Scholastic were listening...
War tension creeps into everyday lifeI have noticed in the last week or two that people are getting more testy, more quick to recoil and react in a hostile fashion to events that normally wouldn't faze them a bit. An example of this crept its way into the University of Phoenix Online faculty lounge this morning...
As the lounge is being overrun with pro and anti-war discussion (about 75% of the 400+ postings daily are arguing about facets of the War in Iraq), I suggested that it would be nice to have a separate group created for the express purpose of topical discussions and debates. It's exactly how the individual classes at UP are set up, with a main group for formal class discussion and a chat group for random chit-chat, jokes, and whatever else the students feel they'd like to talk about.
First cover prototype... and a pet peeveWe're just about completely done with the Solaris 9 for Dummies book; all that's left is reviewing the cover art and text and one or two final "are you sure you meant to say this" questions. That's the good news. The bad news is that for some braindead reason, the graphic designers at Wiley have decided that my name is "David Taylor", even though even in contracts I'm Dave.
Which is a pet peeve of mine, and in fact one easy measure of how much people are paying attention to what I'm saying versus projecting their own beliefs and thoughts into our discourse: if I introduce myself as Dave, do they immediately say David?
Thinking about the strategic petroleum reserveThere was a very interesting article in a back issue of BusinessWeek that caught my eye today whilst sipping at Starbucks. Apparently our strategic petroleum reserve in the USA is now reaching its capacity of 700 million barrels.
So I thought "let's do some math..."
Now what?We've begun the war in Iraq, the peaceniks and those of us who espoused further diplomatic means have been pushed aside. So now what?
I live in "alternative" Boulder, Colorado, so it was no surprise to me that this afternoon there was a big peace rally with "impeach the president", "what's the real story, George?", "oil is not a good justification for war", "war is terrorism" and similar banners. Yesterday would have been a different story (I'm not at all in favor of what I believe is our heavy-handed action in the Middle East and have agitated for us paying more attention to the United Nations as a primary diplomatic body) but today I really wanted to ask the demonstrators "so what exactly do you think is our alternative now that the war has started?" Surely no-one is na´ve enough to think that we can just 'back out' and say 'sorry' at this point, even the most confirmed peacenik?
A self-healing minefieldThis is something that just boggles the mind. Can people really be inventing this sort of thing, given the complete nightmare that minefields from previous conflicts have proven to third world nations? Clearly they are, as detailed in this article about SAIC's efforts in this regard.
"The SAIC team is developing a robust intelligent mobile platform that could be used to replace the existing family of scatterable mine antitank landmines. These mobile platforms have the ability to locally recognize and respond to breach attempts, thus collectively serving as a Self-Healing Minefield. "
Male genitalia ruled illegal?In a complete change of pace, a funny article in the British Independent details how if men "streak" (run naked through a public place) they'll now be likely to get two years in prison (can anyone say "punishment fit crime"?), while if women do the same thing, well, they'll presumably not be doing anything illegal. Baffling, isn't it?
As it explains: "A Bill [is] going before Parliament at the moment that would make the practice a criminal offence, streakers - or at least the men among them - might find themselves facing prison sentences of up to two years."
Fumbling the Iraqi situationI have to admit that I am just aghast at how President Bush and his team are so astonishingly mismanaging the entire Iraq situation. Today's headline: U.S. Ends Effort for U.N. War Approval And Declares Diplomatic Window Closed. But what about those of us that think the United Nations is a good idea, not some sort of global conspiracy to emasculate America?
And then there's former president Bill Clinton's remark on 60 Minutes that we as a nation need to begin thinking about what will happen when we're not the biggest superpower. I agree, but Rush Limbaugh, pundit git at large, certainly doesn't...
More adventures with Harry PotterThe argument between booksellers and Scholastic, the publisher of the next Harry Potter book that has decided to try direct sales in addition to channel sales, continues, as detailed in today's episode of Publishers Weekly.
"The ABA lashed out harshly today against Scholastic for its decision
to sell Harry Potter V through its book fairs, using words like
"obdurate" and "callous" in a letter to senior v-p Michael Jacobs. The
letter decried Scholastic's decision that extends its direct-sales
practices to a Harry Potter book for the first time."
The lonely travails of Harry PotterThere's something interesting brewing behind the scenes at Scholastic, the company that has the US publishing rights to the astonishingly successful Harry Potter series: Scholastic is planning on selling the newest title, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix directly.
This is causing great pain and frustration in the book world, as the following article from Publisher's Weekly, an industry insider newsletter, reveals...
The hassle of standardsAlright, so I just finished my Solaris book and now I'm working on the other book in the queue, Unix Shell Hacks. We're in the revision phase now and an interesting question has arisen regarding the variation in shells on different Unix platforms. Specifically, I've been asked by some tech reviewers to tweak my scripts to make them more Posix compliant, but there's an obstacle in the way: Solaris.
Continue Reading "The hassle of standards"
Done with my Dummies book!A wonderful day! I finished the final author revision and edit of Solaris 9 for Dummies, coming soon to a bookstore near you!
For those of you that aren't familiar with the process of writing and publishing a technical book, here's how it worked for this title...
More education issues: plagiarismAn aspect of the Internet that isn't discussed much in the general media, but is an increasing point of concern for adult educators is that it's incredibly easy for lazy or intellectually dishonest students to dig up essays and papers on just about any imaginable topic online. For example, you've been assigned to write a paper on Poe's immortal The Cask of Amontillado? No problem! A quick google of the topic reveals dozens of different essays, ready to go, from sites like poeessays.com, easylit.com, allpoe.com and cheathouse.com. No kidding.
Fortunately, us educators have at least one tool in our toolkit to combat this ever-growing wave of cheating, the fascinating and brilliant Plagiserve.com service.
Is lack of attention endemic?I just finished grading a batch of assignments from my University of Phoenix Online course (web programming I) and am rather amazed at the number of students who didn't answer the questions in their answers. I asked questions like "why...." and got answers more akin to "what...".
This seems to apply across the board to students that I've worked with; while some of them are great, pay attention, do the work, and excel at doing good work, many seem to be unfocused, not completely paying attention, convinced that they're "too cool" to really need to learn, or uncritically accept any random incorrect nonsense they find online.
"Thunderbirds Are Go!"Anyone else watch Thunderbirds on TechTV? It's a great TV series show from the 60's filmed in supermarionation (yes, they're marionettes). The show is a future-looking science fiction program and it's quite entertaining!
What makes the TechTV version so fun is that they have little blurbs underneath the program talking about characters, gaffes in the story line, models and devices used in the scale sets, etc.
Reader MailAs a writer, I get lots of email from readers, most of which is interesting and enjoyable to receive, but some of which is, well, daft might be the best word for it.
My favorite message of the last few weeks was from the young man who wrote "I bought your book Creating Cool HTML Web Pages and found it really great, except I still don't understand how to have a page point to another page." I responded by suggesting that he read chapter 6 of the book in its entirety, since that was the entire topic of the chapter. He didn't respond.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist...to realize that selling the latest issue of the UK comic The Dandy with a free gun included (no kidding) isn't going to be a good newsstand addition at the airport, but some people are surprised. This story, by way of BBC News, is quite logical, albeit a bit daft: Airport bans toy gun comic.
D.C. Thompson, the Scottish publisher, responded: "It doesn't make sense to have items on sale at the airport which are not allowed on board the aircraft other than in the hold with luggage."
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