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Who says college kids are getting dumber?

WSJ: Free, Legal and Ignored. The subhead says it all: Colleges Offer Music Downloads, But Their Students Just Say No; Too Many Strings Attached. The article is about the unsurprising-to-anyone-except-Napster miserable failure of subscription based music services to take hold in universities. Compared to the complicated barrage of restrictions on the music offered by Napster, the students come across as models of common sense:

  • While Cornell's online music program, through Napster, gave him and other students free, legal downloads, the email introducing the service explained that students could keep their songs only until they graduated. "After I read that, I decided I didn't want to even try it," says Mr. Petrigh, who will be a senior in the fall...
  • Purdue University officials say that lower-than-expected demand among its students stems in part from all the frustrating restrictions that accompany legal downloading. Students at the West Lafayette, Ind., school can play songs free on their laptops but have to pay to burn songs onto CDs or load them onto a digital music device.
  • "People still want to have a music collection. Music listeners like owning their music, not renting," says Bill Goodwin, 21, who graduated in May from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. USC decided last year that it was finished with Napster after fewer than 500 students signed up...

There’s also a telling quotation from the director of the Campus Computing Project, who says, “The RIAA’s push to buy into these services strikes me as protection money. Buy in and we’ll protect you from our lawsuits,” which is one of the kinder descriptions of the unfriendliness of the industry that I’ve read lately.

I’m still waiting for someone in the industry to wake up and understand that their path to profitability lies in supporting good music and making their rich back catalogs available, not in fighting the fans of music tooth and nail. Today, three years after the birth of the iTunes Music Store, there are still many albums and tracks that can’t be found anywhere online—some by major artists (just try tracking down any non-album Sting tracks from before the late 90s), some by minor artists on major labels (Annabouboula, anyone?), and some by great cultural figures (I’d gladly pay through the nose for access to e.e. cummings’s Six Nonlectures as digital files, or even on CD). Instead we get American Idol and Rock Star. What, no one ever told these guys that a steady diet of candy can kill you?

BTW, for a good counterexample, check out Verve’s deep catalog—including a bunch of rare Impulse! recordings—though they don’t quite get it right; they support both iTunes and Windows Media, but no DRM-free offerings. But at least they’re opening up their catalog.

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Beck, Nelly McKay, Doves
Diamond Nights - So Fantastic 12" To quote the Kemado site, "Diamond Nights sound like Thin Lizzy & The Cars just chillin." There's an MP3 on their site.

The Beck "E-Pro" Paza Remix e-card. The bat is my favorite part.

Nelly McKay performs at Dog Show Party 2005 next Tuesday.

The new Doves single, "Black and White Town" from the March 1st release Some Cities[asx][ram]

Silver Jews news via Tim O.
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Releases: Quicksilver, Miranda IM, Clickonic, Foobar2000
Quicksilver 1.0b49 by Blacktree
Quicksilver is a Mac OS X application that allows you to find what you need quickly and easily, while keeping your hands on the keyboard. For example, if you want to launch an application hidden in the depths of your file system, simply activate Quicksilver with a keystroke, type a few letters of the application's name, then hit Return or Enter to launch it. - posted by sryo
Miranda IM 0.5 Preview Release 1 by Miranda IM Team
Miranda IM is a lightweight instant messanger with plugin support for all major IM network, and many more features. - posted by sryo
Clickonic 1.0.4 by Sergey Gagarin (Inform Seg@)
Clickonic.dll is a LiteStep Desktop module, that provides the ability to view folders on the desktop. Unlike the IconDesk, it is less customizable, but it completely supports drag-and-drop operations, so you can place your icons like YOU want... - posted by sryo
Foobar2000 0.9.3 beta 1 by Peter Pawlowski
Foobar2000 is an advanced audio player for the Windows platform. Some of the basic features include ReplayGain support, low memory footprint and native support for several popular audio formats. - posted by sryo

Related Links:

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IBM Alumni



One of the many innovations Sam Palmisano has spearheaded at IBM is the idea of reaching out to "alumni". The first initiative was a few years ago when he started a semi-annual reception for executives and former executives of the company. That was just the beginning and now the idea of reaching out has been opened up big time. The number of past and present IBMers is probably close to a million people. Establishing communications with such a huge base can be nothing but a good thing for the company.

When I left engineering school and joined IBM in 1967, it was common to look for a job at a company and expect to stay there your entire career. Nobody thinks that way anymore. If you tell someone you were with a company for decades, they might ask "what's the matter, couldn't you find any other jobs?". Another change is in the old days if someone left the company they were considered a traitor and barred from coming back. Today, there are many executives that left the company at some point, got some experience at one or more other companies, and then brought that experience back into IBM.

The Internet has enabled everything to be connected to everything, so setting up a blog to "connect" past, present, (and maybe future) IBMers to each other and with the company seems like a very good idea. The The first step was the Google Group, the logical step two is the new Greater IBM blog. Over time other forms of web technology such as wikis, audio and video podcasts, instant messaging, and various mobile technologies will likely enter the mix.

The possibilities are endless -- collaboration on projects, personal networking for jobs and deals, referrals to and from IBM, and social networking for the fun of it. I look forward to being part of this as it evolves. Upon e-tirement in 2001 with nearly four decades at IBM, I don't really feel like I left anyway! Feel free to visit patrickWeb. There are a number of categories that I have been writing about for more than ten years. Things related to IBM are at this site, I am sure I will be writing about and linking to the Greater IBM blog as will others. Cross linking will increase the overall "connectedness". That's what the web is all about. I am really proud that IBM is taking the blogosphere so seriously.

Related links
bullet Greater IBM Blog

bullet Greater IBM on Google Groups
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How to be a better blogger -- and still keep your day job

NewsI have known David Strom for a dozen years or so. He is one of the best writers out there. Whether it is hardware, software, audio, or how to do things, David digs deep, analyzes what's out there and writes comprehensive stories. His latest is about blogging, and I was happy to provide some input. If you are looking for tips about blogging, David's story is an excellent reference. His cardinal rule is to "tell the truth". He explains why it is important to find your voice and stick to it. Above all, he says, "be professional at all times". Many organizations are not capitalizing on the power of blogging, but it is not too late. David says "Craft your corporate blogging policy now, understand the mechanics and know your tools". As in all of his stories, this one offers really solid advice.

Other stories about blogging at patrickWeb are here.

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Internet TV

CactusTechnology writer, Peter Svensson, wrote an interesting story called "Will video break the Internet?". From a technical point of view there are many factors to consider. If a large number of web "surfers" were using the Internet as their primary way to watch TV, there would be a problem. More capacity is clearly needed, especially as HD-TV becomes more prevalent. The pessimists -- and some telecommunications operators -- see rising fees to pay for the bandwidth expansion. Optimists know that various technologies such as multicasting, caching, digital video recorders, etc. are dramatically improving the Net's ability to deliver video content and in parallel the cost per unit of technology continues to decline. History would suggest the optimistic view is the right one.

During the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta there was a bomb blast. Native Atlanta ex-patriots living in Japan and Germany and other parts of the world wanted to get as much news coverage as possible about the status but had few choices (there were no blogs then). The Internet Technology team at IBM in Southbury, Connecticut was running a large web infrastructure for the Games at the time and one of the engineers, Andy Stanford-Clark, got the idea to "stream" a local Atlanta radio station over the Internet using an IBM technology called Bamba. It was a very successful project but only a handful of people could listen simultaneously due to the limitations of the technology and the Internet. Some people thought that if there were large numbers of listeners "audio would break the Internet". Today millions of people consider audio over the Net as commonplace. (Listening to crystal clear classical music from KUSC-FM in Los Angeles through my Sqeezebox as I write this). Based on the tens of millions of daily visitors to YouTube, it is clear that video has also become commonplace. Another leading indicator is what is happening on campus. A number of universities have decided to use the Internet to deliver cable TV to their dormitories.

One of the issues Mr. Svensson raised in his story is "net neutrality", a term that means different things to different people. The fear is that the really large telecommunications companies that provide parts of the "backbone" of the Internet may decide to not only raise fees but also to be discriminatory. In the extreme it would mean that Verizon would block access to Google because they made a deal with Yahoo! or visa versa. The telcos have never been successful in getting into the content business so a new angle for them might be to make deals with content providers that would make their video move through the Internet backbone at a higher priority in return for fees. These fears have gotten the attention of lawmakers who are now talking about legislation to insure net neutrality. Legislation is the worst possible way to address the issue.

What is really needed is more competition. In Japan, the Internet service available to consumers is significantly faster than in the U.S. and significantly less expensive. For example, Yahoo! Broadband offers 8 million bits per second for about $20 per month. Up to 100 million bits per second is available. What technical breakthrough have they had? None. The breakthrough was to separate the various infrastructure elements of Internet service and allow "Adam Smith's invisible hand" to go to work. More competition means higher speeds and lower prices. In the U.S. we have legions of lawyers and lobbyists at work doing their best to gain protections for themselves and to slow the spread of innovation such as municipal wireless and voice over IP. Will video break the Internet? No. The biggest threat to freedom of choice for content at competitive prices is a lack of competition.

Misguided or overly-prescriptive legislation can have unintended consequences. It can often fix one problem and create two new ones or add yet another layer of protectionism. Mike Nelson, former Director for Technology Policy at the Federal Communications Commission (and former colleague at IBM), says "a lack of competition which lets companies exert monopoly or duopoly power is probably the biggest damper on innovation". Not all legislation is bad. It is possible to use it to increase competition and decrease regulation, to fund e-government pilot projects, "connect the unconnected," or fund university education and research.

Related links
bullet Other patrickWeb stories about Internet Technology

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Final Links To Rome

RomeThanks for all the nice feedback on the stories about the Business Leadership Forum in Rome. There are two final links that may be of interest. Chris Barger at IBM has posted the audio for the podcast about the demos, Internet technology, and healthcare. You can play it from here. Also, if you like the printed word, there is a single pdf that contains all the stories in one 23 page printable document. You can find it here.

Related links
bullet Intro to Roman Rendezvous Stories
bullet Index to Roman Rendezvous stories

bullet Podcast
bullet Transcript of podcast

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The Big Picture From Rome

RomeThe final afternoon of the Business Leadership Forum focused on the big picture -- of both global political factors and technology. A panel included Karl-Heinz Grasser, Federal Minister of Finance for the Republic of Austria. He spoke about how governments can not only avoid being an obstacle to innovation and growth but also encourage competition thereby creating more jobs. The panel was bullish about how the information revolution -- ushered in by the microprocessor in the early 1970's and the Internet of the 1990's -- has led to an explosion of new products and new business models, However, there was a consensus that retaliation from poor economies and over-regulation by some countries could stymie the growth. 

Mario Monti, President of Bocconi University and commissioner in the European Union for ten years, was quite optimistic about the EU -- a market of 480 million people -- and said that the EU itself is an innovation. He said that Europe is much more like the U.S. than it was. It is now a single market, has a single currency, and has been expanding market reach around the world. The shortcoming is that Europe, unlike America, does not yet have a constitution. This results in an economic disadvantage because the European community can not make a decision for the total. The European economy is not innovating quickly enough and in fact some countries are protecting the past at the expense of the future. Mario says it is time for "naming and shaming" the laggards through peer reviews. Then he got more specific -- "Germany, France, and Italy are behind on liberalization of service markets and have resisted initiatives to increase competition". These three countries will have a negative impact on the Euro which in turn will hurt the rest of Europe. Mr. Monti's presentation was sobering but hopeful. He said the EU has a lot of good features, that it can protect intellectual property but also move against monopolies such as Microsoft. The key to get innovation going in Europe is for the EU to innovate itself by completing it's constitution.

Irving Wladawsky-Berger kicked off the final segment of the forum, which focused on the future. IBM supports Linux because it is a great operating system for computers. Irving introduced Linus Torvalds the developer of Linux which he published as a student in 1991. Don Tapscott, a widely acclaimed author, who invented the term "paradigm shift", then moderated the final panel which included Linus, Nick Donofrio, executive vice president for innovation and technology at IBM, and Ann Mettler, executive director and co-founder of The Lisbon Council. It was a wide-ranging discussion. Linus is an incredibly humble guy. He said he has no vision, just looks 5 cm ahead before each step, and loves to solve technical problems. Linux is successful, he says, because both the development and the decision making are distributed -- a "built-in meritocracy". Don asked why volunteers worked on Linux for no economic return. Linus said, "if you were all engineers, you would not be asking that question". Open source software is viable in most all software areas, with the only exception being niche markets which are too small to get adequate collaboration. "Open source will take over most all infrastructure".

Ann said there is a huge gap between businesses which are moving ahead rapidly and societies which feel left behind. The key problem is that the economy is 70% services but the regulations and governance are still based on an industrial model. She believes that government should learn how to innovate from businesses. "Politicians are clueless about the discussion of the past day and a half". She says that businesses need to share their leanings with society. The labor market in Europe is flat because companies do not want to hire and that is because the laws are so onerous. "You can hire but you can't fire". Labor reform is needed desperately.

Nick says' It' s all about change". IBM is doing a balancing act by supporting both open things and proprietary things. The company is generating a lot of patents but also giving away a lot of patents to move the ball forward in key markets such as healthcare and education. "The world can move ahead faster if the OS is Linux -- it is good enough and a "blow for freedom". A California venture capitalist asked about business ethics and Nick was very aggressive in his response saying it was not optional for companies to be totally and completely ethical in every respect. (Having been at IBM for 38 years, I can say I never ever had a  concern about ethics at the company). Nick summarized that anyone can innovate if they are willing to change. "If nothing changes, nothing changes". Sam wrapped up the conference by saying corporations need to be transparent. Their ultimate responsibility is to create value for the constituencies: stockholders, customers, employees. He walks the talk.  

Related links
bullet Intro to Roman Rendezvous Stories
bullet Index to Roman Rendezvous stories

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Students not interested in school-sanctioned music downloads

Students not interested in school-sanctioned music downloads: In 2003, colleges began signing exclusive deals with online music services to great fanfare. Nearly three years later, the schools are realizing what we've known all along.(Via Ars Technica.)

Here's the money quote in the original WSJ article:

There is also little consensus among administrators about how successful the services have been in eliminating piracy. Although some say complaints from the recording industry have dropped sharply, no one can tell if that's because fewer students are engaging in illegal file-sharing or if the industry simply doesn't want to go after schools that are spending money to combat the problem. "The RIAA's push to buy into these services strikes me as protection money. Buy in and we'll protect you from our lawsuits," says Kenneth C. Green, the Campus Computing Project's director.
Of course, the RIAA denies strongly if unconvincingly:
The RIAA denies the charge. "We do sue students and send takedown notices to universities that have legal services all the time," says Mr. Sherman. Universities have a particular responsibility to teach students the value of intellectual property, he adds, because they are "probably the No. 1 creator of intellectual property." And he disputes the idea that the subscription services have fallen out of favor. The number of campuses that subscribe will increase "pretty significantly" in the fall, he says.
This "particular responsibility" of the universities is especially rich. Universities don't generate "intellectual property", they generate knowledge, most of which is effectively distributed freely as a side-effect of their teaching and research activities. Whenever universities have tried to monetize their knowledge production, they have created distortions and conflicts of interest that have damaged their core missions and their prestige as institutions supposedly run in the public interest. Even patent licensing, which involves a limited range of university production, has had a dubious overall payoff: while licensing has brought a lot of money to a few schools, it has created nasty conflicts of interest, effectively restricted commercialization of significant inventions, and impeded learning in many other schools. More generally, universities are in a difficult position relative to current trends in "intellectual property". Fair use, which is essential to scholarship, is under threat, and oligopolistic practices of publishers are creating huge stresses for university libraries. So, if universities are to do their teaching job properly in this area, their teachings may well not be at all to the liking of the RIAA, as it will necessarily probe critically the idea of "intellectual property." Using student money to pay for an RIAA-sanctioned download service does not serve critical thinking.
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Do hackers hijack your search engine listings?
Are your search engine rankings still yours? Other people might hijack your search engine rankings and they might steal your web site visitors. The worst thing is that you might not even notice it. This article explains how you can protect your web site.
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Dlguard - File Download Protection.
Protect your time and your money: stop download thieves and build customer lists. Every serious seller needs this!
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WebMaster Media Maker.
Create Streaming Audio and Video with Media players that do not require a streaming media server.
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HP's Memory Spot puts video, audio into photos
ZDNet Jul 17 2006 4:25AM GMT
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A compact audio system fit for royalty
IT'S not easy on the pocket but the BeoSound 4 is easy on the eye - and ear.
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Online Collaboration Tools And Resources: Kolabora Picks n.4
Photo credit: Miguel Ugalde Web-based shareable calendar launched by Google Manage audio conferences with up to 500 users on Skype High-performance new videoconferencing tool Share anything from video to text Direct share of media files This week also, I...
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<i>NYT</i> review of <i>Talking Right</i> by Geoffrey Nunberg
Democrats, he says, should shore up their position on religion not by arguing for secularism but by explaining that secular values protect freedom of religion by not allowing a particular sect to occupy the entire religious space. That's not a bad argument, and it's a familiar one in judicial debates about the First Amendment's religious clause, but it won't fly in the political arena, if only because, as Nunberg says of a feeble Democratic slogan, 'you have to do a little mental stutter step' to understand it."
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Freestyle Audio Announces Addition of Roy Cammarano as Chief Executive Officer
Freestyle Audio, creator of the world’s first and only waterproof mp3 player designed specifically to accommodate the special needs of surfers, riders and water sport enthusiasts, today announced it has named Roy Cammarano to the position of Chief Executive Officer. (PRWEB Jul 7, 2006) Trackback URI: http://www.prweb.com/dingpr.php/SG9yci1Qcm9mLUxvdmUtUGlnZy1JbnNlLVplcm8=
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TurtleDate Announces Dating Site Profile Approval Policy Change
In a recent move, the little dating site www.TurtleDate.com made some big changes in their profile approval policy. TurtleDate has implemented aggressive action to protect the privacy of its members by thwarting contacts via profile approvals from scammers, spoofers and spammers who attempt to use the sites service to proliferate advertising and money phishing schemes. (PRWEB Jul 9, 2006)
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MTU Releases Video Hoster 3.3 Software
MTU Video Hoster 3.3 has been released. Hoster is the leading software for importing and playback of karaoke, audio, and video on PC. (PRWEB Jun 24, 2006)
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No audio when you recapture clips from tape (Premiere Elements 2.0, PAL only)
IssueAudio is missing when you recapture clips that where exported to tape from Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0.DetailsYou used the Export To Tape command while working on a PAL project.Exported clips include audio when you play them in the camcorder...
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Freeze or crash when you start on a system with Realtek HD Audio (Audition 2.0, Premiere Elements, Encore DVD 2.0, Premiere Pro on Windows)
IssueWhen you start Adobe Audition, Adobe Encore DVD, Adobe Premiere Elements, or Adobe Premiere Pro, one or more of the following occurs: -- The system reboots followed by the warning message, "The system has recovered from a serious error".-- The...
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Error ''...failed to start because ad2mpegin.dll was not found...'' when you start an application after installing Premiere Elements 2.0
IssueWhen you start various third-party audio or video applications, the applications return the error message, "This application has failed to start because ad2mpegin.dll was not found. Re-installing the application may fix this problem."DetailsYo...
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Capturing CD audio for import into Premiere Elements 2.0
The tracks of standard audio CDs are written in the Compact Disc Audio format (CDA). Each track of an audio CD is a separate CDA file. Because Adobe Premiere Elements does not support the CDA format, you must convert CDA files to a supported audio format ...
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Troubleshoot digital video playback (Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0)
When you play or export digital video from the Timeline in Adobe Premiere Elements to an IEEE1394 (FireWire/i.LINK) digital video device (for example, a camera), video or audio play may stutter or play too fast if you use outdated DirectX and IEEE 1394 c...
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Clip Notes file contains video but no audio (Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0)
IssueWhen you create a Windows Media format Clip Note in Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, the file contains video but no audio.DetailYou did not set the export module selected in the Adobe Media Encoder to Windows Media. SolutionsDo one of the followi...
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Error: ''Audio Upmixing is not allowed'' when you export (Premiere Pro 1.x, 2.0)
Issue When you export a Premiere Pro project through the Adobe Media Encoder, Premiere Pro returns the error message, "Audio Upmixing is not allowed. Cancelling the operation."DetailThe destination audio format contains more audio channels than th...
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Export To Tape results in black video with audio (Premiere Pro 2.0)
IssueWhen you choose Export To Tape in Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, the resulting tape has audio with no video or with black video.DetailsYour External Device setting under Playback Settings is set to None.Solution: Adjust your playback setting.Ch...
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Fighting the Evil-Doers: A Database Security Workshop on Tuesday, July 11
3 horror stories and how to be victorious in the battle to protect your customer database and your network. (PRWEB Jul 9, 2006)
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Go Beyond the Goal ? Bestselling Author Expands on the Revolutionary Management Theory He Detailed in His Three Million-Copy Bestseller
The creator of one of the most flexible and effective approaches to management in the corporate world detailed his unique, results-driven approach in a multi-million copy bestseller, The Goal. Now, in Beyond the Goal, available only on audio CD, he elaborates on his business management theories which are taught at leading business schools and successfully employed in companies around the globe. [PRWEB Nov 9, 2005]
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Special Edition Bookstore Tourism Podcast, Featuring Bestselling Author Lisa Scottoline
A special edition of the Bookstore Tourism Podcast featuring audio from Larry Portzline's Oct. 29th Brandywine Valley Bookstore Adventure, which included Baldwin's Book Barn and Chester County Books in West Chester, PA. [PRWEB Nov 4, 2005]
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New Book, Advantage ?IP,? Tells Entrepreneurs and Established Companies How to Protect and Profitably Exploit Intellectual Property Assets
A new book by business attorney Jean Sifleet, ?Advantage ?IP?: Profit from Your Great Ideas?, provides useful lessons on how to protect innovative ideas and turn them into revenue. [PRWEB Nov 1, 2005]
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Business Continuity Group Educates Businesses About Digital Disaster Recovery
KL Security Enterprises provides small and big business with the knowledge and solutions they need to survive fires, floods and other data disasters. They are an official Government Vendor and approved GSA Supplier of fireproof safes and filing cabinets designed to protect critical data and computer media for networks and direct server backup. [PRWEB Nov 10, 2005]
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Maureen LR Bloesch Announces the Release of Her New and Uncontrollable Laughter Poetry Book, 'More Words to Take Your Breath Away...' Includes Audio CD
Maureen Bloeschs' new poetry book, "More Words to take your breath away..." that includes an Audio CD, has the undenyable ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time. This is one of those books that you will definately want to give as a gift and one to keep on your coffee table. [PRWEB Nov 7, 2005]
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Maximizing Email Security ROI: Part III - No More Mr. Nice Guy: Enforcing E-Mail Policy
An effective email policy should be all-encompassing, helping organizations comply with federal regulations, protect intellectual property and prevent offensive materials from being transmitted across their networks. This article details the issues involved in corporate email policy enforcement, and provides real-world examples of compliance issues faced by corporations every day.
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Email Security Governance: Email Encryption and Authentication
While recent government regulations vary in scope and purpose, the need to protect and ensure the integrity of information is universal. Much of the information germane to business today is assimilated and communicated over messaging platforms such as email. As a result, the need for a comprehensive approach to the secure delivery of email affects almost all organizations, regardless of industry or size. As with many management challenges, the unknown is the most significant cause for concern. In the case of email and messaging security, the most ominous threat is often the lack of ability to measure information flowing in and out of the corporate email network.
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Protect yourself from BigBrother
Regardless of the government you live under, your actions on the internet are being tracked. Your every search recorded and kept in a database for future use/abuse. US citizens have had their web traffic monitored by the NSA and AT&T, and their every search history subpeaned by a Federal Judge. As we move towards a more wired and connected society, the potentials for abuse grow exponentially. Imagine a future where your past searches label you as a threat to your government. Or where your browsing history is known by everyone. It's possible now.


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C#: Play WAV files using SoundPlayer
Using the new SoundPlayer class in .NET 2.0 you can easily play WAV files into your application. This tutorial will show you how to create a Windows application that plays WAV audio files in a separate thread or in the UI thread.
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Stuff and Nonsense

An update, at last! :-P

Anyway. Last weekend Jen and I went with some friends to see Over The Hedge. Jen and I both had qualms about seeing it; from the trailers, we both expected it to be not-very-good. We were wrong. It was said afterwards that it’s the best animated movie Dreamworks has made; better than Shrek, and while I don’t know that I’d necessarily give either the nudge myself, OTH is definitely a worthwhile viewing experience. The Grand Theft Auto sequence in particular is awesome, as is the movie version of Ben Folds’ “Rockin’ the Suburbs”. And stay through the credits—it’s worth it (partially because the end credits themselves are well-done and interesting), unlike the ending of X-Men 3.

I also watched the first part of Robots this week. Despite the program guide’s generous four star rating, I found it completely uncompelling and deleted it after about twenty minutes. I, Robot, on the other hand, was entertaining if not particularly thought-provoking. It’s Will Smith, what do you want? ;) Constantine was not terrible, for a comic-book movie. If I see it in the $5 bargain bin at Wal-Mart, I might pick it up. I’m a sucker for storylines involving an eternal war between Heaven and Hell with humans as proxy combatants, though. Tomorrow should result in Resident Evil: Apocalypse (which I had watched approximately half an hour of, while programming on a laptop in a client’s home at my previous job) as well as The Maltese Falcon (which I’ve never seen, but I like noir and Bogart, so…) and even more excitingly, the first episode of the new season of Deadwood. I’ve missed Al Swearengen’s poetical utterances, truly I have. I find it interesting that Robots was something I deliberately Tivoed, while I, Robot was a Tivo Suggestion—I submit to you that perhaps the Tivo knows me better than I know myself. Of course, it also recorded Prince William and Hide and Seek—so perhaps not, after all.

This week we also moved Jenny to College Station for the next two months, more or less. Which isn’t much fun. I have plenty to keep me busy, including lots of work stuff (enough that I worked for a few hours today, which is not usual for me at all) and yet more home improvement Activities™, but I am accustomed to intense Jeopardy duels, and it takes all the fun out of an entire category devoted to the Oz books (not the movie!) if Jen’s not here. :-P

Our parents banded together and gave us an anniversary present of a digital camcorder (for obvious reasons), so if I can manage to lay hands on a DV cassette sometime soon perhaps I will encourage the pets to do goofy things I can put on the site. Or something. I dunno. It seems like a wonderful piece of equipment, though; I can understand why people do things like this or this, when digital film technology is so accessible. I even know a few people who I’m sure would be happy to be extras in a Firefly fanfic… ;)

The hockey draft was this last week as well. One of the players from my spring team is a captain in the summer league, and had intended to try to keep the team together as much as possible. This is complicated by the fact that aside from himself, he only gets to “protect” a single player, and further by the fact that three of our players got drafted into the next league up (including my defensive partner, all unwitting). Still and all, it looks like the core is there, and it should be fun regardless. I got a little bit of an ego boost when I found out that apparently I was selected in either the third or fourth round of the draft, which seems fairly early for someone in their second season. Not that any OHL or NHL scouts are likely to be darkening my door anytime soon. And it’s only a small ego boost, as I can depend on Jenny for a realistic (by which I mean occasionally depressing ;)) appraisal of my “mad hockey skillz”, as it were.

This weekend’s project, aside from “entertaining the dogs” (via early morning trip to the dog park) and “dealing with crunch time” (viz., working today) is “cleaning the garage”. Anyone who has lived in a house with a garage for more than ten minutes knows precisely what I mean by that. :)

Last night I had a bout of insomnia, and ended up out on the hammock in the back yard at about 2am. It’s worth noting that, by 2am, the mosquitos appear to have quit for the day and, in June in Austin, the temperature is literally perfect. I almost slept out there, but it on further reflection I supposed that to be a bad idea and merely enjoyed it until I felt sleepy. :)

A final thought: reading the Baroque Cycle sure does turn me into a wordy son of a gun, doesn’t it?

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Programming with Constructors in Java
This article introduces you to constructors and their uses in Java. It covers the default constructor in Java handling a constructor with parameters and constructor overloading....

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My Legend

The new PodShow+ site, unleashing pretty darn soon, has a personal bio feature called 'The Legend of me'. I just filled mine out. Here's what I wrote:

I'm a programmer with an apetite for timeshifted media. That pretty much sums it up. In 2000, before I'd heard of RSS, I was using Voquette Media Manager to record Real streams of This American Life, which I'd lovingly burn to CD and listen to on long car trips. Later, in the days of 'audio blogging', I used the Radio Userland news aggregator to automatically pull MP3 files from enclosure-bearing RSS from Dave Winer, Chistopher Lydon and Doug Kaye. I'd then locate these on my hard drive and drag them, one at a time, into the media management software for my Neuros MP3 player. It worked, sort of, but was too much effort, and there was still too little content (especially after Chris took a break) for practical daily use. Adam Curry switched me back on in 2004 with a steady stream of daily content, developer feedback, feature ideas and a critical insight that made the medium: we needed automatic sync to the listening device. The early innovations in podcasting were nearly all Mac-only, which as a Windows user drove me nuts. Erik de Jonge's 'iSpider' project had a decent command-line Python/Applescript codebase, and were up for doing a cross-platform GUI product, which is where I wanted to go. Bringing in some modest COM knowledge that Pieter Overbeeke's 'i-podder' javascript helped me learn, I joined the iSpider team and Lemon was born. Nearly two years and one Ceast and Desist later, Lemon is now known as Juice and has accumulated over 2 million downloads. Along the way, Martijn Venrooy and I built the GigaDial 'podstation factory' (October 2004), and in Fall 2005 I joined PodShow and moved my family from Boston to San Francisco. At PodShow I do a mix of engineering (DGAP, Golden Tickets), developer relations (developer.podshow.com, DevCasts), technical reviews of potential partners and, when anyone will listen :-), talent scouting. I'm bullish on New Media and on the lookout for cool new stuff to build, to make listening and viewing better.

Pretty verbose --- it fills the alotted space on my profile page --- yet it barely scratches the surface.

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LetsGoExpo.com to Provide Webcast of ICCHP Accessible Computing Conference in Linz, Austria
The 10th Annual International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs (ICCHP) announced today that it has entered into a webcast partnership with LetsGoExpo (www.letsgoexpo.com) for the July 12-14, 2006 conference held in Linz Austria. The webcast will be free to attendees thanks to LetsGoExpo’s support of the event. Keynote sessions will be video webcast, (archives of video presentations will be captioned) with other sessions being webcast with live audio and visual media. [PRWEB Jul 7, 2006]
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Bloggers Don't Want Anyone to Name Names
Two of the best-known Daily Kos diarists, Redacted and Expunged, are uncomfortable with people knowing their real names.

Redacted discourages the press from identifying him, as he told the Philadelphia Inquirer:

... the 47-year-old blogger who goes by the pen name [Redacted] gave an interview on the condition that I not write what I know about him, because the publicity could hurt his blogging or his job. Let's leave it at this: he works in corporate marketing in the Philadelphia area.

He's also an ex-financial journalist, which he likens to being an ex-cop -- 'you never lose your instincts, you never lose the world view. I am privileged to take a certain attitude about the world, which is usually one of bemused contempt. It's a wonderful way to make a living -- if you can find the right organization.'

Expunged threatened to quit blogging when named by a political magazine:

A major Right wing site has chosen to support a troll's campaign started at this site to out me.

The writing is on the wall. I will likely be giving up blogging as a result.

Expunged's 'you won't have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore' announcement ignores the fact he was outed in other places, presumably with his consent, before the magazine ran his name. He spoke at a technology law conference in 2005 whose organizers identified his job and Kos affiliation, was named on NPR's Morning Edition and has a photo on TPM Cafe that's also on his employer's web site.

He's currently engaged in an effort to put the genie back in the bottle on Wikipedia, which has drawn editors into a page deletion debate that hinges on whether revealing his full name constitutes a personal attack:

The page was used to 'out' the subject, connecting his real-life identity with his username on dKos. He had worked to keep his real-life identity separate from his blogging. Once the page was created, being Wikipedia it became highly visible. It was then picked up by NRO. Since he saw it as a threat to his livelihood, he quit blogging. Using a Wikipedia article to 'out' someone and threaten their livelihood is clearly an attack.

Redacted hasn't hidden his identity much better than Expunged. He was a long-time reporter at a national newspaper, blogged from Davos in 2004 and writes under an abbreviated form of his name.

I can understand the urge to blog under a pseudonym to protect your privacy and avoid job-related hassles, but when you reach a point where you're fielding speaking offers and press calls, you have to make a choice. You can either bask in the Sally Field 'you really like me!' glow of mainstream media coverage, thus inspiring more people to seek your name and background, or turn away the press and do everything in your power to become a less-interesting blogger.

The ability of people to be both famous and attention-repellent has not survived the web, even in the tiny bubble of celebrity currently enjoyed by political bloggers.

Actually, I lied when I said there's a choice. Anything Redacted or Expunged could do at this point to obscure their identities would only make them more interesting.
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Oralux: Audio GNU/Linux Distro for Vision Impaired Persons
Here is an interesting Linux Distro for people with Visual impairments - just stumbled across it when looking for something else.The user turns on his PC, which boots up the CD, the cock Oralux sings...Then, the user selects his preferences using a vocal menu available in 5 languages.Oralux 0.6 proposes two desktops, Emacspeak and another one based on Yasr (pronounced Yas Er), a few multilanguages voice synthesizers, and is able to select a braille display or drive an external synthesizer.Conference: Is IT Accessible?The University College Northamption are running a conference called, Is IT Accessible?.Since legislation came into effect in September 2002, we should all be creating our work accessibly. This conference will give you information on accessibility and what it means.The conference is on the 9th of September 2004 atUniversity College NorthamptonGrendon Lecture Theatre.
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Adding captions or providing transcripts isn't always enough
If you search the web for information related to web accessibility for deaf people you will find plenty of advice about captioning or providing transcripts for web based audio and video material. What you are unlikely to find much discussion related to accessibility and language; for many deaf people English is not their first language, Sign Language is. Although Sign Language provides an equivalent for everything that can be spoken or written, understanding written English - for some deaf people - is a process of interpreting from English to their first language, i.e. Sign Language. Writing simple language and short sentences can help to make information more accessible to Sign Language users. However having discussed the issues with various informed users in the past (e.g. those at the Sign Language Interpreter Service in Glasgow) it seems that the most effective way to make content accessible to Sign Language users is to provide a Sign Language version of all content. The problem here is that the obvious way to do this, i.e., providing video of Sign Language interpreters, is an expensive and resource hungry exercise . For this reason, many people are experimenting with signing avatars (virtual humans) as a way to deliver Sign Language equivalent to written content. Links Sign Language Interpreter Service Signing Avatar from 3D.com signingbooks.org BBC article on signing avatars:Visit the tips archiveSend me an e-mail (jim@mcu.org.uk), or give me a call (0781 0098 119) if you would like assistance to make your website accessible - the MCU has being learning how to make websites accessible since 1996 - so we know a thing or two about it. Have a good Easter weekend (or the equivalent - if Easter is not your thing).
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Scottish Arts Marketers' Forum: accessible web design
Last Thursday I lead a 'round table discussion session' on accessible web design for the Scottish Arts Council Marketers' Forum. It was an enjoyable experience - here are some of the issues that came up and brief versions of my answers.How do blind people surf the web? What should we be aware off when designing for someone who is blind?Many blind people, and people with low vision use a 'screen reader' which 'reads out' (i.e. turns into audio) the text on a web page. This has implications for making a site accessible to someone who is blind:Pictures can't be 'read' - so labels have to be added to the pictures to indicate their purpose or the content they contain. There also needs to be alternative ways to access the information contained in all non-text elements such as videos, or animations, e.g. a transcript or captions could be provided along with a video.Having information read out - is a 'linear' experience - generally screen readers will start to read from the top left of the page and work their way down. Depending on how the site is designed it can either be a long and tedious experience, or one that is a pleasure to a blind person because it either ignores or takes into account how screen readers work. For example, if the first section on each web page is the navigation bar, and the navigation contains 100 links, then the screen reader has to read out those 100 links before getting to the content of the page. There are many ways of getting around this problem; one would be to put the content first on the page and the navigation second, another would be to provide a way of 'jumping over' the navigation bar straight to the content.The arts community needs aesthetically pleasing websites - do accessible websites need to be just text and therefore look boring?The idea that accessible websites need to be text-only is a myth; most of the changes required to make a website accessible do not affect the visual appearance of the site. Whether the site is aesthetically pleasing or not, is not related to how accessible it is - it is related to the talents of the web designer, and how well the designer and the client have thought about the goals of the site. An awareness of accessibility issues can however lead to changes that improve the usability of the site for everyone.For many people a site which contains pictures, animations, sound and video will be more accessible than one that contains only text. Using different communication mediums means offering more choice to the visitor to the site - and that can only be a good thing. Well designer, good looking websites, that make good use of multimedia technologies offer a richer experience to the visitor - however as mentioned earlier provide alternative ways of accessing information within non-text content.Mostly arts related organisations do not have a lot of money - is it more expensive to build an accessible web design?I am not aware of any research that shows whether or not it is more expensive to build an accessible website. Testimony be web design experts during the legal proceedings in Australia (when an individual took the Olympic Organising Committe to court because their site was not accessible), estimated that the cost of building an accessible website adds 2% to the budget of the site.In the medium to longer term the support costs for an accessible website are lower. For one thing, there will be less e-mails and support calls from people who can't access the information on your site. Creating an accessible website helps the designer to think about important aspects of the site such as how the content of pages are structured, and how logically the navigation of the site is organised; getting these aspects right early in the design process will make the site easier and cheaper (certainly in terms of time) to manage in the long term.Some aspects of making a site accessible will be expensive if they requires specialist knowledge, such as adding captions to video, or creating content in several languages. Making a site accessible 'retrospectively' tends to be more expensive than creating an accessible website from scratch.We don't want to discriminate against people with colour blindness, are there any colours should be avoided?First, ensure that you don't design your site in a way that means visitors cannot change the colours to suite their own needs. Second be aware that 15% of men have some form of colour blindness (only .4% of women); the most common combinations of colours that can cause problems are red/green (remember red berries on a tree with green leaves) and yellow/blue (remember the swedish flag or yellow daffodils against a blue sky). Using these colours on their own is generally not a problem, it is only when they are used as in conjunction with one another that problems of contrast occur, e.g. red text on a green backgound; both may look like grey to someone who has colour blindness.
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Changing over to a new content management system
I have not been able to update the news recently because I can't connect to the server that hosts the site. I can connect via ftp ok, when I am outside the university, but not when I'm in the university. Don't ask me why - I don't know??? Nothing seems to be changing in relation to this problem, so I need to switch to a new system for updating the site.I have been using a Content Management System (CMS) called Manila; a browser based CMS that automatically sends updates to the server via ftp. However, with no ftp connection, Manila is rendered useless to me in this particular situation.So expect changes, and a few breakages, as I move to a less comprehensive CMS based on some PHP scripts that I wrote myself, and previously used for sites I managed from home.This weeks tip: test the accessibility of your web page with your own web browser.Wednesday, May 7, 2003It seems to be a little know fact - but it is worth remembering - that almost all Web browsers allow you to change the text size, font, colour and background colour of the web pages you visit. You can find out more about how to change your browser preferences on Lois Wakeman's excellent website at http://lois.co.uk/services/access.shtml.Try experimenting with the setting in your own browser; check how your pages look with much larger or smaller text, or a different text/background combination. And even more importantly, check if the design of your page allow these attributes to be altered at all. If they can't be altered (perhaps because the designer has tried to force the page to look the same on everybody's screen), then this should alert you to the fact that your pages may not be as accessible as you thought. An important aspect of accessible web design is giving users the ability to change the presentation of the page to suit their own needs - if they can't do that then this should alert you to accessibility issues with your site.You have permission to reprint this and other accessible web design tips on your own website - see http://www.mcu.org.uk/weeklytips/ for terms and conditions.Thursday, May 1, 2003the W3C have released a new draft of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0'This WCAG 2.0 Working Draft does not assign priorities to checkpoints, as did WCAG 1.0. Instead, each of the checkpoints has levels of implementation listed for it. There are 3 levels labeled 'Minimum', 'Level 2', and 'Level 3'. .'Use relative units when setting CSS text sizesThis weeks accessible web design tip: using relative units when setting CSS text sizes will make your web pages accessible to a wider audience.There is no one 'perfect size' for text on the web; different people prefer different sizes. Personally, I prefer the text on web pages to be quite big, so that I don't have to squint to read it. With this in mind I have set the text size preference in my web browser a few points larger than the default. However I still come across text on web pages that is too small for me to read, i.e. there are pages that ignore the preferences that I have set in my browser. These pages are less accessible to me (and others), because the designer has tried to take absolute control over the size of the text I see on the my screen. That usually means the have used an absolute unit of measurement, such as points or inches, when setting the size of text on the page. To ensure that the user of your web pages can set the size of text to suit their own preferences you should either not set a text size at all, or control text sizes with relative units in a Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Relative units are em units, percentages, relative keywords such as smaller or bigger.More detailed information about this can be found in my article 'Accessible web text - sizing up the issues' at http://www.mcu.org.uk/articles/textsize.htmlSubscribe to receive your weekly accessible web design tip. Tuesday, April 29, 2003Yura Zemskov got in touch with a pointer to his Russian translation of my typography articleMaking A Difference - Reflections on Using the Disability Discrimination Act by Bruce MaguireDiscussMonday, April 28, 2003David Sloan has alerted me to a new report about the accessibility of Scottish Political Party websites.Here is a quote from David's e-mail to give you a flavour:'A review has just been completed of the accessibility of Scottish politicalparty web sites, and found that many disabled voters are likely to havesignificant difficulty accessing on-line policy and manifesto information,limiting their ability to use the web to help them make an informed choicewhen they vote.'DiscussFriday, April 25, 2003I was pleased when Yura Zemskov got in touch to say he had translated my Accessible Web Typography article into Russian. Unfortunately I seem to have mislaid the e-mail from Yura contain the link to the article (although for english speakers this will be no loss, as it is impossible to read in a browser set for Western text encoding).If you read this Yura, sorry for my bad manners by losing your e-mail; please get back in touch with your details and the URL to your site, and I will link to it from here.Wednesday, April 23, 2003This weeks Web Accessibility tip: don't rely on colour alone to provide important information.For example, in a web form don't write, 'the fields with a red dot next to them are compulsory, those with a green dot are optional.' This statement will be of no use to people who are colour blind, or those using grey-scale monitors, or those using screen readers.Requiring users to differentiate between colours to access important information can lead to problems. An example would be a navigation button that has red text on a green background, as people who have difficulty differentiating between red and green (the most common kind of colour blindness) will have a hard time trying to navigate the site. The main colour combinations to avoid for people who are colour blind (dichromatism): Red/green combinations (memory aid: red berries against green leaves on a tree) Blue yellow combinations (memory aid: yellow daffodils against a blue sky)'The Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement (IDEA) and Brandeis University' provide some useful information about colour blindness at http://webexhibits.org/causesofcolor/2.html. Subscribe to receive your weekly accessible web design tip.Tuesday, April 22, 2003I encourage you to check out this good work by Debbie Taylor, a student at Glasgow Caledonian University (where I am based myself), 'I am an Honours student in Scotland and for my honours project I am doing a prototype web site for audio described background material. It is a small example of how a film can have some background information into sets, costumes, character appearance outwith the description that the film would have in a cinema. For example, the costumes in a film like Braveheart are quite intricate (different tartans etc) and there is not really enough time to describe them during the running of the film without detracting from the character's dialogue. So, what I propose is a web site (or CD) containing that information before going to see the film. I used RealOne and SMIL for the audio described trailer.' 'Also, I would like to think that the possibilities for such a web site apply to other facets of the media (tv, theatre etc) so it is really an initial study into whether such a format would be well received.'Visit and test the site at: http://www12.brinkster.com/webdeb/audiodescribed/index.html'DiscussThursday, April 17, 2003This weeks tip is: if you use Javascript to 'jazz up' the navigation on your website, make sure the links still work when javascript is turned off (or is not supported). For example, here is a technique I have seen used quite often on web pages; Javascript being used to open a new window when a user clicks a link:Contact UsNote that in the above example the URL of the page being linked to will only appear as a result of running the script, so turning Javascript off means there will be no link to this particular page. You can be sure that whatever you are trying to achieve with your javascript, there will be a more accessible way to do it, and that is true in this case. The following example is from Evolt.org, and shows how the same effect can be achieved without breaking the link:Contact Us(Please note, the W3C guidelines say that you should always warn users before opening a new window.)Friday, April 11, 2003Here is the kind of feedback I like - from A. Lester Buck III,'What a beautiful web site! Yes, the original articles are very, very accessible. The Text size... option in IE works great, but the default font size is perfect so I didn't need to change anything. And nothing is truncated along the right margin. Gosh, I've got a lot of great reading ahead of me!'Lester had previously got in touch to point out accessibility problems with an article I had written about the text size issue. It turned out he was reading a reprint of the article on another site, and they had re-formatted it for their own needs. This is something I need to address myself - I'm quite happy to let other website use my articles - but an article about web accessibility that is not accessible doesn't seem quite right.Wednesday, April 9, 2003News on Anitra Pavka usable web design weblog:' more than 78% of British government sites need an accessibility overhaul. Those are rather ugly numbers and, as the article indicates, the costs may take a substantial chunk out of their budgets. I hope they can afford the redesigns and testing. I wish they would release more details about what they analyzed and how they conducted the reviews.'This weeks accessible web design tipDesign for machines first, people second! No web page has yet been created that can be transmitted directly to a persons brain, without first being mediated through some type of hardware and software (e.g. a computer and a web browser). The best chance you have of your web page being accessible to this 'intermediate layer' is to create your pages using standards based markup. Your users will not be able to access your web pages if they fail to work on the particular client they are using - be it a refreshable braille reader, a WebTV, or a PC running Internet Explorer 6. This weeks tip therefore is, 'code to standards'. If you code to standards (e.g. HTML 4.01 or XHTML 1) you have the best chance of your web page working on the 'dumb' machines that know nothing other than 'how to follow the rules' to render the structure of a page to an output device. If you also follow the rules, you are already well down the road towards an accessible website.Register for the weekly MCU accessible web design tip.The Cybrarian project:'to assist in decreasing the digital divide by facilitating access to the internet and to learning opportunities for those who currently do not, or cannot, use the internet because of a lack of skills or confidence or because of physical or cognitive disabilities.'Tuesday, April 8, 2003'
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StopattheShop.com's Horrible Reliance on Graphics
A small chain of audio/video stores burdens its web site with graphics to the point where search engines would have...
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Many questions - MSAS, playing WAV files and what to develop Media Center apps with

I've had lots of questions recently and no time to really get answers and post them up here.  If I haven't answered you question it's because I don't know the answer and haven't had enough time to get to the bottom of it yet.

First of all I had a couple of questions on MSAS which I don't know that much about.

Can I tell which tuner is being used when a recording takes place using MSAS? No, you can not.  What you can do, which may or may not help is use OnTVRecordStateChange from a background add-in which will give you a GUID and you could track which was in use - this won't help if a tuner is being used for live TV though.  Here's a code snippet on how to use OnTVRecordStateChange:

void IAddInEntryPoint.Launch(AddInHost host)

host.Television.OnTVRecordStateChange += new Microsoft.MediaCenter.AddIn.TVRecordStateChangeDelegate(TvRecordStateChangedHandler);



public void TvRecordStateChangedHandler(object obj, Microsoft.MediaCenter.AddIn.TVRecordStateChangeArgs TVArgs) {

if (TVArgs.Started)
mcHost.HostControl.Dialog('Recording started on tuner ' + TVArgs.Tuner, 'TV Recording',1,10,false);
else if (TVArgs.Stopped)
mcHost.HostControl.Dialog('Recording stopped on tuner ' + TVArgs.Tuner, 'TV Recording',1,10,false);


Can I use remote desktop to connect to a Media Center PC? Yes.  You can even use Media Center, but it won't play video over a RDP connection

Can I use animated backgrounds in an HTML page? Not really a media center question, but I don't see why not, use an animated gif.

Could I create an add-in that played a selection of WAV files with a gap between them? Yes, using Playmedia and Playrate you could contstruct an addin to do this - waiting until the playrate was stopped, then wating however long you want before playing the next file.  You could also use More With This  to make this work with any folder of audio files.

Can I use ASP.NET for development?  Yes.  You can use any web technology that outputs HTML.

Can I use WinForms for development?  Yes, but if you're running as a .exe you won't have access to Media Center APIs.  If you're running as a .NET applet in a webpage you'll have access to the Media Center APIs from the HTML page and will have to communicate between the page and the .NET applet to use the Media Center APIs - non-trivial to do, but not hard.

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David Burnett on digital photography

David Burnett talks to the New York Times on what cameras he uses and why he mainly shoots digital now - he's another Canon 20D user.  The article is interesting, but the audio slideshow is much more interesting.  He explains that he uses a number of different cameras depending on the type of photo he's going for and on the slideshow there's a few examples.

I love my 20D, but it's not a camera that I can use all the time, it's just too big, so I also have a Canon SD500 which I've mentioned before.  I'll get different types of photos from each camera; I can't do the same things with the SD500 that I can do with the 20D, but I can take it places a 20D just isn't appropriate.  It's hard to be inconspicuous with a large SLR camera and buy the time I've tweaked the settings the moment is lost.  The SD500 I use for more spontaneous photos, I don't mess with the settings, just accept the defaults and let the camera deal with the situation and most of the time it does a great job, probably better than I could have done manually.  Take this as an example - that was shot at dawn directly into the rising sun with the SD500 and captured the scene exactly as I wanted it.  The 20D on the otherhand lets me get photos like this, which the SD500 wasn't able to manage (subjects lit entirely by candle light on a moving boat).  The SD500 also shoots video, a feature I never thought I'd use as I've always prefered still shots, but I found a few instances when video captured a scene much better than a still image could.  The 20D as you'd expect from an SLR doesn't capture video.  Different tools for different jobs.

The New York Times also has some tips on digital photography, nothing really new to me there, but it might be off interested to any just getting into digital.

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