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LISTen: An LISNews.org Program -- Episode 265

This year's final episode presents an essay. No new episodes will be released until further announcement is made in 2014. In the interim we encourage you to enjoy the back episodes of the 2013 reboot of The Tomorrow People. (N.B. No sponsorship has been provided by The CW, we just like the show enough to recommend it)

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9:15 minutes (12.74 MB)
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In Paris, A Display From Hockney's Pixelated Period

David Hockney thinks his current exhibition may be the first one that's ever been 100 percent e-mailed to a gallery. The 73-year-old artist is standing in the space in question — the Pierre Berge-Yves St. Laurent Foundation in Paris — trying to talk about the works, when his iPhone rings.

More from NPR's Morning Edition.

Blade Runner moment

I downloaded the Microsoft Tags Reader for my phone and scanned one of the USA Today tags. It wasn’t in the best light and the app didn’t recognize the tag at first but in a "Blade Runner Deckard" type moment the app triangulated, centered, and focused on the tag image and then pulled up the newspaper's business headlines - wow! It makes me wonder what publishers in general and libraries could already or potentially be using these tags for. Maybe some libraries are already using MS Tags or other tags?

Apple Admits Using Child Labor

So much for being green and all that. At least eleven 15-year-old children were discovered to be working last year in three factories which supply Apple.

The company did not name the offending factories, or say where they were based, but the majority of its goods are assembled in China.
Apple also has factories working for it in Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, the Czech Republic and the United States.

Apple said the child workers are now no longer being used, or are no longer underage (i.e., they've grown up on the job). "In each of the three facilities, we required a review of all employment records for the year as well as a complete analysis of the hiring process to clarify how underage people had been able to gain employment," Apple said, in an annual report on its suppliers.

Telegraph UK.

Coming Out Now...the iPad (aka the Apple Tablet)

Wired speculates about the up and coming new device that Apple will be announcing today. Will it be a glorified book reader? An iPod Touch/iPhone on steroids? We will find out very quickly here, and then we can all envision how we could use the device. Will it help you at work? Will it be the perfect commuting partner? Will you use it as the mother of all television remotes? Consider this, though. How will it affect our children? How will they use the tablet?

If your children are anything like mine, they will want to play with it the moment it comes out of the box. They will be amazed at how large their favorite iPod Touch apps look on the larger screen. And the screen will be large enough that they can both play with it at once. We could watch videos from the internet or do interactive educational websites (I’m looking at you, BBC) without leaving our school table. When we go on a trip, we could bring our entire homeschool library with us. Of course, we’d have to have two tablets, since we have two children.

Read More http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2010/01/how-will-the-apple-tablet-change-our-kids-lives/#ixzz0d... and in the NY Times.

Saved by the text!

I function as an "embedded" librarian of sorts as part of my instructional duties, and last week I filled in for a class session. Well, to make a long story short, the assigned classroom was not the regular classroom. The class began at 12:30 and only three students had showed up, I was beginning to panic at 12:40 - was I going to have to do an abbreviated instruction session, reschedule the session for a later date in an already tight semester schedule, etc. Anyway, a few more students came in during the next few minutes but at 12:45 12+ students walked in as a group! I found out that one of the students in the classroom had texted another student and some how the texted student gather up the remaining students! So cell phones and texting may not always be a distraction for students after all!

Bandwidth for Libraries...a Possible Stimulus Recipient

An effort to make the nation's public libraries a major source of robust Internet access is gaining momentum as a disparate group of foundations, companies, and trade and government agencies weigh in with plans to build support for bringing fiber optic technology to the country's 16,500 libraries.

Don Means, founder of the Fiber to the Library Project, has said improving Internet broadband access to public libraries "provides the biggest bang for the stimulus buck." The Gates Foundation, in a proceeding before the FCC, has estimated an investment of $700 million to $1.7 billion would pay for the installation fiber for 87% of public libraries currently without fiber. The Gates FCC effort seeks to generate public comments by Oct. 28.

"We see libraries as early adopters of technologies," said Means in a statement. "A lot of people had their first experience with first-generation broadband at a library. We think libraries are demand drivers for emerging technologies." Information Week reports.

An Ill Wind Blows

7 October 2009

There is a film titled "A Mighty Wind". It is a great film in the genre of the mockumentary. Unfortunately this piece is not about that film. Instead we get to talk about mighty winds.

Overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, northeast Ohio was battered with high-velocity winds. Wind gusts were estimated at points around forty-five miles per hour. Rain was scattered. Branches were felled by this mighty wind. This was something that would lead into something worse.

I was already woke up once by the whistling winds outside my bedroom windows. After I caught another two hours of sleep, I woke up to find a lack of power. The first priority, though, was to secure down the facility in light of the winds. This meant running around locking up the barn, checking on the corn crib that doubles as the "cat house" and more. The barn cats were no dummies and seemed to fly inside as soon as a door was opened.

After waiting a while in case the power outage was transient, we departed for somewhere with power. This part of Ohio has two seasons: "snow" and "not snow". It was getting cold and when we called the outage in to First Energy we were not even given an estimated time of restoration.

The outage pointed out some problems. First and foremost, my battery-operated transistor radio worked fine. I could hear WWOW's morning program just fine. The time signal on shortwave from WWV was still audible. Computers in the house were fancy-looking door stops. Laptop batteries have a particular mean time between failure and unfortunately some batteries were miserable failures. Desktops could not be fired up without electricity. The Apple portable media player had a decent battery charge but it was preserved for as long as possible.

While we went driving, we saw what looked to be part of the problem. Kingsville Township Volunteer Fire Department was out responding to a downed electrical line. The line was sparking and the field it was being buffeted around in due to the high winds bore scorch marks from the fires it started. This felt all too reminiscent of the huge outage in 2003 that covered a significant chunk of the northeastern United States as well as the Canadian province of Ontario. In that case a tree that fell started a cascade that wiped out power to many.

For librarians, this presents some interesting points. While the data cloud might be proposed to be a great tool, it would have been a miserable failure in the face of a power outage. If a Kindle were possessed on the farm it would have been useless for downloading as Sprint has no coverage at the farm. Although news was just released that AT&T will be eventually providing data coverage for Kindles, that would still not help here. Power had to be shepherded in battery operated devices as there was no way to know when service would be restored. That would wipe out any hope of mobile broadband or similar backstops for accessing the cloud. Thankfully the backup power supplies at the cell towers were intact long enough to call in outage reports but I would not have pushed my luck in seeking data through those means.

This was a case where books won out. Candlelight or the light from a hurricane lamp would be sufficient provided I could find my glasses. Analog tools like that did not need power to operate and would have carried through.

Fortunately the outage only lasted a few hours and service was restored for us by the early evening. Not everybody in northeast Ohio affected by this have seen service restored yet. This does leave an issue for librarians to ponder. While issues like irregular power are normally thought of as things happening to the poor abroad, what happens when the homeland does not seem as impervious to such problems? How do you plan effective information access over digital means in light of such?

Creative Commons License
An Ill Wind Blows by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Apple Sued Over Touch-Screen Rights

Taiwanese firm Elan Microelectronics has sued Apple Computer alleging infringement of two of its touch-screen patents, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

The suit was filed late Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, said spokesman Dennis Liu, speaking by phone from the chip design firm’s headquarters in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

“We couldn't find a common viewpoint with Apple, so we decided we had to take action,” he said, adding that the companies had been in licensing talks for about two years.

The lawsuit alleges that Apple products including its MacBook computer, iPhone and iPod Touch use technology that infringes on two of Elan’s “multi-touch” patents, the company said in a statement.

Wonder what this will mean for all those Apple products already in use.

Kindle competitor starting in Europe

James Sherwood wrote at The Register's hardware section about a "Book on Mobile" plan by Vodafone. While The Register is a tech publication based in Europe, it may be possible that reading books on your own smartphone under this plan may not be too far off for the United States. Vodafone is, after all, a minority owner of Verizon Wireless so there is some potential leverage to bring such to the United States eventually.

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