Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Before, during, and after

I finally used my Tarn-X and I have to say, it worked pretty well. It was especially impressive when I just dunked the silver item in the Tarn-X—much like the old commercial. On the downside, it smells terrible. Sort of like perms used to smell. Also, apparently you're supposed to be careful with this stuff.
CAUTION: Contains thiourea, sulfuric acid, corrosion inhibitors, and detergent. AVOID CONTACT WITH SKIN AND EYES.
WARNING: This product contains thiourea, a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer.
Holy crap. Silly me, I thought the sulfuric acid sounded scary. I guess they meant it when they advised me to wear gloves. Oops.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Prince can do anything

Prince covered Radiohead's "Creep" at Coachella

Dooce says:
It is the audio equivalent of a Reese's peanut butter cup: two great tastes that you didn't think could get any better, and then some genius comes up with the idea to eat them both at the same time.
Oh, how I love Prince. I saw him a couple of years ago in Omaha on the Musicology tour (thanks again, Jonelle!). When he appeared on stage I just about lost it. I was truly on the verge of some kind of hysterical freakout—like those girls you've seen in the old Beatles footage.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Information Snacking

In his shareholder letter, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos focuses on Kindle:

We knew Kindle would have to get out of the way, just like a physical book, so readers could become engrossed in the words and forget they’re reading on a device. We also knew we shouldn’t try to copy every last feature of a book—we could never out-book the book. We’d have to add new capabilities—ones that could never be possible with a traditional book . . .

Lately, networked tools such as desktop computers, laptops, cell phones and PDAs have changed us too. They’ve shifted us more toward information snacking, and I would argue toward shorter attention spans. I value my BlackBerry—I’m convinced it makes me more productive—but I don’t want to read a three-hundred-page document on it. Nor do I want to read something hundreds of pages long on my desktop computer or my laptop.

See this Kindleville post also.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

You Can Enjoy a Book on a Mere Cellphone

From the Wall Street Journal:

If life can be described as the process of making peace with things once considered unpleasant, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that one day I looked down at my BlackBerry only to find Ian McEwan.

The English novelist, best known for "Atonement," wasn't there in any corporeal sense, but rather in a literary one through another of his novels, "Amsterdam." Contrary to all of my previous expectations, not only was I reading the novel on my cellphone, I was enjoying it, too.

Copyright infringement suit filed against Georgia State University

Press release from The Association of American University Presses:

In todayʼs universities, it is increasingly rare for students to buy assigned books at the campus bookstore or purchase coursepacks at the local copyshop. Instead, professors often distribute assigned course readings electronically through digital course management, e-reserves, or similar systems. While many universities seek legally required permissions, others do not and simply distribute substantial excerpts from books and journals without permission or compensation. This has become a significant problem for university presses, who depend upon the income due them to continue to publish the specialized scholarly books required to educate students and to advance university research.

Against this backdrop, three scholarly publishers, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Sage Publications, have recently filed suit against Georgia State University officials, citing a pattern of illegal distribution of copyrighted book and journal content through digital course management and similar systems controlled by Georgia State. The Association of American University Presses supports the difficult decision made by Cambridge and Oxford, both AAUP members, to take this action — particularly in light of its broad concerns for the critical role that university presses, which are non-profits, play in the world of university instruction and scholarly communications.

The basic legal issue in the suit, namely whether permissions are required for course materials, was forcefully addressed in Basic Books v. Kinkoʼs Graphics Corp. (1991), which held that the coursepacks sold by Kinkoʼs required the payment of permissions fees to publishers, and that the reproduction of a single chapter was “quantitatively [and] qualitatively substantial” under the Copyright Act. While AAUP respects the doctrine of fair use, which permits spontaneous and limited uses of copyrighted material for instruction, it is clear that universities need to seek permission for more regular and substantial uses of excerpts in coursepacks and other assigned reading. That the delivery method for coursepacks is digital rather than print-on-paper does not change the nature of the use or the content, and such uses are governed by the same legal principles established in earlier cases.

. . . In sum, the university community is a complex, integrated system and, while it may seem superficially attractive to distribute published work to students free of charge, scholarly publishing in its current richness cannot survive if universities condone this path.

. . . Several mechanisms currently exist for universities to obtain clearance for the use of these materials, whether through individual publishers or the Copyright Clearance Center. While many universities have adopted a centralized approach and treated electronic course materials as they do paper, Georgia State has flatly rebuffed repeated attempts by publishers to work toward an acceptable university policy and has continued to foster a system of widespread copyright abuse.

The decision to file a suit is never easy, and always a last resort. It is particularly painful for non-profit publishers to sue a university, even if in this situation it was unavoidable. “It feels like suing a member of the family” said AAUP Executive Director Peter Givler. “Unfortunately, the alleged infringement is like stealing from a member of the family.”

See also Publishers Sue Georgia State on Digital Reading Matter in the New York Times.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rate My Book Cover

I ran across a mention of this site on Joe Wikert's blog. I'm not sure it's useful for determining what's best for a book's cover (we've all heard nightmares about "design by committee"), but it sure is addictive!

I'm thanked on Alltop!

If you look real close you can see me:

I'm much more excited than I probably should be.

And for those of you who haven't checked it out yet, Schmutzie has a great post that explains (much better than I could) what Alltop is all about.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm about to make a childhood dream come true

I was obsessed with this commercial when I was a little kid and I begged my mom to buy some Tarn-x. She just said no and looked confused. But today I purchased some for myself! I have high hopes.

I was also obsessed with a certain Contac Cold Medicine commercial back in the 1970s. The one where they break open a capsule and the little medicine balls fall out in slo-mo. This isn't the same commercial, but watch the right side of the screen and you can get a sense of how mesmerizing the original was.

I was maybe a little odd as a child.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I caught up with some old friends at the Omaha Punk Reunion a couple of weeks ago. We got in contact with each other through the magic of MySpace (see, it's not only for kids!). The ever-lovely DeeAnna Shelton put this reunion together and flew back to Omaha from California for the weekend. Shelby and Amy came all the way from Seattle. Doug, Heather, Stacie, Cindy, Dave, and I live in the general area.

I can't even describe how great it was to spend time with them all again. Hope to see you all again soon!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fun and informative few days in Newburyport, MA

I just got back from the Firebrand Technologies user conference (by the way, check out their new website—I love it). There were over 100 attendees from university presses, trade houses, trading partners, and vendors. It was one of the most energetic and highly participatory conferences I've attended. Some highlights:
  • Fran's opener when he said that he was leaving Quality Solutions behind—you got us, Fran!—only to go on to announce that QSI is now Firebrand Technologies
  • getting to meet the rest of the Firebrand team
  • the developer Q&A session
  • Doug's TMM Tips & Tricks session
  • meeting colleagues from other presses and publishing-related companies
  • and, of course, the website session with Brock

I also managed to get some shopping in. Fran had warned us that it would be cold, but I unwisely chose to believe weather.com and didn't dress nearly warm enough. I ended up buying two warm sweaters (and a few other less practical items).

Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman

I finished this one on the plane from Chicago to Lincoln. It was a great book to read on the road, engrossing enough to grab you no matter how uncomfortable you might be.

This was Lippman's first stand-alone (not part of her PI Tess Monaghan series). I had read the description before and hadn't picked it up because I wrongly assumed it would be overly sensational and/or predictable.

Two little girls banished from a neighborhood birthday party take a wrong turn down an unfamiliar Baltimore street—and encounter an abandoned stroller with an infant inside. What happens next is shocking and terrible, and three families are irreparably destroyed.
My only complaint is that I felt the final unveiling was a little clunky. However, this could have been just me—by this time I had been on the road a long time and was super tired. I'll have to take another look at it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Friday, April 4, 2008

Laura Lippman book signing

Some friends and I attended the Laura Lippman book signing last night at Lee Booksellers and it was probably my favorite author event ever. I'm always a little afraid to go to these things when I already really love the books because occasionally you realize that you maybe don't like that person too much. And it can kind of ruin the books for you, even if you realize that what's really going on is that you had unrealistic expectations (of, for example, the author being BFF material. Which, by the way, Laura totally is).

She mentioned that she somewhat regularly gets called "sir" even though she doesn't particularly present as masculine and how that is related to the idea of people being invisible. That we're not seen or don't see others. This used to happen to me regularly as well, but it wasn't until she brought it up that I realized that it hasn't happened since I quit working retail. When I worked at the University Bookstore, for example, I once had an entire conversation with a woman who called me sir throughout.

I bought copies of Another Thing to Fall (the new Tess Monaghan) and Every Secret Thing (the first stand-alone novel—I can't believe I haven't read it before).

I'm such a dork: I forgot my camera, remembered I could use my phone, then forgot all about it. I also forgot to ask Td's question about who she'd like to see play Tess in the movie (if it's ever made). What can I say? I was flustered. Or maybe it's all that meth in the water.

From the description for Another Thing to Fall

The California dream weavers have invaded Charm City with their cameras, their stars, and their controversy. . . .

When private investigator Tess Monaghan literally runs into the crew of the fledgling TV series Mann of Steel while sculling, she expects sharp words and evil looks, not an assignment. But the company has been plagued by a series of disturbing incidents since its arrival on location in Baltimore: bad press, union threats, and small, costly on-set "accidents" that have wreaked havoc with its shooting schedule. As a result, Mann's creator, Flip Tumulty, the son of a Hollywood legend, is worried for the safety of his young female lead, Selene Waites, and asks Tess to serve as her bodyguard/babysitter. Tumulty's concern may be well founded. Not long ago a Baltimore man was discovered dead in his own home, surrounded by photos of the beautiful, difficult superstar-in-the-making.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sing along, Amy

Leningrad Cowboys & Red Army Choir sing "Sweet Home Alabama"


The eBook Reporter has put together a timeline for ebooks that starts in 1971. Reading through it reminded me of my first glimpse of the World Wide Web back some time in the 1990s. I had been using the internet at that point, but couldn't really conceive of the internet with images (which is the way I had heard the WWW described). I was taking a typography class taught by George Tuck and he had us all squeeze into his little office so we could see the computer that had Mosaic on it.

I particularly remember that in our discussion afterward we talked about how in the future publications would probably list URLs as commonly as phone numbers or addresses, and how weird that would be.