What happened to my shelf of animals?

O'Reilly has a promotion allowing you buy the online copy of any (?) print book that you own for $4.95. When I looked at my bookcase what I saw amazed me. All but two of the books I cared to have online where not O'Reilly books. Most of the books that have value to me now are from Addison Wesley, Manning, and Apress. I don't know why this is but evidence says O'Reilly books are less important than in the past -- when almost all my books had animals on the cover.
"Hell Froze Over: Fuel Economy Now More Important Than Number of Cup Holders to U.S. Car Buyers" Too funny not to keep.

Using bit.ly help transfer browsing to iPhone

So far the easiest way to switch from browsing on my Mac to browsing the on the iPhone is to shorten the URL using bit.ly and then manually enter the shortened URL into iPhone Safari. Not very smooth but it does save you typing, for example "http://bit.ly/Idma6" is easier to type than "http://conceptdev.blogspot.com/2009/10/monotouch-for-monospace.html". (It would be great if bit.ly's URL were case-insensitive because mixed case typing on the iPhone is cumbersome.)

Flickr Dartmouth Photo-pool

I love that Flickr users tag their photos of my home town Dartmouth, Devon, UK.

Underwear Gnome thinking in the RI legislator

This morning's Providence Journal contained the story "Rhode Island can’t see if its tax breaks are doing their job." Here is another story about the activities of RI's own legislative "Underwear Gnomes." If you don't know the underwear gnomes story here is a quick introduction: Underwear gnomes are enacting their three step plan to get rich; Step one is to steal all the underwear; Step three is to rake in the money; Step two is still under development. Our underwear gnomes are attempting to strengthen RI's economy with incomplete thinking. Why would they give away $87 million without any means of substantiating its effectiveness? And do so for several years. A similar kind of foolishness is occurring with the movie production tax credits. I am sure each of us has our prized example of underwear gnome thinking. These laws are not helping RI. Please, STOP trying to help us!

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus

Clay Shirky on how much free time we have and what could be done with it if you do the math. US households watch 200,000,000,000 hours of TV per year.

"So how big is that surplus? So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project--every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in--that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin Wattenberg at IBM; it's a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it's the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of thought.

"And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that's 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. Or put still another way, in the U.S., we spend 100 million hours every weekend, just watching the ads. This is a pretty big surplus. People asking, "Where do they find the time?" when they're looking at things like Wikipedia don't understand how tiny that entire project is, as a carve-out of this asset that's finally being dragged into what Tim calls an architecture of participation."

Read the whole article at Gin, Television, and Social Surplus

Who Is The Earth?

"Who Is The Earth? Moral philosopher Mary Midgley delivers a talk concerning differing and changing attitudes to our planet and our environmental responsibilities"

I really enjoyed this lecture on the how (mainstream) western philosophy has little to say about our moral relationship with the Earth and other groups. Well worth listening too. I found this at "iTunes U" on my iPhone. I am sure it is also available for downloading to an iPod, etc.


VNC and misbehaving keyboard mapping

If you have a misbehaving keyboard mapping when you connect to a tightvnc VNC server running under Ubuntu from a Macintosh OS X using any of the VNC clients add the following to your VNC server's xstartup script
# See https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/vino/+bug/112955
Thanks Geoffrey for the help.

The New McCarthyism Starts Today

Update: The Providence Phoenix's Adam Reilly has an interesting article about Beck's intelectual foundations. See Latter day taint: How Glenn Beck is driven by Mormonism — and why his fellow faithful (including Mitt Romney) should be worried.

Amazon's SimpleDB is free for the vast majority of datasets

You can keep up to 1 gigabyte of data in SimpleDB without paying any storage fees. You can transfer 1 GB of data and use up to 25 Machine Hours to process your queries each month. This should be sufficient to allow you to issue about 2 million PutAttribute or Select calls per month.
More at Don't Forget: You Can Use Amazon SimpleDB For Free!