An Enchanting Idea: DRM-Free Reading

One of GigaOM‘s senior writers, Mathew Ingram, conjures up a some compelling reasons why publishers should quit cursing their readers with DRM. Ingram’s What Book Publishers Should Learn From Harry Potter reveals that allowing consumers to access their purchased literature on any platform without digital-rights management restrictions makes for a magical experience.

Mike Haufe's Magic Book

Mike Haufe's Magic Book

Sounds Good to Me: Audacity 2.0


I can’t believe I missed this. Audacity 2.0 (for Windows, Mac, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems) launched on March 13th! I’ve been so swamped with making a living that this long awaited development passed right by me and I didn’t even notice. Thank goodness thenextcorner over at Hacker News was kind enough to make a post about the topic. If you’re looking for a reliable (no-cost) means of audio editing. Audacity is well worth exploring.

I promptly downloaded and installed Audacity 2.0 and played with it for a little while. I was pleasantly surprised with how easily I was able to import different flavors of audio into the application. I also checked out the built-in help and related tutorials. I think users will appreciate all of the improvements.

Python Counterstrike: Squirrel Ambush

Kurt Grandis, a soft-spoken software engineer from North Carolina, delivered a humorous and informative presentation at PyCon 2012. PyCon is the largest annual gathering for the community using and developing the open-source Python programming language. During the course of his presentation, Militarizing Your Backyard with Python: Computer Vision and the Squirrel Hordes, Kurt describes how participating in citizen science (ala the Backyard Bird Count) led him to use Python to tap into computer vision libraries and build an automated sentry water cannon capable of soaking bushy-tailed backyard bandits.

Related Resources:

  • Kurt mentions OpenCV in his presentation. What is it? The Wikipedia entry for OpenCV (or Open Source Computer Vision Library) states that it “is a library of programming functions mainly aimed at real time computer vision.”
  • He also talks about support vector machines (SVM) as a means of analyzing images so as to recognize and distinguish bird shapes from squirrel shapes.
  • Canny edge detection also comes into play.
  • NumPy (also mentioned in the presentation) is the fundamental package for scientific computing with Python.


Deception By Design: Dark Patterns

Dark PatternsWhile reading Rian van der Merwe‘s enlightening A Dad’s Plea To Developers Of iPad Apps For Children over at Smashing Magazine‘s site, I spotted an intriguing link and meandered right out of the article. Thanks to Rian’s keen writing and my curiosity-driven clicking, I eventually landed at Harry Brignull‘s illuminating Dark Patterns wiki. What I found was an engrossing presentation about why and how user experience designers sometimes go over to the “dark side” and develop user interfaces that trick people.

I watched the presentation and explored the accompanying links and resources. As I did, I began to think about a number of for-profit educational sites I’ve visited or seen others use. The next time I return to these sites I’ll be looking at their design with new eyes.

A Band-Aid Approach to Fighting Cancer That Just Might Work

I’ve just finished reading Alex Goldmark‘s uplifting article for GOODThe Next Time You Cut Your Finger, Save a Life. Go read Alex’s work! What makes this story so compelling is how wonderfully simple and powerful an idea be. You’ll also get to know Graham Douglas. Graham has a brother who, despite daunting odds, was fortunate to find a donor match for bone marrow. The treatment helped Graham’s brother survive leukemia. The experience inspired Graham. He focused on how to find even more potential donors. His approach was both unorthodox and brilliant.

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