Thoughts on Flash

It’s rather amusing to read Apple’s CEO tut-tutting Flash for not being an open developing environment, but plenty of developers with years of Flash skills are watching this very closely. Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices,…

More colleges, professors shutting down laptops and other digital distractions

Tablets such as the iPad will only make it harder for students to pay attention in class and for schools to ban devices. Because the iPad can be used to read textbooks, professors might be unsure which students are goofing off and which are studying. Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania doesn’t seem to mind. In the fall, the school is going to give each incoming student a MacBook and an…

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A fond farewell to the floppy disk

Sony is discontinuing the production of the floppy disk. I’ve seen the vast excitement over the arrival of VHS tapes – and the shrug that accompanied their demise. Plus: Betamax videocassettes, reels of recording tape, DAT tapes, audio cassettes, eight-track cartridges, and 5.25in floppy disks. Now, Sony announced this week, 3.5in floppy disks are set to join the ranks of dead media. –Wendy Grossman When my parents were considering buying…

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"There Was Never Any Pay-day For the Negroes": Jourdon Anderson Demands Wages

To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee Sir: I got your letter and was glad to find you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this for harboring Rebs they…

Embrace technology to avoid 'crisis of relevance'

Universities “should not be doing anything in the classroom that could be done online” (Times Higher Education) I’ll give the speaker the benefit of the doubt, and interpret that to mean “could be done just as well online.”  Actually, I’ve recently been re-considering my goal of collecting and returning all feedback from face-to-face classes electronically. My original thinking was that the time spent collecting and passing out papers takes valuable…

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The iPad, the Kindle, and the future of books

The industry’s great hope was that the iPad would bring electronic books to the masses–and help make them profitable. E-books are booming. Although they account for only an estimated three to five per cent of the market, their sales increased a hundred and seventy-seven per cent in 2009, and it was projected that they would eventually account for between twenty-five and fifty per cent of all books sold. But publishers…

Hitler Is Very Upset That Constantin Film Is Taking Down Hitler Parodies

For my money, memes on the Internet don’t get any better than the Hitler one. You know, the one in which you take some current event (the more mundane, the better) and shove it into the scene from the German film Downfall in which Hitler is told in his bunker that he cannot win the war. The key to these (assuming you don’t speak German, of course) is to replace…

In Which Some Infographics Are Presented for Your Appreciation

Compare Graduation Days with this Victorian comparative geography image. I’m not sure the diploma motif of “Graduation Days” works, since there’s nothing on a a diploma that has vertical lines like that. The density of information takes a while to absorb, but other than the pie chart seal, there’s nothing particularly interesting to look at in the image itself, to keep our attention while we try to figure out what…