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The Cost Of Broadband In Every Rural Home

librarybob Wrong Direction (381 comments)

I don' think the issue should be one of "building down" to the local user. Rather, it should be creating incentives and policies for "building up" from the local (potential) broadband user. Rural folks are often handy at building what they need ... so 40-50 foot towers aren't a real problem as long as there's 1) an affordable kit they can use for a receiver and 2) policies that allow people to build said towers and link them into a net.

more than 3 years ago

The End of Paper Books

librarybob Printing Is NOT Publishing (669 comments)

There's a general problem that's usually overlooked in discussions of "the end of paper books" -- the role of publishers. They are not printers (though they may provide printing if they can do so more cheaply than farming it out) ... they are filters. They are supposed to "recognize the good" (often, but not always, as a simple matter of profitability) and "create the good" when an author is unfocused, ill-organized, or unskilled. They supply important expertise in the form of editors and publicists. E-books promise to disintermediate both the publishers *and* the distributors, including current giants such as Amazon. All an author needs is a server, and not even that really if he/she is willing to let an aggregator get a small cut. In doing so, the non-printing functions of the publishers are either minimized or ignored. This, in turn, likely means that some set of opinion-leaders will have to determine what is to be viewed as "the good" in some context or another. It may also mean that someone will want to acquire rights in order to "own" as oppose to merely "license" -- and these may well be the existing libraries, acting for the "public good." It seems likely, in at least the short run, that they'll print copies for security's sake in case the author/aggregator's server goes down (or is simply forgotten). Whether they'll continue to do so past the next 50 years or so is a very open question, in my view. The issue will likely be one of preservation under the worst possible electronic disruption (i.e., a "Carrington Event").

more than 3 years ago

Tennessee Bans Posting 'Offensive' Images Online

librarybob Hollywood (372 comments)

Well, I guess it's time to invest in G rated movies.

more than 3 years ago

Do Gadgets Degrade Our Common Sense?

librarybob Magic (311 comments)

"Any sufficiently advanced technology cannot be distinguished from magic." Unfortunately, it doesn't take much.

more than 3 years ago

Lasers To Replace Sparkplugs In Engines?

librarybob Cost isn't a huge issue (351 comments)

If it geeks a Lexus, what's $100 per plug? The buyers won't care.

more than 3 years ago

Why Has Blu-ray Failed To Catch Hold?

librarybob So ... who read the article? (1162 comments)

The article states that Blu-ray player shipments are about to outstrip plain DVD. It's not like Blu-ray has failed. It *has* taken a while to capture the people who are still moving to HD. It *may* have a problem in competition with streaming (if you live in an area where there's sufficient bandwidth). I suppose the biggest issue is: will people continue to want to "own" content in physical form? The case is still out on that one (and even a minority position might be a very large market). Personally I think Blu-ray is still the only way to go if you've got/built a home theater.

more than 3 years ago

The Facebook Obsession

librarybob Compare texting (265 comments)

And yet phone text is used far more often. I don't have the sources at hand, but a 2010 Facebook stat showed 60 million status updates per day. A 2009 stat on texting showed 5 billion sent per day. Admittedly, a lot of FB use would be messaging or chat rather than status updates. Still, news coverage tends to go to the new and hot (not to mention speculation on FB's market value). The fact that a *lot* of "social networking" happens via text seems to lie completely under the radar.

more than 3 years ago

Tech's Dark Secret, It's All About Age

librarybob Re:Actually, it's all about the benjamins (602 comments)

It's in the "up front" defined-by-the-HR-department benjamins. They don't have to care about actual product costs, where long memories and experience count. They just have to worry about the average worker cost compared to a mythical industry standard.

about 4 years ago

Leaving a Comment? That'll Be 99 Cents, and Your Name

librarybob It's not so easy (377 comments)

One issue that I've seldom seen mentioned is that those who often know the most about public issues (the directors of various public institutions) can seldom use their real names because they necessarily report to political or quasi-political bodies. It would be professional suicide.

more than 4 years ago

1/3 of People Can't Tell 48Kbps Audio From 160Kbps

librarybob Whose music? (567 comments)

There's a huge difference between the "expectations for todays' pop music" and the "expectations for serious music (could be classical, could be jazz, could be many things as long as it cares for quality)." Back in the day, we dropped AM radio in favor of FM ... but AM was good enough as background noise and FM was where you bought serious equipment. People accept what they're used to until exposed to something much better.

more than 4 years ago

US Life Expectancy May Have Peaked

librarybob Red States? (1053 comments)

It's interesting that the areas with the worst health problems -- outside of some urban areas -- are also full of people who are terrified of health care reform. That may not be quite right. They're afraid of an America which is willing to take "individual rights" seriously, including a right to decent health care. 1865 redux.

more than 4 years ago

Is Sat-Nav Destroying Local Knowledge?

librarybob Always a Downside (519 comments)

I'm reminded of the old New Yorker cartoon ... a map of the US drawn from a New Yorker's perspective. There's Manhattan, the Hudson River, New Jersey, then nothing but blank space until L.A. and San Francisco. Everything else is ignored. "Flyover country" seems to be the common term. SatNav means being able to go some place by car w/o having experienced what's in between. That may not always be a good thing and the question arises as to whether or not ignorance is indeed bliss.

more than 5 years ago

The Twitter Book

librarybob Thanks for this (88 comments)

Another reason why we librarian types should be reading /.

more than 5 years ago

Your Favorite Tech / Eng. / CS Books?

librarybob Re:If you want to go by the list (517 comments)

Heh. That's why I'm interested in what the experts (you all) have to say. It's trivial to find a list of best computer books, hard to find the ones people believe in.

more than 5 years ago

Your Favorite Tech / Eng. / CS Books?

librarybob Re:Where is your library and what type is it? (517 comments)

It is a mid-sized public library northwest of Chicago ( We serve about 35,000 people ... and circulated over 1,000,000 items last year. But we can do better. :-)

more than 5 years ago

Your Favorite Tech / Eng. / CS Books?

librarybob Best books? (517 comments)

As I'm a librarian I'm extremely interested in what people will suggest. The opinion of practitioners is a lot more relevent than that of book reviewers.

more than 5 years ago

McDonalds Files To Patent Making a Sandwich

librarybob McDonald's apparatus (346 comments)

One might note that an "apparatus" is described. *That* can be patented. How it is used comprises the method. Nothing odd here as far as I can tell.

more than 5 years ago


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