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Ask Slashdot: What Online News Is Worth Paying For?

ubuwalker31 State Funded News (Through Your Library) (361 comments)

Librarian here. Why pay for access when your public library is already paying for the good stuff? Knowledge will always be free at your local public library. Most US libraries have access to paywalled news and scientific articles through Academic Search Premier, Gale and other databases. Our county library system offers free access to Zinio's magazine service, which is pretty sweet. Local (community) colleges usually have reference services available for county residents, and are often willing to mail you a journal article. Using these services take some effort (writing an e-mail or using your library card) so they aren't ideal for instantaneous gratification. Check out http://www.publiclibraries.com... to find your local library.

As far as where to get your news, start with an RSS reader (Feedly, Netvibes, gReader) and get the rss feeds for:

The twitter feed of your local newspapers
Google News
Your favorite TV news station (CNN, Al Jazeera, MSNBC, etc)
memeorandum for politics
A few international broadcasters of countries that you are interested in (VOA, BBC, RFI, RFERL, etc)

about a year ago

Why Johnny Can't Speak: a Cost of Paywalled Research

ubuwalker31 Re:Ever hear of the university library? (189 comments)

university libraries aren't open to the public.

I'd start with New York City's public library system. Find a librarian to help you get access to the various electronic databases, which includes Academic Search Premier and a bunch of others. If you need a specific journal article, print out the abstract or citation that you found on line, and bring it with you to the library. You can often find similar and/or more up to date articles for free with the help of the librarian. If access to the article isn't available through the public library, you might be able to get METRO access to a university library or private special collection: http://metro.org/referral-cards/. A librarian could also try to ILL you a copy of the article, but it takes some time.

Public university libraries are almost always open to the public...that's SUNY and CUNY. If you are lucky, you can get a daily guest password for the computer databases, but YMMV. I'd call around to a number of public universities and ask about guest policies.

about a year ago

What's the Best RSS Reader Not Named Google Reader?

ubuwalker31 Feedly is NOT a straight RSS Reader (287 comments)

I love Feedly. But it is NOT a straight RSS Reader. It personalizes and selects those stories that it thinks you want to read. It also has some pretty neat discovery features. That said, I've used Feedly for weeks, without realizing that I had missed stories from some of my favorite sites. I like to switch between Netvibes and Feedly, honestly.

about 2 years ago

Word Processors — One Writer's Further Retreat

ubuwalker31 Re:Next step? (391 comments)

>I guess the next step is writing a novel using a hexeditor?

I attempt (almost always unsuccessfully) to write a novel for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org) every November.

Of course, the perfect text editor to use for NaNoWriMo: Nano!

I find it lightweight, fully featured and easy to use. It can easily call up the "spell" spellchecker - but it doesn't give suggestions. It also doesn't give a word count.

So when I need more advanced features, I fire up Open Office. http://www.afterthedeadline.com/ has a great grammar checker as well.

I also keep an encrypted diary on Linux using Lifeograph.

I'm very happy that the opensource movement has plenty of free tools for writers!

more than 4 years ago

"Mythical Man-Month" Supposedly Busted By MIT Startup

ubuwalker31 Re:!MMM (231 comments)

Aside from being in the same room, these programmers were barely working together....

I've worked in some crowded office conditions, but absolutely nothing like what is pictured in this article. There are 10 people crowded into this 1 person office space. I could see six people fitting into this space humanely - eg without violating the fire code / without personality conflicts / without bumping into each other while working.

I guess this is why they only hired skinny people for this internship!

more than 4 years ago

Why Wikipedia Articles Vary So Much In Quality

ubuwalker31 Re:Quality isn't such a simple metric, never will (160 comments)

However, good clear writing can be judged. The study points out that the best wikipedia entries are done by editors who are GOOD writers who know how to a) contribute new sentences (write a first draft), b) re-write sentences (re-drafting), c) add references (source checking), d) make grammatical and other edits (final drafting).

The formula for writing good content has not changed. It's just the proportions (collaboration) that have made the process more efficient and provided more content which are in need of lots of editing!

more than 4 years ago

First 'Anti-Stab' Knife To Go On Sale In Britain

ubuwalker31 Re:Safe tool/weapon (29 comments)

This anti-stab knife is horribly flawed. Sure, it is difficult to stab with it, but it looks unsafe. By unsafe, I mean, difficult to sharpen, difficult to chop and cut veggies and meat with. This will lead to injury. Loss of fingers. Etc. This sort of dangerous product is the sort of thing that should be kept off shelves, IMHO.

more than 5 years ago

IBM Files Patent For Bullet-Dodging Bionic Armor

ubuwalker31 Is this even practical? (379 comments)

Is detecting a bullet once fired even practical? A typical rifle bullet travels between approximately 700 m/s to 1000m/s.

Assuming a 1000 m/s bullet, like a 50BMG or 338LM, if a sniper is positioned 2km away, it will take 2 seconds for the round to reach the target. 1km, 1 second.

Problem is that most sniper engagements are not at extreme long ranges. Most occur between 275-550 meters. That means a quarter to a half a second.

That is not enough time to get out of the way of a typical bullet, even if your reaction is instantaneous.

more than 5 years ago

Facebook Nudity Policy Draws Nursing Moms' Ire

ubuwalker31 Re:Why is this news? (904 comments)

I agree that private individuals and corporations have a right to restrict what they want. But they have to play by the rules that we all agreed upon when we joined the site.

When you sign up, you have to agree to an acceptable use policy which bans "obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit" images.

So how exactly is a woman breast feeding obscene? It is not, of course, and I dare say that the Facebook owners ever intended for these photos to be banned.

But the way that Facebook censors interpret the rule is that is if there is any nipple showing, it gets deleted.

Clearly, management needs to rewrite the censors rule book to allow an exception for breast-feeding.

This has almost nothing to do with the first amendment, and more to do with a woman's "right to privacy" -- ie. the right to do what she wants with her body without prudes or religious nuts making it illegal.

about 6 years ago

Police Secretly Planting GPS Devices On Cars

ubuwalker31 Let's try a better...wait, its legal! (609 comments)

Can the police put a beeper/tracker in a container which is sold to a suspect? Yes, according to United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276 (1983) [ http://supreme.justia.com/us/460/276/index.html ] and United States v Karo, 468 U.S. 705 (1984) [ http://supreme.justia.com/us/468/705/index.html ].

Basically, a person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements.

more than 6 years ago



New York State Rejects ODF (Sort of)

ubuwalker31 ubuwalker31 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ubuwalker31 (1009137) writes "New York State's CIO has just published an electronic report entitled "A Strategy for Openness: Enhancing E-Records Access in New York State" which recommends that the State should not "mandate the use of any specific document creation and preservation technologies, as technologies can easily become outdated" and establish an Electronic Records Committee which would be "charged with addressing, in a formal and collaborative fashion, all aspects of electronic record creation, management, and preservation".

So while New York State seemingly rejected both ODF and OOXML, the CIO did embrace the principals of openness by recommending that open formats should eventually be integrated at the State level.

Previous Slashdot coverage here and here"

ubuwalker31 ubuwalker31 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ubuwalker31 (1009137) writes "Plaintiff Louis Thyroff was an insurance agent for defendant Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. In 1988, the parties had entered into an Agent's Agreement that specified the terms of their business relationship. As part of the arrangement, Nationwide agreed to lease Thyroff computer hardware and software to facilitate the collection and transfer of customer information to Nationwide. In addition to the entry of business data, Thyroff also used the AOA system for personal e-mails, correspondence and other data storage that pertained to his customers. On a daily basis, Nationwide would automatically upload all of the information from Thyroff's AOA system, including Thryoff's personal data, to its centralized computers.

The Agent's Agreement was terminable at will and, in September 2000, Thyroff received a letter from Nationwide informing him that his contract as an exclusive agent had been cancelled. The next day, Nationwide repossessed its AOA system and denied Thyroff further access to the computers and all electronic records and data. Consequently, Thyroff was unable to retrieve his customer information and other personal information that was stored on the computers. Thyroff initiated an action for conversion (civil theft) against Nationwide Insurance in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, alleging that Nationwide stole his business and personal information stored on the company's computer hard drives, which had been leased to him.

Shockingly, New York State's highest court ruled for the little guy, and agreed that an action for conversion could be pursued in Federal Court.

How will this effect corporate data policies and practices in the future? Do you think this legal ruling was correct?

Read the entire court opinion in Thyroff v. Nationwide"


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