Category Archives: Technology

Notes from LMC Conversation Panel on “Books, Libraries, and the Digital Future” with Jay David Bolter, Lauren F. Klein, and Me

These are my speaking notes and discussion notes from today’s School of Literature, Media, and Communication Conversation following Robert Darnton’s talk yesterday on “Books, Libraries, and the Digital Future.” The panelists included Jay David Bolter, Lauren F. Klein (remotely), and me.

We met with an audience of about 25 members of the Georgia Tech community in the Stephen C. Hall Building, Room 102 from 11:00am-12:00pm.

  1. My research in the area
    1. My interest in eBooks comes from two tangents.
      1. First, it comes from my research interests in video game narratives in older software for the Commodore 64, Amiga, IBM-PC, Apple II, and Apple Macintosh platforms. Part of this research focuses on the way characters read within the game—particularly, computer based reading on terminals, tablets, virtual displays, etc. and how these ideas filter into reality/production and vice versa.
      2. Second, it comes from my dissertation research on something that William Gibson wrote about obsolescence and how our technologies—typewriters, Apple IIc, etc.—are fated to become junk littering the Finn’s office—in an “Afterword” to his Sprawl trilogy of novels: Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive [To read it, scroll to the bottom of this page]. The trouble with sourcing this text was the fact that it was not published in a physical book. Instead, I discovered from a Tweet that a mutual friend made with the writer that it come from an early eBook designed for the Apple Macintosh Portable by Voyager Company (what’s left of this company today creates the Criterion Collection of films).
        1. Gibson, William. “Afterword.” Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive: Expanded Books. Voyager Company. 1992. TXT File. Web. 25 March 2012.
        2. Gibson has done other things with ebook and experimental writing such as his exorbitantly priced Agrippa: A Book of the Dead, a floppy disk based e-poem that erases itself after “performing” one time.
      3. Since working with Gibson’s ebook, I’ve begun studying other ebooks—rediscovering ones that I read a long time ago and rethinking what constitutes an ebook—thinking about encyclopedia precursors to Wikipedia and other software such as the Star Trek: TNG Interactive Technical Manual, which does on the computer things that Rick Sternbach and Michael Okuda could not do in their print Technical Manual.
      4. We can talk more about this later, but I support Aaron Swartz’s “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto.” In my research, I have deployed my own tactics for reading and manipulating text that enable scholarship that I otherwise would be unable to do. Read more about fair use and transformation.
  2. My response to Darnton’s talk
    1. Aaron Swartz’s “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto
    2. Peter Purgathofer’s Lego Mindstorms-MacBook Pro-Kindle-Cloud-based OCR assemblage for ripping text from Kindle ebooks
    3. DPLA  scans of Dickinson’s manuscripts (open) and copyrighted scholarly editions (closed).
    4. Issues of the Archive, Access, and Control.
  3. My suggestions for future research directions
    1. The relationship between haptic experience of pulp books and ebooks (e-reader, tablet, computer, Google Glass, etc.). How do we read, think about, and remember books differently based on the modalities of experiencing the book? We know that the brain constructs memories as simulations, so what are we gaining and losing through alterations to the methods of interacting with writing?
    2. A history of eBook readers—fascinating evolutionary lineage of ebook reading devices including Sony’s DD8 Data Discman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Discman).
    3. How are our students reading? More students this year than last asked me if they could purchase their books for ENGL1101 and Tech Comm as ebooks. How many students are turning to ebooks due to their cost or ease of access (pirating)? I don’t mind students purchasing ebooks over traditional books, but I have them think about the affordances of each.
    4. As researchers, how should we assert our fair use of texts despite the intentions of copyright holders? We no longer own books, but instead, we license content. [Purgathofer mentions this, but Cory Doctorow and others have commented on this at length: one source. Another more recent source.]
    5. How do we use ebooks and traditional books differently/similarly? For example, Topiary (aka Jake Davis), one of the former members of LulzSec, said earlier today on ask.fm that he prefers ebooks for learning and studying, but he prefers traditional books for enjoyment.
  4. Other responses, comments, and questions
    1. Jay Bolter: What about the future of books, the status of the book, and the status of libraries? What will happen to literature and the literary community? What is the cultural significances of print/digital to different communities (e.g., general community of readers vs. community represented by the New York Review of Books)?
    2. Lauren Klein: What are the roles of the archive and how do readers access information in the archive? We should think about how people use these digital archives (e.g., DPLA). In her work, she deploys computational linguistics: techniques to study sophisticated connections between documents. How is the information being used? Deploying visualization techniques to enable new ways of seeing, reading, and studying documents.
    3. Grantley Bailey: What about people who grow up only reading on screens/ebooks? What will their opinions be regarding this debate?
    4. Aaron Kashtan: Commented about graphic novels and comics in the digital age and about how these media remain entrenched in traditional, print publishing. Also, Aaron is interested in materiality and the reader’s experience.
    5. John Harkey: Commented on poetry’s dynamism and its not being wedded to books/chap books. Poetry is evolving and thriving through a variety of media including the Web, as electronic art, and experimental literature. We should think about literature as vehicles of genres and artifactual heterogeneity (essay, collage, posters, augmented reality, etc.).
    6. Lisa Yaszek: Pan-African science fiction is likely a model for the future. In the present, no single nation can support a thriving publishing industry for SF, but together, African SF is taking off with the diffusion of  new technologies of distribution and reading (ubiquity of cellular phones, wifi, cellular data, etc.).

Adventures with a CustoMac: My Instructions for Turning Asus P8Z77-V Based PC into a Screaming-Fast Hackintosh

16 GB Transcend Flash Drive from NOVA in Taipei, Taiwan

16 GB Transcend Flash Drive from NOVA in Taipei, Taiwan

My friend sent me a link to a video by someone who turned an older Core2Duo-based Dell Optiplex into a Hackintosh. The video convinced me to do something that I had been meaning to do for a long time but had never got around to actually doing: removing Windows 7 on my ASUS P8Z77-V/Intel i7-based PC that I built late last year and  installing Mac OS X 10.8.

A Hackintosh, or what some folks call a CustoMac, is a standard PC that runs one of the Intel-based version of Mac OS (this includes 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard, 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.7 Lion, and 10.8 Mountain Lion).

Prior to this project, I had purchased Mountain Lion from the MacApp Store for my old MacBook 5,1 (Aluminum Unibody, Late-2008). When my parents gifted me a rMPB, it already had Mountain Lion installed. This gave me the needed components that I needed to setup my flash drive to install Mac OS on my PC: a Mac and a purchased copy of Mountain Lion.

According to the definitive source for creating CustoMacs, TonyMacx86, my hardware isn’t ideally suited for a pain-free installation (If you are beginning from scratch, you should check out TonyMacx86′s excellent buyer’s guide here). Nevertheless, I worked my way through six re-installations before discovering the combination of settings that yielded a reliable and stable Mountain Lion installation.

This is my PC’s hardware configuration:

  • ASUS P8Z77-V LGA 1155 Z77 ATX Intel Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7 2700K LGA 1155 Boxed Processor
  • Corsair XMS3 Series 16GB DDR3-1333MHz (PC3-10666) CL 9 Dual Channel Desktop Memory Kit (Four 4GB Memory Modules)
  • evga 01G-P3-1561-KR GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1024MB GDDR5 PCIe 2.0 x16 Video Card
  • Antec High Current Gamer 750W Gamer Power Supply HCG-750
  • Corsair Vengeance C70 Gaming Mid Tower Case Military Green
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Universal CPU Cooler
  • Samsung 22X DVD±RW Burner with Dual Layer Support – OEM
  • Intel 128 GB SATA SSD
  • Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EARX 1TB IntelliPower 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive – Bare Drive

These are the steps that led to my successful Mountain Lion installation:

  1. Follow TonyMacx86′s UniBeast (the software that prepares your installation media) and Mountain Lion installation guide here. I have modified the instructions below to reflect what I did after creating my bootable flash drive containing the Mountain Lion installer and a folder that I made containing MultiBeast (the software that configures your Mountain Lion installation for your computer’s hardware). (Depending on your needs, you might need other software, including MaciASL, which can create a DSDT file–another kind of configuration file for MultiBeast that gives Mac OS the information that it needs to run well on your hardware. You will need to configure it with sources  from PJALM’s DSDT Patch Repositories. Ultimately, I decided to proceed with a DSDT-free installation.)
  2. Turn on the PC with the flash drive inserted on one of the front mounted USB 3.0 slots.
  3. Press F8 to select bootup device and select the flash drive.
  4. Chimera, the bootloader software, provides you with an option to select the flash drive’s Mac OS installation to boot. If you press the down arrow key on the keyboard, you will be presented with other options including help. If you begin typing, you can enter commands to assist with booting the installer.
  5. On the Chimera boot selection screen, type “PCIRootUID=0″. Press Enter. This ensures that the installer’s Mac OS installation will display video correctly. Without this option, the screen goes dark after the Apple logo over gray screen.
  6. From the Mac OS installer menu bar, select Utilities > Disk Utility > Format your boot drive for Mac OS Extended, Journaled. Close the Disk Utility window to return to the installer. Proceed with installation. Reboot when completed.
  7. Press F8. Select the flash drive. At the Chimera screen, select your internal hard drive’s new Mac OS Mountain Lion installation, type in “PCIRootUID=0″, and press Enter.
  8. Mountain Lion will boot from your hard drive and begin the setup procedure (choosing location, creating your Admin account, etc.).
  9. If you have already downloaded MultiBeast and placed it in a new folder on your flash drive, open your flash drive from the Desktop, navigate to MultiBeast, and launch it.
  10. Proceed to the selection screen and check these things:
    1. UserDSDT or DSDT-Free Installation
    2. Drivers & Bootloaders > Drivers > Audio > Realtek ALC8xx > Without DSDT > ALC892
    3. Drivers & Bootloaders > Drivers > Network > hnak’s AppleIntelE1000e Ethernet
    4. Drivers & Bootloaders > Drivers > Miscellaneous > USB 3.0 – Universal
    5. Drivers & Bootloaders > Drivers > System > Patched AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement > OS X 10.8.x
  11. Complete installation and close MultiBeast.
  12. Navigate to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. Select your hard drive and click Repair Permissions. When completed, close Disk Utility, eject your flash drive and remove from the USB port, and reboot.
  13. When back at the Desktop, go to System Preferences > Energy Saver > Disable Computer Sleep by sliding the widget to the far right.
  14. Plug your computer into your router with an ethernet cable if you have not already done so. You can easily get online with the wired connection.
  15. Your installation is complete!
Mac OS X 10.8.4 desktop showing CPU and memory. Everything is running a-okay!

Mac OS X 10.8.4 desktop showing CPU and memory. Everything is running a-okay!

I chose to go this route, because I could not get Mac OS to boot with the DSDTs that I created with MaciASL (using the configuration for the P8Z77-V motherboard and graphics source per PJALM’s instructions). My problems could have been related to the DSDT or due to incompatibilities between its settings and my P8Z77-V’s BIOS ROM version (I was unable to use the motherboard’s BIOS Flashback feature to successfully load one of these hacked BIOS ROMs on this site). Apparently, if you can get the DSDT to install correctly and have the hacked BIOS, you will be able to enjoy power management settings and control. Since I have my computer only on when I am using it, I do not have any problem with this lack of functionality. Since installation, my Hackintosh has been running great. It is snappy, video and sound work great, network connectivity is fine, and Doom 3 plays fantastically at 1080p!

After the installation, I discovered one tremendous problem: FileVault cannot be activated for your boot drive. Apparently, this is due to FileVault needing a real Mac’s EFI environment (or the error message that it generates indicates that it has to do with its inability to re-partition the bootdrive–likely due to the Chimera bootloader). As far as I can tell from reading posts on the TonyMacx86 forums, there is no way around this problem. One option would be to save your files in a TrueCrypt container or fully encrypted drive that is separate from your bootdrive. Another way is to use TrueCrypt full disk encryption as detailed on this helpful blog post from Frugal Computing (FC also has some great articles about building Hackintoshes).

Others in the TonyMacx86 forums have had varying levels of success with the Asus P8Z77-V and Mountain Lion, so I do not want to dissuade you from attempting to get more functionality on your installation. The above is simply a report of what worked for me. It might work for you, and it might give you a beginning for your own Hackintosh project.

Social Disconnection: Choosing the Online Networks that Suit My Needs without Causing Excessive Distraction

The decision to disconnect from some social networking sites is what I call social disconnection. The commitments–time, social capital, and energy–of social media can take away from real life work and personal commitments. Furthermore, there are addictive qualities to some of these networks that require energy to resist and this can create other kinds of anxiety beyond your own use of these social networks. Social disconnection is about finding the networks that suit each of us best instead of connecting to the most popular or as many as possible.

Social disconnection for me is about finding the right balance and types of social networking to support my personal and professional relationships. My thoughts in this post concern my experiences and are in no way meant as a prescription for others to simply disconnect themselves from social media. I believe that we all have to find the networks where we feel comfortable, contributing, and supported.

Over the years, I have tried out different forms of social media including earlier forms like AIM, Friendster, and MySpace. Most recently, I had accounts on Google+, Facebook, Academia.edu, Flickr, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Over the past few weeks, I have culled this list to only three: Twitter, Flickr, and LinkedIn. I have included my thoughts below on why I deleted accounts on some sites and maintain accounts on others.

I began my social disconnection project by unplugging from Google+, because it was the most low stakes account to delete. Google+ was a virtual ghost town from my perspective (perhaps if I had Google Glass my perspective would be different). I rarely saw any updates from people in my Circles. Furthermore, the Google+ UI elements in Gmail and YouTube were a nagging distraction to me. I have now exited the ghost town and the irritating Google+ update indicators of nothingness are gone from my Google property experiences [instructions for downgrading from Google+ here].

Next, I disconnected from Facebook. This was more difficult for a number of reasons. First, I joined Facebook at the beginning of fall semester of 2005 and shortly thereafter my friend Tessa “broke my Wall virginity” on September 4, 2005. Two other friends at Tech had convinced me to signup for an account on TheFaceBook.com, because it was cool and everyone else was doing it. In the beginning, it was an interesting experiment in keeping connected and staying in the know, but as time passed and more people joined Facebook, it increasingly became more annoying and distracting. There is the troubling semiotics of the “Like” button. There are many daily Facebook tasks of social convention. There are the time-consuming conversations (sometimes very rewarding while at others very draining) and going no where debates. There are the unending supply of accomplishments of others that make me feel like I have my foot on the gas but my tires don’t get traction. While these things might seem like trifles, they weighed on me in big and small ways. I would spend time thinking of the right way to respond to someone. I would research things to make sure that I could contribute to a conversation meaningfully. I would want to say the right thing, but agonize over how to say it. While I tried to curtail the time that I spent on these things or change my news feed settings to better suit my update needs, I couldn’t strike the right balance to keep Facebook from eating up too much time and energy. Finally, I held on to my Facebook account through my time as SFRA Publicity Director and SFRA Vice President. With those responsibilities removed, I didn’t see as strong a reason to stay connected through Facebook. So, I downloaded my data and deleted my account [instructions for permanently deleting your Facebook account are here].

Then, I disconnected from Academia.edu. I never spent a lot of time on Academia.edu, but I always felt uneasy with this social network for sharing your work with others in your field. While I like the idea of open sharing of research and tracking the use of your research, I know that these things cannot happen for free. While the site was founded by Richard Price, about as academic an academic you can be with a PhD in Philosophy, it is a business funded by venture capitalists. It will only continue to exist if it makes money, and I wonder what role the data supplied by academics sharing all of their published and unpublished work on the site will play in the eventual ramp-up of monetization as the site continues to mature. Even though it has a grandfathered “edu” domain name, it is not an educational institution and it is not affiliated with any. Then, there’s the issue of time commitment. To use academia.edu effectively, you need to build your profile and upload your research. This takes time and energy away from working on publishable papers–still the hallmark of getting hired. While I see that the possibilities of communication and collaboration are great in a system like that provided by Academia.edu, the time and effort investment has an uncertain return on investment. The site has a lot of potential, but it has an uncertain future. I deleted my account following these instructions.

I don’t mean to sound like a social networking recluse, but I am concerned about how much time and energy I expend on these sites. I believe that by social disconnection from some sites I can remain focused on my work and better use the remaining social networking sites that I remain connected to. These include Twitter, Flickr, and LinkedIn.

I chose to stay with Twitter for sharing information with others and creating reminders of data for myself, because it is a public platform. Facebook and Academia.edu are largely private networks–you have to have an account to access them. While you can use Twitter privately, I have almost continuously used it as a public platform since I signed up. For me, it is easier to keep up with information relevant to my work and follow my friends on Twitter than on Facebook. However, if I ever change my mind, it is relatively easy to deactivate my account by following these instructions.

I have been using Flickr for a long time to share and backup my photos online. In the past, I have paid for a Pro account, but Yahoo’s changes to Flickr’s storage space have opened up even more options for using their service. I have also connected Flickr to my WordPress blog so that I can easily post updates with photos/sets from Flickr, which in turn is publicized on Twitter. However, it is easy enough to delete my Flickr account by following these instructions if things change.

LinkedIn is a site that I have only been using since late last year, and I have not been using it nearly as much as I feel that I should be. Unlike the other social networks that I have used and those that I continue to use, LinkedIn focuses on business and professional relationships. It might come in handy when seeking work. For folks in the humanities, it is particularly important to consider keeping an up-to-date profile and building appropriate connections to others through the site in addition to keeping a version of your multipage CV as a one-page resume. For these reasons, I am keeping myself plugged into LinkedIn. However, it is easy enough to delete a LinkedIn account by doing this.

My choices were governed by what I can and cannot do on a daily basis. They are not motivated by my colleagues, friends, or family on these different networks. If you want to connect with me, you know how.

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Thinking About Steve Jobs and the Marriage of the Humanities and Technology

Steve Jobs programming with an Apple I.

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death. I wrote about it last year when I was still in Kent, Ohio–right after my Dad called me to tell me the sad news.

Yesterday, I reflected on missing out on meeting and talking with Jobs–something that Scott Kurtz captured brilliantly on PvP. Growing up, I wanted to meet him–the natural element, the force of nature, the man who led his company to create “insanely great” things that enabled people to be creative in the digital age. However, I didn’t want to meet him in passing. I wanted to make or do insanely great things myself–things worthy of his admiration and interest. I suppose I’m still working on those insanely great things, and I unfortunately missed my window of opportunity to accomplish those things while Jobs was still with us. Nevertheless, his inspiration lives on and it drives me.

Yesterday, Apple debuted a fitting tribute video to Steve Jobs’ legacy–Apple’s inheritance. To borrow Michael Stipe’s words out of context, it was “a right pretty song.” I snapped the pictures at the top and bottom of the post from that video. I decided to keep the frame of Mac OS X, because it just seemed right.

Yesterday, I thought about something Jobs says in the video. He says, “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.” This was from Jobs’ surprise appearance to introduce the iPad 2 on March 2, 2011.

Today, the obvious need for the humanities to be infused in our technologies is lost, I believe, on many people–particularly other technology innovators and so-called “education innovators,” who fight for STEM to the exclusion of all other ares of study. It extends also to education debates taking place right now in the United States. At the recent presidential debates, there was mention made of the need for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, but there was no mention of the humanities. How can we produce top rate engineers without instilling them with the ability to communicate effectively, the ability to think critically, the ability to argue rhetorically, the ability to think ethically, the ability to recognize and appreciate human difference, and the ability to situate themselves and their work within historical, cultural, and social networks? STEM is obviously one half of the solution, but the humanities and all that we have to offer are the other half of creating a total solution. If we choose to ignore the interconnection and interdependence of STEM and the humanities, we will not create an “insanely great” future. Instead, we will destroy the legacy of insanely great innovators, leaders, and teachers who worked so hard to give us a present time that could lead to a brilliant future.

Tomorrow, we will reflect on the choices that we make today. We have to seize this opportunity to work collaboratively and integratively towards that future. If we ignore this opportunity today, tomorrow we will regret our choice: “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away/Now it looks as though they’re here to stay/Oh, I believe in yesterday” (John Lennon and Paul McCartney).

Steve Jobs looks toward the sky next to Apple’s flagship store in New York City.

 

Thoughts on Microsoft’s Surface Tablet and Their Marketing Rhetoric

The reports that I have read of Microsoft’s Surface tablet product announcement yesterday have been overwhelmingly glowing and starry eyed. An emblematic example is Jesus Diaz’s post on Gizmodo today in which he writes, “Microsoft has guts,” and “Microsoft is the underdog because no matter how many hundreds of millions of people use its software, the cool and the future belong to Apple” (par. 1). Actually, Microsoft dominates the computing market–that’s how they can swing the market toward the Windows 8 interface paradigm despite its shortcomings for power users–and they have gobs of money to throw at any perceived problem–in this case, their diminutive tablet marketshare. Furthermore, Microsoft is certainly no underdog. Their market dominance in desktop and laptop computing combined with their shift toward unifying the user experience across those platforms with their phone OS and tablet OSes. I believe Microsoft is playing into this kind of underdog rhetoric, because the image of the Surface above–taken from Microsoft’s website–has the filename, “hero.jpg.”

I certainly like the idea of a tablet that duplicates the power, file management, and options of a laptop computer, but I cannot get behind this particular product from Microsoft. Here are some reasons why.

1) Why did Microsoft have such a controlled release? The reporters/bloggers invited to the release yesterday afternoon–well after the markets had closed on the east coast–were given a very limited time interaction with the demo models. Also, they were not able to use the purported revolutionary features of the Type Cover and Touch Cover (more here on the limited time and actual experience with Surface)? It all seems like a bunch of promises without anything substantial besides the loud demo to back it up.

2) Why believe Microsoft can produce a good hardware product? Their other flagship product, the Xbox 360, has based on a survey conducted by Game Informer magazine a 54.2% failure rate (with 41.2% of those experiencing one failure experience another). Can Microsoft produce something that works as reliably as Apple’s iPad 1 with a 0.9% malfunction rate and Apple’s iPad 2 with a 0.3% malfunction rate, according to this report on SquareTrade? Also, ArsTechnica reported that Ballmer switched demo Surface units during the introduction because “the first one had trouble.” Oddly, I have not seen other reports from the event report this demo failure.

Image3) Why does Microsoft marketing need to use eye-scratching rhetoric in its Surface spec sheet? Instead of “Weight” or “Mass,” the spec sheet lists “Light.” Instead of “Thickness,” it lists “Thin.” Instead of “Display” or “Screen Type,” it lists “Clear.” Instead of “Battery” or “Power,” it lists “Energized.” This kind of over the top bending of the conversation to their marketing rhetorical spin. This all seems like Microsoft is desperately trying to get the world to see its product in their way instead of letting people look at the measurements and think to themselves, this is thin or this is lightweight.

4) Why make such a terrible commercial for the Surface? It doesn’t tell me anything about what it can do or how I can do things with it. My immediate reaction was that this was some cut footage from a late 1990s Trent Reznor music video about magnets and tiny ball bearings revolting against a computer keyboard. More high concept car commercial than useful product introduction, it is something that is You can watch the video below.

It actually reminds me of Microsoft’s first Xbox commercial, too (Note: Microsoft pushed the word “Surface” relentlessly during the introduction yesterday–here, they push “X”):

5) A more fundamental question: Why Windows 8 and Metro? This is also a question about the convergence of iOS and MacOS X. If I were strapped to an operating system that didn’t let me arrange application windows in a manner that suited ME, I would not have been able to complete my dissertation as quickly as I did. It was imperative that I could create a workflow that was as unobtrusive to my thinking and computing habits as possible. Microsoft’s Metro and Apple’s iOS are well suited for smaller screens, limited computing power, and touch interfaces. However, not all kinds of personal computing tasks and workflows are well suited to the design constraints of touch interfaces–much less small screens and limited computing power. We need an ecosystem of operating systems and corresponding programming APIs for applications that facilitate the needs of different platforms. I do not believe that the trends at Microsoft or Apple are viable long term solutions, unless of course we computer users simply have no choice or voice in the matter.

What do you think about the Microsoft Surface? What are your thoughts about Windows 8 and Metro? Sound off in the comments below.

STRIKE AGAINST SOPA and PIPA, Do Not Stand for Internet Censorship

Today, we are striking against censorship. Join us in this historic moment: tell Congress to stop this bill now!

Go to the SOPAStrike.com website by clicking here to send an email to your representatives in Congress. While it only takes a moment of your time, you will see continuing rewards from helping to maintain a free and open Internet experience for yourself, your friends, your family, and all other netizens.

UPDATE: Below are screenshots of some of the protest home pages by companies against SOPA/PIPA:

Google.com

Reddit.com

WordPress.com

Firefox Start Page

Thank You to My Friends and Readers, Looking Back at Dynamicsubspace.net Site Stats for 2011

First, I would like to thank all of my readers. I appreciate your taking the time to see what I am thinking or working on, and I am also grateful for the comments that I have received from my readers. I enjoy writing on dynamicsubspace.net, and I am thankful that my friends, colleagues, and others find my writing worth spending a little of their time reading.

WordPress.com logs the visits of readers to my blog. I like to reflect on my writing and how it corresponds to these statistics. Below, I present a summary of the site’s statistics with some thoughts about the increase in visits that I received in 2011.

I was particularly interested in seeing how this year’s numbers compared to previous years, because I endeavoured to post more content this year than in any previous year as part of WordPress.com’s postaday2011 project.

My attempt at posting one new item each day has been a phenomenal success. I successfully posted one item each day save once. However, there were many days when I posted two or more items. By month in 2011, I posted 56 times in January, 42 times in February, 55 times in March, 47 times in April, 53 times in May, 42 times in June, 36 times in July, 42 times in August, 35 times in September, 43 times in October, 42 times in November, and finally, 39 times in December 2011. Each month, I consistently exceeded the number of days by the number of posts for a total of 532 posts in 2011. Since I began dynamicsubspace.net in 2007, I have written 1,239 posts.

In the chart above, you can see the number of unique page visits by month and year since I moved the blog from Apple’s mac.com to WordPress.com in March 2007. During the very first month of being hosted on wordpress.com in March 2007, I received 29 visits. So far, I have received 8,191 visits during December 2011. This is a tremendous increase in page views!

Considering the number of visits that I have received from year to year: dynamicsubspace.net received 3,772 visits in 2007, 27,882 in 2008, 32,458 in 2009, 48,245 in 2010, and approximately 76,121 in 2011. This translate to a 639% increase from 2007 to 2008, 16% increase from 2008 to 2009, 48% increase from 2009 to 2010, and 58% increase from 2010 to 2011. I believe that the increased content generation that I have done during 2011 has made the site more interesting to regular readers, and it has also created more content that non-regular readers find via search engines, social networks, and link sharing sites.

Further breaking down the visits to dynamicsubspace.net, the site has consistently increased its average visits per day. On average, the site received 14 daily visits in 2007, 76 visits in 2008, 89 visits in 2009, 132 visits in 2010, and 209 visits in 2011. This translates to a 443% increase in daily visits from 2007 to 2008, 17% from 2008 to 2009, 48% from 2009 to 2010, and finally, 58% from 2010 to 2011. These daily visit increases also, I believe, correspond with the increased content output that I have accomplished this past year.

One thing that I wonder though is how spammers influence these numbers. As you can see in the graph above, my spam filter has caught a substantial rise in attempted spam comments during 2011. It is because of this increased spam over the past two years that I began moderating all comments to dynamicsubspace.net. I would prefer to not moderate on the site, but I don’t want my noncommercial site to become a huge billboard that generates money for others (copiers of my content on other sites present a whole other problem). Also, Symantec reports here that email spam is the lowest in years, but I wonder if spammers are shifting their tactics to plaster the web instead of inboxes.

Here is to another successful year of dynamicsubspace.net. I have hinted at some lose ends that I will write more about in the near future. These will appear as I have the time to think about and write more about them.

Tom’s Hardware Review Site is Against SOPA, Too

Tom’s Hardware posted the following message today on their website (click the link to read all of the reasons why a hardware and software review site would be against the Stop Online Piracy Act):

Here at Tom’s Hardware, you know we don’t typically get political because with the heated debates between AMD vs. Intel who needs Donkeys vs. Elephants?

We’ve got no agenda beyond providing the best hardware news and reviews we can dig up.  But here at Year’s end, there’s a subject we want to share with you that may come to affect how you experience us and the rest of the internet.  It’s called SOPA, or the “Stop Online Piracy Act”, and it is headed through U.S. Congress with its sister bill PROTECT-IP in the Senate.  SOPA threatens to fundamentally change the way information is presented online by placing massive restrictions on user-generated content like posts to forums, video uploads, podcasts or images.

via Save Tom’s, Stop SOPA.

We have to work together to stop this terrible legislation. Go here to find out how you can help by alerting your elected representatives to the problems that this kind of over broad and misguided legislation.

Big Internet Companies Could Hold Their Own Demonstrations in 2012

Declan McCullagh reports on CNET News that the big Internet companies could launch simultaneous anti-censorship protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act in 2012:

The Internet’s most popular destinations, including eBay, Google, Facebook, and Twitter seem to view Hollywood-backed copyright legislation as an existential threat.

It was Google co-founder Sergey Brin who warned that the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act “would put us on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world.” Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Twitter co-founders Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone, and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman argue that the bills give the Feds unacceptable “power to censor the Web.”

But these companies have yet to roll out the heavy artillery.

When the home pages of Google.com, Amazon.com, Facebook.com, and their Internet allies simultaneously turn black with anti-censorship warnings that ask users to contact politicians about a vote in the U.S. Congress the next day on SOPA, you’ll know they’re finally serious.

via SOPA opponents may go nuclear and other 2012 predictions | Privacy Inc. – CNET News.

Going Back in Time to Mac OS 10.5 Leopard

Before Christmas, I had had enough with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. Despite my Late-2008 Aluminum MacBook having 8 GB of RAM and a speedy hard drive, Lion would consistently drag to a slow crawl. Generally, the RAM hog was the new Safari, but some system processes were also taking hundreds of MBs of RAM. Of course, when my Free RAM disappeared, the system would become sluggish. I thought that all of this was very odd, not just in the memory usage by the OS, but also in Safari, since I don’t run with Flash or any extensions enabled.

So, I decided to go back to basics. I made a bootable 16 GB USB drive with two partitions: one for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and one for my MacBook’s application restore DVD. I made each partition 8 GB, and I created the first partition with a GUID partition table so that it would boot on the Mac. I then restored the Leopard and applications DVDs that came with my MacBook to each partition respectively. Finally, I booted from the USB drive, formatted my internal hard drive, and reinstalled Leopard, Apple’s apps, and other apps that I regularly use (e.g., Microsoft Office 2011).

As they say, Leopard was built for speed, Snow Leopard for security, and Lion for Apple’s increasingly firm grasp on the desktop computing experience. I might not have access to the Mac App Store, iCloud, or the latest version of Safari, but I do have a snappy computer again that does everything that I need it to do. I might not expect any future security updates, but I can be smart about my online computer use, run ClamAV in the background, keep installed apps to a minimum, and patch any holes in the software that I do run.

I suppose there is a point where Apple’s regular release cycle of faster operating system experiences for older hardware had to end. I also suppose that we have passed that point with the transition from Leopard to Snow Leopard to Lion. Apple has big plans for Lion and its increasingly iOS-like user-experience. As they layer those things that work well on touch-devices like the iPhone and iPad on the non-touch Macs, it begins to weigh down what was an otherwise agile operating system. This trend increasingly makes me wonder if convergence is such a good idea. I am growing more dubious of this trend as time goes by. Additionally, I am growing increasingly concerned about the hardware and software development cycle. Getting people to buy more things certainly drives innovation through sales, but I see a lot of good things in older technology like Leopard. Also, what is the effect on the environment by our continuing desire to own new computer technology while discarding the old?

I am investigating hardware and software of a long bygone era in old PCs. Certainly motivated by nostalgic feelings, I want to uncover in the archaeology of computing things that used to work that we have gotten away from. What works and could still work today despite being 10, 15, 20 years old? What can we learn from old software? What can we continue to enjoy from old software? I will write on this more in the near future.