January 28, 2006
Announcing learningAPI.com - Renaming this siteToday is the long-overdue update of this site's domain name from emediacommunications.biz to learningAPI.com. learningAPI.com is slightly catchier, I think...although from emediacommunications.biz there was nowhere to go but up! If you link to here, please update your links to point to the new domain..
Why learningAPI.com? To a programmer, an API is the set of interfaces that allow software components to interact and work together to exchange and process information. learningAPI is targeted at those of us working at the intersection of technology and learning. The industry has seen digital media technology, content management, search and contextual analysis, and "Web 2.0" technologies converge into the broader, connected areas of "knowledge management" and "instructional technology".
My work in teaching and learning with technology brings me contact - and hands-on time - with all of these technology topics. learningAPI.com will continue to cover some of what's interesting and cool where media & technology meets knowledge & learning.
April 06, 2005
Fooling the search engines -- and the rest of usI often wonder how someone gets up in the morning thinking about nothing but how better to deceive, trick and scam people out of hard earned money, time and sanity; but we all know that there are people who do that. Anyone who's has a victim of malware/adware knows this. Thankfully, products like SpyBot and AdAware help counter the malefactors' efforts.
My surprise tonight came from seeing a new practice - new to me, anyway. As my wife and I worked away on our respective laptops, she suddenly began uttering words of frustration at a web page that would only stay visible for a moment before being replaced by a marketing site - an "Asian Import Export Portal." What was odd is that she was looking at an Open Directory page she found via a Google search. If she were using Internet Explorer, I'd suspect a worm/malware of some kind, but this was Firefox, and the system is kept tightly secured.
Technically the villain here appears to have satisfied the DMOZ license by providing attribution. It's a sad thing - apparently legal, but designed to annoy, frustrate, and misguide users. Sounds like just the kind of company you'd want to do business with, eh?
March 02, 2004
Why you'll love using Mozilla to surf the WebFor many users, after cruising the Web with a recent version of Mozilla, the geriatric Internet Explorer 6 feels like an oil-burning heap in the slow lane. Here are fifteen powerful reasons people who try Mozilla won't ever go back to using IE.
- Tabbed browsing - open multiple web pages in "tabs" along the top of the browser window. Switch back and forth between them at will.
- Want to open a link in a new tab and have it load in the
background while you continue to read? Just hold the control key as you click
the link to open it in a new tab.
- Or, drag a link up to a tab to open it in the background. These features are incredible for scanning thru Google search results - pages load in the background in other tabs while you continue to scan the search results page for other goodies.
- Got a bunch of tabs open to pages that all relate to one topic? Bookmark the whole group of tabs as one Favorite. Open it later and all your pages open in tabs, just as you had them.
- Configurable popup filtering built-in.
- Ability to deny pages the right to hide the status bar, raise or lower windows, resize windows, and more.
- The Form Manager - at
your command, it remembers any data
you enter in web forms. Next time you visit a page with a form,
it remembers what you filled in last time. Or pick from a
picklist of all the values you've ever entered for that form field.
Just double-click on the field to enter the default value.
- The best GoogleBar in the business.
with detailed script error messages and expression evaluation.
thing is indispensable.
- Editable "View Source" with
syntax highlighting. Plus, you can select a portion of a Web page and select
"View Selection Source" to view just that portion of the Web
- Right-click from a framed page and select Open Frame in New Window or Open Frame in New Tab.
- Want to find a link in a large or cluttered page? Just start to type the link text and Mozilla will find-as-you-type and select the link. Press Enter to click the link - no mouse required. Ever look for the "Yellow Pages" link on Yahoo? With this feature, you don't have to find it, just type "yellow" and press Enter.
- Want to find text in a page?
Just hit "/" and then type the text you want to find.
- Just press control+ or control- to change the font size in a page you're viewing.
- Composer - a really terrific simple Web page editor with advanced features, WebDAV support, and automatic ftp publishing.
February 12, 2004
DRM turns computers against their ownersI haven't had my new iPod long enough to have found all the limitations imposed by Apple's Digital Rights/Restrictions Management scheme, except for one - it's a read-only device. Once a music file's been copied onto it, I can't copy it form the iPod to any other device. I can only delete it.
Hey, I work for a major content-producing entity, so I'm not in favor of people violating legal and reasonable copyright claims. It's the unreasonable (and those counter to legal precedent) ones I have a problem with. About DRM in general, my discomfort can be summed up in this quote from Annalee Newitz's great piece in the San Francisco Bay Guardian about DRM and the entertainment industry:
September 30, 2003
"Embarassing" monopolies of ideasIn researching an article for streamingmedia.com about applying Creative Commons licenses to audio and video material, I came upon this incredibly relevant Thomas Jefferson quote about patents and copyright:
inventor ought to be allowed a right to the benefit of
his invention for some certain time. It is equally certain it ought not
to be perpetual; for to embarrass society with monopolies for every
utensil existing, and in all the details of life, would be more
injurious to them than had the supposed inventors never existed;
because the natural understanding of its members would have suggested
the same things or others as good."
In this time in which business and government are colluding to use senseless patents and perpetual copyright as a club with which to bludgeon competitors and customers into submission, it's fascinating to read Jefferson's declaration that, for both society and the economy, more is not necessarily better when it comes to the ownership of ideas.
September 09, 2003
Freedom to discoverDave Weinberger echoes my previous post in his article in the June issue of Wired, which talks about the legal locking down of information and the ability to share, comment, critique, and build on it. As Dave notes here, these abilites are the basis for our democracy and our economy and are being locked down by technological means as well as legislative and judical ones.
we're on the verge of instituting digital rights management. What do
computers do best? Obey rules. What do they do worst? Allow latitude.
Why? Because computers don't know when to look the other way.
We're screwed. Not because we MP3 cowboys and cowgirls will not have to pay for content we've been "stealing." No, we're screwed because we're undercutting the basis of our shared intellectual and creative lives. For us to talk, argue, try out ideas, tear down and build up thoughts, assimilate and appropriate concepts - heck, just to be together in public - we have to grant all sorts of leeway. That's how ideas breed, how cultures get built. If any public space needs plenty of light, air, and room to play, it's the marketplace of ideas.
September 04, 2003
Freedom to knowIt would be a dark day indeed for the industry (any industry) and for writers if companies were able to prohibit the publishing of reviews of their products. Ziff-Davis reports that Tibco (makers of enterprise messaging software) has sued competitor Sonic for publishing the results of tests done by a third-party. Tibco claims that performance testing "constitute[s] an unlawful use of Tibco's software." These kinds of licensing provisions have become more common of late, and have almost universally been thought of as unenforcable. Here's to hoping that remains true. As a writer and even more so, as a consumer, I realize that the free exchange of information about the items, products, places and ideas that surround us all is the only way to maintain a free society as well as a healthy economy.
In a related issue, the Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports, have been embroiled in a suit with Suzuki since 1988. Consumer Reports reported that the Suzuki Samurai rated unacceptable due to safety concerns that became evident in the course of CU's exhaustive tests. Suzuki sued for defamation, but a judge dismissed the case. Upon appeal, however, the case has been reinstated and is being sent before a jury.
CU's president Jim Guest: