Eep

I’m just realizing how many assignments are due in the next month. I really wish professors would space things out more…

Ah well, if I post less often you know why.

Do you Jybe, daddio?

Michael Stephens just drafted me into a Jybe session!

Jybe is a plugin for Firefox and IE that lets you co-browse. Whatever anybody brings up in their browser, all the others in the same Jybe session see. There’s also a mini chat room at the bottom so everyone can talk while browsing. Michael has screenshots.

Like IM, it does seem to do be well suited for a virtual reference environment. However, it isn’t perfect. While Michael could drag us all with him into EBSCO search results, Jybe doesn’t seem to pull everybody into every kind of restricted access site. Going to my admin page where I make new posts for example, everyone else merely saw a login screen. There is also no reflection of when one person scrolls up or down a site, though Jybe’s web site says that’s in the works. Jybe also seems to only work in one tab in Firefox, multiple tabs aren’t supported.

With a little more development, I think Jybe could make a wonderful virtual reference tool. What if voice communication could be added? Or the ability to lock others out from changing the page? That would enable a nice method of doing a distributed presentation, especially with the hypothetical voice chat added.

Gotta run now, but more thoughts later maybe. If anyone else wants to play around with Jybe, let me know!

The Economics of Video Game Rentals

On my lunch break today I popped down the street to Blockbuster. I had an itching to play a new video game, and a gift certificate in my pocket.

$6.99 for a video game rental now!! That pricing is simply insane. If I hadn’t had a gift certificate I would have walked out gameless. Let me point out the insanity:
(as a side note, imagine the value to patrons of libraries with console games circulating!)

For $14.99/month you can subscribe to Blockbuster’s online Netflix-type rental service. That gives you three movies out at a time. In addition, you get two free in-store rentals each month via printable coupons. Let’s assume that you use both of those rental coupons on video games, which incidentally cannot be rented through the online service; they’re in-store only. Using your coupons on video game rentals covers $13.98 of your monthly fee. If you would have rented those two games anyway, you can in effect get the movies by mail service for a mere $1.01 per month.

I can’t understand why Blockbuster’s game rental fees are so out of line with their standard movie fees, which I believe are in the $4.50 range.

Meanwhile Gamefly has popped up to deliver to the games-by-mail market. Their pricing seems out of line to me as well: $21.95 per month to have just two games out at a time. Most games that I really want to play I can probably find used for that price.

Speaking of video games, any corporate sponsor want to send me a PSP? I’ll give you free ad space for life 😀
In seriousness, it looks like an amazing convergence of wireless, video games, and portable media players.

Sneakernet reborn?

There’s a new Pew Internet report out from yesterday on the topic of music and movie downloading.

Particularly interesting is the rise of iPods and other portable media players as a file swapping mechanism. 19% of those surveyed have used the method.

While on the surface all the RIAA lawsuits seem to have cut down on use of Kazaa and its ilk, I wonder if the real result is just the pushing of file sharing further underground and into more personalized spaces. 28% have gotten music and/or videos through e-mail and instant messages.

And then there’s usenet. I haven’t seen it covered at all in the file sharing press bonanza of recent months. It takes a bit more technical savvy to find what you’re looking for, but there’s more copyright infringing materials on usenet (not to mention being a haven for child pornographers) than you’d believe.

Ah well, just some thoughts.

Flickr Blging

03/03/05

03/03/05,
originally uploaded by Hidden Peanuts.

Woo I can blog directly from Flickr!

I’m leaning more and more towards getting that paid account…

Stoopid Firefox Tricks

A new Firefox extension, Greasemonkey, has some interesting implications. GM lets you run user-defined scripts that modify the html of pages as they are downloaded for viewing.

One such script is Butler. Among other things, it lets you bypass the saving restrictions on Google Print books.

Now that I think about it, one thing was not covered at CiL: hackers (I lose the term losely here). Odds are almost certain that any security placed on digital files online will be cracked wide open. Take iTunes for example; their DRM encoding has been bypassed twice in the last two days.

Granted, your average consumer is not going to use these techniques, or even be aware of them. But the threat of cracking and hacking is real, and needs to be taken into account when using computers in libraries.

Hit the road

I think I’m ready to move on.

My first night back from DC, I went to buy groceries. Walking back, all I could really see and hear was people running around and screaming. It’s college town after all. And I don’t really fit in. I’m anxious to get out there, to have a ‘real’ job and get a career going.

I’m ready to leave this apartment, too. Don’t get me wrong, I love the apartment itself. If I could transplant it to another building with capable management and maintenance staff, I’d be happy to stick with it. However, the staff is anything but capable.

When I moved in I noted a few minor things that needed to be fixed. The shower needed some caulking. The bedroom smoke detector did not attach to the wall due to a snapped off piece of it. But nothing that really affects my day to day life. That was in August. Now, in late March, the problems remain untouched. The most annoying thing to go unfixed is my buzzer. The buzzer downstairs for my apartment has no button on it. You can still set it off by touching both prongs with a key or another piece of metal, but imagine trying to explain that to a pizza delivery man.

A couple weeks ago, a repair guy showed up at my door! He claimed he was here to fix my buzzer. Happy Day! Then it turned out that he had been misinformed by the office. This guy was an interior buzzer repair man, not an external one. Talk about a specialized job…. so my heart sank as he walked away.

A month and a half ago, the florescent bulb in the hallway went out. It hasn’t been replaced yet, despite phone calls from both my neighbor and me. The hallway is pitch black, without any windows. Lawsuit waiting to happen, really.

I spend my days just praying that nothing serious breaks in my apartment. My neighbor says once her shower was broken for two weeks before they sent someone to repair it.

Meanwhile, my refrigerator continues to think it is a freezer.

Time to go get my day moving. Venting over.

The year marches on

My year in photos project continues, even if I’m having a harder time coming up with interesting photos.

I’ve recently discovered the Flickr calendar view, which somehow had escaped me until now. Check it out! It’s a nice way to get an overview of what I’ve taken, and you’ll note that I astonishingly have not missed a day yet.

Up to the challenge?

UPDATE: I’ve signed up solo, but can still take on a partner right up to the day before the event. Drop me a line if interested.

Thanks to the calendar in this month’s issue of Wired, I was introduced to the idea of Urban Challenge Online.

In summary, its Googling for dollars. Entry is $5 for a one or two person team. You get 12 clues and related puzzles to solve using online sources only. The first 10 to do so get a trip to NYC to compete for a million bucks.

I don’t have high hopes of being in the 10, but I’m pretty capable with Google and have an insane amount of random trivia packed away in my giant head. I managed to solve all three of the sample questions on the site in a few minutes. The second one, involving where Fahrenheit and Celsius are the same, I actually knew off the top of my head.

So anyway, I’m looking for a partner!

I’ll enter myself at the end of the day tomorrow (the 22nd) if nobody else is interested. I’ll even cover the $5! The event takes place on Sunday, April 10th, at 8pm EST. My apartment has ample wireless connections if you wanted to relocate and join me. If you don’t live nearby and don’t want to travel, we could probably even coordinate over Skype. (and how cool would that be?)