Older blog entries for dmarti (starting at number 387)

Why is Science losing?

Is anyone else getting a little tired of scare-mongering about "anti-science" trends, when it comes from organizations that do non-Open Access scientific publishing? This is like designing a new jewelry line, giving it to Gollum to conceal in the bowels of Middle-Earth, and then complaining about your shelf placement.

Let's say you wanted to send the message of "I'm running a large scary organization, and I'm trying to do something evil to you in a sneaky way." How could you do that better than by publishing original information in proprietary journals, then releasing patronizing, dumbed-down information for voters and patients?

How is modern medical science getting so badly out-publicized, out-communicated, and out-SEOed by "quacks"? And to come up with another example, where is the "scientific consensus" over climate change? Buried in expensive journal archives, while the controversy version of the story thrives online.

Scientists: If you get handed the keys to the Library of Wisdom, then choose to lock the place up and hand over the keys to Elsevier et. al., don't complain about the occult bookstore across the street. And come to think of it, OA is necessary but not sufficient. Maybe what we need now is SEOA.

Syndicated 2012-02-20 20:06:05 from Don Marti

Ad bubble?

Doc Searls says there's an advertising bubble.

Maybe he has a point. One of the ways that you can tell a bubble is when the "bubbling" trend starts to break out into places is really doesn't belong. Ships rotting at the pier in San Francisco because the sailors thought they could do better mining gold. Online shopping for BOOKS FOR DOGS. Stuff like that.

This is the actual back cover of a restaurant bill from an actual restaurant.

restaurant bill holder with advertising

Inside: an ad. Who could have thought this was a good idea? You just enjoyed a meal and you're paying up, and they already want to sell an ad impression for something else?

(excuse the lousy photo. Lousy phone and no photo skills. Next time I'll just take Doc along.)

And synecdochic, on Dreamwidth, points out another one. "Solve Media's patent pending" TYPE-IN, a method to advertise via CAPTCHA."

Can you use your sense of things getting silly as a bubble detector?

Syndicated 2012-02-11 23:59:23 from Don Marti

Stop H.R. 3699

(Finally. I really need to move my "blog to Congress" script over to ikiwiki.)

Dear Representative Stark:

I am writing to ask you to oppose H.R. 3699, the Research Works Act.

If Rep. Darrell Issa came to you and said, "Let's give our grant recipients permission to steal taxpayer-funded equipment from the lab and resell it on the Internet," you would say he was nuts. But this is exactly what H.R. 3699 would do with those scientists' research results.

The Public Access Policy at the National Institutes of Health has been a success, and makes original papers available to health professionals, patients, and their families. Open access to research also encourages follow-up research in the public and private sectors.

H.R. 3699 would throw away these benefits for no gain. The foreign publishing companies that would benefit from this bill are not publishers in the usual sense. They do not provide the same editing and selection functions that a typical magazine does in-house. Our Federally funded researchers already do the work of reviewing and editing at no charge.

Please do what you can to stop H.R. 3699.


Donald B. Marti Jr.

Syndicated 2012-02-03 15:20:06 from Don Marti

SCALE Poker Quiz

SCALE this year had a quiz game for attendees, and here are my notes on how to play and some things we could do better next time. Lori Barfield, who was in charge of SCALE Game Night, brought it all together on a very tight schedule.

The object of the game for the players is to put together the best possible 5-card poker hand. Each card has an answer printed on it, and in order for that card to count as part of the player's hand, the player has to find the matching question. Card photo at Lisa's iXsystems marketing blog.

All of the questions are about information revealed at booths, talks, and other show events. It's important to get questions that are hard to look up online. The object of the game for the organizers is to get attendees to talk with each other, because they pretty much have to trade cards and information to win.

We gave out seven cards per player.

With a little more time we'll be able to make the game easier to run at the show. Things to improve next time:

  • Handouts for people who supplied questions, to give out at exhibitor or speaker registration at the show.

  • Entry forms for players turning in hands, to avoid having to write questions on the cards

  • Numbered questions on the question sheet, to make it easier to check completed hands.

  • Ask for questions earlier, to have extras to work with.

  • Give out two cards at registration, then have opportunities to get more cards later?

Some people thought the questions were too hard, but groups of attendees working together were able to figure everything out.

Syndicated 2012-01-27 15:31:17 from Don Marti

News from the Religion section

UN Resolution 16/18 would restrict “defamation of religion”. Meanwhile, file sharing is now an official religion in Sweden.

Don't know where I was going with this. Must be a slow news day.

Syndicated 2012-01-05 15:51:34 from Don Marti

MLP: DNS, web business, science fiction, finance...

As of Public Domain Day (yesterday) Robert Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys enters the public domain. Looking forward to grabbing a copy. Anybody put one up yet?

For all of you who have moved your domain to a new registrar, or if you're running into DNS issues, or just want to make sure your DNS is set up correctly (it can be tweaky), here's a DNS checklist from Rick Moen on the SVLUG list. (To get started on DNS basics, see this story, also from Rick: The Village of Lan: A Networking Fairy Tale)

Web pricing factoid from Rian van der Merwe: "Facebook says that they have over 800 million active users, and that 'more than 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day.' So let’s, for argument’s sake, say that about 500 million users visit Facebook every day. If each of those users paid Facebook $2 per year, the revenue would cover the cost of running the site. Just increase that to $3 per year, or 25c per month, and you suddenly have $1.5B revenue per year (or roughly $500M profit, based on Facebook’s rough estimate of their operating costs). Let’s be clear about this: it’s the cost of one coffee per year."

If poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, science fiction writers are the unacknowledged CTOs.

Benjamin Mako Hill: Wide Scream. (Ideas? Best I can think of is to turn a 1920x1200 by 90 degrees, and use that for most things and the laptop screen for stuff that has to be wide.)

Thomas Philippon: Has the finance industry become less efficient? (But, I wonder, is it fair to talk about "efficiency" of what's really just economic sin-eating? Imagine that you put your retirement savings into Enron, or pork bellies, or Las Vegas real estate, or whatever, and you lose most of it--the guilt over your bad decisions is a non-financial cost to you. Now imagine that you gave the money to whatever financial wizards are currently "the smartest guys in the room" and they lose it. What could you have done? Intangibly you're better off and all they take for it is money.)

I've heard that in the German Navy of the Kaiser's time, the enlisted sailors's diet was a health hazard until they established the simple rule that the officers eat what the sailors do, after they're done. Finland does something like that for education.

Hillary Rettig's blog, recommended by RMS, is full of wisdom. New Year's piece: "There’s also another, even more pernicious form of procrastination: activities that mimic productive work." (RTWT)

Syndicated 2012-01-02 17:31:57 from Don Marti

Little Android phone, why so sad?

Oh, that is too bad. All those other phones are getting dressed up and accessorized for the big Christmas party, and you have nothing to wear.

I know, it's not your fault you're not a perfect size four. Yes, I know size 4S is the same size, so they can wear each other's stuff.

It is too bad some people don't even look at you because of all the nice things that those other phones can wear. Yes, I know you have many good points on the inside.

Yes, I even looked at Fry's for you. Lots to wear, but nothing in your size. I'm sorry.

No, I don't know what to do either. But I'll post this on the Internet and maybe the nice Internet people can help.

Or maybe the Googlers will come up with some standard Android sizes, so that more accessory makers will be able to make nice things for you to wear.

Yes, I'll still take you to the Christmas party.

No, I won't take you off "silent" this year.

Syndicated 2011-11-23 16:11:04 from Don Marti

Dictionary of the future: khakiatto

khakiatto (n): a delicious coffee beverage brewed to match the color of the customer's pants. A great pick-me-up to enjoy while driving to that important meeting.

Syndicated 2011-11-13 20:13:54 from Don Marti

Forgot Password Only

Asa Dotzler's "websites, you're doing it wrong" is a good list of silly password rules from various web sites. (another good one: your password can be any length, but we only check the first eight characters. If you're into correct horse battery staple-style passwords, that's trouble.)

I have a confession to make. If I don't use your site much, I'm probably just using the "forgot your password" workflow every time. So, as long as we have crash-only software, let's make Forgot Password Only Software.

I'm going to assume that everyone is going to forget the stupid password, and optimize for that. (People who haven't forgotten the password have been using the same password on so many sites that they might as well not have been using a password at all.)

Next web application I do will have one or more of: mail me a login URL, ssh to the server to get a login URL, log in with (some set of big web sites for which users have a real password), BrowserID, maybe some others. (I kind of like the choice of "ssh to the server for a login URL" for the Rick Moen types, and "log in with example.com" for the Kool-Aid drinkers.)

But I will never again be arrogant enough to believe that users will make unique, high-quality passwords just for my web site. I don't do it for other people's sites, how could I act like people would do it for mine?

Bonus link: Crash-only software: More than meets the eye

Syndicated 2011-11-13 19:34:11 from Don Marti

Printer for Linux

Picking a printer for Linux?

The process is going to be a little different from what you might be used to with another OS. If you shop carefully (and reading blogs is a good first step) then the drivers you will need are already available through your Linux distribution's printer setup tool.

HP has done a good job with enabling this. The company has already released the necessary printer software as open source, and your Linux distribution has already installed it. So, go to printers fully supported with the HPLIP software, pick a printer you like, and you're done.

If you want a recommendation from me, the HP LaserJet 3055 black and white all-in-one device has worked fine for me with various Linux setups for years. It's also a scanner/copier/fax machine, and you get the extra functionality for not much more than the price of a regular printer. It also comes with a good-sized toner cartridge, so your cost per page is probably going to be pretty reasonable.

Other printer brands have given me more grief, but fortunately the HP LaserJets are widely available and don't jam much.

It's important not to show a smug expression on your face while printing if users of non-Linux OSs are still dealing with driver CDs or vendor downloads.

Syndicated 2011-11-02 13:53:30 from Don Marti

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