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Cryptography, steganography, movies, cyberculture, travel, games, and too many other hobbies to list!

Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms: Update
Topic: Cryptography 10:21 am EDT, Aug  2, 2008

Heya, just as an update for those who are interested in this, I heard from my publisher, and my book is now in its fourth printing. Sales of 16K in the U.S., and 9K in the UK, plus a scattering on other continents. Pretty cool stuff!

Now if I could just get them to send me actual royalties, LOL! I signed the contract in 2005, the book came out in early 2006, I got my "advance" in 2007, and nada since that. Ah well, of what I hear from other authors, this is typical. Maybe if the book keeps selling well, I'll get some nice royalty checks when I retire...

Elonka :)

Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms: Update

NY Times: The World of Web Trolling
Topic: Cyber-Culture 4:46 pm EDT, Aug  1, 2008

In the late 1980s, Internet users adopted the word “troll” to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities. Early trolling was relatively innocuous, taking place inside of small, single-topic Usenet groups. The trolls employed what the M.I.T. professor Judith Donath calls a “pseudo-naïve” tactic, asking stupid questions and seeing who would rise to the bait. The game was to find out who would see through this stereotypical newbie behavior, and who would fall for it.

. . .

Sherrod DeGrippo, a 28-year-old Atlanta native who goes by the name Girlvinyl, runs Encyclopedia Dramatica, the online troll archive.

I'm not sure I'd call ED "the online troll archive", but the rest of the article is pretty interesting.


NY Times: The World of Web Trolling

Exclusive: Inside the Lego Factory
Topic: Games 2:22 pm EDT, Jul 22, 2008

This video shows something that very few people have had the opportunity to witness: the inside of the Lego factory, with no barriers or secrets.

For anyone who may be interested in the Lego production process (as I am), this is fascinating.

Elonka :)

Exclusive: Inside the Lego Factory

Wikipedia article traffic statistics
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:07 pm EDT, Jun 19, 2008

Neat tool to check number of hits per day, on any particular Wikipedia page.

Wikipedia article traffic statistics

Google News Archive Search
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:47 pm EDT, Jun 19, 2008

Not just searching current headlines, but now being able to search Google News archives going back years. Yum. :)

The link is sometimes a bit hard to spot. It's on the main Google News page as a link off to the right, or if you're in search display screen already, then click on "All dates" on the left, or "Advanced news search" at the top, to get to a link to the new feature on the search screen. Some of the entries it pulls up list prices that press organizations will charge for a reprint. However, I find that all it really takes to get free access is a library card number, and I can use my local library's website to get at Newsbank or Gale or EBSCOhost and can usually find most of the articles for free that way. Having a quick Google search telling me where to look though, makes searching much easier.

Searching books and periodicals and databases still has a way to go, even with this feature. As I'm doing research, I often find that I need to check multiple databases via library websites to find what I'm looking for, and there is not yet one central "Type your search term here" entry box that will search all the databases for me. But if anybody can do it, Google can. I'm already using Google Books and Google Scholar on a routine basis. Google Books is especially handy. I search for a book, click on "Find this book in a library", to access WorldCat, enter my zip code, and it not only tells me which are the closest libraries that have the book, it'll even tell me if the book is checked out or not. Nice stuff!

Elonka :)

Google News Archive Search

The Onion: 'Warcraft' Sequel Lets Gamers Play A Character Playing 'Warcraft'
Topic: Multiplayer Online Games 11:16 am EDT, Jun 10, 2008

'Warcraft' Sequel Lets Gamers Play A Character Playing 'Warcraft'

LOL, great video. Be sure to watch the bonus clip at the end, too. ;)

Elonka :)

The Onion: 'Warcraft' Sequel Lets Gamers Play A Character Playing 'Warcraft'

Poems showing the absurdity of English spelling
Topic: Humor 7:18 am EDT, Apr 26, 2008

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, lough and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
And dead: it's said like bed, not bead -
For goodness sake don't call it deed!

Poems showing the absurdity of English spelling

Creating high-quality Wikipedia articles helps university students get an 'A'
Topic: Cyber-Culture 11:57 pm EDT, Apr 19, 2008

Jon Beasley-Murray, a professor of Spanish literature at the University of British Columbia, decided to make Wikipedia editing a class assignment, divvying up a set of articles related to the theme of his Spanish Literature class. Students who reached GA [Good Article] status would receive As, while FAs [Featured Article] would earn students an A on the assignment. Aiding the class was the FA-team, a new WikiProject of sorts whose aim is to help newer Wikipedians achieve FA status. The project consists of several editors with copy-editing and MOS [Manual of Style] experience to help guide new editors through the often-confusing process of reaching FA status. Out of 12 articles chosen as part of the project, five are currently GAs, one [El Senor Presidente] is an FA, and two more are currently featured article candidates (Mario Vargas Llosa and The General in His Labyrinth). Before the project began, a few of the twelve, including El Senor Presidente, did not exist.

The professor was interviewed for The Wikipedia Signpost as part of a celebration featuring Wikipedia reaching a total of 2000 FAs "Featured articles", the highest quality level that an article can attain.

I think that this idea of university professors assigning their students this kind of task is a superb one. It improves Wikipedia articles, it teaches the students a lot about collaborative editing in the Wikipedia culture, and it brings in more actual academics to Wiki's pool of volunteer editors. Good stuff all around! I've personally helped to bring a couple articles to FA, of which I'm most proud of "Knights Templar" and a GA status article, Fustat about the pre-Cairo Egyptian capital. I'm currently working on another article about the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, which I've gotten to GA status so far and hope to bring to FA status within the month. I know how hard it is to jump through the political hoops to get articles to that level, and agree with the "A" that the university professor offered! He wrote an essay about the project, which can be seen here.

Elonka :)

Creating high-quality Wikipedia articles helps university students get an 'A'

Glass Faucets by Jim McKelvey
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:03 pm EDT, Apr 16, 2008

This goes into that category of, "What do you give to someone who already has everything"?

How about a handblown glass faucet?

Glass Faucets by Jim McKelvey

YouTube - Lost Generation
Topic: Society 5:06 pm EDT, Apr 14, 2008

1-2 minute video about intergenerational communication. Very cleverly done, and worth watching. Gets ya thinking. :)

YouTube - Lost Generation

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