Blog Smith

Blog Smith is inspired by the myth of Hephaestus in the creation of blacksmith-like, forged materials: ideas. This blog analyzes topics that interest me: IT, politics, technology, history, education, music, and the history of religions.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bed, Bath, and Beyond: Made in China

So I needed a lamp near my computer and I perused the aisles looking for one. I found a hip looking blue one which looked ideal. In and out in a flash, my idea of shopping since I'm on a meter. Less than a week later, kaput. Where from?


Bed, Bath, and Beyond: Made in China.


Good thing Fido was not hungry or I didn't need to brush my teeth.

Monday, July 30, 2007

"How's Your House," Ian Hunter on Hurricane Katrina


How's Your House by Ian Hunter (Song at NOMRF.org)

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Description: Ian Hunter courtesy of YepRoc Records for the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. Video Produced by Grewvia. This song and 15 others by artists including Dr. John, Edwin McCain, James Andrews, Joe Topping and a new song by the Kaiser Chiefs are available at NOMRF.org. 100% of the proceeds will help the grass roots New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund.

Microsoft Struggles to Catch Google

In a story today on Computerworld Microsoft is attempting to catch up with Google and Yahoo in search capabilities. They have a long way to go. In June, Google sites captured 49.5% of the U.S. search market, while Yahoo sites ranked second with 25.1% of U.S. searches, followed by a distant Microsoft with only 13.2%, according to comScore Networks Inc.


Microsoft though began a new center, the Internet Services Research Center, as a part of Microsoft's research group. Interestingly enough though, the center will have teams in the U.S., but also some in Beijing.


Maybe Microsoft can go hard on those Chinese government types who are pushovers for Google.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ahead or Behind the Curve?

Today, 29 July 2007, the BBC reported that Prime Minister of Great Britain, Gordon Brown, stated that the world owes the US a debt.


On the cusp of his first visit with George Bush, Brown stated that the U.S. leadership in the war against international terrorism is a debt that the world owes America.


Some analysts had speculated that Brown would distance himself from George Bush.


So far Brown has not publicly stated he would.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Newest Expansion Pack to Civilization IV: Beyond The Sword


One of the more intriguing developments in the gaming world, for an educator at least, is the accurate and realistic portrayal of history in the play. One of the best is Civilization IV. To the basic game is the newest expansion pack, Beyond the Sword, the second release after the Warlords edition.


The creator, Sid Meier, did not intend to write an educational game, precisely what makes it so fun probably, although an educator can do a great deal with the game to teach history. In a recent interview, Meier notes:



I read an interesting article recently about how some teachers actually use Civilization III in their classes as a teaching tool. Would you endorse or recommend the use of Civilization III as an educational product?


Sid: There's certainly nothing in the game that's just totally, flat-out wrong. I think Civilization is a good place to learn some basic ideas about history, and to be a part of it; to make the decisions. The great thing about a game is that you're the star of it. You're actually there making the decisions. Yes, it's been used in a lot of different educational situations, and if you can get a kid interested in history through a game, that's...We certainly lead them through the Civilopedia. We let them know that there's more out there if you want to explore it.


I've heard about a lot of people who played games as a kid and have gained a lot of useful knowledge that they were able to use later in life. So I certainly encourage people to use Civilization as a way to introduce them to history and make it exciting

Friday, July 27, 2007

Who Knows What Evil Lurks Inside a Cell Phone?

Ever wonder if something dangerous lurks in your cell phone? You should. In the tragedy that killed U.S. pets by ingesting tainted Chinese dog food, and to toothpaste that made people ill, a story in today's Computerworld alerted users to consider what's in your cell phone. In a widely publicized case, Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of China's food and drug administration, was executed on corruption charges when it established that China did not have enough quality controls in place for the tainted goods leaving China.


And unlike toothpaste cell phones seem safe enough. However, cell phones can be lethal. A number of people in China have been killed because of problems with their cell phones. Indeed, a typical cell phone contains heavy, toxic metals such as lead and beryllium, poisonous flame retardants like bromide and enough cadmium to contaminate thousands of gallons of water. These ingredients expose the user to toxins.


The major cell phone manufacturing countries--the U.S., Finland, Sweden, Germany, South Korea, and Japan-- protect users with their rigorous safety procedures, and control and monitor the safety of cell phone manufacturing. National governments, consumer and industry groups, magazines and journals, and other actors monitor, test, and review cell phone safety.


If China is to be a successful major world economic player it needs to do everything it can to raise quality and review standards to ensure the safety of cell phone users.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Would You Like to Know What the U.S. Military Is Thinking?

Computerworldtoday released a story about classified U.S. military information and corporate data which is available over P2P (peer-to-peer file sharing networks).


Experts testified before Congress by relating that data leakage is worse than thought previously.


Millions of documents are housed freely on file sharing networks after being inadvertently exposed by individuals downloading P2P software on systems that held the data.


For example, would you like the Pentagon's secret backbone network infrastructure diagram, complete with IP addresses and password change scripts? You can have that. Also there is contractor data on radio frequency manipulation to beat Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) in Iraq; physical terrorism threat assessments for three major U.S cities; and, information on five separate Department of Defense information security system audits.


The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman, (D-Calif.) heard this testimony.


Let's hope Henry gets good and sick of this breach and plugs the holes, the sooner the better.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Skeletons In Your Closet?

Reuters today reported on a Web site that traces convict ancestors in the Land Down Under.


The records of tens of thousands of British convicts sent to Australia starting in the 18th century are no online so if you had something to hide about your family past, its all out now. 160,000 convicts were forcibly removed from England and transported to Australia between 1788 and 1868. The crimes ranged from petty crimes to serious crimes like murder and assault.


The first cargo of 732 convicts landed in Sydney Cove in January 1788 on 11 ships from the British First Fleet.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Use A Computer, Go To Jail

Not exactly but Computerworld released a study today indicating MySpace is inhabited by 29,000 registered sex offenders, according to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooppdate. Following a subpoena, MySpace turned over the names of the convicted sex offenders.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Better Than Bombay?

The 23 July 2007 issue of Computerworld ran a story about how possibly Pakistan is a good site to outsource IT, to which "Anonymous"
posted:


Let's see, we have the Taliban massing on its western border with Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden is reputed to be hiding out in its mountainous western border region with Afghanistan. Journalists have been beheaded there. The President of the country is routinely under threat of assasination [sic]. And, you want to outsource your software development there? Get real.


I've been doing my best and reading Tariq Ali to appreciate the difficulties of the West versus the Muslim world but really the way out of the morass of poverty is to get your house in order. Any investor willing to part with their money is truly providing an opportunity for Pakistanis, if there were only enough people willing to embrace the chance. There are so many more affordable but stable environments. Pakistan is not one of them.

Big Brother IS Watching

Today's Computerworld ran an article by David Strom. He lists what he describes as a "Paranoia Product List" of items in case you, and you rightfully should be, are concerned about leaving tracks on the Internet:


General-purpose packet-capture tools; Wildpackets OmniAnalysis Platform, Network General Sniffer InfiniStream, NetQoS Gigastor, ETelemetry Locate; IM auditing and monitoring tools, Symantec IM Manager, Akonix F7 Enterprise, Facetime IM Auditor; E-mail/IM encryption tools, PGP Desktop and a free version of PGP, Hushmail.com, X-IM.net, PSST; Anonymous proxies, Anonymizer.com's Anonymous Surfing and Total Net Shield; Free anonymous surfing and proxies, Protected desktop, and Mojopac.com.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Whither Turkey?


Photo by Lynsey Addario for The New York Times


An article in the New York Times by Sabrina Tavernise (Sebnem Arsu contributed) today reported that the Turkish ruling party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan--the Justice and Development party (A.K.)--won a decisive victory in national parliamentary elections. The vote indicates the direction of Turkish democracy.


The vote sent a message to the secular state establishment, which opposed Erdogan's Islamic agenda. The secularists, the Republican People's Party, received only 20 percent of the vote. The Nationalist Action Party, an anti-Kurdish group, won 14 percent of the vote.


As the only non-European, Muslim NATO member and a strong American ally its stability is critical in light of chronic chaos in the Middle East. The powerful and secular military might react and it has deposed elected governments four times since the Turkish state was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923.


The A.K. arises from a religious, merchant class in rural Turkey. It advocates membership for Turkey in the European Union. It has strengthened economic ties with Israel, along with a non-vindictive policy towards the Kurdish minority.


Erdogan began as an Islamist, and for many leaders of the party, whose wives wear headscarves, comparisons were drawn to struggling administrations in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, or countries with wives whose heads were uncovered.


One ploy of Turkey’s secular state elite, backed by its military, used a legal maneuver to block Mr. Erdogan’s candidate from becoming president. And why? The wife of the candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, wears a Muslim headscarf.


It is refreshing to see a Middle Eastern Muslim political scene with a mixed crowd of headscarf and non-headscarf wearers.


The best policy is to take a `wait and see' attitude until Erdogan either steers the country in a more religious and anti-Western direction or if his victory is more simply modifying Turkey's secularity in a moderately religious direction. Not every Muslim is an Islamist and Erdogan should be given a chance to show his true colors.


In fact, if I were even more optimistic, although I frankly confess usually I am not, Erdogan's victory could be a sign that religiosity is more robust, charismatic, fervent, but mature and still soundly democratic at the same time. The best case scenario is that Turkey is Muslim, democratic, and secular all in one which would be a terrific political model to emulate in the region. The icing on the cake is that Israel is not demonized and Turkey and Israel cooperate in the region.


Is that too much to hope for?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Obama Hard Ball

The MySpace and Web 2.0 phenomenon is hitting the political sphere. When Senator Barack Obama tried to own his own MySpace address, he ran smack into an admirer, Joe Anthony, who had beat him to the punch for the page. Anthony had racked up 160,000 Obamans (friends) for Barack already. Negotiations began for Obama to get his name and MySpace address. Anthony requested 39K for his work on the Obama page. It got ugly but Obama seized the account in any case and his MySpace page only had 75,000 friends. It looks like he lost some buddies in the MySpace takeover.

7,000 Iraq Refugees to Enter U.S.

Only 800 Iraqis refugees were allowed into the U.S. since 2003, but 7,000 will enter the U.S. this year. I wonder why so many Iraqis want to emigrate if America is perceived so negatively in Iraq?

Friday, July 20, 2007

More Google Cookie Crumbling

Computerworld ran a story on 19 July 2007 about the fall-out from Google's recent decision to revise its cookie policy. The new and improved cookies will last only two years.


However, in the recent development critics charge that "No users will experience any gains in privacy at all due to Google's change in policy," stated Randy Abrams, director of technical education at ESET, a vendor of antivirus products.


Ever wonder how long Google's cookies last on your computer? Currently, the cookies set by the company are designed to expire in 2038.


That is longer than any cookie I know.

Follow the Campaign Money for the Next President


Federal Computer Week released a story, 16 July 2007 about the Federal Election Commission. The first day that the FEC offered its first interactive campaign finance application, the Web site garnished 90,000. This figure is an increase over its usual 7,000 visitors monthly.


The site cost about $12,000 to build and took about six months to develop.


The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency created in 1975 by Congress to administer and enforce campaign finance legislation in the United States. It was created in a provision of the 1974 amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act. It describes its duties as "to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Would You Like $968 Million to Prepare?

Computerworld released a story announcing that the U.S. is offering $968 million for disaster technology. According to the Reuters news agency the money is in the form of grants to help state and local public safety agencies buy sophisticated radios and technology for communications during disasters, according to a Commerce Department spokesperson.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Who Said the Germans Don't Have a Heart?

An article today in Computerworld reported that German police understood how an angry computer user was so frustrated with his computer that he tossed it out the window. Apparently in the middle of the night a man was so frustrated that in an outburst his startled neighbors heard the commotion. The Hanover police responding to the melee sympathized with his technical frustrations. They decided not to press charges but they did make him clean up the mess.


"Asked what had driven him to the night-time outburst, the 51-year-old man said he had simply got annoyed with his computer. `Who hasn't felt like doing that?' said a police spokesman. I think we can all relate to computer users everywhere who have felt, and some have done, the same thing.

Political Globalized Islam



Two worthwhile books with flawed logic from a French theorist: The Failure of Political Islam & Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah by Olivier Roy.


Will fundamentalist Muslims manage to take power, or will the mostly nonfundamentalist autocrats now in power stay there?


The fundamentalists could well take over several governments in a short period: Algeria, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) has launched a virtual civil war; in Egypt, radical fundamentalists control parts of the cities and countryside; fundamentalist parties are gaining in nearly all the Muslim countries with electoral politics (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Malaysia). The fundamentalist challenge to the established order is real.


So how is political Islam a failure?


The failure Roy refers to is one that distinguishes between Islamism and neofundamentalism. For Roy, the former means the drive for political power, and the latter means focusing on the family and the mosque. Think Iran for Islamism; think Saudi Arabia for neofundamentalism.


Islamism has failed and the weaker cause of neofundamentalism has flourished accoring to Roy.


True enough, Roy points out that fundamentalist Islam is a form of modernization. Contrary to the usual assumption, it is not medieval in spirit at all but an acutely modern form of protest. In Roy's elegant formulation, it "is the sharia [Islamic sacred law] plus electricity."


Though fundamentalist Islam cannot work, what Roy misses is that the realization that fundamentalism does not work could be years or decades off. We have no idea whatsoever from knowing the full import of fundamentalism. For example, as the Marxist-Leninist precedent shows, regimes kill and repress their opponents and also export their ideology abroad. The mullahs in Iran relish in power as most people appear to enjoy it. The salient point: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts, absolutely," Lord Acton, is not discussed by Roy.


In 1933, sixteen years after the Bolshevik revolution, communism had a strong life after the revolution; sixteen years after the Iranian Revolution fundamentalism is alive and well, despite Roy's objection.


Roy was wrong on Algeria. The Muslim FIS in Algeria is superceded by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA): they specialize in murdering the children of police officers, women without veils, unsympathetic journalists, and non-Muslim foreigners. They kill their victims in particularly horrifying ways, slitting throats and cutting off heads. Educated and/or Western-oriented, French speakers, or those wearing a business are attractive as potential victims.


Leading American specialists on the subject, such as John Entelis, John Esposito, and John Voll, argue that we should look beyond fundamentalism's rough edges and bristling rhetoric and relax.


However, you can only engage in dialogue those who are willing to accept its consequence: democracy, freedom, free choice.


We need to learn from history and to hope with the Who, "We don't get fooled again."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Declaration of Independence

Are Google Cookies Crummy?


Today Computerworld released a story about Google which states their new policy: user cookies will expire after two years. However, for the two-year cookie policy to work: users must not return to the search site. The solution then is pretty simple, no? Users should just stop searching on Google. I would think that it is clear by now that many ordinary computer users do not understand what cookies are or how they work.


What are cookies? Cookies are small bits of code stored on a computer; cookies are handy for users though because their user preferences are stored on the computer. Another common aspect of cookies that users often overlook is that they are able to control their cookies at any time via their browsers. Users can shut off or modify how cookies are downloaded to their computers.


A user might view the cookie issue as convenience, Google is looking out for me, or more sinisterly, Google is deciding something for me that I'd rather do myself.


Privacy advocates think Google can do better. According to the Computerworld article:

"Google's paying attention to the issue of cookie expiration, but as a practical matter, I think this change will have little impact on online privacy. . . . Users still know too little about how Google collects information, what information is collected and what it's used for. And, of course, [for] anyone who returns to the Google site within two years, the cookie will be renewed. I think two days rather than two years is probably a better period for a search cookie,"
stated Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center.

How Does Search Really Work? Or, Can I Trust Google?

Computing Reviews released an interesting topic: “Adversarial
Information Retrieval: The Manipulation of Web Content:” by Dennis Fetterly of Microsoft Research. To summarize, Fetterly demonstrates: how search engine results can be manipulated by content providers. By using methods such as adding unrelated content to meta tags, duplicating information, and cloaking content so it is indexed
differently, Web pages can improve their result rankings. While the economic incentive for achieving high rankings is significant, manipulated results undermine the trust of millions of users. Fetterly suggests research into link-based spam detection and the identification of spam blogs, and advocates the development of a clear set of rules
for search engines. This is a worthwhile read.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Follow the money


The EE Times reported today that global venture capital firms are targeting China and India: and, the U.S.


However, the import of the report may be that capital investment overseas is lower than has been widely assumed, with only a 1 percent increase over last year in the number of U.S. companies planning to expand offshore investments over the next five years. Highly regarded firms such as Deloitte & Touche and the National Venture Capital Association concluded that U.S. VC firms are still only "dabbling" in places like China and India.


In the case of China, perhaps the nation is too questionable for many investors to consider, and India has chronic problems as well.

Update on Pandemic

Update:


I've noted some concern about a pandemic, but, perhaps not enough given today's Computerworld story:


"Some IT managers say they see no choice but for organizations to prepare their tech operations for a possible avian flu epidemic. But there are concerns that attention to the issue may be waning in the U.S."


"It's not a question of if, but when. So the sooner that companies and families and communities and states are prepared, the better.


James Seligman, the Center for Disease Control's CIO, on the likelihood of a pandemic striking the U.S.


Does Your Crystal Ball Need a Brushup?


Paul Saffo published an interesting article in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review in which he describes:


Six Rules for Effective Forecasting:


1. Define a cone of uncertainty; 2. Look for the S curve; 3. Embrace the things that don't fit; 4. Hold strong opinions weakly; 5. Look back twice as far as you look forward; 6. Know when not to make a forecast.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Only Human (2004, Spanish, Seres queridos)


Only Human (2004, Spanish, Seres queridos) attempts to imitate a Rabelaisian plot: wacky, and clever, but this film most often falls flat. This Spanish film is in the mold of Meet the Parents but without the laughs. The improbable plot lines should sustain interest but frankly, I fell asleep. I tried again the next day and slogged through it. The universal appeal of bringing home that special someone is undercut by its own cleverness. We should enjoy our protagonists' Leni's family buffoons: blind Dadu, the grandfather, the unwed nymphomaniac sister living at home with a 5-year-old daughter, the zealous brother with his fanatical attachment to Judaism, the pre-menopausal crisis of the mother, and the wayward father. When Leni brings her Palestinian fiancé, Rafi, to meet the family, we are set up for conflict galore but global issues pale in comparison with the chaos that reigns in Leni's family. It begins promisingly enough; unwittingly, Rafi may have accidentally killed Leni's father, but the anarchy that ensues teases but never delivers.

Ft. Dix Accused Write

Ft. Dix housed a village of refugees from the fighting in Kosovar before those people could re-settle.



As reported earlier, six men were arrested as suspects in a terroristic plot against Ft. Dix. The 14 July 2007 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer released a story about the Ft. Dix suspected terrorists writing to the judge in their case. Dritan Duka stated that the charges of an armed attack on New Jersey's Fort Dix "lies and accusations." The defendants also bemoaned conditions in jail while two of them, Mohammad Shnewer and Duka, who also wrote on behalf of his brothers and codefendants, Shain and Eljvir, while proclaiming their innocence in those letters. The prosecution would like the trial to begin on 9 October but the defense is seeking more time.


Five of the six defendants--Shnewer, 22; Serdar Tatar, 23; and brothers Dritan Duka, 28; Shain Duka, 26, and Eljvir Duka, 23--were charged with plotting a Fort Dix attack that was "inspired by . . . al-Qaeda." They could face a life sentence if convicted.


The sixth defendant, Abdullahu, was charged with supplying some of his codefendants with guns. He faces a 10-year sentence.


Two FBI informants penetrated the group and secretly recorded more than 100 conversations.

All six are foreign-born Muslims who came to live in South Jersey. Shnewer is the lone naturalized U.S. citizen in the group." The Duka brothers, ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia, are in the United States illegally.

Shnewer stated that he twice had "gotten a write up for praying." He included a Bureau of Prisons incident report that said he was chanting loudly in an Arabic dialect at this cell door.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Pennsylvania Al-Qaeda

A federal jury convicted a Pennsylvania man, Michael Curtis Reynolds, 49, after deliberating for an hour. Reynolds was convicted of working with al Qaeda in a plot to blow up the Alaska pipeline, another pipeline in Pennsylvania and a refinery in New Jersey. Acting on a tip from Shannen Rossmiller--a judge from Conrad, Montana who in 2004 helped snare a Washington state national guardsman who was considering defecting to al Qaeda-–was what originally led the FBI to Reynolds.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Gettin' Zombie with J. Edgar Hoover?

Campus Technology reports today that the FBI and Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) identified 1 MM BotNet Nodes. The paring identified the IP addresses of more than 1 million zombie computers throughout the United States as a part of security sweep nicknamed "Operation Bot Roast." Zombies are computers that are unwitting hosts for the activities of bots, pieces of malicious software that are often used to facilitate crimes. Many of those effected by this sweep are unaware that their computers have been compromised, hence the moniker, zombie. I know what you are thinking but no, J. Edgar Hoover has not returned.

Buckets Before Blues

According to an article by Campus Technology (11 July 2007), Linda L. Briggs reported that Temple University solved their content management issue. Temple retains roughly half a million pages of content on more than 500 active Web sites which is an enormous content management challenge.


In addition, Temple has around 34,000 students across 17 campuses around the world. With Adobe's product, Contribute, thousands of users--literally anyone at the university with the proper permission--can post and update website content. The decentralized system is saving the university significantly by allowing university departments, rather than the IT department, to create, edit, publish, and control their own Web content.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Every Iraqi Wants the U.S. To Withdraw Immediately, Right?




Or, do they in Kurdistan (Iraq) also?



In the U.S., we don't hear much about Kurdistan.

Get 'em Today! Step Right Up! Indispensable Free Tools

As frustrated with computing as I am? How about a few suggestions? And, to top off this great offer, these indispensable tools are free. You can't beat that, now can you?


One of the best tools out there is What's Running which is a product that gives you an inside look into your Windows 2000/XP/2003 system. Without sounding too deep you can explore processes, services, modules, IP-connections, drivers and more through a simple interface. Once you know what is running you can easily shut the process down or watch your applications unfold before your eyes. If you ever are like me, and wonder why applications take so long, now you will know. You can see the processes of your computer at work. It does not make the process any faster but aren't you happier knowing that your computer is not simply mocking you and it is really trying to please you? Another handy procedure is to configure your startup programs easily. Now you don't have to wait until the little rats inside the box feel like working, you can only start what you absolutely need and get to work faster. Unless, of course, you would rather wait a bit and have 'unother cup 'o tea.


Get "CCleaner" and while you are guessing what the "C" in the name stands for, you can begin to marvel about how much better your computer is running. It cleans the Winrot up for you so you can actually still use your computer after the shrink wrap is gone. You are not insane, the older your PC gets, and the more you use it, the slower it gets, and it's not just because it's old. Winrot, otherwise known as the Bill Gates Syndrome, is caused by a number of issue: programs with sloppy uninstall routines that litter your hard drive with their leavings; conflicts between several different versions of the same DLL (Dynamic Link Library), that is, code which multiple applications share separated into a DLL which only exists as a single, separate file; registry gunk; invisible startup programs; and problems along these lines.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Mahdi Army Enforces a Little Street Justice Prohibition

Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God."
Mark 10:14.

Webolution



Radar Networks is developing Web 3.0, the Semantic Web, or what is otherwise described by Radarnetworks as "the Intelligent Web." The Web-based online service claims to be able to leverage the power of the Intelligent Web to consumers, slated for Beta in 2007.


I'm watching this development--although barely adjusted to Web 2.0--though, this is curious since having discussions about the ontology of the Web before the bubble burst in 2000. More to follow . . .


The chart is pretty cool I'll admit.

When the Need to Know Gets Tougher, What Do the Tough Need to Know?

Today, 11 July 2007, Computerworld released a list of twelve crucial IT skills demanded by today's workplace: 1) Machine learning; 2) Mobilizing applications; 3) Wireless networking; 4) Human-computer interface; 5) Project management; 6) General networking skills; 7) Network convergence technicians; 8) Open-source programming; 9) Business intelligence systems; 10) Embedded security; 11) Digital home technology integration; and 12) .Net, C #, C ++, Java--with an edge, or something more to offer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

No One Knows Who My First Girlfriend Is. . . Or, Do They?



Computerworld ran an article identifying what search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Live Search all record and retain in their vast data banks, e.g., any term that you query, in addition to the date and time your query was processed, the IP address of your computer, and a cookie-based unique ID that unless deleted, enables the search engine to continue to know if requests are coming from that particular computer, even if the connection changes.


Microsoft Live Search also records the type of search you conducted (image, Web, local, etc.), while Google additionally stores your browser type and language. And when you click on a link displayed on Google, that may also be recorded and associated with your computer's IP address.


Although ordinarily, there is not much to worry about, since the server logs don't associate search terms with personally identifiable information, such as your name or e-mail address. However, if you have an account with or have registered for any of the additional services on a search engine site--e-mail, social networks, calendars, shopping lists--it's feasible that that connection could be made, says Brad Templeton, chairman of the board at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that protects liberties and privacy in cyberspace.



Lately
writing about searches leads me to recommend alternative search engines such as Scroogle which claims to scrape the identifying information out of your searches.


IBM, Indian Universities, and U.S. Universities Partner for Scientists


IBM, Indian Universities, and several U.S. Universities have developed curriculum for 'Service Scientists,' or "skills associated with the burgeoning market for offshore technical services and support."


The agreements involve: IBM, the Indian School of Business--Hyderabad (ISB), the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore, and the Indian Institute of Science. U.S. universities involved include the University of California, Berkeley; Arizona State University; and North Carolina State University.


Americans will need to step it up a notch to compete for the skills needed in a technology-based, services-led economy.


cf. Paul McCloskey, "IBM, Indian Universities Develop Curriculum for 'Service Scientists'," Campus Technology, 7/10/2007, http://www.campustechnology.com/article.aspx?aid=49021.

Podcasting Inherently Risky

Podcasting is only useful in the hands of a skillful teacher. Recent studies on students' experience listening to recorded lectures via podcasts confirms "that the pedagogical value of podcasts depends almost entirely on student motivation and the learning `context' of the application."


Ashley Deal of the Office of Technology for Education & the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University, found that podcasting follows the pattern of many campus technology innovations.


So, does podcasting enhance education? "The answer to that question depends entirely on the educational context, including goals and appropriate learning activities, and on how the tool is implemented," said Deal.


"Podcasting does not contain any inherent value."
Cf. Paul McCloskey, "Consensus: Podcasting Has No 'Inherent' Pedagogic Value," Campus Technology, 7/9/2007, http://www.campustechnology.com/article.aspx?aid=49018

Monday, July 9, 2007

"Electronic Jihad"


The "Electronic Jihad" program featured on--sometimes up and sometimes down--the Al-jinan.org website promoted use of an application for users to install and use to target specific IP addresses for DOS (Denial of Service) attacks. A British Court convicted three following their association with this website.


The AHN news reported 5 July 2007 that a British Court Jailed three "cyber-Jihadists" for using the Internet to incite violence. The trio were sentenced to between six-and-a half to 10 years in jail. The three defendants, Tariq Al-Daour, Younes Tsouli and Waseem Mughal evidenced close ties with al Qaeda in Iraq. Judge Charles Openshaw characterized their crime as a "cyber jihad" to convince Internet users to kill non-believers. Tsouli, 23, is a Moroccan-born resident of west London; UAE-born Al-Daour, 21, is also from west London, and Mughal, 24, is British-born, The trio also plead guilty to a bank, credit card and charge card conspiracy worth $3.6 million dollars.

Archive of Computing Reviews: 2003-2007

Game programming gems 6
Dickheiser M., Charles River Media, Inc., Rockland, MA, 2006. 736 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: May 31 2007


This is the sixth volume of the popular and practical “Game Programming Gems” series. From the first volume, the series has addressed issues as they have emerged; currently, teams are growing larger and increasingly developers are specialists. The series addresses this need by providing state-of-the-art, readily available material for the specialist and handy resources that may be outside your bailiwick. Current machines and player expectations require higher fidelity models and animations, fancier physics and graphics effects, and more intelligent artificial intelligence (AI). The rising expectations of the work of programmers and the greater level of sophistication required demand flexible teams and longer production schedules, especially in light of scripting and data-driven systems. Of course, the biggest issue is cost. The 50-plus articles in this volume address these demands and expectations.


An important fact the book addresses is the collaborative reach of game technology experts who come from various backgrounds and over 20 countries. The experts include gaming experts, as well as experts from outside the industry. Moreover, this collaboration involves nearly every region of the world, including Eastern Europe, Latin America, North America, Singapore, and Japan.


This volume is not recommended for faint-of-heart, newer game programmers, since it does not function as a primer. It is likely that the specialist will pick and choose from the topics covered and the dedicated programmer will learn a great deal by reading more thoroughly. The series is aptly named “Gems,” and there are nuggets galore.


A pragmatic way to find the gems relevant to you is to peruse the seven parts: “General Programming,” “Mathematics and Physics,” “Artificial Intelligence,” “Scripting and Data-Driven Systems,” “Graphics,” “Audio,” and “Network and Multiplayer.” Most programmers will find their particular areas of interest and then look for handy tools in other sections.


“General Programming” is not for the novice, as the name may imply; rather, it involves multiprocessor techniques, unit testing, and security fingerprinting. “Mathematics and Physics” involves all things related to the floating point unit (FPU), central processing unit (CPU), and graphics processing unit (GPU). “Artificial Intelligence” demonstrates current work in cognitive science and machine intelligence, with a strong representation from academia; the AI techniques shown here can be applied in “other systems in the engine.” “Scripting and Data-Driven Systems” is a worthwhile addition to the series. The most popular and emerging languages provide a starting point for your engine with a flexible backbone. “Graphics” combines old and new technologies with numerous sharp techniques. “Audio” includes insightful ideas for advanced uses of the audio system. Finally, “Network and Multiplayer” is another emerging area as global players plug in to play. As the gaming content has increased, so too has the multiplicity of players across networks.


The editor notes that gaming is not just for game developers anymore. Game-based learning, edutainment, commercial and military training simulations, academics, and other “serious games” have all made their mark. The upshot of this newfound attention is that the “noobs” (p. xvi, a slang insult for newbies) are starting to put their feedback into gaming. At this point, the implications of this feedback are not clear, but what is obvious is that gaming will be transforming into new and potentially complex areas.


This volume takes into account the complexity of gaming and focuses on providing cutting-edge developments that are of interest to those outside the industry. Another sign of the maturity of gaming is the rise of growth and complexity issues related to the size and intricacy of games. The section on “Scripting and Data-Driven Systems,” along with “Network and Multiplayer,” converge in the two areas of most interest to those outside gaming. Some of the most exciting topics involve these two, especially when converged. A related area of convergence is how AI is of interest to those inside and outside gaming. If coded well, AI can provide the behavior of characters that are seemingly more intelligent and human-like, yielding a more involving game.


This volume, although replete with complex topics, is readable, relevant, and just about the best in its field. The enclosed CD has source code illustrating points in the articles. The index is useful as well, and includes information on all six volumes in the series. The illustrations are well done and add desirable visual examples.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR134340


Evolutionary scheduling: a review
Hart E., Ross P., Corne D. Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines 6(2): 191-220, 2005. Type: Article
Date Reviewed: Sep 27 2006


For those who need an update on research material that applies evolutionary computing methods to scheduling problems, this review paper is of substantial value. The last major survey was performed in 1999, when a major statement emerged from the European Network of Excellence on Evolutionary Computing (EVONET). The three coauthors here have provided an admirable overview and report on current trends and achievements, and “[suggest] the way forward.” In particular, this paper will interest a wide audience, since its ideas can be applied to many common scheduling issues, such as job-shop scheduling problems, an area much discussed in academic literature. The authors point out that algorithms today are capable of tackling enormous and difficult real-world problems, a major advance over earlier surveys, such as the EVONET report.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR133355 (0707-0716)


IT professionals as organizational citizens
Moore J., Love M. Communications of the ACM 48(6): 88-93, 2005. Type: Article
Date Reviewed: Jun 12 2006


Information technology (IT) workers exhibit significantly less occupational citizenship behavior (OCB) than non-IT workers. This is the major finding of this work. Five types of OCB (altruism, courtesy, sportsmanship, civic virtue, and conscientiousness) are measured in this study. “Investigations of a situational factor--fairness perception--as a predictor of OCB have been ... fruitful.”


People seem to feel that if the exchange between them and their organization is positive, then their OCB will be enhanced. Procedural justice within an organization, or the perceived fairness of policies and procedures, how company policies are undertaken, and the dignity and respect with which they are communicated, are critical factors. Alarmingly, IT workers are plagued by significantly lower management trust and faith in procedural justice than their non-IT colleagues.


Some of the results in this study are not surprising. A fair amount of working life is similar to what you find in other fields. People don’t work particularly hard if they are only working for the money, especially if they do not feel like they are being treated fairly. The hazard for the IT field, though, is that the potentially devastating consequences of not helping others are acute in IT work. IT workers need to be proactive in stymieing malware, viruses, security issues, and a whole host of threats. If they are not helpful, these threats proliferate. The authors do not report this fact, though it does seem to be a central implication of their important research.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR132910 (0704-0418)


Ethical engagement with data collection efforts related to fighting terrorists and terrorism in the context of recent events
Pohlhaus W. Innovation and technology in computer science education (Proceedings of the 10th Annual SIGCSE Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, Capacrica, Portugal, Jun 27-29, 2005) 401-401. 2005. Type: Proceedings
Date Reviewed: Jan 3 2006


Pohlhaus discusses data collection problems with regard to civil liberties, and notes three problems deriving from data collection: misinformation, a lack of accountability, and the anonymity of those collecting the data.


Pohlhaus regards data collectors as unethically collecting information, and argues that the “community of computer scientists” should respond. He reviews historical and current narratives to outline problems concerning data collection. The examples that he draws on in particular are the Orion software system for classifying people and groups, and the scandal at ChoicePoint, Inc., where con artists used social engineering techniques to obtain personal information about people. These cases illustrate the ease with which programmers trust in those responsible for the collection and security of information. Of particular concern is the manner in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) gathered and used information in COINTELPRO (an FBI counterintelligence program) during the 1960s and 1970s.


The author does not identify how the worldwide community of scientists could agree to take concerted action. Currently, there is not a vehicle to carry out his program. The issues are sound, but more work needs to be done in this area.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR132225 (0610-1082)


Prefiguring cyberculture : an intellectual history
Tofts D., Jonson A., Cavallaro A., The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2004. 328 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: Nov 17 2005


The premise of this work is that we are who we are as humans because of the limitless social apparatus of technology, primarily the computer network. The interwoven nature of the human-computer interface has made it impossible to distinguish technology from the social and cultural production of being human. Cyberculture is the broader name given to this process of becoming through technological means. “Prefiguring” is a word that describes and predicts posthuman construction and adaptation to cyberculture. Prefiguring cyberculture, then, is a volume dedicated to tracing the intellectual history of cyberculture.


The surprise in this book, though, is that cyberculture has been arriving for quite some time, centuries in fact. In the book, cyber history is tracked by media critics and theorists, philosophers, and historians of science who explore the antecedents of contemporary technological culture sprinkled throughout key works and writers that anticipate cybercultural practice and theory, including Plato’s “The simile of the cave”; Descartes’ Meditations; Sir Thomas More’s Utopia; Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Butler’s Erewhon; de Chardin; Alan Turing; Philip K. Dick; William Gibson’s Neuromancer; Ray Bradbury; Arthur C. Clarke; Alvin Toffler; and the film, The Matrix. Also, artists explore how cybercultural themes have been envisioned in the visual arts with accompanying text.


The key works frame, but do not inhibit, the stimulating themes addressed by this volume. The 28 essays and artist statements, edited by three others, do not slavishly follow irrelevant historical texts or simply rehash old arguments, but they tease out meanings, reflections, and meditations on what it means to be cybernetic. Tofts suggests that the culture created by the human-computer interface has created an innovative creature: a posthuman. This new being is an intermingling of humanity and technology, which some have labeled cyborg, and others, one giant step for evolution.


These Western writers are hindered by the mostly rather weak middle portion of the book dedicated as it is to the oppressive mood of postmodernism, which bogs down the text. Gregory Ulmer’s “Reality Tables: Virtual Furniture” is unintelligible, spinning around textual tables, diagrams, and language, and throws in Elvis’ pelvis to boot. The highlight in the second section, though, is Scott McQwire’s definitive consideration of William Gibson’s cyberpunk novel Neuromancer. Although the volume as a whole is well done, too much of this middle portion of the book is stifled with jargon and parochial interests.


Yet the text is more than redeemed by an impressive opening section, and it ends with an impressive flourish in the last section of the book (punctuated by an artistic section in an interlude). Some of the contributions, noted below, are standouts. Erik Davis contributes a masterful opening salvo that rescues Descartes’ Meditations from the “punching bag” of criticism. In his capable hands, virtual reality, cyberspace, and The Matrix demonstrate that humans develop “authentic consciousness” by reawakening to ourselves. Samuel J. Umland and Karl Wessel consider Philip K. Dick’s work, as his work permeates the atmosphere for other writers in the text as well. In their prescient if somewhat disturbing essay, the authors maintain that technoscience is a sort of autistic endeavor, yet it generates an unintelligible message.


The fourth section is provocative as well. Margaret Wertheim illuminatingly finds an ideological discontinuity between More’s Utopia and Bacon’s New Atlantis. In contemporary positions, these two are represented by the utopian and idealistic virtual community (a la Howard Rheingold and Esther Dyson), or the era of the “dot.com barons,” paralleled by Atlantian figures. Bruce Mazlish contributes an impeccable study of Samuel Butler’s Erewhon as seen particularly in relief and in dialogue with Charles Darwin. The coda belongs to Mark Dery, who views Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal at New York’s JFK airport as a failed statement of contemporary society--air travel as a nervous endeavor, filled with freewheeling machines, monitored by defective humans.


Russell Blackford offers what is arguably the most important essay in this volume, “Stranger Than You Think: Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘Profile of the Future.’” This essay is timely and deserves a wider audience. Blackford notes that Clarke is not correct in a detailed exposition of the future, but he has been aptly prescient and thus deserves a reading. Clarke concludes that humanity may envision a “postbiological enhancement of the brain and body (page 1,261),” which is well worth considering.


This text deserves a broad readership and is replete with fascinating--even vital--ideas. As I progressed through the text, I found myself wondering whether the quality and suggestive ideas could really be that first-rate and be sustained throughout nearly the entire text. They were. This is quite an achievement for a work that is as ambitious and daring as cyberculture itself.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR132044 (0610-1036)


Reviewer Selected


Establishing and maintaining long-term human-computer relationships
Bickmore T., Picard R. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 12(2): 293-327, 2005. Type: Article
Date Reviewed: Nov 8 2005


Bickmore and Picard investigate the meaning of “human-computer relationships,” and present techniques for “constructing, maintaining, and evaluating such relationships.” Their primary conclusion is that they “have motivated the development of relational agents as a new field of research.”


Two particular relational benefits motivate the authors’ research: trust and task outcomes (like improved learning) known to be associated with relationship quality. The authors are concerned with evaluating whether agents “establish and maintain long-term social-emotional relationships with their users.” In their experiment, 101 users interacted daily with an exercise adoption system, for one month. Compared to an equivalent task-oriented agent, the computer-based relational agent was trusted more.


Placing agents on mobile devices could provide a potent combination of relationship building (an ever-present “buddy”) and behavior change (providing timely and appropriate interventions). Work should be done regarding the nature of the buddy. Examples of conversational systems, such as R2D2 in Star Wars, and the Microsoft Office Assistant, engendered mixed results: the former was cute and helpful, and the latter was intrusive and grating. There are also political and ethical considerations in designing a buddy. Should the buddy be a thing or a neuter object, as in the two examples above, or should it perhaps be a male, or, as in the authors’ study, a female? And, finally, as the authors note, these proactive buddy scenarios, which are monitoring us, raise issues of privacy and security: with whom do you let the buddy share which pieces of relational or personal information, and how does it earn your trust to do so?
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR132005 (0606-0637)


Privacy policies of the largest privately held companies: a review and analysis of the Forbes Private 50
Peslak A. Computer personnel research (Proceedings of the 2005 ACM SIGMIS CPR Conference on Computer Personnel Research, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Apr 14-16, 2005) 104-111. 2005. Type: Proceedings
Date Reviewed: Sep 29 2005


This study reviews the Internet privacy policies of the 50 largest privately held companies in the US, as identified by Forbes magazine. The Web sites of these companies were examined to see if they complied with practices that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued as guidelines, including posting information about the fair information practices promulgated by the FTC. In addition, the author compared the policies of these private companies to the largest publicly traded companies in the US.


One of the important findings of the study is the discovery that privately held companies are inconsistent in following fair information practices or consumer-centered Internet policies. More troubling, the 50 largest privately held companies are generally more lax in publicly revealing their fair information practices and consumer-centered policies than the 50 largest publicly held companies. To a large extent, this is due to the lack of any privacy policies for many privately held companies.


What this study demonstrates, more than anything else, is that there is cause for concern regarding the lack of a forthcoming nature among private companies. Further study on this topic is needed.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR131837 (0608-0874)


Oracle insights, tales of the oak table
Kyte T., Ensor D., Gorman T., Lewis J., McDonald C., Millsap C., Morle J., APress, LP, Berkeley, CA, 2004. 419 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: Feb 14 2005


This volume contains works by 11 leading Oracle experts, who share their first-hand, in-the-trenches expertise. This format allows a database administrator to read about expert experiences, using features that are “not exactly in the manual” and approved by Oracle, but arise from the practical and possibly unapproved uses of Oracle’s inner workings. In fact, the Oracle kernel has evolved over the years, and some of its most important innovations are in direct response to the projects described in this important work. The lessons honed here were first reported at conferences, in coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and, most especially, with pleasant camaraderie around a particular oak table.


The “oak table” reference in the subtitle refers to an international and informal network of Oracle experts who coalesced at Mogens Norgard’s house near Copenhagen. This informal network and companionship informs the expert knowledge that characterizes the approach taken in this volume, to relate war stories and seasoned problem solving capabilities. The decision to release a volume of this type means that we learn such things as who took only one philosophy/ethics class in college, whose ex is a physician, and who relieves themselves where while at Mogens’ house.


All of this is not to suggest that the contributors are less than serious in their Oracle capabilities. It does, however, typify how to read this work. It suggests that you can relish Oracle war stories, related with both expertise and accessibility, while you relaxingly think through knotty Oracle issues.


So, with its more light-hearted approach than most technical books, and a sense of humor, there is quite a bit to glean from this work. The 11 experts consider the patterns in building their respective systems, and relate them to Oracle issues. There is a rather broad range of problems discussed; some are old, some are new, but all can be related to contemporary issues likely to be encountered in Oracle applications.


The most general, but most accessible, chapter is “Testing and Risk Management.” As long as major software concerns release products that are as complex, unwieldy, and deficient as they are (and even the otherwise excellent Oracle product is), an inordinate amount of time will be spent managing software development with database administrators, or responding to business imperatives. This chapter, by Ruthven, is a sound, useful, and accessible introduction to overcoming these inevitable restrictions, as applied to Oracle applications. Another chapter, “Bad CaRMa,” makes a point similar to Ruthven’s, and is also along the same lines, lamenting a most spectacular failure: a customer relations management (CRM) debacle (hence the playful chapter title).


In fact, I found the inability to communicate across business areas to be the connecting theme in this volume, since it also appears in the chapter titled “Why I Invented YAPP” (page 152), as well as in “Extended SQL Trace Data” (page 163). This overarching theme, that information technology (IT) failures are often due to the silo mentality of separate business units, is not explicitly made, or summarized in an introductory piece, but perhaps it should have been.


The authors’ claim to “represent a wide spectrum of experience and knowledge...[that] would...allow all the OakTable network to share a lot of our stories” (page xxix). I feel they have achieved their goals. Though this work is often conversational, it is not for the faint of heart, given the detailed and technical nature of the topic. In order to profit from the text, one needs to be intimately associated with Oracle’s inner workings. Entire pages and sections are often nothing but technical code.


This is not a snazzy tips and nifty features type of Oracle book. You can find that in some other volumes on the market. In fact, some of the projects described herein are ten or more years old, and involve earlier versions of Oracle. However, there are certain consistencies in software projects, and these authors rightly derive their lessons from sound scientific principles, observation, prediction, experiments, and proofs. In any case, if you are a database practitioner in need of expert guidance, you can probably benefit from an international cast of Oracle characters to assist you through your biggest challenges, in a conversational and easily accessible volume filled with helpful tips.


This playful bunch never quits. A number of them report on the mythical, but based-on-real-life experiences of Brushco, a firm supposedly renting toilet brushes. I just know I’m missing out on some inside jokes there. Read this work if you want to know more about the inner workings of Oracle, with a healthy dash of puns and humor thrown into the mix.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR130815 (0511-1217)


Shaping the network society : the new role of civic society in cyberspace
Schuler D., Day P., MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2004. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: Nov 29 2004


Is there a technological or a social imperative with regard to the Internet? Does the ’Net have a definite direction, in light of its development? These are some of the most important “big picture” concerns of the editors, Douglas Schuler and Peter Day, former chair of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), and lecturer at the University of Brighton, UK, respectively.


Technology is predominant in the business world, but this volume examines the activities of progressive community activists, in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), to meet the challenges of society. The primary concern of the editors, then, is to publish the contributors who describe the emergence of civil society in cyberspace.


Their range is far reaching: they describe human rights in the “global billboard society”; public computing in Toledo, Ohio; public digital culture in Amsterdam; “civil networking” in the former Yugoslavia; information technology and the international public sphere; “historical archaeologies” of community networks; “technographical” reflections on the future; libraries as information commons; and globalization and media democracy, as portrayed by Indymedia, a global collective of independent media organizations.


One major limitation of this volume is its belated appearance, and the meager results of civility that are described. The Internet has been around for some time, long enough if truly progressive activities were to be forthcoming, but the activities described herein appear paltry in a historical perspective.


Interesting in itself, one typical example is the self-titled “slow food” movement, originally from Italy, with all of 65,000 members. The contributors make no reference to existing cultural mores, in pre-network society, which may be part and parcel of such movements. A European cultural ideal may favor dining, and slowly, without the mechanism of cyber society. This point should be grounded in possible historical precedents. Perhaps more importantly, these admirable socially conscious movements make no reference to preexisting impulses for authentic human existence, something both adherents advocate. These preexisting movements, namely, religious communities in monasteries, have been around for centuries, and additionally offer trenchant critiques of issues the contributors claim is their central concern. However, the religionists are totally ignored.


On the other hand, a focus to be more inclusive could have included some aspects of the business world, although the editors seek to be unsullied by the world of profit. An entire volume without a discussion of instant messaging and speeded up communication seems shortsighted in a work such as this. At the very least, some discussion of what community means via the ’Net seems appropriate, and a consideration of advocacy in these new forms of communication would be well placed.


My point here is that the editors end up being more parochial than I’m sure they intend to be, and unnecessarily. The shaping of network civil society by cultural critics may be broader and more historically grounded than they suspect.


Also disturbing, as noted above, is the limited scope of the cited examples of progressivism. Holland’s experiment with free ’Net access proved unworkable; in South America, the civil society has had limited success; libraries which might be beacons of free inquiry have filters even for adults; and the lessons of Blacksburg and Seattle seem to demonstrate that small- to medium-sized cities can only muster relative success on a local basis.


These comments are not to disparage the real and fascinatingly positive accounts provided in the text, however. Veran Matic artfully describes civil networking in the hostile former Yugoslavia. In this antagonistic environment, he outlines the struggles to maintain a reliable flow of news and information, and the heroic, resourceful means to do so. If only this example were replicated on a global basis, and in repressive areas, I would find the cyberspace civil society more convincing. Likewise, Scott Robinson’s “Rethinking Telecenters” examines the largely positive example of Mexican migrant organizations as a catalyst for change in the microbank rollout. Another one of the volume’s strong analyses of a mid-sized city, Toledo, is instructive, at least, for Americans who base their progressivism on a mostly typical American community.


The volume is best viewed as an updating of analyses from the renowned Frankfurt School in Germany. Juergen Habermas wrote before the Internet era, but the contributors here are of the same vein. Their contribution is that they have extended his analysis to Internet civil society. The question is whether the School is well served by a volume that treats the Internet as if it is yet to come, when it has in fact arrived, matured, and spun off in distinctly unprogressive directions. This volume will not allay fears that the unprogressive aspects of ’Net culture will be mitigated by progressive movements. They are too small to have much of an impact, and remain on the fringes of networking, if they are a blip on the radar at all.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR130468 (0507-0783)


From airline reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog : a history of the software industry
Campbell-Kelly M., MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2004. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: Sep 15 2004


In this book, Campbell-Kelly concentrates on the history of software companies, but not the software or the technology itself. Software history is defined specifically as the history of software businesses. This book is clearly in the business history camp; if you are interested in software history, or a history of the technology, you will not find it here, except in passing. The subtitle is telling: “a history of the software industry.”


Given the author’s focus, certain topics are highlighted as illustrative of the software industry, which has grown to become the fourth largest industrial sector of the US economy. There are “three main vectors of explanation” (page 3). The first is chronological, tracing software developments from the mid-1950s to the book’s ending point (about 1995). Second is the industry’s developed sectors: software contractors and corporate software products. Last is mass-market software products.


Roughly, though coincidently, these three sectors of software businesses emerged in decade-long intervals. The software contracting sector developed alongside the corporate mainframe computer, in the mid-1950s. Typically, this solo contractor period is characterized by programmers who wrote one-of-a-kind, expensive programs for a corporate client. By the mid-1960s, and with the release of IBM’s System/360 computer family, corporate software products emerged in larger numbers, creating a broader market for lower cost software, as contrasted with the first period of software history. With the arrival of the personal computer in the mid-1970s, a market opened for mass-market software. Relatively cheap (typically $100 to $500 in cost), these commonly available shrink-wrapped packages sold in large volume.


Campbell-Kelly’s taxonomy of the software industry correctly observes that no one firm is at the center of the software world, specifically, not the one that many people seem to believe is there, namely Microsoft. He describes other lucrative software products, such as IBM’s Customer Information Control System (CICS), a terrific example of the “invisible software infrastructure that runs the modern corporation” (page 149). For more than 30 years, CICS “has been the world’s best-selling computer program” (page 149). Where there is an automated teller machine (ATM) accessed, a travel reservation made, or a retail credit card purchase made, chances are CICS is employed. Along these lines, SAP’s R/3 product is dominating as well. SAP’s market share of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software market stood at 33 percent in 1995.


These critical products run unobtrusively in the background of the modern corporation, and are little recognized by the general public; the author hopes to “provide a corrective to the common misconception that Microsoft is the center of the software universe” (page 9). Microsoft’s market share is roughly ten percent, approximating the amount of space that Campbell-Kelly devotes to the firm in this work.


I am, however, uncomfortable with the author’s discussion of Microsoft. He takes pains to diminish Microsoft’s importance in the history of software, though he recognizes its impact, and articulates the company’s accomplishments clearly enough. This is the major limitation of the work. Since, as Campbell-Kelly acknowledges, Microsoft is one of the few companies to survive the tumultuous rise of the personal computer era, more needs to be explained. A corrective is sorely needed, as he points out, since much previous literature on Microsoft is lacking in explanatory power. A business that placed so many of its products on desktops in America requires elucidation.


The author is also weak on programming developments. His discussion of the FORTRAN and COBOL programming languages could be considerably stronger. His account of how COBOL became, with FORTRAN, one of the twin peaks, accounting “for two-thirds of the applications programming activity of the 1960s and the 1970s” is lacking (page 36); this development occupies less than two pages of the text. The author does not provide enough reasons for how COBOL became so crucial; he only mentions that the US Department of Defense encouraged private companies to adopt this as a standard.


One troublesome aspect of the author’s analysis is his tendency to expect that a statement of raw dollars and financial figures is explicative. The finances are not adjusted for inflation, or placed in clear enough historical contexts for the numbers to be meaningful. The author even states, at one point, that the statistics speak for themselves. No, they don’t. The historian must interpret and interpose a meaningful framework on the explicated numbers for the figures to make sense.


By and large, this is a useful book, but with the above-noted limitations. I feel that a person interested solely in company history can read the volume beneficially. Expanding the areas noted above, on the historical context, and the technology used, would not deviate from, but I think would have enhanced, the author’s intended purposes.


Last, I love the title, with one important caveat. It does imply that Sonic the Hedgehog somehow equals the truly revolutionary and durable Sabre airline reservation system. But this is, of course, not the case.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR130128 (0504-0438)


An information systems perspective on ethical trade and self-regulation
Duncombe R., Heeks R. Information Technology for Development 10(2): 123-138, 2003. Type: Article
Date Reviewed: Jul 28 2004


Duncombe and Heeks describe how ethical trade initiatives are increasing due to the concern that globalizing trade does not benefit “producers in developing countries” (page 123). “Ethical trade” is represented by organizations such as the UK’s Ethical Trading Initiative, which is a voluntary code of conduct among large producers, intended to benefit workers’ rights, human rights, and other social and environmental development goals.


This self-regulation is an alternative to more traditional forms of regulation, originating from state control, or from binding national or international agreements. According to the authors, ethical trade allows stakeholders to harmonize their efforts to set voluntary standards governing developing country workplaces enveloped by the global supply chain.


The liberal concerns of the authors are all well and good; however, I am uncomfortable with their working assumptions, which are that ethical trade “moves beyond” (page 123) other forms of regulation, and that it is also “more appropriate to a globalized, liberalized economy” (page 123).


In regards to its moral superiority, ethical trade wins hands down over traditional regulation, which I might agree with; however, in what way ethical trade is moving beyond state sanctions is not clear, nor am I convinced that ethical trade is more appropriate, or, most importantly, advantageous over other forms of the liberal, global economy.


I’m not sure developing world programmers, for example, have been harmed by American companies outsourcing their work. They indeed may have benefited by the cruel and inhumane Hobbesian world of traditional economics.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR129935 (0501-0115)


Computer ethics and professional responsibility : introductory text and readings
Bynum T., Rogerson S., Blackwell Publishers, Inc., Cambridge, MA, 2003. 400 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: Jun 17 2004


This book is a direct response to the need for “social and professional” undergraduate content, called for in a key educational guideline, Computing curricula 1991 (page xvii). The premise of the editors is that the information revolution is not merely technological, but fundamentally social and ethical (page 2). In fact, over the years, the professional associations of computer practitioners have recognized and required “standards of professional responsibility for their members” (page 2).


The editors note the crucial, but still exploratory connections between computer ethics and human values; in addition, they summarize the historical milestones in computer ethics. Their brief, but important introductory essay provides useful background for what follows. Thereafter, the book’s sound organization easily allows an instructor to use the text, in part or in total. The editors state: “the book is divided into four parts, each of which includes (1) an editors’ introduction to provide background and context, (2) relevant essays by computer ethics thinkers, (3) a specific case to consider and analyze, (4) a set of helpful study questions, and (5) a short list of additional readings and Web resources to deepen one’s knowledge of the topic (page 10).”


The text’s organization lends itself to ease of adoption. Supplemental Web materials are available at http://www.computerethics.org and http://www.ccsr.cse.dmu.ac.uk. The four topic areas of the text are “What Is Computer Ethics?” “Professional Responsibility,” “Codes of Ethics,” and “Sample Topics in Computer Ethics.” As with any multi-authored edited volume, the individual chapters are of varying worth and utility, depending on interests or pedagogical needs, but I do want to emphasize the high quality of these selections.


I enthusiastically welcome this much-needed volume. In it, important terms by seminal thinkers elucidate the key issues in computer ethics. James Moor describes computing as a “universal tool,” which is “logically malleable” because the technology is “shaped and molded to perform nearly any task” (page 2).


My enthusiasm for this volume is tempered, however, by a caveat or two. Many people are so dazzled by technology that they optimistically view things like computing as liberating. Moor states: “the Gulf War was about information and the lack of it” (page 24) and “better that data die, than people” (page 25). Although General Schwarzkopf remarked that the enemy capitulated because of a lack of information, and Moor speculates that computing may allow fewer physical combatants, physical death is still just as brutally real as ever, nor is there any evidence to suggest that technology humanizes atrocities. The recent beheading of Nicholas Berg in Iraq springs immediately to mind.


Nonetheless, Moor views computers as special and unique, and thus the ethical issues associated with them are largely unprecedented historically. “Computer ethics is a special field” is something he states repeatedly (page 26). However, with this optimistic premise, Moor overstates the case for the special civilizing qualities of computing. Heidegger provides a useful caution: modern technology also is a means to an end.


Bynum also too sharply associates ethical knowledge with formal training, in describing his program for a method in case analysis. In contrast, Jack Rogers and Forrest Baird wrote a fine introductory philosophy textbook using case analysis, and assuming very little background for readers, in their book [1].


Bynum intellectualizes ethics unnecessarily. Bynum’s method includes an admonition to “call upon your own ethical knowledge and skills” (page 68), but then he also states that readers should “take advantage of one or more systematic analysis techniques” (page 69). He maintains that people usually do not have recourse to professional philosophy “or attempt to use broad philosophical principles” derived from, typically let’s say, Kant or Bentham (page 62).


This is surely wrong though. We can point out an analogy to the field of health care. Although most of us are not educated as physicians, almost all of us practice medical knowledge culled from schools, training, reading, hear-say, family stories, and so on. Likewise, commonly held ethical views are derived from these sources as well, and during somewhat more formal instruction in churches, synagogues, and temples. Not surprisingly, after teaching ethics to undergraduates for years, I am no longer surprised to scratch the surface and find pseudo-Kantians and Benthamites abounding.


When all is said and done, however, this volume deserves a wide reading. Although it addresses the specific need for undergraduate ethical content, many more computer practitioners should read this work. These handily collected essays are not only worthwhile reading, but should also be required reading for most computer professionals. If computing professionals have not read, or are not familiar with, this volume’s contents, they would be well served by a sound consideration of the issues contained therein.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR129776 (0412-1466)
1) Rogers, J.; Baird, F. Introduction to philosophy: a case study approach. Harper and Row, New York, NY, 1981.


The government machine : a revolutionary history of the computer
Agar J., MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2003. 576 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: May 7 2004


In this book, the author describes how the British government exemplifies the metaphor of organization as machine, and consequently adopts systematic procedures, statistical methods, and ultimately, electronic computers.


Agar examines philosophical metaphors associated with two centuries of Western thought. Central to this examination are philosophical warhorses ranging from Machiavelli, through Bodin, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Mill, to Marx and Bagehot. The author is on illuminating ground here, and he interestingly demonstrates the interplay between these various mechanistic metaphors, and the practical politics of early nineteenth century politicians such as Charles Babbage, with the scholarly understanding of the period as demonstrated in the work of Otto Mayr. This is all well and good.


Agar's real concern, however, is the "relationship of humans and machines,"; as it relates "to a peculiarly important machine: the general-purpose computer" (page 3). Furthermore, he argues "that the apotheosis of the civil servant can be found," albeit, surprisingly, in the computer (page 3). Agar's argument is that the government machine par excellence is the permanent civil service. Following Habermas' argument, regarding the "scientization of politics," nineteenth century British governance relies less on gentlemanly codes of conduct, and more on rational and professional routines of specialist expertise (page 7).


The standard historiography [1,2] maintains that experts degenerated to mere specialists, demoted to generalist products as servants to the civil service. Agar takes issue with this perspective, and demonstrates that overlapping and succeeding experts continue to arise.


He is convincing here, and I do not doubt that the civil service continued to be characterized by specialized technocrats, the expert statisticians of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bureaucratization of Britain most significantly takes place in the Treasury. Most importantly, though, for the history of computing, is that warfare alters informational techniques.


Expertise informs "the culture of the wartime command economy" (page 12). It is at this moment that the first stored-program electronic computer enters the story. Wartime organizations combine their expertise, concerned as they are with military prowess, and at Manchester University, a computer is built.


The main course of Agar's argument is that government administration and office mechanization are inextricably connected, and thus, from 1945 through the 1970s, the Treasury's Organization and Methods movement held sway. Thereafter, though, computerization is more controversial, since it failed to deliver (circa the 1980s through 1990s). More recently, computers have been embroiled in debates concerning big government (page 12).


I do take issue with certain aspects of this book. Agar is on good ground with the philosophical metaphor of mechanization. I find more troubling, though, his analysis of the relationship between humans and machines, and a point he never addresses regarding his own use of evidence.


A series of illustrations is used to supplement his points regarding the civil servant as a computing machine. Although an arranged Victorian bureaucrat's desk set is displayed, as typical for museum viewing, in an idealized fashion, the same conclusion should not be drawn for human subjects. Thus, the circa 1920 Egyptians pictured in Figure 5.3, the woman operating a 1930s machine in Figure 5.9, a "typical government office of the early twentieth century"; (Figure 5.13), "more mechanized government" (Figure 5.13), and the six Royal Air Force pictures (Figure 6.9) do not support Agar's contention. The machines, the people, and thus the portrayals are completely staged and sanitized for formal pictures. These offices look like no real offices that people inhabit. Not a hair on their heads is mussed, and not a snippet of paper is out of place. Servants are machines? Not in genuine offices inhabited by human beings.


More troubling, perhaps, is the title of this volume. A review is necessary to elucidate the actual contents of this text. People interested in computing history will find less that interests them here than they might expect in a volume subtitled "A revolutionary history of the computer." Along these lines, this is, indeed, not a general history of the computer at all, but, more strictly speaking, an examination of how the British governmental bureaucracy mechanized its operations, and unwittingly paved the way for the ultimate efficiency, the mechanical tool of the computer, and the drones who run them. People not interested in this more peculiarly British development should pass on this volume.


Finally, the volume needs minor editing. Randomly, I noted a necessary article needed on page 2, and a second parenthesis required on page 501. I am a bit taken aback that the publisher did not catch these edits before publishing. Also, the text would be clearer with a list of illustrations (there is none), and, most importantly, a bibliography would have been very helpful.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR129566 (0411-1332)
1) MacLeod, R. Government and expertise. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, 1988.
2) MacDonagh, O. The nineteenth century revolution in government: a reappraisal. Historical Journal 1, (1958), 52 & 67.


Technology in the social studies classroom
Agostino V. In Challenges of teaching with technology across the curriculum. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing, 2003. Type: Book Chapter
Date Reviewed: Jan 6 2004


Agostino’s essay surveys technology in the K-12 social studies classroom. Claude Shannon, digital visionary at MIT, is his starting point, as is the seminal thinker, Marshall McCluhan (1911-1980), of “the medium is the message” fame. From the historical basis of how significant the media is, rather than content, the substance of Shannon’s and McCluhan’s research justifies Agostino’s leap to examine social studies-based technologies.


Hot or cold media, according to McCluhan’s key insight, discriminates between effective and useless mediums, and thus is key for using technology in the social sciences. How instruction is packaged electronically--whether TV, radio, or Internet--affects the perceiver’s understanding of the information.


A hot medium enflames the mind and imagination of the user; the user participates and reacts emotionally and intellectually. Cold media, by contrast, negates involvement, sending information regardless of receivership. Who has not seen a TV blaring away, privately or publicly, without human connection?


Agostino promisingly notes how the technologies associated with social studies matured from cold to hot media. However, other than a summary of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) standards, an evaluation of criteria for social studies software and Web sites, and references to key sources, there is little here that is original, easily found elsewhere, or is all that helpful. Agostino’s suggestion that social studies teachers might integrate technology in their classes--central to his alleged interest in the classroom--is evocative of a sound chapter topic that would have been a genuine contribution, but that is not the chapter we have here.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR128850 (0405-0615)


Who invented the computer? : The Legal Battle That Changed Computing History
Burks A., Hofstadter D., Prometheus Books, 2002. 415 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: Oct 10 2003


Burks’ history attempts to uncover the critical relationship, and divergent accounts of invention between, two computing pioneers. In 1941, University of Pennsylvania physicist John Mauchly visited physics professor John Atanasoff at Iowa State University to discuss Atanasoff’s current project, thereafter known as the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC). Interestingly, not five years later, Mauchly was acclaimed as the inventor of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC). What ideas germinated between Mauchly and Atanasoff became grist for an exhaustive patent trial, and a source of historical controversy. In 1973, Judge Earl L. Larson named Atanasoff as the computer’s inventor. Despite Larson’s decision, credit for inventing the computer often favors Mauchly.


In light of the lengthy Larson trial, Burks asserts two critical points. First, Atanasoff rightly deserves due recognition for inventing the computer among scholars, and, second, there is a popular lack in acknowledging Larson’s verdict (p. 17). It should be noted, however, that Burks is a principal in published debates over computer origins, and her husband, Arthur, was an associate of Mauchly’s on the ENIAC project. Despite a suspicion of favoritism, I admire her even tone; she remains dispassionate throughout the text, despite contentious debate over her work in collaboration with, and as an associate of, her husband. On the other hand, I found Burk’s potential bias troubling, but not for the obvious reason; the Burks possibly favor Atanasoff, precisely because Arthur did know Mauchly well. This point is not addressed.


In any case, Burks exhibits a trial-like presentation, first placing the computer competitors at odds, then testifying, then subsequently offering a closing argument. The trial arrangement is clever, but distracting; academic voices are not incorporated well throughout the work.


Unorthodox distractions mar the work. I am sidetracked by Burks, busy with her trial presentation, arranging countervailing voices (Herman Goldstine, for example, and nemesis Nancy Stern et al., introduced late in her text). Burks is aware, according to a note in her bibliography, that Goldstine published a computer history with Princeton University Press. Goldstine’s history, however, is not noted in her index.


Moreover, Stern’s various works, in particular her From ENIAC to UNIVAC, are still regarded well by historians, which Burks acknowledges. Nonetheless, the historical profession can and does make mistakes, thus a revisionist history would be welcome. Burks, however, does not provide enough evidence to convince historians to disagree with Stern’s conclusions regarding innovation versus invention. Mauchly adapted ideas and rendered them practical, thus, for historians, Mauchly is best viewed as the computer’s key innovator.


Two other academic fields are represented in Burks’ work. Gerald U. Brock and David J. Kuck, an economist and a computer scientist, respectively, both recognize Atanasoff’s priority in computer history. Chapter 7 (of 13 chapters), “Other Voices,” addresses other works on this question. This chapter’s topic should be discussed early, and incorporated throughout the book.


Burks also has a troubling, non-academic way of attributing credit, quoting sources, and following academic convention. She refers at one point (p. 31), in a statement with no footnote or attributed source, to a discussion between Arthur and Mauchly. This is hearsay evidence quoted as fact. At another point (p. 405), she states that a friend told “us” (presumably herself and Arthur) about a Philadelphia presentation favoring Mauchly, a statement with which Burks obviously does not agree. Nonetheless, this third-hand information is assumed to be reliable, and is included. In short, the work suffers from the lack of a meticulous academic editor, who would have pruned these shortcomings to strengthen the book.


If this is not a scholarly history, is it valueless? No. The text correctly identifies Atanasoff as the genuine inventor of the computer, and Burks’ engaging writing style is accessible to a popular audience: those most likely to view Mauchly as the inventor of the computer. The text includes a clever, well done “As It Happened” section, which reads more like a novel, and is a fresh, clarifying approach to a complex history. I also appreciated the extensive quotes from Larson’s decision (p. 146 - 148), which is generally not given serious weight in popular presentations of computer history, a fact the author documents well throughout her work.


Thanks to Burks, the public will read of a scientific community far more divided, disorganized, and contentious than they suspect. The intended audience for this book is a well-versed reader; such readers will benefit greatly from a favorably designed, illustrated, and accurate account of computer history.
Reviewer: G. Mick Smith Review #: CR128354 (0401-0013)

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Reading since summer 2006 (some of the classics are re-reads): including magazine subscriptions

  • Abbot, Edwin A., Flatland;
  • Accelerate: Technology Driving Business Performance;
  • ACM Queue: Architecting Tomorrow's Computing;
  • Adkins, Lesley and Roy A. Adkins, Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome;
  • Ali, Ayaan Hirsi, Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations;
  • Ali, Tariq, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads, and Modernity;
  • Allawi, Ali A., The Crisis of Islamic Civilization;
  • Alperovitz, Gar, The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb;
  • American School & University: Shaping Facilities & Business Decisions;
  • Angelich, Jane, What's a Mother (in-Law) to Do?: 5 Essential Steps to Building a Loving Relationship with Your Son's New Wife;
  • Arad, Yitzchak, In the Shadow of the Red Banner: Soviet Jews in the War Against Nazi Germany;
  • Aristotle, Athenian Constitution. Eudemian Ethics. Virtues and Vices. (Loeb Classical Library No. 285);
  • Aristotle, Metaphysics: Books X-XIV, Oeconomica, Magna Moralia (The Loeb classical library);
  • Armstrong, Karen, A History of God;
  • Arrian: Anabasis of Alexander, Books I-IV (Loeb Classical Library No. 236);
  • Atkinson, Rick, The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (Liberation Trilogy);
  • Auletta, Ken, Googled: The End of the World As We Know It;
  • Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice;
  • Bacevich, Andrew, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism;
  • Baker, James A. III, and Lee H. Hamilton, The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward - A New Approach;
  • Barber, Benjamin R., Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy;
  • Barnett, Thomas P.M., Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating;
  • Barnett, Thomas P.M., The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century;
  • Barron, Robert, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith;
  • Baseline: Where Leadership Meets Technology;
  • Baur, Michael, Bauer, Stephen, eds., The Beatles and Philosophy;
  • Beard, Charles Austin, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (Sony Reader);
  • Benjamin, Daniel & Steven Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam's War Against America;
  • Bergen, Peter, The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader;
  • Berman, Paul, Terror and Liberalism;
  • Berman, Paul, The Flight of the Intellectuals: The Controversy Over Islamism and the Press;
  • Better Software: The Print Companion to StickyMinds.com;
  • Bleyer, Kevin, Me the People: One Man's Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America;
  • Boardman, Griffin, and Murray, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Roman World;
  • Bracken, Paul, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics;
  • Bradley, James, with Ron Powers, Flags of Our Fathers;
  • Bronte, Charlotte, Jane Eyre;
  • Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights;
  • Brown, Ashley, War in Peace Volume 10 1974-1984: The Marshall Cavendish Encyclopedia of Postwar Conflict;
  • Brown, Ashley, War in Peace Volume 8 The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of Postwar Conflict;
  • Brown, Nathan J., When Victory Is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics;
  • Bryce, Robert, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence";
  • Bush, George W., Decision Points;
  • Bzdek, Vincent, The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled;
  • Cahill, Thomas, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter;
  • Campus Facility Maintenance: Promoting a Healthy & Productive Learning Environment;
  • Campus Technology: Empowering the World of Higher Education;
  • Certification: Tools and Techniques for the IT Professional;
  • Channel Advisor: Business Insights for Solution Providers;
  • Chariton, Callirhoe (Loeb Classical Library);
  • Chief Learning Officer: Solutions for Enterprise Productivity;
  • Christ, Karl, The Romans: An Introduction to Their History and Civilization;
  • Cicero, De Senectute;
  • Cicero, The Republic, The Laws;
  • Cicero, The Verrine Orations I: Against Caecilius. Against Verres, Part I; Part II, Book 1 (Loeb Classical Library);
  • Cicero, The Verrine Orations I: Against Caecilius. Against Verres, Part I; Part II, Book 2 (Loeb Classical Library);
  • CIO Decisions: Aligning I.T. and Business in the MidMarket Enterprise;
  • CIO Insight: Best Practices for IT Business Leaders;
  • CIO: Business Technology Leadership;
  • Clay, Lucius Du Bignon, Decision in Germany;
  • Cohen, William S., Dragon Fire;
  • Colacello, Bob, Ronnie and Nancy: Their Path to the White House, 1911 to 1980;
  • Coll, Steve, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century;
  • Collins, Francis S., The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief ;
  • Colorni, Angelo, Israel for Beginners: A Field Guide for Encountering the Israelis in Their Natural Habitat;
  • Compliance & Technology;
  • Computerworld: The Voice of IT Management;
  • Connolly, Peter & Hazel Dodge, The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens & Rome;
  • Conti, Greg, Googling Security: How Much Does Google Know About You?;
  • Converge: Strategy and Leadership for Technology in Education;
  • Cowan, Ross, Roman Legionary 58 BC - AD 69;
  • Cowell, F. R., Life in Ancient Rome;
  • Creel, Richard, Religion and Doubt: Toward a Faith of Your Own;
  • Cross, Robin, General Editor, The Encyclopedia of Warfare: The Changing Nature of Warfare from Prehistory to Modern-day Armed Conflicts;
  • CSO: The Resource for Security Executives:
  • Cummins, Joseph, History's Greatest Wars: The Epic Conflicts that Shaped the Modern World;
  • D'Amato, Raffaele, Imperial Roman Naval Forces 31 BC-AD 500;
  • Dallek, Robert, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963;
  • Daly, Dennis, Sophocles' Ajax;
  • Dando-Collins, Stephen, Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome;
  • Darwish, Nonie, Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror;
  • Davis Hanson, Victor, Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The Blind Watchmaker;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The God Delusion;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The Selfish Gene;
  • de Blij, Harm, Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America, Climate Change, The Rise of China, and Global Terrorism;
  • Defense Systems: Information Technology and Net-Centric Warfare;
  • Defense Systems: Strategic Intelligence for Info Centric Operations;
  • Defense Tech Briefs: Engineering Solutions for Military and Aerospace;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Consciousness Explained;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Darwin's Dangerous Idea;
  • Devries, Kelly, et. al., Battles of the Ancient World 1285 BC - AD 451 : From Kadesh to Catalaunian Field;
  • Dickens, Charles, Great Expectations;
  • Digital Communities: Building Twenty-First Century Communities;
  • Doctorow, E.L., Homer & Langley;
  • Dodds, E. R., The Greeks and the Irrational;
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The House of the Dead (Google Books, Sony e-Reader);
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The Idiot;
  • Douglass, Elisha P., Rebels and Democrats: The Struggle for Equal Political Rights and Majority Role During the American Revolution;
  • Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, The Hound of the Baskervilles & The Valley of Fear;
  • Dr. Dobb's Journal: The World of Software Development;
  • Drug Discovery News: Discovery/Development/Diagnostics/Delivery;
  • DT: Defense Technology International;
  • Dunbar, Richard, Alcatraz;
  • Education Channel Partner: News, Trends, and Analysis for K-20 Sales Professionals;
  • Edwards, Aton, Preparedness Now!;
  • EGM: Electronic Gaming Monthly, the No. 1 Videogame Magazine;
  • Ehrman, Bart D., Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scriptures and the Faiths We Never Knew;
  • Ehrman, Bart D., Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why;
  • Electronic Engineering Times: The Industry Newsweekly for the Creators of Technology;
  • Ellis, Joseph J., American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson;
  • Ellis, Joseph J., His Excellency: George Washington;
  • Emergency Management: Strategy & Leadership in Critical Times;
  • Emerson, Steven, American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us;
  • Erlewine, Robert, Monotheism and Tolerance: Recovering a Religion of Reason (Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion);
  • ESD: Embedded Systems Design;
  • Everitt, Anthony, Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor;
  • Everitt, Anthony, Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician;
  • eWeek: The Enterprise Newsweekly;
  • Federal Computer Week: Powering the Business of Government;
  • Ferguson, Niall, Civilization: The West and the Rest;
  • Ferguson, Niall, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power;
  • Ferguson, Niall, The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000;
  • Ferguson, Niall, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Decline of the West;
  • Feuerbach, Ludwig, The Essence of Christianity (Sony eReader);
  • Fields, Nic, The Roman Army of the Principate 27 BC-AD 117;
  • Fields, Nic, The Roman Army of the Punic Wars 264-146 BC;
  • Fields, Nic, The Roman Army: the Civil Wars 88-31 BC;
  • Finkel, Caroline, Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire;
  • Fisk, Robert, The Great War For Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East;
  • Forstchen, William R., One Second After;
  • Fox, Robin Lane, The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian;
  • Frazer, James George, The Golden Bough (Volume 3): A Study in Magic and Religion (Sony eReader);
  • Freeh, Louis J., My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror;
  • Freeman, Charles, The Greek Achievement: The Foundations of the Western World;
  • Friedman, Thomas L. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century Further Updated and Expanded/Release 3.0;
  • Friedman, Thomas L., The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization;
  • Frontinus: Stratagems. Aqueducts of Rome. (Loeb Classical Library No. 174);
  • Fuller Focus: Fuller Theological Seminary;
  • Fuller, Graham E., A World Without Islam;
  • Gaubatz, P. David and Paul Sperry, Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America;
  • Ghattas, Kim, The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power;
  • Gibson, William, Neuromancer;
  • Gilmour, Michael J., Gods and Guitars: Seeking the Sacred in Post-1960s Popular Music;
  • Global Services: Strategies for Sourcing People, Processes, and Technologies;
  • Glucklich, Ariel, Dying for Heaven: Holy Pleasure and Suicide Bombers-Why the Best Qualities of Religion Are Also It's Most Dangerous;
  • Goldberg, Jonah, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning;
  • Goldin, Shmuel, Unlocking the Torah Text Vayikra (Leviticus);
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian, Caesar: Life of a Colossus;
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian, How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower;
  • Goodman, Lenn E., Creation and Evolution;
  • Goodwin, Doris Kearns, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln;
  • Gopp, Amy, et.al., Split Ticket: Independent Faith in a Time of Partisan Politics (WTF: Where's the Faith?);
  • Gordon, Michael R., and Bernard E. Trainor, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq;
  • Government Health IT: The Magazine of Public/private Health Care Convergence;
  • Government Technology's Emergency Management: Strategy & Leadership in Critical Times;
  • Government Technology: Solutions for State and Local Government in the Information Age;
  • Grant , Michael, The Climax of Rome: The Final Achievements of the Ancient World, AD 161 - 337;
  • Grant, Michael, The Classical Greeks;
  • Grumberg, Orna, and Helmut Veith, 25 Years of Model Checking: History, Achievements, Perspectives;
  • Halberstam, David, War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals;
  • Hammer, Reuven, Entering Torah Prefaces to the Weekly Torah Portion;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, An Autumn of War: What America Learned from September 11 and the War on Terrorism;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Between War and Peace: Lessons from Afghanistan to Iraq;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, How The Obama Administration Threatens Our National Security (Encounter Broadsides);
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Ripples of Battle: How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, The End of Sparta: A Novel;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Wars of the Ancient Greeks;
  • Harnack, Adolf Von, History of Dogma, Volume 3 (Sony Reader);
  • Harris, Alex, Reputation At Risk: Reputation Report;
  • Harris, Sam, Letter to a Christian Nation;
  • Harris, Sam, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason;
  • Hayek, F. A., The Road to Serfdom;
  • Heilbroner, Robert L., and Lester Thurow, Economics Explained: Everything You Need to Know About How the Economy Works and Where It's Going;
  • Hempel, Sandra, The Strange Case of The Broad Street Pump: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera;
  • Hinnells, John R., A Handbook of Ancient Religions;
  • Hitchens, Christopher, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything;
  • Hogg, Ian V., The Encyclopedia of Weaponry: The Development of Weaponry from Prehistory to 21st Century Warfare;
  • Hugo, Victor, The Hunchback of Notre Dame;
  • Humphrey, Caroline & Vitebsky, Piers, Sacred Architecture;
  • Huntington, Samuel P., The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order;
  • Info World: Information Technology News, Computer Networking & Security;
  • Information Week: Business Innovation Powered by Technology:
  • Infostor: The Leading Source for Enterprise Storage Professionals;
  • Infrastructure Insite: Bringing IT Together;
  • Insurance Technology: Business Innovation Powered by Technology;
  • Integrated Solutions: For Enterprise Content Management;
  • Intel Premier IT: Sharing Best Practices with the Information Technology Community;
  • Irwin, Robert, Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents;
  • Jeffrey, Grant R., The Global-Warming Deception: How a Secret Elite Plans to Bankrupt America and Steal Your Freedom;
  • Jewkes, Yvonne, and Majid Yar, Handbook of Internet Crime;
  • Johnson, Chalmers, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire;
  • Journal, The: Transforming Education Through Technology;
  • Judd, Denis, The Lion and the Tiger: The Rise and Fall of the British Raj, 1600-1947;
  • Kagan, Donald, The Peloponnesian War;
  • Kansas, Dave, The Wall Street Journal Guide to the End of Wall Street as We Know It: What You Need to Know About the Greatest Financial Crisis of Our Time--and How to Survive It;
  • Karsh, Efraim, Islamic Imperialism: A History;
  • Kasser, Rodolphe, The Gospel of Judas;
  • Katz, Solomon, The Decline of Rome and the Rise of Medieval Europe: (The Development of Western Civilization);
  • Keegan, John, Intelligence in War: The Value--and Limitations--of What the Military Can Learn About the Enemy;
  • Kenis, Leo, et. al., The Transformation of the Christian Churches in Western Europe 1945-2000 (Kadoc Studies on Religion, Culture and Society 6);
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