Monday 25 February 2008

Friday 22 February 2008

Annotating Ancient Inscriptions

A really interesting demo by Tom Elliot (NYU) and Sean Gillies, allowing users to trace letter forms over image inscriptions using SVG. See an overview, and try it out for yourself.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

New Tech Review

Interesting review of some new, commonly available colour production technology, forwarded to me by one of my students (thanks Kim!).

Thursday 14 February 2008

The Academy Ruins the World

... Interesting sounding piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education: "Academic Travel Causes Global Warming".

How many times have you asked yourself, 'Did I really need to fly to New York to hear that?

Of course, I sent this blog post from a long distance train.... (god bless wifi).

Wednesday 13 February 2008

Research Talk

Inbetween eBaying, I actually do some research. Yesterday headed over to Oxford for a meeting at the e-Science Research Centre about our "e-Science, Text and Technology" project, which just officially kicked off in January, so the new members of staff are hitting their stride now. Its a good team, and things are starting to move along now - hope to have something interesting to share at some point soon. The project runs for the next 3 years. No website yet - its on the to do list over the next few months.

The aim of the project is to provide computational tools to aid those in reading ancient texts, which are often damaged, abraded, and very difficult to read. We're developing image processing tools to aid in cleaning up "dirty" images, and to detect candidate handwriting strokes on difficult text, etc. We're also looking at decision maintenance systems, and how we can build a computational environment which will facilitate the reading of a document, and the documentation of that reading, so that those who come up with a reading can do so integrating the different linguistic and palaeographic datasets available, and keep a note of how and why they reached a certain interpretation. This is something which is crucially missing from the documentation of most readings of difficult texts.

Exciting stuff, huh? I'm now going to start looking at different palaeographic annotation tools which are available, so we can design our own with the best bits incorporated. (If anyone has any ideas regarding image markup tools for letter forms, or can point me to existing systems I dont know about already, do give me a shout).

Monday 11 February 2008

Re: Negative Feedback an addendum to the post, below, about the change in feedback on ebay. I've just "sold" 50 things on ebay. It looks like 48 transactions are going fine. One person has already emailed to say "sorry, I just wanted to see how high the bidding went, and I dont have any money to pay for the item". The other is quibbling about how much it costs to send a (rare, collectable) vinyl record to Finland. Both wasting my time (charges were clearly stated). And guess which ones are getting negative feedback from me?

Now imagine a world where people are able to bid up your items just for fun - and you cant say anything when they dont pay up...

On another note, I took 20 albums to the post office today. Had an interesting conversation with Joan Behind the Counter about how eBay really was the saviour of the Post Office in the UK.

Wednesday 6 February 2008

Negative Feedback

I'm seriously hoping that this BBC tech story is not something that will actually happen:
Online auction site eBay has said it plans to overhaul its feedback system and will ban sellers from leaving negative comments about buyers.

EBay said problems were occurring, and slowing down trade, when buyers left negative comments about sellers who then retaliated with their own views.

Yuhuh. Thats the whole point. Its not just sellers who can be difficult - buyers can renege, refuse to pay, claim items are damaged when they are not, and generally behave like rude, thoughtless people. When you come across a buyer like this, you want to warn the rest of those trading on ebay.

I'm mostly a buyer rather than a seller, and can count on one hand the amount of difficult purchases I have made over the past 5 years, but the feedback mechanism has ensured, until now, that both sides have a fair point. At present, I'm selling almost 50 items on ebay (what a fun weekend of sitting in front of a computer): as a seller I have the right to not sell to someone with poor, low, or negative feedback. I'm selling some rare and valuable things. From now on, should I just trust the market forces to protect me (I'm not a "trader" in the market sense)? Sometimes trade needs to be slowed, and for good reason.

End Of Rant.

Monday 4 February 2008

Pointless Interweb Fun

Having trouble communicating with the youth of today? Any webpage translated into LOLspeak at the touch of a button. For example:
digitisation= process uv creatin digital filez by scannin or otherwise convertin analogue materialz. resultin digital copy... or digital surrogate... would then b classed as digital material n then subject 2 same broad challengez involved in preservin access 2 it... as "born digital" materialz.

See this blog lolinated here. As I said, pointless, but cheery.

Friday 1 February 2008

Where go the blogs

One of my students (thanks, Carly) just sent me an interesting link to an article/interactive illustration in Wired which plots what happens to blog posts, and how they find people:
"The Life Cycle of a Blog Post, From Servers to Spiders to Suits — to You".