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Flog of the Prokonsul

Internet fluency, digital governance and Wikipedia propaganda. You have been warned.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A good reading

I wrote this post actually for another's course Blackboard, but I have a strong suspicion nobody else in that class is using it - so I though that I will post it here, for your benefit. It is somewhat OT as far as our DG course goes - but it's a good book, and we all need a break sometimes :)

There is short reading I'd like to recommend to all of you. It is not an academic article, far from it - it is an old (1959) short story by Stanisław Lem, a (fairly) famous Polish writer. It is a great story about statistics and academia. And it's a good mystery :)

What is the goal of scientific inquiry? What does the existence of competing explanations mean for that goal? To what extent is such a mathematical correspondence a satisfactory explanation? To what extent do we tolerate such explanations in science?

Related links:
* excerpts
* more exceprts
* Amazon entry/review

The book is available at the Hillman Library - General Collection:

Sledztwo. English
The investigation [by] Stanislaw Lem. Translated from the Polish by Adele Milch. New York, Seabury Press, 216p. Call Number: PG7158.L39 S4513, not checked out at the time I looked the record.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Advanced Googling

Hot of the press, released just 14th September:

And I assume you know

List of Google services and tools

For example, I think that all university studends (not to mention) staff should know

You do, don't you? ;p

I also find Google Earth, Froogle, Groups, Images and Maps. Earth and Maps combined are perfect for finding almost anything. Froogle sends you to the cheaper deal, Images gives nice pics for any article/essay/etc, and Groups is a quick way of reading the 'collective brain' of the net, the Usenet (unfortunately, sending messages via it is much more problematic). Oh, and I didn't mention Blogger for obvious reasons :) (yes, Blogger is google spin-off).

I almost forgot - Google News. But we talked about them last time, so I assume you know it.

What about you? Do you use other tools? I'd love to hear about them, and how. I hear Print is quite useful for academic research as well - anybody has hand-on experience?

PS. If you want a Gmail invitation, let me know - it is far superior to hotmail or yahoo, IMHO.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Voice: P-blogs revisited

Having a second blog is kind of difficult when I have material that can be useful on both. From now on, whenever I blog something of possible interest to our course on my Voice of the Prokonsul blog, I will post a Voice: notice here, so you don't have to check both of my blogs for updates.

For now, I invite you to check out my post on P-blogs revisited. After this topic resurfaced during two of our recent class discussions, I finally decided to do some research on one of my favourite aspects of the direct democracy.

Lessig Blog

Just so you know - Lawrence Lessig has a blog (Lessig blog). It's quite good, actually. And he manages to post new stuff every few days, unlike some of us... Not that I am the paragon of virtue here, as anybody reading my older blog can attest top ;p

And, of course, he has his own Wiki entry :)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Fight the Spammers!

Building on my last post, here is another good advice and plus a simple excercise on how to add such pictures to your blog:

WWW Robots (also called wanderers, spiders, crawlers, or bots) are programs that crawl the Web continually retrieving linked pages. When a spammer's bot visits your website, blog, forum, etc, all pages and sites linked to it will be searched looking for email addresses. All you have to do is link to this page so that whenever a spammer's robot scans your page, it will be sucked into this one. These links will redirect email harvesting bots to trap sites that will feed it with an almost infinite loop of dynamically generated fake email addresses, mostly on known spammer owned domains! This will render their harvested lists pratically useless and of no commercial value.

Doesn't it sound just anti-spam'a'licous?

Oh, and here is an explanation on how to add stuff to the sidebar (next to the obligatory blogger.com link/ad). Click template, then find (CTRL-f) the text 'This is a paragraph of text that could go in the sidebar'. You can replace this text with something else, and add a picture by copying and pasting the text from SpamPoison site (linked above) above it, under or above the blogger add. Simple and efficient.

PS. If you have already replaced the text, you may want to search for Blogger add link (http://buttons.blogger.com/bloggerbutton1.gif) to find the right place. All things considered, there are not that many features in the Blogger template that can be adjusted. It is a fairly simple tool. Play with it, click preview and you are on good way to customize your blog. By such trial and error I customized my Voice... template some months ago. But that's something for another time.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

One less annoyance. Or two.

I am all for contributing and creating a better place, but handing my email to spammers is not something I enjoy. So, today's useful tip: don't register if you don't have to. And, quite often, you don't, thanks to this useful site: Bugmenot.com

Of course, no matter how hard you try to protect your email, in the end, you will get some spam. So, what to do? Well, learn to use the spam filters of your email soft. My Mozilla, after few weeks of training, has over 90% success rate. That really does save your time.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

On benefits of hypertext

Inspired by Damien's blog I decided to stress the importance of hypertext in writing one's post. It is something very simple, that can greately enhance the usefulness of your posts (including blog posts), but also something I find too few people do.

When writing a post in any markup language supporting hyperlinks (html or bbc being most common), try to link all important terms to related webpage. Technically, it is quite simple. Many user interfaces, like the one of Blogger I am using just now, have a button that allows you to insert link into highlightened text. The most icon of the button is similar to this:

If the button is not there, don't panic. In html, you can simply use the < a href="http://link/" > text you want to link < /a > syntax (important note: remove the spaces, I have to keep them so the blogger script will not convert it into hypertext), and in bbc, [url=]URL description[/url] will do the trick.

Sometimes off-Wiki webpage may be more relevant (just like when I linked Damien's blog above), but often Wiki is the best place to refer your readers (it has the definition and usually links the best off-Wiki pages, thus being the most informative single link there is).

I found (on my other, older blog, and on many 'net forums) that people like to have the ability to go from my post to relevant Wiki article in one click. Simply put, it saves them time to google for the relevant page. In addition, peoplequite often are willing to click once, but won't bother if they havr to click more and google (being afraid it will take too much time and/or deciding it's not worth the effort). So if you want to make sure your readers know what you are talking about - link the key word to where you want them to go.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The beginning

Will bew edit. For now, feel free to visit Voice of the Prokonsul.