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Mark Hosler

Mark Hosler holds a copy of the infamous U2 single.

Took the time to go to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center @ The University of Houston to listen to Mark Hosler speak about media and Negativland (wiki).

I’ve been a fan of Negativland since the early 80’s and used to play their stuff on the old Wake Up And Smell The Coffee program I did back in the day and it was a treat to get to listen to him speak.

The most entertaining anecdotes were the details of the U2 lawsuit and the David Brom axe murderer hoax.

The discussion ranged from fair use and copyrights to culture jamming and touched upon things like Youtube and P2P file sharing as a cheap and effective means of mass distribution for digital artists.

My friend Chuck Ivy was able to record the presentation so perhaps there will be a copy of it available soon.

Imported Beer

At work I sometimes find myself on the phone with our contractors in Bolivia. A few weeks ago I was going back and forth on a particular problem that required multiple phone calls before arriving at just the theory of what was causing it. This was followed by a few more calls to Bolivia as we implimented the solution.

The net result was that we not only resolved the problem, but likely cleared some things up going forward that should reduce the impact of this kind of issue in the future.

The developer/tech I worked with was so happy with the efforts and the results that she informed me she would be sending me a sample of her favorite Bolivian beers as a thank you. These arrived today via one of our Houston employees who travels back and forth between locations

And she sent them in a nifty leather man purse which goes GREAT with some shoes I just bought!

I Want My, I Want My, I Want My O.E.D.

Since the beginning of our relationship, on occasion, Cynthia would get a wistful look in her eye and say to me “Jay, if we ever win the lottery, I’m buying an O.E.D.

I’ve always told her we should just buy one, but it was an extravagance she would not indulge as they are rather expensive. As she has a degree in library science, I’ve always thought she should have one but knew she would frown on me if I paid out the asking price.

Over the years I’ve asked if she would consider the condensed or mini-version of the O.E.D. and she would flatly say no. In more recent years the O.E.D. has been made available in CD ROM format but Cynthia would have none of it.

Last week as I was tinkering around on the Internet I casually typed Oxford English Dictionary into Google. The first search result was an Amazon.com page offering the O.E.D. for $332.00. This was around $800 off off the list price which translates to roughly $600 off the price of most booksellers.

I could not believe what I was seeing.

I checked to make sure it was not the CD ROM – It wasn’t
I checked to make sure it was the 20 volume hard cover set. – It was
I checked to make sure it was being sold by Amazon and not one of their partners – It was

I thought about it and thought I should just buy this and surprise Cynthia. But I couldn’t just move on it without really making sure this was the same thing she wanted and not some abridged version or factory second or something.

I decided to show her the web page.

Like me, she was skeptical. As I suspected she would be.

We tried just searching from the Amazon page and not one of the results returned was the page we were viewing.

We both were very unsure and we even said in unison “If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” It just didn’t add up. How could it be that they would sell this item, BRAND NEW, at such a discounted price. After some more discussion we agreed to give it a pass.

I had the next day off and I couldn’t let it go. If what I was seeing was correct I had the opportunity to acquire the O.E.D. for not much more than the CD ROM version which runs around $250. This would be a chance to score major spouse points!

I checked it again and I verified the return policy and I ordered it. Of course I couldn’t keep a secret and I told Cynthia. She was dubious but hopeful but didn’t allow herself to get her hopes up too terribly much.

Well, they arrived this evening. 5 boxes containing the 20 fat volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary. Individually shrink-wrapped and in perfect condition. It’s an impressive resource.

Cynthia’s in hog heaven and may not get any sleep tonight….

International Comment on Blogs Day

Christine over at bigpinkcookie.com has declared January 31, 2008 to be International Comment on Blogs Day

No more blurking, you guys! Leave the feedreaders behind, hop on into the browser and say something.

Blurking…it’ a perfectly cromulent word….

I have taken it upon myself to modify this to be International Comment on Blogs and Trackback Day. In that spirit I not only link to Christine’s post, I also link to Charles over at offthekuff.com who alerted me to this via this post.

The Geek Speaks

Once again the mighty news media empire calls out for a tech expert and Houston’s Best Tech Geek responds to the call!

Jeff Ehling wanted to come by and interview me for a a story on ABC 13 (KTRK) about about the new music service Qtrax that claims to be offering free and legal music downloads via P2P…

It’s available here for your web viewing pleasure:
Free online music downloads?

Jeff was telling me they’ve been getting mixed feedback on the new web site. I gotta say, I like it! It’s slick and easy to navigate. and I’m not just saying that because it was easy to find the piece featuring my interview so easily after the broadcast on the 6 o’clock news!


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I’ve been spending a few hours each day sifting through photos from the trip. It’s an arduous task. I am processing over 3,000 images collected while we were in Spain.

The main goal is to isolate the ones I want to print, edit them if necessary and then make a re sized copy for upload to the gallery.

On the one hand, it’s fun going through the images. On the other hand, it’s making me a little loopy.

While I was processing the pics from Seville I noticed that I had two pictures of the garden of the Alcazar that were pretty cool. They got me to thinking that I really was wishing for a super wide angle on that day to try to capture more of the garden in one shot instead of these two:

Click for full size

Click for full size

Thanks to Photoshop, I now have the shot I couldn’t get in the field….

Click for full size

Back to work to the photo-mines….