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February 26, 2006

DRM: Not that great for books

Tor Books, a publisher of science fiction books, it going to be joining forces with Baen Books to release Tor's books in electronic formats. The most interesting part of this is that the books will be DRM-free. Here's a nice blog post from one of Tor's authors going into detail why the DRM-free move is a good idea. Some choice quotes:

Tor's not doing this because it's a golly-neat idea, they're doing it because it makes money -- or at the very least, makes money for Baen, a book publisher who happens to be in the same line of business as Tor.
The problem with digital rights management for literature is that there's a huge analog hole in the security called "books." Over at Baen's Bar, the online bulliten board run by the Baen folks, one of the members there describes how he's made an unofficial personal e-book version of Old Man's War with "a hardcover copy, an Epson scanner, FineReader 6.0, and some eyeball sweat."
The major problem for authors is not piracy but obscurity, as I and so many others have noted again and again and again and yet again after that. I'm doing pretty well as far as readers go, especially as a newer-ish novelist, but I wouldn't mind having more readers, and people sharing the book is one way to do that. Please, folks, won't you let your friends borrow a copy of my book? I thank you for your evangelism.

It's good to see that not all media distributors are adding knee-jerk DRM to their products and making the electronic consumption of their works a difficult thing for their honest customers. It's also good to see that going DRM-free is starting to be seen as a good business decision.

February 25, 2006

Tidal Gardens Greenhouse

My friend Than, the owner of Tidal Gardens, has written an article describing the design decisions that went into the construction of his greenhouse. From the article:

An interesting feature of Tidal Gardens is its greenhouse aquaculture facility. It houses three 1,000-gallon reef systems. There are several benefits to using a greenhouse for growing large volumes of coral.

First, it provides arguably the best light available. Some aquarists spend a great deal of time and money assembling complex lighting systems complete with timers and moonlight effects. One can argue that a greenhouse is essentially the perfect light on the perfect timer with practically no maintenance.

The second benefit is the greenhouse's resistance to water damage. Large volumes of salt water can really damage the immediate surroundings of standard construction. Salt spray and humidity (especially considering the volume of water involved) would make quick work of most residential style buildings.

Lastly, the greenhouse provides a very temperature stable environment for the corals. Even on cold winter days, the greenhouse is a warm 80 degrees when the sun comes out. It is only during the cold winter nights that the gas furnace activates.

The greenhouse setup drew a great deal of interest, so we decided to give our readers an inside look at the process of building a greenhouse for coral reef aquaculture. It came with its own set of unique challenges, but the finished product was very rewarding.

Tidal Gardens is now open for business, so if you're in the market for some fine aquacultured coral for your saltwater reef tank, stop by for a visit.

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February 15, 2006

Song in my head

Close Enough
Have you ever had a song pop in your head that you haven't heard in long time? Today on the drive home "Closer" by The Tiny did just that. I think it was because the weather or the daylight or something was very similar to the last time I listened to the CD on my drive home from work a few months ago. In any case, it's a band with a unique sound. They're a trio from Stockholm: a female vocalist with a very distinctive voice, a cellist, and a double bass, with an occassional piano thrown in. Here's the video for "Closer", a strange but beautiful song. The rest of the songs on the album, Close Enough, aren't quite as accessible, so it takes a bit to get used to them.

February 12, 2006

How to write better in 10 easy steps

I just read a blog post by John Scalzi, entitled Writing Tips for Non-Writers Who Don't Want to Work at Writing. It had some good tips, including the following great rule of thumb:

For every spelling error you make, your apparent IQ drops by 5 points. For every "there, they're, their" type of mistake you make, your apparent IQ drops by 10 points. Sorry about that, but there it is.