An Internet of Possibilities

As someone pointed out recently, the dream of making much of the world’s knowledge available to almost anyone willing to find a way to access it is pretty close to happening. While scholarly and scientific publishing continue to lag behind, [TED Talks]( and the [Khan Academy]( and [iTunes University]( — and not counting all the individual creators of content (and by content I mean texts and ‘casts of all shapes and sizes — make an amazing amount of information available.

Happy Towel Day!

Today is [Towel Day]( If you don’t know the importance of always having a towel, then [it’s time you learned](href=”

Using Lightroom

Photography is part of my research, and I also enjoy photographing my family and just generally documenting my world — more on that as my next potential project later. Between those various interests and commitments, I have about 15,000 images, all of which are safely cataloged by Adobe’s Lightroom. (I tried Aperture when it premiered at an unbelievable price point on the Mac App store, but either I have worked with Lightroom too long and couldn’t figure out how to access Aperture’s features or it doesn’t have the functionality on which I now depend that exists in Lightroom.)

I get a lot of questions about using Lightroom from students and colleagues. From now on, I am telling everyone to [start here]( That link takes you [George Jardine’s website]( and the half-hour tutorial he recorded on the basics of image management with Lightroom.

If the tutorial convinces you to try Lightroom, then you should also read [Rob Sylvan’s “10 Things I Wish I Could Tell Every Lightroom User.”](

Steve Jobs on Web Applications in 1996

This video over at MSDN is great not only because it’s an interesting bit of history — and a moment when Jobs reveals his ability to see into the future and he’s doing it at a Microsoft event — but also because it’s a great explanation of how web applications work.

Scottish Science Fiction

My genre fiction of choice — apart from hating the term “genre fiction” and the way it marginalizes with a single otherwise useful word like genre what amounts to the majority of fiction sold and read — is science fiction. And one of my science fiction writers of choice is Iain M. Banks. It turns out there may very well be a few more fine Scottish science fiction writers, all of whom might be worth examining:

As well as one other British newcomer:

Celebrating the Ray Gun

Den of Geek has a great article that gives a brief history of the use of the “ray gun” in movies and television. Essentially they outline a movement away from the quite realistic description of an “energy weapon” in H. G. Well’s The War of the Worlds to the guns that “shoot” rays of light that begin with the Buck Rogers serials and climax with Star Wars. The article does a nice job of pointing out that the similarities between the guns were quite intentional: check out the comparison between Buck Roger’s XZ-38 Disintegrator and Hans Solo’s DL-44 Blaster. (Lucas is clearly at his best when he is having fun — and at his worse when he is being serious?)