Saturday, May 24, 2003

Smart folks, these. Gotta love the Internet. Idea for our favorite library?

Facing possible layoffs, shortened hours and cuts that would slash their $1.2 million book budget by a third, the staff at the Oakland Public Library in California tried a new twist on philanthropy. They posted a list of books they would buy if they could on, the online bookseller. The response was overwhelming. "The UPS man gets out and he has book mailers piled so high you can't see his head," said Leslie Rodd, Oakland's administrative librarian. "It's really a thrill."

More than 300 libraries nationwide have now sought out donors online the way the Oakland library did. Burlingame, about 25 miles south of Oakland, made an online list after losing 2,500 titles earlier this year when its library flooded. "We put close to 400 books on the list, and we've received about 200 as gifts," said Alfred Escoffier, the city librarian. "It was immediate and it was amazing."

Silicone valley made yet another step towards more Star-Trekish technology as they developed a new virtual keyboard. These sound absolutely wicked.

    Virtual keyboards -- projected images of the real thing that let typists compose their sentences on any flat surface -- are inching closer to store shelves.
    Canesta, a San Jose, California, manufacturer of electronics, said its chipset could allow other companies to incorporate virtual keyboards into PDAs, smart phones and other portable devices as early as the end of this year.
    Canesta's chipset projects an image of a full-size keyboard on any flat surface. It also emits an infrared beam that detects the position and motion of a typist's hands. Tapping on the image of a key produces the corresponding character on the device.
    The keyboard doesn't demand a lot of force, easing strain on wrists and digits. To get users comfortable with the technology, Canesta's chipset also produces an old-timey click sound. "People get used to it in about 10 minutes of use," Spare said.
--Katie Dean, Wired News

A step forward in self-defense for women. Apparentley those cute little cans of mace are out and new electro-shock, taser jackets are in.

    A new anti-assault device for women wards off potential assailants with an 80,000-volt electric shock.
    Dubbed "exo-electric armor," the No-Contact Jacket looks like an ordinary fashionable women's coat. But an inner layer of conductive fiber carries a low-amp charge that delivers a nasty but non-lethal shock to anyone who messes with its wearer.
    The jacket is made from Aracon, a conductive fiber developed by DuPont, which is sandwiched between an inner rubber lining which protects the wearer from shocks and an outer layer of waterproof nylon.
    Powered by a regular 9-volt battery, which builds a high-voltage but low-amp charge through a series of step-up circuits, the jacket uses technology similar to the circuitry in stun guns and bark-deterring dog collars. While the charge is enough to deliver a jolt, it won't kill anyone, Whiton said.
    To prevent accidental discharges, the wearer must arm the jacket before it can deliver a shock. A lock on the sleeve must first be opened with a key, and then the charge is built up by holding down a button inside one of the sleeves.
-- Leander Kahney, Wired News

Check out this online look at the library world. Unshelved is a daily library focused comic strip. It rings true most of the time.

Hollywood is combing the stacks in the children's section of the library for ideas but they are picking good books. Slated for 2004 is Ella Enchanted. The book by Gail Carson Levine explains why Cinderella was such a namby-pamby-do-what-she-is-told character. Good casting for the role of Ella, I think.

Another children's book series is coming to the silver screen. "A Series of Unfortunate Events", based on the children's books, penned by Daniel Handler, a.k.a., Lemony Snicket.
Jim Carrey is apparently slated to play Count Olaf. They should have signed Tim Curry. Kids love reading these dark adventures.
For those not familiar with the nine-book series, the plot revolves around Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, three young orphans, who find themselves continuously mixed up with a series of unusual characters, including the narrator, Lemony Snicket. The recurring villain is Count Olaf, a distant family relative, who initially takes in the orphans but with the concealed dastardly intent of robbing them from a family inheritance. This character is, of course, the one Jim Carrey is reportedly interested in.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

A possible explanation of how Frodo and Sam got from Osgiliath to the Wild (after crossing the river to!) at the end of The Two Towers. Ringer Spy Tehanu reports these pictures from Quintessential Websites!

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Books-a-Minute website has pithy, one liner summaries of literary classics. Check out the "summaries" of Lord of the Rings. V. good. V. funny.

Via The Lord of the, new pictures from the Return of the King!

Monday, May 19, 2003

The first clip from "The Return of the King" is up and making rounds! This clip comes via Herr der Ringe Movie.