Petrona flipstack page

Petrona flipstack page

Flipstack is yet another way to create a personalised home page. More personal than google home page? Well, different, in that Flipstack’s version is based on a newspaper layout, with moveable columns that can include rss feeds of your choice. But I’ve read that google home page can do that now also, so must check that out.

I’ve had a little play with the Flipstack page, but it is still very "beta", so quite a few of the features don’t work yet, although the newspaper block layout and flexibility of content is quite nice. I don’t like the ads on it, which don’t seem to be removable.

Clueless Newspaper Owners?

Techdirt:Could Newspaper Owners Really Be This Clueless?

It seems hard to believe that these newspapers are upset at being indexed by Google. William Rees Mogg has now written two articles in the Times attacking Google Book search for removing revenue from small publishing houses (of which he owns one). He doesn’t get it either. (This is not what GBS is about at all, as numerous correspondents to the Times pointed out in response to WRM’s first article and which Mr Book search at Google explained in a very courteous and succinct letter in response to the second. )

There is a lively debate in the comments to the Techdirt blog posting .

Science fiction recommendations

Book of the Day: Reading Journal Entry: Crossfire, by Nancy Kress

OK so I mentioned earlier that I don’t read SF any more (one or two exceptions over the years, eg Carl Sagan’s "Contact"). Now I’ve seen two recommendations in two days which make me want to read some. The first is Naomi Novik’s "His Majesty’s Dragon", recommended by Jenny Davidson and Sarah Weinman (link on Petrona 2 as not yet possible to order via Amazon.co.uk); the second is the one linked to here, recommended by mapletree7.

Digital universe plan

Experts plan to reclaim the web for pop science : Nature

Here is an excerpt, and link to, an article by Declan Butler in Nature’s free-access daily news service. Worth taking a look at Declan’s post as it contains a beautiful and informative graphic. The rest of the article is pretty good, too.

Experts plan to reclaim the web for pop science
Can peer-reviewed portals strengthen Internet information?
Declan Butler

Is it feasible to peer-review the Internet? A coalition of science agencies and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs is trying to do just that. They are launching what they claim will be an authoritative network of websites, where users can find trustworthy information on any subject. Top science organizations are signing up, but critics are sceptical about the project’s rationale, and whether it can succeed.
The Digital Universe project is billed as a "network of web portals", run by experts, on topics ranging from the Arctic and the oceans to the Solar System and the Universe. Users would navigate through the portals using a three-dimensional browser.You could "fly over an accurate virtual Earth to explore the contours of the Grand Canyon, swim with the fish of the Great Barrier Reef and travel through the human body", says an enthusiastic Robert Corell, chair of the steering committee for the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment and senior scientific adviser for the Digital Universe’s Earth Portal.
The project also includes an encyclopaedia that will use similar technology to the popular online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, and Larry Sanger, a co-founder of Wikipedia, is helping to create it. But that’s where the resemblance ends. All content in the Digital Universe will come from vetted experts, and articles will be reviewed by editors before going live. There will also be links to approved websites.
(Article continues.)

Amazon DVD rental

The guys at Amazon clearly read my recent post on the topic of their performance. The last two DVDs we received were nos 1 and 2 on our list: "Ice Princess" (Jenny) and "The Island" (Cathy). Thanks, guys. Incidentally, another advantage of renting your DVDs via Amazon is that you get an automatic discount of 10 per cent on any new DVDs you buy. I’ve had "24 series 4" in my basket since it came out on DVD, as I love this series so I buy it from Amazon and sell it back when I’ve watched it. The other day, Amazon reduced it to 18 pounds, so I bought it and got 10 per cent off that price. When I’ve watched it (when? if?) and sell it back, I might even break even!


Free book promotion in The Times

On Monday morning this week I bought The Times as usual at Kingston station. I had to go to the Charing Cross that day, so my next stop was Richmond, where I bought a coffee and popped into W H Smith in the ticket hall for some stamps. There was an attractive woman waving copies of "The Speckled People" by Hugo Hamilton, saying "Get a free book this morning with the Times". I then remembered reading about this promotion in the Saturday edition: every Monday for the next 15 weeks or so, the Times is giving away a book if you buy the paper at WHS. I said to the woman that I was sorry I had already brought my Times at Kingston. "Oh never mind", she said, "you can have the book here". "But there isn’t a WH Smith at Kingston station", I said, "only a regular newsagent". "Well that doesn’t matter", she said. I told her I thought that you only qualified for a free book if you bought your Times at Smith’s, but she said she’d never heard of that and why didn’t I have the free book anyway? So I said thank you very much, and took it. Furthermore, it looks rather good. And what a very nice woman. (Looking on the back of the book, I think that I’ve worked it out. It is published by Harper Collins, a publisher that I believe is owned by Murdoch, owner of the Times. And the author has a new book coming out soon. So the free gift is probably some kind of loss leader. But never mind, at the end of the day it is a result to give people a good book to read for nothing. So thank you, all concerned.)