Science fiction titan Nalo Hopkinson appears in this week's Geek Guide to the Galaxy podcast, talking about race, diversity, and sf. Read the rest
Writer/editor Scott Edelman is legendary in science fiction circles for organizing outings from conventions to spectacular, out-of-the-way restaurants where the food is cheap and mind-blowing (I've eaten some very memorable dim sum with him in Philly, for example). Read the rest
Here's a reading (MP3) of my latest Guardian column, How Amazon is holding Hachette hostage, which examines how Hachette's insistence on DRM for their ebooks has taken away all their negotiating leverage with Amazon, resulting in Amazon pulling Hachette's books from its catalog in the course of a dispute over discounting:
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Under US law (the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and its global counterparts (such as the EUCD), only the company that put the DRM on a copyrighted work can remove it. Although you can learn how to remove Amazon's DRM with literally a single, three-word search, it is nevertheless illegal to do so, unless you're Amazon. So while it's technical child's play to release a Hachette app that converts your Kindle library to work with Apple's Ibooks or Google's Play Store, such a move is illegal.
It is an own-goal masterstroke. It is precisely because Hachette has been so successful in selling its ebooks through Amazon that it can't afford to walk away from the retailer. By allowing Amazon to put a lock on its products whose key only Amazon possessed, Hachette has allowed Amazon to utterly usurp its relationship with its customers. The law of DRM means that neither the writer who created a book, nor the publisher who invested in it, gets to control its digital destiny: the lion's share of copyright control goes to the ebook retailer whose sole contribution to the book was running it through a formatting script that locked it up with Amazon's DRM.
Wil Wheaton writes, "Today's Fresh Air (MP3) is just heartbreaking. It's an interview about the juvenile 'justice' system in America with Nell Bernstein, author of Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison, and how prison is just destroying young lives in the name of giving prison workers jobs. No. Seriously. It's infuriating, and it dovetails perfectly with your review of Matt Taibbi's new book."
Gary writes, "Episode 5 of the podcast Far-Fetched Fables features a great reading by Kenny Park of the short story 'Snowball's Chance' by Charles Stross. Far-Fetched Fables is the recent addition to the District of Wonders podcast network, which includes Tony C. Smith's long-running StarShip Sofa." Read the rest
Here's a reading of a recent Guardian column, What does David Cameron's Great Firewall look like? which debunks the UK government's stupid arguments for its national anti-porn firewall: Read the rest
But the crowning glory of the episode is Helen Arney's magnificent musical tribute to Mersenne 48, the largest Mersenne Prime ever calculated, which came to light in 2013. (Arney herself is going out on tour of the UK, for the delightfully named Full Frontal Nerdity tour)
Every year, there's a day or two between the date that my daughter's school shuts and the day that my wife's office shuts for Christmas holidays. Those are the official seasonal mid-week daddy-daughter days, and for the past two years, my daughter and I have gone to my office to record a podcast. Last year's was great (MP3), but I think we hit a new high this year (MP3).