Monthly Archives: February 2006

Elsevier Boycott

Elsevier is a major publisher of academic journals. It appears that the rough way they treat the academic community has started to backfire. See this blog entry in the Computational Complexity site (via Boundless vanity…). The comments below the main entry are where the meaty information is.

I found this interesting in light of my confabulations (like in my entry titled Academic publishers and DRM) regarding a possible future for academic publishing in which the role of “publisher” is considerably reduced. This boycott against Elsevier could be the first sign of a general reduction of the power wielded by publishing companies and a redefinition of their role in the publishing process.

Seductive exotica

There is probably no easiest way to give an exotic air to some object than to print something in a foreign language on it. By “easiest”, I mean that it is fairly easy to get a “X to Y” dictionary at the local bookstore or to scrounge up some phrase in a foreign language. Now, what is easily done is not necessarily sensible or accurate. This is fortunate for us since the ill-informed attempts at seductive exotica make for good laughing matter.

Hanzi Smatter is “dedicated to the misuse of chinese characters in western culture” (to quote the site). Most of the reports deal with tattoos but some of them also cover broader issues. A recent example is Tian’s open letter to Cosmopolitan. The notion put forth by Cosmopolitan that a tattoo in “Asian character[s]” (sic) indicates love of the mysterious and such other nonsense is utterly ridiculous. It’s just as likely that the guy couldn’t care less about Asia and the mysterious and just got his tattoo on a dare or because he lost a bet or some other harebrained situation. (I’m not saying that people who get tattoos are idiots, only that a tattoo by itself says nothing of a person’s character.) Nice example of media spin. exhibits the same kind of phenomenon but flips perspectives: misuse of Western languages (mainly English, hence the name “Engrish”) in an Asian context. For Asian marketers, a few words in English printed on their product is the way to give them an aura of prestige and exotica. Too often, however, the language used is blatantly incorrect or has unintended connotations.

bochs vs qemu

Tired of having to reboot in Windows to handle the occasional file or task that I cannot perform in Linux, I’ve recently tried PC emulators so that I could run Windows XP in an emulator box in Linux. Boy, have things changed since I’ve last tried emulators! It used to be that those things would be quite unstable or could be used only by people willing to read the source code.

Bochs has improved a lot but is not perfect yet. I was unable to install XP in it. I’ve tried a bunch of different configuration parameters but nothing worked. I have to say that while Bochs is better than it used to be, setting it up is still an arcane task.

Qemu on the other worked pretty much right out the box. Its default mode of operation is much more sensible than bochs’. The only thing people need to consider is to use kqemu (or qvm86). There was one bug that came up when I ran XP in qemu without kqemu that disappeared after I installed kqemu.

Anyway, now I can run Win XP in Linux… yay…

Academic publishers and DRM

Pamela Jones has an interesting blog entry regarding academic publishers and DRM. Her entry contains an article by Roy Bixler and one by Bruce Barton. I especially like Barton’s article since I’ve often fantasized about the future of academic publishing like Barton does at the end of his article and like him I see a future where a network of academic peers takes over whatever functions a publisher provides once the notion that publishing involves “producing print copies” has been removed from the equation.