The Future of Electronic PublishingWritten by Sam Vaknin
UNESCO's somewhat arbitrary definition of "book" is:
""Non-periodical printed publication of at least 49 pages excluding covers".
The emergence of electronic publishing was supposed to change all that. Yet a bloodbath of unusual proportions has taken place in last few months. Time Warner's iPublish and MightyWords (partly owned by Barnes and Noble) were last in a string of resounding failures which cast in doubt business model underlying digital content. Everything seemed to have gone wrong: dot.coms dot bombed, venture capital dried up, competing standards fractured an already fragile marketplace, hardware (e-book readers) was clunky and awkward, software unwieldy, e-books badly written or already in public domain.
Terrified by inexorable process of disintermediation (the establishment of direct contact between author and readers, excluding publishers and bookstores) and by ease with which digital content can be replicated - publishers resorted to draconian copyright protection measures (euphemistically known as "digital rights management"). This further alienated few potential readers left. The opposite model of "viral" or "buzz" marketing (by encouraging dissemination of free copies of promoted book) was only marginally more successful.
Moreover, e-publishing's delivery platform, Internet, has been transformed beyond recognition since March 2000.
>From an open, somewhat anarchic, web of networked computers - it has evolved into a territorial, commercial, corporate extension of "brick and mortar" giants, subject to government regulation. It is less friendly towards independent (small) publishers, backbone of e-publishing. Increasingly, it is expropriated by publishing and media behemoths. It is treated as a medium for cross promotion, supply chain management, and customer relations management. It offers only some minor synergies with non-cyberspace, real world, franchises and media properties. The likes of Disney and Bertelsmann have swung a full circle from considering Internet to be next big thing in New Media delivery - to frantic efforts to contain red ink it oozed all over their otherwise impeccable balance sheets.
But were now silent pundits right all same? Is future of publishing (and other media industries) inextricably intertwined with Internet?
The answer depends on whether an old habit dies hard. Internet surfers are used to free content. They are very reluctant to pay for information (with precious few exceptions, like "Wall Street Journal"'s electronic edition). Moreover, Internet, with 3 billion pages listed in Google search engine (and another 15 billion in "invisible" databases), provides many free substitutes to every information product, no matter how superior. Web based media companies (such as Salon and Britannica.com) have been experimenting with payment and pricing models. But this is besides point. Whether in form of subscription (Britannica), pay per view (Questia), pay to print (Fathom), sample and pay to buy physical product (RealRead), or micropayments (Amazon) - public refuses to cough up.
Windows XP Safe and Secure?Written by Richard Lowe
Microsoft has come under fire lately because of their habit of releasing software which has serious flaws, most especially problems with security. Unfortunately criticism is justified and verges on criminal: flaws (implementation bugs as well as just plain silly design decisions) have resulted in literally tens of billions of dollars in damage and losses worldwide.
Don't believe me? Think of all of viruses that have devastated not hundreds, not thousands, not even millions, but tens of millions of systems. All of these viruses are allowed to "breed" (spread) because of one of silliest, misguided, downright stupidest decisions ever made by a major corporation. This was addition of email scripting - without that incredibly powerful and almost totally unused (and many would argue not necessary) feature viruses could not spread in a matter of days or even hours. Since when does anyone need to script their email program anyway? I've never heard of a single person or corporation using this feature legitimately.
On top of this kind of issue (and there are several others), Microsoft's products tend to have blatant bugs - problems in programs which should have been caught by adequate design, testing and quality assurance. The most famous of these is probably series of bugs that led to Nimda and Code Red. Again, millions of systems were damaged and countless millions of man hours were wasted in efforts to eradicate these issues.
The firestorm that landed on Microsoft as a direct result of these and other problems and issues was fantastic to behold. Naturally Microsoft responded, trying desperately to reduce impact on their business. They claimed problems were with administrators who did not apply patches, with people reporting problems too early (thus giving hackers information before fixes were complete) and any number of other problems. It seemed that everyone except for Microsoft was doing wrong thing - of course, mighty Microsoft could do no wrong.
In spite of what left side of their face was saying, Microsoft did introduce some changes. They announced a new security service to help keep systems locked down and system administrators happy. Automatic security patch downloads were added to Windows XP and, I'm sure, dozens of other changes happened.
With release of Windows XP, Microsoft was adamant that they had tested it from top to bottom. The software giant even claimed it had written a special program to check for nastiest kind of software problem - buffer overflows. You see, a buffer overflow is one of most common ways for a hacker to break security of a system. It does this by writing some code beyond end of where it is supposed to write it. The code is then executed in privileged mode to give hacker entrance to system.
Well, a short time ago Microsoft released a patch to Windows XP to fix exactly this problem. It seems there is a buffer overflow problem in UPnP service. What heck is UPnP, you ask? That's a good question.
UPnP is a special plug-and-play service. What is plug-and-play? Well, when you install a new device on Windows XP it automatically detects it and configures it for you. Plug-and-play is a very nice feature, and it works very well in Windows XP.