Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What the heck?

So I've got an article in the final stages of publication and had an interesting email this morning. This particular journal was recently bought out by a major publisher and had it's price jacked up an unbelievable amount. I recall a debate a few years back between David Wiley and a publisher about the journal racquet. This is from memory but I think his big claim was that we provide the actual content (authorship), the peer review, and the editing at no cost to most journals. Which is quite true. The rebuttal was that the journal provides copy-editing.

Now back to my email. I get a URL to print-ready .pdfs and a request to . . . (wait for it) . . . copy-edit. No joke. Within two days. I gotta say that it's fabulous to do all the work and then get the privilege of buying back the work that I and my co-authors did.

So exactly what are we paying for now? Server space? I can't imagine how we got to this point--and the best part is that the prices keep going up! Libraries consistently have to reduce their subscriptions because journals are literally pricing themselves out of a job. I think the average is something like over 10% a year (the particular journal I'm talking about far exceeded the 10% average).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Hacking is about to get really fun

Remember back in the day, where all the action for hackers was in the computer (the movie Tron comes to mind). Now, with more and more fully networked devices--it seems like hacking could take on a surprisingly tangible quality. Getting hit by MyDoom was a serious bummer, particularly the version that blocked anti-virus sites but hey--it's you're computer right? Somebody gets a backdoor to it, it starts participating in a Denial of Service attack, your friendly neighborhood IT department blocks your network port, you have some downtime and you move on. You're partly to blame for not keeping up to date with security patches, virus updates, and by opening an attachment, but hey--no big deal.

Now though, we've got some real potential for fun. We're getting ready to wire our cars and put them out on the grid. I'm envisioning a future world in which kids walk around with a 5.9Ghz device that can at the click of a button inform every car within 1 km that it's about to have a wreck and it needs to slam on it's breaks. Better yet--not all of those cars will either be enabled or set to respond to a pending wreck--so figure that 40% of the cars slam on their breaks and the other 60% rely on their human operators to figure out what's going on (maybe they'll get an audio warning like "you're about to crash, Dave").

And it's not just cars--how would you like to have some kid convince your fridge that it's out of milk for 30 days in a row--the same fridge that's set to automatically order milk when you run out? Or turn on your stereo full volume at 3am? Life could get really interesting soon . . .