Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Google Book Scanning

A fairly long and detailed look (link) in the New York Times dated May 14 2006 at the project to scan all books, or at least those whose copyright is in the public domain, by Google and others. The article is broken up into eight sections, or online pages - 1. Scanning the Library of Libraries, 2. What Happens When Books Connect, 3. Books: The Liquid Version, 4. The Triumph of the Copy, 5. The Moral Imperative to Scan, 6. The Case Against Google, 7. When Business Models Collide, and 8. Search Changes Everything.

I think digitization is a boon in many ways as it would make available books geographically inaccessible or hard to find because they are out of print - I for example purchased a couple of books from Barnes & Noble and Amazon in the US because they are difficult if not outright to purchase in India. But at the same time I have this serious misgiving that the end goal ultimately is to make access to this content filtered through a payment gateway so that you shall never ever really own a book, but merely rent the right to read or browse it when you want. Something like the difference between owning a DVD of a movie versus watching it on pay-per-view or renting it from a library. Does anyone remember Divx - that Disney, Circuit City and others conjured up in 1998?

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Posted to this blog Jun 2013

Monday, May 15, 2006

St Louis, 1997

Where was I in 1997 - who cares? Ok, let's be nice - this is my blog and I shall post on whatever suits my fancy. This is where I worked for a little over a year, from 1996 to 1997. In the background you can see the Gateway Arch, 630 feet high, and a midwest landmark. While most Americans know about the Gateway Arch, most Indians probably do not. On the right is the Busch stadium (St Louis is where Anheuser Busch is headquartered...). Towards the left you will find three buildings of SBC. The tallest one nearest you is their main building, there is a shorter building after that, which is their data center. The black building you see is (or at least used to be) Cap Gemini's offices. Don't know if that's still true or not. Harrah's and a few other casinos offer river-boat gambling on large boats, more like ships, anchored by the river. And before you go and say 'ah-haa!! he has not taken this photo', let me say that yes, I did not take this photo. This is a postcard of St Louis.

The photos below however are all mine

This is the Gateway Arch below. If I were to go there again, which I doubt, I would love to spend an entire day in the downtown St Louis area and shoot a couple of hundred photos there (yeah - if you can't get quality, go for quantity)

As you can tell from the date stamp on the photo (look at the top right corner), I took this photo in Feb 1997. This is an exhibit inside the Old Courthouse (see the end of this post for some Wikipedia links) where the history of St Louis is traced. Some fascinating nuggets about this old river town (old by American standards that is) can be seen in this timeline:

The first kindergarten in the US was setup in St Louis.

At the turn of the century (that would be 1899, not 1999) St Louis was the fourth largest city in the US. Even more, it had the world's largest railroad station (it's still there, though now a shopping center in it), hardware house, drug house, and tobacco factories.

You can also learn that it was the year 1876 when the first Budweiser beer was brewed, here in St Louis.

Clearing snow off your car is a chore one learns quickly in the midwest. Unlike California where most drivers never ever get to experience the pleasure of scraping snow off the front of their cars, in St Louis it was a frequent enough task during the winter that I actually became efficient at it! The worst however is when there is freezing rain. It forms a thick coat of ice on your car, and you can no longer brush it off your car. You have to start your car, switch on the heater at full speed, set it to defrost mode, step out of the car, and spend the next twenty minutes literally hacking away at the ice. Yes, this is fun...

Reposted to this blog, Dec 2013.
© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved.

Monday, May 1, 2006

RK Laxman

An RK Laxman gem, after a long time, from the May 1st 2006 Times of India.

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Re-posted to this blog June 2013