Podcast Gems 10 – Jan 20, 2012: Library Renewal, Dr Carrel and Chas Lindbergh, Terra Tempo: Ice Age Cataclysm, DIY Biology, Active Reader App, Raspberry Pi, Lard versus Crisco, Router Hazard, China Capitalism, and Malaria Research

Michael Porter (aka Libraryman), the CEO of Library Renewal, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding new e-content solutions for libraries, explains the Library Renewal project to help libraries survive, the impact of Amazon.com and such related projects as the Digital Public Library of America being promoted by the Harvard Berkman Center (http://bit.ly/AuSF6B) in an hour-long interview available at http://bit.ly/xZvd0c. The first ten minutes are slow, so skipping past the host banter will improve the experience. An interesting term used in the interview is ‘ilibrary’. Searches for ‘bibliotech’ and ‘ilibrary’ produces an eclectic mix of library-related sites, to further dispel the idea that libraries are going to vanish. In fact they are just part of a growing pie and incorporate an increasing variety of knowledge, learning and information resources while providing manual backup should power fail.

Charles Lindbergh is mostly known for being a famous aviator, but he also worked with a Dr Alexis Carrel before WWII on a pump to keep organs fresh for transplantation. Dr Carrel is described in an episode of Engines of Our Ingenuity at http://bit.ly/wRWd6I, but what isn’t mentioned is how friendly he and Lindbergh were with the Germans before the start of the war.

Lab Out Loud, an educational netcast supported by The National Science Teachers Association interviews David Shapiro, author of a graphic novel, Terra Tempo: Ice Age Cataclysm, who describes how the book was created and the use of fiction in educating readers about geology. Shapiro’s young characters travel back in time to Glacial Lake Missoula and witness the resulting floods when the ice dam breaks: http://bit.ly/A4r48m. Mention of the Active Reader app is made, so for Apple device users here is a link to the app developer, Tallchair,  that best displays what the app can do in creating graphic material: http://bit.ly/wGAU2h .

In another hour-long episode of Lab Out Loud, http://bit.ly/xxTtWx, science writer Marcus Wohlsen presents information about his recent book, Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life. Wohlsen talks about “biopunks,” the International Genetically Engineered Machine or iGEM at http://bit.ly/wk071W, and points out that apple tree grafting is an early example of Do-It-Yourself biology. The LOL episodes are available in video and audio formats.

The first topic in a  thirty minute Material World podcast from the BBC, at http://bbc.in/xZubAB describes a  University of Cambridge project  to teach pre-teen kids how to program computers by giving them a $25 computer called Raspberry Pi. Ten tutorials on use of the Pi are on YouTube at http://bit.ly/AzaBKY. This in turn is part of the British computing-at-school initiative at http://bit.ly/xzGMb4 where a “Switched On” newsletter can be downloaded and a web supplement accessed (http://bit.ly/yccTbo) with links to kits and other information. The British want a one-stop shop for computer science and a goal of teaching children how to create uses for computers, not just learn secretarial skills. Impressive effort!

Lard and Crisco are not the same thing. This may be part of our obesity problem as discussed in 2011 in an hour-long  EconTalk episode under the title, “Taubes on Fat, Sugar and Scientific Discovery” at http://bit.ly/xj6p2d.  But Crisco is another issue in “Lard, Who Killed It,” a Planet Money episode (#335) at  http://n.pr/wZLlJT. Mouthwatering!

Wireless routers that use an eight digit PIN or front button to set them up have been found vulnerable to a nearby attack as discussed fifteen minutes into episode 839 of Leo Laporte’s “The Tech Guy” at http://bit.ly/ywmaJ0 and at the 1:32 mark of episode 840 at http://bit.ly/xMhU6w. That explanation lasts about five minutes. More than an hour is devoted to the topic, if you want all the details, in “Security Now”  Episode 335 at http://bit.ly/A4L8Rd as well as Episode 337. Basically it concerns the router part devoted to WPS or Wi Fi Protection Security which can be adjusted by changing the router settings for those of us competent in such things, except this will not work for Linksys routers. For them you need a firmware update from Linksys and you can start working on that here: http://bit.ly/yhaFfI. The danger is small and the fixes are yet to come, so it’s a problem that requires several inquiries over several months.

Modern capitalism in China started in1978 by some very brave farmers. It’s described in PlanetMoney episode 337, entitled “The Secret Document That Transformed China” at http://n.pr/wfd99N.

Malaria kills 800,000 people each year (revised recently to 1.2 million) and can be wiped out for about three to four billion dollars a year. Details, technical and mundane, about steady progress and problems in this struggle are presented in an hour plus of discussion with a key figure in the fight, Dr David Fidock, at http://bit.ly/AgGhln.

I use a MP3 player powered by a rechargeable AAA battery and equipped with a paper clip bent so it can hook onto a cap, shirt or button hole. It’s connected to cheap retractable earbuds with adjustable plugs and a cable that appeared at first to be too short but when used with the paper clip is quite satisfactory. Earbuds like this are common on eBay and Amazon for just a few dollars, but not found in local stores. Many readers use smart phones for podcasts but my player often sells for $20 and can be loaded with 200 podcasts for use as a gift. These podcasts are sped up 50%, so occupy one-fourth the space of their beginning size. 

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About virginiajim

Retired knowledge nut.
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