Monday, December 24, 2007

Best Websites and Web 2.0 Services

Earth in Space: Best Websites

Here is a brief list of our favorite websites and Web 2.0 services. These are the websites that I visit often, and the services that I use and trust.

Everything we've listed is free, although some of these services let you pay a little to get more features.

Visit the EPW Page of Top Websites and Web 2.0 Services
Best Websites on Epublishers Wiki

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Monday, December 17, 2007

10 Reasons Why I Switched to an Apple Mac

iMac in snow

After a thousand years as a Windows PC user, I'm switching to an Apple iMac. Here's why:

1. The Leopard Operating System. Take Apple's Guided Tour of Leopard.

2. You Can Run Every Program in the Universe. Abiltiy to run the other major operating systems, including Windows XP and Linux.

3. Sound and Video. This generation communicates via voice and moving images. The computer most-often used by sound-and-video professionals is the Mac.

4. Apple's Other Stuff. Easy integration with other appealing Apple products and gizmos, such as iPods and iPhones and iTunes.

5. MS Non-compliance. I want to send a message to Microsoft: "Make your web browser compliant with web standards." . See this
article by Hakon Lie from The Register. See also, Lie's Open Letter to the Web Community

And for 5 more reasons ...

6. Hasta La Vista, Vista ... I don't like Microsoft's new operating system.

7. Security. With Macs, there is less to worry about concerning the many varieties of malware.

8. Keynote Presentation software. ... Whenever I see a stunning presentation, it's been made with Keynote. Keynote comes included in Apple's reaonsonably-priced iWorks.

9. Value. At first, PCs seem to be cheaper than Macs — until you put together your ideal configuration of PC hardware and software. And then you discover that the Mac is a good deal.

10. Why not? .... As Zorba the Greek says: "You're like a grocer, you weigh everything. Can't a man do something just because he wants to!"

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Snapfish Snaps: ... "Not One Penny For Tribute!"

Imagine, opening your email Inbox — that sanctuary of friendly communications — and receiving the following message:


Hi Zorba,

A few weeks ago, we sent you an email about preserving your online photos at Snapfish. TO AVOID DELETION, YOU MUST VISIT SNAPFISH AND MAKE AN ONLINE PURCHASE WITHIN THE NEXT 10 DAYS.*

To re-activate your account and preserve your online photos, please visit Snapfish and order prints, photo CDs, photo gifts, photo books, 4x8" photo cards, or download high-resolution photos within the next 10 days. Even buying a single 12¢ print will re-activate your account. Your account will be re-activated for 12 months with each purchase you make.


My first thought: This is a new Nigerian email scam, attempting to persuade me to click a link and enter my passwords. ... On second look, the message did appear real — or, surreal — coming from a company that I've purchased many a product from. Legitimate businesses and organizations should never send threatening, spam-like emails. Rather than wasting time investigating the genuineness of this genre of "do-it-or-else" emails, I prefer to send them to my trash folder immediately.

“Legitimate businesses and organizations should never send threatening, spam-like emails.”

The last time I looked, there were dozens of online places to store photos. Photobucket is superb; as is ImageShack. The photo-service Shutterfly says that they have "never deleted a photo." Flickr is popular. Mediafire and offer free storage for not just photos, but all varieties of files.

Snapfish should have titled their email message: "How to Lose A Customer". I could continue my Snapfish account by buying a photo for 12 cents. But this kind of bullying must be discouraged. I will remember the words of Robert Goodloe Harper (shown above): "Not one penny for tribute!" — and let my Snapfish account expire.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

13 Reasons To Choose Google Groups

Max Frisch (1911–1991) — the Swiss architect, playwright, and novelist — writes that technology is a system for separating persons from reality. ... That is not true for many of the new communication technologies. Email helps us to quickly and easily connect with friends, colleagues, and strangers. Internet discussion groups allow small and large numbers of people to exchange information and ideas.
Google Groups shot

Not unexpectedly, in this realm Google is leading the pack. What is Google Groups? ... According to Wikipedia: Google Groups is "a free service from Google where groups of people have discussions about common interests. Internet users can find discussion groups related to their interests and participate in threaded conversations, either through the Google Groups web interface, or by e-mail."

You can join a group or start one. For more information, see the Google Groups home page:

Discussion Groups are available from other providers, but Google Groups offers the most features and the fewest annoyances. Here are 13 reasons why I prefer Google to the other leading Groups provider. Google Groups gives you:

1. A Better Privacy Policy. With Yahoo Groups, every so often you'll need to check your privacy settings and "opt out" of unwanted offers.

2. Less spam. ...

3. Less advertising.

4. Safer browsing. ... Some of those Yahoo banner ads might contain malware — which can be blocked by the Firefox browser add-on "No Script". However using "No Script" with Yahoo often renders Yahoo services unusable.

5. Faster and More Efficient Search. Find old messages faster: no need to keep them in your email, just search the Google pages.

6. Advanced Discussion Format, which keeps the topic together in one post.

7. Pages Feature. You can create web pages with useful information, which can be edited either by Group managers, or by all the members.

8. Less Noise. ... I first thought of switching from Yahoo Groups to Google, after the bottom of my Yahoo Groups home page displayed "Yahoo Answers", with the question: "How do i let God into my life?"

9. Longevity. ... Ever had a Yahoo email address, log in to Yahoo, and then find that all your emails have been deleted? ... Yahoo zaps your account if you don't log in for a while. Google — last time I looked — gave me an inactivity grace period of three times as long.

10. Favorites Feature. ... Click the "star" beside a Google Groups message, and you've added to your "Favorites" list. Then click
Favorites, and your list appears.

11. Easier Management. For the list owners and managers: it's easier to add members in bulk, and to tweak settings.

12. More options with each message. At the bottom of each post, Google gives me these choices: Reply | Reply to author | Forward | Print | Individual message | Show original | Report this message | Find messages by this author.

13. Integration with other free Google Services. ... If you're using Gmail or Google Documents, you're one click away from your Google Groups, and vice versa.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hotspots: A Stunning New Documentary

hotspots: image from film

Hotspots is a new documentary produced by the Dancing Star Foundation.

In Geeklish, a hotspot is a location that provides public Wi-Fi access. But talk with an ecologist, and you'll discover that a hotspot is a geographical location containing an immense diversity of animals, birds, or plants. The key to saving our planet is to protect and preserve these environmental hotspots.

The new film documents the latest and best efforts to save these essential places.
Watch the stunning trailer, on YouTube, by clicking the image above, or the link below.

Hotspots (film trailer)

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Health For Life — Websites About Health

Health is the true wealth.

According to E. Graham Howe, there are four great healing forces: Time, Sleep, Change, and Love.

Those things heal the mind; to maintain the body we need excercise, right eating, a sense of humor, and a deep connection with the natural world.

EPW Favorite Websites About Health

Follow the link above to our ever-growing collection of links to websites with valuable information about living a long and healthy life.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Fiction That Matters: Chateau Beyond Time

Chateau Beyond Time
by Michael Tobias

Published by Council Oak Books
Hardcover, 256 pages, March 2008
ISBN: 978-1571782137

Essay by Michael Pastore

Michael Tobias is our greatest living author. He has not only forged the conscience of our race, but challenged us to hear and respond to the slumbering consciences deep within each one of us. In 2006 he blessed the world with an 1,800-page novel, The Adventures of Mr Marigold, a masterpiece which, in my opinion, stands beside Don Quixote as one of the world's funniest and wisest books. His next work, Donkey, filled with extraordinary photographs and illustrations (and co-authored with Jane Morrison), is a passionate tribute to a lovable and under-appreciated beast. Tobias's newest book, Chateau Beyond Time, is an environmental thriller, a Utopian novel that artfully blends fiction and facts, a page-turner with a plot so intricate and ingenious that I could not put it down until the final mystery revealed itself.

Chateau Beyond Time might be read and admired for any number of reasons: its crisp dialogue, its stunning European settings, its flashes of humor, its superb literary style. Lovers of nature -- or lovers of art, history, music, literature, philosophy, Utopian studies -- will be amazed at the author's encyclopedic knowledge of these realms. And technophiles will enjoy reading how the latest technologies -- computers, information databases, and extraordinary gadgets -- are utilized, by rogues and poachers to profit from the natural world, and by scholars and law-enforcement persons to preserve it.

The 20th Century -- with its violence and wars, its loss of religious faith, its growing social problems and ecological catastrophes -- has been called "The Age of Disillusionment." As we begin the 21st Century, we have entered "The Age of Illusion": countless human beings attempting to escape from themselves and from the world's unpleasant realities, via electronic entertainment, or material possessions, or artificial stimulants. For the most part, our writers have failed to understand (and then assume) the tremendous responsibility of the literary artist. Most of our authors have failed because they give us either superficial stories to amuse and distract us, or novels saturated with pessimism, despair, futility, and hopelessness. Fifty-four years ago, the great American critic Van Wyck Brooks, pre-envisioned a new species of writer, when (in The Writer in America) he wrote: "I suggest that we need above all at present those who can restore for us a feeling for the true aims of living, who can remind us of the goodness in men, bring back the joy of life and give one a sense of human hope."

Tobias is one of the rare authors who can accomplish this kind of literary miracle. For the past ten years I have been reading his books for three reasons: for the pure pleasure of the reading experience; to tap his Goethe-like knowledge of the worlds of books, nature, and men; and for the humanizing vision imbued in every word. His secret can be epitomized in the poem by Sengai: "Every stroke of my brush is the overflow of my inmost heart."

And this inmost heart -- as you will find in the works of William Blake and Percy Shelley and Walt Whitman and Nikos Kazantzakis -- emanates from what Erich Fromm (and later, E. O. Wilson) have named "biophilia". Albert Schweitzer calls it "reverence for life".`

Chateau Beyond Time -- essential reading for everyone who cares about preserving biodiversity and protecting endangered species -- can be read purely for enjoyment. And those of us who are seeking something more -- from life and books -- will find that "more" on every page. Tobias brings us a novel and enlightened slant on the perennial philosophy of that ancient philosopher who encouraged us to live heartfully, with a planetary consciousness that makes us fully human. And what is that precious perennial philosophy? ... "When we have learned to love not our separate life, but all living things, then at last we shall find peace."

-- Michael Pastore

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Buy Nothing Day ... in 65 Countries Worldwide

Buy Nothing Day poster

When: Friday, November 23
What: Buy Nothing Day
Where: In the USA, and 64 other countries

Year after year, on the Fridays after Thanksgiving, my father would enact a strange personal ritual. Returning home from work, he would throw his newspaper against a chair with great force, then hand me a bag of soft pretzels, and finally collapse on the living room couch with a glazed look in his deep brown eyes. He was totally exhausted from his work on this day, the busiest shopping day of the year, the day that signaled the abandonment of all human reason with this motto: "Let the Christmas Shopping Rush begin!"

There is a solution to this unthinking chaos, and it begins with the concept "Less is more." ... Simplicity is the watchword of the new greener life. And what could be simpler than -- for one day -- slowing down the never-ending frenzy for buying things?

Shockingly, over the past 20 years, the per capita consumption in the United States has risen 45 per cent. The goal of Buy Nothing Day (BND) is not to consume less: it is -- for a mere span of 24 hours -- to buy nothing at all.

Scott and Helen Nearing, founders of the back-to-the-land movement, would eat no solid food one day every week, believing that this action (or: non-action) improved their physical health. Victims of advertising overload, we can hardly conceive of one day per week without buying something. This project seeks to improve our financial -- and perhaps, psychological -- health, but giving up not one day per week, but but one day per year.

I will be spending my November 29 re-reading two books that encourage less buying and more being. Zenlightenment! is an anthology of quotations from the world's best books. To Have or To Be is a classic by Erich Fromm.

For more information about Buy Nothing Day (BND):
WikiPedia Article:
BND page at Adbusters

(thanks to Adbusters)

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Welcome to Epublishers Weekly

Welcome to the new Epublishers Weekly (EPW), the blog about technology's benefits and dangers: how technology at once enhances and disturbs our lives. At its meretricious worst, technology distracts us, and places immense power in the hands of fools. At its best, technology improves our lives by allowing instantaneous communication, and promoting personal creativity, free culture, and the sustainable society.

What are we about? ... About living a genuine life in a world spinning under the dizzying disorientation of new inventions and wild ideas. Some of our favorite themes include:

  • Books
  • Censorship and Freedom
  • Creativity
  • CSS & Web Publishing
  • Culture and Free Culture
  • Digital Photography
  • Ebooks & Epublishing
  • Films & Screencasts
  • Firefox & Google
  • Futuresque
  • Gadgets & Gizmos
  • Green Living
  • How to ...
  • Humanizing Technology
  • Humor and the Offbeat
  • Information Revolution
  • Internet Maintenance
  • Podcasting & Audio
  • PDF and Pre-press
  • Publishing & Print on Demand
  • Software, Shareware, Freeware
  • Smart Technology
  • Technology, Love & Sexuality
  • Time and Life Management
  • Video & Vlogging
  • Web Blogs & Blogging
  • Web 2.0
EPW is sponsored by an independent publisher. Take a minute to enjoy a quick tour of ebooks and paperbacks, here at the website of Zorba Press.

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