thinking outside the tank

Archive for the ‘future’ Category

How the epub standards work together

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The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) maintains the standards describing how ebooks with the .epub extension are constructed. There are three main specifications:

  • Open Publication Structure (OPS)
  • Open Packaging Format (OPF)
  • Open Container Format (OCF)

If you want to know more about these specifications and how they work together, read the recent article How the standards work together from the series provided by Inside Epub. The analogy is drawn between the structure of  a printed book and the aspects that each standard addresses:

  • OPS <==> the vocabulary used to write the book
  • OPF <==> the parts, chapters, and sections of the book
  • OCF <==> the cover and binding of the book

The articles in this series explore epub by looking inside The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a free ebook available from epubBooks. Screenshots are used to illustrate how the standards have been used in this relatively simple example.

Try this at home – you might find it useful.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2010


Authonomy – valuable feedback or a distraction from writing?

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After only five days using HarperCollins’ Authonomy website I’m reviewing whether or not I should continue. The site allows authors, editors, publishers, and people who simply like to read, to view and comment on the books that have been uploaded. There is a system of ranking both the books and the commentators. Books that are backed by others move up the rankings; books that climb the rankings improve the Talent Spotter ranking of those who backed them.

There are many games to play on Authonomy to get your book backed. The first task is to get people even to look at it – as with everything online getting eyes looking at your stuff is vital. 

  • You can send messages to other members inviting them to read your book, often with the promise of reading their book, the so-called ‘swap read’.
  • You can find books, read all or part of them, and then write comments to the author, hopefully constructive ones, in the hope you will prick their conscience into looking at your work.
  • You can be an active forum participant. Eventually people will click on  your profile to find out more about you and from there they will see your book.
  • You can write the most brilliant, beautifully crafted story and rely on its intrinsic quality to get unequivocal support from the Authonomy community (I haven’t tried this one yet).
  • You can blatantly offer to swap ‘backings’ without even reading the other person’s book.

And all for what? At the end of each month, the top five books go before a HarperCollins editorial review board. Beyond that is the hope that after much rework your book might actually be published. Read the rest of this entry »

Nil By Ear

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Prius Exchanging a Prius for a recumbent tricycle as my main form of transport. Windcheetah 749


Well, because of climate change. According to some web-based calculators, the Prius needs 425 calories per mile which is equivalent to 4.7 small bananas. It’s fantastic that the Prius is so efficient, but those calories come from petrol (0.1 pints per mile if I drive carefully). The Prius puts 166g per mile of CO2 into the atmosphere. The recumbent, however, needs only 50 calories of my energy to carry it for 1 mile; that’s about half of a small banana. Although I’m breathing out CO2 at a higher rate than when I’m standing still, the beauty is I get to eat the banana as well as exercising my heart muscle and keeping fit.

Stephen Fry tweeted recently about a campaign organised by Avaaz to make some noise on 21Sep09 in order to wake up world leaders and urge them to action on climate change:

Read the rest of this entry »

Google, #googmayharm, and the power of viral networking

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I understood but didn’t really feel the power of viral networking until yesterday when Google confused the world with its “This site may harm your computer” message which appeared against every search result. If you still don’t know about this, take a look at:, which is Google’s explanation of what happened.

If you did know about this already, how did you discover it? Perhaps you were googling and it started to happen. If so, how did you react? I wonder how many people believed what they read and didn’t try to access the search results. If you mainly listen to the radio then, in the UK at least, you wouldn’t have heard about it until Sunday morning. However, if you were logged in to a micro-blogging site and you have a reasonable number of connections to other users, the chances are you read about it within minutes of it happening. My own experience was as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by netkingcol

February 1, 2009 at 10:59 am

Semantic Web – why so many books?

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It’s ironic how the knowledge scientists wanting to usher in the semantic web rush to print. An Amazon search for ‘Semantic Web’ gives over 4500 results. Locking away knowledge on paper in a warehouse is surely not the best way to advance the cause of finding information efficiently on the web. Is this the last chance to make money writing technical books before Web 3 users expect it for free?

Copyright © C.Hazlehurst 2009

Written by netkingcol

January 28, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Short selling is back – some say it never went away

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Short-sellers in the stock market are back in business and Barclays was the first target. I think I understand how short-selling works and how it is supposed to enhance market efficiency by driving assets to their true value.

It wouldn’t work quite so well if the other short-sellers, those who were not prevented from trading, had not been so very active over the last five months. I refer to the media whose peddling of gloom is unrelenting.

To some extent the short-sellers will thrive on the self-fulfilling forecasts of rising unemployment, falling house prices, and business failures. I don’t even want to repeat the numbers. I strongly believe that at this point of the economic cycle the media should restrict themselves to delivering news i.e. things that have actually happened, and to keep to themselves the unreliable, uncertain forecasts that look good as headlines but do no service to the economy.

Copyright © C.Hazlehurst 2009

Written by netkingcol

January 17, 2009 at 11:21 am

Exciting times ahead – defining the new economy

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Do you remember how Sarah in the film Labyrinth has to cross the Bog of Eternal Stench by leaping from one stepping stone to the next, and each stone starts to sink as she lands on it? 

It’s the same with the UK economy. Industrialised Britain petered out during previous recessions and the noises from Jaguar and Land Rover are the last few sucking sounds as manufacturing sinks, almost, without trace. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by netkingcol

January 15, 2009 at 8:39 pm

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