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  • Google versus Groovle

    Thu, 31 Dec 2009 05:24

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    A Canadian company behind a search engine called Groovle.com has won a case filed against it by online search giant Google (the BBC has the story).

    More details (below) from TechCrunch:

    Back in 2007, we wrote about Groovle, a site that lets you skin Google with your favorite image, and serves results through Google's Custom Search. It seems that Google wasn't much of a fan though: the search giant sought to take control over the domain name, alleging that it would confuse users. Today comes word that their request has been denied by the National Arbitration Forum, in what Groovle believes is only Google's second such defeat.

    Google initially sent Groovle an Email on July 29 demanding that they hand the domain over. In response to Google's initial complaints, Groovle modified the site design to make it more distinct and added a disclaimer to explicitly say it was not affiliated with Google, but that wasn't enough to placate them. It's not hard to guess why Google was concerned. Groovle, while not simply a typo away from Google's name, does share quite a few letters in common, and the primary purpose of the site is to search Google's index.

    Groovle's defense includes a number of arguments, but the one that resonated with the NAF is that its name stems from the words "Groovy" and "Groove", rather than "Google". It may not sound like a big difference, but those extra letters proved to be enough to win the case.

  • The Elements Book

    Thu, 31 Dec 2009 00:15

    Theodore Gray's stunning book The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe only came out about a month ago, but quickly established itself as one of my favourite books of the year.

    You can discover more about the book at Gray's website periodictable.com, but you should also check out this fabulous YouTube video:


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    The Guardian blog takes a look at the best books of 2009: the year in which the Man Booker winner -- Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall -- became a surprise, best-selling must-read (and the year in which, with the superb Strangers, Anita Brookner wrote yet another perfect novel that passed everybody by!)

    In fiction, Wolf Hall was the biggie of the year, in every sense. After almost universal adulation from critics, Hilary Mantel's 650-pager was favourite for the Booker from the off, and brought off the rare feat for a favourite of actually carrying off the prize. It could yet "do the double" and win the Costa. Some big names delivered the goods this year -- Coetzee with Summertime [my personal fave -- ed!], Toibin with Brooklyn and Atwood with The Year of the Flood -- and short stories did well, with Petina Gappah taking the Guardian first book award. Sarah Waters's ghostly Little Stranger was a winner for me (though not as much as The Night Watch) while Audrey Niffenegger's eagerly awaited follow-up to The Time-Traveller's Wife, the ghostly Her Fearful Symmetry was a disappointment -- curiously gripping for about three-quarters considering nothing much happens to the vaguely ludicrous characters, then gripping in the last quarter only because one wants to see if she can rescue the frankly ridiculous plot developments she suddenly introduces towards the end (she can't). Kamila Shamsie's Burnt Shadows and David Vann's Legend of a Suicide were both mesmerisingly good.

    Non-fiction highlights were Chris Mullin's excellent political dairies, View from the Foothills, and the continuation of David Kynaston's fascinating social history, this time taking us through the 1950s with Family Britain. 2009 was arguably not a particularly strong year for biography but it did see John Carey's William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies kick up a minor storm with revelations about the novelist's teenage years.

    In poetry, Don Paterson's Rain was the standout volume while there were excellent offerings from Alice Oswald, Ruth Padel, Hugo Williams and Christopher Reid.

    Children's fiction had a good year. The second part of Patrick Ness's trilogy, which he began with the award-winning The Knife of Never Letting Go, continued strongly with The Ask and The Answer. Margo Lanagan's caused a stir with her marvellous and controversial (you have to love a book the Daily Mail describes as "sordid wretchedness") Tender Morsels. I also loved Charlie Higson's The Enemy, a zombie thriller with a refreshingly positive take on teenagers (more...)

  • The best children's books of 2009

    Wed, 30 Dec 2009 05:20

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    In the Seattle Times, children's/teen librarian Karen Macpherson offers her list of the top books -- from picture books to early readers to young adult fiction -- for 2009.

    Her choices include:

    • Baby, I Love You by Karma Wilson; illustrated by Sam Williams. (Ages infant-two years).
    • Daddy, Papa and Me and Mommy, Mama and Me, by Leslea Newman; illustrated by Carol Thompson (Ages infant-two years).
    • Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales written and illustrated by Maisy creator Lucy Cousins (Ages 4-8).
    • Stick Man, by Julia Donaldson; illustrated by Axel Scheffler. (Ages 4-8).
    • Let's Do Nothing, written and illustrated by Tony Fucile (Ages 3-6).
    • Birds, by Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes; illustrated by Laura Dronzek. (Ages 3-6).
    • Crow Call, by Newbery Medalist Lois Lowry; illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. (Ages 4-8).
    • The Lion & the Mouse, illustrator Jerry Pinkney's wordless adaptation of an Aesop's fable. (Ages 3-8).
    • Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. (Ages 4-8).
  • The Checklist Manifesto

    Tue, 29 Dec 2009 05:29

    The New York Times takes a look at Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right:

    A hospital, as the saying goes, is no place for sick people. It's filled with hazards to your health, not least of which are the myriad infections, missed diagnoses, dosage mistakes and other complications that arise from human error. And in a hospital, human error seems all but inevitable. How can any one individual, or even any one team of individuals, keep all the tasks straight and anticipate all eventualities 100 percent of the time?

    But Dr. Peter Pronovost, a critical care specialist at the Johns Hopkins medical center in Baltimore, thought he knew how to minimize human error. It was, as Dr. Atul Gawande describes it in his provocative new book, The Checklist Manifesto, an idea so simple that it seemed downright loopy.

    In 2001 Dr. Pronovost borrowed a concept from the aviation industry: a checklist, the kind that pilots use to clear their planes for takeoff. In an experiment Dr. Pronovost used the checklist strategy to attack just one common problem in the I.C.U., infections in patients with central intravenous lines (catheters that deliver medications or fluids directly into a major vein). Central lines can be breeding grounds for pathogens; in the Hopkins I.C.U. at the time, about one line in nine became infected, increasing the likelihood of prolonged illness, further surgery or death.

    Dr. Pronovost wrote down the five things that doctors needed to do when inserting central lines to avoid subsequent infection: wash hands with soap; clean the patient's skin with chlorhexidine antiseptic; cover the patient's entire body with sterile drapes; wear a mask, hat, sterile gown and gloves; and put a sterile dressing over the insertion site after the line was in (more...)

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