Exxon's Record Profits meet Oil Standard

Exxon meets Oil Standard

Screenshot by Simon Jolly

OilStandard in action!

OilStandard in action

I read the news today. Oh boy! — This morning I thought I’dcheck cnn.com for the latest. OilStandard revealed part of the story thatwasn’t being reported on.

OilStandard is a firefox plugin that inserts oil priceswherever ecommerce currency is noted by the text of a given web-page. Theexchange is live so the value is live.

Note: The Current version of the plug-in doesn’t work inFirefox 3 (yet!). But the Greasemonkey script sure does. Download it here (thescript). You can download the Greasemonkey plugin here.

Visibility: Urban Cycling R&D Update

The most important factor in bicycle safety is visibility. At the R&D OpenLab we're exploring creative ways of increasing visibility. Making more cyclists more visible means fewer accidents. For years visible safety apparel often came at the cost of style. But recent developments in retroreflective design are turning safety into slick fashion.

Cycle Suit

Guy Hill's tweed textile company, Dashing Tweeds is make heads turn internationally with its high-end reflective tweeds suits.  They've developed a unique fabric, LumatwillTM, which combines twill with a reflective yarn from 3M. The results are astonishin. By day its a colorful tweed but by night the bright stripes turn retro-reflective. The suits aren't cheap but their certainly changing how people view form/function of cycling design. We ordered samples for ourselves to get a better look LumatwillTM.

Dashing Samples

A retro-reflective yarn is  spun together with a wool thread (for strength) and then woven into the fabric itself (rather than stitched in). The material, from 3M goes by the name Scotchlite and is available in as a yarn from the Metlon Corporation as Retroglo®. In fact we just ordered samples of the thinnest reflective yarn we could find (1/69"). Currently we're researching ways in which we can weave it into our own fabric, preferably without the pricetag of Savile Row. One idea is to develope a reflective pin-striped suit, where all the stripes are retro-reflective.


Other methods of increasing visibility start with the bike itself. In NYC you can even get a ticked for not having a rear reflector/blinky and headlight. However these little lights and reflectors just meet the bare minimum standard of safety. Instead, imagine if the entire bike glowed and reflected amidst headlights of passing cars!

Reflective Paint

We ordered and tested two retro-reflective paints. Krylon Reflect-A-Lite (clear) and Dupli Color Nite-Lites (silver). A retro-reflector is a material which reflects light back at the source with minimum scattering, so the light is nearly equal in brightness when it reaches the drivers eyes. In paint, tiny glass beads are ground into a fine powder which is mixed with paint or an adhesive, the beads act as micro mirrors. On paper, Dupli-Color was more visible, while Reflect-A-Lite remained more subtle. Reflect-A-Lite requires a bright white base for full effect. Next steps include application research whether by hand (spray paint) or more controlled (powder coat). Stay tuned for more documentation as our retro-reflective research continues.

Napstering textbooks

NYTimes reports on textbook piracy. Textbooks are being scanned and torrented on The Pirate Bay, et all.  Scanning the entirety of a text book seems like a lot of work, but I guess it pays off:

Time flies, however, if you’re having a good time plotting righteous revenge, and students seem angrier than ever before about the price of textbooks. More students are choosing used books over new; sales of a new edition plunge as soon as used copies are available, in the semester following introduction; and publishers raise prices and shorten intervals between revisions to try to recoup the loss of revenue — and the demand for used books goes up all the more.

So the Napster moment is coming for print publishers? I think they have a certain fear of this.  I think there is a willingness to try new things, but the problems is locking them down with DRM doesn’t work, and doesn’t make anyone happy.  I think this has a lot to do with why we were given a Creative Common license for Digital Foundations

Harper Collins: Gaimain giveaway a success

Harper Collins has analyzed the data, and concluded that their one month free access to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods had direct and measurable increase on sales.  They were only able to measure it among independent booksellers, as there was an alternate Gaiman promotion going on at the big box bookstores:

 The Browse Inside Full Access promotion of American Gods drove 85 thousand visitors to our site to view 3.8 Million pages of the book (an average of 46 pages per person). On average, visitors spent over 15 minutes reading the book.

The Indies [ie. independent booksellers — Neil] are the only sales channel where we have confidence that incremental sales were driven by this promotion. In the Bookscan data reported for Independents we see a marked increase in weekly sales across all of Neil’s books, not just American Gods during the time of the contest and promotion. Following the promotion, sales returned to pre-promotion levels.

Gaiman’s Journal for full post

Google Print: Author and Publisher disagree

Kottke reports on an author & publisher in dispute over Google Print.

To that end, she asked her publisher, Simon & Schuster, to put her book up on Google Print so it could be found, and they refused. Now they’re suing Google over Google Print, claiming copyright infringement. Meghann is not too happy with this development.

It is amazing to see the publishers *not* get it.  Every study shows that Google Print and Amazon’s Search Withing The Book increase sales.  And they benefit long tail authors.

Full Story

MiniBookExpo to get books to bloggers (in Canada)

Its only in Canada for the moment, but MiniBookExpo is a service to get books to bloggers for review.   Something we have thought about too.


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