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Episode 25 – The Cyberpunk Behind Big Hero 6

Let’s step back from the tech for a bit from something fun and different! Join Dan for a look at the cyberpunk technology and tones of the Disney animated film Big Hero 6!

Links

Hatsune Miku – Information about the virtual idol singer, or idoru, from Wikipedia.

Music

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Episode 24 – Delicious 3.14159

Raspberry Pis have taken the maker and geek world by storm! Little, inexpensive computers that can do so many great things? Yeah that has a lot of possibilities within the library! Join Dan and discover a project he’s working on that involves a Raspberry Pi.

Notes

Outline for what I’ve done for a digital shelf talker unit powered by Raspberry Pi.

  1. Raspberry Pi Model B  – uses a MicroSD and has four USB ports
  2. Using a kit I found on Amazon. Links in the shownotes
    1. The great thing about this kit isn’t just the case and plugs but also the WiFi plug. That’s what you really need for a project like this.
  3. Screenly OSE
    1. Managed through web browser
    2. Displays slides, MP4s, and websites as a digital signage solution
    3. Easier to use and set up than Xibo. I love it!
    4. OSE is the FOSS edition, there is a paid solution with more spiffs – check it out
  4. Using the custom image found on Screenly OSEs website, I flashed that to the SD card using Win32DiskImager – an open source app that is excellent for this
    1. The Screenly OSE custom image is just Raspbian with Screenly OSE pre-installed. Save yourself some time, just use it.
    2. Flash that to the SD card, pop the card in your Raspberry Pi, hook everything up, and plug it in!
      1. Plug into a live ethernet jack that allows access to the Internet. You’ll need that to get things going.
    3. It’ll start up and go right into a demo display with a video. Let that play through and then hit CTRL ALT F1 to get to a login prompt.
    4. The login is the default for Raspberry Pi and Raspbian, the user is pi and the password is raspberry – all lower case.
  5. So the tricky part isn’t getting Screenly OSE to work it’s getting the Pi to automatically connect to WiFi. Over ethernet it’s great! Wifi needs a little tweaking
    1. To do this, we need to install a better network manager. It’s spelled wicd, but to keep it straight in my head I call it “wicked” which will make more sense in a few moments.
    2. Getting wicd installed is pretty easy. I’ll have this info listed in the show notes, so don’t feel like you have to write things down furiously.
      1. Type sudo apt-get update and then sudo apt-get install wicd-curses. So I call the network manager wicked and the whole thing is wicked curses, see?
      2. sudo wicd-curses
      3. You’ll get a pretty simple interface to set up your wifi connection, link to more information in the show notes but I bet you’ll figure it out pretty quickly
      4. Set up your wifi access (choose it, password if needed, etc) and make sure you set it up to connect automatically!
      5. After that, hit F10 to save the setup and then SHIFT C to connect. If you did it all correctly, the wifi connects up! BRILLIANT!
        1. Oh except for the fact that it won’t do this automatically upon boot, not yet
      6. Okay so the trick is that we need to get the wicd service to start automatically. To do that, we need to edit the /etc/profile file to start the service on login.
        1. When Screenly OSE starts, it logs in. Whenever someone logs in, /etc/profile is invoked
        2. So let’s cd /etc and, just to be safe, make a copy with sudo cp profile profile.bak, then sudo nano profile
        3. To start the service, add sudo service wicd start to the end of that profile
        4. CTRL X and save
        5. Moment of truth time. Disconnect your ethernet cable and reboot the Pi
      7. When Screenly OSE comes up, it may or may not show you the IP for the Pi. Sometimes it doesn’t get the wifi connection in time to display it. To verify your wifi connection, do the CTRL ALT F1 and login again.
        1. type ifconfig and you should see an IP under WLAN0. There you go! Pop that into a web browser on your network and you can manage Screenly OSE!
      8. You can set up a persistent IP if you want. Me, I prefer to just set it up as a DHCP reservation at the router.

Links

Music

Ice Cold by Jason Shaw
Adeu by Peter Sharp
Bellydance at Ebisu by Ryo Miyashita
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Episode 23 – Evernote Everything

Sometimes you need to write stuff down. Maybe it’s a quick note. Or maybe it’s a book! Dan takes a fresh look at a familiar tool, Evernote.

Notes

Music

 

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Adobe Screws Library Users And we helped make it happen

The Electronic Frontier Foundation dropped a bomb on the library world yesterday when they published their findings on an investigation into how Adobe Digital Editions works. Let’s not mince words here, let’s bring this out in the open so we can all look at it.

Any product that you’ve had in your library’s digital collection that used Adobe Digital Editions for digital rights management and control has been keeping track of what your patrons are reading and transmitting it back to Adobe. It has been doing this in the clear and thus Adobe has made it really easy for someone else to track what your library patrons are reading. This has, until very recently, included the highly popular OverDrive digital library collection used by library systems all over the country.  Other services such as Freading and OneClickDigital still rely on ADE for DRM authentication among library patrons. Right now, that information is being tracked by Adobe.

And libraries, all over the country, helped them do it. Yes, folks, I mean us.

I looked and searched and came up empty when I tried to find something, anything, on a library calling for an independent audit of the ADE security model and methodology. Like many high level “security management” systems, it’s a black box. You can’t see inside it because, you know, proprietary code and none-of-your-damn-business. Except it was our business. We’re supposed to protect our patrons’ privacy and secure their ability to read what they want from the prying eyes of governments, corporations, and institutions.

We failed. We handed that information right over to Adobe and whoever else was smart enough to tap that line of communication. Since it was an open line of communication, it wouldn’t take all that much to get in on it.

Adobe is basically saying this is no big deal. ADE is only collecting information about the book you’re reading, how long you’ve been reading it, and how far along you are.

Only.

Put that into a non-digital scenario. It’s the equivalent of having a librarian follow someone around after they check out a book. That librarian watches the patron, notes what they’re reading right now and where, and how they’re getting along in it. Then that librarian makes a loud, public, cell phone call back to the branch and reports that information so everyone at the Starbucks can hear it.

You think that’s absurd? It’s no different than what Adobe Digital Editions is doing now. They just don’t have to leave the head office to do it.

LAD_semicircleOverDrive recently removed ADE from their app, so you now authenticate directly with OverDrive rather than Adobe. Thing is, we still know next to nothing about how that authentication process works, if it’s secure, or what they’re tracking. Which is why I’m calling upon OverDrive to expose their authentication method and allow an independent audit of its code to test for security and privacy. OverDrive caters specifically to libraries, this shouldn’t be a big deal for them.

I seriously doubt they’re going to do it. I may be wrong, but I’m often right.

I’m also calling out any other library service using ADE to push for transparency and privacy in ADE’s methods. After all, Freading and OneClickDigital and others are ADE’s customers. They are paying for that software and authentication, they have the right to know what they’re buying. Since we’re buying services from them, we have the right to know too.

I may be wrong, but I’m often right.

Finally, I know this won’t go anywhere, but I’m calling out the library community on this whole thing. We’re paying for this stuff, and none of it’s cheap. We need to demand transparency and security in everything that touches our patrons’ accounts and reading histories. If we can’t get that, then we can vote with our money, because I have a feeling that if a few major libraries start abandoning services because they’re not as above the board on patron privacy as we are, then changes will get made somewhere.

High tech, low budget