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William Mullins
Works at University of North Carolina
Attended Wright State University
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William Mullins

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Truecrypt is insecure?  I act paranoid, and now this gives me the heebie-jeebies.  Truecrypt was a multi-platform solution for me, and now it is insecure?  Is is just abandoned?  Was it written by the NSA?
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Seriously Bill, did you write this? Is it really the big wookie here? Haze.
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William Mullins

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When will Google quit depending on Adobe Flash?
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A rough evening -- long story. My daughter was working on a school report/project on the laptop. She keeps all her files on her personal usb stick so that she has them always. While showing me something, she accidentally bumped the stick, just hard enough to pop the plastic case open. She thinks nothing of it and pops the case closed and goes on. I notice that the access light went out and never went back on. We check, and Windows has no stick drive mounted. She pulls it out and reinserts it ... nothing. She immediately tries to save her work, and M$Office dutifully reports an error saving the files and quits. At this point she is disconcerted -- in a fetal position on the floor sobbing.

I try the stick on the other USB ports and get nothing, so it is not the port. Looking at the plastic case, I see that it simply snaps together. I carefully prize it open with my fingernails and out pops a little PC-board with a USB connector attached.

My first idea is that the impact broke the USB connector or the solder connexions to the board. I get an eye loop and a small LED flashlight -- I am old and decrepit -- and examine both. They look fine. One side of the little board has a set of surface-mount stuff soldered on -- little capacitors, resisters, and a small chip. I look at all the solder connexions and they all look fine. I can see no problems.

On the other side of the board is a a single larger IC with no visible electrical or mechanical connexions. I assume that it is help on by solder-bumps from underneath. It is possible that flexing the board broke some of these, and that residual stresses from differential thermal expansion is holding them open. I look and it appear to be peeling slightly in one corner.

I go to our desktop computer and create an empty folder the desktop. Handling the stick circuit by the connector, I insert it into a USB slot, and push it in with my fingernails -- carefully not the touch/flex the PC-board. Again, nothing happens. Between my thumb and forefinger, I slowly press the IC onto the board. The access LED lights up (through my finger) and WinXP goes dong-ding and mounts the stick drive. With my other hand, I grab the mouse and double-click open the drive, select all, and drag-and-drop into the empty folder. Windows does it without comment.

I am lucky. I slowly let go of the stick -- it keeps working -- and get one of my USB sticks, and copy the files onto it. I walk down and hand her the stick and ask her to check and make sure the files are intact. Yes, with tears of relief she finds that all the files are there and intact. Happy ending after we administer anti-depressants -- in the form of Nestles semi-sweet chocolate morsels.

Put not your faith in cheap USB memory sticks.
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New York Times article Rising Sea Levels Seen as Threat to Coastal U.S. (by JUSTIN GILLIS Published: March 13, 2012).

WOW I have just been blinded by a brilliant flash of the obvious.
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Just a general review on EBookDroid 1.3.2 vs. Adobe Reader 1.1 on a nook color.

I love the support for multiple formats, and I have not had any troubles with it not reading pdfs of djvu files that I have. The interface is sometimes slow and poorly responsive, but the displayed regions are all in high-resolution. The Adobe responds snappier but the displayed regions come in pixelated and then raster up to full resolution. On the whole, both take about the same amount of time, but the Adobe approach feels more responsive. EBookDroid might want to switch the relative priorities of the interface and display rendering activities to change the feel. In EbookDroid's defence, the Adobe product will choke with an insufficient memory error whilst EBookDroid does not bat an eye. Overall still prefer EBookDroid.

Also looked at vuDroid. It has some things going for it, but I prefer the interface on EBookDroid. Since it is depreciated and rolled into EBookDroid, it is kind of moot.
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I have seen a little praise for Apple's iBooks authoring system. I have seen a lot of complaints. My view is more complicated.

We have clearly needed a set of standards for ebooks for some time. The publishers are not interested, and can only be dragged in kicking and screaming. This actually parallels the success of the iPod.

We know that digital music was the wave, and wanted some coherent system and uniform interoperability. Some devices came out, but were hampered by operability, interoperability, and mutually incompatible formats, etc. Apple stepped in with the iPod/iTunes, and it simply worked. The file formats were proprietary and incompatible with everyone else's – and still are – but they crushed the market at the time, and still own it. No one but iTunes can make reliably an m4a file that an iPod can read, and no other brand player can play them – they did release Apple Lossless to the public, however. Competent MP3 players lay ignored on the $5 racks at stores, and iPod sales are strong.

The upcoming iBooks market will look the same. The nooks, kindles, Sonys, et cetera, are popular but mutually incompatible. None have the support of the publishers, but two have the support of major content resellers/marketers. The demand is there, but the players have succeeded in fragmenting the market – and we still cannot put a damned equation into an ebook! This makes technical books impractical without resorting to the pdf format – which has terrible software support on existing readers excepting the iPad.

The iPad is an expensive, but very good, reader. It has some disadvantages as a reader compared to the nook and kindle, but it offers some serious advantages for advanced content. The iBooks format will render well, and will allow advanced and active content – perhaps even equations. The system will allow content creators to provide the knowledge and innovations without having to hand-craft the component xhtml files, validate them individually, hand assemble them into the package, and then validate the package – all from the command line with a patchwork of kludgy tools.

I am pissed that I got into this too early, and invested my time, energy, and money into the ePub format that is now a waste. With some luck, I can dump my nook and migrate to the iPad.
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Friday the thirteenth, and I have had problems already. But one success! I finally have another version of the Glossary of Mining and Metallurgical Terms ready. With this version, all the component html files pass the W3c validator with flying (green) colours. The package also passes the epubcheck-3.0b3 -v 3.0 check with no errors or warnings. The book displays very well on the calibre viewer, and works acceptably on my nook color v1.4.1 Reader. Some of the tables are too large for the nook display and get truncated, whilst the calibre viewer will pan to show them completely. It is now available at http://www.unc.edu/~mullinsw, and I might even host it on an epub site such as Manybooks.net or Feedbooks.com.
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Unsafe JavaScript attempt to access frame with URL https://plus.google.com/u/0/?tab=wX from frame with URL safari-extension://com.wotservicesoy.wot-FF6WW26HL3/d84f8217/content/ratingframe.html. Domains, protocols and ports must match.
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Sigil has failed me for the last time. Too many instances of losing everything, coupled with the tedium of manually backing everything up whilst using.

Also have completed compiling an illustrated version of Doyle's The Great Boer Wars that passes the ePub validations, and displays well on my nook color.
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Daring Fireball comments on: How the e-book landscape is becoming a walled garden

Welcome to Mutually Incompatible, Silo-Based, Platform-Dependent and User-Unfriendly Future of Books

Mathew Ingram on the e-book landscape:

As we’ve described before, Apple and Amazon come at the e-book market from different perspectives: Apple sees books as just another form of content that it can use to sell iPads and other devices, whereas Amazon sees devices like the Kindle and the Kindle Fire as ways it can lock people into its content ecosystem and sell them more books, movies and so on. But both are dependent on having users locked into their products, and so they make it as difficult as possible to move from one to the other.

This is pretty much why I was so down on DRM e-books all along, and why I like Nick Carr’s idea to bundle e-books as downloads that accompany good old-fashioned printed books.
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For me, this raises many issues. We clearly need to push our printed matter into electronic format. The fight now is over who controls the cash.

Some want the content to get out -- and know that those who are willing to pay for it will, and those who are not willing never will. Others are convinced that their next idea is going to make them rich, and will never let go of anything without maximum payment. Why is it that the ePub version of a book costs twice as much as the printed hardcover? It must be the capital expenditure in all the electrons!

I adopted the nook, but see the lack of support for by the vendor. With iBooks I looked seriously at the iPad, but do not like the restrictions and DRM, and the initial emphasis on eye-candy over content. I cannot see advantages in going to the kindle format. Now it looks like I will wait for the ePub 3 to get moving. I guess music was the same, and is still in the throws of it evolution.

Sorry, just a rant.
Apple's decision to reject an e-book by Seth Godin because it contains hyperlinks to books in the Amazon store is just another example of how the oligopoly that controls the market for e-books is turn...
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Shucks and other comments. I was hopeful for the Apple Education announcement. I was looking forward to a set of tools to construct ePub textbooks. Instead, they announce a set of tools to make interactive textbooks for iPads. I understand their reasons, I am just disappointed.
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Just updated nook-color to v1.4.1 software. Do not want/need NetFlix etc., but the updated reader is an improvement over the old. It still does not handle MathML (does SVG), but it has some enhancements in the controls etc. To me, it was worth the update, but I am still looking for a reader.
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People
Education
  • Wright State University
    Materials Engineering, 1981
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Materials Science, 1984
Work
Occupation
Materials Engineer
Employment
  • University of North Carolina
    Prof. of Mathematics, 2003 - present
  • Office of Naval Research
    Materials Engineer, 2009 - present
  • Army Research Office
    Materials Engineer, 1998 - 2009
Basic Information
Gender
Male