What’s new in DITA 1.3

August 19th, 2014

DITA keeps evolving. The DITA Technical Committee is hard at work finishing DITA 1.3, which should be finalized sometime next year. They recently presented a webinar outlining what’s new. If you don’t have the time to watch the webinar, you can view the presentation slides {PDF), which are quite detailed.

2014 Hugo Award winners

August 17th, 2014

The winners of the 2014 Hugo Awards have been announced at Loncon3, the World Science Fiction Convention in London, England. In true sfnal fashion, the award ceremony was streamed live over the Internet, and this time there were no glitches due to over-zealous copyright bots.

Ann Leckie won the Best Novel award for Ancillary Justice. It’s obviously the book of the year, as she also won the Nebula Award for it. I am a bit surprised that Robert Jordan didn’t win for his immensely popular Wheel of Time series. I was glad to see Charlie Stross win Best Novella for Equiod, part of his Laundry series. I’m currently reading the latest installment, The Rhesus Chart, which I expect will be a strong contender for Best Novel next year.

SF Signal has the full list of the awards, with links to some of the winners. If you want the complete statistics, which are complex due to the preferential voting system, you can see them here.  If you do so, you’ll see that the attempt by certain right-wing writers to sway the vote was a resounding failure. I should note that while I didn’t vote for the Hugos, I did try to read the Vox Day novella – I really did try – and I gave up after the third page.

Update: For more on the Hugo results, see this post from John Scalzi, last year’s Best Novel winner.

More Falcon 9 ocean landing video

August 15th, 2014

There’s video of the Falcon 9 ocean landing after last month’s ORBCOMM launch, this one taken from a chase plane. Unfortunately, the cameraman missed the actual moment of splashdown, but it’s still an impressive video.


August 12th, 2014

We watched an interesting movie on Netflix the other night – Womb. It turned out to be a drama about a woman who bears the clone of her dead lover and what happens as a result. Yes, it was technically SF but the emphasis was on the F, not the S. The acting was excellent (both former Doctor Matt Smith and Eva Green who is in the series Penny Dreadful) and the cinematography superb. It was much, much better than the IMDB rating would indicate.

The IMDB title is Clone, BTW.

Who is speaking up for Canadian English?

August 11th, 2014

When I was in university, one of the assignments in my linguistics class was to come up with a list of words that were specific to the part of Canada I was from. It was a harder exercise than it might seem. At the time, there was no dictionary of Canadian English to crib from, and there isn’t one now – the last specifically Canadian dictionary, The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, was last published a decade ago.

The Globe and Mail looks at who is keeping track of Canadian English now and what it means for us as Canadians.

The Canadian Oxford was the last of the country’s research-driven print dictionaries, definitive volumes intended for a broad national readership that yearned for guidance, enlightenment and occasional delight. Its disappearance left a vacuum that has proved hard to fill.

The text of the 2004 edition remains available, and is still consulted by those who feel its coverage of Canadian English is as timeless as the vocabulary and speech it describes – colour is still colour after all these years, eh?

Never mind that, as Dr. Dollinger slyly points out, the “–our” ending we use to distinguish ourselves from our American neighbours/neighbors only became the Canadian standard at the newsprint level when The Globe and Mail overturned its century-old Americanized style in 1990.

Met Museum of Art puts 400K art images online

August 5th, 2014

More good news for art fans. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has put 400,000 images of its art online and free for downloading and non-commercial use. Given that the art is now free of copyright, I don’t see why there should be any restrictions on use, but that’s the way they’ve set it up. OpenCulture has more details and some links worth checking out related to the art.

On Friday, The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that “more than 400,000 high-resolution digital images of public domain works in the Museum’s world-renowned collection may be downloaded directly from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use.” Even better, the images can be used at no charge (and without getting permission from the museum). In making this announcement, the Met joined other world-class museums in putting put large troves of digital art online. Witness the  87,000 images from the Getty in L.A., the 125,000 Dutch masterpieces from the Rijksmuseumthe 35,000 artistic images from the National Gallery, and the 57,000 works of art on Google Art Project.