There aren't many instances where I wish the American Revolution had turned out differently, but the yearly award of the Booker Prize for Fiction is one of them. Our former rulers treat an annual literary contest with the pagaentry and hype that the U.S. bestows upon Survivor finales and the joyous day Tom Cruise announces that he has anointed his next bride. Advantage Britain. The Booker's such a big deal there's a tell-all book coming out about the contest, written by departing administrator Martyn Goff: There ... read more

Considering the sophistication of the scam e-mails that I've been receiving lately, there must be a huge black market in phishing, the practice of tricking people into revealing their passwords from ecommerce sites and banks. A phony Amazon.Com e-mail I received last night is pretty convincing: Dear Amazon member, Due to concerns we have for the safety and integrity of the Amazon community we have issued this warning. Per the User Agreement, Section 9, we may immediately issue a warning, temporarily suspend, ... read more

Jim Minatel, an acquisitions editor at Wiley for one of my books, believes that Google's plan to turn web-crawling googlebots loose on print libraries is a clear violation of copyright. I'm not so sure. If I had a copy of the world's most useful computer book (let's call it Movable Type 3 Bible Desktop Edition), and I made a practice of sending one page of the book to people who asked a question answered by that page, would I be violating Wiley's copyright? Selective quotation of a book is fair use. Is repeated ... read more

Computer book author Dave Prochnow rode out Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and risked his family's life so he could FedEx a manuscript: Getting to the highway involved doing things that you would never ever do with kids in a car -- driving off the road, driving through people's yards, and driving over power lines. Yes, we had to drive over power lines. Luckily at least one of them was dead -- that was the one that just touched our roof antenna. Gulp. Generalizing wildly from his personal experience, Prochnow ... read more

I recently finished writing Sams Teach Yourself Programming with Java in 24 Hours, the fourth edition of an introductory book for Java programmers, which comes out in around two weeks. I've been given wide editorial license with the book, so it contains unusual projects like Lottorobics, a lottery simulation applet that demonstrates why "Win the Lotto" is a terrible retirement plan. The new edition adds chapters on XML and XML-RPC that use XOM and Apache XML-RPC, two great open source class libraries for Java. ... read more

After leaving the Huffington Post, Andrew Breitbart has been getting huge traffic on his weeks-old news portal, Breitbart.Com. The Drudge Report links to his copies of AP and Reuters news stories, making his site more popular than Slashdot overnight. Developing ... WorldNewsDaily calls Breitbart a former employee of the Drudge Report, but my impression is that he's currently working as Matt Drudge's double super-secret coauthor. Drudge has been coy about Breitbart's work for years, probably because the legend of ... read more

The tech blogger Phil Ringnalda is taking heat over criticizing O'Reilly about some questionable link ads on the company's web sites. Tim O'Reilly posted a thoughtful response that shows he's not entirely comfortable with selling ads that trade on a site's Google pagerank, rather than visitor eyeballs. This is a good discussion for web publishers to be having, because the practice of pimping pagerank is becoming more pervasive. I've received numerous offers to put such links on SportsFilter, a booming sports ... read more