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Showing posts from February, 2007

Tech Entrepreneur Helps Blind To Read

We just got terrific coverage from CBS Evening News of our Bookshare.org project. It is really exciting when a news team takes the time to dig in and understand the story. Our team is thrilled about the piece, and we're getting lots of phone calls and email as a result.

I think this is the first time we have had national coverage of Bookshare.org, which turned five years old this week! The CBS team came to Palo Alto, as well as filming a Bookshare.org-using couple, Brian Miller and his wife Priscilla McKinley, in the Washington D.C. area. The entire three and a half minute piece is up on the CBS News site: Bookshare Scans Books And Converts Them To Braille Or Audio For Immediate Access.

Thanks to our team and volunteers!

GetaFirstLife.com and Linden Labs

Second Life, the on-line parallel universe, is a controversial topic. Some folks are fanatical about it, and it's touching a lot of real world places. I was wandering by Second Life interviews onsite at Davos. At the same time, I have heard that it is overhyped and that the number of participants is exaggerated.

But, hearing something like the following story makes me feel good about Linden Labs, the folks that operated Second Life. Someone started a parody website called GetaFirstLife.com and the reaction of Linden Labs was to send a trademark approval letter! This runs so counter to the normal overreaching of trademark and copyright owners, like the NFL's attempt to stop a law professor from posting the snippet from the Super Bowl showing how ridiculous their copy right claims were as explained on Techdirt: DMCA Takedown For Professor Showing How Copyright Owners Exaggerate Their Rights.

Missing Gustavo

One of our employees suddenly passed away from natural causes, and we are all very sad here. I sent the following note to the Bookshare.org members and volunteers and received many, many emails expressing condolences and dismay.

To the Bookshare.org community:

It is with great regret and sorrow that I inform you that Gustavo Galindo passed away suddenly Sunday. Gustavo was the Site Manager for Bookshare.org, and was the foundation of our Bookshare.org team. He was involved in the rapid growth of our collection over the last four years through personally approving each book being added. Gustavo was fierce in his dedication to serving people with print impairments while getting it right, by taking our commitments to publishers and authors seriously. He had a formidable intellect, and his insights, understanding and sense of humor will be sorely missed by our team.

We can honor Gustavo’s commitment to access and books by doing our best to bring more books to more people with print…

Miradi

Our new environmental project management software, Miradi, just went into its beta testing. Our core beta testers are drawn from the Conservation Measures Partnership, coalition of the leading biodiversity groups (such as The Nature Conservancy, WWF and WCS).
I thought that meant a small beta test, but it turns out that we already have testers registered from 16 different countries on 6 different continents! Since we're designing this software for field people, and these groups have projects all over the world, it's just to be expected.
Miradi is an exciting project: I'm looking forward to making steady upgrades to the software this year. We're using an agile development mechanism, which means that we are responding quickly to user feedback and releasing new versions of the software several times a month. Later this year we should have a publicly available version 1 of the product!

Carrie Karnos, recipient of the 2006 James H. Veale Humanitarian Award.

It's great when one of our team is honored for their work, and Carrie Karnos has been one of our top Bookshare.org volunteers for years, including being Volunteer of the Year. Carrie just received the James H. Veale Humanitarian Award for service to the blind community. Congratulations, Carrie!

Here's the letter from the editor of Matilda Ziegler Magazine, which explains why Carrie was deserving of this award:

A Letter from the Editor
New York City
Dec. 21, 2006

Dear Readers:

Last September I asked Ziegler readers to nominate someone for our annual James H. Veale Humanitarian Award. This award, in the form of a plaque, recognizes a sighted person who has contributed to the well-being of blind people. In response to that request, I received three worthy nominations.

Earlier this month I presented the trio of nominees to the board of directors of the E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation for the Blind, which funds this magazine as well as eye research programs at universities across the Unit…