Showing posts from October, 2010

Verdict in Guatemala Disappearance Case!

Just got late-breaking news: the judges just rendered a guilty verdict in the trial I was about to discuss in the following blog post! Will share more details from our team later, but this is a great day for fighting impunity around forced disappearances. Benetech Statistical Expert Testifies in Guatemala Disappearance Case The Benetech Human Rights Program uses cutting edge computing methods and statistical analysis to provide objective evidence of human rights violations. The scientifically defensible data in our findings serve as a powerful tool to combat impunity and hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes. A strong example of this work was shown on October 18th when Benetech statistical consultant Daniel Guzmán presented expert legal testimony in the trial of two former agents of the Guatemalan National Police, Abraham Lancerio Gómez and Héctor Roderico Ramírez. The officers have been accused of complicity in the disappearance of Guatemalan student and union leader Edgar F

Bookshare International’s Viji Dilip Profiled in Magazine

The staff I work with at Benetech are committed to the communities that we serve with our technology. Among the people I’m privileged to call a colleague here at Benetech is Viji Dilip, the International Program Coordinator for our Bookshare International service . Washington Square Magazine, which is published by Viji’s alma matter San Jose State University, included a profile of Viji in their most recent issue. Entitled The Gift of Insight , the story recounts Viji’s personal journey and how it inspired her to work with members of our Bookshare service who have print disabilities that make it difficult for them to read traditional text. Viji, who is from India, received a BA in accounting from Madras University and moved with her husband to the Bay Area. After receiving an MBA and CPA from San Jose State in 1995, and working for Hewlett-Packard and several tech startups, Viji received an unexpected diagnosis from her doctor. She was told that a brain tumor was pressing on her optic n

Google Maps Dirty Trick or Malfunctioning Feature?

[Update] Brewster and I discussed this, and it looks more like a malfunctioning feature. He pointed out that putting more of the address in gets the right location, i.e. "300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco CA" works. So, perhaps "300 Funston" is ambiguous enough that Google Maps is trying to figure out where it is, connects it to the Archive (Wayback Machine) and then routes to an obsolete location? Reported it to Google of course, but may take a while. [/update] Wasted about 30 minutes this morning thanks to a weird coincidence. I'm going to the Internet Archive's new office at 300 Funston in San Francisco, to attend the Books in Browsers conference . However, Google Maps routed me to a point two miles away when I typed 300 Funston into my Android phone's Google Map function. Not really knowing all of San Francisco's streets, I got out and recognized the old location of the Internet Archive. Walked up, and they said that the Archive had moved

Delivering Bestsellers to the Bookshare Community

An Insider Reveals How the Latest Hot Books Are Added to Bookshare’s Collection of Accessible Titles A Guest Beneblog by Liz Halperin After working for many years as a volunteer for Bookshare, I became a paid proofreader for the collection about two years ago. I now review books that are scanned and uploaded in formats that can be read using different forms of assistive technology such as text-to-speech, digital Braille or enlarged fonts. Most of the books I work with are books requested by students and titles from the New York Times (NYT) bestsellers list. Last spring, I had a chance to visit “The Mother Ship,” Bookshare’s main office at the Palo Alto, California headquarters of Benetech, Bookshare’s parent nonprofit. While I was there, I discovered how the NYT bestsellers make it into the collection. I used to think that publishers just sent electronic copies to Bookshare. Wrong. While publishers do donate thousands of digital texts to Bookshare, the NYT bestsellers are added to the

Science Technology and Society Forum in Kyoto

I'm in Kyoto, Japan for the STS forum, an incredible gathering of top scientists and policy leaders from around the world. The caliber of attendees is amazing from all countries: ministers of education and science, top scientists, university presidents. The event is the brainchild of Koji Omi, former Finance Minister of Japan. His concept was that science and technology was critical to the future of society, and he wanted to build an inclusive international forum of top leaders literally from all over the world to tackle major problems. Of all the discussions I heard, the ones on climate change were the most exciting and compelling. The phrase "the failure of Copenhagen" was often repeated, especially poignant given that we were meeting in the same building where the Kyoto Protocols were agreed. There was special energy around the concept of climate adaptation: the idea that no matter what happens on controlling greenhouse gases (see, failure of Copenhagen), that c