Vol. XXIII, No. 2September, 2010


Articles in Vol. XXIII, No. 2

Publishing Data in Open Context: Methods and Perspectives
Getting project data onto the web with Penelope.
-- Eric C. Kansa and Sarah Whitcher Kansa

Digital Antiquity and the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR): Broadening Access and Ensuring Long-Term Preservation for Digital Archaeological Data
A new and ambitious digital archaeology archive.
-- Francis P. McManamon, Keith W. Kintigh, and Adam Brin
§ Readers' comments (as of 10/4/2010)

Website Review: Kommos Excavation, Crete
Combining publication media to achieve better results.
-- Andrea Vianello

The New Acropolis Museum: A Review
Some pluses, some minuses.
-- Harrison Eiteljorg, II

Aggregation for Access vs. Archiving for Preservation
Two treatments for old data.
-- Harrison Eiteljorg, II

Miscellaneous News Items
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Miscellaneous News Items

New - Again - for the MAC: AutoCAD

Autodesk has announced that it will again offer a version of AutoCAD for the MAC. It has been many years since there was a version for the MAC, but apparently the rising popularity of MACs (one suspects, particularly on college campuses) has caused Autodesk to make a MAC version again. It is due out in the fall, but no specific date shows on the Autodesk corporate web site yet.

High Dynamic Range Photography

High Dynamic Range photography (HDR) has been discussed in the Newsletter on three occasions. (See "High Dynamic Range Photography," by Harrison Eiteljorg, II, Fall, 2006; XIX, 2 and "High Dynamic Range Photos - Again," by Harrison Eiteljorg, II, Spring, 2007; XX, 1 and "Some Locally Adaptive Tone Mapping Methods for Color and Exposure Error Correction," by Irwin Scollar, Fall, 2007; XX, 2.) The technique often but not always involves using multiple exposures of the same scene to extract information from shadows (using one or more over-exposed image) normally-lighted portions (using one or more properly exposed image) and highlights (using one or more under-exposed image) to provide better results. (The technology described by Irwin Scollar in the third of the articles does not require multiple images but does require post-processing.) This technology has become mainstream, so much so that Apple has announced its presence in the latest version of the software for the iPhone (and iPod Touch). Apple (at http://www.apple.com/iphone/features/camera.html) says the camera takes three photos. [Another web document, on one of those sites that is full of "news" but names no authors, says that only two photos are taken. Absent more clear authority, it seems Apple's statement must be accepted.]

There are other HDR applications for the iPhone - see http://www.zdnet.com/blog/apple/hdr-app-shootout-apple-v-pro-hdr-v-truehdr-updated/8165?tag=nl.e505 "HDR app shootout: Apple v. Pro HDR v. True HDR (updated)," a "guest blog" by Bob Snow in a ZDNet article by Jason D. O'Grady, last accessed 09/17/10.

More important than the addition of HDR to the iPhone is the fact that more and more digital cameras include HDR technology as part of their standard software capabilities. Anyone who must take photographs in bright sun should seek this feature - and learn how to use it.

Privacy on the Net? Get over it!

Some have said that privacy on the Internet is simply impossible, most notably the then-leader of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNealy. In 1999 he said, "You have zero privacy anyway. . . . Get over it." (Quoted at Wired Magazine's online site in an article entitled "Sun on Provacy: 'Get Over It," by Polly Sprenger, posted 1/26/99, and accessed 9/27/10.) Nevertheless, many have thought that keeping cookies off their computers and using various protective devices would make a big difference. It turns out the those mystical powers that be are more insidious than imagined. There are - unseen and unannounced - cookies buried in Flash files transmitted to users' computer by web sites. The Flash cookies are more problematic than the cookies most users worry about. They are hard (perhaps impossible) to keep out; they sometimes reactivate standard cookies that users think they have removed, and they are very hard to find and remove. The problem was discussed recently in the NY Times (see "Code That Tracks Users’ Browsing Prompts Lawsuits," by Tanzina Vega, 9/20/20), but it has been written about for at least three years (e.g., this article signed only by Martin and dated May, 2007 (last accessed 9/23/10), and many have been aware of the issue for some time.

There is little a user can do about these new cookies. There may be a way to block them, but it is not clear that the tools provided by Adobe, the company that produces Flash software, can be relied upon. Fortunately, the files can be removed from a computer (e.g., for instructions for MACs, see this page). The real import of these Flash cookies is as a warning. No matter what users think, their information will be obtained - and sold. Welcome to cyberspace.

Another recent news item - "U.S. Tries to Make It Easier to Wiretap the Internet," by Charlie Savage and posted on the NY Times site 9/27/10 (accessed 9/28/10) - discusses planned U.S. legislation to permit the government to obtain better access to internet-based communications. This suggests that privacy is going to get worse, not better. Perhaps more important for the future of all things digital, it seems that the government will try to place restrictions on the underlying technology of the internet, possibly stifling the kinds of innovation seen over the last couple of decades.

Wesite Redesign

The CSA and Propylaea web sites have been completely redesigned since the last issue of the Newsletter. (Some parts of the Newsletter site are not complete, and older articles will will remain in the original format.) This article, of course, appears in the new format. As a result of the redesign, Mr. Eiteljorg now has more real experience with the process. He first tried using DreamWeaver for the redesign but then moved to a relational database program, FileMaker, to make it possible to work more efficiently. While not a content management system, FileMaker has most of the advantages of one, and it is a familiar program, not requiring a learning curve to use.

The new designs are very similar, with a basic pattern and three variations on that theme. The look is more contemporary, and, because of that, pages may be more intuitively navigated. However, the only substantive change, if it can be called that, was the separation of the bibliography from the home page on the Propylaea site.

Significant time and effort were spent to change nothing but the appearance of the pages. Was that a wise expenditure? For many there is no doubt, and Mr. Eiteljorg obviously thought so - or at least thought it would be worth the time and effort expected. (If not the amount of time ultimately spent. In fairness, there will be a compensatory time saving when new pages are put up, since the design process is now rather heavily automated.) What remains of concern is the need to keep changing things as the web - a very fast-changing and unstable environment - continues to evolve. How often must such a redesign process be undertaken? How much time must be spent worrying about the appearance, and will that detract from time spent on content?

An added concern is the problem with differing browsers interpreting HTML code differently. In particular, it seems that Internet Explorer® does not use CSS files for text formatting as other browsers do. (Indeed, differences from browser to browser are numerous, usually because some tolerate certain kinds of errors better than others.) See this page for a set of images of the second article in this issue of the Newsletter from 6 different browsers. Of the 6, only Internet Explorer® (on the MAC and under Windows®) seems to ignore the font formatting instructions in the CSS file used by the Newsletter article to format text. The reasons for this are still under discussion. When they have been fully explored, a readers' commentary will be added to this article to explain, and the necessary changes in coding will be added so that Internet Explorer and the other browsers render Newsletter pages similarly. (November 11, 2010 addition: The problems with Internet Explorer were fixed as this article was being released, and all pages displayed correctly in all browsers by the beginning of October. Therefore, there will be no commentary. However, a follow-up article about coding issues in web design will appear in the January issue of the CSA Newsletter.)

Readers' comments are not only welcomed on this matter but encouraged.



About this document:

All articles in the CSA Newsletter are reviewed by the staff. All are published with no intention of future change(s) and are maintained at the CSA website. Changes (other than corrections of typos or similar errors) will rarely be made after publication. If any such change is made, it will be made so as to permit both the original text and the change to be determined.

Comments concerning articles are welcome, and comments, questions, concerns, and author responses will be published in separate commentary pages, as noted on the Newsletter home page.