Web/Tech Archives

The sort of ideas that come to me at 1am: a deeply detailed, historical, world census 2014

Drifting to sleep, maybe asleep and resurfacing to wakefulness my mind was flitting around from idea to idea, from memory to memory. What I remember and was left fully awake with was two things: Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now' stuck in my head and the notion that it ought to be possible to create a deeply detailed census of the entire world population at a point in the past, provided that point was recent enough to be reached by many genealogists, but not so recent that the world population was in the billions.

Now, the more recent a point, the more accurate the data and the greater the likelihood of living descendents, but also, the more daunting the project (due to the number of individuals described) and thus the less likely of enticing participants to join in the grand adventure.

As interested as I am personally in the year 1600, I know from my own genealogical and historical research that it is distant enough to be problematic. Jumping forward to 1750 would give an estimated world population of 700-825 million people. Or, by other estimates, of 629-961 million. That's a lot, but not an insane number of nodes. For example, using the former range, it's about the number of articles in Wikipedia in Chinese or in Portuguese.

1750 has also got the inspirational benefit of a big anniversary coming up within the probable lifetime of the participants or their children—300 years in 2050.

So, how to begin?

Infrastructure is vital. It must be incredibly robust and flexible. It must have profound internationalization support. It must allow for advancement and diversification separately of its data storage, software interfaces, and human interfaces.

Data will come in in many forms and must be clearly associated with its source, so that later conflicts on details can be weighed based on their respective supporting data.

Detail will vary wildly from broad guesses of total population in a country to general counts of categories of individuals (e.g., heads of household, taxpayers, members of the military) to detailed nodes about a specific person (both the famous and the genealogically derived).

Eventually, participants will no doubt be interested in assessing the relationships between individual nodes, thus it would be helpful to be able to retain data details (e.g., membership of an individual in a particular tracked category such as "the 12th regiment of Lord So-and-So's light horse", or "household at 123 Elm St, Anytown, New York, USA", or "inventory of the slave ship blah-de-blah", or "signatories of proclamation X".)

Such detail nodes will, of necessity, be much greater in number than the number of individuals alive because merger of them as applying to the same individual will be a more gradual and difficult process. This is a vital factor in infrastructure design.

 

So what do we know about 1750?

It's used by some sources as a baseline year for the end of the pre-industrial era; rather nice as a stake in the ground for pushing back our knowledge of individual human participation.

The population of North America is only about 2 million, thus forcing U.S. participants to think about the world outside their borders (which I think is always a good thing). It also makes an enticing early goal for "near complete description", which is the best I'd expect we can hope for in any region.

Sweden begin taking a census in 1749, one of the very few countries doing so in the mid-18th century, and is thus a logical target for another "near complete description" goal. Conveniently, it's also a good country for online project participation with its highly tech-savvy population. The 1750 estimated populations of Sweden (which I'm presuming refers to its territory then, not its smaller borders now) 1.7 million or 1.78 million. (Pleasantly for me, it's also where I am pretty certain I have personal genealogical data for 1750. Been a while since I was working on my paternal grandmother's line, but I recall it going back that far and farther thanks to the good data there.)

Iceland is also promising for early population data and participation.

 

Now, what haven't I considered yet?

 

***

Thought which came to mind after I went back to bed:

Every part of this idea needs further definition, but particularly the area around what defines a counted individual. Chronological confirmation of someone with a citable source is a big part of it; that is, an individual for whom we have a specific record of them being born, dying, marrying, becoming a parent, or otherwise being specifically one of those alive at some point during the year 1750.

However, those records may actually be less evocative of human experience than the categoric description associated with what I'm calling, for lack of a better term, 'unmatched individual details', or 'unmadeets'. Whose story would you be most interested in, the confirmed individual "Mary Jane Smith born 1750, later the mother of Winifred Harding", or the unmadeet "one of 350 purchased slaves who rebelled on the ship King David at 5a.m. on May 8, 1750"? Which says more about what was going on in 1750?

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 02:15 AM in creativity, history, random synaptic firing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

media I've enjoyed recently 2014

Advertising and Selling

- Morgan Spurlock: The greatest TED Talk ever sold (TEDtalks)

- Full Price Beats Penny Saved for Selling Some Items (60-second Science)

- Candidates Affect Viewer Reactions to Ads in Debates (60-second Science)

Creativity

- Michael Pawlyn: Using nature's genius in architecture (TEDtalks)

- Jacqueline Novogratz: Inspiring a life of immersion (TEDtalks)

- 100,000-Year-Old Art Studio Discovered (60-second Science)

Education

- Bill Gates: How state budgets are breaking US schools (TEDtalks)

- Patricia Kuhl: The linguistic genius of babies (TEDtalks)

- Science Grad Students Who Teach Write Better Proposals (60-second Science)

- Doodles and Drawings Help Cement Concepts (60-second Science)

Food and Drink

- Student Researchers Find Secret Tea Ingredients (60-second Science)

- Molars Say Cooking Is Almost 2 Million Years Old (60-second Science)

- High-Pressure Food Treatment Can Kill Microbes And Up Nutrients (60-second Science)

Health and Growth

- Charity Tilleman-Dick: Singing after a double lung transplant (TEDtalks)

- Molly Stevens: A new way to grow bone (TEDtalks)

- Gamekeeper's Thumb Condition Outlives the Occupation (60-second Science)

- Test Tells Viral and Bacterial Infections Apart (60-second Science)

- Poultry Farms That Stop Antibiotics See Resistance Fall (60-second Science)

- Endurance Exercise Has Stem Cells Make Bone Over Fat (60-second Science)

- Carbon Nanotubes Impale Compulsive Cells (60-second Science)

- Online Gamers Help Solve Protein Structure (60-second Science)

- Health Data Could Spot Genocide Risk (60-second Science)

- City Cyclists Suck In Soot (60-second Science)

- Rapid PCR Could Bring Quick Diagnoses (60-second Science)

- Pathogen Genomics Has Become Dirt Cheap (60-second Science)

- Kid Scientists Show Medicines Can Be Mistaken For Candy (60-second Science)

- Fever Increases Numbers of Immune Cells (60-second Science)

Nature and Sexuality

- Christopher Ryan: Are we designed to be sexual omnivores? (TEDtalks)

- Mole's Extra Finger Is Wrist Bone-us (60-second Science)

- Full Moon May Signal Rise in Lion Attacks (60-second Science)

- Send Ants to College (60-second Science)

- Sea Lampreys Flee Death Smells (60-second Science)

- Toxoplasma Infected Rats Love Their Enemies (60-second Science)

- Modern Rivers Shaped By Trees (60-second Science)

- Upright and Hairless Make Better Long-Distance Hunters (60-second Science)

- Electrolyte Balancers Set Stage for Multicellularity (60-second Science)

- Flesh-Tearing Piranhas Communicate with Sound (60-second Science)

Politics and Philosophy

- Jody Williams: A realistic vision for world peace (TEDtalks)

- Martin Jacques: Understanding the rise of China (TEDtalks)

- El Nino Ups Conflict Odds (TEDtalks)

- David Puttnam: What happens when the media's priority is profit? (TEDtalks)

- Steven Pinker: Violence Is Lower Than Ever (60-second Science)

Technology and Physics

- Johanna Blakley: Social media and the end of gender (TEDtalks)

- Leyla Acaroglu: Paper beats plastic? How to rethink environmental folklore (TEDtalks)

- Dan Berkenstock: The world is one big dataset. Now, how to photograph it... (TEDtalks)

- Medieval Armor: Was It Worth the Weight? (60-second Science)

- Traffic Cameras Save Millions in Canceled Crashes (60-second Science)

- Juno Mission Gets Goes for Launch (60-second Science)

- Channeled Chips Can Spot Substances (60-second Science)

- Smartphone System Saves Gas (60-second Science)

- Sound Sends Electron to Specific Location (60-second Science)

- Moon Not Made of Cheese, Physicist Explains (60-second Science)

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 01:38 PM in creativity, Food and Drink, health, linky goodness, politics & philosophy, school, sex, the big room with the blue ceiling, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Troubleshooting InDesign to EPUB Table of Contents export 2013

If you are, like I was, getting the error message "TOC entry has incorrect nesting level" when you try to export from InDesign to EPUB, try this.

This seems to be an error in the hierarchy of TOC style levels and probably means you've got a lower level item listed before the higher level of which it is a sub-part. For example, I seemed to have a style I called "section headline" coming up before any of my "Part"s or "Chapter"s. So how to find it?

First, you need to know which style is causing the issue. I created a new TOC style called "EPUB TOC troubleshoot" and one-by-one added in the TOC styles I wanted to include from the highest level down, exporting to EPUB after each one until I got the error message.

Once you know which style is nested incorrectly, now you need to hunt down where it's out of the hierarchy. In InDesign CS6, go to Edit > Find/Change (or hit command or control F). Use the little icon beside the 'Find What' box to set it to look for Wildcards > Any Character. Us the little icon beside the 'Find Format' box to set it to look for Style Options > Paragraph Styles > [whatever your offending style seems to be].

You know what mine was? The section headline on the print version's table of contents page. Ha! I created a new style from that named "section headline TOC" so that it would be separated from the rest of the section headlines in the book which I wanted to use for my EPUB TOC and then, hooray! I exported without an error. Phew.

Posted on July 8, 2013 at 05:52 PM in tools, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech, writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

XOXO: Panic 2012

Photos by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid.

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Posted on September 14, 2012 at 03:00 PM in friends & family, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy 10th birthday to my iTunes library! 2012

Thanks to my return to the Apple family in 2002 and continuous smooth migrations from Mac to Mac since then, I now have a certain degree of continuity with my music collection management.

There's been a small amount of lost information due to things like tracks being replaced when I've switched from a mix from a friend or a 'best of' album to the original, but in general these are the same tracks I've had all along.

One big factor in that array of music is my habit of weeding out things that I don't like. 'Meh' doesn't cut it; a song has to be rated three stars or higher to stick around for long. Each time a track irritates or bores me (and I know it isn't just a temporary mismatch in mood), I drop it one star. If it's already down to a single star, I delete the track. This means over time, some albums and artists completely vanish, but allows me to listen to my music on shuffle play with little risk of bad songs.

The track with the most plays in my collection is, somewhat oddly, My Chemical Romance's version of "Desolation Row" from the Watchmen soundtrack, but that's a result of it being played on loop as the writing background to some action scenes I was writing in a fiction work in progress and doesn't thus reflect my general listening habits.

With it set aside, my top twenty songs are:

"As Serious As Your Life" by Four Tet (electronica)

"Wildest Pig In Captivity" by John Renbourn (folk)

"Stiff Jazz" by Dzihan & Kamien (electronica)

"Cashmere" by Nerf Herder (alternative/punk)

"Time Has Told Me" by Nick Drake (folk rock)

"Northern Sky" by Nick Drake (folk rock)

"Vaseline Machine Gun" by Leo Kottke (folk)

"['casino' from the game Grim Fandango]" by Peter McConnell (big band)*

"Hey Bulldog" by The Beatles (rock)

"A String of Pearls" by Glenn Miller (big band)

"You're The One I Want In The Next Episode" by Grease Vs Dr Dre & Snoop Dog (mashup of 50s-esque and hip hop)

"YYZ" by Rush (rock)

"Cobbler's Jig / Maltese Brawls" by John Renbourn (folk)

"Pyramid" by Backini (electronica)

"Polythene Pam" by The Beatles (rock)

"Espionage" by Green Day (lounge/rock)

"Bucephalus Bouncing Ball" by Aphex Twin (electronica)

"The Earthly Diana" by Combustible Edison (lounge)

"Lark in the Clear Air" by John Renbourn (folk)

"Peter Gunn" by The Art of Noise with Duane Eddy (electronica/rock)

 

The oldest albums in the collection for which I still retain over six songs are White Courtesy Phone by Angel Corpus Christi and Ego sum Resurrectio: Gregorian Chant for the Dead by the female vocal ensemble Aurora Surgit. The latest album added was Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones.

 

Yes, it could be said that my taste is a trifle eclectic.

 

*To my utter delight, in looking up the name of the Grim Fandango composer just now I discovered an entire sountrack album available! O bliss!

Posted on August 26, 2012 at 11:51 AM in music, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

A conversation 14 years long 2012

Have we met?

I asked that question here on this site in September of 1998 in a post one month before MetaGrrrl.com would turn into what we would later call a blog.

I say I've never met Karawynn, Jamie, Carl and Justin. What the fuck does that mean?

I sit next to someone on the bus, I shake hands with a co-worker's client who I'll never see again, I chat with the bank teller and somehow these are people I've met?

...

My body doesn't encompass me.
I don't have to breathe the same air to be in the same place as you.

Have we met?

What a different world we live in now. We've been through radical changes in politics, technology, and cultural norms. Our days have transformed as the non-present world becomes present through these magic devices in our pockets. I live in a different city. Have a completely new career. Am in another relationship.

What hasn't changed? Many of those people that some folks used to say I'd never met are still a part of my daily life.

So here's my question for them, and for you, what has made these "virtual" connections so strong?

How has the way we built the web and the mobile internet and our tech-centric cities strengthened and weakened those chains since that year, 1998, when it seemed like maybe this world wide web thing might be sticking around?

 

Posted on August 17, 2012 at 11:56 AM in friends & family, tools, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Safe in the loving arms of pairNIC 2012

My domain transfer from Dotster (formerly 000domains.com) is now complete. To their credit, they provided adequate service for years until their platform migration snafu and did address all my open support tickets even after I had begun the transfer process to pairNIC. However, I am greatly relieved to now have all my domains with pairNIC, who are just great to work with and have a higher caliber of technical expertise directly available to customers.

Let me know if you encounter problems with accessing any of my sites or if any mail bounces, but I think everything is now working correctly.

Posted on August 5, 2012 at 10:27 AM in Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

It's all about community 2012

RT @anildash: Why do mapping, transit & traffic data matter? Ask @Jack Dorsey or @BillGates. Urban design is online design.

Posted on June 18, 2012 at 02:21 PM in tweets, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

My research now is better than my research 25 years ago 2012

I'm vastly more likely to find relevant material within & cite books which allow keyword searching (through Google/Amazon). #scholarship

Posted on June 15, 2012 at 04:15 PM in Books, tweets, Web/Tech, work | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wise guys 2012

Very much enjoyed watching this conversation between two smart, sweet friends @anildash & @photomatt. #respect

Posted on June 5, 2012 at 04:23 PM in tweets, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dudes, check your logs. You know I'm here. 2012

RT @fraying: Don't get me wrong, email still has a role. It's just not to talk to Twitter's active members (like me) because I'M ALREADY HERE. *waves*

(Re: Twitter's new 'here's what's going on on Twitter' emails.)

Posted on June 5, 2012 at 10:49 AM in tweets, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Innovation is what we need right now 2012

Planning my vote & noting with concern @DianneFeinstein's apparent continued support of PIPA. RIAA shouldn't trump the rest of us & the web.

Posted on June 4, 2012 at 03:04 PM in politics & philosophy, tweets, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

NYT: "Men invented the internet". Like hell they did. 2012

RT @xeni: My thoughts on the steaming turd of an opening line in that NYT piece on Pao vs KPCB, & sexual discrimination in tech.

Posted on June 3, 2012 at 12:16 PM in politics & philosophy, tweets, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

enamored of good-guy assholes 2012

RT @tomcoates: Yeah, I basically agree with this piece about Aaron Sorkin's Steve Jobs movie

Posted on June 2, 2012 at 12:46 PM in Film, tweets, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Disconnects between user uses and designer visions? 2012

I have been using @googledocs for business but flaky behavior today & scary stuff I'm hearing re: worse to come has me backing up to desktop

From what I can figure out we're losing "work with your docs anywhere, in your browser" to gain "here's a shoebox you can get to anywhere".

This is a bad trade.

---

People reporting files just showing a download link, instead of opening for editing. I've just seen flakiness.

Appears so far as a really rough & ham-handed transition to some larger product we may not actually want.

I'm not super worried about losing data, but wanted to at least back up my sales/income/expense/consignment worksheets.

Near as I can tell they think we want Dropbox, when we actually just want to not have to launch Excel/Word.

I still mostly trust them with my data, just really annoyed at the forced workflow change & new proprietariness.

Google seems to have a terrible blind spot about those who aren't constant doc/chat sharers in their work life (viz: g+ design)

Posted on May 29, 2012 at 06:01 PM in tools, tweets, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

revelations and enticement 2012

RT @dunstan: I'd like an iOS app that shows my city as a black blob but reveals the bits I travel to – encouraging me to explore and "fill in" the map.

Posted on May 29, 2012 at 04:31 PM in tweets, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Horror 2012

RT @JeriDansky Good reminder to do some clean-up! RT @ftrain: A virus that would send out all of the emails in your DRAFT box would change the world.

Posted on May 26, 2012 at 08:59 AM in tweets, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seems trivial, but reveals deep attitudes toward workers 2012

RT @newsyc150: Why Quit? Because the other company has bigger monitors. http://sef.kloninger.com/2012/05/engineering-culture-litmus-tests/ (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3989752)

Posted on May 18, 2012 at 11:46 AM in tweets, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech, work | Permalink | Comments (0)

Still grateful 2012

Yes. This. Still. Thanks, Flickr.

<3

Posted on May 16, 2012 at 12:01 AM in tools, tweets, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Missing the wave 2012

RT @fraying:

:( http://gizmodo.com/5910223/how-yahoo-killed-flickr-and-lost-the-internet

The only thing @emptyage misses here is that, without Yahoo's acquisition, Flickr likely would have died on the vine.

Posted on May 15, 2012 at 11:46 AM in tweets, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

A hero we can all get behind 2012

RT @EmmyCic: @SmallLindsay THAT is a superhero I would be ALL ABOUT. Lets write a comic book called "Internet Justice Man" or "IRL Consequences Man"

RT @SmallLindsay: @EmmyCic Okay.
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Posted on May 13, 2012 at 10:15 PM in linky goodness, tweets, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Media I've enjoyed recently 2012

Productivity and problem-solving

Lewis Pugh's mind-shifting Mt. Everest swim (TED video)

Bosses Who Work Out Are Nicer (60-Second Science podcast)

 

Psychology

Gun-Toting Increases Bias to See Guns Toted (60-Second Science podcast)

 

Environment and climate

Jason Clay: How big brands can help save biodiversity (TED video)

Lee Hotz: Inside an Antarctic time machine (TED video)

Rob Dunbar: Discovering ancient climates in oceans and ice (TED video)

 

Politics and philosophy

Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index (TED video)

Carne Ross: An independent diplomat (TED video)

 

Technology and the Web

Chris Anderson: How web video powers global innovation (TED video)

Christien Meindertsma: How pig parts make the world turn (TED video)

This was great. Really impressive piece of research. (It never occurred to me that fine bone china has actual bone in it.)

Sebastian Thrun: Google's driverless car (TED video)

Breathe Easier with Electric Car Charging Overnight (60-Second Science podcast)

App Turns iPhone Into spiPhone (60-Second Science podcast)

 

Health

Nicholas Christakis: How social networks predict epidemics (TED video)

A non-health takeaway from this one: Corporations (or as more benignly referred to, "brands") will be analyzing and acting on our social activity in staggering detail in ways that are not automatically or even always possibly perceptible to us. Individual rights now and in the future will require people with an understanding of the technology and techniques of analysis who are working on our side. We will need watchdogs with deep understanding of advanced analytics.

Mitchell Besser: Mothers helping mothers fight HIV (TED video)

Annie Lennox: Why I am an HIV/AIDS activist (TED video)

Sebastian Seung: I am my connectome (TED video)

Didn't enjoy his presentation style, but the content and its implications are impressive.

Inge Missmahl brings peace to the minds of Afghanistan (TED video)

Wonderful projects and encouraging data on the power of psychosocial counseling to help break cycles of violence.

Mechai Viravaidya: How Mr. Condom made Thailand a better place (TED video)

Hans Rosling: The good news of the decade? (TED video)

"The time has come to stop thinking of sub-saharan Africa as one place. Their countries are so different and they merit to be talked about in the same way that we don't talk about Europe as one place. I can tell you that the economy in Greece and Sweden are very different."

It's bigger than that, though:
"There is no such thing as a Western world and Developing world."

"You can clearly see the relation with falling child mortality and decreasing family size."

"Almost 50% of the fall in child mortality can be attributed to female education."

It's this kind of tight focus on the actual data—on what really works—that makes me love and respect Hans Rosling. It also reinforces my commitment to only vote for presidential candidates who place a high priority on the family planning and female education efforts which will drive that reduction in child mortality while at the same time slowing population growth.

Boys Who Lack Empathy Don't React to a Fearful Face (60-Second Science podcast)

Animal Production Practices Create Antibiotic Resistance (60-Second Science podcast)

 

Astronomy

Amateur Planet Hunters Find Exoplanets (60-Second Science podcast)

 

Culture

Amit Sood: Building a museum of museums on the web (TED video)

Monika Bulaj: The hidden light of Afghanistan (TED video)

 

Physics

Large Hadron Collider "Big Bang" Analogies Put Under Microscope (60-Second Science podcast)

 

Biology

Elephants Ask for a Helping Trunk (60-Second Science podcast)

Black Plant Life Could Thrive on Other Planets (60-Second Science podcast)

Box Jellyfish Eyes Aim At The Trees (60-Second Science podcast)

Bat Ears Deform for Better Ping Pickups (60-Second Science podcast)

Body Hair Senses Parasites While Slowing Their Blood Quest (60-Second Science podcast)

Boa Constrictors Listen To Loosen (60-Second Science podcast)

 

Cocktails

Bloody Mary Gives Up Its Flavor Secrets (60-Second Science podcast)

 

Music

You Probably Get That A Lot (TMBG Podcast Video Bonus)

Posted on May 13, 2012 at 05:49 PM in health, linky goodness, politics & philosophy, Science, Web/Tech, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Still fine-tuning this blended stream 2012

Is there some way to generate an RSS feed on a delay? That is, could my RSS feed be a week behind & thus catch my improvements to posts?

====

Joe says there is and I just have to feed him the appropriate Python-hacker snacks to get it coded up. :)

Posted on May 11, 2012 at 07:02 PM in tweets, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Welcome to the future 2012

"Complexity is becoming our native habitat." - @neb

Posted on May 10, 2012 at 01:32 AM in quotes, tweets, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Augmenting my unreality 2012

Stocking my brain for dreams with @neb's talk:


Video streaming by Ustream

(Yes, my cold has reasserted my nightowl habits. Sigh.)

Posted on May 10, 2012 at 01:01 AM in linky goodness, relationships, tweets, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blog (noun) A weblog or similar brief journal usually containing links and commentary thereon. Term coined by Peter Merholz.

Visit Typepad or Blogger to start your own. (I began with hand coding, then switched to Blogger when it first became available, then to Movable Type when I wanted more control over my weblog and to have it hosted at a place of my choosing (Hurricane Electric). Since 06/2003 I've used Typepad, a hosted service built by the same folks who made Movable Type, which I love because I don't have to maintain the underlying system).

You may write to Dinah @ this domain.

Except where otherwise noted all content is copyright 1965-2014 Dinah Sanders. Please do not repost my writing or other creations elsewhere. Instead, copy a tiny bit and link to the rest. Thanks! Images are copyright of their original creators. MetaGrrrl logo and photos by Dinah are copyright 1965-2014 Dinah Sanders. Inkspot Books and the Inkspot logo have been Service Marks of Dinah Sanders since 1993.