Entertainment Benefits of IDNYC Card

Apr. 30th, 2016 06:21 pm
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
The new IDNYC card is free, government-issued photo ID for New York City residents. "Immigration status does not matter." That is to say, people who are came to NYC from abroad, and currently don't have legal documentation to support that, can get this card. Which is great -- it gives everyone, including them, a way to start banking, get access to schools and have something to show to hospital receptionists. It also works as a library card, and has a bunch of other benefits. Also, the application's gender options are:
  • Female
  • Male
  • Not designated

Friends of mine are getting their cards for the free memberships at the New York Botanical Garden, American Museum of Natural History, MoMA, Museum of the Moving Image, and dozens of other museums.

I was curious about the entertainment benefits, specifically, cheaper movie and theater tickets ("Movie Tickets as low as $8.00"). In order to get those benefits, you have to register at MemberDeals.com, a for-profit website run by Entertainment Benefits Group, Inc. And the site does not give you specifics about what you can expect if you register; you have to register in order to browse deals. The IDNYC site is pretty specific about the other benefits, and I'd like to know more before I register. So, in another installment of "I make phone calls to closemouthed organizations and then blog the results", I phoned up their customer service line.

I think the privacy policy strongly implies but doesn't state that EBG keeps a record of the purchases you make; the customer service rep I spoke with specifically said that EBG does not hold onto your credit card number if you make a purchase. (Which is important for PCI compliance, of course.) It seems unclear to me whether they keep a record of the discounted tickets users buy through them.

Registered members can expect special offers emails about biweekly, and can always unsubscribe.

The customer service rep did not give any examples of specific amounts in current discounts EBG offers its members, e.g., "$50 for such-and-such a ski ticket." But she said that the EBG membership includes "countless" offers to various different things, including discounted hotel rates (not mentioned on their website). The sports teams they offer discounted tickets to see include the New York Yankees. And they have deals with several movie theater chains, including Regal, AMC, and United Artists (UA), to offer discounted movie tickets to their movies in general -- it's not just "special offer: see the new Zappa documentary for $6". (I assume that there are exceptions, e.g., you can't use the discounted tickets to see certain blockbusters on opening weekend; when I've gotten discounted movie passes in the past, that's how it's worked.)

I think my cell phone glitched and ended the call before I could probe further. I am kinda averse to deliberately signing up for a for-profit marketing-centric organization's services in the hopes of ill-defined rewards, so I poked around a bit more.

EBG owns a bunch of sites (why not? "Our Technology Delivers Fun Most Efficiently") so I decided to poke around those on the theory that they're probably giving all the members access to mostly the same experiences, just branded differently and segmented at slightly different price points. Like, their site NewYork.com (available to the public) has Les Misérables tickets for $83 and up, while Working Advantage (companies contract with EBG for member-only discounts) mentions Les Mis orchestra seats for $73 on their front page right now.

Some specific prices and offers: a video urging companies to sign up mentions The Lion King, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Kennedy Space Center as attractions for your employees, and promises prices "up to 50% off what the public is paying". The Tickets At Work blog promises 50% off select Yankees games, or 20% off a luxury suite at a Yankees game. The Broadway shows NewYork.com handles have a lot of overlap with what you'd get at TKTS at (to my eyeballs) vaguely similar prices, so the member-only prices would probably also be fairly good. And the Working Advantage home page mentions several specific attractions, rental car companies, etc. It also enumerates movie chains they cover:

  • AMC Theatres
  • Regal Entertainment
  • Cinemark Theatres
  • Showcase Cinemas
  • Century Theatres
  • Edwards Theatres
  • Bow Tie Cinemas
  • Hollywood/Wallace Theatres
  • Harkins Theatres
  • Malco Theatres
  • Marcus Theatres
  • Pacific Theatres
  • United Artists Theatres
  • Angelika Film Center
  • Reading Cinemas
  • Landmark Theatres

(That's on the front page, under the "Movie Tickets" hover-to-display menu; not super accessible.)

So overall, I think most IDNYC cardholders who have a bit of disposable income, and who enjoy sports/theater/theme parks/etc. but would like to save a bit of money on those things, would find it useful enough to go ahead and register to get the discounts, despite the privacy/spam implications. Hope this helps others make the decision!

Preschool Pearls

Apr. 29th, 2016 06:03 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Just last week, I did a favor for a friend and watched his four-year-old daughter for a day. I’d forgotten how much work it is to be in charge of a preschooler. It’s also a true delight, but preschoolers certainly keep you on your toes—and also gently (or not so gently) nudge you to slow down and see the world in new ways. It probably goes without saying that I wanted to read her some picture books, and I found a small stack of brand-new ones that were surefire hits.

We Are Softies

Apr. 28th, 2016 11:26 am
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
At his job, Leonard is having trouble getting SQLAlchemy to do what he wants with regard to automated testing. Today he's going to construct a tiny app and test to validate his understanding of the problem so he can fix it or get help.

As I was seeing him out the door this morning:

"Good luck, honey, with SQLAlchemy! I hope you vanquish it!"
"That's what I hope too."
"Actually, I hope you learn to work together better, in a peaceable manner."
"That is, in fact, what I actually hope too."
"I love you, nonviolent Leonard."
"I love you, nonviolent Sumana."




Seeing the World with Helen Borten

Apr. 28th, 2016 06:09 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Author-illustrator Helen Borten, born in Philadelphia in 1930, describes the release of two of her books, which will arrive on bookshelves next month, as “an eerie kind of rebirth.” That’s not only because they are reprints of books she originally published over 55 years ago, but also because, after working in the field in the 1960s (even after a book she illustrated in 1956 won a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book), she set aside writing and illustrating for children with the publication of Do You Go Where I Go? (1972) to launch an award-winning career in broadcast journalism and producing.

Mariko Tamaki

Apr. 28th, 2016 05:03 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Chalk it up to another of life’s great mysteries: YA author Mariko Tamaki’s career consists of thinking about, writing for, and talking with teenagers—but she didn’t love being one.

Temps

Apr. 26th, 2016 05:12 pm
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
As Leonard has blogged, he and I just returned from a weeklong anniversary trip to Paris, courtesy of my mom. I'm still a little jetlagged and I've said "Excusez-moi" when brushing past a stranger here in New York. But I'm awake enough to blog. In English.

Leonard's and my hands, joined on our wedding dayWe got engaged on April 18, 2006, and then married a few days later, on a spring day in the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park in New York City. That was ten years ago. It is the tritest thing in the world to be astonished at the passage of time, and yet, I remain astonished, because how can it possibly have been ten years ago that I went to that Macy's on 34th Street and bought those white trousers and camisole to wear, ten years since that Friday we came back home together and I felt like I could for the first time see decades away, as though atop a summit within my personal landscape and I could see the plains of middle age and old age stretching out beneath me?

Paris is a gratifying place to enjoy a vacation, gorgeous and delicious, and a humbling place for two Americans to celebrate Ten Whole Years of a marriage. The Celts and the Romans and Robespierre came and went before we ever paid a visit. The Arc de Triomphe has names carved into most of its sides, but then there are a couple of blank pillars, as though they're waiting. Versailles has a gallery of paintings celebrating French military victories that graciously includes a depiction of the Battle of Yorktown within the American Revolution.

I broke out my middle- and high-school French and found that French shopkeepers, bus drivers, and waiters and waitresses were friendly. They tried to speak with us in French and helped us get what we needed; one bus driver in particular went above and beyond in making sure I got on the right bus. Saying "Bonjour" upon walking in evidently sends the good-faith signal. Even the security personnel at the Paris (CDG) airport were friendlier than their counterparts at SFO or JFK.

I took a moment to visit a Hindu temple in an Indian neighborhood of Paris. The same smell of incense, the same chants, the same bellsong; a moment of home in a foreign land, even though I haven't been to a Hindu temple in the States since November. Familiarity is its own consolation, and a dangerous one. I can feel within me that impulse that would lash back against any change in the rituals, because even though of course there should be women priests and a less membrane-irritating alternative to incense smoke, I didn't grow up with them and the improvements would strike those synapses as jarring, off, ineffably wrong.

Paris's museum on the history of technology displayed not only a Jacquard loom but its predecessors; others had done programmable looms but their versions didn't auto-advance the program along with the weave, or didn't allow composability (replacing individual lines of code), and so on. Jacquard was Steve Jobs, integrating innovations. I need to remember that there are always predecessors. Leonard will probably blog more about our museum visits and meals and so on; I may not.

I now have almost three whole weeks at home before I leave to give my next conference talk. The summer's so full that I'm skipping Open Source Bridge for the first time since 2010, and even though CON.TXT and AndConf look amazing I will aim to attend them in future years.

I've been thinking about Ruth Coker Burks and role models, and Better Call Saul. I've been reading Missing Class: Strengthening Social Movement Groups by Seeing Class Cultures by Betsy Leondar-Wright, In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri and translated by Ann Goldstein, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer, Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown, and The Science of Herself by Karen Joy Fowler. That last one I read in the hotel room using the bedside lamp, next to my husband. Still such a strange word, "husband," or "wife" for that matter.

[syndicated profile] nara_feed

Posted by dominic

We’d like to introduce you to the National Archives’ online catalog API, a major feature of the revamped catalog. If you are not already familiar with the magic of APIs (or “application programming interfaces”), you can think of it this way. Underlying both the API and the browser-based catalog is the dataset of archival descriptions, authority records, web pages, and other information. And just as the web site you see in your browser is the interface which allows you, a human, to interact with and search our dataset, the API is the interface by which computer programs can interact with the dataset—by following documented methods to retrieve or alter the structured data in the system.

The dataset for our catalog API contains all archival descriptions, authority records, digitized records (the images, videos, and so on) and their file metadata, all NARA web pages, and public contributions (tags, transcriptions, and comments). The API will allow developers to retrieve all of this metadata in specified formats (JSON or XML) for any given record or search results set. This means it is much more flexible than the advanced search or refinement options in the user interface, since the API can search using keywords or any field in the system, filter based on type of record, search within ranges, apply sorts, specify only particular fields to return, or any combination of these options. You can also generate a bulk export of your search results (including digital media), just like you can do in the catalog. The API is also writable, which means you can use it to post tags, transcriptions, or comments to records. We believe it is one of the first public write APIs in operation at a cultural institution. In order to support these functions, there are also methods for user registration and login—though accounts are the same in the UI and API. We just rolled out in-catalog transcription last year and comments this year, and we think building it into the API from the beginning has the potential to take it to a whole new level.

National Archives API sample

This is what our catalog records look like as structured data! (Formatted by JSONView.)

In addition to being read–write, the API is open source and follows the principles of REST. In designing our API, we were strongly influenced by the Digital Public Library of America’s API philosophy, especially their principle of a “presumption of openness”. Following this approach, we designed a system not for any particular use case, but one that is as open as possible to accommodate the creativity of the public. No API key or account at all is required to do basic searching. All original API source code has been released under the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0), and you can find the it in our GitHub account. And, of course, all of our metadata and most of our digitized records are in the public domain, as works of the U.S. federal government, and can be freely reused and remixed without permission for any purpose.

We think this is a big deal. NARA’s recently revised mission statement affirms our commitment to “drive openness, cultivate public participation, and strengthen our nation’s democracy through public access to high-value government records.” Our mission is bigger than just our research rooms and web sites. In a recent essay, museum theorist Ed Rodley writes that the “spread of digital assets is a key factor in delivering on museums’ missions to educate, inform, stimulate, and enrich the lives of the people of the planet we live on.” We believe that our API will become a major way in which users are able to access our records, because the fundamental purpose of open data is to make our data sharable and reusable in many contexts outside of NARA itself. For example, in 2013, OCLC noted that 98% of the usage of their Virtual International Authority File comes via its API. This means they are succeeding in making their data useful to the public where people already go on the web, undertaking projects like linking hundreds of thousands of VIAF identifiers from the Wikipedia articles for their subjects. We think there are several ways we might make use of the API ourselves, like creating programs to gamify transcription of our records, uploading all of our data and digital assets to Wikimedia Commons or Wikidata, or setting up automatically curated social media feeds with our content. However, what excites us most is the potential for creative and unexpected uses of our API by the public, for any purpose.

Our API is still relatively new. We have documented several known issues which are still being worked out. But we encourage you to give it a try and see what you can create with it. The API is located at https://catalog.archives.gov/api/v1/, but we also recommend you start out by reading some of our documentation pages on GitHub, or playing in our interactive documentation feature to learn the ropes. And, also, be sure to give us feedback (whether questions, bug reports, or ideas for improvement) either in a comment below, in our GitHub repo’s issue tracker, or by emailing api@nara.gov. Let us know what you make!

Inspired by the Bard

Apr. 25th, 2016 08:06 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
When it comes to YA stories that retell or riff on classic works—and if we’re not counting the fairy tales compiled by the Grimms—more often than not, the inspiration comes from Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Nathaniel Hawthorne, or William Shakespeare. And while it felt for a while that every third book I picked up was a rewrite of Pride & Prejudice, I suspect that if we made a list, there would be far and away more Shakespeare rewrites than all of the others put together—if only because there is so much more source material!
[syndicated profile] w3c_dpub_ig_feed

Posted by Ivan Herman

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions. (The headers below link into the relevant sections of the minutes.)

Accessibility Note

Charles LaPierre reported about the latest editorial round on the upcoming accessibility note. There were only administrative and editorial issues to be discussed; the group has agreed to publish the note, as an official W3C IG Note, on the 3rd of May.

Notes in HTML

Shane McCarron and David MacDonald presented a draft they are busy with on adding a note element e.g., footnote, endnote, etc. to HTML in some way or other. This is very early work, though also based on an earlier discussion thread on the Interest Group. The intention on the group meeting was, primarily, to see if there is an interest, from the publishers’ point of view, on having such a set of elements (specifically: note, noteref, and notegroup). There were lots of question and discussion on the group call, but it is clear that such HTML elements would be of a great interest for the publishing community, in view of the widespread usage of footnotes, endnotes, references, etc, that is used in publishing.

Beyond clarification questions the discussion on the call covered issues like whether the way forward is to use the route of bona fide HTML extensions or HTML Custom elements; whether there is anything to discuss with the CSS Working Group on this, the relations to the annotation work, and the general way forward and how this IG can help it.

Avi

Apr. 25th, 2016 06:27 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Papa penguins are dedicated to incubating eggs, while grizzlies aren't opposed to eating their cubs if a snack attack strikes. The devotion of dads in the animal kingdom is as varied as the spectrum of human affection. Though there isn't the threat of patriarchal cannibalism in Avi's The Most Important Thing: Stories About Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers, there is a solid devotion to capturing nuances in the relationships among grandfathers, fathers, and sons. The apparition of a beloved dead father, the desperate hopes of a son to lure his dad home, and the interview process a would-be stepfather is subjected to are only three of seven short stories in this anthology. When I call Avi, fast at work in his Rocky Mountain neck of the woods, I cut to the chase. What was it like with his own father?

Little Red

Apr. 22nd, 2016 07:46 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
There’s a lot to like about British illustrator Bethan Woollvin’s debut picture book, Little Red, for which she evidently won the Macmillan Children’s Book Competition while a student at the Cambridge School of Art.
[syndicated profile] aotus_feed

Posted by davidferriero

I am pleased to announce that the inaugural Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee, under the direction of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), submitted a final report and recommendations regarding FOIA Fees, Proactive Disclosure, and Oversight and Accountability.

The Committee’s report and their recommendations is the product of two years of hard work by the Committee to study the current FOIA landscape across the Executive Branch, to provide advice on improving FOIA administration, and to make recommendations to the Archivist of the United States.

Members of the 2014-2016 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee. From left to right: James Holzer, Mark Zaid, Ginger McCall (forner member), Brent Evitt, Larry Gottesman, Melanie Pustay, Nate Jones, David Ferriero, Lee White, Sean Moulton, Marty Michalosky, Jim Hogan, David Pritzker, Clay Johnston.

Members of the 2014-2016 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee.
From left to right: James Holzer, Mark Zaid, Ginger McCall (forner member), Brent Evitt, Larry Gottesman, Melanie Pustay, Nate Jones, David Ferriero, Lee White, Sean Moulton, Marty Michalosky, Jim Hogan, David Pritzker, Clay Johnson.

OGIS provides leadership, administrative and logistical support for the FOIA Advisory Committee. Director James Holzer serves as the Committee’s Chair, and a member of the OGIS staff acts as the Committee’s Designated Federal Officer (DFO).

Much of the Committee’s work was done by its three subcommittees: FOIA Fees, Oversight and Accountability, and Proactive Disclosures. The DFO attended all of the subcommittees’ meetings and was included on all correspondence between members. OGIS staff also ushered the Fees and Oversight and Accountability Subcommittees through the process necessary to gather new information from agency FOIA professionals about how fees are used and the role of FOIA Public Liaisons. This information improved Committee members’ and public understanding of the issues, and influenced its recommendations.

The Committee prepared this report prior to the final meeting of the 2014 – 2016 term of the Committee, and documents all of the work done by the Committee over its two year term. The report also includes background on the Committee’s creation, summaries of the Committee’s quarterly meetings, and a summary of the work undertaken by the Fees, Oversight and Accountability, and Proactive Disclosures Subcommittees. Far from an end result, Director Holzer intends to use the report as a starting point for the next term of the Committee. The Committee is accepting comments on the recommendation and on the Committee’s Final Report. Please direct all comments to: foia-advisory-committee@nara.gov

The Committee’s development of a consensus recommendation is an important milestone: it shows that agencies and requesters can work together to improve the FOIA process. The Committee’s unanimous decision to send forward its first recommendation to the Archivist is also a testament to the importance of transparency, participation, and collaboration.

This report reflects the Committee’s thoughtful and thorough work on this important topic, and I want to thank Director Holzer, the Office of Government Information Services, and the entire FOIA Advisory Committee for their hard work and dedication to this important topic.

Pros and Cons of a Thriller

Apr. 21st, 2016 04:57 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Even though I haven’t spoken to her in ten years, I know almost everything there is to know about Callie Greenwood. Everything except the thing I desperately need to know.

Pros and Cons of a YA Thriller

Apr. 21st, 2016 04:57 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Even though I haven’t spoken to her in ten years, I know almost everything there is to know about Callie Greenwood. Everything except the thing I desperately need to know.
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