DragonCon 2014 Cosplay in Pictures [Gallery]

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Yes geeks, it’s that time of the year again! As usual, DragonCon took place during Labor Day weekend, and as with last year, we’ve got some pictures of various cosplayers attending the event for you. Many thanks to Pat Loika, Kyle Nishioka, and Flickr user Counse for sharing their pictures with the world via Creative Commons!

[Source: Pat Loika | Kyle Nishioka | Counse]

Iran Gets Small Step Toward Online Freedom

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Iran’s president has urged the country’s ruling clerics to be more open to the Internet. Hassan Rouhani has accompanied his call by allowing 3G and 4G services for the first time.

Historically the country has been at best suspicious of, and at worst hostile to, the idea of citizens communicating online. Many leading Western-based services have been blocked since 2009 in an apparent attempt to restrict political protest. Political and religious leaders have argued that “immorality” would spread on an unrestricted Internet.

The Islamic Republic News Agency reports Rouhani as saying Internet access was needed to help Iran make scientific progress. He’s quoted as saying:

We cannot shut the gates of the world to our young generation. Once, there was a time that someone would hide his radio at home, if he had one, to use it just for listening to the news. We have passed that era.

While filtering and blocking remains common in the country, they are only of limited success as many more tech-savvy younger users have found ways to bypass the controls. Arguably the biggest practical limitation to online communication was access speeds, with both fixed-line and mobile services restricted to a crawl.

Having recently allowed broadband firms to offer faster speeds, Rouhani’s government has now issued licences for high-speed mobile broadband. That means that those users who’ve figured out ways round the filtering will now find it much easier to share multimedia content such as videos encouraging or reporting on protests.

It remains to be seen if Rouhani, who has only been in position for just over a year, will be able to sustain or even extend his push for greater online freedoms given the opposition of the more conservative hardliners among Iran’s political powers.

Millions Of Historical Pics Digitized & Shared

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The Internet Archive has uploaded around 2.6 million historical photographs to Flickr. The man who found a simple technique to create and automate the upload hopes to inspire other digital libraries to do the same.

The images run from the 16th century to 1922, putting them all in the public domain in the US. They mainly come from books that are out of print or rare and include many artworks where the original print is long gone.

The upload is the work of Kalev Leetaru of Georgetown University, who is on a fellowship sponsored by Flickr’s owner Yahoo.

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He based his operation on the way that the Internet Archive scanned around 600 million pages of old books to create electronic text versions. The project involved using an optical character recognition program to not only recognize text, but filter out the parts of each page that didn’t have any text — in other words, the images.

Leetaru set up a system which used the Internet Archive’s records to retrieve the discarded section from each scanned page and turn it into a JPEG file. The system also retrieved any caption text plus the paragraphs before and after the image. This text was then automatically mined to select tags, making the Flickr images searchable.

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The next step is to complete the project, which will mean uploading a total of 12 million images. Leetaru has also called for Wikipedia to have a day of action on which volunteers search the archive to find suitable images for pages that currently lack illustration.

Leetaru says he’s happy to share his code with any library or other organization that has already digitized books or plans to do so.

Amazon Deal of the Day: Up to 85% Off More Than 1,000 Kindle Books for Students

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[Up to 85% Off More Than 1,000 Kindle Books for Students]