Thursday, December 15, 2011

Element 114 is Flerovium, Element 116 is Livermorium

Element 114 is proposed to be named flerovium (symbol Fl), to honor Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions in Russia. That lab is named after Russian physicist Georgiy Flerov.

Element 116 is proposed to be named livermorium (symbol Lv), to honor Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States.

My English-Chinese Periodic Table of the Elements has been updated with this information.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Testing new blog publishing

So why is Blogger meeting some resistance from users who are using the soon-to-be-obsolete FTP publishing method and not upgrade to the new and improve publishing method like custom domains? From my experience right now, perhaps it is because the transition is not working as smoothly as expect, due to some technical details that some users are not aware of.

After changing my Blogger settings to use the new method, new blog entries are said to have been published, but it looks like they have not been transfered to my blog. It turns out switching to custom domains also means switching where the blog files are stored. Even though I'm still saying the target is, the files are now published on Blogger's server instead of my ISP's server. The rest of the world still gets to my old blog when they access The step that is needed is for me to add a CNAME on my web host side, to say that is going to After 24hrs, will now point to the new content.

I think I'm luckier as I don't have custom uploaded images or files, so I don't have to worry about htaccess files to resolve missing stuff not transferred.

Update #1: well, 24hrs later, and the old blog is still being accessed, with no sign of the new blog.

Update #2: The switchover is working :)

blog instability coming

Blogger is changing some of their publishing options and this blog will be affected. Please excuse any broken links or missing images until I find an appropriate solution.

Problem 1 is that this post can't be posted! "I've got a bad feeling about this..."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Element 112 copernicium to have symbol Cn

The proposed symbol for element 112 is now Cn, instead of Cp as originally proposed. The proposed name is still copernicium, but the IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) has rejected Cp. The main reason is that element 71, now called lutetium, had an alternative name of cassiopeium and symbol Cp prior to 1949.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Element 112 to be called copernicium

Element 112 (ununbium) will be called copernicium, named after the astronomer and scientist Nicolaus Copernicus.

My English-Chinese Periodic Table of the Elements has been updated with this information.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The end of Encarta Encyclopedia

What I predicted in my Oct 2008 entry The end of Encarta Encyclopedia? has now come true. Microsoft announced they will stop selling Microsoft Student and Encarta products worldwide by June 2009, and MSN Encarta will be discontinued on October 31, 2009. The reason given was that people search and use information in different ways than with traditional encyclopedias and reference works. They didn't say what the new ways were, but most can guess: the Internet, commonly Google and Wikipedia. No successor product was announced, though there was a vague comment about leveraging the Encarta assets to develop future technology solutions, which in everyday language means they have stuff they don't know what to do with.

I've watch Encarta grow and change from the early 1994 version to the 2009 version. In those 15 years, there been many content changes. Some have persisted to the end, such as sidebars, while others only stay for a few years, such as collages. In a way it was like watching a cherished pet being born, grow, mature, and finally leave. In my youth I always wished I owned a set of encyclopedias. Encarta helped fulfilled that young boy's wish as it joined me on my journey with the computer industry. You help keep alive the spark of wonder and joy of learning. Farewell old friend, you shall be missed.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The end of Encarta encyclopedia?

It looks like the reign of Encarta as the leader in consumer electronic encyclopedias is coming to an end. With the release of Microsoft Student, the amount of encyclopedic content added was slowing down, with an emphasize shifting towards homework tools. Starting around the same time in 2006, the amount of articles and media have fluctuated as well, sometimes going down and then gradually increasing as "improved features" for the next year. Coincidently, in July 2006 Microsoft contracted out the maintenance of Encarta to Websters Multimedia Inc, a subsidiary of UK-based Websters International Publishers. According to Webster's website, the majority of their editorial team have worked in house for Microsoft as either staff or contractors.

Having worked in the software industry and have gone through the slow and agonizing downsizing of a company due to changing markets, this does not look good for the continuing survival of Encarta as an leading-edge education product. Here are some thoughts on this conjecture.

1. The slowing down of adding innovative features and content shows the product is reaching maturity status, with no expected new growth and just a steady or even declining customer base.

2. The contracting of maintenance means the management does not see the product as fitting in their core-focus to maximizing return on investment, and it is time to phase it out. Reading between the lines from Websters statement that "the majority of their editorial team have worked in house for Microsoft as either staff or contractors", it sounds like the editorial team from Encarta was laid off but was luckily rehired by Websters. This follows a classic path of phasing out a product.

3. A disc-based encyclopedia no longer has the the killer-app factor as it had in the late 1990's, so value of an associated encyclopedia brand does not add much value to the company. Of the old competitors, such as Comptons, Grolier, World Book and Britannica, only Britannica survived in the consumer market. Of the new competitors such as Wikipedia, companies have only limited success in convincing consumers that convenient, edited, accurate and objective content is worth paying for.

4. The marketing of Encarta 2009 is greatly reduced. The 2009 edition of Encarta does not appear to be available at the retail level yet. Usually the next year edition of Encarta is available by August or September, by so far it appears to be available only as a direct purchase from Microsoft. Some product links on the Microsoft site still points to previous version of the product (from 2006 to 2008), no press release have been written, and viewing the current product information requires the installation of Silverlight. This all seems to point to a phase out.

As a fan of reference works, it is a little sad to see how Encarta is slowly ending.
Having bought and used Encarta over the last decade, I can look back with fond memories: browsing through what seems like an infinite list of articles; following the evolution of the user interface interface; feel the excitement with major additions of content such the sidebars, the Collier yearbooks, and the book summaries. Thank you Encarta for being part of my lifelong learning.