Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Aggregated Customization

Inc Magazine has an article about a trend David Freedman calls aggregated customization. The article describes the latest venture for the CEO of Citrix Systems. The idea is to create daily direct flight patterns and prices based on when and where most of your customers want to fly. Since I have to either fly to Atlanta or Denver to get to San Antonio this winter, this sounds like a great idea to me.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Just Don't call it a Lego Drive.

Check out the latest external hard drive from Lacie. http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=10695

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More cool stuff you can do with HIP

The same person who was experimenting with the HIP 'tagcloud' is now experimenting with allowing users to tag items in a test HIP environment.

I'm not entirely sold on the idea of user-tagging for library databases, but it's a cool thing to play with. (I'm not automatically *against* the idea of user-tagging for library databases, either. I'm perched right on the fence on this one. It looks awfully cool, but I'm not sure the benefits outweigh the risks in all cases.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

Wikipedia fall out

We are always pushing technology forward to find new applications, but we often don't anticipate ways how that technology will be used and the resulting social implications.

According to a CNN article, the author who wrote a false entry linking Seigenthaler to the Kennedy assassinations has come forward.

Also from the article:

"Chase said he didn't know the free Internet encyclopedia called Wikipedia was used as a serious reference tool."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Library Elf

No, not a student worker in costume, but a package more and more libraries seem to be buying into to track loans and due dates. Interesting post about privacy concerns related to Library ELF.

Library ELF is a company based in Canada that allows you to track the books you have checked out, overdues and other things through RSS feeds.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Source: The Chronicle

"Open-source software being developed at George Mason University is intended to make it easier for professors to organize and cite materials they find online. The program, called Firefox Scholar, will plug into the popular Firefox browser and automatically capture bibliographic data, researchers say.

For more about information technology, including IT news reported elsewhere online, visit our Information Technology section"

Friday, December 02, 2005

Question of the Day

Are you talking about CALEA (Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act) and its impact on your network on your campus...or do you know of conversations going on? Our consortium is polling each other to see who is talking about it since it seems that little conversations are starting to take place...

Aside, Jonathan took his first five steps a few days ago! He's brilliant for figuring out how to walk before his first birth day... :)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Again with the infinite number of monkeys ...

Sue V sent me a pointer to a USA today article about the hazards of trusting our fellow humans too much. It's an op-ed piece by John Seigenthaler a retired journalist whose hopping mad about his entry in the Wikipedia. It said that he had once been suspected involved in both Kennedy assinations. that version of entry was only up for 132 days on Wikipedia was eventually corrected.

It's true that the mistake was eventually corrected and I know this is the argument that people use to support open content but there are some mistakes you'd rather were never made to have to correct them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Firefox 1.5 is here

It's up on their site. I'm hoping this will be the version that lets us add Firefox to our public workstations. The current IE security issues have made it more attractive to the systems folks. As I've pointed out here, there are lots of extensions that would be great for library patrons. For example, I've added LibX to Firefox on my computer at work and I'm liking it.

Bring your laptop to ALA this summer

As part of its reconstruction New Orleans is getting free, municipally-run Wi-Fi system. A number of companies have donated equipment. It's begun operation in the French Quarter and central business district and should cover the entire city within a year.

can we send these guys to the Netherlands?

Marketplace has a brief story about the FCC's recently declared support for a la carte pricing for cable. Think we could get them to talk to Elsevier? (it's a podcast so have your earphones on)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Brits caption their Inet video

Pretty cool. BBC is experimenting with adding captions to the internet editions of their technology programs.

Of course, I often need captions to understand half of Masterpiece Theater but that's just me.

Easy come, easy go

Now all a merchant needs to charge a sale to your credit card account is a cell phone and a swipey device . Personally I thought we might jump straight to voice recognition or maybe eyeball scanning.

The article says Domino's won't use the device because it makes it hard for the delivery guys to drive. Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't these the guys that had to finally quit promising delivery in 30 minutes because too many of their delivery guys were getting into car crashes trying to make the deadline.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

One place Google is not king

The OCLC newsletter for 21 Nov gives Nielsen data for online newspaper paper use and Yahoo comes out on top as a place to go for news.
The top five brands ranked by unique visitors for October 2005 were Yahoo! (101,790,000), Microsoft (95,879,000), MSN (89,769,000), Google (83,350,000) and AOL (75,355,000).
And they give interesting numbers on top advertisers as well.
The top five advertisers and their estimated spending for October 2005 were Vonage Holdings Corp. ($30,444,700), DeVry Inc. ($17,201,600), LowerMyBills.com, Inc. ($13,744,100), Dell Computer Corporation ($9,230,700) and Apollo Group, Inc. ($8,819,700).
Wow! Vonage spent more than $30M for advertising on the net last month! And Dell only spent a little over $9M -- those cheapskates.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The grass is always greener

Now that I'm no longer working in a Horizon/Dynix/whatever-they're-calling-it-this-month library, why do I keep hearing about all of this cool stuff related to Horizon?

Apparently someone's been playing with generating a tag cloud from Horizon and displaying it in HIP. Is this not cool?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

PenTop computing

David Pogue has an article about the Fly Pentop computer, a new toy for . It is an oversized pen with an AAA battery and a computer and a camera. You have to use it with special grid paper so that the camera can keep track of where the pen is in space and a speaker to reply -- 'cause there's no screen. The cool thing is there are programs that let you draw things and then use the drawing. For example, you draw a calculator and then tap the keys and the pen tells you what the anwer is. Or you can draw a keyboard and play. The market is 8-14 year olds.

It brings to mind the PDA-sized gizmo I heard about not so long ago that you use to project an image of a keyboard on a flat surface in front of you. Then you type on the image and the gizmo stores your typing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

taxonomy is to folksonomy AS database is to ???

GoogleBase is up in Beta. Despite being quite ill the last week or so, both Danny Sullivan and Gary Price have written about Google Base this week in Search Engine Watch. ResearchBuzz also has a write up. The articles are worth purusing.

I noodled around a bit on GBase. It's kind of primitive but interesting. Google gives you a forms interface where you can add things (fields) like attributes, keywords, and notes. Merchants could enter info about what they are selling in a self-structured way. Sort of taking tagging to the next level.

Wonder what kind of stuff people will put up there?

LibX update -- try it, you'll like it

For those of you who are interested in the LibX toolbar, someone who styles himself Godmar sent me this link to install a LibX toolbar that works for JHU.


If you aren't at JHU these days, well, we miss you. But I bet if you wrote Godmar he'd be glad to write a URL for you, too. Write him at godmarATgmail.com

Crankable laptops?

As reported today in the Chronicle e-newsletter, MIT has announced the crankable laptop.
My first thought is that this is pretty darn cool. The shoulder strap doubles as the power cord.

It will cost $100 and have either 500 MB or 1 G of data storage. It won't have a CD or DVD drive, but will have a flash drive and will operate on Linux.

My Library, My Bookstore, My sister, My daughter....

OCLC announced a pilot with Google. Now if you come up with an Open WorldCat 'find in a library' hit, the full record will include a noticable box on the right side of the screen that says Ready to buy? and gives price and a link to Amazon. The blurb says that the library will get credit on their OCLC bills but I'm not sure how that will work--how they will know which library to credit.

The problem. of course, is finding a Find in A Library book record in the humongous Google database. The contents of WorldCat may seem big but they are only a teeny, teeny, tiny spec in GoogleWorld.

Here's a search that should bring up the Find in a Library link fairly close to the top:

Kpelle Bledsoe Women marriage society 'find in a library'

If you haven't looked at Open WorldCat in a while, have a look. They've added tabs for "reviews"-- be the first person to review. And the "details" tab include ToC and notes spaces open for the public to add their 2 cents.

Maybe Google will add a separate search tool for Open WorldCat... nah, not likely.

NOTE: For the young and not-terribly-interested-in-Roman-Polanski-films reader, the 'my sister, my daughter' reference is to Chinatown [use the Find function]. It's Faye Dunaway's line and it's a very useful catchphrase when you don't feel like saying 'It's a dessert topping. It's a floor wax. . . . Stop, you're both right.'
That by the way is a line from an SNL skit joking on the old Certz commercial. Oh I've got to stop the links never end.....

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

RLG & Looksmart -- peddaling cultural materials?

According to Info Today, these two are getting together. Looksmart will include Trove.net in their resources. I took a quick look at http://www.trove.net and it seems to be a way to sell to the public the images in the RLG Cultural Material collections.

Amazon forms tag team

You may have heard it already, but Amazon is experimenting (the 400 lb gorilla “experimenting”) with tags, a la Flickr.

Original Post

An Example (only some users may see the tags)

Coverage here, here, and here.

Also, again with the innovation is Kayak, a cool little search engine for travellers integrated with Google Maps (via Ben).


OK, I promised to write about the DLF meetings and I will soon but check out this article by John Hockenberry about soldiers in Iraq blogging--what they can get by with, where the army draws the line. There's stuff about how one guy got brought in equipment so that he could extend the network connection to the trailors (I guess they don't use tents).

My favorite line is from near the end when a Hopkins graduate is explaining how useful he found his undergraduate degree while serving in Iraq,
"Neuroscience actually came in handy when I had to explain to my guys exactly why doing ecstasy in a tank when it's 140 degrees out on a road that's blowing up every day is a really bad idea."
Call me crazy but I think guys who need to be told that should not be allowed to handle guns or heavy machinery. They should be peeling potatoes and doing laundry where they will be infinitely less dangerous.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Storage space

Dear Scrapplelites,

I remember when I was at Hopkins, I think somebody (maybe you Woody?) found this great website where you could upload documents? Then from another location you could download them? It wasn't the Hopkins shared space. It had no affiliation with JHU.

Sound familiar?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

OK, I'll admit it-- I'm e-paper obsessed

Through a series of links I landed on a Guardian article about yet another company's plans for introducing thin, flexible screens. This time it's Siemans and they are promoting it as cheap -- 1 square meter for about £30, which is about $51.10. They are thinking about 'Harry Potter like inserts in magazines' and then maybe some kind of computer game.

That seems like really trivial uses of the technology. I'm still looking for the small pda-like object that you can load up with your books and then read them on the flexible screen.

Oh, man, you gotta see this

LibX is a Firefox extension that does some kind of magic! On a web page you see an ISBN or a journal article citation, do a little highlighting, right-click and it takes you to your library's resources. Check out the screenshots and screencasts.

Now, what I really want is to get Firefox added as a browser for all our public workstations... and start adding some of this truly cool functinality.

Promise of better postings in the near future

I've been behind in postings for the last few weeks as I've been eyeball deep in the implementation of MetaLib here at Hopkins (we're calling it JHsearch.) But I hopw to make it up a bit. I'm leaving this afternoon for Charlottesville and the fall DLF conference. I'll try to write up a bit each evening on what I saw.

I'm going to a meeting on the Aquifer Project -- a big digization project. I'll be able to tell you more once I've been to the meeting. Also, Adam Chandler is giving a presentation on where DLF is heading with E Resource Mgmt so I'll go to that.

Slouching to e-paper

Another report on the development of e-paper. LG.Philips has combined with E-Ink, folks who've been on this quest for many years, and by the end of the next year they plan to be mass-marketing a rollable 5" display. They will price competitively with a comparable LCD--I haven't priced 5" LCDs lately so I can't give a ball park there.

They won't start with text, though. Instead they say Seiko is going to produce a watch with a curved paper display. I'm wondering who's gonna wear a watch with a display that big but hey, I'm not a visionary when it comes to marketing.

They quote a Forrester Group analyst as tut-tutting the project and warning that it can't be a technology in search of a problem. Hello! Google-Print, Open Content Alliance and now Microsoft in cooperation with various British Libraries are all ready to scan the world. Not to mention all the other digitization projects out there from the likes of LoC and Virginia. I think that's plenty of text to read.

I see the main problem is -- can they make it waterproof so you can read in the bath or at the beach?

Hermes came to mind

when I was talking to my parents. My brother is moving to Michigan to work for a software company that provides work-flow software. They described a software that cities use to track work orders and invoices. If any problem comes up along the workflow, the problem gets flagged and the appropriate person is notified. I immediately thought, wow, that sounds a lot like Hermes.

They do have a link for Higher Ed. While it's not exactly Hermes, if you scroll down you can see how they suggest tracking invoices.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Google Displays Books

That are not embroiled in the copyright battle

Making Visible the Invisible

Seattle Public Library has an interesting project on display called Making Visible the Invisible. The installation consists of 6 LCD screens locating on a glass wall behind the information desk in the Seattle Central Library.

The screens feature real-time visualizations of circulation statisitcs and catalog keywords that are generated by software that receives data each hour. Pretty neat project.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Collective Idiocy

A couple weeks ago I was at the gym reading over a recent issue of Time when an article caught my eye. The article gathered people (such as O'Reilly, Gladwell, Shirky, Dyson, etc) together to talk about the future trends most likely to affect us. Maybe it was due to editing, but I didn't really care too much for the article.

Boing-boing has an entry about the article that quotes the part I find the most interesting...even though I don't agree with O'Reilly.

From the article:


TIM O'REILLY, publisher and technology advocate: Collective intelligence. Think of how Wikipedia works, how Amazon harnesses user annotation on its site, the way photo-sharing sites like Flickr are bleeding out into other applications. I think we're at the first stages of something that will be profoundly different from anything we have seen before, in terms of the ability of connected computers to deliver results. We're entering an era in which software learns from its users and all of the users are connected.


O'REILLY: Right, but remember what Google did. They basically said, let's look at what all the millions of individual users are linking to, and let's use that information to get the good stuff to float to the top. That turned out to be a very powerful idea, the ramifications of which we're exploring in other areas, such as with tagging on Flickr or blogs. People are finding more ways to have the wisdom of crowds filter that signal-to-noise.

MARK DERY, author and cultural critic: I find the fetishization of the wisdom of crowds fascinating. It has a whiff of '90s cyberhype about it. I'm fascinated by the way in which it contrasts with individual subjectivity. A lot of technologies, such as Flickr, blogging, the iPod, seem to turn the psyche inside out, to extrude the private self into the public sphere. You have people walking down the street listening to iPods, seemingly oblivious to the world, singing. More and more, we're alone in public.

I have to say that I find the current treatment of the wisdom of crowds to be a bit droll. It's like saying that we're always going to go with the audience a la Who Wants to be a Millionaire. What happened to self-determination?

I think there is distinction to be drawn between wisdom of the crowd and the effects of social power on a society. Remember that blue eye vs. brown eye experiment or the failed prison experiment?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Digital Textbooks

A while back I wrote an entry on my blog about how some campuses were selling e-books to students in the campus bookstore. One such campus is West Virginia University, the place where I first learned how to be a science librarian. Anyway, I digress. According to a recent Wired News, from The Chronicle, sales have been somewhat sluggish, accounting for "5.7% of textrbook sales at those institutions."

For more on the digital-textbook project, see an article from The Chronicle by Andrea Foster.
--source Wired News from The Chronicle

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Gordian Knot

In case y'all aren't aware of it, The Gordian Knot is a collaborative blog for SirsiDynix customers. There's not much there yet, but it's a cool idea, I think.

(Now I need to find out of there's such a thing for Voyager customers...)

Computer Scientists Discover the Brandeis Model

BBC reports that two guys at Cambridge have come up with an AI system that automatically identifies and answers FAQs. Sony plans use it to provide tech support for Play Station 2 online. Questions that can't be answered by the system will be forwarded (by e-mail) to a human who will answer the question and add it to the MetaFAQ.

Look for more chicken little reports of how Reference Librarians are about to be replaced by machines. Take a deep breath. Do not be alarmed.

Play Station 2, a human designed computer system that is sold to customers on the assumption that it works. One would hope that most of the technical support questions would already be easily identifiable and aswerable. If that's what you are doing in the reference office then shame on you.

This work replicates Virginia's theory of reference service that's more than a decade old--and very misleadingly called the Brandeis Model. With the Brandeis model we use graduate students instead of a MetaFAQs to answer the easy, repetitive questions and human beings (not e-mail msgs) are passed back to the reference librarian when a question falls outside those limits.

Reference librarians in the RCO don't really answer questions. What they do is interview patrons to figure out what they need. More often than not, they can't articulate their research needs. A student might walk up to the desk and ask where the microform machines were. A half hour later we could easily be knee deep in the guide to ESTC on microfilm trying to find a pamphlet her professor mentioned in class.

My advice to people who are worried about Artificial Intelligence machines taking over human intelligence jobs is to read a bit in macro-linguistics, the philosophy of language and throw in a basic reader on the social construction of reality.

Just make sure you have a job that calls for creativity and human conversation and you're safe.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Text message & concerts

In the Sunday Omaha World-Herald, I read an article about how kids these days are using their cell phones to text message at concerts. For more on this idea, look here.

The article in the World-Herald touches on intellectual property as a reason why some musicians have banned cell phones. According to the article, Bon Jovi is coming to Omaha and will allow this text messaging. Book your flights now! :)

I thought the idea of text messaging to a huge screen at a live venue was a very interesting idea. Here's a pretty cool application of this idea that happened back in August.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Nonviolent Games

Thanks to ultraviolent titles like Quake and Grand Theft Auto, the video-gaming industry isn't exactly known for its high-minded political insight. But Ivan Marovic, one of the founders of the influential Serbian student resistance group Otpor, is hoping to change that perception. Mr. Marovic is working to design a game -- called A Force More Powerful -- that teaches the tactics of nonviolent conflict, not the art of the shoot'em-up. (Wired News)" -- source The Chronicle

Isn't it about time though? I'm so tired of violent games. Haven't we had enough of violent games?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Pointless and yet impressive

Check out the site Toogle http://c6.org/toogle/.

In the search box I started out with King Henry the eighth. Whoa. see what it spits out.

Did fine with yellow roses

But try a query with just the word scrapple.

Somebody has an awful lot of time on their hands.

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

Google, Google, Google. Those guys are everywhere doing everything.

Word is they are about to go live with their Google Base. They let you put anything you want up there, tag it, sell it, whatever. Three bog entries that popped up in at http://a9.com/google base

ZDNet says they got confirmation Tuesday from a Google Spokeswoman.

There entries in flickr for screenshots of the new service

ArsTechnica (Ken "Caesar" Fisher's blog) says it's almost up and goes on to speculate:
There's another level to this as well. By letting people post nearly anything, Google will get their hands on a massive database of items that have been given user-created attributes. Google then can use that data to try and generate a kind of universal tagging schema for information and items, which could then be used to classify information across the net.
Ohmigod, one uniform language for describing things! These guys are pathologically hopeful.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Wisdom of The Crowd

WARNING: This is more of a rant than news and it's really only scrapple-related. I've been reading some stuff that's really, really irritating me.
The wisdom of The Crowd is a very popular notion just now and I'm in agreement with the idea in many situations--but not all.

Let's remember that Nazi Germany was brought to you by The Crowd. They didn't vote for Hitler but they voted for the guy who handed the government over to him.

I, for one, do not want a free-for-all discussion in the operating room on how to proceed with my surgery. I'd like one, single, very well educated, highly trained, expert on my problem to be in charge, to be wielding the knife and to be calling the plays.

I don't want riders on the bus debating whether or not we can make it across the train tracks before the train arrives.

My point is that we don't want to take an idea that's good in some situations and try to apply it everywhere. That kind of 'Well, it worked before, it ought to work now' thinking leads to abominations like Rocky XXXIV.

There is a time and a place for expertise. And you really shouldn't depend on volunteer work to develop a body of complex knowledge or make time limited decisions.

I'm just calling for a bit of balance.

But maybe you disagree...

EDUCAUSE review editorial scolds librarians

The editor of EDUCAUSE review, Paul Gandel, has published a short but severe scolding to librarians for not getting with it. Says the commercial front is going to overwhelm us and we will disappear off the face of the earth. Or something like that.

In some ways this guy is just another Chicken Little, but he is pointing out some of the issues we need to be thinking about. And some of them are larger than just the library world.

I'll stop here and put my ranting in a comment so that you can skip on to the next item in your overly busy day.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Big wheels on a tiny car

PC magizine reports that James Tour's group, from the chemistry dept at Rice have developed a one molecule car. It's got suspension and big wheels (relatively big, that is). Why would you want a one molecule car? To tote molecules around and put them where you want, of course.

Think of building a chip using lots of little bitty cars. Take this molecule 5 nanometers, turn 45 degrees right, go another 150 nanometer, put the molecule down and then go back home. If you could do that you could make really small circuits.

OK, I'm confused. Can anyone out there explain?

The NYT says universities and EDCAUSE are complaining about the FBI's requiring some universities to upgrade their networks to make surveillance easier.
It would require universities to re-engineer their networks so that every Net access point would send all communications not directly onto the Internet, but first to a network operations center where the data packets could be stitched together into a single package for delivery to law enforcement, university officials said.
That sounds like humongous deal. Various university folk are saying they would have to redo all their access points, that we're looking at major expenses--enough to drive the cost of tuition up $450 annually.

On the other side the article quotes 'some government officials' as saying that it's not really that big a deal because they wouldn't be picking up the Intranet traffic, only the stuff that goes off campus. Basically "schools would be required to make their networks accessible to law enforcement only at the point where those networks connect to the outside world."

So which is it? Does every single switch in every single closet have to be replaced? Or could they route everything out of campus through a single line. Then, at that one point where the campus meets the world, they could pull traffic off and examine it there? Would this do anything to speed?

Or, is it something else? Or maybe both? Can you really tell from the article?

BTW, if this is an accurate quote about only caring about what goes off campus, it represents a serious lack of understanding of the nature of university work.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Velociraptor Bad At Disemboweling -- nrs

That's the title of a posting in Slashdot. Some MechE Brits did robotic modeling and found that a claw on this dinosaur was better at pinning things down than ripping them apart.

The posting itself is not half as good as the title. Sorta like this one.

Never underestimate the power of a good headline
-- it can draw readers into almost any material.

nrs [not really scrapple]

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Sound bites bite

Goodness knows, I'm not cheerleader for Microsoft but this is truly slanted writing.

A Slashdot item this morning read "Microsoft Thinks Africa Doesn't Need Free Software." My immediate reaction was what kind of lunacy is this? And, since it was about Africa (which by the way is an entire continent, not a country) I had to pop over and read it on ZDNet. The tag line above the article reads,
"You can give people free software, but they won't have the expertise to use it, says Microsoft Nigeria's manager."
Well, duh. OK, that makes sense and I expect that MS is in fact supporting training. (After all, Gates is big into support for conquering malaria). Then the lead paragraph flips back to the sound bite,
"Microsoft has claimed the cost of software is not an important issue in the developing world."
Back to the lunacy. But read on. The next paragraph begins
"In response to a question on the role of open source software in Africa, Gerald Ilukwe, the general manager of Microsoft Nigeria,..."
Key points are
  • They are focusing on Open Source so the discussion appears to not be so much about the ability of peoples in developing economies to afford it as it is a response to the notion that Open Source is a good thing there. So that explains why MS is saying this.
  • The quote is from an office in Nigeria. Nigeria is a much, much richer country than its neighbors. Oil profits make it unlike any of its neighbors in sub-Saharan Africa. What I'm saying here is that a person working out of an office in Nigeria is not the best person to look to for an economic analysis of the financial worth of the vast majority of people living on the continent.
Next we get the meat of the article that includes some paragraphs quoting the head of MS for Europe, the Middle East and Africa about how MS is hitting on all fronts--equipment and training. So they are doing good, right?

Don't get too comfortable because the final paragraph is all about organizations that are offering Open Source software training. In that page there are a number of links to those organizations and those links draw your eyes to that part of the page.

So, if you read the whole article you get a subtler understanding of the players, the context and the details of their arguments. But the thinking in journalism is that as people skim through the news they often only read the first and maybe last paragraph. If you'd done that here you'd have only picked up the 'sound bite' version and as a result gotten a very skewed understanding.

This is the print equivalent of those talking heads whose idea of a political debate is to name call the opposition and it drives me crazy. I don't care which side of the fence you are on--commercial or Open Source--this is just lousy reporting.

At the bottom of the page are links to two other articles.

Microsoft 'lends security expertise' to Nigeria Emerging markets a priority for new Microsoft head

Did I follow the links? Naw, they looked like puff pieces -- minimally re-writen versions of PR releases. [insert grin face icon here]


And, BTW, I'm always irritated when I see people write about Africa as if it were a single country. It's a hugh place! Three times the size of the US at least. Thinking all Africans are alike makes about as much sense as saying that all North Americans are alike. Try telling an Alberta cowboy that he's just like a Mayan Indian in Guatemala. Arghhh.[flame off]

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

OK, it's not really scrapple...

But I can't resist posting a BBC article about 'Zombie worms' off Sweden. They feed on whale bones and are also called -- and this is the great part -- "bone-eating snot-flowers". Really. And the reason they are called that is because part of the worm looks like a flower and the section that is exposed to the water is "covered in a ball of mucus, so they are quite snotty."

Cool. Who knew they let 8 year olds name worms.

Electronic Paper . . . At long last

I can't believe it. E Ink announced today that they have really produced e-paper. The basics of this technology have been around at least since 1997. At that point the resolution was lousy. They made a big banner that Sears in Worschester, MA used for announcements. Now, though but they finally have produced a 10.1" flexible electronic paper display.

This technology, combined with The British Library's "Turning the Pages" project and you've got a good start on finally mastering print.

Copyright & Blackboard

Hello everybody. Did you all get the mass e-mail about Blackboard adding a copyright permissions building block? The e-mail links to an article in "Inside Highered.com" that says:

"The Copyright Permissions Building Block...will allow professors at the 1,200 colleges that use Blackboard's course management system, to automatically tap into the copyright center's authorization process...to make it easier for faculty...to get permission to use the materials they chose."

Forgive all the ... but I just wanted to put in the necessary to text to convey the author's meaning. Seems like he is saying that Blackboard will have a component that will let users tap into the Copyright Clearance Center's approval process for copyrighted material.

Anybody looking into this at Hopkins? Seems like it would be useful to allow faculty to post articles directly in Blackboard. Are there any cons to it I wonder?

What would Ray Crock say?

BBC reports that McDonald's currently offers for-fee wi-fi in some of it's joints but now they are working with Nintendo to provide free internet access for Nintendo DS handheld games consoles. It gives Nintendo a gateway for kids to play online who might not otherwise have access to the internet. McDonald's presumably gets lots of kids buying lots of food.

May be a smart move; might not. I sure wouldn't want to be the manager of a McD's where kids could come to hang out and play games.

Ray Crock, the original owner of McD's had some very strict ideas about what's allowed and what isn't in a McD. Vending machines were out of the question because he didn't want any of his stores selling cigarettes. Something tells me he wouldn't have been thrilled with this development.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see if it flies. McDonald's Hamburger & Internet Cafe?

BBC's related stories include:

Xinhua News Agency Nintendo to offer free wi-fi access at MacDonalds - 2 hrs ago
Click10.com Ronald, Meet Mario: DS To Get Free Wi-Fi At McDonald's - 4 hrs ago
United Press International Nintendo with those fries? - 13 hrs ago
CNET News.com Will free Wi-Fi 'Supersize' obesity rate? - 15 hrs ago

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm not sure this is what they had in mind...

Remember when the President of the French National Library was grousing about how American literature would overwhelm that of other countries with the advent of Google Print? Well, Google is now opening sites in 8 European countries to run projects like their Google Print. Gonna announce it at the Frankfurt fair this year.

It will be along the lines of the American business project rather than a French academic site but what the hey. We blend when we enter new markets.

Don't they sell rice instead of french fries at the MacDonald's in Japan? I know I remember that T.R. Reid once said that the Japanese celebrate Christmas by going to Kentucky Fried Chicken -- sit down tables with linen and everything. Apparently you have to make reservations well in advance.

Susan, what do they serve at Mikey D's in Indonesia?

More info more good? not everyone agrees

I have to say I wondered about this myself. Some governments are complaining that Google maps show too much detail and could be of use to terrorists. OK, I wasn't thinking terrorist but just the general issue of security.
Google defends themselves on two points:

  • the maps aren't all that current
  • they are all from publically available information
India's President Kalam has voiced major concerns. Before he became president he was scientist who guided India's missile program.

BlogSpot sites could get filtered out of blogsearches

Not that I care. I do this for myself and my friends but Tara Calishain at ResearchBuzz gripes that the volume of Spam that comes from BlogSpot sites is ruining her searches.

"At the moment you can get around it by appending -site:blogspot.com -site:info to your searches on those search engines that will allow it. Which unfortunately isn't all of them, but cleans up Feedster and Google Blog Search at least."

For those of you tracking tech lexicon she tells us that blogs that are essentially spam as splogs. And, although she refers to BlogSpot as SplogSpot, there is actually a site http://splogspot.com that you can use to filter splog.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Google-Print's-not-so-bad article

ARL Bimonthly Report 242
October 2005
The Google Print Library Project: A Copyright Analysis
by Jonathan Band

This guy is a lawyer who "does not represent any entity with respect to the Google Print project. He may be contacted via his Web site http://www.policybandwidth.com/."

He argues that what Google is doing is absolutely legitimate and that Pat S & her group are over reacting. He cites a number of different legal cases and I have to admit I lost interest before he got too far into that stuff but what I read of the article was persuasive.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Some one on a listserv pointed out this link...I think I've used this before, but it was interesting to play with this site again. You can compare academic libraries by region, expenditures per FTE, collection size, and so on:


A very useful tool. Especially if you want to compare your library to peer institutions...


Anyone going to get one of those new video IPODs? I have to say, I haven't been too tempted to get an IPOD before but this just might do it for me. I would love to catch up on my favorite TV show, which since Jonathan we've more or less banned TV while he's awake.

If NBC signs a deal to license the Apprentice (the Trump version), I'm so there.
How much will I pay to download each episode? They might as well make seasons available for download at a slightly discounted price. I think they said it's $2.99 per episode without the commercials. Will be interesting to see how advertisers react.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hopkins prof in US News

Richard Shingles of the Bio dept leads an article in US News about using technology in the classroom. Apparently his students use some sort of wireless device to 'vote' on the answers to questions he poses. More from the active learning front.

WorldCat to become a Wiki?

OCLC is starting a pilot project to let users add content to OpenWorldCat. But have plans to bring this up in regular WorldCat.

" OCLC will first offer this service through Open WorldCat and later expand it into the WorldCat database in FirstSearch."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Many Hats

So in addition to supervising catalogers and dealing with cataloging policy and serials issues, I've been drafted to help with developing the catalog- and index-related questions for our web-usability survey. We have a survey that pops up occasionally when people use our website, but the catalog-related questions are general enough that the answers provide very little in the way of useful data for us. (Well, except for the almost universal comment of 'We want full text online!')

This is a completely new thing for me, and since I know some of you Scrapple folks have done more of this than I have, can you point me to some good resources on developing library-related web-usability surveys? Right now, it looks like most of our data is being gathered in the form of free-text entry fields, and I'm thinking we'll want to phrase more questions as yes/no or multiple choice in order to give us data that's easier to analyze. Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

More on municiple wireless networks

Earthlink is going to build a wireless network in Philadelphia
Philadelphia plans to offer free Internet access in public spaces such as parks, covering about 10 percent of the city, but outside of these areas, monthly subscriptions will cost from $10 to $20.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The name for @ in many languages

It's not new (1997) but I just stumbled across a site that lists some of the many different names for the @ in other languages.

My favorite? Pickled herringg. In Slovak and Czech one calls the @ sign a pickeled herring. Thus my e-mail would be:

woodson pickeled herring jhu dot edu

Mapping VS searching

CD|Net has added a Vivisimo-like mapping tool to it's web site. When you pull up one of their articles you also get The Big Picture, in the right-hand frame of the screen. The big piture is a mapping tool that draws a kind of star-like image with the current article listed at the center of the page & other related citations attached like rays to the center.

I'm still not sure what I think about these tools. They don't do anything for me but maybe it's just my unfamiliarity with them.

Fluwiki: Wisdom of the Crowd VS Science?

Check out David Mattison's blog for a discussion of the Fluwiki. Call me crazy but I don't think public health is one of those areas where everyone has an equally good chance of getting it right.

Someone writes in something wrong, I look at the site, it's corrected a few minutes later...I still got wrong info and more importantly, I don't know I have wrong info.

Yahoo tests the digitizing waters...

Yahoo Works With 2 Academic Libraries and Other Archives on Project to Digitize Collections


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Communication aid for paralysed

Japanese scientists have developed a headband that can help people who can't move any muscles express their wishes by reading the flow of blood in their heads. To answer yes you focus your thoughts -- try to solve a math problem or remember the words to a song. That pulls the blood to the front of your brain. Relaxing and thinking of nothing leaves the blood as is. The headband has a little gadget that uses near-infrared rays to measure the flow of blood. In about 30 seconds you have your answer. It only works about 80% of the time but patients' families are glad for that.

I'm just wondering how you know whether a particular answer is one of the 80% or one of the 20%.

Subway maps on your ipod

William Bright has a web site where you can download miniaturized versions of subway maps that you can view on your iPod. New York and San Fransisco have sent him 'cease & desist' letters but you can still download maps from:

Berlin, Germany
Bilbao, Spain
Boston, MA
Hong Kong
London, UK
Los Angeles, CA
Lyon, France
Melbourne, Australia
Milan, Italy
Montreal, QC
New York, NY
Paris, France
Philadelphia, PA
Salt Lake City
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Seoul, Korea
Tokyo, Japan
Toronto, ON
Vancouver, BC
Washington DC

They don't let you smell mimeograph ink anymore, either

Now, truth be told, I never bought an honest-to-god new car but I know a lot of people say the smell of a new car is wonderful. Well, before too long we won't be able to smell that smell anymore. Toyota is taking the lead in getting rid of the smell which, it turns out, is a toxic cocktail of
volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that leach from glues, paints, vinyls and plastics in the passenger compartment. The fumes can trigger headaches, sore throats, nausea and drowsiness.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Wiki founder Jimmy Wales

This past Sunday, Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, was the featured guest on Q&A on C-SPAN [ http://www.q-and-a.org/] :"Jimmy Wales discusses Wikipedia, a free online multi-language encyclopedia that anyone can edit." [http://www.q-and-a.org/Program/?ProgramID=1042 ]

The Real Player streaming audio/video of the interview as well as a full transcript is available free-of-charge[ http://www.q-and-a.org/ ].

A podcast of this interview (as well as two others) is also available[ http://www.c-span.org/podcast/qa_feed.xml ][ http://www.c-span.org/podcast/ ]

Wales will be a keynote speaker at WikiSym 2005 WikiSym 2005:the 2005 International Symposium on Wikis, Oct 16-18, 2005, San Diego, California, U.S.A.[ http://www.wikisym.org/ws2005 ]

Friday, September 23, 2005

Maybe I'm missing something...

Yahoo has been promoting it's Instant Search so I finally took a look at it and was underwhelmed.

It's basically a single box where you can do 'shortcut' searches. Start typing and it finds what it thinks you want. Try typing your area code. I think you have to know a lot more about 'shortcut' searching than I do.

bye, bye Jeeves

Ask Jeeves is planning to get rid of Jeeves -- now they will be just Ask. We are all looking for the quick, the clean, the short and the simple.

Also, seems many people were confused by the name--apparently unaware of the Wodehouse series of books entitled Jeeves. Too bad, the world would likely be a better place if more people had read some Jeeves.

Monday, September 19, 2005

CSA Provides Support for Katrina evacuees

In response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, CSA is implementing a number of initiatives to aid customers affected by the disaster.

To support users displaced by Hurricane Katrina, CSA will provide continuing database subscriptions for students, faculty, librarians, and researchers not able to access via traditional methods. Database users should go to http://info.csa.com/katrina/reg.shtml to register.

CSA is also working with its publishing partners to extend this program. Subscribers affected by Hurricane Katrina will access databases through the CSA Illumina platform from the following publishing partners:

  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Rapra Technology, Limited
  • American Economic Association
  • Plexus Publishing, Inc.
  • Modern Language Association
CSA requests that everyone forward this message to anyone you know displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Other hurricane relief initiatives by CSA include:

  • Extending affected customer subscriptions for up to 6 months to cover the period of time where their services would be affected.
  • Encouraging our publishing partners to incorporate these relief efforts and/or help them implement their efforts
  • Working with the American Library Association (ALA) to create a fund used to help rebuild the affected library infrastructure
  • Reviewing internal equipment for items that can be donated to the affected area

Additional information about CSA's Hurricane Katrina relief activities can be found at http://info.csa.com/katrina/.

New webcast series might be interesting

Univ of Miss' LIS school is bringing up a couple of webcast series. They are supposed to be presentations by 'movers and shakers' in libraryland. I'm going to try to get in tomorrow early enough to listen/watch but they seem to archive the programs. If it looks good I'll report back -- no news is bad news. Here's the invite if you want to look for yourself.

Please join us next Tuesday (September 20, 2005) from 8:00-8:30 PM Central Time for a first live webcast about topics in human information behavior research.

Host: Sanda Erdelez, University of Missouri

Guest: Karen Fisher, U. of Washington, Chair SIG USE

Karen will talk about the Theories of Information Behavior, a book in ASIS&T monograph series that was published this summer by Information Today.

The webcast is an experimental programming initiative of SIG USE in cooperation with the University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Information Science and Learning Technologies. This will be a live, interactive webcast with studio audience and live call ins (toll free in the U.S.). For more information visit: http://lisradio.missouri.edu/ (For Listeners) or email me directly (sanda@missouri.edu).
From: Siguse-l, an ASIST listserv from ASIST on Information Needs, Seeking and Use (USE)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Parallel Text Searching on a Beowulf Cluster using SRW

I haven't had a chance to read this article. It's in the September issue of D-Lib. They are trying to find a fast, cheap way to search really big databases (50 million records). It's by 3 researchers from OCLC (Ralph R. LeVan, Thomas B. Hickey, and Jenny Toves). In their abstract they say:

The article should be of interest to anyone seeking an inexpensive, open source, text-searching framework that scales to extremely large databases. The technology described uses the SRW (Search/Retrieve Web) service in a manner nearly identical to federated searching in the metasearch community and should be of interest to anyone doing federated searching.

Geaux Opportunities

For more librarians can do, onsite and offsite...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Google's wi-fi plans?

Here's a pod cast from American Public Media that suggests Google is working on providing free wi-fi access around the country. It would enable them to broadcast ads. Wasn't there a movie where people walked down the street and ads were broadcast directly at them as they passed stores?

I still like the idea that Brewster K told us about last spring -- multi-hop networks where people put antennae on their roofs and create network access from many using a single IPS connection.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Search

For those Googlephiles among us, a new book out about Google is out:

According to an article in CNN (link above), the author:

"manages to keep things compelling, adding his own trenchant analysis about what Google's rapid evolution and powerful technology might mean for the company and our society as a whole. He views Google and other major search engines as invaluable windows into the world's interests and desires, a "database of intentions" destined to become the hub of 21st-century capitalism.

It doesn't drop any bombshells. But "The Search" excavates some intriguing new details about Google, culled from interviews with more than 350 people including Google's controlling triumvirate -- Chief Executive Eric Schmidt and co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Something we can do

Like many of my friends, coworkers, and acquaintances right now, I want to do something more than just write a check to help those who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. I'm not really in a position, nor do I have appropriate skills, to take off for New Orleans and help with rescue or recovery operations, but here's something all of us can do:

The Geaux Library Project is working to provide reference and other library services to Katrina survivors. See this excellent description over at Catalogablog.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Chronicle wants to know...

...how people are communicating in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina:


Heresy! Google is not the best search engine?

Mary Ellen Bates advises us in eContent this month that using Google as your default search engine is "So Last Week."

She touts several other search engines that have other features...Clustering, answering instead of searching and suggesting sites that are likely good guides to the topic you are searching.

Teoma -- They find and present "locate communities on the Web within their specific subject areas," Try a search for Wharton Texas or try new york restaurants.

Yahoo Mindset once you have your search results it gives you a slider bar to sort your hits as more about shopping or research.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

RFID -- The magic that could be

eContent has an article about some folks are workin on using RFID technology to
"measure the readership of not only individual issues of printed publications, but also the individual pages of those publications."
They claim that in 10 years these will be as ubiquitous as barcodes are now.

Seems pretty wild to get it to the page level. And they'll have to get the price down lots lower. I mean lots lower.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Another XML gateway

JSTOR folks were here yesterday and told us they expect an xml gateway that will work with MetaLib to be available by the end of September. They are also developing APIs to work with institutional repositories. They specifically mentioned Fedora, I don't know about any other IR systems in their plans.

You knew it would happen eventually...

A librarian in CT is resisting FBI demands for records about patron reading habits.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


It occurs to me that Scrapple folks might be interested in the job ad I've blogged about over in my own blog. Librarian on a cruise ship... what a life!

Monday, August 22, 2005

MetaLib now works with Web of Science

We should now be able to configure MetaLib to search ISI's Web of Science. Best of all they are using and XML gateway.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Interesting post about spam blogs at http://www.blogmaverick.com/entry/1234000870054492/

I found this page when looking at this entry:

It said:

"Recently, Mark Cuban of Icerocket made the accusation that Blogger is by far the worst offender when it comes to Spam Blogs. Now Google Blogger is introducing Word Verification for user comments to prevent comment spam and another feature called Flag As Objectionable where users can report blogs with questionable content. Google appears to be listening."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

SPAM on Scrapple--not a pretty sight

Seems we are starting to get SPAMMED. It's only the 2nd or 3rd time but I've decided g to change permissions so that only members of Scrapple can comment.


Using SFX to create an RSS feed

Caveat: I'm about to be late for work so I have only skimmed this but this guy has an idea for using SFX data as a feed for and RSS. Sounds intriguing. Elliot, think this could be developed into a service for the portal? I will have to read more when I get to work.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Dewey Browser from OCLC

This is probably as old as the hills but I just saw it and loved it. The Dewey Browser. It looks as if they are using NetLibrary (owned by OCLC)as a database of titles cataloged in Dewey. They use colors to indicate broadly how many items are in each of the top 10 Dewey classes (0-9). You can drill down 3 levels (to 999) and they don't show any decimals.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

We've got plenty of nuclear physicists who speak 16 or more languages and take shorthand, though

In a sidebar on the kinds of skills that are likely to be needed in the near term future of cancer research, New Scientist (9 April 2005, p. 51) quotes Edward Benz, president of the Dana-Farber Cancer institute in Boston thusly:

"People with very solid training in the physical sciences, in informatics and computer science, who also have a sophisticated understanding of biology of medicine are going to be in very short supply."

A Review of Google Scholar

Thanks to Andi Bartelsein for pointing out this article in Information Today. It's by Mick O'Leary and his bottom line is:

  • OK if you are doing 'casual' research (e.g., your freshman writing paper)"It's a powerful and convenient tool, if you need a representative sample of research."
  • If you are doing serious research it should be your last resort.

Nothing new to most Scrapple readers but it's a concise statement of the obvious, it provides a close look at GS search/sort capabilities and he makes some educated guesses about what, exactly, is in GS.

Figure this has any relation to the Apple shift to Intel?

Intel is reported to be bringing out a new chip design that will "emphasizes power efficiency and multitasking as much as raw speed." Intel also says they will be smaller and cooler.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I'll wait 'til they make one the size of a pencil eraser

David Pogue gives a glowing review to Ultra II SD Plus. With a name like that how could it be anything but fabulous?

It's a tiny memory card -- "smaller than a postage stamp" -- that plugs right into your computer's USB port. So you can download pictures to your computer without a USB cable and witout draining the power of your laptop.

Google halts; AAP yawns

NY Times reports today that Google is halting scanning of copyrighted works. They are giving publishers 'til Nov to tell Google which works they want protected from the Google scanning project.

AAP posts their response, 'Yeah, right-- now we have to explicitly list every book we want protected? Like that's going to make us any happier.'

I'm I the only one who thinks it's just a tiny bit funny that the guy in charge of GoogleScan is Adam Smith? I keep thinking that there ought to be a book entitled "An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of Google"

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

More on ads in RSS feeds

I have to admit that I couldn't make it all the way through this article but it seems that people who think about these things have a lot to say about the ins and outs of advertising on RSS feeds.

This could get me to go back to public transportation

When I lived in Boston I often took the T when going into the city. It was easy and conveniently located.

I haven't used the bus in Baltimore because, the couple of times I tried, it was difficult to figure out where the lines went and how often the buses came by. When I thought I knew the bus didn't come on time.

Now there is Next Bus that combines satellite technology and advanced computer modeling to track vehicles on their routes and predict when the bus will arrive at your stop. The shelters are equipped with signs that tell you when the next bus will arrive. Sort of like those great signs in the DC subway.

Google VS MSN-- comparing their maps

Google Maps and MSN's Earth Link are compared side by side on this page.

Google maps are clearer but MSN maps include more streets.

The MSN maps remind me of some old black and white films that have been colorized.

Konfabulator is sold

So I guess Yahoo now owns Konfabulator.

OK, I have to take back everything I said about Konfabulator (literally, I erased it.) I was just being a dunderhead. All is fine now.

I love having the phase of the moon show up on the screen. And I've got the analog clock because I really prefer that. The only other thing I have is the memory monitor.

The other flaws were very complimentary

I know, most people already heard about MicroSoft's announcement of the security flaws in Windows. But when I saw the Reuter's article on it the title for a blogpost on it flashed in my head and I couldn't resist. What is the deal with using quotes around critical? Did the lawyers demand it so MS wouldn't sue them for libel?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Hello all,

A technical query.

We were getting a lot of spam to an unpublished e-mail address. The only instance we could find of it online is in a form. When you look at the source code, you can clearly see the group e-mail (such as group@blah.edu). Some one told me that there was no way this type of form could generate spam because the e-mail info is all server side (Cold Fusion). But if I can see it in the source code, can't the spiders too?

We've since changed the e-mail and the form, but it did get me wondering about it. Can you set up a form to that it displays the Library as the recipient, but hides the address so its not visible in the source code?



Recently there was a survey that proves users prefer PDF to HTML. Today I came across a page where you can convert RSS to PDF. Not sure the practical application of this...unless you just want to take a PDF print-out of a blog somewhere??

I converted Scrapple to PDF. Kindof nifty. You can select to include images or exclude them (although I never got them to show with blogs that had images). The PDF displayed postings from the top page, not older posts.

Next time you want to take a blog feed to a departmental meeting...here you go!

Update: I must amend my post. I couldn't get images to appear on RSS to PDF because I just entered the URL directly. It worked when I put in this feed: http://rss2pdf.com/?img=1&url=http://susans411.info/wp-rss2.php

Thanks to Tom, the creator of this service, to e-mailing me this nifty tip. :)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Maybe it's just the way it looks...

But I kind of like this search engine

I think I like the fact that it's more interactive. I'm not sure it's any better or worse than other search engines. Maybe just more interesting to use.

What do you think?

Shooting blind--WorldCat in many guises

Info Today says that Amazon has harvested (is harvesting?) OCLC's bib data and incorporating it in their online collection. My first reaction was '@#$@What in the world are we paying OCLC for? but then I did a bit of searching and was amazed at the variety of responses I got.

I tested it by searching for William Welmers (a linguist who worked in popular languages like Kpelle and Fanti). In Google's Open WorldCat I got 9 hits. I thought that was reasonable. (I have OCLC via Google as a search engine in my firefox search box.)

Next I did the search in a9.com (their book search looks in Amazon) and got "about 170"--like the computer really can't tell exactly how many?

Then I went straight to the horse's mouth and tried the same two-word search in Amazon and got 158.

1. For Precision choose Google. All the responses were good, solid ciations and they gave information about libraries where you could find it. But they only gave a few items.

2. Comprehensive award goes to A9.com and Amazon because they came up with lots, lots more. Where possible they 'Search within the book.' So you get more recent works that cite Welmers. But of course, there were many, many were false hits like Bobby Knight's biography and a book about Danielle Steele.

3. Ranking matters though. a9.com and Amazon apparently use different ranking algorhythms and I liked the a9.com one better. More of the titles I wanted up front.

4. Finally there is robustness of the engine. When I added the word Africa to the search in a9.com I got 119. Still some false hits but it got rid of some of the junk. I tried adding Africa to the Amazon search and it just pooped out and said, nope, nothing like that here. I cut and pasted the search into the a9.com box at the top of the Amazon page and got 'about 122.'

BOTTOM LINE-- we got no idea what's going on when we search these guys. OK if you're just looking for a nice read but useless if you're a grad student trying to build a bibliography for a comprehensive exam.

Oh yeah, and the last paragraph of the article is very interesting:

"OCLC member libraries and individual members of the Users Council were contacted for this story. Some were aware of experiments and projects with Amazon; others were not. Attempts to acquire details from OCLC were limited due to a non-disclosure agreement. Attempts to contact Amazon to discuss OCLC records and their inclusion and use were equally unsuccessful."

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Laser Speckle: Why Paper beats RFID

...at least for the moment. People are concerned about RFID being used in passports:

Friday, August 05, 2005

Wikipedia entering the slippery slope of some editorial control

Seems the Wikipedia folks are seeking a "balance between protecting information from abuse and providing open access to improve entries." They are going to find "stable content" and freeze the page from editing.

Butch, maybe there should be some rules in a knife fight.

News from Nathan

Got a msg from Nathan today. He says things are going "Super-greato" at his new job and sends this hint:

I just ran across an alternative to whatismyip.com:


The UMI version seems, like, way faster--in part, I think, because it is just a quick rendering. whatismyip has seven different javascript scripts it tries to run on each visit.


- Nathan

Firefox extensions for openworldcat


I can't get the find in a library search to work well at all. But I've added these extensions and it's faster than logging in to WorldCat. It just becomes another item drop down in your search engine list.

These have been out a while but I wanted to post them here so I could find the page to download them later on.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Pluck.com RSS Software

I downloaded this Pluck.com RSS software onto my laptop and I'm wondering how I ever got along for so long without something like this! On the up side, I don't have to do as many canned searches that I tend to do. I do wonder about their search algorithms though, although the search results that have come up on my "Perches" have all looked pretty interesting. I have one for academic libraries, Elsevier, open access, cancer research, and of course Google.

One nice thing about it is that you can opt to have your IE bookmarks integrated into it. When you start the software, it looks pretty much like your IE browser, but with a pluck menu to the left (where your history usually is). I've added this site as a feed, so this is a test to see if I managed to do it right.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

'Virtual Earth' wipes Apple off the map

Apple campus is missing from Microsoft's new web service for sattelite photos. I just had to laugh when I read this story:


Hackers demonstrate skills & question RFID security


E-Mail good news and bad

SPAM down | Viruses up
BBC reports "a decrease in the ratio of spam to legitimate e-mail from 83% in January to 67% in June."

Unfortunately, they also tell us that, "the January average of one in every 52 e-mails infected with some sort of malicious security threat has risen to one in every 28 by June."

Top three targets of attacks:
  1. United States
  2. New Zealand
  3. China

I know, New Zealand. Go figure.

Security phatigue

Probably not really news but CNet News has a piece on the the scope of security problems with DNS cache poisoning--hacking DNS installations to corrupt their translators in order to send users to a malious look-alike site to steal information.

Just a question

Even though very few people use RSS feeds now, I'm wondering how long it will be before the news providers who offer them figure out how to insert ads more directly into the feed process. Of course you still see some ads when you go to the story but I bet someone figures out a way to get ads into the RSS process. Ads are, after all the way we pay for our news no matter how we get it.

And when they do start doing that surely someone will figure out how to get around it.

Would you trade your laptop for a blackberry?

CNet News.com reports that an "unidentified" company is getting rid of all its laptops and giving the people who use them smart handhelds. In addition they say that "A dozen other companies are in the midst of a similar conversion, or contemplating it."

  1. This could be a good thing for those virtual keyboard folks
  2. Maybe we need to go back to thinking about a mobile interface for the catalog. While II'm in the stacks I can look up a call number with my Blackberry, or verify that we should have a particular issue of a journal that's missing.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Goog and others invest in BPL


Earlier this month Google (Nasdaq: GOOG - news), Goldman Sachs and Hearst invested in Broadband over Power Line (BPL) provider Current Communications. IBM (NYSE: IBM - news) and CenterPoint announced a big partnership to promote the technology.

Monday, August 01, 2005

It's not just for aggregating new anymore

Tim Yang has a fun page of (almost) 50 ways to use your RSS. He even suggests using it to Ditch Your Girlfriend.

Get your girlfriend to download an RSS reader, get her to subscribe to your very special feed only for her. Post some items you would normally write to her via email. Do this for a couple of weeks, then drop the bad news. Expect the subscription circluation to drop off at this point.


It's a wiki so you can add your own ideas.

What's in Google Scholar?

Well, this is info I've wondered about. I knew that GoogleScholar didn't cover all online journals but hadn't heard how they picked what they included. Maybe it was already out there but I hadn't heard this. Information Today says they initially focused (my emmphasis)

... on research articles from publishers participating in the CrossRef project and several collections of online preprints and other major scholarly sites, ... (although its original coverage was stronger in science and technology than in the social sciences)....

It also includes

...links to individual documents, ... [and] citation references extracted from other documents using special algorithms developed at Google.

Using WordPress

I managed to get my new blog up and running on WordPress. I have to say, I really like it. There's not much there yet, and it's pretty generic still, but more content will be coming later. I like blogger, but I think the templates in WordPress will be easier to edit.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

RFID in your pants

No really, it's a true story. Texas A&M University's Corps Cadets is outfitting cadets' pants, shirts, skirts, and jackets with tags that use RFID, to keep track of the garments' whereabouts.

Officials say the technology will make it much easier for them to take inventory of the articles, which students rent every year. But some privacy advocates argue that the RFID tags could broadcast personal information to snoops or government officials.

Wonder what the penalty will be for removing, disabling, or tampering with a tag?

A little bit of knowledge...

Well, I give up. I've messed around with the template some more and can't seem to bring it back to life. I have managed to get the bug to turn up on all the archived entries, too. Sigh.

I've looked at moving to another template but didn't like the ones that are up there now enough to change over (this one has disappeared or I would have reloaded it.) It's readable--irritating but readable.

Latent OpenURLs are now COinS

Sorry to have been remiss in my updates of late. I've been up to my eyeballs with work for the planned/hoped-for launch of metalib before schools starts. Yeah, don't laugh.

Anyway, the guys who brought you Latent OpenURLs have announced a name change; it's now COinS. It's a better name--an acronym that helps explain what it is/does. (BTW: It's both singular and plural. They don't want you to say COinSes--and really, who can blame them.) Here's a one sentence description.

"COinS (ContextObjects in Spans) is a simple, ad hoc community specification for publishing OpenURL references in HTML."

Why do we care? By establishing a standard for embedding OpenURLs in standard HTML, COinS enables the delivery of web services--specifically the user-appropriate resolution of OpenURLs. That means that anyone (not just big vendors) can take advantage of the OpenURL resolver systems in any page they write.

Here's how it works. I publish a citation in my blog using COinS format. You have a browser with a COinS extension that you've configured to point to your own OpenURL resolver (e.g., SFX.) Then, when you look at my blog you see the citation with a link that produces your OpenURL resolver menu.

Two places to look for more info:
There's buzz that Yahoo has been asking around about it. Cool, no?

Friday, July 29, 2005


Today I met Stephen Abram, the VP for Innovation at SIRSI. He has a blog.
He also gave an interesting talk full of his thoughts on future technology. Even mentioned
GoogleZon. His presentations are online at http://www.sirsi.com/Resources/abram_articles.html

If you haven't heard about it, Sirsi is now focusing on a portal. From their webiste: "Create a one-stop interface to your library or consortim catalog, databases, digital archives, RSS feeds, ILL, calendars, and other library resources and services..." Basically, you can by an add-on package that will give you a portal as your library website. From the portal page, you have a search screen that allows you to search the catalog and any Z39.50 database you identify for it to search. In the demo they bought up books and journal articles.

I have another interesting scrapple tidbit, but will have to e-mail it to you Sue.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

OpenURL & Metasearch NISO Workshop in DC

Maybe you already know about this, but if not, thought it might be of interest to some:

OpenURL and Metasearch:

New Standards, Current Innovations, and Future Directions A NISO
educational workshop to be held:

September 19-21, 2005, Washington DC

Don't miss this opportunity to get the latest information on OpenURL and
Metasearch, two standards supporting technologies that continue to
transform the information landscape. The three-day program includes a
training day for technical staff from all types of content providers
(publishers, vendors, and libraries). Training will cover the basics of
implementation, available tools, and requirements for standards
conformance. In this highly networked world, the key to success is
"learning to play well with others" -- the training day will tell you

In addition: The program includes opportunities for dialog with experts
and informal networking during breaks, meals, and a special conference
reception. Sponsoring vendors will highlight the features of their
products in Vendor Showcases and in Exhibits. The workshops will be held
at the spacious state-of-the-art conference facility at the Academy for
Educational Development near DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C.
Visit the NISO website for details on the agenda, speakers, exhibitor
and sponsorship opportunities, and to register: www.niso.org Or, contact
NISO Headquarters for further information: T: 301-654-2512.

The cost of downloading

The Cost of Downloading: How much does a college have to pay to give its students an academic year's worth of legal music downloads? Not quite as much as you might think.

As part of a deal announced earlier this month, the University of Washington at Seattle will fork over $24,000 to Napster, the online music service, to provide students living on campus with eight-month subscriptions.

The money will come from royalties generated by the university's own technology licenses. The price tag isn't cheap, but it's not terrible for a university with almost 6,000 residential students: According to most estimates, colleges can expect to pay $2 or $3 a month for each student who signs up.

Washington's $24,000 check will only cover subscriptions for 1,500 students, but the university is getting a helping hand from Dell, the PC manufacturer. Dell will chip in $24,000 for an additional 1,500 licenses -- which, campus officials figure, ought to be enough, since many student s will be disinclined (or, if they use Macs, unable) to use Napster. Of course, Dell's getting plenty of free advertising out of the deal: Washington officials have pledged to let Dell representatives sell products on campus, and to promote the Digital Jukebox, Dell's portable MP3 player. (The Daily) from Wired News


I've heard that some libraries have been adopting IM as their virtual reference tool instead of paying for a pricey package. Seems like there might be something to it:


Microsoft sues Google

Over luring away a star researcher and potentially syphoning off intellectual property:


Texas Universities Create a Digital Library for Scholars and the Public

"Four Texas public-university systems and Rice University will collaborate on a digital repository whose goal is to offer online resources, such as teaching aids, dissertations, and practical information, although not books.

The repository, to be called the Texas Digital Library, will not resemble the California Digital Library -- not initially, at least. That repository, which provides books, journals, and databases to California libraries, provided an inspiration for the Texas effort, said Fred M. Heath, vice provost of the University of Texas Libraries, but 'this would be closer to the DSpace collaborative at MIT.' "


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Don't click it

I've been fascinated by this web interface study. I'm not at all sure if it has practical implications, but it's fun to play around with, and those of you who deal with interface design might be interested.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Add BBC to your portal?

New Scientist article says that BBC is allowing "programmers to borrow and "remix" its web content for free."


And there's a contest "To encourage interest in the project, the BBC announced a competition to coincide with its launch. Running until 5 September 2005, the most promising API-utilising ideas will win the official backing of the corporation, which will help with further development."

(Remember, these are the people who have TV game shows and give away prizes like toasters.)

See also Backstage BBC http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/ and
Open Source BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/opensource/

Monday, July 25, 2005

Orphan Works

ORPHAN WORKS -- copyrighted literature and art whose owners
cannot be identified -- have led to an array of problems in
publishing, digitizing projects, preservation efforts, and
the filming of documentaries. Tomorrow and Wednesday, the
U.S. Copyright Office is holding a series of hearings to
determine whether copyright law should change to allow for
more liberal use of orphan works. Scholars and artists are at
odds over proposed changes.
--> SEE http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i47/47a03301.htm

Monday, July 18, 2005

Google & Privacy


This story is appearing everywhere today...

I can see clearly now, the rain has gone

Go look at :
    Parker, Kimberly.
    Dollar, Daniel.
  • E-Terminology: Why Do I Need to Know What You Mean?
It's in Portal and is of use to both public and technical services folks.

This is great article proposing some definitions that can help us clarify and unifiy the language we use when we talk about electronic journals, databases, etc. The authors begin with a couple of all too familiar conversations about whether we do or don't subscribe to a journal.

In some ways it's just common sense. But they've actually nailed down those illusive beasts like Ingenta and Highwire. They coined the category: 'E-Printers.'

This is why we love Kim Parker--she can articluate common sense in an uncommon way.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Get to know your neighbors

Try out the little geoURL button just above the archives list. See a list of blogs near Hopkins.

Well, maybe any URL near us.

OK, these are blogs that claim to be nearby. You tell them what your address is. You can tell them anything you want. Click on the button and try this link from the page

Baltimore (3.6 km SE) Near Latrobe Homes

Wiki's in the Chronicle

Chronicle of Higher Ed has a blog and they have a posting about the development of the wikipedia entry for the recent bombings in London.