Wednesday, June 29, 2005

IPOD Pedagogy

The newest version of iTunes, Apple's popular music player, comes with a service that downloads podcasts. Podcasting lets owners of iPods or other digital-audio players subscribe to feeds of audio content. The Education Podcast Network collects podcasts on pedagogy and specific subjects, while Podcast Alley has compiled its own list of education-themed programs. The iTunes service even has a category for higher-education podcasts. - From Wired Campus (Chronicle)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A great quote

"...when material is digitized it has the potential to become simultaneously both more accessible and more invisible.... Digitized, its bits can be transmitted effectively anywhere; digitized, it slips into the sea of zeros and ones, indistinguishable."

When I wrote this draft I knew where I got the quote but now, coming back after several days, I can't for the life of me remember. But I liked the idea so I'm posting it anyway.

Who needs books these days?

From the Chronicle Packing Up the Books: The University of Texas at Austin is clearing its undergraduate library of nearly all books to make way for computers and a coffee shop, and other colleges are making similar moves. (The Chronicle, free link) Join a live, online discussion with Frances J. Maloy, president of the Association of College and Research Libraries, about the pros and cons of moving books and journals out of libraries to make more room for computers and technology services, on Thursday, June 30, at 1 p.m., U.S. Eastern time. Questions can be submitted in advance, and a transcript will be posted after the discussion

Probably it's a javascript flaw... :)

I had this happen to my blog once. I saved my content and changed the template. I lost the URL links I had added, and had to add those back in.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Anyone out there have an idea about....

...what made my blog suddenly start putting the text of a post way donw the page, after the list of archives. It's ugly and a pain to have to scroll. I swear I don't remember changing anything.

Google is to Scholar: AS Yahoo is to ?

Yahoo--or as they say Yahoo!--has stepped up its competition with Google by offering what they are calling Yahoo search -- subscription. It's in--you guessed it--beta.

They offer federated searching across several subscription databases. Looks like they are focusing on business resources (as opposed to academic.) Right now they have:, IEEE, Forrester Research, the Wall Street Journal Online, the New England Journal of Medicine,, and the Financial Times. Within a few weeks they plan to add other vendors like Factiva, LexisNexis, Thomson Gale Group, and ACM (Association for Computing Machinery).

You still only get citations that link to the publisher's website but it's more sophisticated than GoogleScholar. They:
  • let you choose what databases you want to search (this is possible with just a few dabase)
  • indicate that they don't necessarily carry complete contents of some titles (e.g., WSJ includes only the last 30 days)
  • have waaay more options for advanced searching (although you don't see the option until you get to the first set of hits)
  • let you set preferences if you login as a Yahoo account holder.
I'll be interested to see how Lexis/Nexis handles links to citations. They are pretty primitive in how they work with OpenURLs. Right now a link from an SFX menu to full text in L/N takes you to the basic search for the whole dbase. arghhh!

Yahoo FAQ explains the service.
Story about it at InfoToday's Newsbreak .

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I'm shocked, Rick, shocked!

The Register ("biting the hand that feeds IT") tells us that the British parliament's website is a little lean on leadership.
"Rather shockingly, the report also reveals that no one has overall responsibility for the website. Yes, you read that right: there is no parliamentary webmaster."
The Hansard Society is an independent, non-partisan educational charity,which exists to promote effective parliamentary democracy.

10% of websites only work with IE

SciVisum recently reported that 10% of websites fail to work with Firefox and other standards-compliant browsers. Deri Jones, CEO of SciVisum says, ""Companies who value their brand need to address browser issues immediately." Yeah, I can hear them thundering to their webdesigners now.

Interestingly, they also report that use of Fireox in Germany "is already up to 24.2 per cent. This rapid growth, which shows no sign of slowing down, has been attributed to Firefox's ease of use and its security features." I had no idea it was that heavily used in Germany.

Look for naval maps on E-Bay soon

The headline reads "NAVY DITCHES PAPER OVERBOARD" but I don't think they acatually threw the stuff in the ocean. They are however moving to all digital maps: on CDs.

I'm trying to imagine a CD jukebox of maps loaded in a submarine. hmmm.

From Mike -- open source Research Guide generator


I found out about this resource just this morning. It looks like something that might be of use for managing the subject guide/resources pages. Take a look if you have time. Not that we don't have enough to keep us busy right now. :)


Judy Smith

Judy works for Eliz Kirk's EPL so you might not know her but she just had a baby and the blog is at . Daniel was born on June 3, and, in her last posting, Judy reports "8 pounds, 7.5 ounces now. This picture is from the checkup. All is well. He is now reading on an 8th grade level."

Google Scholar & Link Resolving

Yesterday we heard from Xuemao and Deborah that we should really get on the bandwagon for Google Scholar linking to our SFX service. So here's the link to the GS announcement

I think the options are some configuration in our SFX set up or including it in MetaLib. The MetaLib version might be skirting the edges of legality? I think Mike can comment on this.

Autocomplete journal look-up with link to SFX--cool

U. of Alberta has this great service Begin typing the name of a journal in the box and autocomplete helps you find the actual title. Then the best part comes. Click on the go box and it takes you to a citation page with buttons. One to the catalog, one to CiteIt, their openURL link resolver and one that I assume takes you to the electronic version of the journal if they have it. It took me to a login page.

Oh, yeah, and check out the msg on their sfx menu if you aren't authenticated.

Heart be still.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Visual mapping of search results--online and much cooler than before

Grokker is now available online. You don't have to download the app onto your machine. This version is a more sophisticated than the ones I've seen in the past. If you hover the mouse over one of the squares it pops up mini-windows with some meta-data about the hit. Click on a hit and it pulls up a column on the right where you can see more info about it and link straight out.

Try this search

Kpelle are an ethnic group in Liberia, WEST AFRICA. Try out the "Show tools" at the bottom. I like being able to limit by year. For the "find within the map," the word 'moot.' It will bring up a tiny set.

I think I like this. It's kind of growing on me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dynix & Sirsi merging?

What's this I'm hearing about Dynix and Sirsi merging? What does that do to to your work on the ERM now?

Curious minds want to know...

Friday, June 17, 2005

'Teleporting' over the internet

Google & U of M agreement

Posted by Mark Gooch on collib listserv:

Google Library Digitization Agreement With University Of Michigan NowAvailable"

Just in, news that the agreement between Google and the University Of Michigan for the Google library digitization program has now been posted online. Until now, no details of agreements Google has between libraries have been published."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

PubMed improving the search experience

PubMed now has an autocomplete feature for typing in authors' names and for journal titles (better than nothing but keyword searching would be nice)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Now they're complaining about Google

In his article, "Enough Keyword Searches. Just Answer My Question", James Fallows of the NYT complains that
  1. Keyword searching is only good for a limited kind of searching
  2. Keyword searching doesn't work well for complex questions
  3. The people working on new solutions to automating question answering seem to mostly be people who would now have a tough time getting into the country -- homeland security.

Of course there are advanced features in Google that allow some fielded searching but no way can you browse an index.
Fallows mentions Aquaint (advanced question answering for intelligence), a joint NSA, CIA project, as an example of work seeking to address this problem. I looked on Google but only found dead links. There's a mention on the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval site (at UMass Amherst).

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Sakai conference updates

See the library wiki (yes, we have one but it is currently under the radar for right now) and da’ nonsense.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Honey I shrunk the PC...

"Scientists at the University of Arizona have discovered how to use quantum mechanics to turn molecules into working transistors in the lab, a breakthrough that might one day lead to high-powered computers the size of a postage stamp." More at:,1282,67769,00.html

Thursday, June 09, 2005

We are not alone...

Eerie how Dilbert is often right on the money and on time. Today's comic is worth a good laugh or a good cry.


Fee or Free?

NYT is going semi-free, semi-fee with TimesSelect. Kind of like if you got cable for free and only paid for HBO etc.

Most of content if free. You'll pay for 22 of their columnists. Will be interesting. If you watch the NYT most e-mailed stories they are often from columnists and Op-Eds.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Toolbars and extensions for searching OpenWorldCat.

You can pick them up at:

Fans of toolbars might want to use either the Yahoo or the Google toolbars.

I was particularly taken with the Firefox extensions because I could install them both and then compare the results of Yahoo and Google searches.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Look & see what people were asking him to do...

Chris Barr decided to make himself available. People could log on to his Web site and ask him to do something and -- so long as it wasn't extremely dangerous or "highly illegal" -- he would do it. Plus, it had to be on a Thursday. More than 18,000 people visited his Web site during the two-month project. He had requests from as far away as Scotland and Turkey. (Source: The Chronicle)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

article on Library participation in University Portals

This article is available in the current issue of Ref Services Review

"... the majority of universities responding to our survey have at least one active library channel on their campus portal. .... several of these channels use more sophisticated "pull" and "push" technologies to display personalized information such as books borrowed, fines/fees, and library announcements....."

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Digital Avatars...

Birth of a Digital Salesman: For some time, psychologists have known that people come across as more likable when they mirror the body language of the person they're speaking with. Now a team of researchers has discovered that the same holds true for computer-generated characters. The researchers, from Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, sat 69 students in front of digital avatars delivering a sales pitch. All of the avatars gesticulated like real humans, but half of them mimicked the students' own motions -- and students, the study found, considered the mimics to be more friendly and persuasive than the other avatars. (Wired News)

And when you get tired of the ads...

You can pay for the content without ads (although, as I remeber it, this was the way they sold cable in the beginning).

David Pogue reviews MyFi a kind of 'portable' satellite radio. Actually, the TiVo feature would have been of interest to me in the past. Sometimes I'm doing something mind-numbing at home (e.g., washing dishes) and would like to listen to Ira Glass or Scott Simon. But now I've found enough content on the web that I can just go into archives of programs on the web.

Once again Google figures out how to make $ on new technology

The people who brought you AdSense for blogs has developed an analogous system for RSS feeds.

Yes, but is it quiet?

Self-wiring supercomputer is cool and compact

Actually, it's much more than just cool (i.e., energy saving) and compact (i.e., well, you know, smaller.) These guys have developed Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chips. FPGA chips have logic gates that can be programed into different, specialized, kinds of circuits. So (if I get this right) you can have the programming work done at the circuit level because you can reconfigure the circuits as necessary. What I don't understand is, if this can be done on the fly.

The trick is that, to program the computer, you have to know more than just the language. You'll have to have a more detailed, more complex understanding of the hardware.

These are big deals for supercomputers right now but, think about how this could develop when the technology works its way down to consumer level.