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

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: 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:;_ylt=Ak2KNkWb.Lb9XPR6JEkGe2YjtBAF;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

Microsoft sues Google

Over luring away a star researcher and potentially syphoning off intellectual property:;_ylt=Aquj79zHYsngtjEzDN99qZsjtBAF;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

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 and
Open Source BBC

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

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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Information Commons

I've been researching the concept of information commons as the library at my college is getting renovated and incorporated into a student commons. This seems an ideal time to rethink some of the services we offer students.

I've come up with a number of good sources listed here:!1pr2LGZRlpMVbTXFcTV1Dpzw!144.entry

The most interesting idea I came across is that an information commons is a concept as well as a physical space. Some have extended the information commons concept to media and politics. I find this extension all a bit confusing, but an interesting idea to think about. The former president of ALA has a bibliography on ALA's information commons blog: I like David Bollier's papers the best out of these links.

In the July/August issue of InformationToday, there is an article on page 17 called "A Library by Any Other Name." The author, Shirley Duglin Kennedy, discusses the label of information commons as it is applied to libraries these days.

She also references the Chronicle article about UT Austin. Kennedy really hits the nail on the head towards the end of the article. What are we doing with these information commons? Are they just 24/7 computer labs that are replacing libraries or are they something more? She wonders why would anybody bother going to an information commons if they can connect from their dorm, home, office, or coffee shop. She questions, "how many will continue to be blissfully unaware of the difference between the Internet and research databases (especially now that Google is in the so-called scholarly realm?)."

I have some ideas of things we can do to reinvigorate my library, but it doesn't include packing up all the books. I think the bad thing about the Chronicle articles about UT are that they can lead smaller institutions into thinking they should also try to copy UT, when they don't really have the same resources, facilities, or collaborators.

Bloggers Beware...

This is all pretty common sense stuff, but an interesting article. I'm on a listserv where some search committee members and library directors disclosed that they regularly Google candidates prior to interviewing (and then one did it again prior to hiring - maybe in case something changed?).

This idea of googling candidates seems disturbing to me. How would a person know if they had found the candidates real page? I suppose it might be easy if there was a picture, but...For instance, there is another library director with my exact name. Somebody googled me apparently and asked me when I moved to South Carolina or somewhere like that.

What if this other person with my name had a questionable website? I think it's interesting that we harp on students to evaluate the information they find on the web and yet there we (the royal we) are punching names into Google. Specifically google too. Do you think people trust the information they find through the google search interface more than other search engines?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Google Map Hack Blog

How many buzz words can you get in one title?

On Wednesday 29 June Google released an API for their Google Map service. One week later a blog came up with postings for hacks using this API. Some are what you would expect...where to eat in Des Moines. But there's one for tracking the location where each runner is injured in the Running of the Bulls -- San Fermin, Spain; one for showing the location of recent earthquakes in North America and; the creepiest of all, one that shows you where sex offenders are living in the state of Georgia, USA by zip code.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

IPOD Casting

What if libraries got into IPOD casting and encouraged the institution to do IPOD give aways to incoming students? Online tools are making it easier to do IPOD casting:

I'm thinking about trying this...

Executive Squirrel--a story where e- is not enough

Built (upholstered?) by an MIT grad student, this animatroic squirrel monitors your incoming phone calls as well as your action (via a motion detector) and decides whether to alert you by "shimmying" or simply put the person through to your voicemail.

My advice? Look for a print copy of Technology Review v 108(8): 25. In the print copy you get a picture of the squirrel and drawings of how it works. The best drawing is number 4 where a guy holds the squirrel in the palm of his hand and talks into its ear. The guy doesn't have pupils and looks like he's in a trance. A little creepy.

The concept is interesting. I'd like one that could screen out sales reps from the publishers. But the execution reminds me a bit too much of that dog 'helper' in MS Office. Cold-hearted soul that I am, I hate that dog! I could see, though, a hand like Mickey Mouse's. Waves at you when there's a call you should take.

ZigBee in your lamp, it's like the Clapper but cooler

ZigBee is a wireless network technology (like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) that is being promoted as the way to make our home appliances smart. Appliances that have ZigBee components can communicate over a network created by multiple ZigBee devices. Since it's wireless all this is done without lots of expensive cabling.

For example, your basement starts to fill with water and the sump-pump in your basement kicks in. That's an easy mechanized activation but with a ZigBee device it can also send a msg to the alarm system about the leak. If the alarm system is on the second floor, ZigBee can hop from one ZigBee device to another to work its way to the alarm. This way it uses mesh networking instead of hub-and-spoke networking and so is supposed to be more fault-tolerant. If your msg from the basement sump-pump goes to the alarm system via a ZigBee device installed in a lamp and that device fails the message can pass over the lamp node and go via the stereo instead.

It's being promoted to large buildings at first.

Man arrested for stealing wireless...

I knew it must be wrong to do this, but I didn't know it was a felony!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Library Best Practices Wiki

From the Coll-lib listserv:

Success: A Best Practices Wiki
Welcome to Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. This wiki was createdto be a one-stop-shop for great ideas for librarians. All over thecountry, librarians are developing successful programs and doing innovative things with technology that no one outside of their libraryknows about. There are lots of great blogs out there sharing informationabout the profession, but there is no one place where all of thisinformation is collected and organized."

ConQuery -- a neat firefox extension

When you are in a web page ConQuery add a search-the-web option to your right-click. It gives you the option of searaching any one of the search engines you've installed in your firefox toolbar (default is Google but you can add lots)

If you have text highlighted, you can just right click the text. If you don't have any text highlighted, the extension brings up a mini-window for you to enter the terms you search.

There's some customization possible -- explained in the tutorial/screenshot page.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Anybody who's breathing and owns a DVD player

That's the audience for the $1 DVDs for sale in lots of supermarkets, drugstore chains and, soon, lingerie shops. This according to one Gary Delfiner of Global Multimedia Corporation, one of the biggies in the $1 DVD market. Yeah, go figure. Apparently the New York Times is just catching on to how great some of these are. Of course David Reynolds & I have been on to these for years and have even moved up to the $4-5 extra high-quality.

I justify including this in Scrapple because I also saw this NYT article reported in Slashdot. Although that article is mistaken on at least one point--you can get silent movies (I have the Hunchback of Notre Dame.)

Now I gotta head over to the Dollar Store and look for 'His Girl Friday" -- Howard Hawks, Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant for a buck! If you see 'Murder at the Vanities,' pick up a copy for me, will you? I bet a dollar it is in public domain, too.

Same problem

With blog spacing here:

They are writing blogger to get a fix, they think it's not fixable on their end.