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

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 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 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:

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 (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 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. and Amazon apparently use different ranking algorhythms and I liked the 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 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 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 least for the moment. People are concerned about RFID being used in passports:,1848,68352,00.html?tw=rss.TEK

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

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 RSS Software

I downloaded this 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;_ylt=AolE3k6ABzxKBaBsGZxOLYqs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3cjE0b2MwBHNlYwM3Mzg-

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 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;_ylt=Ahj3HULqr0ad7vIaGV0cLFcjtBAF;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

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.