Monday, December 25, 2006

Why doesn't everything work like google?

Here's a rant about how movies make it look like all computers should be easy to use--anyone can just walk up and use it:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Test posting

Hmmmm...can I post? Just a test.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Everything's free on the Internet, right?

When students find something on the Internet, they usually think it is free (forget the library might have paid thousands of dollars for something), but anyway, I did find come across the complete works of Mozart online now. Here's the blurb from the Internationale Stiftun Mozarteum website:

The complete works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are now available for free on the Internet. The resonance of this new resource is overwhelming (more than 400.000 hits during the first 12 hours). This may lead to delays in accessing the web site. We are about to provide additional server capacities.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Interesting catalogs & mea culpa

I've not written here in waaaay too long. It finally dawned on me that a lot of what I would normally post on Scrapple I've been adding to a library wiki we have here on public interface issues. So I've just picked up what's currently in our 'interesting catalogs' section and pasted it here for your entertainment. We're really on the OPACS suck jag -- at least I am. (but n.b., catalogs have lots of cool structured data)

A friend from Texas directed me to the WordPress OPAC (WOPAC). It's kind of a cool idea. Although these days I'm more in the put links in Google and Amazon camp than I am fix the OPAC. What do you think?

For your consideration

  • Pine -- Georgia Libraries Public Information browsing the catalog; offers several suggestions for where to go when you didn't get many hits and ways to refine your search; faceting.

  • NCSU -- Endeca front end to their now famous catalog

  • Queens Library -- It uses Aquabrowser

  • Howard County Public Library -- It uses Aquabrowser and has a visual search display (sometimes)

  • Rochester University Library -- separate search area for videos --

  • The catalog that puts SFX data in the record [University of Huddersfield|]

  • University of Canterbury
    • customized new title list with many options
    • subject portal (one place to find all kinds of information)
    • catalog tutorial in HIP (find help where is needed)

  • Hennepin County Library

    • author alerts (how about subject alerts?)
    • new title list by format
    • different styles for different audience (check the kids and teen pages, we can have different portal for undergraduate and graduate)

  • Harford County Public Library

    • separate tab for audio, movie & music (how about dissertation?)

  • Evergreen -- open source catalog from the Georgia libraries
  • Penn State uses tabs to show brief and full record, also they use SFX to display holdings
  • WOPAC -- an opac that uses WordPress! Very simple, very interesting. The more I look at this the more I like it.

h5. Library projects using SOLR
|SOLR is an open source project that does similar to what Endeca/NCSU does. It has not yet been used for a large scale library, but is being used for several 'digital initiatives' type projects.
  • Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Second Life

    I've decided to participate in editing a library for Cybrary City. I'm waiting to see if I get the go ahead to include the Stanford name on the project. If not, I'll probably create an Engineering Library Consoritum or perhaps we should create a digital scrapple library.... :)

    Anyway, here is my avatar looking at a poster from an education poster session. Some other groupst that have buildings: OCLC, UNC Chapel Hill, Michigan Libraries Consoritum, IBM. Many more to come. It will be interesting to see what applications are developed.

    Last night, I visited OCLC's interactive search engine. You talk to it on a special channel and you can pull up search results in another Internet window. There is also a central reference desk and various exhibits being developed by librarians. I looked at one about cats in mysteries. There is also a big medical library where you can search PubMed and do a lot of other things. I didn't stay there too long since I was a little overwhelmed by it.

    One idea I had was to have virtual office hours in SL. It's almost impossible to get offices in departments. You can also include links on web pages to teleport users to your location. The hurdle would be assuming that a user had a computer adequate enough to run Second Life. I had to upgrade my home computer clunker to be able to run it...although I was able to get a really good deal on an HP 1610, which is very quick and can run SL.

    Anybody want to meet me there sometime? Let me know. My building currently only has a glass table and perhaps a renegade planet. I managed to recapture most of a solar system script I ran, but couldn't catch Mercury (to darn quick).

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    Educators look at Second Life

    For those of you following the development of 'Second Life' (an online community where people are represented with cartoon-like avatars) there is an interesting article in the Technology section of CNN. Some educators are starting to use it help create a sense of community for distance learners.

    From a Stanford colleague who attended Internet Librarian:

    According to those who attended Internet Librarian one of the vendors that sells services to libraries has paid for an "island" for such purposes for a year. There is a reference desk and others are building "libraries" there. From the snapshots I've seen they're pretty specialized (like speculative fiction). OCLC has also given some limited access of some kind as well...

    ...there's also a blog about this at from The San Jose State Spartan Daily, Nov 6, 2006, article by Ryan Berg: “Ken Haycock, director of the San Jose State University school of library and information sciences, said the school has just recently purchased its own island on Second Life, which the school will use to build learning resources that people can access in the virtual world.”

    Saturday, October 28, 2006

    Google Standards Search

    Wow! I just created a Google search engine for Standards. You can plug these engines into your own webpages. I'm thinking about including one of these in my guides.

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Google search

    Google now cas a customizable search.

    Here's some examples of it. Not any for libraries yet. Maybe that needs to be rectified. Wouldn't it be great to have a search engine for (engineering) standards and include just the data sets you wanted? Or patents? Or genomics data....and link that stuff to journals or whatever?

    Two cool things

    Quick, I'm late for work

    1. Babelfish is almost a reality

    2. Rochester has already done the find videos thing we want to do-- we'll just steal from them

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    IPOD pod casts & NPR

    I'm considering getting an IPOD finally. One thing I would want to do is download some podcasts, like from NPR. I heard today that you have to subscribe to them through a service. Is this the case? If so, do you use something you would recommend?

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006


    I'm a Treo convert. My husband got 700 and I now have his old 600. Can't wait for the 680 to come out. Read a Treo review.

    Now I can get my e-mails & surf the Internet during boring meetings. How did I ever function without this phone?

    Spore...exploring the universe one hard drive at a time

    I'm really pushing the Scrapple limits here, but if you missed it, there was an interesting article in this past Sunday NYTimes magazine about the game called Spore (designed by Will Wright). There have been lots of interesting posts about this online, so you can google it, or look at this page if you are wondering what the heck I'm talking about.

    The idea behind the game is that you start out as a single-celled organism. Once you gathered enough DNA points, you can begin to evolve. Then you colonize the planet. Once you've accomplished that you are awarded a rocket to explore outer space.

    The interesting thing I thought is that the creations are then uploaded on a file server and begin to populate the games of other players. So while there will be an interactive War of the Worlds just yet in terms of the players, the characters will be built and then go off to explore the universe out of the control of the original creator.

    Interesting concept. I wonder how long it will take somebody to figure out how to create a Trojan alien?

    Firefox 2.0

    Is now available.

    Adobe gets into ebook business

    If you've ever wondered if e-books were endangered, you might want to read about Adobe's attempt to jump into e-book market. As I'm reading it, Adboe will come out with a software that publishers can use to create their e-books.

    -Digital Editions will support Adobe Content Server DRM, which many lending libraries currently employ.

    -Publishers who like the service but aren't necessarily PDF-centric can also build e-books in Open eBook format (an x-html standard)

    -Publishers will be able to offer content for free or include ads

    -The client is built on Flash and displays covers and contents of ebooks, magazines, and other types of publications

    Sunday, September 24, 2006

    Another Pew Survey

    I don't know how much of this stuff you can really predict, but I read an interesting article some responses to what the Internet might look like in 2020.

    One interesting quote (although I'm not sure this is new or just applies to the Internet):

    "The less one is powerful, the more transparent his or her life. The powerful will remain much less transparent..."

    Should I be worried?

    ...or just be sure to bring a good book?

    I'm going to the CODI confrence in Salt Lake City in a little over a week so I'm following the Gordian Knot -- a blog for Syrsi/Dynix users. (CODI stands for Customers of Dynix) A new posting there today by "suzyq" says she can summarize her 5 weeks worth of training and migration to 8.0 with a Foxtrot cartoon.

    Saturday, September 23, 2006

    Have they looked at Creative Commons licensing?

    A number of publishing organizations are develooping a standard protocol for granting publishing rights -- an Automated Content Access Protocol.

    "In one example of how ACAP would work, a newspaper publisher could grant search engines permission to index its site, but specify that only select ones display articles for a limited time after paying a royalty."

    The aim is to control spiders but I wonder if this has implications for bloggers?

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    Stop. You're both right....

    You can always get me to read an article that promises to be about an advance toward something that will let us read novels electronically. So a BBC headline "Roll-up screens 'moving closer'" sucked me in.

    Turns out some guys in Cambridge have come up with a thin, flat metal that can snap from one shape to another--from a flat sheet to a rolled up sheet. The metal is cheap and easily produced so could work well for 'flexible electronics.'

    They point out that it would also do nicely for buildin emergency shelters. Although I'd worry that a heavy wind might snap my tent into a rolled up piece of metal.

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    serving library resources via phones

    BBC article about use of net from cell phones says there's going to be a new domain starting next month -- .mobi -- that will be for sites that you can get over your phone and there will be a strict set of accessibility standards."

    Go to this site to see what your web pages looks like on a phone Oooh, the library catalog doesn't look good at all. I wonder what one of the library's portal channels would look like?

    more info at

    Could be a good Scrapple topic for Wednesday.

    Sunday, August 13, 2006

    Cui bono?

    Check out the Reuters article on Hansdehar, a village in India, has created a web site that describes itself to the world. It is the first (and currently only) entry in the Smart Villages project.

    The intension of the overall project is to create a grid of information about thousands of villages in India. Different people associated with the Hansdehar project seem to have different ideas about its benefits--advertise for local businesses, help students find colleges and employment, and my personal favorite: publish the nature of local problems so that the government can deny knowledge. Could also do a lot for the world in general to know a bit more about how a big chunk of the human race lives -- in rural areas with limited means.

    For the non-Latin-speaking readers

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    yes, but will it weed?

    Leopard, Mac's OS in development, will have the ability to auto-save. There's a slider to see earlier versions of photos, for example. And, according to BBC, "it also lets users search for files overwritten or altered in the past." Notice the plural--files.

    So I guess we'll have our very own Way-Back machine. Maybe I'll write Brewster for a grant to buy disk space for all the backups.
    Truth in blogging confession: I hate to weed and so I don't back up most of my files -- but I do back up the ones I want to keep. At work I have the luxury of a network drive that someone else backs up regularly. I put anything I want to preserve there -- performance appraisals, budget spreadsheets, etc. Same with e-mail. I only archive stuff that I think I might be called upon to use later. At home I print out any text I want to save and put I put my precious pictures up on Flickr (n.b., many are not precious.)

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Flickr Group Photos

    I somehow missed the whole group photos in Flickr until just recently when I came across a bunch of tagged group photos of librarians off a library blog about the recent SAA conference (examples of some of the library groups: librarians wearing hard hats, librarians wearing glasses, library bags, and library desks)....

    Even a list of libraries that have Flickr accounts.

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    All the news that fits

    Sadly enough, here's an intriguing piece of history that won't be archived in any library let alone a digital repository. Maybe we should gather up donations to send him phone cards.

    The blackboard looks homemade. I had a friend there who made one with carbon from worn out batteries. He used it for teaching arithmetic to a number of people in town. Hard to tell from the picture but this one could have been made the same way. There's not a lot to work with over there just now.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Browster tool for web viewing

    I try lots of different tools and tweakers on my workstation but I usually just toss them out after a first look. I'm starting to like Browster, though. It's a little bit you download and run in the background. Pause the cursor over a link on a web page and a little icon pops up. Pause the cursor over that icon and the page being linked to flashes up in a new window. You can move the mouse and lose the page or click on it and you're there. I'll have to see if it slows up the machine.

    A cataloger's dream or nightmare?

    At the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Labs they are using X-ray fluorescence to reveal an original Greek transcription of some of Archimedes' writings that are the foundation of math today--texts that developed mathematical ways to represent the real world.

    The reason they need this technology is that the texts in question -- a 10th century monk's transcription -- was obscured by a 13th century monk who recycled the parchment by scraping away the original text and writing his own text on top. (Bonus points for those who know what this practice is called.) To top it off, last century a forger tried to increase the value of the manuscript by adding gold religious paintings. You can't seem much of anything of the original. Cataloging something like this makes our 'bound-with' cataloging problems seem frivolous.

    The X-ray florescence technique involves scanning the surface with a very fine beam. One page can take up to twelve hours to scan. I'm assuming there will be a digital output to archive. Now that would be a fun thing to cook up metadata for.

    Go to the Exploratorium website today to watch the process. There's a live feed at 4 pm PST but they seem to archive their broadcasts if you miss it live.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Cataloging your own library collection?

    Does anybody have experience using a software program or Internet resource to catalog personal book collections? My husband would like to catalog his books and he is looking for something that is either free or reasonably priced, but not clunky to use. Any recommendations?

    Census to Adopt GPS

    Really interesting NPR story the other day about how the Gov't will adopt GPS to aid with the census. Of particular interest was the story about the maps used by Delaware County.

    Census Bureau Adopts GPS to Find American Homes


    Posted to a new director's listserv, I thought this was a great tip:

    "When you have a long URL that you need to send in an e-mail, and youwant to keep this problem from occurring, there's an easy way tocreate a short URL, called "TinyURL." Go to and paste your long URL into the box on the screen. The program willcreate a short URL that will open the original Web page! You can evencreate a special TinyURL bookmark for your Web browser. Then, whenyou open a Web page with a long URL, you need only click on yourTinyURL bookmark, and it will automatically create a short URL foryou, without your having to cut and paste."

    New OCLC eSerials Holdings service

    OCLC has a new online journals service called OCLC eSerials Holdings service. It is marketed as an efficient and cost-effective way to make your electronic content more visible and
    accessible by leveraging your investment in WorldCat.

    If you have an e-management service, such as Ebsco A-Z or Serials Solution etc. you can have your records loaded into World Cat.

    Here's what OCLC says the eSerials Holdings can do:

    * Increases usage of your electronic serials collection by making it more visible to searchers and ILL librarians
    * Enables you to automatically control and/or deflect ILL requests from colleagues in the OCLC cooperative
    * Cost-effectively keeps your electronic serials holdings up to date in WorldCat, without adding to your cataloging workload
    * Helps bridge the gap between print and electronic materials
    * Increases the value of your investment in A-Z lists, OpenURL
    resolver, and WorldCat


    I'm unclear as to if this will forever be a free service, or a free service for a short time to encourage adoption.

    Sunday, July 30, 2006

    Of course that's a pretty vague timeframe...

    According to ExtremeTech Samsung says they are developing a 4Gb soli-state drive that can act as cache for data and code. Put it on your motherboard and you get fast-- no, really fast-- action on your computer. It's designed to work with MS's Vista as part of the ReadyBoost technology that will be part of Vista. It should be ready "in time for the Microsoft Vista timeframe."

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    The new internet

    YouTube video of a Canadian news report on Internet. I don't know the date but the haircutss, the command line entry and interviewees saying that in these bulletin boards people discuss football in a polite manner suggests that it is not a recent report :~)

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Don't blink!

    Wired reports on a project from Columbia Univ that connects the scanning power of the human brain with the iterative power of the computer to do some fancy relevancy ranking with images. The idea is to use the technology for security folks who have to view bunches and bunches of images. Your brain recognizes images much faster than you can consciously identify them. As you scan bunches and bunches of images the computer takes note of which images your brain reacts to and brings those images to the top of the list.

    Rice U Press resurrected as e-only

    Rice University in Houston is resurrecting it's ten-years dead Press. They are going to be publishing as they did in the past with a twist -- they will be fully digital. You'll be able to read for free online or buy a copy of the work as a downloaded file or as a print copy. They are working with the open source system Connextions for publishing and QOOP for printing. From the website QOOP appears to be a very young company.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Open WorldCat -- getting warmer

    Open WorldCat was a great idea--huge database of library catalogs searchable for free in Google and Yahoo. But it had two flaws:
    1. You had no real idea of what you were searching because OCLC was vague about what records they exposed to Google and Yahoo
    2. You had to know a search trick to get WorldCat records
    And a picky irritant -- you got different results when you searched Yahoo and Google.

    In August OCLC will launch a specific website where you can search all the WorldCat records for free. It will be And OCLC says they are putting all of their records in this service.

    I wonder what search and display engines they will use. Perhaps this is something they got from absorbing RLG. The RLG free service RedLightGreen has a next-gen catalog look and feel.

    So in August we will know where we can easily search all of WorldCat for free. I'm adding it to my resources for graduate students who are working from afar.

    That leaves the question: will anyone outside the library community know or care? I say put their free search box everywhere. Spread the word.

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Library 2.0?

    Wondering what Scrapplers think of the term "Library 2.0?" Buzz, hype, or is there something to it?

    Recently, I came across this posting on Library Stuff and it reminded me of some conference talks I've heard recently.

    Personally, some of the concept I connecting patrons to library services with a give 'em what they want attitude. But I still remember the first time I heard this term I was turned off by equating this--in my mind--to Netscape 1.0, and subsequent versions.

    Library services and our relationship with patrons are more complicated than 1.0, 2.0 aren't they?

    Or are people who are 2.0 the ones who can work outside the "library" box and look at new possibilities?

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Rules in a knife fight*

    Interesting piece in Wired Campus about a professor who has given his students written directions for when they can cite Wikipedia.

    [A] Wikipedia citation can be an appropriate convenience when the point being supported is minor, noncontroversial, or also supported by other evidence. In addition, Wikipedia is an appropriate source for some extremely recent topics (especially in popular culture or technology) for which it provides the sole or best available synthetic, analytical, or historical discussion.
    He goes on to say it's unacceptable to use Wikipedia for any argument that is controversial or complex. And, of course, any citation absolutely must include the date/time when the quote was taken.

    Pedagogy at its finest -- take a problem and turn it into a teaching moment. What are we looking for in a source to cite? (HINT: How would I use my Uncle Henry's analysis of the Vietnam War in a paper?) Why do we include citations? (HINT: try finding the 'government report' you saw mentioned in Newsweek)....

    *From "Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid." The full line is something like 'Rules! Everybody knows there's no rules in a knife fight.' Sadly, this was not one of AFI's Top 100 Movie Quotes

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    Publisher makes $1M donation to Katrina Libraries

    Scott Carlson reports in the Wired Chronicle News that Springer has made a $1M to 7 libraries affected by Katrina. A for-profit publisher does some good....Here's the story:

    "A major academic publisher has donated more than $1-million in electronic books to seven university libraries in New Orleans damaged by Hurricane Katrina. With the gift, from Springer, seven Louisiana libraries will get free, permanent access to more than 10,000 electronic books, mainly in the sciences, technology, and medicine."

    Bye-bye APA Index in print

    This December will be the last print issue of APA's index to psychological lit.

    Is this the first one to go e-only? I can't remember others.

    Wednesday, June 28, 2006

    Amazon launches Blue Origin

    Heard about this on NPR today on the way home: here is a link to the story on MSN

    Monday, June 26, 2006

    Future relevance and impact of academic libraries

    James Neal has an article called Information Anarchy or Information Utopia? in the Chronicle from December 2005. I came across it recently and liked the question he asks at the end regarding the library of the future:
    The library of the future: Will there be one? We should not question
    whether it will survive, but whether it will have relevance and impact.

    Friday, June 23, 2006

    Someone with a clear understanding of human nature

    I don't read Wired that much. It's got good writing but, in print, I find it hard to wade through all the graphic fru-fru. I find it easier to read on the web but, since that's the kind of stuff I usually read on airplanes....

    Anyway, somehow I stumbled on a short essay in Wired about Wikipedia and was amazed at the profundity of this writer's insights. For example:

    "...Wikipedia exists in a state of quantum significance flux. It's simultaneously a shining, flawless collection of incontrovertible information, and a debased pile of meaningless words thrown together by uneducated lemurs with political agendas. It simply cannot exist in any state between these two extremes. You can test this yourself by expressing a reasonable opinion about the site in any public space. Whatever words you type, they will be interpreted by readers as supporting one of these two opposing views."
    You've gotta admire a guy who can create a pseudo-concept like "quantum significance flux" and then throw it into the same paragraph with a lyrical phrase like "uneducated lemurs with political agendas."

    My advice:
    1. Read the whole thing. It's short.
    2. Skip the podcast version. It's not as well edited and he seems to have a cold

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    e-journal holdings in WorldCat

    OCLC is working with Ex Libris, TDnet, EBSCO and Serials solutions to automatically add member libraries' e-serials holdings in WorldCat. And this info will be available in Open WorldCat. The announcement is at

    Sounds very nice.

    Monday, June 19, 2006


    If you haven't already seen it LibraryThing it's worth a look.
    LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. Because everyone catalogs together, you can also use LibraryThing to find people with similar libraries, get suggestions from people with your tastes and so forth.

    It's these guys "I'm gonna make a lot of money" scheme that runs on the idea that lots of people will use it to catalog their books (whatever they mean by 'catalog') and, in the social-tagging free-love world, eventually there will be this omnicatalog like wikipedia.

    Of course, it doesn't really rely on all those book lovers for metadata. It harvests metadata for current and poplular works and for older, more obscure writings it takes full advantage of all the millions of staff hours the Library of Congress has spent over the years cataloging everything that moves. By the way JH Libraries catalog is also listed as a source for data.

    The interface is maddenly clunky. (Who would have thought Horizon could look so good in comparison!) There is a lot of back and forth and screen re-freshing. Importing is whacky--I tried to import my wishlist from Amazon and got a bunch of books I would never read. Maybe I got part of someone else's wishlist. Exporting doesn't follow any bibliographic formatting standards (e.g., RIS). So how am I going to compose a references cited list for my term paper?

    That said, it's an interesting idea for non-scholarly work. Has the shared tagging thing going on that creates something resembling a 'people who like what you like also like' world and there is an interesting API called thingISBN (like OCLCs xISBN) which is a kind of FRBR-izing thing -- see the 14 June entry for

    I'd be interested in hearing what Scrapplers think of it.

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    Amazon starts selling groceries

    Interesting news tidbid on CNET about Amazon venturing into selling groceries online. When I saw the title of the article I thought about all the past ventures in this area that have gone bust.

    This year I can now buy a lot electronics on Amazon with my corporate account and some marketplace items. Maybe next I can order pasta?

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Network experts issue warning about federal eavesdropping

    Here this CALEA story is popping up again...this time in the Chronicle's Wired blog:

    Networking Experts Warn Against Government Eavesdropping
    available at:

    "A group of computer scientists today warned that a federal regulation that requires Internet service providers—possibly including colleges—to re-engineer their networks to make it easier for law-enforcement officials to eavesdrop on Internet-based phone calls could make networks more insecure and could harm technological innovation. Among those sounding the alarm were Vinton Cerf, who helped design the Internet, and computer-security experts Matt Blaze, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Steven Bellovin, of Columbia University."

    Their report is available here:

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    The Chronicle has an interesting editorial about how scholarly publishing might be affected by social networking through MySpace or Facebook. Kind of an interesting idea. I wonder how the economics of it might work. Even most open access journals aren't free since somebody has to pay for it (either the author, grant, etc).

    Article is at: and called Beyond Google: What Next for Publishing by Kate Wittenberg of EPIC (not the privacy people, but apparently the electronic publishing people).

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    New ways of seeing

    I'm beginning to like looking at C |Net News' second column display. At the top of the right-hand column they place ads but go down just below those ads and you'll see a box with tabs labelled
    The Big Picture | Related Stories | What's Hot | Latest Headlines
    Related Stories and Latest Headlines are kind of yawners but I like The Big Piture and What's Hot (graphical view).

    The Big Picture is an interactive mapping of related information/stories from the C|Net News site. Grey boxes represent news stories in the archive (the one you are reading should be in the center of the screen), green boxes are for topics (clusters of stories, I guess) and red boxes are for companies. The bigger the box the more articles associated with it. Lines link boxes that are related. For example there is a link between the red box for Apple (as a corporation) and a green box for OS X. Click on any of the boxes and the image will recenter onto the box you clicked on.

    What's Hot (graphic) displays the 15 newest and most heavily read news articles in the C|Net collection. Articles are represented by blocks on the screen. Color and size matter. Lighter is newer and bigger has been read by more people than smaller.

    Again, interesting to see where the links lead to.

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    OCLC and RLG to merge

    Yup, read all about it on the OCLC site . Eureka will be integrated into FirstSearch. The company will still be called OCLC but there will be a division called RLG programs.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    OpenURLs, they're not just for the commercial big guys anymore.

    Right now you probably just see the citation to the book by CarolineBledsoe in the space below this text.

    Caroline H. Bledsoe
    Women and marriage in Kpelle society.
    This will go to whatever link resolver you are using

    But if you download the COinS extension for Firefox and configure it for Hopkins you'll see the Find IT button below this citation. Click on the button and you'll get a FIND IT menu that has a link that searches the JH Libraries catalog for the title.
    How cool is that?!
    OK, if you missed the point, this means that anyone can put a COinS enabled URL in any web page (blog, wiki, etc) and people who have the COinS extension configured properly can get their own link resolving button on that page.

    Here's what you need to know:
    Go to this link for info about getting the COinS extension for your Firefox browser:
    Use these settings you'll need to configure your extension to work with the JH linkresolver
    • Link server base URL is
    • OpenURL version 0.1
    • Image location is
    If you want to generate a COinS URL for your web page, here's a COinS generater page:

    OCLC has now added COinS capability to Google Scholar and to their "Find in a library" service in regular Google. According to OCLC
    COinS has already been implemented in various online resources including Wikipedia's Book Sources Page, Citebase, HubMed, and the British Library's ZETOC service."

    One man's digital divide is another man's digital canyon

    Reuters reports that the digital divide has shrunk in the last few years. But as you read the article you see discussion of India and China but not a word about Africa. The next to the last sentence says Central and Eastern European countries lag behind because
    Mobile phone penetration is ubiquitous, but fixed line Internet connections are not widely available, while the business and legal environment is weak.

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    MS Academic Search

    It even includes a list of journals covered!

    SLIM is clever

    Have a look at SLIM: Slider Interface for MEDLINE/PubMed searches. It uses slider bars instead of drop down boxes. Somehow it feels easier.

    Most people read web pages in an F pattern

    At least that's what Jakob Nielson says:

    Eyetracking visualizations show that users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.

    I have some questions about the pages they chose to use for the experiment but I could have missed something. I just skimmed the report. Since the text went all the way across the page I just focused on the headers and the images. The F-Shaped superfast skim wasn't possible.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    MS challenges Google Scholar

    Have a look at MS Academic Search . Right now it covers Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Physics. They are using OAI to harvest compliant archives like And it recognizes you if you're coming from a Hopkins IP. Pretty slick.

    Another (possible) reason not to like Google Desktop

    Posted on the ERIL listserv

    Over the past month, we have received an increased number of notices concerning unusual spider activity. In most instances, we have found the Google Desktop Search with MSIE crawler installed on the machines associated with the blocked IP address. Are others experiencing this problem? If so, have you been able to resolve the conflict? I would appreciate any advice or suggestions.

    Mostly I just don't like the idea of an organization that big knowing that much about me. But now it seems they might be an irritant to the community at large.

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    Interesting CNI Presentation

    At the CNI conference this week, there was a presentation about a web tool that was built at Allegheny College called Gnosh. It is a meta-search tool that incorporates components of social software into the search itself. Check it out.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    not really scrapple but...

    BBC reports women are voting in Kuwait for the first time ever and that there are two women candidates for one of the positions.

    Serves to remind us that we aren't that far out from women getting the vote in the US. My grandmother on my father's side got the vote the year my father -- her third child -- was born. My mother's mother had two children before she could vote. Can you imagine that? When I was 11 months old my family moved to Galveston, Texas and my mother was not allowed to serve on juries there. I remember discussions about poll taxes when I was growing up and how they kept poor people from voting. (And, by the way, I couldn't have applied to Hopkins when I graduated from high school--women were not allowed. I couldn't even have eaten in the faculty club--again, no women allowed.)

    Today it may feel like the air we breathe but the truth is the right to universal suffrage is relatively young. 1920 isn't that far back and people were dying in the 1960s to secure voting rights. OK, I'll get off my soapbox now.

    Congratulations to the Kuwaitis.

    Saturday, April 01, 2006

    Making Singapore

    Singapore is instituting biometric passports Does it surprise me that Singapore is on the leading edge of this technology? No, I have a friend from graduate school who taught in Singapore. He said that he flew in one time and his hair was longish. They whisked him out of line and chopped his hair off before he could enter the country. Of course this was in the 1970s when long hair meant something.

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    Sever costs??

    Does a server with a dual pentium 4 or xeon processors around 2 GHz, with 1 GB RAM for memory, 8 GB for system (hard drvie) and 30 GB for data with a backup tape drive or network back up really go for $10,000?

    Or can you get a good server for less than that? The above are the configuration we are looking for. I'm getting some price quotes, but wanted to know if any of you thinks this is in line or out of line with what a server with the above specs should cost...

    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    OK, maybe we don't need e-paper

    BBC reports that in the last five years the Japanese have taken to reading books on their phones in a big way. I noticed that the biggest commercial publisher of this kind of work only has 20,000 subscribers and 400 books but....

    The interesting thing to me isn't that they are reading off their phones. I've read lots of stuff on my black and white Palm and these phones have color screens. No, it's the effect of this kind of media on the way people write and the reading habits of the people who read it. There's a publishing house that has launched a program to train people to write for the phone. Can't you see it on the back cover of a comic book? 'Make cash in your spare time by learning to write for the mobile phone market.' And at least one science fiction author says this kind of access "is reversing the younger generation's apathy towards reading." Of course they are reading pretty short pieces.

    Now before everyone starts jumping up and down about how the world is coming to an end if people stop reading the Brothers Karamatoz because it's too long to read on a phone, check out The Singer of Tales. Or, if that's too long and academic for your reading tastes just breeze through the wiki article on it's author Albert Lord.

    The point is that some of the earliest works we think of as literature (e.g., Beowulf, Gilgamesh) are transcriptions of parts of a person's performance of a much longer epic that would be told in different ways by lots of different people. That is, in the act of committing the works to writing we ended up shortening the pieces and fixing texts that had been dynamic. The oral performers of these epics (the singers of tales) varied their performances based in part on audience reaction. We're too hung up on the individual author and frozen text. There are lots of ways to skin a cat.

    This could be something that has a transformational effect on society but who's to say that transformation will be bad? Shorter, fixed texts work pretty well for things like treaties and contracts. And while we all lament the passing of the illuminated manuscripts, there is much to be said for the transforming effects of the printed word and the rise of literacy.

    And, interestingly enough, I think this is one of my longest entries ;--)

    Saturday, March 25, 2006

    r u sik 2day?

    BBC reports that 42% of the 18-29 year old Brits surveyed said they would miss a trip to the doctor because they had to wait.*

    Maybe the National Health Care should consider IM-ing their younger patients.
    ANSWR: No, sir. The nose doesn't normally spew blood. How much blood is there?

    *Interestingly enough only a third said they would skip a dental visit because of a wait; sadly, 16% wouldn't give blood because it takes too long

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    I'm shocked, Rick, shocked!

    BBC reports that Windows has announced a delayed the roll out of Vista. They also say that MS is building 6 (yup, six) versions of Vista.

    "Three versions of the software, called Vista, will be for home users, two will be for businesses and one will be for emerging markets."

    Wonder if the one for emerging markets will run on one of those $100 hand-crank computers?

    Saturday, March 11, 2006

    another Google Beta [purchase]

    Google recently bought Writely a web based collaborative document editor. You migh think, 'Yawn, another wiki knock-off,' but this thing looks interesting. They list the following capabilities:

    • Upload Word documents, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML or text (or create documents from scratch).
    • Use our simple WYSIWYG editor to format your documents, spell-check them, etc.
    • Invite others to share your documents (by e-mail address).
    • Edit documents online with whomever you choose.
    • View your documents' revision history and roll back to any version.
    • Publish documents online to the world, or to just who you choose.
    • Download documents to your desktop as Word, OpenOffice, RTF, PDF*, HTML or zip.
    • Post your documents to your blog.
    Now they also say you can simultaneously edit a document with your colleagues and that sounds cool. If you and your fellow editor collide you get a pop up warning--and I guess you arm wrestle over who's right. Sounds interesting; I wonder what counts as colliding? Do you have to simultaneously edit the same word? What if you are simultaneously editing the same sentence? couldn't that cause problems?

    Thursday, March 09, 2006


    Did you know Sirsi bought Docutek? I learned this when visiting Docutek at ALA, since we're trying to get e-reserves going at my library.

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    Three reasons I know I'm way too old for today's humor

    #1. I actually thought John Stewart was funny hosting the oscars (but then I don't have cable so maybe he just wasn't up to his usual)

    #2 . I still think the Fox series of Greg the Bunny was funny even though my 18 year old nephew explained to me that it was about as funny as a whoopy cushion.

    #3 . I thought the idea of Google hosting the content of everyone's hard drive was a joke. Turns out it wasn't. So now I just think it's scary. Don't they teach Farenheit 451 and 1984 in schools anymore?

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    It's more complicated than just wanting Google

    In the last six months or so I've seen several articles mentioning the fact that Yahoo is actually beating Google for user loyalty, preference or what not. Seems to go against the common notion that Google is the be all and end all of Internet access.

    ClickZ, a search engine newsletter, has a recent article on the market for videos over the internet. In it they cite a report by Points North Group saying that
    "Fifty-four percent of the group expressed interest in the Yahoo! Go service. Interest in Google Video trails Yahoo!'s service with 46 percent of the market."
    Yahoo Go is their all-in-one suite of services for pc, mobile and video. So why is Yahoo ahead here? They say that
    Yahoo!'s offerings have more market share in this situation because the portal has set itself up as more than a search engine.
    So I'm wondering what this has to say about offering library services. Clearly portals are good (and thank goodness the library has a good start in that area--thank you, Elliot et al.)

    But we're still stuck with the problem of presenting a complex search environment in a simple fashion. Federated searching is sort of helpful but it's not a silver bullet.

    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    Benefits of getting new staff...

    learning aobut cool undergrad library portal

    We've recently hired an acquisitions librarian away from St. Cloud State University. She's told us about a very nice undergraduate portal for research they had at the last library she worked in.

    I love the clean look and compact design and they have a good ear for names.

    Find Full Text is their SFX journal/article locator service in a nice interface

    Research QuickStart goes to something like our subject guides (again, better name)

    Top of the screen is a search box (uses X server?) that chooses some general purpose databases limiting to
    • books & articles
    • books only
    • articles only
    • newspapers
    They have library pages for individual courses that seem to share a common format that allows for autogeneration of lists.

    I'm really happy that these guys use SFX. I want to pick their brains at the upcoming SMUG (or whatever they call it now) mtg.
    They also have a nice way of handling metasearching -- I love the link entitled 'what am I searching?'

    really cool

    Monday, February 27, 2006

    A wireless experiment in Bath

    CNN reports a wireless experiment in Bath...the city, not the tub. Seems like an effort to blend tourism and technology. For example, they will test have a server that stores photographs of building in Bath. People could take a picture and if a match occurs with a picture on the server, information about the building and local points of interest will be returned to a wireless phone or other device. Another application will consist of users uploading information and pictures to a Web site that then charts their route.

    Friday, February 24, 2006

    I want my M-TV -- cool and costly

    Check out QUOSA! Run through a couple of demos (yes, I know the guy is a slooooow talker) QUOSA s a hacked-browser/portal??? that does lots of stuff including:
    • Post-Search Automated Full-Article Retrieval -- search, click and you got the full text
    • Article Organizing -- slect things you've retrieved and then click to dump citations into EndNote, Reference Manager, Procite. In addition to all the bibliographic info you'd expect, each entry will include link back to where you got it from (i.e., PubMed) as well as a link to your own copy on your hard drive
    • Full-Text Searching -- but it's not just full text searching; you've got the stuff on your computer so searching ought to be no big deal. what they add is a something sort of like a cross between a cluster analysis and a ictionary of frequently used words. Have QUOSA build one from the articles on your disk or go grab one from, for instance, a dictionary of terms from PubMed Entrez for gene research.
    They only show QUOSA working with PubMed and Ovid. Of course, that makes sense since it's aimed at high-end STM types more than Soc Sci or Humanities. Also, they aren't bashful about pricing. One year's subscription is $499.95.

    I saw this mentioned on Web4Lib and there was a lot of concern about systematic downloading and licenses. I can see that as an issue to be worked out but really, how cool is this tool?

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Google, the Khmer Rouge, and the Public Good,

    That's the title of a talk by Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan's, to the scholarly publishing section of AAUP. I'm not sure where the Khmer Rouge comes in but she was defending U Mich participation in the Google Book Library Project as legal and morally justified -- for the public good. Needless to say, Pat Schroeder who was also present for the meeting did not agree.

    Did you know that Google's Larry Page is a UMich alum? From InfoToday

    Library School webcasts

    has a number of different webcast series and an archive. Of particular interest are the ones on human information behavior.

    Feb 16 cast is about a project to establish a research agenda for the field of online info seeking behavior. These are people from SIG-USE group in ASIST.

    I know, I'm a geek...

    ...but I'm really impressed with the Scientific American podcasts. Something to listen to while I'm eating my lunch at my desk. tsk, tsk. Here's summaries of first two 'casts.

    FEBRUARY 15, 2006
    SciAm Podcast: 02-15-06
    In this episode, Scientific American staff editor Christine Soares talks about avian flu; Bruce Mirken discusses marijuana policy in the U.S. and England; and paleontologist Gregory Erickson describes the newfound long-lost cousin of T. rex. Also: test your science smarts with our quiz and hear how yesterday's comics might have handled today's news.

    FEBRUARY 08, 2006
    SciAm Podcast: 02-08-06
    In this episode, Scientific American editor-in-chief John Rennie reflects on the Korean stem cell debacle; the National Inventors Hall of Fame announces this year's inductees; and evolution defender Eugenie Scott discusses the importance of the decision in the recent Dover evolution trial. Also: hear outtakes from the CSI show you're never going to see on TV.

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    Flaming on stealing

    As a follow up to the last entry's complaint about stealing....

    Last week I was in Mexico with Austin Smiles and I got a chance to chat with Roberto, the guy who was making a video of the mission for AS. He used to have a cool job as a photographer (videographer?) for Sony Corp in Spain. He worked on music videos for artists like Ricky Martin and really loved his job. Then Sony cut way back on staffing for videos because there was such a huge problem with piracy. Roberto says you can buy copies of music videos on the street in Mexico for twenty-five cents.

    He lost his job with Sony and went back home to Mexico where he is now making videos of things like this mission and kids birthday parties. He said, 'If you'd told me 5 years ago that I'd be doing this I'd have thought you were crazy.'

    I know there are people who'll justify pirating by saying the the rich artists can afford it but

    1. it's still stealing &
    2. those rich folks aren't the ones who suffer -- it's people like Roberto.

    WARNING: Check your proxies

    Got word today that there's a blog offering info on how to poach journal articles by giving out open proxy information. Hopkins was listed but we've shut down the proxy.

    I'm really creeped out by the number of people who seem to believe it's ok to steal.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Funny Wikipedia Story

    Wikipedia bans congressional hill IP addresses. They've been editing entries about them. I heard about it on NPR. Here's some information from Wikipedia.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Colleges Fight FCC's New Online Wiretapping Rules

    A group of colleges, libraries, and technology companies has asked a federal court to overturn a ruling, issued by the Federal Communications Commission, that facilitates Internet wiretapping. The 71-page brief, filed by organizations such as Sun Microsystems,, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of American Universities, and the American Library Association, has been sent to the US Court of Appeals arguing that the FCC has overstepped its bounds.

    The ruling these groups want overturned could require ISPs and colleges to rewire their networks so that federal investigators can more easily track individuals' Web browsing and e-mail use. College and library officials argued that the rewiring would prove prohibitively expensive, and that it would inevitably lead to violations of their network users' privacy. (Sources: CNET News & Wired Campus)

    Wednesday, January 25, 2006

    Visual searching

    Finally, a chance to use Grokkers visual searching technology in a real life search situation. Beginning in February EBSCOhost will add a Visual Search tab to their search interface. See a flash presentation on it at .

    It sure seems like a cool technology but I've never been able to figure out if it's more than just cool sounding because the data available to search are so small. Academic Search Premier should be a good one to try this out on.

    Out of town

    I went to San Antonio over the weekend for ALA mid-winter. Here's are some brief notes on some of what I saw:

    • EX LIBRIS meeting we got good news from about date for starting to use x-server (earlier) and info about training (web based and we can subscribe to it for a year if we want -- I'm not sure what that means exactly but it sounded good.)
    • Sirsi/Dynix meeting was pretty ordinary except I found I like the president of the company better than the last time I attended one of these meetings. Probably because he also likes the idea of a movie-only search space. I still don't know if we can do it now but it helps to know the president of the company is enthused about doing it.
    • Scholarly Stats -- I hope we can get this. It's a service that harvests all your e-use stats (even non-counter compliant ones), cleans them up and puts them in a csv file. If you've ever had to gather use stats you would be falling down at these guy's feet. It's about $30-40 for each platform (FirstSearch, CSA, EBSCOhost, etc.)
    • Web of Science -- got a contact for xml gateway but the guy I spoke with pointed out that this is definitely a dbase we'll need to watch for excessive turn aways.
    • WebFeat ( -- saw presentations by several institutions using it. Some had features I like (e.g., check off box for dbase selection) I made notes so we can borrow liberally.
    • Alamo -- I walked by it every day but never went in. I'd been in several times before and was pretty sure it's about the same--I'm absolutely sure they still haven't put a basement in it.
    • Souvenir shops -- the best ones (if you like odd/quiry artesanal products) are definitely not on the first floor. I bought several more coconut masks (like the one hanging in my office) and a microscope made out of a spark plug, washers and other bits of metal welded together. There is some great self-taught sculpture from scraps around. Had I a few hundred dollars to waste I'd need a trunk to get it all back.
    I'm staying with my father now in Wharton (see for the objective outsider look or for a How we see ourselves page.) I got here by bus. The ride was fine except they had no lights for reading after dark and I truly wish the person I sat next to had been a good bit thinner.

    On Saturday I leave for Veracruz for an Austin Smiles mission on which I'll be translating. We stay in the Hotel Camino Real. We're at the Red Cross hospital pretty much all day but in the evenings we go out to eat together.

    If I get a chance to update things in Mexico I will.

      Sunday, January 22, 2006

      Midwinter in San Antonio

      It seems slower to me than in the past but I'm not sure whether it's me or if the conference has changed.
      • The best thing I've seen here is Scholarly Stats, a company that will go out and gather all your online use stats, normalize them where possible and hand them to you as a csv file so that you can do your own analysis. I'm hoping we can get it.

      • Sirsi/Dynix has a new scheme for rolling out their new products. They will have 'migration scripts' that will allow us to go on using the existing version of the system while we are testing our own data and then do the cut over when we want to. What's not to like.

      • They told Ron that they understood why the sloooow response time to the WebReporter and think the most recent upgrade should have fixed it.

      • The prospects for getting a slightly early start on x-server look good.

      • Unfortunately my scheduled meeting with some folks from the International Relations Round Table fell through. We were going to talk about setting up an open URL link resolver for folks in deveopig nations. I'm not sure what happened, they just didn't show.Go figure.

      Saturday, January 21, 2006

      ACRL San Antonio

      Dear all,

      I'm heading out this morning to go back home since I've been in San Antonio since Tuesday for an intensive seminar for new library directors. If you go to any of the interesting technology show case sessions, please post some of your thoughts here. I'm wishing now I had stayed longer, but also want to get back to Jonathan.

      I'm looking forward to ACRL Baltimore....we'll have to have a Scrapple alum meeting there for current and past Hopkins folks.



      AADL Catalog

      Check this post out. Cool image work in the AADL catalog.

      Thursday, January 19, 2006

      graphical passwords, as it were

      Rutgers has a page (article?) announcing a graphical password system. Instead of using letters and numbers you use images and click on selected areas on the image.

      I've been using a graphical password for some time now with my bank but it works slightly differently. They show me an image and a phrase I created myself to make me confident that I have indeed gone to their web site. When I see that I can be confident ane enter my password. Trust goes both ways.

      what do you think of this hair-brained idea?

      We have a great video collection and we know that lots of people want to pick out a movie for the weekend. Of course, that's just a royal pain to do-- you can't browse like at Blockbuster and the catalog is hard to use. So what if we had a Movie Library catalog...or maybe a Movie library portal channel. We would provide a search interface specifically desigined for searching and displaying records for films. We could do things like:
      • restrict all searches to material type "videos, dvds..."
      • restrict all searches to location "Eisenhower AV"
      • change names of fields from author/contributor to director, writer, actor, etc.
      • offer the choice of format -- dvd or video (we could do this because DVD call numbers begin with DVD and video call numbers begin with video)
      • steal from the ncsu catalog format and give our interface a side frame with links to all the named people in the record, maybe to genre types like feature film, comedy, film noir...
      • lots of records for films include a summary that would be good to highllight
      • wonder if we could get images like the ones you see in IMDB?
      We'd want to work with someone who does film cataloging to see what other features could be pulled out. And I like the ncsu catalog function that allows you to return only items that are not checked out.

      your thoughts?

      Tuesday, January 17, 2006

      Cool catalog interface/engine, part 2

      Wow, I looked around and it has some great features.

      Here's a good powerpoint on the thinking behind it --“The Dis-Integration of Library Systems of the Future” (Kristen Antelman)

      I love what she has to say -- she understands that you just can't shove everything into a single Integrated System. No matter how hard you try, something new will come along that doesn't fit the model. You have to be able to pull up related info from different sources in real time. She calls the system as a whole the E-Matrix and says what we really need is a mashup of all these different pieces of info.

      OK so right now we've got (or will soon have) these knowledgebases -- if you will forgive the term
      • SFX
      • MetaLib (JHsearch)
      • our catalog records (MARC info)
      • new E-Resource Management System
      • vendor A&I dbases like EBSCO (some full text)
      The question is, how will we mashup all those sources? We've got our Web Site and we're going to have portals. What goes where? When do we pull in personalization?

      And how do we make the switch without traumatising our patrons?

      ...but it's still not Google Scholar

      InfoTrieve (a doc delivery company) has gone back to offering their search service for free.

      The interface is cluttered and you still have to pay for the article. If there is a way to show our link resolver it's not immediately obvious.

      We won't be promoting it any time soon.

      Cool catalog interface/engine

      NCSU just unveiled last week the new interface to their catalog.

      I think they are either Sirsi or Dynix but they are using Endeca to power the searching. I wonder how that works? And how does it interface with the ILS? Very interesting.

      the catalog is at:

      I have some reservations about the number of options. We've been headed towards a cleaner interface but still...

      They also have a nice interface to their e-resources. I like the narrower/broader distinction in their related dbases list.

      Monday, January 16, 2006

      another day another vulnerability

      Is it just me or does it seem like we're seeing a speed up in the tempo of Windows vulnerability alerts. Newest one is for machines that automatically search for wi-fi connection on boot up. Not that it's that big a deal. But still...

      "Criminal gangs were unlikely to target this flaw as it would be too labor-intensive to exploit, predicted MessageLabs, saying that it was "really a threat from script kiddies".
      from c|net

      Friday, January 13, 2006

      back among the living

      I've been neck-deep in the metalib project and haven't written here much lately but I'm back now. At least until I leave for ALA next Friday.

      Monday, January 09, 2006

      Mouse revenge

      Not computer mice, but a real mouse. Just a note to never do this for a myriad of reasons.

      Saturday, January 07, 2006

      New breed of e-books

      Made possible with the advent of e-ink, we are likely to see several new gadgets of e-readers

      Worth reading:

      I'm looking forward to the reader that is about the thickness of and moves like a glossy magazine page.

      Think of what it would do for people who have vision problems reading? Sounds like a great advance.