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