The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Thursday, February 14, 2002

Okay, time to get my butt up out of this chair and do the treadmill for the first time this week, so this is the last post tonight. Except that I want to say thank you to Anne for her great email today. Messages like yours are why I've missed my online self. Keep having fun!
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Microsoft, WebEx Ink a Digital Deal

"Attempting to boost momentum behind its Tablet PC initiative, Microsoft on Monday showcased its 2.5-pound pen-based device and announced that WebEx would support its digital ink capabilities. Online conferencing vendor WebEx said at the Demo 2002 conference in Phoenix that it will build Web conferencing services for the Tablet PC, taking advantage of the portable form factor to boost enterprise communications in meetings, according to K.V. Rao, director of platform marketing at WebEx in San Jose, California.... In addition, Groove Networks says it is building a secure collaboration offering based on the Tablet PC that will allow users to work together on projects in real time, sharing comments in digital ink." [at PC World]

I hadn't thought of this. I've been focusing a lot on how PDAs can make reference librarians more mobile, but I hadn't considered that the Tablet PC could do this but with more screen real estate. Things that make you go hmmm.......

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Homer Library Plea Deserves Support
"Of the several tax referendum issues to be decided by Homer Glen and Homer Township voters in March, we find one (not necessarily to the exclusion of the others; we'll comment later) especially worthy of community support."

Yyyyyeeeeeesssssss! Local paper endorses my home Library's referendum issue!

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Major score! Library_geek points us to the NOBLE Swap Shop, a collection of resources for libraries running on an Innovative Interfaces system, which SWAN just happens to do. Talk about saving us a ton o' time! I was going to write up the code next week for SWAN libraries to add a search box to their Web pages, and here it is on the NOBLE page. Perl scripts for booklists, snark search boxes, search shortcuts, and more make this the mother lode for III libraries. Oh, Diane.... I'm a coming to knock on your door tomorrow!
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Today I got an email from Matt at Audible. It went out to some kind of a list, but it included two documents, an overview of the company and its services in general, and an overview of its services for libraries. When Matt spoke at our Tech Summit in September, only the Kalamazoo and Highland Community College libraries were actively circulating Audible titles. NOLA was just getting started, but now there are four more libraries on board the program. Here's their list, which is labeled as "partial":

  • King County, Washington
  • NOLA (Northern Ohio system)
  • Kalamazoo, MI
  • Broome County, NY
  • Carroll County, MD
  • Highland County, IL Community Coll.
  • Rochester, NY (Henrietta Branch)

In my previous post about Audible, I was thinking of the Kalamazoo Public Library, not King County. KPL has a page devoted to their MP3 audiobook program, and it includes first and second quarter reports (both in PDF format). Their program has also been wildly successful.

Also of interest in Audible's general overview document is continued progress towards something called "AudibleWireless," which provides "customized spoken audio content based on the customer's individual selections, delivered to a wireless device or accessed with an ordinary handset."

So the next time you see an ad for a cell phone or PDA that plays MP3s and you ask yourself why on earth anyone would want that, now you know. It's another type of Heavenly Jukebox digital content coming to you wherever you are via your wireless device. I wonder if Audible can partner with satellite radio companies in order to stream content of your choosing to your car or home stereo.  Hey, Matt....

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"Glenn recaps his Google analysis (which was very well done).  What I would like to see is a Google product that combined external search (what they currently do), search of the corporate LAN, and desktop search.  Put one keyword in and get multiple folders of results -- Web pages and images (they can leave out groups and especially that sub-par open directory project -- I would substitute K-Logs and Wiki-Wiki)." [John Robb's Radio Weblog]

Another "me, too" post on my part. As I continue investigating portal solutions for SLS, it's become painfully clear that no one product is going to do everything I want and/or need it to do. So now I'm approaching this as a puzzle for which I have to find the right pieces, figure out how they go together, and make them into a coherent whole. All for a price a Library System can afford, without exorbitant consulting fees because dammit Jim, we're not programmers. If the Google product described above was available, I would have given it serious consideration as one piece of the puzzle. And while I don't feel the need to include Wikis at this point, I desperately want to figure out how to add K-logging to the equation.

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Dad will appreciate the Visions of Science Photographic Awards 2002.
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802.11b and Bluetooth, Meet Ultra-wideband

"The technology simply put uses a large radio spectrum to send pulses of binary data without requiring a locked frequency to do so.... XtremeSpectrum president and CEO Dr. Martin Rofheart commented that the value of Ultra-wideband will be found in its high data rates, low power requirements, and low cost, three things which other wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and 802.11b cannot claim as a whole." []

On the other hand, a article notes the controversy in this decision because police and fire officials say it encroaches on the frequencies they use.

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Joel speaks the truth in an essay about The Iceberg Secret, Revealed. Although the first half isn't as applicable to libraries, the second half is music to my ears, and I'm going to pass it around at SLS.  Choice quotes:

"If you show a nonprogrammer a screen which has a user interface that is 90% worse, they will think that the program is 90% worse."

"If you show a nonprogrammer a screen which has a user interface which is 100% beautiful, they will think the program is almost done.... And then when you spend the next year working 'under the covers,' so to speak, nobody will really see what you're doing and they'll think it's nothing." This is a big problem for me in the type of work I do at the System level.

"Don't, for a minute, think that you can get away with asking anybody to imagine how cool this would be. Don't think that they're looking at the functionality. They're not. They want to see pretty pixels." I'm still trying to learn this one, because I always think I can convince based on the potential outcome.

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Ace Powder's Mountain Mayhem A Flash snowboarding game to entertain while you watch the Olympics. [via MeFi]

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Miss Cleo Charged with "Deception", Water Accused of Being "Wet" [Plastic]

Besides the big-old-duh headline, I like the point of this post that Miss Cleo is a character and people who call her know that. Last year, when I first started seeing her commercials, I had an idea to do a parody ad for libraries based on a Miss-Cleo-like character. I mean, what could be better than a parody of a parody to spread libraries as a meme to the Net Generation.

So this was my idea. I wanted to have "Miss Cleo" sitting at a reference desk. Pan down. Telephone rings. Miss Cleo answers. Patron starts to ask reference question, but "Miss Cleo" already knows the answer. (Kind of like the librarian in Dilbert.) Then, when she needs the patron's information, she "reads the cards," the cards being library cards. The tag line would be "Call your librarian. We already know the answers," along with an Answers @ Your Library campaign.

I was going to flesh this out further, but nobody except me seems to think this would be funny. That's nothing new in my life, though.

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Two articles about a Girl Scout report that studied girls' use of the Internet. It's interesting to see the different takes on them.

Girl Scouts Survey Net Sex [at Wired News]

"Of the girls who said they were harassed, only 7 percent reported telling their parents what had happened. Thirty percent said they 'didn't tell anyone' about the incidents, and another 21 percent said that such harassment 'happens all the time and is no big deal.' Girls were reluctant to inform their parents, said Whitney Roban, the survey's senior researcher, because the teens are "worried they'll be blamed for what happened (and) that parents will take away their Internet connection."

"Teens aren't going to accept such "blanket prohibitions" against Internet use, added Harriet Mosatche, a child and adolescent psychologist also at the event. Fifty-eight percent of the girls surveyed by the Scouts considered themselves the savviest computer user in the household."

Girls Know Way Around Net, Parents [at USA Today]

"58% of girls say they are the savviest computer user at home; 14% say Mom knows the most, while 11% say Dad does." Go moms!

"Most girls say they can get around parents' rules; 86% say they can secretly chat, 57% can read parents' e-mail, and 54% can carry on a cyber love affair. Nearly half say they're able to set up an in-person meeting with an online friend (46%) and get into a porn site (42%), while 18% say they can hack into their school's computer."

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How To Build a Memorial to 9/11: An ingenious and moving design—one you haven't seen—to remember the World Trade Center [at Slate]

Direct Link to the Proposal by Fred Bernstein

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GLOCOM has posted a report that outlines four different scenarios for the future of the Japanese wireless market, projecting that it could reach a worth of 2-10 trillion Yen and 4G status (a high-speed, 4th-generation network) by 2010. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, since the Japanese are already headed down the 3G road. It outlines six "service characteristics that control the demands of mass users" and therefore impact future adoption:

  1. Transmission service
  2. Service areas
  3. Brand of carriers
  4. Device
  5. Contents and Applications
  6. User Interface

When you look at their chart of "3G Services vs. non-3G services" (towards the bottom of the page) the positives on the left and negatives on the right illustrate why Japan (on the left) is so much further ahead of the U.S. (on the right). Not every negative characteristic applies to the U.S. (or vice-versa), but enough of them do that we haven't made much progress in technology and adoption rates. [via Dave Farber's IP list]

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" is home to the HR-XML Consortium, an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the development and promotion of standardized XML vocabularies for human resources (HR). Industry-standard XML vocabularies provide the means for one company to transact with many other companies without having to establish, engineer, and implement many separate interchange mechanisms."

I knew there were XML schemas for B-movies, sports events, and the like, but its incursions into the corporate world are just as interesting.

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Listened to on the way to work today: the Violent Femmes
Listened to on the way to work yesterday: Herb Alpert

My name is Jenny, and I am a music junkie. Not as much anymore because I got tired of having to buy a whole CD for one song, but I listen to a lot of Internet radio these days. I have more than 1,000 CDs (I stopped counting several years ago), and I should be the ideal customer for the record companies. My music tastes are all over the map, and I like hearing new songs and genres. It's just that now, I do this via the Internet instead of in a store. The overwhelming majority of CDs in my collection were purchased legally, with a small percentage of them being freebies from when I worked at a radio station and a record store oh so many years ago.

And I'm a second-generation music junkie.  I learned it from my Dad, including playing my music loud, and I'm already passing that love along to my children.  :-)  My brother periodically sells CDs he hasn't listened to in a while, but I've kept all of mine since my first one in 1987 because my music tastes have mood swings. One day I have to listen to classical, the next jazz, the next 80s music, the next hip hop, and so on and so on and so on. It's also a catalog of my life. I can remember where I was and what I was feeling when I first became obsessed by this particular artist or that particular song.

I still haven't gotten around to writing about why I don't like radio (not Radio) anymore, but today I thought I should go back and listen to all of my CDs, one-by-one, in alphabetical order. (Because I'm a librarian so of course they're organized.) I wonder when I would finish?

The record companies have alienated me and pretty much lost my business. When satellite radio becomes affordable and usable, I'll give it a shot. Until then, I'll be living in the past.

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David Brin on Privacy

"What bugs me terribly is that there have been no accompanying and countervailing powers of oversight, enabling citizen watchdog groups to observe how these new powers of vision are used. That second half of the deal was never offered to us. Nor did most of our protectors in the civil liberties community even ask.... I just believe we'll all be able to enforce our own privacy much better if those few important secrets are kept in a general ambiance of accountable openness, one in which there are very few Peeping Toms because of a high probability that they'll get caught. Privacy will be better protected in a generally open environment." [via Slashdot]

An interesting interview with Brin, in which he recognizes the "hierarchy of privacy needs." There is a spectrum after all, Tivo to Terrorism. I haven't read his book The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?, but it sounds interesting. Unfortunately, Audible doesn't have it, and that's the main way I "read" books these days.

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Drat. I thought the new version of Trillian would let it reconnect to AIM, but it doesn't. Now I have to keep both Trillian and AIM open.  Thanks a lot, hypocritical AOL.
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DMCA Declares Serial Cables Illegal? "I've recently had an interesting run-in with the DMCA... apparently, US Customs has rejected entry of a PC<->Sega Dreamcast serial cable into the US, supposedly due to copyright violations. This cable was to be used for Dreamcast programming for the Real-Time Systems class offered at my university. This seems to be a clear case of the DMCA abridging a perfectly valid educational use of a perfectly legal piece of hardware. I'll be keeping the most recent version of my story here; otherwise see below for what I currently know." []

Yet another instance of the over-reaching effect of the DMCA. What I want to know is how U.S. Customs knew to stop this particular serial cable from entering the country.  Is there a master list somewhere of items that are considered to violate the DMCA? And if so, who decides what's on it? I want to see the list, but given John Ashcroft's order to deny FOIA requests, I doubt we ever will.

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