The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Don't believe me about kids and the future of wireless? Read on. Teens with Wads of Cash Flex Spending Muscle: Marketers Focus on This Huge Consumer Group

"Nearly a third of American teenagers carry cell phones. They eat out with their friends at least once a week. They buy the latest gadgets: CD burners, MP3 players, the $300 Microsoft X-Box. The average American teen spent more than $104 a week in 2001, according to the marketing research firm Teenage Research Unlimited -- up from $78 just four years ago. About two-thirds of that is money they can spend however they wish; the rest is for specific items, such as groceries.

Though the statistics include 19-year-olds, who are more likely to be on their own, they also include 12-year-olds, who are now considered teens. Marketers in the last 10 years have also begun focusing on the spending habits of "tweeners," ages 8 through 12, who have graduated from buying just bubble gum and Twinkies to purchasing CDs, video games, and clothes." [SF Gate, via BoingBoing]

When wireless rates level out to the point these kids can afford to play games on their cell phones, we'll see a huge jump in this area.

11:19:47 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Buzz suggests adding The Death of Distance by Frances Cairncross to The Shifted Reading List, so I did. Thanks, Buzz! I promise to email you back tomorrow.
11:12:42 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Paul asks how I got the Homer Library's remote database authentication scripts going. At SLS, Curran found a Unix script from the some library in Pennsylvania (I think - sorry, I'll get a cite tomorrow) that we could steal, so he did all of the heavy lifting and modified it to work for us. Now, we create scripts on-demand for any of our member libraries in order to provide remote authentication to any of their databases. We'll also host them on our server, too.

So for Homer, I stole the stolen script and modified it yet again. Homer provides access to four databases - Facts.com, FirstSearch, ProQuest, and SIRS. Facts.com provide this service from their own server, so all I had to do was link to the URL they gave us. ProQuest provides its own scripts, too, although you do have to install them on your own server. That one has been the trickiest, and I need to go back to working on it to get it in the HTPLD template. I modified the above-mentioned script for both FirstSearch and SIRS. If you type in a valid barcode, it takes you to a page that shows you the login and password for the database with a link to it. Since it's a Unix script, I've put it on my own server.

I've since heard that FirstSearch will authenticate based on a referring URL and its IP address, so I'm going to pursue that as well. For obvious reasons, I really want click-through access once the user has entered a valid barcode. And that's pretty much it.  :-)

10:47:34 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Radio 101 Docs #2 is up - How to Add the YACCS Commenting System. It's a great service, so I encourage you to give it a spin. Thanks, YACCS!
10:16:03 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Be an iMode Mifune? By Justin Hall

"Released in Japan in January 2001, Samurai Romanesque offers a fantasy feudal Japan where thousands of gamers can play samurais and warlords by punching buttons on their mobile phones. Currently, Samurai Romanesque is available only in Japan, and only over NTT DoCoMo's popular I-Mode service.

Multiplayer role-playing games are famous for demanding untenable amounts of a user's time. Some folks have even hired people to play PC multiplayer games for them because they don't have time to maintain their reputation in their adopted online game world.

Mobile phones are the perfect device for stealing a few minutes here and there to play. So instead of devoting marathon sessions in front of your PC, you might be able to sustain your online life in short bursts if the game is designed to support it. The drawback is that each moment you can spend with the game is likely to cost you in terms of mobile phone airtime, making a devoted MMMORPG experience an expensive proposition. Although Samurai Romanesque addresses this problem with the Training applis, playing it is still not cheap. A basic subscription to Samurai Romanesque starts at 300 yen per month (US$ 2.25). According to Dwango's Kurokawa, an average Samurai Romanesque user will spend around 3000 yen (US$ 23) each month in mobile phone minutes; a heavy user could spend more than 9000 yen (US$ 70). Still, more than 100,000 players have paid the basic fees and the sometimes serious connection expenses.

More than 100,000 have found Samurai Romanesque a compelling experiment. But it's likely that, even in game-crazed Japan, the pricing model for connection time will have to change before large numbers of folks would participate extensively in a game like this." [at Wireless Gaming Review, via Camworld]

Wow, I didn't even know WGR existed, but now that I do I'll definitely be spending some time there. In fact, you'll find lots more interesting stuff on the site's main page, including a WAP game emulator. The screenshots of the SR game look almost as good as the games on my Sony Clie PDA. I believe this type of service will be the entry point into the American mobile market - kids playing multi-player games on their cell phones in brief bursts, so this is a smart strategy to make the games multi-level.

Of course, that's once prices reach a more reasonable level but as I've noted before, wireless carriers are targeting their ads at kids 10 years and younger because they're the future market for these services. If you don't have a young child, you may not have seen the newest Nintendo Gameboy for which you can buy a "multi-link" cable in order to play directly against other players. Take away that wire and you've got mobile gaming. A cell phone acting like a gaming console won't be that big of a leap for kids growing up with that type of technology.

7:48:09 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Blue Robot "Just one LINK element or SCRIPT element inside a document's HEAD element will prevent a flash of unstyled content." [via Scripting News]

Something to note as we move into CSS.

6:48:34 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Where can I get one?!

The Harvard Network Accessible Dartboard

"We built a parallel port onto a dartboard. We connected the dartboard to an old laptop, which we call the dartboard server. The dartboard server has a wireless network card. The end result is a dartboard with its own IP address and a wireless connection to the Internet. We wrote a dart daemon to poll for dart hits. The daemon accepts multiple simultaneous TCP connections and sends the dart hits to all connected clients. We wrote a game managing client, which runs on a desktop near the dart toe-line, connects to the dart server and manages matches. The results of the matches are uploaded to the dartboard server when the matches are over. The dartboard server then compiles several statistics on all matches and uploads them to the web page." [via Slashdot]

6:33:55 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Copyright Dictators Are Winning Out

"As several critics have noted, anyone using the image of Santa Claus as a fat man with a beard and red suit would have had to pay royalties during much of the last century if the Bono law had been in effect when a cartoonist dreamed up that caricature in the 1880s. This is absurd. Disney's hypocrisy is not surprising, but it's worth noting. The company's unspoken goal is to keep Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters under copyright as long as they have any commercial value. Under that definition, Disney would never have been able to use Snow White or, more recently, Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame....

Endless copyright extensions are just one part of this. Congress also enacted the draconian Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998. This gave copyright owners absolute control over digital content, and the apparent right to veto new technologies of which they don't approve. Sooner or later, the courts will take this up, too, but it's shameful, and dangerous, that we find ourselves relying on such a thin reed." [at SJ Mercury, via Tomalak's Realm]

I'm not holding out hope for the Supreme Court's decision, but it sure would be a beneficial reversal of the past few decades if they limit Congressional authority in this area. We'll see.

6:30:25 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

'Web rage' Hits Internet Users

"Top of the list of internet irritations are sites that take a long time to load, help buttons which do not help and excessive requests for personal details. Ambrose McGinn, of Abbey National, said: 'Such levels of web-related stress seem to indicate that although most people's web skills have matured and evolved, many sites unfortunately have not.' " [via bOing bOing]

And it's even worse in libraries.

11:51:06 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Heading out the door, but I want to note that I'm way behind on responding to email, a situation I hope to correct soon. In the immortal words of Bartyles & Jaymes, thank you for your support.
9:14:57 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Application for the Jerry Springer Show Making the rounds in my family right now (not because we want to be on it!).
8:48:20 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

I'm getting lots of questions about how I added "comments" to my site when Radio hasn't officially released their version yet. So instead of sending out multiple emails, here's a quick summary. I'm using YACCS for comments, which is an insanely easy thing to set up. The folks over at Rate Your Music provide this service for - get this - free, so first I want to shout a big "THANKS" to them!

When you sign up for an account with them, you fill in some boxes with info about your site, what it's called, etc., and then they generate some code for you. You put that code in a couple of places in your templates, and voila - instant comments. I wish I could say it was difficult and took me hours to set up so that I could throw some flour on my face and walk out with some brownies, but it's not. It takes about five minutes, and it's well worth it.

The reasons I went with YACCS are:

  1. Their code tracks how many comments have been made and displays the number on your page (eg " Comments [1] " ).
  2. You can subscribe to your own RSS comments feed so that they show up in your Radio news aggregator. How cool is that! Since I've done this, I don't have to check my individual posts to see if I've gotten a comment. Instead, they just appear in my aggregator and I can read them right there.
  3. Now it even supports browsers that don't use Javascript, although I haven't changed my code over to that version yet.

There's a ton of other features, but note that YACCS works only with Blogger and Radio sites. I haven't had any problems with this service, so I give it 5 out of 5 stars and 2 thumbs up. Newbie heaven. Maybe I'll expand this and make it tonight's entry for Radio 101 Docs.

8:42:38 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

James says, "How about instantwap? A List Apart has a small article on it, and its free. @ http://www.alistapart.com/stories/wap/

Good question - how about InstantWap? Does anyone have any experience using it? One to check out in my - ahem - spare time.

8:25:36 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

CSS Colouring Book 

"CSS Colouring Book contains a collection of plain, CSS-intensive weblog layouts that are free for the taking. All the layouts are hugware, which means that if you decide to use any of them, you are required to give someone a hug, or else something bad is going to happen to you.  [Rogi]

Score!

8:20:18 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Sorry, but I won't be very productive today, as I'll be reliving my childhood at Mrs. Neugast's Fan Worship Page. See you some time next year. [via MeFi]
8:13:56 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Choosing between "stodgy" and "technophobic," Walt chooses stodgy. These are his own words, mind you, not mine. I figured that would be his answer, because someone who writes a monthly newsletter about technology and libraries, publishes it in PDF, moderates tracks at technology conferences, and regularly contributes to mailing lists is most definitely NOT technophobic. On the other hand, I don't think that qualifies you as "stodgy," either.
8:11:42 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Whew. If I've done everything correctly in my half-asleep state, my first attempt at documenting changes to the Radio  template is ready. I'll be archiving my Radio 101 Docs, where you'll find all of them as I add to the list, but for now you can also go directly to the one explaining How to Add Navigator Links. I did it pretty quickly tonight, and I haven't given it a good looksy-over because I'm tired and I'm going to sleep now. If you spot problems, have suggestions for improving it, or find something that still isn't clear, please don't hesitate to let me know.
12:06:11 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |