The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Friday, March 22, 2002

Whew.

Kansas Jayhawks logo

11:24:04 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Searchable RSS

"You can specify a search query and get search results as RSS.

For instance, say you want to subscribe to this site, but you only want news items that mention Java. You’d subscribe to this URL:

http://www.ranchero.com/xml/rss.xml?q=java" [via a klog apart]

Does this mean what I think it means? Keyword filtering for my hand-picked feeds? Get out! So I can watch for NY Times: Book reviews of titles by my favorite authors? Watch Amazon's list for titles that contain a specific word? Many, many possibilities!

Must test this.

11:16:33 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

DNA Codes May Be Protected as 'Music'

"The plan is to convert a DNA sequence – the order of the four chemicals that form the genetic code of a plant or animal – into a piece of digitally encoded music that can then be copyrighted like any other tune....

If the proposal works it would mean that companies could in effect protect a particular DNA sequence against exploitation by competitors without the need for DNA patenting, which is more difficult to achieve if there is no immediate invention involved.

It would also mean that the protection would last far longer because copyright laws can cover a period of up to 100 years rather than the 17 years covered by the patent laws of most countries....

Any company that turns DNA into a "tune" could then sell the music to another company, which would also buy a coded software program that could translate the music back into the original DNA sequence." [Independent.co.uk]

Will sends along a link to a story about more copyright lunacy. Translating DNA sequences into music is pretty creative, but doing it to get around more complex processes and to extend ownership is wrong. More unintended effects of the DMCA.

9:23:10 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

Ever since Meryl pointed out the Mattel Classic Football Game, I've been contemplating what it means for my generation to be the first to grow up with video games. It's definitely had an impact on how we create movies and our entertainment choices, but I was thinking more of future implications.

My parents grew up with radio. Baby boomers grew up with television. My generation grew up with video games. In this area, we get to be the first ones to say "When I was a kid...." Sure we grew up with a lot of other things too, but we'll always be the first group en masse to own video games. Our memories will be of the first generation of both hardware and software - PongColeco, Atari, Tron, Burger Time, Merlin, Lode Runner, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Pac Man (including the Fever!), and a million others for which readers will chastise me for not including. WarGames will always hold a special place in our hearts, and not just because Ferris and Allison were in it.

This is memory lane for a substantial number of us. That also means that we're the first generation to watch as others surpass our skills with the new games. Example: Brent can pick up almost any Playstation game in a matter of minutes. He instinctively knows that one of the buttons will let Spyro fly and that he needs to soar around the towers with the lights on top. I, on the other hand, just kept walking around looking for stuff.

Sure, others my age still pick up this stuff right away, especially with games like Rogue Squadron, but as we age, the new games won't be as instinctive to us. We'll always recall the past fondly and each time a landmark game is released, we'll think about it in terms of the process that led up to it. While I share Ryan Greene's concerns about distributed computing for video games, I wonder how we'll get enough computing power to create a holodeck. Maybe this is one way to do it, but how will my generation feel when that event happens? Will we accept it (I hope so), or will we be cranky old people that say, "Bah humbug... when I was a kid...."

9:03:22 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

More Details on the CBDTPA

"Gemini and many others wrote in with still more info regarding CBDTPA, formerly the SSSCA. Wired has a story. Cryptome has transcribed the text. The Senate Judiciary Committee has a web-form where you can submit comments (although directly contacting your representatives may be better). IMHO, the best thing people can do is explain to less-knowledgeable folks exactly what is at stake. When ABC News (Disney) and Fox News (News Corporation) discuss this, they're not going to be spending much time talking about the downside. Update: 03/23 00:55 GMT by M: EFF has an alert with a sample letter to Congress and background on the issue." [Slashdot]

The EFF alert is especially helpful because it includes a sample letter in case you don't feel knowledgable enough to write your own. Please, please, please make sure you submit some kind of comment or feedback to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, its Committee members, and/or your home legislators. This is an incredibly important issue on so many levels.

7:53:32 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Missed this one while I was gone: Nokia launches first phone-based VPN

"The Communicator 9210i has a number of additions that were not on previous models, including support for JavaScript and cascading style sheets, Macromedia Flash 5, and the VPN client....

'Even though phones such as the 9210i are on a circuit-switched network, when data leaves a phone it is open to attack as it travels across the Internet," said Grace. 'This is a problem with something like the 9210i where more and more people are using it to access corporate applications such as SAP or Lotus Notes....'

One customer, said Grace, has already ordered 1,000 of the new Communicators for a medical application. 'They wanted to make sure all information traveling between the doctors and the servers is encrypted.'

The VPN client should address such shortcomings, and it makes the 9210i one of the first handheld devices to enable end-to-end encrypted links." [ZDNet News]

Of course, this is running on Symbian so we can't test it here in the U.S., but it's still very cool. Nokia again leaves the U.S. market in the dust. Encryption would be very important if librarians wanted to let users search their online catalogs or view their patron records via cell phone. I'll bet Lori could really use this stuff, too.

4:07:54 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Did you know that there are Caramel M&M's now? Diane brought them back from Vegas for me as a reward for hounding her to see Cirque du Soleil's Mystere show while she was there. Very strange taste, this new flavor. I still like the Peanut Butter M&M's best because they remind me of a Willy Wonka candy I used to chow down on as a kid.
3:19:13 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

I'd like to see someone do a study about the increase in search results of the phrase "good morning from..." in web search engines as it relates to the increase in the number of bloggers on the web. I am not throwing stones as I have been guilty of this myself, but it seems to have become one of the obligatory phrases that every blogger must use at least once.

I half-expect an Alertbox from Jakob about the mis-use of time notations that don't take into account how the web is international.

1:17:14 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Embedded Playstation?

PlayStation 3: The Next Generation

"If distributed computing can unravel the building blocks of life, it can probably help make a better version of 'Crash Bandicoot.'

That appears to be Sony's thinking as the electronics giant moves ahead with development of the next version of its PlayStation video game console.

Speaking at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), an annual trade show for the creative and technological sides of the game industry, Shin'ichi Okamoto, chief technical officer for Sony Computer Entertainment, said research efforts for the PlayStation 3 are focusing on distributed computing, a method for spreading computational tasks across myriad networked computers...

'Moore's Law is too slow for us,' Okamoto said, referring to the long-held truism that semiconductor power doubles roughly every 18 months. 'We can't wait 20 years' to achieve a 1,000-fold increase in PlayStation performance, he said....

Looking further ahead, Okamoto saw even bigger changes for Sony's game business. 'Maybe the PlayStation 6 or 7 will be based on biotechnology,' he said." [CNET News.com]

Emphasis is mine. I've never heard anyone complain that Moore's law is too slow. I'm already a Sony person, and I can't believe how far out these guys are thinking.

9:40:07 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

Yet another title to add to The Shifted Reading List of books I can't seem to find time to read but naively think I will tomorrow.

"The Intelligent Wireless Web provides for the reader both a preview of the Web's 'near future' as well as an overview and discussion of the technology components in place today that will lead to that future.

The book examines the convergence and synergy among five key technological components: speech used as a primary user interface; wireless personal area networks (WPANs); an integrated wired/wireless network infrastructure; supporting wireless protocols; and intelligent applications. It investigates available technologies and standards that are currently being developed to bring these goals into the mainstream of Internet use." [WebReference.com]

9:01:07 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

FBI Takes Page from Mormons' Data Book

"The FBI is consulting Mormon Church computer experts who oversee the institution's vast genealogy data bank to help rebuild the bureau's outdated information system....

"At senior levels, we must lead the bureau back to where (information management) is accepted as second nature," Chiaradio said....

Chiaradio says the FBI has begun addressing its problems in managing and analyzing the mass of information it gathers in investigations." [USA Today Tech]

I sure hope they're involving some folks from the field where "information management is accepted as second nature" - librarians.

8:44:16 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

Sheree is selling her grandmother's grand piano, so folks have been coming over to look at it. It's a Steger & Sons that hasn't been played in at least 20 years and is probably at least 60 years old. It's not in the best shape, but it has the vaulted top, which I hear they don't make any more. For the first time last night, someone pulled the bench out from underneath it and looked inside.

We were stunned to find all kinds of sheet music from the first half of the 20th century - Mozart, popular songs, a primer on beginner piano songs, and my favorite - a 1954 Ice Capades program, as well as a 1944 U.S. Deptartment of Agriculture "Victory Gardener's Handbook oon Insects and Diseases."

You can imagine how much fun we librarians are having with this! I'll try to scan in a couple of pages over the weekend so that all may join in the fun.

7:44:07 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

I just had to post this one for Kate and Andy. Responding to Glenn's meditation on getting old, Doc conjures up one of his own ruminations on the subject.

"My body turns 34 today. I think of 34 as the age at which you discover that all the time you thought you were breaking your body in, you find you've only been breaking it down."

This very week, I got back in touch with one of my best friends from high school and college. We lost touch and hadn't talked to each other in 13 years. She was living in Colorado but recently she and her family moved back to the area where we grew up. She has one step-child in junior high and one in high school, both going to the exact same schools we attended when we were young.

She tells me that she has encountered many of her old teachers from the flip side of the coin - as a parent, not a student - which must be very strange indeed. That makes me feel older than any abstract number.

7:31:13 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |