The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Tuesday, January 14, 2003

The Only Way to Win Is Not to Play

The Plantraco Desktop Rover Micro Vehicle Explorer

"Every Desktop Rover is equipped with our Infrared Laser Tag system, enabling up to 4 Desktop Rovers to have mock 'laser' battles complete with spacey sound effects and flashing LED's to keep track of your 'ammo' and score. After receiving 10 'hits' your Rover is 'neutralized' until the next game begins. This is the smallest R/C tracked vehicle ever to be equipped with laser tag!

Add our Miniature Wireless Video Camera (The PTV16C) to the Desktop Rover and now you have a Remote Operated Telepresence Vehicle that can transmit a view of the world from the Rover's perspective - throughout your home! Place the Rover in the dining room and maneuver precisely by using the broadcasted television picture as your objective navigational reference." [via Gizmodo]

picture of the Desktop Rover

Damn, Christmas is 344 days away....

Sure, the kids would totally love this little toy, but I'm thinking more along the lines of office fun. Kate, we have to start saving up for this!

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From the current issue of Entertainment Weekly (sorry, it's not online):

picture of the CD cover"Berlin's Safety Scissors skipped over to San Francisco to play Ping-Pong with fellow techno visionary Kit Clayton. They meticulously recorded the results, then sampled them to create The Ping-Pong EP (Carpark), as propulsive and innovative an electronic music album as was heard all last year. Other sounds round out the proceedings, but the distinctive clatter of ball against table lends the collaboration narrative heart. The multitracked bounce assault on the opener gives way to the rock & roll clicks and screeches of the song "1-3" (each track represents the current tally), then to carousel bop on "5-5." At one point, the ball skips off the table, is recovered, and by "17-11," has been brought under rhythmic control by the paddle kings. Final score: Kit Clayton 21, Safety Scissors 14. Game grade: A-" describes it a little differently, giving it a rating of 7 out of 10.

"To be precise, they roll through 36 tracks in just over 18 and a half minutes, chucking out song fragments and sonic experiments like nobody's business. It's not a complete hodge-podge, though, as at least one element from each track carries over into each successive one, and the entire release has a jaunty, wacktastic feel as the release starts out with the sound of a bouncing ping pong ball, which in turn morphs into a cascade of the same sound. That morphs into a goofy electro-pop track in which ping pong balls patter in the background before two short tracks of distorted noise. Eventually, it all slides headon into an odd, almost harsh electronic rumbler in which lyric-less vocals buzz over harsh noise."

It still sounds interesting. Hey, Aaron - maybe we could come up with something better!

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Excellent Idea!

RIAA Refund: Send It to the EFF!

"You've all applied for your refund from the RIAA, right? Well, SendItToTheEFF is a project to coordinate a big <nelson>haha</nelson> to the music industry by encouraging people to donate their refunds from the cartel to the EFF and make a note to that effect on the the checks." [Boing Boing Blog]

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Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, The Wrong Galaxy, is going into my desktop wallpaper rotation. Too cool. Don't forget you can get the APOD in your aggregator (title, not the picture).

picture of two galaxies

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beSpacific Be in My Aggregator Now!

I thought I had pointed everyone to Sabrina Pacifici's excellent new blog, beSpacific, but I've been remiss so I am hereby rectifying that little situation now. Of course, Sabrina isn't technically new to the blogging scene since she's a driving force behind LLRX, but I'm thrilled that I can finally subscribe to her work via an RSS feed!

"beSpacific focuses on the expanding resources in the public and private sector related to law and technology news. Daily postings provide updates on issues including copyright, privacy, censorship, e-commerce, e-government and freedom of information.

The weblog was launched to the public January 4, 2003. The archives cover entries back to September 2002."

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Textile: Text to HTML Converter

"While visiting Textisim I read of the release of a Textile, a web page that will convert plain text to HTML.

The author, Dean Allen, says: ' should now be able to paste in text copied from a word processor on any platform, and see proper corresponding HTML entities in the result.'" []

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Yahoo Violates User Privacy (Again)

Important Privacy Notice for Yahoo! Users

"I just got this from one of my Linux mailing lists.

'Yahoo is now using something called 'Web Beacons' to track Yahoo Group users around the net and see what you're doing - similar to cookies. Take a look at their updated privacy statement.

About half-way down the page, in the section 'Outside the Yahoo! Network", you'll see a little 'click here' link that will let you opt-out of their new method of snooping. You may want to do this. Once you have clicked that link, you are opted out.

Notice the 'Success' message at the top of the next page. Be careful, because on that page there is a 'Cancel Opt-out' button that, if clicked, will *undo* the opt-out.' " [Wil Wheaton Dot Net]

This type of behavior is just one of the reasons libraries should NOT be hosting their mailing lists on Yahoo Groups. If you're a SLS library and you'd like to start a mailing list, we will host one for you for free!

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Games Bond

"New blog featuring listings and reviews of new Shockwave and Flash games on the web." [via hollowcube, via JD on MX]

Served up with a nice side dish of RSS!

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Portable Projectors with Wi-Fi

Hitachi Unveils Portable Projectors

"Hitachi on Tuesday announced its first portable LCD projectors with wireless capabilities.

The two new projectors the CP-X885W and the CP-X880W can tap into a wireless network via an optional module that plugs into the projector's DVI port. This allows users to control multiple projectors remotely; the system can support up to 255 IP addresses.

In addition, the module allows multiple users - up to four laptops - to communicate with a single projector wirelessly and lets them send up to 8MB of data to the projector through the network....

The CP-X885W and CP-X880W projectors are priced respectively at $12,995 and $10,995 and are available now. The wireless module is $1,499." [allNetDevices Wireless News]

After prices drop on these (and drop steeply), I'd love to see something like this in a classroom full of students and Wi-Fi during a lecture. Now that would be participatory education.

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Do NOT Visit Soap Lake, WA, When You're High on Drugs!

Lava Lamp as Tourist Destination

"The town of Soap Lake, WA, is building a 60' lava lamp to promote tourism." [Boing Boing Blog]

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The Librarys Contribution to Your Community

"Here's A Great Resource, put together by dmA Planning and Management Services, for the Southern Ontario Library Services. The Library's Contribution to Your Community: A Resource Manual for Libraries to Document their Social and Economic Contribution to the Local Community. Here's the summary:

  • is a manual designed for self-use by public libraries
  • identifies 12 social and 9 economic benefits
  • describes the information required to document how the library delivers each of the benefits
  • provides tools for collecting the information needed
  • outlines a communication strategy, which includes constructing the argument and preparing for counter-argument, for delivering your message to municipal politicians and administrators
  • illustrates how to use the manual at a level of involvement comfortable for your library
  • includes an extensive bibliography of related publications
  • has been distributed to all public libraries in Ontario
  • is available in English and French"
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Jenny Bo-Benny

Just in case you ever need help with Shirley Ellis' classic song The Name Game, here's everything you ever wanted to know about it, including a generator for Name Game names!
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Tech Alliance and RIAA Talking about Us Again

RIAA, Tech Leaders Agree on Status Quo

"Ted Bridis at AP reports that the RIAA and at least one big tech-industry trade group will announce today that they have reached a 'landmark consensus' on lobbying strategy. Essentially, both groups agree to support the legal status quo. The tech industries will join the RIAA in lobbying against consumer fair use measures like the Boucher and Lofgren bills; and the RIAA will join the tech groups in lobbying against technology mandates like the Hollings CBDTPA....

As usual, end users were not at the table when this deal was made." [Freedom To Tinker]

So we have a brief détente. The only good news here is that the RIAA is scared enough of Rick Boucher's DMCRA bill that they are willing to say they will work against Hollings' CBDTPA and its ilk. Of course, the people affected by all of this - you and me - still need to be viligant and make our views known to our legislators and the media companies. Libraries especially need to keep paying attention.

Eternal Vigilance

"Will 2003 be the year we lose what remains of our digital rights? It's all too possible.

Perhaps I'm overly pessimistic, but just from the sheer number of political and legal threats to our rights looming in various and sundry quarters, it's hard not to be. To avoid any nasty surprises, let's look at the most obvious ones.

The biggest, baddest bogeyman on the horizon, of course, is the Hollywood lobby and the various bills it is pushing on Congress to control the future of technology products. The new Congress will doubtlessly see the introduction of the same or similar bills that we saw last year....

So is this list of potential horrors just my way of keeping you up nights, or is there something you can do about them? As a matter of fact, there is. Consumer and watchdog groups representing your interests are in these fights, but they are few and poorly funded compared to the lobbyists from the software industry, the motion picture industry, the television networks, etc.

The groups that represent the customer side need all the support they can get. I'm particularly partial to Americans for Fair Electronic Commerce (AFFECT) ( for its work on UCITA and the EFF ( for the broad range of digital rights issues it covers. But other groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (, the Consumers Union (, and the Consumer Project on Technology (, are doing very important work as well. Take a look at what they're doing and decide what you can do to help, whether writing your congressperson or writing a check.

After all, it would be nice if in 2004 you still had a few rights worth worrying about." [InfoWorld]

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Gives "Blue Screen of Death" a Whole New Meaning

Freezing to Death While Waiting for MSFT Phone to Boot

"A ZDnet UK columnist found himself stranded in the Scottish Highlands over the holidays after a skiing accident. No problem -- he had a brand new, sexy Microsoft-powered mobile phone. However, the MSFT interface is so tortuous that he nearly froze to death while trying to figure out how to get the device to turn its radio on.

'The next time I looked at the phone it appeared to have turned itself off -- so I tried switching it on again. When it eventually came to life I could not get it to dial -- a closer examination revealed the legend 'Radio off' displayed very legibly on the SPV's excellent screen. No amount of menu searching let me find anything that would turn the phone's radio back on. At this point I remember making a few comments about the dubiousness of Bill Gates' parentage. I eventually managed to flag down a passing skier who let me use her Nokia phone (which switched on immediately) to call for help. Later analysis revealed that the problem arose because of the SPV's implementation of the ON/OFF button. It needs to be depressed for a couple of seconds to function as an on/off switch. If pressed and released briefly it summons a 'QuickList' menu -- where one of the items lets you turn the radio -- presumably to let you watch movies on the thing when airborne on something more reliable than two planks of wood.' " [via Oblomovka, via Boing Boing Blog]
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Free Promo Photos for Libraries

@ Your Library: Download Promotional Photos

picture of a girl in the library stacks"These photos are from the Beyond Words: Celebrating America's Libraries Photo Contest, which helped mark National Library Week 1999 and the Bicentennial of the Library of Congress. Amateur and professional photographers alike were encouraged to capture the spirit of our nation's libraries and the many ways they touch our lives everyday. Libraries nationwide held local photo contests and submitted their first-place winners to ALA for national judging.

These photos belong to the American Library Association. By participating in the contest, photographers granted ALA the rights to use them in any and all promotions of libraries and literacy. They are yours to download and use at no cost for brochures, annual reports and other promotional materials. We do ask, however, that you attribute the photo to the Beyond Words Photo Contest and credit the photographer and the prize won."

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Add B-Sides to History's Dust Bin

Today's Idea A Day is taking me down memory lane.

"Replace the weaker songs or remixes that make up b-sides and bonus tracks on artist CD singles with songs by new and emerging artists that might appeal to the fanbase of the main credited artist."

I like this idea, so I know the music industry will never do it, however it also made me realize that my kids will never know "b-sides." There are no b-sides anymore, and with the shift to digital music, there never will be again. Sigh.

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Beating Google to the Punch for the Greater Good Virus and Google AdWords

"Someone bought an ad on Google to help spread the word faster than the Google search engine can index pages about the virus []! That's really generous of them! They should add a PayPal donations button to their page. (No such helpful advertisements were found on the Yahoo! search results.)" [Michael J. Radwin's Blog, via Cox Crow]

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Don't Forget the Librarians!

"A picture named bus.gifI'm planning the blogging website for Harvard in my head, and thought of a question I'd like to ask Harvard students and faculty. Would you like to participate in a project to create knowledge? I would have liked that question when I was a student. Of course! Yes yes yes. That's why I came to college. But there were so few ways for students to participate when I was a student. I wonder if it's like that at Harvard. I think about the Yahoo guys at Stanford and how inspired they were. What if a university like Harvard, not just a few students, got busy mapping the world of knowledge on the Internet. Each student would take responsibility for some period of time for some aspect of world knowledge. When they graduate they pass it on, or even better, take the responsibility with them, into life. Does any of this make sense? I'm beta testing ideas here as I go." [Scripting News]

Emphasis above is mine. I love the idea of students participating more interactively in their education, but just make sure you include the Harvard librarians, Dave, because we've been working on the idea of subject specialties for a more than a hundred years now.  :-)

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