The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Thursday, January 16, 2003

I'll Trade You a Star Wars for Your Lord of the Rings....

Credit Card-Size Hard Drive Can Hold 5GB

"Take a look at one of those credit cards in your wallet. That's the exact size and thickness of an upcoming, revolutionary removable storage device called StorCard.

Created by a company with the same name, StorCard can contain from 100MB to more than 5GB of data on a plastic card. At first glance, it looks like a credit card, and even has a magnetic strip like a credit card, for potential use in standard credit card readers.

The hard disk data, however, is accessed on a tiny spinning disk inside the thin card....

A spinning wheel made of Mylar is engaged when the card is inserted into a StorReader, a USB-connected drive or PC Card that reads and writes to the StorCard. The reader is expected to retail for under $100 and the cards for under $15 each, Heil says.

The StorCard and StorReader are scheduled to become available in the second half of 2003. The company is talking with media producers, and a partnership announcement with a widely recognized producer of blank media is expected in the next month, Heil says.

Amazingly, within the card is an on-board processor containing integrated software controls that can encrypt data securely in real time....

StorCard promises the tiny hard drive will provide high performance to quickly handle large amounts of data. It will support a volume sufficient to stream media files, for example, according to Heil. As a result, the StorCard could store even material that previously would fit only on a DVD." [PC World]

This gives "trading cards" a whole new meaning! And you thought the iPod was slim! I sure hope that's USB 2.0....

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Librarians Split on Sharing Info

"In the year following the passage of the Patriot Act, librarians' response to law enforcement requests for patrons' records has been sharply divided, according to a nationwide survey.

The Patriot Act allows investigators to seize patrons' book-borrowing and Internet-surfing records to investigate terrorist leads; it also prohibits library staff from publicizing law enforcement requests for such materials.

The survey (PDF) of 906 libraries by the Library Research Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found that in the year following the Sept. 11 attacks, federal and local law enforcement agents visited at least 545 libraries to inquire after patrons' records.

When asked to voluntarily forfeit patrons' records, roughly half the librarians cooperated with investigators without demanding a subpoena or court order, the study found.

"What surprised me most was real tension between personal beliefs and concern about what librarians are obligated to do under the law," said center director Leigh Estabrook.

Estabrook said librarians -- traditionally fierce guardians of free speech and information access -- have been forced to juggle conflicting obligations: protecting patrons' privacy as good librarians and collaborating with law enforcement requests as good citizens....

Nevertheless, 60 percent of the librarians who responded said they believed the gag order precluding them from publicizing visits from investigators was an abridgement of their First Amendment rights. Indeed, Estabrook allows that the gag order may have skewed the survey results." [Wired News]

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Congratulations to Rachel Singer Gordon on the publication of her book The Accidental Systems Librarian, available now!

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Asia's Online Gamers Trounce Shoppers

"Online gaming has beat out Internet shopping for popularity in the Asia-Pacific region, according to market researcher IDC.

A recent survey of more than 3,600 Internet users across six Asian countries shows that the boom is especially evident in China and Malaysia where the number of online gamers outnumber shoppers two to one.

In China, for example, 43 percent of those surveyed said they play games online, compared with 16 percent who said they shop over the Net.

This sea change is also mirrored in Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and India....

Males continue to dominate the regional online gaming scene. However, the gender disparity is narrowing significantly in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Korea. Females in these countries account for 48 percent, 47 percent and 36.5 percent of all online gamers, respectively." [CNET]

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Two interesting items from today's

  • SlimBrowser 3.43 (free)
    "SlimBrowser is a tabbed, IE based browser that allows you to surf multiple sites at once. It also adds several additional tools, including easy access to internet track cleaning, URL aliases, popup blocking and more. Also included comes a form filler to automatically fill personal information into form fields, site filtering and hidden sites, customizable web search and more. Many of the advanced settings are maintained in text-style configurations, making it easy to customize for advanced users. SlimBrowser also allows you to group several of your favorite web pages, so that they can be opened at once with a single click."
  • Invisible Keylogger 1.2 (shareware, $33)
    "Invisible Keylogger is a stealth surveillance application that is completely undetectable and cannot be seen in the process list, programs files menu, system tray or uninstall list. It is capable of recording all keystrokes typed, including chat conversations, email composed, websites visited, desktop activity and more. In addition, Invisible Keylogger can perform visual surveillance by capturing screenshots every X minutes, while someone is using the computer. Additional features include filtering by window title, application, clipboard logging and more."
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Voice Over IP Ready for Prime Time?

The Future of Telephony Today

"Yesterday my new Vonage arrived and I am very pleased with the quality. Setup and using it are a snap. Several people I called across the country as well as next door could not tell the difference between my Vonage call and a POTS call....

Installation took all of 15 minutes, including reading all 10 pages of the instructions (I tend to read before hooking together). Hooking it together was a breeze, and should be even for the technologically impaired. The Analog Telephone Adaptor has three connections, one for power, one for an ethernet connection to your router, and a standard phone jack (you can use any standard phone)....

When you sign up with Vonage, they send you an ATA box free. You also need a DHCP and NAT capable router (perhaps future models will let you access and set the IP address yourself - but you can't get better plug and play then the current setup). Vonage can provide a rock bottom cheap router if you need one. You also need broadband (either cable or DSL), of course.

There is a onetime activation fee of $29.99 and an approximately $10 shipping charge. There is no minimum term, but after the 30 day money back guarantee there is a $40 disconnect fee. The bill is charged to your credit card monthly. For $40/month you get unlimited domestic long distance or for $26/month you get unlimited local and 500 minutes of long distance." [LawMeme]

I talked to Ernest this morning on his brand new Vonage connection, and he sounded like he was next door. Way better than cell phones ever sound, and better than a lot of regular phones. Color me impressed. He also talked about how you could get a phone number for any location (a NY resident could get a CA phone number) so that calls could be local for your family, and he even noted that you can take the ATA box on the road with you (for example, if you are staying at a hotel that offers broadband).

Jon Udell also seems pretty happy with Vonage. If we ever figure out the DNS lapses occurring with our cable internet connection, I may take the plunge myself!

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I remember when ...

:: people had surnames instead of screenames.
:: people knew my home address instead of my email address.
:: icons were largely associated with religion.
:: I had to watch the news at night to find out what was happening.
:: I did my Christmas shopping at the mall instead of on
:: instant messaging was in its infancy.
:: dial-up was the only thing you could get.
:: I had a stack of phone books instead of a set of bookmarks in my browser for finding numbers.
:: I last went into the post office to buy stamps.
:: Yahoo! changed the worldwide web.
:: .com was always the end of a url.
:: when was sold for lots of money.
:: I saw Hackers for the first time and thought it wasn't all that great.
:: digital cameras were something you sold a major organ to pay for.
:: the debate on whether or not to tax internet sales began.
:: I had to talk with the neighbors, face to face, on the porch with a glass of iced tea to find out the local gossip.
:: long distance phone calls ate up my bill instead of dsl.
:: Compuserve, way back in 1984.
:: every email address I've ever had.
:: every url I've ever had.
:: Java was something people from the city called coffee.
:: when you had to buy music, at the store.
:: when Napster first opened its doors, and when it closed them.
:: I bought my first trinket off ebay, the first of many to come.
:: friends became lost in the shuffle when they moved because I just couldn't be bothered to dropping a letter in the mail.
:: cd burning was something religious groups did when they didn't like 2LiveCrew or NWA compact discs.
:: there wasn't an organization designed to monitor what people were researching.
:: a browser was someone who just went to the store and looked.
:: writing my first term paper using only online sources.
:: building my first home page, utilizing
:: everything was still connected with SCSI cords.
:: PDA was against school rules.
:: cookies were served with milk after recess.
:: Blackberry was something you picked in the springtime.
:: IBM and Apple were the only machines on the market.
:: bookmarks were bought at Waldenbooks and designed to hold your page in a book.
:: I entered my first chat room.
:: Netscape was the leading browser.
:: I made my first friend online (and you'e still with me Ali!)
:: I started reading weblogs before they were weblogs.
:: I had to go to a movie to see trailers and previews.
:: the world seemed a lot bigger." [<unit 219>]

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Get Thousands of Articles from Your Local Library's Web Site

No Charge: Public Libraries Provide Full-Text Access to Databases!

"A persistent myth says that you can find "everything" on the web.  Not even close!  Fortunately, many public libraries offer free access to a wealth of online databases that are often much higher quality than what you can (or can't) find on the web....

Other resources  can potentially provide an answer -- often a much better answer than the web offers -- that satisfies your information need. One place that you could potentially find this type of material is your local public library.

For most of you, the library is a familiar place. However, what you might be unaware of is that many public libraries in the United States and Canada offer free access to databases that contain full-text magazine and newspaper articles, biographical profiles, full-text books, and much more. These databases also contain large amounts of material that you would never be able to access using a web engine.

What's even more exciting is that these databases are available remotely. That's right, with a library card you can access these resources from any computer connected to the Internet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In other words, you have total access to the content without having to visit the library building.

It's impossible to list every database available from every public library since resources vary amongst libraries. Simply visit your local library's web site, or give them a call and ask what's available and how to gain access.  It's a painless process that can be accomplished in a matter of minutes....

Some of these databases also provide full-image reproductions of the material. This means you can access a pdf (Adobe Acrobat) version of the article directly from your desktop. In some cases, these articles are the same ones that you might have to pay for if you went directly to a publication's web site." [, via TVC Alert]

And if you're at a SLS library that doesn't provide remote access to your databases, give me a call. We can provide authentication scripts for you or help you work with your vendors to implement their solutions!

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Garage Bands Everywhere, Rejoice!

Technology and Music, Good Partners

"This is a recording studio, believe it or not. It's a four-track recorder and mixer. It stores MP3 data files on a Compact Flash card, and includes equalization and several useful audio effects.

I'm in Anaheim, and found this Pocketstudio in the Tascam booth at the International Music Products Association annual winter trade show. The device is an example of how music and technology have intersected to the benefit of musicians everywhere." [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]


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Penfold Icons?

Turn a Ringing Cellphone Into an Audiovisual Show

"At (, run by Polymedia, users can order polyphonic songs (playing several tones at the same time, so that they actually sound like songs) for about $1.30 each. The songs are sent directly to the customer's phone. For 80's fans, there are the themes from 'The A-Team,' 'Airwolf' and 'Danger Mouse.' Beatles aficionados can choose among 10 songs, including 'Let It Be' and 'Yellow Submarine.' PhoneSnacks also offers animations like a sketch of the Mona Lisa and the insignia of the beloved 'Transformers' toys.

For those drawn to the rich and famous (or just the weird), companies like Zingy ( and Yourmobile ( let users order celebrity voice-mail messages that are either sampled and spliced together or recorded by impersonators. Cell owners can now offer recorded greetings from the likes of Joe Pesci or favorites like Hannibal Lecter or Kermit the Frog." [New York Times: Technology]

Just so we're clear, the most important point of this article is that a Danger Mouse ringtone is available!!!! I will be signing up as soon as I get a phone capable of polyphonic ringtones. Yes, it's true - ringtones will indeed be a catalyst for cell phones!

Update: Here are some updated statistics: "According to the Washington Post, more than 1.5 million ring tones were downloaded in December 2002 in the U.S."

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"Along with some truly impressive flash-experiments, andre-michelle also sports a perfect remake of Donkey Kong in flash and a 3D-tetris. Though not exactly a game I must say I also got some good vibes out of the 'turntables mx'-feature. It made me forget how horrible I am a beatmixing in real life. There are MANY little features on this site, but at the moment the games are at the very top of the list." [Games Bond]

The Donkey Kong is very cool.

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Life Tip

When you purchase your next vehicle, make sure you get heated seats. That way, when you hurt your lower back, as I did the other day, your daily commute is more bearable because you have a built-in heating pad.  :-)

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Eric riffs on Steven Johnson's Discover article and adds a couple more examples in Surfing the 3-dimensional Web:

"I just finished reading Steven Johnson's debut column over at on the subject of GeoSurfing. I saw mention of the article on his blog last night, but could access it 'til tonight....

The 'story-telling' vision (i.e. seems especially viable. But, I'd like to see this go beyond GPS location (just like Doug) and move into objects as well. Jenny comments recently on the ZDNet Are Spy Chips Set to Go Commercial? article which provides the means to the tag objects. Combine the two and you've got William Gibson's matrix data structures right here in the meatspace.

Sounds a bit like SmartTags right? Yeah...I guess a little. But with the right combination of open standards and intelligent filters, I don't think it's too hard to imagine us 'grabbing' at meta-data on objects as well as locations. GeoCachers and BookCrossing users already have something of a jump on this concept with the ability to track an object's geographic journey. Other sites create a similar experience tracking the stories of dollar bills (, disposable cameras ( and now add bloggers GeoURL as well." [...useless miscellany]

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Libraries Preserving Our Past

"The New York Public Library's Image Gate is currently in Beta. However 80,000 images so far out of 600,000 isn't too shabby. Of remarkable interest are the collections (also some here) they have put up so far for your browsing pleasure. Anna Atkins cyanotypes are beautiful, and the Art of the Cigarette Card is joyously quirky. Be sure to check back in 2004 when its all done."[MetaFilter]

Photographs from the Chicago Daily News: 1902-1933
"The Library of Congress in collaboration with the Chicago Historical Society has added to their American Memory Web site over 55,000 images of urban life taken between 1902 and 1933 by photographers employed by the Chicago Daily News. Search by keyword or browse by subject." [What's GNU]

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I'll Take One!

Onkyo's New Digital Music Server

nas23.jpg"Speaking of connecting the PC to the stereo, the Integra NAS-2.3 from Onkyo has an Ethernet port and an embedded 80GB hard drive so it can both stream music off of your PC, or act as a digital music server in its own right. It can support up to 12 simultaneous streams, so people in different parts of the house can listen to different songs stored on the same box. And for the geeks, it runs on Linux." [Gizmodo]

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The Move to Smartphones Has Begun

Smartphones to Dominate by 2008

"A migration trend is emerging among wireless users toward feature rich devices that incorporate color screens and advanced data and messaging applications, including navigation, multimedia messaging (MMS), and instant messaging, among others. According to a new Allied Business Intelligence study, this trend will by 2008 almost have eradicated mobile phones as we know them today - leaving Smartphones as the evolutionary winner....

The study claims that the number of replacement handsets shipped will grow from 211 million in 2002 to 591 million units in 2008, representing nearly 85% of all shipments worldwide at that time.

Only about 15% of the estimated 406 million handsets shipped in 2002 incorporated color displays. The study expects this number to jump to 97% by 2008, signaling a goodbye to monochrome handsets - hopefully with improved battery life for color handsets, as one of the major drawbacks of current smartphones relates to poor battery life." [infoSync]

Resistance is futile. Your library had better be prepared to offer its services to smartphone users well before 2008. It's already 2003....

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Pssst! This Note's for You

"Geo-caching is fun, but the most intriguing new applications of GPS may end up transforming everyone's sense of physical space. What if you think of GPS as a kind of 3-D version of the Internet, a hypertext Web spun out in real-world geography?

GPS is based on the fundamental geometric principle of trilateration: If you know your distance from three distinct points, then you know your exact position on a map. (If you're interested in altitude as well, you need four points.) GPS receivers coordinate with a system of 24 satellites maintained by the Department of Defense. Because these satellites follow predictable orbits, their exact location at any given time is easy to determine. A GPS receiver in your car or on your personal digital assistant (PDA) receives radio signals from satellites overhead and gauges its distance from each satellite by calculating how long it takes the signals to arrive. Before 2000, the military deliberately scrambled GPS signals for consumer use to limit the precision of location readings. However, today the accuracy range of ordinary receivers is typically 30 feet. (Some high-end models, using several frequencies, can generate accurate location readings to within a foot.)...

The great breakthrough on the GPS horizon lies in thinking of those geographic coordinates as a real-world URL. In other words, think of those digits not simply as a description of a point in space but as a place to store information. Today you can create a Web address and publish pages and pages of anything you want there. But soon you'll be able to take a GPS location—say, 40°43.833' N, 073°59.814' W, the coordinates for Washington Square Park in New York—and publish material there as well. Anyone walking through the park would then be able to browse through the data you've uploaded. Some of this information might be targeted at a general audience and include recommendations for nearby restaurants, or a public bulletin board for discussing improvements to the park itself. But the messages stored might also be more personal, such as diary entries stored at the very place where the events described in the diary occurred, a kind of first-person geo-cache. There might even be bits of text targeted at a specific person, like an e-mail message floating in space, waiting for its recipient to come into range and receive it.

IBM researcher J. C. Spohrer, who helped concoct an early prototype for a GPS-based hypertext called WorldBoard, describes this kind of system as a 'planetary chalkboard.' I prefer to think of it as a kind of graffiti that makes an environment more habitable and socially connected....

The planetary chalkboard will become interesting only when ordinary people can pick up a piece of chalk and write something.

'Instead of having just tourist information, the system would be open,' says Swedish researcher Fredrik Espinoza, cocreator of an experimental tool called GeoNotes. "There would be much more social activity." Espinoza's vision includes a filtering system for retrieving GeoNotes that have been posted by friends or other trusted sources, like the buddy list of Instant Messaging. Imagine, for instance, that you stumble across a beautiful side street in a historic district, the sort of urban discovery you might tell your friends about the next time you meet them for coffee. With GPS-based hypertext, you could leave a virtual note hanging near the street, addressed to your 30 closest friends. The next time they happened to stumble through the area, the text would pop up on their PDA screens: 'Hey, come check this out...'

William Gibson, the sci-fi writer who coined the term cyberspace, once wrote: 'The street finds its own uses for things, uses the manufacturers never imagined.' His words are inevitably rolled out when describing some unlikely new grassroots application of an existing tool, like geo-caching. But software such as GeoNotes or WorldBoard suggests a further twist: The street finds new uses for the street itself. Simply strolling down the sidewalk can become a hypertextual exploration, a journey into a new information space layered over the real one. Suddenly the surrounding air is full of information—some of it created for you by your closest friends, some of it created by total strangers. The streets are alive with data." [Discover, via]

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Audio Samples in Library OPACs


"The webwords project aims to enrich the quality of the experience of choosing an audio book for visually impaired visitors. It will do this by allowing users of library catalogues to listen to a small sample of a book they might want to enjoy, to hear what it sounds like - to listen and experience not only the essence of the book, but the quality and style of the narration.

The audio clips will be directly accessible by a hyperlink from library catalogues. Ultimately the system will work with all library authority’s catalogues and there will also be a website (this one) from where the samples may be searched directly." [via Library News Daily]

Out of the U.K., but I'd love to see the idea spread to the U.S., too. Why shouldn't libraries be able to offer samples?!

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Consuming More than Just Books


"The better way to find CD Tracks at Amazon." [via Library News Daily]

I'd love to see a music version of

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Music Industry Should Quit Whining

Kazaa Owner Fights Back

"Sharman Networks Ltd., which distributes Kazaa software, on Tuesday said it would file a counterclaim following a recent court ruling enabling film and music companies to sue the file-swap service.

The company was 'disappointed' in the ruling issued on Friday and fully expects to 'prevail on the merits,' a Sharman spokeswoman said.

She said Sharman will file a counterclaim that will 'set forth the full story for the first time.'

The music industry in particular has been shaken by file-sharing, as CD sales in the United States plunged by nearly 9 percent in 2002." [Forbes, via TVC Alert]

Emphasis above is mine, because I think every other industry in the U.S. would be thrilled if their sales had plunged only 9 percent last year. I'm glad Sharman is going to continue the fight.

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Harry Potter Returns

New Harry Potter out in June, will enter public domain in mid/late 22nd Century.

"The next Harry Potter novel will be on shelves in June. It will be in the public domain -- where the legends and stories that gave Rowling her inspiration are -- 95 years after her death, at least in the USA." [Boing Boing Blog]

The book is already #1 at Amazon!

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Virtual Reference Service Launches Nationwide in Australia

"From the announcement, 'AskNow!, a collaborative service provided by the Council of Australian State Libraries – the state and territory libraries of Australia and the National Library, is a virtual reference desk where answers are provided immediately by librarians expertly searching library catalogues, databases and the Internet. Key features are that the process occurs in real time using chat software, and its ease of use by anyone with Internet access. Customers click on the AskNow! icon, prominently displayed on all participating web sites.' The service has been online since September but the NLA is making an announcement today. AskNow uses 24/7 Reference Software." [The ResourceShelf]

This is very cool!

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I didn't realize that Siva Vaidhyanathan has started a blog, but dammit, Jim, there's no RSS feed because it's powered by Blogger. Grrrrrr.
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