The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Monday, January 20, 2003

1by1 (free)

"Tired of creating and updating playlists only to listen to your MP3s? 1by1 plays whole directories of MP3 with absolutely no need to edit a playlist. The program is tiny and very easy to use. it provides a simple interface and a variety of additional features like shuffle, sorting by name, date, shuffle, enhanced mode and some others. This is a basic, but very convenient way to quickly play large numbers of MP3 files without having to fuzz with a fully featured MP3 player. I just wish it could run in the system tray, rather than the taskbar. Requires MP3 ACM Codec or mpglib.dll" [WebAttack.com Latest Software]

Addendum: Daniel Grobani notes that there are a number of utilities that let you run programs in the system tray, including the one he uses, TrayIt.

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Save Our Libraries - The Weblog

"For the past month, I have been posting articles regarding library closures and cutbacks to a weblog that I created (with the help of a friend) entitled Save Our Libraries (SOL). I have had contact with various people at ALA (including Mitch Freedman) regarding SOL and their recent press release on the subject and hope to work with ALA in any way that I can regarding this important aspect of our profession. As always, if you see any stories that would fit into the SOL schema, please contact me as well as promoting the site on your own weblog or library web site." [Library Stuff]

Great job, Steven! And of course there's an RSS feed.

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It Loves Me, It Loves Me Not

A Wireless Relationship

"Men say it's strictly business, while women say they can't live without it. A new Siemens survey of the U.S. phone market brings a humorous twist to the statistics carousel.

Attraction is vital when it comes to wireless phone relationships, and Americans are looking for more than just a pretty face and a shining personality. When asked what characteristics attracted them to their current phones, being high-maintenance is clearly a turn-off. Overall, 66 percent say cost is the No. 1 trait. Ease of use came in second at 62 percent, followed by functionality (59 percent). And, more than half of Americans say reputation is a key element of attraction, with appearance and personality trailing at 37 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, men and women have differences of opinion regarding what they're looking for in a wireless phone. Men are most attracted to their current phones because they offer a variety of functions (65 percent), while women are most attracted by cost (72 percent). But, who says you can't judge a book by its cover? Men are more smitten by the appearance of their phone compared to women - 42 percent of men versus 32 percent of women are attracted to their phone because of how it looks.

While people value characteristics beyond appearance, having 'the look' and the personality to boot are still somewhat important. One out of 10 wireless phone owners describe their phone companions as sexy and sophisticated. But, a few people need help in the looks and personality department -- 5 percent say their phones are dull and annoying or unattractive and moody. Generally, baby boomers are having a rough time, as 55- to 64-year-olds are not as happy with their phones. Among this age group, the two most common descriptions of their phone companions are plain and practical and dull and annoying, while their younger counterparts' top two descriptions are plain and practical and cute and friendly." [infoSync]

This sounds familiar! But perhaps the Sony Ericsson T68i is practical and cute!

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So Maybe 802.11g Isn't Quite Ready for Prime Time Yet

  • Henry Norr Tears 802.11g a New One
    "Sorry for the coarse euphemism, but there's no other way to put it. Norr tries out a variety of 802.11g gear, and finds poor performance and poor interoperability. If someone as tech savvy as him is having these problems with early gear, what can consumers expect? I'd like to see more information about the throughput issues: he was seeing lower throughput on 802.11g than b (using homogeneous equipment), but I wonder if he'd locked them into 'g only' mode?" [80211b News]
     
  • "Tom's Hardware Guide has done some thorough testing of the Linksys 802.11G Wireless Access Point, and obtained some interesting results." [Notes from the Cave]
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Cable Rates Keep Going and Going and Going [Up]....

Cable Viewers Get Whacked with Another Big Increase

"You are going to have to pay more for 'The Sopranos.' And 'Trading Spaces,' that's going to cost you more, too....

Cable TV costs throughout Chicago--and the country--are shooting up. It's the seventh time in as many years that rates have gone up. Cable viewers in the Chicago area with AT&T can expect to pay 6 percent more for their cable starting this month.

That's following a double-digit increase last year in some parts of the Chicago area.

RCN, the other large cable provider in the area, announced its rate hike last summer, up to 12 percent in some areas. In all, the average national basic cable bill now stands at about $34.52 a month, up 45 percent since cable was deregulated in 1996.

Cable prices have far outpaced most increases in the entertainment industry. Recreation costs increased 1.1 percent in 2002, according to prices tracked by the Consumer Price Index.

'The Bush administration has closed its eyes to the price-gouging of cable monopolies,' said Gene Kimmelman of Consumers Union, a consumer advocate watchdog group. "It is doing nothing to put a lid on cable rates or boost competition that would drive down prices....

But next year may be different. Critics of cable companies will soon have an advocate in a high place.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has lobbied against higher cable rates and this month took over as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. The committee oversees the cable industry, and McCain already has said cable costs are high on his agenda....

'Consumers have a right to know why cable rates continue to climb faster than the rate of inflation,' McCain wrote to the Federal Communications Commission and to the GAO. 'These statistics are becoming all too familiar for consumers. They continue to endure rate increases that outstrip, by many multitudes, the price increases of other consumer goods and services.'

Laura Lepley has bare-bones cable in the Lake View apartment she shares with a roommate.

'I get upset whenever anyone raises the price on me without improving quality of the product,' the 22-year-old said. 'Or at the very least they could throw in a few more movie channels.' " [Chicago Sun-Times]

Or fewer commercials....

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Nathan Treloar has Google playing Ebert (and/or Roeper - you decide).

"Welcome to GoogleMovies, AvaQuest's movie review opinion analyzer!

Want to get an overall thumbs up/thumbs down opinion of the latest movie? Well, you've come to the right place.

GoogleMovies is a sophisticated text analysis application that uses Google's Web API to search for movie reviews. It then automatically generates an overall opinion as to whether the reviews are favorable, not favorable, or so-so. Like AvaQuest's GooglePeople demo, GoogleMovies demonstrates the compelling applications that can be created by applying text mining and analysis techniques to Google results....

What sets GoogleMovies apart from other review sites is what it does with the reviews once it finds them. Rather than relying on each reviewer's 'star' ratings, or some other subjective rating system, GoogleMovies determines the reviewers' opinion, either positive, negative, or neutral, based on an analysis of the reviews themselves. In other words, it determines the reviewers' opinions based on what they actually say about the movie."

Results include color-coded smiley icons, and the home page has a cached list of current movies displayed from green to red. Now if they could just do the whole "determines based on what he actually says" thing for George W. Bush....

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Surveys from Within the Aggregator: Things that Make You Go Hmmm....

Loyd's Curiosity

This is totally cool that I could receive and vote for this from within my aggregator. It gives me all sorts of ideas for our blogging + news aggregation grant project! Thanks to jenett.radio for highlighting this!

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Hey Kate, try Squares from Titoonic. [via Daypop Top 40]

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Cutting Your Car's Cords

Wireless LANs Get the Keys to the Car

"New products for your automobile include an MP3 player that transports tunes in your trunk and doubles as an access point for an in-car LAN....

That same device, which could be located in the trunk or beneath a seat, could be used as a digital "briefcase" to carry files between home and office. At the office, as long as the car wasn't parked more than about 300 feet from the user's desk, he or she could access that data via an office wireless LAN.

In addition to a wireless LAN client, such a device also could be equipped with a wireless LAN access point. That would let drivers and passengers share an in-car LAN that links a variety of devices, including notebook PCs, handheld computers, digital cameras, and mobile phones. In turn, those devices could share high-speed wireless Internet access through a single client device for a service such as 3G mobile data.

A car-based wireless LAN also would reach as far as 300 feet around the car, allowing users to take their wireless Internet access with them when they did work on field trips or sat in a restaurant. Drivers and passengers also could download content, such as music, from retail stores while parked outside, McRae said.

Most of those applications aren't likely to see the light of day until 2004 or 2005, because of both technology and service issues that need to be worked out. However, the system shown at CES is expected to ship this year and will lay the groundwork, he said....

User tests planned this year will help developers figure out what consumers want, McRae said." [PC World, via Boing Boing Blog]

First of all, I hereby volunteer to be a tester. Second of all, I do believe we've been wishing for this in the SLS cars for some time now, so I think we should add this into the '04 budget. And finally, I'll have to start adding the acronym CAN (Car Area Network) to my presentations, but I have to admit to some hesitancy at telling an audience that they'll be adding a can to their cars in the future!

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These Two Items Appeared Next to Each Other in My Aggregator Today

IM as Tool for Collaborative Working

"iWire notes in reviewing a study of instant messaging in the workplace that the main use of IM was 'complex work discussions'. There are some methodological difficulties with the study (the software studied was new and about half of users worked at AT & T). But leaving that aside I can't help thinking that if true this heavy use of IM for work is Not A Good Thing.

If work-related electronically-mediated conversation moves from email to IM, an important "record trail" may be lost. Email can be filed into folders by subject, keyword searched etc. IM in most systems simply disappears once it is typed unless one or the other party saves the transcript.

If businesses do implement IM, it may therefore be important to include some kind of automatic logging function as well as monitoring it for legal reasons if needed." [Blog.org]

Is There a Place for IM in the Legal Profession?

"Marty Schwimmer announces today Trademark Lawyers Are Standing By to Take Your IM:  'You will notice a link to the left which say 'Instant Message Us Now.'  [T]he IT department hooked it up as part of an experiment with the use of instant messaging in providing legal information.  Our IM address is schwimmerlegal....'  Any other lawyers out there using IM?  Come on, don't be afraid to admit it." [Ernie the Attorney]

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Three Cheers for Buckman!

Buckman Arts Magnet Elementary

"Looks like Tim has is getting his school set up with MT Web logs. Just seems like this is a natural application for elementary schools where younger kids get a chance to publish and parents get a chance to follow along with what's up in the classroom. Note too that XML and RSS are featured prominently on most pages, and with this handy little tool, parents could get feeds right into their Outlook In boxes. There's no doubt that the potential for increasing communication between parents and schools and teachers is huge with content syndication and Web logs. Some might argue that may not be such a great thing, but I think the more visibility we can create, the more parents will appreciate the process. Too many of the problems arise because there isn't enough opportunity for parents to stay involved on some level." [weblogged News]

First of all, great job, Tim! I wish my kids' school provided this kind of communication. Score a second point because there is a blog for the Library! Score a third point for showing me the NewsGator: (Formerly the Outlook News Aggregator).

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I Need More Help!

I need further advice from T68i users or T-Mobile subscribers. I'm still seriously considering switching to T-Mobile and getting the Sony Ericsson T68i. I took a look at the AT&T version of the cell phone today, although the store didn't have the camera attachment in stock so I couldn't test that piece of it.

So if you use either the phone or the service, can you please send me your thoughts or leave a comment? Doug, Denise, and Andrew are quite enthusiastic, but is coverage pretty good? Is it easy enough to carry around the camera attachment and Bluetooth headset (keep in mind I don't carry a purse), or am I better off going for a phone with an integrated camera? If you use the internet service, are you subscribed for 1MB or 20MB, and is it enough? Does the synchronization with Outlook work well?

Thanks!

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How Will "Blog" Look at the 10-Year High School Reunion?

Words of the Year (2002)

"The grim forebodings of the past year were reflected in the American Dialect Society's choice of weapons of mass destruction and its abbreviation WMD as word (or phrase) of the year 2002....

Other candidates for Word of the Year were:

google (verb)—to search the Web using the search engine Google for information on a person or thing: 11 votes.

blog-from weblog, a website of personal events, comments, and links: 6 votes.

Before the voting on Word of the Year, words were also chosen in particular categories. These were the categories for 2002:

— Most likely to succeed: blog (30 votes)....

— Most useful: google (verb). All 60 votes in this category were for this word." [MetaFilter]

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No SimCity 4 For Me!

I will never buy SimCity 4 because I can tell how addictive it is just from the web site. Regular readers know that I lost what amounts to months of my life to the Super Nintendo version of the original SimCity (PDF). I'm currently flashing back thanks to an archive of SimCity music, but here are some interesting details about the new one:

  • Minimum requirement: "1 GB free hard disk space plus space for saved games (additional space required for Windows swap-file and DirectX™ 8.1 installation)" - good thing storage has gotten so cheap!
  • "Move your own personalized Sims into your city and they'll keep you abreast of what's going on around town" - narc or town gossip, you make the call!
  • From the looks of one of the screenshots, you can tp (toilet paper) trees! Ah, to relive your adolescence without fear of repercussions!
  • "High air pollution, water pollution, garbage, crime, traffic congestion or tax rates all have a negative impact on your Mayor Rating. Not having hospitals or schools also causes Mayor Rating to drop" - what about libraries?! Anyone test this out yet - do they help your Mayor Rating?
  • Never mind the game... I could spend all day just reading the Inside Scoop!
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LibraryLookup Gets Noticed in Libraries

I talked to Brian Kenney at Library Journal, and he quickly grasped the excitement of Jon Udell's LibraryLookup bookmarklet. He, in turn, wrote a brief piece about it, titled LibraryLookup: Go to Amazon, Find Library Book. It's good to see the library press finally picking up on this.

"Jon Udell, Lead Analyst at InfoWorld's test center, didn't set out to rock the world of library technology. He just wanted to check his local library's catalog while simultaneously browsing through Amazon.com. He soon developed LibraryLookup, a bookmarklet that can be installed on a browser's tool bar. "It's smart, simple, and incredibly slick," says Jenny Levine, Internet development specialist at the Suburban Library System, Burr Ridge, IL, who is among the growing group of librarians excited by the development."

Count Art Rhyno as another member of the "growing group of librarians excited by the development." In fact, I'd say that Art is the leading librarian-thinker on the topic because he keeps coming up with great ideas for extending Jon's original ideas. Art posted some of them over at /usr/lib/info.

Virtual Reference Toolbar

"I have run this by some observers who have a much better handle on virtual reference and the notion of a library search/ toolbar but I thought I would tap into the always insightful u/l/i crowd here. Since jaf's posting on Web4Lib the other week on the co-browsing work that came out of the hackfest, I have been flooded with mail. There seem to be several efforts to create virtual reference options in an Open Source framework, and I have been thinking about a way to tie together this with the searchbar and the bookmarklet apps. The glue for some of it at least seems to be applications like Dave's Quick Search Taskbar (DQSD), and WebSearcher. What I really like about DQSD is that it uses javascript as a core scripting engine, so that the hooks are there for wiring in some of the external pieces. Or even better yet, use the Amphetadesk approach and layer the application directly into the browser."

Be sure to read through his whole post, because he's off and running. Unfortunately, I don't have the technical know-how to help Art implement his ideas (or my own, for that matter). Any more knowledgeable librarians out there up to the challenge?

I really want to see us go further with all of this, but I was trying to impart to Brian why it's all so fascinating. Even beyond the potential for new library tools for patrons, Jon's little experiment (well, it started out little but then mushroomed) contains many interesting angles:

  • Non-librarians extending library services without any assistance from us (let alone our knowledge of it);
  • The role web services can play if we build our catalogs right;
  • What does this mean for our catalogs and specifically for our catalog vendors? Do we need to be holding them to different standards that ensure this type of inter-operability? For example, my home library just came up on a new Sirsi system, but it won't work with these bookmarklets. Ouch!
  • Jon has been using a relatively new service, Technorati, to track cross-blog conversations in what I consider to be a real first;
  • Innovative actually took down their customer list in response. I'd love to hear their side of this.
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