Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Office Problems

PCMag.com has an excellent article on workarounds for some of the most frustrating issues when using Microsoft Office. As I scanned the article, I consistently had to stop, re-read, and then try it to see if it worked. I picked up many good tips. Each page concerns a different piece of Office:

Changes to IE Coming

Microsoft has changed the way Internet Explorer works with ActiveX controls. Instead of automatically activating the controls for the web page, users will be asked to activate the control once. All ActiveX controls will then be activated for that page. This is one way Microsoft feels they can avoid infringing on the Eolas patent, which deals with the automatic activation of small programs such as plug-ins or applets or scripts. This update will be available through a future security update, as well as in new products such as Internet Explorer 7. [from internetnews.com]

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I/O Brush

Instead of painting with paint, you can paint with . . . video of real objects. From the MIT Labs, the I/O Brush (a prototype) looks like a large brush with a circular head. When the brush touches a surface an embedded video camera takes a video of the object. You can then use the brush on a canvas (currently, they are using a touch screen with rear projection). The resulting "paint" is the video just shot. It really didn't make sense to me until I saw it work. From the website:
There are many paint/drawing programs on the market today that are designed especially for kids. These let kids do neat things, but kids usually end up playing only with the "preprogrammed" digital palette the software provides. The idea of I/O Brush is to let the kids build their own ink. They can take any colors, textures, and movements they want to experiment with from their own environment and paint with their personal and unique ink. Kids are not only exploring through construction of their personal art project, but they are also exploring through construction of their own tools (i.e., the palette/ink) to build their art project with.
[from SIGIA-L]

Monday, November 28, 2005

State of Texas Sues SONY

The Texas Attorney General has sued SONY BMG for infringement of the state's Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act of 2005. (If someone can find the text of this Act, please let me know.) From the press release:
According to SONY’s Web site, the company recently distributed millions of CDs across the nation on 52 CDs by various artists. These CDs contained embedded files used for copy protection – or XCP technology. The files prompt consumers to enter into a user agreement to install SONY’s audio player. By opting into the agreement, which Sony represents is the only way a consumer can listen to these CDs on a computer, the consumer is unaware that SONY secretly installs files into the computer’s Microsoft Windows folders. Consumers are unable to detect and remove these files.
SONY states that the files only prevent unlimited copying. The Attorney General states that the files are hidden and active at all times. This makes them difficult to remove and to determine what the files are actually doing. From SONY BMG's FAQ: They have instituted a mail-in program for anyone who has purchased a CD with XCP technology. They will replace the XCP CD with the same CD without copy protection. They have also provided the major software and anti-virus companies with a software update and have provided access from their web site. A list of specific CDs affected is also included. [from beSpacific]

Single-Letter Domains

ICANN will be discussing the possibility of letting go of the single-letter domains. They have been kept in reserve as early Internet engineers were not sure if they would be able to keep up with the number of domains needed. They now believe this is not an issue. Only six have been allowed to keep their single-letter domains (q.com, x.com, z.com, i.net, q.net, and x.org). We may be seeing more of them as early as next year. [from Edupage]

Working Out with Computers

The University of Minnesota-Mankato has installed computers in their exercise area. If you're working on a treadmill, stationary bike, or stepper, you can surf the Net or check your email. The interest is so great that students have to sign up ahead of time. [from Wired]

Friday, November 11, 2005

Filtering Cell Phone Content

According to the New York Times, major cell phone carriers have agreed to provide ratings, similar to those used for movies and video games, for content they provide. This does not include Internet content downloaded to these devices. They will start with just two ratings -- general interest and restricted content (appropriate for those over 18). They have agreed that they will not start this rating system until they have developed a filtering technology for their content. A couple of things -- the carriers will be rating only content that is purchased via the cell phone. I assume this would include options such as movies, games, and TV shows. Much of this content is already rated, so that should make it easier. The most interesting thing is that the carriers are developing filtering technology. Don't we already have companies selling filtering technology? Many of us use it on a daily basis. So, why would major corporations have to develop their own? Why not just purchase one of the filtering companies or use an existing product? I'd love to know what they're developing. [from Edupage]

Upgrade Your Flash Player

Plug-ins are usually among the last programs that we upgrade. Do yourself a favor and upgrade your Flash player to version 8.x. There is a critical vulnerability which can allow hackers to run programs on your computer. Everyone on versions 6 and 7 should upgrade. If you aren't sure which version you are running, go to this Windows web page. You'll see the version. [from eWeek]

Carelessness and Computers

A study done at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor looked at over 300 computer/network problems at 36 institutions. They found that 40% of the problems were caused by the careless actions of students or staff. As opposed to external factors like viruses, the problems resulted from "inadequate training to help computer users avoid trouble and insufficient policies to deal with problems that do arise." So keep up with training and policies! [from Chronicle of Higher Education - subscription required] [from Edupage]

Friday, November 04, 2005


E-LIS is an open archive for library and information science. From their website:
E-LIS is an open access archive for scientific or technical documents, published or unpublished, on Librarianship, Information Science and Technology, and related areas. E-LIS relies on the voluntary work of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and is non-commercial. It is not a funded project of an organization. It is community-owned and community-driven. We serve LIS researchers by facilitating their self-archiving, ensuring the long-term preservation of their documents and by providing word-wide easy access to their papers.
[from Library Stories]

Studying Wireless Use at MIT

As of October, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has more than 2,800 access points. Through the iSPOTS project, they can see how much use is made of wireless across the campus. They can tell what types of devices are using the network, and if given permission, can track the location of users. They are finding that wireless users:
  • log on from their dorm rooms late at night or early in the morning
  • log on from their classrooms during the day
  • are not using study labs, but are using cafes and lounges
Since this upgraded network just went live last month, so it is very early to make many assumptions, but the research and statistics they find should help inform other organizations planning for overall wireless -- whether in an academic situation or not. [from LJ Tech Blog]

Purchase Parts of Books from Google and Amazon

Both Google and Amazon allow you to see parts of books (both copyrighted and non-copyrighted). They are both developing systems that will allow you to view full pages or chapters of books online for a cost. Downloading or printing those pages might cost more. Google's would work through Google Print; Amazon through its Search Inside service. Random House has put forward the possibility of charging 5 cents per page for viewing: 4 cents to the publisher and creator and 1 cent to the distributor (Google, Amazon, etc.). [from New York Times]

Google Desktop Out of Beta

Google has been putting out many services lately which have all been in beta. Google Desktop is the first in a long time that has now moved to production status. [from Official Google Blog]

Looks Too Good To Be True.com

Looks Too Good To Be True.com is a web site to aid consumers in identifying fraud on the Internet. From the website:
This website was developed to arm you with information so you don’t fall victim to these Internet scam artists. Education, good judgment, and a healthy dose of skepticism are the best defenses against becoming a victim. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
The web site is divided into sections:
  • Types of fraud -- identity fraud, financial fraud, auction fraud, sweepstakes/lottery fraud, counterfeit payments fraud
  • Victim stories
  • FAQs/tips
  • Share your experience
Partners in this website include the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, Monster, the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, The Spamhaus Project, the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center, Target, and the Merchant Risk Council. [from beSpacific]

Thursday, November 03, 2005


The EULAlyzer will analyze those End User License Agreements (EULA) you have to accept before using any software. It looks for interesting words and phrases and lists them for you before you accept the agreement. There is a free version (EULAlyzer Personal 1.0 for Windows) and a for-cost version (EULAlyzer Pro 1) for $19.95 per year. The Pro version will automatically detect a EULA and will give you results almost instantly. [from ResourceShelf]

Lufkin RSS Feeds

The Lufkin Daily News has RSS feeds:
  • Local News
  • Local Sports
  • Local Features
  • Local Opinions
  • National News
[from RSS Compendium]

Blog People Survey

A doctoral graduate student at the University of North Texas School of Library and Information Science -- Michael Stephens -- is asking librarians and library workers who have a weblog about libraries to fill out this survey.
The purpose of this research study is to help better understand the motivations of librarians who write independent Weblogs about libraries, technology or their experiences in libraries. It seeks to identify who, exactly, are the "blog people" of librarianship.
If you have a few minutes, take the survey. [from Tame The Web]

Library Instruction Wiki

If you teach library skills, you should look at the Library Instruction Wiki. There are sections for: Once you have a good idea of what is already there, remember that you can add content yourself. It does require authentication, but that part is easy. You can also subscribe to a feed of the changes/updates to the wiki.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Web 2.0

Tim O'Reilly has authored an article called "What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software." It is his attempt to explain what the differences between Web 1.0 (the current web) and Web 2.0 are. Overall, he identifies:
  • The Web as the platform, not an operating system like Windows
  • Collective intelligence, e.g., Wikipedia, del.icio.us, Flickr, blogging, RSS
  • Data is the core, e.g., companies using user-supplied data
  • Continual software development as opposed to software releases
  • Lightweight services (web services, RSS)
  • Software that connects multiple devices, e.g., handhelds, PCs, iPods
  • Rich user experiences over the web, e.g., email, address book, word processor, contact record management
O'Reilly does a great job of explaining each of these and providing examples of you can see each in action right now. A definite read!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Patent on XML

Scientigo owns two patents which covers "the transfer of 'data in neutral forms.'" They feel that the use of XML infringes on these two patents. Scientigo is planning on licensing this work, but others feel that the basis of XML goes back to SGML, which was created in the 1980s and which is based on prior work done in the 1960s. [from ZDNet]

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Solar Chargers

Soldius of Holland is marketing a solar charger for your cell phone, PDA, iPod, etc. After about 3 hours of sunlight, it can create 6.58 volts of electricity. The company says you should be able to use it 90,000 times. Costs are between $90 and $110. [from CNET.com]

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Copyright Metadata

Karen Coyle has written an article for First Monday articulating her ideas concerning the creation of metadata for copyright information for digital objects. At this point, libraries usually provide rights information. However, she makes a good case that we should provide as much copyright information as possible -- at least enough for our patrons to determine how they can proceed if they want to use the object. Good paper and good idea. [from LibraryLaw Blog]

Internet Library 2005

I've been at the Internet Librarian 2005 conference in Monterey, CA this week. Tomorrow I go home -- hopefully to warmer temperatures! ;-) There have been many very good sessions here. There are also a number of people blogging these sessions (InfoToday provided free wireless in the convention center). As I find them, I will link to the good overviews I find. Library Terms that Users Understand - web usability
Shifting Worlds - keynote/stats from Pew Internet and American Life project Choosing the Right CMS Social Software and Sites for Public Library Competing with Google: Library Strategies -- keynote
Evaluating Search Tools Fueling Engines for the Future --A9, Yahoo, Google representatives Search Engine Update Google: Catalyst for Digitization? Or Library Destruction? -- keynote Blogging at the University Marketing the Weblog Library Blogs - Ethis & Guidelines Social Computing and the Information Professional Hardware Solutions -- for public libraries Future Technology Trends for Public Libraries 30 Search Tips in 40 Minutes Internet at Schools Keynote
Presentations should be available on the IL web site in about two weeks.

New Browser -- Flock

Flock is a Firefox-based browser that incorporates many of the social networking technologies available today.
  • Bookmarks are more closely integrated with del.icio.us, a web-based social bookmarking manager.
  • An RSS reader is built-in.
  • Blog posts can be easily created for services like Wordpress, Six Apart, and Blogger.
Although this browser is now available, it is labeled a developer preview. I'm going to wait before trying it out. [from CNET.com]

Blogging in the Schools

K-12 teachers are starting to use blogging with their students. In addition to learning the technology, they are learning they can express themselves for a larger world, work with writing skills, current events, democracy, calculus, music theory, and Mandarin just to start. Some of these blogs are open to the public for viewing and commenting (usually with an adult moderator); others are available just for the class. There are definitely issues here, but many teachers are starting to work through them. This article cites a book that will be out in 2006: Richardson, Will. An Educator's Guide to Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Cool Web Tools that are Transforming the Classroom. Corwin Press, 2006. [from CNET.com]

XML Button for Subscribing to RSS Feeds

Yahoo! and Ipsos Insight have authored a white paper on RSS. Some interesting findings in this study:
  • 27% of Internet users use RSS, but don't know it (personalized start pages like My Yahoo!).
  • My Yahoo! has the highest awareness and use of any RSS-enabled product.
  • Internet users that are aware that they use RSS subscribe to an average of 6.6 feeds.
  • Internet users that are aware that they use RSS spend an average of 4.1 hours per week reading their feeds.
  • Of the 62% of Internet users, only 38% have actually clicked on the XML button.
  • Of all of the Internet users that have clicked on the XML button, 27% copied the URL into their RSS reader, 26% clicked on another button to copy the URL into their RSS reader, 26% left the site, 5% copied the code into their RSS reader, and 22% aren't sure what they did.
Although this study was done for Yahoo!, I can believe that theirs is the most popular RSS product. However, the average number of feeds seems low. On the other hand, I deal primarily with librarians and we may just normally subscribe to more. The most helpful statistics, however, are in the last bullet. There has to be a more intuitive way to get people to use RSS feeds. The XML/RSS buttons are not helpful. Words aren't much better -- "syndicate this site." But what is a better way that would apply to more than just one reader? [from beSpacific]

Usability and Blogs by Nielsen

Jakob Nielsen's October 17th Alertbox is on Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes. Many of his ideas are based on his prior work with web site usability, but some are particular to blogs:
  • Author biographies are not necessary, although information about the author is important, as it provides your credentials.
  • Provide a photo.
  • Provide descriptive titles to your posts.
  • Link text should provide the reader with information conerening the link's destination.
  • Bring your best posts to the front page.
  • Provide navigation in addition to the calendar, e.g., categories.
  • Publish on a regular schedule.
  • The more focused your blog, the more likely you will have a loyal following.
  • Don't forget that your blog will be available in perpetuity -- your future boss may be reading it.
  • Use a domain name of your own, not one from the blogging service you use.
Nielsen provides a summary for each item. Definitely good reading! [from beSpacific]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

OpenOffice 2.0 Released

OpenOffice 2.0 is now available for download. It is an open source office suite, similar to Microsoft Office. [from Cafe con Leche XML News and Resources]

New Netscape Version

If you're using Netscape, you should upgrade to version 8.0.4, which is a bug fix release. [from Cafe con Leche XML News and Resources]


The Association of College & Research Libraries has started an official blog -- ACRLog. Its mission:
ACRLog is a blog that aims to discuss the issues of the day in the field of academic librarianship. It will strive to get you thinking about what you do, why you do it, and how it fits into this enterprise we call higher education. We are passionate about academic librarianship so we will call it the way we see it. You may not always agree with us - and when you do or don’t - let us know - but if we get you thinking about the issues that impact on academic librarianship then we are doing our job.
[from LISNews]

Spyware Overview

Wired has a good overview of spyware. Good, understandable answers to:
  • What is spyware?
  • Is spyware the same as viruses and Trojan horses?
  • How does spyware get onto my computer?
  • How will I know if I have spyware on my machine?
  • What does spyware do once it's on my computer?
  • How do I get it off my computer?
  • How do I prevent spyware from getting on my machine?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

RSS Feeds from ProQuest

ProQuest, a database vendor, will be providing RSS feeds through their databases. Jenny Levine has posted some slides (within a presentation) that shows screenshots of the upcoming functionality.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Firefox/Netscape Prefetching First Google Result

Just recently, Google instituted a new feature that only works with Mozilla-based browsers, i.e., Netscape or Firefox. When you bring up your first page of Google search results, Google will pre-fetch the web page for the first result and keep it in your cache. If you click on that search result, it should display more quickly. On the surface, this is a good idea, but it can cause some problems:
  • Web server statistics will not be accurate, as they will reflect pages that were pre-fetched, but not necessarily viewed by the user.
  • Your computer information (e.g., IP address, browser type) was sent to the pre-fetched site and placed in the server's logs even though you may not view the page.
  • If the site supports cookies, you may have cookies from that site even if you have not viewed the page.
Google has created an FAQ that provides more information on how they are implementing link pre-fetching. Mozilla has provided information on how to turn this functionality off. [from LISNews.com]

Thursday, October 13, 2005

USB Drives with a Screen

Memorex will be shipping the TravelDrive -- a USB drive. This drive has an LCD on the outside that shows you what is on the drive (up to 13 characters) and how much space is left -- even if you are not connected to a computer. The drives available range from 128mb - 2gb. [from CNET.com]

Intel Most Unwired Campuses

For the second year in a row, Intel has provided a list of 50 college campuses (over 1,000 students) that have the most wireless access. Findings are based on the percentage of each campus that is covered by wireless technology. Texas made it into the list three times! [from LISNews.com]

Google's Librarian Center

Google has created the Librarian Center. There isn't much there yet, but it looks like a way for them to reach into our community and possibly us into theirs. I have read many discussion list and blog posts wondering if Google will continue on their way of organizing the world's information without us. With this, maybe not. From the web page:
Librarians and Google share a mission: to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. We support librarians like yourself who work each day to further that mission. This page is a first step toward improving and expanding that support.
You can subscribe to a quarterly newsletter geared toward librarians. Google also asks for links to any Google teaching materials. [from LibrarianInBlack]

Yahoo & Microsoft Instant Messsaging

By the second quarter of 2006, both Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger should be able to:
. . . exchange instant messages, see the presence of their contacts, share emoticons, add friends from either service and make PC-to-PC voice calls, Yahoo and Microsoft said Wednesday.
There have been rumors of Yahoo, MSN, and AOL making their instant messaging programs interoperable. It's good to see that two of them will be trying to do just that. This should be an advantage for libraries using IM. Although you will still need some type of IM aggregator (e.g., Trillian or GAIM) in order to work with other services, having Yahoo and MSN work together should make this service a little easier to run. [from CNET.com]

Yahoo! News Includes Blogs, Flickr, My Web

The Yahoo! News service now searches not only news sites, but also blogs, Flickr photos, and links from My Web. It is their way of providing not just access to news sites, but also personal thoughts on news issues. At least for now, the blog results are shown in a box on the right side of the page. Interestingly, when you go to the Yahoo! News web site, it seems that you must search for news and blog information; when you search from the Yahoo! News web page, there is a drop-down that allows you to search "All News & Blogs," "Yahoo! News Only," "News Photos", and "Video/Audio." [from beSpacific]

International Legal Research Tutorial

Two law librarians from Duke University School of Law and University of California, Berkeley, School of Law have created an online tutorial for researching international law. From the website:
This tutorial is designed to teach students research strategies and methodology for researching both print and electronic sources of international legal materials. The tutorial includes review questions and a final review to give students an understanding of how these materials are organized, and to teach them how to locate international legal documents such as treaties, agreements and the documentation of international organizations.
[from beSpacific]

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

LC Web Site Received Award

The Library of Congress received an "Outstanding Website" award from the Web Marketing Association. About this award, from the website:
In recognizing that several outstanding sites may be entered in the same category and only one site can win Best of Industry, this award allows the Web Marketing Association to recognize work above and beyond the standard of excellence.
[from beSpacific]

Microsoft Office 12 Beta Due in November

Update: PCMag.com has provided screen shots and additional details about Office 12, based on the beta. Even if you don't read the article, the screen shots are very informative. ******************************** Update: I found an Office 12 video that goes through some of the major user interface changes (Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Outlook). The video is 42 minutes long, but is very helpful if you have the time. ******************************** The next version of Microsoft Office should be due out in beta next month. The final version should be available sometime during the second half of 2006. Some things to be aware of:
  • In most of the Office programs, you will be able to save a file as a PDF document, but you won't be able to open a PDF document within Office. Microsoft is working on its own document format -- Metro -- which should be very similar to PDF.
  • When you save a document, the default setting will be to save as an XML-based document.
  • The interface will be different, so there will be a learning curve. From CNET.com:
With Office 12, due next year, the company plans to do away with a system that depends on people remembering which series of menus lead to a particular command. Instead, users will see a "ribbon" of different commands above their document, with the options changing depending on the task.
  • There will be a "live preview" that will show you the result of your choices before you accept them.
  • Office 12 will not require Microsoft's new operating system Vista. However, there may be functionality which is only available if you are using Vista.
[from CNET.com] [from CNET.com] [from CNET.com]

Circulation Data and Art

The Seattle Public Library has had several pieces of art installed within its new building. One, "Making Visible the Invisible," displays streams of titles checked out from the library on six plasma screens. Take a look. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, there is no patron data displayed and there is an hour delay between the actual circulation interaction and the computer display. What an interesting piece of art! I would love to see it! [from librarian.net]

Monday, October 10, 2005

Nine Library Webmasters Surveyed

Primary Research Group surveyed webmasters at nine well-known public libraries (one in Texas -- Houston Public). Based on these libraries, they have drawn the following conclusions:
  • Content management systems are a popular way to manage web sites.
  • The most popular library web pages include events calendars, basic library information, database gateways, and children's/teen pages.
  • The size of the library web staff is very small and most have other responsibilities. Most libraries use subject specialists to edit web pages.
  • Libraries try to provide unique content, e.g., interactive storytelling, educational games, librarian book reviews.
  • The children's/teen areas of the library web site has been a place for creative web development.
  • Digitization of special collections via the library web site is in the planning stages and should become more prevalent.
  • Many public libraries redesign their web sites every three years.
Additional conclusions as well as the rest of the report are available through Primary Research Group. Interesting conclusions. Although the size of the sample and the types of libraries make it difficult to generalize. I would say that for medium to large public libraries, these conclusions are probably pretty accurate. But there are many other public libraries, generally smaller, that have web sites much smaller and much less complex. [from Library Stuff]

Technology Watch List for Small Libraries

WebJunction has a list, which will be updated quarterly, that "points out the technologies that will bring your library the most bang for the buck." Currently, the list includes:
  • Technology planning
  • Application service providers
  • Digital preservation
  • Wireless access
  • Blogging and RSS
  • Thin-client technology
  • E-books and audio e-books
It is really difficult to argue with any of these. All are either low-cost or look to the future. The list also includes a summary of each. [from LJ Tech Blog]

Instant Messaging on Meebo

If you are using or considering instant messaging as part of your library services, you need to look at Meebo -- even if it is in alpha right now. One of the problems (obstacles? pains?) of starting an instant messaging service is that you have to have an account for each IM provider. You could sign onto each service separately or use an IM "aggregator" like GAIM or Trillian. Although better, this still isn't perfect, as you are tied to the computers that have the software loaded. Meebo is a web-based IM service. So, I can log into AIM, ICQ, Yahoo!, Jabber, GTalk, and/or MSN all at once -- from any computer. This has real possibilities for library-based IM services. Be kind, however. It has only been out since September 15th. They've been through a few releases since then and are asking for feedback along the way. Definitely not a finished product, but finished enough that you should look at it if you're interested in IM. [from Library Stuff]

UTA Open Source Case Study

Michael Doran of The University of Texas at Arlington presented a session at LITA concerning the process of creating, releasing and licensing open source software. A few things to keep in mind:
  • Make it easy to install.
  • Provide documentation, an FAQ, a demo, screen shots and downloads on a web site.
  • Market use web sites, discussion lists, conferences, and articles.
  • The better the documentation, the less support is needed.
  • Focus on enhancements your library needs.
  • If you used your employer's resources, chances are good that they own the copyright.
I'm hoping his presentation will be available soon on his website. [from LITA Blog]

Yahoo! Podcasts

Yahoo! Podcasts Beta is now available. Search and subscribe to podcasts. See what other listeners have chosen or add tags to your own choices. They have also provided a short tutorial on how to create a podcast, which of course, they want you to add to their growing collection. [from LJTech Blog]

USB Ports in Your Car

Starting in December 2005, Volkswagen will provide a USB port in the center console of its Golf, Golf Plus, and Touran models. The stereo display will allow you to see and play music from the device. [from CNN.com]

BlackBerry Service Might Die in US

Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturer for the BlackBerry, appealed a ruling that they had violated seven patents from a company called NTP. RIM tried to appeal this decision, but the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington rejected their request. NTP "had been granted an injunction banning the sale of BlackBerry devices in the United States and forcing Research in Motion to stop providing e-mail services to all American customers except government account holders." RIM is asking the Supreme Court for a review of the case. [from The New York Times]

Google and Sun Partnering

In early October, Google and Sun announced an agreement to work together more closely in the future. Currently, the only tangible piece of this agreement is that the Google toolbar will be an option when you download the Java programming tool. Because Google generates revenue from its toolbar, this should provide a wider installation base and, therefore, more revenue for them. Ultimately, Sun is hoping that this agreement will make it easier for customers to obtain StarOffice, its OpenOffice project. [from The New York Times]

Hearing Aid and Cell Phone in One

Starkey Laboratories has created ELI, an instrument which attaches to behind-the-ear hearing aids. Using Bluetooth, the cell phone call is routed to ELI so the user can hear the call. There is also a microphone on ELI, which allows the user to be heard by the caller. For those that use in-ear hearing aids, there is another version which is worn on a necklace. Communication between the cell phone and this ELI model also uses Bluetooth. [from The New York Times]

eBay to Purchase Skype

eBay, which also owns PayPal, will be purchasing Skype, one of the best-known VoIP providers. According to eBay, the company will not be creating portal services, but rather focusing on e-commerce. [from New York Times]

The Open Record

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has created an online news forum called "The Open Record." The press release states that it will "cover topics such as Texas history, new projects and initiatives in the world of archives and libraries, best practices, noteable Texans, genealogy information, grant awards, reading programs, technology, and more." I'll point out that, as of today, there are five articles; three of them are authored by Peggy Rudd, the State Librarian. I hope this trend continues -- hearing from the administrative levels of TSLAC. A couple of other things to note. This site functions as a blog. Comments are available, as is an RSS feed. For those not yet using RSS, you can subscribe to updates via email.

Open Content Alliance

Update: Microsoft has now joined the OCA (press release). Also, OCA has provided more details on how the project will be implemented. ************************** From the website:
The Open Content Alliance (OCA) represents the collaborative efforts of a group of cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world that will help build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content. Content in the OCA archive will be accessible soon through this website and through Yahoo!
Sounds like Google Print, right? It is similar, but there is one major difference. The OCA will provide access to public domain materials and copyrighted materials for which they have permission of the copyright holder. Originally conceived by the Internet Archive and Yahoo!, the initial collections will come from: Other contributors are welcome. [from ResearchBuzz!]

No Butler for Ask Jeeves

Although no timeframe is available, the Ask Jeeves search engine will be re-named and Jeeves, the butler will be gone. According to Computerworld, surveys showed that users thought of the search engine as old-fashioned. It is hoped that these changes will help showcase its improvements and newer functionality.

Feeds at Texas Christian University

Texas Christian University has RSS heading feeds available for:
  • TCU
  • Business
  • Communication
  • Divinity
  • Education
  • Fine Arts
  • Health and Human Services
  • Humanities/Social Sciences
  • Science and Engineering
[from RSS Compendium]

WorldCat Allows Your Comments

Update: According to Roy Tennant, the comments/notes will reside outside the catalog. OCLC now allows comments from WorldCat users -- wiki-style. Check this title. Click on either Details (Table of Contents or Notes) or Reviews (Reader Reviews) to see how you can add information. I'm torn. WorldCat/bibliographic description has always been the cataloger's domain. As I am not a cataloger, I've always felt I shouldn't modify their records. However, I think this is a great idea and am very interested to see how it will turn out. I wonder if these comments become part of the MARC record . . . nah . . . [from Lorcan Dempsey's weblog] [disclaimer: I work for Amigos Library Services, an organization that works with OCLC.]

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Another way to interact with your computer. The TactaPad allows you to use your fingers to open menus, move objects and scroll without using a mouse. Your hands move over a pad and are shown semi-transparently on your computer screen. Your fingers feel different sensations depending on the interaction at the time. An interesting idea. Currently it has only been made for the Macintosh; Windows and OS X is in development. The product itself is not yet available for sale, but they estimate it would cost around $1,000.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Palm Treo Uses Windows Mobile

For the first time, a Palm device is running a Microsoft operating system. The newest Treo -- the Treo 700w smart phone -- runs Windows Mobile 5.0. According to CNET, this should encourage corporations to purchase Treos, as they should work more easily with other existing Microsoft software like the Exchange server.

VoIP Must Provide Ability to Wiretap

The Federal Communications Commission released a decision stating that broadband Internet access providers and VoIP providers that connect to the public telephone network must conform to the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). One of the requirements of CALEA is that these services provide the ability to wiretap. Providers have to comply by spring 2007. [from ZDNet]

StarOffice Version 8 is Available

StarOffice version 8 is based on OpenOffice version 2.0. One goal of this version is to allow Microsoft Office users to easily move to this software. The cost is much less than the Microsoft version -- free for K-12 and academic libraries. Of course, the open source version -- OpenOffice -- is available to all at no charge. [from eWeek]

Mouse Tutorial in Spanish

Some of you may already know about the mouse tutorials at Palm Beach County Library System. Now they've created a mouse tutorial in Spanish. [from Web4Lib]

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Three IMLS Leadership Grants in Texas

Three National Leadership Grants for Libraries from the Institute of Museum and Library Services have been given to Texas.
  • Stephen F. Austin State University -- Phase II funding for Texas Tides. "This project will enable Texas Tides to expand its services by providing Spanish-language translations of Web site text, rare and educational materials, lesson plans and activities for bilingual classrooms. Texas Tides demonstrates how regional projects can integrate resources with larger state or national projects through compliance with current imaging and metadata standards."
  • Texas State Library and Archives Commission -- "The Texas State Library and Archives Commission, together with 11 partner institutions in the Texas Heritage Digitization Initiative, will identify, describe, digitize, preserve, and make broadly accessible special collections materials of history and culture held by libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies throughout the state. The project will ensure seamless, integrated statewide access to these resources by using open source software in support of international standards such as the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) and the Z39.50 information retrieval protocol. A key aspect of the project will be the "uplift" of partner institutions that are not yet compliant with standards to allow searching across the collections; this will be achieved through the provision of metadata upgrades, data translation, controlled vocabularies, and other improvements."
  • The University of Texas at Austin -- "The Open Choice project will create, test, and evaluate an 'open source' Internet content filter for use in libraries."
[from IMLS web site]

Opera Has No Advertisements

Those of you who have used Opera in the past may remember that you could download the browser at no cost, but have advertisements in the upper right corner of the window, or you could purchase it and have no ads. Opera now provides their browser at no cost and with no ads! Premium Support is available for an additional charge. [from Opera]

Cracking Passwords By Listening

Researchers from the University of California-Berkeley have been successfully identifying passwords and other text by recording the key strokes from a keyboard. By using $10 microphones, they can record the key stroke sounds and then run these sounds through software programs to create a transcript of the session. The first pass tries to guess which key has been pressed; the second time, the text is run through spelling/grammar checks; the third time, it is run through to refine the results. After three passes, the computer accurately predicted words 88% of the time and characters 96% of the time. Obviously textual documents are at risk with this method. However, this article points out that passwords are a very likely target. More experiments are being done on this topic. [from ZDNet]

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Yahoo Searches Use Wayback Machine

One of the options in the search results of a Yahoo! search is to look at a cached copy. At the top of the cached copy is a link to the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive, which will provide you with previous copies of the web page, if they exist. [from ResourceShelf]

Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar (Beta)

A preview release of the Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar just came out. Although the final version may be different, right now you can:
  • View/modify the DOM
  • Find/select specific elements
  • Disable specific IE settings
  • View class names and IDs
  • Validate HTML, CSS, WAI, and RSS feed links
  • Display image information
  • Resize browser window to specific sizes
  • Clear cache and cookies
  • Link directly to W3C standards
  • Display ruler for object alignment
I find it a little ironic that the toolbar allows you to validate to standards, specifically the CSS standard, when the browser itself doesn't even recognize the full CSS version 1 standard. Maybe the upcoming Internet Explorer version 7 will incorporate more standards. We'll see . . . [from RSS Compendium Blog]

RSS Buttons

The RSS Compendium Blog has linked to a page of many of the RSS buttons you see on blogs and feeds. It's great to have them all in one place.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Yahoo! Instant Search

Yahoo! has a new service in beta -- Instant Search. As you type your search query, a bubble may pop up below the search box. If available, it will provide you with the single, relevant answer to the search query. According to the FAQ, you could see:
  • #1 search result for popular searches
  • Yahoo! Shortcuts for information like news and weather
  • Corrections to misspellings
If none of these occur, you'll see the normal search results. Try these, hesitating after each word in the query to see the bubbles:
  • san francisco giants scores
  • time in copenhagen
[from Yahoo! Search Blog]

Thursday, September 15, 2005

New Open Office Version

OpenOffice 1.1.5 is now available for download. Version 2.0 is in its second beta. It's features are very close to those you would see in Microsoft Office or Lotus. [from Cafe con Leche XML News and Resources]

Google Blog Search . . . Beta

Google has yet another beta service -- Blog Search. You can get to this service in four ways: Blog Search searches all blogs that have a site feed. At this point, it only searches blogs from June 2005 on. Google is working on ways to include older posts. You can subscribe to the search itself. At the bottom of each page of search results, you'll see both Atom and RSS listed, each with an option of 10 or 100 results. Copy the URL and paste into your aggregator. Any new posts that conform to the search strategy will automatically be sent to you. Although this functionality is not new, it is nice to know it is available. [from beSpecific]

Friday, September 09, 2005

Making Electricity as you Backpack

According to Wired, researchers have come up with a backpack that makes electricity as you backpack. It makes about 7 watts, enough for MP3 players, cell phones, PDAs. From the article:
The researchers used a backpack fastened to the carrying frame by springs. The up-and-down motion caused by walking powers a small generator, producing electricity that can be used directly or stored in a capacitor or battery.
It currently weighs about 10 pounds, but they are working to get it down to just a couple. Every ounce counts when you're backpacking!

Encyclopedia Britannica Online RSS Feed

This is an RSS feed you might consider adding to your web site. Encyclopedia Britannica Online provides a daily feed which includes two items:
  • This Day in History
  • Biography of the Day
[from LibraryStuff]

RSS 3.0

A new version of RSS, superceding versions .9x and 2.0, is being created. Version 3.0 will provide more documentation of the language, "thereby solving common problems with the existing standards." This version will not replace version 1.0, which is based on RDF, or Atom. At this point, there are still 3 major competing RSS standards. Most readers deal with all of them. This version will provide a full specification as well as a lite. RSS 3 Lite is available in draft form now. [from LISNews.com]

Thursday, September 08, 2005

OCLC DeweyBrowser

I'm not a Dewey user -- almost all the libraries I have ever used (school and public included) used LC. However, this DeweyBrowser is really cool! There is an online demo on the OCLC web site. Basically, you type in a search term/phrase. The results come back with a color-coded listing of generally how many titles are in each of the ten Dewey classes. Hover over the class name and you'll get the number of titles in that class. Click on the class you want and the next layer of classes appears, color-coded and with the number of titles. Click on the section you want and you will get a third layer, similar to the others. Click on this third layer and you will see citations which link back to the record in the database you are searching. You can use Boolean AND (all of the keywords) or OR (any of the keywords), and limit by language. You can also change the language of the Dewey captions. Right now, this is a prototype, but it could be really helpful when searching your online catalog, or a digital repository, or a huge database like OCLC's. [from Outgoing] [FYI -- I work for an OCLC regional service provider.]

Harris County Public Library/Katrina

Other Texas libraries may also be doing this, but I came upon the blog at Harris County Public Library. Check out the listings for: Great resources for evacuees!

THOMAS Updated

The THOMAS web site update is now available. It definitely looks like a part of the Library of Congress web site now. ******************** THOMAS, a federal legislative database created by the Library of Congress, will be updated by the end of the year. Not only will the interface be changed, but functionality will also be added. According to Federal Computer Week, the final list is not yet set, but the following will definitely be available:
  • Improved visual appearance.
  • Headers, footers and other links for easy navigation.
  • A left-side menu for quick access to main content sections.
  • Ability to browse legislation by sponsor.
  • Links to Senate hearings for nominations.
  • Links to legislative resources and learning activities.
  • A new help section.
  • Links to the full text of treaties.
[from ResourceShelf]

Study of Copyright Section 108

The Library of Congress has created the Section 108 Study Group:
to conduct a reexamination of the exceptions and limitations applicable to libraries and archives under the Copyright Act, specifically in light of the changes wrought by digital media. The group will study how Section 108 of the Copyright Act may need to be amended to address the relevant issues and concerns of libraries and archives, as well as creators and other copyright holders. The group will provide findings and recommendations on how to revise the copyright law in order to ensure an appropriate balance among the interests of creators and other copyright holders, libraries and archives in a manner that best serves the national interest. The findings and recommendations will be submitted by mid-2006 to the Librarian of Congress.
My guess is that digital materials will find themselves in the midst of most of the discussion. There is a place for comments from those of us outside the committee. [from ResourceShelf]

Austin TV Station has RSS Feeds

KXAN, an NBC affiliate in Austin, has RSS feeds for the following pages on their web site:
  • Home page
  • News
  • Weather
  • Out on the Porch
  • Health
  • Hill Country & KXAM 14
  • Food for Thought
[from RSS Compendium]

E-Government/Public Sector IT News

PublicTechnology.net, a web site providing information for e-government and public sector IT, has RSS feeds. Most of the feeds provide headlines; one lists job vacancies. [from RSS Compendium]

San Angelo Newspaper has RSS Feeds

The San Angelo Standard-Times has RSS feeds for:
  • News
  • Opinion
  • High schools sports
  • Angelo State University sports
  • San Angelo Colts
  • High school football
  • Sports
  • Three columnists
  • Oil and agricultural news
  • Community
  • Entertainment
[from RSS Compendium]

Yahoo! Toolbar for Firefox

You can now get the Yahoo! toolbar if you using either Internet Explorer 5.0+ or Firefox 1.0+. The Internet Explorer version has been out for a while; in late July, Yahoo! introduced the Firefox version. [from Yahoo! Search Blog]

IE 6 Required for FEMA Online Applications

According to Computerworld, FEMA's web site requires Internet Explorer 6.0 for their applications. I found this on the FEMA web site:
The Online registration requires Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6.0 or above. If you do not have Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher, you may still be able to access the Individual Assistance Center where you can check the status of your application and update your information.
Is this a big deal? Maybe not. I would hope that most libraries that are providing Internet access for the evacuees have kept their software updated. As most public libraries have had help from the Gates Library Foundation, Internet Explorer is probably available. However, many schools use Macintoshes and many citizens don't upgrade to the latest and greatest because what they have, e.g., IE 5.0, works just fine. I just found it interesting that the federal government is being proprietary in the browser and operating system that has to be used in an emergency situation. [from Computerworld]

GPL License to be Updated

The General Public License (GPL) is a license which conforms to the open source license, but technically is a Free Software license ("free as in freedom, not price"). The license explains that the software can be freely copied, distributed or modified. Anyone using this license must make their software available under the same license. It's last revision was in 1991 and now they will be updating it once again. With version 3, they hope to:
  • encourage international participation to create a more global license;
  • include patent language;
  • close existing loopholes;
  • possibly discuss the constitutionality of GPL, e.g., does it undermine the US and European system of patents and copyrights?
[from internetnews.com]

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

National Vulnerability Database

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created the National Vulnerability Database, which gives systems administrators a place to go to find out about system vulnerabilities and how to work with them. From the web site:
NVD is a comprehensive cyber security vulnerability database that integrates all publicly available U.S. Government vulnerability resources and provides references to industry resources. It is based on and synchronized with the CVE vulnerability naming standard.
You can search by keyword or, by clicking on Advanced Search, browse by vendor or product. Limiting factors include date, severity, type of exploit, type of impact, type of vulnerability, resource. There are 2 RSS feeds for those that want to keep up without remembering to come back to the NVD web site. One tracks all recent vulnerabilities; the other tracks only fully analyzed vulnerabilities. FYI: This database is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Division. [from be Specific]

Preview of Internet Explorer 7

In early August, Wei-Ming Lee provided an overview of Beta 1 of Internet Explorer 7. Although more work will be done before it is released, it does provide some new functionality for us to consider:
  • Previous/next and Back/Forward buttons have been combined.
  • Stop/refresh buttons are now one.
  • Tabbed browsing.
  • Automatically discovers RSS feeds on a page; can add them to My Favorites.
  • Can Shrink-to-Fit for printing purposes.
  • Can more easily change page orientation for printing.
  • Can change default search engine.
  • Secure sites have a padlock icon in the address bar.
  • Sites identified as phishing sites will be identified.
Good overview, easy read, lots of screenshots. [from beSpecific]

Yahoo! Audio Search

Yahoo! has a beta service called Audio Search. It searches not only music, but also speeches, podcasts, interviews, sound effects -- anything in an audio format. You can save these audio files to Yahoo! My Web, another beta service which provides you with storage. On the search results page, you can limit by music or podcast or other audio. Clicking on More Options allows you to limit by file type, length (longer/shorter than 1 minutes), and source (web or audio service). [from beSpecific]

Searching Podcasts

TVEyes now has a search engine called Podscope which searches podcasts. All words within a podcast are searchable. Instead of seeing a web page, the result would be hearing the audio of a podcast. This service also indexes the audio content within video blogs. [from beSpecific]

Google Print Changes

Because of coyright concerns, the Google Print project is changing how it deals with copyrighted materials. Originally, Google wanted to scan all materials within the libraries they are working with. If the material is under copyright, then Google would display only a few sentences on either side of the search term. Now, however, Google has stopped scanning copyrighted materials and is letting publishers have time to let Google know which materials should not be scanned at all. They expect to resume scanning in November. Publishers, however, see this as backward. They feel that Google should be asking them for permission to scan all copyrighted works. Ultimately, this may end up in court. An article at Internet Week provides the basics of the situation and also cites case law which may be considered. The author of the article seems to think that Google would win such a case. [from Internet Week]

WorldCat Toolbars

OCLC's Open WorldCat service allows Internet searchers to find your collection via search engines. OCLC has worked with both Yahoo! and Google to create toolbars specific to searching Open WorldCat.
  • Yahoo! Toolbar -- Search libraries, i.e., WorldCat, instead of the web. Yahoo! also provides easy access to searching FirstSearch and NetLibrary (authorization may be required). Only works with Internet Explorer 5.0 and above.
  • Google Toolbar -- The AutoLink feature changes to "Show Book Info" if an ISBN number is on the web page. By default, it searches the WorldCat database; however, you can change the provider from WorldCat to another library database. Different versions available for Firefox 1.0+ and Internet Explorer 5.5+.
If you are a Firefox user, there are extensions available for both Yahoo! and Google. [FYI: I work for a network affilifated with OCLC.]

Plans for the Redesign of the Internet

The National Science Foundation is initiating a research grant program aimed at creating a new internet architecture. The program is part of the "Global Environment for Networking Investigations" (GENIE), which will provide a place to explore new architectures. Functionality that will be inherent in the updated internet architecture include security measures, support for wireless devices, and sensors throughout the system, e.g., for traffic. [from Wired News]

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

VoIP Providers May Pay into USF

A Federal Communications Commission board on universal service has suggested that any company using the public switched network should provide funds for the Universal Service Fund. This would primarily affect VoIP providers that allow you to call those that are not on their network. Comments are currently being accepted by the FCC on this issue. [from Edupage]

Google IM and Google Talk

Summer is over and, unlike many of you, I'm just starting to catch up from a very busy spring and summer. Time to catch up on what I've been missing! Google now has a program which also allows you to send instant messages, email (Gmail) and now also allows you to talk to others. Google Talk is bringing all three of these communication methods together. Still in beta, it does require you to have a Gmail account. You can either get an invitation from someone that already has a Gmail account, or provide them with your mobile phone number. I might have missed it, but I don't think anyone else had pulled these three methods into a single interface before Google. It definitely has its advantages. However, most of the people I IM don't use Google. As a matter of fact, I use Trillian for IM because I work with people that use multiple IM networks. So, I figured that this was just another service that would stay within the Google sphere. As I started poking around the web site, I found that I was wrong. Google Talk is currently available to those using IM clients that support Jabber -- Trillian Pro is one of those. From their web site:
We're committed to open communications standards, and want to offer Google Talk users and users of other service providers alike the flexibility to choose which clients, service providers, and platforms they use for their communication needs.
Now, this could be very useful!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Google Changes Scanning Project

Originally, Google wanted to scan all or parts of five major libraries and provide access to them. They would scan and provide access to entire texts of non-copyrighted materials. They would also scan entire copyrighted texts, but provide access to just small parts of these materials. Because of comments, they have modified the project. They will begin scanning copyrighted materials November 1st, giving publishers time to review their titles and let Google know which titles not to scan and index. [from The Chronicle of Higher Education]

Phone Companies Not Required to Lease Lines

Until earlier this month, phone companies were required to lease their lines to other DSL providers. The FCC has now changed this. Internet Service Providers have one year to make the transition. This does not mean that phone companies will not lease their lines. From what I've been reading, they may continue to do so, thereby bringing in additional revenue. During their last session, the Supreme Court ruled that cable companies did not have to lease their lines to rival cable companies. [from MercuryNews.com]

Public Colleges Can Block Spam

In 2003, White Buffalo Ventures gathered email addresses from The University of Texas using a public records law. They then sent email messages to the students concerning an online dating service. The university received complaints about these messages and asked White Buffalo Ventures to stop sending the messages. When they didn't, they blocked their IP address. White Buffalo Ventures sued The University of Texas in state court, stating that, as long as they abided by the CAN-SPAM Act and were supported by the First Amendment, they could legally send these messages. The University put forward two arguments:
  1. By blocking this IP address, the university was helping the students use the email system and thereby advancing the interests of the university.
  2. Blocking this IP address aids in protecting the university's servers.
Although the appeals court did not agree with the second argument, they agreed with the first. Apparently, the judges felt that the university could have protected its servers in other ways. So, UT has the right to block spam for their users. An interesting court case that will directly affect public colleges and universities in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi (the geographic area covered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit) and indirectly affect other areas. [from Inside HigherEd]

Standards for Open Source Software

Business Readiness Rating (BRR) is a proposed standard for rating open source software. This project is led by Carnegie Mellon West Center for Open Source Investigation, O'Reilly CodeZoo, SpikeSource, and Intel. From the website:
The ultimate goal of BRR is to give companies a trusted, unbiased source for determining whether the open source software they are considering is mature enough to adopt. It will help adopters assess which open source software is best suited to their needs and enable them to share findings with the community. It promotes use and adoption of open source software and may assist developers in creating and delivering software geared to enterprise use.
[from SIGIA-L]

Access to NIH Research

As of May 2nd of this year, all investigators of NIH-funded research have been asked to provide an electronic version of their journal articles to PubMed Central for inclusion in this database within a year of publication. PubMed is available at no charge to the public. NIH provided its initial policy in September of 2004 via the Federal Register. As you can imagine, many comments were provided on this policy. Some include:
  • Any research funded, in whole or in part, through the federal government should be made available at no charge to the citizens of the United States.
  • PubMed Central provides a stable archive for these works; publisher's archives may not be as stable.
  • Instead of a request, this should be a requirement of NIH-funded projects.
  • The lay public may not understand the research itself and may draw unwarranted conclusions.
  • Impact on journal publishers, both large and small.
The NIH has provided a good summary of these and other issues at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-05-022.html. In addition, Walt Crawford has pulled together reactions of this revised policy in his June 2005 Cites & Insights, page 17. Excellent overview for those of us that don't keep up in this area, with citations for additional reading. [from NIH]

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Keeping Up with Copyright Literature

Tobe Liebert, Assistant Director for Collection Development & Special Projects for the Tarlton Law Library has created a website to help us keep up with the copyright literature. From the website:
I review law journals and law reviews (and a great many other legal periodicals) as they are received in the library. I examine the table of contents of all of these publications and identify any article concerning U.S. copyright law. I then input the basic bibliographic information about each article into this database, and scan the first page of the article. The availability of the first page of the article should better enable readers to know if they are interested in reading the whole article.
Tobe updates this site 2-3 times a week and . . . it has an RSS feed! Great service! [from CNI-Copyright]

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peek at Windows Vista

Microsoft's new operating system, Vista, is currently in beta release. However, if you want a peek, David Coursey has posted some screenshots. The software itself is not yet considered stable, so some of the functionality doesn't yet work (or work well). However, you can see what the interface should look like. [from eWeek]

Busy Summer

If you read my very first post, you may remember one of the three reasons I started this blog:
So I can learn more about blogging. I want to see it this is helpful to me and if I can actually find the time to do it right.
This summer has been quite busy. I wish I could say that I've taken time off to see the world, but . . . I've been doing a lot of training. I won't be back to a more normal schedule until September. So, although technology marches on, this blog has been pretty quiet. I'm hoping to change that in the fall. Meanwhile, I'm hoping that most of you did take some time off and might not have noticed the lull. Hope you had a good summer!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Windows Downloads Will Require Verification

Beginning today, if you download additional Windows software, you will be asked to verify that you have a genuine copy of the operating system. This check will be mandatory for all software except security updates. [from CNET.com]

Wireless Sunglasses

Motorola and Oakley will be introducing wireless sunglasses to be used with Bluetooth cell phones and devices. A picture is available. These sunglasses should be available in August and, according to Motorola's press release, should cost $294.99. [from CNET.com]

Monday, July 25, 2005

Tracking Documents via Printers/Copiers

Apparently, many color laser printers and copiers encode information like the serial number and manufacturing code on each page that is printed. The dots used to encode this information are very small, all of them covering less than one-thousandths of a page, and yellow. You may be able to see these dots if you shine a blue LED light on a page and use a magnifier. According to Peter Crean of Xerox, there is no way to turn this off. [from PC World]

Open WorldCat Pilot Projects

OCLC will be piloting additional projects within the Open WorldCat service. Currently book and monograph holdings within WorldCat can be searched within web sites like Google and Yahoo! Pilot projects coming soon:
  • eSerials -- Electronic journal collections and their holdings will be incorporated into WorldCat. Using OpenURL, web users can be authenticated for access to the articles. This pilot will last 4 months.
  • Reference Service -- Within the results of a "Find a Library" search within Open WorldCat, some of the resulting libraries will have question marks next to them. This icon means that that library has a virtual reference service that can be used. This pilot will last 6 months.
  • Book Sales -- After titles are identified within Open WorldCat, web users will have the opportunity to purchase it, initially through Baker & Taylor. If you identify your library as part of the transaction, a portion of the proceeds will appear as credits to your OCLC FirstSearch Open WorldCat charge. No information on the length of the pilot for this one.
Watch for the evaluation of these services. Hopefully, we'll see a write-up. [from Library Stories] FYI: I work for Amigos Library Services, a non-profit organization that markets, sells, and support OCLC services in the Southwest.

OCLC OpenURL 1.0 Released

OCLC Reseach has released an open source version of OpenURL 1.0. [from Resource Shelf]

Padlocked Hard Drive

Imation's Micro Hard Drive looks like a padlock -- highly secure. This flash drive uses USB 2.0 and is available in both 2gb and 4gb sizes. $159 for the 2gb version. [from New York Times]

LITA Top Tech Trends - July 2005

If you follow the Top Tech Trends, sponsored by LITA at each ALA conference, the newest have been posted on the LITA Blog: The first link has all of the trends, but the second helps explain them (putting them in terms you and I can understand).

Continuous Partial Attention

Thanks to Linda Stone, a former executive at Microsoft and Apple, I have a name for the state I live in -- continuous partial attention. As she defines it:
Continuous partial attention is that state most of us enter when we're in front of a computer screen, or trying to check out at the grocery store with a cellphone pressed to an ear -- or blogging the proceedings of a conference while it's underway. We're aware of several things at once, shifting our attention to whatever's most urgent -- perhaps the chime of incoming e-mail, or the beep that indicates the cellphone is low on juice. It's not a reflective state.
No wonder I have to log off of everything except what I'm working on in order to think. My guess is that I have lots of company! ;-) [from Library Stuff]

GPO Access Feed for News

GPO is providing an RSS feed for the News & Updates section of the Federal Depository Library Program. [from Library Stuff]

Intel's Most Unwired Cities

For the third year, Intel has ranked the top 100 US cities on the basis of wireless Internet accessibility. Texas made the list five times:
  • #3: Austin-San Marcos
  • #23: Dallas-Ft. Worth-Arlington
  • #28: Houston
  • #41: San Antonio
  • #75: El Paso

Google Moon

Similar to Google Earth, Google has mapped the moon (well, at least part of it), courtesy of NASA imagery. Find where the Apollo missions landed and what the moon is really made of!

100mb/s Cable Access

By next year, Teleste is expecting to be able to provide up to 100mb/s over cable via a product called Ethernet to the Home. Teleste, a Finnish company, hopes to bring this technology to the US market by early next year. [from ExtremeTech]

Adobe Reader Updates

In June, Adobe provided 2 updates for its Reader. These updates fix problems that are rated "medium" risk. This means that the software could be exploited both locally and remotely. You can check your software by opening Reader and clicking on Help | Check for updates now . . . [from CNET.com]

Saturday, July 23, 2005

MS Longhorn Renamed Vista

Microsoft has given Longhorn, which is a Windows code name, a real name. It is now Vista. From the web site:
It enables a new level of confidence in your PC and in your ability to get the most out of it. It introduces clear ways to organize and use information the way you want to use it. It seamlessly connects you to information, people, and devices that help you get the most out of life.
The first beta of Windows Vista should be available by August 3, 2005.

Texas Digital Library

Texas A&M University, the Texas Tech University System, the University of Houston system, the University of Texas System, and Rice University are collaborating on a digital library to be called the "Texas Digital Library." The goal of this project is to provide online access to teaching aids, dissertations, and practical information to the residents of Texas. Details are currently being decided. A preliminary estimate of public availability of the site is late 2005. [from Chronicle of Higher Education]

New Domain for Mobile Devices

ICANN has approved a new domain -- .mobi -- for web sites whose content is optimized for mobile devices. By supporting the creation of web sites specifically for mobile devices, these manufacturers and vendors are hoping to increase sales. If I'm reading this correctly, this will encourage webmasters to create two sites -- one with their current domain, and one optimized for mobile devices with the .mobi domain. Doesn't this defeat the purpose of standardization? Cascading style sheets allows the use of multiple stylesheets -- one specifically for handheld devices. Using the CSS standard, you could still have a single web site, but style it differently depending on the user's device. [from CNN.com] [ICANN application]

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Supreme Court and Peer-to-Peer

In late June, the Supreme Court ruled on Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. Basically, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Grokster, and other similar peer-to-peer file-sharing services were legal because they were "capable of commercially significant noninfringing uses." [based on Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios] MGM and other companies, of course, see significant copyright violations for commercial products being shared over these networks. The Ninth Circuit's ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Court overturned the decision by a unanimous decision, stating:

The question is under what circumstances the distributor of a product capable of both lawful and unlawful use is liable for acts of copyright infringement by third parties using the product. We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties.

So, this court case goes back to the Ninth Circuit to be retried, taking into consideration the information provided by the Supreme Court. This decision has solidified a tenet that we, as librarians, have always known. Copyright infringement, in whatever guise, is illegal. Grokster and StreamCast (another peer-to-peer file-sharing company) tried to use an earlier decision that dealt with technicalities (Sony) as a defense, but it was their intent (copyright infringement) that was crucial. Although this decision is interesting in itself, what I found more interesting were the headlines in the media. They all seem to think that peer-to-peer is dead. Development of new technologies will be slowed, current technologies may be illegal (iPods, instant messaging, Internet). The sky is falling! However, if you read the actual decision, you see that it is the intent behind the technology that is important. iPods, instant messaging and the Internet are not "marketed" for illegal use. Can they be used that way? Yes. However, this is not what the text of the decision says. Moral? Read the Supreme Court decisions yourselves! ;-) [from beSpecific]