Thursday, March 31, 2005

More MS Longhorn Details

Microsoft has not provided a lot of information about its upcoming workstation and server operating systems -- named Longhorn -- but they talked about some of the changes to look forward to in a web chat. The client (for workstations) is due out in 2006; the server version in 2007. An alpha version is expected to be out in April; a beta this summer. "All subject to change," according to Jawad Khaki, Microsoft's corporate VP of their networking and devices technologies division. Here are some of the details:
  • IPv6 will be fully supported, but so will IPv4.
  • Support for 802.11i wireless networking and 802.1x enterprise wireless scripting support.
  • Built-in support for streaming audio/video and real-time communications.
  • Home networking should be easier.
  • Improved firewall development and deployment.
[From eWeek]

Fingerprint Sharing Alliance

To help reduce hacking, a new group called the Fingerprint Sharing Alliance has been formed. Some of the members include British Telecom, Cisco, Earthlink, Internet2, MCI, University of Pennsylvania, and Wiltel. As soon as one member sees evidence of a hacker, that information is immediately sent to the other members. In this way, they are hoping that everyone in the Alliance can take proactive action. This is one of the few times I have seen network and telecommunications vendors work together -- I hope it works. [From CNET.com]

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Seven Myths about Voice over IP

IEEE Spectrum Online has an article about Voice over IP specifically being used for telephone calls. Steven Cherry provides a very solid overview (as you would expect from this journal) and then discusses the following 7 myths about VoIP:
  1. VoIP is free.
  2. The only difference between VoIP and regular telephony is the price.
  3. Quality of service isn't an issue nowadays, because there's plenty of bandwidth in the network.
  4. VoIP can't replace regular telephony, because it still can't guarantee quality of service.
  5. VoIP is just another data application.
  6. VoIP isn't secure.
  7. A phone is a phone is a phone.
If you're looking for an overview of VoIP telephony, this is the place to start.

Limiting Searches by Creative Commons

Yahoo allows you to search for content which is under the Creative Commons license. Creative Commons is a structure which allows you to specify how others may use your content. You can let anyone use it, or let others use it only under specific circumstances. This can come in very handy if you are creating a presentation, a flyer, or a web page. Finding graphics can be very frustrating. This search could be very helpful. Remember, however -- just because it has a CC license doesn't mean you can automatically use it. You should read the license first!

OCLC Research Searchable

One of the arms of OCLC focuses on research. It is "devoted exclusively to the challenges facing libraries in a rapidly changing information technology environment." Their repository, which includes works produced, sponsored, or submitted by OCLC Research, reaches back to 1970. You are now able to search this repository by keyword, author, year, subject, and title. There is an advanced search as well as a browse function. The search interface is a prototype and they are asking for comments, so if you use it, let them know what you thought! [FYI - I work for an OCLC network.]

Monday, March 28, 2005

Hi from Corpus Christi

We're demonstrating a blog here in beautiful Corpus Christi!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Firefox Compability

Although I don't think that the Firefox browser is used by even 20% of the market, many services are providing compatible services. Two I saw just today: [Both from CNET.com]

Internet Explorer 7 Leaks

Update: The Chief Technology Officer of Opera, a browser similar (but more standards-compliant) than Internet Explorer, has issued a challenge to Microsoft. The Web Standards Project will sponsor the Acid2 test. They will build a web page that will incorporate all the standards that should be met, i.e., CSS2. If Microsoft agrees, then they would not ship IE7 until it passes this test. FYI -- the Web Standards Project did something similar in the late 1990's. They created the original acid test, which help us get CSS1 interoperability. [From CNET.com] *********************************** Although Microsoft is not directly providing any information on what types of functionality might be in the upcoming version 7 of Internet Explorer. We only know that it should have improved security. However, anonymous Microsoft partners have said that IE 7 will have tabs, will support international domain names (IDN) and portable network graphics (PNG), will simplify IE printing, and will have a built-in news aggregator (i.e., RSS). An outstanding question is if it will support Cascading Style Sheets version 2. Jury is still out. I'd be happy if they supported the entirety of version 1. [From Microsoft Watch]

Visualization Software

Library Journal has a good introduction to visualization software. I haven't used this type of software much, but I know it can be helpful in seeing patterns and organizing search results. A list of software is included at the end of the article.

Library of Congress Helping States Digitize

The Library of Congress will be helping state governments develop long-term digital archive solutions. The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program will host workshops this spring that will help state governments identify what they must store, how they are currently storing it, and set short-term goals for how they would like to store it. A second set of workshops will be held late this year to work more specifically with digital preservation. [From Digital Government Research Center]

Star Wars in ASCII

This post is probably pushing the limit of this blog, but I couldn't resist. How many of you remember the days when the Internet was text only? In order to create graphics, we used the keyboard characters. The result? ASCII art -- a lost art, I think. Richard Wiggins posted about ASCII animation -- the Star Wars movie (episode IV) done in ASCII. Incredible work!

Mouse for Trembling Hands

IBM is selling a mouse -- the Assistive Mouse Adapter -- specifically for those who cannot control the trembling in their hands. It filters out unintentional movements using algorithms similar to those used in image stabilization systems in camers. You can adjust it to accommodate the severity of the tremors and to filter multiple clicks. No software to load. Plugs in between computer and your mouse. You can purchase it from Montrose Secam for $99. From ExtremeTech.

Desktop Search Comparison

PCMag.com did a comparison of eight desktop search tools:
  • Ask Jeeves Desktop Search (beta) 1.7.0
  • blinkx 2.0
  • Copernic Desktop Search 1.5 (beta)
  • Filehand Search 2.1
  • Google Desktop Search 1.0
  • HotBot Desktop (beta)
  • MSN Desktop Search (beta)
  • Yahoo! Desktop Search
The Editor's Choice was the Yahoo product -- 4.5 on a scale of 5. Good overview of each. If you haven't yet had time to look at desktop search products, but are interested, this article is a good place to start.

Wireless Librarian from Website to Blog

The Wireless Librarian is moving from a web site to a blog called Wireless Libraries.

JPG, RAW and . . . DNG??

Adobe is introducing a public format for RAW digital camera files -- DNG -- Digital Negative Specification. Most professional photographers save their photos using the RAW format. This format is specific to each type of camera, so it causes problems for software developers that provide software that manipulates images. The DNG format is based on the TIFF EP format, which is already used as the basis for many RAW formats. Specific metadata is required in this format, but also allows camera manufacturers to add their own. Adobe is providing a free software tool that converts most RAW files to DNG. From Publish.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Free WiFi at TLA!

I'm so excited! The Texas Library Association will be providing free wireless access inside the Austin Convention Center during the 2005 conference! There will be three locations:
  • Level 1 South in the Palazzo
  • Level 1 South in the Rotunda (this should extend a little east and west of this area)
  • Level 4 North Hallway (from the Ballrooms to Meeting Room 11)
A map of the Convention Center is available to help you find these locations. If you're as excited about this as I am, be sure to send Pat Smith, Executive Director of TLA, a message to let her know!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

AIM Terms of Service

Update #2: AOL has changed its Terms of Service. The heading is now "Content You Post to Public Areas." They have deleted the sentence that says you have no privacy and have made it clear that AOL can use anything posted in a public area. They also state that they do not read your private online communications when you use a tool like AIM. Good changes! ***************************************** Update: Apparently, AOL didn't mean to include instant messaging in that section of the Terms of Service. However, I'd still be leery. They may not have meant to include IM, but if you read it, it is included. ***************************************** If you use AOL Instant Messenger and you haven't looked at the Terms of Service lately, you might want to revisit it. As I am not an AIM user, I do not know how long these terms have been active. It looks like you retain copyright to anything you post, but AOL retains the copyright to any compilation or derivative work. Also, if you post, you are giving AOL rights to pretty much do with it as they want. You are waiving your rights to privacy and to approve AOL's use. Here's the section called "Content You Post" from the Terms of Service:
Although you or the owner of the Content retain ownership of all right, title and interest in Content that you post to any AIM Product, AOL owns all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating this Content. In addition, by posting Content on an AIM Product, you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Content or to be compensated for any such uses.
If I am reading it correctly (and I am not a lawyer), you might want to be careful with the types of messages you send.

Generation M

Although not a standard moniker, the Kaiser Family Foundation has released a study of "Generation M" (youth 8-18 years old) and their use of media. The news release provides some interesting statistics:
  • Media multi-tasking is common. The number of hours youth use non-school media has remained constant over the past five years, but since they frequently use more than one media at a time (e.g., go online while watching TV, playing GameBoy while listening to music on a portable CD player), they are exposed to more media than previously.
  • Youth are spending approximately 44.5 hours per week (a work week) using non-school media.
  • Almost 75% of youth read for pleasure about 43 minutes a day.
  • Youth that ranked lowest on a scale of contentedness (more likely to be sad or unhappy, have few friends, get into trouble) spend approximately 45 minutes more per day using media than those that are more contented.
There are many more interesting statistics in this report. If you have or work with youth, you should take the time to read it.

Friday, March 11, 2005

iPods and Baylor's Reserves

From Tame the Web, the Crouch Fine Arts Library and the Electronic Library at Baylor University (Waco) is checking out iPods for students who need to listen to music assignments that are on reserve. The entire semester's assignments are loaded onto each iPod. As someone who has a music degree and went through numerous music history courses and listening exams, I know I would have loved to have taken the music with me. Great idea for the musicians!

Out-of-Date Website Results in Fines

A restaurant in New Zealand was fined $3,000 plus $260 in court costs under the Fair Trading Act because their website provided obsolete menus and prices. According to the Commerce Commission:
" . . . once the disparity was brought to the attention of the restaurant owner by the complainant and then by the Restaurant Association, the restaurateur took no steps to correct the disparity."
Reading between the lines, if the restauranteur had updated the web site, he/she might not have been fined. This is not a US case, but is interesting, nonetheless. Keep your web sites up to date! [from SlashDot]

Mesh Wireless Networking

Another wireless standard is being developed -- 802.11s -- mesh wireless networking. These will be "self-configuring systems where each node can relay messages on behalf of others, thus increasing the range and available bandwidth." The IEEE task group supporting this standard issued a call for proposals; at this point, it looks like Intel will provide one. Intel would build the mesh standard on top of the existing 802.11 a/b/g protocols. According to the head of the IEEE task group, this standard should create more efficient wireless networks and automate both installation and reconfiguration. Don't look for this anytime soon. Ratification of the standard is set for 2008. [from SlashDot and ZDNet]

Copyright and Graphics on the Web

Originally airing on March 3rd, Mary Minow presented an hour-long session on copyright and web graphics. It's a good overview which takes you through the decision process which includes determining whether the work is in the public domain, covered under section 108, can be considered fair use, or whether you should get permission from the owner. Stay for the questions at the end -- her answers are very helpful. All handouts and legislation refered to are available on the webcast web site. Good overview. Even if you understand copyright issues, it is a good reminder using web-based court cases and legislation. As you can imagine, she had questions that couldn't be answered fully within the timeframe provided. Mary provided followup on her LibraryLaw Blog.

Short Privacy Statements

The Center for Information Policy Leadership has been working on "Short Notices." They have compared privacy statements on the web, found their similarities, and have put forward a standard format for providing this information to the public. The top layer provides summary information in the following standard categories: scope, information collected, use of the information, consumer choices, and company contact information. More specific information can be linked to from this, or other deeper, layers. You can see examples of this format: This may be a format we might want to consider for our library web sites. [from CNET.com]

Camera Pills

Swallow a pill and it will wirelessly take two pictures a minute, downloading them to a hard drive on your belt. Picture-taking will continue for about 8 hours. This camera should be able to take much more detailed pictures than an MRI. The pills are disposable. [CNET.com]

Update RealPlayer

If you have done so lately, check to see if there is an update for your copy of RealPlayer (in mine, I checked Tools - Check for Update). There may be a critical update dealing with "a possible security vulnerability when playing certain content types." [from CNET.com]

64-bit Windows on Its Way

According to CNET.com, the 64-bit version of Windows desktop operating system should be available at the beginning of April; the server version at the end of April. AMD has been manufacturing 64-bit chips for 18-24 months. When this Windows version is released, these chips will be able to access 64 bits of memory at one time; current 32-bit operating systems can only access 32 bits simultaneously. This should also raise the amount of RAM from 4gb to 8gb. One possible problem has already been dealt with -- you should still be able to run 32-bit applications using 64-bit Windows.

Handling Too Much Email

Stever Robbins has a number of tips on dealing with too many email messages. One of the things he asks you to do is to figure out how much money your organization is paying you to read email. Try it -- it's enlightening! He includes many great tips from "use a subject line to summarize, not describe" to "ignore it." There are many more in between. Well worth your time. [Thanks to beSpacific.)

Google Desktop Search 1.0

The beta version had some privacy concerns, but version 1.0 of the Google Desktop Search seems to have fixed this. PCMag.com has published a review. From the review:
If you use Google, Google Desktop will be your new best friend. It indexes local files and e-mails, logs and indexes your AIM chats and surfed web pages, and can even recover content from deleted documents.
It is a positive review, but brings up a couple of negatives. It does not have the ability to do field-based searching (search the To field in your email messages) or to search within ZIP filed. In reading the posts to the article, it looks like you may want to do the initial indexing while you are not using the computer. Apparently, you can do both, but the indexing can use up to 100% of your CPU usage, so it slows you down. That said, it looks like it is a very functional desktop search engine.

AOL Communicates with . . . Everyone?

It seems that way. AOL is moving in a number of directions right now: Should be interesting to watch. It looks like AOL wants to become a communications portal.

Netscape 8 Beta

Netscape version 8 is now out in beta. Although I won't be downloading it soon (I like to keep my system stable while I'm working on specific projects), it looks very interesting. If you've been using Firefox 1.0, then you will see some familiar functionality.
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Site controls -- you can set very specific security settings per site
  • MultiBar -- a single toolbar which allows you one-click access to up to ten user-customizable toolbars
  • Ability to remember passwords and form information
It's great that this functionality is moving to Netscape, however the most interesting thing is that you can choose a rendering engine for specific pages. This goes against every grain in my body because I think that standards-based web pages should be viewable/understandable in any browser, but practically it isn't true. Within the Site Controls section, you can choose to view a specific site using the Netscape or Internet Explorer rendering engine.

NYPL Digital Gallery

New York Public Library has provided a new service -- NYPL Digital Library. At this time, there are 275,000 items available for viewing or download. There is quite a variety of subjects covered -- Civil War, sheet music covers, fashion illustrations, 16th century maps, Revolutionary War scenes, New York City history. There are a number of things I really like about this site:
  • The breadth of subjects covered -- and they aren't yet done!
  • The design of the site -- the home page has a lot of information, but it is relatively easy to navigate.
  • The many access points -- keyword search, advanced search (title, numbers, field searching, limiting by collection), browse by name, browse by subject, browse by collection, browse by broad subject area (i.e., arts & literature, cities & buildings, culture & society).
  • User-specific functionality -- you can view the most recent 50 searches you have run in the current session and you can save pointers to specific items via cookies.
  • Curator's Choice -- this looks like an area that will highlight different items from their collections.
  • According to the NYPL press release, the materials " can be viewed in three sizes and may be downloaded free of charge for personal use." You can also order photographic prints for a fee.
Great site!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Eolas and Microsoft

If you have not had a chance to keep up with the Eolas/Microsoft court cases, you can read these two brief articles: Microsoft had appealed a lower court decision against them to a federal appeals court. One of the major parts of this issue is whether Microsoft infringed on a patent by Eolas, that allowed plug-in-like functionality. If Microsoft loses, then the ability of browsers to use plug-in functionality will change dramatically. The federal appeals court, however, agreed with Microsoft that there was prior art available -- the Viola browser -- that the lower court did not allow. So, the case is going back to the lower court with the proviso that the Viola browser should be taken into consideration. Microsoft still may not win this case, but the odds are better now. [Taken from CNET.]

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Making Windows XP Start Faster

PC Magazine has posted part of Curt Simmons' Windows XP Speed Solutions book. The section deals with making Windows XP (including Service Pack 2) boot more quickly. There are many techniques you can consider:
  • Stopping unneeded startup services
  • Manual IP addressing
  • Disabling recent documents
  • Disabling boot logo
  • Removing unwanted fonts
  • Stopping remote assistance/remote desktop sharing
  • Updating device drivers
  • Stopping Windows Messenger
  • Speeding up logons to Windows domains
  • Speeding up dual-boot timeout
  • Speeding up PPPoE connection
  • Editing PC setup program
  • Disabling unused devices
  • Reducing wait time for shutdown
  • Stopping NVIDIA driver
  • Automatically killing tasks on shutdown
You will probably not want to implement all of these techniques -- it will depend upon your network infrastructure. Please be careful when you make any of these changes. In some cases, you will be working directly with the registry. If you are interested in the book: Simmons, Curt. PC Magazine Windows XP Speed Solutions. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishers, 2005. ISBN 0764578146. The Library of Congress has posted the table of contents.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Using Your Face to Authenticate

According to ExtremeTech, a company in Japan has developed a technology that uses face recognition to authenticate users. This might increase security on mobile devices.

Texas Government Portals

Governor Perry announced the creation of two portals: the Texas Business Portal and the Living in Texas portal.
  • "For Texas businesses, the 'Texas Business Portal' simplifies the process of fulfilling all state reporting and licensing requirements by bringing them into a single site that is easy to use."
  • "For citizens, the “Living in Texas” portal brings on-line services like driver’s license renewals, information on electric utility rates and tourist information to a single point of access."
Perry's press release provides more detailed information concerning the services provided.

The Digital Future Series

CSPAN is televising the Library of Congress series, "The Digital Future." If you are not able to watch (either on television or via the web) while it is being presented, you can view the recordings. This is the way I've been viewing them. So far, the presenters have been:
  • David Weinberger, an expert on blogging.
  • Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive. He talks about the possibility of being able to search everything.
  • Juan Pablo Paz, a quantum physicist. Most of this was over my head, but I understood the generalities of how quantum computing could change how we deal with information.
  • Brian Cantwell Smith, dean of the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto. He discusses the definition of "digital" and if all of our digital materials are really digital or something else.
  • David M. Levy, professor at the University of Washington. I haven't heard this one yet.
There are three more yet to come:
  • Lawrence Lessig, founder of Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
  • Edward L. Ayers, dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia.
  • Neil Gershenfeld, director of the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT.
In addition to these illustrious people, our own Dr. Robert Martin (former Texas State Librarian and currently the head of the IMLS) provides comments after some of the main speakers. If you are looking for out-of-the-ordinary ideas, this series is for you!

Happy Birthday, Internet Public Library

Another 10th birthday. The Internet Public Library started on March 17, 1995, supported by the University of Michigan's School of Information. They will be having a virtual open house this March 17th.

Houston Chronicle RSS Feeds

The Houston Chronicle has RSS feeds for:
  • Top headlines
  • City & State
  • Page 1
  • Business
  • Tech columns
  • Enron
  • Energy
  • TechBlog
  • Politics
  • Sports
  • Astros
  • Texans
  • Rockets
  • MeMo

Re-charge Your Cell Phone Using . . . Air??

Yes. Slashdot has a story about a mobile turbine which generates 3-4 watts of energy (enough to charge your cell phone), runs on air, costs about $4, and fits in your pocket. It looks like it was created by the students at the Department of Industrial Design at the Indian Institute of Technology, so I'm not sure it is actually on the market -- but it should be!

$1,000 for Reading the EULA

Doug Heckman actually read the End User License Agreement (EULA) before he installed PC Pitstop. Within it, there was a clause that said that one could get $1,000 if he sent a note to an email address. Guess what -- he is now $1,000 richer. Moral of the story: Read the EULA! (Story courtesy of Slashdot.)

Happy Birthday, Yahoo!

Yahoo! celebrates is 10th birthday March 2, 2005. Wired has a good article, reminding us that Yahoo! -- although not the name it once was -- is still a large and thriving company.

Marking Up Language

The World Wide Web Consortium has updated their document called Authoring Techniques for XHTML & HTML Internationalization: Specifying the language of content 1.0. This document provides advice on how to provide access to the language(s) you are using within a web document. From the Introduction:
This document provides guidance for developers of HTML that enables support for international deployment. Enabling international deployment is the responsibility of all content authors, not just localization groups or vendors, and is relevant from the very start of development. Ignoring the advice in this document, or relegating it to a later phase in the development process, will only add unnecessary costs and resource issues at a later date.
I couldn't agree more!

Harris County's Toolbar

The Harris County Public Library (Houston) has created their own web toolbar. It is similar to Google's or MSN's or Yahoo's, but provides easy access to their library resources. Specifically, it provides links to search the HCPL catalog, searches popular web sites (i.e., Google or Amazon), renews materials, provides links to the Teen and Children's site, their new books and DVD lists, as well as a place to read and write book reviews . . . and they say there's more . . . This is great! If you are interested in trying it out, you can download it for yourself. Currently, it works with Internet Explorer, but the Firefox extension is available in beta. Great job, Grace Lillevig and Will Willis!

Disabling Google's Autolink Feature

If you use Google's Toolbar, you may have noticed an additional functionality -- Autolink. Still in beta, if you click on this button, Google will link to an online map for the stated address. It can also link tracking numbers to delivery status and ISBN numbers to Amazon.com. The Autolink feature is turned off by default. Some people see this as a resurrection of Microsoft's Smart Tags, which placed information on your web site that you didn't place there. However, Jeffrey Zeldman has posted information describing how to turn the Autolink feature off.

Spyware in Blogger

If you read this blog directly at libtechtx.blogspot.com, you should see a button at the top right of the page that says "Next Blog." DON'T click on this link. According to E-Week, it looks like Blogger has spyware that some people have inadvertently loaded by clicking on this link. When it has been resolved, I'll let you know.