Thursday, May 26, 2005

What's Hot in Technology

The California Library Association and InfoPeople presented the webcast -- "What's Hot in Technology." A good overview of some of the newer technologies and what they might mean for public libraries. Scott Bauer (Redwood City Public Library), Sarah Houghton (Marin County Free Library), and Steven Silveria (Watsonville Public Library) discuss:
  • free wireless access
  • digital rights management
  • desktop video/collaboration software
  • instant messaging service
  • RSS
  • open source software
  • pestware awareness
  • Open URL
  • power over Ethernet
  • Browsers other than Internet Explorer
  • RFID
  • Library LAN parties
  • MP3 audio books
  • Podcasting
The webcast and slides are available.

Monday, May 16, 2005

RFID and DVDs

Would you like to purchase the DVD for a movie as soon as it hits the theaters? Research at the University of California-Los Angeles is just starting to look at how this might be done. Although in its formative stages, right now they are thinking:
  • DVDs would be embedded with an RFID tag.
  • DVD players would have an RFID reader.
  • The DVDs would have to be authenticated through an online network.
So, only RFID DVD players could read an RFID DVD and only if the DVD was found to be legal, via an authentication service. Although the article primarily talks about purchasing DVDs when movies are in theaters, this technology has more far-reaching possibilities. This could be one way digital rights management is implemented for all DVD or DVD-type technologies. How would fair use fit into this scenario?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Microsoft PC Health Service

Microsoft will be beta testing a subscription service that will help users keep their computer healthy. Called Windows OneCare, it will:
  • Automatically provide updated anti-virus, anti-spyware, and two-way firewall protection.
  • Automatically carry out maintenance tasks such as disk cleanup, defragmentation and file repair.
  • Automate backup and provide the ability to restore.
  • Provide a single point of reference for these health issues.
If you are interested in being a beta tester, you can nominate yourself at the bottom of the Windows OneCare page. [from beSpecific]

ProQuest RSS Feeds

ProQuest has started providing RSS feeds for the articles and other content they aggregate. I don't quite understand how it is set up, but they seem to have one category ready to use -- Curriculum Match Factor. There may be others in the future. Under this category, you'll see feeds for specific areas within:
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Finance
  • International business
  • Entrepreneurship & innovation
  • Economics
  • Leadership & organizational behavior
Choose, for example, the sub-category "leadership skills" under Leadership & organizational behavior and you will receive citations as they are posted to this category. You can click to the article, but of course you will be have to be authenticated before you can see the article.

Windows OS for Older Machines

According to the Windows Blog at CNET.com, Microsoft is working on a flavor of the Windows operating system for older machines. Named Eiger, it is for organizations that use older machines, but need some of the newer security/management functionality. At InternetNews.com, there is a little more detailed information. It looks like a thin client, although it will have some functionality itself. It is still in the early stages of development, so don't expect anything soon.

VPN Security Flaw

Virtual private networks (VPN) that use IPsec encryption and tunneling may be at risk. It is possible for a hacker to intercept packets traveling between the IPsec devices. Detailed information can be found at the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (United Kingdom). [from CNET.com]

60GB 1" Drives

Think about it -- a one-inch drive that can hold 60 gigabytes of information. Is it possible? It seems so. CNET.com has a very interesting article on hard drive capacity. It states that the way we currently create hard drives will be hitting its limit soon. That would mean that the capacity could not increase. However, if they organize the bits differently, then it could continue expanding. Basically (and I'm not a physicist, so this is very simplistic), the bits are laid down end to end on the drive. These bits have negative and positive charges. As capacity increases, these bits are getting closer together; ultimately, they will become unstable (superparamagnetism). Corrupt data will be the result. If, however, they stand the bits up (perpendicular recording), they can continue adding capacity for some time to come. This is not a final answer, but a way to provide more time to find another answer for increasing capacity needs. If you're look for a quick overview that's entertaining, check out Toshiba's animation -- it's great!

Government RSS Feeds

FirstGov.gov has a list of government RSS feeds, provided by general subject area:
  • Agriculture
  • Consumer
  • Cyber Security
  • Data and Statistics
  • Education
  • Federal Personnel
  • Forest
  • Health
  • International Relations
  • Military
  • Science
There is also an XML button on this page and each of the subject-specific pages. So, if you want to be alerted when an additional category appears, or another site is added within a category, you could subscribe to one of the feeds.

Consumer Reports Reviews Client-Based Filters

Consumer Reports' last review of client-based filters was in 2001. This review includes some familiar names, as well as some newer ones:

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mobile Web Initiative

The World Wide Web Consortium has launched the Mobile Web Initiative to make Web access from a mobile device as simple, easy, and convenient as Web access from a desktop device. From their web site:
World Wide Web technologies have become the key enablers for access to the Internet through desktop and notebook computing platforms. Web technologies have the potential to play the same role for Internet access from mobile devices. However, today, mobile Web access suffers from interoperability and usability problems that make the Web difficult to use for most mobile phone subscribers. W3C’s "Mobile Web Initiative” (W3C MWI) proposes to address these issues through a concerted effort of key players in the mobile production chain, including authoring tool vendors, content providers, handset manufacturers, browser vendors and mobile operators.

Currently, the W3C MWI is focussing on developing "best practices" for "mobileOK" Web sites, work on device information needed for content adaptation, and marketing and outreach activities.

UT UGL to Become Information Center

The Undergraduate Library at The University of Texas at Austin will become a 24/7 information center by fall 2005. The books will be moved to other library locations; computers will be moved in. The Center for Instructional Technologies and the School of Information will also be moved in. [from The Daily Texan]

RSS Feeds From Your Catalog

Hennepin County Library has incorporated RSS feeds into their catalog. What does this mean? It means I can search on, say "Rowling" as an author and see, on the results page, an XML button. I can add this specific search to my RSS reader. When the library adds additional records that match this search (e.g., Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), then I'll be immediately notified. Pretty neat. [from LibrarianInBlack]

Chat or IM for Reference?

Libraries are starting to figure out how to provide library services remotely. Some services we provide well remotely and some services we just provide remotely . . . I've been reading a lot about using instant messaging for reference services. Many libraries already have an "ask a librarian" link on their web page, and others provide more robust services using chat or Voice over IP. Sherri Vokey at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, surveyed UNLV students and found that most of the UNLV students:
  • already use an instant messaging program (91.8%).
  • had not used the chat reference service available from the library (88.7%).
  • would use an instant messaging reference service if it was available (87.5%).
I would agree that saying you would use a service for a survey and actually remembering to use it during the school year maybe two different things, but if even half of the students do use the yet-to-be-implemented IM reference service, that would be more than the number using their existing chat service. Something to think about. Is your constituency ready for IM reference? [from LibrarianInBlack]

HB 3314 - Obscenity

HB 3314 states that Internet access provided to the public by a state agency on state property may not allow access to obscene materials. The bill specifically excuses university systems and institutions of higher education from complying. I thought that obscenity was illegal regardless of where it was displayed or who provided the access. Also, if you read just the bill, it looks as if state employees could view obscenity -- just not the public. I'm not sure that's what they meant. ;-)

Your Password For A . . . Chocolate Bar?

Two interesting posts that show that many people really don't understand the damage that can be done by giving out their passwords. Seventy-one percent of office workers in Liverpool said they would provide their password for a chocolate bar, according to an article in Help Net Security. Sixty-six percent of people survey in San Francisco would provide their password for a Starbucks coffee, according to a CNET.com article.

Broadcast Flag Copy Protection Overruled

In 2003, the FCC ordered that all digital devices include programming (a broadcast flag) that would stop or prevent the redistribution of the digital content, inadvertently causing many problems and limitations in the area of distance learning. A number of organizations, including the American Library Association, petitioned to have this overturned. The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia did overturn it with a 3-0 decision.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Firefox/Mozilla Security Advisory

Update: The update for Firefox -- version 1.0.4 -- is now available for download at www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/. This update fixed four problems, the first three of which were critical vulnerabilities: **************************** The Mozilla Organization has announced a security advisory for both Firefox and the Mozilla Suite. The advisory provides workarounds until a patch is available.

OpenOffice Beta Review

The latest version of OpenOffice is still in beta, but the Associated Press has provided a review. It looks like OpenOffice can now be a real alternative to the Microsoft Office suite. It can open Word, Excel, and WordPerfect files, and it's files open within MS Office. It has database and presentation programs similar to Access and PowerPoint. You can save documents as PDF. It does not, however, have an email/calendaring program. [from Slashdot]

Safari Browser First to Pass Acid2 Test

The Acid2 Test was created by the Web Standards Project. It allows browser manufacturers to see whether they are supporting current standards: It looks like the Safari browser is the first to pass this test. As of the date of this post (April 28th), this version of the browser had not yet been made public. [from Slashdot]

Red Screen of Death

Many of you may remember the dreaded Blue Screen of Death from earlier Windows versions like Windows 95 and 98. It looks as if we will soon be dealing with the Red Screen of Death. According to a post in Joi Ito's blog, it will be incorporated into the Longhorn operating system and will be used only for "really bad errors." [from Slashdot]

Yahoo! Video Search 1.0

Yahoo! has taken its video search out of beta. Yahoo! Video Search Version 1.0 is now available. Among the changes:
  • Incorporated major content publishers, e.g., MTV, CBS News, Bloomberg, Reuters, Discovery Channel, VH1, Scripps Networks.
  • Incorporated lesser known content, e.g., Internet Archive's Moving Image Archive, Prelinger Archives.
[from Yahoo! Search Blog]

Tiger Operating System for Macintosh

Apple has released a new operating system for the Macintosh OS X. Called Tiger, it includes a desktop search facility called Spotlight, Safari RSS, as well as a Dashboard, which lets you incorporate mini-applications into your operating system.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Wireless Addison

Addison, Texas might become a municipal wireless hot spot! [from SaveMuniWireless]

Houston Public Library, Rice University and Technology For All

These three organizations have come together to provide free or reduced-rate wireless in the Pecan Park area of Houston. Rice University has developed a technology called Transit Access Points, which allows wireless transmitters to pass information to each other, which requires fewer wired lines for implementation. Using this technology, Technology For All implemented TFA-Wireless in the Pecan Park area. In the middle of this area is the Melcher Branch of the Houston Public Library, where the central hub now resides. In addition to housing the hub, the Melcher Branch also receives free wireless Internet access for its patrons. [from Association for Community Networking]

T-Mobile Coverage Maps

Richard Wiggins has noted that T-Mobile, unlike most other cell phone providers, has started providing coverage maps at the street-level. I checked both Verizon and Cingular -- neither provide the detail of the T-Mobile maps.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

IE 7 Functionality

Chris Wilson posted a little more information on the upcoming Internet Explorer 7 beta. He states that IE 7 will:
  • support the alpha channel in PNG images.
  • address CSS inconsistency problems.
Other improvements should include tabbed browsing and support for Internationalized Domain Names. [from CNET.com]

Wiping Your Hard Drive

According to CNET.com, reformatting or wiping a hard drive might not be enough if you are donating or disposing of it. They suggest:
  • reformatting the drive
  • wipe the drive -- multiple times, not just once
  • crush or degauss the drive
A list of some wiping software and recycling programs is included.

Closing Keynote at Les Blogs

Interesting Powerpoint presentation created by Doc Searls for the conference, Les Blogs. It is called "What blogs are vs. What they are not." He makes a number of points:
  • Blogging is about writing [rather than content].
  • Blogs are journals, not sites, content, or media.
  • Blogs are by readers and writers for other readers and writers.
  • Blogs inform. They don't "deliver information."
For me, this puts a different spin on blogging. Something I definitely need to think about. [from beSpecific]