Monday, June 27, 2005

Customizable Keyboards

Create a keyboard with just the keys you need for a specific application or game. Instead of using the QWERTY keyboard, create your own. Attach macros to keys. The DX1 Input System allows you to do all of this. You attach blank keys to an adhesive-type pad. The keys communicate wirelessly with a base, which connects via USB to your computer. You can decide where the keys should be placed and what each should do. According to the CNET article, the audience includes those that use macros or complex, repetitive key commands and those that game. Currently available for Windows 2000 and XP; coming soon for Apple OS X and Linux. Retails for about $150. [from CNET.com]

Friday, June 24, 2005

Community Broadband Act of 2005

Senators Lautenberg and McCain have introduced the Community Broadband Act of 2005, which would allow local governments to set up their own broadband networks, as long as they did so without discrimination. This bill counters Representative Sessions' bill "Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005," which prohibits these types of services. Here's what I said about it earlier. [from CNET.com]

Internet Explorer 7 to Include RSS Feeds

Microsoft has announced that the next version of Internet Explorer and Longhorn will both have support for RSS. Subscribing to an RSS feed should be similar to creating a favorite. Microsoft is also proposing extensions to the RSS specification. I don't mind them proposing these extensions, but I hope they don't implement them unless they become part of the RSS specification. We don't need another set of multiple implementations of a standard like HTML is. [from CNET.com]

Public Library Internet Access

According to a study from Florida State University, almost all -- 98.9% -- public libraries now offer free public Internet access. A few other things mentioned in the study:
  • 99.6% of public library outlets are connected to the Internet.
  • Public library outlets have an average of about 10 workstations each.
  • About 85% of public library outlets have insufficient workstations to meet patrons' needs at least part of the day.
  • The most common bandwidth is between 769kbps and 1.5mpbs (27%), followed by over 1.5mbps (20%) and between 129kbps and 768kbps (18%). Almost 22% of respondents didn't know their bandwidth. (Hmmm . . . )
  • Wireless access is available in 18% of public library outlets, with 21% more planning to have it within the next year. About 60% have no plans for wireless.
There is much more data in the final report. [from New York Times]

Innovative Incorporates RSS Feeds

Innovative Interfaces will incorporate RSS feeds into its upcoming 2006LE Millenium release, due out fourth quarter of 2005. According to their press release, there are two major changes coming:
  • Librarians will be able to insert any RSS feed into any location within the Web OPAC screens. You should be able to decide how many headlines to display and whether to include the description or date.
  • Secondly, you should be able to create an RSS feed from any staff Boolean search of the catalog.
Both of these are great and I think many III libraries will begin using them as soon as they are available. What I don't see is the ability for a patron to create an RSS feed and subscribe to it. I might be wrong, but I didn't see that, as a patron, I could create a search and then capture the RSS feed. Maybe this is in the future? [I couldn't figure out a way to reference III's press release. They all seem to be javascript functions, so there isn't a URL attached to them. If you go to their Press Release section, you'll find it -- Innovative Announces New RSS Capabilities for Millennium.] [from RSS Compendium]

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Welcome SirsiDynix!

Two of the largest library automation companies have merged, according to LibraryJournal.com. Sirsi Corporation and Dynix Corporation have become SirsiDynix. The article states that the two brands (Unicorn and Horizon) will be kept separate. I hate to be cynical, but haven't we heard this before? Sirsi Press Release

RSS Feeds Available for PubMed Searches

PubMed now allows you to search their database, create a feed based on the search strategy, and subscribe to the feed. Great for keeping up with medical queries! Screen shots are available at Library Stuff. [from Library Stuff]

Legal Guide for Bloggers

If you blog or are considering it, you may want to check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers. Although not legal advice, it does provide a discussion of the legal issues you should be aware of. It includes:
  • The Overview of Legal Liability Issues FAQ
  • The Bloggers' FAQ on Intellectual Property
  • The Bloggers' FAQ on Online Defamation Law
  • The Bloggers' FAQ on Section 230 Protections
  • The Bloggers' FAQ on Privacy
  • The Bloggers' FAQ on the Reporter's Privilege
  • The Bloggers' FAQ on Media Access
  • The Bloggers' FAQ on Election Law
  • The Bloggers' FAQ on Labor Law
[from Librarian's Index to the Internet]

New Blog at LITA

The American Library Association's Library and Information Technology Association now has a blog.
ALA Annual is coming up and we’re planning to blog LITA programs and other events of interest to the library technology community.
It looks like it is tied to the American Library Association conference, as are the PLA and SLA blogs, so I'm not sure if it will continue with LITA news after the conference. [from LibrarianInBlack.net]

Online PhDs for Librarians

There was a very interesting discussion on the JESSE discussion list on the need for/use of library/information science PhDs provided remotely, e.g., online. If you have about a half hour, you might want to read or skim it. I found some of the discussion fascinating:
  • One of the major reasons library science faculty who responded cited for obtaining a PhD in library science is to teach in a library school and do research. A few suggested that what practitioners really needed was an applied doctorate, e.g., DLIS, not one that focused on research. There was also discussion that an online PhD might be construed as a second-class degree (my words).
  • Academic librarians who responded discussed the fact that faculty-type librarians are required to do research, publish, make presentations, and teach courses. Although a degree like a DLIS might be helpful (although I don't think anyone knew of a DLIS-type program that was available), the PhD provides the type(s) of training they need.
  • In addition to this schism, there was discussion of the online or remote aspect of a doctorate. Most library science faculty thought that residency was required for a PhD, e.g., "enculturation into the academy," discussion among colleagues and professors, locating and acquiring quality resources, taking courses in other areas with acknowledged experts, and generally becoming part of the university by serving on committees, dealing with academic politics, interacting from faculty from other departments.
  • Brian O'Connor from the University of North Texas discussed the "distance-independent" PhD program there. Although not 100% web-based/online, it is an IMLS-funded project to see if it would work. He has balanced comments and I appreciated his thoughts that we shouldn't throw the idea of an online PhD out. There may be changes to make and questions that need to be answered -- "I would suggest that we not necessarily hold the face-to-face course as a gold standard; rather, that we consider deeply just what are the characteristics of engagement with faculty and other students that make for asignificant doctoral experience."
  • Frank Cervone of Northwestern University, who is enrolled in a distance PhD program, had some interesting things to say on the other side. He states:
    • Practitioners do want the PhD as a form a professional development.
    • Most distance and extended PhD programs are aimed at mid-career librarians who want to do research and stay in their field. This is typical of an academic librarian.
    • Practitioners do need to do research.
  • Dawn Walton also mentioned that many positions require a PhD for tenure.
I think Charles Bailey from the University of Houston summed it up best:
However, they [academic librarians] find it difficult to understand how, in 2005, with the wide array of digital technologies at information schools' disposal why, in light of their unique circumstances, their needs cannot be adequately met with these technologies, supplemented by brief on-campus stays.
As someone who does a lot of face-to-face and web-based training, which I understand is different from the type of education being discussed here, I have had many people tell me that the online environment (web-based or not) required them to learn the material better than a traditional classroom environment. Is it easy? No. Is it for everyone? No. Both teachers/faculty and students need to understand, not just recognize, how to learn in an online environment. Can a PhD be done online in an effective and efficient manner? I haven't a doubt that it can. It would require, however, faculty and students that were willing to make the changes (sacrifices?) to make it work. There's a lot more in this discussion -- I'd encourage you to have a look. [from librarian.net]

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bill Moen a LITA Award Winner!

Many of you Texans might remember William E. Moen (Bill to most of us) from either the Z Texas Profile (Z39.50) or the more recent Library of Texas work. Bill has always been interested in interoperability between systems/databases and how that affects retrieval. This interest has lead him to work both within the state, as well as nationally and internationally. He has recently won the 2005 Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology, sponsored by LITA and OCLC.
The award is given to a person who has amassed a significant body of research in the field of library and information technology. Particular recognition is given to research which results in a positive and substantive impact on the publication, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information. The award consists of $2,000, an expense paid trip to the ALA Annual Conference, and a citation of merit. Moen will be accepting the award at the LITA President's Program on Sunday, June 26, 2005 at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.
If you have a few moments, send congratulations to Bill (wemoen@unt.edu)!

"Spyware" Definition and Best Practices Coming

The Anti-Spyware Coalition, composed of manufacturers of anti-spyware software, is planning to provide a definition of "spyware," as well as best practices for software development, and a common lexicon. The line between spyware and adware is not clear. Some of these applications are seen as legitimate marketing tools by software manufacturers. The definition in itself will be very helpful. [from silicon.com]

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Electronic Fabrics

Backpacks with solar panels . . . coats with control panels for MP3 players or cell phones and built-in speakers and microphones . . . fabric keyboards that can be rolled up. Clothing is going electric. Eleksen is the company working and selling these products. [from CNET News.com]

DSL Moves to 100 mb/s

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has just ratified a standard for DSL which should provide up to 100 mb/s upstream and downstream. This standard, called VDSL2 (Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line 2), should run over existing equipment and should position DSL providers for more robust services such as VoIP and videoconferencing. Just as current DSL customers normally get between 3-5 mb/s on a 10 mb/s line, subscribers to VDSL2 are expected to get around 25 mb/s. [from internetnews.com]

Critical Microsoft Updates Coming

This Tuesday, Microsoft will release their monthly updates, one of which is critical for Windows users. Restart will be required. [from CNET News.com]

IE 6 Has Tabbed Browsing

. . . if you download the MSN Search Toolbar for Internet Explorer 2.5. Internet Explorer version 7 should provide tabbed browsing within the browser itself. [from internetnews.com]

WMP Separate in European Union

Starting June 15th, Microsoft will sell its operating without Windows Media Player (WMP). The European Commission found that Microsoft was competing unfairly. As part of their recompense, Microsoft had to provide their OS without WMP. I don't expect to see this variation available in the United States. [from eWeek]

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Office Version 12 Will Default to XML Format

Microsoft Office 12, which should be available the second half of 2006, will not default to the popular doc, xls, and ppt formats. Instead, it will default to XML-based formats, e.g., docx, xlsx, and pptx. If you continue to use Office 2000, 2003, or XP, there will be additional software that will allow you to read, edit, and save these XML documents. If you prefer to stay with the current formats, there will be an option in Office 12 that will allow you to do so. [from eWeek]

Monday, June 06, 2005

Federal Bill: No Municipal Telecommunications

It seems as though we just fought this fight. The Texas legislative session is over and a small piece of it -- HB 789, which could have prohibited municipal wireless services -- never made it. At the federal level, a Texas representative, Pete Sessions, is sponsoring a bill that has a much wider sweep. Called "Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005," HR 2726 would prohibit the provision of "any telecommunications, telecommunications service, information service, or cable service" by state and local governments in areas where non-state and non-local governments are already providing the service. Existing services are grandfathered in. Definition of "information service," as stated in the Telecommunications Act of 1934, amended by the Telecom Act of 1996:
The term "information service" means the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information via telecommunications, and includes electronic publishing, but does not include any use of any such capability for the management, control, or operation of a telecommunications service or the management of a telecommunications service.
Does this seem overly broad when it comes to libraries? We make information available via telecommunications and electronically publish (web sites, local databases, even blogs). I'm not a lawyer, but the way I read this legislation, if you've already got a web-based catalog or a library web site, then you'll be fine. Future services? I'm not sure if they would be authorized under this bill. It was introduced May 26, 2005, has no co-sponsors yet, and was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

AIM Screen Name? You Now Have Mail

American Online is providing an additional service for those of you who already are AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) users. You can use your screen name as your email address (adding "@aol.com," I'm assuming) and receive 2GB of storage. [from CNET]

Use Your Laptop for 8 Hours on Battery

Intel is asking laptop manufacturers to provide smaller, lighter notebooks that can run on batteries for 8 hours at a time by 2008. The article at CNET says that the current standard for notebook battery life is 4 hours -- I can't remember the last time I actually got 4 hours; maybe 3 hours. There is more detailed information in the article, if you're interested. Not only are the batteries being analyzed to provide more power, but each part of the laptop is using less.

Wireless on United Airlines

United Airlines just received the OK to provide wireless Internet access during its domestic flights. Although this is already being done on some international flights, United is the first domestic airline to receive approval. They will be using Verizon's Airfone service. Don't look for it before mid to late 2006. No information yet on the cost. Although United is currently not looking at provide cell phone access, with wireless Internet access, you could use a VoIP service and get cell phone access anyway. [from New York Times] [from United press release]

Saturday, June 04, 2005

WorldCat Toolbars

OCLC has provided a web page with both the Yahoo! and Google toolbars that allow you to search WorldCat. Firefox extensions for both are also there. [from Catalogablog]

Van Cliburn Competition is Blogged/Webcast

One of the premier classical piano competitions takes place once every four years in Ft. Worth, Texas -- the Van Cliburn Competition. This year, they have incorporated two technologies so that the rest of us can participate.
  • Live webcasting. Each performance of the two-week competition has been webcast live.
  • Almost-live blogging. The Van Cliburn blog isn't published in real-time (no clicking keys during the performances). However, within a day at the most, you can read, from knowledgeable sources, how each performer played and how the audience reacted.
Almost 10,000 people have registered to watch the webcasts; more than 16,000 read the blog. The competition ends tomorrow -- Sunday. [from CNET]

Single Location for Authentication

Microsoft is working on a product, code-named InfoCard, that will allow you to keep all of your logins in a single location, managed by you. This is different from their Passport service, in which Microsoft held that information. InfoCard will:
  • hold payment authorization
  • hold login information for a variety of web sites
At this point, this software is being provided to software developers only. No timeline on when it will be ready for the public. [from CNET]

Wireless USB

Wireless USB, based on versions 1.1 and 2.0, should be available in late 2005. According to ExtremeTech, the specification was completed in May and the Wireless Implementers Forum will be testing it. It looks as if you would have an internal USB port which acts as a hub, managing up to 127 USB connections. A good, brief introduction to wireless USB can be found at DeviceForge.com.

Plogress

Plogress.com is a relatively new web site that tracks legislation your federal Congressmen are working on. The neat part is that you can subscribe to an RSS feed for each. For example, I found the list of Texas Congressmen and clicked on Kay Bailey Hutchinson's name. There, I see all the current information on the legislation she is working on, as well as roll call votes. In the left column is the term "RSS." Now, any updated information concerning this legislation comes to me. [from LibrarianInBlack]

Friday, June 03, 2005

Library Card and Fingerprint, Please

The Naperville Public Library (IL) will soon require their computer patrons to provide not only their library card, but a fingerprint in order to use the Internet. Although there have been a few incidents with the law and the Internet, the reason Naperville is moving toward fingerprint identification is that the kids are swapping cards. In order to get around the limits their parents' placed on their card, the kids would use a friend's more lenient card. The Library is hoping this will help stop that. On the other hand, privacy is another issue. The library won't be keeping records, but deleting data from a digital system is very difficult. [from Yahoo! News]

Law Library and Law Librarian Blogs

Bonnie Shucha, University of Wisconsin Law Library, has created a list of law library and law librarian blogs. From her blog:
Only professional blogs targeted toward the legal community appear on this list. This includes blogs affiliated with a law library, blogs written by individual law librarians, and blogs of law librarian associations. This list does not include personal blogs or blogs on librarianship.
[from Library Stuff]

AskJeeves: Narrow/Expand Your Search

AskJeeves has incorporated a Zoom feature. When you see a search result screen, you may also see on the right side additional search terms. They are placed in categories such as "Narrow Your Search," "Expand Your Search," or "Related Names." When I searched by "Dallas Cowboys," I saw:
  • Narrower terms: Dallas Cowboys Football, Dallas Cowboys Wallpaper, Dallas Cowboys History, Texas Stadium
  • Broader terms: NFL, Oakland Raiders, Dallas Mavericks, Texas Rangers
  • Related terms: Emmitt Smith, Roy Williams, Quincy Carter
[from ZDNet]

SLA Conference Blog

If you are not able to attend the 2005 Special Libraries Association conference in Toronto, subscribe to the blog. I did this with the last Public Library Association conference. This is a conference I normally do not attend, but it was great become involved -- even from a distance -- and get something out of the conference. I'd encourage you to try it with this one. PS -- the subscribe link is at the bottom of the left column -- "Syndicate this site." [from LISNews]

Last Windows 2000 Update

According to eWeek, Microsoft will very soon provide a critical update -- Windows 2000 Update Rollup. This will be the last Windows 2000 update, as mainstream support ends in one month. [from Slashdot]

Keyboards with No Inscriptions

That's right -- you can purchase a keyboard without the letters, numbers and symbols on it. Das Keyboard sells for $79.95 and is "only for the best." It's audience includes ├╝berGeeks. They say that, without the inscriptions, you will be able to type faster. The keys are also weighted with each weight corresponding to the strength of the finger used to press the key. Christmas present for anyone you know? ;-) [from New York Times]

911 Required by VoIP Providers

The Federal Communications Commission has now required VoIP vendors to provide 911 emergency service with 120 days (mid-November 2005). The FCC order is available (http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-05-116A1.pdf), but I couldn't bring it up. The news release provides the basic information. [from New York Times]

Lending Materials Anonymously

The June 2005 issue of Computers in Libraries has an intriguing article concerning anonymous lending. Ben Ostrowsky of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium suggests that one way to ensure patron's privacy is to allow them to borrow materials using collateral other than a library card (e.g., name, address, phone number). Instead, you could use money as the collateral. A patron's account balance is debited by the replacement cost of the resource when they check it out; when returned, their account balance is restored (possibly less a rental charge). If they don't return it, purchase another. Apparently, this is doable in some systems now. Ostrowsky discusses Dynix and Library Corporation, but others may also have this functionality.

PLA Tech Note - Digital Content Management

The Public Library Association has posted a new TechNote -- this one on Digital Content Management. A good, high-level view of this topic -- well worth your time to read if you think you will be moving into this area. [from ResourceShelf]

Library of Congress on Internet2

The Library of Congress has joined the Internet2 network. LC will be using the network initially for two projects: [from Internet2]

Microsoft Knowledge Base RSS Feeds

You can now subscribe to RSS feeds for specific Microsoft Knowledge Base articles. Any updates or changes would be sent to you via the feed. [from RSS Compendium Blog]

Innovative Interfaces and RSS

Looks like Innovative will be incorporating RSS into their online catalog. There are a number of different services that will be possible. If you're an Innovative user, you might check it out. Jenny Levine has more information at her blog below. Availability should be 2006. [from The Shifted Librarian]

Domain .xxx Approved

ICANN approved the domain .xxx, to be used by adult entertainment sites. If it becomes popular, it would be a simple thing to filter all .xxx sites on computers used by children. [from CNN]

Netscape 8 and Internet Explorer/Updated

Netscape has now come out with version 8.0.2, which fixes the issue below. [from Netscape] *********************** Version 8 of Netscape just came out. Unfortunately, if you install Netscape 8, then Internet Explorer will not be able to display XML documents correctly. If you are a multi-browser user (like I am), you might want to wait on the Netscape download. [from Slashdot]

TV on Your Cell Phone

It was just a matter of time. Orange (a high-speed network provider in the United Kingdom) and Nokia have provided the first UK subscription service for television over a cell phone. For a monthly subscription, you could see shows on networks like ITN News, CNN, Cartoon Network, and Fashion TV. [from Slashdot]

OpenBSD 3.7 Available

Version 3.7 of the OpenBSD operating system is now available. OpenBSD is a Unix-like operating system that is free. [from Slashdot]

Internet Explorer 7 News

From recent IEBlog blog posts, it looks like version 7 of Internet Explorer will have tabs. However, in order to use them, you will have to be running Windows XP. Tabs will not be supported for Windows 2000.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

XHTML 2.0 Working Draft Available

A working draft of XHTML version 2.0 is out. Some of the changes from version 1.1 include:
  • Use of section and h elements for sections and headings.
  • Use of separator element instead of horizontal rule.
  • Use of l (line) instead of line breaks.
  • Allow paragraphs to include lists and tables.
  • Addition of nl element to create a navigation list.
  • src attribute is now available for all elements.
  • href attribute is now available for all elements.
  • Events, such as onclick, will now be handled via XML Events.
  • Forms will now be handled via XForms.
FYI -- this is still a working draft and shouldn't be considered stable.

Sorting by Commercial vs. Informational

Yahoo! has a beta service that allows you to sort the search results -- from commercial to research-oriented. The service, Mindset, allows you to search the Yahoo! database and then set a slider to identify how you want the results sorted. For example, I put in "dallas cowboys" as the search phrase. The first set of results provided place the slider in the middle -- not too commercial, not too research-oriented. The top of the list was, of course, the Dallas Cowboys web site. When I moved the slider all the way to the commercial (or shopping) side, I saw citations for purchasing tickets and other Cowboys merchandise. When I moved the slide all the way to the researching side, the first citation was from the Wikipedia. It was followed generally by information about the Cowboys. Yahoo! is looking for comments, so let them know what you think!

Media RSS

Yahoo! is spearheading a standard that allows you to put media-type information in an RSS feed. Most RSS feeds we use require three basic types of information:
  • title
  • link
  • description
Other information is optional. In the Media RSS 2.0 standard, you provide data like:
  • file size
  • type of media, e.g., video/quicktime
  • bitrate
  • duration
  • height
  • width
  • media player
  • transcript
This standard is starting to have support, so you might start seeing it.