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]

ACRL Blog

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

TactaPad

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.