Sunday, July 30, 2006

Cool Plates

I'm sure you've seen hot plates for coffee -- many people depend on them while using their computer. For those of you who prefer cold drinks, there is now a cool plate -- the U.S.B. Beverage Chiller from CoolIT Systems. This device plugs into your USB port and promises to keep the bottom third of your drink between 45 and 51 degrees. [from New York Times]

Friday, July 28, 2006

Customize Google Toolbar with Buttons

The Google Toolbar, which is now out of beta, has incorporated an easy way to add buttons/functionality. There are many buttons that come with the Toolbar. However, others are creating buttons and providing them for you to use. To add a button from the Gallery, just click on "Add to Toolbar." You can add a button that:
  • checks the weather (of course)
  • checks blogs
  • buy movie tickets
  • search Answers.com
  • find reviews
There are many more! [from Official Google Blog]

Help for All Google Services

Google has created a single page which includes help for all their services. Instead of trying to find that FAQ for Google Desktop through the service name, you can come to Google Help. Great idea! [from Official Google Blog]

Electric Sheep

Electric Sheep are fractal images that morph into other fractal images, partly based on input we provide. Electric Sheep is an open source project which uses your computer's CPU when it isn't working. It uses it to take two images and create a third. Genetics plays a part, but a real geneticist would have to explain it. Everything is available under the GNU Free Documentation License. These images are popularly used as wallpaper. [from CNET News.com]

Using Second Life for Simulations

Second Life, a virtual world, is being used to create simulations for emergencies. This video focuses on firefighters, but you can easily see how it could be extended to other areas. [from CNET News.com] Video of overview of Second Life Video of entrepreneurs in Second Life

Google Hosts Open Source Repository

Google is now hosting a repository for open source software -- Google Code. They will post their free source code and APIs; others can post their open source code also.

[from CNET News.com]

GPL Version 3, Draft 2

The changes in the second draft of the General Public License primarily focuses on the intersection of the license and Digital Rights Management. It makes it clear that the license only applies to the GPL software, not to other software or information/data. This draft also states that, if a key or authorization is needed to install/execute, then it should be included in the source. [from CNET News.com]

IE 7 Updated Through Automated Update Service

There is a lot of concern/discussion about the manner in which the new version of Internet Explorer will be provided to users. Instead of providing a link to update, as most browsers do, this update will come through their automated Microsoft Update service. The choice will still be yours, but many are saying there is the possibility that this will result in broken web pages for users. [from CNET News.com]

House Passes HR 5319

The House of Representatives passed HR 5319 which amends "the Communications Act of 1934 to require recipients of universal service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commercial social networking websites and chat rooms." It is also known as the Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006. This bill has now moved to the Senate and it is not clear if/how the wording will be changed. However, for libraries, these are the points I think are important:
  • The certification for E-Rate funding made by schools must also affirm that a technology protection measure is in place that "protects against access to a commercial social networking website or chat room unless used for an educational purpose with adult supervision."
  • The certification for E-Rate funding made by public libraries must also affirm that a technology protection measure is in place that "protects against access by minors without parental authorization to a commercial social networking website or chat room, and informs parents that sexual predators can use these websites and chat rooms to prey on children."
  • The definitions of "social networking site" and "chat room" will be determined within 120 days of the passage of the bill.
  • Schools are now able to disable the technology protection measure if there is adult supervision and if there is an educational purpose.
  • Within 6 months of passage of the bill, the Federal Trade Commission will issue a consumer alert concerning the potential dangers of commercial social networking sites and chat rooms and create a website as a resource for parents, teachers, administrators, and others.
The discussion on the House floor is a good indicator that, although the vote was 410 - 15 in favor of the bill, there were many questions as to its effectiveness and the focus. [from beSpacific]

Security Issues in Beta Versions of Vista

Symantec has written two reports based on the Microsoft's beta versions of Vista. Both reports identify security flaws/issues in the software. FYI - the final version of Vista is not slated to be delivered until January 2007, so there is time to deal with them. [from PCMag.com]

This Blog Is Moving

I will be moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress. For the next month, I'll be double posting, but at of the end of August, I'll delete this blog at Blogger. To subscribe to the new blog: The Library Technology in Texas blog now resides at: http://libtechtexas.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The iPod: Another Training Partner

Nike and Apple have teamed up to provide an iPod Nano that can keep track of time, distance and speed on its screen or via headphones. The Nike + iPod Sport Kit consists of a sensor that fits into the bottom of the shoes and a receiver which attaches to the iPod. Coming soon to iTunes . . . the Nike Sport Music section specially designed for this kit. [from New York Times]

Screenshots from Firefox 2 Beta 1

CNET has posted some screenshots from the first beta of Firefox 2. FYI: Mozilla is suggesting that only developers download this version. Functionality that can be seen here:
  • Anti-phishing controls
  • Restoration of open tabs after reboot
  • Bookmarking a page within Live Bookmarks or another RSS reader
  • Extensions and themes managed in a single console

Technical Terms Now in Dictionaries

Both Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary added more technical terms to their dictionaries. "Google" is getting the most press. It means to search the Google database. The only difference between the two dictionaries is that M-W uses lowercase (google) and the OED uses a capital letter (Google). Other terms that were added include:
  • adware - OED
  • cybrarian - OED
  • cybrary - OED
  • mash-up - OED
  • mouse potato (think couch potato) - M-W
  • pixelate - OED
  • ringtone - M-W
  • spyware - M-W
  • text message - OED
  • text messaging - M-W
  • uninstall - OED
[CNET.com]

Eight Working Draft of XHTML 2.0

XHTML 2.0 is still in the working draft phase, having just released its eighth. If you haven't started looking at the changes from version 1.0 to 2.0, you should. There are some new elements and attributes, as well as new ways to create functionality. Some of the changes include:
  • New section element allows you to mark up document structure more clearly.
  • horizontal rule has been renamed separator.
  • Instead of using the line break, there is now a line element that allows you to identify where lines should be broken.
  • paragraph elements can now includes more than just text, e.g., lists, tables.
  • New navigation list element to be used for . . . yes . . . navigation lists.
  • source attribute can be used on any element; long description for images is brought within the document.
  • Table content model has been simplified, but with the same functionality.
  • New edit attribute to be used for insertions and deletions.
  • href attribute can be used in any element.
  • role attribute can be used to provide semantics for an element.
  • XML Events will be used to create event handlers like onclick.
  • XML Forms will be used to create forms.
This has not yet finished going through the W3C process, but it's worth taking the time to scan. [W3C News]

How are Libraries Using Social Software

The current issue of Library Technology Reports provides an overview of best practices for implementing social software in libraries. Michael Stephens has authored the July/August 2006 issue "Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software." The table of contents and a few key pages are available on the web. The cost is $63.00. [Tame the Web]

Headsets with No Microphone

Later this year, the Invisio Q7 headset will be available from Radio Shack. It is a bluetooth-enabled headset that does not use a microphone. Instead, it uses "bone-conduction technology," which converts the vibrations of your skull into sound. This means that you could be taking a phone call in a very loud environment, e.g., a football game, concert, and still be heard very clearly on the other end without shouting. [SciFi Tech] [Wired.com]

Sections 508/255 to be Updated

The World Wide Web Consortium has appointed a committee to revise Section 255 and Section 508.
  • Section 255 requires that telecommunications products/services be accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Section 508 requires Federal agencies to have technology that 1) ensures that Federal employees with disabilities have access to and can use information/data and 2) ensures that members of the public with disabilities also have access to and can use information/data.
[W3C News]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Friday, July 28th is System Administrator Appreciation Day

Put it on your calendars -- System Administrator Appreciation Day is Friday, July 28th.
System Administrator Appreciation Day - A special day, once a year, to acknowledge the worthiness and appreciation of the person occupying the role, especially as it is often this person who really keeps the wheels of your company turning.
Cookies, cakes, Mountain Dew, iPods are all welcome! Wikipedia entry

Google Accessible Search

Google Labs is experimenting with a search engine that provides results based on how simple the web page layouts are -- hopefully making it easier for those using screen readers. Google Accessible Search "tends to favor pages that have few visual distractions and that are likely to render well with images turned off." This search engine may help those with visual disabilities, but it also may help those with cognitive. [CNET News.com]

Comparing Three Major Browsers

This year has seen many changes in browsers. Firefox and Internet Explorer both have new versions in beta and Opera came out with a new version. ExtremeTech has written a comparison of these three versions. Caveat -- this comparison is of the browsers as they are now. Software in beta usually incorporate modifications or additions before its final release.

Microsoft and Yahoo! Can Chat With Each Other

As promised by the two companies last year, Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo's Messenger with Voice (both instant messaging clients) can now interoperate on a basic level. If you use one of these two services, you can add contacts from the other service and chat with them without using a second IM service. At this point, the only interoperability is the chat function. Other IM aggregators allow interoperability between multiple IM services with additional functionality. I'm hoping to see Microsoft and Yahoo! incorporate more common IM functionality. On the other hand, with aggregators, you have to sign in on multiple IM services; with Microsoft/Yahoo, you only need one. A nice benefit. [PCMag.com]

Friday, July 21, 2006

Nanotechnology Center at UT-Austin

The University of Texas at Austin has just gotten the authorization to seek funding/grants for the creation of the South West Academy for Nanotechnology. As part of this academy, eight faculty will be hired for the Austin, Dallas, and Arlington campuses.
Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating the tiniest units of matter -- no larger than a billionth of a meter or 1/100,000th the diameter of a hair -- and making use of the unusual properties many substances exhibit at those scales.
At least initially, one of their projects will be to create a new type of electronic switch that can be used in small devices like laptops or cell phones. This would enable our devices to be smaller and lighter. Look for this academy to be operational within a year. [SiliconValley.com]

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Flock

The Flock browser is based on Firefox and it still in beta -- but it has some very interesting capabilities:
  • Manipulating photos for blogs or personal spaces (MySpace, FaceBook) is much easier
  • Search provides results as you type and from multiple sources
  • Subscribing to RSS feeds can be a one-click function
  • Blogging into a specific service can be done via Flock
  • Creating Favorites is easy and can automatically feed into your social bookmarks service
It's not all there yet. Their release notes state that you cannot:
  • View your favorites by tag
  • Upload photos directly from a camera in Windows
  • Use Flock via a proxy server
  • Export Favorites to a file
  • Import Favorites from anywhere but Firefox the first time
If you are OK with these limitations, which I assume will be dealt with in future releases, this looks like a great browser to try!

IMalibrarian.com

Want to know which libraries are instant messaging? Check out IMalibrarian. You can find libraries by state. If you are IMing and you aren't listed, you can email/IM Cynthia Wilson, who will add you.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Tablet Laptops for Virginia Tech

Starting this year, the engineering students at Virginia Tech will be required to have a tablet laptop -- the Fujitsu LifeBook T4000. It is a laptop that converts from a screen/keyboard to a tablet. [from ZDNet]

Mashing Up the Library Competition

For all of you programmers, here's your chance! Talis is sponsoring a competition for library mash-ups. It's goal is to " . . . encourage innovation in the display, use, and reuse of data from and about libraries." The deadline is August 18, 2006 and first prize is £1,000. I'm very interested in the results of this competition. I'm probably focused too narrowly, but I have a hard time thinking about services that can use our bibliographic data. I'm hoping this will open my eyes!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Best Practices for RFID

The Center for Democracy and Technology has posted an interim draft of "CDT Working Group on RFID: Privacy Best Practices for Deployment of RFID Technology." These guidelines are being developed to address privacy concerns. The best practices currently include:
  • Notice should be provided when information is collected via RFID and linked with personal information.
  • Choice concerning the removal/destruction of an RFID tag.
  • Choice and consent of linked information use(s).
  • Information collected by other organizations should incorporate, at minimum, the level of protection of the primary organization.
  • Users should have access to personal information on an RFID tag.
  • Companies should try to secure RFID tags.
These are just summaries of the main points. The document provides much more detailed information on each. [from librarian.net]

Fonts for Kids (and Us, Too)

Great fonts for kids, but many can also be used for adults. Definitely worth a look. [from LibrarianInBlack]

Accessibility Color Wheel

Thanks to the Librarian in Black for this great color wheel -- the Accessibility Color Wheel. Hover your mouse over different colors and you'll see the results on the page and how people with three types of color blindness will see your pages.

How a Computer Works (Fun)

Do you have a few minutes? Check out this animation of how a computer works. [from LibrarianInBlack]

LibX

LibX is an extension for the Firefox browser which provides you access to your library's resources. Provided by Virginia Tech, it is distributed under the Mozilla Public License and seems to be easier to customize than others. From the website, this toolbar includes:
  • The "Magic Button" - simply select an article title and have Scholar & the OpenURL resolver deliver an appropriate (accessible, "paid-for") copy. This is a feature we use daily for our own research, it's proved to be a tremendous time saver.
  • Lookups of a complete book title, author, or ISBN - usually by selecting & right-clicking on a webpage.
  • Proxying a page or link when coming from off-campus.
  • Using cues to get from pages that a user frequently uses to the library catalog.
  • Improvements to vendor-provided pages.
[from LibrarianInBlack]

Comparison of RSS Web-Based Readers

TechCrunch has posted a comparison of web-based RSS readers. The readers compared are:
  • Attensa Online
  • Bloglines
  • FeedLounge
  • Google Reader
  • Gritwire
  • News Alloy
  • NewsGator Online
  • Pluck Web Edition
  • Rojo
Rojo comes up first in this list. [from LibrarianInBlack]

NISO/RFID for Library Applications

NISO created a working group called "RFID for Library Applications." Its charge is:
  • Develop a set of guidelines that lay out current best practices for the use of RFID in library applications.
  • Prepare an input document that outlines US practices and concerns to an ISO TC46 working group on an RFID data model for library applications.
  • Serve as a sounding board for the NISO representative to the ISO TC 46 working group. Continue to work with ALA/BISG working group around the interaction of technology and privacy issues.
You can keep up with their work on their website. FYI -- We have a Texas member of the group -- Corrie Marsh of the University of North Texas. [from Librarians' Internet Index]

Literature Map

More visualization -- the Literature Map services asks you for an author's name. It then responds with other authors that you might like. These author's names hover around your author's name -- the closer they are to your author's name, the more likely you will like them. [from Library Stories]

LITA Top Tech Trends - June 2006

Although LITA will post something more formal on their website, Michelle Boule posted a good overview of the Top Technology Trends on the LITA Blog. There were seven panelists this year and here is an overview. More information is provided on the LITA Blog and most panelists provided more discussion on their own blogs. Andrew Pace
  • Findability
  • Aggregating all information
  • Automatic classification and natural language entry points
  • Landlords of the information space
Marshall Breeding
  • Solving the OPAC problem
  • Consolidation in the information industry
Clifford Lynch
  • Fast IP connectivity availability
  • Net neutrality
  • Data curation
  • Institutional repositories
  • Sharing sites
  • Computational use of literature
Karen Schneider
  • OPAC issues
  • Managed open source
  • Privacy
  • Faceted navigation
  • eBooks
  • Graphic novels
Eric Lease Morgan
  • Voice over IP
  • Blogs and wikis as the norm
  • Social networking sites
  • Open source influencing other ideas
  • Metasearch
  • Mass digitization
  • Licensed content/digital management software
  • Discontent with library catalogs
Tom Wilson
  • Everything we do is an interim solution
  • Systems we use/provide access to should not be seen as monolithic
Roy Tennant
  • Next generation finding tools
  • Rise of filtering and selection
  • Rise of micro communities
Sarah Houghton
  • Power over content returned to content owner
  • OCLC ILS
  • Online outreach
Peter Murray's post on T3 Karen Comb's post on T3 [from LITA Blog]

More Dell Recycling

Dell has changed its recyling program for the better. Dell will now recycle any Dell device at no charge to you, even if a replacement Dell device is not purchased. Even shipping is paid for by Dell. Dell Announcement [from New York Times]

Wikipedia Changes Its Editing Rules

Originally, Wikipedia allowed anyone to edit any of its pages. Because of recent vandalism, they have changed this policy on some of their pages. Although they have always had the ability to discontinue editing on specific pages for a time, they now have a semi-protected category, which allows editing only by those have been registered at Wikipedia for at least four days. Wikipedia's Protection Policy Wikipedia's List of Protected Pages [from New York Times]

Underwater iPods

I shouldn't be surprised at the innovation I see, but I am . . . constantly. If you have an iPod, you can purchase a waterproof case and headphones. The sound through the headphones isn't great above water, but much better when submerged and sealed. So, you can listen to music while you swim laps . . . or take a shower . . . or . . . sing in the rain! [from New York Times]

Ring Tones You Can't Hear

Well . . you can't hear them if you're older. These are ring tones that can be heard by younger people - technically, those that still can hear sounds at the high end of the audio frequency range -- but not by those that are middle-aged or older. The ring tone originally was developed by a security company to annoy teenagers (disperse a group) and not bother adults. It is described as "an ear-splitting 17-kilohertz buzzer." The idea was hi-jacked and is now an off-shoot is available at no charge over the Internet. The original company now has its own ring tone available -- the Mosquitotone. [from New York Times]

Chief Security Officer for MySpace.com

Update: MySpace.com is also changing some of its policies toward its younger users:
  • Specific types of advertisements will not be shown to users under 18.
  • Older users must know more than a user name in order to contact users under 18; they must know either their first and last names or their email address.
  • Members can designate their profiles as "private" and only available to a specific set of friends.
FYI: These policies work only if the users set their age correctly. [from New York Times] *********************** MySpace.com has been in the news lately for the ease of finding personal information about its users. Partially in response to this, they have created and filled a Chief Security Officer position. Hemanshu Nigam, director of consumer security outreach and child safe computing and Microsoft, has been hired. MySpace.com will also initiate an advertising program, focused on young people and Internet safety. [from New York Times]

Imagery for Searching Google Images

Imagery provides an alternative interface for searching Google Images. Currently, it works only with Firefox 1.5+ and is only a prototype -- not even a beta version. It's aim is to show that image searching can be improved upon what is available now. It provides some very helpful aids; you can:
  • easily see how large the image is in relation to your browser window.
  • see image information displayed, e.g., title, width, height, size, and URL
  • delete images from the search results
  • open tabs within Imagery
You can also limit your search by:
  • SafeSearch
  • small/medium/large size
  • black & white/grayscale/full color
  • file type: jpg/gif/png
[from Research Buzz]

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Dell Notebooks Now Have 1 Year Warranty

Dell has increased its warranties for Inspiron notebooks from 90 days to 1 year. [from CNET.com]

Feed Rinse

Feed Rinse is a service that will filter RSS feeds for you. It's not an RSS reader/aggregator -- just a service that serves as an intermediary between your reader and the original feed. Export your feeds in OPML. Import them into Feed Rinse. Decide how you want to filter: specific keywords, tags, authors. Export the feeds back into your reader. There is a free version available, as well as per month options. [from beSpacific]

Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0

The W3C document, Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0, is a listing and discussion of 60 best practices for improving the user's experience of the Web on mobile devices. In addition to good, overall information on how to design/code for mobile devices, the best practices section includes explanations of the issue(s) involved, how to implement correctly, and how to test for correct implementation. This document is currently a Candidate Recommendation, meaning that this is a stable document and implementation is encouraged. [from W3C News]

XHTML Basic Version 1.1

XHTML Basic is geared toward the creation of web pages for clients that do not support the full feature set of XHTML. These clients include cell phone, PDAs, TVs, and pagers, as well as other information appliances. This language includes a very basic set of elements. [from W3c News]

CSS Version 2.1

In April, the World Wide Web Consortium published Cascading Style Sheets version 2.1. Version 2.0 came out in 1998. Version 2.1 has multiple aims:
  • Incorporating errata found in 2.0;
  • Removing version 2.0 features which have been rejected by the CSS community;
  • Removing version 2.0 features which will be obsolete in version 3.0;
  • Adding a few new property values;
  • Modifying the specification to reflect common practice.
So, version 2.1 is not totally backwards-compatible with version 2.0. From the website:
Thus, while it is not the case that a CSS2 style sheet is necessarily forwards-compatible with CSS 2.1, it is the case that a style sheet restricting itself to CSS 2.1 features is more likely to find a compliant user agent today and to preserve forwards compatibility in the future. While breaking forward compatibility is not desirable, we believe the advantages to the revisions in CSS 2.1 are worthwhile.
FYI: This is still a working draft, not yet a W3C recommendation. [from W3C News]