Friday, July 29, 2005

Something Fun! OCLC’s Top 1,000 List

Something Fun! OCLC’s Top 1,000 List

OCLC Research has compiled a list of the 1,000 books held by the greatest number of libraries in WorldCat. OCLC used FRBR algorithms and human analysis to pull together editions, translations, and printings of each title in order to rank the intellectual work rather than a specific manifestation. The resulting list is fascinating in itself, but then they subdivided the list by useful categories (e.g.: Children’s, Drama, Books Into Film), added fun factoids (e.g.: William Shakespeare has the most works on the list and Stephen King didn’t make the list at all), and included links to libraries for people who might want to find one of the titles. They also compare the list to other “top 100” lists. You can even download the list, if you so desire. To explore the list yourself, go here

Be careful! As OCLC warns, the list can become addictive!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

First Place: Dan McKay - Fargo, ND
As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual.

Runner Up: Mitsy Rae - Danbury, NE
When Detective Riggs was called to investigate the theft of a trainload of Native American fish broth concentrate bound for market, he solved the case almost immediately, being that the trail of clues led straight to the trainmaster, who had both the locomotive and the Hopi tuna tea.

Grand Panjandrum's Special Award: Bryan Semrow - Oshkosh, WI
Captain Burton stood at the bow of his massive sailing ship, his weathered face resembling improperly cured leather that wouldn't even be used to make a coat or something.

Gets worse

Michael Palin's Travel Books - Free Online

Former Python Michael Palin has made a name for himself lately as a brilliant travel-writer and the host of a series of excellent travel documentaries. He has put the full text of all of his amazing travel-books online for free. They're spread out across multiple html pages, unfortunately, so they're not suited to downloading for reading on your phone on the Tube in the morning, but man is this ever a step in the right direction.

The Rap Canterbury Tales

The Rap Canterbury Tales started in 1999 as an experiment, an attempt to adapt Chaucer's stories into a rap style to make them accessible. It is designed to bring the Tales to a wider popular audience as well as assisting educators to communicate Chaucer's themes and narrratives easily to students. The translations stay as close as possible to the tone and thrust of the original Tales, while completely updating the language into a lively hiphop rhyme style. They are occasionally a bit raunchy, but I relinquish all due credit (and blame) to Chaucer, as he did to his "sources".

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Microsoft Launches MSN Virtual Earth

Microsoft has released a beta version of Virtual Earth, a web-based application that combines local search with maps and aerial photography.

Read more about it here

Search podcast by Spoken Word

OK, now this is totally and unbelievably cool.

You know, don’t you, that podcasts are like little downloadable radio shows, often made by amateurs? They’re so personal and quirky, they’re almost like the audio version of Web logs.

Unfortunately, they’re also audio, so you can’t exactly search them with Google. You can’t search for words inside an audio file, right?

Wrong. Somehow, the folks at have figured out how to do it. Introducing: the first search engine that can find podcasts according to the words spoken during them! It’s in beta, but I tried it, and it really, truly works. The search results offer you a ten-second preview of the podcast, plus links to the whole thing.

The Centered Librarian Beamed into Space Daily

Blogs in Space

Some 60 years ago humans first began transmitting television signals powerful enough to reach beyond our earth's atmosphere. Since then the media has continued to broadcast messages from I Love Lucy to the five o'clock news into space, potentially reaching intelligent alien life forms beyond our solar system. Blogs In Space is the first entity to allow everyday bloggers to transmit the news and thoughts of an everyday person into space. Simply put they take our feed and transmit it out on a powerful deep space transmission dish. We are the future! Cool.

Really Funny Post by a Circ Librarian re: Menopause

From LISNews

I am Barb the human Barb-eque grill checking out your books. You could roast a chicken on my sternum and a hotdog under each boob. The amount of sweat that rolls off the back of my neck could support a flotilla of Baleen whales. I now believe in spontaneous human combustion. It happens to menopausal women. One minute they are thinking they might die of a hot flash and seconds later they do, leaving behind just a cranky little pile of smoking ashes and a melted wedding band. I am afraid this will happen to me at the circulation desk one day. And there are several things that could help it along.

A.) The Xerox machine.
On a good day, it auto-senses correctly the size of paper it needs and makes that happy little bup-a-dom yup-a-dom song that sometimes I whistle along with. But. On a bad day, Xavier the Xerox turns into Javier, the evil twin. It chokes on its own paper. It spits out projectile copies of its own eyelid at the closest human being, myself, ten feet away. I can feel it come alive and purr with malevolent intent. I talk it to it like I am a dominatrix and it is my slaveboy. I believe this might also be a symptom of menopause. I say, "Uh oh, who's being a very baaad boy? Who needs a punishment?" Unplugging is the nastiest thing I can think of to do to Javier. After all, he is a guy.

B.) The bathroom and water fountain fixated patron.
Sometimes I think people must not have bathrooms or water here in Artsy-Fartsy Small Town, Connecticut. That is why they come to the library. One person in particular only checks out three things- the first two are the water level of the bottle of spring water and the cup situation. "Excuse me," she'll say "Did you know that you are all out of cups?" Or, "Excuse me, this water bottle is empty." Her favorite place, though, is the bathroom. Lots can go wrong in there. If someone before her has left the seat up, spilled soft soap, used all the toilet paper or dropped paper towels on the floor, she gleefully reports it in full detail. The most excited I ever saw her get was when someone forgot to flush. This was cause for some of the most inventive language I ever heard all because she didn't want to say "poop" at the circ desk. So, I said it for her. "Oh, you mean there's a POOP in the toilet?" Then, I unplugged her.

C.) The random reference question. They don’t care what the answer is, they just have to ask it:
"Have you lived here all your life?"
I make like a Maine-iac and drily say, "Not yet."
"What percentage of the population here is from New York City?"
"All of them," I say. "When they leave on Sunday afternoon, I have the whole damn town to myself."
"What was Lincoln's favorite food?"
"What is the square footage of the library?"
"How many books are there in the collection?"
"How much money did this place cost to build?"
"28,000." (In 1889.)
As improbable as it seems, all of the 28,000 ones are true. The guy that asked me the last three questions didn't believe me and I don't blame him. I felt sorta like Sponge Bob Squarepants with his random response of "1924" whenever he doesn't know the answer to something. And don’t forget, I have a chicken on my chest.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

What Americans know about internet terms

Click image to enlarge.

20 Technology Skills Every Librarian Should Have

From The Shifted Librarian

1 Word Processing Skills
2 Spreadsheets Skills
3 Database Skills
4 Electronic Presentation Skills
5 Web Navigation Skills
6 Web Site Design Skills
7 E-Mail Management Skills
8 Digital Cameras
9 Computer Network Knowledge Applicable to your School System
10 File Management & Windows Explorer Skills
11 Downloading Software From the Web (Knowledge including eBooks)
12 Installing Computer Software onto a Computer System
13 WebCT or Blackboard Teaching Skills
14 Videoconferencing skills
15 Computer-Related Storage Devices (Knowledge: disks, CDs, USB drives, zip disks, DVDs, etc.)
16 Scanner Knowledge
17 Knowledge of PDAs
18 Deep Web Knowledge
19 Educational Copyright Knowledge
20 Computer Security Knowledge

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Finally! Rid of those pesky fruit labels.

Produce industry service company Durand-Wayland, Inc. developed a system for identifying produce with laser-etched codes. These "fruit tattoos" would replace those little stickers that always get stuck in your teeth when you bite into a nice, crisp apple while distracted. The technology's beginning to catch on, according to a NYT story.

Broadband eyes a quantum leap

Internet access 50 times faster than current speeds could arrive via TV cables as early as '06.

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Broadband Internet access via TV cables will be able to hit 100 megabits per second as early as next year, 50 times faster than the average broadband speeds now offered to cable TV homes, a Finnish firm said Wednesday.

Similar data transmission speeds are possible over fiber networks, but these cost much more for the operators to build.

"This is a cost-efficient technology as we use the cable TV networks which are already in place," Jukka Rinnevaara, chief executive of small-cap Finnish broadband equipment manufacturer Teleste, told Reuters.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 Offers Comparison Shopping, a shopping research site, has added integrated comparison shopping and several additional features designed to simplify and expedite your online shopping experience

Read more about it here

Monday, July 18, 2005

New Image Search Site

Pixsy is a new engine that provides access to imagery posted on various social networking services, blogs, mobile blogs, and other web sites.

Results pages include thumbnails along with direct links to the image url and the page where the image is posted. I ran a couple of searches and spotted images posted to (a moblog service) and Buzznet. I also came across images from sites like the BBC, SF Gate, and

The right side of a results page includes keyword ads that often include images. The images appear to come from various web sites and then combined with ads from Yahoo Search Marketing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Stop your presentation before it kills again!

Sometimes the best presentation is... no presentation. Ditch the slides completely. Put the projector in the closet, roll the screen back up, and turn the damn lights back on!

A most excellent blog with an excellent article on the dangers of PowerPoint and some tips if you must use it.

Compare Book Prices in 34 Stores compares the price of selected books in your shopping cart in 34 different stores.

Downloadable MP3 Walking Tours

AudioTreks™ tours are digital audio walking tours of fun, popular neighborhoods. Instead of following a person or a book, you can download audio walking tours to your own MP3 player or iPod.

Leave heavy guide books at home. We'll tell you just as much, and more!

Go sightseeing at your own speed, and on your time. Stop for lunch or shopping, then turn it back on.

They're easy to follow. Like the audio tours in museums, they're recorded in "segments" that are easy to locate on your MP3 player. Each tour also comes with a map to download and print.

An AudioTreks™ Tour is like having a friend who lives in the neighborhood show you around!

Parents Against Bad Books in Schools: If not so sad, this would be funny

From: ""

I think PABBIS (Parents Against Bad Books in School) is a little too interested in in "bad" books. This link takes you to its "SAMPLE BOOK REVIEW DOCUMENTATION FORM." Mild warning for some language.

Finally - ePaper

Fujitsu has announced the launch of bendy electronic paper that can store and display images wirelessly.

Bendable colour screens have been in the pipeline for some time (see related links), but Fujitsu is the first company to announce a wireless version that it hopes will hit shops sometime between April 2006 and March 2007.

According to Fujitsu its newly developed e-paper features an image memory function that enables “continuous display of the same image without the need for electricity”, although it does require a smidge of power to switch images. Plus, the images don’t warp or lose quality when the e-paper is bent or rolled up.

Fujitsu has even outlined some applications for its smarty-pants paper, including wireless transfer of photos and text messages from mobiles onto the ultra-portable e-paper. Here are just a few other uses it envisages for launch:

  • It can offer more convenient digital-media devices that can be carried from room to room in the home.

  • Operating manuals and other short-term information displays, facilitating the trend toward paperless offices or factories.

  • Electronic shelf display tags, restaurant menus, and other in-store uses. Can also be used for pricing displays or product information displays that stand out in full color and can be readily updated.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"Stink-In" planned for Houston Library

The Reverend G. Todd Williams of the New Covenant Church in Houston is looking for a few good men. And women. And by "good," he means men and women with enough stanky body odor to choke a rhino.

Williams says he'll be holding a "Stink-In" July 9 at the Montrose Public Library to protest a new city ordinance that says library patrons can be forced to leave if they have "offensive bodily hygiene."

The law clearly discriminates against the homeless, he says. And so, as an announcement of the protest puts it, "We are encouraging folks to mow their lawns, play tennis, play hard and get all sweaty…don't SHOWER, then plan to head to the public library."

At 3 p.m., all the fragrant revolutionaries -- including the many homeless members of Williams's congregation, who probably won't need to play tennis beforehand -- will descend on the library. Hilarity will ensue, no doubt, along with a heartwarming message that the stench-ridden need love, too.

"This is an ordinance about hate," Williams says. "And it's got the seal of approval by the city on it."

In honor of the protest, the Storytime Book that day will be the children's classic The Stinky Cheese Man. Or it should be.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Comparison Shop for Books and Music on Any Phone

You are in a bookshop or a record shop. You found something that interests you. You can't decide whether to buy it now or later online. What you need is a price check and a quick review, perhaps some ideas of something similar that others might recommend. Amabuddy can help! Amabuddy will quote's price, a typical used price and a 1-5 reader rating. Grab a book or CD off your shelf and try it!

To use amabuddy first make sure you locate the ISBN number on the back of the book or inside the book on first few pages. To enter X in an ISBN number use the # key.

Dial toll-free 1-888-WESIGNAL (1-888-937-4462) and enter the data. Cool.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Studies using eye-tracking technology

A new report offers fascinating, in-depth insights on how users interact with Google search results, based on studies using eye-tracking technology. Keeping an eye on Google

What's Cooking in Search Engine Labs

Want a peek behind the scenes at the research and development efforts going on at the major search engines? Here's where to find the freshest info. Of particular interest is a collection of papers published by "Googlers" - some quite applicable to our efforts here at CCLA, here

U of Michigan agreement with Google available

The U of Michigan has posted their confidential agreement with
Google in response to a freedom of information request. The request comes from Daniel Brandt who runs the aggressively anti-Google site, Googlewatch. His Freedom of Information Act request resulted in this posting. I'm linking here to the page with comments from other readers, scroll down for article, other links and comments.

Friday, July 01, 2005

User Taxonomies at Yahoo

First introduced in April and significantly updated this week, Yahoo's MyWeb allows users to designate sites as share-worthy and to search what others in their Yahoo-based communities or the larger Yahoo user base find relevant. When a user logs into MyWeb, she can search through what others in her communities have saved, through what the MyWeb community at large has saved, or search the Web without the MyWeb interface. If the user finds a site she likes, she can select "Save," which calls up a separate window. A user then titles the page, adds some keywords (to aid others in their own searching), and then designates if she wants to save the site for herself alone or to share with others in her community or the rest of Yahoo's visitors.

Read more here.