Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Wikipedia on your iPod


From The Apple Blog

Encyclopodia is a free software project that brings the Wikipedia, which is one of the largest encyclopedias on the world, on the Apple iPod MP3-Player. It has been successfully tested on a third-generation iPod and on an iPod mini, but it should also work on other iPod generations.

Monday, February 27, 2006

READY-TO-KNOW

Google indexes 8 billion+ documents, images and items, and that same Google has announced it may scan up to 50 million books currently only available in old-world universities like Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, University of Michigan, and the NY Public Library, yet for consumers craving relevant information on everything and anything, there is still a massive information shortage.

And all this information should be available 'on the go', i.e. accessible in the offline AND online (wired and wireless) world: think of it as the Google effect (demanding and getting instant answers) permeating all aspects of daily life.

TRENDWATCHING.COM has dubbed this phenomenon READY-TO-KNOW: demanding consumers are in a constant 'Ready To Go, READY-TO-KNOW' state of mind, expecting any information deemed relevant to be available instantly, at their own terms. The latter is crucial: we're talking pull here, not push. Expect to see more click-and-know, more point-and-know, more text-and-know, more touch-and-know and more snap-and-know than ever before.

Examples and more here

Counter-Googling


From trendwatching.com

The art of 'Googling' (checking people's backgrounds on the internet via search engine Google) -- which started out as a useful tool for weeding out psychopaths from the online dating game and performing a quick double-check on an applicant's claim about his or her astonishing career -- will soon be an integral part of corporate 1:1 marketing strategies.

With consumers disclosing their most intimate secrets online (voluntarily!), Google has essentially created a 'domestic database', i.e. a world-wide database loaded with your customers' details and profiles, with a depth of information your company's database can only dream of.

So instead of consumers Googling you before they buy your services, you should Google THEM, and instantly get more personal information than you'd ever be able to capture with traditional 1:1 in an entire life-time. TRENDWATCHING.COM has dubbed this emerging trend COUNTER-GOOGLING, and the opportunities are tasty!

A real-life COUNTER-GOOGLING example? The Bel Air Hotel in LA already Googles first-time guests upon arrival, based on their reservation details (name and address), leading to personalized services like assigning guests a room with morning sun if Googling shows the guest enjoys jogging early in the day (source: http://blog.outer-court.com).

Trend Spotting


Fascinating stuff!

trendwatching.com is an independent and opinionated trend firm, scanning the globe for the most promising consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business ideas. They rely on a network of 8,000+ spotters in more than 70 countries worldwide.

Most of their findings are aggregated in a free, monthly Trend Briefing, which is sent to 130,000+ business professionals in more than 120 countries. To read the latest edition of the Trend Briefing, please go to www.trendwatching.com/briefing/.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Google Librarian Newsletter

I found this referenced in an obscure Flikr photoset and managed to dig up two issues. There is a "sign up" link if anyone is interested. Frankly, it is pretty lame.

December 2005 Issue

January 2006 Issue


From the first issue:

Welcome to the first edition of the Google Librarian Newsletter.

This newsletter was conceived at the 2005 ALA conference in Chicago, where Google hosted a booth in the exhibit hall. We spent three days chatting with librarians about Google: what you liked, what you didn't like, and where you saw opportunities to work together to help people find useful, relevant information.

In an effort to keep those conversations going, we're launching this newsletter. Consider it a first step toward what we hope will be a long and mutually beneficial relationship. We anticipate sending it out quarterly, with the occasional special feature as appropriate.

This introductory issue features an article written to address one of the most frequent questions we've heard from librarians: How does Google index the web, and, more important, how does it rank the results? Matt Cutts, an engineer in our Quality group, explains the basics of indexing and sheds some light on some of the algorithms we use to determine where a site should appear on results pages. He also suggests exercises school librarians can do to help students better understand how Google works.

But this newsletter wouldn't be much of a conversation if it were written solely by folks at Google. Future issues will feature articles contributed by librarians and library supporters, links to library-related web sites, and updates on Google products and services that can help you in your work. We invite you to send us your thoughts: your questions about Google, your suggestions for articles, and your stories of how librarians use and keep up with technology on the job. We'll do our best to use your feedback to make each issue more relevant and useful to the library community.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned.

Jodi Healy
Manager, Library Partnership Team

ProQuest Admits False Accounting

Found on Librarian in Black

From: Library Journal

ProQuest Company, February 9 revealed internal accounting errors that will result in it restating "certain of its previously issued financial statements." To defuse any fears of scandal like the one involving subscription agent, divine, Inc., ProQuest president Alan Aldsworth staged a conference call in which he assured that the errors do not "affect amount invoiced to customers, cash received from customers, or disbursements made to publishers and suppliers." ProQuest wasn't fielding questions from the press, but issued a statement in part reading: "Based upon its initial finding, the company believes that its deferred income and accrued royalty accounts are materially understated in previously issued financial statements. It also believes that its prepaid royalty account is materially overstated…as a result it will be required to recognize amounts of royalty and other expenses as well as reduce a portion of revenues previously reported for its Information and Learning business, the effect of which will materially reduce earnings from continuing operations…."

ProQuest added that the "irregularities do not affect the company's cash balances." The company has retained an outside accounting firm to conduct a thorough examination of its finances. Although lawyers for investors are preparing litigation, they confirm that neither customers nor suppliers were overcharged or cheated in any way.

Scroggle

Have you heard of Scroogle? This is a search interface -- created by the non-profit org google-watch. Put in your search term into the "google scraper" (there's also one available for yahoo!), scroogle searches google, and returns google results WITHOUT ads, WITHOUT cookies and WITHOUT search term records (their access log is deleted within 48 hours whereas google keeps this information FOREVER!). Check it out! As a side note, there's been a lot of talk lately about google and the ethics of their aiding in Chinese censorship. See the boingboing story for more background. Since 2000, Google has recorded your search terms, the date-time of each search, the globally-unique ID in your cookie (it expires in 2038), and your IP address. This information is available to governments on request. (From the Scroogle Web site)... See the site here

Bad library marketing.


Snapped in a Chicago library by Aaron over at Walking Paper.

Google Launches "Page Creator"


Google Page Creator, which is in beta, has sample layouts and lets people type in content, upload images and publish their pages, without knowing HTML. People can create multiple linked pages and are allowed 100MB of storage on the service.

The free service requires a Gmail account and supports either Internet Explorer 6.0 or Firefox 1.0, or higher.

With Page Creator, the company has drawn a distinction between Web sites and Web pages, saying that a page is a "single document with its own Web address," whereas a site is a "collection of pages with a common subdomain," or the "xxxxxxx.com" portion of the URL. "During this initial testing period," Google said, people can create only pages, not sites.

Google already owns Blogger, a company that enables people to create blogs. The company also recently launched a service offering hosted e-mail accounts with an individual's chosen domain, instead of Gmail.

LexisNexis Teams with Compliance 360

From: PR Web

Compliance 360, provider of governance, risk and compliance management software for companies in regulated industries announced today that it has partnered with LexisNexis to form the industry’s first offering of superior legal, regulatory, company and news content integrated with a compliance management solution. Utilizing Compliance 360’s content acquisition engine, users have the ability to seamlessly link updated content from LexisNexis with other corporate compliance data for more effective change management.

Compliance 360 customers are able to access the latest updates to rules and regulations, public records and other actionable content through LexisNexis and automatically workflow-enable that information into their legal departments or other compliance-related business areas. Utilizing the solution, managers can better respond to external regulatory events, stay abreast of newly proposed or enacted laws and regulations applicable to their businesses and more effectively manage the impact changing laws and regulations have on corporate compliance programs.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

2006 Horizon Report

This is definitely worth reading.

2006 Horizon Report
Abstract:
The annual Horizon Report is a collaborative effort between the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). Each year, the report identifies and describes six areas of emerging technology likely to have a significant impact on teaching, learning, or creative expression in higher education within three adoption horizons: a year or less, two to three years, and four to five years.
The areas of emerging technology cited for 2006 are:
• Social computing
• Personal broadcasting
• Cell-phone-accessible educational content and services
• Educational gaming
• Augmented reality and enhanced visualization
• Context-aware environments and devices
Each section of the report provides live Web links to example applications and additional readings.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The 21st Century Library...

From Free Range Librarian
K.G. Schneider: Techno-Librarian. Writer. Gadfly. Commentator-at-Large.


The 21st Century Library is an interesting commentary with reference to the ALA keynote address by Andrei Codrescu and in preparation for a NPR Talk of the Nation topic on libraries.



Talk of the Nation is supposed to discuss the "Bookless Library." The blurb states: "Information technology changes as soon we think we understand it. We look at how libraries keep up and redefine their role. How would you design a library for the 21st century?"


I was unable to locate the program or blurb on their site. It may have been postponed or something but should be worth listening to or reading over the transcript if or when it becomes available.


Update:"This program has been postponed
due to the unavailability of a key guest."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Google Scholar searches go to local libraries

From The Google Blog
Posted by Christian DiCarlo, Content Partnerships Team, Google Scholar


Recently I’ve been working with libraries on something we’re excited to announce for Google Scholar users. Libraries are fantastic repositories of scholarship, and we want to make them as visible and accessible as possible. We’ve just expanded our Library Search program in Google Scholar to help people around the world find works of their interest in local libraries. That program now includes links to libraries in Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland.

If for example you're a student in Sweden searching Google Scholar for [chemistry], you can click the “Library Search (Sweden)” link underneath the book titled "Principles of polymer chemistry" to see the list of Swedish libraries that hold the book. Then just pay a visit to one of those libraries to reserve it. If you’re outside Sweden, you can activate the Swedish library catalog links from the "Library Links" box in the "Scholar preferences" by searching for Sweden.

If you are a library patron and can't find the books from your library, ask your local library to participate in this program. If you are a librarian and would like to work with us to help users find scholarly literature in your library, please contact us.

We'd like to thank our union catalog partners for helping to make this happen. Here's hoping researchers worldwide will use it to find and build on the amazing collections in the world's libraries.

Real World Learning Objects Library


The Real World Learning Objects (RWLO) Resource Library is an online repository of Internet-based unique and compelling learning objects designed so that community college faculty can easily access and adapt for use in their classes.

Developed for the PT3 Community College Pathways to Improved Teacher Preparation through Technology Project (Pathways) with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, these RWLOs promote “unique and compelling” uses of the Internet: access to real time data, telecollaboration, primary sources, or web publishing. These applications engage students in authentic activities and Internet-based instructional resources that are uniquely possible only through the use of the Internet and provide compelling real world learning experiences.

Wikibooks are coming!

From The Philadelphia Inquirer

Wikibooks are coming. They likely will confront the homogenization, the slow publication and adoption processes, and the need for political correctness in textbook publishing. Wikibooks also could ease the costs of buying, distributing, and replacing textbooks.

Wikis are editable, collaborative, freely licensed online projects.

Imagine your textbook in a new way. Imagine a book that grows as knowledge grows. Imagine teachers teaching the same content contributing their collective knowledge as well as their best strategies and resources to keep the book fresh. Imagine scholars outside the education field contributing their research. Imagine textbooks customized to meet the needs of different locations with different standards or, more important, the needs of different learners.

Wikitexts may provide an equitable solution for the millions of students around the world with some access to computers but limited access to print texts.


More at the link.

Friday, February 17, 2006

New receiver reads HDTV streams from the internet


AHT International introduced the P2POD HDTV media player, a device that uses peer-to-peer technology to download and stream HDTV programs from the Internet. This nicely-designed unit reportedly has a user-friendly interface intended to make it easy to manage the thousands of channels now available. It could get much better, too, because when more of these proprietary P2PODs are in use, all of the other P2PODs benefit. More peers, more speed.

In addition to video, the P2POD is also able to receive and transmit over 6000 Internet radio broadcasts directly to a home entertainment system. If you can't find what you want on the Internet, you can also transfer media files to it via USB 2.0.

Expected to be rolled out in the third quarter of this year, the most astonishing fact is its price, under $150. We're just wondering how we might hack this sucker so it can be used with BitTorrent. Yes, we know, BitTorrent transfers its files differently, but still....

Denver Library offers downloadable films/videos

From The Rocky Mountain News

Next month, the Denver Public Library system will become the first in the nation to allow people to download movies and concert videos from home with a click of their computer mouse.

And it'll be free to anyone with a Denver library card and a speedy Internet connection.

"It makes it convenient, because you don't have to come to the library," Michelle Jeske, the library's manager of Web Information Services, said Thursday. "As long as you have a library card, you can have the library come to you."



More at link.

Where have library systems vendors gone astray?

From Librarian in Black

The Family Man Librarian (AKA Steve Oberg) has a thoughtful and well-written post about librarians' growing dissatisfaction with our OPACs/WebPACs/Catalogs: Where have library systems vendors gone astray? So, where have they gone astray?

  • Faulty participation in standards development affecting libraries

  • By and large, lack of deep pockets and resources to research and quickly implement new products or features

  • Too much time spent on unimportant, widgety enhancements to existing software

  • Focus on meeting individual libraries’ or customers’ contractual needs instead of the bigger picture of what is happening in the broader information technology arena or how to best serve the broader customer base

  • More attention given to librarians’ needs than library users’ needs

  • A tendency to focus on the lowest common denominator customer at the cost of alienating customers who want to expand and enhance and push the envelope of the system


More at the link.

TV-B-Gone


You're sitting in a restaurant with your friends. The TV in the corner is blaring. You realize that none of you are actually talking to each other. Instead, you're all staring at a piece of furniture!

Now there's a solution: the TV-B-Gone. This small keychain wonder is designed to turn off virtually any television. Invented by Mitch Altman, a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur, the TV-B-Gone is a simple remote control device with a single button. When activated, the unit emits 209 different turn-off codes for nearly every TV. The unit takes a little more than a minute to cycle through all of the turn-off codes, but fortunately, codes for the most common TVs are emitted first. And because it's small, unassuming, and attaches to your key ring, you can always be discreet about offing that off-putting talking head.

Just think, more authentic and meaningful social interactions can be yours in seconds. Be prepared when the TV goes off, though; you may have to talk to those friends of yours at the table. Of course, if it's just simple silence you're after, the TV-B-Gone delivers that, too. So pick up that book and enjoy!

The Photography of Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison


Most interesting!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

digg News Added to TCL

"digg" news feeds have been added to The Centered Liibrarian. The feeds are automatically updated and will appear in the right-side info banner.

Amazon Plans Music Service and Player

From The Wall Street Journal

In recent years, Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has explained his company's deliberately paced approach to the digital-music business by saying he wants to avoid simply imitating the dominant player in the field, Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store.

Now Amazon, the world's No. 1 online retailer, is in advanced talks with the four global music companies about a digital-music service with a range of features designed to set it apart. Among them: Amazon-branded portable music players, designed and built for the retailer, and a subscription service that would deeply discount and preload those devices with songs, not unlike mobile phones that are included with subscription plans as part of the deal.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bruce Sterling on the Future of Money


This guy fascinates the heck out of me. Here is a thought provoking article by the futurist describing how "money" might evolve over the next decades.
Instead of a plastic card for a bank, we could have a plastic card with a bank. The stone-pillared edifices that used to house banks are full of nightclubs and gyms now; people bank electronically, they use ATMs. An ATM is merely a device to spit paper. Why not make every card an ATM? Tomorrow's microchips won't lack for capacity. A cell phone is like yesterday's switching station, a laptop is yesterday's supercomputer. Why settle for a bank account when you could buy a cheap bank-on-a-chip?

Instead of price tags, we could have radio frequency identification tags that calculate price as you touch the item. Once they're stamped with an inked price, objects have to settle for that value, but why don’t prices change instantaneously in response to demand?

Instead of credit ratings to acquire capital, credit records could become capital. If I'm superb at shopping, a super-user whose word is law for those who trust me for recommendations, how come I'm not paid to shop? Maybe Mr. A minds his p's and q's and never touches his capital--while Mr. B is a player who plunges into debt and escapes it repeatedly.

Instead of "socially responsible investment," we might be confronted with money that refuses to let itself be spent. Electronic funds might double check themselves against a blacklist before they move from one chip to another. Touch a terrorist bank account, and you might find yourself with not just a refusal of funds but also with instant taps on your phone and e-mail.

Libraries turning to iPods and iTunes

Playlist has an article outlining how some libraries are using iPods and iTunes as a solution for librarians who are seeking to provide access to their digital collections.
Just as the iPod transformed the way individuals connect with their personal media collections, so too is it changing the way libraries help the public connect with mass media collections. Both iPods and iTunes enable libraries to provide new distribution methods for digital collections of books, music, and now, video. Yet with these digital collections come issues of copyright and access that pose new challenges for modern librarians.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Google beta ditches gmail.com

The beta is open to businesses, organizations and schools, according to Google's blog site. The search giant points to San Jose City College as one school that is testing hosted Gmail, offering its students e-mail accounts with the domain of jaguars.sjcc.edu. Link to CNET article

Friday, February 10, 2006

FUN - a university with a focus!

FUN = Future University. This university was established in 2000 and added a graduate program in 2003. It is located in Hakodate, Japan. They have one school, the School of Information Science and two departments within that school: Complex Systems and Media Architecture. They say, "We at Future University - Hakodate recognize that information systems cannot be isolated from people and society. Our courses cover a wide area, from large complex interactive systems to human-oriented design. We invite you to experience FUN; to play your part in the design of life in the 21st century."

This is a link to their site: http://www.fun.ac.jp/en/. The curricula for the first two years includes a broader range of topics, but the focus remains on systems and technology. Their students will be ready for the future!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Google Challenges for Academic Libraries

The 10th anniversary issue of Ariadne has a number of good articles, including, Google Challenges for Academic Libraries.

LIFT06 Presentation Videos Available


LIFT is an annual world conference about new technologies and technology leaders way beyond the Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/Scott McNeely crowd. I have been follow ing the proceedings via blogs and have been fascinated. This is probably something we should consider attending next year.

They are talking about such things as spimes, ubiquitous computing, datashadows, ifoclouds, everyware, the bluesphere, blogjects and a bunch of stuff I had never heard of before. Fascinating!

Video and audio captures of key presentations are now available. I highly recommend Bruce Sterling's. Here are a few excerpts:

I think there are 6 trends in technology which all have something to do with physical objects and they all end up to a new kind of cultural sensibility for objects:

  • Interactive Chips: We now have objects can be labeled with interactive chips, that can be labelled with unique identity - RFID, electronic barcoding, arphids (rf-i-d for french)

  • Geolocation: positioning systems for physical objects in the cartesian environment

  • Powerful Search Engines: we can actually find things digitally, it’s not a project for google, we will end up googling objects pretty soon

  • 3D modeling for objects, virtual design, computer-aided design, computer aided manufacturing

  • Rapid Prototyping of objects: fabricators, computer fabricators, moving making objects from virtual design in a single manufacturing step: fabjects, blogjects

  • Cradle-to-Cradle Recycling: Transparent production, watching objects move digitally from the moment to which the design to the moment when they’re torn apart and recycled.


These are 6 big trends, all put in one bag. The outcome is that people will interact with objects in an unprecedented way; essentially we will end up with manufactured objects those information support system will be so extensive that there will be regarded as material extension of immaterial systems (we see them as hard copies of data-support systems). This would take 30 years away. I tend to try to describe what it would be like to live in these circumstances.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

ManyBooks.net adds audiobooks


An experimental audiobook blog has been added to ManyBooks.net - each day a new chapter of a selected book will be posted, and made avaiable as a podcast via talkr.com. Visitors are welcome to subscribe to the regular text RSS Feed or the audio podcast.

This month the podcast features John Buchan's Greenmantle, a WWI espionage thriller.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

BMW given Google 'death penalty'

Investigations by Google found that BMW's German website influenced search results to ensure top ranking when users searched for "used car."

Google has now reduced BMW's page rank to zero, ensuring the company no longer appears at the top.

BMW admitted using so-called "doorway pages" to boost search rankings, but denied any attempt to mislead users.

Link to story.

BookLetters - Enhanced eLibrary Services


BookLetters is an exciting service that enables your staff to reach out to patrons with high-quality e-newsletters and enhanced web services. BookLetter's Content Library puts information on thousands of authors and millions of books at your librarians’ fingertips, saving time. Your librarian controls the look, feel, and message of the web pages and e-newsletters that are automatically created by BookLetters’ computers. Your staff doesn’t even have to know html to take the next step in e-library service.

Library staff creates their own newsletters, event calendars and more in minutes with BookLetter's easy-to-use Web Editor. All newsletters link back to your library's OPAC, so patrons can reserve the book with a click of the mouse.

University of Michigan President Defends Google Book Search

Link to PDF Download

Just as powerful as the preservation aspect of Google Book Search is the fact our venture will result in a magnitude of discovery that seems almost incomprehensible. I could not have imagined that in my lifetime so much diffuse information literally would be at my fingertips.

It is an educator’s dream, knowing that the vast body of information held in the libraries of Michigan, Stanford, Harvard, Oxford and the New York Public Library will be universally searchable and, in the case of public domain works, accessible.

My parents were both teachers. My mother would take me and my two sisters to the public library in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and I remember it was like opening the doors to a different world with each trip we made. I was forever discovering entire new veins of titles, books that were simply enchanting to impressionable young girls.

Later on, as an undergraduate in college, I all but lived in the library. If I wasn’t holed up and reading in a carrel, I was simply roaming the stacks and uncovering new subjects and ideas.

I cannot tell you how exhilarating – and how humbling – it is to know that this digital enterprise, with our university’s books, will provide that same joy of discovery for people everywhere, from Iowa to Indonesia.

Monday, February 06, 2006

PlayAway - Audio books that don't need a player


Enjoy digital sound from a lightweight player with eight simple buttons. Wear it around your neck or stick it in your pocket. From novels to biographies, languages to business best sellers, Playaway comes already loaded with your favorite content.
Link

Automatic Title Generator for Fantasy Novels

Fun! This website generates entirely plausible titles for entirely unlikable fat extruded fantasy novels. Some examples:

Childrenِ Childِ and Crown
Crown and Illusion
Crystal and Fate
Dark's Light
El-Anash's Citadel
God of the War Queen
Heart and Power
Herald of Fate
Lonian's Children
Maidenِ Fireِ and Crown
Scourge and Glory
Secret and Illusion

Friday, February 03, 2006

Libraries fear digital lockdown

Libraries have warned that the rise of digital publishing may make it harder or even impossible to access items in their collections in the future. Link to BBC article

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Flock -- a browser and more

Check out this cool new open source browser (and tagger, and favorites manager, and search results manager, and blog poster) called Flock. It's still in development, but you can download a beta version and play around with it. You can do a bunch of things with it (at least thirteen different things)...I uploaded this blog post using it, for example*.


* OK, actually it didn't work quite as I thought -- it gave me an error message and I had to come here to blogger to actually publish the post. Maybe that's a bug they'll get fixed in later versions???

100 Best First Lines from Novels

1. Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

3. A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)

...and 97 more!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Congress caught making false entries in Wikipedia

From CNET News

We already know, of course, that politicians live primarily for re-election and typically view the truth as an impediment to the higher purpose of unfettered self-aggrandizement.

Still, we can be excused for feeling mildly nauseated when fresh confirmation of this distasteful aspect of modern politicking surfaces.

The latest episode appeared last week in the form of a report that aides to Rep. Marty Meehan, a Massachusetts Democrat, deleted references to his broken term-limits pledge and massive campaign war chest on Wikipedia.

Then the trusty editors at Wikipedia got together and compiled a list of over 1,000 edits made by Internet addresses allocated to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The IP address subsequently was blocked and unblocked.

An extensive analysis reveals how juvenile official Washington secretly is, behind the mind-numbingly serious talk of public policy.

Free Online Library Reminder Service with RSS Goodness

The inpiration for Elf came about because my friend started to receive a lot of overdue fines -- he and his wife were having a hard time keeping track of their library books and videos at their local library. They have three kids and the library is a big part of their lives (everyone has a library card). At first they tried a manual system where each kid took out exactly five items. That helped a bit but it forced a fixed reading diet on the kids and the kids weren't particularly keen on being limited this way. So he asked if some software I was working on at time could be adapted to help him and his family keep track of their library borrowings."

Leon County is not available, but TCC and many Florida counties are!

Debbiesidea.com - What to read first

Debbiesidea.com, grew out of a friendship between Debbie Sankey, a lifelong lover of music and books, and Ellen Pall, a writer.

Long before the Internet was commonly available - and certainly before the concept of a "Wikki" - Debbie had the idea that it would be useful to have a reference work suggesting which book of an unfamiliar author would be best to read first. Start reading an author with a poor or atypical example of his work, she observed, and you would likely never read that writer again—perhaps losing in the process a world of pleasure and knowledge. On the other hand, since there would seldom be one right book to read first, the resource would have to be a compendium of opinions.

Recommendations are based on the collective intelligence (meaning: anyone can add anything to any author page). It needs a lot of care and, obviously, more users, but it could be a useful tool.

Debbie died in 2004, at the age of ninety. The website has been created in loving memory of her and her very good idea.

Google misses earnings estimate

Google made news Tuesday, but not in a good way. The company missed analysts' expectation for fourth-quarter earnings--the first time it's done so since going public in 2004.

The search company still reported a profit of $372.2 million for the quarter, nearly double the year-ago period. But thanks in part to higher-than-expected tax rates, that number fell far short of what analysts were looking for.

While the company's share price plunged (down $34 at this post), bloggers weren't ready to throw in the towel just yet. However there were concerns that the company may be coming off the "do no wrong" era and settling down for more modest gains, at least financially.

Amazon plans to wed downloads, DVD

According to Variety Amazon.com is preparing to enter the digital download space this spring with a service that will likely marry downloads to DVD sales.

In one scenario, Amazon customers could stream a digital copy of a film for a fee and apply that charge as a credit toward the eventual purchase of the DVD.

Another plan is for a customer to buy a DVD; while waiting for it to arrive, he could stream the content over his computer.