Monday, December 29, 2008

The Art of Radical Exclusion

Chris Guillebeau over at the productivity blog The Art of Non-Comformity wants you to say no. Saying no so frequently in fact that the quality of the things you say yes to rises exponentially.

From the article:
    "Here’s the idea: we make time for what’s important to us.

    If I fail to fulfill a commitment I’ve made in a timely manner, it’s because of a conscious choice I’ve made. If I don’t return the phone call I said I would, it’s because I chose to do something else.

    I may or may not have a good excuse for why I failed to honor the commitment, but one thing’s for sure: if I make a habit of it, I will soon lose the trust of the person who had relied on me.

    To prevent this from happening, I sometimes practice the fine art of radical exclusion. This is where I deliberately ignore or decline any number of inputs, messages, or requests for my attention in order to focus on what I decide is more important. "

Monopoly as a "Life Lesson"

Having read for years that an aging mind needs to stay active to remain agile, it was interesting to read that BBC Magazine suggests that board game players, young and old, benefit from the social, mental, and patience-building aspects of sitting down to play them. If you've still got relatives hanging around from the holidays, why not turn off the screens and take a spin past Park Place?

Article here and a thanks to Lifehacker

Friday, December 19, 2008

Amazon's Windowshop Beta

Under the category, "HOW DID I MISS THIS"! If you haven't seen the new Amazon Windowshop site, check it out right now! Looking a lot like cooliris technology, the interface allows you to browse Amazon virtually - plus it has audio (music and spoken word) AND it includes great CD and book cover images as well as movie clips. Using space bar to zoom in on items. Click the space bar again to zoom in more. You can click on stuff to buy it or download it. Very easy and intuitive. Also a lot of fun.

Now, if we could only integrate this into our online catalog!

You can't afford NOT to own a $900 espresso machine

OK, this has little to do with information science but most of us drink coffee. I stumbled upon a nifty little anonymous article on Soul Shelter that explains it clearly. Here is a teaser:
    “OK, consider this: One double latte costs three dollars at a coffee shop, so your outside coffee-drinking habit comes to six dollars a day for you and your wife. That’s $2,190 per year in after-tax dollars,” Dave extrapolated. “Assuming you’re in the 27 percent tax bracket, that means you have to earn $3,000 before taxes to pay for those lattes. That’s more than a month’s wages for a substitute teacher here in the state of Oregon.”

Check out the post for details. I am still not dropping a grand on a coffee machine (mine was a couple hundred) but the argument is sound.

eSlick Release is Imminent

Prepped for January release, the eSlick, manufactured by the same company that builds the Kindle for Amazon and sold by a company more famous for their free alternative PDF reader, Foxit Reader, boasts 600x800 reflective screen, 128MB of RAM and a claimed 8000 page battery life and a price of $229. The downside is that options for loading and viewing content of the eSlick look to be fairly limited: files, mostly PDFs, are loaded through the USB port.

Frankly, another one doomed to fail if you ask me. And it isn't necessarily because the device is crappy in any way but for me is more because the experience is crappy - as it is with ALL eBook readers. I have used a Kindle, a SONY Reader, a Palm and my iPhone to read and probably others I forget and it is just not fun. While it is nice to be able to carry a virtual library around in my pocket, I guess I am stuck in the ink on paper world. And, I am pretty sure I am not alone. As we boomers give way to the X/Y/Millennial generations I am sure expectations will change. Until then, the eReader market is gonna be tough.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Discipline of Content Strategy

Kristina Halvorson has posted a spot-on commentary on the state of web content strategy over at A List Apart.
    "We, the people who make websites, have been talking for fifteen years about user experience, information architecture, content management systems, coding, metadata, visual design, user research, and all the other disciplines that facilitate our users’ abilities to find and consume content.

    Weirdly, though, we haven’t been talking about the meat of the matter. We haven’t been talking about the content itself."

Good stuff, and personally as a web designer it hits a little too close to home.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Popular user-edited online encyclopedia Wikipedia has finally released a mobile-friendly version of the web site at

The site is basically a slimmed-down version of Wikipedia which supports 14 languages, and according to BoingBoing even has a mysterious Spoken Wikipedia setting that—though currently not enabled, may presumably one day read Wikipedia articles to you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

eBooks come to Nintendo DS

Nintendo, the Japanese video games company that brought us Donkey Kong and Mario the Plumber, is to announce a deal with the publisher HarperCollins today to make literary classics available to read on its DS portable games consoles.

The 100 Classic Book Collection ranges from Shakespeare and Dickens to Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. It will cost about $30 and will be available initially only in Britain.

Readers will turn the pages by brushing a finger across the screen. If the collection is a success, Nintendo may expand the range of books available.

Nintendo’s first entry into book publishing provides less choice than Sony and Amazon, but at about $150 the DS costs about half that of the Sony Reader. Latest industry figures from Chart Track show that two million Nintendo DS machines have been sold in Britain.

James Honeywell, a Nintendo executive, said: “When you go on holiday, or if you’re a commuter, lugging around a big paper book can be a bit of an inconvenience. Now you’ve got this whole library that you’re taking with you.

“We hope to encourage people to try books that they wouldn’t go out and purchase themselves.”

From The Times Online

Is Apple in the book-banning business?

Apple has refused to allow an application called "Comic Reader" in the iTunes Store because they don't like the comic book it ships with -- effectively, they've gotten into the business of banning or approving literature. It seems Apple would approve the application, ComicReader, but not the comic it ships with, Murderdrome. Follow the logic: Murderdrome is NOT an application - it is literature (of a sort). Interesting comment here at MikeCane2008.

Caution: He uses some pretty graphic scenes from Reservoir Dogs - ready for download in iTunes - to make his point that Apple is not comparing Apples to Apples.

iRex Digital Reader 1000S

At $750 the 10 inch Wacom-based touchscreen tablet is certainly the Rolls Royce of eBook readers, but it falls short of the never available, always sold-out Kindle from Amazon. One interesting feature is that you can "print" to it - meaning you can send documents from your PC via the print command. Another means to get content is PressReader, a third-party Windows app that securely transmits "800 newspaper titles from 81 countries, including The Telegraph, Washington Post, USA Today, Die Welt, NRC Handelsblad, Le Figaro..."

Anyway, doomed to fail if you ask me. Reviewed at Gizmodo

Library Director Foils Thief

When a thief grabbed and ran with a charity donation box Ann Arbor library director, Josie Parker, ran after him. He tripped in front of her dropping the box. All of the money, about $146, was recovered but Ms. Parker broke her leg.

The incident took place Sunday about 9:35 p.m. at the Borders store in the Arborland shopping area in east Ann Arbor. Parker was volunteering with a gift-wrapping program that benefits the book club. While Parker was wrapping gifts, a man in his 20s approached and stole the donation box, and Parker instinctively went after him.

Full story here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Death of a Library

The Donnell Library in midtown NYC is no more. If you have ever been to MOMA it was the big library across the street. The city fathers decided to turn it into a luxury hotel and while the library is going to be reopened at a fraction of its size in the basement of the hotel, because by law the space MUST be used for a library, it won't be open for years.

Link to the posting blog "Driven by Boredom" and more pics. Pic above courtesy of the site.

SMS texting from Gmail now available

If you have a Gmail account, just click on Settings, and go to the Labs tab. Scroll down until you see "Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat" and select Enable and Save Changes. Then just type a phone number into the search box in the chat window on the left, then select "Send SMS." You can also select the contact you want to SMS first and then add their phone number. Associate a name with the number and it will be saved in your "contacts" folder so next time all you have to do is enter their name and start chatting.

Full instructions here

Teacher busts kids for handing out "free" copies of Linux

A teacher in Austin, TX sent an angry email to a local Linux HeliOS Project, which builds and provides Linux computers to disadvantaged or 'exceptionally promising' students, accusing them of piracy for distributing the free operating system and chastising them for encouraging her students to do the same. She threatened to have the group's organizer investigated by the police, too. In a complete fog she goes on to say:

    "This is a world where Windows runs on virtually every computer and putting on a carnival show for an operating system is not helping these children at all. I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older verison of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them..."

The note, response and comments are here on Blog of helios

Thanks to BoingBoing

The Social Media Etiquette Handbook

Social Media pro Tamar Weinberg has written up "The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook" over at her Techipedia blog. Learn what not to do to benefit from LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed, and other communities from someone who really knows.

Facebook, for example:

  • Adding users as friends without proper introductions. If you’re looking to make friends, tell people who you are. Don’t assume they know you — especially if they, well, don’t.
  • Abuse application invites and consistently invite friends to participate in vampire games. Many call this spam.
  • Abusing group invites. If your friends are interested, they’ll likely join without your “encouragement.” And if they don’t accept, don’t send the the group request more than once by asking them to join via email, wall post, or Facebook message.
  • Turning your Facebook profile photo into a pitch so that you can gather leads through your Facebook connections. Thanks, but no thanks. Facebook is about real friendships and not about business — at least not to me.
  • Using a fake name as your Facebook name. I can’t tell you how many people have added me and their last name is “Com” or “Seo.” I’m not adding you unless you can be honest about who you are. Once upon a time, Facebook deleted all of the accounts that portrayed people as business entities or things. I wish Facebook would employ the same tactics yet again, because I’m not adding a fake identity as a friend.
  • Publicizing a private conversation on a wall post. In case it isn’t obvious, Facebook wall posts are completely public to all your friends (unless you tweak your privacy settings). Private matters should be handled privately: via email or even in Facebook private messages.
  • Tagging individuals in unflattering pictures that may end up costing your friends their jobs. Avoid the unnecessary commentary also, especially on your childhood pictures that portray your tagged friends as chubby and not so popular. Further, if your friends request to be untagged, don’t make a stink of it.
  • Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Search and find magazines on Google Book Search

    Google announced today an initiative to help bring more magazine archives and current magazines online, partnering with publishers to begin digitizing millions of articles from titles as diverse as New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and Ebony.

    Link to article here.

    The Maryland Court of Appeals, the internet and the first amendment

    In Annapolis, the Court of Appeals took a trip to cyberspace Monday, as the judges heard arguments in a clash between the First Amendment right of people to speak anonymously and the ability of a businessman to pursue a claim of defamation based on anonymous comments posted on the Internet.

    Independent Newspapers Inc., which publishes community newspapers on the Eastern Shore, is fighting a discovery order to surrender the names of people whose posts on an online community forum allegedly defamed the operator of a Centreville Dunkin’ Donuts by characterizing him as a polluter.

    Interesting case and article here from The Daily Record

    More futile resistance to technology

    A few days ago we blogged about Amazon's releasing an iPhone application that matches photos snapped of retail items to Amazon's inventory giving shoppers the "almost" instant ability to compare prices. The reaction has been interesting and mixed. For example, a Target store in Michigan recently requested a shopper to stop scanning merchandise, saying it went against store policy. There has even been a call for banning iPhones from some stores or even installing a cell phone jammers (now that is a truly GREAT idea - jeez).

    While I can see arguments from both sides - sort of - there is no stopping this technology and retailers better figure a way to capitalize on it soon or face yet another consumer migration.

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008


    Have you ever wondered what the Moon writing system (an early competitor to Braille) looks like? Or which languages are written right-to-left or vertically?

    You can find all that and more at Omniglot - writing systems and languages of the world. It is a rich and fascinating resource on all things about languages. Enjoy!

    Monday, December 08, 2008

    Facebook and the Social Dynamics of Privacy

    James Grimmelmann of New York Law School has written a brilliant essay on privacy issues and social networks services entitled Facebook and the Social Dynamics of Privacy.

    Trying to do nothing less than re-shape our attitude towards privacy on social networks, Grimmelmann builds an erudite and extensively documented argument that our framing of privacy problems, and most of the solutions we have in mind, are bad fits for social networking services.

    Thanks to BoingBoing

    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    Amazon Mobile iPhone app lets users search via photo has released its new Amazon Mobile application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The new application allows users to search and browse products offered by both Amazon and various third-party partners, access Customer Reviews, and make purchases using 1-Click Shopping. In addition, the app offers an experimental feature called “Amazon Remembers.” Users may snap a picture of an item using the iPhone’s camera, and then upload it to Amazon, which then tries to find products similar to the ones in the photos. When the user receives the results, they may purchase the item immediately, or “remember” it for later reference in his/her Amazon account. Amazon Mobile is available now as a free download from the App Store.

    So far I have used it to scan and successfully find my hard drive, my watch, several items by bar code and even two pieces of art from off my office wall!

    Update: Apple on Friday, December 5 said 300 million iPhone apps have been downloaded from its App Store since it opened in July. 300 million since July!!!

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    Nokia N97 and iPhone

    Here's a look at Nokia's newest phone and ways it compares to the iPhone. Nokia's

    Robert Scoble says:
    1. It does 16:9 video. The iPhone doesn’t even do video. So, how can you go to a Daft Punk concert and record it to taunt your friends?
    2. It has a 5 megapixel camera. The iPhone only has 2, and the quality isn’t even close. The camera also has a dual LED flash, so you can take pictures in the dark where the iPhone can’t.
    3. I can type three Facebook status messages on the N97’s nice QWERTY keybord in the time that I can type two on the iPhone.
    4. It does copy and paste, so you can copy URLs to send to your friends. The iPhone can’t do that.
    5. It has replaceable batteries so you can charge up three batteries and Facebook for days, while the iPhone needs to be hooked back up to the wall for recharging after a few hours.
    6. The GPS device does turn-by-turn and has a built in compass, so you’ll get to your parties faster than with the iPhone, which doesn’t have a compass and doesn’t do turn-by-turn.

    Price? $550 before subsidy, so price should be about $350 in stores.

    Availabilty? Second quarter of 2009.

    (Another look in a 1:35 video here.)

    Monday, November 24, 2008

    Is peer-review broken?

    Maverick physicist Garrett Lisi thinks it is. In a fascinating article in Seed Magazine Lisi defends not only his physical viewpoint, but also his decision to upload his latest scholarly work to the open-access forum of choice for more and more publishing scientists.
      "I think peer review is important, but the journal-operated system is severely broken. I suspected this paper would get some attention, and I chose not to support any academic journal by submitting it. Under the current system, authors (who aren't paid) give ownership of their papers to journals that have reviewers (who aren't paid) approve them before publishing the papers and charging exorbitant fees to view them. These reviewers don't always do a great job, and the journals aren't providing much value in exchange for their fees. This old system persists because academic career advancement often depends on which journals scientists can get their papers into, and it comes at a high cost — in money, time, and stress. I think a better peer-review system could evolve from reviewers with good reputations picking the papers they find interesting out of an open pool, such as the physics arXiv, and commenting on them. This is essentially what happened with my paper, which received a lot of attention from physics bloggers — it's been an example of open, collaborative peer review."

    And, a related article here: Reviewing Peer Review

    Fascinating personal library

    Internet entrepreneur Jay Walker, founder of Walker Digital and best known for creating, has created a fascinating personal library. His house was designed around the 3,600 square foot three story library that houses his eclectic collection. From an original Sputnik to an Apollo V manual, from Chaucer to "Things" hand, signed by the Adams Family cast, his collection is meant to stretch the mind and promote thinking.

    Jay Walkers Amazing Library

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Another reason to get a Mac

    Have you ever been reading a long article and wished you could somehow magically make it shorter or at least get to the point? With "Summarize", a Mac OSX service, you can do this easily. In many Mac applications such as Safari, Pages, and TextEdit, you can select a block of text and click the application name in the menu bar > Services > Summarize.

    Once you're in the service, you can easily shorten the selected text by moving the slider between 1% and 100%. As you move it, the text will magically get shorter, while at the same time keeping the basic meaning of the text that you originally selected. The service is amazingly accurate.

    Now, if only we can figure out a way to apply it to meetings.

    Thanks to The Unofficial Apple Weblog

    Neat video of Leo Laporte demonstrating it here.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    iMac in every room

    Mama Shelter is a Paris hotel that puts a 24-inch Apple iMac multimedia center in every room and has additional computers available in columns and tables in common spaces in the hotel. You have to wonder about the choice of bedside lamps, but maybe you'll be so busy working and writing love letters (Mama Shelter's suggesion of uses for the iMac) you won't have time for reading.

    It's an interesting concept and at an affordable price. It demonstrates the growing role of the computer as a replacement for older media forms. Who needs a TV in the hotel room if you can have free internet access and without bringing a laptop! Cool.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    Search millions of Life Magazine's historic photos

    Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1850s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    The sad, sad state of college English

    Some people collect sports memorabilia, or rare coins, or sea shells from the beach at Ocean City. Wilson Watson collects sentences.

    He taught local community college students for 35 years and has now slipped gently into retirement. But his students’ sentences trail behind him like ship’s anchors, evidence of the sinking of American writing skills.

    Or, as one of Watson’s scholars wrote so succinctly: “Some people use bad language and is not even aware of the fact.”

    Article here

    A few more gems:

    • “The person was an innocent by standard, who just happened to be the victim of your friend’s careless responsibility.”
    • “Society has moved toward cereal killers.”
    • “Romeo and Juliet exchanged their vowels.”
    • “Willie Loman put Biff on a petal stool.”
    • “Another effect of smoking is it may give you cancer of the thought.”
    • “The children of lesbian couples receive as much neutering as those of other couples."

    Or, when asked to use the past tense of “fly” in a sentence: “I flought to Chicago.”

    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Apple's in-house style and usage guide

    Apple’s in-house style and usage guide, first update since January 2006 is an excellent resource for technical writers of any sort.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Google settles book-scan lawsuit

    From Wired:

    "The Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and Google have announced a settlement in a 2005 lawsuit over its book-scanning project.

    Google will pay $125 million to resolve claims by authors and publishers and to pay legal fees, as well as create a Book Rights Registry where copyright holders can register works to get a cut of Internet ad revenue and online book sales.

    The agreement will also make many in-copyright, out-of-print books available for readers in the U.S. to search, preview and buy online. And instead of small snippets, copyright protected books will now have 20 percent of the content available for preview.
      “What makes this settlement so powerful is that in addition to being able to find and preview books more easily, users will also be able to read them,” writes David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, and Chief Legal Officer of Google. “If a reader in the U.S. finds an in-copyright book through Google Book Search, he or she will be able to pay to see the entire book online.”
    The Partner Program will not be affected, said Drummond, but partners can now also profit from those who choose to read full, digital versions of their books online."

    50,000 lb gorilla hiding in plain sight

    Gartner confirms the growing importance of open source software stating, " 2012, more than 90 per cent of enterprises will use open source in direct or embedded forms". Open source promoters dispute the Gartner claims as too conservative. Promoters also feel Gartner has drastically underestimated the pervasiveness of open source. A discussion of the Gartner report can be found here.

    The Standish Group, with no apparent irony, released a $1,000 per copy report this week that names open source software as the utlimate in disruptive technology. It states, "...if open-source products and services were calculated at commercial prices, open source as a whole would be equivalent to the largest software company in the world, with revenues exceeding the combined income of Microsoft, Oracle and Computer Associates." If you don't have $1,000 to pony up for the report, you can read about it here.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Buisness Requirements are Bull%^*#

    This is an absolutely spot-on blogpost by Steve Yegge skewering traditional product development processes. It is highly entertaining, if a bit blue. Well worth a read for those of us challenged with bringing innovative products to market.
    When big organizations sit down to design new products, they put in huge amounts of time obsessing about who the users are and how to meet those people’s needs. One common practice—strongly identified with Microsoft—is inventing some fictional “real people” who are going to be the users, giving them names and personalities and strengths and weaknesses, then reasoning about product features in terms of how these people will react to them and use them.

    All of which mostly doesn’t work. Most successful innovative new products aren’t produced by large organizations, they’re cooked up by little startups or, if in a big company, by guerrilla groups in skunkworks mode.

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Librarian fined $500 for plugging daughter's book

    For 39 years as an educator, Robert Grandt has been promoting other people’s books. So this year, when his daughter helped create a graphic novel of Macbeth of which he was mighty proud, Mr. Grandt could not resist bragging a little in the newsletter he distributes as librarian at Brooklyn Technical High School.

    He also placed a few copies of the book at a library display table, and posted a sign: “Best Book Ever Written.” If someone was interested, they got a book free.

    On Monday, the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board announced it had settled a case it had brought against Mr. Grandt for promoting his daughter’s work. He agreed to pay a $500 fine and admit in a three-page stipulation that he had violated the city ethics code.

    Thanks to BoingBoing

    Story here

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Speed reading applications

    is a website-based speed reading application that uses Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) to present a document to the reader a single word at a time at a speed determined by the application settings. Unlike normal reading this simple system frees our brain from the work of positioning the eyes word by word and keeping track of the point reached, mechanical operations which normally limit our reading speed. With iReadFast our brain can focus on the text comprehension because scanning the words is now work of the program (no more need to move the eyes) and it is no longer necessary to keep track of the reached point.

    For you fellow Mac users, iReadFast is a simple app that you paste text into so it can play it back at a speed you set. iReadFast simply flashes the text, one word at a time, in a single screen. Sound seizure-inducing? Maybe, but it also saves your eyes work.

    I am up to 750 WPM with no loss in comprehension!

    Exploratree - an interactive thinking tool

    Exploratree is a free web resource where you can access a library of ready-made interactive thinking guides, print them, edit them or make your own. You can share them and work on them in groups too.

    It provides a series of ready-made interactive 'thinking guides' or 'frameworks' which can support students' projects and research. Thinking guides support the thinking or working through of an issue, topic or question and help to shape, define and focus an idea and also support the planning required to investigate it further. Exploratree guides can be used as a basis for whole class discussion, or emailed to individuals or groups to complete. They can also be used as a presentation tool to share your findings and thinking with others. As well as providing a set of ready to use thinking guides, which are completely customisable and shareable, Exploratree also enables teachers and students to create their own simply and easily.

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    They love to fly and it shows

    Here's one of those interesting sites with information we'd have a very difficult time finding without the Internet. Ever wonder what uniforms are worn by Oman Air flight attendants, need to see a Delta uniform from 1975 looks like (what's with that scarf?) or just wondering if the uniforms in a movie are accurate? They're here! What a fascinating collection! Kudos and thanks to Cliff Muskiet, flight attendant and aviation enthusiast

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    home library

    Well, it's not your average home library! What an amazing space, amazing collection -just amazing! It's the library of
    Jay Walker, founder of Walker Digital. Way beyond your wildest dreams for a personal library. Did I say it was amazing?!

    Friday, October 03, 2008

    Revamped Google Blog Search

    Google has retooled it's Google Blog Search page.

    No longer limited to either "searching" for a blog by topic or viewing just =what is in your RSS feeds, Google blog search is set up much like the Google news search with... well here are their words:

    ..."Adapting some of the technology pioneered by Google News, we're now showing categories on the left side of the website and organizing the blog posts within those categories into clusters..."

    Facets and clusters... sounds familiar somehow... hmmm... like PRIMO!

    Monday, September 29, 2008

    House Leadership Declares "Martial Law"
    Librarians fondly remember the Section 215 gifts they received from the "Patriot(sic) Act" in October 2001. The "Patriot(sic) Act" was printed the night before it was presented to Congress and passed with very little debate, thereby allowing friendly FBI agents access to library records.

    Well the current "Bailout Bill" may include similar presents for us all, but because the House Leadership has declared "Martial Law" there will be no debate. A bill planning to spend over one half trillion dollars is being muscled through our legislature in a manner specifically designed to prevent legislative oversight.

    If this concerns you, you may want to contact your representative and ask to read the bill before they vote upon it.

    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Texting your business cards

    Ok, you're are at a conference and need to give your business card to someone.

    Instead of lugging around a half inch pack of cards ... try dropcard
    Set up a free account, send a text message to someone's phone and "voila" they have your contact information.

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    University of Michigan and Books on Demand

    Finally an Espresso Book Machine from On Demand Books is installed in a library and working -not as a demonstration project but simply as an additional library service. From the University of Michgan's press release: "The book machine, located in the Shapiro Library lobby on U-M's Central Campus, prints out-of-copyright books from the University's digitized collections. At a cost of about $10 per book, the service is available to researchers, students and the public.

    The printing process begins with a reader selecting a digitized book from U-M's pre-1923 collection or from another online source, such as the Open Content Alliance. Most books printed prior to the early 1920s can be reprinted without seeking the permission from whomever holds the copyright. Then the file is downloaded to the Espresso Book Machine, where it is formatted, printed and perfect bound with a four-color cover. A finished printed book takes 5-7 minutes, depending on the number of pages."

    Here's a link to the press release and a short video. Imagine someday visiting a library with another networked Espresso Book Machine and buying a copy of a book from the University of Michigan's collection in just a few minutes! How cool is that!?

    Friday, September 19, 2008

    Worldcat for iPhone

    Find what you want in a library near you with WorldCat, a global catalog of library collections.

    - Search many libraries at once for an item and then locate it in a library nearby
    - Find books, music, and videos to check out
    - Find research articles and digital items (like audiobooks) that can be directly viewed or downloaded

    Print What You Like

    Go green and ... Print What You Like is a free service that lets you pick an choose the elements web page you want to print without downloading any additional screen print software.

    Now you can avoid those empty spaces an empty pages and the downright impossiblity of printing some some web pages!

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Lifelong Learning - 100 sites

    Here's an excellent site for free online courses and other learning tools.

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Library Mini Golf

    On of the more innovative methods of fund raising for libraries is Library Mini Golf!

    From the site:

      Yes, we really will turn your library into an amazing miniature golf course for a day. We work with public, school, and academic libraries seeking a fundraising event that will also draw new patrons to the library and provide for a fun community event. We have hosted several events in Connecticut and Massachusetts over the last few years and have inspired and coached other events across the country.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Astounding movie done in typography

    Set to Alex Gopher's, "The Child" this astounding short by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet follows a young couple through the city to the hospital for the delivery of their child. A simply brilliant example of communicating an idea through multi-media and featuring type. A mild warning for very light profanity is given.

    Ubiquity for Firefox

    Ubiquity an experimental Firefox extension that has the potential to change the way we interact with web content and web applications. Watch this cool little video to learn more:

    Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.


    The rather suggestively presented ScanRobot is used to digitize books. Enjoy!

    Monday, September 08, 2008

    Presentational considerations.

    There are some people who dislike PowerPoint presentations and claim that things would be better if presenters only used better software, like; Keynote, SlideRocket or Impress. Well maybe it's not the software, but the presenter flying the software. Consider these presentational methodologies before your next presentation.
    • The long bulleted list, complete with complete sentences that are read directly from the screen by the presenter and all viewers in the room. The bane of every audience but the easiest to create. Sort of like brain vomit on a particular topic, it's all there, but nobody really enjoys it. Even animating the bullets does not make it better.
    • The "Lessig Method",attributed to Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig. Think of it as less ig better. Each slide may have one or two words or a single picture getting the point across. A 10 minute presentation could have 100 slides. Enjoyable by the audience a lot of work to create and do well. Practice is required as there is little to cue the mouth of the presenter and "ah, um, hmm, huh" doesn't make for a smooth presentation.
    • In "Pecha Kucha" you have 6 minutes 40 seconds to present your entire presentation of 20, 20 second slides. Created in 2004 by Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein, Pecha Kucha is both art form and presentational competition. Check here to find the nearest 日本語 night in a city near you.
    • The "Lightning Talk" is a fast paced 5 minute presentation allowing a lot of topics to be covered in a short meeting time. You can spend several hours preparing a good 5 minute lightning talk because there is no time for "ah, um, hmm, huh" before the timer signals the end. For the presenter, the timer starts and ready or not, off you go. For the audience, the presentation may be terrible or great, but it is over in 5 minutes.
    So somewhere between reading alot of text to an audience sitting in a darkened room and woa, 5 minutes is up already, take the time to create an interesting presentation that uses (not abuses) the multimedia abilities of your computer. Remember to practice and have fun, your audience will appreciate the extra effort.

    Friday, September 05, 2008

    dance, dance dance

    It's a late Friday afternoon and maybe time for a smile. If you've never seen Matt Harding's dance video or if you've seen it before, it's sure to bring a smile to your face. Take five minutes on Friday for a break with this cheeful video.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008


    "Crowdsourcing is the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call." The term has been around for several years and the momentum has been growing. We can now see it in the changes to stock photography, Dell's new release of Ubuntu computers and more.

    Jeff Howe's book, Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business, was released yesterday. It's available at the ususal online sources and probably in a store near you. Yes, there are other books about the wisdom and power of crowds, but Jeff Howe is credited by Wired as identifiying the concept in 2006.

    Here's a link to a Jeff Howe trailer about the phenomenon on the crowdsourcing website .

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    Slide Rocket

    Here's a new way to create, store and share presentations. SlideRocket "is a web application that provides everything you need to design professional quality presentations, manage and share libraries of slides and assets, and to deliver presentations in person or remotely over the web." Have you seen cool twirling, reflecting, flipping slides and wondered how to create that effect in your software? Here's an innovative solution. Build the presentation online in SlideRocket and then either share it with a URL or synchoronize it for presentation offline. SlideRocket --worth a look!

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    Being There

    Finding Paths through the World's Photos
    OK the write-up is a little obscure or esoteric or... just dang hard to follow, but the video is way cool.

    University of Washington researchers along with help from Mcrosoft have developed a system that combines Image-based rendering (IBR) and navigation. Bottom line -- a bunch of folks take a bunch of pictures and then they are combined to make an interactive & navigable "you are there" photo experience.

    More information at their site on Photo Tourism

    Monday, August 18, 2008

    Spongebob Squarepants does the movies!

    OK, this has nothing to do with libraries or info science other than I borrowed the link from The Laughing Librarian. It is, however, a hoot! They dub scenes from Casablanca, Singin' in the Rain and The Godfather.

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    Discriminatory Hiring Practices?

    I pass this sign every morning on my way to work. Can they really discriminate against non-falafels? Who will do the interview? What kind of commitment do they expect? What are the duties of a falafel?

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    10 Technologies That Will Transform Your Life

    Maybe they will, maybe they won't, but they will certainly cause a lot of change. What's number 10 and the first thing you'll see when you follow this link to Live Science? Digital Libraries! (Although it's a little puzzling to see stacks from a traditional library as the illustration.) There's a brief statement about each of the top 10 with links to more information. Unfortunately, each technology is featured on a separate page and you have to click through the ad-laden site to see each one. That's annoying, but it's often interesting to see what are identified as the top ten. This site has top ten lists on many topics.

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    CD Baby is an on-line record store that sells albums by independent artists featuring music that comes directly from the musicians and is not filtered through the usual record company-distributor morass. In a regular record deal musicians only make $1-$2 per album, if they ever get paid at all. Through CD Baby, musicians make $6-$12 per album and are paid weekly. The success of the formula is obvious when you see the numbers:
    242,846 artists sell their music at CD Baby
    4,574,622 CDs sold online to customers
    $83,590,381 paid directly to the artists

    Search by Style/Genre, Top Sellers, Location, Flavor, Sounds Like..., and even price!

    via: Seth's Blog

    Friday, August 08, 2008

    ga ga goo goo

    I have to post this if for no other reason than this software has such a great name!


    From their site:
    Bookgoo allows you to upload, annotate, and collaborate with your offline documents in an online way. Putting your documents on our website is only part of the story. We allow your documents to be highlighted and annotated in the same way you would mark up a piece of paper with a highlighter and pen. Moreover, we allow you to then share your annotated documents with friends, colleagues, professors – really, anyone! In turn, the people you share your documents with can highlight and annotate your document as well and provide comments on your annotations. Bookgoo facilitates the conversation on the document.

    Webworker daily (another great blog) has a good post about it.

    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Cleepr - Music Video Search Engine

    Cleepr, the music video search engine, compiles popular and obscure video from artists as mainstream as Coldplay (Jeez - XM radio has an entire channel dedicated to Coldplay.) and as obscure as Johnny Foreigner and Pop Levi. While much of the content is streamed from YouTube and the like, the interface is nice and clean and features a cool tag cloud of the most popular searches. I am so out of touch.

    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    No Cell Phone Signs

    So many creative librarians, but most library cell phone signs I've seen (and there are many on the Web) don't have much creativity, flair or humor. Most appear to be homemade: a cut and pasted unversal 'no' circle over a cartoon phone, printed, placed in a plastic holder and taped to the wall.

    If a No Cell Phone sign is needed in the library (checkout desk, information desk, other?) why not a serious looking commercial sign like this one from or something homemade that engages your patrons?

    I'm not working in a library now. The best I can come up with is the lame, "Don't make me come over there and shush you. Please turn off your cell phone while in the library." Surely the collective wit of librarians can come up with something effective and humorous. (I noticed that some libraries have gone the extra step and included exit signs reminding patrons to turn their phones on - a nice, user-friendly touch.)

    Monday, August 04, 2008

    Kinda want a Kindle

    Amazon’s 10-ounce Kindle, which holds 200 e-books and can download daily editions of a couple dozen newspapers and hundreds of blogs has apparently reached critical mass. TechCrunch says Amazon has sold some 240,000 Kindles since November for near $100M in total revenue - pretty much what was predicted. Compared to the $1B annual business some analysts think Kindle can generate, there is obviously room to grow, but this does appear to be a good start.

    As a well-known gadget freak and avid reader (with the Amazon purchase history to back that up!) I am sorely tempted to buy one. It is the memory of those tiny Palm-based eBooks that keeps me from pulling the trigger. I need to see one and so far no one I know owns one!

    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    Turning the Pages from the British Library

    The British Library has developed software that allows viewers to experience rare books in a conventional way. About 20 books, including the original Alice in Wonderland, Sketches by Leonardo, and William Blake's Notebook, are already available for viewing using Turning the Pages.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    Librarians - 24/7

    Can get enough of the library in your work? How about reading about librarians? I'm sure all the interesting and unusual characters you encounter in your work days -on both sides of the desk- are in these novels.

    Thanks to the Library Mistress, Monika Bargmann, for creating an amazing list of novels and some films about female librarians, archivists and booksellers, etc. Most entries are in English, but for those in German, there's always Babel Fish. If you recall the German you took in high school or college and just need a little help, here's an wonderful dictionary

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    Copyright slide-rule

    Copyright law. Not my favorite subject, but an important one to the librarian profession. If you are like me and do not have the time or inclination to wade through pages of legal jargon or sit through hours of mind numbing copyright workshops, then you will appreciate this tool from the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy.

    The copyright slide-rule is designed to help librarians determine the copyright status of creative works.


    At Wordle

    Pick any blog or website with RSS feed
    Plug it into Wordle
    Create and customize a tag cloud

    Font, color, and layout can edited

    Here is one from our very own CL

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    The Centered Librarian App for Facebook

    The Centered Librarian is maintained by dedicated bloggers at the College Center for Library Automation. We have recently ported the blog to a Facebook application! If you enjoy our posts you might want to install the application on your Facebook page so even if you aren't logged into the blog, even if you are not watching your rss aggregator, even if all you are doing is squandering time playing some mindless challenge game on Facebook, you can still stay up to date with TCL posts! Just Do It!

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    Educators Coop Residential Community in Second Life

    A project of the non-profit Educators Virtual Research Group, the Educators Coop is a 3-D virtual world community of university faculty, librarians, and K-12 teachers actively teaching or researching in Second Life. Launched in July 2007, the Educators Coop is a self-funded pilot community of 42 members from 32 different educational institutions who regularly meet to share virtual world teaching strategies, design virtual world research projects, collaborate on interdisciplinary conference sessions, and most importantly, create a support system for geospatially separated education practitioners interested in teaching and research in virtual worlds.
      "The heart of our effort is building a real community that provides educators with a unique cooperative residential environment in SL offering opportunities for creating meaningful new relationships and collaborations. Residents enjoy these benefits and share in the responsibility for cultivating and supporting a community spirit."

    You can visit them in SL!

    Present Like Steve Jobs

    Apple CEO Steve Jobs is well known for his electrifying presentations. Communications coach Carmine Gallo discusses the various techniques Jobs uses to captivate and inspire his audience — techniques that can easily be applied to your next presentation. BTW...there are LOTS of videos covering all aspects of marketing, sales, customer relations and more at the BNET site!

    And thanks to librarytechie for the link!

    Jangle (Just Another Next Generation Library Environment)

    Jangle (Just Another Next Generation Library Environment) is an Open Source project to provide API access to library systems. They are following the the DLF ILS Basic Discovery Technical Recommendation. The DLF Technical Recommendation is the end product of the "Berkeley Accord", where most major ILS vendors agreed to support a set of essential functions through open protocols and technologies by deploying specific recommended standards to harvest data, query available information and permit the creation of stable links. Jangle = middleware for an interface between ILS and external applications.

    A more complete description of Jangle is posted on the Dillettante's Ball here and here. It's an ambitious and even audacious attempt. It could change the way librarians interact with their ILS vendors and customers. If you have the skills, Atom Publishing Protocol and "use, manage or just want simple access to a library system" they welcome your participation.

    More about Jangle at and Google groups. Slides from a lightning talk on Jangle available here.

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Cover Flow-style Photo Viewing for the Web

    If you haven't seen PicLens yet, you simply MUST try it out! The browser addon is a lot of fun to play with and makes searching and viewing images on the web very enjoyable.

    PicLens works on both Mac and PC, and has versions for FireFox, Internet Explorer, and Safari .

    PicLens is a photo viewer for the web that operates much like Apple's "Cover-Flow" technology for the iPhone and iTunes. It creates a desktop-like photo viewing experience for supported sites, by pulling out all images on a page (or in an online gallery) and creating a slideshow. PicLens supports a range of sites, including the image search engines from the big five search sites, social networks Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, and Friendster, and photosharing sites Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, DeviantArt, and Smugmug.

    I can hardly wait for the day we can browse our virtual "stacks" uing this cool technology!

    Friday, July 18, 2008

    Send video recording in email with JING

    I am crazy about a new easy recording software called Jing

    It is made by Techsmith, the same forlks that do Camtasia and SnagIt.

    It is like a quick, mini version of Camtasia but the really cool thing is that you can save it as a URL (though and then pop it in an email or IM message.
    I made one to show you. View it here.

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    The usability of look and feel

    Frank Spillers on Demystifying Usability says, "Balancing good visual design with usability is challenging, though not impossible." He offers the following Usability Guidelines for Graphic Elements:

      Use of graphical elements generally
      Images should have a connection with the audience
      Avoid clip-art (excellent advice, in my opinion!)
      Icons should be intuitive, crisp and used strategically (not randomly)
      Branding elements should be clear and distinct and follow company branding guidelines.
      Use graphic design to enhance visual appeal
      Be sensible about minimalism

    For more details visit Demystifying Usability. Spiller provides monthly posts on a wide range of usability and user centered design topics.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Are you Stumbling yet?

    My fave new (well, new to me) social software is StumbleUpon
    See what the BBC says...
    "StumbleUpon is a brilliant
    downloadable toolbar that beds
    into your browser
    and gives you
    the chance to surf through thousands
    of excellent pages that
    have been
    stumbled upon by other web-users"

    I have found sites I am sure I would never have found any other way!

    Download that toolbar and... Start Stumbling!!

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Are we searching Google?

    Edge is a site you can count on to provide thought provoking essays. They say, they seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together and have them ask each other the questions they're asking themselves. Today I read the story Engineer's Dreams by George Dyson at the Edge. It's only 6 pages and compresses a lot of history about the development of search in that short space. It also manages to be entertaining and throught-provoking as it asks, "Are we searching Google or is Google searching us?"