Thursday, June 06, 2002
"Check out the eCards from the New York Public Library." [LibraryPlanet.com]
This is great! It's what I always wanted to do for SLS libraries. Instead, my lack of programming skills, time, and artistic ability produced a different type of postcard script. I think it's been running for three years now - wow. (Please don't write to tell me that I need to rotate out the "taxes" one. I know. I'll take care of it next week. I know.)
Palm starts two-for-one sale for Father's Day
"Palm has launched a two-for-one Palm deal for Father's day, giving those who purchase a Palm m500 a free Palm m105 via mail-in coupon. Palm is also offering a free download of WeSync's DualDate, which allows the sharing of calendar information between friends and family. "Staying on top of your world means staying in-sync with your friends and family," said Ken Wirt, Palm's senior vice president of marketing and product management. "This latest program is a great way to show consumers how Palm handhelds can help organize family information and make their lives easier." Interested parties will need to purchase a Palm m500 between June 6th and July 8th, and redeem their free m105 coupon by August 8th, 2002." [PDABuzz.com]
ReplayTV Users Sue Hollywood
"Users of ReplayTV, with the assistance of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are taking legal action against the largest Hollywood studios.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles, five users of ReplayTV 4000 video recorders asked a judge to declare that their use of the devices to record programs and skip over commercials is entirely lawful....
The suit charges that 27 studios, including Disney, Time Warner and NBC, wrongfully claimed that personal use of the devices constitutes copyright infringement." [Wired News]
Addendum: Glenn Fleiscman is one of the plaintiffs!
"This morning, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on behalf of myself and four other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against a group of media companies which had themselves sued Sonic Blue, Inc., and ReplayTV, Inc. The full information is here. This lawsuit is a stand against the erosion of fair use. As a ReplayTV 4000 series owner, I have joined the suit in the interests of all individuals' fair use rights. "There really isn't an opportunity for the consumers voice to be heard in these cases," is what one of the attorneys, Robin Gross said this morning."
At our quarterly administrators meeting today, Alison Atkins Denton gave a demo of the web site for the Illinois Public Library GIS Project. It reminded me of why I am so entranced by Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The Illinois State Library sponsored a grant to the GIS Lab at the Illinois Institute of Technology to determine the boundaries of all public library districts in the State. The ultimate goal is to determine which areas are unserved and don't receive library service. It's a very cool project, and I still think there is a way to use GIS to visually display library metrics (database hits, web site hits, foot traffic, circulation, reference questions, program registrations, bookmobile stops, etc.).
On a side note, the administrators in attendance today held a lively discussion of the non-resident library card debate because Illinois legislators have mandated that public libraries have to opt-in or opt-out of selling library cards to non-residents for whom they are the closest library. If the library opts-out, they become ineligible for construction grants. I don't know enough about this to comment on the law and its ramifications but at one point today, the debate centered around patrons that purchase a card at a particular library and then rack up bills at a different library. This is a point of contention because the library that sold the card is ultimately responsible for reimbursement of items not returned by that patron.
So some librarians don't want to sell non-resident cards because of the potential liability for those items. Listening to the debate today, it sounded much like recent blanket statements by entertainment industry execs that their customers are thieves. One person disputed the view of non-residents as potential thieves, saying that general experience suggests these folks "aren't exactly pulling up in Winnebagos."
So a gentle reminder to librarians that our patrons are not the enemy. That's an extra heaping of reminder for entertainment industry execs, too.
Polaris First ILS to Incorporate LSSI Virtual Software
"Gaylord Information Systems (GIS) and LSSI announced today that Polaris will be the first library automation system to seamlessly integrate the functions of the library?s public access catalog with live reference service through LSSI?s Virtual Reference ToolKit. The exchange of data between Polaris and LSSI will enhance the experience of library users by providing access to a librarian at multiple points in the search process." [Charlston Advisor, via Library Stuff]
This is a great development, one that I hope other ILS vendors emulate. There's no standard yet for the foundations of live reference service software, but they're working on it. Once adopted, this should accelerate this trend.
The Self-Checkout: Lots of Swiping, No Stealing
" 'Most of the systems are similar and use a recorded voice and visual cues on a touch-screen monitor to guide shoppers through the process. At the bagging end, most use scales that can detect attempts to steal unscanned merchandise.
Behind the scenes, each self-checkout station works with the supermarket's network servers, tallying the items and feeding the sales information into accounting and inventory databases just as if it were a regular checkout lane with a cashier....
It is no surprise, then, that the largest supermarket chains, including Kroger, Albertson's, Meijer, Giant and A&P, have embraced the technology. And it is now spreading to other retail outlets, including convenience stores, drugstores and larger stores like Kmart, B. J.'s Wholesale Club and The Home Depot.' [NY Times: Technology]
Initally I didn't like the idea - have me do your job but don't give me any discount. I am finding, though, that ~ for the most part ~ it is quicker to use the self-checkout line at our local Kroger. Unless of course I get stuck behind technophobic grandma who doesn't know how to use a touchscreen." [Steven's Weblog]
Our local K-Mart installed several of these a few months ago, and I l-o-v-e them. I haven't gone through a manned checkout lane once since they were installed, and I'm much more inclined to run to the store and grab something because it does feel "faster" to me. I know I can be in and out in a snap. Even the actual purchasing of items has become interactive!
I do notice a definite generation gap with these things, though. I haven't seen anyone over the age 50 use one, even when there are long lines for the manned checkout lanes. I see them watch me as I fly past, scan, and breeze out the door. It's a different kind of digital divide.
Some libraries have moved towards self checkout, too. My home library submitted a grant for one last year, but unfortunately they didn't get it. At this point, the machines are too expensive for the majority of public libraries. Once prices drop, though, we should see wider adoption.
Charles Sebold sent me a great story:
"I was just listening to my local NPR station, and they had an interview with a lawyer (here in St. Louis) in his 90's who played a large strategic role in D-Day. Apparently at some point the military realized they didn't know enough about the tides in the Channel (the worst tides in the world, apparently), and they asked this man, a recent Yale grad before he was drafted, to research them and write what we would now call a 'white paper' on them for the upper echelons. He parked himself in a British library for months reading everything he could get his hands on, in English and French, about the tides. He said in the interview that he couldn't have accomplished it without a British man, one of the librarians, that was sworn to secrecy.
Eventually they finished a 70-80 page paper, with footnotes and all, outlining the tidal problem and giving recommendations as to when to land (they advocated going in at high tide, I guess? I was in the car when I heard this, and couldn't take notes - apparently landings like this were usually at low tide), and where. High Command apparently liked the paper and edited it to give the beaches code names, and offered the author the post of beachmaster during the assault. Later they decided that he was too important as a source of information, so they stashed him in an underground bunker (presumably in England) with a radio so he could direct the forces and answer questions as the assault progressed."
Listen to the interview for yourself. Thanks, Charles!
Addendum: Rafe provides a correction that the landing was at low tide.
"I noticed today that my browsing habits have changed - usually I check email first and then check msnbc, salon, slashdot, and aintitcoolnews (all .com). Today I checked email, then checked my blog sidebar links. Other bloggers are my first desired news source now. That's significant." [Hunting the Muse]
Email used to be my first stop, too. Now it's my news aggregator. Every stop along the line is now my aggregator.... All aboard!
Whew - I made today's deadline and got the SLS Union List of Serials up and searchable using ColdFusion MX and Dreamweaver MX. It lists the magazine and newspaper holdings of 170-something libraries in SLS, some 43,000 records. Microsoft Access totally choked on it, so luckily we're keeping Oracle as the back end. It took me a while to figure out that the tables were screwy after going through eight different database software programs in 25 years. I finally just started over in Oracle, re-populated the tables, and voila!
Okay, so it's not the ninth wonder of the world (I still have to dress it up and convert it to CSS), but it was quite the accomplishment for me. And the combination of Dreamweaver and ColdFusion was one-thousand degrees easier than using Oracle Portal. Color me impressed with the Macromedia software so far. I just wish there were more books about MX available right now since I'm jumping head first into those versions.
Librarians should be duly impressed with our plans for the ULS. I'll add searching by ISSN and OCLC number, as well as by individual library. Results will also include FirstSearch holdings with direct links to FS databases for retrieving full-text articles. We'll probably add in the EBSCOHost title list, too, and today someone suggested Elsevier in case the user wants to purchase the article right then and there. We'll authenticate our members so that they can update their own holdings, and provide them with links to display their own holdings on their own web sites.
We'll also display photocopy request guidelines for each library, as well as full contact information. Best of all, if you're logged in as a SLS member, you'll be able to make a photocopy request online by clicking on a library's holdings and pressing the submit button. It will truly be a thing of beauty!
Heh, heh. Three out of four respondents over at /usr/lib/info "would prefer to be alted" over shifted. (Luckily, no one prefers to be ctrled so far. :-)
Navajo Code Talkers Break 60 Years of Silence
"Their tale begins in 1942. After discovering that U.S. military codes were routinely deciphered by the Japanese, Philip Johnston, a World War I veteran and son of missionaries to Navajo country, suggested devising a system from the ancient language that few Navajos had ever bothered to write down.
When tests showed that messages that had once taken 30 minutes to code and decode were relayed in 20 seconds by the Navajos, recruitment went into overdrive on the southwestern reservation that ranges across New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Colorado.
Some 400 code talkers eventually were assigned to every major Marine division, battalion and parachute unit, usually working in teams — one to speak, the other to write — on bulky portable telephones and radios. Despite their value, many also fought as infantry soldiers; a dozen died in the field....
And the irony? The U.S. government's efforts to assimilate Navajos in the early 20th century included banning their language. Transgressors had their mouths washed out with soap, or worse." [USA Today]
This article also includes an interesting sidebar that illustrates how the Navajo code worked. A fascinating subject, and hopefully the movie will be an adequate testament to these men.
Links for further information about the Navajo code:
FBI Orders Message Pads
Trip to OfficeMax crucial to agency’s overhaul, Mueller says
"In what its director described as a 'crucial' first step to upgrade the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, the FBI paid a visit to an OfficeMax office superstore today and bought 'a substantial number' of 'While You Were Out' message pads....
FBI Director Robert Mueller, speaking at a press conference in Washington, said that the FBI had also purchased 'these little yellow reminder thingies with stick-um stuff on the back so you can post them on your desk and whatnot.'
Mueller added that the FBI was 'intrigued' by a machine they saw at OfficeMax that could record phone messages and store them while an FBI employee was away from his or her desk.
'Once the phone messages are played back, they could theoretically be written down on the 'While You Were Out' pads,' Mueller said." [MSNBC]
- Fans: Music Should Rock, Not Lock.- "There are fans who don't mind the concept of paying. But what they seem to hate more than anything is security measures that hamper the listening experience."
- TiVo Town or Sonicblue City? - "The battle for digital video recorders is on. Sonicblue's ReplayTV gambles that angering the entertainment industry will pay off with viewers. TiVo begs to differ."
- Blogging Goes Legit, Sort Of - "Blogging, a latter-day home page for some and a place to pretend you're a journalist for others, is now part of a major university's J-school curriculum."
- Dead Men Tell No Passwords - "The man in charge of some of Norway's most precious electronic documents died without divulging the way to access them. A plea to hackers to help crack the system is out."
Facing the Music
"Rock stars and music-industry execs once ruled the earth, but now -- in terms of size and profit margins -- the music industry is becoming the book business (minus the literacy).
Hemingway had rock-star status (and even impersonators). Steinbeck was Springsteen. Salinger was Kurt Cobain. Dorothy Parker was Courtney Love. James Jones was David Crosby. Mailer was Eminem. This is to say -- and I understand how hard this is to appreciate -- that novelists were iconic for much of the first half of the last century. They set the cultural agenda. They made lots of money. They lived large (and self-medicated). They were the generational voice. For a long time, anybody with any creative ambition wanted to write the Great American Novel.
But starting in the fifties, and then gaining incredible force in the sixties, rock-and-roll performers eclipsed authors as cultural stars. Rock and roll took over fiction's job as the chronicler and romanticizer of American life (that rock and roll became much bigger than fiction relates, I'd argue, more to scalability and distribution than to relative influence), and the music business replaced the book business as the engine of popular culture.
Now, though, another reversal, of similar commercial and metaphysical magnitude, is taking place. Not, of course, that the book business is becoming rock and roll, but that the music industry is becoming, in size and profit margins and stature, the book business.
In other words, there'll still be big hits (Celine Dion is Stephen King), but even if you're fairly high up on the music-business ladder, most of your time, which you'd previously spent with megastars, will be spent with mid-list stuff. Where before you'd be happy only at gold and platinum levels, soon you'll be grateful if you have a release that sells 30,000 or 40,000 units -- that will be your bread and butter. You'll sweat every sale and dollar. Other aspects of the business will also contract -- most of the perks and largesse and extravagance will dry up completely. The glamour, the influence, the youth, the hipness, the hookers, the drugs -- gone. Instead, it will be a low-margin, consolidated, quaintly anachronistic business, catering to an aging clientele, without much impact on an otherwise thriving culture awash in music that only incidentally will come from the music industry....
The music business, this theory acknowledges, is about selling technology as much as music. From mono to stereo to Walkman. It just happens that the next stage of technological development in the music business has largely excluded the music business itself.
The further implication, though, might be the more interesting and painful one: You can't depend on just the music.
Rock and roll is just an anomaly. While for a generation or two it created a go-go industry -- the youthquake -- it is unreasonable to expect that anything so transforming can remain a permanent condition. To a large degree, the music industry is, then, a fluke. A bubble. Finally the bubble burst.
But not with a pop. It's an almost imperceptible, but highly meaningful, alteration in context. Alanis Morissette becomes Grace Paley. Bono becomes John Hersey. Fiona Apple is Joyce Carol Oates. Moby is Martin Amis." [New York Metro, via Curry.com]
An excellent analysis that every legislator should read before blindly passing legislation that tries to save a dying industry (that's in denial) at the expense of the tech industry and consumer rights. I'm hoping LIS News will start a discussion that equates other authors with rock stars!
- Bloginality - "How much do you know about yourself? Because many webloggers enjoy personality tests, this is a portal for your bloginality! You will find quite a bit of reference material here about personality tests, as well as a place for you to find other people who are the same personality as you!" [via Blogdex]
- Free Online Scholarship Blog - "Peter Suber and friends are following free online scholarships in this collaborative 'blog. RSS available." [ResearchBuzz]
- The Bloggys - "Surprised when you saw the Webbys? I bet you were even more surprised to see the Bloggys! Yes, it's just like the Webbys, Oscars, Grammys, or any other awards thingy where you can vote for the best in different categories, except with blogs! And it's monthly! You can vote for the best in Best New Blog, Best Design, Most Posts, News Hound, and then a selected board of judges will pick the Blog of the Month. We know that's not alot of categories, but they are blogs! If you have any category suggestions, send them to us in the comment section." [via Pirillo]
Major thanks, heaps of praise, and a thousand hugs to Andy B. for getting htdig up and running for my site! You can now resume searching using the box in the left--hand column. I need to make the search results screens purdy, tweak some settings, and add the ability to search by category, but that will have to wait until at least this weekend. In the meantime, happy searching. :-)