Archive for the ‘STT’ Category

Why hadn't this been done before!? Google News Timeline

In STT on April 29, 2009 at 9:32 am

New from the GoogleLabs and blogged about like crazy already, but just in case you hadn’t heard, here’s my 2¢.

This new Google site features allowing you to see news stories in a series of columns, easily scrollable back and forth.  It’s a news story timeline, how cool!

Don’t you wish every newspaper & magazine database worked like this!?
Yes, yes, yes, it’s in beta and it’s not perfect, and it has limited sources (for now), and there are some other sites like this kinda already (See: newsmap), but you can see this thing has potential right away, you can see this has a future. But, don’t jsut take my word on it, here’s some other folks takes on it:

Maybe it’ll inspire library vendors to clean up their database interfaces, make them easier to use … hope so for them (and us), otherwise it’s bad for our database stastics as Google will have a lock on this audience.  With all the buzz I’m hearing and reading, in a week Google Timeline has already won the hearts of users and librarians for that matter.  When’s the last time a library newspaper/magazine database ever got this kind of media hype?

A brave new world for readers! But where does the library fit in?

In STT on April 20, 2009 at 12:45 pm

The following Wall Street Journal is a must read about how ebooks and ebook readers (e.g. Kindle) are changing how we read.  I found this article via the new free iPhone app for the Wall Street Journal (get it here).

How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write:  Author Steven Johnson outlines a future with more books, more distractions — and the end of reading alone.
[4/20/09 –]

This is a very well thought out summary of how ebooks work now and how digital content (e.g. ebooks, newspapers, blogs) might work in the very near future.  It’s  great news for readers and the curious mind.   But it’s expensive too, as this assumes you’ll buy everything you read digitally whether it be a novel or a micropayment for a newspaper article or blog post or book chapter.  Turns out these this will also be great for Visa & Mastercard …  But where dose the public library fit into this brave new ebook world?  I’m not sure, but here’s two scenarios …

Glass Half-Empty hypothetical outlook 😦
Publishers will work very hard to control the distribution and re-distribution of digital content effectively negating the First Sale Doctrine.  Meaning libraries will have to pay publishers a license fee to loan material, both digital and possibly physical books (why not if they can get away with it?).  This license fee would be in addition too, or included in, the purchase price of the content, and probably an annual fee will be involved.  Talk about your budget increases!  This would also be the effective end to that favorite library fund-raiser, the used book sale.  Not only because of the lack of physical books, but because the license for digital books won’t allow for this.  The not-too-distant-future librarian had better be adept at understanding licensing, and EULAs …  what they don’t teach you in library school … this glass half-full scenario is pretty empty.

Glass Half-Full hypothetical outlook 🙂
Publishers see libraries as way to promote reading, stoke interest and inquiry, and as another entree to customers purchasing their (digital) content.  Encouraging reading is good for the publishing industry (and a sound Democracy, etc., etc.).  Essentially libraries continue to play the role they currently do vis-a-vis publishers.  This new digital era also ushers in a world of new digital publishers who are in the business to promote authors and ideas, not just their bottom line(!).  And to top things off, the First Sale Doctrine is upheld in the courts and thru legislation for digital content (e.g. ebooks, music, etc.).  And digital used ebook sales continue to be a mainstay of fundraising for libraries across the land!  That’s a pretty full glass and I want to live in that future!

So, what’ll happen?
Probably what always happens, little bit of both scenarios.   So maybe it won’t be so bad and maybe it won’t be so perfect, otherwise there would be nothing to blog about right?  Having just finished my first ebook on the Kindle for iPhone (get it here), I’m very excited by all the possibilities described in the WSJ article above.  I’ve totally bought into the handheld-digital-ebook-hyperlink-instant-access world.  And yet, I do wonder and worry about what this all means for the future of my chosen profession, but I don’t want to go back and I’m more excited than pessimistic.

Jing – Do one thing and do it well!

In STT on April 10, 2009 at 9:00 am

To compliment upcoming workshops I’m teaching, here’s an updated re-post from last spring.

I’ve been Jing-ing like crazy lately prepping for a D-I-Y presentation at MLA 2009 in Springfield.  If you don’t know already Jing is a FREE program that can take screenshots or make “movies” of whatever is going on on your desktop.  It’s a great to show folks “How-To” use an online resource like say InfoTrac or OverDrive or EventKeeper.

Video is saved and presented in the Flash format and you can store your videos online at a realted site called Screencast.  Each of your videos has it’s own URL, or you can link or imbed them from your own website.

  • Click here for a collection of NMRLS “how-to” videos on Screencast.

Jing also takes single screen shots which you can store online for FREE at Flickr, here’s my collection of Jing tips on Flickr (also linked below).You can also annotate these images before you upload them to highlight or add notes.

Everything I mentioned above is FREE!
Run, don’t walk, to your nearest internet and
download Jing now!

OK, so there may some expenses involved …  you need a microphone unless you want all your videos to be silent movies.  Pretty much any mic will do and if you’re lucky you have a laptop or netbook with mic built-in.  NMRLS has USB mics to loan out to our member libraries, just contact Scott, click here to see all of the NMRLS loaner equipment & gadgets.

There is also a Pro version of Jing, it allows you to save video in either Flash or MPEG4 format as well as direct uploads to YouTube. It costs $14.95/year, not bad for a few more bells & whistles.  The nice thing about this version is you can edit the video afterward, add another voiceover or a backing music track (see my tips below for another way to do this), as well as link to it off you own server, you don’t need to use Screencast or YouTube.

Here are a few of my YouTube NMRLS How-To videos:

Here are my Jing videos on (via my account):

It’s easy, it’s fun, it can be time-consuming …
But, it’s informative, it helps your users, and it’s easy and it’s fun!

Scotts Jing Tips

Scott's Jing Tips

DRM is there to help you.

In STT on April 8, 2009 at 1:04 pm

On my way to work this morning I was catching up on my NPR Mix Your Own Podcast (it’s free and very neat, click here to create your own today!) …

Anyway, a story caught my ear that inspired me to STT.  Below are links to NPR stories on the the current state of DRM.  They report how the publishing and movie industries are taking an very interesting spin on the lessons learned from the music industry’s ordeal with DRM (see also: Appetite for Self Destruction … / Steve Knopper).

My favorite quote from the aforementioned podcast is from Fritz Attaway, vice president of the MPAA, “DRM really is aimed at helping consumers know the limits of the transaction they’ve agreed to.[*NPR, April 2009]

See, the DRM is just trying to help us to know our limits.  So to help you understand how to help yourself give these stories a read (links to transcripts & audio below):

The State Of DRM: Is The Customer Right? / Joel Rose, NPR [4 min 29 sec]

iTunes got rid of DRM!

In STT on April 8, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Exciting news for iPod owners and thus iTunes users.
DRM went away on
the biggest music store in America this week!

… and you get to pay more for it … yeah???  Well, this is all new for iTunes and may take a while to sort the pricing out, but DRM-free music and variable pricing will be a good thing in the long run for the consumer (and librarians and library patrons).  And should be a good thing for other online music stores too as consumers start to realize they can actually shop around for digital music before they buy.  There are already other digital music stores like eMusic and Amazon MP3 downloads that work with iPods (Windows or Mac) and it’s well worth a quick price comparison before you plunk down your 69¢ or $1.29.  And I just discovered a neat little add-on price-comparison called Advantageous mp3 for Mac OS X, FREE, but Mac only.  There are sure to be more nifty little price-comparison widgets and gadgets for all your digital music needs.

In the music world we’re seeing DRM fade away and some very interesting new models spring up from the artists themselves, three of the most famous examples are listed below:

So maybe this will lead to more vendor choices for libraries and in turn, easier access to digital media for patrons.  We’ve seen Overdrive offer MP3 versions of audiobooks which enables them to work on iPods and many other devices including cell phones.  So that’s a start!

Or maybe it’s not all such good news … see my next post.

It seems so mundane … until you don't have one! The exciting world of Apple laptop video adapters.

In STT on March 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Have you ever had an eagerly awaited presenter come to your library with their Mac laptop and not be able to hook up to your projector and thus deprive the audience an exciting multimedia presentation!?

I’ve had just this problem, or potential problem, come up twice in the past 24 hours, so if nothing else this is sign I need to write something for STT!  One of the pleasures of using a Mac laptop is that they don’t have good old standard VGA video connectors.  You know, that blue connector-port you plug your LCD projector in to on most Windows laptops.  But, Macs don’t have those … it’s an added bonus of having a Mac!

Experienced Mac presenters always carry their adapter with them, and buy an extra one too … it just takes one time and you never forget it again  … you never leave home without one! Mac laptops come with an adapter cable (sample here) and I bought extras which I keep with the NMRLS staff traveling projector.

The problem is that Apple in their infinite wisdom switched from a DVI connector (which is also found on many flat panel LCD monitors) and now use a totally new connection called Mini DisplayPort, see Wikipedia article here if you’re hankerin’ for more on this.

So, if someone buys a new Mac, than they’ll need a Mini DisplayPort-to-VGA adapter to hook up to a LCD projector.  If someone has bought a Mac before 2009, than that Mac (like ours at NMRLS), need either a DVI-to-VGA (MacBook Pro)  or mini-DVI-to-VGA (MacBook), and I have extras of both on hand at NMRLS!  Confusing isn’t it!? The adapters are usually  about $20-$30, you can find them at an Apple Store and sometimes even Best Buy.  Someday other laptops may use DisplayPort or DVI connectors too, but it’s going to be a long while as VGA are so entrenched …

Q.: So what to do if you want to be prepared for these connectivity issues vis-a-vis Mac laptops!?

A.: Your best bet is to ask the presenter what kind of laptop they’re using ahead of time and remind the Mac owners to bring their video adapter! Otherwise you would need at least 3 Mac adapters on hand, and who (other than me) wants to do that!?

  1. Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (all NEW Macs, laptop and desktop)
  2. DVI-to-VGA (MacBook Pro, pre-2009)
  3. mini-DVI-to-VGA (MacBook, pre-2009)

As a NMRLS member library, the good news is, if you find out ahead of time that your presenter has lost, or misplaced, or doesn’t know what you’re talking about ( … those Mac users!), then NMRLS can loan you an adapter by contacting Scott!

If your an Apple fan(!?), the good news is that all the new Mac laptops and desktops use the same video connection, Mini DisplayPortAt least for now!

All a flutter about Twitter!

In STT on March 18, 2009 at 3:32 pm

So what’s up with this Twitter thing!?  Seems like it is suddenly all the media can talk about and attempt to explain.

It’s only taken me two years to catch on to it myself.  Like many librarians I know, I created a Twitter account in a Linda Braun workshop where she got us all excited about all these web 2.0 and social networking applicationsand then I promptly forgot about it … until this past Fall when I got a few emails from member librarians requesting that they follow the NMRLS feed, which was, and is, currently dead … “hmmm NMRLS has a Twitter!? What was that again?”

But I decided to give it a try again after I heard an NPR Weekend Edition story on it (find here).  And because I realized that it didn’t sound as time-consuming (or as personal) as FaceBook. And I own an iPhone and you are morally obligated to have every cool social networking app on your iPhone or they take it away!

So for my personal / psuedo-professional life I created an account and I love it!  It can be as interactive or as passive as you want.  There are famous people on it like Linda Braun (on it 24/7), Shaq (basketball star), and Tina Fey (hardly posts, very busy).   And lots of great informative really useful post-ers too like: NASA (latest on space shuttle and Mars rovers); FDA recalls (kinda scary); Boston Red Sox (via Boston Globe);  News, News, News (NPR, NY Times, Starbucks, etc.) .  As well as library news:  Library of Congress; Library Journal; DC Public Library (interesting just to get an idea what a public library could do with it).

I was just at a conference, NERCOMP 2009, where they had volunteers tweeting in each workshop and it was a delight to check the Twitter feed on your phone and read what you were missing (or weren’t) in real-time!  And it also helped you decide whether you should you cut & run or stick with the presentation you’re in (I made both good and bad decisions based on this Twitter method). They had bloggers too, but who wants to read all that when Twitter is short (it can only be 14o character, counting spaces, after all), and you can read on a cell phone as well as on a laptop or PC.

Maybe it’s my choice of feeds, but there seems to be a lot less of the inane posts like “I just ate a grilled cheese sandwich …”  I see those kinds of earth-shattering missives on FaceBook all the time, so it is a welcome relief to read useful and humorous posts online whether on the web or a phone.  Plus nearly everyone posts links to all this interesting informative stuff they’re talking about via Tiny URL (because you only got those 140 characters!).

Find a nice video introduction/tips & tricks by one of my favorite C|Net reporters, Tom Merrit. He does a weekly program called Insider Secrets on C|Net TV, here’s the link his a recent episode on Twitter (time: 4:41).

Best Browser ever!? Google Chrome

In STT on March 13, 2009 at 2:18 pm

OK, so there is one piece of software that my office Mac can’t use yet that makes me jealous of Windows users … shocking I know!

It’s Google’s Chrome browser and it only works on Windows XP and Vista for now …

It’s fast, it is very very very fast!!!

And it seems to work fine on ye olde Windows XP boxes like I have at home, it almost makes that old Dell seem as fast as my work Mac … almost …

But, There are a few things to get use to in this browser:

  • tabs on on the very top of the browser instead of below the menus like in Firefox and IE
  • the menus are off to the right side (File, Print, Bookmarks, etc.)
  • the URL address window is also the Google search window
  • the home page defaults to a gallery of your most used pages (you can set your own homepage too).  At first I thought this was a goofy feature, but now I’m totally sold on it.  You get up to 9 little screen shots, and clicking on one will take you right to that page. It is very very convenient!  Safari 4 now does the same thing and Firefox has an add-on called Showcase that mimics this too.
  • Google has a nice set of short feature videos you can watch here.

Run! Don’t walk, to your nearest internet connection and download it today!