June 22, 2005

The Best 46 Free Utilities

:: Rita Vine at Sitelines draws attention to The 46 Best-ever Free Utilities, compiled by Ian "Gizmo" Richards, editor of Tech Support Alert. Free utilities covered included best web browser, anti-virus software, adware/spyware/scumware remover, spam filter for the average user (and one for the experienced user), best BitTorrent client, FTP client, etc etc. The list extends to 64 utilities if you subscribe to Gizmo's monthly newsletter, Support Alert, which I just did myself.

May 4, 2005

Speaking of New Technology...

:: Also via Denise's blog, the May 2005 issue of MIT's Technology Review features 10 Emerging Technologies. The article introduction explains:

Of the numerous technologies now in gestation at companies and universities, we have chosen 10 that we think will make particularly big splashes. They're raw, but they'll transform the Internet, computing, medicine, energy, nanotechnology, and more.
Among the new words I learned today: metabolomics and biomechatronics.

BTW, which of you out there is Skyping? Anyone? Someone must be, because as I type this, there are 2,401,544 Skype users online, right now.

I Remember When It Was Called Library Automation...

:: Subscribe to enough sites via Bloglines, and the impression one gets is that there are new applications and programs appearing by the hour. Combine that with the enthusiasm accompanying many of the posts, and my sense is, unless we all jump on every techno-bandwagon, we're falling behind. I don't know if it's coincidence, but Richard Ackerman's 4 March 05 post, technology and your library, addresses my previous rant on techno-overload in libraryland.

Ackerman hits two nails on the head when he writes: "So there you have it, a ton of technology being pondered, just in a few days' worth of blog postings. Here's the key: pick what's useful for you." The first nail: megatons of techno discourse in a very short span of time. My response: how can anyone process it all unless they 1) don't sleep, 2) don't work a steady job, or 3) are an alien life form. The second nail allows a bit of mercy those who us who can't process it all: find what's useful and stick with it.

It's a question of balance, to paraphrase the Moodies, and with much happening around me lately, said balance has been somewhat unsteady. For those who can keep up, we salute you (what's with the music metaphors?), and hope that you can keep up the pace.

Oh Wiki, yer so fine, yer so fine you blow my mind, hey Wiki...hey Wiki...

Now back to work...

May 3, 2005

Confessions of a Drowning Librarian 2

:: "Flickr,, Yahoo 360,, my own wiki, (hell, my own *stylesheet*!), moblogs, blogdigger,, skype, social networks, social software, Vivisimo, Feedster, Technorati, Google Scholar, Google Local, SMS, picture phones....


I didn't write that. Cindi wrote that. Cindi rocks. You see, I need to read her entry every so often to remind myself that I can't keep up anymore with every development even remotely related to what we do as librarians, and to also remind myself that I'm the only one feeling that way.

I was in Jasper on the weekend, attend ALC. I did not check Bloglines for four days. I returned to literally thousands of new entries among 141 feeds. I won't get to read most of them, let alone process the information in most of them.

So forgive me if I don't include entries about tagging wikis, wiki-tagging, copyfitting, feedmarking, dashlogging, feed filtering, consensus conference tagging, and so on. At least not this week. I don't know what any of those terms means, anyway...

April 22, 2005


:: Geoff and I were testing the new version of Jybe this morning. Jybe is a program that allows you to connect with another computer so that you and the other user are looking at the same screen. Some of the features include:

  • PW Protected Sessions
  • Collaborative Scrolling
  • Collaborative Text Entry
  • Open/Restricted Browsing
  • Invite Others to Sessions
  • Integrated Presentation Conversion
There is much potential for collaborating with colleagues who are in different locations, or something as simple as explaining features on a web page to a distant user, such as in a chat reference situation. Plugins exist for IE and Firefox. It installs a toolbar in Firefox, which is a minor annoyance, since toolbars can't be moved in Firefox yet.

February 17, 2005

Subscribing to an Email List (Listserv) Using Bloglines

Randy has asked that I copy this post from BDW into STLQ. I'm glad I wasn't the only one in the dark.

I feel like I just invented water, but a number of people I know as well as myself could not for the life of us figure out how to subscribe to a listserv that required any kind of email to be sent using Bloglines. It was easy enough to understand how Bloglines could generate an email address to include in a web form, but without being able to send from that address, we were dead in our tracks. It turns out it's a dead simple process. For others of you who may be as slow on the uptake as I am...

1) Log into Bloglines

2) Click "Add" (top left-hand corner)

3) Look towards the bottom of the page where it says "Create an Email Subscription"

4) Fill in the blanks (e.g. Name = web4lib; Folder = listservs; ...)

5) Click "Create Email Subscription"

6) NOW, go to the folder that you created and the subsequent title of the feed/page you also just created

7) VOILA. At the top of the page you now have the option to "Send Email" and the ability to include any commands you require (e.g. TO SUBSCRIBE TO WEB4LIB:
Send the message "subscribe Web4Lib your name" to

That easy!! You are able to reply, forward and do other standard email functions as well.

As of today, I'm listserv free! Hooray for my inbox!

January 10, 2005

Speed Up Adobe Acrobat Files

:: This is too cool, and needs to be mentioned. Via SearchEngineWatch via Anil Dash comes word of a utility created by programmer Joe Cox, called Adobe Reader SpeedUp:

Adobe Reader SpeedUp is a simple application that was created to help make the loading time of Adobe's Acrobat/Reader software bearable for everyday use. AR SpeedUp only needs to be used once (a process taking only a few seconds) and then your 'Reader will be transformed forever. There are also some tweaking options available. "w00t!", as the young kids say.
I downloaded and installed it in less than a minute, and now my .pdf files load in a few seconds, instead of the usual half-minute. Joe Cox, wherever you are, we salute you.

December 30, 2004

TRN's Technology Research Advances of 2004

:: TRN Technology Research News has released its list of Top Picks for Technology Research Advances of 2004. Areas covered include biotechnology, communications, computing, engineering, energy, security, nanotechnology, applied physics, and the Internet.

September 21, 2004

Digital Reference Services Bibliography

FYI -- listserv posting from Bernie Sloan:

This past weekend I finished a long-overdue update of my Digital Reference Services Bibliography:

There are now more than 700 items listed in this bibliography, related to the topic of online or virtual or digital reference services, i.e., the provision of reference services, involving collaboration between library user and librarian, in a computer-based medium. These services can utilize various media, including e-mail, Web forms, chat, video, Web customer call center software, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), etc.

Approximately 40% of the items listed in this bibliography are available via the Web. Links have been provided to direct you to those resources.

Feel free to contact me with questions or comments.

Bernie Sloan
Senior Library Information Systems Consultant, ILCSO
University of Illinois Office for Planning and Budgeting

January 28, 2004

Web Sites of Interest

:: A couple of web sites discovered via the EEVL catalogue and the EEVL Current Awareness Service:

    E-STREAMS publishes "electronic reviews of science & technology references covering engineering, agriculture, medicine and science. Each issue contains 30+ STM reviews, covering new titles in Engineering, Agriculture, Medicine and Science. Each review is signed, and includes the email address of the reviewer. The reviews feature short TOCs, a list of contributors and bibliographic information."

    Technology History: "An annotated collection of links to some of the history of technology, including little-known subsites buried on many well-known commercial sites." Coverage on computers and internet, aerospace, and telecommunications.

January 21, 2004

10 Emerging Technologies That Will Change Your World

:: "Technology Review unveils its annual selection of hot new technologies about to affect our lives in revolutionary ways—and profiles the innovators behind them." The technologies described are:

Roland Piquepaille notes: "But last year's list included injectable tissue engineering or nanoimprint lithography, which didn't really change the world in 2003. So read this list with a grain of salt."

November 24, 2003

Robots in the News

:: Researchers at MIT have constructed a robot whose top half is a robotic arm and bottom half is a Segway. The robot can move down hallways, find a door, and open it.

Last week, the first walking robot capable of carrying a human being was introduced in Tokyo.

November 14, 2003

New memory device could offer smaller, simpler way to archive data

:: "Engineers at Princeton University and Hewlett-Packard have invented a combination of materials that could lead to cheap and super-compact electronic memory devices for archiving digital images or other data." (via: EurekAlert.)

June 25, 2003

CM Web and Annodex - new web tool to improve searching video, audio

From Nature science update: "A new web tool makes online video and audio as interactive as text, say its creators. The software could enhance surfing, and help individuals and organizations manage large quantities of footage" The new web tool, called CMWeb (Continuous Media Web) , is being developed by CSIRO in Australia, and is using what the researchers have termed, Annodex technology.

STM Lit Access, Corporate Blogging, Project Halo

:: Bonita Wilson's editorial in the latest issue of D-Lib Magazine, v9, n4, June 2003, discusses improving access to STM literature.

:: From the NYTimes: The Corporate Blog is Catching On. (via Karlin.)

:: From Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends, mention of Project Halo, a research effort by Vulcan Inc (founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 1986).

"Project Halo is a staged research effort by Vulcan Inc. towards the development of a Digital Aristotle, an application capable of producing user and domain-appropriate answers and justifications to novel (previously unseen) questions in an ever-growing number of domains.

The Digital Aristotle will differentiate itself from current search engine technology in a number of important ways. First, search engines require that a specific text containing the answer to a user’s query reside somewhere in the searched corpus. Next, the document containing the correct answer must reside fairly high among the ranked lists of documents it returns given the user’s specified keywords. And finally, the user needs to scan each document for the appropriate passage."

More information is available from this article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. What is of interest to scitech (and all) librarians is that the success of this project will have long-term implications for basic reference service. Digital Aristotle would provide a custom answer to each question, and "produce user and domain-appropriate justifications " each time, eliminating the production of ranked lists and the need for the user to scan them. Is this the next step in the evolution of virtual or chat reference?

May 27, 2003

Mixed-Bag Special

:: "Scientific papers that are not widely read and that lack any great influence can end up being classed as high-impact, claim researchers in California". Read the story here.

:: Karlin Lillington recently attended the ISC Symposium in Switzerland, and she describes how each delegate received a SpotMe, which is a small handheld computer running embedded Linux. It has a radar function that displays the photos and details of all people within 30 metres, among other features. It is designed for events with 100-2,000 participants. I wonder if this means it could not be used at SLA or ALA? Also, what new social issues might surface? Karlin notes that during the keynote address, everyone was fiddling with their SpotMe's. It would be interesting to see the group dynamic in small sessions or hospitality suites. Also, what might happen if you are trying to avoid someone? Ooooh....

Also of note, Karlin visited the Stiftsbibliothek St Gallen (Abbey Library of St.Gall), the oldest library in Switzerland. Check out this amazing fisheye lens view of the Baroque Library. Imagine doing reference in there!

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