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August 29, 2005

Outta here . . .

The migration back home

Farewell Las Vegas and UNLV . . . I'm outta here (as of 7:30 pm) and enroute to Salt Lake City. ::schwagbag:: will be quiet for a while.

Posted by Sherri at 7:08 PM

August 28, 2005

Well I've gone and done it . . .

I just couldn't take it anymore. Rochelle and Geoff pushed me over the edge with reports of their shiny new iBooks. I found myself at the Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas strip yesterday (which, conveniently, is home to the Vegas Apple store . . .) and ended up leaving with a 12" iBook and free (rebate) iPod (educational deal). I love my iMac, but have been wanting a laptop for the longest time, and the deal on the new iBooks was just too good to pass up. I also get to replace the peaPod (current 1st gen green iPod mini) with a 2nd gen green mini. My mini's battery life has never been up to snuff in my opinion, though Apple would argue otherwise. Now I have to leave it alone long enough to finish packing today : )

Posted by Sherri at 8:19 AM

August 25, 2005

How do you track your IM stats?

A number of people have asked for more details about how we record and manage stats for the IM service here at UNLV. I made a quick Captivate tutorial to show what we have in place, given that it's not publicly accessible.

So what are other people out there using to track IM statistics?

Chat Stats Tutorial | swf | 1.4 mb | 01:57

Posted by Sherri at 9:43 AM

Bloglines is at it again . . .

The RSS 2.0 + comments feed for ::schwagbag:: has not been updating since Sunday August 21st. The two other feeds are working just fine, and of course the people affected by this are precisely the ones not seeing this message . . . and the feed with the greatest number of subscribers. Oh, cursed Bloglines!

I've emailed Bloglines twice, and still no response. Normally the magical feed resetting fairy is on top of this, and I hear something back from them pretty quickly (because this has happened before [1] [2]). A quick check of the feed shows that it is validating just fine.

So Bloglines plumber, what gives?

Posted by Sherri at 9:10 AM

August 23, 2005

Google Talk (beta) has landed . . .

Reviews here and here and here.

Mac users are s-o-l as far as the Google Talk client goes: it's windows-only. However, because Google Talk is running on the Jabber protocol, there are a number of other readily available IM clients that mac users can use (login requires a GMail address and password). Also, if you're not running Tiger OS, you can forget about using iChat. I'm using Adium X and logged in without any difficulty. tuaw.com has already posted a how-to for mac users.

I haven't had the opportunity to chat with anyone yet, so no early impressions to report.

Posted by Sherri at 8:34 PM

Google getting ready to chat?

Bring on the jibber jabber . . . rumour has it that Google is getting ready to launch its own IM service tomorrow (Wednesday) using the opensource Jabber protocol (the purported 'Linux' of instant messaging). Here's a screenshot of an attempted connection on Jabber:

If Google does in fact launch a service using Jabber (currently called 'Google Talk'), then it will be easy for libraries offering IM chat services to integrate it into their current offering. Trillian (pro version only) and Adium X already come packaged with Jabber plugins. GoogleRumors is keeping track of the developments.

Posted by Sherri at 9:06 AM

August 22, 2005

Essential freeware for the Mac user

Essential freeware for the Mac user by Sudeep Bansal of Brilliant Ignorance lists some pretty handy stuff, notably in the 'productivity' and 'utilities' sections.

[via OLDaily]

Posted by Sherri at 2:22 PM

Give us back our CBC!

Irony of ironies . . . just as I'm moving back to Canada after a 14-month CBC television drought (thankfully I was able to keep up with the news via online live radio), the CBC has imposed a lock-out. I'm fairly fanatical about the CBC, and having to start my day without Anna Maria and Shelagh, is, well, gettin' me down : (

Tod Maffin has been blogging from the picket lines, and wrote that locked-out CBC workers are about to launch a competing radio service and that five stations are going to carry the 'pirate' broadcast. As well, the cbcunplugged.com website was launched by locked-out workers as a place for listeners to keep up with developments by way of podcasts that locked-out producers are making. Get your dose by subscribing to the feed or podcast via iTunes.

If you want your CBC back, go grab a protest button and slap it up on your blog and apply a little public pressure in your own small way.

Posted by Sherri at 9:20 AM

August 18, 2005

Chatalot? Maybe you should Chatalog!

iChat users might be interested to know about a cool new tool for archiving iChats directly to email. Chatalog:

will take each of your iChats as they occur, tag them with participant, time and date and forward them directly to your email client where all of your correspondence is kept. Chatalog will also create a handy html archive of any web links or images for easy searching.

Never forget or lose track of your chats with colleagues again (I agreed to WHAT deadline?!) There is even a widget for 10.4 users. Free to try, $12.95 to buy.

Posted by Sherri at 10:55 AM

Ministry of Reshelving project taking on 'proper classification' of books

Now here's one way to make a political statement . . . by conducting a super stealth reshelving mission in your local bookstore, Chuck D-style. The Ministry of Reshelving is a grassroots/activist project that is using Flickr to distribute the howto's and document the efforts:

The Ministry of Reshelving is dedicated to the proper classification of fiction and nonfiction books. The current Ministry initiative focuses or relocating a total of one thousand nine hundred and eight four copies, across all 50 United States, of George Orwell's 1984 from "fiction" or "literature" to more suitable sections, like "Current Affairs", "US Politics", "True Crime", or "New Non-Fiction." You are invited to join us in our reshelving efforts.

Behold the awesomeness of Flickr . . . fight the power : )

UPDATE: American Public Radio's program 'Future Tense' has made an interview with Jane McGonigal (the person responsible for the MoR) available. In it, McGonigal (a UC Berkeley doctoral student) explains that the 'rule' is that they hit a bookstore only once, and actually reshelve a total of only 4-6 books in a given bookstore.

I'm certainly not advocating for messing up libraries and bookstores, but thought that the use of Flickr as a tool for mobilization was particularly noteworthy. Regarding the comment, below, I'm at a loss in trying to understand how this activity constitutes 'censorship.' They're not actually hiding anything, and in fact leave markers in the empty placeholders to indicate that the books have been moved, not hidden or discarded! Social activists/nuisances/pranksters? Perhaps. The censorship police? Not sure about that one . . .

Posted by Sherri at 9:13 AM

August 11, 2005

'StumbleUpon' some useful stuff on the web

A while back, I wrote about a couple of grad students who were doing the web differently by building applications that facilitate annotated and trusted web content. StumbleUpon is yet another tool that allows you to "browse, review and share great webpages while meeting new people." It uses collaborative opinions to rank website quality and make suggestions based on like-minded stumblers (check out the screenshots). All that you need to start stumbling is this Firefox extension.

Posted by Sherri at 3:17 PM

Sometimes . . . it is about the bricks

So much of what I do takes place online and away from the 'bricks and mortar' of the physical library that I have neglected to mention that I have had the fortune to work in one of the most beautiful and architecturally-unique libraries I've ever seen. If you ever find yourself in Las Vegas, take a few minutes to visit the UNLV campus and check out the Lied Library for yourself: it's one of the most popular and used buildings on campus. I assure you that it's much more splendid than pina-colada smelling hotels and casinos : )

Here are a few pics I took early last Saturday morning, and my homage to Lied Library.

Click on the image for the full photoset

Posted by Sherri at 12:43 PM

August 9, 2005

On process & procedures . . . and the merits of 'mixing it up'

I just love Creating Passionate Users, if not only for the witty cartoons. The writing tends to, ummm, cut to the chase, if you will. It is thoughtful and articulate, even with the occasional addition of some colourful language : )

The latest posting, When process goes bad, is no exception. The argument is not a new one, and certainly not new to the libraryland blogosphere.

"So... think about your policies and systems and procedures and process. I have this terrible fear that I'm going to be doing the same thing -- justifying staying with a production process -- even when it would be better for the user (or the author) to allow for more creativity, flexibility, and change. If today's business mantra is "change or die", we should all be looking for ways to make sure we don't fall asleep in the comfort of our working systems. And boy do I know how seductive those comfort zones can be..."

It's definitely worth a read!

Posted by Sherri at 9:34 AM

August 8, 2005

Housekeeping: new ways to subscribe

Without giving it a lot of thought, I changed the RSS 2.0 feed to include both extended entries and comments a few months ago. I like to have comments included with feeds because otherwise I never go back to visit a blog to check to see if comments have been posted. I took the 1.0 feed down from the main page, but it still works.

Realizing that not everyone wants all that jibber jabber clogging up their aggregators, I've reinstated the RSS 1.0 feed and created a 2.0 feed with extended entries, but minus the comments. Now you can take your pick:

extended entries plus comments

extended entries, no comments

extended entries, no comments

email subscription

Posted by Sherri at 12:15 PM

August 6, 2005

Die popups, die!

Have you noticed popups creeping back into your otherwise annoyance-free web browsing experiences? It seems that some industrious spammer-types have devised a way to get round Firefox's default settings using Flash. But you can stick it to those nasty popups by following the following instructions, via petebevin.com:

  1. Type about:config into the Firefox location bar.
  2. Right-click on the page and select New and then Integer.
  3. Name it privacy.popups.disable_from_plugins
  4. Set the value to 2.

Posted by Sherri at 8:03 PM

Digital Library Services for Millennials

I was asked to give a presentation on digital services for millennials for a job interview a couple of weeks ago. 'Millennials' are the buzzword group du jour in business, marketing and library circles. And for good reason: they're the largest population group since the baby boomers, and they have vastly different expectations for both library and digital services, in general. For your powerpoint viewing pleasure:

Providing Digital Library Services to Millennials (ppt | 3.81 MB)

Posted by Sherri at 12:23 PM

August 5, 2005

Editorial rules to be enforced on Wikipedia?

Reuters reports that the founders of Wikipedia are considering measures that will tighten up the editorial process in an effort to prevent "vandalism of its content."

"There may soon be so-called stable contents. In this case, we'd freeze the pages whose quality is undisputed."

Hmmmm . . . the concept of 'stability,' especially when applied to knowledge and information, can be preeeeetty slippery. The article does discuss the idea of creating a 'commission' that would be charged with deciding when entries should be frozen, and thereby bringing forth a less top-heavy approach to deciding on stability than could otherwise be chosen. In addition to its collaborative nature, one of the most promising and exciting aspects of Wikipedia is (IMHO) the fluidity afforded to the information that lives there. Wikipedia is a model for an alternative representation of how thoughts, ideas and facts are constructed and disseminated, and moves away from the concept of capital 'K' knowledge (though this is also precisely what many folks object to). How do we know when a 'fact' is stable and when its fate should be sealed in perpetuity? How do you know that a given definition or explanation is undisputed? That's a tough call, and I'd love to learn more about how Wikipedia plans to resolve that very issue, because to me it flies in the face of the very fundamentals of what Wikipedia represented to me.

Posted by Sherri at 12:13 PM

Jyve Update

I've finally had a moment to download and update my Skype indicator with the new and improved Jyve status button (after installing the Jyve plugin first). If you're a Skype user, you should really check this out. Not only does it provide a properly functioning and responsive presence indicator, but also extends the functionality of Skype with additional features like Browser Sync, which enables shares web browsing with a Sykpe contact (hello co-browsing!); and auto responder messages for various Skype states.


Anyone want to give it a go?

Posted by Sherri at 11:30 AM

A first glance at IM usage

I've quickly compiled the chat stats for our first two months of service (June and July). Traffic has been steady despite the fact that it is summer, and we're working with limited hours (a total of 4 hours per day). Compared to our stats for this time last year using QuestionPoint, I would say that things are looking pretty great for the busy fall semester. It will also prove to be a much better indicator of typical usage.

We've had a total of 70+ IM chats since the launch on June 6. In June, we had a total of 30 IM chats initiated by students (57%), the general public (40%) and some 'unknowns' (3%). Most of the questions (30%) were of the 'ready reference' (in how we define it here) variety: people looking for information about library hours, location of items in the book stacks, how to pay fines, internet access within the building, etc. Approximately 13% of IMers were looking for research assistance, while 10% asked for help locating a full text item. We have an option for 'Other' which I suspect may have been used a little more liberally in the first month while we were getting our feet wet, and accounts for 47% of questions asked. I'm pretty certain that this number is artificially high, and came down quite significantly in July.

We answered 32 IM chat questions in July. Students accounted for 59% of that traffic, while the public dropped down to 19%, followed by 'unknown' (16%) and faculty (6%). July also saw a significant increase in research-related questions (34%), followed by ready reference (25%), locating full text (16%), 'other' (16%) and finally remote access assistance (9%).

These numbers certainly aren't robust enough to extrapolate from or even predict how things will pick up in September, but do serve to give us an initial first look at who our users are and generally the types of questions that they're asking. However, with the same hours of service offered last year, this certainly is a vast improvement over the 7 questions answered in June and 14 questions in July 2004. We've had some really wonderful feedback about the service from our users, and appreciation for offering it as an option for getting help from the library.

Posted by Sherri at 9:13 AM

August 3, 2005

Konfabulator now even more Konfabulous

This is old news by now, but a week or so ago, Yahoo! acquired Konfabulator, one of my all-time favourite applications. And now it's free!

Other than being a very cool tool (and apparently cool enough for Apple to not-so-discretely rip off as one of its new Dashboard Tiger OS applications), I have found that using the Konfabulator newsfeeds widgets has been a great way to get staff started with the whole concept of institutional blogging and rss. A number of people were interested in receiving the blog content, but not yet ready to assume authorship. Having the widget sit on the desktop was easy and allowed people who were otherwise completely new to blogs get a sense for what kind of content we might circulate amongst ourselves and how rss works without having to load the blog in a browser to check for updated content.

My Widget Picks:
Flickr Upload Widget
CBC Desktop Tuner
Joy of Tech
Go & Fetch!

Posted by Sherri at 12:40 PM

August 2, 2005

Leaving Las Vegas

It's really, really hard to avoid that cliché . . . ! In any case, I'm back from a wonderful and relaxing vacation in Toronto. I have returned with more than just vacation brain . . . I also have a new job. I'm leaving Las Vegas at the end of August and will be starting a new position as the Digital Services Librarian at the University of Toronto Faculty of Information Studies Inforum in September. I'm thrilled about joining the Inforum team, not to mention the fact that I will be reuniting with my sig_other and putting less than 3000 miles between us for the first time in over a year. Oh, and Toronto is pretty fabulous, too. That goes without saying : )

So the next month is going to be pretty chaotic and postings may be sporadic for a while as I wrap things up at UNLV.

Posted by Sherri at 10:44 AM