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October 27, 2005

Sights (and even sounds!) of Monterey

I did in fact manage to find a couple of hours today to steal away from the conference and take a stroll down Cannery Row and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I created a Flickr photo set for the conference, but it's mostly pics from in and around Monterey. Paul has the sounds.

Posted by Sherri at 12:25 AM

October 26, 2005

I do NOT *heart* Keynote

Grrrrrr . . . so much for trying to be cool and step off the powerpoint bandwagon! Paul and I were all geared up to give our presentation at Internet Librarian yesterday when technology (Keynote) failed us in a big bad way (read Paul's take on the Keynote debaucle). We were oh so diligent the day prior about checking to make sure the presentation ran smoothly from the iBook to the projector, etc, and everything was fine . . .

. . . fast forward to Tuesday October 25th, approximately 1:25 pm . . .

what had worked yesterday was now not working in front of a room full of people waiting for us to speak. I got a nasty "not enough VRAM to play your slideshow" error and nearly had a full-out panic attack. I even tried exporting it to .swf, taking out all the fancy transitions that we were going to wow people with (really, you have been wowed! you'll have to take our word for it!) but nothing worked. I swear that those 7 minutes took a year off my life. Anyway, we made due by going through the presentation using the navigator and thankfully we had a lot of live demos.

I did some hunting around to see if this was a known problem with Keynote, because I wasn't going to let my new little iBook take the blame for what I suspected was crappy buggy software. Sure enough, details right from the horse's mouth, so to speak:

Keynote 1.0: "Computer does not have enough video random-access memory" Alert


Info from MacInTouch Reader Reports

Yes, Apple has posted instructions on how to deal with the error, and it's too bad I didn't know this at 1:37 pm yesterday. Little did I know, all I had to do was quit Keynote and restart. Now I'm super mad. Keynote: you're banished.

Posted by Sherri at 10:54 PM

Giant calculators invade Monterey!

So . . . the gift for speakers at Internet Librarian is this rather large, er, ginormous calculator. Michael has started a photo pool of speakers with their calculators, and it's great fun so check it out.

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Posted by Sherri at 1:05 PM

October 25, 2005

And the award goes to . . .

Copernic Desktop Search (CDS)! The folks at Copernic received the AIPP Technology Award this morning. I remember downloading Copernic many moons ago when the software was relatively new on the scene. I haven't checked it out recently because Spotlight tends to rule my desktop these days. But this sure is a reason to go back and take a look at what they've been up to. Downer: it's windows only.

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Posted by Sherri at 1:25 PM

Inernet Librarian :: Day 1 :: Web Wizard’s Cool Tools

Monday, October 24, 2005, 4:15pm
Panel: Web Wizard's Cool Tools, Darlene Fichter, Frank Cervone, Jeff Wisniewski and Marshall Breeding

Darlene's top picks:

Frank's top pick:

Marshall's top picks:

Jeff's top picks:

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Posted by Sherri at 1:20 PM

Internet Librarian :: Day 1 :: Web Services

Monday, October 24, 2005, 2:15pm
Web Services: Enabling a New Generation of Library Technology, Frank Cervone and Larry Mrazek

Frank Cervone, Northwestern University

What are web services?

SOAP: Simple object access protocol - the envelope that sends packets of information around to the provider

WSDL (web services descriptive language): Metadata that describes what a service is and what it can do, implemented through 'interactions'.

UDDI: Kind of like a DNS

SRU/SRW: Interesting for libraries, a replacement for Z39.50 implemented through XML. Uses REST (representational state transfer) to perform 3 basic operations:

Idea of 'loose coupling' and connecting and disconnecting from services as we need to, and not having to develop otherwise complex programmatic applications. This expands the uses of library data and integrates more tightly with the ILS.

Larry Mrazek, LCM Research Inc.

Possible uses of web services in libraries:

Suppliers and Sample Uses of Web Services:

Benefits of Web Services:
Access to information from the vendor. Amazon's e-commerce services provide access to the following:



More examples available at the LCM Research website.

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Posted by Sherri at 1:23 AM

Internet Librarian :: Day 1 :: Choosing the Right CMS

Monday, October 24, 2005 1:15pm
Choosing the Right CMS, Jeff Wisniewski and Cheryl Stenstrom

Jeff Wisniewski, Web Services Librarian, University of Pittsburgh

Management of information is a crucial aspect of the many functions of a CMS:

Creation: interface to input and submit content; completely shields content providers from code. Tech savvy people can also get their hands on the code view too, if they want to.

Management: every cms provides some degree of premissioning/security, version control and archiving.

Presentation: every cms supports stylesheets and templating, important for maintaining the graphical integrity of your website.

Publishing: can be done in a number of different ways: certain individuals can make content live right away, others may not be able to without going through a gatekeeper system first. Can time when updates occur, too.

Advanced CMS functions

Cheryl Stenstrom, British Columbia Public Library Branch, Library Consultant

Stenstrom focused on showing the audience a live demo of the front and back end of the BCPL website which was made with the Mambo CMS.

Criteria in choosing a CMS:

They used Easysoft ODBC Bridge to link into existing MS Access databases.

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Posted by Sherri at 12:56 AM

Internet Librarian :: Day 1 :: Users Driving Web Site Changes

Monday, October 24, 2005, 11:15am
Users Driving Web Site Changes, Karen Coombs and Steve McCann

Following User Tracks, Karen Coombs, University of Houston Libraries
Data that we may already be collecting about our users can be used to tell us a lot about their browsing behaviour. Combs broke it down into the following 6 sources:

1. Web Server log files: currently using AWStats to monitor entry and exit server hits.

2. Proxy server log files: set up to record the users IP address, what URL they were accessing, where they came from, and some other pieces of valuable info. Wrote an application to analyze EZproxy log files at SUNY Cortland to see where the user was coming from both on and off campus.

3. OPAC search log files: depending on the vendor, you can see searches and determine if students are confusing the catalog with an ejournal search, for example.

4. Data from ILL systems: see where ILL requests are coming from (particular databases, etc).

5. OpenURL data: resolvers like SFX include various reporting mechanisms.

6. Session path tracing: wrote a script that creates xml files to trace a users path through the library site. Much more specific than the entry page data from server log file analysis.

Towards a Culture of Usability with User Personas, Steve McCann

Why Personas?

To build the personas, they developed an online survey and did 6 in-person interviews. From that they created 4 user personas. Asked some basic questions (age, language, etc) and found out that wasn't as useful as thought it would be. This information came into play, but much later on in the process. Asked interviewees how they researched. 'Find Periodicals' tended to be difficult for people. A lot of people didn't have experience coming up with a topic. Asked how they felt about the research experience and whther or not they were confident about their results. About 60% were excited about the resources they came up with from their research. Asked if they were worried about the scope of the articles they found.

Used Gregorc Style Delineator for creating the personas, and subsequently developed 4 personas using this tool. Librarians were excited by the results. Difficult decisions became necessary in trying to determine which of these people to design for.

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Posted by Sherri at 12:31 AM

October 24, 2005

Internet Librarian :: Day 1 :: Library Terms that Users Understand

Monday, October 24, 2005, 10:15am
Library Terms the Users Understand, John Kupersmith, University of California Berkeley

Usability testing is starting to confirm for us that a lot of the words we put in front of our users have little to no meaning for them (i.e. catalog, database, ILL, periodical). It's like showing that person a wall of arbitrary symbols, a wall of noise. They're not obvious and they're not scannable.

Library jargon is not a new problem. (ha!)
1943: ALA published its first glossary with 2000 terms.
1986: in testing a student commented that to them, being in the library was like being in a foreign country (keeping in mind that this is pre-internet!)
1989: patrons understand only 50% of the words we put in front of them

User success finding journal articles or databases on library websites: people were able to perform this test successfully only 50.3% of the time. Why?

The web is a sparse navigation environment, unlike the social and physical environment. Kupersmith looked at 44 usability studies (full details available on his website) with testing falling into the following categories:

Problematic words:

Not understood:
Acronyms and brand names

Library catalog
E-journal ("misunderstood in a hopeful spirit": users hope to get to the article level but don't)

Find books
Find articles, etc
Annotated links

Strong attractors:

Weak or non-attractors:
Electronic resources

Students tend not to understand the classification system itself, and broad subject listings, etc (they've gone to A-Z lists at Berkeley). Many librarians are concerned that changing the terminology will dumb down the website. Hmmmmmm . . .

Best practices:
1. test users understanding and preferences

2. avoid or use cautiously terms that users don't understand

3. put natural language terms on top-level pages (target or action words another way to do this); introduce more technical terms on lower-level pages

4. provide intermediate pages

5. provide alternative paths

6. enhance or explain potentially confusing terms: additional words or graphics, mouseovers and tooltips, glossaries of terms

7. be consistent throughout the website

Beyond terminology: changing the system

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Posted by Sherri at 11:36 PM

Internet Librarian :: Day 1 :: Opening Keynote

Shifting Worlds, Lee Rainie, Pew Internet and American Life Project
Monday, October 24, 2005, 9am

The more commonplace and invisible technology becomes, the more impact it has and more pervasive it becomes. A few facts and figures:

The digital divide is giving way to finer grades of distinctions. There are now three main identifiable groups instead of the more commonly cited and dichotomous two (the haves and have-nots):

In terms of online life, a decline can be seen in chat rooms, in particular. People are having community discussions in other places like IM, blogs, etc.

People who are between the ages of 12-17 are more connected than ever. They adore IM, and use it every day for hours at a time. They are also nuts about their cellphones and are heavy users of text messaging and photo applications. These habits are redefining the notion of what it means to be connected to other people: “the conversation never ends.” Teenagers live in a hyper-connected world. Teens use these tools to play with their identities, such as with im status. They live in a world that is saturated in media, for example gaming. 43% of teens have bought something online, and their buying power would be even greater if they had greater access to credit! 19% have created blogs, and they are creating blogs and their own websites at a rate three times higher than the rate of adult creation. They are crazy multitaskers.

The Internet & Politics
Last year was a breakout year for the internet and politics We saw the internet being used for direct participation in politics. The internet is now a more important source of news than radio for a lot of people. For younger people, it also rivals television for political information and news.

Major moments:
Witnessed a notable growth in the number of people who turn to the internet during major moments, and more of them were saying that the internet played a crucial role as they sought out the information. More than 50% of all searches taking place online are for people other than the searcher (i.e. searching for medical information for a mother, friend, etc). People are saying that the internet is playing a greater role in information sought with respect to marriage and divorce.

Some general trends:

How these trends are affecting libraries:
Idea of the long tail: we are not in a hit-driven era anymore. Between 40-50% of monthly sales are for long tails products with examples such as Amazon and Netflix. People are discovering these things through recommendation systems, and other social networking means (del.icio.us, blogs, etc).

Smart mobs à la Howard Rheingold. People are sharing information on the fly, acting on their own with information and sharing it around to create instant communities, events, information sharing, etc. Example: texting friends on the spot about something and distributing that to a network of people, creating mass and instant mobilization, etc.

Modern life is characterized by continuous partial attention. This is not the same as multitasking, but we're instead scanning incoming alerts for the ones best thing to seize upon. This is a major behavioural change that may have huge implications for teaching and learning. Attention can be fractured and built in to computer and technology design.

Finally, what is technology's role in modern times? Book: Leisure: The basis of culture by Josef Pieper looks at how leisure in danger of being swallowed by a world of total work. Leisure does not mean doing nothing, per se, but refers to moments of stillness with our families and communities, etc. Libraries are perfectly placed to embrace these two worlds and promote the right mix of work and leisure, and help the culture toward an information habitat.

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Posted by Sherri at 6:54 PM

Internet Librarian 2005 :: Day 1

IL2005 badge

I'm here! Can't say that I've seen too much of Monterey yet, but man oh man does this place makes me weepy for my maritime home. As we say in Newfoundland, it's a 'real mauzy day' here in Monterey, which in my opinion, is just lovely!


This is my first IL2005 and the sessions have been fabulous. I'm blogging offline because wifi is not available in the conference rooms themselves. Ironically, I'm getting free wifi in my hotel room for the hotel across the street - yay! As soon as I get my notes cleaned up, I'll post them here.

Posted by Sherri at 3:45 PM

October 22, 2005

En route to Internet Librarian 2005

I'm leaving for the Internet Librarian conference bright and early tomorrow morning. If you're also attending and are interested in meeting up for conversation, drinks, whatever . . . email or IM me:

AIM Online Status Indicator AIM & iChat
MSN Online Status Indicator MSN: sherri_vokey [at] hotmail.com
emailicon.gifsherrivokey [at] gmail.com

See you there!

Posted by Sherri at 4:20 PM

October 21, 2005

For the record . . . that's not me!

A co-worker came rushing into the office yesterday proclaiming that I'm on the cover of this month's Library + Information Update. Ummmm, no. That's not me. First of all, it's a UK publication. To my knowledge, I haven't been photographed lounging in London with a laptop (though that sounds perfectly lovely!). Plus, it's not an iBook. The hair is quite similar and there is a bit of a resemblance . . . it's a little weird. So as hilarious as it would be to grace glossy covers as a librarian glamour puss, well, I think I'll stick to my day job : )


Posted by Sherri at 11:19 AM

October 18, 2005

Nielsen's Weblog Usability Mistakes

We all know and love Jacob Nielsen's informative and sometimes brusque website usability updates, and yesterday he released Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes. Given that ::schwagbag:: has already made it to one loser list : ), I gave Nielson's piece a good read to see what else might be in need of some attention. In particular, Nielsen's points concerning the scanability of links and titles have been noted!

Posted by Sherri at 10:18 AM

October 17, 2005

FTPish tool for Gmail file upload :: now for mac!

I use my GMail account for file transfer and storage quite often, and was delighted to find out about the GMail Drive file extension a while back. Problem is, I could use it only with a windows PC (at work). If you are a windows user, you may want to check out Engadget's How-To.

Now there is an option (and dare I say far slicker!) for Mac users: gDisk. It's perfect when you don't have a usb drive handy, or want to be able to access your files from anywhere, on the internet. I'm going to create a new GMail account specifically for this purpose.


Once you create a directory, gDisk will upload the file(s) to your Drafts folder and create a label to match:


Eeeeeexcellent : )

Posted by Sherri at 12:20 PM

Aggregated blog coverage available for Access 2005

If like me you're sitting at your desk this morning and wishing you were at the Access 2005 conference, be sure to check out Planet Access, which provides a roundup of blogged conference coverage. There is also an Access2005 Flickr pool.

And yes, I am really jealous : )

Good times at Access 2004, Halifax
L-R: me, Michael Hohner, Grant Gelinas-Brown and John Dobson
(my buddies, the University of Winnipeg Systems Department
plus one big Theodore Tugboat :: Halifax Harbour)

Posted by Sherri at 10:16 AM

October 13, 2005

Being present

I watched a fun and inspiring video on the FISH! Philosophy in a meeting yesterday, and one of the four principles, 'Be There,' reminded me in a very tangential way of the whole online presence issue . . . and I thought I'd check and see where things are with IM presence. Aaron blogged about AIM presence a few days ago, and it looks like Yahoo! also has a way to add presence (or have they for a while and I just didn't know about it?). There still isn't anything from MSN, and for that you will need to rely on a third-party presence indicator such as those available from Online Status Indicator which, for MSN, is always a bit touch-and-go. I'm sure this will change with MSNs recently announced merger with Yahoo! Messenger.

Skype recently released some new buttons that work with the Mac OS version, but they don't broadcast presence and I'm not all that interested. I'm using Skype less and less these days because it just isn't working properly on my mac. However if you do use Skype, there is a handy dandy how-to on adding a Skype Me Button to your signature file in Mac Mail. I believe that the only presence indicator currently available for Skype is the Jyve Web Plugin which is available for WinXP/2000 only, so I haven't been using it since moving to Mac OS at work courtesy of the shiney new iBook : )

Oh, and if you havn't seen the FISH! video, you should check it out!

Posted by Sherri at 12:08 PM

Yahoo! and MSN to create world's largest IM network

yahoo.gif + msnim.gif

Since we're on the topic of mergers today (!), Yahoo! and MSN are joining forces to create what may become the world's largest IM network. AOL, the other IM heavyweight, has not been included in the IM interoperability effort, likely because Yahoo! and MSN plan to go toe-to-toe with AIM. I'll be running my IM survey here at FIS in the very near future, because I suspect that while AIM usage may be very high in the US, it isn't elsewhere (i.e. Canada).

Focus on VOIP will be an integral part of the merger (and restricted to PC-PC connections only - HUH!?). This will no doubt be received with much fanfare from users who currently have to coax their buddies into using one service/software or another in order to 'talk' to them if they aren't already on the same network.

While this may be exciting news (or not!) for IM, especially with the enhancements to security and presence using SIP/SIMPLE, I hope that third party software apps like Trillian and Adium X don't get shut out of the IM arena.

Posted by Sherri at 10:47 AM

Shakeup in LMS world: Blackboard and WebCT to merge

Whaaaaaaa? Blackboard and WebCT have announced plans to merge. In the short term, it looks like both services will operate as-is with a longer term plan to incorporate the features of both under the 'Blackboard' brand.

I used to work with WebCT in my previous position and have to admit that I've never been a fan, either as a user or an adminstrator, though I never did get a chance to see what new features became available in the Vista release (and I hear there were some exciting improvements). In any case, we're heading down the Sakai path here at FIS/UofT.


Posted by Sherri at 9:29 AM

October 3, 2005

You just never know . .

. . . when you might find your face on the cover of Library Journal:

Michael messaged me this morning to tell me that the story was up. I had no idea, until he pointed it out, that our faces were too. That'll teach me to embark on a stealth shoe-shopping mission in Chicago on the hottest and muggiest day I've ever experienced in my life . . . an hour before a roundtable session complete with photographer. But hey, I found the Camper store, so it was well worth it ; ) As Meredith noted, it's pretty difficult to capture the dynamism of the conversation (which was just over two hours, I believe) in a transcript. But you'll have to take our word for it: it was a great conversation!

And speaking of blogging, ::schwagbag:: postings have been pretty sparse of late because there's just so much going on at the moment. The relocation, new job & website redesign project, second relocation (to a new apartment this past weekend), weddings and an upcoming conference have pretty much sucked up all of my time. I hope to get back on my bloggin' feet again once October is over.

Posted by Sherri at 12:35 PM