July 3, 2007

In praise of stay-cation

Long story short: I'm not going to be blogging much in July, if at all. Today is day one of my month of vacation stay-cation.

With all of the moving around in the last few years, much of what would have been 'vacation' has been taken up with packing and getting from A to B. So this time, I'm not moving, but doing house reno. Not very relaxing, but so much more gratifying. While I was working in Vegas and Toronto, we rented out our house in Winnipeg and just regained possession on Friday. We're puttin' the boots to it before our two new ragdoll kitties arrive on Saturday.


In other news, my job title changed last week to "Instructional Technology and Web Services Librarian." There's lots of exciting stuff happening there, and I'll have more on that when I get back.

Now back to sanding . . . : )

Posted at 11:27 AM| Permalink

June 13, 2007

Hello . . . again


Was I ever relieved to read that blog posting frequency doesn't matter anymore! Ok, I've probably taken that idea a little too far by going on a year+ hiatus. But here I am, happy to be blogging again.

After leaving UNLV in Sept '06 to head back to Canada, I started in a new job at the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto. Yearning for our prairie home, family and friends, the sig_other and I made the decision to move back to Winnipeg and make it permanent (as permanent as permanent can be for someone like me who has moved about 10 times in the last 12 or so years).

I am now working at the University of Winnipeg as the Web and Reference Services Librarian. As with my previous job at the UofW, it's a contract gig lasting until October 2008. In a nutshell, I am the Acting Information Literacy Coordinator, web services librarian (as always - straddling public services and systems: something I love), the DLI representative for the UofW (read: data librarian), subject liaison to Education, and occasional electronic resources duties as needed.

After 6000 kilometres later and a whole lot of U-Hell, I'm back in the 'Peg.

My blogging interests remain largely the same. Though I'm not working specifically with distance education anymore, I continue to be interested in and support the types of tools that former readers of schwagbag may be accustomed to reading about, namely, techy tools for communication and collaboration, technology and instruction, design and architecture, etc. Thanks to Paul Pival for giving me a much-needed kick in the pants ; )

Oh, and if you've subscribed in the past, don't forget to update your RSS feeds to the new one, as the others will soon be decommissioned:

Posted at 1:56 PM| Permalink

May 10, 2006

INFO*NATION: "not your grandma's CLA"

I received an email the other day from a librarian who has been working on a interesting new recruitment project: INFO*NATION. INFO*NATION is a:

"participatory website that promotes library and information professions in Canada . . . [in an] attempt to recruit some new blood to the information professions . . . [w]e want to emphasize the diverse elements of library work and break down some of the stereotypes associated with libraries. At the same time we want to recruit personnel that continue to be committed to the core values of libraries . . . "

The site was put together by the Recruitment Working Group of the CLA President’s Council on the 8Rs Report. They've put out a call to gather profiles of diverse people that work in Canadian libraries. If you’re passionate about what you do and are willing to share your story to help promote your profession, visit the submission page.

INFO*NATION is pre-launch at the moment, and will be officially launched at the CLA conference in June, at which point the url will then change to www.infonation.ca.

Posted at 2:00 PM| Permalink

2006 Webby Award Winners (and a notable nominee)

webby.jpgThe 2006 Webby nominees and winners have been announced. A big congratulations to the CBC Archives, which was nominated in the Broadband category. This is a wonderful resource for Canadiana and covers all sorts of topics and people, from Punk Rock in Canada to the question of whether Confederation has been good for Newfoundland. I'm a not-so-secret digital archivist wannabe and fan of all things CBC, so I'm thrilled to see that this site has won some well-deserved recognition.

Posted at 1:00 PM| Permalink

April 23, 2006

New and improved Google search results interface?

via Yellowpipe News

I'm not sure how much stock should put into these reports, but I've read the rumours about Google testing a new expandable search results interface in a few places now. From the three available screenshots, it looks a little underwhelming (see the gangly expandable arrow). Searching within a site from the results screen certainly makes for a great additon.

Posted at 11:32 AM| Permalink

March 6, 2006

Toronto to get municipal wifi?

As reported in the Globe and Mail today, Toronto Hydro is expected to announce that it will spearhead a city-wide wireless broadband network in Toronto as early as this fall. Though it's hard to tell at this point, it appears to differ a bit from the setup found in places like San Francisco where a percentage of the hotspots are freely available. Toronto Hydro will instead serve up some competition for Rogers et al. (hallelujah to that) by offering 'affordable,' but not free, access to Torontonians. Transmitters and receivers will be attached to every 4th lightpost. Now, if only the TTC would join in and make wifi and cellular service available on the subway . . . oh dear, please pardon that momentary detour to 'planet sherri' ; )

TheStar.com, March 7, 2006: T.O. to become a giant hotspot

TheStar.com, March 7, 2006: T.O. set to go wireless

Canada.com | National Post, March 7, 2006: Toronto Hydro assailed for city-wide WiFi plan

Posted at 11:03 PM| Permalink

March 5, 2006

Access Copyright and Creative Commons Canada :: Unlikey bedfellows?

Yeah, I thought so too until I read this:

"Two Canadian copyright groups have announced they will co-operate to create an on-line database of published works that have entered the public domain.

In what they describe as a "ground-breaking project," Access Copyright and Creative Commons Canada say they will create the "most comprehensive" searchable catalogue of published works that are no longer protected by copyright law."

Database planned for public domain works, globeandmail.com, March 3, 2006

This initiative will help identify Canadian works that are part of the public domain, and facilitate access to them via a wiki (using MediaWiki). This is pretty cool stuff . . . though I'll admit I'm still delightfully astonished ; )

Access Copyright: Access Copyright and Creative Commons Canada Announce Public Domain Registry

Creative Comons Canada: Canadian Public Domain Registry Press Release

Posted at 6:17 PM| Permalink

February 23, 2006

Google launches Page Creator

pagecreator.jpgWell, sorta . . . Google has already stopped doling out new accounts due to 'heavy demand.' If, like me, you weren't able to snag an account to see what the hoopla is all about, then check out some of the screenshots that are available on Flickr. Google makes 100MB of space available for pages and files.

Mac users take note: reports are already coming in that Page Creator will not work with Safari.

Posted at 11:57 AM| Permalink

Answers.com doesn't have all the answers

It's an absolutely gorgeous sunny morning in Toronto. I was in especially good spirits this morning after stepping off the subway and taking in the almost spring-like atmosphere while making my way to work. That is, until my attention turned to a big pole that was absolutely plastered with this Answers.com sign, just outside my building (which is, I might add, attached to the main Robarts Library - I hear it's quite a good place to get a few books if you need them, say, for your term papers!). Sigh . . . So how about this: "when it's due tomorrow, try the library!" (which is, incidentally, five steps in front of you as you read this).

It's interesting, though, that this is showing up during reading week - well, it's just good marketing strategy I suppose. That's something that we really need to work on.

Okay, now back to my good mood ; )

Posted at 10:19 AM| Permalink

February 22, 2006

Canadian libraries to digitize millions of books in 2006

From CBC Arts:

"University of Toronto chief librarian Carol Moore will head a group of 27 major Canadian academic research libraries that have joined the Alouette Canada project."

Given that I work at the University of Toronto, it's surprising that I haven't heard more about this . . . maybe I'm not going to the right meetings! After some digging around, I did find brief mention of it in News@UofT from December 29th. I first discovered the news while reading Richard Ackerman's Science Library Pad, but other than that, the only other information I've found has consisted of a press release from CARL and the CBC Arts story. Well, Stephen Abram also mentioned it during his keynote at the OLA Super Conference a couple of weeks ago, but there's been precious little coverage on this very exciting project.

Alouette Canada will be cooperating with, among others, the Open Content Alliance, who have already been hard at work at the University of Toronto (see WSJ "Building an Online Library, One Volume at a Time"). Tim Mark, executive director of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) said that the initial estimate is three to four million titles. This is an important project that rivals some others out there, so I look forward to hearing much more about it.

Posted at 9:32 AM| Permalink

February 17, 2006

It's meme time again

The memes are making the rounds again, and Paul and Rochelle tagged me. I'll gladly participate if for no other reason than to drag me out of this blogging slump that I seem to be in lately, and get a modicum of content (no matter how irrelevant) up here ; )

Four jobs I’ve had:
1: Parks and Recreation :: summer day camp counselor, where I worked with young and autistic kids and learned much, much more from them than they ever could from me

2: Synchronized swimming coach & lifeguard (here's how it all began)

3: Toys R Us :: Spawn, Lego and 'puzzle wall' specialist (one of the best jobs I ever had! where else can you play SNES during your breaks?)

4: Wendy's :: this one didn't last very long - awful memories of scraping chili pots, walk-in freezers and the dreaded timed drive-thru hamburger-slingin' line - man, Frederick Taylor's experiments don't hold a candle to what a Wendy's manager can put you through . . . may possibly explain the later conversion to vegetarianism

Four movies I can (and do) watch over and over:
1: The Big Lebowski
2: Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain
3: Office Space
4: Lost in Translation

Four places I’ve lived: (this is tough - my track record averages about 1 move every other year)
1: Las Vegas, Nevada
2: Winnipeg, Manitoba
3: Southern Ontario: Ottawa, London, Kingston and now Toronto
4: St. John's, Newfoundland - home!

Four TV shows I love:
1: The Office (US)
2: Trailer Park Boys
3: 24
4: Arrested Development (damn you, Fox! DAMN YOU!)

Four places I’ve vacationed:
1: Scotland
2: Barbados
3: Florida
4: Most of New England :: thanks to my friend Neil's questionable navigational skills, I think we hit one province and three states in a single day on this blur of a driving trip

Four of my favourite dishes: I love to cook and tend to make almost everything that we eat, but otherwise, here are some of my favourite indulgences:
1: Everything from Affinity Vegetarian Garden in Winnipeg
2: A.C. La Rocco's Spinach & Artichoke Thin Crust Vegetarian Pizza which I can't get now that I'm back in Canada : (
3: Thali from Braar Sweets (plus some chocolate burfi)
4: Lick's Nature Burger

Four sites I visit daily:
1: Gmail & Google.ca
2: Bloglines
3: CBC News
4: daily dose of imagery

Four places I would rather be right now:
1: Anyplace where I can see that big burning ball in the sky - I think it's called the 'sun'?!
2: Eating ice cream and watching 'melmo' with my nephew
3: Driving on a remote stretch of road with my iPod fully loaded, no agenda, and nowhere else to be
4: On vacation - anywhere will do (though the inclusion of #1 would be a big bonus)

Four books (or series) I love:
1: The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
2: A Fine Balance
3: The Romantic
4: Plainsong

Four video games I can (and do or did) play over and over:
1: Super Mario Kart
2: The Sims
3: Command & Conquer Red Alert
4: SimCity

Four bloggers I am tagging:
I think I'm a bit late to this party and a lot of people have already been tagged, so I won't bother tagging anyone else.

Posted at 2:53 PM| Permalink

February 1, 2006

Michael Stephens at FIS, Thursday Feb 2

stephens_toronto.jpgOne of the awesome things about working at an information studies faculty is that I get to attend an inordinate number of really great talks focusing on issues relevant to the LIS profession. One of the great things about living in Toronto is that conferences come to town fairly regularly, and I can try to nab great speakers when they're here and ask them to pretty pretty please give a talk at FIS ; )

I'm so happy that Michael Stephens will be speaking here at FIS on Weblogs & Libraries: Communication, Conversation and the Blog People. If you're a librarian/information professional in the greater Toronto area and would like to attend, please do join us on Thursday, February 2 (tomorrow) at 4:15 at the Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto, 140 St. George Street, Bissell Building room 728. [MAP]

Posted at 1:30 PM| Permalink

January 23, 2006

Canadian election blog coverage and mashups

As any Canadian readers out there will know, today is election day - please do get out and vote! There are a couple of really great websites and mashups out there that can either help you track the election or get more information if you're still undecided:

For better or for worse, it's pretty much a certainty that we're going to wake up to a very different Canadian political landscape tomorrow morning . . . I for one am off to pick up the popcorn : )

Posted at 9:45 AM| Permalink

January 3, 2006

Bye bye .Mac :: new AIM/iChat contact info

I had a .Mac account for a couple of years, and when it expired this past June, I didn't renew it. It's quite expensive when you consider that these costs are in addition to an ISP and include many 'features' that are readily and cheaply/freely available elsewhere. I read D'Arcy Norman's thoughts with interest, and agreed that it wasn't worth the expense. Living without .Mac sync has been a little challenging, but I'll live.

One of the consequences of severing ties, though, is that my AIM/iChat handle has been associated with my .Mac identity. The alias continued to work after the account was disabled, and I didn't change anything at the time. However, I've now created a new handle for iChat/AIM:

IIsherrivokeyII (first and last two characters are uppercase 'i')

It's a bit convoluted, but someone has taken practically every iteration on my/their name.

I'll continue logging in to both accounts for a while, but will eventually retire the old account.

Posted at 1:20 PM| Permalink

December 28, 2005

my new year's wish

all i want for the new year is for this to stop. what is happening in toronto this year (now dubbed the 'year of the gun') is tragic and depressing.

we were within minutes of being exactly there to snag a few boxing day deals, but changed our minds and decided to avoid yonge street at the last minute. unfortunately, the fifteen year old girl who was shot in the head while shopping with her parents didn't have that luxury.


Posted at 10:22 AM| Permalink

December 13, 2005

Michigan students may require online course to graduate

The Michigan Department of Education is considering a set of 'more rigorous' high school graduation requirements proposed the by State Superintendent. One of the three major requirements includes "completion of an online credit or noncredit course or learning experience." This is very interesting, especially when one considers that the impetus behind this comes from the recognition that today's students need '21st century skills' for the increasingly Internet-based world of work and higher education. However, some higher education institutions themselves have failed to fully embrace distance education as a valued and viable means for facilitating instruction. Distance (or, perhaps more appropriately these days, 'online' or 'technology-based') education is here to stay, and there is plenty of evidence to support that there is demand for it, notably from the new generation (think the 'M' word) of students who will soon be traversing our halls and online learning environments.


Posted at 10:42 AM| Permalink

December 9, 2005

del.icio.us goes y.ah.oo!

. . . and now to focus our attention away from all-things Google for just a milisecond . . . del.icio.us has joined Yahoo!, who has been making some serious power plays for web services lately (i.e. Flickr).

Posted at 9:48 PM| Permalink

November 21, 2005

Why does MSN look like this?

This is just too funny. If you're using a Mac, head on over to the MSN site and you'll encounter a curious little message that looks goes a little something like this:


In case you can't read that, the bottom line says:


No problem, Microsoft. Given that there haven't been any major updates since 2000, and that, for all intents and purposes, it has been 'discontinued' for Mac OS, we've kinda moved on to bigger and much better things anyway : ) But to see this message on your own pages, is, well, pretty hilarious.


Posted at 2:40 PM| Permalink

November 16, 2005

I want my long tail

I can see that I'm going to have to start a new category called 'misc rants.' I've just read that Fox, in all of its infinite wisdom, has cancelled Arrested Development, one of the funniest (and one of my favourite) shows on the air. Yes, an Emmy Award-winning show is getting the axe in its third season after much critical acclaim due to poor ratings (i.e. not making enough money for FOX). Of course this is to be expected in an industry built upon pure profit and not necessarily what its viewers (at least some of them) want. Then to top it off, I discover that LUSH has cut the three products (1, 2, 3) that I buy regularly. Grrrrrrrrr . . .

Maybe this is one of the reasons why I love libraries so much: they facilitate access to the 'good stuff': things that don't necessarily rise to the top of popularity ratings which are fuelled by profit margins, majority rule and Oprah. I'm not being naive, and I realize that there are huge problems and pitfalls involved in the way that library collections are built. But there is definitely more of the tail to be discovered and enjoyed in libraries.

Posted at 1:07 PM| Permalink

November 5, 2005

What pre-1985 video character are you?



I was in fact an avid Pac-man player back in the day, and had a super cool (at least I thought so) mini Ms. Pac-man midway. Space Invaders (Atari) and Bruce Lee (Commodore 64) were my other favourites. Thank goodness for emulators! Now I can play classic games on our Xbox.

So what video character are you?


Posted at 9:21 PM| Permalink

November 4, 2005

Google Print :: recipe jackpot!

So Google Print has gone prime time after some down time. I remain relatively unaffected by the news, as I've never had a real affinity for reading online (and live in a city with a wonderful public library system where I can get the real deal), nor would I rely on Google Print as my first 'resource discovery' tool. However, I've always found GP to be a recipe goldmine. Given that many if not most recipes fit on one printed page, you can usually get what you need.

After logging in:


Et violà! I have a recipe for vegan gravy!


Posted at 1:20 PM| Permalink

November 1, 2005

Librarians make the best . . . subject trees!

tree.jpgMy co-worker Nalini, the reference and instructional services librarian here at FIS, had a truly inspired idea for a halloween costume: a subject tree!

"I attached word-bearing leaves (written on index cards -what else- and stapled to green felt shapes) to myself, draped my limbs in ivy, and safety-pinned a bird's nest to one shoulder. Presto!"

I wasn't at work yesterday to participate in the festivities, but Nalini's getup beats the pants off my 'cross-border dresser' costume idea from last year!

[via Inforumed - The FIS Inforum Blog]

Posted at 7:49 PM| Permalink

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 at 11:19 AM| Permalink

October 13, 2005

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 at 9:29 AM| Permalink

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 at 12:35 PM| Permalink

September 20, 2005

Wireless Broadband coming to Canada

Well well! Looks like Rogers Communications and Bell Canada are working together to build a wireless broadband network across Canada. This is big news: two Canadian telco giants will cooperate to bring Inukshuk to Canadians, a joint project that aims to become Canada�s premier provider of Broadband Wireless Access services. According to the Globe and Mail,

"the network will cover more than 40 cities as well as 50 rural and remote communities, some of which are still waiting for high-speed Internet access. There are two target audiences: underserved rural communities and people who want wireless high-speed Internet access beyond their homes."

It is expected to reach more than two-thirds of Canadians in less than three years. Woohoo! I can't wait to get my hands on a WiFi phone! This will have very exciting implications for educational outreach efforts to remote and underserved populations.

Digital Home Canada: Rogers and Bell to build Wireless Broadband Network
The Globe and Mail: Bell, Rogers team up to build wireless broadband network

Posted at 10:18 AM| Permalink

September 14, 2005

Google Blog Search

But of course, right? Some useful search operators like inposttitle:"bloglines problems" and inblogtitle:~library. Searches are rss-enabled, so you can throw yet another ego feed on the blogroll ; )

Posted at 3:12 PM| Permalink

September 12, 2005

Feeling the heat

Okay, granted, it is nice and warm in Toronto this week, but nothing compared to these hilarious (and obviously erroneous) temperatures being reported through the Bloglines weather feed. So to my desert-dwelling friends who took pleasure in teasing me about returning to the frigid north - ha!

I'll get the sun block out, again ; )

Posted at 1:59 PM| Permalink

September 7, 2005

North of the 49th and I'm feelin' fine . . .

After a 4 day driving stint and several moving-related panic attacks, I'm back in Canada! We arrived at the border at Port Hope/Sarnia at about 1 am last Friday night. Canada Customs was busy dealing with the elderly couple who crossed ahead of us at the border. They were traveling in a camper with no plates and a loaded rifle behind the front seat and some sort of James Bond-ish pistol strapped to the husband's ankle. To, uhm, go camping in . . . Canada?! Anyway, that debacle saved us from having to unpack and repack the U-Haul for a customs officer in the wee hours of the morning. Phew.

We were driving during the hurricane coverage, and for the first time in a loooong time, were completely disconnected from the internet and the media (we loaded the iPods with books and music and didn't listen to anything else). It wasn't until we hit the Chicago area and I spotted signs for $3.69/gallon gas that we were stunned enough to pull over and ask what was going on. We had *no* idea that Katrina had hit as fiercely as it did, and consequently spent the weekend watching the news. I'm still in shock after seeing the footage . . .

I started my new job at FIS on Tuesday, and so should be back into full swing of things now that I've plugged in again.

Posted at 10:27 PM| Permalink

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 at 7:08 PM| Permalink

August 25, 2005

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 at 9:10 AM| Permalink

August 22, 2005

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 at 9:20 AM| Permalink

August 18, 2005

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 at 9:13 AM| Permalink

August 11, 2005

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 at 12:43 PM| Permalink

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 at 8:03 PM| Permalink

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 at 12:13 PM| Permalink

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 at 10:44 AM| Permalink

July 19, 2005

Let vacation brain reign!

I'm off to Toronto today and could not be more excited - a real bona fide vacation with a road trip to my old stompin' grounds, Ottawa and Kingston, to boot! Oh Ontario, the land of Lick's Nature Burgers (there is no better veg burger on earth) and, of course, fabulous shoe shopping!

In any case, count on me not being online very much until I'm back on August 1st. Till then . . .

Posted at 10:33 PM| Permalink

Another Free SkypeOut day!

The next SkypeOut Gift Day is tomorrow (Wednesday)! Go take advantage of the freebie minutes if you're a Skype user : )

Posted at 3:26 PM| Permalink

July 13, 2005

The Accidental . . . Web Manager?

Yep, things certainly are changing in my world these days. I can blog about it now that it has been officially announced to the libraries: I and another colleague will be taking over the web management responsibilities from our current webmaster who is leaving for another position. This is an interim arrangement, but a bit scary (to me, anyway!) nonetheless.

What is my first order of business, you may ask? Well that's kinda funny . . . I'm skipping town and going on vacation : ) Actually the vacation was in the can before all of this came down the pike, so I'm sure there will be lots to do when I get back. Aaaaah this will be an interesting ride : )

Posted at 11:20 AM| Permalink

July 10, 2005

Free Skype-Out Days are Coming!

Skype will offer 10 minutes of credit for SkypeOut calls for 4 days this month. When a free day is approaching, Skype will notify folks via share.skype.com. Skype says that they're planning to have free days every week in July, and you'll need to go to the website to redeem the free minutes. If you haven't used SkypeOut to make calls to mobiles or landline phones before, this is the perfect way to check it out! I've been using it for a while and have been impressed with the cost and sound quality. Definitely comes in handy when you're on the road and don't feel like paying $1.50 just to pick up a hotel phone!

UPDATE: Today (Monday, July 11) is the first free Skype Day! Go claim your 10 free minutes!

Posted at 7:05 AM| Permalink

June 29, 2005

Music meme tag

Library Web Chic tagged me . . . so here goes . . .

Total volume of music on my Mac:
8 GB . . . with more sitting on a drive in Toronto that hasn't migrated down here with me yet : )

Last CD I bought:
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals :: Cold Roses

Last song bought on iTunes:
California Stars :: from the album Mermaid Avenue by Billy Bragg & Wilco. It's sung by Jeff Tweedy and is just a gorgeous song. Bragg and Wilco set a bunch of Woody Guthrie's writings to music after his daughter released a bunch of his previously unreleased works to them.

Song playing right now:
The Golden Age :: Beck

Five songs/CDs I listen to a lot:
Wilco :: everything
Wilco is undoubtedly my favourite band of all time, which is strange given that I'm normally reluctant to name one single 'favourite' anything. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a solid album which holds a special place (see below), but I love them all.

Tegan and Sara :: So Jealous
See esp. You Wouldn't Like Me and I Bet it Stung. These twin sisters from Calgary have the hottest update to the Pat Benatar femullet!

Morrissey :: Live from Earls Court
See esp. The More you Ignore Me. I never get tired of this song.

Kathleen Edwards :: Failer
This cd is pretty much worn out. Nobody can turn dark and often downright depressing themes into such amazingly upbeat songs like Kathleen Edwards. See esp. 12 Bellevue

Tenacious D :: Tenacious D
This is my guilty and just slightly off-colour pleasure, and I'll admit that I can sing the entire album through at least twice without stopping. Okay, it's undeniably raunchy at times, but as Tenacious D says . . . "It doesn't matter if it is good, it only matters if it rocks!" But rest assured I skip through the more questionable 'prose,' so hopefully my moral integrity is still in tact with you folks.

Five songs/CDs that mean a lot to me:
Lo Boob Oscillator :: Stereolab
This song was part of a CD I made for my friend André's surprise birthday party a few years ago. It was one of the happiest birthday parties I've ever had the pleasure of attending on a sweltering hot July evening in Ottawa. This is also a good song to put on after you've had a crappy day.

Big Backyard :: Stephen Johns
Steve is my soon-to-be supa star Winnipeg-based and incredibly talented friend. The very first time I saw Steve perform was at the West End Cultural Centre and he sang this song. In fact, I think it was the first time he had ever performed it publicly. Not only is Steve a great musician, but he is an avid lover of Sea Monkeys and is an all-around incredible human being - I love you big Steve!

Cripple Creek Ferry :: Neil Young
I love Neil Young, and especially this song. It also reminds me of lazy Sundays spent eating the most amazing borscht, falafel and sweet potato fries at The Falafel Place in Winnipeg (a real 'diner' experience!), where the staff would blast Neil Young till our eardrums bled. Aaaaahhhh . . .

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart :: Wilco (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot)
The song that got finally got Steve hooked on Wilco - see I knew you'd come around ; )

Hotel California :: Eagles
This isn't so much a song that means a lot to me, but brings back funny memories. My very first dance with a boy (David) was to this song at a grade 8 dance held in a church basement. Hey, at least it was a good song!

First concert I ever attended:
Paul Young. Okay two things to my credit: my mother is a fan of adult contemporary music, and given that I was about 10 years old at the time I had little choice in the matter; I grew up in St. John's, Newfoundland where we were lucky to have anything come to the old St. John's Stadium - not to mention the international brit pop star and singer of that cheesy tune Every Time You Go Away!

Tag three people:
I think this thing has made its rounds, so I won't tag three people.

Posted at 4:47 PM| Permalink

June 28, 2005

So THAT'S what happened to my Gmail . . .

Sigh . . . I've been wondering where my very handy smart delete button and automatic secure Gmail logon went . . .

Gmail Locks Out Greasemonkey

I suspect that we'll see a whole lot more of this kind of thing as content originators put the brakes on manipulation of their information by applications like Greasemonkey. I wonder if Butler and LibraryLookup are next . . .

Posted at 3:47 PM| Permalink

June 15, 2005

NYPL launching digital audio books service, but you can keep that iPod in your pocket

Reuters reports today that NYPL is launching a new digital audio book service (in addition to their already established eBooks service). 700 fiction and nonfiction books will be available for download, and the audio book files will 'expire' 21 days after downloading.

While this is an incredibly cool project, reading into the details more closely got my ire up. Here's why. NYPL is using OverDrive for DRM management. This isn't intended to be a direct criticism of OverDrive per se, but the whole process is glued to Windows-only applications and DRM-protected Windows Media content. What does this mean for users? You must have a Windows machine running Win98 or higher, the Windows-only OverDrive Media Console, and Windows Media Player 9 or higher. Oh and if you want to use a portable device to listen to audio books from OverDrive, you can forget about using an iPod, which is arguably the world's most popular portable audio device. Mac users (and even worse, Mac users with iPods) need not bother. I'm not delusional - I know we live in a Windows world, but let's not forget that the iPod is not a Mac-only device. With Microsoft DRM, you can use pretty much use anything but an iPod (here's the list of 'suitable' devices). How does this make sense? It doesn't IMHO, and users are stuck dealing with the fallout of the DRM/software war raging between Apple and Microsoft.

DRM and the future of digital content is a complicated mess, and I worry about the decision that libraries will be faced with when it comes to choosing and partnering with eContent and eAudio providers. Thank goodness there are interested groups out there collaborating on open source DRM alternatives. Can't we all just get along? : )

Posted at 10:52 AM| Permalink

June 13, 2005

IM Hollywood-style

What a great if not hilarious story about the use of IM in Hollywood: Never IM in This Town Again! It seems that folks in Tinsel town are using their IM status to indicate their availability for work.

So popular is this new form of recruiting, many say that they've seen an increase in the use of Apple Computer's IM client, iChat AV over the last several months -- at least in the production of television commercials. Hollywood is a Mac town, of course.

Yes, of course ; )

Here are some new status messages that I've thought of for myself:

Posted at 10:59 AM| Permalink

June 9, 2005


Flickr is giving away schwag! All you need to do is send a SAE and maybe a postcard if you wanna : )

Posted at 11:50 AM| Permalink

June 8, 2005

Innovative takes a step out of the darkness and into the (RSS) light

Oh thank god . . . Innovative has (finally) announced that RSS is coming in 2006. Not only is this an important step toward fulfilling user needs, but it also makes it easier for libraries to plug in to campus-wide portal projects and make their presence known and information useful for students. So could you tell that we're a III library in the midst of trying to make III play nice with our single sign-on efforts (which, predictably, it isn't)? : )

More information via RSS4Lib via Innovative's June 2005 INN-Touch newsletter:

Innovative will use RSS to support one-to-many communication, but in Release 2006 there will also be one-to-one support. Patrons will be able to get RSS messages as part of their My Millennium suite of personalization features. Timely messages such as "Materials due tomorrow" or "New item on hold shelf for you" will let patrons know about their interactions with the library more quickly than ever before. [...]

"Our users are familiar with RSS feeds as they stay current with the news or their special interest groups and it seems to us that the library should be part of that information stream," says [Yale University Law School's] Associate Director for Technical Services Mary Jane Kelsey. "The library will begin by providing time-sensitive patron notices in an RSS feed so our busy faculty and students can see the status of holds, recalls, and overdue materials at a higher level than their patron record. They will also have the option to integrate the library's feed into the Law School portal or subscribe with a local RSS reader."

Posted at 9:30 AM| Permalink

May 26, 2005

Librarians invade Wikipedia

I won't go into the who, how and why because it it so clearly spelled out by Michael Snow in his introduction to the Wikiproject for librarians. Suffice it to say that it was felt that there was a need for librarians to have more involvement in the Wikipedia project, and Peter Binkley did something about it. You can head over to his blog and read the call to invade!

[via Science Library Pad]

Posted at 12:29 PM| Permalink

May 22, 2005

Fingerprinting . . . @ your library?!

The Washington Post reported on Friday that a library in Naperville Ill. intends to install 130 fingerprint scanners on library computers. Why?

Library officials said they wanted to tighten computer access because many people borrow library cards and pass codes from friends or family to log on. The technology also will help the library implement a new policy that allows parents to put filters on their children's' accounts . . .

Of course the ACLU is all over this like lint on black, responding to the tactic by saying that "we take people's fingerprints because we think they might be guilty of something, not because they want to use the library." Well, that issue aside, way to go for making libraries about as inviting and easy to use as a trip through airport security screening.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted at 8:00 AM| Permalink

May 16, 2005

Get ::schwagbag:: delivered to your inbox

I aim to please, so for those of you out there who aren't using an aggregator to read blog feeds and are looking for an email alternative, here you go:


It's using RssFwd which I discovered thanks to Paul's RSS to Email post. It piqued my interest because it's written using Ruby on Rails, something I hope to learn a whole lot more about.

I added the button to the sidebar on the blog itself, just beneath the link to RSS. All you need to do is click on the button and wait a couple of seconds for a new page to load. Once the feed verifies, scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your email address. Voila! The feed is supposed to be scraped every 2 hours. Hopefully it's working, if not, please drop me a line.

Though I'm loathe to have even one more thing delivered to my inbox, I can see a real practical application for an RSS to email service. I'm thinking it will come in handy as I get ready to dig in on some of my summer remote/distance service projects and building online content for those user groups. My sense is that not a lot of students know what an aggregator is, let alone use one.

Posted at 3:09 PM| Permalink

Gmail spam: deutsch-style

I don't know what is up or if anyone else is experiencing this with Gmail, but I've been getting *hammered* with german spam in the last two days. I've been wracking my brain trying to think of where I may have been careless with my email address (it's sherrivokey@gmail . . . and one I'd like to keep). Anyway, I route other accounts through this one (for this very reason so that I can toss if necessary) so if I've missed emails or comments are slow to post, that's likely why.

On the upside, the Gmail spam filter appears to be doing a half-decent job of directing the crud into the spam folder. But then again, I still have to go look at it to make sure it didn't move anything legit. Sigh . . .


Thanks, Meredith, for the comment (and letting me know I'm not alone!) I did some follow up and found many references to right-wing german spam. It seems that the folks at Convoq have been hit - I'm now getting the spam via their accounts so beware if you've signed up with them . . . it be coming your way.

Posted at 11:57 AM| Permalink

May 14, 2005

What do you get when you have fog horns, beach balls and silly string?

Not a day at the beach, silly! You get UNLV Commencement!

This is way off topic, but I have to share. I just got back from a fun-filled afternoon at the UNLV Commencement (otherwise known as 'convocation' to me). Now, I realize that I live in Las Vegas, and that things are done a little, well, differently here sometimes. But this afternoon was quite the experience. The tone for the afternoon's proceedings was set early on when the self-proclaimed "happiest mayor on earth" Oscar Goodman (who apparently loves a nip of gin) got up to receive an award from President Carol Harter. I'm paraphrasing, but the speech went a little something like this: "where else can a former mob lawyer get an award like this?" I gasped, but the crowd cheered. They love Oscar. Next, a beach ball started making the rounds on the floor amongst the graduates, and way too enthusiastic parents and family members started in with the fog horns and incessant screaming of names from the balcony. All the while, graduates are on their CELL PHONES calling their screaming parents in the balcony to direct their attention to where they're sitting so that they can scream and holler at each other in direct unison. Next came the dancing and posing on stage, and finally near the end, a girl drew two cans of silly string (directly in front of me - I was sitting in the front row) and screamed and sprayed the audience (but mostly just got the camera guy). Wow. Many graduates wore beautiful Hawaiian leis, something else I've never seen at a graduation before.

When I graduated from Mount Allison University, I don't think that our parents were even allowed to *clap* as we crossed the stage and knelt before the University Chancellor. So this was, to say the least, a new experience for me : )

One thing is for sure: in Las Vegas, they sure do know how to have fun!

Posted at 5:51 PM| Permalink

May 13, 2005

Must read: Last One Out Turn Off the Lights

I've picked up a great (and important!) book for the library profession that is a must-read for anyone thinking and wanting to be proactive about the futures of libraries: Last One Out Turn Off the Lights: Is This the Future of American and Canadian Libraries? [TOC] edited by Susan Cleyle and Louise McGillis. A snippet from the introduction:

We need to get up and get out from behind our reference, cataloging, collections desks and meet users "where they're at." . . . How do we make change happen? We need administrators who will make tough decisions and who are willing to look beyond the traditional for solutions. We need new, energetic frontline workers who will listen, implement, and change. Finally we need those who cannot make the leap to find places where they can contribute without impeding innovations.

Whoa! Hot stuff! And speaking of making the leap, I've just finished reading another book, Content and Workflow Management for Library Web Sites edited by Holly Yu. It offers a collection of detailed case studies of libraries meeting user needs by providing customized and flexible access to library information and services using various content management tools.

Posted at 10:27 AM| Permalink

April 24, 2005

Off to the Big Smoke

I've been working in the United States for close to year . . . so that means it's work visa renewal time! To do so requires that I leave the country and re-enter in my new fabulous H-1B visa status, so I'm taking advantage of the trip back to Canada to visit family and friends for a week in Toronto.

Blogging will likely be light until I get back, but I'll try to squeeze something in on the final IM survey results.

Posted at 1:31 PM| Permalink

April 17, 2005

Macromedia & Speedera set to release secure web video

With all the chatter in the last day or so about Adobe buying Macromedia, there hasn't been a whole lot mentioned about another very interesting development coming from Macromedia involving secure web video. The article says that the service is "aimed at boosting pay-per-view video and other online subscription services," but there are clear uses for academic and distance education applications, as well. A while back, I blogged about Video Furnace, which is a video streaming service using IP networks. Because it pipes out over physical networks, there aren't really any practical applications or benefits for anyone not directly hooked into the campus network (like distance students). Something like the Macromedia/Speedera solution, though, could potentially stream a/v library reserve materials to remote users, once the nasty copyright kinks are worked out (and given what's going on in California with electronic texts (subscription required), I'm willing to bet there's be more than just a few . . .) But there's more!

The service can also be used to secure Internet-based video conferencing, in which users would register to view a conference much like they do now for audio broadcasts over the Web.

Hmmmmm. Could be interesting. Macromedia has traditionally been a strong player in the academic arena, with great deals on pricing, etc. I wonder if the Adobe takeover will change that. I sure hope not. This product is supposed to be announced at the NAB here in Vegas this week.

Posted at 10:13 PM| Permalink

Skype enables remotely-stored contacts

I got notification from Public Mind today that there was a response to one of my Skype requests:

To store your Skype contacts remotely, visit www.skype.com and download the latest version of the software. After you install, your Skype contacts will automatically be stored remotely and you can then access your contact list from any computer that you run Skype.

I did just that and now I have all my ducks in a row on my home computer - thanks Skype! It was otherwise really difficult to import my contacts from my work windows machine to my Mac at home.

Version: for Mac. Release date: April 12, 2005

Posted at 12:32 PM| Permalink

April 12, 2005

Playlists: the new social marker?

Articles have been circulating on the internet recently about playlist anxiety: that awkward and nervous feeling you get when you expose yourself playlist to others and put on display for all to see either that you've got some wicked taste in music, or that you're really a closet pop tartlet fan. This, of course, is not a new phenomenon (remember making mixed tapes in junior high? Heck, John Cusak was doing it into adulthood), but has gained even more attention with the introduction of the iPod and iTunes into the mix. Even the presidential playlist has been leaked, and we all get to peek into Bush's fave tunes and see that he likes artists that generally don't like him (like John Fogerty and Van Morrison), and has a lot of the old country greats in his 250 song playlist. Canada'a Blackie and the Rodeo Kings were one of two Canadian acts to make the prez's cut - yay Blackie!!! You've got Bush swingin' from the chains of love! But as Stephen Fearing of BRK pointed out, they're not on iTunes, so let's hope that's not an illegal download on the iPod! CBC's The Current asked the following question on this morning's show: "if Canada could pick a song for Mr. Bush's playlist, what would it be?" You can call in and register your vote.

The Georgia Institute of Technology and the Palo Alto Research Center have just released a study called Listening In: Practices Surrounding iTunes Music Sharing which looks at, amongst other issues, the delicate act of impression management. People in the study manipulated playlists in order to give more balanced portrayals of themselves. Judging a person based on their musical preferences hits close to home. It was only our second date when my gentleman friend decided to drill and quizz me like a cadet in training on various music samples he had prepared. And he was serious. The interrogation lasted for about two hours . . . "I bet you don't know this one!" . . . "oooh . . . you'll NEVER get this one!". I guess I passed the test . . . we're now engaged : )

So in keeping with the spirit of this post, I'll add my own playlist, below, which I burned for driving around Vegas this past weekend.

Walking With a Ghost - Tegan and Sara Walking With a Ghost

Twisting - They Might be Giants Twisting

Had Enough of You Today - Blackie and the Rodeo Kings

For Love - Lush For Love

I'm the Man Who Loves You - Wilco I'm the Man Who Loves You

Me and the Major - Belle and Sebastian Me and the Major

Red Rover - Big Sugar

White Riot - The Clash White Riot

July Jones - The New Pornographers July Jones

Fighting in a Sack - The Shins Fighting in a Sack

I'm a Wheel - Wilco I'm a Wheel

Once in a Lifetime - Talking Heads Once in a Lifetime

To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High) - Ryan Adams To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)

Posted at 11:35 PM| Permalink

April 6, 2005

Duke to Continue to Utilize iPods for Educational Use

Duke to Continue to Utilize iPods for Educational Use - Duke News & Communications

"Following a preliminary review of its year-long effort to incorporate Apple iPods into the curriculum, Duke University will continue distributing the devices to students next year, although in a more targeted manner, while also exploring other educational applications of multimedia technologies, school officials announced Wednesday."

I've been wondering what would become of the Duke iPod project, especially after reading some not-so-glowing reviews of the initiative by some Duke students. However, it's exciting to see that they're going ahead with it, and here are just a few of the ways that Duke is using iPods in an educational setting:

Frivolous? Methinks not.

More info can be found at Duke iPod First Year Experience website.

Posted at 2:11 PM| Permalink

So many miles . . .

Well, about 2310 to be exact (that's 3717.58464 kilometers for you canucks and metric-minded folks!). Allow me to explain . . . I love maps (just one of my minor obsessions) and just had to check out Google Maps now that it has added satellite images. My sig_other and I not only live in two different cities, but two different countries. For kicks, I mapped it:


Hmmm, seeing it laid out like that doesn't make me feel better! Looking at the Las Vegas Strip is just so weird from above - all the glitz and sparklies disappear and it's hard to even find let alone make out that behemoth the MGM Grand, for example. The Luxor's too-cool pyramid and the fountains at the Bellagio stood out (oh and Red Rock Canyon looks stunning, just keep panning northwest of the Strip):


The level of detail and ability to zoom varies amongst cities and places, but here's my digs - you can even see the pool! Okay, fun time is over : )


Posted at 10:01 AM| Permalink

March 29, 2005

Back in business

Looks like the feeds and back up and updating via Bloglines, for now anyway. I didn't hear anything from them, so I don't know if this was a widespread problem that they've been able to fix or just another short-term feed reset solution. Given the growing number of posts over at Technorati by other aggravated bloggers about this very issue, you'd think they'd release some information to let everyone know. Wouldn't you? Ah, I digress . . .

Posted at 8:17 AM| Permalink

March 27, 2005

I've been hacked

Less than nine months in the United States and my identity has been stolen. There has been quite a bit of press about hackers gaining access to the California State University data, but nary a peep about the infiltration at UNLV. Specifically, the SEVIS database was hacked, which stores information about all current and past international students and scholars (it is required by Homeland Security). My name, DOB, social security number, addresses, and citizenship information may be floating around out there somewhere. Scary.

My SSN has been bandied about like a phone number on the back of a matchbook. This is partly because I'm a foreigner, and I can be (and have been) denied access to basic services (like power) unless I provide it. Now that identity theft has become one of the most prevalent forms of crime in the US, organizations are beginning to rethink the practice of storing SSNs in databases, and in many cases, using them as primary keys. So if you see my name on America's Most Wanted, rest assured that I (the real 'I') have not abandoned librarianship in favour of a life of crime : )

Posted at 7:58 AM| Permalink

March 26, 2005

Hey! Bloglines! What gives?!

I posted a while back the folks subscribing to this blog via Bloglines would likely be experiencing problems receiving updates to this feed. For some inexplicable reason, the feeds weren't updating though both validate just fine. In the end, the only explanation I received from Bloglines was: "we are currently experiencing some difficulties with our server." At the time I was just happy that they got it working again and didn't pursue it any further, but now I'm getting annoyed. Neither the rdf or xml files have updated since Tuesday (March 22nd). I have contacted them again, and haven't heard anything. Now that Bloglines has been sold to a major search engine, shouldn't it be working?? Well, it looks like I'm not alone. Michael Feldstein over at e-Literate has been experiencing the exact same thing, and has gone so far as to tell his readers not to use Bloglines.

New and improved RSS 2.0 feed
So needless to say, I've removed the 'sub bloglines' icon from the front page for now, and I've taken the opportunity to spiff up the 2.0 feed. This feed now displays comments along with the entries, so if that's something that interests you, you may want to switch by subscribing instead to the RSS 2.0 feed.

I just randomly spot-checked my Bloglines subscriptions against my Sage feeds (because I inherently distrust Bloglines now) and my feed is not the only one that isn't updating. Skype Journal, for one, hasn't been updated since last Wednesday through Bloglines (though if you go to the blog you'll see several postings since then). This is troublesome, to say the least. I've already exported all of my feeds to NewsGator and Sage.

Posted at 4:11 PM| Permalink

Are computers having an adverse effect on learning?

That's what Thomas Fuchs and Ludger Woessmann of the CESifo economic research group in Munich argue in their paper Computers and Student Learning: Bivariate and Multivariate Evidence on the Availability and Use of Computers at Home and at School. The international study researched approximately 100,000 15-year-olds in 32 different developed and developing countries. Though focused on school-aged kids, this certainly stirs things up the elearning world, generally. A debate now appears to be raging over the use of computers in the classroom, with Prince Charles complaining that computer-driven modules are now occupying a disproportionate amount of current teaching practice, and turning student into 'better robots' (see Students not robots, says Charles, BBC News 16 November, 2004).

Overall, the authors found little evidence that computers in the home and school improve student performance. They argue that standardized tests, which in the past have shown a positive relationship between computer use and performance, often do not take into account other mitigating factors such as family background, for example. So performance may have more to do with access to more prestigious schools with better resources and instruction, for example. But when controlling for background, the effect turns around. "This may reflect the fact that computers at home may actually distract students from learning, both because learning with computers may not be the most efficient way of learning and because computers can be used for other aims than learning." However, when computers are used for email, accessing the web, and educational software, part of that negative effect goes away. In schools, it is important to look at how computers are being used: are they used as a substitute for teaching? They claim that using computers a few times a week has been shown to help students learn, but overuse and dependence on them in the classroom may easily turn that into a negative effect, as it takes away from teaching time and other teaching methods. Well, that seems perfectly reasonable to me. It's all in how you use it, right? So perhaps the spotlight on 'computers hindering student performance' ought to be shifted just slightly to highight problems like underfunding and teacher-student ratios in education today, and also look there to see why there may be a reliance on things that deter from 'quality instruction' . . . just a thought. Read the full report (pdf)

There has been plenty of coverage on this, and here's just a sampling:

grey-podcast-2.gif Could computers actually be bad for learning? from Future Tense (podcast feed)

Doubts about school computer use BBC News 24 November, 2004

Pupils 'do worse with computers' Guardian Education 21 March, 2005

Posted at 11:04 AM| Permalink

March 16, 2005

Sherri goes to the cogdoghouse

I had a Skype meetup with Alan Levine (aka cogdogblog) yesterday morning, which he recorded and posted to his growing list of podcast interviews. Not what I'd call my finest moment on the air : ) I was a bit startled when Skype started ringing and unexpectedly, just as I had just walked into my office and turned on the gateway beast computer in the early am. Anyway, 'twas my first foray into podcasting, and hopefully won't be my last.

UPDATE: Michael Stephens has a posted some thoughts on the Implications of Podcasting in Library Land

Posted at 6:18 AM| Permalink

March 10, 2005

Sorry Bloglines readers, but this feed is not updating

I have no idea what's going on with Bloglines and this feed, but neither the rdf or xml feeds have updated since Monday and it's making me just a little nuts. Both feeds validate just fine, and the problem clearly isn't on my end. Both feeds also update properly via Sage and NewsFire. If anyone has any clue as to what might be going on or have experienced something similar, please let me know and play your part in upholding my sanity : )

UPDATE: Kudos to Bloglines! I emailed them yesterday to ask about why my feed wasn't being updated, and they responded within an hour! They reset and it still didn't work, and emailed me again to let me know they were working on another issue. As of 4:45 PST today (Friday), the feed is updating thanks to the resposive folks at Bloglines. Thank you!

Valid RSS feed.

Posted at 11:00 AM| Permalink

March 3, 2005

University of Calgary gets down to blogging

via D'Arcy Norman Dot Net

It's a beta, and we'll be experimenting with the best setup of modules and content, but the only way to know if this boat will float is to put it into the water. So ...

weblogs.ucalgary.ca is on the air.

Anyone with a valid University of Calgary email address can go ahead and login - a blog will be set up automagically for you - and start creating content.

They're using Drupal, an open source content management platform.

Posted at 2:54 PM| Permalink

March 1, 2005

Firefox 1.0.1 Released

Firefox 1.0.1 has been released and includes several security fixes. These and other details are included in the release notes.

Download Firefox for your OS today!

If you're still thinking about making the switch, you might consider reading Wired 13.02: The Firefox Explosion

Posted at 12:47 PM| Permalink

February 25, 2005

Michael Gorman's take on the 'blog people'

Whoa! Things are heating up in Libraryland. There's a flurry of activity happening on the LITA-L listserv (viewing archives requires registration) concerning Michael Gorman's comments in Library Journal on

" . . . Blog People (or their subclass who are interested in computers and the glorification of information) have a fanatical belief in the transforming power of digitization and a consequent horror of, and contempt for, heretics who do not share that belief."

To back up, Gorman's article, entitled "Revenge of the Blog People!", arose from the purported backlash against his Dec. 17 '04 LA Times commentary "Google and God's Mind; The problem is, information isn't knowledge" (requires access to ProQuest Newspapers) from (library?) bloggers.

I'm not going to engage in the debate other than to say that Gorman's comments are alarming and deeply troubling. He has claimed that the LJ articles was meant to be satirical, but I fail to see the satire/humour/wit. If anything, this article demonstrates how out-of-touch Gorman is with the culture of blogging and bloggers, and more specifically, the value and place for blogging in library circles. Even Slashdot and Instapundit have picked up the story. Is this the kind of publicity we need? I don't think so . . .

"Honestly, all this does is give ammunition to the people who say that libraries and librarians are obsolete in the digital age. I've always disagreed with that position -- but if Mr. Gorman is a typical specimen I'll have to rethink my stance, given that, judging by his comments, Gorman isn't even very good at using Google." [via Instapundit]

UPDATE: George Needham over at It's all good has written a hilarious satire of Gormangate: Revenge of the Codex People. In fact, the larger discussion of resistance to new technologies brings back memories of an exercise that my former supervisor and I used to do when training librarians on virtual/chat reference. I'm glad I remembered this, it might come in handy again in the near future (anecdotal evidence: it's pretty darn effective!).

Posted at 9:28 AM| Permalink

January 18, 2005

Sirsi acquires Docutek

In an email to the Docutek ERes Usergroup, Phil Keston, VP Marketing of Docutek, announced that Sirsi Corporation has acquired Docutek Information Systems Inc. Joining the Sirsi family as a wholly owned subsidiary, Docutek will continue to design, develop, sell, and support its Docutek ERes, Docutek VRLplus, and Docutek atSchool products. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Sirsi, Docutek will retain the autonomy and independence required to continue the ongoing successful development and support of Docutek products.

Docutek sales, support, product delivery, training, and other routine contacts and procedures will remain unchanged. Current Web and email addresses, telephone numbers, and fax numbers used to interact with Docutek will remain unchanged. If any of these details must change in the future, customers and other interested parties will be notified in advance.

Posted at 12:56 PM| Permalink

January 11, 2005

UNLV Google Scholar FAQ mentioned in Search Engine Watch Blog

The UNLV Libraries Google Scholar FAQ was mentioned in Search Engine Watch Blog in a posting on University FAQs relating to Google Scholar.

The On Google Scholar blog also gives a nod in our direction.

Posted at 11:38 AM| Permalink

December 16, 2004

Firefox ad in the New York Times today

Firefox has launched a two-page ad in the New York Times today after a brief delay. The free, open-source browser has now been downloaded over 11,000,000 times, and is proving to be a heavyweight contender in the browser arena. A number of us here in the Library are using Firefox, and you may want to check out an earlier posting on some really cool extensions that you can use to monitor blogs.

If you haven't already, you might consider downloading it and giving it a whirl.

Posted at 9:31 AM| Permalink

December 10, 2004

Terra Image of Las Vegas (from Wikipedia)

This is a bit off-topic, but I just came across this really cool image of Las Vegas taken in August, 2000 at Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia. I found my place, can you find yours? : )

Full Wikipedia entry for Las Vegas

Posted at 12:08 PM| Permalink

December 3, 2004

Top 10 Digital Cities Named for 2004

The Center for Digital Government has named the the most technology-advanced cities in America based on its 2004 Digital Cities Survey: Top 10 Digital Cities

Posted at 12:27 PM| Permalink