If you use the Google.com (not a country-specific) page to search, you can now customize a background image if you're logged in. As you hover over the page you'll see a new link in the lower left, which will allow you pick from some standard pix, or upload one of your own:
This could be interesting to watch, and though it's a little convoluted, it appears that you can do just that. The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (CHPC) has commissioned a study on Emerging and digital media: opportunities and challenges. "In this study, the Committee on Canadian Heritage will explore developments in emerging and digital media, how they are affecting Canadian cultural industries, and what federal institutions could do to assist Canadians and Canadian cultural industries benefit from these developments."
As part of its study, the Committee will examine the following questions:
(thanks for the tip Dani)
The Centered Librarian points to 100+ Amazing Google tricks that will save you time at school at Eternal Code. The post consists of approximately 10 tricks for each of the following services: Search, Stuff specifically for education, Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Mobile, Chrome, Books, and Services and Apps. Some really neat stuff in there.
Beyond the Reference Desk points out that you can now get email alerts from Google Scholar (Schoogle).
And on Lifehacker, there's a comment that describes how Schoogle can be "hacked" to make the "cited by" feature even more useful.
Chrome still doesn't have a couple of what I consider are my vital extensions, so I still use Firefox whenever I can. Problem is, with all the extensions I use on it, plus the fact that I usually have something like 20-30 tabs open across several windows, Firefox has kind of become a bloated beast, consuming an awful lot of system resources :-( No more!!!! Thanks to an episode of Tekzilla I discovered BarTab, which keeps all the background tabs unloaded, only actually connecting when you click the tab to view. Where it comes in even handier is when FF is starting up, say after a crash or update, when BarTab will do the same thing with all the tabs I had open. Instead of fully loading them all, really slowing the startup process, it only fully loads the main tab, leaving the rest grayed out until you actually need to revisit one of those tabs. I've noticed a significant increase in performance since installing it a couple of days ago - try it out!
While I don't think I will, I can now pick up the Kobo ebook reader at Walmart here in Canada, as well as at several bookstores. where can you buy it in the States? You can't yet, but will be able to next month. Sorry, it's just so rare that Canada gets anything close to a technology exclusive :-( Sounds like it still has some work to do, but the price is good!
According to the The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW), when Adobe Captivate 5 is released in June, for the first time there will also be a version for OSX. Captivate is one of the heavy hitters in the Windows screencasting world, the other being of course Techsmith's Camtasia Studio, which is my preferred tool.
Barbara Fister has an interesting article in Library Journal in which she paints a happier-than-usual picture of what university administrators think of libraries and librarians. That's great, but what jumped out at me was down towards the bottom of the article where Daniel Greenstein, vice provost for academic planning and programs
at the University of California (UC) system, is quoted,
"Special collections will be very important," he states. These may be unique archival materials, rare historical items, or web archives, such as a special collection that captured the first draft of history on the Katrina disaster as it was being published in digital form (hurricanearchive.org). Libraries can turn their preservation and collection efforts toward conserving such ephemeral material that would otherwise be lost."
That jumped out because a few weeks ago the California Digital Library opened up their Web Archiving Service beyond the U of California system, which gives us all what appears to be a great tool to start collecting web archives. It's not exactly cheap, but I'm not aware of anything other than the Internet Archive that does anything similar to this (are you?).
From the site:
What if you could easily go back and compare your services and publications of five years ago to those same services today? Whether you are a small non-profit organization or a major University, even short-term management of your web content can be challenging, and keeping web content current is often a high priority. Very large, complex organizations may have equally complex web networks consisting of hundreds of related sites. Whether simple or complex, WAS provides tools to archive your web presence on a periodic, scheduled basis to preserve a record of your organization.
Neat stuff - check it out!
I had an interesting meeting today with a Grad Art student. She's planning on broadcasting her final project as a live performance this Fall, and wondered if Libraries and Cultural Resources could help stage it all; it'll be displayed in our Museum, after all.
After a nice chat over coffee I told her I thought we could indeed help, but I need a couple of suggestions from y'all. I'll do my own homework as well, but if you already know of the perfect solution, would you let me know?
1) Are you aware of a wearable webcam? Something that could broadcast a person's point of view? I'm aware of the sport-cams that will record to media, but am so far unaware of something of that size that can broadcast live.
2) There's going to be an audience participation component - probably a live webchat. Something like Ustream will probably do the trick, but we're concerned about inappropriate content appearing in the chat stream; this whole project will be recorded and archived as part of the final thesis. Are you aware of a service that does some sort of live profanity-filtering on the chat stream? Other suggestions besides Ustream?
Thanks in advance all, and I'll let you know as the project progresses.
A couple of years ago the U of Calgary was among the first to embed an IM chat widget within its OPAC. What I've really wanted to do since then was also embed it within the bibliographic databases, where students spend even more time. I tried a couple of times with ezproxy's search and replace feature, but never got very far.
A couple of weeks ago we had a visit by our EBSCO rep, and on one of the slides he pointed out that they now allow just this feature! You can see some examples of embedded widgets at http://support.epnet.com/eds/widgets.html
and then scroll down towards the bottom and choose to Modify the Additional Resources section.
Once in there, you want to Add an Item, and then switch to the Custom HTML radio button. Then simply enter your embed code in the HTML box. I found that the optimal dimensions seem to be 175 pixels wide by 280 high, if you've entered 300 in that middle box (click for full size):
And the end result, depending on how many columns you have set for your EBSCO display, will put the chat widget in the lower right corner of your results pages:
I'll probably play with the skin of our Library H3lp widget in order to get that "UofC Library" to appear all on one line, but otherwise it's good to go. Eventually I'll start to explore our other databases again to see if ProQuest or others will allow this.
This year Access (The premier library technology conference in Canada) is being held in Winnipeg October 13-16. The Call for Papers has just been announced. Submissions are due Feb 15. I'm really looking forward to attending this year (last year PEI was just too far away to be economical). See you there?
TeleRead has a great post on The ABCs of e-book format conversion: Easy Calibre tips for the Kindle, Sony and Nook. It's written by one of the developers of Calibre, a program for managing ebook collections, and as such touts Calibre as pretty much the perfect tool for handling your conversion needs. What's really nice is the concise summary of the different formats, and a discussion of DRM and ebooks.
Over the holidays I decided I'm now going to be e-reading exclusively on Stanza for the iPhone, which seems to support pretty much all the e-formats. I'll probably take a look at Calibre as a tool for keeping all my e-books in one place though. As an aside, I got to take my first look at a Kindle over the holidays. I didn't actually read anything on it, but did poke around with the interface for a bit. Bleah. Personally I haven't had any issues reading on the iPhone for hours at a time. Maybe it'd be even easier on the eyes on the Kindle, but I found the interface very unintuitive. I didn't like the flash as the e-ink turned pages either. No Kindle for me!
Late last year I received a review copy of the most recent Library Technology Reports, Opening Up Library Systems Through Web Services and SOA: Hype or Reality? written by Marshall Breeding. It's a simple report, consisting of a mere three chapters. Chapter One introduces the concept of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and places them in the context of the Integrated Library System (ILS). Pretty geeky stuff, but not too difficult for the layman to understand. Chapter Two is where the real meat is. Covering Ex Libris, Evergreen, The Library Corporation, Innovative Interfaces, Koha, Polaris, SirsiDynix, Talis and VTLS, "each vendor was contacted with a request to respond to a set of questions that elicit information about the APIs offered by the systems that they support."
The questions that were asked of each vendor were:
Vendors offered significantly different amounts of information in each of their answers, but as you can guess the results are a gold-mine for anyone playing with or considering using an API for any of the above vendors.
The report then concludes with a brief chapter of observations and conclusions. I highlighted two bits I found interesting. "We also not that the two open source systems lag behind proprietary systems in terms of customer-facing APIs that result in tangible activities which extend functionality or enable interoperability. ... This trend has much to do with the demographics of the libraries using the software." And, "The APIs available to library programmers continue to be quirky and less than comprehensive, even from the vendors with the strongest offerings in this area."
I found the report interesting and enlightening, and as I mentioned above, the results are a gold-mine for anyone playing with or considering using an API for any of the above vendors.