Saturday, September 22, 2007


I've realized that the right side of this blog is becoming quite crowded with the stuff I'm picking up as I surf the internet (and, although that is an old, hackneyed phrase, I think it aptly describes the process of the to and fro-ing you do as you swing from link to link).

My latest finds come from trying to solve a problem with a Quick Link select list; the website managers would like the link selection to clear after the link is visited- the event handler is set to onChange. I haven't solved the problem (onClick works to a degree, but is kind of touchy) but in the course of trying to see if anyone else had a better idea, I took a look at all the UC websites.

Along the way, I got sidetracked by UCLA's very cool scrolling event sidebar, and tried to cut and paste it into a page to see how it works. Didn't succeed at all- there's more to it than meets the eye, but I will spend some time deconstructing it later. However, I did add the feed (way down at the bottom, because I really don't care what's happening at UCLA) just as a placeholder/reminder- it was generated as a widget from SpringWidgets, via the UCLA feed page, and is available in 8 different formats so you can add it to your blog, email it, send it to My Space, Friendster, Hi5 (never heard of that one), Xanga, or Google.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Forums, wikis, blogs

Here are two resources for creating forums (discussion groups- good for collaborative conversations):
phpBB: "Since its creation in 2000, phpBB™ has become the most widely used Open Source forum solution.", a free forum hosting site: "On the first day of 2007 we present you our free forum hosting service, Our project is powered by world's most popular forum engine, PhpBB, and we are not only providing you with the best PhpBB forum hosting service available, but also enhance the platform with ourself-developed mods available only on informe."

Karen Harker, on the web4lib list, gave an excellent summary of the appropriate uses of wikis, blogs and forums, which I am quoting here:

Since we have implemented both blogs and wikis for Library staff use, we have run into this problem often. These tools are quite different regarding communication modes and therefore do not work well for all roles. Here's a brief list that I use to decide on which tool to use:
-- Synchronous communication: Chat or VoIP
-- Near-synchronous: Email
-- Asynchronous and topical: Discussion forum
-- Asynchronous and primarily, but not solely, one-way: Blogs
-- Asynchronous and solely one-way: Private blogs
-- Collaborative Web site but not necessarily for communication: wikis

Blogs are not real good for true discussions...Discussion Forums (remember online bulletin boards) are much better at that. Blogs are good for regularly posting announcement-type info (alerts, links, funny stories, assignments, etc.), while allowing others to comment. This could be useful for "peer-reviews" of assignments, particularly related to creative writing or critical thinking.


Interesting site, code4lib. I followed a link to a presentation given by Erik Hatcher for the Library of Congress on August 1, 2007 about Solr, a search engine for libraries, based on open-source Lucene.
In it he discusses the development of a new search engine utilizing the Java based Lucene open source software with Solr (originally developed by CNET, and open-sourced) layered above. The resultant product has caching, replication, faceting, hit highlighting, spell-checking and an htttp interface. It is being used at the Smithsonian, Internet Archive, Open Library, UVA (where Hatcher works) and Peel's Prairie Provinces.


This is probably old news but it was new to me, so IRC seems worth a mention. It's apparently something like IM. Here's what the IRC Primer, found on Code4Lib has to say:
IRC (original code was written by Jarkko Oikarinen) is a multi-user, multi-channel chatting network. It allows people all over the internet to talk to one another in real-time. It is a functional replacement and improvement to 'talk'; 'talk' is an old, primitive, atrocious, minimalist sort of keyboard/screen conversation tool, using a grotesque, machine- dependent protocol (blah!). IRC does everything 'talk' does, but with better protocol, allowing more than 2 users to talk at once, with access across the aggregate Internet, and providing a whole raft of other useful features.
IRC is based on a client-server model. Clients are programs that connect to a server, a server is a program that transports data, (messages), from a user client to another. There are clients running on many different systems, (Unix, emacs, VMS, MSDOS, VM...), that allow you to connect to an IRC server. The client which will be spoken of here is the most widespread: ircII, (originally designed by Michael Sandrof). Other clients are similar, and often accept ircII commands.
On IRC, there are a lot of places where you can "hang out"; those places are called 'channels', (most of the information in this section can also be obtained by issuing "/HELP CHANNEL"). You can compare conversations on a channel to a conversation among a group of people: you see/hear everything that is said, and you can reply to anything that's said. What you type is received by everyone who's willing to listen - and everyone who is late will not hear what was said before, unless repeated by one of the ones who were there. (Who said "real life" ?)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

trying to get a photo into this thing

OK- that was hard- and it never did upload from the Flickr url, so I'm not sure what went wrong. Now will try to get this into my profile where it can live for all eternity- this was on a boat on Lake Tahoe- a lovely day.

Update: I did manage to put this into the profile, although not through the Flickr url. I cut and pasted the url from the blog into the profile- several times without success and then finally it added. It may be that Blogger was behaving badly, and not that I was doing something wrong since at one point, it crashed IE and closed.


first presentation

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Adobe CS3, Slideshare and Audacity

Buying the student version of Adobe CS3 for my Dreamweaver class was probably the best investment I have made recently. CS3 contains the latest versions of Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Flash and more. I spent today getting familiar with some of Photoshop's features, watching the training videos provided with the software. Also. did some exploring in Flash, which has this cool thing called Zoomify. This lets viewers zoom in on your photo, much like Google maps- and it is amazingly simple to create.

Other explorations today led me to Slideshare, an online site that lets you upload powerpoint slides and add audio to the slideshow. The CEO has a nice slideshow explaining Flash and AJAX and their uses in the web world in general and in this producct in particular. Also, they have a link to a training video on how to use Audacity, which has eluded my infrequent and half-hearted attempts to grasp. Armed with this, I feel up to trying it out again to create podcasts.

World's most beautiful libraries

Courtesy of a link provided by Donna Mazziotti in the PubLib listserv, here is a link to a blog posting that contains photographs of the world's most beautiful libraries, and they are stunning. The blog itself is called "Curious Expeditions: Travelling and exhuming the extraordinary past" and seems to be the chronicle of two travelers roaming the world. It's stylish, well written and has great pictures- I added it immediately to my Yahoo home page.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thing 23 recap: about 23 Things

I really like the learning approach of 23 Things. Technology is really a hands-on experience and you can't begin to understand the possibilities of some of these tools until you've experienced them. And, as I said earlier, since Web 2.0 is all about free, easy, fast and fun, I think many people who were technophobic before attempting the Challenge, may have been surprised to discover how much they enjoyed it.

Of course, now that we've done this 23 things, there are many more to go- it has just begun.

Now, how do I claim my flash drive? Oh, and did I mention that I really like InfoPeople, and I'm not just saying that to get my drive. I've taken several workshops, listened to webcasts and browsed their site, and I think it's a great service to the library community.

Last Thing 9: Twitter

I left this until last because it's the tool I dislike the most. But I summoned up the courage and opened a twitter account. I can see the appeal for those who enjoy texting, or IMing, but at this moment, I have no need for such a tool. We did use IM frequently while I was working in Tech Support and it was a very handy way to communicate with someone while on the phone with someone else- a frequent scenario in Tech Support.
There are lots of widgets, and ways to get Twitter on your cell phones, etc. but I have confined myself to viewing the public timeline only. Then I will probably delete the application altogether.
But that said, it sure is easy to join and easy to use- the hallmarks of Web 2.0: fast, free and easy!

Thing 15: Perspectives on 2.0 and the future of libraries

This whole blog is about that topic, so I think for the writeup on this item, I will point to a few of the articles that I have enjoyed reading on this subject.
On the future of virtual reference
Library 2.0 Course Syllabus
Specifically, this module of the course, Library 2.0, lists some great articles for further reading.
10 Programming Concepts Librarians Should know, form the blog of Ryan Deschamps, who always has something useful and instructive to say.
And, of course, this whole issue is not free of controversy. Librarian 1.5 responds to a particularly notorious contrarian, Walt Crawford:
I look forward to the continuing discussion on Library 2.0 and how we can improve library services to the library users/patrons with the ideas and concepts that we find in the open source movement, creative commons, web 2.0 and other sources which has not been available before.

Also interesting is an exchange between The Annoyed Librarian and the Other Librarian:
A recent post called “The Cult of Twopointopia” hits on alot of important weaknesses in the 2.0 rhetoric, particularly where they overstate the benefits of using Web 2.0 technologies or refuse to accept how rational individuals may choose not to join the Library 2.0 bandwagon.

But like most things rational, her readers sometimes revert into irrationality. Thus, from a rational criticism of the so-called Library 2.0 movement/manifesto follows an irrational trashing of anything having to do with Web 2.0 services and user-centered library services, and any defense of library 2.0 becomes evidence of group-think or outright stupidity.

And I think that sums it up nicely- Web 2.0, Lib 2.0, blogs, wikis, My Space- it's all part of the necessary discussion as we all plan the future.

Thing 14: Technorati- Links and Tags

Technorati collects and ranks blogs. They've recently redone their main page to sort the blogs into categories making it easier to browse by subject.

I think what they say about linking is a key concept underlying the Web 2.0 "movement":
A link from one weblog to another helps provide context around an argument or point, and it is essentially a "vote of attention" from one blogger to another. By linking to another site or blog, the weblog author is saying, "I find what you are saying important enough to link to it." Linking also helps create the conversation of the Web, the critical mass of connected thought that is not available in static text.
The relevance of a site on the Web can be determined by how often a source is cited and therefore considered an authority. Links in the world of weblogs are even more important since bloggers frequently link to and comment on other blogs, creating a sense of timeliness and back-and-forth one would have in a conversation. Technorati tracks the number of links and the unique source of links to determine the breadth and readership of any author or site. Technorati is uniquely positioned in the center of this ongoing conversation monitoring who is linking to whom and which bloggers are commanding attention on various topics.

Tags are another way of sorting blogs. According to Technorati:
Anyone with a blog can contribute to Technorati Tag pages. There are two ways to contribute:

If your blog software supports categories and RSS/Atom feeds (like Movable Type, WordPress, TypePad, Blogware, Radio), just use the included category system and make sure you are publishing RSS/Atom feeds and your categories will be read as tags.

If your blog software doesn't support categories or you're not sure, you can still participate. To associate a post with a Technorati Tag all you have to do is tag your post by including a special link in the body of your post. Please note that two word tags should be joined by a "+".

I have added this blog to Technorati's directory, and added a widget that enables my blog viewers to claim me as a favorite, which will increase my rankings (theoretically). I'm currently listed with zero fans- kind of upsetting in a way! Although, doing a search for blogs about libraries yielded 1,213 results, and only a handful of them had any fans so I'm not alone.

This is also one of the more irritating aspects of the social networking thing- popularity contests. Here is a list of the Top 25 blogging librarians, as ranked by four different metrics, including Technorati. Here's what the top-ranked blogger, Jessamyn West (whose blog I have been reading for a couple of years) has to say about the whole thing.

Thing 18: Google Docs and Spreadsheets

Bad things: you must log in several times. I couldn't figure out how to "save as" in the Docs program; the spreadsheet is clunky and updates were slow. Good things: they are free to registered users, the Docs exports in a variety of formats including Word, and I think I will stick with Excel for spreadsheets.

Thing 19- Google Maps

I am disappointed with Google maps- I thought it would be intuitive and simple, but it actually isn't. I created a map of Berkeley, and was going to add locators for the various library branches, but I am still struggling to figure out how to control the appearance and scope of the map- it keeps switching to the Google earth view, and sometimes goes off altogether and I wind up in Wichita! Clearly need to spend more time with this. The add-on tools are really cool- I like the real estate finder (I saw it first in use on a realtor's site) and the earthquake locators. It looks like it's easy to add the map to your blog or website once it looks the way you want it to.
Upon further explorations, I managed to create a map with a placemark marking the location of the main branch of the BPL, and then added a photo of the building into the placemark- a process that was not very lucidly explained in Google help. There is no actual "add content" button on the Create New Map tab- you have to go to Browse the Directory, or you have to add a placemark and add your content to that.
It is fun, though, and I think you can do alot with this kind of a tool. It will be interesting to see how easy it is to mashup.My first map effort.

Thing 21- podcasts

I have been doing various things with podcasts over the last several months, so I'm going to try to summarize my explorations and discoveries.
I downloaded Juice, a "premier podcast receiver, allowing users to capture and listen to podcasts anytime, anywhere" but was leary of using it for fear of overwriting the stuff already on my daughter's iPod.
Here's how it works, according to the Juice Help screen:

Juice uses RSS (really simple syndication) to "feed" files to
your computer. RSS usually involves headlines and text, but we've devised a way to have it move audio files. Once you've installed Juice, you can select podcasts to subscribe to in two different ways: Either clicking the selection button to see a directory of available podcasts or enter a URL for a podcast you've found on your own. You can set the scheduling options so that Juice scans for new downloads as often as you like, or you can control it manually. When it is done downloading new files, it adds them to your library, all ready to be played or synched to your MP3 device.

I am having difficulty adding new podcasts to my directory and plan to devote 5 more minutes before abandoning the product. UPDATE: the program must have had a temporary fit, because it now seems to be working very easily- just point, click add and it's added to your subscription list. I picked one at random, so now it is downloading the latest episode of "Verge of the Fringe" whatever that is!)

I have explored the podcast offerings in iTunes which carries a staggering number of podcasts, nicely sorted into categories. You can get free podcasts of many TV shows (I began the download for Entourage, but stopped it when I saw that it would be 24 minutes to complete.

Other podcast directories include,, and Yahoo Podcasts,(I like Yahoo's layout- they make it really easy to browse podcasts- with some hilarious results- I'm listening now to Diggnation- haven't figured out what their schtick is yet- there's also, not surprisingly, lots of porn), and Marv, the Mr. Nice Guy show- relevant due to the fact that he is a self-described reference librarian- I think I'll join his other 61 subscribers and check it out!

That's enough on finding podcasts- soon the issue wwill be getting away from all the podcasts- looks like everyone with a microphone and a computer is podcasting these days!

Thing 22- teach someone else

The opportunity to teach someone else about using these Web 2.0 tools presented itself following m niece's wedding in August. Because our family is scattered across the US, getting and sharing photos from the wedding would be difficult. Her photographer put the professional photos on Shutterfly,and for the rest of us I suggested that we put ours on Flickr. I created a little tutorial using Wink (a free tutorial program that captures screenshots and uses Flash) to show everyone how simple uploading photos to Flickr can be, although not everyone thought it was so simple, and some refused to try it at all. My mother was amazed at how inexpensively she could get the professional photos (Shutterfly gives you the first 15 free, and the remaining 25 or so that she selected came to about $7- delivered. You can also choose to pick them up at a Target near you.)

Interestingly enough, although we all swapped links and emails, no one (except me) posted any comments on the photo sites. Still too new a concept for many people.

Monday, September 10, 2007

You Tube's thing over there

I just changed my search expression (for the YouTube widget that posts random videos on your blog) from "Lake Tahoe" to "Manchester, Vermont" and have gathered a very strange crop of videos- lots of which have to do with soccer in Great Britain (you know- Manchester United et al- not surprising, although I thought it would filter to be a boolean "manchester AND vermont- apparently not, although ultimately, pretty amusing nonetheless- why we all love YouTube). Can't remember how you get yours- will check on it and get back to you.

My Flickr Badge

Just got to say that I really enjoy my Flickr badge (over there on the right hand side of the blog). It shows random, ever-changing photos from my Flickr site and reminds me of the portraits and the newspaper photos in Harry Potter, where the photo subjects would be moving around and waving- talk about interactive!

You can get one here. I love Flickr!

Rollyo-create your own search engine

I don't think we'll be offering Google any serious competition any time soon with this tool. After spending a frustrating amount of time trying to create a searchroll by importing some of my bookmarks (as opposed to manually entering up to 25 urls in a tiny scroll box window), I revisited the site today, armed with a list of ready reference sites, courtesy of a PubLib subscriber. I cut and pasted the urls into the tiny box and ran a search for "US Presidents list" hoping to score a list of US Presidents- I got 2,040 hits, 20 per page, but the relevance was low- lots of citations for "list" "President's" etc. One of the top 5 results was this: "a speech by Michael Heyman, the President of the Smithsonian at the time, in ... If you need a refresher in HTML, visit my list of helpful sites. ..."

I am sure there is a specialized use for this- if for instance you know exactly which haystack contains the needle you're looking for, and you need to keep finding it, but I was not very impressed.

My searchroll is public and is titled "Ready Reference", that is, provided it persists upon logout: the site is unclear as to what is actually saved- it says I have no saved searchrolls, but it lists Ready Reference in my profile.

Oh, yes- and lots of sponsored links and ads, although no weird pop-up junk.

Friday, September 7, 2007

23 things redux-15 down, 8 to finish

OK- I am determined to get InfoPeople's flash drive so I am going to focus on completing the 23 things, which I am copying here from the InfoPeople blog, so I have it all in one place. I am also adding links to the relevant blog posts, and outside sites where appropriate.

The 23 things list:

1. Read this entry (that's right, the one that you are reading now), and this FAQ to find out about the program and to make sure that you are eligible to participate. Remember: to take our challenge you must take or participate in at least one of our Web 2.0 events. (DONE)

2. Set up your own blog on & add your first post.(DONE)

3. Register your blog by sending an email to with your blog's URL and begin your Web 2.0 journey. We will then add your blog to our blogroll that you see on the sidebar of this blog so everyone can see what progress you are making.(DONE)

4. Explore Flickr and learn about this popular image-hosting site. Set up an account and join some groups! And remember, blog about what you learn!.(DONE)

5. Have more Flickr fun and discover some Flickr mashups & third party sites.(DONE)

6. Look at some of these library websites that are using Web 2.0 to enhance their offerings and create a blog post about anything Web 2.0-related that you think would be useful in your library. (MORE)

7. Learn about RSS feeds and set up your own Bloglines newsreader account.(DONE)

8. Locate a few useful library related blogs and/or news feeds and add them to your Bloglines account.(DONE)

TO DO: 9. Sign up for a Twitter account. Track your activities using Twitter for a few days. Think about how Twitter might be useful linked on a library website and blog about your Twitter experience.

10. Play around with an online image generator. Blog about your experience(s).(DONE- see the image at the bottom of my blog- it was surprisingly difficult to find this image generator)

11. Take a look at LibraryThing and catalog some of your favorite books.(DONE-see my sidebar for the nifty LibraryThing widget that shows a changing array of books from my library).)

TO DO: 12. Roll your own search tool with Rollyo.

13. Learn about social bookmarking then create a account and add and tag some Web 2.0 sites. (DONE)(not sure if this link opens my public delicious account or if one needs a password)

TO DO: 14. Explore Technorati and learn how tags work with blog posts.(need to blog about this)

TO DO: 15. Read a few perspectives on Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and the future of libraries and blog your thoughts.(need to blog about this)

16. Learn about wikis and discover some innovative ways that libraries are using them. (DONE) Also, I set up a wiki at PBWiki- haven't used it much but it's good to know about the capability: Wikilib.

17. Add an entry to Infopeople's Our 23 Web 2.0 Things wiki. (DONE) I added a post on Blogs but couldn't quite figure out how to do the hyperlinks so they don't show the entire url- will go back sometime and figure it out.

TO DO: 18. Take a look at some online productivity (word processing, spreadsheet) tools.

TO DO: 19. Explore My Maps on Google Maps and create a map for your library and add a picture of it to the map.

20. Discover YouTube and a few sites that allow users to upload and share videos.(DONE)

TO DO: 21. Discover some useful search tools for locating podcasts.

TO DO: 22. Teach someone else how to use one of the technologies described above and blog about your experience!(write up Flickr training)

23. Summarize your thoughts about this program on your blog. (DONE)

Wishlists for ILS features and more

Spent alot of time this morning going through my listservs and came upon some interesting stuff at PubLib, one of which was a blogger's wish list for his next ILS upgrade. Although I suspect that many of these features already do exist in some systems, it is instructive to have the Library 2.0 elements in a list form.

Also a post about a project called MaintainIT: "In true grassroots fashion, the MaintainIT Project is taking to the road to visit rural libraries in northern California, gathering stories about maintaining public computers, spreading the word about the tips and tricks already collected in its free Cookbooks, and learning about the triumphs and challenges libraries face."

I really like the idea of collecting all that information and publishing it on the spot when requested.

Also interesting that Google has created a library utility very much like LibraryThing. It works in conjunction with Google Book Search- I plan on checking it out to see how it compares.

Dynamic Web Sites

I'm taking a class (through Diablo Valley College's online program) on building dynamic websites using Dreamweaver with ASP, ColdFusion and PHP. The training methodology is one that I prefer: the lessons are embedded in the actual hands- on creation of an interactive web site. All three server-side languages will be presented as part of each lesson, thereby providing exposure to more than one, although we will be focusing on PHP and MySQL. It's a little slow getting started- we are currently waiting for access to the DVC development server, and I am tempted to go ahead and install Apache and PHP on my local machine, just to get going. Although I think that would be an instructive experience, my concern is that it could be possibly destructive as well!