Thursday, June 30, 2005


Forward Your TV to any PC Anywhere!

SlingBoxd - Product Review:,1759,1833043,00.asp


The $100 Computer

Is this a trend of the future? It is in India.


Internet Explorer Exploit

Two new exploits have been exposed with Internet Explorer. The article is here:,289142,sid14_gci1102624,00.html?track=NL-102&ad=520687

You may test your I.E. by follwoing the instructions on this link:

Although no patches are available yet, as always, the best bet is to practice safe surfing rules - never offer passwords or personal information to unsolicited pop-ups without confirming their validity from the company's home page and tech support personnel.


Library Links

An additional booth I visited while at ALA was "LibraryLinks". Although this does not really qualify as a hardware technology issue or concern, it is something that technology allows to be a benefit to the Library community.

It is a subscription service, even though the site has a ".ORG" suffix, which most people believe to mean a non-profit organization and should be free.

The general concept is a good one, but I am less than impressed with the site. I had a difficult time reading the pages due to the font style, size, and color. I don't like to have to make adjustments to my monitor to view a single website.

I can't guess what type of impact it may offer to Libraries, but it might help those that have professionals without an MLS or equivelant working the front desks, as many small Public Librarys do.

The website is, and the subscription fee is $200, subject to change.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Yahoo's own Delicious!

For those all those cataloging librarians out there, this will make you grind your teeth: Users doing their own cataloging of websites to share with others.

"People with a Yahoo login will be able to bookmark and cache copies of their favorite Web sites, label them in certain categories and attach comments in a structured way. Users will then be able to search among their contacts' knowledge base with what Yahoo is calling its MyRank search technology."

From a visionary standpoint, very cool!!


Veritas Backup Software under attack!

If you use Veritas' Backup Exec, you might want to read this article.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Public Access and Printing

Now, I know that there are more out there, but I haven't made it to them yet...

Public Access systems abound at the conference, from software control to dummy type terminals. I viewed a demo on CASSIE, from, and it does seem pretty nice, but I did not make any brownie points when I compared it's time control system to similarly available Internet Cafe style software that charges and keeps track of a user's time on a computer. In a nutshell, the management system allows for time control, scheduling, and limited security of the computer itself. I cannot attest to it's security from a determined patron with sufficient skills (I found out a long time ago while managing computer labs on campus that the challenge of bypassing security controls seems to energize inquiring minds). It also offers print management, stats, and a form of authentication that allows importation of user id's and passwords if it is in a specific format. The vendors on site could not promise that large platforms such as Banner or Vernier that are used by Universities would have compatible databases. It does not have an interface for such large software packages, user id's must be imported. This would be very applicable for smaller applications.

There were more printing control devices than I could shake a stick at, but there seems to be a growing market for the card control mechanisms. A card, similar to a credit card in that it has a magnetic strip, is sold to a patron for use with any printer or copier that has a control mechanism in place. The benefit to this is not having to maintain multiple coin and dollar mechanisms that have lots of moving parts to a single electronic mechanism that deletes from the card as a patron prints. Once a patron owns a card, they can simply recharge it at a single location with coins or dollars to use at any of the printers or copiers.


ALA - Second ADA technology item

The second item is called "Interpretype",

This is desktop technology that consists of 2 keyboards connected by a cable, with LCD screens. They are approximately the physical size of a laptop, but do not have a flip up LCD screen - it is above the keyboard. It allows you to communicate with a death or mute patron, or employ a death or mute employee to communicate with a patron. It is comparable to Instant Messaging without the Computer or Internet.



ALA Technology Review

This doesn't exactly qualify as live blogging, but I have been wading thru the crowds (much more crowded than Florida) in the Stacks - the vendor display area.

I did see a couple notable products (one I found very exciting) for ADA issues, adaptive technologies, or however you may refer to technology that assists those with special needs.

One in particular that I found to be very exciting is called Maxim Eyes v 1.0

In one form, it appears to do what Microsoft's Enlarger program does - except that it works within Internet Explorer to view the Internet. I have a CD from the group, and I will be installing it back at the office to tinker with it, but initially it appears to work very well and relatively seamless with I.E. One thing to note - small GIF or JPG files that are used as a graphic - become very grainy when enlarged. This is to be expected, and if there isn't an ALT tag to describe the graphic, enlarging it may be a mute point. This is no fault of the software, but something that is inherent in any website that uses graphics as text, or for symbols or company icons.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Technical Support Utilities

Here's an interesting site recommended by Rebecca Hedreen from Southern Connecticut State University. It provides information and links for a number of useful utilities:

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Wireless Insecurity!

I am the technology consultant for the North Texas Regional Library System and I spend about 20 percent of my time visiting our member libraries to discuss their technology. Yesterday, I was at the Public Library in Glen Rose, Texas. Glen Rose is the home of the Dinosaur footprints and the only Nuclear Power Plant in North Texas. It is a small community, and has a very nice library! While there, I looked over there technological infrastructure and discovered that the County IT department, the one supporting their technology, had installed a wireless router. Neither of the librarians knew about it, which is common in libraries where IT is not communicative with library staff. It was insecure and not encrypted. The default SID was retained. I opened up my laptop and I was on the library's network. I was able to find their server and in time would have been able to hack my way into it. I always recommend to libraries to isolate their wireless network away from their main one and always encrypt data as much as possible. It is also a very good idea to change the default settings on the router as most hackers will know the factory settings on wireless routers. ZoneCD is a open source project that will assist you in your wireless endeavors. You can check it out at

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Sirsi - Dynix?

The big rumor on the hill is that Sirsi and Dynix will be announcing a merger at ALA. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 20, 2005


Monks Use Hi-tech Camera to Read Ancient Texts

"The technique, known as hyperspectral imaging, will use a camera to photograph the parchments at different wavelengths of light, highlighting faded texts obscured by time and later overwritings. " High-Tech digital imaging at its best.,1759,1829557,00.asp


The 100 Best Products of 2005

as determined by PC World....,aid,120763,pg,12,00.asp


Security Products with security holes

Here is a great quote: "Security researchers — whether they wear white, gray or black hats — are increasingly less interested in poking holes in desktop operating systems," said Andrew Jaquith, Yankee Group senior analyst in Security Solutions & Services. "A more fascinating and profitable area exists in finding vulnerabilities in the products meant to defend against the attacks themselves. It is time for the security vendors to stand up and make their own products more secure before they become preferred conduits for professionally designed malware." This problem actually makes Microsoft's security woes look tame. Who can we trust if we can't trust the guardians of our computer systems?


New Fedora Release by Redhat

A belated post on Fedora Core 4:


Bit-Torrent Download Issues

According to this article, Bit Torrent apparently has become a major channel for spyware and tracking software. In a nutshell, the persons and companies earning a profit from such software have started installing the software in songs, movies, and other items that are downloaded thru Bit Torrent.

Remember "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth"? That doesn't really help when it comes to the Internet...

Friday, June 17, 2005


Configuresoft’s Enterprise Configuration Manager

I sat through a demo of this product yesterday. It is a systems management tool that can monitor, manage and audit hardware and software configurations network-wide. For a large library system with multiple servers and workstations, this tool is a godsend as it eliminates a lot of leg work in the maintenance of your network. For my organization, North Texas Regional Library System, it would assist us in our IT support program. We support our 73 member libraries with direct desktop and network support. Our geographic region covers 20 counties so we spend a lot of time on the road fulfilling support requests. ECM would allow us to do many of our tasks centrally from our Fort Worth location thus eliminating travel time and expense.

Here are some the highlights of ECM could do for us:

Of course, software like this comes at a high price. I haven't been given any numbers yet, but I expect it to be pretty steep.

I plan to trial the software this fall. I will write hands-on review at that time. The product has received a lot of Industry press awards. If you google the title of this blog, you will see what I mean.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


New worm hits AIM network

Yes. Viruses and worms do spread via IM networks like AOL and Yahoo.


Do you have your finger on the pulse of Library Technology in School Libraries?

If you do and want to contribute to this blog, fill out our volunteer application form and let us know.


Your ISP might be required to track your patron's actions

The Department of Justice is pushing this idea for the sake of security. Libraries beware!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Java (JRE) flaw should be patched

You may wish to patch your Java application (JRE) soon.


Alternative Technology

I had not heard the term "Lamp" prior to this article, it may be something to be added to the upcoming LTNow release.


LTN Thesaurus Needs "Food"

Time to enhance our LTN Thesaurus! I would greatly appreciate any articles/reviews to use for cultivating new entries for the thesaurus for the next issue. I see a few things posted here but would appreciate more. You can send them to my email at

I'm also working with some of Diane's TWU students who are volunteering for LTN.

Keep in mind, the ultimate goal is to allow users to link from terms in the thesaurus to LTN reviews and vice versa. Once we get the right operating system/software in place we need to start thinking about the protocol that would allow writers to choose and insert terms into their articles and how users can search the thesaurus for terms that would lead them to interesting articles. Its a delicious case of subject analysis, subject authority work, and user searching skills.



Jane Burke's new position

For those of you out there who are also Endeavor customers...

Jane Burke, who was President and CEO of Endeavor until the company's sale to Elsevier, is now VP at Proquest and General Manager for Serials Solutions:

So she'll now be working for a direct competitor to Endeavor's Encompass products. Interesting.



Ex Libris SFX and Metalib

I have now attended both training sessions on the management of the two mentioned products.

Ex Libris has two products in use with A&M Systems.

Be forewarned : although they are very powerful and very effective, they also require experienced technology professionals to maintain with strong library skills, and are time consuming to bring online. I cannot offer any information on cost, as my involvement doesn't extend to that area with this project.

SFX is an interface that will ride as a button on you library website and on most vendor's site for your subscribed access. When you do a search for a journal, depending on your subscriptions, pressing the SFX button brings up a window that can take you directly to that full text article (if available by any of your subscriptions) or at least as close as it can get when the vendor doesn't offer direct linking information.

The maintenance part is managing your subscriptions within SFX - which requires turning off or on the built in list that you subscribe to, and at the worst having to build the linking (templates are available) to one of the extreme few that Ex Libris may not have created yet. The management interface is 'molded' by Librarians, so most Librarians should have an easy time moving thru it.

Metalib is similar to SFX in that it is an interface that allows you an easier time getting to your desired location when searching for documents.

Let me take a deep breath, I just went thru the 2 days of training for it's interface management and I'm still a little overwhelmed.

Metalib (when configured properly) allows a patron to search multiple subscribed databases, the Library OPAC, free databases, or (almost) whatever you want it to search - from a single interface. By default it brings up the first 30 results from each database or subscription searched, and uses it's own (Ex Libris) algorithm to rank them.

The database selections are grouped according to your own design. The obvious benefit is that a patron searching from home has a much better chance of finding information because they will be searching in subscriptions that they may not know exist or that they should be searching in. In a usability test conducted by College Station for a few graduate students, more than one was able to find several articles with this one interface that a week or so of searching hadn't located.

A very experienced Librarian at Texas A&M College Station, when queried about it's usefulness, suggested that it is to Online Searching and Research what OCLC is to Cataloging. Being a technician and not a Librarian, I personally cannot put a value on that statement, but hopefully you can.

I would not recommend these products to individual Libraries, unless you are REALLY BIG. This product, in my humble opinion, is better suited for a consortium, large City Library systems, or University systems, due to the technical expertise required to setup and maintain. To offer an idea, they suggested to us that we take release time for two 40 hour work weeks to just prepare it for beta testing.

However, while visiting with the trainer during a break, she did hint that they may have, or will be able to offer something to meet the needs of smaller Libraries. She did not elaborate, so if you are interested - visit Ex Libris' website.


Microsoft's new critical flaws

Time to update your Windows.


Tool tracks problems with Video Conferencing

If you use video conferencing over IP in your library system, this article details some new diagnostic tools that can help with performance issues.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Libraries: Get your Video Cameras Ready!

Here is wonderful service:

If you videotape your evernts, here is a great place to make them available online.


LTN goes to college

Diane Neal, co-web producer of LTN, is also an adjunct professor at Texas Woman's University's School of Library and Information Science. She is making LTN part of her course this semester. All of her students are assisting with the Summer Theme. The students' grades will be partially based on their work with LTN. Welcome to them all. We hope they hang around LTN even after the semester is over.


LTN Summer Schedule Released

In case you didn't hear, the editorial board released the target dates for this summer's theme.

June 27: First drafts of reviews due to first editor
July 8: First editor sends reviews to second editor
July 15: Second editor notifies writer of needed changes
July 22: Writer resubmits article; second editor sends article to copy editor (Sian Brannon; upon approval
July 29: Copy editor submits needed changes back to second editor; second editor communicates changes to writer
August 8: Copy editor makes final approval on needed changes, sends final changes to me (Diane) for final approval. This is the absolute deadline for all submitted work on this issue. Please be aware that several of our writers and editors are working on this project as part of the requirements for a library automation course they are taking from me this summer, so please respect their need to submit timely work.
August 15: Alternatives issue goes live on to celebrate!

Friday, June 10, 2005


Intel and Nokia team up to provide WIMAX

For someone who can't get broadband at his house, I love this development. Like Paul wrote in an earlier post, this will be a godsend for some libraries and it seems to be coming together even more quickly than anyone previously thought.


Do I replace or repair my computers?

I spent the last two days visiting the NTRLS member libraries on the boundaries of our geographic region: Quanah, Vernon, Paducah and Crowell. I spent an hour to two hours with each library director discussing their technology plans. The favorite question of the meetings were: How do I know whether to repair a computer, or replace it? The answer to this question depends on one thing: how much money do you have available for technology.

1. I have a steady source of funding for my technology.... If you have a source of steady funding, then I will almost always recommend to purchase new computers every year because it is always better to be proactive than reactive. You can figure out a schedule that works for you. For example, Paducah Public Library has five computer workstations and has access to grant money to purchase a new computer every year. In their plan, they will purchase one computer for the next four years and then purchase a new server on the fifth year of their plan. They plan to sell the older computers to raise some additional funds.

2. I have some funds for technology, but it is not too steady....In this case, you have to decide how much money you want to spend on repairing a computer. I live by the "three strikes" rule. Let's say it costs $100 to $200 to repair a computer each time something breaks on it. By the third strike, you have spent as much money to repair the older computer than it would have cost you to purchase a brand new one with a warranty.

3. I have no dedicated funds for my technology...I always cringe when I hear this from a library director. In most cases, the library director has to beg for funds when something happens to her technology. You have no choice but to be reactive in this case. The "three strikes" rule could apply here as well, but you might have a harder time asking for $500 to $1000 than the $100 to $200 needed to fix a computer.

BTW, I have to give out kudos to all the library directors I visited with this week. Each one has a very good grasp on their technology and where it is going. I would especially like to express my amazement at the Foard County Library in Crowell, Texas. This community of 15oo raised over $230,000 for a new library. That is $150 per capita. Amazing devotion to the library in a state where the public library often comes last.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Microsoft Patch Management

Microsoft has released their next step in patch management software.


Broadband and Politics

This may affect Libraries (preferably and hopefully in a positive way).

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Apple moving to Intel Processors

Since the very first Apple Lisa, the Macintosh computer has been built around IBM and Motorola processors. This has placed it in a different world than the average Personal Computer (PC), or better known in the early days as an IBM Compatible (remember those days?)

Although Apple has long been considered a "niche" computer, it has found usage in Libraries.

This development brings about some interesting possibilities for you Macintosh Enthusiast that want your Libraries to be all Apple.

When Apple moved to Unix as a base for their operating system, it was a 'first step' towards moving away from home grown software and hardware to a wider range of possibilities.

Now that they are moving to Intel... one has to wonder if the Operating System that has been the centerpiece of Apple Computers for years, will be opened up for purchase to be used with a PC in the near future.

It's hard to imagine an Apple with out the Apple - it wasn't very successful in the early to mid '90's when a couple companies started building Apple Compatibles.

What does the future hold for Apple and PC Users tired of Windows but unable to afford Apple specific equipment? I don't know - but the number of possibilities has just grown.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Bandwidth Possibilities

This article,, discusses the possible versatility of moving to dish for internet access instead of land lines.

About 3 1/2 years ago, we had a 1 year rural initiative demonstration placed here in Jernigan Library at Texas A&M Univ. Kingsville. We had two identical computers set up at a desk in our public area, one connected directly to our T-1, the second connected to a send and receive satelite on our roof.

The comparison testing I did on weekends when the Library was closed didn't show any noticable difference in download or surfing time, nor any lag in the Satelite dish that I would have expected.

The only draw back that I could conclude was that very inclement weather would disrupt the signal - but that sometimes happens with landlines as well, (and we all know we shouldn't be surfing in a lightening storm or hurricane...)

For those that are without decent internet connection, if these prices are affordable thru local providers/contractors of satelite services, it may be time to consider moving to satelite.


Review: IBM's New Tablet PC,1759,1823700,00.asp


Wireless Library Cards

Here is a story about American Express producing credit cards that have to be waved in front of a sensor so no physical contact is necessary with the card reader. This technology has been used at gas stations for several years now. I would be willing to bet we see this technology make its way to the library world in the self-check units (if it hasn't already).


Laptops outselling Desktops

For the first time, laptops are outselling desktops. This is just another sign that people like being mobile. If you library are not offering services for the mobile sector, you need to take note of this article and think about offering wireless services in your library. You might also think about providing some laptop workstations in your library so people can "plug" in.

Friday, June 03, 2005


Electronic Resource Management: will it solve everything?

An up-and-coming trend for libraries, especially academic libraries, is electronic resource management (ERM). Libraries that have a multitude of electronic journal subscriptions need to have a way to manage their licensing information, subscriptions, e-journal holdings, etc. Several ILS vendors are developing ERM products.

Innovative Interfaces Inc. was the first library automation company to provide one. See for more information about their product.

Endeavor's Meridian just went into general release on June 2. See for the press release.

Details on Ex Libris' Verde, which is still in development, can be found at

In general, these products are still in their infancy. I have seen demos of Meridian and Verde by sales reps from their respective companies. While they both promise to fix every e-resource problem that any library has ever had, I have my doubts.

They are basing their architecture on new technologies such as XML and
web services. This is a good thing in one way, but not when they have to interface with your integrated library system, which is based on older architecture. They are advertising the OpenURL capability of their ERMs, which some ILS are not completely compliant with yet. They also advertise that they can talk with MARC, but most acquisitions data is not MARC-based. (It could get really complicated if your ILS and your ERM are from different vendors!)

The vendors have not been able to answer reasonable questions that came from library staff members during the demos. They have not addressed issues such as in-depth reporting needs and the ability of the ERM to be flexible based on individual libraries' situations.

So, even though I tend to be an early adopter, I would recommend waiting before you leap, unless your acquisitions person will explode unless you buy an ERM next week. Perhaps automation vendors will start considering updating the technologies that run our ILS when their customers see that importing data from the ILS into the ERM via delimited files (which is how one vendor told me he would handle my library's data!) is not as impressive as the web services-types of buzzwords they're using to sell their new ERM products.

I do think ERMs have potential to be very useful; they're just not ready for prime time yet in their current development state.



No Municipally-Sponsored Networks

Telecommunications companies are saying Municipally run telecommuncations, especially wireless one, provides an unfair advantage to the cities. What???? In my opinion, these telecommunications companies are playing unfair by lobbying for this type of legislation. Read about it here.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


New XXX Domain Approved

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the main oversight body for the Internet, has decided to see domain names ending in .xxx to online porn sights. The body is hoping that the adult sites will "voluntarily" buy these domain names to protect children. Libraries should know that if adult sites do adopt this domain name, filters will be more accurate. I am not going to hold my breath that porn sites will adopt it however. Hasn't this group ever typed in by mistake.,1284,67716,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_10


Hackers are fighting back

If you haven't noticed from my previous posts, I think there is nothing more petty than online crooks that exploit users. This article details how the crooks are working together. Libraries should take note and take what precautions are available to them.


Windows 2000 users to miss out on IE 7

This article discusses how Windows 2000 users won't be able to utilize IE7. Too much work for Microsoft on a OS on the later stages of its life. Libraries should be aware of this in deciding whether to upgrade to XP.


Brainstorming Technology with the Watauga Public Library

Note: I am the Technology Consultant for the North Texas regional Library System. I provide technological advice to the 73 member public libraries and am immersed in library technology daily. In this part of the blog, I will highlight interesting happenings to me.

Today, I spent the morning at the Watauga Public Library with the library staff. We spent a good hour brainstorming technology in their library. The purpose of this activity was to give the library director a good taste of how technology is being utilized by staff and patrons, and what is good and/or bad about it. You don't need much in the way of supplies for the session. A flip chart with some markers is all that is needed. We collected together in the library's conference room and starting chatting. I always start the brainstorming session off with what is good about the technology. As in many cases, no news is good news. I usually get a few comments about what they really like and then leads quickly to what is not right about the technology. I spend the last fifteen minutes of the session on what patrons are saying about the library's technology; both good and bad. You also want to always include a section on the flipchart, "For further consideration.." because ideas for inclusion into the library's technology plan will always come up. I have to say that the Watauga Public Library is impressive. The staff has some really good ideas about how to improve the technology in the library and seems very proud of the library and its technological services. Good Job Watauga Public Library. Keep up the good work.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


SBC to offer DSL at $14.95

Hopefully, your library already has broadband available for your patrons. If you don't have it available because it was too cost-prohibitive, you no longer have an excuse. I remember when dial-up was over $20 a month.

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