Thursday, June 30, 2005
Forward Your TV to any PC Anywhere!
The $100 Computer
Internet Explorer Exploit
You may test your I.E. by follwoing the instructions on this link: http://secunia.com/multiple_browsers_dialog_origin_vulnerability_test/
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.
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 www.librarlinks.org, and the subscription fee is $200, subject to change.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Yahoo's own Delicious!
"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!! http://tinyurl.com/b44zf
Veritas Backup Software under attack!
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Public Access and Printing
Public Access systems abound at the conference, from software control to dummy type terminals. I viewed a demo on CASSIE, from www.librarica.com, 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
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
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
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Sirsi - Dynix?
Monday, June 20, 2005
Monks Use Hi-tech Camera to Read Ancient Texts
The 100 Best Products of 2005
Security Products with security holes
New Fedora Release by Redhat
Bit-Torrent Download Issues
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
Here are some the highlights of ECM could do for us:
- It has a web based interface so we can access it from any of our library locations.
- It provides an automated audit of the hardware and software at each library location. This feature was great!!! If we decide to go with this product, it would reside on a server at our Fort Worth location and then through a VPN go out to the library locations and collect data on each server and workstation in the library. It provides a lot of data on each workstation including the software currently installed on it. Instant inventory of the library's technological infrastructure. For a large library, this could be a huge time saver.
- It can reboot any workstation and/or server remotely. If we see a problem with a workstation at a library's location, we can reboot the machine from Fort Worth without having to drive to the remote site.
- It can push down updates, both windows and proprietary, to the library's computers from the central server. No more having to drive to the remote sites to do Windows Updates, ILS updates or Anti-Virus updates. All of this can handled from our Fort Worth location. This includes all windows patches. It even tells you what Windows patches each computer needs.
- It collects all the Windows events of all the computers in all the libraries. You can filter out the less important events so you only see the critical ones.
- It allows for the un-installation of software. This is handy for worms and trojan horses. We could do a search on a particular .exe on all the computers and quickly un-install the malware centrally.
- Setup seems relatively harmless. You install ECM on the server and tell it which workstations you want to monitor. It handles all the rest. The tech who did the demo claims it can do 20 servers and 200 workstations in about 90 minutes. Not bad.
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
Do you have your finger on the pulse of Library Technology in School Libraries?
Your ISP might be required to track your patron's actions
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Java (JRE) flaw should be patched
LTN Thesaurus Needs "Food"
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
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: http://www.librarytechnologynow.org/default.asp?action=article&ID=37
So she'll now be working for a direct competitor to Endeavor's Encompass products. Interesting.
Ex Libris SFX and Metalib
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
Tool tracks problems with Video Conferencing
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Libraries: Get your Video Cameras Ready!
If you videotape your evernts, here is a great place to make them available online.
LTN goes to college
LTN Summer Schedule Released
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; firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 librarytechnologynow.org.Time to celebrate!
Friday, June 10, 2005
Intel and Nokia team up to provide WIMAX
Do I replace or repair my computers?
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
Broadband and Politics
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Apple moving to Intel Processors
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
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
Wireless Library Cards
Laptops outselling Desktops
Friday, June 03, 2005
Electronic Resource Management: will it solve everything?
Innovative Interfaces Inc. was the first library automation company to provide one. See http://www.iii.com/mill/digital.shtml#erm for more information about their product.
Endeavor's Meridian just went into general release on June 2. See http://www.endinfosys.com/cgi-bin/news/viewer.cgi?ID=102 for the press release.
Details on Ex Libris' Verde, which is still in development, can be found at http://www.exlibrisgroup.com/verde.htm.
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
Thursday, June 02, 2005
New XXX Domain Approved
Hackers are fighting back
Windows 2000 users to miss out on IE 7
Brainstorming Technology with the Watauga Public Library
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.