At the Ref Desk (7/2/19): Weird Request of the Week (WRW): patron needed help logging into a pc workstation with scanner. After I helped her log in she asked, 'can I fax from here?' [more...]
Subscribe to RSS - blogs


'Ape with a Termite Stick': Jon Udell on Screencasts

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 2/25/07 (12:11pm)

Learn by seeing other people doing things. We used to call it 'monkey see, monkey do'. Jon Udell calls it "ape with a termite stick".

In any case, that's what a screencast does and Udell, who's done a number of them, has a nice write-up, "Screencasting Tips" that's full of observations like the following:

Given all the network connectivity that we have nowadays, it’s perhaps surprising — but nevertheless true — that we have few opportunities to directly observe how other people, who are proficient users of software tools, do what they do. Screencasts are the best way I've found to make such tool use observable, and thus learnable.

I'd only add that as the variety and importance of these software tools grow, so too does the need for good examples.

84 Steps to Getting Square Corners in CSS

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 2/24/07 (1:17pm)

This one was funny. It comes from a spoof site called '' which accepts user-submitted posts.

Step 4 for Getting Square Corners in CSS:

Squeeze the drippings from an uncooked 12 oz porterhouse steak onto the butcher paper, smear the steak around until a greasy sheen is clearly visible.

Leo Klein at Benedictine University

Leo Klein at Benedictine University: I'd like to thank all of the librarians who came to my talk on Web 2.0 at Benedictine University yesterday.

We had a good group with representation from National Louis, Benedictine and the College of DuPage. Everyone was completely engaged and asked great questions -- even though I ran half an hour longer than scheduled (sorry).


Captcha for Humanists

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 2/21/07 (12:36pm)

Submission for the redesign of 'captcha' according to humanistic principles (patent pending):


Enough with Overweight Podcasts!

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 2/18/07 (2:32am)

I love podcasts. For me, podcasts are the New Radio. They're a welcomed and increasingly critical source of information.

But please -- please! -- I'd love them even more if the person putting them together respected bandwidth constraints.

I'm ready to admit that I grew up in the days of 14.4 modems. My first attempt at dealing with media was trying to make pictures look good using only 256 colors. "Crackly" doesn't begin to describe the quality of audio I had to churn out due to low bandwidth.

But even in this great age of DSL, there still are a couple of conventions that content providers need to observe. One of them is never, ever use more bandwidth than you actually need.

(more after the jump...)


Tim O'Reilly on Various Library Standards & Applications

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 2/16/07 (4:08pm)

(Okay, so he's not directly addressing things like Z39.50, OpenURL or ILS's, but you'd think the same rules apply.)

Under the heading "Lightweight Programming Models", he lists the following "significant lessons" (in abbreviated form):

  1. Support lightweight programming models that allow for loosely coupled systems. [...]
  2. Think syndication, not coordination. [...]
  3. Design for "hackability" and remixability. [...]

Go ahead and read the whole thing...


User-Centered Design Requires Actual Users

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 2/15/07 (12:19pm)

I've been going through a lot of material in anticipation of my talk at National Louis-Benedictine next week.


It's amazing how many people say their approach is "User-centered". They talk about it as if it were something new. "Our innovation," they proudly declare, "is that we're finally making users the center of our design".


Snowy Chicago

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 2/13/07 (4:14pm)

Snowy Chicago - UIC (2/13/2007): Snowy Chicago.  UIC looking west at around 4:30pm.  Classes for the afternoon were canceled.
Snowy Chicago - UIC (2/13/2007): Snowy Chicago. UIC looking west at around 4:30pm. Classes for the afternoon were canceled.


It's Curtains for Clippy

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 2/12/07 (2:39am)

Few animated characters have raised the ire of so many as Clippy, the erstwhile tech assistant for MS Office starting in 1997. Literally at the drop of a hat, and for no apparent reason, Clippy would jump out and offer his unwanted services.

For ten long years, we have had to live with Clippy. Now he is no more. Read the details of his demise here... (h/t Slashdot)

At the Dental Clinic with a New Friend

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 2/9/07 (7:45pm)

At the Dental Clinic with a New Friend

I had an appointment at the UIC Dental Clinic today. Apparently before the students get to work on real-live patients, they practice on a bunch of rubber dummies -- rubber heads to be precise -- that conveniently fit into the neck-rest of the chair. I kind of like this guy -- with his mustache and beard, he looks kind of Beatnik.