At the Ref Desk (1/2/18): 1st shift of the year! Waiting for the question: 'Do you have any research articles on 2018?' [more...]
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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.

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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...

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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.

USER-CENTERED APPROACH

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".

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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.

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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.

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Video: Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 2/5/07 (3:15am)
Excellent video by Michael Wesch of KSU demonstrating some characteristics of online digital culture. I always get nervous when we get to lines like "we are the machine and the machine is us" but other points such as the role of content and its fungibility are dead on. (h/t Somewhat Frank)

On the Misuse of the Word, 'Conversation'

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 2/4/07 (3:14pm)

Is it me or does the use of the word, 'conversation' for just about any communication between human beings cause others to cringe as well?

First, the guy on our local NPR Station talked of having some politician in for a "conversation" back in March; then Hillary Clinton runs on a platform called "Let the Conversation Begin". Now, a report just out on social networks in libraries is called, "Participatory Networks: The Library as Conversation". It concludes (not surprisingly): "...[T]here is now a need to broaden both the scope and scale of the conversation." [link]

Is there no end to this? It's like using 'luxury' to describe condo units. The word begins to lose all meaning -- or even worse begins to take on the opposite of what's intended -- simply because it's used so much.

When I hear 'conversation', increasingly I think: 'insincere attempt to get my attention for trivial, banal or commercial purposes'. Sorry, but I'm just conversation'ed out.

CTA EL Train Crash : Feb. 4, 1977

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 2/4/07 (2:55am)

Thirty years ago, I had a part-time job at Carson, Pirie, Scott in Chicago. It was a Friday night and I had just gotten off of work, walking down Michigan Avenue to catch the 151 Bus.

When I got to the corner of Lake & Michigan, I looked west and saw the most incredible thing: a CTA EL train dangling from the overhead tracks all the way to the ground. There were police cars, fire trucks and ambulances all over the place. Huge spotlights shone on the train.

It was an incredible sight -- something you'd see in a Hollywood disaster movie or a child's train set. But it was all too real. One of the great people working at Carson, Pirie Scott was in that train and while she survived, she was unable to ever come back to work.

I was reminded of that scene by a report on WBBM Radio. They have a article about it on their site. Chicago-l.org also had an informative page on the accident.

It's something I'll never forget.

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Famous Last Words in IT

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 2/2/07 (6:10pm)

What do you mean we need a paper record for our Electronic Voting Machine System?

Sure, it only works on Windows. What's the problem?

Let's just use Mr. Sid!

Trashbin to delete files? Typing 'DEL' plus the file name is so much better!

But it breaks the 'back' button!!!

People don't want all that eye-candy on the Web, they just want information.

Welcome to our Scholars' Workstation Gateway Portal Social Network!

Does anyone ever read the manual?

Dear User: Your password is required to be at least eight characters long and contain at least one small letter, one large letter, a number and a punctuation mark. You are required to change your password every six months. (This last is dedicated to the IT people at NYU.)

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