At the Ref Desk (11/13/18): Beginning of finals week -- wow, we're crowded! [more...]
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Dept. of Good Ideas

Email Outside of Work? France Says 'Non Merci'

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 1/2/17 (2:31pm)

A couple of interesting articles on the law just passed in France regulating (remember that's not outlawing!) emails outside of work.

Deutsche Welle reports:

From today, organizations with more than 50 workers will need to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones and not be forced to check and send emails on weekends and in the evenings.

Engadget comments:

French companies will be more likely to respect your work/life balance -- even if they don't mark certain hours as off-limits, they can't make unexpected requests that force you to drop everything.

More from the Guardian


Message to

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 6/5/15 (11:46am)

You call this a slideshow? By default, over a third of the photo is covered up with usage data (of all things) on the right. Why not make showing usage data optional through a setting in the embed code?

Neutrality Rulz!

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 2/26/15 (1:27pm)

Happy days are here again! At least for a while.

When people first started hooking up to the Internet, it was a two step -- or two layer -- process: You had your phone line which was owned by the local Bell carrier, and then you had an internet service provider or 'ISP' -- of which there were many.

Then the phone companies developed a slightly faster system (DSL) which, surprise, surprise, the ISPs had no access to. Within a short time, the ISPs simply disappeared. The phone companies, ATT & Verizon, after being broken up for a couple of years, zoomed back to national dominance -- this despite the fact that since DSL, they really haven't done much innovation.

And that precisely is the point where the Internet started to resemble a traditional communication network -- with mediocre service and a handful of players. All I can say is, 'bout time!


Steve Jobs and the Role of the Humanities in a World of Tech

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 12/15/14 (9:47pm)

I always thought the best preparation for any computer-based activity, such as web development, was a thorough knowledge of English poetry. Who knew that Steve Jobs agreed with me?

When asked if he was a "computer nerd", he replied: "I wasn’t completely in any one world for too long. There was so much else going on. Between my sophomore and junior years, I got stoned for the first time; I discovered Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas and all that classic stuff." (Playboy Interview with Steve Jobs, 1985)

The Age of One App Per Website is Over

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 1/29/12 (1:40am)

While preparing for next week's presentation on Responsive Design, I tried to recall my original uneasiness over the phone app frenzy. You remember -- that short painful period only a few months ago when either you were developing a phone app version of your site or you just weren't serious. You thought it silly? So did I. But it took me a second to remember why. I mean, this was before Responsive Web Design had sunk in as a possible solution. So why the initial uneasiness? And then of course I remembered: the notion that your average user was going to download a separate app for every site -- the equivalent of taking your collection of bookmarks and downloading a separate program for each -- was a complete absurdity. Thank God, we're beyond that. It's history.

Presentation on Responsive Web Design at UIC

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 1/26/12 (4:38pm)

Gearing up for a presentation on 'Responsive Web Design' that I'll be giving at the UIC Webmaster Brownbag next week. From the official announcement:

UIC Web Professionals,

Join us for a discussion about Responsive Web Design on Thursday, February 2, noon - 1 p.m. Leo Klein, Coordinator for Web Communications in the Office of Admissions and Records, will discuss Responsive Web Design as a significant development in how we approach web design -- what's got us to this point, the need to design for various platforms from PCs to tablets and smartphones. The session will include discussion of key topics including Media Queries and Mobile First.

Audience: all levels. Also, experience and thoughts from others on this subject is encouraged and highly appreciated.

Thank You, Flash, for Showing Us the Way!

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 11/9/11 (6:56pm)

adobe flash logo

So the big news is that Adobe is ending Flash development for mobile devices.

Everyone's assuming, for this reason, that Flash's days are numbered. And well they may be, in which case, there's no better time to extol its virtues -- particularly the contribution it's made to our online world -- than now.

It's important to remember that before the Web, most communication online was largely through command line input. In fact, one of the great 'side' achievements of the WWW was that it liberated us from this tyranny, giving us a 'graphical user interface' instead. In the library world, this was the difference between DIALOG which only a consultant could make head or tail of and current versions of Ebsco or Proquest.

Flash (and its predecesso­r, Shockwave) took this a step further by introducing a far higher level of interactivity. It allowed us to click on things, enlarge them, drag them across the browser window. It allowed us to better coordinate various types of media -- images, audio and video -- into a unified user experience. In fact, it did this with video so well that many people nowadays think of Flash as primarily a video delivery system.

And maybe it is, or was. Things move on. What we used to do in Flash, we're slowly being able to accomplish using Javascript, CSS and eventually HTML5. That's the path -- but it was Flash that showed us the way.


Triumph of Sanity: 'Web site' Now 'Website' in the new AP Stylebook

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 4/29/10 (8:45pm)

ap_stylebook_cover_sm.jpg I'm a bit late to the party on this one but it's always important to acknowledge a triumph of sanity over pedantry when it comes to the English language. The AP Stylebook, the self-proclaimed 'journalist's bible', has announced it's changing 'Web site' to 'website' both online and in its stylebook for next year.


Smart Phones are the new Magic Wand

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 2/27/10 (11:40am)

You'll be able to wave your smart phone at a product in a store and buy it if this article in the New York Times is to be believed.

Of course, the notion that people will be willing to turn their phones into a delivery device for retail marketing based on their every GPS move, called "aggressive merchandising" in the article, is a complete absurdity.

This however sounds more promising:

Did You Ask a Good Question Today?

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 2/14/10 (5:01pm)

Nice quote from an article in this month's American Libraries:

Winner Carolyn Wheeler told the audience of well-wishers [at the 2009 I Love My Librarian Award Ceremony in NYC] that she has a poster in her library that reads" "Did you ask a good question today?" That, Wheeler noted, sums up the best way to learn to love your librarian.