Saturday, June 28, 2008

this is one fire water won't put out

So on Friday I went to my first Unconference and had a blast. Thanks very much to the fine folks at York U. who put it on, and super extra doubleplus thanks to the people who attended my Evergreen session -- it was wonderful to talk with you! I'd put up my slides, but I didn't have any, and my notes are nigh unreadable.

Random impressions:

* The two-track format was good to fit more speakers in, but dammit, I would have *really* liked to have gone to George Duimovich's copyright session which was, uh, at the same time as mine.

* This may run counter to the very nature of an Unconference, but I really felt badly for the folks who might have put some prep into their sessions only not to be voted the coolest kid^H^H^H^H^H picked to speak. Through pure chance I managed to talk a bit with Dan Sich about his unpicked session on IM reference, and I really wish I could have seen him speak at length about it because I've been working over how to do queued, multi-librarian IM reference to AOL/MSN/Yahoo for, geez, two years now? Not solidly, mind you, but once every few months I'll think "Man, I wish I knew how to do queued, multi-librarian IM reference to AOL/MSN/Yahoo. Wouldn't that be awesome?" and perhaps libraryh3lp is the answer. Or will be the answer, when they get around to going cross-platform.

* I did however get to see Dan Scott lead a wonderful discussion on mobile devices in which I probably complained more than I should have about the less-than-sufficiently-free nature of mobile phone providers. I did get a mention of Splashtop in though, which I've seen pop up in bookmarks here and there.

* Amanda and David Fiander also talked about Drupal implementations, which was awesome. I've done minor Drupal installs myself over the years, but nothing big scale so it was great to hear about issues with running Drupal in a production environment.

* McGill U had some recent graduates show up, which was decidedly badass. Wish I had thought to try to go to conferences when I was in grad school.

So all in all the unconference was a smash. Hit all my buttons -- local, free, and just informal enough to be useful. Thanks, York!

Monday, June 23, 2008

My life, summed up

I'm a frequent and veeeeery vigorous user of -- basically it's my brain dump, so anything that's even remotely notable gets duly tagged and marked. I'm almost up to 9000 bookmarks, yowch.

So when that wordle thing came along and I was near a 32 bit machine (an aside: okay, there's no Java plugin for 64 bit Linux? buh) I popped my through it, and kapowee, here's the result.

Wow. I really really like Metafilter, huh? In my defense, very few of the Metafilter tags are just straight Metafilter. It's almost always mixed in with something else.

Big thanks to Amanda for prompting me to post.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Where I'm Gonna Be

I've never been as good as I should be on the presentation front; I always think something's been played out and people will never be interested in hearing me yammer about it unless I happen to be right at the front to mid-front of the wave. That's happened a couple of times (with Zotero and wikis) but not often enough. So I'm trying to correct that, and here are some places I'll be speaking at in the next few months:

May 7th I'm speaking to the Hamilton Linux User's Group about Evergreen. It's pretty easy to sell the idea of coming to speak on Evergreen to librarians, but I have to figure out a way to make ILS software interesting to people who may not give a wet slap about it. We'll see.

June 27th I'll be at the York University One Big Library unconference. Since it's an unconference, there's no submitting of proposals or anything, so I hope to go there and get some yammering in about Evergreen and copyright issues, or maybe both.

Aaand the big big one, natch: Access 2008 here in sunny beautiful Hamilton, where Dan Scott and I will be talking about, you guessed it, Evergreen. Specifically Ontario/Project Conifer's role in same.

Are you going to be at any of these? Let me know.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My own tech-nots

Following this (and by extension a lot of other folks):

* I don't own a cellphone. Work gives me one, but I never remember what the number is and I'm not sure I could check my voicemail. I find the interface annoying and confusing.

* I don't own any desktop computer that is newer than five years old. I have a five year old laptop that I never use. The last time I bought a new computer was in 1996. At the same time, I *do* buy embedded computers new: my Nokia N800, my Linksys router, (arguably) my wife's EEE laptop.

* My TV is from 1987. It was the baddest, ass-kickingest tube TV in 1987. Now, people make fun of me for it. The speakers on it don't work so well.

* I don't have a PVR. I tape things, and I fast forward through commercials. Because of the peculiarities of the TV schedules where I live, about 90% of what I watch on TV is Simpsons reruns.

* I don't own a functioning MP3 player. I have an iRiver whose interface is somewhat broken, and I don't use it.

* I can't program very well. This one is actually the hardest one for me to admit; I have a lot of shame over it. I can do some shell scripting and some Ruby but that's it. I have lots of colleagues I look up to whose programming skills range from middling to mind-blowing, and here I am with 13 years of Linux experience and I sometimes have to ask the dumbest questions.

* I don't play many modern games. Part of this is not having Windows or a modern gaming console (I do have a PS2 for which I buy the occasional very used game, and I am inching ever-so-slightly towards a Wii; Spore for Wii might push me over the edge). At the same time, I'm pretty fond of old NES/SNES/MAME/Genesis type games. The concept of paying a monthly fee to play World of Warcraft weirds me out.

* The oven in my apartment confounds me. You have to press one button to wake it up, and then set the temperature with buttons, and then another button to turn it on.. or do you? What's wrong with analog dials, dammit?

* I hate e-books. I really hate Amazon's Kindle; something I see as a very promising device that got wrecked by DRM. At the same time, I'm very fond of e-journals, at least those of which you can get articles in PDF format. E-books are (usually) just too laden with DRM for me to give a wet slap about. I will make an exception here for Creative Commons e-books.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

you cannot escape your destiny

Since moving to Canada last year, I've told people that although copyright was a particular research interest of mine back in the States, I've tried to put it on the back burner here 'cos, well, despite everything that's similar this is a different country, with (natch) different copyright laws, and I didn't want to assume something about the Canadian version of copyright and then have it come back to bite me.

But really, I can't push down what's not only a research interest but a philosophical and moral thing for me as well, so I've made tentative steps towards learning about Canadian copyright.

So a couple of weeks ago or thereabouts, I gave a presentation on copyright, fair dealing, and the Creative Commons to the folks here at McMaster, the slides of which I have put up on here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Can I get a mic check?

Last Friday, Randy Metcalfe of eIFL was kind enough to make the trip from K-W to McMaster to talk to me about Evergreen. In the process, he makes me sound a lot cooler than I actually am. Thanks, Randy!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cheboygan, land o' penguins.

So I spent most of my Christmas vacation in the depths of Michigan, in a shack that only relatively recently got their own (e.g, non party line) phone service. So yeah, forget about Internet, forget about any sort of informational fun that isn't either locally produced (spent a lot of time watching the Johnny Carson DVDs my pop got for Christmas) or over-the-air TV (Mitt Romney was hitting the airwaves hard, let me tell you). But my pop had a Windows laptop he had to whip into shape, which means a lot of licensing tomfoolery and Windows Updates and all that delight. Which means network access.

So we head to Cheboygan, their public library and their free wifi. It's a new building, a little small, but pretty well laid out. Has fishing poles for checkout behind the circ desk. We get there, and they've got a room with about 15 machines for public internet use and eventually something hits me:

these machines are all running Kubuntu.

It's a library, so I resisted what would be my natural instinct to jump up and run around yelling like a goon. Instead, I get up and pester the library director. Here's what I found out:

1) The machines have been there for around a year.
2) There's been mostly positive response, but some negative.
3) They used to have a guy who spent one entire day a week cleaning off viruses and other assorted muck back when they were running Windows.
4) Support and install was contracted to a local guy -- they don't seem to have their own IT department.
5) Patrons use their card data for login, so they've got their data either exposed from their Voyager ILS or are extracting it from some other source.

Of course, with all the Evergreen stuff going on in Michigan I had to ask the guy if they were considering it -- not at the moment, they wanted to wait and see how Grand Rapids worked out.

This isn't the first time I've personally witnessed public access Linux machines -- in 1996, I had two machines running Linux in the map library back in Ohio, but they didn't stay too long. But boy howdy was I excited to see this in Cheboygan. Hopefully it will spread elsewhere.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.