Monday, July 31, 2006

The Hazards of Public Libraries

There have been a lot of entertaining YouTube videos related to libraries bouncing around the blogosphere. Here's one that had me laughing. I don't know how the teen kept a straight face (you can tell he had some trouble...).

Library News Podcast

Marv K sent an email to the Bibliocasting listserv to tell us that he's doing a podcast called LibVibe on library news.

Woo hoo! Now I can get my library news in podcast format! And it's going to be short - 5 mins per edition. I haven't checked it out yet, but Andrew Whitis has and says it's good stuff!

Books in the Loo

An interesting Article from the Sunday New York Times called "Chamber Plots" (ah, love the pun) discusses the practice of keeping books and magazines in the bathroom.

Currently, my bathroom contains the large number of issues of American Libraries, College & Research Libraries News, and College & Research Libraries that I have not yet read (ooops!). Lately I've been thinking that I need to get a basket of some sort to keep all of them in...

Now, however, I'm contemplating purchasing a copy of the Darwin Awards, or something equally entertaining, for any guests who use my facilities. Or a Mother Goose & Grimm book. I love that comic strip!

My brother used to put his Far Side books in the bathroom, which always made for an entertaining read.

What's in your bathroom?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Suggested MySpace Enhancement

You know what MySpace needs to do? It needs to make it so you can group your friends into categories. Facebook groups them for you by location. That's fine and all, but I'm talking more like IM lets you do. You create and name the categories. I have about 67 friends right now. Many of them are high school or college friends. Some are work friends. I'm adding more librarians for networking purposes. I add musicians that I like. I've added some books. And then there are random people.

Why can't I group those?

Another MySpace recommendation would be to fix the slowness issue. It seems like I can never get into it! Or all the errors. Fix that too. Enough about that though.

Grouping friends would be pretty sweet!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tasty Reads 2: Podcasting Pocket Guide

Would you look at that, it is becoming a regular post on this blog. I'm already at Tasty Reads 2. No, I don't have miraculous speed-reading skills, I'm just always reading several books at once.

Tasty Reads number 2 is the Podcasting Pocket Guide by Kirk McElhearn, Richard Giles, and Jack D. Herrington (published by O'Reilly). This book comes in at under 100 pages and is in fact, more or less pocket-sized. It would fit in a man's shirt pocket or a back pocket in a pair of jeans, sticking out a bit.

No, I don't intend to start podcasting (sorry to disappoint, I know you were so hopeful and all). Rather, I am doing a presentation with a coworker on podcasting, so I thought maybe, just maybe, I outta read a basic intro.

This books does a nice job of introducing you to the whole podcasting thing. How to listen, create (really, it's pretty simple), and edit. It also gives a list of 30 recommended podcasts. It's pretty good for beginners, but I have to say, some of the editing stuff was a bit over my head.

The best part was the 30 recommended podcasts. I recently purchased an MP3 player, and so now I'm on the look out for new podcasts to subscribe to. Because of this book, I am checking out:
  1. The Bitterest Pill - a podcast done by an entertaining stay-at-home father, who just announced a podcasting hiatus of undetermined length (he'll be back to podcasting no later than September, he says).

  2. Dr. Karl - I haven't listened to this one yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Aimed towards kids (well, at least it's on a youth radio station), this podcast answers science questions. Two examples in the book are: "Why is my nasal hair square?" and "How can I explode my own urine?" What can I say? It promises to be quite entertaining.

  3. Winecast - I have a friend who really seems to know her wine, so I'm going to listen to this one to show her up. Okay, not really, but it does sound interesting. I am lucky enough to begin subscribing on a podcast where Tim Elliott (the podcaster) is doing a bit of an introduction to wine tasting. Great place to start for a novice like me.

    Actually, as I'm typing this, I'm sipping some Breitenbach Blackberry American Wine which is made in Dover, Ohio (Amish country). It's sweet, but other than that, I couldn't tell you a whole lot about it. Maybe that will soon change.

  4. The Gadget Show - As if I don't already read and listen to enough about tech stuff, I had to come across yet another that I couldn't live without. This one is done by Richard Giles (one of the authors of the book). The one podcast I've listened to so far is pretty good stuff. Plus, he has a great Australian accent, which automatically makes everything even more interesting. :)
*Kat's Konclusion: More or less munch-worthy. Recommended.*

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tasty Reads: Naked Conversations

I just finished reading an excellent book called Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. If you are at all interested in blogging in a business-type setting, you absolutely must read it!

First of all, I have to say it's an extremely entertaining read. It took me a while to read it, but I never even considered not finishing it. Given that I almost never finish any of the nonfiction books I start, that's very high praise.

So, on to what I took away from the book:
  1. Blogging lets small businesses reach more customers, and at a much cheaper price.

  2. Blogging humanizes enormous companies. Think how down-to-earth a company seems when its CEO or President blogs and you can leave him/her comments! And he/she actually responds back!

  3. Blogging shifts the power to the customer (where it should be, right?). Stories spread like wildfire through the blogosphere. One person can lodge a complaint on his/her blog and the next thing you know, everyone is talking about it. Ouch for that company!

  4. Blogging builds trust. A company that lets or even encourages its employees to blog will find the loyalty of its customers on the rise. Customers read the employee blogs and come to trust what the employees have to say (as long as they blog well, of course, and don't maintain completely one-sided, glowing blogs about their companies). Before long, they start to trust a company that would hire such great people.

  5. Not every company should blog. It depends a lot on the culture of the company and on whether or not the company leaders trust the employees to blog well. Companies with secrets should not blog.

  6. Traditional, one-way advertising may be on its way out. Blogging is cheaper and much more effective.

  7. Businesses need to monitor the blogosphere to see what their customers are saying about them.

  8. Businesses must react quickly to negative customer posts. The customer may have a very valid point and waiting days to go through the traditional complaint procedures will cause a company's image to plummet in the blogosphere. Immediate response is essential!
The book also offers advice for safe blogging, as well as lots of examples of good blogs to read.

The best part is all the stories that illustrate the above points. Real examples of businesses using blogging to their advantage, as well as examples of where blogging could have helped diffuse a crisis.

Also: Check out the Naked Conversations blog.

*Kat's Konclusion: Yum! Highly Recommended!*

Side Note: I'm hoping Tasty Reads (with it's cheesy "Kat's Konclusion") will become a regular feature as I read books and blog about them. We shall see. It takes me a while to get through books these days.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Age Verification for MySpace?

The Associated Press has an article on the use of age verification for social networking sites. Several government officials are pushing for various age verification techniques which include driver's licenses or credit cards.

I think MySpace would suffer quite a bit if they were to require something like credit card verification. I, for one, would never give MySpace my credit card number. With as many problems as it has (all those annoying errors!), I wouldn't trust it to keep my credit card number secure. Whether that's a justified fear or not, I still have it and I'm willing to bet others feel the same.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Rocking out at your library

Check out this YouTube video of Harry and the Potters rocking it at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

They are singing about doing research (although I have trouble figuring out the words), and all these girls are screaming and jumping around. Who would've thought!

[Found on Stephen's Lighthouse]

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Wanking in the library has a post on perverts (aka, men exposing themselves or wanking off) in the Cleveland area public libraries, and suggests that perhaps filters are a good thing after all. I've also heard people comment in horror about this and other news stories.

However, I ask:
  1. What library does not have this problem? Don't be blaming Cleveland, these tales come from everywhere.

  2. Why are you blaming libraries? We let everyone in. That's just the nature of libraries - providing access to information for all. We also can't put up security cameras to catch these people (well, at least most of us can't) because that costs precious money we'd rather spend on programs, books, and other resources. And we can't be spending our time playing detective in the stacks looking for pervs.

  3. What are internet filters going to do? We still have books like The Joy of Sex and Madonna's Sex book. Should we censor those as well? I think not! And what about those pervs who get their kicks from nudes in art books? What then? Censors and filters are not the answer.
I wonder if museums ever have problems with pervs around the nude portraits. Probably not since they need security cameras and lots of guards. I bet it's not just libraries though. Perhaps bookstores, art stores, etc. Now that would be an interesting study.

Friday, July 14, 2006

How to Drive Patrons Away

I love sarcastic people. They make me laugh, and the Annoyed Librarian is no exception. Her post containing tips on how to worsen public service is hysterical. So if you want to drive patrons away (or if you just want a good laugh), I highly advise that you check out this post. My favorite tip is:
A good response to almost any complaint is, "That's just the way we've always done it." ("Your website looks like it was designed by a baboon with ADD." "That's just the way we've always done it!")
Really I think that's just because I like the mental image of a baboon with ADD. Actually, I think it would be even better if it were a baboon with ADHD.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Rethinking the Library Course

As a result of listening to an excellent podcast from Rochelle Mazar and Jason Nolan of the Metaphorica Network, I have completely revamped my Library Research Methods course. Or at least, I've got some new ideas (and plan to throw out the old or at the very least, reincorporate them in a new way), and will get to spend the months before I teach again in the spring figuring out how to implement them as best as possible.

This method should eliminate the need for a textbook (which the students will love), foster discussion, and get them actively engaged in learning by making it very hands-on. As my ideas develop, I will post more about them.

But for now, if you teach a course (it certainly does not have to be a library-related one) and are interested in incorporating blogs into it, I highly recommend you check out the podcast! And perhaps check out their blog as well.

Amusing Error Messages

In a post on WeBreakStuff entitled Wow, talk about error messages 2.0, there is an error message from Technorati that's pretty dang funny. Companies should use this kind of humor more often. It makes you care so much less about the actual error.

I think MySpace should take note. I see their error message more than any other site I visit (and perhaps more than all of the others combined!), and I think I'd be less annoyed if they just used some humor. I actually have no clue what their error message says anymore because I stopped reading it long ago.

And, it's not an error message, but I just love Gmail's "Hooray, no spam here!" message when your spam folder is empty. :)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Yet Another Awesome Firefox Extension

I've stumbled across another sweet Firefox extension after listening to the FLOSS Weekly podcast with Ben Goodger of Firefox. One of the guys on the show mentioned an extension called Flashblock. It blocks all of those annoying Flash ads. If you decide you actually want to see whatever Flash has been blocked, all you have to do is click it.

I've been wishing there was an Adblock equivalent for Flash. Guess I should've looked harder.

I downloaded it here. It's also on Mozilla's Firefox Add-ons site.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I Heart My MP3 Player

Having an MP3 player is wonderful! In addition to all the music, I have been listening to some great podcasts. Really only two so far, but I'm hoping to keep my podcast subscriptions to a reasonable number (something I can't seem to do with my blog subscriptions). So, for your listening pleasure, I suggest you check out:

Science Update Podcast - This weekly podcast gives updates on things going on in the science world, from nifty things such as the Harry Potter invisibility cloak being a possibility in the future to a chewing gum that fights cancer. They are pretty short - maybe 5-6 minutes per weekly podcast. A nice quick update of some very cool stuff.

FLOSS Weekly
- This one is probably something most of you won't be interested in but I find it fascinating. It's all about open source stuff. Each podcast is an hour long. So far I've listened to Ryan Gordon talk about porting games to Linux, Jimmy Wales talk about Wikipedia, and earlier today I listened to Ben Goodger talk about Firefox. The Jimmy Wales interview was all over the library blogs a while ago. Good stuff!

And now I'm done sounding like an advertisement for podcasts... :)

To subscribe to these podcasts, I'm using Juice. I had to resort to Winamp though to get the older ones. I had my Juice preferences set up to skip old podcasts permanently and that didn't work so well when I wanted to listen to the Firefox and Wikipedia ones.

KSU Athletes Can Use Facebook After All

But on a restricted basis. According to a Columbus Dispatch article, students must use Facebook's privacy settings, limiting it to "friends" only.... as well as coaches and academic advisors. A step in the right direction but also interesting given that students at my small liberal arts college often have 300-400 "friends".

Having coaches and academic advisors monitor the profiles may have the desired educational effect, however. Just the knowledge alone that a coach or academic advisor is reading their profile will probably cause them to think twice about what they post.

On a side note: According to the article, Facebook has 7.5 million users. The current statistic on MySpace is 83 million users. Wow.

Funny library blog

I read a lot of blogs (ack! 92 feeds in Bloglines - when did that happen? I guess that explains my favorite task of clicking through many of them without reading just to clear the number of unread ones...), many of them to learn more about Library Land, but some just for laughs. One of my favorite humorous library blogs is A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette. I love it for its short posts and endless bitterness, cynicism, and sarcasm. :)