Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New 811 Number to Call before Digging in the Yard

Call 811 before you dig in your yard. For more information on this subject, click this link.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Assumptions about the Future of Academic Libraries

The American Academy of Research Libraries requested of its Research Committee a study of the most relevant and important issues that academic librarians should anticipate in the coming years. Their report is quite interesting, and should provide some guidance to those in library school now or planning to enter library school in the near future, and to anyone interested in the future direction of the profession.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Librarians Worry, Too!

Psychologist Saqib Saddiq will soon present his research to the British Psychological Society on the results of a study of 300 people working in a broad spectrum of fields. Among the areas of employment were librarians. Although it is widely thought that librarians might be more relaxed than other workers, according to Saddiq this will not be the actual case.

300 volunteers were chosen for the study from among firefighters, train operators, teachers, librarians, and police officers. Nine "stressors" were analyzed, such as size of workload, independence measures, earnings and the like.

Surprisingly, librarians did not fare well in this study. Primary causes, according to the article, concern the lack of control librarians feel they have over their daily work lives, pay levels and the environment of the library. Librarians tended to be absent from work more often than workers in some of the other fields.

Reference: BBC News.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Book Review: "Treasure of Khan"

I will make this short and as painless (for me) as possible. In an effort to broaden my reading to cover "beach reads" and popular best selling fiction, I read "Treasure of Kahn," by Clive Cussler and his son, from beginning to welcomed end. I saw this book on a best seller list somewhere, and knew that Cussler was a popular writer, although I had never read anything before by him. I doubt I will read anything else by him either.

Cussler is a master of the plot. Unfortunately, the plot of this tale is totally unbelievable. I wish I had counted the incidents in which the main characters extracted themselves from death defying situations through extraordinarily unbelievable means. I just could not believe the machine that created earthquakes on demand, nor the hiding of an entire motorcycle under a desert bush.

As for characters, I was truly disappointed in the total lack of character development in this book. There was none. Two of the main players were so poorly defined that I constantly confused one from the other.

I will invite you to read Amazon or some other cite for a formal review. I consider this one to be more in the nature of a warning.

Cussler co-wrote this book with his son--I suppose he is trying to groom the younger man to continue the Cussler dynasty. This book did nothing to pass on a brilliant legacy. Sorry.

The Dirty Dozen: Common Everyday Actions that Assholes Use

Although I have only recently graduated from library school and am now searching for a fun, satisfying position somewhere, recollections of my first career as an attorney still linger in the mind. When I reviewed the brand new bestseller noted below, I immediately recognized a work long overdue. In the workplace, there is no place for assholes. The author makes this brilliantly clear in his book. Without further adieu:

The Dirty Dozen: Common Everyday Actions that Assholes Use

  • Personal insults
  • Invading one's "personal Space"
  • Uninvited physical contact
  • Threats and intimidation, both verbal and nonverbal
  • "Sarcastic Jokes" and "teasing" used as insult delivery systems
  • Withering e-mail flames
  • Status slaps intended to humiliate their victims
  • Public shaming or "status degradation" rituals
  • Rude interruptions
  • Two-faced attacks
  • Dirty looks
  • Treating people as if they are invisible
Excerpted from "The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't," by Robert E. Sutton

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


As a librarian, I am constantly striving to find that ultimate single ready reference web site. Among some of the sites that I have discovered is the Librarian's Internet Index. Another good reference source is Bartleby's. However, I believe that I am safe in stating that the best overall reference site on the internet at this time is the Drudge version of refdesk.com. Here , in one location, you are no more than one click away from most any information you might need. refdesk.com not only aggregates many references sources--dictionaries, encyclopedias, news sources, and other ready reference sources--but it also is one click from most popular mailboxes. For instance, I hit a drop down box at the upper right corner of refdesk.com, locate Google or Yahoo, click, and am brought automatically to my two primary mailboxes. Check out refdesk.com for yourself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007

New Competition for the Public Library?

Libraries now have another source of competition. In addition to bookstores, libraries must now compete for patrons with a new internet book rental service called "Bookswim." Patterned after Netflix, the popular movie rental program, Bookswim will charge a monthly fee and supply a stream of books to the customer. As additional enticement, Bookswim bears all costs of shipping, and there is no time limit imposed to return a book.

Several different programs are available, covering people who read only a book or two each month to those who read many, or for a family of readers to pay a single fee for all members combined.

Bookswim claims not to be in direct competition with libraries. In fact, it offers a program to libraries which Bookswim claims will alleviate the not infrequent problem when a rush of requests for a particular item exceeds the inventory in the library.

I am inclined to think that if this new book rental program survives and thrives, that it will be a bigger threat to the large booksellers than to the public libraries. After all, it is hard to compete with free! Should be interesting!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New Emerging Technologies

Emerging Technologies

Technology today is exploding! I am particularly impressed with advancements in four areas: technology that promises to protect us while on the road, technology that continues to bring us closer together no matter where we are, technology making our “stuff” smaller, faster and more efficient, and technology that affects our privacy and national security. This paper summarizes the possibilities.

I. Close to Home

Using new technology, the Emergency 911 office in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama can now triangulate the exact latitude and longitude of cell phone users. Recently this technology may have saved the life of a worker trapped beneath a gas pipeline way out in a rural area of the county. I suggest that parents should advise their children to keep their cell phones turned on whenever away from home.

Parents might also want to consider a new technology enabling them to monitor the driving habits of their kids. Teenarivealive.com offers a global positioning system chip that is built into the teen’s cell phone, and serves to locate the teen and to determine his speed of movement. If the driver exceeds a predetermined speed, a beeper warns both the parents and the teen. Technology has no answer as to what to do after that, however.

II. On the Go

Additional new technologies will someday serve all people whenever they are on the go, and wherever they are located. Cheetah Wireless Technologies is near completion of the country’s first pilot mobile broadband network in Las Vegas, Nevada. This network employs routers located on city owned light poles, streetlights and road signs. Signals are transmitted in a mesh pattern instead of the conventional hub and spokes pattern seen in cellular and Wi-Fi networks. As long as a laptop is near any of the routers, its signals can be channeled in random fashion through any of the other routers to any destination, including the internet, thus extending the range of the system beyond previous technologies.

Wireless broadband is spreading rapidly. From Orlando to Denver to Salt Lake City, and soon to be everywhere else it appears, are wireless networks featuring high-speed rates of broadband data transfer. MeshNetworks Inc. and others are also employing these systems to assist cities, fire and police departments, as well as computer users. These pilot programs are not identical, and I think it will be very interesting to see how this technology plays out. The next “Microsoft” may arise from one of these ventures!

III. Smaller, Faster, Better

One of the most exciting single ventures under development at this time is that being undertaken by Neah Power Systems, Inc. They, and some competitors, are working on technology to replace batteries in cell phones, PDAs and small devices with fuel cells powered directly by alcohol and alcohol mixtures. The technology will increase “battery life”, and make recharging the fuel cell cheap, easy and fast. There are problems to be worked out, not the least of which is the law forbidding the presence of alcohol products on airplanes, a favorite location of the trendy, “wired “set.

Intel is working on a new microchip architecture that will lower user electric bills, will facilitate easier computer management, and lower IT management costs. They have promised to deliver processors with two or more cores that can each operate slower and cooler, but provide more performance than today’s single-core chip. Intel is promising other advances, too, such as “virtualization”, which allows computers to run multiple operating systems and applications in virtual partitions. This should allow for a computer to continue functioning even after an individual application has failed.

Intel has already designed the Pentium-M, a cooler-running, more power-efficient processor. With the emergence of wireless Internet, Intel combined the Pentium M, a Wi-Fi radio, and a low power chipset to create “Centrino”. Intel has termed this combination “platformizations”, meaning “the convergence of computing and communications.” Intel has installed Centrino certified Wi-Fi stations in many locations. Users now expect new laptops to be wireless.

IV. Privacy Matters!

Technologies aimed at increasing automation tend to lower costs and increase convenience. According to the article by Kumagai and Cherry, they also represent a threat to personal privacy. RFID tags (a small microchip coupled with a tiny radio antenna) and enormous databases of consumer activity created through data mining and other consumer tracking devices will eventually provide a very clear picture of every individual. If the security of this information is ever compromised or misused, the personal privacy of a person could be in grave danger.

Researchers are working on biometric sensors to identify individuals by their walking style (gait). “GPS” receivers are being developed to track an individual with pinpoint accuracy. Digital cameras and video cameras are becoming smaller with higher resolution and are now being implanted in cell phones. Expect to see mass-produced sensors to monitor such things as groundwater content. One researcher has developed a technology to perform surveillance on surveillance devices! His device will have the capability of being built into watches or cell phones. In the future, expect to be able to wear (woven into our clothing) multimedia devices and cameras.

Researchers anticipate equipment that can trace every individual at any location, any time, all the time! Also coming are artificial noses that can detect traces of explosives in an individual’s hair. RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags can be implanted under an individual’s skin for identification. The federal government is pushing researchers to develop biometrics as surveillance tools. This involves face recognition and increased-distance iris scanning. A wireless technology recently developed has the ability to differentiate the “background radiation” between objects and humans, and could be useful in airport security.


Well, there you have my overview of the technology that most fascinates me. Some of it also scares me a little. We must hope to embrace it, and use it well in our lives. We must pray that it does not engulf us, and make us its victims!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ossuary of Jesus and Mary at New York City Public Library?

According to this website, the ossuaries of Jesus and Mary Magdalene were displayed today at the New York Public Library, in connection with the upcoming documentary about the Tomb at Talpiot, just south of Jereusalem.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007

Google Search Using Government Documents

If you are looking for government information, or just looking for any information, but want to be certain that the information is dependable, instead of just entering a query into Google, enter the query into Google/ig/usgov . What looks like your standard Google search bar is, on closer observation, limiting the search to government information. Only government websites will be returned for your search! Try it—enter “wild flowers” and determine for yourself if this information is superior to a standard Google search.

Although the US Government is the world’s largest publisher of information, you will not be able to locate all the answers on a government web site. But you should try a government source if there is any chance that your answers could be there. Limiting the scope of the Google search by eliminating much of the commercial garbage is refreshing.

Google has finally "made it" officially. The term "google" has been incorporated into two of our major dictionaries. I cannot wait to see the term in a real, printed edition of the dictionary. I always wanted to know what "google" actually meant.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Book Review- "The Places in Between"

Americans know nothing whatsoever about how people live in far off countries such as Afghanistan. This ignorance leads the governments of Western nations to do many foolish things in a vain attempt to assist the less advantaged peoples of these third-world nations.

This is one of the many impressions to be gained by readers of Rory Stewart's book, "The Places in Between." Stewart walked across Afghanistan in 2002, from Herat to Kabul, employing his rudimentary knowledge of the lanquages of the people, plus quickly assimilated details of local customs. He maintained a quick wit, in lieu of any weapon besides a walking staff. Otherwise he undoubtedly would not have survived the trip.

His trip took about a month to complete, and included confrontations with packs of dogs, snow storms, rock-throwing kids, rifle toting militiamen, and many other adventures. It will become quite evident to the American reader that although Stewart engineered the distance successfuly, that the reader likely would not have.

Stewart is a brilliant writer. His detail of the people, mostly men, and the customs of the people he encounters, is spellbinding. Through his writings one comes away with an understanding of just how very different are the peoples of Afghanistan from us. At the same time, he is careful to detail the ways in which modern society has impacted the way of life of the people of the various tribes he came across.

This book was included by the New York Times on its list of best books for 2006. After reading it, I concur with the opinion of the experts.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Book Review--The Looming Tower

Just completed "The Looming Tower" by Lawrence Wright. I chose to read this book because I was anxious to read a concise and accurate story of the events leading up to the trajedy of 9/11. I try to limit my reading to books of high quality, and this book was listed among the one hundred best books of 2006 by the New York Times Book Review--and it was dead on target, all about how 9/11 came to happen. Reading it has been an eye-opening experience!

Several assumptions that I have carried around for were reversed by this book. For instance, I was of the thought that Osama bin Laden was a wealthy man. In fact, although he had been fairly wealthy at one time, due mainly to the efforts of his father before him, but attributable in part to his own successes in business, I learned that bin Laden was wiped out financially when he departed Sudan in the mid-90s. That government was happy to see bin Laden go, but being a corrupt government, it decided that since he was leaving for good, why not take most of his assets from him as they booted him out. So they did just that, forcing him to sell most of his assets for pennies on the dollar or for nothing at all. After that, donations funded his operations.

A second assumption that I have long harbored was that there is some degree of solidarity among Muslims and Arabs concerning bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. This appears not to be the case. In fact, a number of the governments of the Middle East would like nothing better than to see him dead. These include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey among others. This has been the case for many years. Al-Qaeda brews discontent, and discontent is not a good thing for those in positions of government power. So when it comes to Muslim governments at least, Bin Laden and his accomplices are enemy #1.

I had heard and read numerous sources all to the effect that the US government had bungled matters in its investigation of Al-Qaeda prior to 9/11. This formed the core subject of the book. In vivid detail, the web of facts is presented to the reader. It is clear that 9/11 probably would not have occurred had the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA) not been cut off from each other by the wall of silence that existed. These agencies each had information that the others could have used to put the puzzle together. Interagency competitiveness prevented cooperation. The reader will be very angry with our government beurocracy when the truth is revealed!

Lawrence Wright lists at the end of this book all the people he interviewed prior to writing. His evidence is first hand, all gleaned from talking to principals. He lists over 500 persons with whom he spoke. He includes an extensive bibliography as well. I suggest that if a person seeks to understand Al-Qaeda, and the threat it poses, read the book. As a truthful history of an event, it just doesn't get much better than this.