Thursday, June 29, 2006

Google Checkout goes live

Google has launched Google Checkout a PayPal-like system to shop online without having to re-enter your personal information, and without having to remember different passwords. There areen't many stores honoring the service, yet. Knowing Google, though, that should change quickly. Several merchants are offering promos with $10 discounts on purchases of $20 or more. I just used the service at and it worked like a charm - AND I got $10 off on a $26 order!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A terabyte of storage on a DVD disk

From CNet News

Haifa, Israel--Matteris doesn't think optical disks, even Blu-ray ones, hold enough storage.

The company, which spins out of Israel's technical university Technion, has devised a coating for 5.25 optical disks that can hold up to a terabyte of storage, according to Zohan Gendler, who runs the incubator at Technion. The incubator takes promising ideas concocted by professors, students and local entrepreneurs and turns them into companies.

The massive increase in storage (Blu-ray disks will hold 50GB while HD DVD will hold less) is a variant of holographic storage. Producing the disks, when mass manufacturing occurs, should only cost $2 to $3 dollars. The disks only need a 500 micron thick layer of the coating.

"It stores in the volume (of the material) not just the surface," he said.

The company is in initial negotiations with brand name Japanese manufacturers.

The first discs will hold 500GB and be sold to corporations for storage. Later it will move into the high definition entertainment market.

Affordable Legal Advice

From Cool Tools


Nolo Press Self-help books are written by lawyers. They give clear, no nonsense instructions on how to deal with all sorts of issues, from getting your greencard, incorporating, writing your own will or trust to buying a house. No lawyer needed! Forms are included on CD-rom, as is excellent website support. Best of all, the books clearly state if and when you should consult a real lawyer. These are tools written by lawyers who are fed up with overcharging customers and making law inaccessible through complex language. Most solutions are common sense, and Nolo tells you how to do it without breaking the bank (or the law).

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"Searcles" Social Search Launches

The social search platform Searchles was launched today at search + circles = Searchles. The site was conceived to help users connect with their friends and share their favorite websites. Searchles is a search platform centered on social groups, not individuals. Searchles will soon be integrated with the Dumbfind search engine so users will influence search results.

"Words and tags have no credibility unless they are backed up by someone you know. We created Searchles to put users in control of their search experience and to let them harness the collective brainpower of their peers," said Chris Seline, CEO and founder of Searchles and the search engine Dumbfind. "I was also tired of getting swamped with emails from friends on every subject that interested them. Now, I will just go to their profile and check out what they are doing."

The developers of Searchles have also achieved full integration with YouTube so when you tag a video from YouTube or Google Video, the video is automatically integrated into the Searchles site. Your friends won’t have to leave the site to watch your favorite videos. They are integrated directly into search results.

Here is a comprehensive list of features you will find at

- Automatic integration of YouTube and Google Videos
- Personal Flash tag clouds you can install on your MySpace page
- Create groups on any topic to share URL’s with like minded people
- Discuss URL’s with friends
- Save URL’s to Searchles that are accessible from anywhere
- Tag URL’s for easy recall
- Searchles automatically downloads documents and indexes them for maximum searchiness
- Connect with your friends and URL’s will be automatically shared

Anyone can join the New York Public Library

This may not be news to many of you, but for $100 you can obtain a non-resident New York Public Library membership that will allow you access to their available databases, e-books, audio books, and videos available for legal downloading. You do not have to physically pick up your card, they will mail it to you!

Sign up here

Peruse the available databases here

Friday, June 23, 2006

Launched - The Official Blog of Henry Jenkins

From the site:
Henry Jenkins is the Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities. He is the author and/or editor of nine books on various aspects of media and popular culture, including Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture and From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. His forthcoming books include Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide and Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture.

Good stuff for us all!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

55 Ways to Have Fun with Google

55ways-coverFree download

Brilliant "Art of the Start" Presentation

Guy Kawasaki of Garage Ventures is one of my favorite entrepreneurs and in this video offers advice of value even to libraries. This will be 40 mins of the most informative fun you will have today:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New method for dating art prints, books

From PennState Live
A new and relatively simple method for discovering the date when centuries-old art prints and books were produced has been developed at Penn State. The method could reveal long-sought information about thousands of undated works printed on hand-operated presses before the development of modern printing methods in the mid-19th century, including works by Rembrandt and Shakespeare. "The discovery that the wood blocks and metal plates used for printmaking deteriorate at a clocklike rate means that we can now use the prints as a 'print clock' for determining the date a work was printed," said Blair Hedges, professor of biology at Penn State and author of the paper describing the research, which will be published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences.

More at the link.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

OLEDs hold promise for eBooks


Liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) are ubiquitous in everyday technology, from mobile phones and laptops to car stereos and coffee machines. But the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display is emerging as a credible flat-panel alternative thanks to some important advantages over LCDs.

OLEDs possess the most fundamental feature needed in a display - they look great. As the name implies, OLEDs are diodes and function by injecting holes and electrons into a recombination region from which coloured light emerges. Different organic materials emit red, green, blue or other wavelengths of light, and come in small molecule and polymer form. Because they are emissive, OLEDs also have an excellent viewing angle, good contrast and high brightness.

Flexible OLEDs could be used in applications such as shop signage, electronic shelf labels, novel forms of advertising displays and even electronic books or paper. Most developers agree that even entry-level products are still at least 2-3 years away due to technical challenges, but this represents an important long-term option for OLEDs.

opera 9 released

Opera has released version 9 of their feature-laden browser and it really looks good! This latest iteration integrates tabbed browsing, thumbnail previews, integrated search, BitTorrent and much more. Plus, it's a free download!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Rethink the role of the library catalog

From TechEssence.Info

Library catalogs are at a cross-roads, and it is time to consider a new and improved vision for these tools. If the library catalog and its utility do not evolve, then the utility of a library will increasingly become irrelevant. Libraries and librarians bring a certain expertise to the acquisition, evaluation, and dissemination information. This expertise is not limited to books, journals, and videos, so why should the most significant electronic public face to a library -- its catalog -- be limited in such a way?

Much more at the link.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wikipedia to students: Stop citing our site

From CNET News
"Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, has asked that college students refrain from citing Wikipedia as a source of academic research.

Yes, some actually are...and then complaining to him when teachers give them failing grades for doing it.

While speaking at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Wales said that he receives about 10 e-mails a week from complaining college students. While Wales thinks Wikipedia is useful for many things, he said that he would like to make it known that he does not recommend it to college students for serious research.

He also expressed little sympathy for any college student who would still rely on an encyclopedia for academic info. He did say, however, that Wikipedia has considered putting out a fact sheet on the site. It would explain the nature of Wikipedia and why it's not always a definitive source. Teachers could hand it out, he said.

Aside from the obvious accuracy debate, the mere nature of Wikipedia as a constantly changing open source encyclopedia goes against the purpose of academic attribution.

Wales' comments were reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

From The Official Google Blog

Want to find those IRS forms to get in your taxes on time? Need to figure out where to send your DMV fees, or find the phone number for your local parks and rec department? Google U.S. Government Search launches today -- it's a site on which you can 1) search across a huge index of U.S. Federal, state and local government websites via a single search box, and 2) stay up to date through personalized content feeds from government agencies and press outlets. Off you go.

How to cheat good

An insightful and funny look at students who cheat, and cheat badly. Alex Halavais in his blog "a thaumaturgical compendium" lists suggestions that are, "almost guaranteed to pass off your plagiarism and cheating as your own work."
This will allow the faculty to remain in blissful ignorance, believing that—despite the low pay—they are spreading knowledge in the world, while at the same time convincing your parents to continue to pay for several more years of school, drunken orgies, and Prada bags. Your classmates who do not follow the above rules will constitute the “low hanging fruit,” easily picked off and tormented by mean-spirited unfulfilled teachers for their own amusement. You, however, will rise above the fray, secure in your superious ability to act smart, even if you don’t understand the text you are passing off as your own.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Free Audiobooks from BMW

A few years ago BMW released a series of acclaimed films by directors such as John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Tony Scott and they were quite good. This year BMW has comissioned a series of four downloadable audiobooks from Don Winslow, James Flint, Simon Kernick and Karin Slaughter. From the site:
"Put on your seatbelt and prepare for highs, lows and plenty of twists and turns. BMW, in conjunction with Random House, brings you BMW Audio Books, a unique series of specially- commissioned short stories showcasing the work of some of the finest contemporary writing talent. Each gripping audio book is yours to download for free. Listen to them on your MP3 player, your laptop or ideally, in the car. So sit back, hit play and enjoy the ride."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

From Popgadget via Boing Boing

This is straight out of a science fiction movie, but if they can actually make it come true, it may be extremely useful. This Fukuda’s Automatic Door fits like a glove, and opens just enough to fit the exact shape of the person or the object that’s passing through. Its motion-detecting portal saves energy by keeping a door from having to open and close all the way, which helps to maintain a stable temperature in a room, and can prevent dirt or other materials from entering. In addition to people, this sci-fi door can be used to accommodate objects large and small, like packages dropped off at a post office, or even a car coming through a garage door. And, it will be most useful for people who are handicapped or can’t manage to open and close the doors very easily.

It’s still in prototype mode right now in Japan. You can check it out at , but it’s in Japanese only.

Amazon, Plastic Logic and the end of e-Books

From The Cambridge Evening News
Amazon, the world's biggest bookseller, is in talks with Cambridge company, Plastic Logic, about the end of books as we know them.

Plastic Logic has come up with the ultimate in e-books, overcoming the problem of reading an inflexible page on a screen - something which was never going to usurp the traditional book.

News of the Amazon/Plastic Logic link was given to a Cambridge audience on Thursday night when Hermann Hauser delivered the RSA Lecture at Magdalene College.

His theme was: "What makes a good entrepreneur" and one of Cambridge's hottest entrepreneurial endeavours at the moment is Plastic Logic, which is making microchips cheap as chips by printing them with plastic ink as opposed to etching in silicon.

"The reason why Amazon doesn't sell e-books at the moment is because people don't like reading on a screen, but now they can curl up with an e-book," Dr Hauser said.

This past week, Plastic Logic has been showing off its new product concepts at a trade show in San Francisco, under the heading 'Life is Flexible'.

All the concepts incorporate PL's radical new flexible display technology, and, in the company's words: "They illustrate the inevitable transformation we will see in everyday products as a result of plastic electronics over the next decade."

More at the link.

RuBee protocol overcomes RFID shortcomings

From Endgadget

The IEEE has just tasked a working group with finalizing the specs on the so-called RuBee protocol, which uses magnetic -- as opposed to radio -- signals in order to transfer information, making it useful for so-called "harsh environments" where RFID chips fail, such as retail locations where shoplifters line their bags with aluminum foil to fool anti-theft systems. While RuBee's similar transmission range and cost would make it seem like a no-brainer replacement for current RFID applications, its relatively slow speed makes it unsuitable for tracking the numerous, moving products in a typical warehouse. RuBee-enabled devices will also have the advantage of transmitting data directly to the Internet, and with backers like Sony, HP, IBM, Best Buy, and Tesco, you can bet that we'll be hearing more about this tech in the coming year.

Google SketchUp Launched

Google announced today an update to their popular Google Earth software as well as the release of their 3D software SketchUp which integrates with Google Earth.

From the site:
Adding a deck? Remodeling your kitchen? From simple to detailed, conceptual to realistic, Google SketchUp (free) lets you populate the world with true 3D objects. Want to build a fully dimensioned 3D model that can be used as the basis for your next do-it-yourself project? Google SketchUp's expanded feature lets you build in as much detail as your project requires.

Google SketchUp is free for personal use. No registration is required.

Friday, June 09, 2006

House rejects Net neutrality rules

From ZDNet

The U.S. House of Representatives definitively rejected the concept of Net neutrality on Thursday, dealing a bitter blow to Internet companies like, eBay and Google that had engaged in a last-minute lobbying campaign to support it.

By a 269-152 vote that fell largely along party lines, the House Republican leadership mustered enough votes to reject a Democrat-backed amendment that would have enshrined stiff Net neutrality regulations into federal law and prevented broadband providers from treating some Internet sites differently from others. More at the above link.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Sorry. I published this on the wrong blog (meant for my family blog) but I'll leave it here, too. These were great!This year, for the first time, we planted "heirloom" tomatoes - tomatoes from seeds your grandfather might have grown. I can't tell you how wonderful these are! So sweet and flavorful. On the left is a "Purple Giant" and on the right is a "Rainbow".

These are the two large tomatoes mentioned above and a salad sized "Tommy-toe" and a yellow grape variety. Delicious! You gotta love Summer and the tomatoes it brings!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Google Browser Sync for Firefox

Google Browser Sync, free for download in beta from Google Labs, allows users to synchronize Firefox settings over multiple computers. Bookmarks, passwords, histories, and even persistent cookie preferences for specific sites are transferred, so that users don't have to spend time tediously adding them to each computer on which they use Firefox. Google Browser Sync can also "remember" which tabs and windows were open at last use, and "reopen" them when you open Firefox on another computer.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Google "Spreadsheet"

Starting this morning (June 6) you can sign up for an invitation to join "Google Spreadsheets", an on-line servbice that will allow you to:

Create basic spreadsheets from scratch.
You can start from scratch and do all the basics, including changing the number format, sorting by columns, and adding formulas.

Upload your spreadsheet files.
Upload spreadsheets or worksheets from CSV or XLS format – all your formulas and formatting will come across intact.

Familiar desktop feel makes editing a breeze.
Just click the toolbar buttons to bold, underline, change the font, change the cell background color and more. (...)

Choose who can access your spreadsheets.
Just enter the email addresses of the people you want to share a given document, and then send them a message.

Share documents instantly.
People with whom you share a given spreadsheet can access it as soon as they sign in.

Edit with others in real time.
Multiple people can edit or view your spreadsheet at the same time as you – their names will appear in an on-screen chat window.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The User Is Not Broken

From The Free Range Librarian via The Shifted Librarian

The User Is Not Broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto

Launched after a discussion with a passionate young librarian who cares. Please challenge, change, add to, subtract from, edit, tussle with, and share these thoughts.


All technologies evolve and die. Every technology you learned about in library school will be dead someday.

You fear loss of control, but that has already happened. Ride the wave.

You are not a format. You are a service.

The OPAC is not the sun. The OPAC is at best a distant planet, every year moving farther from the orbit of its solar system.

The user is the sun.

The user is the magic element that transforms librarianship from a gatekeeping trade to a services profession.

The user is not broken.

Your system is broken until proven otherwise.

That vendor who just sold you the million-dollar system because "librarians need to help people" doesn't have a clue what he's talking about, and his system is broken, too.

Most of your most passionate users will never meet you face to face.

Most of your most alienated users will never meet you face to face.

The most significant help you can provide your users is to add value and meaning to the information experience, wherever it happens; defend their right to read; and then get out of the way.

Your website is your ambassador to tomorrow's taxpayers. They will meet the website long before they see your building, your physical resources, or your people.

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to find a library website that is usable and friendly and provides services rather than talking about them in weird library jargon.

Information flows down the path of least resistance. If you block a tool the users want, users will go elsewhere to find it.

You cannot change the user, but you can transform the user experience to meet the user.

Meet people where they are--not where you want them to be.

The user is not "remote." You, the librarian, are remote, and it is your job to close that gap.

The average library decision about implementing new technologies takes longer than the average life cycle for new technologies.

If you are reading about it in Time and Newsweek and your library isn't adapted for it or offering it, you're behind.

Stop moaning about the good old days. The card catalog sucked, and you thought so at the time, too.

If we continue fetishizing the format and ignoring the user, we will be tomorrow's cobblers.

We have wonderful third places that offer our users a place where they can think and dream and experience information. Is your library a place where people can dream?

Your ignorance will not protect you.

Google Synonym Suggested

From Google Blogscoped

David Coallier has created an interesting prototype for a new kind of search he wants to see Google implement; a real-time synonyms search. For example, you enter “war” in the search box, and instantly you’ll see a list of synonyms or related terms (like “battle”, “crusade” and “campaign”). It’s a bit of a mixture between Google’s synonyms operator (the “~”), and Google Suggest’s auto-completion.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Digg-like site to track Creative Commons music

From Boing Boing

CChits is a web-app meant to help people find and share cool music that's been released under Creative Commons licenses. It's built on Ning, a site that makes it easy to clone and customize web applications; in this case, CChits clones the popular link-sharing site Digg.