Monthly Archives: September 2007

Poor Man’s iPhone

This is a test of Maemo WordPy running on a Nokia 770 N770 Internet TabletInteret Tablet. WordPy can be used to post directly to a WordPress client and this version was ported to run on the Maemo OS, which is a version of Linux for mobile devices.
I refer to the N770 as the poor man’s iPhone… Well, it’s just a tad over a hundred bucks. It isn’t a phone- though it can be used with gizmo or Google talk to make voip calls over a wireless connection.

The most exciting aspect of this device, to me, is that the OS is Linux. The reason this is exciting is because as long as there is an active community, the device will be supported. A strong community does exist and the sales for Nokia were strong enough that they introduced a new IT: Nokia 800. I can browse the web, check and send emails, play games, IM & even post to my wordpress blog.
Many cell phone companies are ditching proprietary systems for Linux.



It’s a guybrarian thing.

A new entry appeared last week in Meriam-Webster’s OpenDictionary:
guybrarian (noun) : A male librarian in a female dominated field.
With so many women studying library science, Tim felt conspicuous as the only guybrarian in the class.
Submitted by: Verlene Schafer from Arizona on Sep. 12, 2007 17:04

Thanks Varlene for this unusual, but accurate description of the handful of aspiring guybrarians in my current MLIS program.



Banned Books Week is coming up: Sept. 29th through October 6th and this year you can celebrate your right to read at your local library AND on SL (and teen SL). Here’s a bit from the ALA OIF announcement made yesterday.

Second Life/Teen Second Life:
To tie in with this year’s theme of “Aye, mateys…celebrate your freedom t’ read!,” ALA has created a “Pirate Paradise” in Second Life (SL), a 3D virtual world complete with pirate ship and a wharf with interactive displays on banned books. ALA Banned Books Week graphics will be used to create virtual posters, displays and T-shirts that can be worn by Second Life avatars. The Topeka and Shawnee County (Kan.) Public Library has loaned a virtual display on banned books they created for their National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Big Read initiative. All ALA Second Life activities will take place on ALA Arts InfoIsland.

I will have to get my avatar on and fly on over to InfoIsland to check this out. Of course, if you read my earlier post, I may have to avoid walls.  Also, by the time I get my pirate gear in order, BBW will likely be over.


OSS – Community Property

I was reading Karen G. Schneider’s recent blog on Enterprise Open Source, and two lines really struck me:

  1. A “significant value of open source software is that its survival depends on a community’s needs, not the whims of a corporation.”
  2. “The ability to change the software changes the balance of power. It says this is software of and by the people; It’s a statement about ownership.”

There are many arguments for Open Source Software (OSS), but this is one of the strongest to me. That is, OSS is owned by the community, it is owned by the community of developers, but also owned by the community of users.


Long way home.

A little more reflection on Krug’s Don’t Make me Think:

Krug mentions that users will often use websites in ways we can’t imagine and he gives the example of users typing URLs into search engine text boxes. I would have been skeptical reading this if it weren’t for my experience with the public. I see this happen all the time. Lately, I’ve done some of my own usability testing as patrons ask for help. Instead of saying click here do that, I ask them where they think they should click.

At first I found this phenomenon (typing URLs into search boxes) hard to understand, but the other day I experienced empathy with the user. I was helping a patron who was having difficulty getting to a webpage and I had them repeat what they normally did to get there. Sure enough they typed the url into the Google search box and began scrolling through the results. “It should be right here, but It’s gone.” They were looking at a particular rank in the search. Apparently, the page ranking had changed. I explained that since they had the Internet address it would be easier to type it into the address bar at the top of the browser and they would taken directly to the site. “This is the way I’ve always gotten there.”

The point of empathy is this: When I drive in an unfamiliar city, I may know a way to a certain location and there is a comfort in knowing that way and having confirmed it myself. Others, who know the city better than me, may make suggestions for a “short cut,” but I KNOW my way works.


Psychology classes for MLIS?

I’ve worked in a public library for about four years now and I’ve met more unique individuals than I would have ever imagined lived in our little town. There is a gentleman who comes in nearly every day, sometimes repeatedly in the same day. He walks up to my desk, sets a small bag down on the ground and begins a little speech. It varies a bit – usually involving respecting something or other and then listing two to four things about it, which he repeats. One day he was respecting the fact that Oklahoma is a coastal state. He always says “I’m not doing anything terroristic or treasonous, fingernails always trimmed and cleaned. While working – zero percent accidents. There’s never any foolishness or vandalism.” Sometimes he makes so much sense (usually spouting off facts from memory) and then other times he sound pretty nuts, but whatever is going on with him, this speech is an important ritual. He’s seems harmless, but at times it’s quite distracting to deal with him.

Others, have made me worry a bit. There was the man who was angry that the Devil seemed to be blocking his Yahoo email account. It was tough to keep from smiling while trying to work through his access problem(a forgotten password, I think), but he seemed to believe I was in league with the Devil at some point. There was another man who was frustrated and asked for help. He told me that his home computer was broken because he got mad and threw it out a window… and it landed on someone. There are frequently people talking to themselves, but this is becoming more acceptable as people use bluetooth headsets for their cell phones.

Well, my point is that the public element of a public library exposes a public librarian to a wide array of patrons… a somewhat larger statistical skewing toward those with some form of mental illness (though this is anecdotal). It has been quite a while since I took Psych 101 and I’m just thinking some refresher might be in order for the public librarian in an MLIS program.


Don’t push my buttons!

Part of my current MLIS coursework (for which this blog is a requirement) is a book titled Don’t Make me Think by Steve Krug. It is an excellent, easy read about how to design websites with an eye on usability. For the most part, I love what Krug has to say. But, one premise of his I disagree with, though I do it with some trepidation, is that clickable links should be three dimensional buttons. I especially find it confusing because he also contends that the logo (which, btw, should always be at the top of the page) is the default home “button”. He does not advocate making all logos 3-D (thank goodness). I acknowledge he has way more experience than I do, and I agree that web users seldom use pages in the way we design them to be used, but I’ve watched a whole lot of virgin web users in my role as information literacy trainer at our public library. They don’t seem to care if a link is a 3D button, they seem to click whatever would intuitively, or even not-so-intuitively be what would take them to where they want to go. I’ve thought about this recently and feel that 3D buttons are no longer a reality in the real world let alone the virtual world. My microwave and range controls are not buttons any more, but are instead touch sensitive text or icons. Even the cell phone increasingly has a similar interface. So, if we don’t click 3D buttons in the real world, why would we look for them in cyberspace? Wouldn’t we instead press the text or icon that intuitively seems related to what we want to do?