Monthly Archives: February 2008

Organic software?

organic software

Firefox has a great new ad campaign touting the claim that Firefox is 100% organic software. What a great ad campaign and what a great new term for OSS. From their site:

As software companies go, we’re a little unusual. We use the term ‘organic software’ to sum up the various ways we’re different from the other guys:Our most well-known product, Firefox, is created by an international movement of thousands, only a small percentage of whom are actual employees.



Hotmail not so hot.

Patrons were very upset today because of problems logging into Hotmail. I tried to assure them that it was not anything to do with our computers or network, though many still think we control all aspects of the Internet. (Including being able to tell them their forgotten password.) Turns out the problem was pretty widespread according to this article.

The saga continues with another interesting post from the Register : Steve Balmer lies to my mother.


Taxing resources

For some, their single annual visit to a public library is to get their necessary tax forms.

In Oklahoma, public libraries have an added burden this year. The Oklahoma Tax Commission is NOT sending any forms to public libraries as they have in the past. Instead they are instructing libraries to point patrons to the website where they can print out the necessary forms. Our policy is to charge for printing, so when we tell patrons that we can help them print out forms, but it will cost them, they are understandably upset This is definitely a cost saver for the OTC, but I would love to channel the anger directed at the lowly librarian for this state decision back to the source of the decision.

This year also has a fun twist on the I.R.S. side. The economic stimulus package requires certain individuals to fill out a tax form even if they aren’t required to normally. This, to get their (reduced amount of) $300.00. Most people will not have to do anything to get the rebate… just file their taxes as normal and the rebate will be issued, but there are special circumstances which require specific action:

The law also allows for payments for select taxpayers who have no tax liability, such as low-income workers or those who receive Social Security benefits or veterans’ disability compensation, pension or survivors’ benefits received from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2007. These taxpayers will be eligible to receive a payment of $300 ($600 on a joint return) if they had at least $3,000 of qualifying income.

Essentially, these individuals must file a tax return. There is even this nice sample of how to fill out the tax form.

Another growing tax season ritual for the libraries is helping patrons print off their W-2 forms. A large number of employers now offer W-2s online as a “convenience” for their employees. This service is pushed out to the libraries where a large percentage of the working poor have the only Internet access available to them. Likewise, many companies now require job applicants to use web-based methods of applying and many of those people use the public library.

It is interesting to watch this changing role of libraries to adjust our resources to needs like these –  pushed off onto the Internet for convenience.


Congratulation Firefox!

Firefox is about to break has broken 500 million downloads as this New York Times article points out. An interesting point they make is that while most data shows Firefox at about 17% market share, their own analytics shows about 28% for their readers userFirefox.


Take an Internet Tablet and call me in the morning.

The Nokia Internet Tablet is just what the doctor ordered. Great piece here that expands on what I said in Poor man’s iPhone pointing to the Nokia Internet Tablet as an open platform for an iPhone-like experience … and more. I have the original version of the tablet, the Nokia 770 which I picked up for just over $100.00. The newer version (Nokia 810) is four times that much, but has GPS, a pull out key board, Skype and much more. I took my N770 on a recent trip instead of my laptop and was amazed that with the free wireless at the hotel I was able to do most of the basic tasks I needed (rss reading, email, downloading and listening to podcasts). I don’t know that this poor man will be investing in the N810 any time soon, but it really is worth looking into.


School of phish

“People-driven security, an approach that pools the judgments of individual participants to identify new threats, is gathering momentum, with uses popping up in everything from antimalware and spam blocking to site filtering.”

This article discusses several collaborative efforts (one called PhishTank) which aim to utilize Web2.0 collaboration to identify phishing sites or other mallware sites.There is also a FireFox plugin to utilize this service.  Collaboration just might save us all.


In search of….

Another staff member told me about a call from a man who was told that you can find women on the Internet and wondering if we could help him. It may seem humorous, and certainly isn’t the first. We have had several instances of patrons coming in for the first time on this new-found revelation that the Internet, was among other things, a seeming repository for whichever gender you might be searching for. “I just thought I should warn you that he might come in and ask for your help,” my colleague said.

Sure enough, this gentleman did come in. He approached my desk and introduced himself and it was instantly clear that he had some physical and/or perhaps developmental disabilities. He repeated much of what my colleague had already related about finding a woman on the Internet and needing assistance. We found a computer and he sat down nervously. “I’m pretty computer illiterate,” he warned. “Let’s see what we can do about that.” I replied.

I showed him how to hold the mouse and how the movement of the mouse translated to the movement of the cursor on the screen. He worked with it a bit as I showed him where to click and gave instructions on what to type. He struggled pecking out letters on the keyboard, but I kept myself from interceding too much, trying to keep to my theory that if I do something for a patron learning these skills, they will be more dependent on me and really not be learning anything.

The process to sign up for the first site he wanted to go to involved also setting up an email address and all told these two tasks took about an hour. He was getting much better at the mouse and I continued to encourage him. As I worked with him, a previous student looked up from the opposite bank of computers and smiled knowingly.

He comes in nearly every day now and still needs help, but he  is making tremendous progress on using the computer.  I’m not sure if he found what he was looking for (have any of us ?), but it is nice to help him out.