Aug 26

Tomorrow we go live with WorldShare

With the arrival of students and the start of the fall semester, tomorrow is our go-live date for OCLC’s WorldShare Platform (WMS) at the Luria Library. I fully embrace this migration from our legacy platform (SirsiDynix Horizon), but I am clearly nervous and a little uncertain if we are ready for the switch on Monday morning. This has been an accelerated implementation with all the work having been performed since early May. The library staff, particularly our technical service librarian and circulation staff, have been working extra long hours focused on this migration. It’s an exciting opportunity that will serve our students and our staff into the immediate future.

The steps for the migration aren’t that difficult – export patron records, circulation data, and bibliographic data, configure our settings in WMS, and test, test, test. Unfortunately, the tests have uncovered a few hiccups to our migration and we’ve been working closely with our OCLC implementation team to get them resolved. A few aspects of migration are going to require significant manual effort. Specifically, creating the Reserves Collection, cleaning up the Serials Collection (holdings information is not accurate), item costs didn’t migrate well due to discrepancies in Horizon, and it seems we didn’t migrate local holding information for our 25k+ ebooks so linking doesn’t exist right now (unknown resolution).

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Feb 11

Adventures with iTunes Match

This post is about bit rate and mono files while using iTunes Match. For those of you who don’t know, for a small fee ($25/year) my entire music catalog is moved to the Apple servers and I can play it on up to five devices. The service will sync my playlists and keep track of the play count. The best part is any file that “matches” in their database that is less than 256k in my collection, is easily upgraded with just a few clicks. That’s worth the first year fee alone. The service is limited to 25,000 tracks (I have about 15k) and the audio quality music be a minimum of 96kbps.

I have hundreds of dharma talks by Thich Nhat Hanh in my collection. These will not “match” with iTunes but I am able to upload them to the cloud if they meet the 96kbps criteria. Unfortunately, many of these files are below this threshold. Fortunately, it is possible to trick iTunes into uploading the files by “converting”

them to MP3 files with a higher quality. Obviously, the files won’t actually have a higher quality but they will meet the criteria. To keep the files small, I “upgraded” them to 96kbps and then deleted the original files. In the case of mono files, the custom setting had to be adjusted to 192kbps to get the mono files to threshold because of how iTunes handles importing files. It took a few days to get everything converted and uploaded to the Apple servers, but all tracks are now in the cloud.

My next project is to get everything synchronized between the two home computers and the one work computer. I noticed some discrepancies between the track numbers on each of the computers. Shouldn’t be too difficult. Seeing a winner with iTunes Match. Are you using this service? What has been your experience?

Dec 22

Thoughts on Path

I signed up for Path last year when they launched. It was an odd product at the time because you were limited to 10 friends on the social network. Intriguing, but it didn't really go anywhere. I posted a while but then drifted away.

Last month they relaunched with an updated app and a different approach to the sharing process. I have to say the new app is really great. It's clean, intuitive, and unique (at least until Facebook released their timeline). I would/could use this exclusively. I highly recommend giving the app a try; you won't be disappointed.

Up to this point, I've been using as a private journal and not adding friends (with very rare exceptions). I can write things that I wouldn't necessarily write on a public social network. Of course, at any time I can option to share out to Twitter, Facebook, or FourSquare. The photo tool has filters and actually create a Facebook album when pushed there (unlike my other favorite photo app Instagram).

So now I'm in a quandary. More people are discovering Path, which is great, but I've been hesitant to add people to my Path and I don't really need another social network to monitor. I've enjoyed the privacy with the option to share.

I am curious what the philosophy of the new Path is for the company. Obviously, they are not highlighting the small network of friends aspect, though it still feels that way to me.

I'm staying limited for now, but will remain open to expanding later. Are you using Path? How are you creating (or not) a network?

#miscjoy #iphone #path #networking

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Dec 04

Apple Photo Stream Should Be Simple, Right?

It's taken a month or two of tinkering, and I think I finally have an understanding of how the Photo Stream works. Like other Apple products I've experienced in the past, this was perhaps too simple for my mind to grasp.

The first challenge arose when I tried to delete a picture from the Photo Stream. You can't. What you can do is reset the entire steam from iCloud. However, you must also remember to turn it off on all connected devices as well. For the record, Photo Stream keeps a rolling 30-days of photos (or 1000 pics).

The second issue had to do with getting photos onto my Mac. I could continue syncing when connecting to computer, but this seemed kind of silly to do in conjunction with the Photostream. What's the point of the Photo Stream if it doesn't backup to computer as well. Well, it does backup but one needs the latest version of iPhoto to accomplish. Launch the App Store and turn over $14.99 and an updated version appears. Lovely.

It took a while, some money, and a few inappropriate photos, but now I understand. It does keep the rolling 30-days of pics/videos, and it does sync between all devices, and most importantly, one can configure Photo Stream to auto backup to iPhoto and create monthly events.

Still can't delete, so if I take more inappropriate photos then I have two choices. Reset the entire steam (on all devices) after the fact or turn off Photo Stream temporarily on the iPhone taking the picture. The Photo Stream doesn't sync photos taken when it's off.

Though this has probably been covered elsewhere, I hope this helps a few of you.

#miscjoy #apple #iphoto #software #stream

Nov 14

iTunes Match versus Google Music

Am considering iTunes Match ($25/yr), especially since the Google Music (currently free) web app is having trouble on iDevices. For example, it's showing a blank screen when browsing via Album or Artist. But, I'm gonna try using gMusic app first (only $1.99) before making decision. I've essentially shut down my SubSonic server and will rely on a service rather than self hosting. Most likely I'll try Match at some point too, but annual fees are starting to add up across the Internet services I'm willing to pay for.

Where are you landing? Google Music, Amazon Cloud, iTunes Match, or other?

#miscjoy #music #Google #Apple

Sep 18

Mindfulness, Technology, Education, and Parenting

You might assume I was in my element at a conference dealing with mindfulness and technology – you assumed correctly! It was a blast to sit and use my iPad and iPhone during this mindfulness conference in Mountain View just a stones throw from Google. The Wisdom 2.0 Youth conference is an offshoot of the previously held Wisdom 2.0 conference. The subtitle for the conference was How Do We Raise Children in a Hyper-Connected World? For Parents, Educators, Teachers, and Concerned Citizens. The lineup of speakers included folks from Google, Twitter, and leaders from the mindfulness in education field, all skillfully put together by Soren Gordhamer.

I’ve been to many conferences – mostly technology and/or library related. I have also been to many retreats and led mindfulness activities – mostly Buddhist in nature. This conference was unique for me because it dealt with mindfulness from a purely secular perspective and aligns itself very easily with the applied ethics theme/effort that Thich Nhat Hanh has been exploring the past couple of years. Though I arrived a little uncertain, because of my experience as a practitioner and educator, I was not disappointed with the presentations and panels. I now have a better understanding of what has occurred in bringing mindfulness into schools and what challenges these leaders experienced.

What follows are my notes and thoughts from a handful of the presentations.

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May 20

Dropbox, Privacy, and TrueCrypt

I wrote about files in the cloud back in 2009, and in light of the recent attention Dropbox is getting about security, the time seemed ripe to revisit the topic. From a philosophical perspective, two articles, Innovative Consumption from the New Yorker and Why Privacy Matters Even If you have ‘Nothing to Hide’ in the Chronicle of Higher Education, provide a framework for cloud computing, technology, and privacy. It is clear that the convenience of the cloud, the ease of use and access are compelling, but at what cost?

I’m a technologist, and am probably more willing to push the boundaries more than others I know. I started using the then-start-up Mint to manage my finances long before it went mainstream and was purchased by Intuit. Likewise, I happily keep my files in the cloud so that I can easily access the material from any computer including all my mobile devices. It is efficient and effective.

First, let me say I love Dropbox and often recommend [use this link please] the service to all my friends and colleagues. Second, I do have an awareness of privacy and do attempt to take adequate steps to address this with the services I use. I also use a unique (and long) password for just about every site I use on the internet. Since I love Google too, I know that a ton of my data is out there for harvesting. For me, the most important thing to remember is that once content reaches the digital realm, especially how most people use it, we have to assume that it could be compromised at some point. If something is that important or private, don’t put it in the cloud without the appropriate security.

This is where my discourse switches from philosophy to reality. I have files on Dropbox that are of a highly personal nature. Financial and personnel records that should remain confidential. Yes, it is true that Dropbox encrypts my content, which is great, but they hold the keys. So what is the solution?

A product called TrueCrypt is an open source, on the fly, encryption solution. It’s reasonably easy to use and works with Dropbox. With TrueCrypt, I can create a virtual encrypted disk that can be stored on Dropbox and mounted on my computer when I need to use the content. The encrypted disk can be of any size I wish (within the confines of my Dropbox account size). The encrption is controlled by me and it uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cryptographic algorith that may be used by US federal departments and agencies to cryptographically protect sensitive information. TrueCrypt uses AES with 14 rounds and a 256-bit key (i.e., AES-256). Most likely it would take hundreds of years to crack this.

So, fear not. Use the cloud to store your files, have an automatic backup, and use TrueCrypt to protect the sensitive material.

What are your thoughts on privacy and use the cloud?

P.S. – I have recently attempted to use an older encrypted volume of mine and have forgotten my password. This is the downside of AES-256…I have to remember it or will never recover that content. I need to take that drug from Limitless because it’s in my brain somewhere!

May 04

Using Technology in Management

Many managers may feel they don’t have the time (or perhaps inclination) to explore and use technology in order to be more efficient. In my experience as a manager, I’ve found a set of tools that put me out in front of the technology pack, provide me with more efficient methods for communication, and demonstrate an engaging and collaborative work environment. Though I happen to be a library manager, there is no reason why these tools couldn’t provide the same results to other types of managers.

Better Communication

No matter your age, it’s important to embrace new communication technologies. In particular, I’ve found text messaging and instant messaging to be highly effective in working with my staff. Most likely your organization has an instant messaging tool. Are you using it? Text messaging is particularly useful if you have a younger staff (under 40) and there are tools such as Group Me that lets you group message. By integrating around Google products such as gVoice, gMail, and gDocs managers have the ability to have a personal database with all the communication and document resources in one place. For example, collaborative work functions very well using Google Docs because it’s an anytime/anywhere solution with built in tracking. Do you post your email address on invoices and other communication from the organization?

In addition to tools that help you communicate and collaborate more effectively, managers should embrace the use of social media to stay informed and stay connected with the profession. The big players, who aren’t going away any time soon, are Facebook and Twitter. Have you taken the time to learn these tools and apply them professionally? In my career, these tools are one of my primary sources of professional development. Continue reading

Apr 08

Google Apps and Nonprofits

I recently came across the Google for Nonprofits program and thought it might fit the need for a local nonprofit called Ojai Valley Green Coalition. At my 7pm appointment with their Executive Director and another volunteer, we had a great time talking about utilizing Google Apps for the organization. Originally, they came to me with a need to integrate document sharing, conversation, and calendaring. One of their biggest challenges as an organization is communication – making it sophisticated enough to be practical and easy enough for most people to use. Many things have been tried over the years. With the Google Apps option, this organization can integrate it all under their domain name and provide organization accounts to the key players. The added components for nonprofits are a bonus.

Based on past experience with Apps, I thought setting up the Google for Nonprofits would be a breeze. Though it was very simple to complete the application (contact information needed only), we then discovered we’d have to wait up to 30-days before it was reviewed and approved. This was only 5-minutes into our scheduled meeting! Fortunately, not all was lost, we discovered we could move forward by setting up a regular Google Apps account and later link it with the nonprofit component.

It took about an hour, but we setup and configured our domain to be hosted on Google Apps with a handful of users. Explaining as we went along, the two members seemed to understand the options provided by Google. Possibly the most challenging piece we’ve yet to resolve is that they are using .com for email right now but everything else is on .org – I think they should transition the email to .org to keep it all consistent (and then redirect).

Two key steps remain:

  1. Editing the CNAME and MX records for the custom URLs and the mail.
  2. Explore the Sites component to build an integrated environment for the organization’s committees – this is what they asked! Here’s an example of what it might look like. I’ve actually never used Sites, but I’m optimistic about this type of solution.

I had a great time teaching and learning more about these free tools. We have a month to tinker while we have Google review our nonprofit status. A fun Friday evening.

 

Nov 24

Interview on Libraries, Social Media, Mediation

Thank you to Kate, the marketing intern at Santa Barbara City College, for doing such a great job across campus interviewing people and demonstrating the value of our campus community. I was honored to sit down with her to talk about the Luria Library, social media, and mediation. If you have ten minutes, I hope you take the time to watch the interview.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSbFJ-Ok8Zo