April 2005
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Month April 2005

new AIM in beta

The last thing I’m here to do is shill for AOL, but I think the news coming out about Triton, the next generation AIM client, is worth mentioning. It isn’t that its features (from what I’ve read about them) are terribly innovative (or that it has a very original name – cripes, if you’re going to rip off a product, at least try to name it something a bit different). In fact you can read this slashdot thread to see nerds gripe about how the new features of Triton have been in Trillian and GAIM for a long time. But, I think the slashdotters miss an important point: Triton might bring media rich IMming to more people. As far as I can tell, the benefits of using alternative clients to chat with people on AIM have only been enjoyed by power-users so far. Now though, IMers will be getting more sophisticated and more reliant on IM, which means that it is even more important for libraries to be available in this way. Other changes in the software that are of interest to libraries:

there will be no discernible difference between how AOL handles SMS text messages in comparison to PC-to-PC instant messages. WOW! If Triton can send and receive text messages it would be a no-brainer for libraries.

Communication features are exposed through Triton’s “Quicknote” dialog, which replaces the initial IM window and provides a snapshot of user information. Quicknote lists a variety of ways to contact a buddy and will be expanded with more options as new features are added in subsequent beta builds. This could be a potential spot of (the quite popular buzz word) presence for libraries.

AOL must be feeling from pressure from Skype, because evidently there is an emphasis on VOIP

Also, it will be open to third party developers’ plug-ins, which is a first for AIM.

From what I read, the beta Triton is very much in beta phase, but here’s the download if anyone wants to play. [link]

For more, read AOL Testing Next Generation AIM Client from betanews.com

[update: i forgot to add that in the screenshot for Triton there’s an option to “Report IM Spam which I hope isn’t a portent of things to come…]

guerilla IM technique

As I was leaving work this afternoon, Rick and I had a short exchange about our recent IM Reference experiences. In the conversation he mentioned how a people tend to send him messages when he signs on.

This is interesting for a two reasons. First, it is more evidence that people have added our screen name to their buddy lists. I’ve mentioned this before, and I mention it when I present about IM but I think the point is worth repeating. Instant messaging has given the library a significant presence in the lives of
many patrons. To these people (many, but not all tweens and teens) the library isn’t (just) a place to get books, but rather more of a living, responsive and dynamic entity that they can call upon when needed.

The second notable thing about people sending messages to us when we sign on is that it might give us an interesting strategy. Through noises or small pop-ups, most IM programs by default alert users when someone on their buddy list signs off as well as signs on. It might prove useful to do just that a few times over an IM shift. Signing off and then on could alert people to the library’s place in their buddy list, and remind them that we’re around. Certainly this shouldn’t be taken to the point where we’re subtly spimming our patrons with this info, but it is an interesting concept nevertheless.

meet the gamers

I know I’m living in the future when I see the latest Library Journal and Master Chief is on the cover. There is tons of interesting research coming out about video games and learning/information/reading about which I’m starting to form coherent thoughts.

While all of it is cooking in my head read Meet the Gamers, which is high on my list for this weekend.

Side note: There has been a decent amount of coverage in the library blogosphere about gaming, but I think this is an interesting case of LJ writing about something very forward thinking before it has fully saturated the Library Related Blogs. Way to go LJ!

more XP SP2 woes

LiB details some more issues with Windows XP SP2 and web-based chat software. Here is one of the best bits from her post:

Users and librarians don’t want to have to alter their computers’ set-up so they can use a service. They don’t want to have to expose their machines to security risks needlessly, just so they can answer or ask questions. And they shouldn’t have to. They should be able to access our library services using their computers as they are, using interfaces and programs that they’re already comfortable with, and not have to squish and jostle their technology into fitting with our ridiculous requirements.

She links to the previous post here, and I’m linking over there, so that these posts will forever reference one another. Yay!

VR, SP2: Problems!

I received an entertaining but sad email the other day. From the email list for the collaborative browser-based VR program of which we’re a part, here’s an email from Bill Pardue who has been heavily involved with the project.

I’m reprinting it here in full (emphasis mine) to illustrate how complicated it can be to get these browser-based VR systems to do what has been promised to us. Bill did an excellent job spelling out the issue and (potential) solutions, but the whole situation is farcical. It doesn’t have to be this complicated!

Hello, everyone!

I was testing VR on a PC that had recently been upgraded to Windows Service Pack 2 (SP2). I noticed a couple of things that everyone who’s contemplating upgrading to SP2 should be aware of. By the way, apologies if this has been covered on the list before…I can’t recall.

1) SP2 has a pop-up blocker that’s “On” by default. Unfortunately, it messes with the session window when you try to pick up a patron. It basically prevents the window from opening but offers you the option to add Tutor/LSSI to the list of sites that isn’t subject to pop-up blocking. Even if you say you want to allow the pop-up, it just kills the window the first time you do it and you have to open it again from the session monitor “Session in Progress” link, so you should try to do it in a practice session first, just to get it out of the way. In my opinion it’s better to just turn off the pop-up blocking altogether. Go to:

Tools > Internet Options > Privacy

Below the slider for your privacy settings, you’ll see an option to turn pop-up blocking on/off. Just uncheck it to turn it off.

2) Upgrading to SP2 may override Explorer’s Java settings that are necessary for “Materials Sharing” (sending word files, power-point, etc.). If you’re having problems with materials sharing, go to http://www.tutor.com/setup/vrt to see if the section of the page that checks your “Java VM Setup” says “Yes” for the “Microsoft VM.” If not, follow the instructions on screen.

3) On the patron side of my test session, I noticed that when I sent a file via materials sharing, there’s something within SP2 that doesn’t want to allow the download on the patron side (even with pop-up blocking disabled). In fact, even when I chose the option to accept the download, it logged me out of the VR session. Gabe at Tutor.Com is looking into overriding this, but I’m not sure how much we can do for a patron that has SP2 installed, since any fix would have to be done on their side. I’ll keep you posted. Just be aware that if you push a file via materials sharing and someone automatically disconnects, SP2 may be to blame.

On one hand I want to give Tutor.com some slack because XP SP2 is lame and it caused some havoc with many pieces of software. On the other hand, XP SP2 hasn’t hampered my ability to do IM reference, so…

patriot act

After one of the recent episodes of “The Daily Show” finished downloading the other day, I watched the program. I was delighted to see John Stewart talking about the renewal of the PATRIOT Act. Though I couldn’t find these quotes in the transcript from the Senate Judiciary Hearing on the Patriot Act, I heard some funny quotes:

I’m not so sure of the context of this, but FBI Director Robert Mueller said, “I do not believe there should be a safe harbor for libraries.”

Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) called the concerns of the “National [sic] Library Association” “Woodstock myths.”

Take a look at the transcript and see how fast libraries get glossed over.

reasons why my library is cool

We’re interviewing people for a part-time YA position at my library. In speaking with people, two questions in particular have really struck my fancy:

Do you have any experience blogging?

Do you have any experience with instant messaging?

And, believe it or not, I’m not even the one that came up with these questions, it was Rick!

Come to think of it, I even asked one person what kind of experience they have with video games. I must be living in the future or something.

RFID in Libraries

I wrote a story for Library Journal on the new RFID program at the Maricopa County Public Library in Arizona titled RFID: The New Library Card. While I was there they gave me their RFID implant that acts as their library card. What do you think?