Thursday, December 27, 2007

One from Maria - Bibliochaise


My lovely friend Maria sent this in a link by email....she shares my book lust, and I'm thinking this chair may well be an improvement on this one, what with the fact it's got lots of book space, and it's not possible to just lift it up and wheel it away... you can play by clicking on it to change cushion and wood colours.

I'm liking medium brown, with a pink seat...sadly, I think it's likely to be something CRAZILY expensive!

*sigh*

Getting with the technology

I'm quite liking this - the Scottish Government are trying new things with technology, in this case, paying to put anti drink-driving adverts in billboards in X Box driving games.

Definitely an interesting way to get the message across, and I suppose it also doubles as a type of tourist advert, as it doesn't say anything about the ads being restricted to players in Scotland only?

Either way, it bodes well for a Government to be as comfortable with using different media as this one looks to be! What next....

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Trial bias

It was while reading this report about the farcical trial for the Omagh bombings that I realised something worrying.

I've unconsciously started to believe that, if someone's put up for trial, they're almost certainly guilty. Because people only get sent for trial if there's enough evidence to make the prosecutors believe they can get a conviction, right? Maybe it's the result of watching too many police / forensics TV dramas, but I've definitely started to pick up a belief in 'guilt proven by fact of trial, regardless of result'.

So, seeing the many high profile cases coming up on appeal here in Scotland or abroad (Kenny Ritchie (yay, finally free soon!), Luke Mitchell, William Beggs and Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi), I wonder how many of them who were vilified after their trial really were guilty? Or did people just start to think they were guilty as soon as we heard there would be a trial?

Monday, December 17, 2007

The whales are surfacing

An article in The Guardian discusses "Facebook whales", individuals with more than 1000 'friends'.

I personally have currently got 42 friends, all of whom I either know in real life, or know of professionally. I'm polite and add people that ask, if I know them, but if I don't really have any interest in them, I delete them a few weeks later. I can't even begin to imagine how you would try and manage that size of a network (allegedly, humans cope best with a network of between 100-200 individuals), and to be fair, Mr MacLeod does actually admit that he doesn't read the news feed. Which leads me to wonder why he uses the site, if it's not for keeping up with the activities of the people he's interested in? Is he just friend collecting for the show-off element: "I've got SO many more friends than you, I'm so much more worthwhile"?

Anyhoo, I'd definitely like Facebook to develop a way to turn off certain peoples feeds, or certain activity feeds. I don't need to know when a friend has added another friend..or that they've left certain groups (although when they join them it can be handy, but I don't particularly care if they no longer want to be a member of that group, I'm a big enough girl to be able to play on my own). It just clogs up the feed, and the more your network grows, the more clutter you'll get in your feed, as Mr MacLeod has found. A way to cut down what's coming in as a feed would be very handy. Does this sort of option already exist?

On a related point, at a speed networking meeting last week for my professional group, we had a chat about sites like Facebook, Bebo, and even the grandfather of them all, MySpace. Of 5 of us, only 2 had access to these type of sites in work, and those 2 were unsure if it would be officially frowned upon if it were ever to come up formally. And these are meant to be forward thinking, cutting edge legal firms, governmental bodies and universities. Of course, the option is there to try and persuade our employers that we need access to these sites...but in a library context, we were hard pushed to find a good reason why we should have access. "Networking" is a wonderful word, but when you're trying to justify to a fee earner, whose time is charged in minutes, why you should spend your minutes on a site that gives no business return...can you ever win?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Company Law Act implementation

The Government has announced the final timetable for the implementation of the Companies Act 2006.
Good to see they're sticking with the standardised dates for the implementation - makes things a LOT easier to remember!

Fast-fast food

Sheesh, you gotta eat fast at McDonalds these days!
45 minutes to eat, or else you get a hefty fine of £125 from a private company...I wonder where the 40 locations it's brought this company in on are?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A little oopsie

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has apologised nicely for the mistakes they made with the introduction of Beacon, their purchase tracking / advertising software.

They do seem to run the site a bit like awkward teenagers - trying new things out, pushing the boundaries to see what they can get away with...then going all red and embarrassed when things don't work out quite as they planned...

In the UK, they'd probably be an unplanned parent by now...will be interesting to see what sproglets Facebook may spawn!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Dolphin bothering

The first man in Scotland to be convicted of recklessly harassing dolphins has been fined £500 for the offence.

I have to confess, this rates highly on my 'what the hell?' radar...and the Scottish courts judgements website is being its usual unhelpful self, so I may never know the details of how he harassed the poor things...obviously he was on a jet ski, but was he using them as ramps?!?!

Wikis in business continuity planning

This post at Information Overlord caught my eye. We've been discussing for a while the best way to incorporate some business continuity planning into the library service: ie, what would happen if one of the two of us (who a lot of the time function as solo librarians, dealing with the issues arising in our own offices with little or no reference to the other) was suddenly unable to work.

Or, even worse, if one of use decided to leave!! *takes moment to lie down and stop hyperventilating at thought of boss ever leaving*

The structure of the company, the core duties of each staff member, the procedures needed for each activity, the suppliers we use, the products we take, the codes we use, who to ask internally for various things, data on the special professional interests of each fee earner...all information essential to getting our jobs done, but if and when one person isn't there, is the other person fully equipped with information to continue without them for any length of time?

So, in order to try and get some of this sorted out before it would ever be needed, we're thinking about perhaps using a wiki as an online staff handbook.

Benefits:
  • Large volume of information / documentation stored without taking up large amounts of physical space.
  • Securable.
  • Easily editable.
  • Always the 'current' version.
  • Restrictions on user access to prevent tampering.
  • Availability off site, essential if staff are unable to access buildings / offices.
  • Would allow new staff to familiarise themselves with basic company / service information before starting role. (although this would cause issues with security, would need to investigate whether parts of wikis are lockable / hideable, or whether it would need to be a separate 'Handbook Lite' version)
Downsides:

  • Without a current Library staff handbook, a lot of time will need to be invested to get the relevant information onto a wiki.
  • It will only be useful if maintained, so staff would need to be committed to maintaining it properly and updating regularly as information changes.
  • Possibility of it being hacked into, and sensitive information accessed.

Hmmm...much to think about, and lots of 'normal' work to be done before attempting this. It's an ongoing problem: so much daily work to do that you never get the time to do the preventative work!

The evils of piping

Bagpiping, that is.

Apparently, they're a threat to the environment, and not just the ears of those subjected to the often-horrifically-bad ones that pipe for the tourists on Princes Street!
Who would have thought that once banned symbols of Scottish pride would help decimate the forests of other nations!

Btw, I can highly recommend the Good Gifts site mentioned in the story, have used them for a few years, and they've always got a good present idea, especially the stocking fillers!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Going our own way...

The Scottish Government have decided to introduce a bill to reverse the House of Lords recent judgement on pleural plaques, and give sufferers some chance of compensation. This will mark a difference in Scots law, and English / Welsh law on the subject, and would have retrospective effect to the date of the House of Lords judgement.

As Scots Law News (709) says though, it's unlikely that the money involved will be huge...but at least it'll allow those who face the prospect of a horrible disease developing the satisfaction of acknowledgement of their condition in some way.

No timetable for the introduction of the Bill as yet.

Facebook again

Well, they've responded quickly, as usual...do you think their motto's a variation of Googles?

"Do only the evil you can get away with, but if anybody's upset, fix it"?
Not really so snappy, but they do seem to be quite quick with their responses to issues...even if it was an odd concept in the first place.

I'd go nuts if a site decide to share what items I was buying, and where, with a loosely connected network of friends, colleagues, and people-I-went-to-school-with, who-don't-understand-that-there-are-good-reasons-we-lost-touch....

Bizarre moment of the day

Watching one of the support staff wrap a fee earners surf board in bubble wrap.

No health and safety assessment? Shurely shome mishtake?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Facebook..for EVER!

I knew it was a bad idea signing up to that thing! :-)

I did know about not being able to delete your account, but it's one of those things, you only want to be able to do it in concept, you want the option, but might well never use it.

I know I wouldn't actually bother deleting my MySpace, Bebo or Facebook accounts, mainly because I occasionally get contact from people through them, there's nothing on them that's 'dodgy', and they're an amusing way to while away some time sometimes (but would people puhlease stop trying to turn me into a vampire on Facebook?!!?).

But what about those people who signed up with their 'proper' name, then reconsidered their membership later? I know of people who've adopted a child, and don't want the childs 'interesting' family to be able to find them after...how do they get themselves off it? Or the people who've unfortunately become the object of some over-attentive online friends obsession?

I assume Facebook will sort this issue out pretty fast, they seem to be very good at being responsive when problems are pointed out. In fact, maybe the peeps in charge of Facebook should have been running HMRC?

Monday, November 12, 2007

la-la-la-la...

For various reasons, including the library move, a pile up of work, and personal issues, mean I've not had a chance to blog lately.

Hopefully over the next few days I'll get time to write up the course I went on on Friday the 9th November, "Practical Uses for Web 2.0 in the Library Environment" with Phil Bradley...until then, back to the huge cataloguing pile, the current awareness backlog, and wondering why the partner at the desk next to me seems to have brought a windsurfing sail into work....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blogger security

Reading this article referred to by James Mullan, I can see a lot of sense in it. Although I deliberately don’t blog anything provocative, and I’ve not made great attempts to hide my identity, I feel I’m reasonably anonymous, unless I choose to give away more information / contact others.

But meeting with a colleague from another sector last week, she told me how she’d been looking for a quote about Facebook for a presentation, and found a post on a blog which seemed to say what she wanted…then she saw the name of the blog, read the profile…and a few things added up to confirm that the blogger was me. Now, that’s not a problem, I know her, she knows me, and I’m happy enough to be identified as the author of this blog (what my employers view on that may be is unknown, as yet!), but it just shows what a small world it really is…especially in the legal profession in Scotland! If I’m identifiable professionally, what about personally?

In my personal blog I’d though I was very careful about giving away personal information…but thinking about it now, I realise you can discover the first name of my partner, our cats, what city we live in, what area of that city, where my parents live / where I am from….actually, you know, I think I might be making that an invite-only blog VERY soon! One stalker in a lifetime was more than enough for me, thank you very much!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Genius!

Ok, Library shelving units are not known for being highly active, right?
And if you install a motion sensor for lighting, you tend to want to put it in an area of high activity, yes?
So, what genius put a motion sensor on the lights in the Library area, so if the shelves don't move for 30 mins, the lights go off? I have to make sure to get up from my desk every 30 mins or less, to make sure they stay on!
Sensor is (hopefully) being moved this week (I actually pointed this out before the move, but I'm just the librarian, what would I know about the activity levels of the library shelving...)

And yes, this means I spent yesterday unpacking and shelving 62 crates worth of library...I have many interestingly coloured bruises (knees and legs I understand, but how did I bruise my hand?!?), an aching back and shoulders...but the result is a lovely new library area! And that's a mahoosive improvement on the previous library layout!

Today, I'm a happy librarian...who's considering throwing her bookworm toy at the sensor instead of dragging herself out from behind her desk next time the lights go off...!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I’m back!

Between frantically finalising my portfolio for my Chartership application with CILIP, catching up before holiday, going on holiday, catching up AFTER holiday, running back and forth to vets with a suicidal cat…it’s been a busy month! Not to mention the fact that me and my library are moving to another floor as a result of expansion, which just so happens to occur when I’m on holiday, and means I’ll be crossing my fingers that it’s all packed up properly, then reshelving the whole lot in its new location, whilst covering two offices as my boss is then on her holiday next week…my firm do like us to multitask!

In the meantime, I’ve been reading about Wyoming libraries mudflap girl campaign, Sony’s ‘sexier than a librarian’ campaign, favourite library blogs have been surveyed, virtual picket lines and demonstrations in Second Life, social networking and its business usefulness / timewasting, Enquiring Minds Want to Know has moved to a snazzy new site, The Annoyed Librarian has annoyed many,…oh, it’s a social whirl!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, James Mullan was interviewed for IWR, and kindly mentioned me as a blog he reads…I’m trying to revive my posting to make that less of a futile activity than it has been for the past month!

Also, have had my article on the pros and cons of using a wiki for a Chartership portfolio application published in Impact, the journal of CILIP Career Development Group…although access is for members only. If anyone feels an overwhelming urge to read it, just leave a comment and I’ll work out a way of getting it to you…

Now…off to continue the clearout of ‘stuff’…it’s amazing how things reappear in the library / on my desk when other peoples desks are being cleared…*sigh*

Monday, September 10, 2007

I wonder...

....since my employers seem intent on adding little study chairs to the library (of course, the staff will use them instead of their spacious desks..), perhaps they could be persuaded to get these instead...



Link from Boing Boing,
More pictures here

Saturday, September 01, 2007

E-reader technology and trauma

Both the English Law Gazette and the JLSS have information on Sweet & Maxwells trial of a new eReader, the iRex Iliad Reader.

Now, while they seem like fun, the downsides (like lack of search and index) do make it look like it's going to still be a good few years yet before this sort of thing is commercially available, and the fee earners start demanding them / similar technology, which gives me plenty of time to try and work out, for a commercial law firm, the following questions:

  • Are the ebooks individual plug in elements? Or downloadable files?
  • Will we have to provide every solicitor with an eReader, or would we need a library eReader that would be borrowed out on demand? Given their attachment to their other devices such as Blackberries, I can't visualise them being happy to share a resource like that.
  • How many copies will we need of standard texts? I can only imagine this'll lead to every solicitor wanting their own copy of each available relevant text...the other alternative would be for the eBooks and eReader to stay in the library, and be borrowed out like normal books. Again, demand could mean this would lead to the Library needing multiple eReaders...
  • And the copies issue leads onto the cost issue...what pricing structure would the publishers be using? Would each eBook cost the same as a book? Would there be discounts for buying multiple copies?
  • Would there be a way to disable the annotating function if the 'library of eBooks' option was what was used? Or wipe out ALL annotations in one shot, without trawling through the pages? People DON'T like to read other peoples random scribblings on books!
  • Are pages printable?
  • Would printouts of these pages be acceptable in court?

Anyone got any ideas?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Different Worlds


I love my social media: blog-hopping, forum-chatting, IM-ing…yet there’s a large number of my friends who don’t feature on any of these. They’re not technologically averse, these technologies just don’t fit easily into their lives.

Take one friend for example: she works part-time, has two small children, and a busy family life. She’s got no spare time to spend on forums and blogs…she’d rather just pick up the phone and call me, or send a text! She misses out on little bits of my life that others don’t…my random thoughts and recent events are often posted on my personal blog, and online friends read that, so when I actually talk to them in person, they’re often quite aware of what’s going on in my life. Non-online friends aren’t, and sometimes I almost resent having to tell them about my life, as I feel I’ve already done that ‘work’ on my blog.

I wonder if, as I get more web-based in my social interactions, these friends will continue to be close friends, or whether something has to give? Will it be their lack of online presence, or will I be cutting my online activity down?

Actually, I think I’m already beginning to cut down my online activity: time with friends and family is beginning to win out against wandering the web…my time online’s becoming more focussed, and I’m becoming more disciplined about where I want to spend my time….MySpace is almost never visited, Bebo very infrequently…blog reading / posting time’s perhaps increasing, I think in response…if my friends blog, I’ll read it…but I don’t necessarily want to spend time reading the minutae of their recent activity on a social networking site, I just don’t feel it’s relevant any more.

Ohhh, I’m so backward!!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Silent Blogger!

I still exist, have just launched into a frantic and concerted effort to pull my portfolio together for Chartership, so all other activities are on hold, and that includes commenting on or posting to blogs…although it doesn’t include reading them, so I’m still busily reading, just not visibly ‘active’.

I’ve been having fun compiling my portfolio on a Peanut Butter wiki, which has many advantages….and disadvantages! Overall, I think it’s helped me to organise and compile things far better, despite the many frustrations with formatting quirks between it and Word! Have written an article on the process of using it, which hopefully shall appear in some journal somewhere in the near future…

Now, all I have to do is have peeps read it, comment, redraft, and submit…and hope the Board pass it!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Wot, still no Banksy?

The restrictions previously put on Brian Haw in regards to his peaceful protest at Parliament have been ruled to be unlawful.
Still no word on where Mr Haws disassembled protest banners and Banksy artwork from his peace camp are though....

Friday, August 03, 2007

If you use public wi-fi hotspots to access email etc...

…be aware that there’s a large vulnerability regarding cookies, allowing hackers access to your email accounts etc, potentially for years.

More info http://www.out-law.com/page-8352

BIALL call for papers, Dublin study weekend 2008

BIALL have sent out their call for papers for the Dublin study weekend, Thursday 12th – Saturday 14th June 2008.

The theme is:

BEYOND THE PALE

Planning for the Next Information Generation

Topics they’d like to cover include:

The future impact of digitisation of data

Probable trends in respect of electronic resources

How does information become knowledge

The growth of globalisation of legal resources

Will librarians be needed in 2010 ?

You know, I’m even actually considering submitting for a parallel session…what’s the point of being a Web Monkey if I can’t share the fun? Now, to try and work out a topic that I know enough about, that's useful, and that I can make reasonably entertaining...any ideas?

More information here.

The problem with online ads...

....is that you can't control where they're placed, as First Direct and Vodaphone have just discovered.

Facebook do seem to be quite quick off the mark for technical fixes once they're pointed out, but if companies can’t currently choose their placement, and if Facebook introduce that ability, I can see fights over who’s paid what to go where breaking out!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Biblioblogosphere Survey 2007

Picked up from a post on Enquiring Minds, this survey on Information Wants To Be Free should be interesting to see the results of!

I’ve been and done, before I do my usual of planning to do it ‘later’ and later being a long, long time after…

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ooopsie Mr Policeman!

Perhaps this just isn't Sir Ian Blair's day!

I'll be interested to see where all that stuff has been being stored since it was seized! I'd like some Banksy stuff myself!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Giving up on Google

Well, it’s public policy blog at the moment anyway. I don’t know if it’s Blogger itself being mad (early this week it seemed to re-publish the feeds of almost all blogs I subscribe to, or maybe it was Bloglines that did that….who can tell!), but the Google PPB seems to have decided to randomly republish its posts, in any order, on a regular basis. Or maybe the posts are being updated, but to be honest, the amount of times the same posts are re-appearing, I can’t be bothered to analyse them…

So, for now, it’s bye-bye Google blog!!

Another reason why I’m happy to be vague…

On MySpace and Bebo, I don’t have my full name, my first school, my mothers maiden name, my date of birth etc listed anywhere… all information that’s very useful for the nasty-types out there to make hay with.

With the launch of this search engine in early August, I’ll be even happier about my vagueness about my personal details on social networking sites…not that I’ve done anything so terrible that it means I don’t want anyone to find out about it ( my hobbies are scintillatingly dull, and don’t usually involve anything illegal…usually…), but it’ll probably allow even MORE people I purposely lost contact with after school / Uni to get in touch with me. It’s already annoying me that I felt I had to allow certain individuals to ‘friend’ me on Bebo when I don’t actually like them that much (but feel I can’t say no to them in case of bad feeling about the ‘snub’), but when the people I’ve spent years trying to escape track me down through this…yeesh!

Maybe I should have titled this post “When Social Networking Goes Bad”, in time honoured style of bad American video-clip shows…

What's with the image?

So, I was following the debate over the last few weeks on whether that New York Sun article and various others are a good thing or a bad thing for librarians.

Now, I don't quite gets the fuss. We're librarians, and we have a stereotype about us. Everyone knows stereotypes aren't totally true...as a Scot, the stereotype is that I should be ginger haired, pasty-skinned, and unhappy about having to spend money...and in reality, only the money one's true! ;-)

Here's a few more more:
Lawyers are evil, doctors are noble, firemen are brave.

We know stereotypes aren't true, so why bother fighting them? Will it really make the world a better place if people know that librarians aren't actually all old ladies who wear tweed, half moon glasses, pearls, and sit behind big intimidating desks in dusty libraries and say 'shhh' a lot? That sometimes we have a drink, act a bit silly

And what the hell is a guybrarian? Is librarianship such a female dominated world that they're a rarity, and need a special description, based on their sex? Do female welders want to be called welderettes because they're female, and their gender is essential in their job title? People, the profession is librarianship, making youmale librarians just plain librarians, not guybrarians. But if you insist on it, I'm going to start calling myself a librarianette!

But seriously, yes, it's nice that librarians are in the papers, that they're young and having fun...but wouldn't it be nicer if they were in the papers because they're doing innovative things with technology, giving access to learning, doing fabulous things in their jobs...not because they're playing drinking games based on Dewey Decimal.....

Friday, July 20, 2007

Unrecognised number

I don’t think I’ll be opting-in when these people call me up in the future. My mobile number is only given out to friends, or if essential, businesses that may need to contact me for something like a delivery time / date alteration.

My home number’s on TPS, I LIKE my privacy.

But…I can see the usefulness of a directory…

Then again, I don’t like my life being intruded into by a phone that I carry around with me, at least the landline is in a fixed location and I can walk away from it / ignore it, if you don’t answer your mobile people immediately assume you’re dead …hmmmm, dilemma.

Is it bad to want other people to join in, but not play myself?

Info originally in CILIP Weekly Information World 13 - 19 July 2007

Slightly ironic!

Isn’t it amusing that the first prosecution for breaking the English smoking ban would be in a pub called the Happy Scots Bar?

Now, that’s just setting a challenge for a Scot to find a Happy English Bar in Scotland and do the same…although the quest might be similar to finding a needle in a haystack, to be honest!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nerdy Rules

I’m liking these rules.. isn’t it strange how most of them relate to the frustrations technology causes us…

Particularly liking Sturgeon’s Revelation!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Today I discovered splogging!

I never knew that there was such a thing...blawgs were the most unusual combination of 'blogging' with other words that I'd come across.

Now, I discover splogging: setting up spam blogs and filling them with AdSense ads. I don't quite get the point...methinks I need to read this article in more depth when I can actually concentrate!

Personally, I just quite like the term!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Turning the pages...in a different way.

Is it just me, or is it offensive that this judge thinks we just "turn the pages" of books?

And also, I personally know people who've had to have operations on their hands to repair damage caused by their work as a librarian. I've felt the aching pains in my wrists and thumbs after spending hours photocopying old cases for users...the thumbs take the strain as you flip the books to photocopy them...I'd say it's pretty clear that librarians CAN injure themselves by "turning the pages of a book".

Big Brother is watching you....flying on internal flights

C'mon British Airways, what good are these measures really going to do, other than create feelings of huge paranoia and fear in your passengers?

Why will you need to scan faces twice? Do you think people are coming through with Mission Impossible style rubber face masks and false fingerprints, escaping detection by eagle eyed security staff (who're otherwise occupied trying to figure out if over 100ml of baby milk is allowable, and confiscating highly dangerous nail clippers in case they're used on the flight to threaten anyone with a nasty nip), then ripping them off as soon as they think they're clear of security?

Will it really be a case of "your face doesn't fit here mate"?

And would it not have been far simpler to just keep international and domestic lounges separate?

Or would that mean you'd have no good excuse for introducing yet more invasive tracking of individuals in the name of 'security'?

Link via RFIDNews

Thursday, July 12, 2007

You know, if you’re going to be bad in court…

do it with style!!

I’d like to know what type of MP3 player it was: Apple, Creative, Microsoft et al could have a great marketing opportunity in this: “quiet enough to get past a judge in court”

Link from Boing Boing

And there's more jury-room gold here!

Are we WEEEing properly yet?

So, the WEEE (the prime contender for the title of "Most Ridiculously Named Regulations EVER"...seriously, have you been able to read about "separating different types of WEEE", and types of containers for different types of WEEE without sniggering?) Regulations came into force on the 1st of July 2007.

So, that should mean that when you buy a new appliance, the very least the provider must do would be to advise you about how and where to dispose of the appliance you’re probably replacing. They should be a member of the Distributor Take-back Scheme, or allow in-store take-back. At least, that’s what this document from the Environment Agency tells me.

So, why is it that, after buying a TV from Dixons online, we’ve received precisely NO information on the WEEE Regulations, our duty of responsible disposal, or where / how to do it?

Our old TV is now being rehomed by Freecycle, but what if I didn’t know about this, and if I didn’t know that I had new duties under WEEE? (sniggering at that phrase!!)

Dixons really haven’t come out of this with flying colours…wonder who’s going to be the first retailer officially spanked for failure to comply?



Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oh no, wait…

Links to some documents from 2007 and 2006 on the old DTI site still work, so at least we can still access them (for now).

Links to some pages from 2006 and 2007 actually have a redirect…which is an advance.

Apart from the fact that the redirect takes me to a page that I’m ‘not authorised to view’


1. You are not authorized to view this page

You might not have permission to view this directory or page using the credentials you supplied.


If you believe you should be able to view this directory or page, please try to contact the Web site by using any e-mail address or phone number that may be listed on the www.dti.gov.uk home page.

You can click Search to look for information on the Internet.

2. HTTP Error 403 - Forbidden
Internet Explorer

I think it’s an advance, but I’m not altogether sure….although the fact that a redirect from a DTI page to a BERR page actually sends me to a DTI screen and advised me to go to www.dti.gov.uk, not www.berr.gov.uk makes my poor brain hurt.

DTI / BERR – I despair!!!

Ok, so as well as deciding to suddenly change departments / name with no notice (in itself enough to make me scream with frustration), those clever chaps and chapesses at the ex-DTI have gone one step further…and shifted most of the materials onto the new www.berr.gov.uk web address.

With no redirects.

Wonderful.

Here comes a good few weeks of altering every single damn link to their materials that we’ve ever posted to our current awareness service.

Even changing the ‘dti’ part of the web address to ‘berr’ doesn’t work.

They helpfully tell me this when I click on a link:

The DTI web page or document you are looking for has not been found.

Administration

The DTI web page or document you are looking for has not been found.


We have restructured our website, and the information you are looking for has been moved, or you have clicked on an inaccurate link.

* If you are looking for a specific piece of information, you may find it easier to use the search engine or our Site Map.

* If you are looking for a particular document DTI has published, you can search our Reports & Publications site.

* If you still cannot find what you are looking for, call our Ministerial Correspondence Unit on 020 7215 5000 or email us.

Please update your bookmarks with the new URL.

Really? You think I should update my bookmarks? Why, what a splendid idea, I couldn’t have thought of it myself! And now, despite the fact that using it makes me weep with frustration, I’m meant to use your internal search engine to try and discover where you’ve put all those lovely, useful documents that we’d linked to because they were, well, lovely and useful!

*sigh*

Thursday, July 05, 2007

RFID item tracking

Now, I confess, it’s a longed-for dream to be able to instal RFID tracking for our books…I’m going to have a look at the video of this at home tonight, when I can actually hear what they’re saying!

I’ve got to say, being able to pinpoint exactly where specific items are would be a VERY good thing for me!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Losing information

I had a summer student come to me this week and ask me to fix back on the installation instructions for a CD that the sellotape holding them on had yellowed and fallen off from…a hint perhaps of its age! Although a 10 year old book isn’t that old in the grand scheme of things…

The CD itself was long gone, but the installation instructions remained.

They were for:

M.S. Word for Windows 2.0

Wordperfect 5.1 for MS-DOS

Wordperfect 6.1 for Windows

Unsurprisingly, I made an executive decision not to keep those instructions, but I thought about them when reading this story from the BBC.

How many people still have information stored on floppy discs (the ‘hard’ floppy discs, not the floppy-floppies, as I remember from my far-distant youth…) but don’t have a machine that can now read them? It’s one of the only good points about my creaky, 7 year old home pc, that I can actually put these things into it and access the information.

One of the things on my eternal to-do list is to save the data to my pc, then burn it onto a CC…but how long will a CD last me?

Should I actually really be uploading the data to a secure website?

What if that site dies, taking my info with it?

What format should it be in?

How long will it be safe / readable in that format?

Technology is changing so fast now. I know of someone who managed a while ago to pick up an interesting device: a microfilm reader built into a suitcase. Allegedly for reading schematics for military vehicles and fixing them in the field (my personal fantasy of it being a spy-case, for reading top-secret-type things was crushed), it was the height of innovative portable technology at the time, and now is just an interesting, outdated lump of metal, glass and plastic. Will the Blackberries (or Brambles, as I’ve heard them called) and iPhones of today be the car-boot hunters treasures of tomorrow?

You know, I really don’t envy the National Archives their task!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Turning the Pages for a treasure

IWR reports on the release of the British Library Turning the Pages software to a wider audience. I was lucky enough to be at a roadshow on British Library technical developments in March, held in the National Museum of Scotland. (As an aside - Boy, do those people know how to make a great goodie bag...messenger bag, notepad, funky folding cube of notable images from holdings, there was even a big bar of chocolate!).
I was practically drooling at the lovelyness of it all! I really wished that my former workplace would be able to afford the insane cost of digitising (and then the ongoing hosting of the digitised material) any of their historical collection, but it's out of the reach of most libraries without a very wealthy patron...which is why when I read the IWR post I was reminded about the BL competition for public libraries, one from each area of Britain, to have a "hidden treasure" from their collection digitised.

The entries closed on the 29 June 2007....shortlisted entrants will be invited to an awards ceremony at the BL in early September. I'm dying to find out what amazing books will be made accessible through this!

I have one, and his name be Wolverine!

Apparently, every librarian needs a nemesis. I have mine, although I must admit, I share him with my boss. However, his ability to frustrate attempts to help him, evaporate knowledge from his brain, palm off his work to others and daydream through essential training sessions does mean there’s more than enough nemesis-ness to go around….

Basic Blogger

Reading the article by Nick Holmes in Legal Information Management about law blogs, made me think about just how little I really know about certain technical stuff.I’ve been blogging personally since March 2006, so I can post, I can hyperlink, I can insert pictures, yet I still don’t know how to make a banner. HTML is a mystery to me (new look Blogger = so nice!!), I can’t trackback visitors (to either blog), and I failed when trying to put a statcounter in the code of this one.

I’m a techie failure.

But, I ask myself, do I NEED to know all these things? A banner makes things look prettier, and I may not be able to do it myself, but I know people that I could ask to do it for me. I can live without prettyness, and save favours for essential times. Do I really need to be able to rummage in HTML? Why would I need to track back visitors, other than for my own personal interest? Do I have the time to learn how to do any of these things anyway, and if I do, would I be able to spend enough time on them to make me actually good at them?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I should be happy about the fact that I’m able to do a lot, and accept that I don’t have to be able to do everything.

I think that works for life / work too.

Sorry Jennie Law!

I admit, my choice of blog name was not particularly clever or well planned. I didn’t expect to get linked to, or even read, so I just thought, when Blogger prompted me for a name, “erm, my name, yup. That's taken. Ok, so it’ll be mainly about law / my work…so law will do. That combination's not taken yet. Yay. Job done.” It's not particularly anonymous, but I don't think I need to be anyway. Although a lady does like to retain a little bit of mystery...

I didn’t think there’d be a lady out there actually called Jennie Law. Or that she too would be a librarian! Perhaps I should get in touch and apologise for accidentally stealing her identity as my blog name?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Why must government websites do this?

Thanks to Binary Law, I now know that the DTI has become something unpronounceable, the DBERR. Is it ‘deeber’? ‘debeer’? ‘deberr’ (which allows me to say: to deberr is human, to forgive, debine?) Fingers crossed that they decide to be sensible about the whole process, and don’t just decide to shift the whole site, with no redirects, thereby rendering entirely useless the work of anybody who’s spend any time creating weblinks to any of their information…yup, that’d be me then!

Wonder if they’ll also fix the fact that their inbuilt websearch is the biggest excuse for a user enhancement I’ve ever seen, and has yet to ever actually work for me. Google and site specific searching is the only way I’ve been able to drag anything out of its depths!

And did I miss any prior notification of this? As of yesterday, their site was DTI, today it’s morphing (logo gone, I assume the new one’s coming), but no hint of todays change. Today, it’s their entire front page. Have I been selectively blind?

And now, I see the Department for Communities and Local Government is ‘redesigning’ too, apparently in response to ‘stakeholders’. Is the word ‘users’ actually banned in government circles? I don’t ‘stakehold’ their website, I ‘use’ it. And I wonder who the stakeholders were that they consulted…hopefully they’re not the usual, colour blind chimps with hugely advanced search skills they seem to base the rest of their redesigns on!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Freedom of information trumps restriction of access

The constitutional affairs select committee has declared that the Governments plans to limit FOI requests (including bundling multiple requests from the same group / company together and regarding them as a single ‘request’, regardless of the information requested) has not got enough basis, and on that grounds, there is no support for changing the current charging and handling regime.

Quote from summary page:

“The Government has not shown that it adequately reviewed whether the existing charging regime balanced public access rights with the needs of public authorities to deliver services effectively, before deciding to restrict public access rights further;

• We have not received sufficient evidence to support the need to change access rights in the way proposed;

• The cost-benefit analysis prepared by the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) to support the proposed regime is insufficient;

• We have not received any evidence to show that the new charging regime would be transparent and subject to adequate review, nor how such a review process would operate; the proposed regime could result in public authorities avoiding answers to embarrassing, contentious or high-profile cases as the number of internal consultees rises in proportion to the sensitivity of particular requests; and

• The Ministry of Justice should now focus on improving compliance with the existing provisions of the FOI Act and on reducing the delays encountered by requesters seeking information. Any future proposed changes to the charging regime must be supported by a firm evidence base and take proper account of the impact they would have on the benefits which the public derive from FOI.”


Link from OUT-LAW.com

Widening the privacy investigation

As posted on OUT-LAW yesterday, the Article 29 Working Party is expanding the scope of its investigation of search engine privacy practices beyond Google to ALL search engine companies, and their data retention practices.

Will be interesting to see what the other, smaller (and less media-targeted) companies policies are…

I'm not obsessive!

I just worry about my online privacy and security, hence why this information makes me glad not to be a FaceBooker… admittedly, they’ve now updated the settings to prevent those searches from working now, but seriously, why was it ever possible in the first place?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vote for Fido!

Well, after the fiasco of the Scottish elections in May, I have a lot of sympathy for this lady and her dog Duncan!

Wonder who he'd have voted for?

John Murray archive

Hmmmm, this looks like my sort of thing, I think I might take a stroll over to see it. Loving the idea of being able to email the documents to myself to read without having to queue for a chance to get on a computer...

Monday, June 25, 2007

It’s a mystery!

Why Blogger thinks my time zone is significantly different from reality, and skips me forward an hour, even when I’m set to the right location / time zone.

As a result, I’m currently posting from the Azores. Well, their time zone, which seems to match Scotlands

Unfortunately, the weather isn’t quite the same…


Wait, now London works. Oh the joyous mysteries of Blogger....

Facebook again!

Ohhhh, according to this, your choice of social network reflects your social status….I’m still being a difficult sod and refusing to Facebook though! :D


Perhaps MySpace reflects my eternal inner geekiness?

I feel safer now

It’s good to see that the Lord Chancellor is spending his time pondering the finer aspects of the enforcement of law and order in modern society.

See?

Rise of the Machines?

Looks like the next step for print on demand, although none of them are publications within copyright.

Good to see libraries actually supporting new ways to access information, rather than making the sign of the cross and threatening to burn the inventors at the stake for their heresy….

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Educating X and Y

So, I followed the link posted by lo-fi librarian a few days ago, and looking at that chart, at first I was surprised by the low takeup of my generation (yup, I'm a Gen Xer too, though I've yet to read the book), and then, thinking about my own experiences, began to think that perhaps it's not so surprising really.

After all, who's teaching us?
I feel like the generation that was overlooked.

For example, typing skills when I was at school were something you learned if you weren't going to go to University, and instead were going to have to go out and get a 'proper' job when you left school. So I was never taught to type, as it was regarded as a 'menial' skill, not for us Uni-destined types. Yet within the timescale I was at Uni, it went from being acceptable to submit handwritten work, to it only being acceptable to submit in 12 point type, with 1.5 line spacing to allow space for comments! When was I meant to have learned how to wordprocess? As a result, I'm a 2/3 fingered typist, rapidly developing RSI, and wondering when I can spare the time to totally relearn how to type. And wondering if I CAN relearn how to type...

Then, for my postgrad qualification, I found I was expected to be able to give presentations and effectively use Powerpoint. Where was I meant to have learned about that? Another ' from new to essential' development within 3 - 4 years!

So, if I'm just expected to 'know' how all these programmes and tools work (and yes, I know most workplaces will provide training in these skills now, but at the point when I was learning them, unis weren't really great on training you on things they they often didn't fully understand themselves yet!), am I soon also going to be expected to know about social media and Web 2.0 technologies? Where am I meant to be learning about these? If I wasn't reasonably interested in these topics, and didn't enjoy hunting out information (is that a librarian personality requirement?) how would I find out about them? How does information on these things get through to the average person of my age?

It would be very easy to know very little about what's going on, if you're not technically or information-finding inclined. Why would you know what a wiki is? Wouldn't Wikipedia just be an interesting name, without a reason for the 'wiki' part? Wouldn't blogs just sound like boring diaries, instead of a new style of journalism and professional contact?

How does information on technical developments get through to the majority?

Maybe it's time for a pop quiz on some friends...the ones who aren't really active online, find out what they know about, and why they know what they know...hmmm....

See? I done tole' ya!!

Facebook's the place to be, not MySpace any more...I still ain't joining!! :D

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Do you Facebook?

The answer in my case is…no. And it’s been a deliberate decision (under regular review) not to join it, despite regular requests from various friends. I use (with varying frequency) My Space, Bebo…I blog, I email, I wiki, I forum. I like to be in touch and aware of what’s going on in the world. I don’t, however, have an incredible compulsion to be constantly connected to my friends 24 hours a day, so, although I joined up to find out more about it, I can categorically state that I will never Twitter (unless someone can give me a better reason than “you can tell people who don’t care enough to speak to you in person everything you’re doing throughout the day, in response to a totally inane question about what you’re doing”). I also have a limit on the amount of times I really need to see the same people duplicated in my network of friends in different sites.

It started with MySpace, which I joined in a spirit of investigation and fun in February 2006, when it was filling the news headlines. I also joined Bebo at that point, and promptly forgot about it, until it was suggested by a workmate in March this year that I join, only to discover I already had! At that point MySpace was new, exciting and fun. I made friends, and more. Then Bebo became the Next Big Thing…now it’s Facebook. It’s turning into a pattern of social network hopping…How ‘cool’ you are is reflected by which networks you’re on…MySpace is SOOOO last year…Bebo’s trendy, but fading…now it’s Facebook, only opened to non-university students since September 2006.

But…I don’t WANT to Facebook! I’m one of those bizarre people that believes time is the most important thing you possess, and when you give it away you’ll never get it back. Do I really want to give my time to yet another social networking site, to see the same people doing the same things as they do on the other sites?

No.

I want to appreciate my real friends, the ones I take the time out to write letters to, even though an email’s faster. Yes, these sites are good for me to quickly update myself on how friends I don’t see often are doing, but it’s not exactly socialising with them, really. Is it?

But…could these sites help me in my work? Do I want to join library and law groups on Facebook (which I believe exist, including an IWR group), or is it more efficient to just continue reading the blogs that interest me?

I’m not yet in information overload, but would professional networking on social networks tip the balance?

Excuse me sir, but is my science showing?

Ok, it’s a geeky concept but it amused me!

I like LOLcats a lot…I read Cute Overload (although it gets a bit overly-cute for me at times)…I did a science degree (what do you mean, I'm meant to have done a law degree!?!?)...So I really like this, I’m right there in the middle section!

Link

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Google again

Honestly, I'm not obsessive, really, they just seem to be pretty active just now!
Google have opened up their internal blog on their public policies, to allow users to see what their views are on various important areas such as privacy, content regulation etc.
Which is pretty interesting, but I've got to say, I'm not sure I entirely trust any organisation when they say 'look how honest and open we're being'...probably cos I know there are very, very few of them who will be!
But it's a pretty good attempt to make more transparent the internal workings of a section of a massive corporation.

What does the Web look like?

I use it every day, for work and for pleasure, it's become an essential part of my daily life ....but what does it look like?

Well, according to researchers at Tel-Aviv University in Israel, it looks like...that.

Prettier than I expected, it looks like the first seconds after the Big Bang! Wonder which dot is Earth... ;-)

Link from Popular Science Blog, the link to the original research paper it's taken from isn't working just now.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Privacy and anonymity

Following on from my late-night musings on Google and privacy, an article from Technology Guardian about the differences between privacy and anonymity.

Just glad I don't use iTunes either!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Google - doing evil?

So, I confess my dirty librarian secret: I really like Google. I know I'm meant to be an expert online, using the most appropriate search engine for whatever information I'm looking for (I keep meaning to try to use Sputtr for that too, even though the name sounds like it's an asthmatic with a cold, but never quite remember), but... Google works so WELL!
And it allows you to personalise it with iGoogle, and narrow searches to UK only, and that's lovely!

But, I do worry about what they do with my data. After all, to personalise to iGoogle, you must be logged in. Which means every search you do is logged against your user name / ID, and whatever other information about yourself you've given them. Even if you've not said where you live, your searches are likely to do that. Been on holiday recently? Researched that on Google when logged in? That data's been recorded too. Looked for recipes? Childcare tips? Been looking for a new job? Snap. Although it may be anonymised, that data can still identify you individually, as AOL found out to their cost when they released some 'anonymised' data a while back, and subsequently some users were identified from that data, prompting the usual threats of lawsuits.

Currently, Google log search query details, the IP address of the searcher, and install a cookie (on the machines of those that don't block them) with a validity of 30 years to recognise returning visitors. And they're currently debating with Europe about the time length they hold that data for. I don't like that sort of information being held for any longer than is absolutely necessary. Previously, Goggle held it as long as they saw necessary. Now, they're pledging to anonymise it after 18-24 months. But why so long? Honestly, just how much use is information on a web search after 2 years? I'm very protective of my data online: if forced to register to use a site, I like to play around - initial letters only if asked for a first and last name, make up an age, and sometimes I change gender. After all, I never signed a usage agreement with the Magical Interweb saying I'd always be truthful about my personal details, did I? What information I give up, and to who, is my choice, usually after a check of their data protection and retention policy.

Now, it's true, I could opt not to not to use Google if I'm searching, but surely that defeats the purpose of selecting and using the best tool for the job. I'm not going to use a brushpan and shovel to clean my carpets when I have a Dyson, and nor am I going to use a lesser search engine when Google is constantly tweaking its already very successful algorithms to improve their product every day. I know their recent black ranking by Privacy International is a result of their many products, and the sharing of data between them. They're probably not deliberately doing evil, but they're perhaps beginning to allow a little bit of badness to seep in at the edges...

You know what's even more fun?
Google's now got a log of all the searches I just did for this blog post...

Legally Blogged

So, what a great start: first post, and Blogger lost it, retaining only the first word. Brilliant.

Anyhoodle, I decided to set this blog up so I can post about things that interest me professionally, and keep a separation between my personal life (and blog), and my professional life (and blog). It does mean constantly having to switch between my two IDs for Blogger, but I'm a big girl, I can handle that!

I'm interested in the ways that IT can be integrated into my working life, and my regular reading of the blogs I've linked to has already helped me out: I've started myself a wiki to organise my Chartership materials (but this unfortunately means I'm pretty much ready to submit, so I'm now perfecting my procrastination techniques), I'm using Cite Bite quite a lot already, and I only read about it a week or so ago, my awareness of professional issues is much better....

This "series of tubes" is pretty exciting and fun stuff to be working with! (Lookee, I Cite Bited again!)
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