Friday, July 30, 2010

Get a Blazing-Fast Computer for Free

By Farhad Manjoo
Posted Monday, July 26, 2010, at 4:38 PM ET

So Ubuntu is good. But why should you use it? After all, nearly every computer you encounter will likely be running either Windows or the Mac OS. You can buy a new PC preloaded with Ubuntu, but they're not easy to find (and, anyway, you don't save too much by doing so). So what's the point?
To me, it's the perfect way to give an aging Windows PC new life. Many of us have an old computer sitting around that, theoretically, is perfectly usable—you've just given up on it because it's too slow and too broken down. Perhaps the machine doesn't run modern programs. Or maybe it's become bloated by software you should never have installed, or colonized by spyware that sneaked by your defenses. Or perhap! s the machine is just old—over time, computers, like people, pick up all kinds of annoying affectations, and eventually they begin to drive you insane. But unlike people, a computer can be completely remade. All you need to do is reinstall its operating system, wiping it clean of every tic it's picked up in its life. More often than not, this relatively simple step will make the machine as good as new.
If your machine is really old, though, reinstalling its original OS could be a step backward. Consider, for instance, the laptop that I purchased in the spring of 2006. The computer—a Dell with a Pentium M processor—came with Windows XP pre-installed. In its day, it was a pretty solid machine, and the only real hardware flaw it's picked up over the years is a busted battery—it doesn't hold a charge, which means I've got to keep the computer plugged in all the time. That hasn't bothered me too much; for about two years, as I picked up newer and better portable ma! chines, I've relegated the Dell laptop to my kitchen counter, where I use it mainly to consult recipes, check my e-mail, and listen to NPR while I cook (I lead a thrilling life). Despite this fairly undemanding assignment, I've noticed the machine getting progressively worse at simple tasks over the last few months. For reasons I haven't bothered to check out—maybe it was a virus or spyware, maybe some kind of hardware or driver error, who knows?—the laptop would take forever to load up a Web page and would completely bog down when more than two browser tabs were open. The machine needed a makeover.
Yes, I could have hunted down the Dell's original XP disks and reinstalled it to its factory settings. But it's 2010—why should I use an operating system first made in 2001? That's when I decided on Ubuntu. It took me 10 minutes to download the OS, and another five to burn a CD (you can also install it using a USB thumb drive). Installation took another 15 minutes, and it went swimmingly—Ubuntu detected all my machine's hardware (soun! d, Wi-Fi, and one-finger scrolling on the laptop's trackpad work perfectly), and it came to life with several key applications pre-installed.
One of the main problems I had with Ubuntu two years ago was its mysterious app-install process. Unlike on the Mac or in Windows, Ubuntu didn't really like when I went to the Web, downloaded a program, and installed it—it would either fail to install the program or fail to put the installed app where I could find it. Instead, Ubuntu wanted you to install programs through its built-in "package manager," a centralized repository of apps for the system. While the package manager is still the preferred route to get new applications, I didn't have any trouble downloading programs from the Web this time around. My only quibble: Ubuntu doesn't offer any kind of startup guide showing you around the OS's main features. You pretty much have to consult the helpful online communi! ty of Ubuntu devotees.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cadaver displays in the library?

I just saw this article and it made me think this would be a great display in the anatomy section - let's pursue these types of exhibits for libraries!

Preserved cadaver exhibits banned in Seattle

Seattle council bans exhibits like 'Bodies'
Exhibition or freak show? 'Bodies…The Exhibition' cashes in our own curiosity

Anatomy of a controversy

Missouri congressman concerned about origin of bodies at exhibit currently in Cleveland

20/20: Inside the Bodies Exhibit

Photographic History of Human Dissection

Not many things get banned in Seattle, so it was a bit unusual this week to learn that the city council in the Emerald City voted to ban commercial cadaver displays. For those who might not be familiar with such matters, preserved cadaver displays have become tremendously popular over the past several years, and they include the exhibits "Bodies" and "Body Worlds". In Seattle, Councilmember Nick Licata expressed concern over the origins of the bodies used in these displays, and other citizens (including anatomy professors and museum directors) thought that the exhibits were disrespectful to the families of the deceased. The popular exhibit "Bodies" had been on display twice in Seattle, and the group responsible for sponsoring the exhibit stated that they received these bodies from a plastination facility in China, which had in turn, received them from Chinese medical universities. Similar laws have been signed into law in Hawaii, New York, and San Francisco. The ban in Seattle does not apply to human remains that are more than 100 years old or consist solely of human teeth or hair. Given the continued popularity of such exhibits, this issue may be revisited in other towns across the United States. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a news article from this Tuesday's Seattle Times which talks about the recent ban passed by the Seattle City Council. The second link leads to a thoughtful retrospective piece from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer which reviews the original exhibit which found its way to Seattle in 2006. Moving on, the third link leads to an excellent piece from the Washington Post that reports on the initial reactions to the "Bodies: The Exhibition" display. The fourth link leads to a recent piece from the Cleveland Plain Dealer which discusses concerns about the "Bodies: The Exhibition" raised by a Missouri congressman which may affect an upcoming exhibit in St. Louis. The fifth link leads to a segment from ABC's "20/20" program about the Bodies exhibit. It should be noted that the segment contains images that some persons may find graphic in their depiction of the human body. The final link leads to a piece from Inside Higher Ed which provides material on a recent book about the photographic history of medical dissection.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Prefer E-books? is a website devoted to news in social and digital media, technology and web culture. They asked their readers whether they preferred e-books or print books. The results were a little surprising, given the audience being polled:

23% prefer e-books

42% prefer print books

35% said each format had its advantages

You can see the results here:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gamestorming - Alternative Work Environments

In defense of games in the workplace
"Gamestorming" author Dave Gray on how games cut through creative chaos.
by Mac Slocum

We're hardwired to play games. We play them for fun. We play them in our social interactions. We play them at work.

That last one is tricky. "Games" and "work" don't seem like a natural pairing. Their coupling in the workplace either implies goofing off (the fun variant) or office politics (the not-so-fun type).

Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo, co-authors of the upcoming book Gamestorming, have a different perspective. They contend that an embrace and understanding of game mechanics can yield benefits in many work environments, particularly those where old hierarchical models are no longer applicable.

In the following Q&A, Gray discusses the collaborative power of games and how they can cut through increasing workplace complexity.

What is Gamestorming?

Dave Gray: Gamestorming is a set of collaboration practices that originated in Silicon Valley in the 1970s and has been evolving ever since. It's an approach that emphasizes quick, ad-hoc organization of teams so they can rapidly co-design and co-develop ideas. As my co-authors and I observed these practices, they seemed to look more like games than any other form of work we were familiar with. Hence the term "gamestorming."

Is each of us playing some sort of game all the time?

DG: In a sense we're always playing games of one sort or another. "Game" is a big word that can have many meanings. For example, "game-playing," "gaming the system," "getting your head in the game," and so on.

In this context, games are simply a way to put structure around the chaos of creative work. The game rules are a way of distributing information into the space you are working in, and distributing power equally among the people in a group. They are a method for flattening hierarchy, increasing engagement, and just generally speeding things up.

Does Gamestorming require specific skills?

DG: Gamestorming is primarily a mindset. It's an approach to work that's about engaging people in collaboratory activities. It's not a game if people are forced to play, so you need to have people and projects that stir people's curiosity and emotion. The Gamestorming skills are synthesizing and social skills, like visualization, improvisation, good listening and language skills.

Can games apply in any organization? Or, are there jobs and industries where it's less effective?

DG: Gamestorming is a great approach when you are entering into unknown territory, when you need to imagine or design for the future, and when you need to tap creative energy. What games are best at is facilitating collaboration and innovation. Where the work is predictable, or where you want consistency, games are not the solution. You don't want people playing too many games in the accounting department.

What is the relationship between complexity and game mechanics?

DG: The world is only getting more complex, and the more complex a system gets the less predictable it is. Games are a way to create simplified systems that mirror the real world. Plus, they're a safe place to try out various scenarios and see what kinds of results are possible. You can tweak one or two variables and see how that affects the system.

How has workplace motivation changed as we've moved into a knowledge economy?

DG: In a traditional industrial setting, say, a factory, it's easy to see what everybody is doing and how what they do fits into the bigger picture. It's easy to see when people are working and when they are slacking off.

But in a knowledge economy, where people are all moving symbols around on screens, and many work from home or the road, it's harder to coordinate the work. Fundamentally, in a knowledge economy, you want people to be creative. That means you need them to be interested, passionate and engaged. The modern cubicle layout and the intangibility of the work makes it difficult. You need to find ways to make it easier for people to share their work and the excitement they have for it. You need to fan the flames.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Are Online Tools Being Used??

Reposted from WebJunction’s blog;
In a survey to a random sample of WebJunction members this spring, respondents answered a question on how frequently they used online tools, either in or outside of their professional life. We found the results interesting. Nearly half of the respondents (49%) use email “listservs” daily. One-third of the respondents (35%) use professional or social networking sites daily. A quarter or less of the respondents use the following daily: online news or magazines (21%), blogs (14%), RSS feeds (14%), bookmarking sites (10%), wikis (9%), employment sites (6%) and online courses (3%).

Urban library respondents (72%) are more likely to use email listservs daily than suburban (57%) and rural (45%) library respondents. Also, urban library respondents (18%) are more likely to use RSS feeds daily than rural library respondents (9%). Suburban library respondents (40%) are more likely to use professional or social networking sites daily than urban (31%) and rural (31%) library respondents.
Alas, lists are still alive and well!

Does this match your activities? Go to the full blog post to see full chart and additional results. And check out our competencies for social networking in libraries.

Monday, July 12, 2010

California Clearinghouse helpful for all rural libraries!

Remind me again, please...what is the Clearinghouse?*

The Rural Library Resources Clearinghouse is an online archive to help California rural public libraries serve their users more efficiently. By providing examples of commonly needed documents, materials and programs in all aspects of library operations, the Clearinghouse benefits rural libraries by eliminating the need to "reinvent the wheel" for every new policy, practice, procedure or project needed locally.

Although developed for use by California rural libraries, any library is welcome to visit and use

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Are You Pretty Enough to Get a Job? | Employment | Career | Mainstreet

Are You Pretty Enough to Get a Job? | Employment | Career | Mainstreet

As if looking for a job isn't hard enough.......................

Mall Library Proving Wildly Successful | NBC Dallas-Fort Worth

Mall Library Proving Wildly Successful | NBC Dallas-Fort Worth

People streamed into a storefront on a recent summer day at an upscale Dallas mall, but they weren't drawn to a heavy discount on designer clothes. It was story sing-a-long time for babies at one of the city library's newest outposts.

The library for kids 12 and under has been wildly successful in offering unconventional access to families who might not make a trip to a traditional public library, and it's one of a growing number of strategies used by librarians nationwide to reintroduce communities to their local library.

"I think what's happening now is really that focus on convenience," said Sari Feldman, president of the Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association. "How do we make the public library as convenient as Amazon, Netflix? Part of that is putting library branches in the path of customer."

"We are very aware of the fact that our biggest advantage is that we're free, but if time is actually a commodity for people, will people be willing to spend money rather than go to a library?"

She said putting libraries in malls is one of many efforts by public libraries to become more convenient. Even at more traditional branches, libraries have built cafes, provided downloadable books or installed drive-through windows.

With about 5,000 items, including books and DVDs, the Bookmarks branch in Dallas' NorthPark Center checks out as many items as branches eight times its size, said Jo Giudice, youth services manager. She said in the two years since it opened, it's had to increase story times to 12 a week compared to the two or three at most branches.

"It's been extremely successful. Numbers have risen every month in respect to programming and book checkout," said Giudice. "We've reintroduced the library to some young families."

The American Library Association doesn't have a comprehensive list of how many libraries are in malls or shopping centers but has an informal tally of around two dozen such branches. One of those opened as far back as the 1960s, but the idea seemingly has grown in popularity in the last decade.

Some locations are arranged like traditional libraries, while others resemble a bookstore. There's also a handful of libraries with arts centers, museums and even apartment buildings.

In Wichita, Kan. there's a library in a grocery story, and a small annex opened by the Chicago Public Library to offer best-sellers to patrons in a visitor center in the city's historic Water Works Pumping Station along Michigan Avenue.

Meanwhile, traditional libraries are trying to become more convenient. Leslie Burger, executive director of New Jersey's Princeton Public Library, said her library in downtown Princeton has a cafe, a bookstore selling donated books, return boxes around town and will mail books to borrowers. This summer, it started hosting a farmer's market.

"It's really that public libraries are really in the midst of some amazing transformation," Burger said. "I think the point of all this is we have multiple generations that we're serving right now and what we're trying to do is surprise and delight our customers."

More people are visiting public libraries, with the Institute of Museum and Library Services showing an almost 20 percent increase from 1999 to 2008, even though the number of librarians remains the same and more libraries have decreased hours and flat or decreased funding.

While there was a bump in library use as the economy faltered, libraries have been seeing consistent growth over the last decade, said Larra Clark, project manager in the Library Association's office for Research and Statistics.

In the face of budget concerns, Feldman, who is also executive director of Ohio's Cuyahoga County Public Library in suburban Cleveland, said a shopping center location can be a good for people and the library system.

Opening a new location in a strip mall nine months ago, one of her branches found affordable rent because of the large number of vacant shops. And since the library is arranged like a bookstore with a self-service focus, they only need the equivalent of 2½ staffers compared to the 11 needed for a full stand-alone branch, she said.

For Bookmarks in Dallas, the owners of NorthPark paid for the mall space to be converted into a library and charge only $1 a year for rent. The library's programs are sponsored by a local energy company.

Curled up reading a book to her 4-year-old son at Bookmarks, 31-year-old Priscilla Gluckman said they came for a yoga class and stayed to read. On such visits they also usually have lunch or shop at NorthPark, which offers higher-priced storefronts like Neiman Marcus and Carolina Herrera.

Bookmarks, she said, is a nice contrast to the consumerism.

"It was just perfect. It was just a nice clean place that wasn't trying to market you something -- just a book," she said. "NorthPark is so high-end. It was so refreshing to see this little pocket of childhood."

American Library Association,

Copyright Associated Press First Published: Jul 6, 2010 8:45 AM CDT