Saturday, January 24, 2009

AKA "Vista Fixed"

Link to January 23 cnet news post, "Windows 7 beta to be available through Feb. 10".

Excerpt: Microsoft announced Friday night that computer enthusiasts will have a while longer to get their hands on the beta version of Windows 7.

In a blog posting, Microsoft said that the test version of the operating system will be available for download through Feb. 10. Previously, Microsoft had said that the OS would only be open through late this month.

Wikipedia May Restrict Public’s Ability to Change Entries

Link to January 23 New York Times article.

Stung by criticism after vandals changed Wikipedia entries to erroneously report that Senators Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd had died, Wikipedia appears ready to introduce a system that prevents new and anonymous users from instantly publishing changes to the online encyclopedia.

The new system, called Flagged Revisions, would mark a significant change in the anything-goes, anyone-can-edit-at-any-time ethos of Wikipedia, which in eight years of existence has become one of the top 10 sites on the Web and the de facto information source for the Internet-using public.

Magazine Death Watch (2009-2)

Link to PW THE BEAT blog post, "Recession Watch: MAD Goes Quarterly".

Excerpt: The venerable humor magazine today announced that starting with issue #500 in April, it will move to a quarterly publication schedule from its current monthly. The magazine’s version for younger readers, MAD Kids will cease publication with the issue on sale February 17th, while the final issue of MAD Classics will go on sale March 17th. Both of the spinoff magazines launched in 2005. Circulation numbers for the magazines were not readily available.

Handling the news with style typical of MAD, Editor John Ficarra said, “The feedback we’ve gotten from readers is that only every third issue of MAD is funny, so we’ve decided to just publish those.”

Doyle vows to maintain education funding

Link to January 23 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.

Excerpt: Gov. Jim Doyle on Friday pledged to a roomful of school officials he would "do everything possible" to maintain education funding in his 2009-'11 budget, which he said would be released in early February.

By that, however, he said he meant that funding for kindergarten through 12th grade would remain flat and not receive the annual increases public schools have received as part of the state's commitment to pay two-thirds of their cost.

"Not getting cut is the new increase in this budget," Doyle said in a speech at the State Education Convention in the Milwaukee Hilton Hotel. (Retiring Guy's emphasis)

Ron McCabe: Banner Year for McMillan Library

Link to Ron McCabe's January 24 Wisconsin Rapids Tribune column.

Excerpt: The loan of library materials to the public increased by 17.4 percent for a total of 489,554 items. We counted 92,555 computer work sessions at library computers. Public use of the library broke records here in almost every area of library service.

Banner year indeed! Congratulations to Ron and his great staff at McMillan.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Librarians Become Unofficial Job Counselors

Link to January 23 NPR story (audio)

Summary: The downward economy is putting more stress on libraries. Popular movies and books now have wait-lists, the unemployed are in line for computers to work on resumes and some librarians are even acting as unofficial job counselors. Madeleine Brand talks with Linda Yoder, director of the Nappanee Public Library in Indiana.

Free Content on the Web. Good thing? Bad thing?


As reported at, it's been a good thing for Monty Python.

The Proverbial Breath of Fresh Air

Link to January 22 post, "Obama Frees Bush Historical Records".

When authoritarian forces seize control of a government, they typically move first against the public’s access to information, under the theory that a confused populace can be more easily manipulated. They take aim at the radio stations, TV and newspapers.

In the case of George W. Bush in 2001, he also took aim at historical records, giving himself and his family indefinite control over documents covering the 12 years of his father’s terms as President and Vice President.

It was, therefore, significant that one of Barack Obama’s first acts as President was to revoke the Bush Family’s power over that history and to replace it with an easier set of regulations for accessing the records.

Babygarten at Lester Public Library in Two Rivers

Link to 23 pics at Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter website.

Fox Cities Reads program hopes Michael Perry gets Valley laughing

Link to January 23 Appleton Post Crescent article.

Excerpt: Three of best-selling Wisconsin author and humorist Michael Perry's works will be featured in the 2009 Fox Cities Reads.

The public libraries of Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Kaukauna, Kimberly and Little Chute and the library of the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley kicked off the third annual community read Thursday at the Copper Leaf Hotel.

End of an Era on Appleton's College Avenue?

Link to January 23 Appleton Post-Crescent article, "Contract loss has Conkey's Book Store in limbo".

Conkey's Book Store could be facing its final chapter.

With the loss of a major business contract, the 112-year-old downtown bookstore at 226 E. College Ave. is forced to rethink its future.

"We don't know at this time. We are trying to readjust to the change," said owner John Zimmerman.

On Tuesday night, Fox Valley Technical College's board of trustees voted to give its campus bookstore contract to Barnes & Noble.

Conkey's had that contract for the last 20 years, but was bested by a lower proposal in the bid process.

Barnes & Noble's contract starts July 1.

I always make a point to visit Conkey's and buy something when I'm in Appleton.

This news story almost makes me want to cut my Borders reward card into little pieces, which probably makes me part of the problem that independent bookstore owners face. I'm a sucker for a coupon-induced bargain.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Recommended Site (with Present Reservations)

A January 22 Cory Doctorow post at boing boing notes that Grandma's Graphics hosts a really lovely collection of web-resolution public domain children's artwork, perfect for design projects.

When I click on the link, though, I receive the following message:

Bandwidth Limit Exceeded. The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.

Libraries' many benefits rediscovered in hard economic times

Link to January 22 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.

Excerpt: Libraries throughout the Milwaukee area are seeing more individuals like the Bonuses in these hardscrabble days of job and home losses.

Computer stations have become job-hunting sites as employers have shifted to accepting job applications online only.

Borrowing of compact discs, DVDs and books is booming at Milwaukee, Waukesha and Racine public libraries.

Congratulations to Linda Kappell

Link to January 22 Stevens Point Journal article, "Librarian to put career on the shelf after 40 years".

Excerpt: The Portage County Public Library may house more than 100,000 books, but to some, its circulation librarian is an institution in her own right.

Linda Kappell, 62, of Stevens Point started at the library Jan. 20, 1969, and never left. But after 40 years of service, Friday will be her last day.

"I told her she's too young to retire," daily library patron Lorraine Olski, 79, of Stevens Point said. "When ... I don't see her for a week or two, I say, 'Where have you been? It's been so long. I missed you.' She's a perfect librarian and helpful and everybody's going to miss her."

Kappell came to Stevens Point for college in 1964, where she studied library science and quickly joined the library family.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

'Chains' Wins Scott O'Dell Award

Link to PW announcement.

The Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

(Final?) Update on Child Online Protection Act

Link to January 21 yahoo news post, "Anti-porn online law dies quietly in Supreme Court".

Excerpt: A federal law intended to restrict children's access to Internet pornography died quietly Wednesday at the Supreme Court, more than 10 years after Congress overwhelmingly approved it.

The Child Online Protection Act would have barred Web sites from making harmful content available to minors over the Internet. The law had been embroiled in challenges to its constitutionality since it passed in 1998 and never took effect.

A State Budget of Lowered Expectations

Link to January 15 All Politics Blog post (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), "Doyle says state workers shouldn't expect pay raises".

And that's not all, of course.

Here's the key quote:
State agencies and programs should consider themselves lucky, if his budget proposal recommends the same amount of spending as they got this year. "Getting held even is the new 'increase' in this budget," he said.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

David Wallechinsky on his Dad's 1964 Novel

Link to January 20 Huffington Post.

Wallechinsky: In 1964, my father, Irving Wallace, wrote a novel, The Man, about the first black president. For this, my father received both accolades and death threats. On the final page of The Man one of the characters, addressing his friend the president, Douglass Dilman, speaks words that I find still relevant 45 years later:

"The country's learned to live with you, Doug, so now, at last, it can live with itself. It has a better conscience today. It feels right....That's a huge step, the greatest this country's made since the Emancipation Proclamation. Mr. Lincoln had long legs. But now, for the first time, we've found countless men with legs as long, and they've made the next step, the giant one. As a result, the country is closer to becoming one nation than it ever has been before--and by the time it becomes one nation, it may be ready, and qualified, to help make our world one world....None of us will ever be the same again--not you--not me--not anyone, anywhere. Thank God."

Only 2 copies of The Man remain in LINKcat, none of which is checked out. Wallace, probably best known for The Chapman Report, saw his star start to fade, and book sales plummet, in the 1980s, if not earlier. One of my best friends in college, though, was a big fan of The Man.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama's Reading List

Link to January 18 New York Times article, "From Books, New President Found Voice".

Some of President-elect Barack Obama’s favored reading matter as mentioned in this article:
The Bible
“Parting the Waters,” Taylor Branch
“Self-Reliance,” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Gandhi’s autobiography
“Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin
“The Golden Notebook,” Doris Lessing
Lincoln’s collected writings
“Moby-Dick,” Herman Melville
“Song of Solomon,” Toni Morrison
Works of Reinhold Niebuhr
“Gilead,” Marilynne Robinson
Shakespeare’s tragedies

Movie theaters and libraries appeal to families with low-cost or free films

Link to January 19 Appleton Post-Crescent article.

Excerpt: Libraries in Neenah and Appleton are showing free weekly movies during the winter months. The Neenah Public Library, which also throws in free popcorn, offers movies on Tuesdays while the Appleton Public Library fires up its version of the big screen on Saturday afternoons.

"Libraries have always shown films; it's just the format with DVDs — and we have the nice projector — the setup is perfect for doing this," said Gretchen Raab, assistant director of the Neenah Public Library. "It gives families a reason to come to the library beyond just checking out books. And, of course, it's free. Not everybody can afford movies and popcorn."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Online Bragging Rights

Link to January 17 New York Times article, "Can the Go-To Site Get You to Stay?"

According to Neilsen's rankings, was the #1 current events and global news website in 2008, with a monthly average of 1,700,000,000 views.

Runner-up: MSNBC with 1,200,000,000 views.

Another Fight Card in the Information Technology vs. Privacy Match-Up

Link to January 17 New York Times article, "Privacy Issue Complicates Push to Link Medical Data".

In one corner, we have the health care industry lobbyists, promoting $20 billion for electronic medical records technology in an $825 billion (and counting) economic stimulus bill.

In the other corner, we have consumer groups who insist that stronger safeguards must be in place in order to insure patient privacy. (As the article notes, [i]n the last few years, personal health information on hundreds of thousands of people has been compromised because of security lapses at hospitals, insurance companies, and government agencies.)

Among the proposed safeguards:
1. Outlaw the sale of any personal health information in an electronic medical records, except with the permission of the patient.
2. Allow patients to control what information is released (e.g., sensitive information such as records of psychotherapy, abortions, AIDS tests)
3. Require health care providers and insurers to use encryption technology to protect personal health information.

Boxing, of course, is a poor metaphor to use when people's health and privacy are at issue. But if you are a regular reader of political news, our elected officials, unable to referee, are always "fighting" on our behalf.

And look where that has gotten us.

Guiding principles for new Cedar Rapids library

Downtown Cedar Rapids, mid-June 2008
(Library at center right)

Link to January 17 Cedar Rapids Gazette article.

On December 4, 2008, the building and facilities committee of the Cedar Rapids Public Library (CRPL) Board of Trustees held a strategic planning session regarding re-establishing a main library facility. For purposes of the strategic planning session, guiding principles were established, and were defined as those qualities/attributes/conditions that the CRPL would desire of a main facility.

Weston creates Facebook group for residents

Link to January 18 Wausau Daily Herald article.

When Tina Kollmansberger moved to Weston five years ago, the first place she checked for local information was Facebook.

"I wanted to get more involved, and I didn't know many people," she said. "Facebook was an ideal way to find out what was going on and (to) meet people."

At that point, the village didn't have a presence on the social networking site. But Kollmansberger, 31, -- who serves on the village's finance committee -- is one of many reasons Weston started its own Facebook group in December. Already, the group has more than 40 members.