Thursday, July 31, 2008

Taking QR Codes to the Streets

At the Medical Library Association Conference this year I included QR Codes as a Tech Trend. The only place QR Codes are actually useful is still in Japan, where they are becoming ubiquitous. In the States, online guides Citysearch and Antenna Audio piloted QR Codes, in San Francisco back in the Spring. The are readers available for just about every mobile platform, including iPhone.

The latest product on the market are QR Code patches, which point to a proxy server which then redirects a phone browser to the URL encoded in the code. So, when someone takes a photo of your jacket, backpack, or wherever the patch is attached they can go to your online presence.

It also means that when someone takes a photo of you and posts it to Flickr, then someone can take a photo of that photo and be linked to the URL . Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cincinnati Motorized Logo LIVES!

Back in 1927 a motorized sign commonly known as "YouBert" was installed above the Young & Bertke air systems building along I-75 north of downtown. After years of walking in place, YouBert has been motion less since 2005, after the sign's mechanism failed. Well, the logo is back at walking with a new motor and a fresh coat of paint.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Mobile Optimized Library Web Sites

An article in today's NetworkWorld highlights the beta launch of Opera Mobile 9.5, a native Web browser for higher end 'smart' phones. Opera Dragonfly is Opera’s open source cross-platform developer tool. The beta browser is for Windows but Symbian support is in the works and Java support so it can run on the Samsumg SPH-M800 (a.k.a Instinct) is also rumored to be in the works.

Other entrants into the mobile browser space include Mobile Firefox and Skyfire, expected sometime this year. All are in an effort to catch up with the Safari/iPhone platform. The evolution of mobile device browsers has benefited from a marked increase in processor power and the increased speed and coverage of wireless network infrastructures. The browser development has also been accelerated by the increased number of web sites being optimized for the mobile users.

Libraries have been talking about optimizing their web sites for mobile devices for years, but mobile browsers have lagged in their ability to display content and have had limited functionality. In my hunt on how libraries are taking advantage of this fast-paced development today, I came across Megan Fox's Libraries on the Go: Handheld and Mobile Access to Information. The site includes many of her presentations, but also links to industry information. She also lists several libraries with mobile optimized sites, including:

American University Libraries
Ball State University Library
Boston University Medical Center Mobile Library
Cal Poly Pomona University Library
Hanover College, Duggan Library
Harvard College Library
University of Illinois Library
New York University Libraries
University of Richmond Library
St. John’s University, College of St. Benedict
University of Virgina Library

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Using IDEAS to Create an Innovative Library

I have been reading The Game Changer by A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan. The book provides a different way of thinking about management processes to make innovation a central driver of a business. It draws upon the authors experience at Proctor and Gamble. There, they made building an innovative culture a fundamental part of the organizational strategy by using the concept of IDEAS.

Inclusive - the benefits of diverse thinking and ideas

Decisive - eliminating organizational debate and overanalysis to enable faster innovation development

- being in touch with customers

Agile - able to react quickly to changing customer and market conditions and taking calculated risks

Simple - ongoing streamlining and simplification of structures and processes.
I think that libraries do the inclusive and external parts very well. However, we have a lot of work to on being decisive, agile, and simple.

In fact, we tend to have very specific processes and procedures (committees; task forces) to encourage debate and overanalysis (all areas must be represented) which prevents us from being agile (12-18 month development cycle).

The book also reinforces two other characteristics of innovation that I have learned. First, innovation is not about the end product. It is not about the widget produced. Instead, innovation is all about the new interpersonal connections and the intersection of ideas which emerge.

Second, leadership plays a very important role. Leadership does not mean the administrative organization. Instead, it is about building a pipeline of leaders which allow a culture of innovation to grow and be sustained. These leaders can exist at any level of an organization. They must be given opportunities to lead and learn. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

To the Moon on 72Kb

As a child of the 60's, I continue to be interested in space. Specifically, the technology of space. This week, the Science Channel is running a series this week called Moon Machines during their Space Week 2008.

The episode I just watch is called "Navigation."It details the creation of the Apollo command module guidance computer (AGC) by the MIT Instrumentation Lab.

Apollo Guidance Computer Specifications:
Instruction Set: Approximately 20 instructions;
100 noun-verb pairs, data up to triple-precision
Word Length: 16 bits (14 bits + sign + parity)
Memory: ROM (rope core) 36K words; RAM (core) 2K words
Disk: None
Performance: approx. Add time - 20us
Basic machine cycle: 2.048 MHz
Technology: RTL bipolar logic (flat pack)
Size: 24" x 12.5" x 6" (HWD)
Weight: 70 lbs;
Number produced: 75
Cost: Unknown.
Power consumption: Operating: 70W @ 28VDC; Standby 15.0 watts

There were a few bits of information I thought were interesting:

At the time they were building the AGC the 'integrated chip' was just being developed. It's a frequently cited that the space program and perhaps the AGC more than any other single part of this program that drove IC development, an observation Eldon Hall makes in his book Journey to the Moon. At one point NASA was consuming 60% of all chips being manufactured. They would weight them, then immerse them in a bath of freon. If they weighed even a few micrograms greater they would toss the entire batch away since there had to be some flaw which absorbed some of the freon.

It is common to hear that many of our devices are more powerful than the Apollo guidance computer, but I never heard what the total was until now - 72kb. A $100 MP3 player has 50,000 times more storage space then the computer that got Apollo to the Moon. I think back to the Commodore 64 I had and even it was pretty close to the processing AGC power (I wonder if the MIT guys "peeked and poked")

The programs were literally hardwired and "weaved" together using rope memory.

The computer's other error codes included error 00404, which was shorthand for "IMU orientation unknown." This has been compared to the HTTP 404 "browser navigation" error code, although the later was not based on it.

(If one is really into this stuff feel free to download the GNU Virtual AGC or build a real one in your basement. The original schematics are available.) Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

8 Drugs Doctors Would Never Take

As a health sciences librarian for almost 20 years, I have many issues with the coverage of medical topics in such popular literature. The latest to get me going is a Men's Health article entitled 8 Drugs Doctors Would Never Take.

Sadly, this article is filled with overgeneralized statements such as "Unfortunately, it seems some doctors rarely pull the PDR off the shelf. Or if they do crack it open, they don't stay versed on emerging research that may suddenly make a once-trusted treatment one to avoid"

Well, for one, I would question how up to date an MD was if they were still using a 'print' PDR. Second, the reader is supposed to trust a popular magazine article that relies upon a single source article and/or the comment of a single health professional to supports the author's argument for placing a drug on the list.

The author, Morgan Lord, doesn't even appear on the Men's Health list of "experts," which include a bartender and "smart New Yorker, who isn't afraid to tell guys what women really want." He doesn't have an MD or even a PhD after his name. Just try to find more information on his credentials as a medical writer. He also writes for Women's Health magazine and is listed simply as an Assistant Editor on this Rodale Internation publication.

I have no issue with Mr. Lord. He needs to support his family.

My major concern is that this content also is published on other site sites including MSNBC and MSN. This provides a false sense of credibility. DrV's comments really sums things up:
So, while I understand that Mr. Lord has as his job to report information that 'scares' people, I believe that he is remiss in not reporting why a person's Doctor may find important uses in these drugs or may even disagree with studies that are out there. If you've ever seen a patient die without a long term medicine to control their asthma, or you've seen someone whose life has been changed with the addition of a 'questionable' drug, then you will understand that blanket statements that a drug wouldn't be taken by your doctor may be dead wrong. Personally, I'd take this drug (or similar) if I had asthma, and I have family members on it as well. Please, Mr. Lord, do not make my job more difficult; patient compliance is hard enough already as it is.
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