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About me

I realize I’ve been extremely quiet for the last several months (probably around the time I left Tech for Talis). While there are a slew of reasons for this (holidays, settling into new job, trying to shore up some projects, writing some articles, family, etc.), I’ve let it get out of hand. One of the downsides to not writing here, is that it makes writing elsewhere much more difficult. My goal is to be much more prolific here. I don’t want to give myself mandates that I’m going to post daily or weekly, since I don’t want to the things I write about to be contrived, but I think output here increases my productivity elsewhere, so I want to promote that.

I also want to read more.

Anyway, since I last posted here, I’ve written two columns for the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship (of which the first one doesn’t even come out until May) and one about the Communicat for the new Code4Lib Journal. A colleague of mine from Talis and I have been working on a generic API application for libraries. I’ve completely refactored ROpenURL, dipped my toes back into Ümlaut development (in the meantime, Georgia Tech has done away with their Ümlaut implementation which is frustrating and somewhat embarrassing), and have been playing around a lot with JRuby, especially with regards to Ümlaut2 (or 3, which I hope to integrate with the Platform).

I’ll be writing about some my reflections from these experiences soon.

As of October 1st, I will no longer be working for Georgia Tech. I turned in my notice on Thursday morning.

On October 15th, I’ll starting the next stage of my life with Talis. My job title embarrasses me a bit, so I’m not going to put it here, but my job centers around interoperability, standards and creating communities to support those initiatives both inside Talis and especially outside.

It’s bittersweet to leave to Tech. The library has made everything I’ve done possible and I am very grateful for that. That being said, it was probably time to move on (although six months ago, I cannot ever imagine having written that phrase).

I am really looking forward to Talis; not only do I think the work they’re doing is exciting and innovative, but, in my opinion, I think it’s the only way to push major ideas into libraries. Libraries are generally too risk-averse to look at the interesting things their peers are doing and adopt them. My work at Tech doesn’t show up in many places outside of Tech. It never will.

Talis also affords me the opportunity to work from home which allows us to live anywhere. Our hope is to move to Chattanooga, but it may be a while, with the housing market as it is.

Don’t worry, I don’t foresee myself becoming a Platform marketer (although the Platform will undoubtedly come up, I mean, let’s be realistic, it’s what Talis is staking their future on) and I hope that joining ranks with a vendor doesn’t alienate me from my colleagues and conspirators.

The next month will be busy, as I try to polish off my fingerprints that are all over Tech’s technical infrastructure and document and mainstream my various projects that are just shy of production status, but I will try to write more about my thoughts on this soon.

Here’s to big, life-altering changes!

Well, we’re home. Things are going well. Guatemala was a lot of waiting… waiting for Che, waiting for the U.S. Embassy, waiting for his visa, waiting around the hotel, waiting for the airport, waiting in the airport, waiting to land, waiting at customs and immigration…

He is wonderful, though, and we’re really enjoying things right now.

I’m on leave until next Tuesday (after which I’ll be working from home until June), but since Che doesn’t talk much, it gives me lots of time to think while I’m rocking him to sleep or (even more) laying in bed awake wondering when he’s going to wake up next. With that, I’ve had some ‘work related ideas’ 🙂

Photographic evidence of Che’s homecoming.

While the Lucene Preconference is starting, Selena and I will be working our way towards the airport to catch our flight to Guatemala City.

As Karen Schneider delivers her opening keynote, we’ll be at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala getting Isaac Mario Singer-Seymour’s passport signed.

During the slot that I was supposed to speak about the mlaut and afterwards when the Metalib pilot group is picking Roy Tennant’s brain, Selena and I will be on our way back home, with our son.

There couldn’t be a better reason to miss Code4Lib. Have fun.

Given our exciting news about Che, I will not be attending Code4Lib 2007. It’s unclear whether or not we’ll be in Guatemala during the actual conference or just returned (I suppose there’s an outside chance that we won’t have gone, yet, but let’s not think about that), but I might as well give up my slot since we have a waiting list and my mind certainly wouldn’t be on it at any rate.

Still, it was a little sad to see how quickly I was replaced. That’s right, Singer, your 15 minutes are looking pretty 15 minutes ago.

I have been trying out some new technologies, both at work and at home. Now, this is unusual for me. I don’t generally like environmental change in my workspace– I get hung up on it and have a difficult time focusing.

This all started with getting set up with Synergy 2. For a while, my desk has had three computers on it: my main desktop running Ubuntu 64, a headless XP machine that I would remote desktop into, and an older iMac sitting on the corner of my desk. By adding a surplused 17″ lcd monitor to the XP machine and sliding my iMac over, I now have a three window/3 OS monster with a shared keyboard and mouse. Synergy is pretty freaking awesome in that it allows you to move from one screen to the next and cut and paste between machines pretty fluidly. So now my desktop looks like:

iMac (OSX.4) Ubuntu 64 XP
17″ widescreen 21″ LCD 17″ LCD
LCD
keyboard mouse

It hasn’t taken me long to get used to this. I’m doing tasks on each machine that best suit it although I’m having some problems remembering that I can’t drag my applications across windows (something I got pretty used to at Emory).

My next update wasn’t so successful. I tried to (and right now I’m not sure why) update the window manager on my Ubuntu box to use Compiz or Beryl (first one unsuccessfully, then the other). This was just a huge mistake. In the effort to gain a little whiz-bang eye candy (I guess I got drunk with my successes with Synergy), I’ve managed to screw up my window manager so that it doesn’t refresh properly anymore (panes will frequently look blank until I mouse over them).

I also figured I needed to get the IE7 update on my XP box. I have to say, it’s pretty nice, but I have two complaints about it:

  1. Where are the menus? It’s going to take some getting used to that they’re all nested under one icon
  2. Those ‘warning’ screens (like if you go to a site without a trusted certificate) are just horrible.

I really like the OpenSearch integration, though, and besides having to update our security certs (ugh!), it seems like all of our services work fine with it.

While I was at it, I also upgraded Firefox to 2.0 on my XP machine. Also really slick! The only downside I see to it is that OpenSearch requires the ‘searching’ site to have an extension. I also grabbed Zotero and updated the Umlaut to make it ‘Zotero compliant’.

So now I’m mainly using my XP “window” for web browsing and Last.fm (there is basically no plugin support for Firefox on 64 bit Linux and Last.fm is kind of slick on Windows — plus sound is better). I’ve also moved to XP for Skype when I do Library Geeks because:

  1. Skype for Linux sucks.
  2. My iMac (which I had previously used) refuses to mute the built-in mic
  3. I’ve just flat out had the best luck with it and XP.

I still use Firefox 1.5.x on Ubuntu because I’ve gotta have my Web Developer Extension somewhere.

At home we have a not terribly new desktop (AMD 2400 or something) and two 1.0Ghz iBook G4s. On the desktop, we have our own web browser setups by using different browsers: Selena uses Mozilla and I use Firefox. I’ve updated Firefox to 2.0 but I felt bad that Selena is using Mozilla (of course, she doesn’t really care). I’m trying her out on Flock, since she’s getting all into our blog for Che and Flickr and whatnot. We’ll see how that works. I’ve also got my eye on switching the desktop to Ubuntu. Selena’s not sold on that.

The iBooks are trickier. First of all, they’re pretty slow. I had to give up on Firefox and start using Safari because I couldn’t deal with the performance. The problem is that we run OS 10.3.9, so it’s an older, completely unhip, Safari. This makes me constantly on the lookout for something better. I’ve tried Camino (no), Opera (probably not), Firefox 2.0 (seems better) and now I’m trying Flock (in fact, I’m writing this post in Flock). Flock is extremely sexy-cool (I’ve got Art Rhyno’s Flickr stream across the top and my bookmarks are from del.icio.us), but if I thought Firefox was slow, this will probably kill me.

I’ve also been kicking around the idea of Ubuntu on my iBook 🙂

Blogged with Flock

Library Geeks #4 is out. I’m back (instead of being the ‘Poltergeek’ of episode 3), and Dan set this one up in kind of a neat way. He certainly leads and guides the dialogue, but it’s much more of a roundtable and informal discussion. No doubt this is largely due to the fact we’re all pretty good friends. Still, I learned a lot about Ed that I didn’t know — pretty amazing since we hang out every day and work on so much together.

Bobby McFerrin, eat your heart out.

Dan Chudnov “interviewed” me about the Ümlaut for the first “Library Geeks”. It’s crude and show obvious signs of “learning as we’re going”, but if you want to hear more about the Ümlaut from my voice and hear my favorite curse word (and boy is it a doozy), take a listen.

Note the “3-2-1″ at around the 31st minute. It took us several attempts to get this recorded. The first session was lost after about 30 minutes of recording courtesy of GarageBand crashing. We then lost the 2nd quarter, again thanks to GarageBand crashing. I had to do the 10 questions twice. Why? I’ll let you guess.

In other Ümlaut related news (is there any other right now?), I have the project page up. I’ll be adding to the HowUmlautWorks when I get free moments.

Also, thanks to Dan’s lead (lots of links to One Big Library today), I added the OCLC Resolver Resolver Registry to the Ümlaut. When you start a session, it checks your IP against the OCLC registry. If the registry returns a link resolver based on your IP, the Ümlaut will check to see if your resolver is SFX (I’ll be happy to add other XML enabled resolvers) and, if so, includes those holdings in the results, as well. If not, it includes a link to your resolver. If it doesn’t work for you, my guess is that OCLC has ILLiad (or whatever you use for Interlibrary Loan) first in your library’s profile.

Here are some screenshots of this in action:
How this citation looks at Georgia Tech [pdf]
How this citation looks at Drexel [jpg]

How does it work for you?

Thanks to Gabriel Farrell for trying this at Drexel and supplying the screenshot (and congratulations on the new job!). It still needs some work (for instance, it needs to tell the user that the fulltext is courtesy of Drexel or wherever), but I think it’s a start.

We’re about a week away from launch, so I’ll be working on migrating to the production server. I’ll be sure to document it so others can partake if they desire.