No Demo – My Pet Peeve

As you know, I’m always reading about new online tools. I like to try them out before I write about them (if I have time) – this brings me to my pet peeve. I don’t like it when I can’t see a demo (or screenshots) of a tool without first signing up. Today it’s xFruits which sounds pretty darn cool:

xFruits is sweet! It's a suite of RSS services that's all about feeds. You can use xFruits as an aggregator, to create a PDF from your feed, add a mobile feed or even post to RSS via e-mail. All these services areen't really new but why use different sites and logins if it can be done at one place! Next to that, it also rolls all xFruits users into a community

This description is from A Feed Is Born – I went to the site but there is no way for me to see what the aggregator looks like without first signing up (which I’ll probably do once I’m done ranting here).

A note to developers – always provide a way for people to see your product – a demo account or screenshots. You don’t buy a new outfit without seeing and trying it on first – why should a web application be any different?

Okay, rant done. I’m off to sign up for xFruits.

Librarian Fit Club

From the web4lib mailing list:

Dear Web4Lib,

After learning about Web/Library/Librarian/etc. 2.0 stuff over the past month or so, I’ve decided to undertake a practical Librarian 2.0 experiment.

Librarian Fit Club

I’ve got two objectives:

1) Using a variety of social networking and collaborative tools, build a web presence that would allow librarians to experiment with these types of tools in a functional environment.

2) Maybe lose a few pounds (hey, it’s motivation for objective #1).

Obviously, just using random tools would not make for a very functional environment. Thus far, I’m thinking the tools that would be useful for this experiment:

Basecamp: For planning, setting goals, marking progress, etc.
A hosted Wiki: For storing ideas, fitness routines, recipes, etc.
A group blog: For celebrating, venting, and sharing, and documenting the thing.
Flickr: For the brave of heart (grin).

…anything else anyone thinks would be useful for both objectives…

Thus far, I’ve created a basecamp group ( and a flickr group (

The flickr group is open. Basecamp requires an admin to create and add people to the site.

I’m looking into Wikis and Blogs, but I’d really welcome some collaboration in building this thing.

If you’re interested in participating, please send me an e-mail off-list.


Keith Engwall
Head of Library Systems and Technology
Catawba College
Salisbury, NC

I’m signed up – but then again I’ve been trying to lose weight for 2 months now – so I have head start – but it’s still a fun idea.

Word of the Day: Shopcast

You’ve heard of webcasting, podcasting – and a few others – but have you heard of Shopcasting? I just learn about a new site called ThisNext from the Business 2.0 Blog.

ThisNext is a shopcasting network where you can recommend, share and discover great products.

But what is Shopcasting?

It's a product playlist — a way to recommend to other people things that make life better. It's a way to syndicate your taste, your voice. Shopcasting is a mashed up word that combines shopping and broadcasting.

So there you go – if you’re a shopaholic this is a necessary addition to your blog sidebar.

Firefox Extensions for Power Surfing

I just stumbled upon a list (it’s a bit old) of the 50 Best Firefox Extensions for Power Surfing – I haven’t finished the list but I have already found 4 or 5 new extensions that I want – so I wanted to share the list with you in case you missed it the first time around.

[update] I just saw that this thread is constantly updated – so it’s not old at all! [/update]

Touched a Nerve – revisited

Yesterday I got my first blog-related phone call! Yep, George D called me out of the blue because he had just read my Touched a Nerve post (which was a response to my State of our ILS post) and wanted to chat (and rant) about III and the future of catalogs in general.

I was able to point George to some more resources on the changing nature of the catalog, including my summary of Paul Miller’s presentation at CIL2006 and the Next generation catalogs for libraries listserv. I forgot to point out a few more resources right here at What I Learned Today….

Since the post is way down in my archives I wanted to bring everyone’s attention to George’s comments. Also he brought up an interesting bit of trivia I wanted to share with everyone (because it was just too funny).

George called III the “Cadillac” of ILS’s – which I found interesting because my director called it that a while ago too. He then points out:

BTW, a little trivia, the first generation Cadillac ('76-79) was based upon the same platform used by the Chevy Nova.

That's our ILS - still built upon that old Chevy Nova foundation!!!

How funny is that?? It’s so true – I guess III is a “Cadillac” – but it’s a first generation “Cadillac”.

You can view George’s other comments by reading the original thread.

I have finally signed up for

There are only so many tools I can keep track of – but I found myself emailing myself links to articles I wanted to read at a later date and I thought – why am I doing this? So if you’re interested in what I’m bookmarking you’re welcome to view my new page. I’m still getting the hang of things – but I’m a big fan of the official extension for Firefox.


A while ago I signed up to test out Farecast an airfare predictions engine. Today I got an email that makes me very happy:

Farecast is happy to announce that airfare predictions for flights out of Philadelphia (PHL) are now available at

Actually they now have 55+ cities to choose from – which is a lot more than they had when I first signed up. If you have to travel a lot this fall for conferences you might want to give this site a look.

Five Weeks to Social Library

I have seen this announced in a few places so far (so you might already know about it) and wanted to share it with you all.

Meredith Farkas, Amanda Etches-Johnson, Dorothea Salo, Ellyssa Kroski, Karen Coombs, and Michelle Boule have planned a free online learning event to take place in Febrary and March of next year (I think – even though it says 2006 on the Call For Presenters).

We are pleased to present Five Weeks to a Social Library , the first free, grassroots, completely online course devoted to teaching librarians about social software and how to use it in their libraries. The course was developed to provide a free, comprehensive, and social online learning opportunity for librarians who do not otherwise have access to conferences or continuing education and who would benefit greatly from learning about social software. The course will take place in Drupal and on a MediaWiki installation, and will also involve a variety of other popular social software tools. The course will make use of synchronous components, with one or two weekly Webcasts and many IM chat sessions being made available to students each week. The course will culminate in each student developing a proposal for implementing a specific social software tool in their library.

Sounds like a great idea! If you’d like to present make sure you read the guidelines and get your submissions in by September 22.

Finding Tech Experts

Meredith has a helpful post over at TechEssence.Info for libraries who can’t afford to hire someone with programming skills. She points to online resources that will help you find someone with the technology skills you’re looking for. Read her post at Getting help from tech experts when you don't have any on-staff.

Just a side note – I am one of the library techies listed in the Pay IT Forward db – so feel free to ask for help!

Car 5.0

That’s right – skip 2.0 through 4.0 – I just watched this video about a hydrogen powered car by GM. This has absolutely nothing to do with what I usually write about, but I just had to share. Watch this video about the GM Highwire a car that requires no oil or gasoline, a car without an engine in front – a car without pedals!! It’s super scary to me, but it’s real.