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Current cite-ings from the Popular and Trade Computing Literature
Article Type: Current cite-ings from the Popular and Trade Computing Literature From: Library Hi Tech News, Volume 26, Issue 7.
Lois Trapasso(firstname.lastname@example.org) Independent Librarian based at Dunellen, New Jersey, USA.
This column continues its focus on current trends in the fast moving world of technology as reported in popular and trade computing magazines that is of interest to librarians. It seems to be full steam ahead for mobile computing. Due to the cheaper production of mobile computing options and the resulting lower costs to consumers, libraries can expect to see greater demand for mobile access to their collections and services. Ebook devices, along with a surge of ebook alternatives and collections, are adding to the pace of virtual library services. Also developments in internet search engines, Web2.0 tools, and video, continue to provide a myriad of options for libraries to virtually engage with their communities, provide value-added content, and remote access to media resources.
Everyone wants universal wireless internet. A new product category rolled out by Verizon is the portable cellular modem, the Novatel MiFi 2200. It offers a hotspot for your device almost anywhere for a cost of $100 with rebate and a two-year contract. The modem is the size of a triple thick credit card, has a power button and a swappable battery the size of a cell phone and gets its signal from Verizon's 3G cellular data network. When turned on, it provides a password-protected wireless hotspot through a cellular internet signal. The device can also work as a wireless router, allowing you to share your signal with five other people (Pogue, 2009).
Google's Android has been gaining support as a mobile operating system. Introduced to the US market in the second half of 2008, now all top cell phone vendors and operators are taking advantage of Android's relatively low cost licensing model, its semi-open-source structure, and Google's support for its services. In 2009, it will still lag behind market leaders Symbian, Research in Motion, Microsoft, and Apple. Symbian, the current leader, is being developed on an open source basis (Virki, 2009).
Taiwanese Linux distributor Linpus Technologies plans to make a version of Moblin 2.0 available for download. Moblin 2.0 started as an effort by Intel to develop a version of Linux for handheld computers or mobile internet devices. The devices have been slow to catch on with users, in part because hardware makers did not have access to a good operating system customized for small screens and a touch-based interface. In April, the Linux Foundation took over the project (Lemon, 2009; Thomas, 2009).
In a mobile computing strategy, some mobile carriers are offering netbooks for free or at a steep discount in exchange for a service contract. Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation gave a talk encouraging the use of Linux applications for mobile devices in which he stated that carriers that create open source applications can get revenue in arrangement with the application developers (Fletcher, 2009).
Amazon.com is offering the Kindle DX, a larger version of its Kindle 2. The DX has a 9.7-inch screen and with the larger screen size, Amazon is hoping to generate interest in digital textbooks and newspapers. This device has the ability to highlight, bookmark, and annotate passages. It also has more memory, with the ability to store 3,500 books. Amazon has signed agreements with three textbook publishers. The New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post plan pilot projects in which they will subsidize the Kindle with a paid subscription (Metz, 2009). A recent New York Times article discusses the experience and transition of reading books and newspapers on the Kindle 2 vs reading them on paper. The author feels that consumers will get used to, and ultimately embrace, digital readers (McGrath, 2009).
Wired Magazine provides a brief review of current ebook devices. The top four readers are Amazon Kindle 2, the Sony PRS-700, the iRex Digital Reader 1000S, and the Astak 6” E2 Reader. The Amazon Kindle continues to be the best reader on the market with a number of special functions including “read to me.” The Sony device has a great user interface but the screen can be glary and some text can look fuzzy. The iRex has a very sleek design and great resolution but is mired by frequent crashes and requires a special pen to use. The Astak's greatest strength is transferring files but the device does not have an onboard dictionary or the ability to take notes, features that are available on most other devices (Chan, 2009). Amazon recently announced that the Kindle 2 has been reduced in price to $299. Melissa Perenson provides an in-depth review of the Amazon Kindle 2 and the Sony Reader Digital Book PRS-700. The Kindle 2 comes out ahead as far as user experiences are concerned. However, the article notes an interesting development. Sony has partnered with Google Book Search to make 600,000 books free of charge to Sony users through the Sony Ebook Store. Whereas Amazon wants to make money selling books at $5 to $10 each, Sony wants to promote the use of their hardware. Google may wish to add advertising to book downloads to lower consumer costs (Perenson, 2009). An alternative perspective for the publishing industry is that by having ebooks available for public commentary and interaction via web sites and blogs, more people will buy the book in print (Thompson, 2009).
National Science Foundation researchers have developed a mobile device application for electronic field guides. The first one they developed is a tree and shrubs guide of the Northeastern US. Here's an example of how it works: one takes a picture of a tree leaf, and the computer program compares the snapshot to a library of leaf images. The application responds with a list of 5 to 10 choices. Further English language descriptions can narrow the choices (Eisenberg, 2009).
Microsoft has launched its latest search engine, Bing. Bing improves the experience for shopping, booking travel, and finding credible health information. A bar of links on the left hand side of the page narrows search results into categories. Bing would like to become the primary destination page for information on products and airfare. Microsoft CEO Stephen Ballmer said the company is still interested is some form of partnership with Yahoo (Mintz, 2009).
A PC World article reviews 10 new novel internet search engines. Gazapo.com provides information on whether the price given on a web site is truly a good deal based on past prices. Ensembli.com provides news, and over time as one uses the site, displays more of the types of stories that you regularly read, while eliminating the kinds of stories that you delete. PrimalFusion.com builds a custom web site on your topic from the information sources you select such as from Wikipedia, Yahoo news, and Flickr. With Evri.com, you type in a topic, and Evri.com returns with a page of information sorted by type. HowSimple.com aggregates results from multiple search engines. Kutano.com is a browser add-on that lets you and others comment on any site you visit. Your comments are separate, so the site cannot edit your posts. Jadoos.com is a browser widget modeled on a TV remote control that allows you to click on multiple social network accounts in one place. 7bpeople.com hopes to sell its service to e-commerce. It uses linguistic and behavioral psychology to analyze what you do on the web and then deduces the kind of shopper you are (Albro, 2009).
Internet video from sites such as YouTube, Hulu, and Vimeao has had phenomenal growth. Wicmandy provides tips on getting your video viewed by others. To get your video crawled by internet robots and receive greater attention, display the video on a page that is optimized by using the audience's keyword phrases in domain names, page titles, headlines, Internal links, metadata, and supporting content. Other distribution alternatives that raise awareness include featuring the clip on video search engines such as Blinkx and Truveo, submitting the feed to blogs, and displaying the video on as many social sites as possible, particularly MySpace, FaceBook, and YouTube (Wicmandy, 2009).
As more people view internet video, there is a need for a good video search engine. A new video search engine that has become available is VideoSurf. Currently the only descriptions for videos are tags applied by the contributors which are often incomplete. VideoSurf is unique as the search engine's software analyzes people's faces. Eitan Sharon (the company developing VideoSurf) is conducting research on computer vision by studying the neuroscience of human vision. It has archived data on people's faces, and its formula for retrieval is based on a concept called “the tube.” The tube is a geometric representation of all the ways a face might appear as it moves in space (Hefferman, 2009).
Slimbox is a new device that lets you transfer video to your mobile device. The Slimbox plugs into a TV and pipes existing cable and satellite channels onto the internet and over to any computer or cellphone. Echostar Corporation, which owns Sling, wants to license the technology to satellite and cable TV operators and make it available on most high-end cable boxes. However, there are other ways to do what Sling does without the hardware. TV networks and cable providers are sending their programming directly to their own web sites or to hulu.com. There is also an ongoing convergence of TV and the internet. Sling does however have the advantage of getting programming to mobile devices without a specific video service (Stone, 2009).
There have been numerous articles on watching TV on your mobile device. Steve Fox discusses how to watch internet video on your TV. Currently, there is Apple TV, Roku, and Vudu, all of which have separate dedicated boxes. The author says there is no one “killer device” yet. The reason is that the entertainment and cable industries are not comfortable with this technology because of potentially lower profit margins. A new Yahoo-enabled television set is going to be available shortly from Samsung. Comcast is preparing a hulu.com competitor that also already linked deals with major television set companies (Fox, 2009).
On the organizational use of internet TV, Gary Hall talks about switching from analog CCTV to Internet Protocol TV. The advantages are that it will be easier to use, can provide both external and internal content, and can be incorporated into a suite of rich media, collaboration, and communication capabilities. It can be integrated with unified communication components such as videoconferencing and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephony. Internet Protocol TV can easily integrate multiple sources including terrestrial cable TV, satellite sources, broadcast, and internally generated content (Hall, 2009).
According to an article on blogging for profit, the most important part of the blog is the content. As readers become aware of your blog and share their posts, there are ways to profit by advertizing through services such as Google Ad Sense (pay-per-click), or using Tribal Fusion (for display ad placement). Another option is “run-of-site advertizing,” where a single advertiser sponsors your site. Another option is to collect emails of your readers, to whom you can send offers. Text link advertizing is an option where advertisements are embedded in the text itself and when readers click on a link word they are directed to advertising. ReviewMe and PayPerPost represent advertisers that will pay you to write about their products and services. Finally, if you have a great deal of content over time from your blogs and twitters, you can publish a book or white paper (Phillips, 2009). Libraries may find that text link advertizing techniques could be useful to steer their clients to relevant resources and services.
Twitter and Yammer are being used in business, and potentially libraries, as micro blogs for employee communication, customer feedback, and collaboration. Yammer has advantages over Twitter by offering security, messages of any length, and group posts (Wagner, 2009).
The US government has been embracing social media sites. Over the last year, the GSA has signed legal agreements with FaceBook, MySpace, and seven other sites that allow agencies to interact directly with citizens. Many agencies are also using Twitter to send their news and other official announcements. Other social media sites where you can interact with the US government are YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Blip.TV, Blist, SlideShare, and AddThis (Duffy-Marsan, 2009).
An emerging area is social networking aggregators. Digsby unifies social networking, IM, and email into one system tray application. GoogleLatitude tracks down the people you are interested in as to their whereabouts, and returns a map of where they are located. NutshellMail consolidates messages from FaceBook, Twitter, and secondary email accounts into one scheduled digest of updates. Ping.FM tells you what your message status is on FaceBook, Twitter, and 30 other social networking sites. Pipl is a people search that scours the web for any information on a person. Spokeo checks 41 social networking sites based on your interests (Streamline your Social Sites, 2009).
Web site Magazine has published the top 50 social media sites. The top ten are YouTube.com, MySpace.com, FaceBook.com, Bebo.com, BlackPlanet.com, Tagged.com, Imeem.com, hi5.com, OrKut.com, and Digg.com (Top 50 Social Media Resources, 2009).
Voice Over Internet Protocol
Paul Korzeniowski discusses reasons to switch to VOIP such as managing voice and data chores with a single set of tools, and deploying applications for Unified Communications and video phone calls. Moving to VOIP requires rewiring much of an organization's network, along with the purchase of VOIP switches and VOIP servers to support applications such as Unified Communications. This article cites examples of universities making the switch. Hurdles that they face are cost and connection latency (where bandwidth might be interrupted). Solutions to these issues involve prioritizing voice traffic, or purchasing more bandwidth (Korzeniowski, 2009).
PC World offered reviews of mobile VOIP services including Skype, Truphone, EQO, and Skuku. Voice quality is still lacking on Wi-Fi and cellular connections. Where mobile VOIP works best is for international calls, where there can be significant cost savings (Cassavoy, 2009).
Content management systems
Paul Markum discusses ways to select a web content management system and choosing between an open source or commercial option. The author explains that open source may not provide performance, security, reliability, or functionality needed for a compelling customer experience. The author recommends using a web-specific content management (WCM) system over a static enterprise content management system. CMSWatch.com, CMSWire.com, and CMSMatrix.org offer news, forums, and other resources about content management solutions. Benefits accrued with a good content management system include ranking higher on Google, getting to market faster when responding to changing market conditions, and converting 50 percent or more of site visits (Markum, 2009). Libraries will find this article useful in the decision points it provides as many libraries are switching to content management systems for their web sites.
Beth Schultz discusses the upside and downside of external cloud computing. On the upside, it is a fast start-up for smaller organizations and it requires no capital expenditures. Cloud computing increases the agility of many applications and some companies have said it leads to faster product development. On the downside, bandwidth can be costly, especially with storage. Also, data security of sensitive information is not guaranteed. Bigger organizations with larger IT resources may be better off developing their own cloud. Finally, IT staff must be willing to learn about next generation technology (Schultz, 2009). This is definitely an area for libraries to keep up with as future operating systems and applications will be moving towards the web (“the cloud”) rather than sitting on one's computer or one of the library's servers.
The top ten companies to watch as cloud computing vendors are: Amazon, AT&T, Enomaly, Google, GoGrid, Microsoft, RackSpace, RightScale, and Salesforce.com (Brodkin, 2009). SugarCRM unveiled its hosted service called Sugar Open Cloud which is an on-demand open platform. Essentially, customers sign a license that gets them access to the hosted application, SugarCRM's platform and tools, and the code itself (Sullivan, 2009).
InformationWeek provides an article about the importance of standards. Vendors who launch proprietary functionality complain that the big veteran standards bodies such as IEEE, the International Telecommunications Union, and The Internet Engineering Task Force take too long to finalize a standard and usually long after the market is hot for a product. The author suggests small, targeted industry consortia such as The Trusted Computer Group and the Metro Ethernet Forum work faster (typically one year), provide interoperability testing and certificate programs, coordinate work with other entities, and enlist customers to communicate their needs. Fratto recommends the promotion of interoperability standards rather than those focused on a particular system which usually locks one in and includes higher costs of maintaining systems that do not necessarily work well together. (Fratto, 2009).
In addition to the importance of standards, there is the importance of policy. Jander talks about developing a US broadband policy with a focus on return on investment for specific industries or applications. Such areas include health care, transportation, biometrics, e-government, mobile commerce, intelligent electrical grids, and security and privatization of data. The author feels this strategy would improve the country's competitiveness and economic prowess in the world (Jander, 2009).
On the software development front, Agile computing is a process that libraries might consider. Agile development processes break big projects into smaller segments and allows software features and plans to be adjusted as development projects progress. Thirty percent of companies are now using an agile approach. Other descriptions for agile include those that are customer-focused, collaborative, and iterative. Hierarchical organizations have more problems adjusting to agile, and have used the lean approach to adjust that emphasizes challenging traditional techniques and replacing them with ones that reduce waste and increase value for the customer, which in turn, supports the use of agile development methods (West, 2009).
The depth of data available on the Internet and the increasing importance of online archives and publications such as Arkiv for physics and the Public Library of Science for biomedicine have made possible new metrics for calculating citation data and for ranking scientists. Google Scholar also provides citation data to help calculate the h-index, as well as the g-index that gives more weight to articles with higher citation counts. Also, PageRank, the algorithm that powers the Google search engine, is used by Eigenfactor and SCImago to evaluate scientific journals (Gugliotta, 2009).
Stephen Wolfram of Mathematica has rolled out WolframAlpha. He describes his search engine as a “computational knowledge engine.” The data sources were picked by employees of his company, and are considered the knowledge base. The search engine aggregates statistical answers from this knowledge base, and displays them geographically along with a link to the source. Bergstein, the author of this article, is troubled that users of this service would take the answers for granted, and not apply the critical thinking used when sources are displayed in, for example, Google or Yahoo. The author has also found the WolframAlpha is not strong in certain statistical areas, such as sports (Bergstein, 2009).
On the Up-and-Coming front, Stuff Magazine has published the top future technologies to watch. They are: cloud computing, ultra-wideband (UWB), 4G data streaming, AV streaming, invisibility cloaking, witricity (wireless electricity) charging, nanobots, 3D TV, hydrogen fuel cells, and quad-HD resolution (Top 10 Future Technologies, 2009).
Recently, German researchers created a 1g, 1.5V battery based on layers that are printable. It contains no mercury, which makes it greener. Actual products with the battery could be ready by the end of the year (Tiny new battery is printable, 2009).
Albro, E. (2009), “Ten new ways to search the web”, PCWorld, May, p. 14.
Bergstein, B. (2009), “Review: flaws in the web's much-touted WolframAlpha”, AP, 13 May.
Brodkin, J. (2009), “10 cloud computing companies to watch for”, NetworkWorld, 18 May, p. 32.
Cassavoy, L. (2009), “Mobile VOIP services: should you bite?”, PCWorld, May, p. 25.
Chan, C. (2009), “Never ending stories”, Wired Magazine, May, p. 46.
Duffy-Marsan, C. (2009), “Want to friend the feds”, NetworkWorld, 1 May, p. 17.
Eisenberg, A. (2009), “Digital field guides, eliminate the guesswork”, New York Times, 10 May, p. 3.
Fletcher, O. (2009), “Group pitches linux for free netbooks from mobile carriers”, available at: PCWorld.com
Fox, S. (2009), “Internet TV: almost ready for prime time”, PCWorld, May, p. 9.
Fratto, M. (2009), “Standards matter”, InformationWeek, 20 May, p. 25.
Gugliotta, G. (2009), “The genius index”, Wired Magazine, June, p. 92.
Hall, G.L. (2009), “Planning for internet protocol television”, AV Technology, May, p. 14.
Hefferman, V. (2009) “Image in a haystack”, New York Times Magazine, 7 June, p. 14.
Jander, M. (2009) “Broadband nation”, InformationWeek, 20 May, p. 39.
Korzeniowski, P. (2009), “He who hesitates fears costs (VOIP)”, Campus Technology, April, p. 41.
Lemon, S. (2009), “Linux sets date with moblin 2.0 for netbooks”, available at: PCWorld.com
Markum, P. (2009), “Choosing the best content management solution”, Website Magazine, May, p. 12.
McGrath, C. (2009), “By-the-book reader meets the machine”, New York Times, 29 May, p. c25.
Metz, R. (2009), “Amazon seeks more paths for sales with new kindle”, AP, 6 May.
Mintz, J. (2009), “Bring it on: Microsoft overhauls search again”, AP, 28 May.
Perenson, M. (2009), “Amazon vs. Sony, Ebook reader face-off”, PCWorld, May, p. 42.
Phillips, M. (2009), “Blogging for profit”, Website Magazine, May, p. 26.
Pogue, D. (2009), “WiFi to go, no café needed”, available at: NYTimes.com
Schultz, B. (2009), “Walking the line: five reasons to embrace an external cloud, five reasons to stay away”, NetworkWorld, 18 May, p. 24.
Stone, B. (2009), “From TV to the web to your phone”, New York Times, 31 May, p. 3.
Streamline your social sites (2009), PCWorld, May, p. 62.
Sullivan, T. (2009), “Open source Biz Apps coming to the cloud”, available at: Inforworld.com
Thomas, K. (2009), “Moblin: a first look at Intel's open-source OS”, available at: PCWorld.com
Thompson, C. (2009), “The future of reading”, Wired Magazine, June, p. 50.
Tiny new battery is printable (2009), available at: LiveScience.com
Top 50 social media resources (2009), Website Magazine, February, p. 14.
Top 10 future technologies (2009), Stuff Magazine, May, p. 64.
Virki, T. (2009), “Google's Android seen gaining support”, available at: Reuters.com
Wagner, M. (2009), “Opportunity tweets”, InformationWeek, 1 May, p. 34.
West, D. (2009), “Agile processes go lean”, InformationWeek, 27 April, p. 32.
Wicmandy, M. (2009), “Getting seen in a world of clips”, Website Magazine, May, p. 24.