Thursday, January 28, 2010

Historical Browser Statistics Visualisation

See this nifty little visualisation of the distribution of browser use from January 2002 to August 2009.

If you're still using IE6 you've probably seen a few web sites have pop up warnings about ceasing to support your browser - that's about 14% of the browsers out there. You'll have noticed the CMS does display a little weirdly in IE6. And I've just realised I'm using every browser they currently have stats for except Safari.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Drowning Not Waving

Beach Swimming Safety sign licensed for reuse courtesy Flickr
In my long list of things to look at more closely that I never find the time to is Google Wave.

A few QULOC-ICT members were playing with it but we lost steam.

If you have a Wave account and want a playmate I'm up for it. If you want a Wave account I've got 25 invites, just ask.

If I did find time I think I'd read Google Wave: Collaboration Reworked, Melissa L. Rethlefsen's article in Library Journal and I think I'd pay particular attention to these links she provides at the bottom:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sun not setting on Horizon?

Interesting news on HORIZON-L from COSUGI chair Chris Hauser. SirsiDynix are resurrecting the Horizon Enhancement database, where the user groups can feed into development priorities for Horizon. So it's not dead yet... and this comes on the back of some discussion that SD are definitely not saying that Horizon is EOL. One wag commented that he wished SirsiDynix killed Horizon a decade ago considering that since Horizon 8 was dumped there's been more development of Horizon then ever before....

And, coincidentally, Marshall Breeding's Perceptions 2009 survey of library automation has been released. Oddly it shows that Horizon customers are more satisfied with SirsiDynix than Unicorn/Symphony customers. Weird.

As always with Marshall's survey the free text comments are very interesting. I found myself nodding in agreement with one Horizon user's remark about not being impressed with what was currently available in the ILMS market and that they were happy to sit with Horizon and look at other methods of presenting their collections while waiting for what the future brought for both print and electronic collection management. Then I suddenly realised I could well be reading my own comment!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Summon @ JCU or something else?

A lot has been going on behind the scenes with our Summon implementation. Serials Solutions report we are on track for a mid-February release.

Through the discussion list I've made contact with two other Horizon using 'Summoners', Dave Pattern at Hudddersfield and Emily Lynema from North Carolina State, whose brains I'm hoping to mercilessly pick in developing a regime of extracting deletions, additions and changes to Horizon records to update Summon.

As I've done all I can until SS get back to us with something to tweak the only outstanding task is naming the service. It's been briefly discussed at Library Management Committee.

So what are our options?
  1. Call it Summon (my quick hunt of launched Summon sites shows about 80% of institutions have done this) .
    Pro: people moving between institutions will know what it is.
    To the uninitiated Summon doesn't mean anything (but neither did Google)
  2. Call it X Search (the name we currently have for our federated search tool)
    Pro: institutional continuity.
    Con: Meaningless to new members of our community
  3. Call it something else.
    Pro: we could choose something self-explanatory.
    Con: What?
I personally have reservations about naming things that have little or nothing to with the function or service the thing provided. I think every university catalogue should be called 'the catalogue', every intranet should be called 'the intranet'. But I fall down when I think of a meaningful name for 'federated searching' or 'discovery layer' or 'web scale discovery tool'.

As a working title I've gone with One Search because Serials Solutions need to stick something in place of 'name' and it's easily changed.

In the workroom we've had a couple of brainstorming sessions with an emphasis on silliness, the results included:
  • JCUgle (pronounced J Koogle)
  • Thing that you must search if you dont want to fail
  • Get a HD
  • Spare Brain
  • Better Than Google
  • Everything@JCU
As you can see I am desperate need of better suggestions! Marks will be deducted for:
  • Anything prefixed by a lower case letter (I'm over iThis, eThat, mTheother, xAnything)
  • Joined up words with mixed case (they are so NinetiesSpeak)
  • Trendy words and catchphrases (they don't stay fully sick for long, dude)
Bonus points for:
  • Brevity
  • Meaning
Please post your suggestions urgently!

Break, what break?

Outside of work, many people say to me 'Things must be quiet at work, with the students away'. Wrong. For many library staff it's the time when they have to catch up on all the projects they identified during the year that they couldn't spend time on because they're spending time helping students and liasing with faculties. For example the liaison librarians have been powering through the creation of liguides to replace the old subject guides.

For me it's the time of year we're I can do major system changes with a much reduced chance of inconveniencing large numbers of clients.

One project was to incorporate ezproxy prefixes on all the subscription resources listed in our electronic reserve collection which we hope will significantly reduce the numbers of off site users having access issues. When we first implemented ezproxy we adopted a model whereby we expected users to engage ezproxy before looking for resources. In response to the 2007 client survey we have been systematically embedding the ezproxy route to resources so that the client no longer has to think about engaging ezproxy.

Part of that process was virtualising ezproxy to ensure stability, previously it had lived on an old PC in ITR.

We've built it into our ejournal portal, federated search and link resolver, as well as our database listings, libguides and the hyperlinks in our catalogue. With the conversion of Reserve Online I believe we have plugged the last hole through which off site students can be trapped by being outside our domain - the links to Reserve Online embedded in LearnJCU (our LMS; Blackboard). Using the ezproxy building block for Blackboard has the added advantage automatically authenticating to ezproxy so that user logged into Blackboard is no longer confronted with the authentication screen for ezproxy.

We could now consider removing the 'Remote Access' button from it's prominence on our home page.

Not to say that we are never going to have a remote access issue again. Some problems we are aware of:
  • Emailed Table Of Contents services bypass ezproxy causing problems for users
  • Some local network environments, particularly in workplaces, have network restrictions that prevent ezproxy access
  • Odd combinations of user environments and ISPs have caused problems that we haven't been able to diagnose, not least because they seem intermittent
  • Some sites use javascript to create hyperlinks and ezproxy can't convert these to 'hold' the ezproxy session with them
  • People on campus email links to people who are off campus expecting them to work
The workaround for most of these problems is part user education and part web programming. I've hacked together some javascript that takes a native URL and 'ezproxyfies' it, and we've been collecting examples of what other institutions do to come up with something we can provide to the JCU community to ensure their links work on and off campus - but just providing that tool isn't going to solve the problems unless clients are aware of why they are having the problem and that the tool will solve it.