Curating Content

Hello Readers, I am starting the process of selecting content from different walks of life, mostly technology-related, that I find interesting and think that you will, too. As the IT Manager for my employer, I have to stay on top of trends and emerging tech that I will probably not see in our town for 2-3 years. We are a rural community, and none of the big ISPs or other tech-centric businesses have much interest in providing us with the same goods and services that folks in more populated areas receive. I live the digital divide every day of my life.

So, on that note you will find things that I think are amazing and fresh. To this day, I am still amazed that we can carry in our pockets one device that performs the tasks of many different devices that required plugs and wires for power and communication when I was a kid. Of course, I'm talking about cell phones, which have more power than many of the room-sized mainframes that were common when I was growing up. We almost have cars that can drive themselves (but no flying ones, yet), we have computers, streaming TVs, smart appliances and wireless communications that we only dreamed about when I was a kid. I can't wait to see what the next years will reveal!

And since this is Election Week in the United States, several of these articles will pertain to that. 

International Space Station celebrates 20 years in space!

Facebook has a Voting Information Center to help you keep abreast of the U.S. election results.

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Necromancy 101

Just do it. Because you can. 

I know it's been like 1000 years since I've posted here, but I've been toying the with the idea of resurrecting this blog for a bit. Now, I'm enrolled in a class where I can use this tool to do my assignments.

Fear not, this will not be a bunch of inane posts about multiplying purple potatoes times milky cows to see how much green paint the oranges need. The class is about emerging technologies and how they can be applied to library use, so you can expect more tech talk and curated articles to appear here.

Writing has always been a therapeutic outlet for me, and this blog gives me the space to just geek out.

Here we go again!

New Digital Services at the Goodnight Memorial Library

Hello Everyone! This post is really too big for Twitter, and the news itself deserves more than a Facebook post, so here I go!

The Goodnight Memorial Library is proud to announce three new digital services for its patrons: Universal Class, OneClick Digital, and Zinio Magazines. Each service offers something new and/or improved, and greatly increases the usefulness of the Library for all.

We'll start with Universal Class. This service offers you the opportunity to further your education or increase your professional skills, free of charge. There are over 500 classes available to you, in subjects like foreign languages, personal finance, business, health services training and much, much more!   Most of the classes are uclass_mktbanner college 101-level, and do not require a high school diploma or GED to take. None of the classes are eligible for college credit or continuing education credit, but are meant to help someone learn a new subject or affordably increase professional development skills. A (very) few of the classes offered are history, algebra, business management, Chemistry 101, Spanish 101, Windows 7, Teaching Reiki, paranormal investigation 101, ESL, Cosmology, and many more. This service is intended to help you help yourself become a more rounded person. And who knows, it might just help you impress your boss enough for a promotion! You'll have to register with the site to set up an account, but all you really need is a library card in good standing to do so.

To get to this service, I always advise people to start with the e-resources page, This page is the "jumping off" point for all our digital services, from KY Libraries Unbound to Worldbook Online to these great new services. Each one has its own graphic that you can click to go to the service.

The next service I'll talk about is the Zinio Magazines service. What Zinio brings to the table is free downloads of 50 of the most popular magazines out there*. Some of the magazines available are House Beautiful, Family Circle, Popular Science, National Geographic, O (The Oprah Magazine), Men's Health, Woman's Day and more.
The magazines are presented in a format that is friendly to all devices, looking great on desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and smart phones. Most of the magazines feature interactive content, such as audio and video clips, that makes reading magazines so much more engaging than their print counterparts. (But, if you're more old-fashioned like me, you'd rather hold that printed paper in your hands.) To set up an account for this service, you must have a valid email address and a library card in good standing.

The last service I'm going tout as new and/or improved is OneClick Digital. We'd had a subscription to OneClick LY5130_OCd_HMPG-164x203-2 - blue squarebefore that wasn't used nearly as much as KY Libraries Unbound, probably because it was more geared towards younger readers. Since then, OneClick was bought out by another company and things changed. What we now have is over 4,000 more ebooks & audiobooks from authors such as Clive Cussler, Jeff Kinney, James Patterson, and other authors that are exclusive to the OneClick Digital platform. You'll need your library card number to set up an account with OneClick Digital, which you can accomplish by clicking the link in the top right of the screen.

The Goodnight Memorial Library is committed to providing the best services and programs we can find to our patrons. Since 1937, we have been promoting education and creative thinking through literature, audio and visual materials and programs for all ages, and these additions to our repertoire continue that mission by bringing your library even further into the digital age.

As with any programs, services or events, please call the library at (270) 586-8397, send us an email, or come on by 203 S Main St., Franklin, for more information or just to visit!

*50 best-selling magazines according to Zinio.

Of all the times to become ill...

I had been feeling a bit under the weather last week, and on Wednesday or Thursday while playing Minecraft with my daughters I noticed I could hear my pulse in my right ear. "Great," I thought. "Hopefully it won't get any worse. I'll give it a day or two." Of course I didn't realize that a day or two would put me squarely into the weekend, and that I'd have to potentially suffer until Monday should the ear infection get worse.

The ear infection got a little worse, and also decided to spread into a sinus infection as well. So I went to the doctor on Monday, where I was diagnosed with a double ear & sinus infection! I got a shot and a prescription, hoping I could knock it out before October 26, when I hop on a plane for another conference on the West coast.

Which brings me to the KY Summer Reading Program Conference appearance I had yesterday. The infection in my head really grabbed a hold of me Monday night. I woke up with a bad sinus headache and the throbbing in my right ear. I called out Tuesday because I had a sum total of about 2 hours' sleep, and of course the headache & throbbing ear. I dearly hoped this would clear up by Saturday, because I don't even want to think about getting on that plane.

Wednesday, I got up as normal, having taken a NyQuil Nighttime dose before bed. I had a sinus headache, but not as intense as Tuesday's, and the ear wasn't throbbing. I took that as a good sign, started my day, took the girls to school, and set off for Louisville. Let me tell you: I have properly mapped and cataloged every minor elevation change between Franklin, KY and Louisville on I-65. The pressure in my head was pretty bad for a while.

The presentation wasn't too terribly bad. All the drainage made it difficult to breathe properly, and of course it affected my voice. Fortunately, it was a small room and I didn't have to be really loud. But, I did feel the strain in my throat.

I had a great time with the presentation, and the KY Science Center is a great location for a smaller conference/seminar. Additionally, the Center is a great place to take kids, because they get a chance to have fun while unintentionally learning scientific principles. My wife & I took our kids to the KY Science Center a couple of years ago, and they still talk about that experience and wonder when we can go back.

So I feel much better today, if not a bit tired, but all I can do is polish on my presentation for the Internet Librarian conference next week, and hope the plug in my head gets pulled in time to drain it clear. If you are going to Internet Librarian, I'll see you there. Don't be afraid to say hi!

Until then, I'm soldiering on...

Library Advocacy

Good morning!

This post isn't specific to library technology, but it does tie in quite well in many different ways. This is me re-blogging a post from Illinois Libraries Matter:

Don’t Get Caught Without a Comeback
Posted on June 4, 2013 by sporteus

When it came time for me to write this post, I had so many possible topics in my mind that I couldn’t choose one. So I looked at the other recent posts here and found serendipity. The latest one, by Elizabeth Neill (May 10), mentioned the challenge of having elevator speeches ready. I often counsel people in my workshops, “You need to have elevator speeches and snappy comebacks on the tip of your tongue so you’re ready to defend libraries at every opportunity.” So I thought I’d pick up that thread here.

businessman_tapeovermouthWe’ve all had those situations where someone asks a challenging question or makes a statement that we really want to pounce on. But often, in the heat of the moment, we come up short. How many times have you thought of a comeback hours later and been mad at yourself for not being able to make your point when it mattered? The key to avoiding that scenario is preparation. We can’t all be smart-alecs who effortlessly dish out the perfect, snappy response in seconds flat. But we can all be intelligent people who think ahead, prepare, and practice.

Let me share some tips and tricks.

Tip 1: Find one quick fact that you love. Commit it to memory and practice using it on people you know. Then when you need it for someone else, you’re ready.

My personal favorite is, “Did you know there are more public libraries in the U.S. than there are McDonald’s?” That came straight from ALA’s list called Quotable Facts About America’s Libraries ( For most laymen, that one is a jaw-dropper. While your listener recovers from the shock, you get a few more seconds to think about what to say next.

Another favorite from the same list is “Americans spend nearly three times as much on candy as they do on public libraries.” It’s perfect for the people who whine that libraries are too expensive, and they don’t want to pay taxes.

Tip 2: Find one snappy comeback that you love. Memorize it and practice using it. Take that zinger you thought of too late the last time and write it down for next time. Or note another favorite you heard someone else use.

One of my go-to phrases is something I first heard from the outspoken presenter Stephen Abram many years ago. He was telling a story about a corporate executive who had the gall to ask, “Now that we all have the internet on our desktops, why do we still need the library?” Abram responded in kind: “Well, we all have calculators on our desks too, so why do we still need the accounting department?” This opened the discussion about the internet being a mere tool (like a calculator), and the chance to explain that people still needing the expertise to use that tool and to sift through the information.

That’s such a good comeback that you can adapt it to fit many “Why do we still need libraries” questions. For instance, “Why bother going to a doctor when you can diagnose yourself with WebMD?” Or even, “If everything’s on the internet, why do we still have schools?” A library is more than a repository of materials; much of its value comes from having experts who know how to navigate all those items.

Tip 3: Think of one fact or statistic from your very own library and play with it until you can express it in a quick, pithy way. Use it liberally until you’re tired of it, then find a different factoid to share. Using local facts makes a vague point more meaningful.

Here’s an easy example: See how many people use your public computers in a week or a month, then match that number with another stat that people can relate to. You’ll end up with something like this: “Every week, at least 2,500 people use our computers to access the internet. Only 2,100 attend school baseball games every week. So we’re more popular than baseball!” Or maybe, “We have 560 DVDs in our movie collection. If you borrowed just one every week instead of renting from Netflix, you’d save $150 a year.”

While full-blown elevator speeches take a little more work to put together and to perfect, working with phrases like these is a great way to start. Choose something simple that you believe in so you can remember it, and practice it on friends or colleagues until it rolls off your tongue. This will build your confidence for taking on four- or even five-sentence pitches.

I think this preparation is vital for everyone—from directors to pages to trustees. It’s so important that I included a six-page section of “snappy comebacks” in my book, The Accidental Library Marketer. Choosing your own favorites is easy and fun. It can also help you avoid the “I wish I’d thought of that sooner!” regret. But more importantly, it will enable you to be an effective spokesperson who can support libraries at every possible opportunity.

Kathy Dempsey is the founder of Libraries Are Essential, a business where she offers advice and consulting on library marketing, promotion, and public relations. She’s been the editor of the Marketing Library Services newsletter for 19 years, and she blogs at The ‘M’ Word: Marketing Libraries.

Libraries are still essential in this world, whether you use them or not. It is up to us as librarians and library employees to make sure that fact is well-known!

'Til next time...

Library Conferences on the Horizon

Hello again! As the sixth anniversary of my library adventure approaches, I felt it was time to write another post. I haven't forgotten about this blog; I've just been quite busy. I've been working on a new website for the library, using Wordpress and Twitter Bootstrap so I can make our new site mobile-ready. With the proliferation of tablets, eReaders and smart phones, it would be a mistake to not make a new website that isn't friendly to these devices.

I've also been devoting a chunk of time to learning PHP (for Wordpress tweaking), Ruby and Ruby on Rails for a couple of projects I have in mind after the site is done. I'll be writing a couple of programs to make life easier on the staff and more informative for the patrons here at the Goodnight Memorial Library.

I will also be speaking at a couple of upcoming conferences next month. First off is a presentation on Getting Started in Home Brewing. I will be promoting the millenia-old art at the Kentucky Summer Reading Program Conference in Louisville on October 23rd at 1:30 EST. The conference will be held over the 23rd & 24th at the Kentucky Science Center in downtown Louisville, and promises to be a great couple of days for Kentucky's librarians to get some awesome ideas for Summer Reading programming! Summer Reading Programs aren't just for the kids, and I'm really looking forward to it.

The second conference at which I will be speaking is the Internet Librarian Conference in Monterey, California. This is a multi-day conference, spanning from pre-conference workshops on Sunday, October 27th through the closing keynote on Wednesday, October 30th, at which CIOs, IT Directors, and technology-oriented librarians learn all the newest and latest tech in the library world. Not only does this include network management, programming, eReaders and other gadgets, but it also informs all of us in the Library industry of the state of the craft and the future it holds. Public libraries aren't the only type of library represented here -- there are academic, Government, law, medical and other types of librarians in attendance.

I'll be co-presenting with a couple of IT Guybrarians from Southern Utah University on mobile apps, mobile and affordable payment systems for libraries, and network filtering with open source solutions. They'll mostly be talking about the mobile apps & license restrictions, and I'll do the payments and filtering. The last time I attended this conference (2010) I volunteered on a keynote panel when the scheduled panelist had to back out at the last minute. I was on the platform with Mike Ridley, the CIO & Chief Librarian of University of Guelph in Canada (now retired), and Donna Scheeder, Deputy CIO of the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress. It was a great time, and I really look forward to doing it again!

Additional Program for Summer Reading

Summer Reading is coming, and I'm booking presentations across the state. I just recently posted about my "How To Get Started Home Brewing" program, and am doing another one that may be of interest to others.

It is a "How It Works" type of program, in which I take a box of parts, describe each part, and assemble a working computer within 45 minutes. I've been building my own (and my library's) machines for more than 15 years, and it continues to amaze me that people are impressed by that fact. All it takes is a screwdriver, and I will show you how to do it.

So, if you or your library is interested, please feel free to give me a holler at jim at gee em pl dot org, or by calling (270) 586-8397.

Booking for Summer Reading Programs!

Hellooo again! Sometimes the craziness in this life can't be measured.

The Peerascope project I was involved with was unsuccessful, so I am still at the Library. This isn't a bad thing -- I learned a lot about working with a startup and became pretty decent with Adobe's Photoshop & Illustrator, which I use both here at the library and at home. The library has also started to evolve into its next incarnation. I am no longer the Technology Coordinator. I am now the IT Manager and Media Relations person, and the library itself is beginning to move towards the construction of a new facility with the renovation of the downstairs meeting room. This renovation was planned as part of the overall construction project, and we have the money to do it, so we're moving ahead with that part of the project. So, these are exciting times for our library!

It is March 6th as of this writing, which means the year is quickly going by! That also means that Summer is right around the corner, and Summer Reading programs will be in full swing in three months. Last Summer, and even in the Fall, I did a presentation on getting started in the Home Brewing hobby. It was a fun time for me, because I got to show others how it works and talk about beer! Last year's bookings included the Goodnight Library (home!), Grant County Public Library, Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library, and the civic organization Franklin Rotary Club

So far, I have been contacted by two libraries for this presentation for this year's Summer Reading Program. If your library or civic organization would like to know more about Home Brewing and how to get started in the hobby, please feel free to contact me soon! My email address is, or you may call the Goodnight Library at (270) 586-8397.

I hope to see you this Summer!

'Til next time...

Why I've Had To Neglect This Blog

Hello Everyone!

I know it's been quite a while since I last wrote, but there's a very good reason -- I'm too busy! Seriously, several things have come my way that demand nearly every waking second of my time.

First and foremost, of course, is my job here at the library. It seems the new acquisitions started rolling in hard & heavy in July right after the new Fiscal Year started. Add to that the plethora of donations from the public, more than I've seen in the 4 1/2 years I've been here! Not only have we added many, many books, movies, audio books and other media to the collection, but we have also greatly expanded our eBook offerings in response to the big upswing in eReader usage in our area. From Christmas until now, we have fielded the most questions about using eReaders of various manufacture since the devices were first introduced!

Secondly, I have been asked to write a monthly column, called The Geek's Garage, for the Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives' monthly newsletter. In my monthly missives I talk about all aspects of technology, especially as it pertains to library use. But I don't limit it to that; I ask the readers to please send me ideas on which to write, because they are the reason the column even exists.

Perhaps the most exciting thing to happen to me occurred in October, when I was approached by a friend with a business proposition. I was asked to help get a new web startup off the ground. At the time it didn't have a name, but has a very unique application that will be VERY big. I accepted, and I am now the Director of Technical Operations for! As of right now, Peerascope is still in testing/beta status, but I encourage you to go check it out. Basically, it simplifies getting on the Internet for new users, older folks and everyone else by putting all your favorite web sites on one page. It looks similar to a smart phone's applications drawer, and you can drag and drop your favorites easily. The best part is that even if you switch devices, you'll still have the exact same look scaled to fit the device you are using at that time! In other words, it will look the same whether you are on your desktop, smartphone, tablet, eReader, or whatever else you have that is web-enabled! All you have to do is sign up!

That being said, I am still working at the library full-time. I work part-time at Peerascope after I get off work at the library, which is only possible because that office is within 10 minutes' drive of the library.

The other big thing is of course Summer Reading at the library. We have so many events, and our staff is so small, that I am covering the front desk a lot. When I'm not doing that, I am cataloging new acquisitions. If I'm REALLY lucky, I get to do some minor IT work that needs to be done.

At home, it's yardwork season, and I'm also raising a vegetable garden that requires my attention. So that takes up most of my weekend time. All else is spent with the family or sleeping!

Anyway, I'll write more as time allows. So...

'Til next time....

Thoughts on Windows 8 Developers Preview - Lots of Pictures!

So my Dad calls me up to ask me if I've seen the latest Popular Science article about Windows 8. I don't subscribe to that magazine, even though it's one of my favorites, so I told him that I hadn't. He explained to me that there is a download link for a Developer's Preview edition of Win8. I hemmed & hawed a little, because I don't use Microsoft's software any more than I have to. But being THE geek at the library, I figured I'd better take a look at it because Microsoft will be forcing this "upgrade" on everyone in the next couple of years, and I'm sure it will be as much fun to administer as the last versions have been. You know, fun like a root canal!
The hardware requirements are being billed as a feature -- you can run it on the same equipment as any current machine that runs Windows XP. The following was taken from an article:
Windows 8 Developer Preview System Requirements

You will be happy to know that Windows Developer Preview works great on the same hardware that powers Windows Vista and Windows 7, which means that the final release will most likely work well on computers purchased three to four years ago.

1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
In order to take advantage of touch input in the new operating system, you will need a screen that supports multi-touch. This is only a requirement if you intent to use touch.
In order to run Microsoft's new Metro style Apps, your screen will need a resolution greater than 1024 X 768.
I was pleased to see that should I have a moment of weakness & install this operating system, I could do it on the machine I currently use at home. Additionally, any other machines in house that are capable of running Windows XP can run Windows 8 as well. So, I attempted to install this on an extra laptop that already had a Linux distribution on it. My mistake, it wouldn't install.

You see, to install the Windows 8 Developers Preview, it has to go on a machine that is already running Windows XP or Windows 7. That means that you will have to either sacrifice everything on your hard drive for the sake of testing, or you will have to use a partitioning tool to make space for the install. According to the hardware specs, you must have a partition with a minimum of 20 GB available. The one I used on this machine is 25.1, as that's all I could spare on it as it is a tertiary production machine. 

Another caveat of installing this preview -- it's just like any other proprietary operating system and wants to take over your computer. In other words, unlike Linux, it's install or nothing. Most Linux distributions will let you run off a live CD that doesn't install anything on your computer; it all runs from your computer's memory. You click reboot, Linux shuts down, spits out the Live CD, and the computer reboots into your installed operating system!

This version of Windows installs light years faster than any previous version, but that doesn't mean ANYTHING, because this is very much a feature-incomplete demo. For instance, none of the included "apps" work (just eye candy to show you what it could look like). Out of the 35 "apps" pictured on the Metro screen, only the Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer!), the Control Panel, and the Desktop "apps" do what they are supposed to do. The rest are just placeholders.

It is a developer's preview, so there really isn't anything there of general interest. In fact, the "//build/" app for developers doesn't even work. Go figure.

As you can see, this interface is very much geared towards tablets, smart phones & other devices with touch screen capability. There is no Start button - the word Start at the top left is just text - and clicking on any of the tiles or my user name causes things to happen. As a developer, I would have to think that unless I had a huge (touchscreen) monitor (24+") where I could lay out what I'm working on in a logical fashion, this particular interface would be quite annoying. I'm thinking Microsoft may be trying to drive the touchscreen market here, but at least you aren't stuck with a touch screen interface right now. Microsoft may decide that Metro is for everyone, but I doubt even they would shoot themselves in the foot so foolishly. Wait. They did produce Windows ME and Vista. Never mind.

And so, here is the desktop that you get when you click/touch the Desktop tile at the bottom left of the group of tiles. Also notice the icons for Internet Explorer 10 and Windows Explorer, both of which work perfectly.

The Windows lock screen looks more like something you'd see on a smart phone or tablet, with a beautiful landscape picture and a large, easy-to-read clock with the date. And, just like with the iPhone and Android phones, it is designed to use a swipe gesture to unlock the device. In this case it swipes upwards, which you accomplish with a mouse by dragging up from the bottom of the screen,

which gives you the log in screen, or welcome screen as Microsoft call it:

Well, I've probably used enough of your bandwidth with these pictures, so I'll wrap it up for now. I'm a bit anxious to see how this last gasp from Microsoft goes for them. They have so much catching up to do in the smart phone & tablet arenas that it will be difficult for them to make some inroads. What might make it easier for them is the fact that they have such a large market share of  the PC platform (including laptops & netbooks), that enterprise-level business could integrate them fairly easily. The only problem there is the fact that there is momentum now in corporate policies accepting non-standard, personal devices and operating systems. Plus, many software providers no longer produce Windows-only solutions, making Microsoft's day in the sun just a little more shady.

'Til next time...