Fedora plus Sakai, Any Interest?

There was a time when I was moving in both the worlds of the Sakai Collaborative Learning Environment and the Fedora Commons digital content repository. It seemed like a good idea to bring these two worlds together — Fedora as a content repository for Sakai learning objects. Back in 2006, I logged a ticket in Sakai’s tracker to see if anyone was interested. This morning I got notification that they are thinking of closing the ticket.

Interesting Google Book Search Settlement Bits in Advance of Thursday’s Fairness Hearing

Thursday will be a big day in the Google Book Search lawsuit settlement: the parties to the lawsuit, along with the objectors, supporters, and friends-of-the-court, will be in the courtroom of United States District Judge Denny Chin offering oral arguments in the final settlement/fairness hearing. In his order, Judge Chin recognized 26 parties that will speak for up to five minutes each on their positions in the settlement (21 in opposition, 5 in favor). The U.S. Department of Justice will also speak at the hearing. But I think we’re all eagerly awaiting to hear what the judge himself will say about the settlement agreement.

In the lead-up to the hearing, Associate Professor James Grimmelmann at the New York Law School has continued his efforts, along with the students from the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School, to make the documents and proceedings of the lawsuit accessible and understandable to non-lawyers. In the most recent court filings leading up to Thursday’s hearing are some interesting nuggets.

Split Routing with OpenVPN

My place of work has installed a VPN that moderates our access to the server network using the OpenVPN protocol. This is a good thing, but in its default configuration it would send all traffic — even that not destined for the machine room network — through the VPN. Since most of what I do doesn’t involve servers in the machine room, I wanted to change the configuration of the OpenVPN client to only send the machine room traffic through the VPN and everything else through the (original) default gateway. As it turns out, this involves tweaking the routing tables.

The Role of the Library in the Future of Reading

A popular topic coming across my radar screen is the future of reading, and more specifically the role of libraries in the future of reading. Much of commentary seems to have been inspired by the announcement of the Apple iPad device, but it isn’t necessarily limited to that. Here are three exemplars, in no particular order, followed by some of my own comments.

Joshua Kim, senior learning technologist and an adjunct in sociology at Dartmouth College, posted a commentary called Popular Nonfiction, Academic Libraries, and Audiobooks at Inside Higher Ed. Joshua does an interesting comparison of the availability of “popular nonfiction” in paper and audio book format. He took his list of 197 audiobooks from Audible and cross-referenced them with availability of paper copies in his academic library. To his delight, he found that the library had paper copies of nearly three-quarters of them. It was his second question, though, that got me thinking: “Should academic libraries supply borrowers with the book format that matches their preferences and learning styles (paper, e-paper, or audio)?”

Extensible Catalog Project Seeking Developers in Innovative Ways

Last month, the eXtensible Catalog (XC) project posted job openings for Java developers. These are short-term, grant-funded projects and, having been on the hiring side of that equation before myself, I know how difficult it is to get good people for a one- or two-year project. The XC posting is different, though, in one important way: it is possible to have XC buy out the time of a developer on staff for the time that the development is happening.

Consideration will be made for qualified developers that are currently employed at another institution, but who may be available for loan to the XCO [eXtensible Catalog Organization]. The XCO would cover the salary and benefits of such individuals in the form of a direct payment to their host institution. This is an excellent opportunity for a library to invest in open-source software for libraries as well as a way to temporarily offset staffing costs in a difficult economic environment. Only staff that can be made available to XCO at 100% time (or close to that level) will be considered for this arrangement.

Experiential Learning Enhanced with 2-D Barcodes

QR-Code pointing to DLTJ

This morning I attended a presentation on “Using QR Codes and Mobile Phones for Learning” at the Ohio Educational Technology Conference. Presented by Thomas McNeal and Mark van’t Hooft from Kent State University, the example used in the presentation was their GeoHistorian Project from the 2009 ISTE conference. By using a pamphlet of 2-D barcodes labeled with strategic locations at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, participants using barcode scanners on smartphones were able to call up text and media from various websites while walking around the memorial. They put together a video showing participants walking through the space and their impressions of the 2-D barcode-enhanced experience.

Tom emphasized the need to have an activity that is relevant to the technology. As he put it, “Use the technology to ampliy the activity.” In this specific case, the 2-D barcodes pointed to text, pictures, and videos that provide additional background to the components depicted in the World War II Memorial. As participants mentioned in the video, it is a way add context to the experience of walking through the memorial.