Slight Tweak to WordPress Broken Link Checker Plugin

In a futile effort to fight link rot on DLTJ, I installed the Broken Link Checker plugin by “White Shadow”. I like the way it scans the entire content of this blog — posts, pages, comments, etc. — looking for pages linked from here that don’t respond with an HTTP 200 “Ok” status code. The dashboard of problem links has a nice interface for updating or deleting these links, including the ability to add a CSS style deleted links to note that they were formerly there. One of the things I wished it did, though, was to add a message to posts/pages that noted a link was changed or deleted. You know — just to document that something changed since the page was first published. Tonight I hacked into the code to add this function. And with apologies to the original author of this beautifully structured object-oriented PHP code, it is a gruesome hack.

The PERL Way to Add OmniFocus Inbox Entries from Twitter

Over the weekend I got the bright idea of asking OmniGroup to ask an iPhone voice recognition application (like Dragon Dictation) to add a link to the OmniFocus iPhone application. That way I could simply dictate new inbox items on the iPhone rather than laboriously typing them with the on-screen keyboard. Before making the suggestion, I searched the OmniFocus User Forum for “voice recognition” to see if anyone else had suggested the same thing. As it turns out, there were a few posts that had instructions from people using Twitter as an intermediary. Unfortunately, they either required a desktop Twitter client to be running all of the time or used the now deprecated BasicAuth-based Twitter authentication scheme. So I created my own.

Using Twitter For Service Outage Awareness

Emily Clasper of the Suffolk County Library posted about some work she had done to embed status messages in the catalog using Twitter. This sounded like a really great idea because it is an out-of-band (e.g. something that doesn’t rely on OhioLINK infrastructure for reporting downtimes) way to get messages to member staff and users. But I didn’t get a chance to work on my implementation for a while, so for over a year ideas have bubbled around in my head about ways to apply this technique and improve on it. I finally carved out some spare time to actually work on it, and came up with my take on the concept. The result is the OhioLINK Status-Via-Twitter service.

A demo of the TwitterJS implementation using a copy of the OhioLINK homepage.

RDA-as-Service Only

At the ALA Annual Conference exhibit floor I got my first chance to see the RDA Toolkit. RDA is “Resource Description and Access” — the new standard for bibliographic description of content. So this was the first time I really got to look at the RDA Toolkit. (By the way, you can look at it, too, during an open trial access period that runs through the end of August by signing up for it.) What really struck in me the demonstration, though, was that the site is as much a subscription to access the content of the RDA standard as it is a subscription to a delivery service with functions and features that go beyond the text of the standard itself. The text of the standard will be available in printed form, but one cannot get an electronic copy of the standard itself. This strikes me as sort of weird, so this blog post talks through that weirdness feeling.

From “Moby-Dick” To “Mash-Ups:” Thinking About Bibliographic Networks at ALA Annual 2010

Ron Murray and Barbara Tillett, both from the Library of Congress, are presenting their research in thinking about bibliographic information as networks of interrelated nodes at ALA Annual. This is a continuation of their “paper tool” work which was presented at the Library of Congress last year.

Bandwidth of Large Airplanes

Back in the early days of this blog, I had a post on Buzzwords Galore and Bandwidth that May Rival Your Station Wagon. The topic was a “hybrid optical and packet network” being deployed by Internet2 in 2006, and in the tail end of the post text I explained the reference to the station wagon part of the post title:

When you think you have a really zippy network connection, someone will (should?) bring up an old internet adage which says “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes.”

Mash-Up Request for Submissions

I’m working with some colleagues at the Library of Congress on the on the description of complex analog and digital resources. In that research, we want to get a better sense of what people who read DLTJ call a “mash-up.” We invite readers to provide examples (in any medium) of what they think are mash-ups of different resources in the comment area of this post. If you nominate a web-accessible mash-up, please provide a link for it. If you nominate an analog mash-up (they do exist!), please provide a reasonable citation. If it is a hybrid – do your best! Also helpful would be a short statement as to why you think the example is a mash-up, and whether you like the results.

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.

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.

Why I Digitally Sign My E-Mail

Most e-mail messages I send are digitally signed using a process called “Pretty Good Privacy“, or PGP. In e-mail applications that don’t understand PGP, this digital signature will show up either as an attachment called “PGP.sig” or as a part of the message starting with “BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE” at the bottom of the e-mail. This file — containing gibberish to the human eye — is used by PGP-aware programs to verify that the message actually came from me. If you are using PGP, I could also sent you a message that only you could read (e.g. “encrypted”). This page gives some background on PGP and why I consider it important.