A few days ago, Kathryn Greenhill blogged about LibX, a Firefox plugin created by Virginia Tech Libraries that customizes a wonderful library toolbar to add to your browser. Here's an illustration pointing out some of its features:
I've been wanting to figure out how to customize a Firefox search bar for our catalog for ages. This is even better. And the best part? It was easy. I found the interface of the LibX edition builder a little confusing at first, but once I figured out that it was saving what I input and signed up so I could come back and edit my creation, it was so simple that it didn't take much longer than Photoshopping the above illustration of the finished project.
LibX is set up to automatically detect settings for several major OPAC systems, so all I had to do was confirm them. The only feature I haven't got working is the authentication for articles/databases, because I need to get some info from a librarian at our main library.
There is also an Internet Explorer version that is automatically set up along with the Firefox version, though it is missing a couple features. I haven't gotten it to install on my computer, but one of our other librarians did.
LibX NSU Law has only been around for a day or so, and I want to play with it more before sharing the link or otherwise publicizing it at the library. But did I mention how wonderful and simple it is? I should also add amazing, cool, and just what I was looking for. I'm not in general a fan of browser toolbars, but so far I completely love LibX.
I confess that I rejected the first Daemon presented to me. I couldn't deal with having one called Alvin; the chipmunk association is too strong. Also, it was a monkey, and I just don't feel much affinity for monkeys. Sorry, fellow primates.
I also confess my embarrassment that despite there being many reasons why I should love Pullman's story, I never got into the first book when I tried to read it a few years ago, and stopped only a few chapters in. I really ought to try again. Maybe with the pressure of a week's deadline till the movie release I can do it.
Food science writer Harold McGee has an interesting article at the New York Times about the varieties and development of apples as we know them. Stephen Colbert likely won't approve McGee's culprit for helping speed along the natural selection that led to the large, delicious fruit we've come to love: bears!
My only disappointment is that McGee didn't mention the best eating apple ever: the Honeycrisp. Honeycrisps were developed at the University of Minnesota in the 1960s, and recently became the Minnesota state fruit. They were touted as the perfect combination of sweet and crisp, and despite high praise forming high expectations, they didn't disappoint when I tried them last year. I've had some that taste almost apple-pie-like. Raw. They're also ridiculously juicy. If you haven't tried them yet, go get one! They're a bit more expensive than other apples, but they are so worth it.
The ABA Journal's Question of the Week last week was an interesting one for this former orchestra nerd--we're the lesser known companion to the more common band nerd. Mentioning guitarist and actor Steven van Zandt's protest to cutting of arts education funding and a correlation between those with higher incomes and musical inclination, the Journal asked
Did you take music lessons in school? And if so, how did participation in that garage band, glee club or orchestra influence your career and outlook on life?
The answers (scroll past "related stories" to read them) from lawyers with backgrounds ranging from amateur to professional musician are really great. Some talk about how music keeps them sane while dealing with the pressure of the billable hour, and others tell how the lessons they learned as musicians have been directly useful in the practice of law. This answer cracked me up:
Well, this one time, at Baptist School, we learned that all rock music uses “back-masking” and preaches satanism when played backwards. I didn’t heed their warnings though and I turned into a lawyer!
Music teachers love this kind of article for sharing with principals and parents; I just sent a link to my sister!
What is Second Life? San Jose State Unversity School of Library and Information Science Robin T. Williams aka Greylin Fairweather answers some common questions about Second Life using a lovely metaphor:
Lifehacker via the CALI pre-law blog links to a fantastic slideshared presentation about how to use PowerPoint without killing your audience (and shooting yourself in the foot in the process). I liked it so much I'm going to embed it here too, but do check out the comments at Lifehacker for even more helpful tips--like using being stuck in a bad presentation to assess the way others react to it.
My favorite part? The example slides in Russian to make the point that you don't have to know the language to recognize a bad slide when you see it.
No political snarking in this post. Seriously. Thanks to Library Stuff for pointing out this interesting Dallas News article about how George Bush the elder took notes on his experiences at other museums during the past decade, leading to a more interactive and technology driven experience at his presidential library:
"Even though he's 83 years old, he's embraced technology, and he wanted to see more interactivity in his museum," says Warren Finch, director of the recently renovated and reopened library on the Texas A&M campus.
When it was built a decade ago, the museum offered 12 audio and visual exhibits. When it reopened Nov. 10, it had 90. Instead of just seeing a letter Mr. Bush wrote to his sons during the height of the Watergate scandal, visitors can press a button and hear him read it.
The improvements to the museum range from the very high-tech (a situation room with computer terminals where visitors can revisit some of Mr. Bush's key crisis decisions) to the very hands-on. Shelves in the family-history area contain framed photos that visitors are encouraged to pick up and handle.
Although it is somewhat controversial (see Ad Age), a new Lincoln commercial features Harry Connick Jr. tooling around New Orleans, commenting on the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Toward the end of the ad, Connick drives through and points out the Habitat for Humanity Musicians' Village project, which is the site of one of this summer's AALL service projects. (See my article about it on page 11 here [pdf link].)
A commenter at the Ad Age article pointed out that Ford has in fact donated money, vehicles, and volunteer time to re-building efforts, and that mitigates my initial "evil corporation using tragedy to sell SUVs--BAD!" instinct, but I'm not sure it was the classiest execution ever. I found the mix of Connick's personal history and his comments about Katrina's effects too disjointed. And self-promotional as it may have seemed, it might have been better for Lincoln/Ford had there been mention of the company's support of the rebuilding efforts, which would also serve as a reminder that the city isn't done rebuilding just yet.
So to answer Ernie's question, my feelings are mixed. If you're curious, you can view the ad on YouTube: