I leave in the morning for LITA Forum in Nashville! I’m looking forward to the conference, and will be blogging events as usual. I’m not sure of the status of internet access at the hotel, so posts may not appear until I’m back. But I’ll be blogging both here and over at the official LITA blog.

This is turning out to be an extremely busy couple of weeks for me, so sadly customizing the site’s new theme is going to have to wait. But I have a feeling most people who read this are doing it through an RSS reader of some kind anyway, so it’s not like you even notice 😛

Is there an agreed on tag for this conference? I’ll be going with LITAforum06 unless another one seems to be prevalent. And as usual, pictures will show up in my flickr account.

Temporary theme change

I’ve decided to give the site an overhaul, since fixing my current theme to work in IE7 would be more trouble than it’s worth. I’ll be playing with a few designs over the next few days. Comments/thoughts would be appreciated!

IE7 – Test Now!

Internet Explorer 7’s release could be sprung on us any day now. As part of creating browser tools at work, I’ve had it installed for a few weeks now and overall like what I see. There’s tabbed browsing, nice handling of RSS feeds, etc. I have a few complaints about changes to the interface (in particular the decision to hide the traditional File, Edit, etc menus). But I’m not writing a full review.

I mostly wanted to post as a reminder to test your sites in IE7 prior to the official release. Most sites display correctly, but much to my dismay I’ve discovered that my own does not. It looks fine in Firefox and IE6, but not IE7 for some reason. The css formatting of my header doesn’t seem to be applied correctly. Thankfully I have a bit of time to fix things before IE7 gets pushed to all XP users. But I have a feeling some web designers might be caught off guard. Download it here.

(I’m also annoyed that now I’ll have to develop web sites and test for three browsers for the forseeable future – Firefox, IE6 and IE7)

UAH library browser tools

This has been my pet project for the last few weeks:

Browser tools!

As the name implies, I pulled together a number of browser-based search options for our resources. So far we’ve got: Firefox search bar plugins (for that search box in the upper right corner) for the catalog and Academic Search Premier, IE7 search bar plugins for the same two resources, and a full fledged Firefox toolbar with a number of campus-related links and search options.

It isn’t quite live to the public yet – I want to increase the list of search bar plugins available, and I’m still toying with a couple of options for an IE toolbar.

They probably won’t be much good to anyone not affiliated with UAH, as everything gets routed through our proxy, but I’m just proud of the results and wanted to share 🙂

Here’s some stuff I learned in the process:

  1. Firefox toolbars are really easy to hand code – it’s just XML and javascript, and mostly takes a bit of trial and error. This tutorial was very helpful.
  2. IE toolbars are unfortunately much more complicated – the programming involved is beyond my level of expertise, at least for something to be done in my spare time at work. I’m looking at toolbar generators like instead, which a lot of other libraries have used.
  3. Firefox search bar plugins are pretty simple to look at once created, but if the url for a database or catalog is complicated, creating it is a bit of a headache your first time.
  4. IE7’s search bar plugins conform to the Opensearch standard, and are ridiculously easy to code. Each one is a simple XML file – the part that took me the longest was figuring out that XML doesn’t like raw ampersands in the content.
  5. I’ve starded using these tools in my day to day work, and the number of clicks and page loads I’ve cut down on is amazing.

Mostly, I just hope someone else finds them useful. I learned a lot in the process of creating these tools, and look forward to expanding our list.

Amazon and Google book searches increase sales

Here’s an interesting Reuters article (found via Slashdot) on the effects of Google and Amazon’s efforts to scan and post books online (either as excerpts or full text).

Of course I’m no expert on the legal implications, but I’m glad to see some confirmation at such an official level of what I’ve felt to be true. I’ve bought books (or at least gotten them from the library) a number of times after reading either Amazon samples or chapters posted on authors’ websites. Back in the heyday of the original Napster, I bought albums after sampling a band’s songs for free on more than one occasion. After Harvey Danger posted their most recent album online for free, I went out and bought a couple of their older ones.

But the article is especially interesting given all the early complaints publishers had about Google’s book scanning project.