Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Google/Search Tip: Reverse Lookup

Still on vacation, but I'm back to bestow another worthy link on your eager eyes. This week's tip is all about reverse search: the process of using a definition to look up a word. Sometimes this is useful just because you want to find the right word, and all you're coming up with is approximations. In searching, this is especially important--particularly when you're dealing with Google. Google returns so much information that having just the right word can make your search that much better. Instead of racking your brain for synonyms for a particular word or concept (especially in a subject you're not that familiar with), just do a reverse lookup search and your problems are solved.

For more information on how to conduct one (and what tool to use), check out this post by a Google exec:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Amazon Launches Kindle Textbook Rentals

Amazon launched it's Kindle e-Textbook service today, which will allow consumers to rent rather than buy textbooks. With discounts up to 80% off list price, and the ability to store margin notes and highlights in the cloud even after the rental expires, this might be an attractive option for many students.

Don't have a Kindle? Not to worry. Amazon's Kindle Reader application is available for downloading to your PC, Mac, and/or mobile device - all Whispersynced, so you can rent once, but read on all your gear, seamlessly.

Amazon is offering flexible rental periods: from 30 to 360 days, and if you need an extension - even if it's just a single day - you can purchase extra time.

E-textbook rental is not a new concept, but Amazon is hoping that the convenience of cloud note storage, Whispersync technology, flexible rental periods, and discount pricing on tens of thousands of titles will edge out competitors like Chegg. What do you think? Does this sound like a service you would try?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Overview of the Current State of E-Books in Libraries

I'm officially on vacation, but I came across this post about the latest update on e-books in libraries that I thought I'd share with you: He makes some excellent points, and gives some great links for you to click through to find out more information. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: e-books are still very much in a formative stage. What they look like today is almost definitely not what they'll look like five years from now. It's exciting being able to watch it all unfold, even if (as a librarian) it can be incredibly frustrating at the same time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Let's Shelve it

I got an email from one of my co-workers last week, with the subject line "I want this house!!!". The link she sent led to a story about the Shelf Pod house - built entirely of interlocking shelving for the owner's extensive book colllection. Even the stairs and furniture are constructed of the latticed grid shelving. I emailed her back: "I want it, too, as long as I can get someone else to do the dusting!" I forwarded the link to another book-ish friend, and she replied "Hey, Shelf Pod owner: Ebooks. Embrace the concept."
So that's two yeses and one no, by my count.
What's your opinion on the Japanese Shelf Pod house? Plenty of pictures here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Facebook Changes

The Complete Idiot's Guide to FacebookFacebook made a big stir today by announcing Skype video chat via Facebook. There's no need to install any plugins ahead of time--someone can call a Facebook friend, they click a link, and 20 seconds later, they're chatting. This is cool, and it seems to be a direct response to Google+, Google's new social media venture. The difference is that while Google+ is just starting out, Facebook is already populated with all of your friends. The video chat was one thing Google+ had that Facebook didn't--and now that just got smashed. So . . . I'm not sure if Google+ will have enough to distinguish itself and make it important enough for people to jump ship from Facebook.

The thing about social media is that it only really works well when it's done on a massive scale. You go to where the people are, and you tolerate the interface. As long as the interface stays relatively useful, you stick with what you've got. Persuading all of your friends to jump ship is difficult if not impossible. Still, I want Google+ to succeed, if only because increased competition usually brings about an increase in product quality as well.

Facebook also announced a slicker Group Chat interface, which should help bolster that for Facebook, too. It's all easy to use--at least from the look of it. Better yet, you don't need to know how to do anything to set it up--someone can invite you to video chat, you click a "yes" button, and you're off and running. Finally, it promised a "better chat interface tool" that I want to see before I believe.

Certainly a lot of promises--they're supposed to be rolling out in the next few weeks, so keep an eye on your Facebook account to see for yourself.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mantor Monday

I know, I know. It's not Monday. It's Tuesday. But since I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, I 'm going to post today - even though, technically speaking, the long 4th of July weekend gave me an Out.
Because it's summer, and because we do like to occasionally get out of the library and do vacation-y things instead of library things, posts might be a little lighter than usual in July. But don't worry, we'll be around to report on Mantor doings, and I'll still be bringing you the odd flotsam and jetsam of the library/book/art/culture world that comes my way. Case in point: have you ever found an inscription inside a used book, and been curious about the book's former life? I have, often. And apparently, I'm not alone. An entire site has been created to share "personal messages written in ink (or pen or marker or crayon or grape jelly) inside books"
It's called The Book Inscriptions Project. Here's one of my favorite images:

It says -
"For Tara,
Because no one ever gave
you a book with an
inscription before,
because you love photographs,
because we are obsessed with
Elliott, and because I’m
in love with the world
through the eyes of a girl.

I know, right? So romantic. But hey, if romance isn't your thing, there's always sibling warfare:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Review Friday: Treasure of the Sierra Madre

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Two-Disc Special Edition)
"Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges."

That line is a gold mine. It's almost as versatile as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,  with the added benefit that if you say it loud enough, you sound awesome, instead of just precocious.

I had the pleasure last night of introducing a friend to Treasure of the Sierra Madre (actually to Humphrey Bogart movies in general, as well). And it occurred to me while watching it that a lot of my readers out there might not have seen the movie (voted as AFI's #38 best film of all time). If you haven't seen this film, then you owe it to yourself to rent it (or check it out from a certain library--hint hint.)

It focuses on Bogart, a down-on-his-luck drifter who's desperate for money. He dreams up a plan to go pan for gold and strike it rich, even though he has no experience with the wilderness at all. He meets an acquaintance who decides to go in with him on the expedition, and they convince and old-timer to be their guide. Naturally, gold is found. But the movie isn't really about striking it rich--it's about the effect of money on people. The lack of it, the abundance of it--money money money. The old-timer (director John Huston's father) has a quote that sums it up: "I know what gold does to men's souls."

If you're not a regular classic movie watcher, then you need to realize going into this that the movie is paced differently from the adventure movies of today. There are fight scenes, there's tension, but it's a different rhythm, and you need to give it time to develop. Bogart has a superb performance--one of the best of his career, and really an iconic one at that. I don't recall a more believable and disturbing descent into insanity and paranoia captured on film. Really great stuff.

In any case, give it a shot. The last time I'd seen it, I was in my young teens. This is a movie that gets better with age. Four stars.