Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Facebook Sabotage and Meebo/Chat Reference Update

First up, Facebook. You know, there's a reason that big tech companies move from being beloved by the masses (like Google once was) to being seen as giant faceless money grabbers (as Microsoft is often portrayed). Often, that reason is that the company loses touch with its base. They start making decisions that benefit the company, and not the people who use the product. Or they go off in search of every way they can think of to make money. Or they start to use their customers as pawns in a game of corporate chess.

Facebook is a bit of an odd duck when it comes to this area. It seems to me that so many people use Facebook and love the service it provides, but they all simultaneously hate the choices Facebook makes to update that service. Some of this is due to the fact that people don't like it when things change and nothing noticeably improves. But a large part of this is Facebook's fault, as it makes changes to people's personal information without asking people's permission.

And of course it doesn't have to ask. I'm sure it's in their Terms of Use that they can do whatever they want to the information people post to Facebook. But just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Facebook makes changes to its privacy settings, making some people's private things public unless the people opt out--as opposed to only changing those settings if people opt in. People want choice. The less choice you give them, the more they get annoyed. And if you force choices on them, it can get really nasty.

Why do I bring this up today? Because Facebook's done it again. It went through and changed the email address it displays for all its users, switching it from whatever people entered over to _________@facebook.com. This is tantamount to the phone book randomly assigning new phone numbers to the people in its pages. Why did Facebook do it? Supposedly to improve the privacy of its members. That's the cover story, at least--though you can't help but think that they did it because they've got this handy @facebook.com email platform hanging around, and it galls them that everyone's using gmail or hotmail or yahoo, instead.

People aren't happy, and justifiably so. (For more information about the details--and for how to undo the changes, check out this great TechCrunch article on the topic.)

And in other tech news, as seemed the case a few weeks ago when Google bought out Meebo, Meebo Chat is going the way of the Dodo. It will be no more in a few weeks. This means we need to come up with an alternative solution. Right now we're busy evaluating the many different options out there--and there are many--but rest assured, there will still be some sort of chat reference available on our site. We might have to take it down for a bit while we retool, but I'm trying to avoid that if possible. Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A book burning party? I'm in!

Now, hold on. Before you start throwing rocks at me, watch the whole video.
(Then, if you still want to throw rocks at me, at least give me a decent head start.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Deleting Files Based on Size

I came across a pretty cool free program the other day whilst out in my internet wanderings, and I thought you all might benefit from it. Often I'll be working on cleaning out a computer that's been used and abused for quite some time, and disk space is running low. A lot of the time, this is a real pain to fix. You have to look through all sorts of files to determine where the big ones are--hopefully big ones that you no longer need. Enter WinDirStat. (Check out the post on it over here.)

In a nutshell, this program scans your computer and then gives you a visual representation of the files you have stored on it. All files of a certain type will be one color, and they are represented by squares of various sizes. This makes it incredibly easy to spot big files, find out what they are, and then delete them. Convenient, pretty fast, and free.

A winning combination.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Putting the "Gee" in Geometry

Humor me and pretend you don't see the "camera hands" reflection, ok?
Sarah Otley is good at finding things. If you need a book, and we don't have it, she will track that book down like a relentless bloodhound and get it here for you. She's also good at finding something I never could: the fun in math.
Sarah's new display in the Mantor Library browsing room is enticing even to a Math-phobe like me. Origami? Ruffly coral-reef-like crocheted hyperbolic planes? Not even a little bit scary. They are colorful, and cute, and yes - I will be the first to admit it - fun. Don't believe me? Come see for yourself.

Sarah has shared some links for more information about the kinds of modular origami and hyperbolic planes she features in the display, so I'm going to pass them on:

Crocheting Hyperbolic Planes:



Origami Math:


PHiZZ unit modular origami:


Sonobe unit modular origami:


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Apple Everything

Apple had its Worldwide Developer's Conference keynote yesterday. This is where they typically update their hardware on the computer side of things, as well as their operating systems. True to form, that's exactly what they did. What does this mean for you? For one thing, never buy an Apple computer in May. You can almost inevitably get an upgraded version of what you just bought, for the same amount of money or less. Or at the worst, you can get exactly what you just bought for less.

If you're going to buy Apple, it's better to purchase it in June/July--just to make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck.

So what got upgraded this time? First off, the laptops all got a significant bump. Faster, more RAM, bigger hard drives--and they introduced a new line which essentially has the best laptop screen available, with all sorts of additional bells and whistles. Of course, it costs $2100 for the base model, but then again, when you go back in time 10 or 20 years, you see that computers cost less today than they did then--and that's before you take into account the inflation that's occurred in the intervening years. Technology is really cheap these days. You used to have to shell out thousands of dollars for a VCR, never mind a bleeding edge laptop.

iPhone and iPad uses are getting upgrades, as well, with iOS moving to version 6. New non-Google maps, phone features, Siri to the new iPad--there are supposedly over 200 new features, though I have no idea what they all are. Mountain Cat Lion Puma (or whatever Apple's operating system is called these days) also got updates. (They seriously need to ditch the cat thing. I have no idea what release is what by this point. And pretty soon they're going to be on the OS Liger--which would be pretty cool, come to think of it. Bred for its skills in magic.)

If you're interested in any of this, check out full press releases over at Apple's site.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Have I mentioned that Google is watching you?

This cute Chrome commercial is used to illustrate Google's information gathering techniques. Creepy and stalker-ish? You decide.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Google Buys Meebo

In library-specific tech news, it was just announced today that Google has bought Meebo--the chat software Mantor library uses to run its chat box on our home page. What does this mean?

Honestly, I have no idea.

I'm sure that's just the answer you were looking for, isn't it? But it's too early in the game for me to be able to say for certain one way or another. It looks like the Meebo team is getting moved over to focus on Google+ work, which is mildly disturbing to me--since Google+ isn't exactly a viable platform right now. (Well, it works--but no one's there. Every time I click over to my Google+ account to see what's going on, all I see is tumbleweeds. It's like a ghost town that was never a town to begin with.)

Then again, Meebo had been giving us some issues lately. Sometimes it would log out for no known reason. Or it wouldn't let us log in. Maybe this will result in a revamp that works more consistently.

Who knows?

Not me. But believe me when I say I'm going to be watching this closely. :-)