Category Archives: Other

Point Map of Summit Libraries

Below is a point map which displays all of the current the academic library members (their institutions) that are apart of the Orbis-Cascade Alliance Consortium. The consortium is made up of 37 universities, colleges, and community colleges in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho Private and public institutions Serving 258,000 students. The current catalog, which is actually under development with a different vendor, is called SUMMIT. So if a student is looking to borrow a book from another library, we’ll refer them to the Summit catalog.

Any guesses as to how many books, videos, etc. are in represented through these libraries? 9.2 million titles representing over 28.7 MILLION items! And those numbers continue to grow each year, along with the number of consortia members.

Some interesting fact to ponder… 360,000+ packages are delivered by our courier system per year to 83 drop sites. This services helps circulate items to 293 libraries in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho as of February 2013.

The Red Flag on the map represents the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University where I work. The Green Push Pins represent all of the main institutions, which includes many but not all of the drop sites.



Firehalls in the City of Vancouver, and Parks & Garbage Centers of Mesquite Texas

This is a demo map of a GIS map I created using pre-existing latitude and longitude data in an Excel spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet was uploaded into Google Drive and saved as a CSV file which is shared to the general public (to provide access to my account).  Then the URL for the Google CSV file is copied and shared in my ArcGIS file and over layed on top of a street base map.

The hardest part of this process was getting Google to save the document as a CSV file format.  The rest was pretty straight forward.  Once the Google Doc is linked to the ArcGIS map, you can modify the data in the Google Doc and the changes will be reflected in the ArcGIS map.  It is a pretty slick system.

Here is a link to a sample map (don’t forget to share your file to everyone):


The example below is using existing kml files (Keyhole Markup Language, which are over glorified xml files) and side stepping kml file editing issues with AcrGIS by using Google Earth.  This was a little bit more of a stretch for me because actually finding and saving kml files was an issue (the directions I was following were a little less descriptive).  Once I had the files, the process was easy.  I’m not sure if I know exactly WHY or in what situations one would use kml files over other types of files; this reason wasn’t explained in the tutorial directions, but perhaps in the book the class is following (which I don’t have).  The map below is much larger in scale (viewed higher in the sky) intentionally as to provide perspective of where Mesquite, Texas is located.


Intro to ArcGIS

I’m currently taking a three week intro course to GIS.  At first I was a little hesitant to take it since I have a background in GIS already, but then reconsidered and am using this opportunity to view this course from a beginners perspective.  Plus it would be nice to refresh some of my skills.

The first assignment is basically getting our feet wet with, which offers a free public website created by ESRI for creating and sharing interactive maps and other types of geographic information. Its website address is and is moderately intuitive to use.  I say moderately because there are quite a few things you can manipulate with this resource, such as adding lines for custom roadways or paths, compared to the last time I used this site a few years ago.basemap-types-arcgis

There is also several types of base maps that allow you to use existing satellite maps, topographic (elevation maps with lines), road maps (abstract maps with pre-drawn line for major roadways), and hybrid maps (combined satellite and  which are maps that you can draw over and add layers, and more.  I took a screenshot of what the options are and the interface.  Below is a basic map I created as a tutorial assignment of a path between the Dana Porter Library and the Waterloo Map Library.  Ironically, I can’t embed the image into WordPress because for security reasons WordPress doesn’t allow external files and links to be embedded directly in its web pages.  SO the screenshot will have to do!  I’m testing the capability of the ArcGIS links to the larger and direct map below.  I choose not to directly host the web applications on WordPress for the reasons just mentioned (incompatibility).


View Larger Map

Google Voice, The Debute

If you haven’t heard about this new free service from Google, you might consider its use. On the surface, this new resource is pretty cool and very useful. My concern, as always, is the privacy of personal information.

A good question to ask is whether a free service is worth the potential threat to privacy. What kind of potential threat to privacy could this be, and how likely or much of a threat could it be?

This new service from Google is free, but Google is able to glean useful information from your phone use. Phone companies have gleaned all sorts of information from you over the years without you knowing it. As technology advances, companies are able to tell all sorts of information about you should the company desire to do so.

For example, by number crunching they would be able to tell when you use the phone the most, where you call from, who you call the most, whether you take calls from telemarketers or political groups (perhaps tell whether you’re active in a particular group, give money or time), how often you phone your doctor, whether you purchase anything over the phone, if you are gone regularly from your house or are on a temporary vacation, whether you use mobile phones or land lines and how often (or can afford cell phones).

So there is a ton of information to glean from your communication habits. I’m not accusing Google or any phone service provider of giving your personal information to third parties, although there is potential. I suspect Google of crunching the numbers so it can be used in other ways. By understanding the habits of society, one can anticipate its wants & needs, plus respond to events and reactions more effectively.

What does Google plan to do with the information that passes through its hands? Most likely, it will continue to look for ways to be useful to society, to develop new services and tools. It seems like Google, like Microsoft, continues to influence the way that society operates; it has a huge impact on they way that we run our day to day lives as professionals as well as individually.

There are, of course, laws that protect the information of individuals; the laws are there for a reason. I believe that Google “behaves itself” as much as possible and plays by the rules. So I would rate the potential to abuse this information as medium to high, but to give it a low rating for likelihood simply because of Google’s current good reputation and the laws it needs to follow.

In time, I expect to try the Google Voice service in time. It may influence the way I communicate with others (or not).  There is always the potential!

Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of Rain (Cloud Computing)

This is from a PEW Research Center email alert…

The web-based survey gathered opinions from prominent scientists, business leaders, consultants, writers and technology developers. It is the fourth in a series of Internet expert studies conducted by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University and the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

By Janna Anderson, Lee Rainie
June 11, 2010

Some 71% agreed with the statement:
“By 2020, most people won’t do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC. Instead, they will work in Internet-based applications such as Google Docs, and in applications run from smartphones. Aspiring application developers will develop for smartphone vendors and companies that provide Internet-based applications, because most innovative work will be done in that domain, instead of designing applications that run on a PC operating system.”
Some 27% agreed with the opposite statement, which posited:
“By 2020, most people will still do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC. Internet-based applications like Google Docs and applications run from smartphones will have some functionality, but the most innovative and important applications will run on (and spring from) a PC operating system. Aspiring application designers will write mostly for PCs.”
The web-based survey gathered opinions from prominent scientists, business leaders, consultants, writers and technology developers. It is the fourth in a series of Internet expert studies conducted by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University and the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

China’s Space “Conspiracy”

Conspiracy theorists can revel in the fact that cover ups do exist.  Maybe not to the extent to which some people believe, but to some extent at least.  This is the case with the Chinese government who sent an astronaut into space in 2003, and brought him back to Earth without any problems, or so it seemed.  In this case, I think that the Chinese government wanted to project a specific public image, instead of intentionally distorting or falsifying facts.

Yes, China really did send a man into space in 2003.  The astronaut, Yang Liwei, orbited the world 14 times before the capsule (known as Shenzhou 5 or the Divine Capsule) returned to Earth.  It is a truly remarkable, historical, and admirable feat for any country to successfully launch spacecraft, and even more so with a human passenger.  How events were publicized was something less than admirable though.

According to a recent NY Times article, a top official at Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, gave a speech to a group of journalism students in May in which he admitted that the Chinese media staged the capsule opening.

The official, Xia Lin, described how a design flaw had exposed the astronaut to excessive G-force pressure during re-entry, splitting his lip and drenching his face in blood. Startled but undaunted by Mr. Yang’s appearance, the workers quickly mopped up the blood, strapped him back in his seat and shut the door. Then, with the cameras rolling, the cabin door swung open again, revealing an unblemished moment of triumph for all the world to see.

The content of Mr. Xia’s speech, transcribed and posted online by someone who attended the May 15 lecture at Tianjin Foreign Studies University, has become something of a sensation in recent days, providing the Chinese a rare insight into how their news is stage-managed for mass consumption.

Truth has a way of rising to the surface over time, such as this case.  And it sometimes amazes me at the extent to which people try to change things to their own liking.  There are cases where information is withheld for a time from the general public to curb mass panic, extreme civil unrest, and the like.  However, the trade-off for intentionally reporting inaccurate facts is the erosion of self-integrity and trust among peers and followers.

Because the Chinese state media has practiced and documented (plus unintentionally leaked) how they mislead their citizens regularly (and train new journalists to continue this unethical behavior), there is a real lack of trust in the accuracy of their information.  While it remains unlikely that Chinese state media will change their routine in the near future, there is always hope they will do an about-face to become a world leader in reporting accurate information.

To be fair, Mr. Yang has published an autobiography, scheduled for release in 2010, which provides a fairly detailed account of his space mission, including many (not all) of the negative details.

Read more …

Terms of Agreement Example

A friend of mine recently purchased an Asus Netbook, and she noticed some interesting conditions while she was reading through the terms of agreement for the Asus E-Membership Agreement.  I thought these were interesting enough to post…

Number four of the conditions is about member’s privacy, and says that users are “prohibited to give or share password and credit card details with any third party.”  However, the way that it is worded sounds like Asus users can not use e-commerce services such as Amazon that require credit card information.  I know that is not what is meant, but it could be interpreted this way.

Number six of the conditions says that members need to “abide by all related laws in Taiwan, Republic of China, and other Internet standards and formalities.”  Really?  Does this mean that users of Asus Netbooks are subject to censorship?  Do users need to follow all of the laws & where can one fine a copy of the international laws for Taiwan and China?

Number sixteen states that any intellectual property posted on the Asus web site belongs to Asus and can not be used without their permission.  I’m assuming this means anything created by Asus, instead of an end user which posts something and chooses to post it somewhere else online.  If it doesn’t, it sounds like Asus is racking up a bunch of intellectual property that really doesn’t belong to them.

In a way, I just have to laugh at how some of the terms of agreement are phrased.  I have heard of one time when a person who created the terms of agreement for a certain big computer company added a sentence that says “you shall give us your first born child.”  This was to see if anyone from the company really read through the agreements.  Thankfully, someone noticed and it did not make it in the published version.

Have you seen any poorly phrased terms of agreements?  Glance through them sometime–you might be surprised at what you’re agreeing to do!

4.Member's Privacy
Members will need to be responsible for the security of their personal
login names, passwords and other relevant personal details. They will also
need to be fully responsible for accessing their own account under ASUS
Online. Members are prohibited to give or share their password or credit
card details with any third party. If there are reports on vandalism of
credit account, please contact the webmaster of ASUS Online immediately.
6. Laws and Regulation
Members need to abide by all related laws in Taiwan, Republic of China and
other Internet standards and formalities. Since Internet transcends
national boundaries, members will also have to comply with the laws and
regulations in their residing country. If members use other International
web site provided by ASUS, they will also need to follow the domestic laws
and regulations and Internet standards and formalities that the region
specified in ASUS web site.
16. Intellectual Properties
Title to and interest in any logos, images, photos, files, illustrations,
software, or relevant information appeared in ASUS Online, its
intellectual properties belongs to ASUS or its source provider. The
members shall not duplicate, reproduce, transfer, modify or edit in any
way for any third party or individual benefits without ASUS or source
provider's prior written consents.

Portable Library

I had to post this link after seeing this image.  It was also posted on the ALA email list…  This is an awesome art exhibit/engineering/architecture statement.

Read original blog post from

China’s On-Campus Police Informants

The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an interesting article entitled “Documents Reveal Secrets and Scope of China’s On-Campus Police Informants.”  Basically, it says that the China Digital Times translated and posted an internal document dated in 2005 about university policies recruiting student “spies” that was accidentally put into the public domain.

Here is a quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education post:

At Dezhou University each spy is expected to report “three or more items of valuable security information” each month in exchange for a regular reward, with “a great reward” for especially valuable intelligence. College authorities also offer to improve academic grades and job prospects, promising to “give priority consideration in [sic] the students’ appraisals and political advancements.” Informants must “grasp developments [concerning those who] oppose the social situation,” especially “ethnic separatists, religious extremists, and violent terrorists.”

Here is a link to the China Digital Times (the original source).

Google and Visual Arts

Considering all of the legal battles that Google has to attend to, I’ve seriously considered adding a section in my blog for Google Court Decisions.  While Google continues to tackle issues with the Author’s Guild over copyright issues, they face a new class action law suit from the artist of those books, headed by the American Society of Media Photographers and other groups. There was a short blurb in the Chronicle of Higher Education today about this lawsuit.

One of the quotes from the NY Times I like is from an associate professor of University of Colorado Law School who says, “Google is trying to control or expand access to virtually all information in the world. It isn’t surprising that their settlement with written authors doesn’t end all their legal battles.”

Too true!  Most people are not aware of how many people have put time and energy into shaping the final product of a book.  Stake holders in books includes the author, illustrators (graphic designers for the cover and/or artist who create images within a book), photographers, editors, publishers, etc.  This excludes all of the production, shipping, storage, and selling to finally getting the book into your hand.  Some books are primarily geared for illustrations, such as picture books for children, guide books with hand-drawn pictures, coffee table books with beautiful photographs.

I would not be thrilled if my hard work suddenly started appearing everywhere without my permission (not saying that I wouldn’t want that to happen either).  My point is that a lot of hard work goes into making a book and delivering it to the consumer, and I wonder if Google really considered how many Herculean hurdles it would have to jump before this project really got started.