April 29, 2005

CAS conspiracy

To follow up on Catherine's post here, I'd like to quote three relevant sections from the CAS Information Use Policy:

III. Authorized Use of CAS Information

  1. The building of searchable Project directories or Databases for use by individuals and Project teams is permitted. Each User is permitted to download 5,000 Records for personal use or to share within a Project team for the life of the Project. These Records may be obtained from more than one CAS product as long as the 5,000 limit/User is not exceeded.

  2. Metadata from CAS Records may be downloaded for an Analysis or Data Mining procedure in compliance with CAS or STN Product licenses. The User or Information Professional must use CAS or STN Analysis or Data Mining tools (with the exception of standard office software such as Microsoft® Excel, Word, and PowerPoint®). Any Records retained from the task are subject to the limits specified in these Policies. CAS Records retained as a result of the analysis must be consistent with these Policies and display the ACS copyright.

IV. Unauthorized Use of CAS Information
  1. A User may not use CAS Records or Metadata with non-CAS or non-STN tools with the exception of standard office software such as Microsoft® Excel, Word, and PowerPoint®.

As Catherine notes, item IV.c seems to indicate that CAS will no longer allow people to use citation management software such as RefWorks or EndNote to look after their citation information and prepare their papers. This is insane. You can still find lots of information on the CAS website about how to get your records into EndNote and other programs here. Is this rather helpful information going to come down?

Item III.e seems to imply that CAS will allow people to use their own citation analysis tools, of course. Is is also a subtle hint that they'll be coming up with their own management program too, that may be integrated more closely with upcoming versions of SciFinder than SciFinder is currently with the EndNotes of the world?

York can't be the only place that teaches chemistry students to use RefWorks (the product we license) or EndNote or whatever. It would certainly be a very bad idea if they wanted us to stop doing that. I definately think CAS should clarify what IV.c means -- are chemists allowed to use citation management software with CAS database products.

April 27, 2005

Latest from InsideHigherEd

Some recent highlights from this increasingly indispensible read:

  • Building Student Interest in Science by Doug Lederman. Talks about one university's efforts to inprove student retention via a multipronged approach.
  • Sending Signals to Students by the indefatigable Doug Lederman. Interesting comments about Advanced Placement courses in the US that are also relevant to general education requirements at many schools.

SciTech Achievement Award

A hearty congratulations to Catherine Lavallée-Welch for being awarded the SLA SciTech Division SciTech Achievement Award for her work on EngLib.

April 22, 2005

Hopefully it's over: Moore's Law issue update

BoingBoing via the BBC is claiming that Intel has paid the bounty to a UK packrat. The BBC article is a very good overview of the whole story, with some nice info on the bounty-hunting engineering who won the prize. It would be interesting to know how many library copies of the mag have gone missing, all for no good reason. I'll keep our bound copy in my office for a little while longer.

Scout Reports

I don't usually post items from the Scout Reports because I sort of assume we all get them. But just in case, here's the links to the various reports that they do: life sciences, physical sciences and math, engineering and technology. All three reports contain a wealth of great links and you can have the reports emailed to you: subsribe here. Another fave this week is the NASA: How Does This Work? set of videos.

Game programming: The (next) big thing

From the most recent Scout Report on Engineering, Math & Technology:

13. How Games are Reshaping Business and Learning

This website features presentations made at a conference sponsored by eInnovate and held on January 20, 2005, on "How Games are Reshaping Business and Learning." The conference presenters discussed the "gamer generation" and explored the "profound ways in which 'games' are forever reshaping teaching and learning in the business environment." Other questions addressed through the paper and video footage from the conference include: "Why are video games setting a new standard for learning?"; "How, and why, do modern video games reflect cutting-edge research on learning?"; and "What are the implications for the workplace and learning?" The paper, written by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Laboratory, describes "an approach to the design of learning environments that builds on the educational properties of games, but deeply grounds them within a theory of learning appropriate for an age marked by the power of new technologies."

The last couple of years I've been buying quite a bit in the game development area, telling myself that it's not frivolous, that game development is really at the cutting edge of what CS people do -- create environments. That those environments can have many different applications, including learning and entertainment, is really important to keep in mind. The CS students checking out books on AI game developments (and the books do circulate quite a bit) aren't just trying to program Jakked Doom of the Vice City, they're pushing the edge of virtual environments. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

April 13, 2005

Moore's Law

April 19, 2005 is the 40th anniversary of the publication of Moore's Law in Electronics magazine. Gordon Moore's article was prosaically titled "Cramming more components onto integrated circuits." Intel has a nice site promoting the anniversary here; it features lots of cool content, including pdfs of various articles including the orginal article, posters, images and video of Moore. There's also a Moore's Law section in the Intel Archives and Museum.

Apparently, Intel, where Moore is now Chairman Emeritus, no longer has an orginal copy of the article in their archives, only photocopies. As such, they are offering $10,000 for a copy of the original magazine. I couldn't find any mention of this on the Intel site, but did hear of it in an interview with Howard High from Intel last night on the CBC show As it Happens. The CBC has streaming audio of the show so you can listen to it too. Intel's Want-it-Now request on eBay is here.

Karen Grieg had a message on the eldnet-l list today with the subject "Is your copy safe?" -- wise words when there's $10K on the line.

Publication and the Internet: Where next?

Publication and the Internet: Where next? in the most recent APS News by high engery physicist Michael Peskin is causing a bit of buzz in the scitech community. Basically, Peskin advocates an online publishing system for physics where most commercial publishers and indexers are mostly cut out of the process and what libraries are currently spending on those organizations be used to fund an expanded and more comprehensive version of what currently exists in arxiv and the SLAC HEP database. Peskin does see a role for products like Google Scholar in joining up the various physics community data & metadata repositories. There are also some really good insights into how physicists view their field and it's literature in the article.

How close are we to making this a reality? I think physics is already well on its way: who knows how much longer the journals will continue to play an important role in providing peer review services if the actual articles are mostly read in the eprint servers. I suspect that the kids who are now physics ugrads will ultimately see very little reason to use the journals at all. By the time they are the senior figures in the field, the landscape could be very different. Is this model going to translate well to other fields? Perhaps CS will slowly develope a highly decentralized version of the same basic idea. Other fields? I think it's an inevitable evolution. Whether we librarians like it or not, the kids we see at the reference desk are just going to be less wedded to the concepts of peer review and centralized, commercial publishing than preceeding generations. When they inherit the academy, things will change. via pamnet: Robert Michaelson for mentioning the article, Carol Hutchins for the link to full text.


O'Reilly has launched a new site called CodeZoo. It's a repository of open source Java components that can be downloaded and incorporated into programming projects. This ia a great idea for hobbiests and people in industry and I wish them all the luck in the world. I'm just glad I don't have to teach (and mark) any kind of Java programming courses. Java teachers of the world, make sure you know what's in here before you set your programming assignments. Some resources here, here, here and here.

April 12, 2005

Weblogs: Their Use and Application In Science and Technology Libraries

"Weblogs: Their Use and Application In Science and Technology Libraries" is the latest by Randy Reichardt and Geoff Harder of STLQ fame. It's in the most recent Science and Technology Libraries. The self-archived eprint is here. The article provides a solid historical introduction to what blogs and what they are used for in the library context, particular as reference desk communication aids and tools for keeping up with professional developments. For those of use who have passed beyond the beginner stage, Randy and Geoff talk about their experiences using blogs as a tool to engage mechanical engineering design students. Bravo!

April 8, 2005


Ok, so what's this podcasting thing all about? First of all, it has nothing to do fishing for aliens in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It actually has to do with iPods or other portable digital music players, usually known as mp3 players, although they can usually play other formats as well. Remember radio? From the listener's perspective, the annoying thing about radio is that once the show you want to listen to has aired, it's gone. No reruns or anything, usually. From the potential broadcaster's point of view, the main annoyance of radio is that it's expensive to broadcast and the limited broadcast spectra are regulated. How to solve these problems?

Of course, the Internet has a solution for both and it's podcasting. Basically, podcasting is radio in mp3 (or other digital) format. So, a regular radio show could make available mp3's of its shows and you could download them and listen to them whenever you want, either on your computer or portable device. Similarly, since it's just an mp3, the hardware and software requirements to create a reasonably professional sounding show are quite basic. Voila! Your own radio show.

Now, mix in rss and you have a simple way to notify interested listeners that the new show is ready to be downloaded. As well, there is also software that'll automatically download the new shows for you so you can transfer them to your device. All this is nicely summarized in a recent LISNews post, with links to all the various bits of software. My favourite directory site is Podcast Alley; I also use Bloglines to manage the podcast feeds. It doesn't download automatically (or if it does I haven't figured it out yet) but I like using one application to manage all my feeds.

Now, what podcasts would a science librarian want to listen to?

Interview with Alison Farmer

The ubiquitous Doug Lederman has an interview with "rising star" astrophysicist Alison Farmer here on InsideHigherEd.

Technology and teaching

InsideHigherEd has a couple of recent items on technology and teaching:

  • Spreading the Wealth by Doug Lederman is about the success of MIT's OpenCourseWare project which has made so much of their course material available for free on the web. OpenCourseWare is a great idea, and the site itself is very interesting and well worth a look.
  • Duke’s iPod Experiment Evolves by Doug Lederman. At Duke, they tried a pilot program where they gave all the incomming freshman an iPod. Apparantly, it was mostly a success and the program will continue.
  • Hypertext 101 By Will Hochman and Chris Dean is about how to approach using technology in the classroom. There's a bit in here where they talk about how to approach teaching their students to do Internet research as a way to complement their regular library research.

April 5, 2005

Ok, this is kinda cruel...

But kinda funny too. ViaMaking Light, a link to the Tolkein Sarcasm Page's Homework Done for Free page. The premise is that students at various levels are always caught at the last minute with a book report that needs to be done and a book that isn't read yet. So, said students frequently send requests to various online locales for help in summarizing the book. Needless to say, there's going to be some mighty amused profs and disappointed students...

April 3, 2005

Walt Crawford's new blog

Drop by and visit Walt's new blog, Walt at Random. One of the things I like most about Walt's writing is his tone -- friendly, engaged, committed, not afraid to say what he means. Not confrontational, but direct. You feel like you're talking to him at the bar or something when you read C&I. I think we all owe Walt a beer (or whatever) at the next conference as a way of saying "thanks for joining the blog party."

April 1, 2005

April 1 APOD

Thanks for Jane Holmquist on PAMNET for pointing out today's Astronomy Picture of the Day. Note that I'm pointing to the permanent link rather than the revolving "of the day" link.

As an added value, here's the links to all the April 1st APOD's since the first in 1998. Before that, they either didn't bother or the jokes were so subtle that I can't tell. Same with 2000. I have to say, this year's the best so far, followed by 2003.