Aug27th

Directory Layout opinions needed

griffey LibraryBox

Ok, Internet. I have two options, both of which have their upside/downsides, and I need your feedback. I’m working on the new directory layout for LibraryBox, and need to break long names, especially those without spaces in them, because it does crazy things with the layout. Here’s an example of what the layout looks like without the hard-break behavior:

Photo Aug 27, 2 59 58 PM

Without Hard Break CSS

 

And here’s the same directory listing, WITH the hard-break CSS behavior in place:

 

Photo Aug 27, 3 00 20 PM

With hard break CSS

Better, right? Except then you get weird things like this:

 

Photo Aug 27, 2 59 50 PM

Text with spaces, no hard break CSS

 

 

Photo Aug 27, 2 59 18 PM

Text with spaces, with hard break CSS

 

Text that DOES have spaces, and would normally break across them, instead breaks at the arbitrary point where it hits the wall of the container.

So what’s your vote: With or Without the hard break CSS? The text in question will be all over the place, as it’s whatever filenames people use for the files they put on a LibraryBox…could literally be any text in the world. So I can’t predict…and it’s in CSS, so I don’t really have a way to detect spaces and do an if/then with it. Anyone have any ideas?

Aug20th

Creative Commons NC clause and 3D printing


I was browsing through some 3D printing files today, STLs that both I produced and were produced by others. For example, I designed and uploaded a 3D case for a LibraryBox that others have downloaded and printed. It is CC licensed, specifically CC BY-NC. I was looking at other STL files that had a CC NC license applied to them, and it made me think what that NC is really protecting.

Obviously, at the very least, the license prevents others from selling the STL files. Does it, however, prevent someone from using the files to create the physical object (that is, using a 3D printer to print the box itself out) and then selling the object? My instinct says yes, as the physical object is an instantiation of the digital file. But let’s scale the example up…what if someone built a house based on CC NC licensed plans? Could they ever legally sell the house?

This is purely theoretical. To my knowledge, no one is selling my designs, and I’m not planning to sell anyone else’s. But I am curious where the line between licensing a digital file and the resultant legal implications of the physical instantiation of that file might be.

The only case and real discussion I can find online is this case that was written up by Make, US Legal Lessons from Canada’s First STL IP Infringement Case. The discussion there indicates that Make’s author, Michael Weinberg, doesn’t believe that, once printed, there is any protection for a utilitarian object under copyright law (and since that’s what underpins Creative Commons, nothing there either).

Anyone want to weigh in on this?

Aug14th

Code4LibDC Unconference Workshop


Monday and Tuesday of this week I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Code4LibDC Unconference, where I had been invited to lead an introduction to hardware hacking workshop. Thanks in large part to the generosity of SparkFun Electronics, whose Education arm let me borrow the hardware necessary to run the workshop (15 sets of the Sparkfun Redboard Arduino clone, breadboards, wiring, LEDs, and sensors).

I decided that I wanted to try and reverse the normal order of pretty much every “Learn Arduino” workshop that I’d seen, so rather than start with a blank slate and have the students build a circuit to blink an LED, I decided that I wanted them to start with a working circuit that was a bit more complicated and then deconstruct it. As a result, I spent most of a day late the week before building out a dozen or so circuits that would light a series of 4 LEDs dependent on the value of a potentiometer, and then packing them up and hoping the TSA didn’t find them “interesting”. The idea was that the participants would immediately have a working thing, and then could break it, alter it, change it, and they would have something that was immediately useful rather than struggle to make it work from the outset. Judging from the reactions I got, I think that was a good call…the participants seemed to have a grand time deconstructing why the circuit did what it did. It also provided an example of how something very simple could be useful in a library…you could, with very little change, basically replace the potentiometer with a thermistor and have a temperature gauge, or with a microphone and have a noise indicator for “too loud” rooms.

We weren’t without problems (no hardware session ever is) but overall I felt like it went well, and I can’t wait to work on making this particular workshop even better. I really want to teach more and more librarians how to hack on hardware to benefit their libraries. A few of the participants really had a field day, with one group altering the simple 4 LED series to instead be a 4-bit binary counter, and another working out an algorithm that allowed for soft fades instead of simple on/off of the lights.

If anyone is interested, below you will find my slides from the workshop. They need work before I try to give this again, but I think they are a good start.

Aug7th

Month One


Today marks the one month anniversary of leaving my position at the University of TN at Chattanooga, walking away from a tenured professorship, and trying to build a business on my reputation and skills.

So how’s it going?

Right now, it’s mostly proposal limbo. I have something like 8 different consulting proposals that I’ve either put together or been attached to over the course of the month. Of those 8, 2 are definite no-gos, 2 need revisions and resubmittal, and 4 are still floating in the ether of uncertainty. I’ve got a handful of speaking engagements (but am always happy to come and speak with librarians about technology) and over the next few months will be:

Those are all in roughly the next 12 weeks!

Which is a lot of words to basically say: Things are uncertain, but good, and I’m keeping busy. :-)

I’d love to hear from anyone who needs technology planning at their library, though…I would love to turn a few proposals into contracts. What can I do to help your library?

Jul30th

3D Printers for Libraries


I spent yesterday hanging out at the GigTank Demo Day, listening to 3D printing startups pitch their ideas and companies at investors. It was a fantastic event, as is normal for things that the Company Lab is running, and I had a good time listening to the excitement around 3D printing as a technology.

It made me want to look back and see how long I’ve been following this technology, and I was dumbfounded to discover that the first mention of 3D printing on this very blog was in 2006. In October of 2006 I posted about a company called Fabjectory that was way ahead of the curve in providing 3D printing as a service for people. Then, not quite a year later I held the first 3D printed object that I’d ever touched, and it happened to be a print of myself as a Nintendo Mii. That was in August of 2007!

In 2011 I was asked to record a video by the LITA Top Tech Trends committee as an experiment for doing some information updates on technology between ALA Annual and Midwinter, and the trend I pointed to was 3D printing.

There’s a lot more that I’ve written over the years, ranging from my interviews with Bre Pettis (CEO of Makerbot Industries) about libraries and 3D printing to reporting last year for American Libraries on the 3D printing news from CES 2014.

3D Printers for Libraries

All this time and interest in the technology is coming to head in the publication of a new Library Technology Report that I have written on 3D printing, called 3D Printers for Libraries. In it I explain all of the varieties of 3D printing and 3D printers, from the inexpensive fused-deposition printers that most libraries are installing to the highest end Electron Beam Melting printers that are used to produce medical-grade implants. I go through the pros and cons of a variety of manufacturers, and make suggestions for libraries who are just getting started in offering 3D printing as a service.

If your library is looking at starting to offer 3D printing, this is a good reference work to help you make some decisions about types of printers and pitfalls and problems you may see with them. If your library would like some help in making decisions like this, or in figuring out how  to offer 3D printing to your patrons, feel free to contact me (griffey at gmail.com or @griffey on Twitter). I’d love to help you get to a place where your staff is confident in offering 3D printing as a new technology offering from your library.

Jun25th

Honoring Orwell

griffey LibraryBox

I am continually amazed, every day, at the reach and spread of the LibraryBox Project. This tweet from today took my breath away:

It refers to the 1984 Symposium, a group of people who gather every year on the anniversary of Orwell’s death, to honor him and discuss the ideas contained within 1984 by picnicking at his gravesite. That there is a small piece of me there in the form of a box that helps to make information that much more open and free…I’m so very, very pleased by this.

Jun16th

SparkFun @ ALA Annual 2014 – Hardware and Coding!


ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas is going to be a fantastic conference for a ton of reasons, but at least one of those reasons is that there is a new exhibitor that anyone interested in technology, coding, and general hardware hackery should get to know: SparkFun Electronics.

SparkFun is a company that not only makes awesome hardware and hardware kits, they have an amazing educational wing that works with schools and libraries to teach Maker skills to people across the country. I had the opportunity back in February to visit and learn from Sparkfun along with a handful of other Chattanooga librarians you may have heard of. Their educational materials are top-notch, and they are happy to work with libraries who want to teach Arduino, coding, soft circuits, and a few dozen other projects.

At ALA Annual they will be in the exhibit hall, Booth 1870, and will have a ton of interesting stuff to look at and play with. Sparkfun’s Jeff Branson along with Nate Hill from the Chattanooga Public Library will also be taking part in the LITA Library Code Year Interest Group Technology Speed Dating event on Saturday, June 28, in the Las Vegas Convention Center Room N119. That looks like an incredible lineup of presenters, and will be a great program.

In addition to all of that, they will be hosting a number of short classes in the Networking Uncommons if you want to get a quick 1/2 hour introduction to Arduino, AruBlock, Scratch, or Processing…or if you want to stick around for the whole shebang and have a 2 hour block of technology awesomeness. They will be doing two classes of each:

Saturday, June 28 – Networking Uncommons
3-3:30 Ardublock
3:30-4:00 Arduino
4:00-4:30 Scratch
4:30-5:00 Processing

Monday, June 30 – Networking Uncommons
10-10:30 Ardublock
10:30-11:00 Arduino
11:00-11:30-Scratch
11:30-12:00- Processing

If you have any interest at all in Maker technologies, I recommend showing up for one of these…Jeff from Sparkfun is a great instructor, and I guarantee it’ll be a good time. I hope to see you all there!

Jun5th

LibraryBox Installfest @ ALA Annual 2014


Are you going to be at ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas? Would you like to build your own LibraryBox for yourself or your library, but aren’t sure how to make that happen? Well step right up, I’ve got your answer!

On Saturday, June 28th from 11:15am until 12 Noon in the Networking Uncommons in the Las Vegas Convention Center, I will be holding the fist ever LibraryBox Installfest! What does that mean? It means that you buy the hardware and bring it with you, and I will walk you through the install process, show you some tips and tricks for customizing, and generally answer any questions about the LibraryBox Project that you might have. I’ll be there helping anyone who shows up, so just drop by anytime during that 45 minutes.

What you DEFINITELY need to bring with you

The install process, from beginning to end, will take about 10-15 minutes. If you show up with the equipment listed, I will make sure that you leave with a working LibraryBox.

Join me in the Networking Uncommons for the first ever LibraryBox Installfest, and learn how to build your own LibraryBox. Or just swing by and ask questions. Or heck, just come say hello and grab a LibraryBox sticker.

See you in Vegas!

Jun4th

Maker Spaces in Libraries & The White House Maker Faire

griffey Personal

As some of you may have heard, the White House is hosting a Maker Faire in the very near future. See this release for more details: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/02/03/announcing-first-white-house-maker-faire

Maker spaces in libraries allow everyone to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills and facilitate opportunity for collaboration and community engagement that will aid in the next generation of STEM jobs. They provide access to tools (from books to 3D printers) and, most importantly, ‘access to each other’. Library maker spaces are powerful informal learning spaces that give local community members the ability to create, hack, and make their future.

A number of organizations are working together to show library support for making in our communities. If you and your institution support President Obama’s call for, “an all-hands-on-deck approach to science, technology, engineering, and math…to make sure that all of us as a country are lifting up these subjects for the respect that they deserve,” please email Lauren at lmbritto@syr.edu to sign up as a supporter. Time is running out, and having as many names as possible on the list will help show the White House that libraries are a vital part of the Maker movement, and integral to supporting their communities.

May27th

The Case for Open Hardware in Libraries


Over a year ago, I was approached by Ken Varnum to write a chapter for a book he was editing, at the time called Top Ten Technologies for 2017. He was persuasive, and I had this crazy idea that had been bouncing around in my head for some time about libraries and open hardware. I told him my idea, and described the argument I wanted to make, and he told me to go for it.

So I did.

The book ended up being called The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know: A LITA Guide and my chapter in it The Case for Open Hardware in Libraries. I’m pretty proud of it, as it’s as close as I’ve been able to come, after a couple of years worth of thinking and speaking and writing, to distilling why I think this is an important thing for libraries to be doing.

Click the above link to download a copy for your very own, or take a look below for a quick skim. Either way, I hope that it starts or continues some conversations on this front in libraries. As always, if there are libraries out there that want to do this sort of thing, build their own hardware, create their own measurement tools, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to help you. Just let me know.

I'm Jason Griffey, a librarian, technologist, writer and speaker. This is my personal/professional blog, but I also write Release Candidate (focusing on future tech) and for the ALA TechSource blog. Visit my homepage for more.





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