Marriott & other hotels petition to kill non-approved wifi devices

Wifi signal around here
Marriott hotels, along with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Ryman Hospitality Properties have petitioned the FCC to allow them to kill non-approved wifi signals within their hotels and conference centers. This is of particular interest to me, not only because I’m a Tennessee resident and Ryman is a huge presence here in TN (they own the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, along with the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium). The main reason that this is of special interest to me is that their attempt to kill “rogue” wifi hotspots will also kill the ability to use a LibraryBox in the same manner.

If you would like to read their petition, the full text is available on the FCC’s website, along with the very long list of opposition comments. Major technology players are lining up to agree this is a terrible idea, from Google to Microsoft and even universities. For a really good summary of the filing and the issues behind it, take a look at Glenn Fleishman’s BoingBoing post.

This isn’t the first time that Marriott has tried something like this, but at least the last time they got smacked by the FCC.

Because of their continued attempts to limit persons abilities to use an unlicensed segment of public bandwidth (something that is clearly and unmistakably against the law of the US and, I would argue, firmly against the public good) I have filed an opposition filing on behalf of the LibraryBox Project. The text of my filing can be read here, and I will link to the appropriate FCC page as soon as it is approved. If you or your library, school, or other organization would like to file a comment in opposition to the attempted hijacking of a public good, you can go here and click “Submit a Filing in RM-11737“.

Photo by nicolasnova – http://flic.kr/p/4Exfo2

Revisiting my medium

I’ve decided to try and change the way I interact online, and have already made a few changes that almost certainly no one has noticed but me. The first is that while I visit and “use” Facebook, I have never actually liked it very much and do so really only because that’s where the people are. On the other hand, I really do enjoy Twitter, and am far more engaged there than I ever was or will be on Facebook. I was piping my Twitter posts into Facebook, just as a simulacrum of interaction…but I don’t think I want to do that anymore. So I’m not.

I have also gone weeks this year without blogging, and after consideration, I don’t like that very much. Why not just use Facebook to write things like this? Because I really do feel very strongly about controlling how my words are displayed, and I want to own my own voice. So I’m going to try to blog more frequently, about things that I find interesting, and share those things out to Facebook and Twitter and elsewhere…but I want to try and make my blog somewhere people can come and learn about what I’m doing and what I think is cool in the world. It used to be that, and I think I need it to be that again.

The TL;DR version is: I’m going to try and blog more, and share more accurately the things that I think are interesting or important. I will use Facebook and Twitter as other channels to talk, but if the medium really is the message, I don’t want my message to be Facebook and Twitter. I want the medium to be my own.

Caganer for Christmas

Giant Caganer

Here’s my semi-regular post around the holidays about my very, very favorite holiday tradition: the Caganer and Caga Tio. I’ve posted about this several times in the past, and it just never gets old. ¬†Thank you, Catalonia, ¬†for such a wonderfully strange tradition.

I love the fact that pop culture figures get reimagined by this tradition every year…just take a look at the Google Image search to see what I mean. More info also over at Time magazine.

And thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can even print your own.

Salting your WordPress keys

Did you know that WordPress provides a salt-generation engine with copy/paste ready text that you can use for your wp-config.php file to help make your WordPress installations that much safer from password cracking? If you aren’t familiar with the concept of salting cryptographic data, Wikipedia has a great entry.

The output of that URL looks like this (WARNING: Do not use these values)

define('AUTH_KEY',         'lsN32UCfT=-}ToXgR={6+OYzrV_!^qaZvQ$gQ&q?Rj#4lYpl-5r,(-k(b9^0M<C~');
define('SECURE_AUTH_KEY',  'O@$?-d^82Z1t+[V)+{ot6f./uR6nMppeI,IEB9Vbm]l^Vk6FS$04xt)lX:P!@9(G');
define('LOGGED_IN_KEY',    '&!0}EW$U5qCDo{3jFZV[!$;`t|0QN&DvO|>FC.{~V7~Yzq2HR2/wb:ZE&=TAjwK~');
define('NONCE_KEY',        '.Tx 2G+|)-@iI,74;M-2Aj+LdG@*SN|^D`|;^|0HJS`1V6FJ2`:oy2EQE|/;/vjz');
define('AUTH_SALT',        'qVK*v<Ehe_YW>#gKh>+aI9h@9&ZJB|D{is][raYOXS5,z0R3NWIT4fjWNiX3DG:5');
define('SECURE_AUTH_SALT', 't-Y;V9Wx7CK{T,_Y/{iUr[US?x_|@eZu6)O4 m{P`+n8xBkd.^9C{*$P`X|1xB!H');
define('LOGGED_IN_SALT',   ']V@Xh;|[EX81$n&Iaj>tXC5+WRW@Qk/D_BW TGzfj#I5+N3$2r96cKMXx$|[+pb*');
define('NONCE_SALT',       ':]+qOBD+h5pW4m |3,P5!mCXQ5]w~@7P>+#]gr,3NP/^8#;llu1v_l7 _fM1cnqa');

Take 5 minutes and go generate your own salts and update your wp-config.php file. It will greatly increase the security of your sites.

CES 2015 Planning

For the 6th year in a row, I will be attending CES in Las Vegas during the first week of January. For the uninitiated, CES is the largest consumer electronics trade show in the world, and where the world comes together to see what’s on tap for technology for the upcoming year. They reported that 2014 was the largest attendance yet for CES, at 160, 498 attendees…this is like a mid-sized city worth of technology to look at over the course of about 4 days.

This year, they have finally seriously outgrown the Las Vegas Convention Center, and have spread all around town to include exhibits at the Venetian and Wynn conference centers as well. I’m still planning a method of attack, but I expect that I’m going to be spending a lot of time looking at 3D printing again (the technology is changing so fast, I want to see what the newest printers can do). I’m also betting that this year is a huge explosion of connected household/Internet of Things systems, so that will be interesting to see what’s likely to be important in that area. And, of course, I’m expecting to see smartwatches hanging on every booth.

My coverage this go round is likely to be mostly video based, and my goal is going to be to get a video out every day of the show with summaries of what I’ve seen and what I think is important. I’ll be posting those videos on my YouTube channel, here on Pattern Recognition, and they are also going to be showing up over on the ALA TechSource blog. Any writing that I manage to do will be here as well, and I’ll be tweeting from the show like crazy if you want the blow-by-blow sort of take on CES. If you want to follow what I’m writing here, you can just save this search.

The biggest change in my coverage this year is in my funding model. In the past, I have done a variety of things in order to try and cover my costs for attending CES. For my first and second visit, my employer funded the trip. For the third, I was funded partially by my work writing for American Libraries and the Perpetual Beta blog. In 2013, I tried yet another method, actually crowdfunding the coverage by asking for donations and providing a central repository for all the material (video, photos, tweets, etc). For the record, that attempt went very poorly.

So for CES2015, I decided to try yet another way of covering the costs of attendance…selling ads in my reports. I approached four library vendors and gave them an opportunity to buy a variety of different ads, ranging from logo-only visuals to the reading of an ad in one of my video packages. Two of those vendors came back with a very quick “no”…one because it wasn’t the sort of thing they do, and another because I don’t think they understood what I was doing. :-)

A third vendor countered, and asked if they could simply be the only sponsor for the coverage, covering the costs of my attendance while I included some very small mentions of them in the videos that I will be producing from Las Vegas. That sounded like a fantastic idea to me, and so my CES2015 coverage is going to be sponsored by Springshare.

SpringyLogo600px

I will be mentioning Springshare and thanking them in the videos I produce, but it isn’t going to be like the Texaco Star Theater, I promise. Unless you really, really wanna see me sing and dance (protip: you do not).

I look forward to seeing what is coming in the next year in technology and reporting it out to all the librarians that I can. If you have questions, things you think I should pay special attention to, feedback from previous year’s coverage, or really anything else: please leave a comment or drop me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

Here are some blasts from CES past to whet your appetite:

CES 2010

CES 2012

CES 2013

CES 2014

Starting 2015

IMG_5596

Here we are in the last gasps of 2014, and I feel like doing both a bit of retrospection and a look forward and what’s coming in the new year for me. Partially because I’m excited about the things I’m doing, and partially because I am looking forward to meeting awesome new librarians and attending some new conferences.

Looking back at 2014, it’s the year where my professional life changed completely. After nearly a decade at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, I left my position as a tenured Associate Professor and struck out on my own as a consultant, speaker, writer, and maker. I realize how unbelievably lucky I am to be able to do this, just the ability to take that risk is a privilege that I am aware of every day. I am thankful for the fact that it is going very well. In the last 6 months I have:

  • Completed my first major grant project (the LibraryBox v2.1 Knight Foundation Prototype grant)
  • Published a library technology report with ALA TechSource entitled 3D Printers for Libraries
  • Spoken at Warren County Public Library in Bowling Green, KY for their annual Staff Day
  • Attended an unconference for Code4Lib DC where I led an open hardware workshop teaching intro to arduino for librarians
  • Went to 3 separate Maker Faires (Nashville, Atlanta, and Chattanooga) where I talked to several thousand people about LibraryBox
  • Attended DLF Forum for the first time, speaking on a panel about Makerspaces in academic libraries
  • Won a consulting bid to help build a brand new public library, acting as the technology consultant for the project
  • Managed to make it way out west for LITA Forum 2014 in Albuquerque, NM and delivered a workshop on customizing and hacking LibraryBox
  • Presented a webinar for Infopeople on LibraryBox, focusing on the new code release
  • Completed a complicated analysis of possible areas of technology-driven collaboration for two academic libraries
  • Spoken at the Hoover Public Library Staff Day in Hoover, AL (a spectacular library and bunch of librarians, btw)

Even with all that, 2015 is shaping up to be even busier. Here’s what I’ve got on tap for just the first 3 months:

  • Once again attending and reporting from CES in Las Vegas from Jan 4-9! I’ll be posting soon about this, as I’m doing something slightly different this year…news on that in the next week or so.
  • On January 13th, I’ll be doing a webinar on privacy and information security and libraries…again, more news on that ASAP
  • I’ll be attending the ALA Midwinter conference in Chicago, and I can’t wait to see everyone there
  • I’m also attending my very first Code4Lib conference! This one I am particular excited about, as I’ve been involved with the community on and off over the years, and just never made it to a conference. This should be amazing.
  • Finally, rounding out the conferences for the first quarter of 2015 is The Collective, a brand-spanking new library conference being held just up the road from me in Knoxville, TN. I’m excited about what the organizers are trying to do, and am very happy to be supporting it.

And on top of that, I’ve going to be keynoting the New Jersey Library Association conference in April, doing a preconference at Computers in Libraries that same month, traveling to Idaho for the first time in May to help with a library-driven Maker Faire, and heading to Missouri in early June to keynote for the MOBIUS Consortium conference.

Whew.

If you are attending one or more of the things I’ll be attending in 2015, drop me a line, I would love to meet up and talk about librarying with you. And even with all of that above, if you are interested in talking to me about helping your library or conference in any way, please let me know. I am excited that I have some small part in trying to make libraries better everywhere.

New Theme, Same Blog

I decided after seeing some work that a friend was doing on their blog to take a closer look at this old thing. I’ve been blogging in one form or another on Pattern Recognition for almost 12 years, since February of 2003. I started blogging using Blogger, just prior to their purchase by Google. At that time, you could use the web interface of Blogger, but have it publish your blog to your own hosting space as just HTML files, which is what I did, hosting the resulting HTML at Ibiblio at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The first blogging software that I fell in love with was Dave Winer’s Radio Userland, an old-school bit of software that did all it’s work client-side on your computer and then published to your webserver when you wrote a post. I tried it out and loved it…I bought a license and it was a revolution. I don’t know exactly how to explain to those of you that didn’t experience that early web blogging boom, but to be able to just write something without worrying about code and then to just click a button and have it live on the web without fiddling with FTP was just fantastical.

And then there was WordPress. I moved over to a pre-1.0 version of WordPress after testing its predecessor B2. For years and years my WP database prefix was still B2- because of this…and once I was in WordPress, I never looked back.

I’ve changed themes a few times over the years, but had really settled in to my old one, creating a child theme and just customizing the heck out of it. But I have been thinking for a long time that it needed more polish than it really made sense to do, as the old theme just wasn’t modern enough to take advantage of a lot of the new abilities that WordPress has added under the hood. So I’m switching up, and I’m going to see how this one feels. If I keep liking it, I’ll start iterating on it to make it more my own. But for now, let’s see what it feels like for a few months. I’d love to hear feedback if you have any on the look/feel.