Monthly Archives: August 2008

It’s Official: Mashup Privacy Protocol OAuth Is Fair Game – ReadWriteWeb

An announcement of OAuth’s official status was posted today on ReadWrite Web – It’s Official: Mashup Privacy Protocol OAuth Is Fair Game. The article does an excellent job of describing OAuth (including a cute little live demo of it in action) and it mentions the similarities and differences between OAuth and OpenID. I’ve mentioned previously that one of the problems with OpenID’s implementation is that it is not very usable. OAuth will correct that by allowing you to use an already existing account with some of the web’s big players (Google, Yahoo!, AOL and Twitter, to name a few). It also includes, by design, the ability to port your profile or just about any other data over to the new service. You have control over what you share in a pretty fine-grained way, too, so if you want to share some of your data from a service provider (such as Google) with a OAuth consumer (such as Twitter), you can. Just by creating a profile in Google, you can port that profile all over the web – provided that the service you want to use is an OAuth consumer.
Between the profile capabilities of OpenID and the native data portability of OAuth, we should be seeing some really interesting services crop up that will allow us to really write once, use often!

Exchange to Google Apps Transition

I haven’t written a whole lot about our recent experience in moving from Exchange 2003 to Google Apps because I ended up writing it up for a guest post on Michael Stephens’ blog, Tame The Web. I’m not going to re-write it here, but I would like to add a few notes about the experience from more of a distance, time-wise, at least.
As I said in the post on TTW, this was an amazingly smooth transition – from my staff’s standpoint. The vast majority of them came in on Monday, opened their browser, followed the directions from the 8 training sessions I provided and checked their email before starting their day’s work. Since I wrote that post, however, we’ve continued using the system and made some changes. I have uploaded many contact files (pretty easy – just saved the contacts from Outlook as a .csv file, and imported them into Gmail) without any major issues. We’ve also switched from an open-source, kinda clunky calendar system to manage our desk hours to the Google Calendar. Our mrrl@mrrl.org address hosts all of the desk calendars and I shared them with the managers responsible for each desk. Once they entered the information and got them all up and running, I embedded each calendar into a web page on our Intranet and made them available for subscriptions if individual staff members wanted to add the desk calendar information to their own, personal calendar. The Circulation manager asked me if it was possible to share the calendar with her entire staff – I explained that this would put every shift on every staff member’s calendar and she said that was what they wanted. Since that is what they wanted, that is what I helped her do – share out the calendar with all of her staff so that they could see who was working the desk from their own calendars.
Responses from the staff have been overwhelmingly positive. I did have one staff member tell me that she was born too late, she didn’t like all this technology and she was having a hard time with the change. Despite having said that, however, she has been using it without any help from me (except to show her how to mute conversations – something she thinks might make all this change worth it…) successfully and is adapting well to the system. Other staff members have been stopping me over the course of the last week or two to tell me how much they like the new email. I’ve gotten many thanks from folks who really disliked Outlook and all the spam it let through!
All has not been wine and roses, however. The first Friday afternoon after the changeover, Gmail went down completely. Hosted and personal accounts were unreachable for almost 2 hours. All that cheerleading I’d done for how much we’d love our new email and the last couple of hours of the first week saw us down for the count. One of our staff members was having problems with accessing the secure Gmail option using Safari on her Mac, and in the course of looking for the answer, I found out that a hacking toolkit for Gmail accounts was being released. I set up the domain, that night, to require SSL security for all Google Apps that we use! I sent out an email warning folks that it may slow down their email and to let me know if they have problems. No one has, so far, but it did fix the issue with Safari… She just goes to the non-secure site, which comes up for her with no problems, then as she logs in, it redirects her to the secure site automatically. Problem solved!!
The changeover was, from my end, a lot of work and a lot of training, but from my staff’s perspective everything went quite well and most of them are more than pleased with the transition!

Speaking and Writing and Working, oh my!

I don’t think I’ve completely updated my Presentations & Publications page with all of this yet, but if I do it here, I can just copy & paste later, right? This is my schedule for the next couple of months – if you are going to be around any of these places, look me up and say hi!

Sept 8-12 -National Association of Government Webmasters Conference – speaking on Sept. 11th on Web 3.0, but will be there for the whole conference.
Sept 17th – MaintainIT Webinar on making Public Computers 2.0-ready
October 1-3 – Missouri Library Association Conference – speaking on the 1st on Collaboration 2.0 (2:45-3:30) and Library Learning 2.1 (3:45-4:30) – but will be there for the whole conference, introducing speakers and going to business meetings….
October 19-22nd – Internet Librarian – since I somehow forgot to send in a speaking proposal, I won’t be speaking here – just attending!
Nov/Dec – Computers In Libraries – Article on how to use social media/2.0 tools to collaborate.

That’s it – so far! Hope to see you around at one of these places!!

Libraries mentioned at Digital Web

I link to the occasional article from Digital Web, when they post something web-design related that I want to point my loyal readers toward. Today, however, I’m linking to Digital Web not because of a web design article, but because of a library-related article. The library angle?

I’ll discuss ways to navigate some of the clutter of older card catalogs (now ‘updated’ to the web); services like interlibrary loan that get you stuff from almost anywhere; some of the specialized database-driven applications you can’t affordably access from the outside world; and a host of other tools and issues you have probably never considered. In the end, you will come out a more agile designer and developer.

It’s basically about how to use your local library’s resources to save some cash and get some great material that just isn’t available anywhere else. It’s geared mostly to academic libraries (the author is a librarian at a university, so that makes sense) and it’s brutally honest about the challenges of navigating most library websites, but it is a great outreach effort to other disciplines to get more people into our libraries.
This is sort of what I’m trying to do by presenting at the NAGW conference this year, as a matter of fact. I deliberately chose a non-library conference to present my Web 3.0 stuff at because I wanted to share what libraries have to offer with non-librarians. No point in preaching to the choir, there… I’ll probably do a revised version of this presentation at library conferences, too, but the tone/direction will be different. It will be more of a “how to make your stuff EASY to use”, not “how to use what your local library has to offer” sort of thing.

Becoming 2.0

Bobbi and I finished up our 4-day workshop on all things Web 2.0 on Friday. I was surprised at how tired I got after each day of teaching, but it was also strangely invigorating, too. The students in the class were really engaged and willing to learn, although there was a lot of complaints about too-full-heads, I think they got some good information out of it and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do when they get back to their home libraries and get some time to put this stuff into practice!

Becoming 2.0 class hard at work

Becoming 2.0 class hard at work

What do you want?

I’m doing a bit of “audience testing” – if you all could request specific information in a book about collaboration 2.0 – anything at all – what would you like to see? I’m not promising I’ll include everything (it’s more of a booklet than a book so space is limited…), but I’d love to hear what you all are interested in and what would make you think this is a non-pass-upable bit of reading!

Rut bustin’ at the library

You all might know that I’m the Information Technology Manager for the Missouri River Regional Library. This means that I work behind the scenes a lot, making sure that computers are working, networked bits are flowing and that everyone has the technology they need to do their jobs. I also spend some time working on the PCC desk, our public computer service point, but that’s about the only interaction I get with patrons. Until today. We are pretty seriously short staffed, so when an email went out asking for help in the circulation department, I volunteered for a 2 hour shift. I have to say that I’m really glad I did.
I’ve worked circulation before – for a few minutes at a time and about 4 times over the past 10 years – so it’s been rare and short. Getting 2 solid hours to see the kinds of questions they get, the sort of needs they have and to actually talk to patrons who are using the technology I provide is pretty cool. I’m also doing a bit of dual-training. The Circ manager is working with me and is being incredibly patient as she’s training me, but she’s also picking my brain about various tricks she would like to use with our new Gmail interface to mail, so I’m training her on the use of our new email system, too! This is something I may try to do far more often – it’s been a great way to get me out of my all-computers-all-the-time rut (though I’ve been working on my Web 2.0 presentation in between patrons…) and into the main life of the library!