Posts from 2008

Macs and fast hibernation

Tim Bray talks about the compelling nature of the fast hibernation feature of Mac laptops: I remember like yesterday, sometime in early 2002, watching Rohit Khare at a conference, popping open his Mac every little while to take a note, then shutting it again. I was still a Windows victim at that point, and I was flabbergasted; that was the single feature that weighed most heavily in my decision to switch.

Paul Walk , December 20, 2008

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I think I might be allergic to lists and awards

Warning: highly subjective opinion-piece and a plea for enlightenment follows: no useful information imparted here.... A little while ago, my blog got nominated for an award. A single nomination was enough to put it onto a shortlist, made available for public voting. I have been thinking about what this means.... or doesn't mean. At the same time, I've been thinking about those lists of 'must read' blogs which I come across from time to time - (inevitably, a more recent trend is for lists of 'Twitterers you should follow').

Paul Walk , December 11, 2008

Europeana, numbers and scalable architectures

I just got around to reading the press release issued after the collapse of Europeana (previously the more easily pronounced 'European Digital Library') following its launch a couple of weeks ago. If you go to the site now, you are greeted with the following message: The Europeana site is temporarily not accessible due to overwhelming interest after its launch (10 million hits per hour). We are doing our utmost to reopen Europeana in a more robust version as soon as possible.

Paul Walk , December 9, 2008

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Library hackers FTW

Yesterday I went along to Mashed Library UK 2008 in London. Quickly abbreviated to 'mashlib', the event was the brain-child of Owen Stephens. Owen did most of the organising, aided by David Flanders who provided the space at BirkBeck college, and our excellent events team at UKOLN. The event was sponsored by UKOLN, using funding from the JISC. I thought the balance of activities on the day was excellent - a healthy mixture of short presentations, demonstrations and a good amount of hands-on hacking.

Paul Walk , November 28, 2008

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Infrastructure

I was recently invited to join the JISC Resource Discovery Infrastructure Taskforce - the first meeting was yesterday. We had been given some background material, and a couple of people ( Owen Stephens and Paul Miller) were asked to present ideas around this general area, but the main order of the day was to establish terms of reference and some guiding principles. I had fondly imagined that this would be a fairly rapid exercise - more or less a bureaucratic process before we got down to the nitty-gritty of what problems we needed to solve and how we were going to solve them.

Paul Walk , November 26, 2008

One-way bridges and interim solutions

In my previous post about QR codes I made a couple of points which, after receiving some interesting comments, I'd like to expand on. I see them [QR codes] occasionally on blogs/web-pages but I just don’t much see the point of that Shortly after making this point, I suggested on a UKOLN internal mailing list that it might make more sense to include a QR code in a cascading style sheet provided for printing, rather than viewing on the screen.

Paul Walk , October 28, 2008

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Quite Resourceful?

I spent half an hour this morning experimenting with QR barcodes, prompted by Andy Ramsden who is running a small test/survey. I used various iPhone clients to try to decode and make use of three QR codes printed on a sheet of paper. Each of the three codes encoded different information - a URL, a simple string of text, and an SMS message with mobile number respectively. It transpires that the iPhone does not make a first-class QR decoder.

Paul Walk , October 24, 2008

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Why I suppose I ought to become a Daily Mail reader

It's Sunday evening.... Brian Kelly recently resurrected the debate about Facebook and its use in an HE context. I know he's on the road at the moment so I suspect he dipped into his blog post 'reserve' for this one ;-). My initial reaction was to smile and move on, but I was caught more by a couple of the comments, from Mike [ comment] and Marieke [ comment] (both people I know and respect), which have stung me into responding.

Paul Walk , October 19, 2008

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Any any any old data

Over on ZDNet, Paul Miller has blogged some thoughts about what he calls the 'Data Cloud'. He points out that in the evolution of the 'cloud computing' paradigm, the: ...emphasis for much of this wider discussion remains firmly rooted in the realm of computation and storage. On many levels it’s about offloading the costs of scaling and maintaining local infrastructure, and ‘data’ doesn’t really enter the conversation at all. Something is ‘stored,’ but it’s a nameless, faceless, shapeless something that merely exists in order to be stored or computed upon.

Paul Walk , October 7, 2008

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COPAC gets RESTful

Just a quick pointer to the really encouraging announcement from the COPAC development blog that individual COPAC records are now addressed with a persistent, and RESTful(ish) URL. The example given is: ...the work "China tide : the revealing story of the Hong Kong exodus to Canada" has a Copac Record Number of 72008715609 and can be linked to with the url http://copac.ac.uk/crn/72008715609 The records are marked up as MODS XML - but this of secondary importance to me compared to the fact that the records are easily and reliably addressed.

Paul Walk , October 1, 2008

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All models are wrong, but some are useful

In the latest edition of Ariadne the JISC Information Environment (JISC IE), and that diagram in particular, get taken to task by Tony Ross in an article called Lost in the JISC Information Environment. Tony takes a look at the origins of the JISC IE, or more particularly its technical architecture, and asks a series of searching questions about its purpose and effectiveness. I think he does a good job of highlighting some of the difficulties inherent in trying to conceptualise an environment in which the supply of resources is necessarily distributed and the requirements of users are multifarious.

Paul Walk , August 21, 2008

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Did Google just make me look like an idiot?

Commenting on the Google Apps outage last week, John Proffitt, IT services director at APTI, an Alaskan public TV station, said: "It was constant troubleshooting, testing, research, posting to the Google Apps forums and so on. Plus there's the emotional strain of wondering whether you completely screwed up by moving everyone to Google Apps as our sole e-mail system. That's what freaked me out: Did Google just make me look like an idiot?

Paul Walk , August 17, 2008

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Expectations of Facebook

A really interesting and useful comment over on Brian's blog from Nicola Osborne talking about the rationale behind surfacing SUNCat in Facebook. I had made the point, earlier in the thread that EDINA's decision to invest a little in creating a facade for SUNCat on Facebook's 'platform' was probably a smart move in terms of marketing.... but nothing more than this. Getting your application 'out there' to 'where the users are' is a pretty standard marketing strategy.

Paul Walk , August 17, 2008

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Blog commons?

Update: Wordpress is no longer used to host this blog. The following is entirely historical. You may have noticed that I have included a statement on this blog's ' home-page' to the effect that: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. This is standard blurb from the Creative Commons (CC) site. In the context of my blog this means - well, what exactly?

Paul Walk , July 25, 2008

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Friendship or nothing

I've just been invited in FaceBook to join something called a 'blog network'. The invitation purported to come from a well-known blogger - someone I'm happy to be associated with. I accepted the invitation, which caused the FaceBook to announce to anyone who cared to notice that I am now a fan of that particular blog. Err - 'scuse me? I just joined a 'network' - I didn't make any value judgement other than that which can be implied by my joining this network - and I don't think I implied I was a fan.

Paul Walk , July 18, 2008

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JISC Innovation Forum 2008

I was invited to my first JISC Innovation Forum which took place over Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and was held in Keele University. Apart from a smattering of light duties - a couple of meetings, helping to 'referee' a session (more later) and taking turns to staff the joint UKOLN / CETIS / OSS Watch / TechWatch stand, I was free to get stuck into the real business of this event which was, for me at least, learning & networking.

Paul Walk , July 17, 2008

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Teenagers and continuous partial attention....

Via my colleague Brian Kelly's post, I read Catherine O'Brien's How the Google generation thinks differently on the Times Online site (Brian gets cited offering advice on parenting in a digital age!). I enjoyed the article, but one sentence in the middle caused me to reminisce about my own childhood, and my approach to 'doing' homework: The experience with which my generation grew up, of absorbing oneself in a single book and allowing its themes to meander into the mind before forming considered judgments, is in danger of being eclipsed by the new, digital world order.

Paul Walk , July 9, 2008

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Repository Architecture 83

At a JISC workshop last Thursday I was invited to present some ideas around an architecture to support and exploit repositories in the UK. I gave the presentation the title Repository Architecture #83 ;-) My intention was to suggest some starting principles and then explore how they held up in the face of real-world issues. Here is the slide where I outlined these principles: I also asked the question: "do we actually need a new architecture?

Paul Walk , July 7, 2008

The opportunistic developer is allergic to soap

For some time now I've been thinking about what I think of as the ascendency of the opportunistic developer in web application development. The phrase has unfortunate connotations for those who remember the 'personas' meme from some years ago when it was revealed that Microsoft had characterised three type of developer for three of its software development products. [ 1] and [ 2]. This post is not directly related to these archetypes (the opportunistic developer was called 'Mort' in the meme, a name which has become derogatory).

Paul Walk , June 9, 2008

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Personal profile portability

I haven't minted a TLA for ages - I think I might be the the first to come up with PPP for Personal Profile Portability as a convenient handle to wrap around the current flavour of 'data portability' being touted by the major 'walled-garden' social network sites. Both MySpace and Facebook have recently launched initiatives to open up a little....but not too much. MySpace has announced its Data Availability project with some major partner applications.

Paul Walk , May 18, 2008

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