Tomorrow, I head down to Hamilton for Access 2008. The programme looks great and I’m looking forward to meeting a whole bunch of new people there. I’ve been experiencing a conference drought for the past few years – the last one which I attended was the 2005 Ottawa Linux Sympsosium – so it will be nice to once again get that huge boost of energy and enthusiasm that I take away from these types of events.
Archive for September, 2008
Peter Murray has an excellent analysis of the Zotero lawsuit in this blog post of his. The highlight:
“I’d note that it doesn’t look like the Thomson legal team actually had anyone look at the Zotero code. The complaint alleges that “users of Zotero [are freely converting] the EndNote Software’s proprietary .ens style files into open source Zotero .csl style files and further distributing such converted files to others.” That isn’t happening. Zotero is reading the .ens style files into internal data structures in the browser, but it is not converting .ens style files to .csl style files and storing them on disk. Nor is Zotero or anyone associated with Zotero redistributing .ens style files.“
On a less optimistic note, I was also reminded that Virginia, the state in which this lawsuit was launched, was one of only two states to pass UCITA, which was soundly rejected by other states:
“UCITA has another indirect consequence that would hamstring free software development in the long term—it gives proprietary software developers the power to prohibit reverse engineering. This would make it easy for them to establish secret file formats and protocols, which there would be no lawful way for us to figure out.
“UCITA does not apply only to software. It applies to any sort of computer-readable information. Even if you use only free software, you are likely to read articles on your computer, and access data bases. UCITA will allow the publishers to impose the most outrageous restrictions on you. They could change the license retroactively at any time, and force you to delete the material if you don’t accept the change. They could even prohibit you from describing what you see as flaws in the material.“
It should be noted that UCITA was opposed by no less than the IEEE because they were concerned about the possibility of legal action of the nature of this Thomson Reuters lawsuit.
Will UCITA (or even the DMCA) be used by Thomson Reuters to justify their claims?
After recently stumbling across Johannesen’s criticism of MARCXML, another interesting blog entry regarding cataloguing crossed my RSS reader this morning.
This post on Inquiring Librarian talks about the possibility of RDA turning into yet another missed opportunity to sanely digitize cataloguing data:
“RDA is supposed to be “made for the digital world.” This is something I can completely get behind. But the drafts I’ve read (and I admit I gave up on them at some point, so maybe this has changed) don’t seem to me that they’re actually accomplishing that. It’s the right goal, but the products I’ve seen don’t meet it. And then it occurred to me: by “for the digital world” I think what the RDA folks actually mean is “catalog digital stuff” rather than “create data that can be used by machines as well as people.” I’m interested in the latter, so that’s what I was assuming they were interested in. But I’m now wondering if that assumption was false.“
If true, this is just sad. This isn’t just missing the boat; this is missing the boat by a decade (or longer).
“A significant and highly touted feature of the new beta version of Zotero, however, is its ability to convert – in direct violation of the License Agreement – Thomson’s 3,500 plus proprietary .ens style files within the EndNote Software into free, open source, easily distributable Zotero .csl files.“
If you’re an Endnote user and wish to move your existing citations to an open and accessible format, will Thomson Reuters let you? Or will you, too, be sued for trying to access and manipulate your own data?
Just one more reason to use open formats on free/open source systems.
The latest stable version of Evergreen, 184.108.40.206, can now be downloaded. It includes a whole bunch of fixes and is likely the last 1.2.3.x release before the 1.4 release candidates start becoming available.
In other news, I managed to import some sample MARC data into my 220.127.116.11 installation without too much trouble. However, I suspect that my Postgres password unhappiness isn’t limited to the installation procedure, which I had previously fixed. I’ll need to investigate this a bit further.
I have also started on an Evergreen ILS driver in VuFind. I haven’t progressed very far yet.
The folks over at Evergreen are busy getting ready for their 1.4 release. Apparently, the first release candidate will be ready for the end of September. In the meantime, they’ve also posted a video preview of their new acquisition system, which will be released in version 2.0.
I installed VuFind this morning, which was quick and painless. The only small snag I hit was with my chosen MySQL password, which included a ‘&’ character. The install script writes the password string to the config.ini file using a sed search-and-replace command. Unfortunately, the ‘&’ character in the “replace” part of the command inserts the original search string at that position (so sed -e “s/abba/cd&c/” would turn “abba” into “cdabbac”, as opposed to “cd&c”). I put together a quick-and-dirty one-line patch and fired it off to the mailing list.
I also checked out the SVN trunk of VuFind, Evergreen, and OpenSRF so that I may try both stable and development versions. I noticed that there’s still a need for an Evergreen ILS driver in VuFind, so I might make an attempt at putting one together.
Evergreen has installation instructions for Ubuntu 7.10. Using those same instructions, I have now managed to get it running on Ubuntu 8.04 without too much trouble.
Really, the only 8.04-specific trouble that I ran into was with the Staff Client, which wanted XULRunner 1.8.x (Ubuntu 8.04 comes with XULRunner 1.9.x). If it’s not beyond me, I might try to get update the staff client so that it can work out-of-box with 1.9.x.
My undergrad was spent in a lab, so most of my academic efforts were usually exported in the form of lab reports. Citations were never required (or useful) for those types of papers. When I began my MLIS in January 2008, I realized that I would need some help with my papers, particularly when it came to citation management. During my first week of school, I took a tour of the university library and was told about RefWorks, to which the university had a site-wide license. I don’t know how I would have got through my first term without it.
It is only now, after two terms of school, that I have been made aware of an open source alternative: Zotero. It’s available as a Firefox plugin and has taken a very different approach to citation management. While the current version has some disadvantages in comparison with RefWorks (notably: your data is stored on your local machine, and therefore inaccessible from other computers), they should be addressed by the time I head back to school in January.
What follows is a brief list which I drew up of the pros and cons of Zotero when comparing it to my previous experience with RefWorks. Something tells me that by the time I head back to school in January 2009, Zotero will replace RefWorks as my citation manager. (more…)