Thursday, June 30, 2005

Update on the water...

We have soaked rugs, but very few wet books--mostly just splashed spines. Whew! (Of course, we are due for more rain this afternoon and evening!) The Reference area will be noisy for a few days as they try to dry out the rugs with vacuums and fans. Some sort of anti-microbial is also going to be sprayed around. But all the collection should still be accessible (and available for ILL copying for distance students).

I'll post again if anything else happens!

Update: For the curious, here are some pictures:

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Buley Library flooding

We've had some (hopefully) minor flooding, mostly on the first floor by the temporary wall separating the library from the construction area. Campus Police closed the library Wednesday night at about 5:15 pm due to safety concerns. Water and electricity shouldn't mix, and the water was still coming through the ceiling.

I have no idea how this will affect services in the library, but there should be no interruption of online resources. None of the computer servers are housed in the library itself. It may affect how easy it is to get in touch with people at the library, and in the CILS departments on the 4th floor.

We are definitely closed for Wednesday evening. I'll post updates as I find out more.

Monday, June 20, 2005

More Presentations sans PowerPoint

For those intrigued by Jenny's presentations that I mentioned in the original Presentations sans PowerPoint post, Eric and Katherine Meyer have a similar, though more complex, version at S5 produces gorgeous slides that are nearly indistinguishable from full fledged presentation software, and are available in a variety of themes (I love the nautilus shell in the Introductory Slide Show.) When you click on the zero-slash icon on the lower right, you get a text based version suitable for printing or screen-reading. (And even better, when you click Print, you automatically get the easy-print version in most browsers. No more page by page printouts!)

You can forward through the slides by clicking on the arrows or anywhere on the page, or by using the arrow keys on the keyboard. If you are using the Opera browser, it will display in the Opera Show format. All in a file that will actually fit on a floppy disk (the 11 slide intro is 95Kb zipped--so you could put several presentations on a floppy and unzip them on the computer you are using to display.) S5 is released under a Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike license (essentially, the code free to use and modify as long as you allow others to do the same and credit the Meyers with the original work.)

They have a primer (and more) on the website, which shows the details of modifying the HTML and CSS for your own presentations. If you don't know anything about CSS, this will seem a challenge, but it's much simpler when you don't have to create it from scratch. Really, if you just replace their materials with your content and stay within the div.slide sections (
, you can easily create your own 11 slide presentation without a fuss. Just add another section (copy and paste from a previous slide section) to add another slide. You can do it within web software like Dreamweaver, as well (just make sure you stay within the div sections to add your content).

Try Jenny's presentations to start, as the CSS is simpler, but if you are feeling confident, definitely try the Meyer's S5.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Yahoo! with a research MindSet

Yahoo! is testing a new search interface called MindSet ( By scoring websites (via a machine algorithm) into commercial and non-commercial categories, MindSet allows you to choose between selling-oriented "Shopping" and information-oriented "Research" results, depending on the intent of your search. A slider bar controls the focus.

I did a search for autism and teaching strategies. The slider is in the center, and the first result is an ad for a book, the second a FindArticles record for a research article from the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. Many of the first page of results are for the first book (including a "Find in a Library" result from WorldCat. Yay!)

When I move the slider all the way to the Research side, the results change. I get studies from university websites, bibliographies and articles from school and teacher organization sites, and a page from the Center for the Study of Autism. Unfortunately, the WorldCat result has disappeared from the first page. The WorldCat result is #64 (and the FindArticles article is #55). This will be my first comment to them!

As the FAQ explains, this is a demo project using the classification techniques with which they are experimenting. This started with a "seed set" of pages classified by humans, and the computers take it from there. There is probably a lot of tweaking going on, so if you try the same search you may not see the same results next week, or even later this afternoon.

I like the way this is going. Vivissimo and Clusty results clusters, Mindset's "search intent", Google's Personalized Search, these are all working to make searching work the way people think--I don't necessarily want to search the same way when I'm looking for a product to buy and writing a paper. For instance, I don't need to know every parent's complaints about the way their child's autism is handled by their school (unless that is the exact subject of my research, of course). But if I'm considering buying a new microwave, reading lots of individual complaints gives me a series of questions to ask the salesperson. ("I've seen 20 complaints that this model explodes if you set the timer for more than 15 minutes. Has the manufacturer fixed this?") I'd also like to see lots of advertising, to check the price range. When I'm looking for scholarly opinions about autism, I don't need to see 15 ads for the same book. I like the clustering and intent options better than Google's profile, however. I want to be able to change the "personalization" on the fly related to the search I'm doing right now.

If you have the chance, it's worth trying a search or two while you're doing your Internet research. You may find useful stuff a little bit easier, and you'll get a taste of the future.

Other discussions of Yahoo! Mindset and search personalization:
SearchEngineWatch: Yahoo Mindset Demo Allows "Intent Driven" Search Refinement
ResearchBuzz: Slider Searches, Yahoo Style
Geeking with Greg: Yahoo MindSet from Yahoo Research
Yahoo!Next: Yahoo!Mindset forum

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Friday, June 03, 2005

SCSU Server Downtime this weekend

From campus IT:
On Sunday, June 5th, the Campus Web Server will be taken off-line for hardware and software maintenance. Downtime will start at 8:00am and last until 10:00am. Services that will not be available due to this downtime include:

- The SCSU Website
- Websites hosted on
- Websites hosted on
- The "U:" network drive

Thank you for your patience during this downtime.

Matt LeSieur
UNIX Systems Administrator
Southern Connecticut State University
Administrative Computer Center

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

ID's and Passwords and Logins, Oh My!

This is an updated version of one of my early posts. I suspect I will end up posting a version of this at the beginning of each semester, since this is always confusing.

There are 3 important ID's and 2 important passwords that every distance student will need.

1) ID number--this is the 8 digit number beginning with 7 that is printed on your ID card (Hoot Loot card) if you have one. If you do not have a card, the number should have been sent to you with your registration materials. The Registrar's office or the Library Circulation department can provide you with this number if you do not have your registration materials. You will need this number in order to log on to the library databases, and to do certain network functions, such as resetting your network PIN. It is also called your Banner ID.

2) Network User ID--this is the first part of your email address, usually your last name, first letter of your first name, and a number. My User ID is hedreenr1. Combine that with and you have my email address. You will need this to log into My SCSU, which includes web access to your email, calendars, courses, and announcements. You can look up your User ID in the email lookup. (PS. You can set your campus email to forward to another email address in the Options tab of the My SCSU email.)

3) Online CSU ID number--this is the number you use for logging into Online CSU. Because this is currently set up as a separate system from the campus systems, you have a completely separate number. This number usually starts with 00. If you are having trouble logging into Online CSU try the Online CSU Login help page.

1) Network or Banner PIN--this password is for connecting to the network, Banner, MySCSU, and email. The default is your birthdate in 6 digit format, MMDDYY. If you are not able to log on using this or you have forgotten what you changed it to, reset your PIN.

2) Library PIN--this password is strictly for library use. To set your Library PIN for the first time, go to CONSULS (Library Catalog). Click on Login to Your Library Record. Enter your ID number and leave the PIN box blank, then click Display Record. You will get a screen to select a PIN. If you get an error message of "Invalid PIN" you have a PIN on file. If you do have a PIN number on file and can't remember what it is, call the Circulation Desk (203-392-5756) and ask to have your PIN deleted. You will then be able to select a new PIN. The Library PIN is used to access your library circulation record, library online reserves, and the online databases, and to request books from other CSU libraries. If you get an error message of "Patron record cannot be located", contact the Circulation Desk to check the status of your record.

The IT HelpDesk web page is They can help with problems with your ID number, User ID, and Network PIN, if the online functions do not resolve your login problems.