New Open Access Journal newLIS in discussion

Finally I also joined the discussion about the idea of a new German open access journal in Library and Information Science (working title: newLIS). My colleague Karsten Schuldt described the ongoing discussion and its background in our Blog at HTW Chur (InfoWissChurBlog).

The main question is if we need another journal that could challenge the existing commercial journals.  The important German journal Bibliotheksdienst will be published by de Gruyter – and they set an embargo of 12 months (instead of 3 months so far). There are of course some independent Open Access Journals like LIBREAS or the Swiss RESSI, published mainly in French by our colleagues from Geneva. Do we need another one or should we support these existing platforms? I decided now to declare that I am ready to participate at the discussions and preparations for newLIS and not only talk about Open Access. I am convinced that it is very important that the new project is also supported by institutions like Universities (and their libraries) and the Universities of Applied Sciences.

There will be a good occasion for further discussions at our Infocamp in Chur on September 7-8: #icamp12. Who else is ready to join the discussion? You may contribute on the newLIS blog or in the Open Knowledge Pad.

Working with mobiles in a scientific context

Today I held a presentation about working with mobiles (especially the iPad) in an academic context at the assembly of Swiss Law Libraries in Porrentruy (canton Jura). The slides (in German) are published on SlideShare. I outlined the basic differences between working on a PC/laptop and on a tablet, namely the iPad. There are some apps you need, then it works quite well: especially Dropbox to store and access your documents from anywhere and from any device, and GoodReader to take notes and comments and to highlight in PDF files. If you are a member of a university access to licensed documents (e-books, e-journals) is easy with the integrated VPN connection. iCloud supports the synchronization of text documents (in Pages, but also in Word format), presentations (in Keynote, but also in PowerPoint format) and of spreadsheets from iPad to your PC or Mac. But iCloud is a proprietary service in the Apple ecosystem and not yet perfectly integrated into OS X. In OS Mountain Lion this issue should be solved, see „Documents in the Cloud“ on Apple’s homepage (www.apple.com/chde/osx/). There are also some apps supporting e-learning – like mTouch to work with Moodle, iTunesU for podcasts or Adobe Connect to participate to distant learning and video conferencing.

And I also mentioned tools to get and share information like Flipboard, Zite and Pocket or Mendeley for reference management. As a conclusion I think that tablets support learning and teaching well, but there are always some workarounds needed, for example to exchange documents with other platforms. And typing is faster and more comfortable with a Laptop, if you don’t want to carry a bluetooth keyboard around…

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Gray screen appears on iMac during startup – and how the problem was solved

Subtitle: the usefulness of a backup

On Friday I just had to print out a document on my iMac at home. When I wanted to start it, the well-known gray screen appeared – and didn’t disappear anymore… But I needed this document really instantly. The first thing I could do, was to plug the external hard disk with my backup into my laptop (MacBook Air). And to my surprise I didn’t have to restore it to my too small hard drive, but could browse through the files on the HD and finally found the needed document, opened it on my laptop and printed it out. Mac’s backup system Time Machine is really very useful, indeed…

The next day I tried all the steps recommended by Apple’s support on the page Mac OS X: Gray screen appears during startup in order to fix the problem.

  • I performed a safed boot – but it didn’t help.
  • I reset the NVRAM / PRAM – but it didn’t work.
  • I restarted from the install disk and performed a disk check and a disk repair – but the gray screen reappeared again.
  • I checked cables and power source, removed all devices, but had no third party RAM or internal hardware to remove.

So, there was only one thing I could do before buying a new PC: 

  • I inserted the utility disk, performed an erase of the hard disk and a new installation of the system from the backup.

I didn’t really believe that this could help. And I was glad to use Time Machine really seriously every day. So I didn’t risk a data loss when the operation went wrong (after erasing the HD). The procedure took four hours – then came the moment, when I restarted my iMac – and there was the login window! I could login, the system started as nothing ever happened… I just had to update some settings (E-Mail, Dropbox, iTunes) and I could postpone buying a new PC 😉

So have you already made a backup of your system today?

Zite: a personalized magazine

A new colleague at HTW Chur (thanks to Tanja) gave me a very useful hint: When I mentioned Flipboard as one of my favorite apps for the iPad, she recommended me Zite, another personalized magazine.

Zite, first page with list of sections

Compared to Flipboard it is more interactive and dynamic.

Zite evaluates millions of new stories every day, looking at the type of article, its key attributes and how it is shared across the web. Zite uses this information to match stories to your personal interests and then delivers them automatically to your iPad or iPhone.

…and also to your Andorid device, you can add. Customizing your Zite you connect it with your Twitter, Google Reader, Delicious and/or Pocket accounts. To bring the personal content, Zite keeps track of how you use the app (and they confirm that they won’t sell any of your personal data, but may use it to improve relevance…). After connecting Zite shows you some sections you may be interested – and in my case it worked. So I can choose from the sections Gadgets, Social Media, Technology, iPad, Mobile and others. Of course there is also a possibility to customize your magazine and add further sections. The difference to Flipboard is that Zite doesn’t only display the latest posts from Twitter, Facebook or Google Reader, but selects the most relevant articles from theses different channels. The source (Twitter, Facebook…) is not displayed. Flipboard’s strength is the very beautiful rendering of the difference sources. Zite looks more like a newspaper, but I like it nevertheless…

Personalization of an article on Zite

But Zite is more than that: You can rate articles („did you enjoy reading this?“) or confirm that you want more from the same contributor or on the same subject. Then Zite learns and  should give you even better personalized information that fit to your interests. Of course, Zite offers also the possibility to share articles on different platforms – from Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn to Evernote, Instapaper, Pocket or Delicious. Not bad at all… So there’s a chance that Zite could become one of my favorite apps…