Since I just spent the last day doing electrical work around my house (I now have not one, not two, but eight new grounded outlets, plus a light in my closet and living room), I am a bit peaked and have little of interest to spout on about. So, I am going to show just how geeky I am (pretty darn, yet surprisingly unskilled) and talk about the bugs I have encountered using free online tools for work.
It seems like eons ago that I first noticed del.icio.us’ problems with capital letters. All of a sudden one day, I stopped getting stuff in my network–and since I was getting regularly told about all the great stuff sig. other or b.f. at work were sending me, that was a bit of a problem. I figured out what was going on fairly quickly, because the change happened right after del.icio.us implemented some upgrades to the networking capabilities. Whenever someone posts something, the people they watch or have ever sent something to appear as for: tags in the posting screen. So, theoretically, clicking on this tag will send the person that link. Well, all of those tags are in lowercase letters, even if, like me, you have a capital letter in your username. And, guess what? If you have a capital letter in your username and someone tries to send you a link without editing the for:tag, you will never get the link. I naturally contacted del.icio.us about this, but it appears to be a bug they can’t or haven’t resolved. The capital/lowercase makes a difference in regular tags, too–Libraries is not the same as libraries, and Google not the same as google. That’s actually a really good feature, if you are the type of person who wants to make a distinction in terms by using capital letters.
I’ve also noticed that del.icio.us has some problems with intersections. Very, very rarely, you might run across a link where a combination of terms, say social+networking+libraries, doesn’t pull up every link you tagged with that combination of terms. For the most part, it works perfectly, though, so I continue to use it and trust that I don’t miss anything.
At work, I have been working on a project to put resources on a web site for faculty. The dean who wanted me to help develop this web site was looking for a static list of books and articles on various topics, like professionalism and leadership. Being the rebel that I am, I just couldn’t stomach the idea of putting up a web site that was so 1995. I decided to go for syndicating RSS feeds on the site: one for books and one for articles. The articles would be PubMed RSS feeds (so not chosen by hand), but the books would be the library’s new holdings.
But then I realized that the feeds weren’t caching–in any tool I tried. Every single time the feed updated, the old stuff would disappear. If there was one article in that update, only one article would show. So, I hit up my RSS expert pals again, who in turn hit up their RSS expert pals (I really love the biblioblogosphere, let me tell you). I tried FeedJumbler (supposed to have a built in caching tool)–didn’t work. FeedCatch (a FeedShake product that may not exist anymore)–also didn’t work. That one wouldn’t even recognize that my PubMed feeds existed, due in large part to the fact that they don’t pass an RSS validation. I ran it through FeedBurner–no dice. Using Feedsplitter and Feed2JS’s native caching also didn’t work. I am still working on this problem, which is primarily a problem because I am really not a systems person and have no clue whatsoever about any of this stuff. Which is why I rely so heavily on the advice, good will, and kindness of others. I am pretty sure the best solution will be to stick the RSS feed into a blog and then yank the feed from the blog. I know that the PubMed to blog thing works, as I have seen it in action several times now. I just have to butter up the people who help me with this at work a little more. Perhaps a nice cheesecake or something… I also plan to try this out with Yahoo! Pipes, especially since I haven’t gotten a chance to test it yet myself.
But, whining about this to my library technology expert pals brought me yet another amazing act of kindness. A friend built me a WordPress blog that accomplishes everything that BlinkList had–book jackets, ratings, tags, description fields (for the call number), and more. I haven’t quite decided to go with that solution yet, because of the need to install an enterprise version of WordPress here first, but it is simply unbelieveable to have people be so willing to help me out from across the country. (Thank you!)
And, now, I’ll wrap up today’s installment by again thanking everyone who helps me so generously every day–starting with the H.D. boyz (C., A., P., and the other C.), and ending with my three most constant technology saviors and co-enthusiasts (D., B., and J.). Thanks.