Library 2.0 – Koha – Response

March 10, 2010

OK, this is a red-letter date; look how long it’s been since I posted.

I just listened to the February 17, 2010 podcast of the Library 2.0 gang. Two of the participants, Francis and Richard, I didn’t know, but I’m somewhat acquainted with Talin, Nicole and John. I was able to hear Talin speak once, and I was generally impressed with his thoughts and apparent technical management abilities. John I know of through his position at PTFS, and Nicole, everybody in the know just knows.

Random responses to some of the discussion topics:

> Open-source projects need a corporate sponsor or organizer (position supported mostly by John).

Well, I’m not going to try to do any kind of scientific citation, but I would like to suggest that has been the case some of the time, and for other projects not. OpenOffice may be a good example–Sun bought/picked up some obscure word processing project way back when, and turned it into the successful Star Office and OpenOffice. I think, if my memory is correct, JBoss is another example.

But then Mozilla Firefox is a counter example. While they have their own foundation now (and have had for some time, of course), and have gotten some funding here and there from corporate sponsors, they are largely self-grown.

Organization of any open-source project is probably a worthy study topic for some grad student. The <lack of> organization of Koha, for example, is at best an example of decentralized management. LibLime (LL) might have been a potential focus point for Koha at one point, but since they have moved to a de facto closed-source, proprietary system (LibLime Enterprise Koha, LEK) the True Koha Community now shuns them. PTFS as corporate leader? Well, hum, maybe. If it happens, that would only come after their purchase of LibLime, which a little birdie says might happen yet if LL has the problems the rumor mill says they might. How would PTFS handle LEK, and how would they treat Koha? If it were in the manner of Red Hat and Fedora, that would be a great, but if they were to become LL 2.0, and perpetuate the facade of an open-source Koha project, then that would provide no organizational structure either. This brings us to Sirsi, which I’ll use as a transitional discussion point.

> Talin didn’t get the air time of the other gang members, but I tried to listen carefully when he did speak. He mentioned several times that he was considering Sirsi’s possible involvement with open-source ILS projects. I don’t think it could possibly happen that Sirsi would ever have any positive organizational effect on Koha; they, especially with their Vista owners, would just be too much out of their league. Talin also mentioned his, what, happy thoughts with regard to open-source. I frankly hadn’t been aware he entertained such, but I haven’t been following Sirsi much lately, so maybe, but the open-source train, including Koha, is zipping right along and if Sirsi doesn’t want to have to make a running jump for the caboose they better stop thinking and get themselves to the station.

I’ll reiterate one of my previous complaints; one of the reasons we are unhappy with Sirsi is that we are tied to Workflows, which doesn’t run on Linux. The server runs on *nix, and Java Workflows (JWF) runs on Windows and Mac, so why the Heck doesn’t it run on Linux? That simple little thing right there raises my blood pressure 25%. I remember a year or so ago they were floating the idea of porting JWF to Linux, and wanted to know if there was any interest, and I thought, “Why the Heck do I need to express and interest? Just port the thing and be done with it!” And while you are at it, why not open-source Workflows? It’s not like you could use it as is with any other ILS, and I even rather doubt that any of the code would be of great competitive advantage to other developers, but it would give you something concrete to point to as your effort to be agreeable with others.

But to get back to the point, Koha could benefit from some structure, and it appears that may be coalescing around their New Zealand/Katipo roots, with the various support companies and users participating more-or-less equally, without a single, strong central figurehead. Nicole made a couple of quick references to this. Unfortunately, the community is certainly resource poor at this point, maybe it will become the little locomotive engine that could.

> Talin also mentioned they have been working more closely with sharing development snapshots with their partners. I’m not sure what the benefits are for the end users, but what happened with the Bluesocket partnership? That went south with hardly a word of explanation. And heck, even Microsoft, the second most secretive, closed source corporation in the history of the world, has developer confabs. None of that compares to Koha, where you can get up-to-the minute development code, alpha or beta releases, or the stable version.

> Confusion over vendor lock-in vs product lock-in? No, we understand the difference.

> What is the community crying foul about? News to me.

>Talin mentioned possibly collaborating with the open-source community on things like indexing, crawling and search. That, to me, means exposing the database contents in a way that’s easier, more comprehensive and more open than Z39.50 or SIP/NCIP.

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New Phaser 3250 Printer

September 30, 2009

Kevin’s experiences with a new Xerox Phasar 3250

1. Unpack and setup – fine

2. Install CD with Linux installer – brownie points++

3. Run GUI installer –

“Sorry, you must be administrator to install this product.”

>>>Bad Xerox. BAD BAD. We don’t do that on Linux without prompting for a root password.

4. Login as root. Bad Xerox. Run installer. Discover that I could have bypassed the auto installer as a regular user.

5. Run installer. Can’t find the device on the network. (Kevin suspects it’s defaulted to a different network address than what we use, but the directions to print out a configuration page with the default IP don’t work).

6. Call Xerox. Yes, they have a tech support telephone number. xerox++

7. On hold less than three minutes. xerox++

Tech support:

Serial number?

>>>”123456″

Name?

>>>”Kevin”

Company?

>>>”Wizzy Library”

Address?

>>>”12345 Oak Street”

State?

>>>”Missouri”

Long pause. Keyboard clacks away. What is your state?

>>>”Missouri”

Long pause. Keyboard clacks away. Missouri?

>>>”Yes. “M” “O”.

Keyboard clacks away. So that is Missouri, right.

>>>”Correct”

OK. What is your problem today?

>>>Kevin thinks “Xerox”. Kevin says “I have a new Phasar printer and I can’t configure it for the network”.

OK. What happens when you run the installer?

>>>”It’s fine up to the point where it looks for a new printer and can’t find it.”

OK. What is your operating system?

>>>”Linux”

Long pause. Keyboard clacks away.

So is that running on a Mac?

>>>”Goodbye.”

8. Click


Apollo Computers

April 20, 2009

Anybody remember Apollo Computers? They made a high-end line of workstations, and semi-supercomputers, if I remember correctly, back in the 1980s. I don’t know the exact history of the company, but they became part of HP at some point, and then just faded away.

Google news (the aggregator, not the original source) reports this morning that Sun Microsystems has just been purchased by Oracle. In my mind, Sun is/was one of the greatest computer companies of all time. The quality of their hardware, and of Solaris too, is, well, it’s just great stuff. The company was a prodigious source of truly great, innovative products, particularly Java and all the associated tools and IDEs. We don’t know what will happen to the company now, but it’s not likely to be anything good.

What then, of the products under the Sun umbrella? MySql is open source, so it will continue quite well, Solaris is open source, so the operating system will still be around. Java is/is not (circle one) open source friendly (?) so it will still be available, but the snag is now that Oracle will control it’s development. We’ll probably lose the hardware within a couple of years, and that will be a real loss. Ah, an ode to the funky colors–purple and indigo and teal! And the cool Cobalt Raqs–the square boxes! Now, no more.

Strange how things work in business sometimes. In a day of commoditized computers, all black and beige and made in China, the nameplate on a nice Sun Fire stands out, and sometimes I feel like it deserves a salute. A departing salute.


Netbook

April 8, 2009

I want a netbook. I’ve been looking at several, and the MSI Wind caught my attention initially because Google had some good hits on it from a while back, but I don’t see much in the current news, and as near as I can tell they don’t sell one with Linux installed anymore.

I want a 10″ screen, and some non-white, non-black, non-nondescript color. Red would work, and a decent blue or green would be OK. So that leads to the Asus Eee PC, and the 1000HE in blue looks really good, except it doesn’t have Linux installed, although other models do. I’m still looking, but I may be forced to buy a computer with Windows to get the hardware I want, and then install a decent Linux OS to get it to work right. Just irritates the heck out of me that I can’t buy both, or at least a computer without an OS at all. Why pay the $75-$125 premium to MS for something I don’t want?


Google’s Lively

July 9, 2008

Google’s new Lively (2nd Life-like) DOESN’T support Linux.

May one million Pediculosis pubisies infest Sergy’s shorts.


Sirsi Workflows – Linux

July 2, 2008

Would someone care to tell me why Sirsi discontinued their listserv? I know lots of people must know, it’s just that I don’t.

I’m having trouble getting Java Workflows to run on Linux. It should be something easy, but here’s what happens:

>java -jar workflows.jar

1. That brings up the configuration window where you put in your server IP address, port, workstation, etc. Fine, that seems to work.

2. That brings up the login screen, where I’ve tried a couple of different known, valid logins. Fine, seems to work.

3. That brings up the Automatic Update Window, where you can choose to update the staff client or not. Using either selection results in the following, at which point it hangs permanently:

computer11:/home/jbisset/Jwf # java -jar workflows.jar
Exception in thread “main” java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: illegal component position
at java.awt.Container.addImpl(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Container.add(Unknown Source)
at com.sirsi.platform.graphics.MenuBar.addMenu(Unknown Source)
at com.sirsi.platform.subroutine.Subroutine.addMenuFromToolbar(Unknown Source)
at com.sirsi.platform.screen.SirsiFrame.init(Unknown Source)
at com.sirsi.workflows.Workflows.main(Unknown Source)
.

Additional info:

computer11:/home/jbisset/Jwf # java -version
java version “1.6.0_01”
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.6.0_01-b06)
Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM (build 1.6.0_01-b06, mixed mode, sharing)

Any ideas?


Morning Hit List

June 11, 2008

OK, we have two companies on the morning S* List, both there for blatant near-sightedness and stupidity.

Apple

I needed to download QuickTime for Windows XP so I could load it on a couple of systems. The problem is that I was using my Linux workstation for the download, of course, and I intended to transfer it to a shared Samba drive, but no matter what clicky dance I tried on freaking Apple’s web site it would only offer me the OS X version of QuickTime. How completely obtuse is that? I hate companies that presume things about me based on my geolocation or operating system. Why couldn’t they have had the simple, rational inteligent option of permitting the downloading of either version? It’s not like the OS X version is going to run on Linux anyway, so gimme a choice. <insert lineage descriptor here>. Just another reason to avoid QuickTime altogether. Experiences like this are always on my mind when I make purchasing decisions.

AWE

They sure are, for not all the right reasons either. AWE makes the Early Literacy Station, which has become quite popular in sales to libraries. In short, it’s a standard Dell computer with about 35 standard children’s games loaded on it, with a custom interface to lock you out of the XP (I assume) OS. Fine. My quibble is with their pig-headed use of the image of the system on their web site. You see, we have a demo setup of the system for parents and we were going to do a little promotional poster and display it next to the computer. So we came up with a couple of bullet statements about how cool it is (?) and I was going to add AWE’s site pic of the system to our poster. Strictly in-house, one-time use of the image which should have been covered under the fair-use doctrine, and for promotion of AWE’s product. The <repeat lineage descriptor here> have used some scripting to prevent downloads of the image, so we had to use some generic clip art graphic to add a bit of color and visual interest to our poster. So to frell with AWE I added a statement to the effect that the system was way overpriced at $3,325, but the taxpayers paid for it so who cares. That’ll learn ’em. Geez, are they afraid some competitor will take their image and rebrand it or something? They should be offering dozens of pics of their system with some reasonable usage clauses for promotion. What’s with knuckleheads that are so obsessed with secrecy?

I didn’t have time to take a good look at the code yet, but I suppose I’m fairly adept at downloading images that people try to lock out, so I may take some time and see if I can pull it off just to spite them. Maybe I’ll put some text on it like: “SUPERIOR Children’s Educational Station”, and a web link to some other vendor’s web site, and post it to Flickr. Or maybe I’ll just point out that it costs $3,325 to all the taxpayers I meet.