July 30th, 2010 by Michael Sauers

One of the many “benefits” of eBooks I heard about is that eBooks will make books “more social”. What with the ability to post what you’re reading online (not an actual feature yet), or being able to see where you friends are within a book (not an actual feature yet), or see the comments and highlights of others within a text (ah, that is an actual feature of the Kindle right now), books will become “more social”. Or will they?

This strikes me as implying that books aren’t social enough already. Great I can look to see what someone has highlighted online. Instead why don’t I just ask them what they thought of the book.

But more importantly there’s this observation:

But until then, I confess, I will be a little depressed. I don’t want to think about all the great books I’m going to miss, simply because I can’t see what everyone around me is reading. I don’t want to envision the drab, colorless plastic future ahead of us.

Seriously, as a reader which of these two photos would bring more of a smile to day?


Granted, not being able to do this does increase reader privacy. Hence the large number of erotica purchases in e-format.

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July 29th, 2010 by Michael Sauers

During my TechTalk webinar yesterday I mentioned, yet again, the need for good passwords. In the past I’ve shown sites that will create a good password for you, and sites that will rank you good, or bad, you password is. But yesterday I demoed HowSecureIsMyPassword.net. Instead of telling you whether your password is good or bad, it tells you how long it would take a desktop computer to crack your password.

imageFor example if I enter one of my standard 10 character passwords it tells me that it would take about 163 days to crack. Adding just one character of punctuation to that password (adding, not replacing, to make it an 11 character password) changes that result to 1,000 years. It’s still telling you how good or bad your password is but doing so in a very different way.

So, what’s the breakthrough? Already this morning I’ve had two of my co-workers who attended the webinar come into my office and tell me that they’d used the site and how good, or bad, their passwords were and how they were glad that they had already changed them or would be doing so today. I’ve also heard other conversation about passwords from down the hall with other co-workers.

So, if you’ve been having “the conversation” about passwords in your library and feel like you’re not getting anywhere, trying showing them HowSecureIsMyPassword.net and let me know if you get the same results.

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July 28th, 2010 by Michael Sauers

Here’s my post for the Library Day in the Life project.

6:30am Alarm goes off and 6-7 minutes I’m in the shower

6:50am Phone, iPod and lunch packed, I’m in the car and off to work.

7:00am Parked on the street six blocks from the office where the free on-street parking starts. Nice walk to the office. (Which totally sucks in the winter.)

7:15am In the office and turning on at least two of the three computers on my desk. Unpacking various objects from my bag. Logging into e-mail, Google Reader and HootSuite.

7:30am Diving into the e-mail, tweets, and feeds. This can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on what else I need to accomplish in a particular day.

8:00am Checking for any last minute registrations for today’s NCompass Live webinar that I’m hosting. Doesn’t look like anyone registerd after 10:30 last night when a co-worker stopped checking. Also need to go through some last-minute e-mails regarding the afternoon webinar I’ll be hosting for one of our regional library systems. Continue working through blog feeds and bookmarking more items for the morning webinar.

9:00am Starbucks run with co-worker.

9:30am Login to GoToWebinar account and make sure everything’s working. Greet people as they arrive in the session.

10:00am-11:00am Run Webinar which includes a presentation from and interview with Bobbi Newman regarding Transliteracy and The Librarian Day in the Life project.

11:00am Webinar over, check Twitter for #ncomplive hashtag for feedback, bookmark more sites mentioned in the session, start the conversion process of the Webinar recording, catch up with e-mail that came in during the Webinar.

11:30am Lunch in the break room

12:00pm Back to desk, for another e-mail and feed check. Mostly to see if there are any last minute issues regarding the afternoon webinar.

12:15pm Head down to meeting room to login to GoToWebinar again to get the news session started.

12:30pm While waiting for attendees to log in, write this blog post up to this point.

1:00pm Regional System’s Webinar starts. (I’m really just attending this one to run the software (since it’s the commmission’s account) and to deal with any technical issues that may arise.

3:30pm Passed of hosting of the Webinar to a co-worker. Back to desk, e-mail & feeds check. Finished writing this post.

4:00pm Walk back to the car (which also sucks in the heat of the afternoon) and head for home.

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July 27th, 2010 by Michael Sauers

On my way home yesterday afternoon I was listening to episode #176 of the Beyond the Book podcast from the Copyright Clearance Center. The episode featured two speakers on “Interactive Textbooks: Poised for Success?” The episode is only about 30 minutes long and I highly recommend it to anyone reading this that has anything to do with college textbooks.

What prompted this post however is something that presenter Jeff Shelstad of Flat World Knowledge said. His business publishes textbooks which are available in many formats (electronic and print), editable, and CC licensed. The electronic copies are DRM free yet “socially protected". What he means is that every PDF downloaded by a student contains the name of that student on every page. In other words, if that student starts passing it along, you’ll immediately know who did it.

I must say this is an interesting concept. I suppose it would make me think twice before sharing something I’m not supposed to. I’m not sure it would stop me from downloading the material though. 

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July 26th, 2010 by Michael Sauers

3252727498_b002dc08f8There are many problems I have with the state of copyright today. One of the central points is the idea that making a copy of something is the exact same thing as theft. I’m not saying there aren’t cases where copying is wrong but I’m not clear that it’s the same as theft. If I steal your bicycle, you no longer have your bicycle. That’s theft. If I make a copy of your bicycle, you still have your bicycle. How is that theft?

Ah, but some say that by making that copy the creator of bicycles has lost a sale, and therefore I have stolen the profit of that sale from him. Well, there’s some logic to that but let’s take that analogy out a few steps. (I’m not going to go into the “but that assumes I would have ever purchased a bicycle” counter argument. I’m taking this elsewhere.)

By this logic the following is also theft:

  • Borrowing a bicycle from a friend
  • Borrowing a bicycle from the library
  • Picking up a bicycle from a trash pile
  • Buying a used bicycle

In each of these instances the person who originally made the bicycle does not earn any money from my use of their product. Should any of these situations be considered theft?

Now, replace the word bicycle with a digital media of your choice. Is it still theft? 

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July 25th, 2010 by Michael Sauers

Slither by Edward LeeOn the off chance you weren’t already aware of this, I’m a book lover. So much so that I do collect limited editions, mostly of horror authors. I have a book bound in tie-dyed denim, one in circus tent cloth, and another bound in lizard skin. My most recent is one of 26 copies of Slither by Edward Lee. Although the binding is very well done, not like the typical hardcover you’d find in a Barnes & Noble, the real uniqueness of this edition if the metal slipcase with a hinged door. Yeah, reading an ePub version of this would be the same experience… Not!

(Click on the image for more photos of this book.)

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July 24th, 2010 by Michael Sauers

Twitter-LogoAs I write this I have 1501 Twitter followers and 567 people I follow. My account is public and open to anyone who wishes to follow me. Here are some thoughts on my process regarding followers and who I follow:

  • I only block followers who are obvious spammers.
  • Just because you’re a business doesn’t mean I’ll automatically thing you’re a spammer. Though I do wonder why a Toyota dealership in Des Moines decided to follow me this week.
  • If you have no avatar on your account I will not follow you.
  • If you have no bio on your account I will not follow you.
  • If you’ve not yet tweeted I will not follow you.
  • If you’re not a librarian I won’t hold that against you. Conversely, I won’t follow you just because you’re a librarian.

Some of this may seem harsh but I honestly can’t keep up with the 500+ people I follow already so I’ve got to be choosy when adding followers. (Though I am thinking of weeding soon.)

Oh, and one other thing about how I use Twitter. I treat it like a live conversation. If I wasn’t there I didn’t hear what was said. As a result I don’t go back through the Twitterstream and look for what I missed. I figure if it’s important enough someone will mention it to me the next time I’m “in the room”.

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July 23rd, 2010 by Michael Sauers

Ok, new rule: If the file you’re thinking of sending me is larger than 100k, do not put it in an e-mail attachment. Seriously! There are just better options that won’t cram my inbox and slow my Internet connection down to a crawl while it downloads via SMTP.

DropboxLogoHere’s what you do instead. Go to Dropbox and sign up for an account. Once you’ve got an account you’ve got a few options. The best one is to install Dropbox onto your computer. This will give you a Dropbox folder into which you can put anything. You’ll find a “Public” sub-folder into which you can put files you want to share. Once your file is there, right-click on it, select the Dropbox item and choose “Copy Public Link”. Paste that link into the e-mail you’re sending me. I’ll be able to download the file at my own convenience and much quicker from your Dropbox account.

Thank you.

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July 22nd, 2010 by Michael Sauers

We’re starting a new push our RSS feeds at the Commission and one of our target audiences is our own staff. Since Outlook is the state government platform for e-mail I figured a simple screencast on how to read RSS feeds using Outlook was called for.

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July 21st, 2010 by Michael Sauers

freeman03I buy a lot of books from small horror and science fiction publishers. One of my favorites is Cemetery Dance. (Full disclosure: for the past ten years I’ve had a contract with them to publish a book of mine. That’s a long story I’m not going to get into here.) One of their forthcoming books is The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman. I’ve ordered my copy and I’ve already started reading it. Wait. What? Let me explain.

Cemetery Dance is pulling what I’d like to call a “modified Doctorow”. While Cory Doctorow makes all of his books available online for free day and date with the release of print editions, Cemetery Dance this time is releasing a free eBook version and a free streaming audio version of this title in advance of the print publication. But only for a limited time. At some point prior to print publication the free versions will be removed from distribution.

Granted, once it’s out on the Internet it will never technically go away but I’m still intrigued by this. For decades now publishers have released printed bound proofs and advance reading copies. (Yes, those are two different things.) But this way there’s practically no cost for the pre-publication publicity and you get the content into many more reviewers.

Additionally, they’ve started a contest. Download and review the book this week on the Cemetery Dance site and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $100 Cemetery Dance gift certificate. For sure will I be posting a review later this week!

What’s more interesting for those not aware of how publishers like this work, here’s some more details on the e- and print editions:


  • An exclusive new interview with Ray Bradbury: "We Have Too Many Inventions!"
  • Comments from bestselling authors such as Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, William Peter Blatty, Jodi Picoult, Anne Perry, Jane Green, M.J. Rose, Douglas Clegg, J.A. Konrath, Seth Godin, Michael Marshall Smith, Scott Adams, and many others about eBooks and the future of publishing.
  • $5.00 off discount coupon valid on the purchase of the trade hardcover edition of The Painted Darkness for a limited time only! (So if you’re on this page to buy the book, go grab the eBook first and save $5.00 off your order!)
  • Author’s Afterword: "Did I Really Commit ‘Career Suicide’ By Giving The Painted Darkness Away For Free?"
  • Norman Prentiss interviews Brian James Freeman about The Painted Darkness

And three different versions in print:

  • Trade Hardcover Edition with full color dust jacket ($19.99)
  • Slipcased Hardcover Limited Edition of 750 signed (by Brian James Freeman and Brian Keene) and numbered copies bound in full-cloth and Smyth sewn with a tipped-in frontispiece ($75)
  • Traycased Hardcover Lettered Edition of 26 signed (by Brian James Freeman, Brian Keene, and Jill Bauman) and lettered copies bound in leather and Smyth sewn with a satin ribbon page marker and a different frontispiece ($175)

I’ll be receiving one of the 26 lettered copies which is already sold out.

Head on over and download it while you can. The rainy weather we’re having here in Nebraska is perfect for it. The rest of you will just have to use your imagination. 

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