My Love-Hate Relationship with the iPhone

 

So it’s my third week into the iPhone saga, and I’m still wrangling with mixed feelings about it.

 

First the good.

 

The interface is nice.

 

There are a lot of apps. Everyone knows this. Cool apps, useful apps, fun apps, dumb apps. There are a lot of all of them. I’ve installed a number of free and paid apps, and they’re fun to play and experiment with. Take Shazam for example. I really appreciate the fact that people would make such a ridiculously useful application available FOR FREE. SplashID is a particularly good paid app. My old standby, iSilo, is here, but I don’t find the implementation to be quite as useful as it was on the Palm Treo.

 

Now let’s talk bad. I’ve talked about a lot of these before. I was kind of dreading some of these before making the jump to iPhone, so I knew they were there. They weren’t all surprises. I’m going to spend a little time writing about specific things I have encountered as a user.

 

I have to start with battery life. Have. To. I use my phone a lot, and I use it even more at conferences. During times when I can’t get a WiFi connection, I can still check e-mail on my phone. And I do. Regularly. I check my voice mail. I read books. I look up things on the web. I use text messaging a lot. The iPhone’s battery life leave a lot to be desired.

 

I’m currently three days into my first conference with the iPhone, and I find that I’m seriously modifying my behavior to work around the limitations of the device. I’m trying not to make as many calls. I’m definitely looking up far fewer things online. E-mail use is about the same as on my old device, but text messaging is down quite a bit. Seems that such a cool device would compel you to use it MORE, NOT LESS, but the reality is that I have to use it less than my old phone just to make it through the day. On my old phone, if the battery ran low, I just . . . you know . . . swapped it out with another one.

 

How ’bout that GPS? While I’ve been working my way through Chicago for this conference, I’ve turned the GPS on a few times, to check for restaurants, distance to conference hotels, etc. If you’re going to have a GPS, it needs to be least be, oh . . . how ’bout . . . accurate? In my experience, the GPS on the iPhone 3GS is anything but accurate. As I was riding to a conference hotel on the shuttle today, I check my location to see how close I was. My location on the map jumped by several blocks not once, not twice, but repeatedly throughout the trip. Oh, and that GPS really eats the battery.

 

Now let’s talk about syncing the device. I knew it was going to be bad. I didn’t know it was going to be THIS bad. I have a very basic need: I need to be able to sync calendar and contact data across the phone and multiple computers. I did a lot of advance reading, and it sounded like MobileMe was the way to go. I fought with MobileMe for days. I repeatedly wound up with duplicate contacts. As I moved through my circle of computers, by the time I made my way back to the starting point, I was repeatedly cleaning up duplicates. I tried merge, delete, replace . . . nothing seemed to do the trick. MobileMe failing me, I next turned to Google. I tried the calendar sync with some success. I tried the contacts sync and eventually wound up with 4 total contacts for each entry I had started with. Too much cleanup, so I’m back to just calendar sync. Beyond the duplicate data, these sync attempts also randomly deleted data. Sometimes part of a company name would be missing from the contacts list. Sometimes characters were be missing from calendar entries. This experience fails on so many levels that my frustration level has been through the roof. Staying up all night to achieve the most basic of functions isn’t really much fun.

 

Even the data that I can move between computers is at best clunky. I can (somewhat) sync calendars, contacts, and notes by connecting a cable and clicking a button. SplashID data sync requires a convoluted process whereby I have to set up an ad-hoc connection from the host PC and connect to that. iSilo? I have to turn on an internal FTP server to push data across since the hard drive in my iPhone doesn’t really want to act like a hard drive.

 

It’s frustrating that such an elegant and useful device has these shortcomings. I like the iPhone, but I don’t really feel that I’ve made a major leap forward. I feel that it has been primarily a trade-off of one set of shortcomings for another.

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OLE: The Open Library Environment Project

The Open Library Environment Project: Building an ILS for Service Oriented Architecture Integration
McCormick Place West, Room: W-196a

Beth Forrest-Warner, University of Kansas
John Little, Duke University
Robert H. McDonald – Indiana University
Carlen Ruschoff – University of Maryland

What is the OLE Project?

Community source alternative to current ILS

International participation from libraries and consortia
100+ institutions, 350+ individuals

Planning phase: September 2008 – July 2009

The goal is to have a reference implementation model available in 2011

Why OLE?

"Our current library business technologies cost too much and deliver too little. We need to rethink our services and workflows, and to use technology that enables innovation rather than locking us into the status quo."

There is a growing need for library systems to integrate with other enterprise systems: Financial, identity management, course management, content management

Library technology systems have not kept pace with changing users and a changing information environment.

OLE Campus

Manages locations
Manages resource subscriptions
Integrated into: course/learning management system, accounting, student/HR, consortia
Flexibility
Community Ownership
Service oriented architecture
Enterprise-level integration
Efficiency
Sustainability

Audience poll: What do you think is most critical to the future of your library? (From above list)
Respondents ranked Flexibility as being much more important than Sustainability.

Why OLE now?

Current ILS products are inadequate
Growing need for library systems to interact with other enterprise systems
Vendor consolidation

Community Source Projects

A group of institutions sign an agreement to contribute specific resources. Under this model there is an established level of buy-in as opposed to open source in which a community may or may not develop. The Community Source participants have an ongoing commitment to participation and support.

Have sustainability over the course of the product development
Invest in the community of practice for long-term support and development
Fosters innovation and shared knowledge
Coordinates institutional goals rather than individual goals

Looking at better integration and interoperability with campus enterprise systems – not just "tacking on". Why are we looking at our own patron databases? Those are campuswide functions. This will ultimately result in more efficient processes and better use of campus investments.

From Theory to Reality

Approximately 30 months build time.
The project will build on existing pieces.
RICE – Enterprise level middleware

Kuali Nervous System
Kuali System Bus
Kuali Enterpise Workflow
Kuali Enterprice Notification
Kuali Identity Management

Use Existing systems
Existing data feeds
Open ERM data
Shared database feeds

Two Year Timeline

Year 1 Deliverables (will focus on one of these)
Management of Electronic Resources Services
Leased and owned eContent
Peer Resource Sharing Services
Sharing content – peer to peer
Sharing workflow – consortial
Acquisitions
CRM

Year 2 Deliverables

Integrations
Orchestrations
Functional Scope

Risks of Participation

No CS project has yet failed, but . . .
Achieve consensus
Acquire sufficient resources
Deliver software of adequate functionality
Problems could arise with contract software
Adoption
Build sufficiently large vendor services community

Benefits of Participation

Cost savings
Access to emerging technologies
Use monetary resources in a productive and directly influential fashion
Leverage ROI on campus for enterprise systems

Build partners are agreeing to put some portion of OLE into production. At the end of the 30-month build cycle, it will be possible to close out at least one module from the legacy ILS in favor of an OLE module.

Cash Contributions Needed

$5.2 million total partner contribution
7 partners – $185k per year
6 partners – $216k per year
5 partners – $260k per year

To Be or Not to Be . . . DRM-Free

To Be or Not to Be . . . DRM-Free
McCormick Place West, Room W470b
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Opening statements from speakers

DRM – Digital management of digital objects; the policies and practices that surround the delivery; creator -> resource -> end-user. At the University of South Florida we currently have about 300,000 e-books: NetLibrary, eBrarary, Early English Books Online, etc. If the books are DRM-free, we buy those wholesale. We are buying fewer and fewer books that have barriers to use.

Question from audience: Can you currently buy just certain chapters of a book?
Answer: No

Some Problems with current eBooks
Visual verification
Printing
Having to login after you’ve already been "authenticated"
Software installations

Publishers frequently don’t own the copyright to the material that they’re making available. The author may license the content to the publisher. The publisher may have some control, but they have responsibility for protecting the content as well. For books that run through many editions, authors may not be willing to update the contract to accommodate new technologies.

Many libraries are seeing e-use up and print-use down. An audience comment notes that ease-of-use is a key factor driving this. Panelist notes that some libraries in underprivileged areas continue buying print simply because their clientele don’t have computers at home.

Vendor perspective: There are no standards for DRM. Some publishers are offering DRM-free content on their site, but they’re requiring the vendors to use it! Double standards from publishers.

 

Vendor perspective: There are no standards for DRM. Some publishers are offering DRM-free content on their site, but they’re requiring the vendors to use it! Double standards from publishers.

 

Publisher response: I let my kids do more in my own house than when they go to a friend’s house. When we control the content on our site, we can be a little more relaxed. When we license content to a vendor, we have a responsibility to copyright owners, too.

 

Publisher: If our books are so encumbered with DRM that they can’t be used, libraries will stop using our product. It behooves us to let our decisions be informed by the issues that libraries are facing.

 

Vendor perspective: Quality content still needs DRM. Publishers provide a service that blogging doesn’t really replace. Libraries select and purchase content that has value to their readers. Publishers are still struggling with ebook revenues. Print revenues are shrinking, and ebook revenues are miniscule. The new revenue models are not making up for falling revenues in the traditional models. Although publishers are embracing ebooks, they still have to find a way to survive. Piracy is still a significant problem for publishers. What is the appropriate level of DRM? There is a huge social cost when we lose quality content.

 

Audience comment: When technology comes on board without standards, there are always problems. This needs to be addressed as a joint effort between libraries, publishers, and vendors.

 

Will the market define the standards?

 

Publisher: As a publisher, I can’t see much plausibility in all publishers coming to an agreement on how to implement DRM.

 

Vendor: Springer Publishing is often cited as a positive example in the DRM arena. However, they’re currently up for sale. The argument was made that Springer’s model focused on short-term revenues where other publishers are focusing on long-term survival.

Audience comment: Some countries essentially don’t have copyright laws. They don’t understand the concept of copyright, and they don’t see why they can’t just share everything they find on the Internet.

Audience question: What are some of the different forms of DRM?

Visual verification

Login name and password

File tethering to a certain device

File encryption

Limiting access (viewing, printing, copy/paste)

Watermarking (doesn’t prevent anything, but it serves as an identification)

 

This watermarking approach sometimes links files to specific institutions. If a publisher suddenly sees dozens of files watermarked for a particular institution appearing on freely available websites, they can address security/DRM issues with that particular institution.

 

Problem for publishers with Google Books

The Google Book project requires publishers to make 20% of the content available through the site. This amount is non-negotiable. For publishers of reference works, this is practically untenable because the nature of the work lends itself to snatch-and-grab use. People just need a quick fact and then they move on. If 20% of a reference work is available, this significantly impacts the publisher’s revenue stream.

 

For publishers what is the final measure? Do you get more or less revenue from DRM-free content? Once you have the numbers, then you have a basis for comparison and can make intelligent decisions.