Living with the iPad Part 1: Changing Habits

 

After I finally convinced myself that I wanted an iPad, I vaguely expected that I would use it primarily as a larger form factor of my older, smaller handheld devices. I figured I would download a lot of the classics and enjoy them on a more book-sized screen. I’ve been playing with my iPad for just under a week now, and I’ve already noticed several changes in my reading – or perhaps more accurately – book acquisition habits.

 

First, and perhaps most significantly, I finally bought an e-book. Heretofore all of my e-book reading has been of out-of-copyright material that I could find on any of a number of e-book websites. However, I finally purchased one with the advent of the iPad. Actually I decided to make the purchase in the week leading up to product delivery, and I settled on Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic.

 

(Here’s an interesting tidbit about this one. I’ve been wanting to read the Discworld series for quite awhile, but every time I check in a bookstore, they never have the first novel. Well of course I could just order it, but who wants to wait? Instead I usually just pick something else. So I went to purchase this title through iBooks, and I was surprised that it wasn’t there. Well that certainly threw a wrench in my gears, so I went for another series only to find that it wasn’t there either. I came back to Terry Prachett the next day, and I found that the book really was there: It was listed as The Color of Magic instead of The Colour of Magic. Interesting little “gotcha” there.

 

Next, I’ve been poking around a bit in an area that I haven’t visited in a long, long, time: comic books. Both Marvel and DC have very nice apps, and the iPad is a great platform for viewing comics. The rich, vivid colors and crisp screen make even old comics seem fresh and vibrant. (And of course a good story is always a good story.) So far I’ve just read a few free comics. I haven’t actually bought any comics yet, and I may not in the future. But that’s not the point. I walk past comic books all the time and never pick one up or give it more than a passing glance. Because of the iPad though, I’ve read a couple of titles in a genre I haven’t explored in years.

 

When I was in the airport yesterday heading for ALA, I walked past the bookstore. Walked past it. Didn’t stop. That’s unusual for me. I actually buy quite a number of books from airport bookstores during waits and layovers. At the very least I spend a lot of time browsing. This time I did neither. I just walked on by with the knowledge that I can grab a lot of titles over the air whenever I like. I’ve done this for out-of-copyright books for years, but now that I’ve made the leap into more recent titles, the world – as they say – is my oyster.

 

Finally, I have to say something about iBooks. I’ve read books on PDAs and smartphones for years. The screen is small, but it works, and I’ve read hundreds of books this way. iBooks is changing that though – not by completely replacing the handheld – but by enhancing it. iBooks provides the option for syncing bookmarks, highlighting, and notes between the book on my iPad and the iBooks application on my phone. In the short term, this has meant that when I wrap up a reading session on the iPad, I can pick up in exactly the same place in my book even if I don’t have the iPad with me.

 

It will be interesting to see how things play out with the iPad over the next couple of months. These are pretty minor changes admittedly, but I’m still at less than a week on the platform. I wonder what the future will bring?

 

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Cloud Computing for Library Services

Saturday, June 26, 2010

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Washington Convention Center – 143A

 

Twitter hashtag – #litacloud

 

This session was presented as a panel discussion followed by a lightning round followed by another panel discussion. Some of the panelists included:

 

Marshall Breeding, Vanderbilt

Karen Coombs, OCLC

Terry Reese, Oregon State University


 

Cloud computing: characteristics

 

NIST Definition – http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SNS/cloud-computing/

on-demand self-service

broad network access

resource pooling

rapid elasticity

measured services

 

Gartner definition

service based

uses internet technologies

shared

scalable and elastic

metered by use

 

Cloud computing is not merely a delivery method.

 

Cloud based software-as-a-service

software delivered via the cloud

 

Cloud based platform-as-a-service

platforms (LAMP stack, Ruby on Rails stack, etc.) delivered via the web

 

Cloud based infrastructure-as-a-service

 

www.heroku.com – Heroku provides an online development/testing platform

Requires a Ruby on Rails application that you’re uploading.

Heroku is using Amazon’s online services as the infrastructure for their own platform as service.

 

Marshall Breeding, Vanderbilt University

 

Continuum of Abstraction

Locally owned and installed servers

Co-located servers

Co-located virtual servers

Web hosting

Server hosting services

Application service provider

Software as-a-service

Platform-as-a-service

 

Cloud computing – formal definitions

Highly abstracted computing model

Utility model

Provisioned on demand

Scaled according to variable needs

Discrete virtual machines

Compute cycles on demand

Storage on demand

Elastic – consumption of resources can grow and contract on demand

 

Hosting Services

Web Hosting

Web site only

Standard support for PHP, Perl, and other dynamic page generation

Dedicated Server

Appropriate for applications that have not been tested and deployed in a virtual environment

 

Advantages

Increasing opportunities to eliminate local servers and tech support

All of Serials Solutions’ offerings are delivered as software-as-a-service

 

Liblime

Liblime Enterprise Koha deployed in Amazon EC2

LAMP stack implemented on Virtual Machine Image

Ability to meet larger site requirements through high-performance cloud-delivered platform

 

Karen Coombs, OCLC

 

Cloud, Community, Collaboration

 

Collaboration in the Cloud

Infrastructure and tools exist to facilitate better collaboration across libraries

Beak down boundaries between developers in different libraries

Infrastructure alone is not enough. We have to change the ways libraries collaborate.

 

Transparency and the Cloud

Documentation of cloud application’s infrastructure and capabilities

Web services to as many aspects of the application as possible

Standards based systems (web standards, not library standards)

Blackboxes in the cloud diminish the real power of the cloud – collaborative innovation

 

Software in the Cloud

Ability to develop in potentially a device and platform independent way

computers, smart phones, single-purpose devices like e-readers

Creates opportunity for geater scalability

Relives the burden of installation and updates

Shared software, libraries, and infrastructure

Don’t have to develop all of these core services locally

 

Software Development and the Cloud

Cooperative development

Open source projects have been doing this for some time

Shared development effort

Ability for institutions and individuals to participate in different ways

Crowd Sourcing

Testing

Coding

Systems are designed in a modular fashion to allow developers to extend them.

 

Terry Reese, Oregon State University

 

Moving Library IT to “International Waters”

 

International waters – the idea that in some environments, a completely different set of rules apply.

 

Shared IT Resources Are Hard

IT resources (staff and hardware) represent a finite and expensive resource

Disks are cheap until you get a lot of them

Server cycles are expensive because they are finite within a given infrastructure

Possibly the biggest barrier is organizational

While projects will have multiple partners, one partner has the responsibility for managing and support the infrastructure.

 

With cloud computing you can move the project outside the organizational bureaucracy and into international waters where projects can function unencumbered.

 

With freedom comes options:

Add new partners at will

Partners determine how resources are managed; if you change you mind, that’s fine.

Allows a project to “think bigger” because most cloud resources will scale almost at will.

 

DuraCloud – DuraSpace

A hosted service and open technology to help organizations and end users effectively utilize public cloud services.

Built upon existing cloud services.

The service can work on Amazon, Atmos, Sun, Rackspace, and other cloud services.

LOCKSS in the cloud based on DuraCloud.

 

Chronopolis Project – designed primarily as a preservation storage system

Chronopolis Tools also monitors files and does auditing.

IRODS

 

TerraPod – digital video library

Allows you to outsource upload and data creation to the creators of the content.

 

Disadvantages

Data in the cloud – loss of control

Terms of service

API lag

Varying support