Posts Tagged ‘internet’

A couple of days ago, someone asked me what I considered at the time to be a very strange question. “Is there a some kind of barcode scanner that you can use with a cell phone to scan products in a store and shop online for better prices?”

I don’t know why I thought it was so strange. Perhaps it was just because I had never thought of using the technology that way. Well, how did we ever get along without the magic of the glorious Interweb? While Googling for “iphone scan barcode” I came across a number of interesting posts. In short, yes there is a way to do this, and it doesn’t require an add-on barcode scanner. (However, an iPhone demo uses a special case that incorporates a built-in close-up lens that slides over the iPhone’s built-in camera. Using Snappr.net for the iPhone or Shop Savvy for the G1, users can scan a product barcode in a store, then do some comparison shopping online. Links of interest are listed below.

How To Track Music, Scan Bar Codes On A Cell Phone – Story from NPR

Mobile shopping on the iPhone by scanning barcodes with Snappr.net – YouTube video

T-Mobile’s G1 Takes Shopping To 2.0 – includes YouTube video demo of Shop Savvy

Snappr.net – Snappr project home page

Snappr Mobi – online price lookups from Snappr’s service

Griffin Clarifi – iPhone case with built-in close-up lens

Pretty cool ideas. Now I’m wondering how this kind of technology can be used in the library. If the software can translate the camera’s image into a string of characters usable in a web search, it should also be able to write those characters to file. If it can write the characters to a file, then you can store the barcodes. If you can store the barcodes, then you should be able to use this file with the ILS’s inventory module. A bit of a jump perhaps, but it sounds feasible.

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PhrazIt

Posted: August 14, 2008 in library, web 2.0
Tags: , , ,

Lots of people read online reviews. Whether it’s for a movie, a restaurant, or a new gadget, the opinions and experiences of others are often help. The problem with some reviews though, is that they’re simply too long. They go on and on and one, and it’s hard to get to the meat of the review. Sometimes we need the subtleties and the details, but sometimes we just want to know if it was good or bad.

Enter PhrazIt. PhrazIt is a interesting website that let users give reviews in 30 characters or less. That’s right – 30 CHARACTERS – not 30 words. User reviews are displayed as a tag cloud. In typical tag cloud, fashion those reviews getting more votes appear in a larger font. Users can add their own 30-character review or vote for an existing review simply by clicking on a phrase they like.

Many libraries are incorporating both patron reviews and tag clouds in their OPAC displays. I think PhrazIt is an interesting hybrid of these two concepts. I can imagine it being used in a library setting. My initial reaction is that it might work well for “browsing” new books online. It could very well have uses beyond that, but the inherently short nature of the reviews of PhrazIt make me instantly think of browsing. The interface is very intuitive, and once you realize exactly what the site does, it make perfect sense. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.

Travelers have won a small victory with Delta Airlines’ recent announcement that all domestic flights will now offer Wi-Fi access. For business travelers (or for those who just can’t bear to remain unplugged for the duration of the flight) this is undoubtedly a welcome announcement. However, like everything else on airlines today, there will be a fee. (Remember when buying a ticket meant that you could actually take luggage on your week-long trip?)

Delta’s initial announcement shows that the charges will run $9.95 for flights of three hours or less and $12.95 for flights over three hours. Of course one expects to pay a premium for services while a captive customer of the airline, but these charges rival the Internet service charges in many hotels. At least in a hotel you get the full 24 hours! I probably won’t bite. I can generally get by with an iPod and a DVD or two for long flights.

While Wi-Fi access will be a boon to some, they’ll still have to live without their cell phones in flight – at least for the foreseeable future. I’m actually pleased about this one. Anyone who has sat beside a loud cell phone talker will know exactly what I mean!

Well, at least they can enjoy their Wi-Fi.

Time for some randomness. A trio of stories caught my eye recently. The topics are vastly different, but there is a loose common theme that ties them all together: restricting or opening access to information.

Libraries are all about open access to information. Libraries have tons of great content, and they want to share this content with the widest possible audience. The very title of Meredith Farkas‘ blog emphasizes this: Information Wants To Be Free. However, librarians will readily admit that there is some information which should not be freely available. (Patrons choosing to opt-in on book reviewer services is another matter.) Patron reading records come to mind. Patrons’ reference questions are also taken to be private and confidential with libraries taking great steps to anonymize all questions before analyzing their service quality.

I guess this dual perspective of openness and privacy helped pique my interest in these stories:

CNET: Olympic head: No deal on Internet censorship
CNET: The FCC on Comcast: Confusion in spades
MSNBC: Recordings raise questions about inmate rights

The first story continues the saga of China’s ongoing efforts at Internet censorship. In spite of an agreement with the International Olympic Committee, the Chinese government continues to block access to Internet sites of which it does not approve. International journalists are up in arms about it. This censorship limits their ability to do their jobs, and it simply isn’t what China promised.

The second story deals with Comcast‘s throttling of BitTorrent traffic. Interestingly enough, what Comcast did is regularly replicated on university campuses across the country through various packet shaping technologies. Apparently the FCC’s biggest complaint about Comcast was that the company hid their activities from customers.

The third story highlights illegal eavesdropping on privileged attorney-inmate conversations by the San Diego county jails. Apparently the jails were not only recording these conversations, they were also making them available to prosecuting attorneys. In at least one case, this gave the prosecutor explicit information about the defendant’s trial strategy. The story also reveals that similar recordings occurred in other counties as well. Interestingly enough, in California eavesdropping on inmates’ telephone calls with their attorneys is a felony. I wonder how the state will choose to punish the county?

So here we have a country censoring information that should be open and freely available. We have a company secretly throttling customers’ access to certain types of data streams. And we have county governments clandestinely recording privileged conversations.

In the United States we (SHOULD) treasure our free speech. We (SHOULD) treasure our free press. We (SHOULD) maintain an awareness of corporate practices that impact our access to information. We (SHOULD) actively protect confidential communication from unlawful scrutiny. These stories serve to illustrate that people need to protect their information rights. Without demanding constant accountability, these rights will be slowly, surreptitiously whittled away.