Whole Earth Catalog

Alternet has a post on one of my long-time favorites: The Whole Earth Catalog. I got every one of these as they came out, including the Whole Earth Epilog. Amazing concept and surprisingly effective execution. Catalogs for a better future.

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The Burro is back — sort of

[updated 2009.9.10; 2011.12.6 see at bottom for updated version]

The drawback to upgrades is that you may improve one thing while breaking another.

Case in point: going from Firefox 3 to 3.5, I lost the BookBurro addon.

Now, BookBurro is a really nifty (and judging from posts, popular) addon for Firefox, which looks on pages for ISBNs and when you visit a page with one present, it offers a small block which you can click on to dropdown (or delete if you don’t need it).

The dropdown will show you a number of vendors and their pricing, to compare to whatever you’re looking at.  Example: I could look at something on a particular online store, it would give me prices at Amazon, Alibris, Half.com, Barnes & Noble, and several other online stores that can be selected in the options.

It also allows you to check WorldCat and a number of library OPACs which are searchable by ISBN.

There are links to the relevant pages on those sites.

Obviously, invaluable for librarians and other booklovers, especially those of us doing the ordering.

And it hasn’t been updated — despite a personal unanswered email request from me to the author, and a number of forum posts and tweets from others — for Firefox 3.5 as of Sept. 9, 2009.  It’s a freebie, after all, and perhaps the talented and clever author Jesse Andrews (stroke, stroke) just hasn’t had a spare moment to get back to it.

HOWEVER — there’s a (slightly) risky workaround hack for this.  Basically, it consists of turning off the compatibility check in 3.5 for addons.  Lifehacker provided it in one of their posts which was originally intended for Firefox 3 Beta, but works for 3.5.

This means that you can now install addons which may or may not work reliably with 3.5, without warning, and some things on BookBurro may not work completely or properly, but that’s the price of the hack.  So far, I think it’s worth it.

I dropped a strong hint to an Alibris rep today that they look at it, and encourage the author to update it.  Alibris isn’t working perfectly now anyway, as they have multiple (used and new) prices, so they need two lines or something arranged.  Any other reps that anybody sees, please suggest they ask/help to pay for this to be upgraded.

[update 2009.9.10]

Jesse Andrews kindly DID respond to my email just after I posted this, and commented to it as well.  Check his comment.  Looks good for an update!  I’m glad to hear it!

[update 2011.12.6]

This has been updated for Google Chrome as Book Burrito.

Future publishing?

I’m seeing a lot of “predictions” thrown around by various columnists and bloggers trying to foresee the future of publishing.

Ransom Stephens has “Booking the future” and it’s an interesting take.  The timeline, as usual, looks a bit fast (at least to start) but it seems like a pretty practical view of what could (should?) happen.

Another day, another icon

We have a few titles in the catalog that are both online databases and available in paper:  Value Line, the Arkansas Code, for examples.

I had a request to come up with a new icon to show in the search results that indicated the materials available, rather than one or the other.

The problem is, we’ve maxed out on material types.  These are in BCode2 and ICode2 in the III system, and since we use ICode2 for inventory and I try to keep these the same as much as possible, I had to hunt for something I could salvage.

Fortunately, we’ve eliminated filmstrips, so I reused that code “p” and made it “Database & Books” instead.

That still left me without a little graphic for the icon to show on the right.  So, I reworked and re-named the same picture from ebooks and made it work for this.

A keyword search on “value line” will show the results.