Jon Phipps’ not-an-NSDL blog

December 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 12:19 pm

@tombaker ” ‘free-range’ property” Nice! I love it.


September 25, 2008

Memo to future DC conference organizers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 6:06 am

Memo to future DC conference organizers:

  1. Make sure you have sufficient wireless connections and bandwidth for the main paper presentations, not just the meetings and workshops. This means full bandwidth availability for 200+ contiguous high-bandwidth users. This is the 3rd DC conference that I’ve attended (0 for 3) that had trouble with this, but it’s a more significant problem now. With live blogging and microblogging on the rise consistent access is critical.
  2. Make sure that there is power available for at least half the participants in every venue. Ten outlets for 300 people, or 2 outlets for 50 people in the workshops is just not enough.
  3. Prominently and ubiquitously recommend an official conference tag for use on social networks.
  4. Include a T-shirt in the conference swag. This will promote the fact that you were the host far into the future. Even if you don’t want to spend the money to include a t-shirt for everyone, make one available for an additional fee (not recommended but better than no t-shirt — DC2008 had an especially nice t-shirt but it was only available for conference staff).
  5. Give the conference staff, and especially tech support, hats or radically different t-shirts and instruct them to wear their t-shirts/hats at all times that they might be in contact with attendees
  6. Provide an official IRC channel, record it, and make the archive available on the conference web site (like code4lib)
  7. Provide an official conference social network, such as CrowdVine
  8. Officially video all of the open meetings, workshops, and plenary sessions for either live-streaming or future upload to YouTube. Make sure every presenter knows that they will be recorded and that the video will be publicly available at some point. Let attendees know that too.
  9. Provide as much of the conference-related information and proceedings as possible on at least a memory stick (DC2008 did this). A conference-branded (rather than vendor-branded) thumb drive that is as big as you can afford would, like the t-shirt, promote your hosting of the conference well into the future.

August 15, 2008

How I spent my summer ‘vacation’

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 4:48 pm

Well, not exactly summer and certainly not much of a vacation.

Got dog?

After the SKOS face-to-face in Amsterdam last October and after my mother’s 6-week stay with us after knee surgery in January, it looked like I’d be home for a while, and life in general had calmed down. So in April we adopted a ‘puppy‘ from the Humane Society — a smart, 6-month old, 60-pound Labradoodle who came partially trained but with some bad habits. We think the bad habits — which included opportunistic newspaper/magazine shredding, furniture destruction, and wildly tearing around the house at top speed — may have contributed to his being left at the pound by his previous parents.

Nearly all of these habits have been cured or outgrown in the last 3 months and he’s gotten quite a bit of extra training, so Toby‘s turning into a pretty good dog (thank goodness). Getting him there has taken more work than we expected — our previous dog was 15 when he died and the dog before that was 17, so we’d totally forgotten how much work a puppy can be — and there’s still a lot of work to do. He ‘chews up’ quite a bit of of my day and isn’t always a pleasure, but it’s still nice to have a dog around again.

In May the relative ‘calm’ ended.

Got gas?

There’s natural gas in our area and we’ve been fending off ‘opportunities’ to lease the mineral rights to our 20 acres for years. This was easy because lease prices have always been in the sub-$100/acre range, but in May lease offers suddenly shot up to $2,500/acre and more, with royalties as high as 18% of gross, and it became a less easy decision. A local coalition formed to negotiate terms with the gas companies and there have been many meetings, discussion groups, and controversy.

The recent rush is largely due to a combination of a new deep discovery — the Marcellus Shale, 2 miles down — high gas prices, and improvements in horizontal drilling and extraction processes. The ‘improvements’ involve pumping millions of gallons (per well) of water, chemicals (many toxic), and sand into the shale at high pressure to force out the gas — a process know as fracing, a word familiar to fans of Battlestar Galactica with much the same meaning. This has raised questions about where the water will come from, and where it will go when it’s extracted along with the gas. The extracted water is very salty, sometimes mildly radioactive and laced with chemicals — as many as 10,000 gallons of toxins per well.

The state regulators are demonstrably clueless, the state legislature is eager for gas company money (recently making it much easier to get a drilling permit), and despite the promise of a nice chunk of change we’re very worried that our quiet rural area is on the verge of destruction. The Governor has required the regulators to do a thorough environmental review before granting new drilling permits, so that helps. But many of our neighbors have already signed leases, and we can be forced into a no-restrictions lease under current legislation if 60% of a drilling area has been leased. We’re probably going to sign a highly restrictive lease so that we have some control, but it’s a constant background worry.

Got job?

In April a review of my grant indicated that Cornell would run out of money to pay me by the end of May, so we adjusted my salary to .2 FTE, meaning I get paid for one day a week, and will certainly be leaving Cornell when my grant runs out in September. I’ve had to focus more on consulting and haven’t been able to work continuously on the Registry this summer as I had planned. Although I’m still working on it 20 or more hours a week, I feel much less focused and much less productive.

Got married????

In May, my mother (85) announced that an old family friend (Rodney, 89, widower) had asked her to marry him and she’d said yes. The wedding would be in September, she was moving to Cooperstown (90 minutes away) after the wedding, and would we sell her house and help dispose of the contents. The house was built by my paternal grandfather in the 1920’s and she’s lived there for 60 years, so there’s a lot of contents. Two weeks later, they moved the wedding date to June 29 and since she wouldn’t be spending the summer at the cottage on the lake, she asked if could we take over maintenance of that too. Things got busy in a hurry, and we put the house on the market, helped her move, and cleaned up the house (still chock full of stuff) for a series of open houses. We still haven’t decided what to do about the cottage, and it’s just sitting there this summer, open but neglected. The house, in a nation-wide falling real estate market, has generated a lot of interest but hasn’t sold and I worry we overpriced it.

Got sick

The week before my mother’s wedding in June, my mother-in-law (Olga, 87, who lives near New York City, 3 hours away from us) ended up in the hospital with diverticulitis. Fortunately my sister-in-law was with her at the time, but my wife (Barb) still rushed down to help out (nobody in our family is ever alone in the hospital). Olga, feeling much better, went home from the hospital the day before my mother’s wedding (Barb drove directly from NYC to the wedding).

One week later (we’re into early July) Olga was back in the hospital suffering from a reaction to the antibiotics she was given for the diverticulitis — she was extremely weak and having trouble with her heart. This time we all went down and helped ease her transition into a nursing home for what was initially supposed to be just a short stay for rehabilitation. We had high hopes that she’d be able, and maybe even willing, to stay there permanently since it didn’t look like she’d ever be able to go back to her 3rd-floor walkup apartment and continue to live alone.

Barb and I and her sisters took turns going to NY for 3 weeks until it looked like things were stable, the nursing home staff could be trusted (or not), and we were fairly confident of the quality of her care. But we’d only left her alone in the nursing home for less than a week, when she was taken to the emergency room, suffering from pneumonia, and an overdose of blood thinner, coughing violently and vomiting blood. The same day, Olga’s sister-in-law (Alice, 90, my wife’s father’s sister), who had been in the same nursing home, went to a different hospital with pneumonia, a blood thinner overdose, and an infected gall bladder. I packed up my office so I could work if possible, and we rushed down to NY where we proceeded to shuttle back and forth between the two hospitals.

Got guest!

After a week in the hospital, we brought Olga home to live with us permanently (that was 2 weeks ago). She continues to be too weak to do stairs and all of the bedrooms are on the second floor, so we’ve converted the dining room into a bedroom of sorts until we can figure out a better arrangement. Setting her up with a new complement of physical therapists, visiting nurses, and doctors has been quite a challenge and it’s a very good thing that my wife’s a school social worker — she knows the agencies and has the summer off. We’re also making arrangements to clean out Olga’s apartment and redistribute the contents.


My wife’s aunt died last week, unable to survive off the respirator that surviving the pneumonia had required, and Olga, Barb, and I made yet another trip to NY for the funeral. The wake and funeral service may have been the last chance Olga’s many friends will have to chat with her and it was nice to see how many did — there’s was a significant traffic jam in the church after the mass as mourners said hello and goodbye.

Meanwhile, back in Cooperstown, my new stepfather returned from the honeymoon and almost immediately went into the hospital. His back had been bothering him for several weeks, and the long car ride home from New Jersey pushed him over the edge and after several days at home of worsening pain my mom called 911. After a couple days of tests the doctors diagnosed a large abscess on his spine and 9 hours of surgery and two weeks later he appears to be on the mend. Olga, Barb, and I drove up there on Sunday to visit them and had a lovely brunch with my mom at the Otesaga Hotel on lake Otsego.

Get gone…

This week has been all about trying to clear up loose ends because tomorrow my wife and I leave for two weeks on Vancouver island for a much needed vacation. My wife’s sisters will take turns coming down from Albany to stay with Olga so we can relax a bit. One of her sisters arrived today with her puppy, which will be ‘interesting’.

Get back…

When we get back I need to quickly put together a short talk I’m giving with Ed Summers at the CENDI/NKOS workshop in Washington September 11th. The last time I attended a meeting out of town on September 11 was in NYC in 2001. I hope this one is much, much less eventful. And almost immediately after that I head for Berlin (the one in Germany) to attend the Dublin Core annual conference where, uniquely, I’m not presenting or helping to present a paper. Maybe, just maybe, after that things will calm down.

It’s been quite a summer.

May 15, 2007

Thingology (LibraryThing’s ideas blog): Danbury, CT kicks off LibraryThing for Libraries!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 9:14 am

There are a lot of limitations, but this is still a really interesting and exciting development.

We’re happy to announce that the Danbury Library in Danbury, Connecticut has become the first library in the world to put LibraryThing for Libraries on its live catalog…

Underneath, the data comes from LibraryThing and its members. We’ve cleaned some of it up–Abby, our head librarian, and Jenny Anastasoff, a local librarian who’s intern with us, have been hunting down and excluding personal or irrelevant tags.* But its strength is the strength of LibraryThing’s people and their collections—200,000 members, 13 million books and 17 million tags.

Thingology (LibraryThing’s ideas blog): Danbury, CT kicks off LibraryThing for Libraries!.

February 7, 2007

What a great error message

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 2:00 pm

The bad news is that Google Docs & Spreadsheets has just encountered an error.

The good news is that you’ve helped us find a bug, which we are now looking into.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you

Sorry, and thanks for your help!
– The Google Docs & Spreadsheets Team
(report #Pf5rH3BMhXllRx0H)

I almost don’t mind not being able to get into my document.

December 4, 2006

SKOS Concept History Management – Metadata-Registry

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 6:18 pm

Several weeks ago, right after I got back from the Dublin Core 2006 meeting, I wrote up a brief outline of how I thought we could handle skos:concept change management in the context of the MetadataRegistry. It builds on the versioning discussion presented by Stuart Sutton and Joe Tennis at the DC2006 registries working group, and a gardening discussion with Alistair Miles.

In it I suggest that for each registered skos:concept we would maintain a single generic, scheme-independent ConceptClass, one or more scheme-specific ConceptInstances, and one or more ConceptInstanceHistories. I put off posting anything about this before because I was going to clean up the text a bit, and add some fancy UML diagrams and some real RDF, but heck I’m just too busy at the moment. 

I’d be very interested in some feedback.

This outlines proposed requirements for maintaining change history for Concepts.

SKOS Concept History Management – Metadata-Registry.

June 10, 2006

The 7 (f)laws of the Semantic Web – O’Reilly XML Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 7:00 am

I find myself agreeing with quite a bit of this article by Dan Zambonini (which should come as no surprise). Among other thoughtful observations, he points out that…

…The Semantic Web needs to prove what problem(s) it’s going to solve, and not just show that it can create pictures showing you that you know your friends.

…the Semantic Web would be a lot easier if we did have a central ontology … My clients don’t want to create ontologies. They don’t want to map one set of data to another. They want to use something that’s out there and ready for them to use … maybe we should try it, rather than thinking that we don’t need it because it’s hard to achieve?

Worth a read.

The 7 (f)laws of the Semantic Web – O’Reilly XML Blog.

March 28, 2006

Another day, another hard drive failure

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 11:09 am

I had one of my external USB drives fail last night — walked down to the kitchen and I could hear a drive whining in my office 50’ away. It bugs me that I have no easy way to find out what was on the drive, but I do know that it contained pieces of most of my Retrospect backups including a backup of all of my photos and music. I fortunately had another drive just sitting around waiting for such an occasion, but the drive that failed also functioned as a USB mini-hub, and I had to swap out the hub too — I was plumb out of ports.

So after an hour of crawling around over and under my desk to reroute cables, I thought I was back in business, only to discover that the drive that holds my catalog files was full. I started to move some files off the drive, but in the process Windows did a hard BSOD failure. The machine rebooted fine, but took nearly 20 minutes to come back up, reporting that Windows had “recovered from a serious error”. I ran chkdsk on the drives that were involved in the move, and they seemed fine. I reconfigured Retrospect to run all of my backups immediately and it’s been quietly and peacefully doing just that ever since.

I like Retrospect. A lot.

February 10, 2006

Waterfall 2006 – International Conference on Sequential Development

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 5:28 pm

This is sure to be one of the best conferences of the year! The planned tutorials and workshops are awesome…

After years of being disparaged by some in the software development community, the waterfall process is back with a vengeance. You’ve always known a good waterfall-based process is the right way to develop software projects. Come to the Waterfall 2006 conference and see how a sequential development process can benefit your next project. Learn how slow, deliberate handoffs (with signatures!) between groups can slow the rate of change on any project so that development teams have more time to spend on anticipating user needs through big, upfront design.

Waterfall 2006 – International Conference on Sequential Development.

Oracle’s Open-Source Shopping Spree

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Phipps @ 3:50 pm

Just noted in passing from an article yesterday in BusinessWeek Online

Oracle is in talks to buy at least three open-source software companies in deals that could be valued at more than $600 million, BusinessWeek Online has learned… The largest of the three targets is Atlanta-based JBoss, which specializes in so-called middleware, the software that serves as a connection between disparate programs. … Also in Oracle’s crosshairs: closely held Zend, based in Cupertino, Calif. Zend’s PHP software language is one of the most prevalent on the Web, present in more than 18 million Web sites. … The third is Emeryville (Calif.)-based Sleepycat Software, which makes technology used in many of the open-source databases that handle reams of digital data. … talks with all three are advanced, say some of the people involved, who asked not to be identified.

Oracle’s Open-Source Shopping Spree.

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