Monday, July 21, 2008

Phone Reference + Internet Based Chat = Sublime

I have been using Meebo as a chat client for over a year now to handle engineering and other subject related reference. One trick that I have added to my web 2.0 arsenal is using a two-edged, phone + chat, approach to reference:

Lets say I get a phone call or am handling general reference at our reference desk and get a phone call there. If I need to get a lot of information to the caller, and it just does not seem that telling them what or where the information is located is not working so well, then I will ask them to go to my profile here at the library on their computer. I then get them to scroll about halfway down the page and I can then send them textual information, web-links to information or databases. This phone-chat hybrid reference is a dynamite combination for explaining hard concepts or difficult situations.

I find that too often we spend a lot of time talking to people, who are already on the Internet, trying to point them to specific web-pages, waiting for them to get everything correct, spelling out web addresses, etc. It is much easier to just hand them the link that they need via the use of a chat client. We can give them more accessible information and do a better job of steering them to what they want this way. It seems less confusing. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

OU Engineering Toolbar now compatible with Firefox 3.0 and auto-updates

I have finally had time to settle down and setup the OU Engineering Toolbar so it auto-updates. In effect everything you would need to know about fixing the versioning is in this article from Mozilla's Development Center.

The way that you setup automatic updating is by hosting an update.rdf file in a directory the format of which can be found in this web-page. It also requires you to use secure http (https). If you are working with this just check with your systems administrator to see if hosted files use this automatically.

I was expecting this process to take a lot longer time-wise to work it out but it only took about two days to get everything sorted. Now I am going to go down to the Russ College of Engineering and see about getting the toolbar hosted in the computer labs there!