Oct 03

Data Compare for Oracle

I’ve been doing a lot of Web development since I started a new job in June. This has been (pleasantly) challenging for a number of reasons. The environment is brand-new to me and, in comparison to other places I’ve worked, large and complex.

For instance, I’ve never developed in ColdFusion before and one of my Web applications needs to have the front end (a public-facing side on the public-facing server for users) on a ColdFusion8 server and the back-end of (used by members of my own department) lives behind the firewall, in our intranet, and runs ColdFusion9…so I’m learning two version of ColdFusion at the same time.

And I’ve worked with Sybase and MySQL databases, but Oracle is new to me. The Database Administrator I work with is a friendly, immensely helpful guy who I try to avoid bugging unless I’m really, really stuck. Developers far more experienced and skillful than me have all admonished me: “Be very, very nice to your DBA.”

So when I run into problems, I tend to head back to the manuals for the software I’m using (Oracle’s SQL Developer, PL/SQL Developer), but sometimes that doesn’t give me the sort of quick, painless solutions I crave.

Last week, I wanted to compare the data in a restored backup to the data in our production database and generate a script to copy the missing restored data to the production database. I asked my DBA and a far more experienced developer what tool I could use to accomplish this quickly and easily.

Neither had any suggestions- though both agreed that it would be wonderful if such a tool existed.

It turns out that such a tool DOES exist- and is awesome. A little Googling turned up Data Compare for Oracle from Red Gate Software- which is part of their Deployment Suite for Oracle.

I downloaded the free, fully functional trial and was so blown away by it that I emailed Red Gate to tell them so.

The interface is intuitive and well-designed- without spending a single second on any manual or help files, I made my comparisons and generated a deployment script within minutes of installing the application. Go check out the screen shots on Red Gate’s site to see how simple it is to use.

I was able to compare two databases on two different servers, limit the comparison to specific tables and criteria, drill down for details on the comparison, and generate a script to make the changes I needed. In minutes. Seriously.

Blown. Away.

To my delight, I was able to wrangle a license for my own use at work. This was an enormous relief, as the thought of losing it at the end of the 14-day trial brought tears to my eyes.

Download the trial and try it.

(Does anyone recall the last time I so nakedly endorsed a product? I don’t. That’s how much I like it.)

Oct 03

The NNT

Just realized that I have not yet mentioned here that I don’t work in a medical library any longer.

A few months ago, I took a job as the geek (technologist-generalist?) for the Department of Emergency Medicine at SUNY Upstate. I love the job. Love it. The people are great and the work is both challenging and interesting.

While I have really enjoyed shifting more to the mechanics of health information than the content, I’ve found certain librarianish habits and interests haven’t faded.

For instance, TheNNT.com fascinates me.

http://www.thennt.com/

“There is a way of understanding how much modern medicine has to offer individual patients. It is a simple statistical concept called the “Number-Needed-to-Treat”, or for short the ‘NNT’. The NNT offers a measurement of the impact of a medicine or therapy by estimating the number of patients that need to be treated in order to have an impact on one person. The concept is statistical, but intuitive, for we know that not everyone is helped by a medicine or intervention — some benefit, some are harmed, and some are unaffected. The NNT tells us how many of each.”

Here’s a great example: Anticoagulation for Venous Thromboembolism

Or check out Mediterranean Diet for Secondary Prevention After Heart Attack.

Is it just me, or is this site crazy awesome? I’ve encountered a handful of physicians who like the site a lot, but I’ve heared next to nothing from medical librarians. Any thoughts?

Jul 14

Voltaire & Information Services: “Good Enough” – “Excellence” – “Perfection”

I once worked with a CIO who, on my first day, told me that his philosophy was: “never let ‘perfect’ get in the way of ‘good enough'”

I thought this was a curious philosophy and something about it seemed familiar, so I dug around a bit and found many versions of this line.

  • “Perfect is the worst enemy of Good Enough”
  • “Perfection is the enemy of Good Enough”
  • “Better Than Is the Enemy of Good Enough”
  • “Better Is the Enemy of Good Enough”

It didn’t take long to figure out that these were all misquotations of Voltaire:

“The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good.”

I guess I took that point reasonably well (as I understood it). In the context of this talk with the CIO, it meant that it was often not a wise use of resources to pursue perfection when we already had (or could easily achieve “serviceable.”

But whenever I thought of this talk with the CIO, the phrase “good enough” kept rubbing me the wrong way.

I’m not a perfectionist. Perfection is an ideal, not an acheivable goal. Striving for perfection, in my opinion, leads to unsociable behaviors, stress-induced health conditions, and really, really annoying people.like Phil Hartman’s The Anal-Retentive Chef I miss Phil Hartman.

On the other hand, I don’t think “good enough” is an acceptably high bar. When we deliver services to our customers/patrons/clients, should’t we be shooting for “excellence”? Excellence is do-able.

It seems to me that, most of the time, the amount of effort that would bridge the difference between “good enough” and “excellent” is small and that “excellence” pays dividends in extra-satisfied customers/patrons/clients that it is absolutely worth investing.

On the other side of that is that users/clients/customers/patrons are usually savvy enought to know “good enough” when they see it. It tells that that ther needs really aren’t the priority. Rather than paying dividends, it costs.

So. My new motto is this:

“Good enough” is the enemy of excellence. Strive for excellence and know when to stop reaching for the impossible goal of perfection.

How do you know when you’ve achieved excellence? Ask your users/clients/customers/patrons.

Apr 06

Books I Would Very Much Like to Read/Review

New(ish) or upcoming books that I would really like to read and review here

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
By James Gleick

Okay, I admit I’m already reading this one- and LOVING it.  Gleick (who also wrote a great biography of Richard Feynman), writes in a fascinating, engaging way about the history of information and of information technology.  This book wonderfully illuminates how we got where we are and provides hints at where we might be going.

I would like a stack of 20 copies, please, so I can give one to each of my favorite 20 technology-resistant librarians.

Check out these reviews.

________________________________

An Introduction to Research for Health Librarians
By Barbara Sen

This looks like one I’d love to read- and it is being released in May.

“This step-by-step guide provides encouragement, support, and direction for health librarians who may be new to research and evaluation or lacking in confidence or expertise. With a focus on practice-based research, evaluation, and small projects, it guides the reader through the research process, from starting to think about the research question, through to the completion of the research and dissemination of the results. It is designed to encourage quality research from library professionals and encourage them to add to the evidence base in this sector. This timely collection considers methods and approaches that are suitable in a health library context, making it a useful tool for health library professionals and students alike.”

________________________________

Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach it
By Sharon E. Straus MD, Paul Glasziou MRCGP FRACGP PhD, W. Scott Richardson MD, R. Brian Haynes MD

This one was released in December, but I haven’t gotten to it yet- and I’ve been instructed quite sternly to read everything Sharon Strauss writes.

“Evidence Based Medicine provides a clear explanation of the central questions: how to ask answerable clinical questions; how to translate them into effective searches for the best evidence; how to critically appraise that evidence for its validity and importance; and how to integrate it with patients’ values and preferences.”

________________________________

Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide
By Jessamyn C. West

Rachel Walden taught me what a “librarian crush” is, and I have had a librarian crush on Jessamyn since I saw these signs.

Teaching novice computer users, including seniors and individuals with disabilities such as low vision or motor skills, how to do what they want and need to do online is a formidable challenge for library staff. Part inspirational, part practical Without a/the Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide is a summary of techniques, approaches, and skills that will help librarians meet this challenge.

Jessamyn C. West’s experience as a librarian is deeply immersed in technology culture, yet living in rural America makes her uniquely qualified to write this book. Taking a big-picture approach to the subject, she demystifies and simplifies tech training for the busy librarian, providing an easy-to-use handbook full of techniques that can be used with all of a library’s many populations. As an added bonus, she also examines the players in the library technology arena to offer firsthand reports on what works, what doesn’t, and what’s next.

________________________________

The Atlas of New Librarianship

Libraries have existed for millennia, but today the library field is searching for solid footing in an increasingly fragmented (and increasingly digital) information environment. What is librarianship when it is unmoored from cataloging, books, buildings, and committees? In The Atlas of New Librarianship, R. David Lankes offers a guide to this new landscape for practitioners. He describes a new librarianship based not on books and artifacts but on knowledge and learning; and he suggests a new mission for librarians: to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

The vision for a new librarianship must go beyond finding library-related uses for information technology and the Internet; it must provide a durable foundation for the field. Lankes recasts librarianship and library practice using the fundamental concept that knowledge is created though conversation. New librarians approach their work as facilitators of conversation; they seek to enrich, capture, store, and disseminate the conversations of their communities.

To help librarians navigate this new terrain, Lankes offers a map, a visual representation of the field that can guide explorations of it; more than 140 Agreements, statements about librarianship that range from relevant theories to examples of practice; and Threads, arrangements of Agreements to explain key ideas, covering such topics as conceptual foundations and skills and values. Agreement Supplements at the end of the book offer expanded discussions. Although it touches on theory as well as practice, the Atlas is meant to be a tool: textbook, conversation guide, platform for social networking, and call to action.

[More here]

________________________________

What new books are you reading or looking forward to?

Apr 04

SciPlore Combines Mind Maps with Reference and PDF Management

SciPlore is an interesting tool that I just started playing with.

“Are you using mind mapping tools such as MindManager, FreeMind or XMind? And reference management tools such as JabRef, Endnote, or Zotero? And do you sometimes even create bookmark in PDFs? Then you should have a look at SciPlore MindMapping.”

My need for PDF management tools is really pretty specific and infrequent. What about you academic folks? Is this something you could use?

Mar 18

Patient Handouts at the Point of Care

My Primary Care Physician is a good guy.  His practice implemented an EMR a few years ago- each time I see him, I ask him how that’s going and he lets me see how it looks on the tablet PC he carries into the exam room.

My last visit was for an annual checkup a few weeks ago and we were talking about point-of-care tools and integration with his EMR.  It turns out that their EMR has no useful functionality to help find or produce patient education handouts he can quickly sent to a printer

I told him it would not be difficult to make a tool that would enable him to find authoritative handouts quickly and easily from the paid resources his practice has available, and he expressed interest in that idea.

He hasn’t followed up, but I found the idea interesting, so I started thinking about what sort of tool could be built for this purpose that could be integrated into any EMR using only patient handouts that are available at no cost on the Web.

With that in mind, I came up with a Google Custom Search Engine for use by providers at our hospital, but I see no reason why it couldn’t be used by any institution or practice.

The idea behind this is that any search result is not only authoritative, but that it is within a click of a “print” button.

There are built-in refinements for large print, pediatrics, Spanish language, Seniors, and low literacy.

Please give it a try here.

Internists and medical libraryfolk: I’d be grateful for your feedback!

Mar 03

Spelling it out for HarperCollins

This is my favorite thing anyone has said or done in response to the HarperCollins / Overdrive baloney.

“The Virtual Library of the Pioneer Library System decided to take a look at the print editions of HarperCollins titles.

We ask the question, What does wear and tear look like on a print book? Is 26 checkouts a realistic standard to apply to ebooks?

Visit our Open Letter to the Publisher to know our thoughts

http://bit.ly/e0SeBi

Let HarperCollins know what you think.”

Mar 02

Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto

Common Sense Librarianship

1. The world of information has always been in a constant state of flux. As technology continues to change the world of information, it is preferable for information professionals and the institutions they serve to adapt rather than perish.

This is not a new idea.

2. The most important qualities an information professional can posses are adaptability, resourcefulness, a habit of looking for better/easier/more efficient ways to do things, creativity, and a love for solving problems.

This is not a new idea.

3. Organizations providing information services should pay as close attention as possible to the needs of those whose information needs they serve. Where these needs can be measured, they should be measured. If you can find something that your library is regarding as more important than user needs, something is very wrong.

This is not a new idea.

4. Whenever possible, obstacles between users and the information they seek should be removed.  Among these obstacles are academic jargon and expecting users to care about cataloging minutia (it is minutia to them, get over it).  Information professionals should be champions of clarity and concision who find accessible ways to describe complex topics.

This is not a new idea.

Much of the above comes from conversations with really smart and insightful people like Amy Buckland, Kathryn Greenhill, Jenica Rogers, and Maurice Coleman.

Any good stuff above should be credited to them. Any stupid stuff should be blamed on me.

Dec 28

Follow-up: Transliteracy, Theory, and Scholarly Language

I was bit surprised at the response to my post about Libraries and Transliteracy.

As long as I’m spouting off opinions on topics that have little substance other than opinion, I may as well go whole-hog and respond to some of the reponses.

Marcus Banks writes:

“…David goes too far in his highly conservative defense of the English language…this idea that we need to keep a tight lid on the language, or even that this is possible, is foolhardy.”

I’m not attempting to defend the English language.  A beast as powerful as the English language doesn’t need me to defend it. Besides, I happily torture the language when it suits me. I use silly semi-words like ‘geekery’ and ‘libraryfolk.’Though you’ll note not a single person has ever asked what either of those words mean.

This comment from Marcus, though, underlines a problem I saw in the post shortly after I published it.

It isn’t the word, it’s the way the word is used

I didn’t intend to say that the word “transliteracy” has no place in the worldIt might, it might not. As it is pure theory with no apparent practical implications, I can’t bring myself to care enough to read more than the four articles on the the topic I’ve read., just that I have yet to see libraryfolk using it in a way that adds something previously missing from discussions in librarianship and LISI’m willing to buy that the former is a profession and the latter is an academic field. Thus far, it seems to me that the (admittedly cool-sounding) term is thrown around by libraryfolk who (1)admit that they can’t define it, (2)define it so vaguely and variously that it fails to have any coherent meaning, or (3)define it in a way that makes it redundant to a wide assortment of existing terms.

What I find baffling is that librarians would use words they cannot define. I had thought (perhaps mistakenly) that librarians tended to be lovably pedantic and semantic nitpickers.

I’d like to see some clear indication that libraryfolk are talking about this word for any reason other than novelty or self-promotion. I have nothing against self-promotion per se, but some of the libraryfolk advocates of this term are telling us there’s a revolution going on. I don’t see a revolution, just an evolution. If they’re going to cry ‘wolf’, I want to see some fur and teeth. Or at least, for pity’s sake, some wolf footprints. So far, though? Nothing.

Marcus goes on to explain what he sees as the problem with ‘information literacy.’

“I’d argue that our conceptual notion of information literacy remains stuck in time. Sometimes we come dangerously close to suggesting that people blow the 1/2 inch of dust off the top of the Britannica and then read it, because this, dear students, is an ‘authoritative resource.’

Yes, I jest. And yes, I exaggerate. But not by as much as I’d like. We still lionize peer reviewed articles despite their manifold flaws, and keep an arms length view of Wikipedia and communally developed resources in general. Of course I support sharp and incisive critique of Wikipedia entries. But I don’t support the idea that Wikipedia is something other, alien or foreign.”

I agree that some libraryfolk are not adapting as fast as we might hope. That demonstrates a problem with some libraryfolk, not that ‘information literacy’ has ceased to be a useful term. As information changes (it always has, always does, and always will), information professionals need to adapt to keep their skills up-to-date and maintain their information literacy (and their value…and their jobs). Again, where’s the need for a new word?

Marcus continues:

“In that light, it seems to me that transliteracy, as a concept, is an attempt to label what we are already doing–linking up traditional notions of authority with the realities of how people obtain information today. This is valuable, and much less overblown than the Library 2.0 hooha back in the day.”

Right! “…an attempt to label what we are already doing.” As we already have labels for this, why slap on a new one?

Diane Cordell writes:

“Medical librarian David Rothman questions whether this concept is any more than a new buzzword for the same type of information literacy with which librarians have always been concerned.”

No. What I said was that the definition of information literacy is easily flexible enough to continue to serve nicely as technology changes. I did not say that changes in technology don’t matter. I’m pretty well on record stating my belief that little should matter more to libraryfolk than the changes technology is making in our world.I’m sort of put off by Diane’s clumsy straw man, though- so I thought I’d to mention here the excellent example she povides of irrational enthusiasm for technology. She has a QR code for the link to her Flickr stream on the sidebar of her blog. Let’s assume that someone visiting her blog WANTS to see her Flickr stream. Which is more likely to be convenient for the visitor? To whip out his/her smartphone, turn on the scan/photo function and take a snap…or to CLICK A LINK? What purpose does the QR code serve here? None. Its presence suggests that Diane is the sort who embraces a new technology even if it offers the user nothing useful. I am, however, amused by Diane’s repeated implications that I am somehow change-resistant or that I threaten the future of libraries because of my rejection of this buzzword. Remind anyone else of the “Library 2.0″ hysteria?

So you just don’t like buzzwords?

I have to admit that I feel similarly (though less strongly) about EBLIP and ‘Blended Librarianship’.

Here’s a definition for EBLIP that I think summarizes well how most people think of it:

Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) seeks to improve library andinformation services and practice by bringing together the best available evidence and insights derived from working experience, moderated by user needs and preferences. EBLIP involves asking answerable questions, finding, critically appraising and then utilising research evidence from relevant disciplines in daily practice. It thus attempts to integrate user-reported, practitioner-observed and research-derived evidence as an explicit basis for decision-making.

That’s great. Libraries SHOULD apply the best available evidence in making decisions about the practice of their profession- but don’t good libraries already do this? Is the purpose of the term just to underline the importance of these activities? Collecting usage data, tracking reference encounters, doing needs analyses, keeping up with the literature of librarianship…these things were all a part of good practice long before “EBLIP” was talked about, weren’t they?See also: Marcus Banks’ remarks on evidence based librarianship

As for Blended Librarianship, I love the idea of communities of learning and I agree that technology skills and instructional design are essential (especially for instruction librarians). But learning communities (online or offline) aren’t new ideas and incorporating technology skills and instructional design into one’s work is what any good instruction librarian should be doing. Unless it is just for the purpose of naming an online community (which is perfectly sensible), why make up a new term for what good instruction librarians should obviously be doing?

Theoretically Speaking

John Jackson writes:

“Great post, David! But I was sorry to see that you concluded by writing off theory in lieu of practical concerns for libraries. I know this doesn’t apply for all libraries, but for academic librarians, having a concise definition and theoretical framework is necessary not only for the work they do on a daily basis, but in the scholarly activities that they try to pursue both through publishing and through on-campus research… not to mention it can serve as a legitimizing factor when working with faculty.”

Sure, academic librarians may need to understand theoretical frameworks of particular topics if they support programs that rely heavily on critical theory.Though my impression from the academics I know is that critical theory began its domination of the humanities in the 60s, peaked in the 80s, and is now (thankfully) in decline. After all, I can’t imagine a Women’s Studies department that doesn’t rely heavily on critical theory and the subject specialist that serves that program’s needs should understand that body of theory and be able to speak in the terms that are familiar to scholars of that discipline.

To paraphrase a librarian friend, theories from other academic fields can be (and are) applied to information services…and librarianship/LIS can be said to have a set of values/ethics/principles that is different from other professions, but there’s no unified/unifying theoretical framework for library practice that I can see.

I agree with Neil Postman that “social sciences” (including Postman’s own field of Media Ecology) are not sciences.From the same 1988 article: “…[T]he purpose of media ecology is to tell stories about the consequences of technology; to tell how media environments create contexts that may change the way we think or organize our social life, or make us better or worse, or smarter or dumber, or freer or more enslaved. I feel sure the reader will pardon a touch of bias when I say that the stories media ecologists have to tell are rather more important than those of other academic story tellers—because the power of communication technology to give shape to people’s lives is not a matter that comes easily to the forefront of people’s consciousness, though we live in an age when our lives—whether we like it or not—have been submitted to the demanding sovereignty of new media. And so we are obliged, in the interest of a humane survival, to tell tales about what sort of paradise may be gained, and what sort lost. We will not have been the first to tell such tales. But unless our stories ring true, we may be the last.” Talk about there being nothing new under the sun.

“To put it plainly, all of the so-called social sciences are merely subdivisions of moral theology. It is true, of course, that social researchers rarely base their claims to knowledge on the indisputability of sacred texts, and even less so on revelation. But you must not be dazzled or deluded by differences in method between preachers and scholars.”

I can only guess how maddening scholars find this statement, but even just guessing makes me smile.

Insufficiently Academic

Maybe I’m insufficiently educated and don’t properly understand the academic world of LIS, but I think that theories outside of the hard sciences are, at best, interesting ideas with which to think. I think that Very Smart People are most valuable (and most valued) when they solve problems, not when they wax intellectually about them.

Changes in technology create all kinds of new and interesting challenges for libraries. All comers who have something coherent to say about how to go about tackling these challenges should be welcomed- but while matters of epistemology (like learning theory, neuroscience, or media ecology) should be important to libraryfolk, let’s not pretend to be scholars of those disciplinesUnless the individual librarian actually *is* a scholar of one of these disciplines…in which case I suggest getting out of librarianship and back in a profession with a few more potential rewards..

‘Scholarly’ Language

Kudos and full credit to Lane Wilkinson for blowing off his previous “academic” style of writing and writing a post describing his perspective in English, but I think Stephen Francoeur nails exactly what is lacking about it:.

“I’m with you on the need to be more expansive in what we teach and how we teach in our information literacy efforts, but I’m not sure this merits a new term for the effort. It seems like transliteracy so narrowly focused in your blog post that it can be defined simply as ‘doing information literacy instruction really well.’There are many reasons I like Stephen Francoeur. This is only the most recent. Meredith Farkas, by the way, reaches the very same conclusion: “I figure what you describe is just good engaging information literacy instruction incorporating (possibly) instructional tech and active learning.”

Wilkinson admits that this is a fair summary for his definition of ‘transliteracy’ but defends the use of the term as a ‘placeholder’.

Why use a ‘placeholder’ when we could say ‘do information literacy instruction really well’?

Check out this response post from John Jackson in which he takes seven paragraphs (625 words!) to say pretty much what I said in my first two paragraphs (60 words) – albeit in a much more ‘scholarly’ manner.

I’ve often wondered why so many self-described academics use language seemingly intended to make the ideas harder to access through an obtuse vocabulary or tortured phrasing. I was kvetching about this once to a friend who offered a theory. “Perhaps,” said my friend, “the value that academics offer in a market economy is the value of their ideas…and by making it harder to access their ideas, the market value of what they’re selling is driven up.”

That’s as good an explanation as any I’ve ever seen.

I encourage people (especially information professionals) to avoid this sort of writing at all times. It doesn’t matter if academics in other disciplines embrace the practice. *Our* profession is about removing obstacles between the user and the information that user seeks. I’m going to repeat that in a larger font now. Feel free to imagine me yelling this:

Our profession is about removing obstacles between the user and the information that user seeks.

This includes obstacles like obtuse, redundant, or vague language.

No arguments

Among all the response posts is not a whiff of an actual response.

Bobbi Newman writes:

“Transliteracy is a new concept in general and we are working to apply it and I’m ok with it being a work in progress (the blog is less than a year old). I understand that many people aren’t. They want clear rules, definitions guidelines, and measures and pie charts, but I’m not sure I am able to help them at this point. I’m ok with that too. Not in a mean way but in a I-can’t-do-everything-at-once sort of way.”

Here’s how I read that:

Transliteracy is a newish scholarly buzzword and we are working on milking it for publication purposes in the LIS world (we’ve been working on it for a year so far). I understand that many people want to know what the word means. They think that librarians should probably avoid using words they can’t define. I can’t help them there because I’m too busy. I did have time to create a blog based on the concept, but I don’t have time to define it.

Really, Bobbi. That’s how it reads to me.

The nonsense continues

I have no illusions that my comments will stop anyone from using terms foolishly, but I can hope that it may spare a few individuals from the anxieties associated with fears that they’re not on top of this ‘new thing.’

Meanwhile, the nonsense continues unabated. Check out Buffy Hamilton’s presentation “Participatory Librarianship: Creating Possibilities Through Transliteracy, Learning, and Linchpins”

Here’s the text of slide #51- try reading it aloud.

“transliteracy provides us a way of theorizing how these literacies transact with each other for meaning making”

Here’s the text of slide #52. Again, try reading it aloud.

“transliteracy is the conceptualization of how we use these literacies than the tools or containers although certainly the ways we access information, share, and create it have taken on new forms”

Text of slide #54 (you know what to do).

“as sponsors of transliteracy, libraries can close the participation gap.”

Try to get past the syntactical problems with these statements and tell me what they mean. Tell me that ‘transliteracy’ is used here in a meaningful way. I’d enjoy being proven wrong.

Dec 01

Social Media and the Medical Profession

“A guide to online professionalism for medical practitioners and medical students”

http://www.ama.com.au/socialmedia

The Australian Medical Association Council of Doctors-in-Training (AMACDT), the New Zealand Medical Association Doctors-in-Training Council (NZMADITC), the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA), and the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) are committed to upholding the principles of medical professionalism. As such, we have created some practical guidelines to assist doctors and medical students to continue to enjoy the online world, while maintaining professional standards.

Download PDF

Not a bad start. Not sufficient for the purposes of most, but not a bad start. Hope others will build on this.

UPDATE:
Ratcatcher’s comment below reminds me that I should also link to a similar attempt by the American Medical Association. I agree with Ratcatcher on the relative merits of these two efforts.

[via Ratcatcher]

Nov 05

#Adobe Customer Support Stinks

This is an actual transcript.

Thank you for choosing Adobe. A representative will be with you shortly. Your estimated wait time is 0 minute(s) and 24 second(s) or longer as there are 1 customer(s) in line ahead of you.

[5 Minutes pass]

You are now chatting with Shankar.

Shankar: Hello! Welcome to Adobe Customer Service.

Shankar: May I please have your email address registered with Adobe while I review your request?

David: david@[mpow].org

David: I’m end-user support for my organization. As far as I can tell, our organization never registered this copy of RoboHelp and I don’t have the packaging, so I haven’t been able to determine the serial number. (Without the serial, I cannot register for technical support)

Shankar: As I understand that you are using Robohelp 8 and you have issue with the search tab, Is that correct?

David: correct.

David: Using WebHelp layout.

[Minutes pass]

Shankar: Thank you for waiting. One moment please.

Shankar: I’ll be right with you.

David: Thank you.

 [Minutes pass]

Shankar: Sorry for the wait. Please do stay online.

David: Will do.

[Five more minutes pass]

Shankar: Since this is a technical issue I am unable to assist you, I apolozise for the inconvenience. However, I will provide you with our contatct details of our Specialized technical support team and they would be able to resolve the issue.

David: Thank you. Awaiting contact details.

Shankar: Click here for the Technical support?

 [David confirms again that even accessing technical support requires a serial number]

David: That’s going to be difficult. I WANT to register the product, but cannot get the packaging to determine the serial.

 [Five minutes pass]

Shankar: Thank you for waiting. One moment please.

 [More time passes]

Shankar: I’ll be right with you.

[More time passes]

Shankar: May I know the serial number of the product please?

David: As I just said, I do not have the packaging for the product, so I don’t know how to FIND the serial nunmber.

[More waiting]

Shankar: Sorry for the wait. Please do stay online.

[Yet more waiting]

Shankar: You need serial number to register the product.

David: Yes. I JUST SAID THAT.

Shankar: Is there anything else I can help you with?

David: YES. I AM TRYING TO REGISTER THE PRODUCT OR DETERMINE IF IT HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN REGISTERED, BUT CANNOT BECAUSE I DO NOT HAVE THE ORIGINAL PACKAGING. HOW ELSE DO I FIGURE OUT MY SERIAL NUMBER?

Shankar: May I know the software is Box product or the download version please?

David: I wish I knew. I do not know.

Shankar: I checked in your registered email address the serial number is not registered.

David: Please advise how I can register?

 [More waiting]

Shankar: I’ll be right with you.

[More waiting]

Shankar: Thank you for waiting. One moment please.

[Far more than one moment passes]

Shankar: Please login into your Adobe account and click on the Register New Products to register the serial number.

Shankar: Is there anything else I can help you with?

David: YES. HOW DO I LOCATE THE SERIAL NUMBER WHEN I DON’T HAVE THE PACKAGING?

Shankar: May I know do you have proof of purchase please?

David: May I request that you please re-read the history of this chat before we proceed?

Shankar: I am sorry without the proof of purchase and the serial number I will not be able to assist you.

Shankar: Is there anything else I can help you with?

David: Please answer my question.  Without the packaging, is there any other way to find my serial number?

Shankar: If you registered the serial number, However I checked you have not registered the software in your Adobe account.

David: So there is no other way to determine the serial number?

 [More waiting]

David: hello?

Shankar: I am sorry to say that please contact the technical department of your company to know the product and the serial number.

David: Do you understand that you have wasted 30 minutes of my time in order to give me an answer I asked for in the first 60 seconds?

Shankar: Is there anything else I can help you with?

Good grief.  I’ve had bad customer service before, but this is ridiculous.

First, the inept service rep seems to be trying to manage a number of chat sessions simultaneously and can’t remember what we discussed 5 lines before.

Second, I don’t believe that this software (which must be activated before it can be used) does not store the serial somewhere on the computer where it is installed.

Just awful.

Oct 30

Slides: NAHSL 2010

Thanks again to the organizers and participants of NAHSL 2010 for inviting me to speak! Newport is lovely and I had a very nice time.

[Slides embedded below]

[Slides embedded above]

As usual, my favorite thing about the event was the people I got to meet. FINALLY met Margo Coletti. I got to meet and chat with Lee Rainie (from whom I learned the word “tweckle”). I was delighted to meet Barbara Davis, who made this trip so delightfully easy and pleasant.

Another memorable moment was meeting Jeanie Vander Pyl of the Cape Cod Hospital Library. We had a brief correspondence in April 2009 that gave me a lasting case of warm fuzzies and reminded me how much I like the cooperative habits of so many librarians. It was a real treat to meet her in person and thank her for that.

Oct 22

Melissa Rethlefsen’s Continued Awesomeness

I’d have given anything to see this presentation given. It may not interest you if you’re not a medlib person interested in publishing (or if you don’t know me or Melissa), but I grinned my way through the slides as they show the path to the creation of the book.

Then there’s this recent presentation of Melissa’s on mobile health tech for the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association in Madison, WI in September that contains lots of consumer applications I know nothing about:

That’s especially timely, given Pew’s recent report.

Melissa is awesome. She even let me come to her wedding, where we took these photobooth shots:
David and Melissa
(Click for larger version)

Oct 12

MCMLA 2010 slides

Thanks so very, very much to MCMLA for inviting me to speak at their annual meeting last week- it was loads of fun.

Attendees: If you would like more information on the topics covered that are not addressed in the slides below, please email me- my email address is in the sidebar of this blog.

It was especially great to meet fun people like Cam Gentry, Kristin Sen, and Lynne Fox- and I got to pester T. Scott Plutchak with questions about his views on publishing until I finally think I understand where he’s coming from. I think I understand now why he says:

“Open access week is coming up. Here’s what I wish librarians would do — if you really care about advancing the openness of scholarship, make a commitment to go to at least one publishers conference or meeting in the next year. Introduce yourself to somebody other than your sales rep. Go have a cup of coffee or a drink. Ask them about what they see as the future of scholarly publishing. And then listen.”

Oct 09

SpamWars: Update on Ashley Julian / Trent and Company

You may remember this post in which I complained about excessive spam from Cision (and it worked), or this post about Ashley Julian at Trent and Company.

Got an email from Ashley today (23 days after my post went up and months after I sent her multiple polite emails asking her to stop spamming me):

From: Ashley Julian [ashleynjulian@gmail.com]
Date: Sat, Oct 9, 2010 at 12:19 PM
Subject: Emails
To: David Rothman

Dear Mr. Rothman -

I am writing from my personal email to let you know that I have removed you from all of my contact lists. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience I have caused you and I assure you that you will never hear from me again. I would like to ask if it would be possible for you to remove your entry about me from your blog. As I am sure you can understand, I do not want this to be something that immediately comes up when my name or my company is Googled.

Again, my sincerest apologies.
Ashley

Ashley, if you don’t want to be called out in public for rude behavior…maybe you should end the behavior. I DO understand why you don’t want people stumbling across the post. Do YOU understand that your practices are rude and unacceptable?

No, I will not remove the post.

I will, however, vow not to send repeated, unsolicited emails to your personal email account and ignore your polite requests that I stop.

THAT, I think, is fair.

Oct 04

Toss out your answering machine

(This may be seen as off-topic for some readers, but I’m writing about it as an example of technology simplifying my life.)

I’ve been slowing realizing over the last several months that neither Liz nor I religiously check our home answering machine. This is bad, because there may be important messages.

We both, however, check our email religiously. I was convinced there was a better way for us to manage the calls to our home that we missed. Eventually, I realized that Google Voice would work quite nicely. Here’s what I did:

In Google services:

1. Set up a new Gmail account.

2. Signed up for Google Voice and chose a number that is local for us.

3. In Settings > Phones, I turned OFF all phones (DEselected the check boxes)…so that none of the phones associated with the account would ring when this number was called. This means that all calls to this number would, by default, go straight to voicemail.

4. In Settings > Voicemail & Text, I recorded a new greeting appropriate for our home phone and set it as the default greeting for all calls.

5. In Settings > Voicemail & Text >Voicemail Notifications, I set notifications to be sent to the account’s Gmail address.

6. I also elected on this screen to have voicemails transcribed. These transcriptions are far from perfect, but they often provide enough information to let us know what should be done with the message.

With my home phone service provider:
(Our home phone provider is Time Warner Cable- they have a VoiceZone service you can sign into to manage these settings yourself. Your provider may or may not have something similar- call them and ask!)

I set calls to forward to my new Google Voice number if we did not answer after four rings:

Back to the new Gmail account:

7. Now that this new Gmail account was receiving emails from Gvoice with the date/time, number, the machine transcription of the message and a link to play the audio, it was time to make sure that Liz and I both got them.

First, I set up all emails from this account to be forwarded to my main email account. Next, I set up a filter to make sure all such emails were forwarded to Liz’s main email account.

So now we were each getting the email when someone called our home phone and left a message.

8. Lastly, I wanted to make sure that neither Liz nor I would accidentally overlook such voicemail-containing emails when we received them, so I made one more filter for each of us that slaps on a big red label:

lastfilter

So here’s what it looks like in my inbox when someone calls our home phone number and leaves a message:
inboxview

The email contains a link to a Web-based audio player through which either one of us can listen to the message if the machine-transcription is insufficient (as it often is).

Results:

1. We can’t fail to notice that we have messages (as we sometimes do now with the little blinking red light on our answering machine).

2. We no longer have to worry about whether one of us or the other has heard a particular message and wonder if it can safely be deleted. We can manage our own listening as we would our own reading. It is as if we are both “cc’d” on voicemails left on our home phone.

3. Neither of us can accidentally delete old messages.

4. We can both easily access our messages anywhere.

5. We’re throwing out our answering machine without having to pay anyone for voicemail service.

:)