My car was broken into last week. After I got over the initial shock and disbelief, I focused on getting the window repaired and dealing with the cleanup. The thief stole my GPS (which I’d had for about three months) and the Sony eReader Touch that was sent to me to review over the next few months (which I’d had for about a week). Replacement costs for the stolen items is around $450. The window cost a bit more than the $250 deductible from my insurance. I’m still waiting on what the insurance company will do about the property loss.
When I let Sony’s PR folks know I wouldn’t be able to write the reviews, their immediate response was sympathy for my situation and an inquiry into whether they could send me a replacement. Several days later, I have received notification that I will indeed be getting a replacement from them. The cost of the reader is nominal for Sony compared to the publicity they’re likely to get by me writing about it, so it’s probably no skin off their nose to send another one, but it sure means a lot to me that they did.
This got me to thinking about libraryland and our customer service practices. Most libraries aren’t multinational companies with huge revenues, but the way we handle situations like this with our users can have an impact on our relationships with them. What would you do if one of your users came to you with a story of their car getting broken into and the library books they checked out were stolen? Would you believe them? Would your policies allow you to waive any fines or replacement costs for the lost books?
Talk of the Nation had an interesting segment today on the future of cell phones. Jenny will be pleased to know that guest Walt Mossberg uses a Treo. The audio is available after 6pm Eastern. You could also look and see if a radio station will be broadcasting the show online in the next few hours, if you’re eager to listen right now. RSS for the show is also available, if you’re interested.
Ooh! I just noticed that my favorite public radio tool now lists public radio podcasts.
“Ulysses” not likely to be a first choice, but some are reading ebooks on their cell phones.
I heard a report today on the Marketplace Morning Report that cell phone users in Japan are using their phones to read ebooks. The reporter also spoke with an American author who is tailoring his writing to the length of what users are willing to read on a small screen.
I would prefer to read on my PDA, since the screen is larger and I’d have it with me on my hypothetical commutes to and from work, anyway.
We had another over night flip-flop and now most of the gas stations in town are advertising their $1.89/gal prices.
We had another over night flip-flop and now most of the gas stations in town are advertising their $1.89/gal prices. Meanwhile, a mile or two from the edge of town but still in the same zip code, there are two gas stations that have remained at $1.84/gal through all of this. Go figure.
I need to fill up soon, but I think I’ll wait another day or two to see what they’ll do next.
I had a lovely birthday (thanks for asking) with family and friends over the weekend, and I took off work for most of this week. It’s been a nice vacation at home, but I think I’m actually ready to go back to work.
Dad & I went hunting for the PalmPilot on Saturday. CompUSA had it on sale for $199, but they were out of stock. The woman at the counter said she has been having trouble getting it re-stocked. A trip to Best Buy enlightened us as to why that might be. Apparently, Palm discontinued the m505 and m515 last year when they came out with the Tungsten models. While at Best Buy, we took a look at the other PDAs they had in stock, and that is where I discovered the Toshiba e355. It’s priced the same as the m515, which was what first caught my eye. I also like the styling, and it fit nicely in my hand. The other good features all add up to a much more robust PDA than what I had originally been looking for, but all for the same amount of money that my Dad was willing to spend on me. So, we went for it. I haven’t had time to really play with it (other than a few rounds of Jawbreaker and Solitare), but I’ll be sure to comment on it as I get more familiar with it. So far, I’m very pleased. Thanks Dad!
Yesterday, Open Stacks author Greg Schwartz wrote about smart tags being used for books so that wireless phone users could point their phone at the book and call up information from the OPAC or websites like Amazon.com, and that got me thinking. My library Dean came back from ALA fired up about a new technology in barcoding called RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). Right now it’s a hot topic among consumer advocacy and privacy groups, but the technology has been slowly creeping into libraries through technologies like self-checkout systems and collection inventories.
Personally, I’m divided on the issue. I think that libraries will likely use this technology responsibly by doing things like turning off the tags after they have been legitimately checked out so that they will not be able to track where the book is physically (except for the information in the patron record, of course). I do have some concerns regarding commercial use of the tags. I understand the security issues, but if the tags aren’t automatically turned off when the item is purchased, much like when the ink tag is removed from an item of clothing, then it does pose some questions about consumer privacy.
As for Mr. Schwartz’s wish for smart tags in books that talk to wireless phones, I expect that it shouldn’t be long before someone develops a technology that will facilitate the communication between RFID and smart tags.