More on Deli Linux

April 5, 2008

I have long since given away my test machine that was running Deli Linux on it, but a friend at the local Linux User Group has installed it on an old Sony laptop, and is chronicling the process at More importantly, she wants to actually use the distro, so there is a lot on the page about what works, changes that will get things working (such as sound, and recognizing USB drives), as well as details about which programs are available and work, and how to get other programs to compile.


Code4Lib Journal, Issue 2 now available!

March 24, 2008

Seriously, lots of good stuff:

Code4Lib: More than a journal

Free and Open Source Options for Creating Database-Driven Subject Guides

Using Google Calendar to Manage Library Website Hours

Geocoding LCSH in the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Toward element-level interoperability in bibliographic metadata

Help! A simple method for getting back-up help to the reference desk

Googlizing a Digital Library

Participatory Design of Websites with Web Design Workshops

Quick Lookup Laptops in the Library: Leveraging Linux with a SLAX LiveCD

The ICAP (Interactive Course Assignment Pages) Publishing System

Respect My Authority

Conference Report: Code4LibCon 2008

Whether you are in a public library, academic library, or special library, this issue has something for you. It is hard to pick a favorite among them, but I really like “Quick lookup laptops in the Library,” because it’s about using Linux to leverage old machines in the library.

I gotta say, it’s great being a part of the editorial team, bringing this to the world.

Code4Lib conference

February 23, 2008

I am heading off to another conference, this time to learn instead of teach. Code4Lib 2008 is in Portland, Oregon, next week. I’ll be posting here from the sessions.

If anyone is interested in stacking the deck for next year, I’m not above a shameless plug for a vote for South Florida for next year’s conference. If you have a login account at, go here to vote (note, some firewalls block the port in this url – leave a comment here if you are having problems). If you don’t have a login account at the code4lib site, you can get one here.

Connecting the Disconnected: Tip #9

February 22, 2008

My dad’s advice: It’s hell getting old. Don’t do it.

Two very significant things are happening this century. First, Americans are living longer than any previous generation, so we are all discovering, directly or indirectly, the handicaps that come with old age. Second, computer technology has become truly mainstream, catching a whole generation off guard. Consequently, computer illiteracy has become one of those old age handicaps, and it is acutely felt by those who are otherwise functioning extremely well in society.

The older generation sees their grandchildren interacting with all kinds of computers with ease, yet they have difficulty just getting their heads around some of the most basic concepts like menus and scrollbars. I haven’t kept track of how many older adults I have talked to about computers, but I’m sure if I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “I feel so stupid” I’d be as rich as Bill Gates.

I repeatedly tell members of the older generation they are not stupid, they are inexperienced. They wouldn’t think of themselves as being stupid because they can’t play a piccolo or speak Swahili. Neither should they feel stupid because they can’t use a computer…yet. Did they learn to read in a day or a week? How long were they taught penmanship? ( “Oh! Years!”) And that was when they were young, like their grandchildren.

Learning to use a computer is doable, no matter how complicated it looks to them. But a big factor in their success is their attitude. In addition to making it easier for them to learn, it is important to counteract the self image they come in with by reminding them that they are learning, that it is not as hard as they imagined, and that they can do it. It is a wonderful thing to see their faces brighten as they realize they have learned something, and therefore are not stupid after all. As their attitude and self image changes, barriers start coming down and they pick up more determination.

Tip #9: Encourage them. Not just with positive reinforcement, but with active encouragement that reminds them what they have accomplished.

Changing Menu Text Size

December 19, 2007

O.K., upfront disclaimer: This is not for experts. But I have been getting a lot of questions lately about how to change the text size for menus in Windows.

This is a way to increase the size of some of the text without changing the screen resolution, which is a way to increase the overall size of everything, including text. These are instructions for WindowsXP, but they should work in Windows Vista as well.

First, right click on a clear part of the computer’s desktop, to open the context menu. Click on the last option, “Properties.”

Right click Context Menu on the desktop

In the Display Properties window, click on the “Appearance” tab at the top.

Appearance tab in the Properties Window

In the Appearance section, click on the “Advanced” button at the bottom.

Advanced button on the Appearance tab section

Click on the downward pointing arrow to open the drop down menu:

Drop down menu button on the Advanced Windows page

Select the “Menu” option from the drop down menu that opens.

Menu option selected in the drop down menu

Change the Text size in the box next to the Font selection box.

Text Size box

Notice the preview pane at the top of the window, which will display the proposed changes. The Font can also be changed here, if desired, as well as the color and bold or italic embellishments. Other Windows appearances can be customized here as well (use the drop down “Item” menu).

Click the OK button at the bottom when you are satisfied with the changes. This will take you back to the Appearance tab of the Display Properties window. Click on the “Apply” button at the bottom of the window for the changes to take effect.

Apply button in the Display Properties window

When you are satisfied with the changes, click the OK button at the bottom of the Display Properties window to close it. Note that if you make any changes in the Appearances tab (such as changing the style), it will override the changes you made in the Advanced section.

(Note: this won’t change the menu text size in Firefox (version, but it will change the text for the tabs, toolbar labels, and the bookmark toolbar).