Friday, December 29, 2006

Today's Portsmouth Herald has a piece from Adam Leech on our wi-fi plans for downtown Portsmouth. Clearly wi-fi is a pet subject of Adam's at this point, which is great -- I love when a single reporter sticks with a story the whole way through! Anyway here it is.

A couple of notes on it. First, it is my personal opinion (not necessarily shared by the EDC, Wi-Fi Subcommittee, or the City Council) that the money should not be an obstacle. It's very short money, actually, when one considers the benefit and the potential positive inpact on economic development for the city. Any of dozens of businesses right here in town could easily pony up for the whole thing (making an unique advertising and goodwill coup in the process), but the city should also be able to find the money in their budget, as well. I shudder to think of all the ways our tax dollars are spent/wasted on far less useful stuff! At what figures to be a two bucks per year per citizen, covering the key downtown areas with wireless Internet is a very doable enterprise, IMO.

Secondly, on the usage statistics. I'm currently working on the survey data, i.e., pounding away in Excel Hell. Ginny Griffith will be presenting the data on Jan. 5th, so I'll have the usership breakdowns done by then.

Finally, if anybody can explain the headline of this article ("More Wi-Fi in city? Weight on businesses"), that'd be great, because, uh, I don't get it!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just taking a quick time-out from all the Christmas and Boxing Day festivities to remind everyone that it's time again for the NH Internet Awards! The award show is always a fun time, great for networking, and the pretty trophies make great paperweights and door-stoppers, too. Just kidding! The awards are open to NH-based designers, regardless of where your client calls HQ, so get your submissions ready fast. Deadline is Jan. 10, 2007. We now return you to your regularly scheduled leftovers, already in progress.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Blogging from the New Library

Perhaps this is the first blog posting from the new Portsmouth Public Library? I'd be honored if it was.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in is that everybody is smiling. There's a magical feel in the air here. It's like the morning after the Red Sox won the World Series. Everybody is walking around dazed and smiling, shaking their heads in disbelief, and saying things like, "I can't believe it finally happened" and "I'm so glad I got to see this before I died!" It's been a long time coming; this Herald editorial gives the you the basic idea.

I parked easily in the lot between the school and the library (wow, what a concept, free and abundant parking!) and I walked in to see... middle-schoolers swarming all over the place like happy little locusts after grasshopper school. I guess 3PM isn't the best time to come to the new library?!

I said hi to Reference Librarian/City Institution Michael Huxtable, got my map (you'll need it, trust me) and took my self-guided tour. It's bright, airy, open... a little sterile (think hospital, hotel, etc.) but very handsome. After meandering around the place, being in awe of the sheer size and available space, I settled in Fiction, just away from the main desk and around the corner from the cafe. From here I can hear the library staff people offering new patrons the choice of library cards in traditional "credit" style or "keychain" style. I believe people who were turned off by the lack of parking and space in the old library will be coming out of the woodwork to become patrons of this library. Indeed, in the time that I've been sitting here, there's been a steady stream of people signing up.

Perhaps the starkest contrast between the old and new libraries is the space on the shelves. When I was a work-study library page at the old building back in the early 90s, I remember stacks bursting at the seams and when I was reshelving books, I was laying books on top of books because they couldn't squeeze into place. Now, it's like going from an old VW Beetle to a Hummer stretch limo -- plenty of head and leg room!

And you know me... of course I brought in my laptop. I connected to the network right away but needed a password. I'm still not sure how I feel about this -- I think wi-fi networks should be open, for ease of both site hosts and users. Anyway, the front desk person gave me the info (UN - portslib, PW - portslib). We'll have to see if they rotate it. Signal is strong (4 out of 4) and fast (768 Kbps, i.e., DSL speed) -- and according to the log-in welcome page, the networking is still provided by our friends at Single Digits. The whole library is essentially a wi-fi zone, but it seems the best reception will be in the middle of the building (where I sat) by the court yard. (More glass, less steel.)

All in all, the new facility is a triumph. Personally, I've been waiting 20 years for this, and dare I say, it's been worth the wait? Finally, it's a world class library for a city that richly deserves one. And yes, it has that "new library smell." How sweet it is.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Barack. Barock? Barockstar!

[Photo by Marisa. And yes, she got to shake his hand. And yes that was her on MSNBC shaking his hand. And yes she has washed that hand, but she thought about not.]