Thursday, April 26, 2007

url shorteners

I've been using TinyURL for years, and find it extremely useful for shortening long and hard-to-email urls that are typically generated by cms websites. Tiny URL has a Firefox plugin that puts a "create TinyURL for this page" option on your right mouse button. It also has a "create TinyURL for this link" option, which is useful when you want to create a TinyURL for a page without clicking through to it. Another url shortener - which also offers a Firefox plugin - is dwarfURL In addition to shortening urls it also boasts a useful feature allows you to monitor the number of clickthroughs a particular url generates.

Monday, April 23, 2007

USIA/State merger and PD

While attending the National War College in 2003, former Oslo PAO and Reykjavik DCM appointee Neil Klopfenstein wrote an interesting and, in my opinion, accurate paper on the impact of the USIA/State merger on public diplomacy. His conclusions are reflected in the title, "USIA's intgration into the State Department: advocating policy trumps promoting mutual understanding."

Map of names

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me "how many people named x are there in the U.S., and where do they live?" I'd be no richer than I am today, but with at least I'm now prepared to answer that very tough question (and hope someone asks it soon!). Take "Bryce" for example, the database tells me there are 6,065 of them, and it's the 1118th most common name in a field of 2,634,850 names. Click on the map to find out where they'll find the highest Bryce density in Texas, California and Utah, which even has a canyon named Bryce! You can browse name-frequencies by state, and you can search on last names or combinations of first (John is most common) and last (Smith is the most common). You might think John Smith would be the most common combination, but it comes in sixth..and it's not possible (except perhaps by trying combinations of the 10 most common first and last names) to determine the most common combination. By searching a couple of unusual first names like Btisn and Buwakeow (I know noone with either of these names), ranked 397,176 and 397,198 respectively, I discovered that there was only one occurrence of each...this means that there AT LEAST 2,337,674 unique first names in the database, even though the database ranks them sequentially (a unique name like Btisn, at 397,176, is sandwiched between other unique names Btily at 397,175 and Btlim at 397177 - the sequence here, obviously, is by alphabet rather than by frequency) I'm going to work my way up the list of unique names to the names of which there are only two occurrences, but that will have to wait till this weekend. Anyway, loads of fun at Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

2007 State of America's Libraries

From the press release announcing the ALA report 2007 State of America's Libraries
Predicted demise due to Internet fails to materialize
(CHICAGO) Ten years after some experts predicted the demise of the nation's system of libraries as a result of the Internet explosion, the most current national data on library use shows that the exact opposite has happened. Data released today by the American Library Association (ALA) indicates that the number of visits to public libraries in the United States increased 61 percent between 1994 and 2004.

PBS Teachers

PBS Teachers is a great site for teachers. Here's what it says about itself:
PBS Teachers is PBS' national web destination for high-quality preK-12 educational resources. Here you'll find classroom materials suitable for a wide range of subjects and grade levels. We provide thousands of lesson plans, teaching activities, on-demand video assets, and interactive games and simulations. These resources are correlated to state and national educational standards and are tied to PBS' award-winning on-air and online programming like NOVA, Nature, Cyberchase, Between the Lions and more.
Local Resources & Services
PBS Teachers is also the gateway for local resources and services offered by your local PBS station. By localizing this website to your local PBS station, you gain access to educational resources, programs, TV schedules and more.

Diplomatic history

Thank you Kate for alerting me to LC's The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training. This site "presents a window into the lives of American diplomats. Transcripts of interviews with U.S. diplomatic personnel capture their experiences, motivations, critiques, personal analyses, and private thoughts. These elements are crucial to understanding the full story of how a structure of stable relationships that maintained world peace and protected U.S. interests and values was built." As you will see from the picture of Ambassador Clarence Gauss crossing the river to Chungking, China, May 26, 1941 to present his credentials, the pomp and circumstance so dear to our Ambassadors hasn't changed much over the years.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


This Firefox plugin turns any webpage into a whiteboard that you can draw on with a marker. You can change the color, size, and opacity of the marker through keyboard commands. Very neat, alhtough I can't off the top of my head imagine how I would use it - perhaps in lieu of a laser pen when demonstrating features of a website?

Color Palette Generator

If you want to design a page around a specific image or logo, this color palette generator tool comes in handy. Enter the url of the image, and it analyzes the colors of the image and generates a matching palette for you.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


This is a very professionally done "recommendation site for library-related web services" - and could become an invaluable resource if people contribute to it!