New library school developments

I remember a long, boring lull between when I was admitted to USC and when the classes and action finally started up that fall. Not so with SJSU and their Library Science program! I am inundated with emails about colloquia, activities, student groups, meetups, blogs, and more on a daily basis. They certainly take their mission seriously, of making the virtual learning environment as immersive and connective as possible!

Tonight I attended (virtually) SJSU’s Director’s Forum, in which the director, Dr. Sandra Hirsh, gave a sort of “state of the school” speech and answered questions from students. I learned about new faculty hires and new classes to be offered this fall (they offer *sixty* electives each semester!). Dr. Hirsh also gave some general advice to students, encouraging them to participate in internships, get involved in student organizations, and… to have fun. That’s right. :)

I also learned about Library 2.012, a (free) virtual library conference that SLIS is hosting this fall, October 3-5. They’ve identified six “strands”, which I’ve annotated with keywords that jumped out as interesting:

  • Libraries – Physical and Virtual Learning Spaces (learning commons, gaming spaces)
  • Librarians & Information Professionals – Evolving Professional Roles in Today’s World (“embedded” librarians, library privatization)
  • Content & Creation – Organizing and Creating Information (meta-data, copyright, open source)
  • Changing Delivery Methods (eBooks, social media, digital databases)
  • User Centered Access (privacy, freedom of speech, search, disabilities)
  • Mobile and Geo-Social Information Environments (social networks, QR codes, augmented reality)

The other neat thing I learned about is SLIS’s Center for Information Research and Innovation (CIRI). What sort of research do Library Science profs do, I wondered? Their current projects include studies of archive methods, the efficacy of text messages as a way to query the reference desk, developing an online library science program for Vietnam, YA (young adult) space practices, and virtual internships. They also have a CIRI research blog!

I keep having to remind myself that, in this community, “research” often means “searching archives and information sources for the answer to a question” (i.e., what you do to get an answer for a patron) *not* “developing a new algorithm to solve a problem.” I may have cognitive dissonance on that one for a while.

One student question was about whether SLIS would/should start restricting the number of students they admit, to respond to the job market. Dr. Hirsh responded (and I agree) that it isn’t the school’s job to regulate the number of people who are allowed entry to the field (and SLIS has students from all over the world, so it’d be hard to make policy based on any one job market anyway). She followed this up with statements about how it *is* the school’s job to help prepare students to be as ready for their job search as possible — and from what I’ve seen, SLIS does invest a lot of resources in career seminars, workshops, colloquia, counseling, etc. Not that I’m going back to school to get a new job myself. :)

When CloudFlare and WordPress don’t get along

It’s the little things… like your website suddenly vanishing.

My website (including this blog) is hosted by Dreamhost, a great company with great service. They offer a lot of one-click installs and generally make it easy to set up a blog or email accounts or mailing lists, etc.

Recently they started offering a free CloudFlare plan to Dreamhost subscribers. CloudFlare offers two benefits: faster webpage loads (by distributing your content across different servers around the world) and community-based protection from spam, bots, crawlers, etc. I thought I’d try it out, so I signed up.

When you check the “CloudFlare” box, Dreamhost warns that you need to allow them to redirect all traffic that comes in as http://mydomain.com/ to http://www.mydomain.com/. This seems harmless enough, and it worked fine for me at first, until I realized that one of my WordPress installations stopped working. Trying to visit http://www.wkiri.com/comphist/ or http://wkiri.com/comphist both resulted in an error: “Too many redirects.” Oddly, my other blog (http://www.wkiri.com/today/) did not have this problem.

I couldn’t find a good, concise description of how to fix this on the web, so I’m posting about it here. Basically, the problem occurs when your WordPress installation has its location specified as http://mydomain.com/something instead of http://www.mydomain.com/something. CloudFlare redirects incoming URL requests to http://www.mydomain.com/, WordPress redirects this to http://mydomain.com/, and so on until the server gets sick of it and tells you “Too many redirects.”

To fix it:

  1. Turn off CloudFlare (otherwise you can’t get in to your WordPress settings). Go to your Dreamhost panel, click “Manage Domains”, then click “Edit” for the domain in question. Scroll down to “CloudFlare Services” and uncheck the box. Scroll down and click “Change settings.”
  2. Keep reloading your WordPress site until it works (i.e., the DNS updates propagate).
  3. Log in to your WordPress site and go to the Dashboard. Click “Settings”. Update the “WordPress Address (URL)” and “Site Address (URL)” fields to have the form http://www.mydomain.com/something. Scroll down and click “Save Changes”.
  4. You may or may not also need to clear your browser’s cookies for this site.
  5. Go back to the Dreamhost panel, re-enable CloudFlare, and save settings.
  6. Everything should now work! (Again, DNS updates have to propagate for CloudFlare to be activated again.)