June 16, 2006

Global Edge

Given all of the recent activity here with business incubators and interest in foreign markets... links to free government sources.



Created by the Center for International Business Education and Research at Michigan State University (MSU-CIBER), globalEDGEâ„¢ is a knowledge web-portal that connects international business professionals worldwide to a wealth of information, insights, and learning resources on global business activities. Partially funded by a U.S. Department of Education Title VI B grant, globalEDGEâ„¢ is your source for global business knowledge. The site offers:

Global Resources - more than 5,000 online resources
Country Insights - a wealth of information on all countries
News & Views - latest issues in international business
Academy - extensive research and teaching resources
Diagnostic Tools - decision-support tools for managers



In today's global market place, competition is continuing to become evermore intense. To help businesses better compete in this type of environment and allow business students to learn about different approaches for global expansion through hands-on experience, a team of researchers at the MSU-CIBER located in the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management at Michigan State University (and partially funded by the United States Department of Education) has developed a suite of decision support tools.

These tools tailor outputs with descriptive graphics, charts and specific business recommendations addressing your needs based on your inputs. To provide this customized feedback, the web-based tools use algorithms to provide you with the best solution for your situation. Your own private consultant is only a few keystrokes away!

Posted by bgi at 02:20 PM
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January 18, 2006

UMCal Tidbits

1. If you want to view your calendar without having to login each time, you can do so by following these steps:
a. go to the web client and login
b. go to Preferences and under the Security tab, check the box for a Global Agenda
c. click Ok or Update or whatever
d. your screen should now have link on the right-hand side that says Email Agenda
e. click on that and send the agenda to yourself
f. open your mail, click on the link and then bookmark the link

Note1: You can apparently do this same thing with someone else's agenda too, although how much detail you can view will depend on their settings.

Note2: anything you have set to a default of public will show as if you were logged in. All other entries will just show "Busy" and the time.

2. Say you've decided you like to be able to view your schedule as above. You notice that all of what you *think* are your desk times show only "Busy" and the shift hours. In that case, you can change the entry to show the details:

a. login to one of the clients (I like the web better for this)
b. view the MC UL BRS-GPL Reference calendar
c. double-click on your desk shift
d. Change the Access dropdown from normal to public

3. Watch out for the desktop client and its permissions. I have everything set to Public on my office computer, whether the web client or the desktop. So I was confused that some of my ALA entries didn't show any details from the agenda link described above. Turns out that when you set permissions for the desktop client, you are setting them for that particular installation of the software and NOT for you personally. So, when I added a couple of meetings from the reference desk computer they weren't marked as public. Of course, just to make it fun, the reverse is true of the web client - when you set permissions, you set them for yourself, regardless of which computer you use to log in. --Amy

Posted by bgi at 11:05 AM
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December 08, 2005

Printing *.pdf files

When you open a .pdf file, you're really opening the file and the program that allows you to view it. As a result, you actually have 1 document and 2 programs open at once. The print options that you choose are specific to the program that they're in. Therefore use the Adobe Toolbar Print function instead of the browser's Print function to print Adobe *.pdf files.

Note: if you only want to print some pages in a *.pdf file keep in mind that the numbering of a *.pdf file's pages may vary from the page numbers printed on the pages themselves. This usually results when there are title, acknowledgement and table of contents pages which are unnumbered in the original, but get numbered in the *.pdf version.

If you're having big black dots show up on your printouts, try "Print As Image" on the Print dialog box:


Posted by bgi at 02:48 PM
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Installing CD/DVDs

This guide covers the rules of thumb about installing CDs that have emerged from GPL's experience managing a large and varied CD collection. These rules should give readers a pretty good idea of what to expect from an interaction with a CD, but don't forget: Murphy's Law is still in force just as much as it ever has been...

Current CDs (from the late 1990s forward) typically have a program called an "autorun.exe" or a file called "autorun.inf". That means that when you put it in the drive for the first time, it will automatically start up. Usually, autorun files start up an installation procedure. See the image below for an example.

All CDs have a special file that starts the installation procedure. The names for these files are pretty standard, with install.exe and setup.exe being used almost exclusively. The ".exe" stands for "executable", as in a file that executes commands. In the Windows Explorer, these files are labeled "Application" in the the Type column. See the image below for an example.

The common name for the "all the stuff we learned too late to incorporate properly".xxx file is the Readme.txt. Like the setup files mentioned above, these describe the program, installation, known bugs, changes from prior editions, and sometimes brief user guides. These files are always worth reading if you're having trouble with a CD. See the image below for an example.



1. When installing, you must always answer a series of questions about how much to load, where to put the new program and so forth. Newer CDs (roughly 1995 forward) usually have default answers programmed into their installation that will work just fine. When you're dealing with a CD that's new to you, don't worry about this part. Read the questions and answers, but go on and enter your way past them. If the installation program doesn't have suggested defaults, it's always ok to install a program into the C:\temp directory. The program can be moved later if necessary.

2. CD installation generally goes perfectly well or not at all. If it doesn't work and the reason isn't obvious, that means that the problem lies in the CD and not the user. If a tech support contact is listed somewhere on the case insert, contact them or ask the department e-resources coordinator to do it.

3. Not every CD needs to be installed. Many CDs are just collections of .pdf pages which need only Acrobat to read them, so there's nothing to install. There are also a few statistical CDs that contain no retrieval software and whose contents must be accessed through something like MSExcel.

Posted by bgi at 02:21 PM
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July 13, 2005

Exporting and Printing from CDs


There's no single file format that users should always choose when exporting. Factors to consider include the program that the user will be using at home/office, whether the user brought a disk to save to and whether the file will fit on it.

If the user will definitely be using one of the formats to which the CD will export files, then that is a fine choice. Excel is the most common example of this.

If the user brought a disk and the format of choice fits on it, then that's fine too. If it doesn't fit, the user can export to ASCII text and the reduction in size may do the trick. Since ASCII is non-proprietary, there should be no problems opening the file at home/office. If the file is still too big, then it's no longer a file format issue, but a compression issue.


Any program written for Windows tends to follow a number of conventions established by Microsoft. One of them is that to print, you almost always go to the File Menu (furthest to the left on the menu bar) and then look about half way down for "Print". If there's a button on the toolbar for printing, it may take you to the same dialog box that you get if you go File->Print, but it may also simply initiate the printing process directly. So, if you have any doubts about printing, it's always better to go File->Print.

Posted by bgi at 04:26 PM
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File Compression

Compression is the coding of data to save storage space or transmission time. Although data is already coded in digital form for computer processing, it can often be coded more efficiently (using fewer bits). There are many compression algorithms and utilities. Compressed data must be decompressed before it can be used.

The standard Unix compression utilty is called compress though GNU's superior gzip has largely replaced it. Other compression utilties include zip, PKZIP, Stuffit and WinZip.

For additional compression software and notes on file extensions see the Compression FAQ, particularly "What is this .xxx file type? Where can I find the corresponding compression program?".

Source: Free Online Dictionary of Computing.

Posted by bgi at 03:21 PM
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We Can Use the Map Library Printer for Classes, Conferences, etc.

Library staff are welcome to use the Map Library's printer for promotional materials for poster sessions, classes and so forth. However, you should plan ahead by several days because it may take a few tries to get it right. Just email Hallie Pritchett to get started. - Amy

Posted by bgi at 03:08 PM
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File Formats

Dealing with file formats can be a hassle. Formats are an issue with all types of files, but they come up mostly when the files contain numeric data that the user wants to take from program A to program B. She needs a format that can be read by the intended program, that is the right size for the available transportation options (such as floppy disk or Zip disk) and contains enough information to allow automatic reformatting by the intended program. However, in order to help users in these situations, the librarian needs to be able to look at the file and figure out what it is and which programs will read it. Unfortunately, the information producers often obscure the issue with loosely used and unexplained jargon.

So what's going on?

Overlapping Meanings of "File Format"
First, the phrase "file format" has (at least) three primary meanings and they aren't entirely separate. The first meaning refers to the logical arrangement of the contents of the file. The second refers to the physical arrangement of the contents inside a file. The third refers to the type of file itself. There are times when the type of file used is dependent on the logical and/or physical arrangement of the contents within. The converse is also true: some types of files will only contain information in a certain logical and/or physical arrangement.

Non-Interchangable Formats
Second, not all logical formats, physical formats or file formats are interchangable. Hierarchical file structures aren't the same as rectangular ones, end of line markers vary between files saved in a Windows format or UNIX format and proprietary formats like .ivt or .xls cannot necessarily be read by other proprietary programs.

Loosely Used Jargon
Third, everyone involved tends to use terms very loosely and conflate the types of format with each other. For example, WDI has an export option of "ASCII" and "Text"; the UNSTATS database has "CSV (ASCII comma delimited) file - fastest option" and "Spreadsheets"; and American FactFinder has "Comma delimited - spreadsheet format (.csv file) or Tab delimited (.lst file)". In three programs we have 2 different uses of ASCII, 2 different uses of .csv and 2 different uses of "spreadsheet" and all three sets overlap.

Probable Cause

Webopedia defines ASCII as
"Acronym for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Pronounced ask-ee, ASCII is a code for representing English characters as numbers, with each letter assigned a number from 0 to 127. For example, the ASCII code for uppercase M is 77. Most computers use ASCII codes to represent text, **which makes it possible to transfer data from one computer to another...Text files stored in ASCII format are sometimes called ASCII files.** " {emphasis added}

In other words, any file whose content is encoded with ASCII codes is an ASCII file, regardless of any other characteristics that content might have, such as being a file of words or being a file of numbers (perhaps marked off at regular intervals by a character like a comma). Therefore, an ASCII file may be comma delimited or tab delimited or not delimited at all. If it is delimited, then it should be viewable in standard spreadsheet programs like Excel because they can read such files.

Because ASCII is an interchange format and because its character set includes only letters, numbers and a limited set of "special characters" like commas, ampersands and slashes, files saved in ASCII are often also called "text files", presumably as a reflection of an ASCII file's stripped down appearance next to a fully formatted Word or WordPerfect file. However, you should be careful. There are versions of text files around that are tied to proprietary formats, such as MS-DOS Text, and ASCII and text aren't truly equivalent. Thus, some resources will differentiate between ASCII and text.

Rules of Thumb

In general, the most portable format for a user is the ASCII/.csv/tab delimited/text/whatever words are used to describe the non-proprietary file format option (assuming there is one).

If file format information is not perfectly clear (see the BEA Questions about using this Web site for an example of perfectly clear information), then ALWAYS open up the saved file before the patron leaves. If it's an ASCII file, it should open in Notepad, unless it is too large. If it is too large, you will get an error message saying so. If it doesn't open in Notepad, even after changing the extension to .txt, then it's not ASCII or it's incorrectly coded ASCII and the user may have to try another format.

Any delimited file, if delimited correctly, will open in standard spreadsheet programs. For example, MS Excel will automatically open comma delimited files and it walks you through an easy wizard for tab/paragraph/space/semicolon/other separated files.

Posted by bgi at 02:39 PM
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Remember we still have the separate "Social Science Data Services" web page for advanced help with all things data. It has some remnants of info from the MRDC. Amy keeps it up. Others should make suggestions of things needed there. I suspect it is underutilized. It is at the bottom of our Statistics page, or at http://www.lib.umn.edu/libdata/page.phtml?page_id=1217


Posted by: Julie at July 14, 2005 12:18 PM

Sending Web Pages Via Email

If you want to send someone a copy of a web page, follow these steps:

In the browser choose FILE > SAVE AS... to save the page to the computer you're using. Choose your format and the directory where you want to put the file and click "Save".

In Internet Explorer (IE) 6.x, Netscape 7.x and Firefox 1.x:
Default Format = "Web Page, complete" which will save the page and all the associated images in a separate folder;
Other Format = "Web Page, html only" which will save the page, but not the images;
Other Format = "Text Only" which will save text only and no formatting at all.
IE only:
Other Format = "Web Archive, single file (*.mht)" which will save the page into a single MIME-encoded file (hence, .mht or MHTML page); proprietary file format; not necessarily readable by all users;

For Adobe .pdf files
Use the save option on the Adobe toolbar.

Once a file is saved, open your e-mail program and attach it to the message.

Good Form = including the address of the real version of the saved page so that the user can visit the web site if s/he would like.

Posted by bgi at 02:25 PM
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Overriding a Web Page's Formatting

You can override the formatting on a web page by going to either Tools or Preferences and locating the right box to check to indicate that you want to only use your own formatting. For the major browsers:

IE: Tools > Options > Accessibility
NS: Edit > Preferences >
Firefox: Tools > Options > General > Fonts and Colors

Posted by bgi at 01:57 PM
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Exploring a CD's Contents

To look at a CD's directory and files, you can usually just click on the CD Drive shortcut on the desktop. However, some installation programs are written to activate the autorun.exe file when users do this. In that case, go to the main Windows Explorer icon and look at the CD drive from there.

Once you're in the CD directory, you'll probably see files with all kinds of extensions, many of which may be unfamiliar.

You can look up file formats and the programs they go with at Google's Data Formats.

Posted by bgi at 01:46 PM
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November 11, 2004


Web version lets you save agendas you look at a lot in a favorites list; can't find similar function in desktop.

Desktop's auto-schedule for meetings is in the Tools menu of the Meeting-Entry dialog box. Nicer than MM - suggests multiple times in one go rather than one at a time.

Posted by bgi at 10:45 AM
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October 30, 2004

Room 4 Key

GPL now has a key to Room 4, in case we need to get into the BRS workroom for printing, etc. It is in the GPL desk top drawer with other keys, on a key ring saying BRS Office.


Posted by bgi at 01:33 PM
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October 12, 2004

Handy HTML Commands for Libdata

Line Break: <br />
(2 line breaks generate an empty line)

Bold: <b></b>

Italics: <i></i>


Forced Space:  
(say you want two spaces between sentences or after a colon; browsers automatically ignore multiple spaces unless you force the issue)
An  example.

Paragraph: <p></p>

URL: <a href=""></a>

Blockquote: <blockquote></blockquote>

An example.

Unordered List:

Numbered List:

Images: <img src="" border="0" alt="" />
(fill in the URL and the alt text!)

Posted by bgi at 05:54 PM
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Software Tips

Hate that pesky "Do you want to display both secure and insecure content?" popup? See below for getting rid of it...-Amy

Posted by bgi at 05:42 PM
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