Archive for the ‘sirsidynix’ Category


My new job: Horizon vs. Evergreen cage match


I’ve been hired as a consultant for the University of Utah for a one-year gig. (Actually, it’ll be a little less than a year, since the LSTA money has to be spent by September 1, 2008.)

They’ve been using SirsiDynix’s Horizon ILS for a while now, and they’ve asked me to conduct a feasibility study on using Evergreen. I’m going to be figuring out how well it works with their data, their workflows, and their business needs, and identifying any potential trouble spots.

I’m thrilled that Evergreen is being seriously considered by large university libraries. I’m not a zealot, though; for example, my preference for a desktop operating system is “whatever seems to work pretty well in the given situation”. I won’t hesitate to burninate Evergreen’s faults, whatever they may be. After all, my report is only valuable to the extent that it corresponds with reality.

In that spirit, I welcome propaganda from all sides. If you’re a SirsiDynix fan (or employee), and you want to point out Evergreen’s most serious flaws, please do. I’ll be glad to verify your comments in the course of forming a well-informed opinion. Similarly, if you’re an Evergreen fan and you want to point out its features or defend it against defamation, I’d love to hear tips about how to verify the truth.


Improving DaveyP’s HIP link tracker


DaveyP came up with a nice way of logging outgoing links from 856 tags.

I’ve improved it, at least as far as our needs are concerned:

  • If the user is behind a proxy that sends the HTTP X-Forwarded-For header, we record the user’s real IP address.
  • Since we have more than one HIP server, we record the name of the HIP server.
  • Since our profiles represent individual autonomous libraries who are much more interested in their own users, we record the profile code.
  • Timestamps are now in ISO 8601 format.

You can get what I’m audaciously calling version 1.10 here:

Creative Commons LicenseUnder the terms of DaveyP’s license, hiplink 1.10 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 License.


Technical details on Rome


The following comes from Janet Felts <>:

SirsiDynix recommends Oracle for the Rome server. The platforms supported include Solaris, HP-UX, IBM AIX, Windows, and Intel or Opteron-based Red Hat or SuSE LINUX, and we support both 32 bit and 64 bit.

The specific client workstation recommendations are as follows:

  • Windows 2000, XP or Mac OS X (10.4 or higher on Intel or PowerPC)
  • CPU Speed: Minimum: 700 MHz, Suggested: 1 Ghz
  • Memory: Minimum: 512 MB, Suggested: 1 GB
  • Screen Resolution: 1024 x 768 or better

So it looks like the only thing our customers might have to upgrade is some monitors; there are certainly some employees and volunteers who would be more comfortable on a 19″ screen if they’re going to be running at 1024×768.

We’re using Sybase, so that would have to change, but it sounds like that’s the biggest change we’d need to make.  That’s a relief.


A pig in a toga


Pig in a togaI’ve been working on improving HIP 3.x for a while now.  Roy Tennant applied a folksy metaphor to this process: “After all, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still very much a pig.

Today, just as I’d managed to hold onto the pig and the lipstick at the same time, SirsiDynix announced that they’re replacing the pig.  Sure, we can stay on Horizon 7.x for a while, but we were figuring we’d migrate to Horizon 8.x eventually.

Horizon 8.0 now joins the vaporware list.  Back in April 2005, it was scheduled for release “later this year” (pdf).  Almost two years later, the company is admitting that Horizon 8.0 was a non-starter, except for the unfortunate early adopters who installed it before general release.

The new pig is called “Rome”, and apparently this switcheroo has been in the works for a while.  Australian users saw a prophecy PowerPoint presentation in 2005 that showed a product called Rome; it was supposed to use Horizon 8.0’s client and HIP (Horizon Information Portal), among other technologies.

Well, it won’t.  It’s going to be based on Unicorn.  And the technical details?  We just don’t know yet.  It’s pretty certain, though, that the work I’m doing to improve our HIP catalog is going to be left by the side of the road.  It probably won’t translate.  All roads may lead to Rome, but once you get there, you’d better be speaking Latin.

Illustration adapted from the Atinlay Igpay card in Unhinged.
“Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas”: Ecclesiastes (q.v. re: Horizon).


A look back at CODI 2005


Let’s wrap up the coverage of CODI 2006 with a fond look back at CODI 2005. I’ve removed all the names from these quotes. Sorry about that, Posterity.


“This is less bad than it could have been.” — Customer #1

“Can I quote you on that?” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee

“Somebody blog it, please!” — Customer #2


“Portal authentication: this has been a nightmare, and I don’t know if it will continue to be.” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee

“Barcode and PIN, it’s not been–it doesn’t have–uh–good results.” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee

“If you don’t go Barcode/PIN, all your My List data is gone.” — Customer #1

“And we’re actually trying to tell you not to go Barcode/PIN.” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee

“So I can expect to be stoned.” – Customer #3

“And I can, too… If you want to stone me, I would prefer tomatoes.” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee

“With BImport, you have a choice. You can choose Barcode and PIN–which isn’t a good choice. But neither is the other one.” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee


“Just don’t let the executives get a hold of it (these quotes).” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee


“It’s a better architecture in eight-oh.” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee

“I have to agree, even though we’re currently using *Sybase*.” — me

“(pause) …So they made that announcement, then?” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee

“Your subtab is called Restricted Loans?” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee

“Yes, it’s like Reserves.” — Customer #4

“It’s not like a mortgage, it’s just a book checkout.” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee


“Who solved this problem before?”– Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee

“I *had* the problem before, but you solved it by giving me a new machine.” — Customer #2

(cheerfully) “Oh, that’s how Support will fix it.” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee


“We have two skins called ‘default’. We do that to confuse you.” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee

“I have Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Acquisitions. No, kidding, it’s Harry Potter and the Order of McNuggets.” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee

“I think the programmer was smart. I mean I hope they were, because… um… yeah…” — Anonymous SirsiDynix Employee


CODI 2006 photos (first set) are now on Flickr


It’s fun to stay at the…





Much fun was had at CODI’s 70s party. My CODI 2006 photo set on Flickr also includes photos from sessions during the day. And of course there will be more to post tomorrow.

I’m not the only one posting photos, either.  See Flickr tag codi2006 (rss) for everyone’s photos, and Technorati tag codi2006 (rss) for all the CODI 2006 bloggers.


CODI 2006 Opening Session


Colleen Medling opened the CODI 2006 conference by addressing nearly 800 attendees from Chile, the Netherlands, Far Texas, and other wonderful places. Crystal Ashton is not present because, as Colleen explained, she and her 3-year-old daughter have gone to Uganda for a year to help AIDS orphans. I presume that Crystal will be doing most of that saintly work.

This year, 50% of the presentations are led by CODI members, which is a new high for member participation. The rest will be ‘product education’ (how to use the product and why we should buy more of it) from SirsiDynix.

The keynote speaker tomorrow is Robert X. Cringely. Should be entertaining. The business meeting to follow will feature iPod door prizes.

Eileen Kontrovitz spoke next. She introduced some of our international guests and Unicorn users, then acknowledged the CODI board members and other volunteers. “And those of you who have not served… I’ll get your names.”

The next conference will be in Pittsburgh, which will make me very happy. I flew here from Pittsburgh and am already feeling the lack of cole slaw and french fries in Utah sandwiches.

SirsiDynix CEO Patrick Sommers spoke next: “I hope I don’t break the computer.” Then he showed us kawaii kittens and babies until we all laughed. “My mother told me you can’t go wrong with babies and cats.”

He emphasized change, starting with Earth’s history — sort of: “65 million years ago, the crustacean period ended.”

[About a Far Side cartoon on a slide]
“And you see a stegosaurus standing at a podium… kind of like this one… (audience laughs)”

The printing press, radio, television, and other mass media have affected human cultures; the Internet is doing the same.

He warned that most users began their search for information with a search engine, not with library web sites. (My reaction: Are our library catalogs easily indexed by Google? If not, why not?)

“Web 2.0 is the next anticipated transformation of the Web.” (I think of it more as a de-emphasis on static pages and a broadening of the kinds of content we use; HTML might not be involved. RSS feeds, for example, are deconstructions of traditional web pages. Remember the bad old days of signing up to get an e-mail every time a page changed?)

“At this point, Tom Gates told me to insert a bit of humor about how I’ve screwed up… I’ve screwed up many times in my life, but none of them were particularly humorous.”

He told a story about a mistaken carjacking in Sarasota, Florida by a woman who successfully used a handgun to defend herself against four young men who were attempting to drive away with their car, which was parked a few spaces away from her similar-looking car.  He claimed it was a recent news story, but I think it was this joke (which lacks any verifiable information).

“HIP 4.0 comes to mind,” he said shortly thereafter.

Horizon 8.0 has 1.1M lines of code, and about 220,000 man-hours have gone into it so far. “We will continue beta testing until we release 8.0 in January… 8.1 will be released later in the year.”

Talin Bingham spoke next, beginning with introducing his technical leads. He mentioned Agile Scrum, which is probably something I should learn about.

Horizon 8.0, to be released Jan 2007, will include all the features that were previously scheduled for 8.1, and (of course) upgrade scripts. 8.0 GA (General Availability) is what they previously called 8.1.

The new 8.1 is slated to include support for TeleCirc, Talking Tech, Debt Collect, PC Reliance. It will probably also include additional languages (bilingual French/English) and search enhancements.

Recommended 8.x client config: 1GB RAM, P4/2.4GHz. (512MB for HIP.) 8.x will support Mac OS ‘Tiger’ 10.4.6 and Safari 2.0.4 for a staff workstation with PPC G5 dual 2GHz and 1.5GB memory.

Berit Nelson, VP of technical product management, spoke last. She was working on Unicorn and is now working on Horizon.

She talked about a Managed Upgrade Package that includes the hand-holding and guidance that some customers want. For an additional fee they’ll meet with you onsite to plan the upgrade and/or review your network performance.

SirsiDynix will perform all the 2007 upgrades themselves. They’re “still reviewing” DIY upgrade scripts for Horizon 7.3+. This is mostly because architectural changes require human guidance to resolve one-to-many or many-to-one relationships between old and new structures, such as combining many circ_parameter exceptions into one or two rules or determining the new security permissions.

She said that there will probably be several new versions released in 2007 to add more features and further improve stability and performance. “Acquisitions vendor data can be upgraded. More detailed Acquisitions data: late 2007.” (Generally speaking, 8.0 seems appropriate only for customers who can tolerate the sudden loss of components beyond cataloging and circulation.)