Friday, February 23, 2007

The Secret to Google page ranking

From Maxine - A rather amusing explanation of how Google determines which pages are listed first when you do a search. Suffice to say it involves PCs - pigeon clusters.

Librarians and other information mavens have long wondered about Google's relevancy algorithms, which Google regards as a trade secret. We like to know how to make our search strategies as efficient as possible, and knowing how the search engine works would obviously be useful, but as a commercial enterprise, Google doesn't want to help people 'game' the system. So this explanation is meant to be funny, but at the same time, it is twitting their critics.


Amherst, MA – The UMass Amherst Libraries will conduct a survey, LibQUAL+™, of all faculty members and graduate students, and a random sample of 2,000 undergraduates between February 27 and March 16, 2007. Participants will be emailed and asked to participate in the 10-minute web-based survey. A free beverage coupon to the Procrastination Station CafĂ© in the Du Bois Library will be given to those completing the survey.

The results of the survey will be used to help assess and improve the UMass Amherst Libraries’ services, collections, and facilities. The results will also indicate how UMass Amherst library services compare to other institutions of similar size and mission. It will allow the Libraries to benchmark its results against those of other colleges and universities to determine best practices and indicate where to concentrate improvements for UMass Amherst users. UMass Amherst is among over 200 libraries participating in this year's survey.

In 2004, the UMass Amherst Libraries conducted a LibQUAL+™ survey, contributing to the Libraries’ initiating many improvements, particularly in the Du Bois Library. Improvements include more electronic resources, increased hours to 24 hours/five days a week, increased wireless access, group study rooms, comfortable chairs, additional computers, scanners, a fax machine, and vending machines on the Lower Level, quiet study spaces on Floors 2 and 3, a renovated lobby with a coffee shop, book delivery on campus, and more flexible lending policies.
LibQUAL+ ™ is a rigorously tested web-based survey administered by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

For more information, contact Jan Higgins in the Library Office, at 545-6868 or More information about the survey is available at

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Check it out! Origami and Math from Robert J. Lang

A recent profile in The New Yorker magazine of Robert J. Lang sent us to this website. Lang retired from a successful career as a physicist and engineer, during which he authored or co-authored over 80 technical publications and 40 patents on semiconductor lasers, optics, and integrated optoelectronics; he is now a full-time origami artist. His work is exhibited, and has also been used in television commercials and other media.

Lang writes and speaks extensively on the intersection of origami and mathematics, and has developed computer applications to simulate and help design origami. Dr. Lang resides in Alamo, California.

And yes, this "dancing crane" was folded from a single sheet without cuts. Lang's website has images of his work, many with crease patterns which (theoretically) one could use to reproduce the figure.