Thursday, 22 March 2007

Crawling like Ants

During experiments yesterday I discovered that running java processes from inside the Ant build tool can have unforseen performance issues. I had written an Ant task to build the browse indices for my DSpace system. This involves producing 9 separete indices for around 80,000 records, and is not a rapid process at the best of times. Previous executions of this code have yielded index rates of approximately 10 - 15 items per second, which I was pretty happy with. Running it in Ant, though, dropped my performance right down to a low of 1 item every 2 seconds! After this had run for several hours I killed it, and tried it again directly from the command line; up came the performance again to usual standard.

So, what is going on? Here are some details:

- while indexing in Ant, the box was under almost no load - no physical memory shortages, disk io bottlenecks, etc.

- I toyed with the idea that memory allocation to the JVM was the problem, but I've seen the indexer run with different memory allocations, and it has so far never caused a speed problem (just OutOfMemory errors)

Answers on a postcard. Or in a comment.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Repository 66 and the Google Map Adventure

Tim Brody from the University of Southamptom has just blogged some URLs to add repository locations to Google Earth.

I thought it would be worth adding that the University of Aberystwyth's repository guru Stuart Lewis has been running Repository66 for a couple of months now, with the same premis (except you don't have to download Google Earth to use it).

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Google Summer of Code

DSpace is pleased to announce that it has been accepted as a mentoring organisation in Google's Summer of Code 2007.

The following DSpace developers are officially mentoring for the period:

Robert Tansley (Google)
Jim Rutherford (HP)
Richard Jones (Imperial College)
Stuart Lewis (University of Aberystwyth)
Claudia Jürgen (Universität Dortmund)
Scott Phillips (Texas A&M University)

I am very excited about it, and we have the workings of plenty of ideas for the developments that can be undertaken.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Blackwell vs Norway (part 2)

Just a quick update to note that the University of Bergen has made a new 3 year deal with Blackwell, after quite a long negotiation period. I don't have any particular details, but I am sure that they will be reported on by UiB when they are ready.

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

IR Manager site and mailing list

Dorothea Salo has produced a new site and potential for set of resources for non-software specific IR Management issues:

It has a weblog, forum and mailing list. It will be interesting to see if this takes off alongside the many other disparate resources for repository managers, such as the software-specific lists such as DSpace General and the broader ranging lists such as American Scientist and SPARC OA. Perhaps, in the long run, the forum might be the source of some kind of generalised How-To or FAQ for repository management, which would be a valuable resource.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Blackwell vs Norway

Last week, news of the fracas between the norwegian university libraries and Blackwell was reported on Peter Suber's Open Access News. This was conveniently timed, because I have just spent the weekend in Norway visiting old colleagues, and getting the low-down on this matter direct from the source.

Norway is lucky to have a man with the wisdom and experience of Ole Gunnar Evensen heading up the team running the negotiations with Blackwell. And whatever happens when they have the final meeting in a week's time, this is a significant event in the "serials crisis" story. Things going well, Blackwell will accede to the university consortium's requests over pricing, but if things go as badly as they could, it will still mean that Blackwell will undoubtedly look like unreasonable bullies to all of their other customers.

Ole Gunnar cited to me 3 principal problems that they are encountering (copy taken from this article in På Høyden):

  • The publishers fix their prices on the basis of how many subscriptions the institution has had, and the libraries must thereby pay for subscriptions that individual departments or research centres have had on the side.

  • A high annual price rise in the contractual period is being demanded, in Blackwell’s case 7 per cent.

  • The publishing houses concede a discount for transition to pure electronic subscriptions, but this is much lower than what the publishers actually save. (‘The discount is normally around 10 per cent, but on top of that we have VAT, in Norway’s case 25 per cent’, explains the head of the Acquisitions Division at UB, Ole Gunnar Evensen.)

I, for one, wish Ole G and Kari Garnes the best of luck next week for their showdown.