Library bookmark redesign

Here’s a little hobby project that I’ve been working on at the CERN Central Library. Instead of the familiar blue bookmark with only a title, the idea is to add anything that can be useful to library guests (and even strangers) that will fit inside the space of the bookmark. Hopefully it can give more people an idea of what we can do for them, what they can do on their own, how to find us and provide a simple way to send feedback.


Work overview (italicized items are unfinished or undecided):

  • Title
    • Replace “CERN” with the official logo? Doesn’t look very good, and we wouldn’t be respecting the 25% margin rule.
  • Logos:
    • CERN
    • Library?
  • Due date, style:
    • Date stamp
      • Pros: Very fast to mark, usually good readability
      • Cons: Need to get one :)
    • Circle month + date
      • Pros: Fast to mark, medium readability
      • Cons: Computer science-y?
    • Text boxes
      • Pros: Easy to distinguish month from day
      • Cons: Legibility depends on the writer, slow, visual noise
    • Open space
      • Pros: Clean design with open space
      • Cons: Legibility depends on the writer, slow, could be too close to other text
  • Location code 52 1-052
  • Main web page
  • Email address
    • Desk
    • ILL?
  • Phone
  • Fax
  • Opening hours
  • Staffed hours
  • Other links:
  • CERN map:
    • Buildings
    • Main roads
    • Landmarks
      • Logos where possible, text elsewhere
      • Library
      • Restaurants
      • Reception
      • Entrances
      • P1
      • ATLAS
      • Globe
      • Hostels
    • Walking directions inside buildings
    • North arrow
  • Library map:
    • Both floors
    • Desk
    • Shop
    • Computers
      • Mark OS with logos
    • News shelf
    • Number ranges for shelves
    • Outdoor area
    • A/V equipment
    • Theses drawers
    • Reference section
    • Paper cutter
    • Printers
    • Copy machines
    • Return / delivery box
  • Feedback form
  • CC-BY license


After discovering Ohloh, cleaning up and publishing repositories of yore seemed like a good idea. One of them was established back in the CVS newbie days, and contained lots of external binaries – Not the kind of thing you want to version control. Having used CVS, Subversion and Git (in that order), there was only one choice: Interactive rebase with Git. Also, the software was created while at CERN, so it should continue to be hosted there. And they had started a Subversion service in the meantime, so it was time to upgrade as well.

These instructions should fit for any CERN project, and can easily be modified to fit any repository. The usual warnings apply: YMMV and RTFM.

  1. Set some variables to avoid typing: svn_repo=Repository_name
  2. Install the tools: sudo apt-get install cvs2svn git-core git-svn
  3. Create the cvs2git working directory: cvs2git_wd=$(mktemp -dt cvs2git.XXXXXXXXXX)
  4. Copy the contents of the repository (not a working copy) to the working directory: scp -r $${svn_repo}/* $cvs2git_wd. Don’t worry if /hooks is not copied – You don’t need it. If you don’t have filesystem access to the repository, you can try cvssuck. Be warned: It’s really slow.
  5. Set cvs2git global options:
    1. zcat /usr/share/doc/cvs2svn/examples/cvs2git-example.options.gz > $cvs2git_wd/cvs2git.options
    2. Modify at least ctx.username and author_transforms in $cvs2git_wd/cvs2git.options.
  6. Make the new Git repository: git_wd=$(mktemp -dt git.XXXXXXXXXX) && git init $git_wd
  7. Convert to Git (repeat for each module):
    1. Modify run_options.set_project in $cvs2git_wd/cvs2git.options
    2. Create Git import files: cd $cvs2git_wd && cvs2git --options=cvs2git.options. If you get any warnings or errors you might have to change the options again.
    3. Import to Git: cd $git_wd && cat $cvs2git_wd/cvs2svn-tmp/git-blob.dat $cvs2git_wd/cvs2svn-tmp/git-dump.dat | git fast-import
  8. Make a backup in case the rest goes hairy.
  9. If you need to (which was kind of the point of this exercise), do an interactive rebase from the first commit: git rebase -i $(git log --format=%H | tail -1).
  10. git-svn needs at least one commit to be in the Subversion repository: svn_wd=$(mktemp -dt svn.XXXXXXXXXX) && svn co --username $svn_user svn+ssh://${svn_user}${svn_repo} $svn_wd && cd $svn_wd && touch .temp && svn add .temp && svn ci -m "git-svn dummy commit"
  11. Convert to Subversion:
    1. Prepare git-svn repository: git2svn_wd=$(mktemp -dt git2svn.XXXXXXXXXX) && git svn clone --username $svn_user svn+ssh://${svn_user}${svn_repo} $git2svn_wd && cd $git2svn_wd
    2. Get Git commits: git fetch $git_wd
    3. Apply Git commits as master branch: git branch tmp $(cut -b-40 .git/FETCH_HEAD) && git tag -am "Last fetch" last tmp && first_commit=$(git log --format=%H | tail -1) && git checkout $first_commit . && git commit -C $first_commit
    4. Apply Git commits: git rebase master tmp && git branch -M tmp master
    5. Check if this works : git svn dcommit --rmdir --find-copies-harder --dry-run
    6. If it does, you’re good to go: git svn dcommit --rmdir --find-copies-harder

If the last step fails, the easiest way to continue is just to remove all commits from the Subversion repository, fix the Git repository, and restart at step 10.

Usable security tokens

Security tokens are pretty common these days. You know the kind: A credit card-sized piece of plastic with an RFID chip and maybe a magnetic strip to boot. Touch and go! But besides the credit card form factor, are they actually practical? They are brittle, and they can’t be attached to anything without drilling (which would make them even more fragile). Here’s an idea: Get a small RFID chip, and put it into a small piece of ABS plastic with a metallic ring that goes into the middle of the ABS and extrudes just enough to include the whole thing on a key ring (see below). Now if you have an RFID reader somewhere on your desktop, it should be enough to sit close to the desk for it to read the chip. So you won’t end up with a broken card, you won’t have to put your entire wallet (or some other container) in your pocket to protect the card, and you won’t have to leave it on the desk at all.

PS: Is it possible to make stuff like this (with embedded metal, and without destroying the chip) on a 3D printer?