Archive for August, 2005

Current Cites: 15 years!

Posted in Libraries, Media, Writing and blogging on August 8th, 2005

Roy Tennant distributed a post today from “The Current Cites Team” noting that Current Cites is 15 years old this month.

For those of you who don’t know Current Cites [this link gets you the subscription page; the earlier one is for online browsing of the archives], I’ll quote a bit of the post:

The monthly electronic newsletter features citations and evaluative abstracts of articles in information technology and librarianship considered by the Current Cites team as the most significant for that month. Sources of citations include professional magazines, journals, web sites, and occasionally books. The newsletter goes out to a subscription base of over 3,000 individual subscribers and is either forwarded or featured in additional mailing lists, online forums, paper publications, and blogs. Each issue typically contains about a dozen one-paragraph citations, distributed toward the end of each month. Currency is the publication’s strength, with some sources appearing only days (or hours!) before it is cited and published in Current Cites.

Fifteen years–as a “volunteer operation, with no budget to its name but simply a teamof committed individuals.” The team currently includes even “tech-savvy librarians.”

I won’t quite go so far as to say Cites & Insights (which was noted in Current Cites when it first appeared) would never have happened without Current Cites as a shining example of nontraditional publishing in the library field–there’s a cause:effect relationship I’m not sure of.

I will say that Current Cites has indeed been such a shining example (and is one of several reasons that lists won’t die any time soon).

Congratulations, Roy and the team. I wouldn’t miss Current Cites–or, rather, I would miss it if it was gone.

Back on top again

Posted in Writing and blogging on August 6th, 2005

Yesterday, I posted a comment on this post, a “five years later” comment about Library Stuff that included some doubt as to what it was and where it was going. So did a bunch of other people: The Big Name library bloggers (of which I’m not one) pretty much agree that we all have blocks from time to time–I’m still emerging from a huge block–and that summer’s a perfect time to take a break in blogging and come back refreshed.

(A suggestion, Steven C.: Get a more reliable comment system! It took me two tries for YACCS not to time out, and more than half the time I’ve given up on commenting at Library Stuff because of YACCS/RateYourMusic problems.)

As part of my post, I included the comment “You’ll be back. (You have to hear the Austrian accent in your mind.)” [That may not be the exact wording; it's really hard to get through to YACCS comments some times, and I'm not trying yet again.]

Other than including the “congratulations on five years of service to the library field” that I failed to include in my comment–I give Steven C. a bad time now and then for being too eager to shut down “older” net media, but that’s only because he’s worth reading and paying attention to–this post [another unparseable Saturday morning sentence, almost done] is because I wasn’t really hearing the Governator saying “I’ll be back” when I wrote the post.

I was really hearing Lucifer, in the guise of Randy Newman, singing “I’ll be back on top again, running things…”–from You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down, one of the many great songs on Newman’s, um, less than wildly best-selling musical-on-CD, Randy Newman’s Faust. (I have the single-CD version; some day, I’ll get the two-CD version…)

As I thought about it, I decided that comparing Steven C. to Lucifer might be misinterpreted. And that almost nobody’s ever heard the Newman song (Randy Newman says the royalties from Faust should keep his daughters in toothpaste through college). And that some folks hereabouts might take offense at what I suspect is Newman’s view of religion, as expressed in the wonderful Glory Train.

The point? None, really: It is, after all, a Saturday in August that’s likely to be hot. I’m working at my splendiferous new 19″ Sony LCD (yes, my wife figured out a way to protect the screen from our cats–it involves a cheap Target poster frame’s plexiglass front panel, two cup hooks, and some Velcro straps). The day’s going to be another hot one.

Those of you not hung up on “sacrilege” might enjoy Randy Newman’s Faust. It features James Taylor as the Lord–I mean, who else?–and some great work from Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, and Don Henley. Gainesville is one of the prettiest “city-related songs” (it’s a love song of sorts) in Newman’s enormous city-related catalog. Feels Like Home is another wonderful ballad. And, before it turns into a religious discussion, Glory Train is a classic upbeat spiritual anthem.

Sometimes it is piracy

Posted in Copyright, Movies and TV on August 5th, 2005

The story here is that there’s a first charge under a new law, one that was part of the same little bundle that legalized user-selected bowdlerization of DVDs.

This portion of that bundle made camcording within a movie theater a specific copyright-related crime. And now someone’s been charged with it. A 19-year-old: Old enough to fight, old enough to vote, old enough to know better.

I’m all in favor of efforts to fight true piracy. Recording a movie within a theater for distribution over the internet falls in that category, as far as I’m concerned: I know of no conceivable fair-use or other justification, and it’s well beyond casual “sharing”-style infringement.

So, in this case, I say: Good for the justice department.

Hangingtogether: A new weblog of possible interest

Posted in Libraries, Media, Writing and blogging on August 3rd, 2005

You don’t see many work-related posts here. That’s partly because I’m not one of RLG’s “outward-facing” staff: Most of my work is internal to RLG–and nearly all my writing, speaking, and ALA-related activity is done outside work.

RLG does have “outward-facing” people, and they’re interesting folks, paying attention to RLG’s motto, “Where museums, libraries, and archives intersect.”

Some of them have started a weblog, with a tiny amount of advice and assistance from yours truly. It’s called hangingtogether.org and many of you may find it worth checking out, maybe even subscribing to.

Here’s the description:

HangingTogether is a place where some of the staff at RLG, a membership organization of libraries, archives, and museums, can talk about the intersections we see happening between these three different types of institutions. We travel to our members a lot and go to conferences and wanted to be able to take note of the interesting things we see along the way. Stop in, stay awhile, and hang out.

If you want a little more explanation for the name (and my somewhat accidental role in creating it), this post will fill you in.

I think the new blog is worth reading. Of course, I’m biased.

Hitting the century mark

Posted in Writing and blogging on August 2nd, 2005

Milestones are always rites of passage, even arbitrary ones.

Such as this one: The previous post was, apparently, my hundredth (excluding the automatic test post).

Now, reaching 1,000 at my current rate of posting: that would be a milestone.

By the way, I just formally disabled trackbacks–which had never actually displayed in any case. Never mind. I thought I had, but I hadn’t.

Another metablog

Posted in Stuff, Writing and blogging on August 1st, 2005

It’s not that I don’t have some postings in mind, or that I’ve given up on W.a.R., or anything of the sort.

Heck, last weekend looked like a great time to:

  • Write two or three good, substantive posts, maybe even one relating directly to libraries
  • Write a nice little mini-perspective on Google iconoclasm (looking at the Web4lib streams and the extent to which some people seem to reject any suggestion that Google is not perfect or has limitations, or to call even the mildest criticism “Google-bashing”)
  • Start in on a (c)2 piece, mostly on orphan works
  • Maybe even go back to the public library and check out some pleasure reading: It is, after all, summer.

Ah, but we’d finally started looking for a notebook computer for my wife, now that we have wireless broadband (“wireless” in theory, since the router’s a foot away from my desktop, so using an Ethernet cable’s more realistic than going out and buying a WiFi card for my desktop). We’d spent too much of the previous weekend with her trying out a range of units at Office Depot and Fry’s, with keyboard quality being a critical issue and her making 100% of the decisions as to how much money she wanted to spend for a machine that’s likely to be lightly used for the next year or two, and most of that for writing.

Well, there was one unit that she liked reasonably well even though neither of us is that wild about the corporation involved: a Compaq with a 15″ *non*-widescreen bright screen [a good thing, in this case: for her purposes, the lower resolution--1024x768, as compared to 1280x800 on the typical 15.4" widesdreen--combined with more vertical space makes everything more readable]. It was $699 with a $30 rebate; not terribly well equipped, but enough for what she wants to do, and we both figured that 18 months to 2 years’ life was what we were looking for (and since she’s not planning to port it outside the house, that should be realistic).

And Office Depot had a one-week $150 rebate offer, bringing the price down to $549. That appealed mightily to the cheapskate in both our souls.

Oh, and I’d started agitating for a 19″ LCD display to replace my six-year-old 19″ (18″ viewable) CRT, mostly to cut down on bulk and power consumption–but also because the power switch on the Trinitron was getting flaky. (Odd, after no more than maybe 10,000 cycles, but I’m guessing the power switch is the place to cut corners on a Trinitron.) And Saturday morning, it was *very* flaky: took me six tries to get it to turn on, three to get it to turn off.

So, after the usual leisurely Saturday morning waffles and grocery shopping, she suggested that we go back to OD and look at both–that is, the Compaq and an LCD display.

Which we did. And after typing, noting the problems (primarily that the touchpad’s a little too wide, so it’s easy to accidentally touch it with a thumbbase while typing rapidly, which in Works causes the live cursor to move unexpectedly), and thinking about it, she decided it would suit her just fine. And, to my considerable surprise, she went along with the LCD purchase as well–more specifically, the one I really wanted (a 19″ Sony with the sleekest design I’ve ever seen on a display, along with as good a display quality as I’ve ever seen), even though it was $100 more expensive (after $100 rebate) than the 19″ Samsung that the store clerk recommended. (“We put the Sony right at the end because the picture’s so spectacular, but we sell the Samsung because it’s a better bargain.”)

Which, by the time we were done, pretty much shot Saturday afternoon (and we always walk to dinner, in this case 1.5 miles, then watch a DVD movie Saturday evening). I even postponed my usual Saturday chores (vacuuming, dusting, de-cat-hairing the furniture) until Sunday.

Ah, but here’s where it gets strange:

I needed to make sure that her notebook could access the internet via the wireless router–that it really was a functioning wireless router.

And she wasn’t about to let me set up the LCD until we had something to protect the screen from the ravages of our cats (one of whom can, and will, scratch any surface softer than pure glass, and LCD screens fit that description).

Sunday morning over breakfast, I thought I’d do the trivial steps needed to establish a reasonable-security connection for her notebook on the router. Then we’d figure out how to find or build a suitable protective device.

Bwahahahah…

The steps and documentation provided by SBC had the combined effects of turning off Microsoft’s zero wireless (or whatever it’s called) setup service while not at all even remotely actually making a wireless connection via the software supplied. (Before running the software, a scan showed that our network existed–but we couldn’t actually use it.)

I figure I spent about six hours overall installing, uninstalling, reinstalling software (NONE of this was Microsoft’s fault: I lay it all at the foot of SBC’s software package) before finally finding that, by removing the SBC software (not their special browser, but their connection tools), using Microsoft’s methodology, and trying three different possibilities for what the actual WPA key *might* be, I was able to get the notebook to do something other than sit “Acquiring network access” (or something like that) for an indeterminate period. It actually connected.

Sort of: It couldn’t actually reach any internet sites. That turned out to be a Norton conflict: Norton was bundled, but wasn’t set up to autoconfigure to actually either allow IE (or anything else, *including* Norton’s own registration) to access the internet *or* to tell you something was wrong. Somehow, I fixed that. Nirvana, or at least a reduction in a frustration level that had me very nearly starting to scream (and enjoying lawnmowing, which I don’t, and the Saturday chores simply because it meant I was accomplishing something, no matter how trivial).

So she has a notebook that can access the Internet. It comes with MS Works, and I went out and purchased Works Suite (which includes the full Word, which is what she needs), which I’ll install tonight or tomorrow. I’ve installed the Epson drivers and verified that just switching a USB cable means she can use my printer/scanner (I could set it up as part of the network, but what’s the point: she could only use it that way if my PC is on, since the Epson certainly isn’t network-aware).

Oh, and we spent another 90 minutes looking for possible screen shields. We ended up with a temporary possibility, though it won’t be ready to use for another day or two (until which time the sleek Sony sits in a closet).

Total time available to work on writing, updating this weblog, or doing anything other than shopping, basic weekend chores, and fighting with idiot software (again, not MS this time): Zero.

And, of course, I’ll spend an hour or so putting the pieces together for all those rebates (two on the Compaq, one on the Sony, and a $20 rebate on MS Works Suite).

So that’s how my weekend went. I’m delighted she finally has a home computer that she wants. (She’s the more computer-literate of the household at work–where she actually uses two computers with a keyboard/display switch, because her work requires it. She just doesn’t bring that stuff home much.) Now that I’ve had occasion to use the Compaq head-on, I’m astonished at the quality of the display, particularly for such a cheapo computer. (On the other hand, I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to touchpads instead of mice, and I’m addicted to my ergonomic MS Natural keyboards, but then I already have a home computer.)

And maybe by next weekend I’ll actually have time for some writing and blogging. Maybe not: New crises can always arise.


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