Archive for 2010

A little anecdote to close the year

Posted in Technology and software on December 31st, 2010

The story you are about to read is true. The names are not changed, since nobody here is guilty. This is a story about resourcefulness, panic and the little things the web really is good for–and that mean “death of the web” (as in “no searching, just destinations”) predictions are stupid.

The setup

As I’ve noted previously, when we bought our new/old house back in May 2009, we agreed to take the Samsung refrigerator that was already there and leave our not-very-old refrigerator in our old house, because the Samsung looked like it would meet our needs better and all three parties in the two transactions would win from this agreement.

The previous owners passed on most installation and user handbooks on most of the add-ons in the new house. The refrigerator was an exception: no manual.

The refrigerator–a bottom-freezer non-French-door unit–is reasonably basic: No water dispenser in the door, and if there is/was an icemaker, it’s not plumbed and doesn’t operate. That’s what we wanted. One high-tech feature: A panel on the freezer door that shows the temperature in the freezer and refrigerator and has some controls. We didn’t necessarily want that, but it couldn’t hurt. We left the settings at 2F freezer, 38F refrigerator.

One feature we didn’t realize at the time: The refrigerator was shallow by today’s standards, only about 27″ deep.

The panic

A couple of weeks ago, my wife heard a beeping from the refrigerator (two beeps, repeated every couple of minutes). I heard it too. She thought the refrigerator door might have been slightly ajar; we made sure it was fully closed.

The beeps continued. And there was no light when we opened the door.

Then we noticed that the refrigerator temperature was creeping up, to 39, then to 40, then to 41…

Arggh. We’d just bought $20 worth of organic chicken breasts, there was $35 worth of salmon in the freezer, plus all the usual refrigerated and frozen foods…

We called the local appliance store that we’ve already learned to trust. They said “Samsung? We don’t repair Samsung: It’s impossible to get parts.” They also gave us the 1-800 number for a national agency that does repair Samsung refrigerators. Called that number; they said it would be $75 to come out and provide an estimate, plus the actual cost of repair, and the earliest they could send somebody out was the following afternoon. We didn’t schedule an appointment…

Called my brother (who’s lived in our new hometown for 50+ years) to see whether he might have a dorm refrigerator he could lend us, which would let us keep the most vital stuff chilled while we worked out a replacement. Otherwise, we thought, we might have to go buy one… We thought the old one was about 8 years old, in which case a newer one might use less power…although the old one did have an EnergyStar mark, those standards change over time.

Turned out he actually had a brand-new 10cf. refrigerator/freezer, purchased for the expansion to his house that’s going on (which includes a kitchenette). He was able to bring it over (with help from a friend); we found a place for it and plugged it in to start chilling. By now, the refrigerator was up to 45 or higher (but the freezer was still at 2F, which told us *something*–namely, that the compressor was working, but the fan to distribute cold air to the refrigerator wasn’t).

We moved food into the smaller unit (after it was cold enough to do so) and went over to the appliance store to see what a new refrigerator/freezer would cost and how soon we could get one delivered. (We’d also seen the mfr. plate on the Samsung and realized it was six years old, not eight years–so it should have another 8-10 years ahead of it.) After some discussion (with great people at the store, who don’t work on commission), we found:

  • We’d have trouble buying a new unit that would fit: The unit’s in an open area that’s about 30″ deep–and with any of the regular new units, that would result in the door handle being at least 5″-8″ out from the framed area, so far out that it would impede traffic into the kitchen and look really terrible. We could go for a “cabinet unit,” but those cost a fortune ($2,500 and up), you’re pretty much obliged to get a side-by-side with the door icemaker/water dispenser we really don’t want, and the vegetable bins are relatively small–significant because my wife gets a large quantity of vegetables once a week at the farmer’s market.
  • The salesperson suggested unplugging the unit, letting it sit for 15-20 minutes, and plugging it back in, on the possibility that something in the electronics might be off and would reset itself.

The process

We went home and tried that. It didn’t work.

But my wife, the expert reference librarian (and former library director–unlike me, she does have an MLS), did some careful searching online, while I did some clumsy searching. I managed to find the manual for the Samsung (online), and found that the only alarm was an open-door alarm. Aha! Apparently the refrigerator was convinced that the refrigerator door was open–and possibly had stopped supplying cold air because, you know, what’s the point?

My wife found a chat room where, it turned out, a number of other people had had a similar problem–and one of them had found a possible solution. Namely, that the problem was the door sensor, one of two plunger switches on a little panel next to the hinges (one plunger for the refrigerator door, one for the freezer). This person also said how you could remove the panel–and that, with the switches unplugged, the Samsung would default to “doors are closed” instead of the “door is open” it was reading.

What could it hurt?

Before we called the national agency back, we tried it. A flathead screwdriver did pop off the little panel, and–with some strain–we could remove the little harness that plugged into the back of the panel. We did so, closed the doors again, plugged in the refrigerator, and…

It worked. Oh, no lights, to be sure, since those are turned on and off by the same door sensor, but the refrigerator started cooling back down.

The follow-up

OK, so we had it working, sort of…but it made sense to replace the door sensors, sooner or later. Would we have to pay $75+ to do that?

More searching…

Samsung doesn’t offer parts on its website, at least not the public-facing part. But there was another site, Samsungparts.com….

The part was $11.95. Including shipping and handling, it was about $21 total (the company has a physical presence in California, so 9.75% sales tax was part of the deal).

I ordered the part.

About a week later, I realized that I didn’t really know much about Samsungparts.com. Oh, sure, the ordering process was over an https:// secure link, and they had credit-card authorization, but how much does that really tell you? We’d had one credit card replaced last year due to fraud (caught by the credit-card company), and changing the numbers on autopay setups is always a hassle…

I checked the credit card account online: Not only wasn’t there some big unexpected charge, the $21 or so hadn’t even been charged yet.

Perhaps another week later, I got email: The part had been backordered, but had now shipped. The email included a tracking number (USPS Priority Mail). The source address also included a parent company I thought I’d heard of (but I was probably wrong: it’s a very small company). The credit card charge showed up the next day: the company didn’t charge until the part was shipped. Score one.

Three-four days later, the box arrived. We rolled out the refrigerator, unplugged it, fished out the wiring harness, plugged it in to the new switch/sensor panel (which could only be done one way, fortunately), pushed the new panel into place, closed the door, waited 15 minutes, plugged it in…

And we once again have lights when the doors are open, along with proper refrigeration. For a total repair cost of $21, not, say, $95 or so…

The morals

  1. The web is a great place to find missing owner’s manuals. We already knew that.
  2. With a lot of luck and some skillful searching, the web can be a good place to diagnose and repair odd problems–although it can also be a dangerous place to do so. (In this case, there were enough people who’d had the same problem and found the same solution, or took the advice, that we were reasonably confident.)
  3. The web allows small companies to have big presences, and for third parties to step in when a manufacturer’s not willing to deal directly with consumers. (Samsung doesn’t appear to sell parts to individuals. The third-party company appears to be a tiny three-person operation, a true small business–but they’re a national supplier with a solid web presence.)
  4. On the other hand: If the refrigerator wasn’t too smart for its own good, we would have had a soft failure: Failure of a door sensor wouldn’t cause the refrigerator to stop operating. Funny thing: If your car’s “check for malfunction” light comes on, the engine doesn’t stop operating.
  5. On the other hand: There is no way in hell that a refrigerator door sensor should fail after six years. It’s a push-down switch, a trivially simple part, and given that the design makes it critical to the operation of the refrigerator…

Objectively, you could look at this and say “Why didn’t you find out about the problem before you went to all the trouble of finding a temporary refrigerator, two people having to bring it over, two people having to take it back…?”

Because the thought of spoiling food (did I mention that this happened within two hours after grocery shopping?) tends to push one towards immediate action, not screwing around on the web for a couple of hours.

Happy New Year’s, and may your refrigerator door sensors all work well.

Liblog Profiles 13-16

Posted in Liblogs on December 28th, 2010

I am delighted to provide liblog profiles 13-16.

101 Tips for School Librarians

UK. Started November 2007, lasted six months—because the task (“101 tips”) was complete. Group 4

Overall Posts

101

Per Month

16.83

Quintile

3

Quintile

1

2008
Posts

35

Quintile

2

Words

5,762

Quintile

3

Post length

165

Quintile

4

Comments

6

Quintile

4

Conv. Intensity

0.17

Quintile

4

2 Kewl Librarians

“A blog with thoughts on training, collection development, products, and any other library related topics that we might think up” Group blog. US. Blogger. Began July 2006, lasted 47 months (so far). Group 2 (GPR).

Overall Posts

81

Per Month

1.72

Quintile

4

Quintile

5

2007 2008 2009 2010
Posts

11

4

5

3

Quintile

4

5

4

5

Words

4,350

752

2,242

1,100

Quintile

3

5

3

4

Post length

395

188

448

367

Quintile

2

4

2

3

Comments

0

2

3

0

Quintile

5

4

4

5

Conv. Intensity

0

0.50

0.60

0

Quintile

5

3

3

5

21st Century Library Blog

By Steve Matthews. US. WordPress. Began January 2010, lasted five months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

20

Per Month

4.00

Quintile

5

Quintile

3

2010
Posts

13

Quintile

3

Words

7,881

Quintile

2

Post length

606

Quintile

1

Comments

20

Quintile

2

Conv. Intensity

1.54

Quintile

2

2CoolTools

“Learning 2.0 California Style — Technology Trends and Tools for Educators and Librarians.” By Jackie S. US. Blogger. Began January 2007, lasted 41 months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

258

Per Month

6.29

Quintile

2

Quintile

2

2007 2008 2009 2010
Posts

3

26

18

21

Quintile

5

2

2

2

Words

427

2,511

3,621

3,466

Quintile

5

4

3

3

Post length

142

97

201

165

Quintile

5

5

4

4

Comments

2

0

0

0

Quintile

4

5

5

5

Conv. Intensity

0.67

0

0

0

Quintile

3

5

5

5

Not really zombies: Blogs reborn

Posted in Writing and blogging on December 24th, 2010

A little more holiday cheer–and why not?

While I’m avoiding any real writing until post-Xmas, I did do some prep work today toward a probable essay. The essay is not about blogging–although it’s also not entirely unrelated. (A new essay about blogging? Soon, probably…)

Clever people accessing my Diigo account might be able to figure out the topic I’m working on, if they happen to know my tagging methods–and particularly the suffix I add to a tag when I’ve printed off a leadsheet for the article/post/whatever, partly so I don’t accidentally print it off again. None of which is important.

What I’m celebrating here is something that I was reminded of while doing this work.

Namely, some of the “dead” liblogs are, in a Pythonesque turn, not quite dead after all. At least two library folks whose thinking I respect have come back to blogging.

Hooray.

I’d like to think this return may be in part because people are getting past blogging as an obligation and various nonsense about how often You Must Blog To Maintain Your Brand, and are seeing blogging as an opportunity–to be used when it’s the right way to say something and to be ignored otherwise.

Or not.

In any case, it’s good to see these folks returning to the scene. I hope to see a few more in 2011…people who, once in a while, have things to say that don’t fit comfortably in 140 characters or even 140 words. (This post is right around 250 words long.)

Blue skies, smiling at me…

Posted in Stuff on December 23rd, 2010

…nothing but blue skies do I see.

Which is factually correct at the moment–we’re getting a clear day in between rainy periods–but also metaphorically correct, for this blog, for the rest of the year (consider this a pre-New-Year’s-resolution, one that will cease to be effective come January 2, 2011).

What’s the resolution?

No downbeat posts for the rest of the year.

December’s tricky enough at the best of times, thanks to weather, lack of sunlight, expectations that we’ll all be cheery happy buying drinking festive choraling…

I have ten potential post topics on my tiny notepad (some of them pretty old), and another three on my weekly schedule. And it just struck me that most all of them could be viewed as downbeat, or at least partly so.

So…not gonna do any of those posts, this week or next. And maybe, just to celebrate January 1 (hey, it’s our 33rd anniversary, so I have specific reason to celebrate in addition to the artificial calendar one), I’ll rip out the notebook pages and start fresh.

All things considered…

…this has been a pretty good year. Oh sure, I lost my part-time gig and any significant source of earned income. Oh sure, one thing I’ve been waiting for since ALA Annual is still…something I’ve been waiting for. Oh sure, we’ve had little problems.

On the other hand:

  • I’ve got my health (and Medicare signup once again demonstrated just how well the government actually does get the internet, which is, frequently very well indeed)–and a pre-Medicare checkup confirmed that things are good.
  • The Wednesday hikes keep me in touch with nature, in good walking condition, and in contact with a varying group of interesting folks. I would say “none of whom are library-related” but that’s not quite true: at least one is very active in the local Friends.
  • I continue to love Livermore, as does my wife.
  • I’ll have a “real publisher” book coming out soon, from ALA Editions; the first time I’ll have a traditionally-published book in eight years
  • We may not be wealthy, but we’re not going to starve either, not by a long shot.
  • Modify that previous bullet: By the standards of most of the world, we are of course wealthy.
  • Friendfeed keeps me engaged in the library field and interacting with a bunch of thoughtful, intelligent, concerned folks, most of them much younger. This is all good.
  • …and so on.

Thanks to uncertainties about bookmarking services, I had an enforced two-day writing vacation this week after finishing the first 2011 Cites & Insights. I should probably take two days off after each issue (and after updating the index) every time, but without regular work, it’s easy to want to get back to it right away. Easy and, I think, sometimes wrong.

Now, I’m at the point where I might start on a major essay for February, or might also spend a day or two just reading, watching TV, walking, doing laundry…and, of course, engage in a minor seasonal celebration. I think the essay(s) will be a little more upbeat.

Hoping all is as well as possible with you…

…and yours. We’re past the winter solstice; days are starting to get longer. While the flip of a calendar page from 12/31/10 to 1/1/11 doesn’t automatically mean new opportunities, it does provide a point at which to consider new possibilities and see which old frustrations can be put out of mind.

I’m going to try that. I recommend it to you. And I’ll try to keep the snark and grumpiness at a minimum, even on Friendfeed, for at least nine more days.

Mystery Collection Disc 20

Posted in Movies and TV on December 22nd, 2010

The Mystery of Mr. Wong, 1939, b&w. William Nigh (dir.), Boris Karloff, Grant Withers, Dorothy Tree, Craig Reynolds, Ivan Lebedeff, Holmes Herbert, Morgan Wallace, Lotus Long, Chester Gan. 1:08 [1:10]

Since I previously discussed the oddity of Boris Karloff playing the highly cultured, highly educated Mr. Wong, I won’t repeat that discussion. He’s first-rate in the role, and the other Chinese-American roles in this picture all seem to use Chinese-American actors.

A collector of Asian art comes into possession of The Eye of the Daughter of the Moon, an enormous sapphire that should be in the Nanking Museum but disappeared during the looting of Nanking. Naturally, the stone carries a curse. The collector, who is tough on his wife (who’s in love with her secretary) and whose first wife was a suicide, throws a party, specifically inviting Mr. Wong, one of the two greatest criminologists on the West Coast. (The other one’s also there. San Francisco was a hotbed of criminologists!)

At the party, the wife begins a parlor game that’s essentially charades but with a different name, with three little playlets. In the second one—a mystery—the husband plays the wife’s lover, surprised and shot by the secretary playing her husband. He’s using blanks, but somehow the husband winds up dead. At this point, I was a little troubled: I was sure I hadn’t seen the movie before, but that scene felt awfully familiar. Turns out that the answer to the charade was a 1931 mystery on Disc 10 of this set, Murder at Midnight, which does indeed use the same device—and this is a much better film.

I won’t attempt to describe the rest of the plot. I found it thoroughly engrossing and well played, from Karloff on down. The print’s generally very good. Even discounting a little for using a Caucasian in the lead role, this gets at least $1.50.

Strange Illusion, 1945, b&w. Edgar G. Ulmer (dir.), Jimmy Lydon, Warren William, Sally Eilers, Regis Toomey, Charles Arnt, George Reed, Jayne Hazard, Mary McLeod. 1:27 [1:25]

We open in a misty space, which is clearly part of a dream/nightmare sequence. The young man who’s caught in the nightmare wakes up, and the movie begins. The nightmare involves his mother, his sister, and a strange shrouded man-shape who claims to be (but clearly is not) his father, and includes a train wreck (his father died in a train accident) at which point the mystery may says “Just what I was waiting for.”

The young man, who is on a fishing trip with his professor friend, goes home because he feels the need to do so—to a clearly-wealthy household, where his young mother is now involved with another man. She’s charmed by the man, as is her daughter (the young man’s sister); he’s decidedly not…and concludes that the nightmare is his dead father’s way of warning him about the strange man. (This is abetted by his receipt of a letter from his father, one of several that the family trust is sending him periodically, telling him it’s his responsibility to watch out for his mother.)

The rest of the film involves a sanitarium, a psychiatrist who’s in cahoots with the new suitor (who is, of course, the man who killed her husband in the “accident”) and lots more. It’s paced pretty well, although the young man seems far too willing to trust in situations he should know could trap him. Things all work out in the end…and we wind up in a dream that’s not a nightmare. Not great, not bad; let’s say $1.25.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, 1946, b&w. Lewis Milestone (dir.), Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas, Judith Anderson. 1:56.

Great cast, interesting plot, first-rate print, and a generally fine picture. The real mystery here: How did this movie fall into the public domain?

In any case, it did, and it’s a winner. The first scene is set in 1928, in Iverstown—a factory town, where the Ivers plant is the mainstay. Down at the railroad tracks, a young boy whistles his way into a boxcar where a young girl is waiting with her cat. She wants to run away with him—but the cops catch the both of them, since she’s the niece of Ms. Ivers. Who is a mean, vindictive, not nice woman who hates cats (among other failings). The mansion also holds, in addition to regular servants, a man who’s tutoring the girl—and his son, about her age, who he thinks should go to Harvard if only he had the money.

Between a storm that puts out the electric lights and other things, the aunt is climbing the stairs to confront the young girl when the cat comes down the stairs and meows—and the aunt starts beating the cat with her cane. In what I’d consider perfectly reasonable reaction to such a horrific act, the girl comes down, grabs the cane, hits the aunt…who rolls to the bottom of the stairs, dead. The girl comes up with an alternative explanation (“there was a big man on the stairs”) and the tutor, who was about to lose his job (the aunt was going to send the niece away to school), goes along with it—as does his son, who saw the whole thing.

Jump forward to 1946, as a guy (Van Heflin) in a car manages to run it into a post as he’s staring back at the new billboard for Iverstown. As it happens, this is the other kid—the one who wanted to help the girl escape, then fled on his own. And, he finds out, the tutor’s son, Walter, is now the niece’s wife and the District Attorney (who’s become an alcoholic) By the way, the niece (Stanwyck) and only heir has made the company ten times as large and basically owns the town.

That’s just for starters. The mood is noir, the plot’s intricate and reasonable, the acting’s first-rate, the climax—well, I guess it’s a reasonable ending. Unusual to see Kirk Douglas (Walter) in such a sad sack role, but he does it well—it was his first movie. I give this one a solid $2.00.

Man Who Cheated Himself, 1950, b&w. Felix E. Feist (dir.), Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt, John Dall, Lisa Howard. 1:21 [1:20]

A rich woman’s divorcing her husband—and he’s purchased a gun and hid it from her, jimmied the lock on the outside entry to his room, then leaves for a trip to Seattle (but, while he’s burned the box the gun and ammo came in, the firing test receipt fell on the floor). She finds the receipt and, eventually, the gun…and makes sure her police-detective lover’s there to see it. Hubby sneaks in the jimmied door, presumably to get the hidden gun and kill her (having established that he’s at the airport as an alibi); she shoots him instead, with the cop watching.

So far, we have something that feels almost like self-defense…but the upstanding lieutenant, who’s also training his younger brother as a homicide detective, doesn’t play it that way: He decides to use the husband’s alibi against him.

Things get odder from there, in this mystery set entirely in San Francisco. Even for 1950, it’s a little hard to believe that traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge would be so light at 11 p.m. that the cop could drive part way across, stop, and toss a gun over the side of the bridge without anyone noticing—and, later, that the husband’s supposed three hours spent at the airport before getting shot would be suspicious because he wasn’t eating or drinking at the one and only dining or drinking place at SFO. Really?

More plausible, in some ways: the mook who saw the cop drop off the body (but doesn’t recognize the cop) described the car as a green coupe, and it’s really blue…and he’s colorblind but doesn’t realize it. Lots of men are colorblind, but very few are blue-green colorblind.

Still: it’s an interesting noir mystery, as the younger brother realizes that his older brother’s apparently guilty of something (just what is never quite clear). Cobb (the older brother), Wyatt (the rich socialite) and Dall (the younger brother) are all very good, as is the younger brother’s new wife (Howard). Unfortunately, the sound’s distorted at times and at least one scene—a conversation between the two brothers that might have been significant—is garbled because of missing footage. On balance, I’ll give it $1.50.

Liblog profiles 9-12

Posted in Liblogs on December 21st, 2010

Profiles 9-12. Note that rows are omitted when I was unable to calculate metrics.

…With Intent to Commit Horror

Since 6/1/10, renamed “Horror Books with the Undead Rat” with former title as new subtitle. By Greg Fisher. U.S. WordPress. Began July 2007, lasted 35 months (so far). Group 2 (GPR 3).

Overall Posts

475

Per Month

13.57

Quintile

1

Quintile

1

 

2008

2009

2010

Posts

26

60

71

Quintile

2

1

1

025.04: Michael’s blog

“It’s supposed to be online library systems, but my cat and class skills are not sharp.” By Michael. UK. Blogger. Began December 2006, lasted 30 months. Group 4.

Overall Posts

138

Per Month

4.60

Quintile

3

Quintile

3

 

2007

2008

2009

Posts

27

15

4

Quintile

3

3

4

Words

6,019

4,907

1,303

Quintile

3

3

4

Post length

223

327

326

Quintile

3

2

3

Comments

0

0

0

Quintile

5

5

5

Conv. Intensity

0

0

0

Quintile

5

5

5

025.431: The Dewey blog

“Everything you always wanted to know about the Dewey Decimal Classification® system but were afraid to ask …” Group blog. U.S.. SixApart. Began October 2006, lasted 44 months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

564

 

Per Month

12.82

Quintile

1

 

Quintile

1

 

2007

2008

2009

2010

Posts

26

17

13

15

Quintile

3

3

3

2

Words

6,813

6,399

7,172

7,088

Quintile

3

2

2

2

Post length

262

376

552

473

Quintile

3

2

1

2

Comments

14

8

14

14

Quintile

3

3

2

2

Conv. Intensity

0.54

0.47

1.08

0.93

Quintile

3

4

2

3

100 Scope Notes

“Children’s Literature News & Reviews.” By Travis Jonker. U.S. WordPress. Began November 2007, lasted 31 months (so far). Group 3 (GPR at time, now qualifies for Group 1).

Overall Posts

171

Per Month

5.52

Quintile

3

Quintile

3

 

2008

2009

2010

Posts

73

78

71

Quintile

1

1

1

 

Liblog profiles 5-8

Posted in Liblogs on December 21st, 2010

Another copy purchased, another four profiles, as promised.

@ the library [2]

“Your local library is a twisted place…” By Woeful. U.S. WordPress. Began April 2007, lasted 38 months (so far). Group 2 (only one post in March-May 2010).

Overall Posts

471

 

Per Month

12.39

Quintile

1

 

Quintile

1

 

2007

2008

2009

2010

Posts

69

41

20

1

Quintile

1

2

2

4

Words

14,229

7,180

4,900

151

Quintile

1

2

3

4

Post length

206

175

245

151

Quintile

3

4

3

5

Comments

280

632

100

24

Quintile

1

1

1

2

Conv. Intensity

4.06

15.41

5.00

24.00

Quintile

1

1

1

1

igital Serendipities

By Danica Radovanović. Italy. WordPress. Began September 2006, lasted 45 months (so far). Group 2 (only one post in March-May 2010).

Overall Posts

331

 

Per Month

7.36

Quintile

2

 

Quintile

2

 

2007

2008

2009

2010

Posts

56

11

10

1

Quintile

1

4

3

5

Words

9,091

2,068

3,098

232

Quintile

2

4

3

5

Post length

162

188

310

232

Quintile

4

4

3

4

Comments

101

16

13

1

Quintile

1

3

2

4

Conv. Intensity

1.80

1.45

1.30

1.00

Quintile

2

2

2

3

f

“a collaborative library … thing” Group blog. U.S. WordPress. Began July 2008, lasted 23 months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

74

Per Month

3.22

Quintile

4

Quintile

4

 

2009

2010

Posts

13

6

Quintile

3

4

Comments

21

5

Quintile

2

3

Conv. Intensity

1.62

0.83

Quintile

2

3

©ollectanea

“Collected perspectives on copyright.” Currently by Peter Jaszi. U.S. SixApart. Began January 2007, lasted 41 months (so far). Group 1.

Overall Posts

208

 

Per Month

5.07

Quintile

2

 

Quintile

3

 

2007

2008

2009

2010

Posts

60

20

1

6

Quintile

1

3

5

4

Words

15,853

10,647

1,099

3,300

Quintile

1

2

4

3

Post length

264

532

1,099

550

Quintile

3

1

1

2

Comments

31

33

1

0

Quintile

2

2

4

5

Conv. Intensity

0.52

1.65

1.00

0

Quintile

3

2

2

5


 

Cites & Insights 11:1 (January 2011) now available

Posted in Cites & Insights on December 20th, 2010

Cites & Insights 11:1 (January 2011) is now available for downloading.

The 32-page issue is a PDF download as usual. HTML separates–or, in one case, PDF separate–are available for most essays; follow the links below.

This issue includes:

Bibs & Blather (pp. 1-2)

Announcing The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010 (and a pre-Midwinter early-bird discount) and Cites & Insights 10 in book form (also with a pre-Midwinter discount).

Interesting & Peculiar Products (pp. 2-9)

Sixteen products and eight roundups/Editors’ Choices, from USB 3.0 to Windows 7 on an 11-year-old PC.

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010: Chapter 3: How, Where and When (pp. 9-18)

[Note: This link is to a 6x9" PDF.] Six aspects of most or all of the 1,304 liblogs in this massive study: How they’re created (blogging software), where they’re written (country of origin), how visible they are (Google Page Rank), when they began, how long they’ve lasted and currency (a timed snapshot of freshness of posts).

Trends & Quick Takes (pp. 18-24)

From scientific articles as stories to asking professional writers for favors: five mini-essays and another five quicker takes.

The CD-ROM Project (pp. 22-24)

Three title CD-ROMs related to national parks–and a somewhat downbeat group of mini-reviews. Well, except that nps.gov is such a great contemporary resource.

Offtopic Perspective: Legends of Horror Part 2 (pp. 24-29)

Great and very good films: None. Films I wasn’t willing to watch all the way through: Two. I’m done with this set, in more ways than one.

My Back Pages (pp. 29-32)

A bonus for those who download the issue as a PDF. Nine snarky little writeups on various topics–including an ingenious (but dumb) way to attempt to evade copyright.


There will not be a special Midwinter issue of Cites & Insights, particularly given the early timing of ALA Midwinter 2011 and the fact that I won’t be attending.

Dumb software tricks pt. 4,715

Posted in Cites & Insights on December 20th, 2010

So I’m getting ready to publish Cites & Insights 11:1 (January 2011)–no link because I’m still working on it.

One of the late steps is to print out my own final copy, which I use for the writeup here and elsewhere and to prepare index points, before stapling it and putting it in this year’s binder.

I always print duplex, of course–and I normally print directly from the Word version. But this time, since I generated the PDF before doing the final print, I thought I’d print from the PDF.

Oh, and to save time, I don’t use the printer’s auto-duplexing feature (which waits 30 seconds or so before printing the verso of each sheet, to make sure the ink dries); I print all the odd-numbered pages, pick up the stack, put it back in, and print the even-numbered pages.

OMG! Something’s wrong!

Glancing at the output–in the second pass–I started to panic. The letterspacing is all screwed up, badly so. Something’s wrong!

Then an old memory tickled my brain. I looked at the odd-numbered pages. Beautiful. Then at the even-numbered pages. Unfortunate.

And remembered an, um, oddity? bug? idiocy? of the way Adobe Reader interacts with printers.

To wit: If you don’t print Page 1 as part of a sequence of pages, it apparently doesn’t send embedded typeface information. Thus, the even-numbered page aren’t in Constantia; they’re in some “simulated Constantia,” using some other typeface but Constantia spacing. The results are…well, pretty bad. (Looking at capital Js on odd and even pages, this becomes obvious: The Constantia J goes well below the baseline, while the simulated J doesn’t. Also, the typefaces used to simulate Constantia has lining numbers.)

This shouldn’t affect most of you, I hope

But if you do print out C&I and see even-numbered pages that look wonky, that’s why. The solution: Let the printer do the duplexing. (Or, in my case, do the printing from Word.)

This is particularly rank stupidity on Adobe’s part because it’s failing to use a typeface that’s present on the computer. Arggh.

I could redo the whole printout, but that would waste paper and ink. For now, I’ll live with it. (After all, I won’t re-read the issue for another year or so anyway.)

Buying advice: Spaghetti Westerns

Posted in Movies and TV on December 19th, 2010

When I had a trivial problem with a Mill Creek Entertainment DVD megapack–in this case, a 60-DVD set of 250 mysteries, where one disc was duplicated–and let them know about it, they not only corrected the problem (for free), they sent me some collections as a form of apology.

One of those collections was a five-DVD set of 20 Spaghetti Westerns, entitled Spaghetti Westerns 20 Movie Pack (the link is to Amazon’s record). I liked the set quite a bit, giving 14 of the 20 movies better-than-mediocre scores, even though it’s really 19 spaghetti westerns and one American film that’s a strong contender for worst movie ever made. The complete set of reviews is in the June 2010 Cites & Insights, or you can just search “Spaghetti” in this blog’s sidebar to pull up the five posts, one for each disc.

In late May 2010, the set was selling for $9.49 at Amazon. I thought it was a heck of a bargain. Now, the set sells for $5.49 at Amazon, which is even more of a bargain.

And I think maybe it’s not the right choice.

Why? Because there’s a newer product that Amazon calls Spaghetti Western Collection (11pc) although Mill Creek calls it Spaghetti Western 44 Movie Collection. It’s essentially a Mill Creek 50-Movie Megapack–but shy one DVD and six movies (all of which would be short ones, to fit 50 movies onto 12 DVDs: some of the 50-Movie Megapacks run to 13 DVDs because there are no short movies suitable for the set). It’s actually longer than some of the 50-movie sets, with 69.5 hours total running time.

OK, so it’s really 43 spaghetti westerns and the gawdawful Apache Blood. Still, that’s another 24 movies beyond the other set, and from reviews I’ve seen, it looks as though there are even more that are widescreen (not anamorphic; you’ll have to use a zoom function). You’re not going to get Clint Eastwood, of course; you are going to get a surprising amount of stuff you may find entertaining for…$12.49.

No, I’m not going to buy it: I think at least 10 of the additional movies are in another freebie I already have, and I’m not that big a fan of spaghetti westerns. But I was pleasantly surprised last time. (You may know I’m not much for violence–and, with one major exception, most of these have what I think of as SpagViolence: like cartoon violence but with live actors. The exception, a brutal massacre of innocents, is–as far as I can tell–truly an exception.)

Warning: There are other DVD sets called “Spaghetti Western Collection” on Amazon, including a notorious Madacy 3-DVD set with all of three movies on it for a higher price; based on one review, that set may be inferior video quality along with costing more than 12x as much per movie. Make sure you’re getting the 11-DVD set. The user reviews are worthless, since Amazon’s algorithms mean that all the reviews show up for any title with “Spaghetti Western Collection” as part of the title, even if they’re for entirely different products.

Am I thinking of getting any more of these megapacks? Well…I have three 50-movie sets in queue (one that I’ve started on) along with the 250-movie mystery set, but I must admit that the Heroes set is almost enticing in its way. (It’s mostly Hercules/Sons of Hercules/etc. movies…)


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