Archive for September, 2010

To zero and beyond! A quick update

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I thought I’d update this post.

Made you look? Maybe not?

We reached zero on the bidirectional PG&E electricity meter at around 3:30 p.m. today–so far, AC hasn’t kicked in despite it being the second really hot day in a row.

Well, actually we reached below zero–and found that our meter doesn’t display minus numbers. It went from 0 to a whole string of 9s. We assume PG&E knows what this means…

All in all, not bad for a system designed to replace 80% of our electricity, although at mid-November, the end of the first year (when we pay PG&E for any of their electricity we used), I’m sure it will be a positive number. Still, I’d guess we’ll wind up having generated 90% or more of our own power.

As to the rest of the items, the validity scan is long since done, the third draft of my book is done (with one more quick revision cycle left), and…well, I’m glad tomorrow’s supposed to be in the mid-90s instead of low-100s.

Mystery Collection Disc 17

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Love from a Stranger, 1937, b&w. Rowland V. Lee (dir.), Ann Harding, Basil Rathbone, Binnie Hale, Bruce Seton. 1:26.

A young woman whose fiancé is about to return from a three-year stretch of work in the Sudan wins the French lottery (for about 90,000£, or about $25 million in contemporary purchasing power) just as he’s returning, and wants to go see the world. Two things happen almost simultaneously: A suave man shows up in response to her ad to sublet the flat—and her fiancé returns, won’t give up his post on returning to England just to follow her around the continent, and gets in an argument with her, stalking off.

Next thing we know, the woman (and her friend and flatmate) is on the ship to Paris—as is the suave stranger, who of course makes a play for her. Then they’re in Paris, her ex shows up to apologize…and now she’s married to the stranger. Shortly thereafter, he borrows 5,000£ to buy a house in the country (a house which, his wife later discovers, was up for sale for half that amount—still, at around $700,000, a goodly sum)…and gets her to sign a form for the loan without reading it.

Then we get the husband acting very strangely and the suspicion that he might just be a serial wife-killer who gets his wives to sign (gasp) papers giving their husbands control over their money. There’s more to the plot than this, and the ending is…interesting. The whole thing seems wildly overwrought, but maybe that’s the intention. I’m torn on this one: Basil Rathbone seems to be chewing the scenery (as does Ann Harding) and the whole thing’s a bit implausible, but it has its merits. $1.25.

The Evil Mind (or The Clairvoyant), 1934, b&w. Maurice Elvey (dir.), Claude Rains, Jane Baxter, Athole Stewart. 1:21 [1:08].

Reviewed in the January 2009 Cites & Insights as part of 50 Movie Hollywood Legends. Here’s what I said at the time—and, once again, the “starring” line is for Fay Wray rather than the more deserving Claude Rains.

Maximus works as a stage clairvoyant, using his wife’s clues to say what she’s holding—until, in the presence of another woman, he suddenly makes a real and correct prediction. This happens a couple of times; he gets a big London stage engagement but the producer’s unhappy because he can’t do big predictions to order. Meanwhile, his wife’s becoming jealous of the young woman. This all leads up to his unwilling prediction of a tunneling catastrophe—one that, when it comes true, causes him to be put on trial on the basis that his prediction caused the catastrophe.

There’s little point in saying more about the plot. It’s not bad, actually, and there’s a nice twist involving why he only makes accurate predictions under certain circumstances. The print is jumpy at points, 13 minutes are missing and the soundtrack’s damaged at points as well, but not so much as to ruin the picture. It’s generally well-acted. While the sleeve lists Fay Wray (the wife) as the “legend,” I’d say Claude Rains’ faintly bizarre and very well played Maximus deserves more credit. The original title (“The Clairvoyant”) suits this better, as there’s nothing evil in Rains’ predictions. I’ll give it $1.00.

One Frightened Night, 1935, b&w. Christy Cabanne (dir.), Charles Grapewin, Lucien Littlefield, Mary Carlisle, Regis Toomey, Arthur Hohl, Fred Kelsey, Evalyn Knapp, Hedda Hopper. 1:06.

Another short mystery-comedy family-inheritance movie, and a good one. This time, instead of a dead Mean Old Man Who Nobody’s Sorry To See Go, we have a live MOMWNSTG, faced with a supposed midnight increase in inheritance taxes—so he’s about to distribute his funds, $5 million of them (call that $77 million in today’s dollars).

It all starts at dinner with his niece and her husband, a ne’er-do-well charming nephew, his female servant and his doctor—where, after baiting them generally for being what they are, he tells them, one by one, that each is about to receive $1 million. The fifth million? That goes to his attorney—but in all cases, it assumes that his long-lost granddaughter, who he hasn’t seen for 20 years, doesn’t show up (or she gets it all). Then, in comes the attorney…with his granddaughter.

Well now. As he’s talking to her upstairs, a young woman battles the storm (of course it’s a dark and stormy night) to get to the house, and announces herself as…his granddaughter. With her colleague in a vaudeville magic act showing up soon, once he gets the car parked. She just dropped by because her mother said she should. Unlike the first granddaughter (both with the same name), she doesn’t have corroborating letters…but also unlike the first one, within five minutes, she’s still alive.

That sets the scene. Add a police detective and sergeant, a couple of hidden passages, and a whole bunch of red herrings, and you have a thoroughly entertaining hour. (A note about the IMDB listing: A claimed “goof” is, to my eye, a deliberate plot point—the utility folks managed to repair a downed pole, restoring power to the house.) Unfortunately, the picture has problems during the last five minutes, but it’s still a lot of fun. $1.50

Prison Shadows, 1936, b&w. Robert F. Hill (dir.), Eddie Nugent, Lucille Lund, Joan Barclay, Forrest Taylor, Syd Saylor, Monte Blue. 1:06.

We open in a boxing ring with overhead shots and one guy winning in short order—and then cut to the reality: The boxing ring is in prison, and all the prisoners—including the fighters and their trainers—now head back to their cells. Ah, but as we soon find out (while the winner’s trainer is alternating between rubbing down the winner, his cellmate, and drinking the rubbing alcohol), the winner’s about to be paroled for his “crime”: Killing an opponent by hitting him with a late punch, with his lethal right hand (which he basically won’t use in fights).

The plot escalates from there—with a woman who clearly loves him but he regards as a friend, a woman who is playing him along, playing his promoter along (of course he goes back into the fight game as soon as he’s paroled) and either also playing a trainer/thug along or, maybe, actually involved with this one. Her bit is to win bets on the fights by killing off the opponents. She comes off as mean-spirited throughout, and it’s hard to see just what makes her so seductive. In any case, we have another two deaths (involving a methodology that’s basically—well, let’s just say improbable) and, eventually, a happy ending.

The plot’s not terrible, but I find the tone of the whole thing absurd. The guy who’s been in prison comes out and is relentlessly chipper (and hopelessly naïve), as though being an imprisoned felon was basically a vacation. Oh, except that he can’t get married during the seven years of parole (?). It just doesn’t work. That, and the generally lightweight acting (and missing frames here and there, just enough to be annoying) bring this down to a subpar $0.75.

How many posts? New deadline and re-request

Monday, September 27th, 2010

If you run a liblog or knows someone who does, and if you haven’t seen this post, I’d appreciate it if you could check the post and, if appropriate, respond by October 7, 2010.

This post is partly a re-request, partly a new deadline. Other projects are moving rapidly enough that I might be able to start data analysis on the liblog project on October 8, 2010; since most responses to a post come within the first week, I think it’s reasonable to change the original one-month deadline to a three-week deadline.

(For those not ready to click through, the request is for the total number of blog posts from a blog’s inception through May 31, 2010, for blogs on a list of 180-odd where I don’t already have that information.)


Update October 29, 2010: Comments closed, since the deadline has long since passed–and I’ve done this phase of the analysis.

Should this bother me, or not?

Friday, September 24th, 2010

As I was editing Open Access: What You Need to Know Now, I wanted to check something online and did a poorly-formulated initial search, “validation through linking.” (I was using a blind quote and should be naming the writer.)

Much to my surprise, the second of two Bing results is “Libre accès & bibliothèques: 2001-2009 (W. Crawford),” pointing to Scribd. Huh? Sure, there may be lots of other W. Crawfords, but there was something awfully familiar about that title.

So I clicked on the link and, lo, what do I see but Open Access and Libraries: Essays from Cites & Insights, 2001-2009–uploaded by one Fabrizio Tinti and given an Italian title.

I’m not sure just where this came from. I don’t think it’s the final, free PDF that’s available from Lulu; the typography’s wrong–and I see that right apostrophes (that is, apostrophes) are being rendered as oddly misplaced left quotes, which is garbage. There are spacing problems and other issues. (Oh, wait: If I allow Scribd to set typeface, the apostrophes show up as apostrophes and italics are once again italics, but there’s still some odd spacing. Maybe it is the PDF and Scribd just treats it oddly.)

On one hand…

The PDF is explicitly labeled as having a Creative Commons BY-NC license. I’m assuming Tinti isn’t getting any revenue from this, so there’s nothing illegal here. (Well, the title simply isn’t the title of the book, so in that sense it’s a misattribution…)

I suppose I could be flattered that Tinti went to the trouble and appreciate the extra readership–it’s apparently been “read” more than 80 times, although I doubt that any sane person would read a 513-page book on Scribd.

On the other…

  1. Tinti never told me that this upload was taking place. That’s certainly not illegal, but it’s not particularly polite.
  2. Scribd lards the free book with a lot of ads. A lot of ads. Two display ads and a whole shitload of Google ads on the frame, and more ads–sigh, many of them for “online schools”–in between pages. I find that a terribly distracting way to read something, and am a little offended that my document is being used to display all those ads. Actually, from that perspective, this is a violation of my Creative Commons license: Effectively, the book is being used for commercial purposes. (The sidebar ads are one thing. Those damn banners after every other page–quite another.)

Lean back and enjoy it?

Maybe I have no right to complain here. I don’t see any function on Scribd to complain. I don’t know that I’d actually ask to have this removed–the book is, in fact, OA by intention. But the lack of notification and the sheer volume of ads both bother me.

Or maybe I’m just getting old and grumpy?

Oh, maybe I should add: The Bing summary is “Excluding the poor from accessing biomedical literature: a rights violation that impedes global health 180 reads”–and, you know, “rights violation” just doesn’t appear in the book. I know: I wrote it–and I just checked the .docx file. This does not make me jump with joy.

Friday musings

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

One nice thing about studying liblogs: I’m acutely aware that most library folks with blogs have wildly erratic posting “schedules”–sometimes writing three posts in a day, then going two or three weeks without a post.

Not only is that the reality, I think it’s healthy for most liblogs. The old assertion that you had to have a steady stream of posts to make your blog important and to build an audience, an assertion you’ll still see in all the Advice On How To Become a Big-Deal Blogger posts and columns, was probably never really sound, and certainly isn’t sound today. Posting for the sake of posting tends to be obvious and is a good way to lose readers–and it’s still the case, I’m nearly certain, that most libloggers post because they have something to say, not because they’re out to gain Fame & Fortune.

But it has been a week, and some up-to-date randomness seems in order. So, a few updates…partly because they may be interesting, partly as a brief form of procrastination and mind-clearing.

The weekend

I did exactly what I said I’d do in last Friday’s post:

take a weekend off almost entirely–not skipping email and FF and the like, probably, but letting the folders and source material just sit. Read. Listen to music. Go to the Saturday Farmer’s Market (that’s a given). Take walks.

There was also more socializing (between last Sunday and the Sunday before that) than we usually do, all of it good, and we did walk over to buy some olive oil from the producer last weekend (you can only buy it at the producer’s location, and only on weekends–and only directly from the producer on the first and third weekend of each month; it’s seriously good Livermore varietal olive oil, unfiltered but centrifuged).

Mind-clearing? Dunno, but it was a good weekend. Given that I seem to have accomplished as much through Wednesday as I was aiming for for the whole week (no, “for for” isn’t a typo, although I’d come up with better wording if this was Serious Writing), maybe it had real benefits. Might try it again this weekend.

Did I mention the Saturday night movie? (We watch a DVD movie every Saturday night–or, now, mostly Blu-ray movies.) Astonishing: 87 minutes of nothing but talk, in one room (with maybe five minutes outside the room), no special effects, and it’s one of the best science fiction (not scifi) movies we’ve ever seen, although it could also be labeled a philosophy movie, not a big genre. Jerome Bixby’s The Man From Earth–probably not to everybody’s taste, but we both enjoyed it thoroughly. Understand: If you’re a “videophile”–that is, if, like some audiophiles are with music & sound, you’re more interested in dissecting the technical attributes of the movie and its acting and directing than in actually enjoying the film–you should probably go elsewhere. Same is true if you love action and special effects, or if you’re a literalist Christian who’s certain of exactly what The Historical Jesus actually did.

The book

I did sit down with the manuscript (in printed form–always revealing) and the two sets of highly insightful review comments I’d received and do lots of markup but no actual revision. Spread out over three days, done slowly, definitely the right way to go. Then I thought I’d set it aside until October 1.

Maybe not. The third and final set of review comments arrived yesterday, giving me more to think about (and more to read), but also meaning I can start the final revision process any time. I’m now thinking it may make sense to do a second manual-markup pass, do the additional reading, do actual revisions, let the “final” version sit for a day or two (or a week), then turn it in…without worrying it to death, which would be easy to do for my first non-self-published book in several years. (Just looked: “Several” means eight. I didn’t realize it had been quite that long.) I’ve essentially been given an extra seven days, and probably shouldn’t squander all of them.

Cites & Insights

I thought I’d write at least one regular essay (as opposed to irregular stuff like Offtopic Perspectives), maybe interleaved with preliminary ms. review, to get back in the C&I habit. And I had a topic–a good-sized delicious cluster that seemed to have one central focus with other pieces around it.

That went well, if oddly. I now have a draft Zeitgeist piece that’s roughly 8,700 words long, or about half of a 20-page issue (hmm: an issue that short starts to sound good, although it’s been five years since there was one). It turned into a set of related pieces rather than the original central focus, and that’s probably appropriate. Since I also have a 5,600-word Offtopic Perspective (held over from the previous issue), the next issue is well under way…and I’ll ignore it for now. In any case, I’m now confident that my C&I-writing chops return readily enough.

The Way We Blog

I said I’d set it aside until the book and November C&I were done. I meant that…although, as it happens, I did add Yet One More Liblog (an odd case, where a blog should have surfaced previously but never did). I’m exploring possibilities for disseminating the results to a wider audience. Suggestions (and sponsorship!) welcome. I’ll probably get back to this in mid-October/late October.


Pretty good, all in all. (If you don’t understand the reference, look it up.) I think another “noncreative weekend” may be in order. I’m still waiting for word from various quarters about various things, but there’s nothing unusual about that. (Oh, and sales of the now-vastly-cheaper But Still They Blog, now $10 download, $20 paperback, continue to be consistent: None whatsoever. Same as donations to support C&I and sales of other books–flatlined for quite some time now. And yet, life goes on.)

Stepping Back, Moving On

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Yesterday (September 16, 2010), I finished gathering metrics for the 2010 liblogs study–or, rather, I almost finished. (I’d forgotten one specialized directory that I was going to check; while most of the blogs in that directory are school library blogs, there were eight more blogs for the list, which is now just over 1,300. I did that check this morning–that is, Friday, September 17, 2010.)

One Little Spreadsheet

So the spreadsheet stands, except for adding countries and total posts if and as I receive more of those. There are 31,296 potential data elements on the spreadsheet: 1,304 rows of 24 columns (not including the column names). There aren’t nearly that many actual data elements, to be sure–for example, blogs that started in 2009 won’t have anything in the six columns for 2007 and 2008, and there are always missing elements for reasons of measuring difficulty.

On the other hand, when I start doing analysis, there will be more columns (probably on derivative sheets)–lots of them. Just offhand, I see somewhere between 27 and 37 additional derivative data elements per blog, thus, potentially, up to 44,548 more elements for a total of more than 75,000 data elements in all. I’d guess the actual total will be closer to 50,000. (None of this includes all the second-order derivatives: averages, medians, quintiles, correlations–but those are numbered in the hundreds, not the thousands.)

Oh, and there’s the Exclusions page, with two elements for each of 1,327 “blogs” that aren’t part of the study–and for a few hundred of those, some summary numbers may be significant.

Lots of data, in the plural science/statistics sense. I can’t imagine doing something like this as a hobby/obsession before today’s powerful spreadsheets–I mean, I’m going to be doing loads of sorting and subsetting when analysis begins, and it would be incredibly tedious without Excel. (Of course, without today’s computers, there wouldn’t be 1,300+ liblogs…)

“Little”? Excel’s not known for compactness, but each copy of the spreadsheet is just under half a meg–481K–which really isn’t bad. (That includes last year’s Derivatives sheet, which isn’t complete and is mostly still there to pick up some mildly annoying formulas.) (After my idiot Oopsie, scrambling one data element apparently because I sorted with some columns hidden, although that might not have been the reason, I’m keeping three copies of the spreadsheet, so I can always regenerate the raw data if when I screw things up during analysis.)

I’ve set that project aside, with this post as a stopping point–probably for at least a month.

Open Access

The primary project on my plate between now and then is Open Access: What You Need to Know Now–but I’m hoping for feedback from two of three external reviewers (having already received enormously useful feedback from D. Salo), and they have until October 1 to send me notes. So, while I’ll do a careful readthrough and some paper-copy markup next week, I won’t actually start editing the manuscript until October 1.

That will definitely be my primary focus from October 1 until it’s done–which I’m guessing will be a week or two. Or three. Or four: I’m going to give it as much time as it needs.

After that, and after figuring out the November issue of C&I, I’ll return focus to The Way We Blog. No estimate as to when it’s likely to be done or what “it” will be, except for the certain knowledge that “it” is not going to include 1,304 individual profiles of liblogs–not unless someone who’s crazier than I am comes through with a substantial payment to do such profiles.

Leadership and a Fall Cites & Insights

I made the C&I version of (parts of) But Still They Blog a September/October issue both because it’s almost three times as long as a typical issue of Cites & Insights [comments that there’s no such thing as a typical issue of Cites & Insights will be cheerfully blocked] but also because I wanted to clear time to do a careful job on OA and to finish up the metrics for The Way We Blog.

Well, and also because I was a little burned out on writing Cites & Insights, and had been feeling that it wasn’t getting the links it used to, although downloads and pageviews are still strong.

I really haven’t done any writing for C&I for two months–since completion of the August issue in early July. And while I’m sure I’ll start again, probably next week, I’m not sure just how and on what.

I’d thought I might have a burst of energy and do a Fall issue before the November 2010 issue. The burst of energy instead went to adding more complete metrics for the blog study–essentially, tracking all available numbers for all extant blogs instead of the most robust subset, and adding the total-posts number, which–in combination with a “Life” number (number of months from a blog’s first post to the last post prior to 6/1/2010)–should yield some interesting information.

Then I thought about something else: The shutoff of the Library Leadership Network and the 108 LLN essays (of the total 180+) that I’d saved off in HTML form. I’ve seen no real interest in finding a proper home for these, and looking back at them, it’s clear that they’d need enough cleanup (eliminating now-defunct links, etc.) that I couldn’t Just Do It without funding. To date, no approaches with any support at all.

What about taking some of the essays where my own writing played a primary role and putting them together as a special issue of C&I? That would make them available, if nothing else.

I just went through the set of essays. I could put together a cluster on blogs & wikis, but that feels a little dated. I could put together a cluster on open access, but I’ve already used some of that material as background for the book. Beyond that, most of my own writing already came from this blog or from C&I–and most of the other essays are combinations of posts, where I add a lot less annotation and commentary than I would in a C&I essay. (That’s deliberate: My primary role for LLN was as editor, not as commentator.)

So that’s really not promising. I suspect the essays will mostly just die of old age, and at some point I’ll reclaim the disk space.

I don’t believe there’s going to be a Fall 2010 Cites & Insights. I believe the next issue will be November 2010, technically the first of three “tenth anniversary” issues. What will be in that issue? Well, there’s a sizable Offtopic Essay, and I’m starting on some notes from magazines that fall into various places. Otherwise, I have a “bloggingethics” cluster in delicious that looks promising, and among the 1,237 items and 150 tags, there are a bunch of other possibilities…

Stepping Back

What I suspect I should do first, though, is take a weekend off almost entirely–not skipping email and FF and the like, probably, but letting the folders and source material just sit. Read. Listen to music. Go to the Saturday Farmer’s Market (that’s a given). Take walks.

But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009 has been a somewhat frustrating experience, even though it didn’t (obviously) wipe out my interest in tracking the liblog field (or biblioblogosphere, if you must). The book has sold 17 copies to date. The partial retelling in the September/October C&I has had 630 downloads to date–which is great, since it means some 37 times as many people have seen the work, but not so great, since there’s zero revenue from 630 times zero. I lowered the book prices to a nominal $10 for PDF download–with no shipping or handling–and $20 for the trade paperback, figuring that a few people might at least pick up the PDF to look at the liblog profiles. Total sales since the lowered price, including PDF downloads: Zero.

[Also a little frustrating in its own way: During the period since July 1, 2010, the September/October C&I is only the second most frequently downloaded PDF, just ahead of the August issue, which of course was also seen piecemeal several hundred times as individual HTML articles. The most frequently downloaded PDF, with another 800+ downloads during those 10 weeks? Need I say? The title includes quote marks and it appeared in early 2006… If I just had $0.50 for each download and HTML view…]

C&I isn’t going away, at least not yet. Some things are hanging fire that might get straightened out in the near future. Or not: We shall see. I suspect that by next week I’ll have a little more enthusiasm for putting together some interesting essays…

[No, the blog isn’t going away either. Some day, I might even write substantive posts again.]

Stepping Further Back

Then there’s ALA. Not membership–I’m eligible for a deal that’s really too good to pass up, so I’m likely to stay a member for a good long time. (LITA? No such deal, and that’s going to be a tough check to write.)

Not membership, but conferences. I made a point of getting support for Midwinter and Annual built in to my employment contract at my last two employers–in one case, as the only real raise in switching employers, in another, as the one perk for a part-time contract position. I missed one Annual and no Midwinters from about 1975 (I still have the ALA Centennial mug) through 2010–although, thanks to the shutdown of that part-time gig, I attended Annual this year thanks to the kindness of friends.

Next year and beyond? That’s partly a September decision, since the early-bird registration bundle is only good during September. So far, I haven’t signed up for it. I think about what I do during ALA and Midwinter and it’s getting increasingly difficult to justify the money, particularly if it’s our own money. (Annual was also a little disappointing, since the social event at which I’m most likely to catch up with virtual colleagues didn’t happen this time around–and I have no idea whether it will return in the future.) The locations for 2011 are more tempting than usual, but it’s still a case where some thought is required. I’m not running away from FriendFeed nor dropping out of writing, email, etc….but is the F2F still all that valuable for me? Flying isn’t getting more enjoyable, I like our new home better than any hotel room I’m likely to be staying in, I’ve almost given up on formal conference programs anyway, and the areas I deal with in the field happen more on the web than they do in the exhibit halls or discussion groups.

Stepping back, then moving on. For the writing, I know one will–sooner or later–be followed by the other. For the conferences: Not so clear.

It’s mid-afternoon on Friday. This seems like a good way to shut down for the weekend. Maybe turning 65 turns out to be a bigger deal than I thought, or maybe I just need a little break. We shall see.

Liblog crowdsourcing: An update

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Since it’s now past September 15, 2010, the cutoff for one of three “crowdsource” requests related to The Way We Blog, the comprehensive English-language liblog study I’m working on, an update may be in order.

  • I received a total of 33 candidates (that weren’t obvious exclusions such as official library blogs) in response to “Liblogs: What am I missing?” Of those, six were blogs that began in June, July or August 2010 and are thus too new for a study with May 31, 2010 as a cutoff–although it’s good to know that library people are still starting blogs. One was an official blog, based on its banner and the nature of its posts. One just wasn’t there: Clicking on the link didn’t get me to a blog. And I added 25 more blogs to the list, which now includes 1,296 liblogs (and 1,325 excluded names). Update Friday, September 17, 2010: I’d forgotten one blog directory, almost (but not quite) all official library blogs, mostly from school libraries. I wound up with eight more liblogs, for a new and “final” total of 1,304–although I’m certain some of those have already disappeared since I started gathering metrics.
  • I’ve received a handful of responses to “Blog country of origin: A crowdsource request.” I’m not tracking these responses, but I’m grateful for them. (My guess is that nearly all of the ones I don’t get responses for are US-based, but I could certainly be wrong.) I’ll leave that request open through October 1, 2010, as noted in the post.
  • I’ve also received a handful of responses (a larger handful, with more direct email) to “One more crowdsource request: How many posts?” and I’ll leave that request open through October 14, 2010 (which is also the earliest point at which I’d actually start analyzing and writing up all this stuff). As anticipated, most responses have come from the bloggers themselves, since they can usually find the number of posts very easily. I’d love to get a bunch more responses here–for the blogs on the list in that post, that is.

Otherwise? I’ve finished the validation/verification pass. I’m doing one more brief pass (inv0lving about 145 blogs, with 80 of them left to do) in support of a decision to make the analysis just a little more comprehensive. Then I’ll set it aside, think about the present and future of Cites & Insights (or maybe just write some essays), and focus on Open Access…until that project’s done and it’s October 14 or later.

Thanks to all those who have responded so far, and to the many, many, huge number of blog owners (including blogs both dead and alive) with blogs on that third list who are just about to send me the total count of posts from the inception of the blog through May 31, 2010. waltcrawford at gmail dot com.

Legends of Horror, Discs 8 and 9

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Disc 8

Shock, 1946, b&w. Alfred L. Werker (dir.), Vincent Price, Lynn Bari, Anabel Shaw, Frank Latimore, Stephyen Dunne. 1:10.

Young lady arrives at a San Francisco hotel very excited because her husband, assumed dead for two years but really a POW, will be meeting her—but they’ve lost her reservation. The manager finds her a room (actually a suite) for one night only. As she’s waiting for her hubby, she goes out on the balcony and sees, inside a nearby room with the drapes open, an argument that ends with a husband clubbing his wife to death with a candlestick.

Does she call the desk? Notify the police? Nope—she goes into shock. When her husband arrives, much later (the plane was delayed), he finds her sitting on the sofa, wide-eyed but unresponsive. A doctor checks her over and says it’s mental—but what luck! There’s a great psychiatrist in the hotel. Who just happens to be the wife-killer. And who takes her to his asylum…where his nurse (and lover) would just as soon make sure she doesn’t get well.

That’s the plot. It also involves an odd crisis of conscience, in which one person murders another because of unwillingness to kill a third. Vincent Price is Vincent Price. The sound is occasionally distorted, but the print’s pretty good. All in all, a middling $1.00.

The Island Monster (orig. Il mostro dell’isola), 1954, b&w. Roberto Montero (dir.), Boris Karloff, Franca Marzi, Patrizia Remiddi, Carlo Duse. 1:27 [1:25].

The sleeve gets the plot wrong—but maybe that’s because the plot is incoherent, as is this mystery in general. (It’s not a horror film, but Boris Karloff is a Legend of Horror…) It involves Italian drug smuggling on Ischia, a seeming benefactor who’s really the villain (guess who?), a police undercover agent whose wife is so jealous that she insists on, essentially, blowing his cover and making his daughter a suitable kidnapping target, and ever so much more.

I won’t even attempt to summarize the plot or how it progresses. It’s badly dubbed (I could almost hear the English-speaking actors sitting around a table, cigarettes and drinks in hand, reading from the script as the footage flashed on a screen), badly acted, just plain bad. At least the dubbers found a mediocre Karloff voice impersonator. I see IMDB reviews average out to 2.2 points on a 10-point scale—and that may be generous. (Turns out it is: One crazed Karloff fan gave it 10 points, balancing out all the 0, 1 and 2 point scores). For anyone who likes either good movies or so-bad-they’re-good movies, this is one to avoid completely, but for Karloff completists only, I’ll give it $0.75.

The Lady Vanishes.

Previously reviewed. $2.50

Rich and Strange.

Previously reviewed. $0.75

Disc 9

All previously-reviewed Hitchcock films: Easy Virtue ($1.00), Secret Agent ($2), The Skin Game ($1.25), The 39 Steps ($2).

One more crowdsource request: How many posts?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

I’ve completed the excruciating validity pass, and now know not to ever, ever sort a spreadsheet when any columns are hidden. (But I also added some metrics during the pass, so it wasn’t entirely wasted.)

As a reminder, I’m accepting new liblog candidates for one more day (and will probably start gathering metrics for the existing two dozen new candidates today–and probably finish, come to think of it–and finish tomorrow). I’ll turn off comments on that post at the end of the workday tomorrow, September 15.

So here’s one more crowdsource request. There are 181 liblogs for which I can’t readily figure out one interesting (new) metric:

How many posts have there been from the start of the blog through May 31, 2010?

I’d like to cut that number down a little. If you feel like helping, great…and I’d need responses by October 14, 2010–one month from now. Comment or email to waltcrawford at gmail dot com, with the name of the blog and the number of posts. New deadline: October 7, 2010 (although I might be able to get late responses in, fact is most responses to any post come within a week.)

What’s the problem?

These blogs fall into one (or more) of several categories:

  • There’s a list of monthly (or weekly, sigh) archival links without counts, but no “older posts” link, and there are enough months that I wasn’t willing to do the work of bringing up each archive and counting the posts. If you’re eager to help, this one’s simple, just tedious.
  • There’s an “older posts” link–but it’s one of the cute Blogger templates that, instead of giving “p=2” or some other pagecount within the URL on the second and succeeding pages, gives some long parameter string. Again, this one’s reasonably simple (assuming that the “older posts” brings up the same number of posts on all but the oldest page–NOT always a safe assumption) but tedious: You just count pages as you click on the “older post” link until there is no such link.
  • There is no “older posts” link and no archival links–or the Very Special LJ/SLJ Case, where all links (older posts and monthly archives) bring up a 404 page. In these cases, I don’t believe anybody but the owner of the blog would be in a position to tell me how many posts there are.

Will the project suffer badly if I’m missing 15% of the total-posts metrics? Not really; almost every metric in a study like this has some missing values. (For example, I was unable or unwilling to calculate total length of posts during March-May 2010 for 106 of the 814 liblogs that have posts in March-May 2010.)

Still, having a few more values wouldn’t hurt, if there are people with time on their hands or, perhaps more plausibly, if you own one of the blogs in this list or can contact the person who does. Again: I need the total count of posts through May 31, 2010–excluding any posts since then.

The List

100 Scope Notes
Academic Librarian
Accidental Aussie
Adventures in Library Land
Adventures of an InfoMage in Training
All Things Amy
Amusing Things that Patrons Do and Say in the Library Environment
Annoyed Librarian
ASC Online
At Home He’s a Tourist
Audiophile Librarian
BiblioTech Web
bitter librarian
Blog of the Prism Fellows
book gypsy
Book Kitten
Books to curl up with: a librarian’s musings
Bowllan’s blog
Brave New World
Bronwyn’s Library Blog
Bubble Room
capital city desk
Chinese Canadian Library Weblog
Concerned Librarians of British Columbia
Confessions of a Mad Librarian
Connie Crosby
Convivial Librarian
Country Librarian
Creating the One-shot Library Workshop
Creative Librarian
Data Obsessed
Daveman’s Blog
Digitization 101
Dirty Librarian
Dynamic Librarian
edifice ref
Elementary School Blog
ephramyfan’s blog
Fairly Used
Far Off Librarian
Free the Books
Frequently Answered Questions
From a KC Librarian
Games, Gamers, & Gaming
Good Comics for Kids
Grassroots Librarian
HappyGeek’s CodeX
Hazman Aziz
Head Tale
Health, Science, & Libraries
Heavy Medal
Heretical Librarian
hybrid librarian
info breaker
info NeoGnostic
InfoCommuner’s Info Harbor
Information Technology Division of the Ohio Library Council
Information Tyrannosaur
Lady Crumpet’s Armoire
Leah’s Law Library Weblog
Lethal Librarian
Liberry Blooze
Librarian Ire
Librarian on the Bayou
Librarians Helping Canadian Genealogists Climb Family Trees
Library Advocate.
Library and Information Science Miscellaneous
Library Angst
Library Boy
Library Chronicles
Library Despot 3.0
Library Monk
Library Technology NOW
Lines from the Library
Loriene’s Blog
Lost in the StuporMarket
LOTR Librarian
Miss Information
Mr. Mustache, another librarian blog
Muller In the Middle
Musings from Vermont
New Jack Librarian
New Jersey Academic Librarian
Nonfiction Matters
Observations from the front line
Ocean In View
Old Fox’s KM blotter
On Google Scholar
One New Thing
Open Reading Frame
Oyarsa’s Observances
Physics Information Fluency
Pimp My Library
Pop Goes the Library
Practically Paradise
Print Matters
Professional-Lurker: Comments by an academic in cyberspace
Queequeg’s Content Saloon
Rachel Vacek
Redhead Fangirl
repressed librarian
RPS’ lazy KO blog
Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog
SciTech Library Question
scribble scribble scribble
Search Engine Showdown Blog
See Also…
serials scene
Shelf Monkey
Shelf Renewal
Stephen Gallant Review
Tales from Library Land
Tennant: Digital Libraries
The Aardvark Speaks
The Centered Librarian
the cynic librarian
The Days & Nights of the Lipstick Librarian!
The Digital Librarian
The Good Library Blog
The Handheld Librarian
The Hot Librarian
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics
The InfoMan’s Blog
The Laughing Librarian
The Leary Letter
The Librarydude!
the log of a librarian
The Loud Librarian
The Search Lounge
The Vampire Librarian
The Well Dressed Librarian
The Zenformation Professional
Thoughts from a Library Administrator
Tillabooks: Will’s Book Blog
Tiny Little Librarian
Tom Keays :: Blog
Trading knowledge
Twisted Librarian
Vancouver Law Librarian Blog
Virtual Ehsan Real Blog
walking paper
What I’m Reading Now
When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Librarian!
Wireless Libraries
Young Librarian


Approaching zero and other trivia

Monday, September 13th, 2010

This could also be an “I’m not quite dead just yet…” post, just to note that I’m still around (on the verge of becoming an Official Old Person, as I turn 65 tomorrow…)

Approaching zero

On the PG&E two-way electricity meter, that is. Or you could put it “approaching 100” as in 100% solar power since the system was installed. We’re not quite there yet–just under 99% at the moment, with 38 (kWh) on the meter and 3,616 kWh generated since last November, when the system went in.

We would be there, and a bit beyond, but for a little problem: Apparently two panels went bad in early August, causing one string to stop contributing power (the strings are wired in series, so the overall voltage for the string is too low). We spotted it fairly quickly (as peak power, the power generated between 12 and 2 or thereabouts on a sunny day when it’s not too hot, dropped almost precisely 1/7th and stayed down), but it took a week or two to convince SolarCity that it was a real drop and another two weeks to get a crew out. So, for almost 30 days, we were losing about 2 kWh/day…certainly more than 38 kWh over the month. (Yes, when they replaced the two panels, the peak-period numbers jumped back up where they should be. Overall generation, to be sure, goes down because the days are getting shorter–but that’s a different issue.) We may push for a rebate check, but that’s pretty trivial (60 kWh would be worth about $7). So, to be sure, is actually hitting zero–but it would feel good, especially since the system is sized to replace 80% of our power.

Also approaching zero, I suppose

The number of blogs left for the “validity scan” I’m doing as the almost last step in metric gathering for the 2010 liblog project. 70 left of a (current) 1,270. I should finish that phase tomorrow, if all goes well…then, maybe, ask for one more piece of help and probably set the project aside to write some essays and, after some external reviewers return comments, finish my Open Access project.

The quantum effect?

I’m beginning to wonder whether publicizing the broadrange liblog survey is having a “quantum effect”–that is, whether observation is affecting the results. I’m seeing a few disappearing blogs, blogs that were there in a few weeks ago but have either been removed or protected since. (“A few” means at least seven–not even one percent, to be sure, but still surprising. There may actually be more, but for the first 700-800 liblogs, I wasn’t removing the now-disappeared blogs from the main spreadsheet and adding them to the “Not Visible” section of the exclusion page. I’d guess the total is somewhere between 10 and 15.)

Maybe this is just normal churn. I hope so.


September may be a time to look at situations and think about futures. My wife and I had a great conversation last night over dinner, related to some friends and their troubles and finding that we’re both pretty happy about life in general and how things have turned out.

That’s true. Oh, sure, I wish I hadn’t “prematurely retired”–twice. Yes, it would be nice if some self-published books had done better and a few other things had worked out better. But, you know, all in all, I’m happy with life.

Given that, it makes even more sense to focus on the things that provide most pleasure and decide whether other things are worth the time and effort. At the moment, I have no idea what will be affected.

I haven’t written any new essays for Cites & Insights in more than two months–probably the longest break I’ve ever taken. IfWhen I start again, will I find it great fun and well worth doing? Right now, I’m not quite sure…