Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

68 by 68?

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

I hadn’t thought about it, but it might not have seemed an unreasonable goal:

68 by 68.

That is, 68 sales of new/recent Cites & Insights Books by the time I turn 68 (coming very soon now). Let’s say, 68 starting either August 26 (when the new books were announced) or, heck, August 1. After all, enough people had committed money in advance to account for somewhere between 17 and 36 sold copies right off the bat…

Barring miracles, that goal seems highly unlikely.

How about $68 by 68–that is, enough sales to generate $68 in net revenue, starting August 26?

Well, I’m about a third of the way there.

The good news: I’ll definitely have enough net revenue to pay for my own dinner on my birthday. Since we’re going to Campo di Bocce, a restaurant I like quite a bit…that offers free dinner on your birthday. I think there’s even enough net revenue to cover the 20% tip on what the dinner would have cost. Maybe.

Oh, and Blake? Yes, I’ve updated to 3.6.1.

Silence, partial or full

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

There might not be any posts here for a few days, quite possibly not until September 10.

There are some things I care about that seem to have gone into a total stall, and I suspect my best course is to try to ignore them and definitely not talk about them. (Nothing health-related, marriage-related or otherwise real-world seriously important!)

So: I’m still around, I’m reasonably healthy, I’m even working on an essay now and then. And that’s about it.


Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Apparently “I” just sent email to 192 people inviting them to view my book recommendations on goodread.


I finally decided to join goodread, both to see what’s being said about my own books (what? you wouldn’t do that? really?) and maybe eventually to store book notes & recommendations. Or not.

As I read the description of the function, I thought it was using my Gmail contacts to build a set of “your friends recommends” items to me. I guess I needed to read it more carefully: It was actually sending out canned email to all of them. Which I would have never done if I realized what was happening.

Again, sorry.


Monday, August 19th, 2013

Maybe that’s all I need to say. The $4 to $1 campaign failed. Big time.

Thanks to the 18 folks who supported it. (I thanked each one by email when the pledge came in. I may do another email round later.)

I might do a post mortem later on. I might not. It’s a Monday sort of Monday.

On a completely different topic:

What the *B(#^ is it about infographics that causes people to take “facts” seriously even when there are no sources given and the “facts” are wildly improbable? There’s an “awful facts about reading” infographic making the rounds that has no sources, includes wildly improbable “facts” that are refuted by, well, every other survey that’s been done–and turn out to be based on a ten-year-old statement from some group I’ve never heard of that, itself, doesn’t really provide sources. But hey, it’s an infographic: It Must Be Taken Seriously. Arggh…

Or does this mean that I should scrap $4 to $1 and turn it into a series of, what, 400 infographics, so that it’s taken seriously?

Go read this.

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Dorothea Salo has a new article out in the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication.

You should read it, especially if:

  • You care about open access
  • You care about scholarly communication in academic institutions
  • You would like to see a healthy future for scholarly communication and for scholars, including independent scholars
  • [This bullet removed as, well, a spoiler for those who don’t read thoughtfully.]

The title: “How to Scuttle a Scholarly Communication Initiative.”

The remarkable thing about this article is that it appears to have been used as a blueprint by any number of institutions before it was published.

One consequence of Salo’s article: My planned article-in-installments, “How not to be the expert,” a series of autobiographical musings, may be postponed indefinitely. Once you’ve seen a master at work, it’s easy to recognize one’s own limitations. But that’s me. For you: Go read it. Now.



Raining on parades

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

I try to avoid grousing about people who rain on my parade, put down something I’m enthusiastic about, or otherwise buzzkill. I’m not sure I always manage that.

One reason to avoid bitching about buzzkill: If you then put down other people or groups for their enthusiasms, well, you come off looking like a hypocrite.

Looking like one because you are one.

I know, I know: You’re harshing my mellow, where I’m just pointing out the flaws in what you appreciate. It’s totally different.


[I was going to comment on the flood of liblog posts in Feedly this morning–more than 300, compared to the usual 110-150–but it turns out one specific blog burped up its entire history, accounting for more than half of the posts. So: Never mind.]

Bing problem (apparently) fixed–for the record

Monday, July 1st, 2013

For the record, the search problem I blogged about a couple of days ago now appears to be fixed.

The mystery of spreadsheet sizes

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Thanks to Colorado’s Library Research Service, I found out on Wednesday (June 26) that the IMLS released the 2011 public library datafiles a little early. (I was expecting them some time in July, so “a little” is the operative word. Still: early is better.)

So I went to check the site, figuring I’d do my usual: Download the .zip file containing the .mdb (Access) databases, extract the database consisting of library data (as opposed to outlet data or state summaries), download the PDF documentation, then open the .mdb database in Excel, convert the whole thing to a table, and save it as an Excel spreadsheet for later use (assuming I do the Give Us a Dollar… project). The Excel spreadsheet would probably start at around 8MB, but once I peeled off the columns I actually care about, it would get a lot smaller.


First, the surprise: The data is no longer available in your choice of .mdb or flat (.txt) files, the latter requiring a form of string processing I’m not sure how I’d do.

Nope. Now it comes in SAS form (only for 2010 and 2011), .txt, and two other forms: .csv (comma-separated values, which Excel’s only too happy to open) and .xsl (Excel native form).

That’s not only true for the 2011 tables, IMLS has gone back and replaced earlier .mdb databases with .csv and .xls files.

Well, that’s one step I won’t have to include in the how-to chapter of “Mostly Numbers” if I do that particular project–namely, how to open the .mdb database and convert it to an Excel spreadsheet.

Oh, but look: The Excel spreadsheet is more than 21MB, about three times as large as I’d expect.


That was surprising enough that I went back and downloaded the .csv files. The .csv library file is about 7MB. When I open it in Excel, it looks precisely like the Excel spreadsheet (as it should, unless there are formulas hidden in the Excel version)…and when saved in Excel form, it’s about 7MB.

In other words, just about the size I would have expected.

What’s going on here? Unless somebody from IMLS reads this and sends me a note, I’ll either figure it out later or not. As things stand, I’m more likely to work with the .csv-to-Excel form (although I suspect that both would wind up shrinking to about the same size for the 15-20 columns I actually need out of the scores of columns that are there now).

This could be one of those Office mysteries, where if I delete and restore one cell in the 21MB Excel spreadsheet it suddenly turns into a 7MB spreadsheet. Or not.

Meanwhile, it’s just one of those mysteries.


One little note here on an entirely different topic. I’m generally not much of one for following memes, such as the idea of blogging every day in June. That’s a lot of blogging for an occasional blogger like me. I’d feel silly signing up for it and then not doing it (or having odd “post 23” titles on daily posts).

Whereas not signing up for it, and then (accidentally?) doing it? That’s just fine.

[No, I won’t accidentally write a 50,000 word novel in November or any other month. I lack the personal observation skills to be a good fiction writer. Could I produce 50,000 words of decent second-draft material in a month? Yeah, I think so…but November’s not likely to be one of those months.


Another silly little post

Monday, June 24th, 2013

I love good print magazines; you probably already know that.

I have mixed feelings about some magazines. You probably already know that as well. I gave up on Wired the first time around because the hypergraphic design made it nearly unreadable. I gave up on it (after a one-year essentially-free subscription that turned into two years for odd reasons) the second time around because, well, Wired: The editorial style just got to me.

Then there’s Fast Company. I subscribed to it years and years ago when it was one of several “new business” mags, including Business 2.0 and The Industry Standard (the best of them by a long shot, for its brief life). I gave up on Fast Company because it seemed to be a cult publication, pushing a specific and fairly peculiar point of view.

A little while back (maybe a year or two?), I picked it up again–for miles on an airline I don’t plan to fly again–and, this time around, rather liked it. Oh, not all of it, and certainly not the near-impossibility of separating advertising and editorial, but much of it. They offered really cheap long-term subscriptions, so I’ve got it until some time in 2016. (Hey, some magazines get so cheap on long-term that I have one or two through 2019…)

More recently, I’m finding both growing traces of, well, let’s call it FastCoIsm, not quite a cult but close to it. (That’s not unusual: there’s HBRism, to name just one more example.)

What engendered this little post, though, is a remarkably offputting Contents page for the June 2013 issue.

To wit:

  • The full page–really–is a “Contents” listing for the issue’s feature essay, “100 most creative people in business.” I already knew I’d approach the essay–like most of FC’s “creativity” lists–with some caution. But that’s for later.
  • Most of the page is taken up with a picture of a young woman. That’s fine.
  • But here’s the caption for the picture: “Fashion blogger Leandra Medine (page 144) finds the trends women love (and men hate).”

At which point–specifically those last three words–I went “Hunh?” There’s actually a blogger who claims to finds “trends” that women love “and men hate”?

If by “men” you mean what I’d call real men–people who have enough self-confidence not to need to put down women or treat them as objects, as opposed to (stereotypical) construction crews and jerks–I’d find such a concept difficult to believe. I have yet to be acquainted with a woman who I liked as a person–or, for that matter, just found unusually attractive–who wore anything she loved and I “hated.” If a woman’s comfortable in her clothes, that’s almost always attractive: Being comfortable with yourself is, well, hot. (Pardon the somewhat sexist language: I’m trying to make a point.)

So I went to Medine’s blog, “Man Repeller.” And found that I didn’t hate any of the images in the banner (although I suspected that one or two of them might be uncomfortable to wear, and I’ve never understood why any woman would wear something that’s uncomfortable, but that’s for her to decide)–quite the opposite in most cases.

And I read through some of the posts. And found interesting looks and well-written, frequently witty commentary.

What I didn’t find was anything that would justify the caption.

Looking at the About page, and spending more time in some of the categories most associated with “repelling men,” I see tongue firmly in cheek, lots of editorial and photographic skills and a lot of interesting choices.

I can easily see including Medine in the list of creative people.

But “(and men hate)”? Cute, a little irritating and wholly misleading.

Never mind. This is just a silly little post.


Over the

Rockstar librarians

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Since I wrote a mild little snark about thought leaders yesterday, maybe I should say something about Rockstar Librarian.

Here’s what I have to say about that:

In 2013, the whole “rockstar” concept (for anybody except, say, The Rolling Stones) is so self-cancelling that, hey, if that’s what you want to be, or to call somebody else, more power to you.

I’d stay away from the cocaine and groupies, though: that stuff can mess you up bad.

No, this isn’t about Movers & Shakers. Had that discussion many years ago. Expressed myself badly. I’d admit to a tweak of envy for this year, given that the free lunch comes with a great speaker–but hey, if I was going to be ALA 2013, which I’m not, I’d make a beeline for the LITA Imagineering IG program, where–if I was early enough–I’d get a bag of free books including some by authors I admire, and hear from a bunch of them, including Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi. Oh, and David Brin: Maybe I could see whether his thinking has evolved any since the last time we met.