Archive for January, 2008

Supporting Cites & Insights: Thanks!

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I received an email a day or two ago from a person who purchased Cites & Insights Volume 6 (2006) and Volume 7 (2007), noting that his motive was partly to support Cites & Insights.

Earlier, Mark Lindner noted that his reason for purchasing both volumes was partly to support Cites & Insights..

To Steve (it was private email, so first name is all you get) and Mark: Thank you.

If anyone else has the same idea–well, thank you as well. It’s certainly a concrete way of supporting my occasionally-waning morale and drive to keep C&I going. (Even though each print volume has three or four times the text of a typical C&I book, the odd economics of Lulu and page size are such that, while you get a bargain in these oversized volumes, I don’t take a beating on net revenue.)

I’d like to think that each volume is a pretty good package on its own merits. The cover photographs (one wraparound for 2006, two–one on each cover–for 2007) are, I think, first-rate, but of course I’m biased (my wife took them). Volume 6 has the two big Library 2.0-related essays, the “great middle” study of liblogs, and a whole lot more (and the print volume has a bonus section telling you what’s happened to some of those liblogs). Volume 7 has loads of good stuff, and the print volume is the only way you can get Cites on a Plane.

I prepared the two print volumes for my own benefit; even two sales of each count as more than I was expecting. I turned off the PayPal and Amazon tip jar routes when I got partial sponsorship for Cites & Insights, but I sure do appreciate the support.

Nobody ever said… a post on semantic difficulties

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

The current set of discussions related to Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0” (and yes, I’m going to keep making that distinction, because I believe it’s fundamentally important) is interesting. With some exceptions, there’s relatively little dogmatism and relatively little absolutism–and some of the posts deserve printing out and rereading after a little time has passed. (Which I’ll do with some of them, probably.) By and large, I’m enjoying reading the posts–and this may be a side commentary rather than adding to my brief participation in the discussion.

One long and interesting post reminded me of something that’s bothered me a lot in the past–the ease with which people on one side of a discussion (used to) say the equivalent of “Nobody ever said everyone should do X” as a way of dismissing objections to overenthusiasm–presumably assuming (correctly) that most of us have better things to do than track “Nobody” down. That tendency, to accuse others of straw men, has been around for a long time; that’s why Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0” documents all the statements so carefully.

So, here’s Phil Bradley’s post in this current discussion, mostly responding to Meredith Farkas’ post. And here’s a specific passage:

I diverge from her opinion when she talks about ‘not every library needs a public facing blog’…

There’s a lot more, to be sure–that’s one sentence from a post that prints out at three pages (one reason I’m not ready to comment on the rest of it–it belongs in a more thoughtful discussion down the road). But read that one carefully.

If I say “at least one UK librarian says every library needs a blog,” I would probably be hit with a straw man accusation–you know, “Nobody ever said every library should have a blog.”

And, indeed, Bradley doesn’t use the words “every library should have a blog.”

He does, however, disagree with Meredith Farkas’ statement–well, here it is (bolded) in context:

We should always be focused on our patrons’ needs. Not every library needs a public-facing blog. Not everyone has a population that wants to read news about the library or book reviews. Not everyone has a population that wants to have a dialog with the library. Unless you see a real need that could be filled by a blog, your library does not need a blog.

So. Straw man or not? Bradley disagrees with Farkas statement that “Not every library needs a public-facing blog.” Does that mean Bradley is saying “Every library does need a public-facing blog”–or is there a semantic nuance that I’m missing?

Is it reasonable to make the leap from “X disagrees with Not-A” to “X says A”?

Honestly, I don’t believe I have ever claimed a generalization that involved any more of a semantic leap than would be involved in going from “Not Not-A” to “A,” as in this case. But I’ve come to recognize that the absence of a specific citeable string of words is equivalent to the absence of the assertion. (Actually, I’ve recognized more than that: If I cite the string of words, the response is sometimes “Well, they didn’t mean that literally” or “You’re taking that out of context.” Even if I link to the context.)

So I’m not going to make the assertion. I’ve been burned more than once too often.

Bradley’s post is interesting in terms of the things he (seems to) think(s) every library should be experimenting with/doing. Maybe UK libraries are all well-staffed and well-funded, so that the extra time and energy is readily available. I am aware of the number of UK public libraries that (a) had blogs by the end of 2006, (b) kept those blogs active through mid-2007 (that is, had at least one post in two of the months March, April and May 2007), and (c) thought enough of the blogs to list them in one of the two primary library blogging wikis. That number, for England, is zero. (One in Ireland, though.) But of course, that might be just (c): Maybe none of the libraries ever looks at either wiki or wants to be included.

Do I believe every library should have a blog? Well, it would be self-serving to say “Yes, and they should all buy copies of my books so they have good examples to consider.” But I’m with Meredith Farkas on this one–not only in the cases she notes but in cases where libraries already have working, effective known ways of staying in touch, such that a blog would be redundant. Very few tools make sense for every single library out there…

Addition and modification, January 28, 2008: I’ve modified this post for two reasons: 1. The WordPress ParagraphSwallower was more active than usual; I’ve tried to restore the intended paragraph breaks. WYSI[S]WYG is always amusing, when the [Sometimes] starts to act up. 2. Most people reading posts through feeds, and some people reading them directly, don’t see comments. Please do read the comments on this one, the first coming from Phil Bradley. Based on his comment, I struck out the language that suggested that I personally regard what he wrote as ambiguous; I do not. (There’s much more to his comment and my response. Read the comments.)

The new bandwagon is the anti-bandwagon?

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I made that pithy statement in an informal discussion of a range of recent liblog posts, mostly having to do with either Library 2.0 (a set of tools, techniques and attitudes) or “Library 2.0” (a movement/ bandwagon/ overall rethinking of libraries/ whatever).

One could also say that attitudes sometimes swing like pendulums –and after going (possibly) too far in one direction, may then swing too far the other way.

I’ll just say this — of course, I’ve said a lot more in that widely-circulated Cites & Insight where I drew the distinction, a long follow-up essay, some notes here and there, and Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change..

  • The tools haven’t failed. They’re just tools. Applied thoughtfully when they’re appropriate, they can be powerful. (I didn’t spend a few hundred hours putting together the two library blog books to document a running disaster…) Used “just because they’re there” or with unrealistic expectations, they can be useless and possibly even damaging. (Or they can be small experiments that do no harm and may provide experience.)
  • Expectations for wholesale rethinking or revolution may have been a wee bit too ambitious. Fact is, I don’t believe most librarians think public libraries or most academic libraries are on the brink of disaster and need wholesale rethinking, as opposed to continual improvement. (I’m one of those who believes most public and academic libraries are fundamentally healthy and have strong community support–that they should build from strength, usually an iterative process.)
  • Many of us were oversold on the extent to which “they would come” if we “built it.” By now, we should know better. It’s not easy to get active community involvement–and if a library blog lives or dies based on the number of comments, it’s likely to be in trouble. (If a library catalog started making user tags, from that library’s community alone, the primary means of access, with cataloging strictly secondary…well, need I finish that scenario?)
  • Now, read that bullet again. I’m not saying “Nobody will comment” or “Library blogs are useless” or “Don’t allow user tagging.” I’m saying that you’re better off with slightly more modest expectations, and planning such that growing interaction will strengthen a good system, but the system won’t fail if interaction is weak.
  • Example: We now know pretty conclusively (read my two books!) that most library blogs won’t receive many user comments–but that doesn’t negate the usefulness of (many, probably not all) library blogs, nor does it mean that no library blogs will have worthwhile community feedback.

I’m not high on bandwagons or evangelism. Neither am I high on dismissing something because it’s been part of a bandwagon or because it’s had evangelists.

Heck, my morning job now revolves around a wiki. But I’m not ready to assume that I can just spend my time editing all the articles that will populate that wiki because it’s a neat idea…

Hollywood Legends 50 Movie Pack, Disc 5

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

“Wait a minute,” I hear nobody saying, “how could you have gone through four movies since you posted 50 Movie Western Classics, Disc 6, less than a week ago?”

Three factors:

  1. I only watched three of the four movies on this disc. I just couldn’t bring myself to walk through 95 minutes of Boy in the Plastic Bubble again.
  2. There were a couple of days when it was too inclement for my usual lunchtime walk–so I doubled up on exercise time, going through movies at a faster clip.
  3. Most important: I’d actually finished Disc 6 of the Western “Classics” pack before Midwinter–I just didn’t get around to posting it.

We now return to our features…

Boy in the Plastic Bubble, 1976, Color, made for TV. Randal Kleiser (dir.), John Travolta, Glynnis O’Connor, Robert Reed, Diana Hyland, Ralph Bellamy, Buzz Aldrin, 1:40 [1:35].

Note: I reviewed this flick back in 2004, as part of the “DoubleDouble Feature Pack.” Technically, that means I should watch it again, as this is likely to be an entirely different print. But I’m not sure I can bring myself to watch John Travolta’s early “acting” again—so I spot-checked it for print quality and timing. Here’s the original review. This is an Aaron Spelling production: A TV movie with a very young John Travolta. I’m not sure where the five minutes went (or if the IMDB info is correct); it seems to be a decent print. I’d have to say Robert Reed, Glynnis O’Connor, Diana Hyland, and Ralph Bellamy all out-act Travolta, who seems unformed as an actor at this point. As TV movies go, it’s mediocre but watchable. $1.00.

Oh, Alfie, 1975, color. Ken Hughes (dir.), Alan Price, Jill Townsend, Paul Copley, Joan Collins, Rula Lenska. Original title Alfie Darling. 1:42 [1:19]

Make a successful picture (Alfie) and what do you get? A sequel of sorts. It’s about a good-looking but vapid truck driver who has his way with several women, married or not, and finds one who doesn’t fall for him immediately. Naturally, he pursues her; naturally, she catches him. After a little nonsense (he gets punched out by one of the cuckolds, his codriver falls in love, gets married and needs advice), all ends well. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

The sleeve description (apart from spelling “truckor” with an “o”) says Alfie “uses his job as a way to commute from tryst to tryst in his travels across the United States,” that the woman in question is “as callous and fond of one-night stands as he is” and that their relationship faces “dangers waiting in the shadows.” Hmm. The movie I saw was set in England and France both in fact and in dialog, I saw no sign that the woman (a magazine editor) was callous or fond of one-night stands, and if there were any dangers they might have been that she’d come to her senses and see what a himbo she was hitching up with. No such luck. Then again, IMDB mentions “female nudity” which certainly isn’t the case—this is probably a TV version with quite a bit lost from the original. Ah well, it’s reasonably well filmed with a good print. For that, I’ll give it $1.00.

Carnival Story, 1954, color. Kurt Neumann (dir.), Anne Baxter, Steve Cochran, Lyle Bettger, George Nader, Jay C. Flippen, Helene Stanley, Ady Berber. 1:35 [1:33].

A carnival isn’t making it in America so they decamp to Germany—where a beautiful woman clumsily pickpockets one of the carnival folk (who appears to have pocketed a portion of the gate). He catches her, she’s down on her luck, he invites her to join the carnival (as a general helper) and, of course, makes his move. He’s abusive, but she takes it (or maybe “and she loves it”—that’s never entirely clear).

Then she meets up with the high-diving artist, who adds her to his act, courts her and marries her. Then the high-diver plunges to his death when a rung of the ladder is loose. Sure, it’s ruled accidental. Sure, nobody even checks the ladder. You can’t possibly imagine that the sleazy ex-boyfriend could have anything to do with it… Later, he shows up again. The husband had willed his entire fortune to her ($5,000, but this was a while back), all in cash, all hidden behind a mirror. The no-good boyfriend who she can’t resist disappears with the five large.

Oh, there’s another man involved: a photographer who’s sympathetic to her plight and, naturally, also falls for her. I’ve probably left out her attempt to spice up the act after her husband’s death by doing a 360 in midair, which causes her land badly and be out of commission for some time. Eventually, it all ends—with a minor character playing a major role. If this all sounds melodramatic, it is. But it’s also well filmed and not badly acted by a good cast, with a pretty good print. $1.50.

Four Deuces, 1976, color. William H. Bushnell (dir.), Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Warren Berlinger, Adam Roarke. 1:27 [1:24].

The sleeve calls it a “tongue-in-cheek crime melodrama” and it has a fine cast, with Jack Palance, Warren Berlinger and Carol Lynley (among others). It’s done comic-book style, with big color captions popping up on some scene changes. The print’s pretty good, sound is fine, good Roaring 20s music, reasonably well filmed. And maybe that’s enough. It’s a lively story with loads of action, double crossing, explosions, gunsels, maidens in distress…

No heroes, really, but a variety of villains in what’s basically an old-fashioned prohibition-era gang-vs.-gang war, with each gang having a speakeasy as headquarters. Somehow I couldn’t get into it. Sure, you could say it’s all comic-book violence, but it seemed as though the only ways to move the plot forward were machine guns and arson. I don’t know about tongue-in-cheek, but I found it offputting. You might think it’s great good fun; I didn’t, and wind up with (charitably) $1.00.

Cites & Insights 8:2 available

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Cites & Insights 8:2 (February 2008) is now available. The 24-page issue (PDF as always, but all articles are also available as HTML separates) includes:

  • Announcing Academic Library Blogs: 231 Examples – The latest from Cites & Insights Books, a $29.50 289-page paperback that complements Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples. Included are brief notes, the list of academic institutions represented, examples of blog coverage for both books, the announcement of $20 PDF downloads for those who just can’t stand print books–and a few notes on the status of Cites & Insights Books.
  • Trends & Quick Takes: Trends and Forecasts – Time to look at some pundits’ scorecards and forecasts, along with some of the trends from the LITA Top Tech Trendspotters, with some of my comments interleaved.
  • Bibs & Blather: Midwinter Musings – Notes on a much warmer Philadelphia Midwinter, along with a special essay based on an odd but not unique occurrence: “Leadership and Initiative: The Case of the Empty Chairs.”
  • Offtopic Perspective: 50 Movie Western Classics, Part 1 – Roy Rogers is riding tonight, as are Tex Ritter, Gene Autry, John Wayne and a slew of others. A bunch of one hour “oaters” and a handful of pretty good pictures.

When I chatted with a few of you at Midwinter, I may have expressed concern that the February issue might be some combination of late, short and peculiar, since I didn’t think I had any of it written (I forgot about the Offtopic Perspective). Well, one out of three ain’t bad: It’s not late and it’s not short. Enjoy.

Reasonably quiet PCs: Advice?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Here’s the question:

Do you know of reasonably contemporary name-brand desktop computers, or brands in general, at reasonable prices, that run quiet? Not silent, but at least quiet enough so you don’t hear the fan in the next room?

And here’s the background

A little over a month ago, I posted this item, asking for advice on choosing between two well-priced offers for a new PC. I couched it in third-party terms, but was actually looking for myself–thinking that, sooner or later, I may want to replace my current PC (purchased in July 2002), maybe “sooner” now that I can legally load Office 2007 (my wife’s copy is good for three PCs) and a very complete protection suite (my own copy is good for three PCs) at no additional cost.

At the time, I said that “the person” (me) concluded they didn’t have the time at that point to do the transition. That was true–but, when the quad-core system came on sale again two weeks later, for $50 less, I decided it was too good to pass up. And then found that the chain didn’t have all that many units–as in none other than the demonstrator in each local store.

So I decided to wait until this or a comparable machine came on sale again.

I dropped in to the local store in the chain (Office Depot)–and there was the system (Gateway GT5636E), at a very good sale price through March 1 ($650). I asked–and found that this was a closeout, and the only unit was the demonstrator. But, unlike other sale situations, they were willing to sell the demonstrator (at a 10% discount, making it a wonderful price).

Now, just to make this absurd and long story more complicated, I also managed to get a fairly nasty cold on Friday–probably infected on the flight back from Philly–and was (am) only running at about quarter-speed. Given that, PLN stuff, and the need to get C&I ready, I knew I’d take a week or two (or three…) to move all my stuff off the old PC. I did plug it in (and move the display to the new PC) on Sunday, long enough to make sure it was working. It started up with noisy fans, but after two or three seconds they quieted down to a quite acceptable noise level; I assume there’s a thermostat.

So yesterday, with what little energy I had, I decided I should at least get things going on the new machine–and that I really needed a KVM switch if I was going to be working back and forth on two PCs with one display for a week or two. Done. Turned on the Gateway. The fans started out noisy…and stayed that way. Noisy enough so my wife could hear it throughout the house. Intolerably noisy for long-term use.

I’m taking it back. There may be a sample problem (after a little while, I couldn’t get Control Panel to come up, so I suspect there are several problems with this sample unit), but it’s also possible that the quad-core Intel Q6600 just runs hot enough to require much more cooling.

Now, with that lengthy introduction, here’s the question again:

Do you know of reasonably contemporary name-brand desktop computers, or brands in general, at reasonable prices, that run quiet? Not silent, but at least quiet enough so you don’t hear the fan in the next room?

I’m ready to drop back to a dual-core CPU; I’m not really doing enough hotshot stuff to require quad-core. I’m looking to spend $700 or less, not including display. I am looking for a desktop (I’ll continue to use my wireless MS Natural keyboard and optical mouse). At least 2GB RAM (3GB better), at least 400GB hard disk. Vista is fine, although I might consider XP. At least enough expansion slots so I can upgrade the RAM and, if I later decide to go to a two-display system, add a graphics card (unless there’s already a graphics card or integrated graphics that will support dual displays). I’m not a gamer and only intermittently do photo editing.

No terrible hurry. I’d like to recover from this cold, make sure things at PLN are going smoothly, and get out the February Cites & Insights before I do anything about this–and, you know, this “ancient” PC is still working just fine and seems fast enough for most things I do.

(After Steve Jobs’ “people don’t read anymore anyway” comments, I’m less likely than ever to convert–and if that shows bias, so be it.)

50 Movie Western Classics, Disc 6

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Man of the Frontier, 1936, b&w. B. Reeves Eason (dir.), Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Frances Grant, Boothe Howard, Jack Kennedy, Champion. Original title Red River Valley (1:00). 0:54 [0:55].

Gene Autry plays Gene Autry—but maybe not as a singing cowboy (although he does sing in the movie). Delivering some cattle for a fee, he finds that the Red River Valley Land & Irrigation Company, trying to build a dam and canal to irrigate the surrounding land, keeps getting locks blown up and losing its “ditch rider,” the guy responsible for keeping stuff in shape. So Autry takes the job. Naturally, there’s a conspiracy afoot. Naturally, one of the most respected men in town is behind it (the banker, I guess, who wants to foreclose on all the land, in cahoots with the office manager of the company—I think). Naturally, Gene in his white hat saves the day—and, since there’s a pretty young woman involved, you can reasonably assume that he winds up either going with or marrying her.

I’ll admit, I think of “the frontier” as something a little more primitive than an area with telephone service working on a dam and irrigation systems (with construction trains running to the dam site), but what do I know? (Now it makes sense: The original title is Red River Valley.) I haven’t seen that many Autry flicks, but he seems a bit less likable here than in some others: Sneering much of the time, with somewhat of a mean streak. Frog, his lovable sidekick, is amusing as always and gets a more interesting musical number. There’s also a fascinating novelty “hillbilly band” playing some interesting instruments. You can guess the key song for Autry, can’t you, given the setting? Oh, and the big crew building the dam all sing multipart harmony in perfect tune, as though they’re part of an oversize barbershop quartet. Interesting. In a charitable mood, I’ll give it $1.00

Riders of the Whistling Pines, 1949, b&w. John English (dir.), Gene Autry, Patricia Barry/White, Jimmy Lloyd, Douglass Dumbrille, Damian O’Flynn, Clayton Moore. 1:10 [1:08]

Gene Autry’s Gene Autry again in this tale of the new post-WWII west—cropdusters, trucks, cars, ecoterrorism, but when trouble’s afoot, everybody leaps on horses. This time, he’s a forest ranger who’s been given a new rifle as he’s leaving to run a lodge. His buddy (there’s no Crusty this time; instead, a regular-guy sidekick with a drinking problem) points to a mountain lion. Gene tries to shoot it, twice—and instead, believes he’s shot somebody completely out of sight on a horse.

But we know the truth: This dastardly lumber company has an exclusive contract to log on Federal land (when they’re allowed to)—and there’s a spreading infestation that could kill off tens of thousands of acres of forest, which would mean they could log all that timber and make a fortune. The guy was off to alert other authorities of the infestation; one of the timber honchos heard Autrey shooting and found it a convenient cover to kill this guy in cold blood. Naturally, Gene admits it; it’s an accident, but he resigns his post and sells the lodge to the couple who’ve been setting it up. (Later, his forestry buddies tell him that they messed up the sight on the gun as a prank: He could not possibly have shot the other guy, as the gun was set to fire into the ground when he aimed normally.)

But wait! The infestation’s discovered anyway—and spraying the whole forest with DDT from the air is the way to stop it. Nobody but Autry can manage the job—building the access roads and airstrip, organizing the crews to do the flying, all within 30 days—so, of course Autry says he’ll do it. Meantime, the evil timber marauders (one of them’s Clayton Moore in a distinctly non-Lone Ranger role) figure the only way to stop him and see that the forest dies off is to convince the ranchers that DDT will kill their animals. But, of course, as we all know, DDT wouldn’t hurt a fly…

So they fly another plane spraying real poison over various farms. That’s just part of a plot-heavy flick with lots of songs—apparently Autry by this time managed to be both a highly successful musician and an itinerant cowboy-of-all-trades just out to earn a living and pick up another girl by the end of the plot. (By this time, he’d done more than sixty flicks, always playing Gene Autry except for the one time he was Tex Autry.) Oh, and now when he’s singing as he’s riding along, invisible instruments and a background chorus show up from time to time.

It’s not bad, certainly not the standard formula, although in this case the bad guy’s such an obvious jerk that you’d think he’d have trouble convincing farmers to riot against the noble Feds just trying to do their job. This is also a movie of its time: Twenty years later, the concept that DDT is entirely benign might not go over quite so well. The print’s mostly OK, but there’s some choppiness, noticeable in a couple of songs. Still, I’ll give it $1.00.

Painted Desert, 1931, b&w. Howard Higgin (dir.), William Boyd, Helen Twelvetrees, William Farnum, J. Farrell MacDonald, Clark Gable. 1:25 [1:15].

I’m not sure which is more bizarre in this full-length Western: The plot or the acting. Two best friends are making their way through the old west, helping each other at every turn. They come upon a broken-down wagon (presumably the result of a raid?) and hear a baby’s cry. There’s an abandoned infant, which they take with them. Then they reach a watering hole. One person says that’s it, he’s found his grubstake (I guess this was during a homesteading period: Go there and you own it), he’s settling down. The other says no, he’s going on to find grazing land—and insists on taking the kid. End of Act 1.

Now the kid’s grown up and back from mining school. The two men are bitter enemies, and the guy with the watering hole—whose only living comes from renting access to the water to cattle ranchers taking cattle to market—forces the other guy to take his cattle the long way around, refusing water. And both of the old friends act as though zombified, for some reason. Oh, and the waterhole owner has a lovely young (that is, young woman) daughter (but no wife). And the son has found tungsten in the hill that’s part of the waterhole property. When the son tries to talk his father into mending fences, the father basically disowns him and throws him out. The son goes in with the other guy, starts the mine (on a loan), almost loses it because of various nefarious deeds…and, well, of course it all works out (albeit with both older men shooting the hero simultaneously, oddly enough).

As it turns out, the real evildoer is some fellow who would do anything to keep people from taking what’s his—and that’s not quite clear, although I guess it’s the daughter. (Apparently that’s Clark Gable. Maybe his first talkie; not his finest hour.) I don’t know. Maybe it’s a style of acting I just don’t recognize. If I hadn’t been treadmilling, I’d have fallen asleep. (Apparently the missing 10 minutes is mostly three big action scenes that were deliberately removed from the flick after its first showing, to be used in other movies—including one of them in Red River Valley.) The dozed-off acting, peculiar (not in a good way) plot and a mediocre print limit this to $0.75.

Gunfight at Red Sands, 1963, color (original title Duello nel Texas). Ricardo Blasco (dir.), Richard Harrison, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Mikaela, Sara Lezana, Daniel Martin. 1:35.

Red certainly seems appropriate as part of this movie’s title, since it’s in an odd sort of sepiacolor that only includes shades of red, browns, wood, and other faded colors—no blues or true greens that I could see. It’s apparently an early “spaghetti Western,” with decent production values but not a whole lot in the way of acting or, well, logic.

Richard Harrison is Gringo—adopted son of a Mexican family working a little gold mine in a just-north-of-the-border town, who returns from four years fighting in the Mexican civil war. As he returns, three bandits kill the father and steal all the gold (most of it supposedly hidden). The rest of the movie deals with that—and with a town whose handsome sheriff and a group of variously mean-spirited sidekicks all hate Mexicans, even though much of the town appears to be Hispanic. (The most interesting villain is a giggling sociopath who is also, of course, a deputy sheriff.)

I guess I shouldn’t expect logic in a flick like this. Seems as though the sheriff or his clearly-murderous sidekicks would have just shot Gringo in the back or in “self defense” fairly early in the plot, but that wouldn’t make for much of a movie or get us to the inevitable (and really ludicrous) showdown. Maybe I should be impressed by Ennio Morricone’s score. I guess it’s OK. Let’s see. Other than the pseudocolor, there’s a short section where there seem to be holes in the print (that is, real holes, not just the holes in the plot). I can’t see giving this more than $0.75.

Academic Library Blogs: Who’s Included

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

I probably won’t write as many posts about Academic Library Blogs: 231 Examples as I did about Public Library Blogs. The full set of metrics represent part of the value of the book, and as for why I think the book is worthwhile, what I said here applies equally well to this book.

Rather than give you a list of zip and postal codes, here’s the list of institutions with blogs included in the book.

  • Adrian College
  • American School of Classical Studies at Athens
  • Arizona State University
  • Armstrong Atlantic State University
  • Art Institute of Dallas
  • Ashland University
  • Auburn University
  • Auraria Library
  • Austin Community College
  • Ball State University
  • Binghamton University
  • Bloomfield College
  • Boise State University
  • Bond University
  • Bridgewater State College
  • Buffalo State College
  • Butler Community College
  • Butler University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Central Piedmont Community College
  • College of DuPage
  • College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University
  • College of William & Mary
  • Colorado College
  • Colorado State University
  • Colorado State University-Pueblo
  • Danville Area Community College
  • Drexel University
  • Duke University
  • Dundalk Institute of Technology
  • Eastern Kentucky University
  • Eastern Oregon University
  • Empire State College
  • Georgia Perimeter College
  • Georgia State University
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Green River Community College
  • Guilford Technical Community College
  • Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre (HOORC)
  • Harvard University
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Highline Community College
  • Indiana University South Bend
  • Institute for Astronomy
  • Kalamazoo College
  • Kansas State University
  • LaGuardia Community College
  • Lawrence University
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Lidcombe College of TAFE
  • Louisiana State University
  • LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • McMaster University
  • Medicine Hat College
  • Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology
  • Montgomery County Community College
  • Moraine Valley Community College
  • Mount Saint Vincent University
  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • Muskingum College
  • National Art School
  • Naval Postgraduate School
  • New York Institute of Technology
  • North Carolina State University
  • North Metro Technical College
  • Northeastern State University
  • Northern Virginia Community College
  • Northwestern University
  • Oberlin College
  • Ohio University
  • Olympic College
  • Otterbein College
  • Pacific NW College of Art
  • Pasadena City College
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Pennsylvania State University-Delaware County
  • Pensacola Junior College
  • Philadelphia University
  • Pratt Institute
  • Princeton University
  • Purchase College
  • Regent University
  • Reid Kerr College
  • Rio Hondo College
  • Rollins College
  • Royal College of Midwives
  • Ryerson University
  • Saint Mary’s University
  • Seattle University
  • Slippery Rock University
  • Sonoma State University
  • Southern Illinois University
  • Springfield Technical Community College
  • St. Bonaventure University
  • St. Mary’s University
  • St. Petersburg College
  • SUNY Brockport
  • SUNY Potsdam
  • Temple University
  • Tennessee Wesleyan College
  • Texas State University-San Marcos
  • Tufts University
  • UConn Health Center
  • Uiniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
  • University at Albany, SUNY
  • University College Dublin
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of Alabama, Huntsville,
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Baltimore
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Calgary
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Canterbury
  • University of Colorado at Boulder
  • University of Connecticut Stamford
  • University of Evansville
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Glamorgan
  • University of Houston
  • University of Huddersfield, Oldham
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Montana-Missoula
  • University of Montevallo
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Richmond
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • University of South Alabama
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Texas Dallas
  • University of Toledo Health Science Campus
  • University of Victoria
  • University of Waikato
  • University of Windsor
  • University of Winnipeg
  • University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
  • University of Wyoming
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Virginia Tech
  • Waubonsee Community College
  • West Virginia University
  • Western Carolina University
  • Western Kentucky University
  • Western Michigan University
  • Wheaton College
  • Wheelock College
  • Yale University

Blogs shouldn’t be discussed in print books?

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

I was talking about my self-publishing experiences with a few people at Midwinter, and particularly the surprisingly poor sales for Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples, which I believe to be an extremely useful resource for any library considering a new blog (or extending existing ones). I think it’s up to 55 copies now, but that’s still pretty pathetic.

One or two people suggested that hip blog-creating types wouldn’t be caught dead buying a dead tree book about blogs–that they’d consider it anachronistic and, well, just wrong. And that this might even be true for Balanced Libraries (which is still short of the 200-copy mark): That potential readers don’t want old-fashioned print books.

I find this a little hard to fathom, to be entirely honest. Public Library Blogs and the new Academic Library Blogs: 231 Examples are done as books because I believe they’re most useful that way–that being able to browse through the book rather than trying to get a sense of 200+ blogs is worth the price, quite apart from whatever added value I’ve provided with metrics and well-chosen sample posts. (The sample posts actually make the books worth reading cover-to-cover, in my not-at-all-humble opinion; that surprised me.)

But, hey, maybe there are hundreds (dozens?) of potential buyers out there who think my material is worthwhile but are fundamentally opposed to print books, particularly on digital matters. Improbable, but possible.


You want ebooks? You got ebooks.

As of now, you can acquire Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change, Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples, and Academic Library Blogs: 231 Examples as downloadable PDFs. Only from

They’re even cheaper: $20 each, and no shipping/handling charges (as far as I know).

If you think they should be free–well, show me the grant or institutional funding that keeps me working on this stuff, and we can talk about it. The work’s done on my own time and with my own resources. If you feel I should be doing it for the greater glory or whatever, sorry, but that’s just nonsense.

I’m acting in good faith here. As far as I know, Lulu doesn’t add any sort of DRM to the PDF. If some “content should be free, creators should be independently wealthy” jackass buys one copy and posts it for everybody else to copy…well, lawsuits are expensive, so I’d probably just remove the download options and chalk one up to my overly optimistic view of human decency. I don’t believe that will happen–and, more to the point, I don’t believe that any would-be readers would be so sleazy as to take an illegal download over the real thing just to save $20.

I suspect you won’t get the great cover photos–which is a shame. I know that URLs within the PDF won’t be live and may not cut-and-paste properly: Since I was designing print publications, I felt perfectly free to add a space to a long URL so it would split between lines better. Oh, and there probably aren’t any bookmarks (chapters, etc.) in the PDF; again, I was designing for print, and bookmarks (etc.) make for a slower-to-generate and larger PDF.

You should probably go directly to Cites & Insights Books (my storefront) rather than the individual book links above. I know that the links for buying downloads are there on the storefront; I imagine they’ll eventually show up on the book pages, but don’t know when.

Full volumes of Cites & Insights will not be available from Lulu as PDF downloads. After all, other than the extras in each volume, you can already download all the issues for free. And PDFs aren’t available through CreateSpace; this is strictly a Lulu offer.

A clarification: My comments about surprisingly low sales have to do with Public Library Blogs. Academic Library Blogs only became fully available yesterday (that is, January 17, 2008); no comments about sales or lack thereof make any sense for at least three months.

Otherwise..well, my comments in the comment stream may form part of an eventual post or article. They may not. And, you know, I’ve called C&I Books an experiment–and they call them “experiments” because they can fail…

“Hidden” wines–maybe not all that hidden

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

‘brary web diva points to a new blog about wine, from a former library worker. One of the first posts at that blog discusses the many “hidden” Gallo wines.

As a wine drinker (and as one whose family home was eventually purchased by Gallo to make part of a parking lot, allowing my parents to move to a nicer place), I’ve been aware of the Gallo-created regional brands such as Anapamu for some time, and certainly aware that Gallo–and especially Gallo of Sonoma–makes a lot of excellent wine, along with some cheap stuff (the really cheap stuff such as Carlo Rossi never saying Gallo on the label). Gallo’s also picked up a surprising number of well-established wineries through the years, including Mirassou.

I also knew one “trick” to identify some, but by no means all, Gallo brands that don’t say Gallo: UPC codes starting with 85000. (“Modesto on the label” is a particularly bad way to locate the best Gallo wines, since most of them have Healdsburg on the label, that being the headquarters for Gallo of Sonoma.)

Turns out there’s a much easier trick. Gallo’s not trying to hide its brands. This page leads to descriptions of all Gallo-owned wines, broken down by category.

So, for example, Gallo doesn’t hide the fact that Burlwood and Copperidge (and Liberty Creek) are hotel/restaurant brands; you may have been poured Copperidge at Midwinter receptions (or at Embassy Suites, for example). Nor do they hide the fact that they import Black Swan, Ecco Domani, Red Bicyclette and others. And in the premium category (other than the ones with Gallo on the label, some of which are world-class wines), there are the ones I knew about–Rancho Zabaco/Dancing Bull, Anapamu, Marcelina–and a couple I didn’t realize Gallo had acquired (e.g., Louis M. Martini).

Yes, the page also lists the cheap stuff…but only ones that are more-or-less varietal wines, not the fortified and fruit stuff. So you’ll find Carlo Rossi and Peter Vella, but not Thunderbird. (Ripple? Gone. Not missed.)