Archive for September, 2010

Taking my own advice

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Midway through a pass of the whole bloody liblog list, to make sure I didn’t screw up one metric (when I ran into a sorting problem with Excel and hidden columns) and add one probably-irrelevant metric, I found myself grumping internally about the way some blogs do or don’t handle archives and older posts.

Worst, of course, are the many Blogger templates that omit any form of older-post function and have either monthly (or weekly!) archive links with no counts, or no archive links at all. These are essentially unknowable for older posts. (Not much better: the Blogger templates that have older-post functions but, instead of numbering older pages, attach some strange chunk of text to the URL.)

Best, in a number of ways, are the templates–both Blogger and WordPress–with collapsible monthly/yearly links, with counts. They’re reasonably compact (even if the blog’s been around a decade, that’s only 10 lines collapsed), they’re really easy to deal with, and you can see how much activity a blog has had at a glance.

So what about Walt at Random?

This blog used to have WordPress’ default archive function, which adds one link for each month in which there are posts. After a year or two, that makes the sidebar awfully long…and it doesn’t provide counts.

I’d switched to a Compact Archive plugin that shows two lines per year, with one-character abbreviations for each month, live links if there are any posts. Much more compact, but not much more informative.

Since I admire collapsible-and-numbered archive sidebars so much, shouldn’t I have one?

Yes indeedy. So, just after passing the halfway point in the interminable scan, I went hunting. And found Robert Felty’s “Collapsing Archive.” Which doesn’t even require me to get fancy and upgrade the sidebar to support Widgets.

Thanks, Robert. Works first time. You can see the results on the right sidebar, if you’ve actually visited the blog.

Mystery Collection Disc 16

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

The Phantom Fiend, 1932, b&w. Maurice Elvey (dir.), Ivor Novello, Elizabeth Allan, A.W. Baskcomb, Barbara Everest, Jack Hawkins. 1:25 [1:02]

Women keep getting murdered in London at call boxes. A phone operator, who may have heard one of the murders, lives at home with her parents—who also rent a room, when they can. She has a sort-of sometimes boyfriend who’s a reporter. They manage to rent a room to a quiet foreign man who doesn’t like having women’s portraits hung in the room, plays a fine piano and also owns (but never seems to play) a violin.

He makes friends with the young woman—but in a mysterious way. Meanwhile, an agent claims to know who the fiend (“the avenger?”) is—and the father somehow concludes that it’s the roomer. Since the roomer is such an obvious suspect from the moment he appears in the picture, it should be obvious that Not All Is At It Seems, as is revealed in the final four minutes of a remarkably slow-moving flick. There’s a little domestic humor, but…

Atmospheric foggy-London photography, so-so picture, staticky sound, acceptable acting. (Note re picture and sound judgments: Now seeing the flicks on a much larger TV with upconversion to HDTV—which seems to make bad old prints more acceptable. Also listening with different and apparently better wireless headphones.) I wonder how much is missing in this considerably-abbreviated version of the original? I couldn’t get terribly excited, but I suppose it’s worth $1.00.

The Sleeping Tiger, 1954, b&w. Joseph Losey (dir.), Dirk Bogarde, Alexis Smith, Alexander Knox, Hugh Griffith, Patricia McCarron. 1:29 [1:27]

The setup: guy tries to rob a psychotherapist at gunpoint, but the shrink—a former army man—takes the gun away from him. And, instead of turning him in to the police, takes him home for a six-month experiment: “See whether we can turn things around, or go back to the cops and jail.” The housekeeper’s appalled and leaves (not without a little rough stuff from the guy, who doesn’t want her to leave). The wife, perhaps a trifle distant from her brilliant husband who’s always off lecturing (she’s American, he’s British, the film’s set in London), is hesitant at first but…well, goes riding with him, then starts falling for him.

Things end badly (particularly for her). Much of the movie is slow-moving, but it’s reasonably interesting and well-acted overall. An oddity: The sleeve gives the star as Alexis Smith (the wife), but I’d say Dirk Bogarde (the brooding young man—he was 34 at the time) is the real star here. Either it’s the new TV or this is an unusually good print, but the tonal qualities were very good. There are, sad to say, some missing pieces—whole lines of dialog, not just chops, although it only adds up to two minutes overall. Still, I think it’s worth $1.25.

Monsoon, 1943, b&w. Edgar G. Ulmer (dir.), John Carradine, Gale Sondergaard, Sidney Toler, Frank Fenton, Veda Ann Borg, Rita Quickley, Rick Vallin. Original title: Isle of Forgotten Sins. 1:22 [1:16]

I’d already seen this movie on another set, and didn’t rewatch the entire movie. The big difference, such as it is, is the sleeve: Originally, the sleeve described some entirely different movie with, apparently, the same title, where this time the sleeve description was reasonably accurate. Here’s what I said in 2008:

[This movie is about] greed, gold, diving and weather. It starts in a South Seas gambling hall/brothel and winds up in a similar establishment. In between? Better than you might expect, partly because there really are no heroes among this strong cast. $1.25.

Slightly Honorable, 1939, b&w. Tay Garnett (dir.), Pat O’Brien, Edward Arnold, Broderick Crawford, Ruth Terry, Alan Dinehart, Claire Dodd, Phyllis Brooks, Eve Arden. 1:25.

The opening credits and music underneath make it clear that this is a comedy—but it’s also a mystery, and a fairly involved one at that. We have an honest lawyer who’s out to dethrone a group of crooked politicians and businesspeople, and whose client and good friend is murdered—presumably by one of the bad guys. We have a couple more murders, a singer/dancer (who tends to go flat, but is a great dancer) who’s a little underage and given to malapropisms, incompetent cops, the inimitable Eve Arden as a secretary (and victim) and lots more.

Thoroughly enjoyable, with a remarkable cast. The print’s generally very good. I give this one $1.75.

Blog country of origin: A crowdsource request

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Thanks to those who’ve submitted additional liblog candidates (keep ’em coming!).

Here’s another request, not worth any real effort on your part but one where you may know the answers offhand.

I’ve included “country of origin” this time around. In a few cases–surprisingly few, actually, 94 out of 1,276 (not including twenty-odd new candidates)–the country of origin is not obvious to me.

If you happen to know that information for one or more of these, could you let me know–that is, the name of the blog and where the writer or writers currently live (or lived when the blog was active). I am recording Wales and Scotland separately when that’s obvious, but “UK” works for less specific cases.

The List

A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette
Alexandrine Librarian
archival allure
At Home He’s a Tourist
Bibliotherapy for obsessive/compulsive Readers
Biblophilia in Black
Bigenarian Librarian
Brennan’s Blog on Libraries, Lexicons, and Life
Chez Shoes
Christopher Kupec’s Weblog
Crazy Library Shit
Creative Librarian
Do I really want to touch that with my hand?
Elly’s Weblog
Fear and Loathing in a Library
Fig Newtons and Scotch
frankenstein speaks
From the Library Universe
Gemini Moon
Gleaning Greatness: Hiring Library Leaders
Green and Gray Librarian
Hermes’ Neuticles
i read, i write, i shelve things
InfoCommons and Beyond
Interesting Pile
Lady Crumpet’s Armoire
Lethal Librarian
Liberry Blooze
Librarian Ire
Librarian of the Wastes
Librarians for Human Rights
Library clips
Library Finds
Library Links… Livin’ the Dream
Library Lovers’ LiveJournal
Library Pariah
Library Sherpa
Library toolbar
Linux Librarian
Matthew 2.0
Me and Mr. Dewey
Miss Information
Observations from the front line
On Google Scholar
Perks of Being a Librarian
Pinched Nerves
Print Matters
Reading Sarah
Sell It With Sizzle
Stephen Gallant Review
Talking Books Librarian
Teacher Librarian
Teen Zone Library Blog
The In Season Christian Librarian
The Nonny Librarians
The Society for Librarians Who Say…
The Vampire Librarian
The Video Game Librarian
this is a working library
Threnody for the Public Domain
Tiny Little Librarian
Tribulations of a Public Librarian
Twisted Librarian
walk like a librarian
wannabe librarian
World’s Strongest Librarian
Zen and the Art of Digression

Responses by October 1, 2010, please? (I’ll have another question, with a lot more blogs involved, before then.)


NOTE: These are not all the liblogs on my current list. These are the few for which I don’t (or didn’t) know the country of origin.

Additional liblogs: A clarification

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Thanks to those who have sent in responses to this post. I’ll continue accepting comments or email (to waltcrawford at gmail dot com) through September 15, 2010.

One clarification:

Blogs don’t have to be “living.”

When I say there has to have been at least one post before June 1, 2010, I don’t mean there have to be any posts during 2010. If a dead liblog is still visible–that is, if its URL still works and leads me to posts–it’s good as a candidate. It would fall into “group 4” of the study: Liblogs that appear to be either dead or deeply moribund, having had no new posts since May 31, 2009.

I hope this won’t result in hundreds of additional candidates, but if it does, so be it.

Arggh: A quick update

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Not much blogging lately. Also, not much (not any) Cites & Insights writing. That may continue for a while.

Here’s the situation:

  • I’d planned to spend the last couple of weeks focusing on a second draft of “Open Access: What You Need to Know Now,” but pausing between chapters and doing some final recording of blog metrics for the 2010 liblog project.
  • But…well…last week was about 80% disrupted by “stuff”–some good, some so-so, some just peculiar. And this week was about 60% disrupted by “more stuff”–some bad (but not major), some good, some just peculiar. All time-consuming.
  • I’ve managed to keep some momentum going on the OA project, using any peaceful half-day to focus on that. I’m about halfway through the second draft…
  • The other stuff was sketchy, but I was at a great pausing point…and then:

I found that, somehow, Excel (or, let’s face it, the person operating Excel) had managed to munge some portions of some rows. I suspect it has something to do with sorting the spreadsheet while some columns are hidden, but it could be something even more peculiar. (It’s a fairly large spreadsheet–currently one sheet with 1,277 rows and 23 columns, another with 1,300-odd rows but only two columns; when I start doing analysis, the first sheet will probably go to 24 or 25 columns and there will be at least one derivative sheet with a couple dozen columns but only about, oh, 900 rows.)

I’ve now checked the most obvious cases, spending about 4 hours recovering/verifying about 8 hours work.

The remaining validation pass…well, it could take as little as 12 hours (spread over several days), it could take as much as 50-60 hours (spread over a couple of weeks). (Yes, I have a saved copy: That’s how I recovered from the worst of the munge.)

So, well, I’m working on it. And, when times are peaceful (maybe next week?), focusing first on the book.

As for C&I? Well…one of these days, maybe.

Ah, retirement: Nothing to do and all the time in the world.