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Crazy Talk

In my efforts to make the internet less fun, I am pondering filtering and putting either a) the OS X Mac on the floor as a card only terminal or b) sticking SuSE 8.2 on the old Win98 box that used to be unfiltered. Here's how old the Win98 box is: it has a serial mouse. The good news: our serial mouse wielding word processor gave up the ghost yesterday, so I can bulk the memory some by stealing from Peter to give to Paul.

If I thought I could rig SuSE 9 on it I would, but I think it might be easier to keep it simple as possible. Besides, my husband has the SuSE 9 disks at his work now. God, I love open source.

I have a screamin' headache, and get to work 1-9 today, so it's a long day for me. Sigh. I do have sick time, but there's the unfortunate bit that someone is taking a personal day today, and that, well, god, I hate using sick time.

I am discovering that being a librarian, in some cases, is about limiting access as much as it is about giving access. The kids I threw out the day before came in yesterday, and I took their ball (again) and I imagine they got thrown out shortly thereafter. Then there's the whole filtering thing.

Keeping Up With The LISNewsterz

Yesterday morning I decided that would be the day I would read every single comment left on LISNews. I've been slacking lately, letting a lot of comments slide by, unread, even on quite days. I picked a bad day.

For years it was easy to read every comment, we just didn't get any, so it was not much of a challenge to keep up. That may be changing, or it may just be the top of the bell curve. I'm not sure what the record for comments in a single day is, but I know the average for last month is 26 comments a day, January was only 16. We're only 2.5 days into March, and we've already got 85 comments, 55 of which were left yesterday. Yes, these are numbers that a busy site like Slashdot would laugh at, but they're pretty darn high for little ol' LISNews.

Now it may not seem like much to read 55 comments in a day, but just try, go ahead, see how long it takes. I've got a much different view of the site than most folks do; the super secret back end code lets me keep an eye on things from above. It lets me watch the comments come in, see what's being moderated, and keeps an eye out for abuses, which, luckily, we don't have much of at this point. So even with my super powers it's still no easy task trying to keep up. It's also not easy moderating sometimes.

One of the super powers that comes with an author account is the ability to moderate freely. On most days most people get somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 moderator points. That is I manually update the Db field that gives points to people. Slashcode is designed for Slashdot, and it doesn't really scale down very well. For those people who do participate frequently, the code frequently grants them points, for the vast majority of the people who do not, they'd never get any points. It could be argued they don't deserve the points, but I do my best to encourage participation from everyone, and hopefully that helps. I'd like to think it helps avoid things like this comment from an Anonymous Patron:

"Why am I so completely unsurprised by the moderators rating Conservator's comment as flamebait? Fang-Fang's streak of ad hominen attacks against opposing views remains unbroken, and remains a hit with moderators."

I've seen comments like that on Slashdot for years, and I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see them here as well, but I am. There is no great moderator conspiracy here @LISNews. There may be one @Slashdot, I just don't know, but I do know there isn't one here. This comment in particular was moderated as flamebait by one person, and that was the only time it had been moderated. As a matter of fact, it's one of the very few comments in the past week that modded down at all. And to be fair, Fang-Fang has gotten more than his fair share of negative mods. In general, the vast majority of moderations are up, this one comment was an exception, rather than a vast left wing conspiracy. The moderation system is not perfect, but for the most part I think it does a good job, and I like it.

So to answer your question, Anonymous Patron, I don't know why you are so completely unsurprised by the moderators rating Conservator's comment as flamebait, take a look at all the other comments, I think you'll be surprised. And, by the way, that was me that moderated your comment as flamebait.

The day of the Penguin

Today the Linux box went live. Except for a slight problem (which I think is memory based) of lines appearing all over the screen when the box goes to "sleep" for more than a minute or so (that's nicely fixed by a ctrl-alt-backspace), it seems to be working okay. I played around with the filter some, and got it to at least block naughty things.

I will be interested to see how this goes. I think it will be spurned like our Macs. Hey, it's not designed to be fun, it's designed to be functional. Which it is.

I also discovered some disturbing things on our unfiltered terminal. I can not take the time to maintain it unfiltered. Besides, a good seventy percent of the cookies on that machine had "XXX" in the URLs or things that were otherwise... well, simply not what one should be viewing @ your library.

If I ever had the crazy idea to put my credit card number into a public access terminal, I sure as hell wouldn't do it after today.

The unfiltered terminal is going away without a squeak. The first person who comes to circulation (and ultimately to me) and says, "I can't view my porn!" is going to probably throw me for a loop, but hey. I just don't want to see us get burned. I could have spent hours working on that machine. And that's silly.

It was actually rather fascinating to watch people react to the "no internet today" concept... I put up signs on all the machines that they were being upgraded. And people bounced from machine to machine like pinballs, looking for one that didn't have the sign on it. Then they started, after I had them down a few hours, asking whether or not it would be up by a given time.

To paraphrase and otherwise modify an earlier journal:

Dear Public,

Don't tick off the systems librarian, for ultimately she decides when you get your internet access back.

--the Library

People were getting demanding: "Can't you make one work for me?" I wasn't about to tell them I could make them all work. Bwahahahahaha! Theoretically, they were all working. That's what "upgrade" means, folks. Read the signs. They work, but not as well as they could. These people complaining we were down would be the first to complain that the computers aren't fast enough, too.

They still aren't blazing fast, but at least they're defragged, updated, virus scanned, and have all sorts of fonts on them. Not silly fonts, international fonts. Fonts that are actually useful. Not wingdings.

26.2

No. No library discussion here. Just "sharing" thoughts about an upcoming race.

26.2

Updating the collection

I ordered this most wonderful book titled Core Collection for Young Adults. It comes with a CDRom that contains all the titles in various formats. Now, what I want to do is compare what is on the CD to what I already have without going through the mess one title at a time. I run Follett and don't see anything on there that will let me do this. sigh. Of course, I can't do this at home because I can't access my collection info from home.

Meanwhile, each student on the newspaper staff created a newsletter for me. Their teacher is being mean and making me pick the best. They are all wonderful so this will be a very hard assignment.

oh, the humanity

Funny how certain people make the humanity level in a room go way up.

After a very nasty remark about our Black History Month display by one patron, we got hit with some kids that seemed to think it was totally appropriate to play hide and seek in the basement of the library. I got them out quickly. Somehow when this happens, it blurs the lines of what's appropriate in a library for me again.

I mean, of course those two examples were inappropriate. Those were easy. But when you compare them with the high school kids that just sort of sit at the tables and talk, usually fairly quietly... Well... things get a little blurry for me. If they have a book we generally don't bother them. If they don't, I guess technically they're supposed to go.

But this certain group of kids is always polite, always restrained. There's just a lot of them -- doing next to nothing.

Today I take down the internet computers. One of our word processors is down. People are not going to be happy, but they're unhappy when they get on and things are amazingly slow because there are twenty four million cookies on the machines.

I am thinking the first Tuesday of every month might be good for this sort of maintenance.

I ordered memory. Wooo hoooo. A lot of it. Now we can revive a Mac or two and get the circulation computers running comfortably. I was hoping I could find some in some of the older computers to put in some of the newer computers... alas, the memory that one pulls out of a donated 486 isn't even particularly useful as paperweights.

The Look of Lactose Intolerance

I am always having strange comments directed towards me. Here is a recent one that takes the cake. Just a few days ago I was in the music room. Our elementary music teacher and I collaborate for a 20 minute music/library time. It is great. We sing songs, do puppet shows, read stories, etc.
Anywho – Music teacher says to me, “Are you lactose intolerant?��Why, yes,� I say, “Why do you ask?��Oh, you just look like you would be,� he answers.
My question to you, reader, is what is the look of lactose intolerance? I am not puny, but not huge. As Goldie Locks might say, “Not too big, not too small, but just right.� I am about 5’4� and 130 pounds. Pretty normal looking gal – I think.
Maybe it is my features. I have blonde hair and blue eyes. I have had many people tell me that I look like Reese Witherspoon. Reese has a cute chin. My jaw is mannishly square. I look more like a Tracy Flick than an Elle Woods.
So what is it about me that oozes an inability to digest ice cream? I don’t broadcast my affliction to the staff. At our last carry in, I did not forgo dairy all together. I just hope that I am not leaking horrible gas while I am telling stories. No wonder the kids are quiet. They are intoxicated by nauseous fumes!

Fake blogging

This has been a "blog-of-interest" among some people I 'know' over the past few days (all bloggers):


http://www.iudaybyday.blogspot.com/

I guess this kid had a class assignment to try to reach a certain number of hits, and he went about it by writing a lot of incendiary stuff, posing as a redneck frat boy. He came out today to say it was all for an assignment but he certainly had me fooled.
I am an active blog reader (not so much with the writing), and I guess this serves as a reminder that you don't really know 'who' you're reading, or who's reading you...
Cross-posted with Yahoo blogging article

Life-long Mathematical Learning

The following remark came to me via a third party (of course) -- I quote: "Nobody goes into a library after they graduate." Now, this comes from a man who teaches mathematics at my high school. I don't know about anyone else, i.e. non-librarians, but I have had zero reason to step into a math classroom after graduation, and libraries are my second and third homes.

It just so happens that Oregon ranks 5th in the nation for library visits and reference transactions, and 2nd for circulation, According to the National Center for Education Statistics.

What do you say to a guy like this?

Springtime in Southeast Alaska

For the past several days here in Southeast Alaska we have had unexpected sunshine with daytime temps around 40. For us, that is a lovely spring day and some people are already breaking out shorts. I myself don't switch to shorts until we hit the 60s -- high 50s if I'm hiking.

Hope other people (especially slashgirl) are getting some nice weather coming their way!

If the weather folks are right, we'll have rain and snow in a day or two, but even so, it will have been a good run of good weather!

The LISNews Numbers for February

This one will be sans my spiffy little charts and graphs due to lack of Photoshop here at work.

So last month...

~126,700 sessions, that's an average of about 4,400 a day. We served ~371,000 pages, which is about 12,800 a day. All that added up to a daily average of about 61,000 hits, a total of around 1.7 million for the month. All of those numbers are a bit ahead of the previous month. We posted an amazing 443 stories from 33 different authors this month, which is the most impressive number, for me at least. That's almost double the numbers from January. Is more always better?

The journals got hit a lot last month. Shoe & nbruce being the most popular, both had well over 20 reads a day. I was a distant third, followed by birdie, Rochelle, Daniel, AshtabulaGuy, tomeboy, djfiander, Bibliofuture, Samantha, and Aaron. If you write, it gets read. It looks like for most people, having the new entry show up on the LISNews index page leads to most of the readers. The more popular writers also have a significant number of people scraping their rss feed as well.

Referrals continue to be all about google. Though only about 25% of LISNews readers even use a referral, those that do came in from one of googles sites more often than most by a large margin. Yahoo, MSN, and Aol were all in the top 10, but msn and AOL were both beaten by Radio rss users. The most popular search terms tell me most folks are not finding what they had hoped for @LISNews. I often think of just adding a meta tag to exclude the entire site from search engines all together just to see what happens. An experiment in web stealth.

Last month we also saw a record number of comments, and moderations. We now have well over 2700 members, and a rather vocal minority are commenting frequently, with a decent number of people jumping in from time to time as well. 763 comments last month, compared to 495 the month before, and 291 back in December. Those comments came from 88 different people [this is an undercount I just relized. It counts AP's as just one, when it could've been hundreds, I'll work on that for next month]. 55 people moderated 456 of those comments. Just 17 people metamoderated last month, which is up one from the previous month, but still rather anemic, which leads me to believe maybe I should just shut that off.

I keep hoping to get some development work done to the site, maybe that will happen this month. I'd like to add [not ass] an Atom feed, as well as a feed that shows all the journals at once. There's also a few other bugs floating around out there as well.

floor plans

I posted on Opera's forums asking how to alter the ini file so that I could go through my proxy server (and hence get filtering software). I was told (by mods, no less), a method which I knew would work to enable the proxy server, but didn't tell me exactly how to do it from the ini file. Being a wannabe Linux geek, I like to see how things work under the hood. Of course, it dawned on me, like the mods said, that I could re-enable the GUI and use that. But I wanted to try it the hard way first. It must be a New England thing.

The hard way is not working, alas. I typed in various strings of code, hoping that they'd work, to no avail. So tomorrow night, if I get the chance, I re-enable the GUI and test it that way. Of course, if the GUI enables it correctly, this will also require a quick view of the ini file to see what exactly the code is. Now I have to know.

I think if this doesn't work, I may call Boston just to verify the IP address hasn't... um, moved. That scares me just a little. I fear we are often out of the loop. Although I think that I saw a site get blocked the other day on someone's computer. I'd like to just take the internet down completely if I had an afternoon free. It might be a morning free thing, though. Usually afternoons are spent doing crowd control.

Where are all these kids coming from? Many are well behaved, but exuberant. Some (and this number, though fewer than the well-behaved kids, is still substantial) are less than desirable. They went downstairs and whipped a bunch of books off the shelves the other day. Then they decided the library was boring, so it was better to go the Y.

Of course, they came back the next day. And the next.

I do need like three solid hours to do computer maintenance at the internet terminals. Coming into it on Monday isn't good, and Wednesdays are out. This leaves me Tuesday being my best bet, methinks. And I do so want to take it down in the afternoon. This sounds horrible, but there are certain people I'd like to get off the computers if only for the afternoon. I'd like to open their eyes that there are books, other people and other things in the library besides the damn internet terminals.

The internet terminals are part of my job. I keep them going, and I like people to use them. I like kids to come in and do homework with the internet's help, I like people to come in, get books on health conditions, and then do some research on the internet as well. I don't mind people checking email. Or filling out forms for job applications. It bugs me when the glassy eyed woman goes from computer to computer, literally taking seats out from people as they're sitting down, swearing at the librarian who gently reminds her she's signed up for a total of eight half hour turns that day (and it's only two o'clock). There is flagrant abuse of the system, and that bothers me.

You know you are a librarian when...

Your books AND CDs are organized by subject or type then author/composer. Actually, my books aren't organized anymore. We purchased four eight foot tall bookshelves and to maximize space put all the paperbacks together, all the big books together, etc. So, the books aren't in order by subject anymore. But, then my husband and I have gobs and gobs of books. That's what I get for marrying a historian. ; )

Disaster in the life of an LISNewster

Happily surfing along last week, I suddenly lost my DSL connection. Working with tech support, I was told that sometimes, Windows ME and 98 will suddenly decide that it will no longer support DSL via USB connections. I was told I'd need to install an ethernet card and/or upgrade to Windows 200 or XP. I don't even have an ethernet port on my clunker, so dude, I'm getting a Dell (go ahead, make fun of me. I've told you before that try as I might, I just don't have geek cred). Wasn't planning on plunking bucks down for a new machine at this point, but my machine has been acting funky, needs lots of upgrades, and I'm taking on more freelance projects that require a reliable machine. How's that for justification? I wonder if I can write it off as a business expense (or would I have to demonstrate time spent on professional activity vs. time spent on, say, Neopets). Anyway, I'll be relying solely on my work connection until the new machine comes.

To recap: Since a week ago Friday, I got rejected for a job, my computer went kablooey, and I've missed nearly a week of work due to some horrible gastrointestinal virus that's swept my family, me being the most recent recipient. I still see the glass as half-full, but this week it's been full of urp. Tonight, though, thunderstorms are expected, and that's always enough to perk me up.

Things the library should give out

    Things the library should give out as needed:
  • staples
  • golf pencils
  • scrap paper
  • breath mints

Man, did I have a patron today with bad oral hygiene.

    Things we should have that we don't:
  • Books in French. I'm not sure if books in Creole are common enough
  • More memory
  • Better Windows lockdown software
  • A spare bathroom key

Yes, someone wedged the men's room key in the lady's room knob and it snapped right off. I think perhaps we did have an extra key, because I think people were using the men's room later on. Today I had a lady nicely tell me that she was going to use the library, but she needed to use the bathroom first. Thanks for sharing!

It's hard to look up obituaries when you have no idea what the deceased person's name might be. No reference interview can change that simple fact.

Ever feel guilty when you don't have a book, or when you just can't answer a question (even if it's because a question is completely unanswerable?) I had a lot of reference guilt today.

I shouldn't have... The one subject I was asked about we probably should have had books on was prefaced with, "Do you sell the books you loan out?" No, no bells and whistles saying "You'll never see that book again" going off there, boy howdy.

So when a simple search didn't yield any results, I didn't push too hard. Instead I directed them to Borders, where they do in fact sell books.

PR newsletter and more firepower (I hope)

Because I have been out, there hasn't been a newsletter from the library to the staff since May of 2003. What really got me motivated was my principal's comment during a staff meeting (long story) that he was going to visit and he didn't know what went on in the library. Sigh. So, I type a rough draft idea because I am going to let the newspaper staff send one out for me. That way some students will know what is going on as well.

Well, I am crossing my fingers. Not only do I have the usual stats, but I included two sections that will hopefully raise some eyebrows. The first asks teachers and students to be patience since we have multiple projects and apologizes for the lack of computers (two are broken - one since December). The second section talks about weeding, why I weed, the policy for weeding, and gives the following statistic - 45.6 percent of the collection is twenty years old or older. Hopefully, the information will cause some stir.

Book Lust

Whatever you do, don't read this book unless you've got a notebook handy and a lot of time free to read other books. My "To Read" booklist doubled when I skimmed through this.

Interestingly enough, while I recognized a few authors, Nancy seems to delight it talking about authors that you've never heard of in almost all the categories. Which is a Good Thing, of course

decidely non-library post

I drove by a library today, but alas, there was a super-white (as opposed to plain-old-white) Prius in Bennington, VT with our name on it, so we stopped not.

We hit the road at five-thirty five in a green Saturn this morning, and returned this evening at seven in our Prius. We got 52.6 MPG in less than optimal conditions (it was cold as hell as we passed over the mountains in central Massachusetts) and reached 0-60 without a hitch in less than ten seconds.

We loaded up the CD changer, we changed the wallpaper of the touchscreen, but damned if we could set the radio stations. After about five minutes of Celine Dionne we realized more drastic measures were called for and started hitting buttons on the audio touch screen indiscriminately. It worked (it works with Linux sometimes too, I found). We found a few good stations, but were unable to set them in memory. Thank god for the owner's manual. Deliver us from Celine Dionne.

We can coast from the corner to our driveway in "stealth mode", just running on the electric motor and totally silently. People on the street don't know we're coming.

No library stuff today, folks. Except that the assistant director also wants a white Prius (but he's going to get super-white...)

My favorite color names: Salsa Red (descriptive) and Tideland Pearl (um, yeah. And this color would be?)

For the record: Tideland Pearl is a minty green color.

Friday Rambling Thoughts

The "Must Read Stories" topic has bugged me since the day I made it. I can't remember what I was thinking exactly (though I probably could figure it out by looking to see what the very first story was in the old LISNews Db), but it must've seemed like a good idea at the time. It's not used much, and seeing it on the homepage today kind of surprised me.

It's not that I'm against other authors calling something "Must Read," it's just that I can never seem to find a story important enough to apply such an honor. There've been some good stories over the years, Sony Barari, the Questia marketing thing, the interview with Pat Schroeder, and a few others, that I think everyone should've read at the time, but I just never feel that confident. I hate to "cry wolf" and use it too often, though never using it makes it equally useless I suppose.

Usually I think most of what I post should be read by everyone. Taking a quick peak at today's stories, yes, I'll stand by that statement. It was an eclectic mix of loosely library related stories that I think many people could learn something from. I know I took a bit away from everything I posted. The non-Blake stories were even better. Grades=driving, a nice google piece, a pro-filtering, book banning… all over the map, and that's just why I love reading LISNews, I never know what to expect next (Yes, obviously this can go too far). That's why it's not just my site, it's ours, it's not a meblog, it's a weblog. The past few weeks have seen a huge jump in the number of authors, or at least a huge jump in the number of people with the potential to be an author. I've added close to 30 new author accounts, though few have posted yet. In the 4+ years we've been around a lot of people have come and gone, very few have stayed on for more than a year or 2. The collaboration between all us authors, and all the other LISNewsterz is what makes the site so much fun, often the comments are often as interesting as the story itself.

I've been criticized in the past for not taking a more active role in editing LISNews. People have told me I should think of myself as a journalist, an editor, and act like it by forcing the LISNews authors to fall in line and focus the site. I have always waved my paw and said "bah" to those suggestions. It's all about collaboration, and I don't think we need more control at this point. I do think of LISNews as being journalisticISH, but I've never felt it fits the traditional definition of journalism. It's darn close, but we're not there yet, we're missing the originality that I would expect from a true gang of journalists (a gang of journalists come together and form some form of media outlet, which generally sells ads, and therefore becomes an advertising company). As the site matures I hope we do start to do our own original reporting, interviews, and whatever else we can come up with. Weblogs have not yet revolutionized journalism, but they may be causing some small amount of change, and that could lead to something. The day my mom tells me she read something on a blog is the day I think blogs have really caused a shift.

Weblog: You soaking in it
Meblog: One person's weblog
Post: Add a new story to the site; a story on the site
LISNewsterz: People who participate @LISNews
LISNews authors: People who have secret powers to post stories
Stories: Things that appear on the index page
Thread: The resulting discussion that sometimes ensues
Journal: Something every LISNewster has to write in/on/with
El-Eye-Ess-News-Dot-Com: LISNews.com

Yet more snow - looks like New York

Ha, looks like New York around here. I may even give up grits. Just joking. We have had about eight inches of snow. WOW.

So, my son is still stuffed up, but I did find my kitchen counter. If I work some more, I may even have something to wear. Then, tomorrow, I can work on finding the floor. They have invented a robot vacuum cleaner that you can just let loose to do the rugs. Why haven't they invented a robot to do laundry and pick up clutter?

Well, at least the woodstove is going, and I am toasty warm.

From the snowy South ...

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