Really cool projects

One of my social studies teachers had her students create their own countries. She asked if I would display their posters in the library. OF COURSE!!! So, I taped, stickied, and otherwise affixed posters to the one free wall I have and even stuck a few onto the circulation desk. Really makes the library look sharp. Now, if the vinyl recliners would just hurry up and get here ...

Preservation grunt March 4

Dub a nice recording of Canadian pianist Adrienne Shannon to CD, apparently recorded in a studio sometime before June 1975. The documentation is skimpy but it does say it is Dolby Noise Reduction encoded (and it is!).

Hmmm, how did I catalogue multiple source tapes for one broadcast again? I know I'll look up a previous similar record I have entered. Here's an example... but where is the text I added months ago? Argh, stupid database! Thank goodness for paper backup. Now I know why they insist on maintaining the card catalogue.

Look in the vertical files.

Re-enter my previously entered data.

Hmmm. That still doesn't solve my cataloguing problem. Oh there's one.

Now I will print this record out and put it in my cataloguing manual so I don't have to go through this again. Where is the three hole punch? Someone has pilfered it. I am thwarted again. I only want to document my work flow like a good information worker should.


pogo sticks @ your library

Yes, there were young men pogo sticking in the lobby of the library. These are the same young men playing hide and seek in the basement the day before. Today, if they pull any crap, I call the police. I feel guilty calling the police (they must have better stuff to do), but obviously the kids aren't impressed by us.

So yes, I fully expect to be calling the police today, or more likely, tomorrow. Sigh.

I put more memory in the unfiltered box, only to discover that the computer is dumb and doesn't recognize any more than 32 MBs of memory on that machine. I put a 64 MB stick in. I can't see that it supports that low a number, but I'm going to try to squeak SuSE 8.2 on there, I guess. At any rate, there's so much crap on that hard drive it's probably worth a zorch and reinstall of any operating system.

I need to do more tweaking on my Penguin box. Someone has managed to get the icons back on the tool bar. Not that there's much you can actually do with that, but I'm interested in how they did it. Most of the toolbar functions are disabled, anyway, so it doesn't do them a whole lot of good. Also, my default fonts were reset when I was playing with the ini files,so everything is very small. That's one problem with Linux. The fonts are tiny.

I'm pondering taking the second hard drive out of the unfiltered, too. I mean, why do we need two hard drives in it now? It's an internet terminal.

God, the idealist in me wishes I didn't have to get rid of the unfiltered terminal. It's agonizing, really. But I don't want to clean that crap. I don't have time to clean that crap. When I can devote all my time to IT and cease working reference and info (and therefore cease having the librarian job I wanted) I guess then we could probably have unfiltered terminals again.

It kills me though, because I bet it's three to five people ruining it for many.

A sampling of my comments on other blogs

Here are some comments I have recently posted on other blogs, just to
give you an idea of my views on a few topics. I'm not posting these
because they are the last words on their subjects, but because I think
they are reasonably well-argued and come from a more or less
conservative point of view.

  • I stumbled across a posting on a blog I had never read before
    asserting that "Bush misleads public about cause of deficit", blaming
    Bush's tax cuts for the deficit. Read my response (scroll
    down to "Soaking the Rich"). Those who advocate redistribution of
    wealth through progressive taxation must
    hope that the rich stay at least as rich as they are, for the sake of
    those to whom they wish to redistribute.
  • I respond (after the thread had gone stale, unfortunately) to
    Scott Burgess's critique of a pro-life scholar arguing against the
    cloning of blastocysts for research (mine is the inadvertantly
    anonymous comment near the bottom at February 24, 2004 06:57 PM).
    It occurs to me now that I'm not certain of how physiologically
    comparable the blastocysts in question are to human embryos produced
    by natural conception. If they aren't such that they could naturally
    develop into fetuses under the proper conditions, then I would have
    to reconsider at least parts of my argument. Apart from that question,
    I do stand by my assertion that the purpose and method of their
    production is irrelevant to the question of their rights.
  • Keith Burgess-Jackson was kind enough to post my email to him with observations on some forms of objection to theism and to Christianity in particular.

Now you can see just how wise or retrograde I am (depending on your point of view). You can also set me straight through the comments feature.

Something "useful" from the right

Blake Carver has
on the difficulty of hearing the voice of the intelligent
right over all the other noise online. I want to post links to a few
blogs I think worth reading.

These blogs don't express only views I agree with (that
would happen only in my blog, if I had one, and then only about half
the time), but I find that they don't rely on emotionalism or
rhetorical bluster. In my view they present consistent,
well-though-out positions.

There are quite a few others (and I didn't even get theological, either). I could go on, but it's late.

By way of a BTW, I don't listen to talk radio (though I suspect I'd like Hugh Hewitt's show), I don't prefer Fox news over CNN or MSNBC (the only real broadcast news for my money is the Newshour with Jim Lehrer), and I may never read a book by Ann Coulter. I don't like cant or rhetorical fluff when there's no substance to back it up (unless it's very, very funny).

UPDATE: nbruce says you should check out Eamonn Fitzgerald's Rainy Day, (a favorite of mine inadvertantly left off this list) including this sample post.

Interview with Walter Cronkite

Wanted to share this great interview with WC in the San Francisco Gate . Quite a guy at age 87; makes Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Larry King, Peter Jennings even, look about as substantial as flotsam. Check out what he has to say about Janet Jackson, gay marriage, Bush, etc.

Virtual Terror Networks

This entry could also have been titled either "weird science" or "your tax dollars at work."

The folks at Secrecy News have posted the following article from Los Alamos Science -- a journal published by the National Lab at Los Alamos:

"Understanding Why -- Dissecting Radical Islamist Terrorism with Agent-Based Simulation" by Edward P. MacKerrow, Los Alamos Science, Number 28, 2003 (1.5 MB PDF file):

According to the article:

"The Complex Systems Group at Los Alamos has been examining questions related to the "why" behind terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Borrowing tools from the field of computational economics and sociology, we are developing agent-based models that simulate social networks and the spread of social grievances within those networks."

a little further down it says:

"We can expose our agents to a variety of determinents-- new government policies, different media exposure, economic pressures, and others--and quickly generate hundreds of new scenarios. Thus, we can conduct computational experiments that can be analyzed statistically and objectively to increase our insight, support decision making, and aid policymakers."

I honestly don't believe myself to be a luddite -- I am blogging, after all -- but I find the idea of making real world policy based on a computer simulation of human behavior frightening. It seems like many variables are beyond measuring to be useful.

The Los Alamos author does say that he doesn't intend to PREDICT terrorist activity, only to analyze scenarios. If his product is taking serious by decision makers, I'm not sure they'll keep that distinction.

On a lighter note, we got our snow, about two inches worth. Supposedly will turn to rain later today.

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.


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


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):

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. ; )

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