This is truly the toughest website to use

I'm happy. I just got an email from a LISNewster who called LISNews "truly the toughest website to use." Why am I happy about that? Because this person points out what's wrong with the code, pages that are broke, are hard to use, and links that are missing.

We get somewhere around 5,000 visitors a day now, and I'm lucky if I get one or two suggestions a month on how to best make the site run. This might be due to the fact that most people are happy , but it's more likely because people just don't complain enough. Rather than thinking something is wrong with the site, they think they can't use it because they are having troubles. This is not a phenomenon unique to LISNews in anyway, read any good usability book, or, better yet, do a usability study, and you'll see it for yourself.

I probably shouldn't complain about the lack of complaints, and I defiantly shouldn't ask for more, because, as they say, I might just get what I ask for. I simply don't have the time to make all the changes I'd like to make as it stands now, add to that a pile of new ones, and I'll never get anything done. Until I can figure out a way to run LISNews for a living, the changes will be slow in coming.

So my point today is simply, I know it's not the easiest thing to use in the world. I added what I thought would help to the help page, but if something's broken, or hard to use, or you just don't get it, let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

My geek tool belt

I got my husband a geek tool for Christmas, and it's somehow found it's way into my messenger bag. It's a Swiss Army Knife with screwdriver bits... Torx, and other heads... The little square head and stuff. I don't know what they're all called. The custodian saw me taking apart the mac with it and was quite jealous.

The Mac. Yes. My ever hopeful reinstall failed. No hard drive mounted. So I decided to take the hard drive out of another dead mac and put it in the previous mac. Right. Someone at Apple stuck the screws in the hard drive so tight the God of your choice him/herself couldn't get it out. So that baby goes to the shop.

Good news: I found a working Mac. I took the memory out of the hard drive impaired Mac and decided I'd beef up this one. Right. First, I dropped every screw I touched in the case. I had to open the case to get the silly things out. Then, surprise of surprises, one screw in the motherboard assembly (which I had to dismantle) was stripped. The kind custodian managed to get it open for me, so I could get the damn screws I dropped out.

After taking the mobo out, I realized the futility of my efforts... Older, tray loading Macs, may take the same type of memory, but not the same memory stick. Right.

I put the mac back together (with much swearing--most of it under my breath) and it still works, although you need an engineering degree to get the silly cabling to sit flush with the snap on cheesy plastic tray.

I guess the good news is that I learned how to open a Mac, and get around it. The bad news: three hours of my work day gone with really nothing to show for it.

Today: reference and local history. I am going to try to do a repair of the operating system and reinstall drivers on the Dell that got the virus (it was popping up porn in the children's room. Heh). Hopefully that will fix the fact that something about the NIC isn't recognizing the network.

Would MLK be treated as a terrorist today?

I saw this new article on via Alternet:

Martin Luther King: Terrorist?
Full article at

This article should be read in the light of the definition of "Domestic Terrorism," contained in 18 USC 2331 -

" (5) the term ``domestic terrorism'' means activities that--
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended--
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

A few choice quotes from the article:

"He would be decried, by powerful figures inside and outside government, as at worst a domestic terrorist, at best a publicity seeking menace whose criticisms of America gave comfort to our unseen enemies.


The powerful black religious networks that produced King and so many other courageous civil rights leaders would be attacked by federal prosecutors as providing financial support for terrorism. Church groups' tax exemptions would be lifted; records would be seized. Charges would be brought, perhaps under federal RICO statutes or Patriot Act provisions. The FBI harassment that hounded King throughout his career would today be fiercer, and subject to no judicial oversight.

I should say that
Alternet and
WorkingForChange are not much more "Fair and Balanced" in outlook than Fox News is. However, they state their biases up front, which Fox does not.

Are there any legal types out there willing to offer an interpretation of 18 USC 2331 (5), specificaly if all three points mentioned:

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by
intimidation or coercion; or
iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping;

must be fulfilled to be terrorism or whether only ONE of the three conditions needs to be met. If the latter, then it seems like the plain purpose of the Civil Rights marches was to "coerce" the American government and broader society to grant broader rights to blacks. Hence King would have been guilty of fomenting "Domestic Terrorism," as would Gandhi if a similar law existed in India.

Then again, I suppose any teenagers went on the marches without the permission of their parents, then the government could have added "kidnapping" charges as well -- thus fulifilling the full criteria for Domestic Terrorism.

Thanks for listening. Merton really is coming soon -- probably Thursday. - Daniel

Here it is...

Here is my first entry by way of a test message.

Score so far for this journal = boring but perhaps I will think of something useful to post soon.


Wuthering Heights

Nearly every copy of Wuthering Heights in a twenty mile radius of Boston was checked out (or lost) last Saturday. There was one left at Chelsea.

A young lady (not the Wuthering Heights type, I might add) came in looking for it, frantically. I was wondering what brought on this need for classic literature. We checked our library, Everett, Medford, Melrose, and finally discovered Chelsea's. But Chelsea closed at five. It was four fifty.

I told her I could put in a reserve, but she told me it was useless after Monday. Someone's flunking a test today, methinks.

When I was in school, up in Northern New Hampshire, they supplied the books we were required to read. I guess that's good, because the local libraries never could have survived the influx of kids looking for A Separate Peace. Then again, we're having trouble accomodating all those kids with Wuthering Heights, aren't we?

My Mac battles continue this afternoon (late shift for me). You know, once I'm off info. They're liking putting me on info and reference at the busiest times. I suppose it's good, but I'm always exhausted when I'm done.

I really hope my reinstall of OS works, as I found a web page yesterday about replacing iMac hard drives that claimed it was perhaps the most difficult iMac repair to do. It looks like we have later models than the iMac they showed, however. And I would hope Apple would fix a major design flaw that you have to remove the freaking motherboard to put in a hard drive.

Countryside Journal - Good Read / Practical Advice

I'm writing this entry especially for urban librarians and librarians who live at the edge of rural areas.

Try checking out Countryside Magazine. It is a print publication whose web site contains selected articles from issues going back to 1998. It is an extremely plain spoken magazine catering to the needs of homesteaders and people wanting to make a break for the country.

Some recent articles have included:

Practical Solar Power

How To Make Vinegar

Thinking About A Homestead Enterprise?

Every issue also hosts a whole bunch of recipes. Some are written by editorial staff and others are sent in by readers. I have found good recipes for pita bread, hummus, and oat cakes. Whether or not you live in the country, there will be something you or your patrons can use.

Part of what I think is great about Countryside is that no monthly issue sugarcoats rural life. Every issue has stories from people across the country making the homesteading life work. Even the ones who love what they are doing speak in great detail about how hard it all is.

The bottom line is that if you feel have have people interested in old-time recipes, frugality, or chucking the city life for the country, you would be doing them a favor by subscribing to Countryside. Alternative energy patriots would also benefit from a subscription.

If you already subscribe to EBSCO MasterFile Premier, you can already read Countryside Magazine online. As someone who's read entire issues online as well as in paper, I can tell you that the PDF version through EBSCO can't compete with a paper copy. At least on a computer screen. Maybe it would be okay on a reading tablet with an 8 1/2 x 11 screen.

Top Journals For January

Top 20 journals, with # of page views, according to Urchin, for the month, so far.

1. shoe 345
2. nbruce 281
3. Daniel 229
4. Blake 203
5. djfiander 187
6. birdie 159
7. AshtabulaGuy 142
8. Rochelle 121
9. mcbride 87
10. Bibliofuture 86
11. Karl 85
12. GreatWesternDragon 76
13. madcow 72
14. singingbelle 68
15. donwarnersaklad 63
16. daidy 61
17. kctipton 59
18. sabine01 57
19. nbruce/rss 56
20. jeni 54

For my money, shoe is some of the best reading anywhere. (update) #19 is, in fact, nbruce's rss feed.

Equal Access

I've been getting some pressure from some patrons to put Chinese language word processors on the internet terminals. We most indubitably need Chinese word processors, but not on the internet terminals. If there is no word processing on the internet terminals, there is no word processing on the internet terminals, regardless of language.

The problem being, I'm nearly 100% sure that our word processor terminals, which are sad little boxes running Win95, can't handle our Chinese word processing software (used on staff computers).

So I have to upgrade one of them. I know I could do it if I could get one of the Dells fixed (It's not recognizing the LAN, and they're salivating for it in the children's room). I could then take the Win2k IBM from the children's room and put it on the public access area.

The assistant director said, "Time is now your enemy." Boy was he ever right.

I am reading about installing and reconfiguring Foolproof, our Mac security software. If my reinstall of OS 9 works on the iMac, I'll be having to do that. I am not horribly hopeful that my reinstall will work, but you never know.

By Douglass Shand-Tucci. The Crimson Letter.

By Douglass Shand-Tucci in the book The Crimson Letter page 350...
Nor do I mind as much as I should that the Boston Public Library still
refuses to publish (though they have duly paid for it) my evidently too
inclusive guide to that landmark.
pages 49 and 79...
We know something more of these clubs
[St. Botolph Club, Tavern Club]
from the more intimate memories of some of their leading members.

Theodore Dwight, for instance.

He was appointed director of the Boston Public Library on the eve of
the opening of its palatal new building Copley Square, and his
lifestyle sheds much light on these circles in the 1890's.
This at a time when Leaves of Grass, locked up at Harvard's library,
was also double-starred at the Boston Public Library--Lent only on
application to adult students.
Dwight was close to Henry Adams as well as to
Isabella Stewart Gardner, and also knew well the Harvard scientist
mentioned in Chapter 1, William Woodworth.

The nature of these intimacies?

Consider Dwight's correspondence with Gardner

"of a nature 'in his words' quite too confidential to have been written
  with propriety."
Homosexuality in Boston, particularly in this era, is itself very sotto
voce. But, like the figure in the carpet, if one listens and looks
hard, it can be pretty evident.

anti-war lyrics after 40 years

My 16 year old son put together a collection of anti-war songs at my request and even though these lyrics are 40 years old, I realize that they have as much significance today vis-a-vis the war in Iraq as they did when my friends and I protested the war in Vietnam. Check them out: Bob Dylan's Masters of War lyrics here and P. Sloan's Eve of Destruction here, not to mention Country Joe McDonald's Fish cheer and Fixing to Die Rag
lyrics, except on the version I have, the word spelled isn't exactly FISH. I think my son, a fan of classic rock, and a peacenik like his mother, really enjoyed hearing these songs for the first time.

It's too cold to go to the library

Honestly, I think it was... It was dead today. I even got to install Chinese fonts on all the new computers. I don't think I can do it with iMacs. The Macs all know how I feel about them.

I learned I don't like to order books. I love spending money on books, but I felt like a total slacker sitting on Amazon all day looking at reference books. Not that we get them there, but it was a good way of seeing what was available. I also learned we're woefully behind in certain series. I have to call Gale Group on Tuesday.

See, all my other jobs, if I were on Amazon all day, I'd get fired. I definitely feel more productive when I'm ripping apart computers, even if I don't get much done.

Monday is a holiday... for those non-US residents, it's Martin Luther King Jr. day. The library is closed. I don't think it will stop that fine young man that comes in every week and asks for the books on Martin Luther King Jr. Nice kid, really. Hangs out with his friends at the library, and sometimes they get a little loud, but they are voraciously reading about African American leaders. Reading is a glorious thing.

Life In The 00's

So here's an interesting problem that most people don't have now, and no one had just a few years ago.
I accidently let my wifes domain name expire earlier this week. Luckily I caught it in time, so no harm done. Even while it was expired her email kept working, which I don't understand, so she didn't catch me, but I did fess up.
So for a happy marriage, always renew your domain names early, it's like never forget her birthday or anniversary.

Chinese fonts

Remind me I have to download some Chinese fonts for the new computers... of course, I don't think our brand spanking new print station supports Chinese fonts, so I have to look into that too.

Alas, after doing such scarily named things as zapping the PRAM and holding down the "c" key while the iMac booted from CD, I have come to the conclusion that the hard drive pooped out on it. Hard drives are weird things. They either die in a week (like the ubercomputer's did) or they last forever. Evidently, this three year old machine (out of warranty, methinks) didn't know that rule. Looks like I'm going to learn to open a mac sooner rather than later.

I got my iPAQ. It is mondo cool. Now I have to construct a database (ha ha) about our machines. But today, since I forgot everything at work yesterday, I am loading it up with software and a couple of mp3s. And pictures of the dogs.

I don't care what my husband says, I needed it and it rocks!

Bush-Hatred Part II - Some bad policies are bipartisan

In my last post, I stressed the importance of focusing on policies rather than riduculing or demeaning an individual, say President Bush.

One of the reasons I think this is important is because some of the worst policies of the past few years have had bipartisan support. A few examples:

2001 "Bush Tax Cut" - This passed a Democrat controlled Senate and is one factor among several contributing to our $400 Billion Deficits.

The USA PATRIOT Act - Atty Gen Ashcroft is absolutely correct when he states this passed Congress by HUGE margins. All the current regret from some of the Dem pres candidates doesn't change that vote. They were weak and rushed when we needed them to be strong. I shouldn't blame them too much -- their offices were contaminated with Anthrax when they passed the thing.

We should also remember that most of the measures in USA PATRIOT were proposed by the Clinton Administration in 1996. Congress didn't pass it then because they didn't trust the executive with that much power.

The Iraq War - Dennis Kucinich ALONE of the Dem candidates IN CONGRESS voted against the war. Kerry and others remain proud of their votes, even if they quibble about intelligence.

I'm not saying you should vote for Kucinich, but I am saying that you should make sure that you are FOR someone who has at least some of the same positions that you do rather that AGAINST the Filthy, Psychotic Babbling Cowboy Bush and wind up with someone who happily carries out the Bush program. Someone like, say, John Kerry or Joe Lieberman.

Viewers Note -- My next post is going to leave politics behind. I have some final quotes from Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation and a magazine recommendation for you.

Since there will be enough political commentary between now and November to fill the Galaxy, I'll try to restrain myself from overtly political commentary unless it somehow involves government documents.

Librarian Paparazzi

I'm starting to feel like I'm going to have to start beating off photographers. More than a few people here at work, who never otherwise talk to me, have asked me about my OLA talk, and now I'm one of the most popular journals!

Somebody say something to deflate my ego! ;-)

Evil, thy name is Mac

Our email terminal did something very uncool yesterday at 4:55 pm. It's an iMac or an eMac or an aMac or whatever the hell flavor it is.

A librarian came down as I was doctoring yet another computer and said, "It's flashing a question mark!"

So it was. I know diddly-squat about Macs, but it was evident that when you do a hard reset, and a smiley face and a folder with a question mark come flashing on your screen at start up, that there is a major problem.

First off, though, what's up with that flipping smiley face? I'm not seeing what I want to see... The systems librarian is most definitely not smiling. It's like the hunk of circuitry was mocking me.

Haha, new girl, I'm not going to staaaar-aaaart! Haha!

Since it was 4:55, and I planned on getting out of there at five, I wasn't going to tangle with Mr. Mac. I find most patrons hate that terminal anyway (even though, yes, it is always busy). So today, Mr. Mac is on the agenda. After the print station, but before then LAN reticent Dell on my desk. And somehow, I have to work in my training period on reference.

To the person who zorched our startup file (as this is what I think probably happened): Couldn't you at least have waited till my third week?

My "nice, quiet" library job

Hahahahahahahahaha! Just kidding on the subject line.

Yesterday I found my favorite thing to do at the library... throw obnoxious kids out. I hate to be the shushing librarian, sure, but this was downright fun. Of course, it would have been more fun if the little creeps were actually ashamed of their behavior.

I followed the little creeps around until they left. The last thing I wanted them doing was throwing their book bags into the eMacs. I have no idea how to fix an eMac. I don't need anyone complicating that.

Today I am doing inventory on the machines. This should prove interesting. The plan of attack is staff machines first. I can't forgot the director's machine. She is located somewhere in the building. I could probably find her office again if I wandered a few days. Hey, I've only been there a week! I want to work on it while she's not there. I have to say, I talk to machines while I work on them. And swear at them, on occasion.

Speaking of swearing, the print station is ready to go. I just can't put it online until our "trial" status is off the coin op machine. I don't want to tick off the vendor, since they do all our stuff and they're local. Politics suck. That should be done tomorrow. I'll have to ask.

I felt like a doofus on the phone with the printer people. I sent them our MAC number, and they said, "We have no record of your account." I almost had a cow right there at the reference desk. Turns out, they have an account with the coin op vendor, not us. I am so confused.

I am using SuSE Linux right now to access the web (you know, if I put Linux on all the Macs, I could probably use printers on all of them! Hey!) and my pppd daemon keeps dying. I love Linux terminology.

One more day till my pocket pc!


I had a dream about crayons arranged by Dewey Decimal number... I am worried. It took me at least six months before I started having dreams about patents at the patent office...

Windows is from Mars, Printers (today) are from Venus

No help from the BPL today... For some reason I can't log into Horizon as administrator on my computer. That would be nice to be able to do that... Anyway, not the point of this journal post.

Next on the agenda? Better antivirus. If I have to operate many things in a quasi administrator account, I sure as hell want some assurance that no one is downloading stupid stuff onto our drives.

But the feather in my cap today... I got the blasted printer network up and running, with a little help from my friends at Fortres. I had the right idea, just didn't know how to beat the path to the right file. We are a-okay. My assistant director can die a happy man.

I was kindly offered microsoft's web address today by someone who didn't like our array of fonts. Granted, we should have simplified Chinese, just going on our town's demographic, but I don't know if our printer will support it. Either way, the poor guy had no way of actually putting it in a Word document on the internet terminals anyway.

Tomorrow I work reference. More stories from the front, but probably not till Wednesday, as tomorrow is my "late" night. I work till nine... Yes, sadly enough, it is past my bedtime.

Burning the time of the staff

So, I'm talking at the OLA conference at the end of the month on the subject of Saving the Time of the Reader: The impact of new technologies on public service.

We all know that online journals and bibliographic databases are wonderful, but they blur all sorts of lines, and undergraduates don't understand where one service ends and the next one starts. I regularly hear people say that they found the journal articles "on the library's web site".

Then there's wireless: It's great for patrons, but forces library techs to all become computer support people, or at least feel like they should, in order to provide appropriate service.

But that's all I'm going to say. If you want to hear the rest, come to Toronto.

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