Wil & iTunes

I’ve been amused by Wil Wheaton’s tweeted conversations with iTunes over the past couple of months. It reminds me of my own internal dialog with shuffle and Pandora radio stations. Here are a few of my favorites so far:

iTunes: Hey, what’s this? Simon and Garfunkle? Me: HOW DID THAT GET IN THERE?! iTunes: Gosh. I wonder. Me: PLAY TOOL! PLAY TOOL! AHHH!1 [view tweet]

iTunes: I’ll play Bauhaus, and maybe Joy Division. But don’t bitch when I play Hall & Oates. Me: Dude! iTunes: Hey, you ripped it, sport. [view tweet]

Me: Dave Matthews Band? WTF? iTunes: Turns out you’ve been putting music into me since 1997, Tough Guy. Me: “Tough Guy?” iTunes: Sweet Tits? [view tweet]

iTunes: I’m sorry about everything. Here’s the theme to Fish. Me: Aww. Let’s never fight again. iTunes: PSYKE! LISTEN TO WAYNE NEWTON BITCH! [view tweet]

iTunes: You know what you need? Punk Rock Girl. It’s been too long. Me: Why the sudden burst of kindness? iTunes: Obama, man. It’s a new day [view tweet]

Me: What the? iTunes: Look, I can only work with what you give me. Me: Bu- iTunes: I LEARNED IT FROM YOU, OK?! I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU! [view tweet]

#20

I have been collecting Rita Mae Brown’s Mrs. Murphy series in hardcover, but after reading the latest, Santa Clawed, I’m beginning to wonder why I bother to buy the new ones as they come out. The mystery is a hodgepodge of recycled ideas from previous books, and about the only thing that’s different is the bits about what’s going on in the lives of the main characters in Crozet. As much as I like reading about Harry, Mrs. Murphy, and all the rest, I’d rather go back and re-read the good stories than see Brown pump out more half-assed books like this one.

#19

I was doing so well on my 50 Book Challenge goal this year, and then the busyness of this past fall hit and I haven’t taken the time to read books. This one is in fact a book that I listened to rather than read, but I think that counts.
#19

Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty takes place in the near future. Set in an east coast city, the story revolves around the protagonist, Keepsie, and her relationship with the city’s protectors: genetically enhanced human superheroes. Unwillingly thrown in the middle of a conflict between the superheroes and the supervillains, Keepsie and her friends are forced to choose sides or make their own way with their collection of “useless” super powers. As it turns out, their powers are not as useless as they’ve been led to believe, and even the ability to control elevators comes in handy at one point. In the end, this is a story about using your gifts and abilities to the best you can, even when everyone around you believes they (and you) are worthless.

The book was originally released as a (free) serialized audio book, then as a (free) PDF download, and then finally in print (not free) through Lulu.com, before it was picked up and published by Swarm Press in August. Thanks to the efforts of many fans and supporters, the book hit #1 on the Science Fiction best seller list at Amazon the day it was released, even though it had been available in other formats for free. Aside from being a fun read, I think the story of it’s success is a nifty one and for me, added to my motivation to finally read the damn thing.

As a fan of Lafferty’s other works, I highly recommend that you also check out her other serialized fiction. Namely, the Heaven series.

professionally annoyed

I don’t understand the appeal that the anonymous blogger “Annoyed Librarian” has among certain segments of the profession. When s/he entered the blogosphere, I read the entries for a while, mainly because so much buzz had been generated around them. But, after a while, the bitter negativity wore me down and I started avoiding it.

I know things aren’t perfect in Libraryland. We have a lot of work to do to catch up with the tools and services that our for-profit competitors provide. Will we be able to move forward and fix what needs fixing if we spend all of our time wallowing in complaints and self-hatred? No.

I put on my metaphorical ass-kicking boots every day and try to do what I can in my job to make library services and resources more accessible and functional for my library’s users. Occasionally, I do slide into fruitless complaining — we all do — but I don’t stay there for long. I’m lucky to have good people working with me, and as long as we support each other, it will be alright.

There was a flurry of tweets, blog postings, and other social media exclamations of WTF? when American Libraries Library Journal hired the Annoyed Librarian to be an official blogger for the magazine. I shrugged it off, since I rarely read the American Libraries Library Journal website anyway, unless I’m looking for an article I want to share with a colleague. However, it seems that was only the tip of the iceberg. Volume 5, issue 4 of Haworth’s Journal of Access Services is an entire issue of essays written by the Annoyed Librarian.

The Journal of Access Services. The “one-of-a-kind, peer-reviewed quarterly journal” that “covers the full range of access issues affecting libraries today.” Seriously? An entire issue of a journal subtitled “Service Innovations for 21st Century Libraries” is now dedicated to an anonymous someone who’s best known for trashing any sort of innovation or philosophy that the Librar* 2.0 movement puts forward? What were they thinking?

ETA: Wrong library journal up there. Fixed it. Also, an indication of how much that concerned me, no?

Addendum: It seems that not all members of the Journal of Access Services editorial board were aware of the decision to make the special issue entirely Annoyed.

reducing waste in the paperless society

On the way back to my office after mailing off my passport renewal forms (w00t!), I passed by a display in the Campus Forum. There were long tables set up on a tarp, with a row of 50 gal. plastic bins behind them, marked with different kinds of recyclable materials. Next to the tables and bins were about 10 full trash bags, presumably collected from around campus, and there appeared to be a truck with possibly more bags located nearby. Three men stood at the tables in biohazard suits and gloves, and wearing protective goggles. They were carefully sorting through open trash bags, checking the numbers on plastic containers, and sorting the contents into the appropriate recyclable or trash bins.

When I arrived here, I was surprised by how recycling-friendly this campus is as compared to others where I have worked or studied. Even in the eco-conscious Pacific Northwest, I did not see as many recycling bins in buildings (or at least the library) as I do here, nor have I heard any other head of waste management on a campus speak as passionately about reducing the level of waste.

I try to recycle as much as I can and throw away as little as I can, but unfortunately, I’m addicted to some things that come individually wrapped, which ends up creating a lot more waste than if I bought in bulk or chose items with less packaging. Still, including cat litter, I end up filling only one kitchen trash bag every 7-10 days, which is not too shabby for a single person.

Even so, as I scan the contents of the top of my office desk, I see a lot of paper from printouts that I could have kept in digital form. Several items are things that need to be converted to hard copies (license agreements needing signatures and whatnot), but many are simply for my information and will eventually end up in the recycle bin.

Last week, we talked about our “paperless society” in the Library Tech Team meeting. One of the things we tossed around was the idea of purchasing a bunch of small laptops of the EEE PC variety for library staff to use in meetings or other places where they need to bring documents or take notes, instead of having a bunch of printouts. I don’t know if that would fly very well. Personally, I wouldn’t want to have to keep track of which machine (desktop or laptop) holds the document I need.

However, my work desktop is a laptop that stays docked most of the time, unless I’m needing to work elsewhere, like at a conference. I’m not using it to the fullest for mobile computing because, honestly, it’s annoying to have to organize the screen space again when I return it to the dock and am now using a 24″ monitor rather than the built-in 15″ laptop screen. That’s a lame excuse.

For the month of November, I’ve committed myself to bringing only my laptop to meetings. No more papers, no more clutter to file in manila folders and then forget about. And, as an added bonus, I don’t have to spend extra time deciphering my handwriting.

productivity tools from MS and Google

I’ve been enjoying all the benefits of having Outlook as my primary work email and calendar tool for the past year. After three years of dealing with the disaster that is Novell GroupWise, it’s lovely to finally have a tool that does what I need it to do.

However, for my personal stuff, I am a big fan of Gmail and other Google tools, so I was a little sad to give up my Google Calendar, among other things. All that has changed in the past week now that I’ve discovered the GCal/Outlook syncing program. Right now, I have it only going from Outlook to GCal, but that may change in the future.

Another awesome tool that I’ve implemented this week is the Google Calendar gadget available from Google Labs. This puts my upcoming appointments in the sidebar of Gmail, and pings little reminders if I have Gmail open. Outlook takes care of this at work, and I’m loving having this functionality in my my non-work hours without having to maintain two separate calendars.

The other Google Labs gadget that is made a surprising impact on my productivity and organization is the Remember The Milk task management tool. I’ve been using RTM to keep track of my review assignments, but I hadn’t found a need for it for other to-do things since I use the Tasks feature of Outlook for work stuff. However, when my emails to personal address with things I needed to remember to do began to pile up and clutter my inbox, I decided it was time to implement a real to-do list. With the Gmail integration, it’s now all in one place, just like with my work stuff in Outlook.

reviews on blogcritics: october

October was a busy month for me. I went to my college reunion, battled with a cold and lower back pain, and attended a professional conference. The end result of this is that I didn’t do as much reviewing as I had planned on, and now I’m having to play catch-up. Expect to see a longer list for November, but for now, I give you:

Jessie Baylin – Firesight

The arrangements and production work on Firesight are both so well done that one hardly notices them. It’s simply a collection of good tunes that flow together well with an appropriate balance between the lead vocals and everything else. This is essential to making the album work, as anything that stands out as too rough or too glossy would immediately break the mellow mood. [more]

Theresa Andersson – Hummingbird Go!

It took a few listens before I began to appreciate the complexity and depth of Andersson’s music. It’s quirky and a bit more subdued that the assortment of rock-tinged pop that tends to be on regular rotation in my house. Putting away all other distractions and focusing on the album alone, I was able to hear the energy and drive of her performance that was not as apparent when approaching the recording casually. Andersson’s creative use of unorthodox instrumentation and unexpected arrangements need the listener’s full attention to be appreciated. [more]

Click and Clack’s As the Wrench TurnsClick & Clack – As the Wrench Turns

If the creators of Click & Clack were looking to achieve the success of shows like The Simpsons or The Family Guy, they have a great deal of room for improvement. Click & Clack: As the Wrench Turns may be enjoyed in small doses, but I would not recommend buying or renting this DVD unless you are a consummate NPR/PBS fan who must acquire everything put out by those media companies. [more]

Awake, My Soul – The Original Soundtrack / Help Me to Sing – Songs of the Sacred Harp

With the release of the two-disc soundtrack, we are treated with the full recordings of the songs referenced in the documentary, including the solf├Ęge – singing the song with the names of the notes rather than the words in order to learn the music. The second disc of the set features 20 renditions of Sacred Harp tunes by a diverse group of folk and pop performers. The set is treated as two different albums, each with its own title. [more]

Agatha Christie: Mystery Lover’s Collection

Although the box is given a distinctive design and theme, the contents are clearly pulled from the various sets and single releases previously made available by Acorn Media. It’s a little disappointing that they did not change the packaging of the contents to match, rather than making it appear to be an assortment of remainders marketed as something new. Luckily, it’s the contents that matter more than the packaging. [more]

gathering statistics

For the past couple of weeks, the majority of my work day has been spent on tracking down and massaging usage statistics reports from the publishers of the online products we purchase. I am nearly half-way through the list, and I have a few observations based on this experience:

1. There are more publishers not following the COUNTER code of practice than those who are. Publishers in traditionally library-dominated (and in particular, academic library-dominated) markets are more likely to provide COUNTER-compliant statistics, but that is not a guarantee.

2. Some publishers provide usage statistics, and even COUNTER-compliant usage statistics, but only for the past twelve months or some other short period of time. This would be acceptable only if a library had been saving the reports locally. Otherwise, a twelve month period is not long enough to use the data to make informed decisions.

3. We are not trying to use these statistics to find out which resources to cancel. On the contrary, if I can find data that shows an increase in use over time, then my boss can use it to justify our annual budget request and maybe even ask for more money.

Update: It seems that the conversation regarding my observations is happening over on FriendFeed. Please feel free to join in there or leave your thoughts here.

na-blog-wri-mo?

Recently, I went digging through the archives of this blog to locate something I knew had to be there. I didn’t find it, and I suspect that has to do with things getting lost in the conversion from MovableType to WordPress. *sigh*

Anyway, I ended up reading some of the old link round-up posts I made back in the infancy of this blog, and it got me thinking about how much my approach has changed over time. For link blogging, I’ve started using a mix of Delicious bookmarks and Google Reader shared items, and for general “look at this crazy stuff” kinds of things, I use Twitter, FriendFeed, or Facebook.

What’s left for the blog? Well, short reflective pieces like this, for one. And, of course, there’s the conference session summaries and the “what I wrote for Blogcritics” round-ups. Other than that, I am finding that I have things that I want to write about, but I don’t have the time or energy to form them into anything worthy of public consumption.

Honestly, though, the main reason is that I’ve become rather lazy about the care and feeding of this blog. So, for the rest of this month, I’m going to try to write something here at least a few times each week.