Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Using Power For...Something

I always start to feel both wildly powerful and semi-incompetent doing original cataloging. It's a heady combination.

We don't do much of it, basically just once a year for the dental school theses, and invariably while I'm doing call numbers there will be a few for which the classification just stalls me.

I mean, if the title is "Evaluation of three types of commerically available dental porcelain," no problem. I can stick that in WU 190 for "Dental materials (General or not elsewhere classified)" without even blinking. Other than to moisten my eyeballs, as one does.

But if it's something like "N-glycosylation of E-cadherin regulation as it impacts cytoskeletal dynamics" I just have to say..."buh?"

So you poke around and try to find something along the same lines that someone else has classified as something, and see if that makes any sense, and eventually you just sort of take a stab at it and figure the important thing is, it's going to be on the shelf somewhere if someone is looking for it.

Oh yes it will. And you know where on the shelf it's going to be?

Wherever I decide to put it, that's where! (Assuming the next people to get it shelve it appropriately according to call number.)

So, not knowing exactly what's going on, but with the power to shape the very shelflist of the library according to my whim? Like I said, it's a heady combination.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Exciting News!

Yes: it's just barely still light out at 5pm when I leave work these days!

It's kind of nice. Waking up in the dark, and then having it be already dark by the time I leave the office, just makes me feel I spend the whole day doing work stuff.

Then I have to come home and go straight to bed, because it's not as if we have artificial illumination or anything. I mean, not good illumination.

Sure, we could try to mend our socks by the guttering light of our single tallow candle if we wanted, but what's the point? It's easier to fold down the neck over the heel to make a new spot to wear out. (No, I'm not giving up on this idea.)

Anyway, now that there are some traces of light left at the end of the day, I can foresee the time when we'll be able to actually remain active in the evenings. It's gonna be awesome.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I don't like cleaning or organizing (I always have much better things to do with my valuable time, like play games), so we have giant piles of stuff everywhere.

I really need to just go through and ruthlessly throw most of it away, because it's not as if I ever use it for anything (it's in these giant piles, how would I use it?), but some of it is precious, and even if it's not, I just can't be bothered because of the better things I have to do with my valuable time.

Nevertheless, if we're going to share this space with another person, even a small one, something will have to be done. It's not going to be pretty.

Of course, it's not pretty now. Seriously, this place is a huge mess.

I'd fix it right now!--but I have to go play Skyrim for a while.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Speaking of Privacy...

And as long as we're on the subject, many of you will probably have received Google's friendly email notice about their new, Google-wide privacy policy, covering all Google sites.

Identity Woman has a review, and is not a big fan. I think she makes a good point:
I think in one way she is right the people like her - who went to college and have mainstream white collar jobs are on these fora with their real names
...and therefore, it won't be a huge deal to a lot of such people (like me).

On the other hand, if you are a person who has online interests that are significantly different from your offline life, or different sorts of online interests that you like to keep separate, it could at the very least be something of a hassle to have everything you do online mashed into one easy-to-access package.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Turn It Up!

I don't have or know much about Spotify, a music service in Europe, but Ben Goldacre reports that it has potentially distressing privacy issues for those who don't care to have their information shared widely.

It's an interesting example of the way that some of these social networking features seem to view things. Why wouldn't everyone want everyone else to know exactly what music they're playing at all times?

It seems like a vision of the internet as a crowded apartment building where everyone lives next door to everyone else and the walls are thin. And the keyholes are large and easy to peek through.

It's so easy to know what your neighbors are doing! And it's cool, because we're all good friends.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Clinging to Insecurity

I had the same password for my Hotmail account ever since I opened it, about 13 years ago. I know you're not supposed to do this, but I'd had it so long that it actually no longer met the minimum length requirements for passwords on Hotmail, so I figured anyone trying to hack it wouldn't guess an unacceptable password, right?

Apparently this logic was suddenly not good enough for Hotmail, after years of accepting it, because just this Monday (without warning!) I tried to sign in and it told me I had to change my password.


Again, I know you're supposed to change passwords regularly anyway, so this makes me more secure (I guess), but I keep automatically typing in my old password that I've been typing in for 14 years, and getting an error message, and it's kind of annoying.

That's my peevish comment of the day.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blog! Do It!

The Krafty Librarian has more info on blogging for the Official MLA 2012 blog. You can apply for various assignments, cleverly named for the conference's baseball theme.

I should steal this idea for the MLA 2013 blog. I'm going to be the Blog Coordinator next year, so I've got to keep my eyes open for interesting things to do with it.

Probably using every post to subtly praise my own awesomeness would be bad form? Or is it OK if it's really subtle?

Something to think about.

Anyway, if you'll be at MLA'12, you should totally apply to blog. You get AHIP points, if you're into that kind of thing (I haven't gotten around to joining, myself, but I know many people are members), and in several of the positions you get the use of a wireless card, which you can use throughout the conference, not merely when blogging officially.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Musing and Pondering

I tend to get kind of burned out on these giant Bethesda games after a while--there's just so much to do, and if you tend to be kind of a completist it can be overwhelming--but I'm having a leisurely go at Skyrim, and so far I am pleased to say that I have not been turned into a vampire.

Also, the people seem to be not quite as terrifyingly ugly as in previous Bethesda games I've played, so nice work there.

I suppose really I should just take a lesson from these games and learn to prioritize. Don't feel the need to try to do everything, for one cannot do absolutely everything in life, that's what these games tell me. Focus your energies on what matters to you, instead.

However grand your ambitions, you can't locate the missing family heirlooms of every person in the country! You can't clear every single cave of bandits! You can't mine every vein of ore or harvest every bunch of mountain flowers!

Also, when you try to carry too much, it slows you down, so you have to be willing to drop things and move on.

Yes, that's what I'm doing when I play games. Learning important lessons about life.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Right...the Taxes

Oh, I see it is a new year, which means we should be thinking about taxes soon. 

I keep getting it wrong when I do them myself, so I think this year I'm going to have to...sigh...purchase tax preparation software. The past couple of years, I've thought we owed money, but we actually didn't. 

Which is OK, I guess--unexpected refund!--but I'm worried that one of these years I'll think we're getting a refund, but we'll actually owe money, and then we'll have severe penalties. That's bad.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Drawing Connections

You know which two dissimilar things I've lately come to think are actually kind of similar?

Knitting and coding.

Both have a sort of obscure language and process for how you have to do things (wind the yarn around the needles this way, enclose these things in this type of brackets), and then you get a finished product that doesn't actually resemble the written pattern or code, but that derives directly from what stitches you made, or what things you put in which brackets.

Also, if you get one little thing wrong, it can totally mess up your entire afghan square/web page.

There's this similarity because you're trying to follow (or make up) instructions that come in a fairly unintuitive form, and with time and practice you gradually start to be able to work out what's going to happen as a result of which steps (ah, if I knit-purl-slip-knit here, it will come out like so in the finished square). But at first, you're really just sort of fumbling your way following directions because they're written down.

Code is in some ways easier to fix, since you can quickly make changes and then reload the page to see if it works, where you have to tear out and reknit everything back to the mistake in your square. I guess one could say that knitting patterns are in fact code, and fingers with yarn is just a fairly inefficient means of running it.

Anyway, that's my thought for the day. Now I must attempt to complete my weekly Codecademy lesson.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Internet Freedom Ahoy

I had company over the weekend, so I've been super lazy about updating. Sorry, legions.

However, I note the SOPA Strike/SOPA Blackout (that's two different sites with helpful code) planned for tomorrow, with sites large and small (the SOPA Strike link has a list of confirmed participants) planning blackouts in protest of SOPA and PIPA.

At the moment it's looking encouragingly as if these bills have been set aside for now--but that doesn't mean we should get all complacent, since they could come slinking in again once our backs our turned.

Because bills are essentially the same as rats.

Anyway, I'm doubtful that this particular site will make a big impact, but far be it from me not to take an opportunity to black it out. Solidarity!

If you have a blog and are interested in participating, GeneaBloggers has a nice list of instructions on how to blackout blogs using the Blogger and Wordpress platforms.

And if you can't decide whether or not this is actually something you oppose, Danah Boyd has a nice explanation of why a lot of people are unhappy with SOPA/PIPA on Apophenia.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cough, Gasp, Wheeze

I am becoming physically tired from coughing. And after another restless (though song-free) night, I woke up with a touch of conjunctivitis, which is just what I was in the mood for. It hasn't gotten worse over the course of the day, but still.

I think it's fair to say I am not in my best health ever.

I don't even have energy to play Skyrim. It's pathetic!

I got a good start on it last weekend, but then haven't been able to muster the will to get back to it since, what with all the sneezing and nose-blowing and coughing and waking up and the general weariness by the time I get home from work. (Though this time, contrary to an earlier prediction, my ailment has not developed into ague.)

Winter colds. My old arch-nemesis.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

If You Must Smoke

I see that smoking marijuana has been found not to measurably damage your lungs the way smoking tobacco does.

So when I take up smoking, I know which way I'm going to bet.

The study does not seem to have examined whether or not smoking marijuana is associated with reefer madness and a higher incidence of jumping out of windows and killing oneself. But then, we're also still waiting to hear the verdict on that with regard to tobacco.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Need New Music

I think I may be coming down with the ague again! So far it's just a general nasty cold, though.

It comes with lousy, unrestful sleep as I wake up every few minutes to try in vain to find a comfortable position, or find that I'm coughing or sneezing or need to blow my nose, or am trying to gnash my teeth (which means fiercely gnawing on my mouth guard). And over it all, running through my head in wakeful moments and haunting my fevered dreams, some song...

Last time I was sick it was Pink's Raise Your Glass, playing in short chunks, occasionally with creative changes of wording that I could not later recall, all night long.

This time, for the past two nights, it's been snippets of I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog Sothoth (occasionally interspersed with the original but less amusing lyrics to I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus).

I'm...kind of over that song. I sense another night of horrible sleep ahead, and I really need to get a different tune going.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Also, Not SOPA!

In more legislative news we should probably care about, Jessamyn at librarian.net has a roundup of links about the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.

As she says, "it’s vague, it’s anti-free-speech, and it won’t solve the problem it’s designed to combat." Problematic at best.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Not PubMed Central!

Rachel at Our Bodies, Our Blog has info on HR 3699, and how it could potentially affect PubMed Central, everyone's favorite online repository of free full text journals articles.

If your eyes are already glazing over, just read Rachel's piece--it has bold text for the crucial bits, and everything! Basically, the rule that requires publishers to give free access to many of the articles in PubMed Central is being reconsidered. If you have feelings about PubMed Central, and whether the results of taxpayer-funded research should be made available there, you should perhaps care about HR 3699...even though it doesn't have an exciting name or anything.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

For Science!

You should probably check out this 50-question quiz from the Christian Science Monitor to determine whether or not you're scientifically literate.

I got 37 of them correct, or 74%, so I'm not especially scientifically literate, but could be worse. I did pretty well with the questions about planets, because I was into astronomy as a kid, and also the ones where the question included some sort of information about the answer like "from the Greek for..." because I read a lot and have picked up a lot of the basic Greek and Latin word roots over time, but I wasn't so hot on anything having to do with biology or physics.

Sigh...those are totally important topics that my knowledge base is the poorer for lacking. I will hang my head in shame.

I saw this on Skepchick.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Latest Exciting Challenge

I'm thoroughly engrossed in the richly rewarding pastime of translating our library website's current Cold Fusion pages into PHP. (We have our own website, because we don't want to cede control of our pages to a centralized institutional Web Office, to which we'd have to submit requests to get anything done. As a result, any of the librarians can make important updates, and also could completely wreck the site at any moment, on a whim! That's power.)

It's a project that was begun some time ago by a departed web librarian whose shoes have not been filled (I tried, but my feet are bigger than hers!), so the code is basically all written, it's just a matter of plugging the right information in in the right places. Thankfully, since otherwise we would be pretty much be left looking at the current version of the site forever.

So there's a lot of copying and pasting and refreshing to make sure it looks right. And if I can't figure out how to replicate some effect, I go find a completed page that does the same thing, and copy the code from there.

There's no plagiarism in web development!

I have to remind myself that even though it takes a stupidly long time to get the simplest thing done, I shouldn't worry about it. Take the time, figure it out, and gradually it starts to take a less long time, and I'll remember how x problem was solved and can go right to the solution next time instead of spending an hour on it, and eventually I may even sort of know what I'm doing.

It's kind of fun, and keeps the ol' brain on its figurative toes.Which is good, since it wouldn't do to have that slippery deceptive organ getting all complacent and having time to make up false memories or anything.

On this topic, I recommend the much-recommended Code Year (I saw it all over Twitter, so I can't salute any one person), from Codecademy: sign up and get free lessons emailed to you every week in 2012!

So far they're doing JavaScript, which is not immediately relevant to my thoroughly engrossing task, but from what little I've observed, coding languages tend to work in similar ways, even if they use different terms or symbols to do things, so it's good background.

Farhad Manjoo on Slate makes a strong argument for why people should learn to code, and also recommends Code Year, so it's not just me and some people I can't name on Twitter. You should totally check it out.

Remember: If your brain isn't busy learning, it's probably busy plotting against you. Because brains cannot be trusted.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Blog it Up, Everyone!

MLA'12 is looking for conference bloggers! You should apply!

I won't be applying this year myself, on account of an exciting alternate plan I have to take some leave from work and keep a wary eye on an infant human.

Also possibly play some video games.

Nevertheless, having blogged for MLA in the past, I can testify that it is a lively and enriching experience, and that red carpets will be rolled out for you everywhere and you will be showered with goodies and special favors. Like vendor pens! And candy!

Wait, I think the red carpet might have been just my vivid imagination. A vivid imagination is highly desirable in a conference blogger, you know.

I'll be reading, so make sure you keep things both informative and entertaining.