Blingin' through tha synaptic corridors.

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:: Thursday, December 30, 2004 ::
It scares me just a little, that of the top 100 movies (by box office takings) screened in Australia, I've seen 92 (possibly 93 as I don't recall if I've seen Ghost or not). A fair chunk of them were mediocre, some send horrible, icky shivers down my spine (like Dr Dolittle, Forrest Gump, and The Bodyguard) and there was the occasional gem. Most of my mainstream viewing was done via the selections of the film group at Wollongong Uni. The list of 8 I haven't managed to see include: Shrek 2, Troy, Strictly Ballroom, Ghost, Dances With Wolves, The Day After Tomorrow, Fatal Attraction, Dumb and Dumber. Of those I wish only to see Shrek 2 and Strictly Ballroom. In a week or two I'll post a list of my top bunch of 2005, though I suspect I've seen substantially less this year no doubt due to the extra travelling required by my job. Given the amount of rubbish that seems to have been out this year, perhaps I'm in front.
Out hunting for recipe guides on how to make poached eggs, having finally gotten round to buying an egg poacher. Alas all the recipes I've found so far don't mention how to use an egg poacher. Though I just realised I should be searching on "egg poacher" rather than "how to make poached eggs", though I still got the occasional, scary result. Still not quite sure what to do next but I have a few ideas to experiment with. I've previously tried poaching eggs without a poacher and failed. I've bought a cheapie version to play with and some organic eggs. Since my favourite cafe shut down several months ago, I haven't found anywhere else among the myriad cafes in Newtown that use organic eggs so the time has arrived where I need to poach my own.
:: Wednesday, December 29, 2004 ::
I've been rather envious of late, of a mate's new couch, as I'd earlier tried out a single seater from the same design. Comfortable cushion, all leather, armrests same height as back and just right. Even worse, it's now on sale reduced from $750 to $600; it'd be really nice to spend that sort of money on a comfy chair but I can't help thinking of other things to spend such an amount on, not least of which would be part of the savings for my next trip to wherever. Of course purchasing a copy of Howgego's tome would cover half the money and if I should choose to purchase the second volume...hmmm reading about explorers vs doing my own exploring. Nope, self propelled travel still wins by a country mile.
Christmas has passed at last, though it was filled with a succession of foodie delights, beginning with one of my favourite dishes, duck, done well, at 357 and a tasty, innovative approach to chocolate mousse. This was followed by a relaxing dinner in good company with mates of the old man, proving once more what a frabjabulous cook Julie is with yummy scallops and delicious calamari. Never forgetting a dessert of homemade ginger snaps with an alcohol infused cream. Heaven. Simply delish.
:: Friday, December 24, 2004 ::
It's Christmas Eve, I'm feeling bored so I decided to find a meme to propogate that required minimal work. Found some that required you to list 200 things and another that required you to answer 40 questions. Found one that simply requires you to list 26 items, one for each letter based on the autocomplete function of your address bar. Thus:
"goth - n 1: a crude uncouth ill-bred person lacking culture or refinement"
[
dictionary.com]
:: Tuesday, December 21, 2004 ::
It appears that a date has been announced for the next International Canyoning Rendezvous to be held in Mexico. The last couple, including one in the Spanish Pyrenees, have attracted around 200 participants from a dozen countries. The next will be held May 12-15, 2005. I was hoping that it would be at the start of May as I'm due to be in the US for work in the second half of April. I can probably add a couple of weeks holiday to the trip but haven't accrued enough holiday leave to last til mid May. Oh well, perhaps I'll stick with the original plan and head to Ecuador instead.
:: Monday, December 20, 2004 ::
Having ascertained from folk at the State Library on Friday that were around 40 tickets left for Nick Cave, I bit the bullet and bought one. It was held in the lovely Mitchell Wing with about 600 odd people in attendance. The interview ran for a bit over an hour including time for questions from the audience; a few people scored hugs from Nick including the State Librarian, Dagmar Schmidmaier. I reckon it was a bit on the pricey side at $60 for an hour's interview; still the venue was awesome and Nick was in good form. It's a shame I missed Tim Friedman (and The Whitlams) doing a similar sort of thing on the Thursday night for the princely sum of $15.
Not happy. Just took a call from the Sydney Film Festival office, regarding ticket allocations for next Festival in June 2005. They sent out a letter a month or so back saying tickets would be allocated on a first-come/first serve basis as opposed to the usual system of allowing subscribers to reclaim their previous seat. I've just found out that despite responding the following morning I've lost my usual seat. They've managed to find one reasonably close (I've gone from the back row of the front section to the front row of the section behind a distance of a massive 3 feet :-) but I now have people directly behind me who are likely to be annoyed by me bobbing about (I can't sit still) and I'm a bit removed from the people I see only at festival (assuming of course that they've got their seats)...so it's a leap into the great unknown. It may work out well (except for folk stuck behind me), and I like the idea of meeting new people but I've already been thinking for a couple of years of not bothering with a subscription as their value has been substantially whittled away. Part of why I've kept going with it is the social aspects of meeting up with people I only know for the 2 weeks of festival and have taken a decade or so to get to know.
:: Sunday, December 19, 2004 ::
Far too many messenger services floating around these days...well okay that's long been the case but now I'm looking at unifying options. Currently running Trillian as it provides one interface to many ie I can load up it and chat to friends on hotmail and yahoo at the same time. However I'd also hoped that I'd be able to chat to friends on other brands without joining said brand eg I have a friend on AOL and don't really want to go through the hassle of downloading the software, registering, etc. Just want to connect to that person so they can use their interface and I can use mine. Otherwise Trillian seems okay and obeys windows programs queue thingie whereas yahoo doesn't ie when I minimise a window and then use the alt-tab combo, it should be last in the queue. Yahoo however always bumps itself up to next in the queue. Very annoying.
:: Friday, December 17, 2004 ::
The official email has gone out announcing the first planning meeting for the next New Librarians' Symposium in Sydney in 2006. This meeting, to be held at the State Library at 6pm on Tuesday, 11 January, will be an opportunity to express opinions, put forward ideas and stand for the committee. Hopefully by the end of it, there'll be the makings of a bunch of people looking forward to spending the next two years planning a symposium.
I think I've barely stopped to breathe since getting back from Adelaide, and now I'm caught in a cycle of christmas parties, get togethers and what have you. Looking forward to boxing day and a bit of peace. Haven't quite got round to getting tickets to Nick Cave at the State Library and it looks like I might have missed out on tickets for him doing a night of Leonard Cohen numbers in January.
:: Wednesday, December 15, 2004 ::
While scrounging around the Govt bookshop I chanced upon, buried amongst the pamphlets, legislation and other ephemera, a rather interesting Cazneaux poster entitled "Waiting for the Ferry". Somehow I ended up at the State Library browsing the catalogue.
"Cdevolution declaim acrylic inequitable" - spammer
If I remember correctly today is the day that the State Library of NSW launches its Public Libraries promotional campaign, @ your library. Checking an older email confirms the date and the official launch time of 11am Sydney time. A chunk of stuff is already up on setting up activities, publicising and promoting them, not to mention a calendar of events.
:: Tuesday, December 14, 2004 ::
In news just to hand, The Goodies are reforming and touring Oz. Plus Nick Cave is doing a ticketed conversation at the State Library and Philip Glass is going to be playing at the Opera House with his ensemble, and the Qatsi Trilogy as a cinematic backdrop. Drools. It's all too much.
:: Monday, December 13, 2004 ::
Via dave, comes yet another google beta, Google Suggest; although you could sort of argue that this one's a meta tool rather than a regular tool as it potentially improves the functionality of the interface. This provides autocomplete of your search terms, comparing what you type against what is in its dictionary letter by letter as well as listing how many results each term in the list is likely to return. Looks like an american dictionary at work as it didn't recognise "bugger" as a word in the autocomplete list though of course it still found results. Speedwise seems okay: I've just been running it on dialup and while it paused here and there, they were short pauses and didn't get in the way. It seems okay for one word searches but add a second word and it loses track altogether unless the second word has an obvious connection with the first eg "magic 8 ball" vs "magic amazing".
:: Sunday, December 12, 2004 ::
After some degree of mucking about (it appears godaddy doesn't like my credit card, but a good friend has stepped in to save the day), my blog now has its own URL: snail.ws. It's still hosted on zipworld and the next step will be to look at changing what appears on the address bar. Also hoping with the big break I have over christmas/new year (I like forced leave :), first time in a couple of years I'll get paid too: the vagaries of contract vs permanent) to get to grips with php and rework the site a little.
:: Thursday, December 09, 2004 ::
As a result of mucho encouragement I have finally registered my own domain via Go Daddy for the princely sum of US$10/year. Stay tuned.
"In my experience, most children travel extremely well, albeit with the help of some sedation..."
[Rosie Yalland, letter SMH 4-5 Dec 2004]
In Sydney this week, we have alas, entered summer. It's far too muggy and I don't like it at all. Even worse, December these days is better than February. All bad. After all the dreams and hyperbole of google scholar, Péter Jacsó has thrown a bucket of cold water into the mix. A strong, detailed examination of the current state of play with google scholar; where it gets its info, what it gets, how good it is, and what it's missing. Of course scholar is still in beta which means it's got a long way to go; Jacsó is there signposting everywhere it should be going in order to be useful to the community it is seeking to serve.
:: Wednesday, December 08, 2004 ::
"to via caucus? airport, dickerson? coronado" - spammer
Sure enough, a quick search of the relevant literature reveals others with ideas for handling blogging at conferences including the use of wikis and aggregators.
:: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 ::
While catching up on my web4lib digests, post NLS2, I came across a blurb for brushtail. It looks an Oz developed tool designed for setting up intranets in public libraries. It's GPLed and runs on a PHP/MySQL platform.
How to really blog a conference - beats me hands down...hmmm...there's an idea for NLS3: cooperative, collaborative blogging. Set up some sort of group blog thang which a bunch of selected bloggers can blog to about stuff they grok. With comments enabled so that everyone else can comment and contribute. Assuming anyone is sufficiently nerdy to want to participate...hmmm...now if I could set it to accept responses via sms perhaps...speaking of nls3...all ideas welcomed and encouraged. Famous last words.
Housekeeping: when my mind is sufficiently my own again and regular services can resume, I shall do some minor editing on my conference entries. A combination of fixing spelling mistakes (some the result of user error, keyboard error, general errors) and adding links where appropriate. Occasionally had problems uploading as the phone cut out particularly when file sizes increased beyond 9k or so. Not sure why, and it did work some of the time though it did require a fairly steady connection. The obvious solution to this is to get round to writing a script whereby I can blog a single entry that in turn writes to the blog file and rss feed. I've got the theory of it in my head, but I need to sit down and learn enough php to actually code it. I have also decided that it's finally time I got my own domain (with some encouragement from Jessamyn) so stay tuned on that one. The sooner the better I think as the daily count of unique IP hitting my site is now regularly hitting triple figures (that means there's definitely more than just family and friends reading my blog now). It was only February or so that the IP count was averaging around 30. By the way, Jessamyn West now has a link to her presentation.
Wasted. Exhausted. Sleepy. Enthused. Positive. Excited. Encouraged. All words I don't normally use in such proximity; all describing how I feel post Symposium. Though I must say, and have said a few times in email today, that it was rather an interesting experience doing a wineries tour of the Barossa while recovering from a fantastic conference dinner/party the night before. Which in turn was followed by a plane trip home. Bumps unpleasant. Wine was good and I picked up a lovely muscat.
:: Saturday, December 04, 2004 ::
NLS2 is over bar the partying. Finished off with a round of thanks to the committee for what was a solid conference; everything actually ran to time and I don't recall anything starting late which is really amazing. They've done a really awesome job! Unfortunately, proving once again how much of a glutton I am for punishment, I am now on the committee organising NLS3 which will be held in Sydney in 2 years time. Eep! Hopefully it will work out well despite me :-)
more john stanley - how trusted are librarians today as providers of information ? - Stanley suggests this needs more research as it hasn't been studied in a decade or two. The host (librarian) is responsible for making customers feel welcome and good about the experience. Stanley is very big on talking about patrons as customers/consumers and libraries as retail centres with a bottom line. Good idea to summarise your ideas on paper so that they can be used to pass onto others, like handouts at a protest demo.
John Stanley - take a journey and see how libraries are changing; libraries as theatre. Not money, but attitude. Paint is cheap. Libraries are in retailing ie they're about customer relations.
Probably a wee bit overdosed on coaching sessions with 3 scheduled, all interactive and copious notes. Only so many ways to talk about goals and aspirations. Currently hearing a talk on the role and activities of IFLA, and what it participates in. This is rather topical as Natalie Blanchard (formerly Thomson Gale now Swets) presented a paper at IFLA on new librarians which in turn led to the development of the New Librarians' Symposium. Natalie also presented this time vendor stereotypes and librarians perspectives of them.
Cossey - management should be about helping an employee to do the best possible job they can. Managers, alas, aren't aware of what barriers their employees encounter. Management should be a facillitating process not a controlling one. Am I important in my workplace ? Is my work important to the work of the organisation ?
Jessamyn West comments on the implications where the younger perhaps view computers as fun and the management bunch tend to view them as work. What are the social concerns that a library can address ? - homelessness, unemployment, digital divide. Librarians need to think proactively about where their money goes. At the end of the day need to look at what the patrons want - do they want RFID, ebooks, or do they really just want some help working out email. Do you evaluate technology in the same way you evaluate other parts of the collection. Get a Technology plan. Generally way cool talk covering lots of stuff including the importsnce of what your users want, knowing your rights, and being active to ensure your rights aren't eroded.
The new morning is getting underway. Yesterday arvo was okay with a nice bit from a librarian who spent 10 months in Vanuatu as a volunteer librarian. Cocktail party went well and I managed to have each coloured cocktail, 5 in all. Followed by a pint in a pub at the seedy end of Adelaide.
:: Friday, December 03, 2004 ::
Beyond the Stereotype - the user should be central to what we do. Adaptability and flexibility. TFPL has an online skills toolkit [link to follow]. Also look at the idea of chartership in terms of skills development. Natalie Blanchard - there's lots of librarians working on the vendor side. Vendors aren't just sales folk. Librarians and vendors need to work together. [I know in my own mind I've had to move beyond the us vs them mindset - I'm not so much on the other side as in a different aspect of librarianship].
Mylee Joseph - careers can't be bulletproofed. Break things up into manageable chunks. Set fun and realistic goals. Continue to expand our definitions of libraries and keep plugging away. Geraldine - a coach is about keeping you on target. My problem remains however, that I've never been goal oriented...My career seems like a series of accidents with the current one being way cool. When they talk about having goals or thinking 2 jobs ahead I tend to go "eep!"
Things are off and running. Alan Smith, keynote speaker, commented on the importance of making use of the resources available. You should also plan for the job after the next one..where you'll be in 2 jobs time. But you also need to aim for jobs you'll enjoy. Networking is much more than simply exchanging business cards - it's about making real connections for *mutual* benefit. "with" not "at".
:: Thursday, December 02, 2004 ::
Back in Adelaide. Went for a walk last night and it felt like being home again. This morning, 5 minutes after setting out from the YHA, I was asked for directions and was able to give them. Mind you, I couldn't find a bloody newsagent; finally gave up and wandered over to the main drag on Rundle. This did at least mean I could pick up a stash at the beehive...and got freebies.
:: Wednesday, December 01, 2004 ::
update: got ftp working last night with minimal hassle. This means I'll be able to edit my blog offline and connect briefly to upload the new file. Brief connects are important when one is connecting via a mobile phone. This also means that I'll actually be able to live blog the New Librarians' Symposium. Potentially. Touch wood. Fingers crossed. If I can do it without making a fuss, even better. If not, this blog will be very quiet for the next week.

I fly to Adelaide this evening, hopefully I should be able to get a shuttle bus to somewhere near the YHA. I recall from when I was last in Adelaide that they usually stop a couple of blocks away but the driver dropped me off nearby on the sly. This trip is a bit of a mini holiday too, first in a year. I plan to spend Thursday swanning about Adelaide's cafes and hopefully meeting up with some newlibbers in the evening for dinner.

The Symposium starts proper on the Friday morning and there's rumours that delegates will be receiving vouchers for Haigh's. Where's the bad I ask you ? :) Friday night is the cocktail party with the conference dinner on the Saturday. I've got a couple of outfits in mind but can't decide which to wear which night. I finish off on Sunday crammed on a bus with a bunch of newlibbers for a tour, and tastings!!, of a few Barossa wineries.