If you have a public library card, there is a reasonable chance you have free access to Kanopy, which is a streaming video service that a lot of libraries make available, for free, to patrons. It’s kind of like Netflix for smart people. Lots of great films, documentaries, indy stuff, etc.
Last night I was in the mood to watch a science fiction film, so I checked out this little independent film called Prospect. It’s fairly low budget, but well done. Good practical effects. I would classify it as hard SF. Highly recommend it.
I don’t watch a lot of television until about 10pm. Really, it’s rare that there’s anything worth watching until 10pm.
I know some of you out there will disagree, saying something like “But CSI: Forgotten Pedophile Investigation is on at 8pm”. Well, let me break this news to you. If you like that stuff, you need to hang yourself. Seriously. CSI? Ever been to a police station or any other kind of government office? Guess what…
Not what your local police station lab looks like. Grow up.
They don’t look space-age. The “crime lab” at your local police station doesn’t look like the control room of the Time Tunnel. If your pre-10pm hours consist of watching CSI, Bones, or the latest “fat guy with hot wife” sitcom, I respectfully (not really) suggest that you may want to begin living your life — immediately.
Last night I watched an episode of the Twilight Zone that I had never seen before, the Obsolete Man, starring the great Burgess Meredith. If you don’t know who Burgess is because you are young, or older but stupid, click that link and begin to improve your cultural literacy. A quick summary of the summary you will find on the link above – Burgess plays a librarian in a totalitarian state, and he is condemned to die — live on television (thank God there’s still TV in the future!) — because he has been found to be “obsolete”. However, he manages to turn the tables on the State, by involving and humiliating the Chancellor of the State, demonstrating the superiority of intellectual freedom. Awesome.Being a librarian myself, I of course immediately dug this show. While perhaps “the State” hasn’t gone full-bore into the killing of librarians, we do fight an almost constant battle against the powers of stupidity. From ignorant, pig-like, illiterate Tea Party types trying to starve valuable public services of operating funds, to psychotic religious fanatics trying to ban books from library collections because they fail to mention Jesus on every page, your friends the Librarians fight the good fight every day. Coming to work every day, it is easy to forget that as a librarian I am part of an ancient profession, one that matters and makes a difference. So I loved this episode of the Twilight Zone. So bad ass. The man of learning in intellectual/spiritual victory over the efforts off the totalitarian conservative buttholes. And it was bad ass! Burgess, in the role of librarian Romney Wordsworth, DOMINATES the situation. We librarians just forget how f’ing bad ass it is to do what we do. You know that poor kid growing up in the conservative religious “Ned Flanders” house who comes into your library? The library is the only place that kid is exposed to information that isn’t Fox News/Pat Robertson propaganda!
The enemy – must be defeated.
All of this got me thinking about the great librarians of fiction. My favorite is Dr. Henry Armitage, chief librarian of Miskatonic University, from H.P. Lovecraft’s “the Dunwich Horror“. Armitage not only saves the whole town from some Cthulhu devastation, but likely saves the whole world! Kick Ass!I like to think of religious and political conservatives, tea-baggers, and the other mental-midgets of our society as our equivalent of the slobbering, shambling, slimy, mindless, abominable horrors of the Lovecraft universe. Every time we defeat those fetid, reeking, semi-sentient masses of vomitus-like humanoid flesh, we are saving the universe. We save our planet and the universe one mind at a time. It’s a fight worth fighting.
Trusty sled - ready to roll. Will the weather be kind this year?
Nearly every year I attend the Internet Librarian conference, in Monterey, California. I go out a few days early and do some skateboarding and chill-time with friends out there.
First stop (after jumping from DFW-Los Angeles-Monterey, Californa and renting a car) will be Mill Valley, California, home of my good friend Dale and his neighbor Sammy Hagar (a.k.a. the Red Rocker). Will Sammy make an appearance? Only time will tell. Weather permiting, Dale and I will sample the skateparkish delights of that fine region. Sunday I’ll head down to Mountain View, California and Rengstorff Park, for freestyle skateboarding with the great Gary Holl and Wally Sueyoshi.
Monday, October 25, is the beginning of the Internet Librarian conference. Besides being a great conference to attend, there is a small skatepark about a mile from the hotel. Now, evenings in Monterey can get rather damp when the fog rolls in, quickly coating the skatepark’s smooth surfaces in disaster-bringing moisture. But if it is dry outside, I usually try to get out and skate in the evening. I also try to do at least a couple of dine-arounds with fellow conferencers, and maybe watch the World Series if it’s on (it was a few years ago).
Not that I have anything particularly insightful to say about it, but flickr.com has become a very powerful research tool for this librarian. Sometimes you just don’t know what you are looking for until you see it. Lately I’ve been researching sustainable/green technologies for homes, and being able to browse through millions of images to gather information is really helpful.
I’m also blown away by the diversity and niche-ish-ness available from the various groups on flickr. For example, today I happened upon this group devoted to pens. Yes – pens. Good pens. Some really nice photography from the pen freaks. Makes me want to go buy a new pen.
Try as I might, I just can’t get into social bookmarking/tagging. I have tried using del.icio.us, and digg, but I can not dig the deliciousness of either. I try to add appropriate tags to my blog posts, but that is it.
I’m not sure why. I like them. I think they are cool. But I just don’t use them.
I’ve had a bloglines.com account for some time now. Honestly, I haven’t used it that much, but I do think it is useful from time to time. For those who don’t know, among other things, bloglines.com allows you to aggregate posts from any site with an RSS feed, and read/link to the posted items from bloglines.com, rather than having to check lots of sites every day. In other words, if you read lots of news sites, blogs, etc., you check one spot instead of dozens.
At the Computers In Libraries conference last week, Steven Cohen sung the praises of the Google Reader — Google’s RSS reader. Since I’ve seen him speak at several conferences and he’s never given me bad advice, I checked out Google Reader.
As usual, Steven is right. Google Reader is cool. But first, let me tell you what is STILL good about bloglines.com :
When you set up an account with bloglines, you are not only automatically set up to subscribe to RSS feeds, but you are also immediately able to start your own blog. Is it pretty? No. It is a simple blog, with from what I can tell no options for different themes, layouts, etc. But it is a blog, and is right there.
I still think bloglines has a nice page layout. It isn’t fancy, but it is functional. The majority of the page is the window in which posts are displayed — nice and wide. Looks good. Displays images from the posts.
When you are reading a post on bloglines, you can click a link to see who else subscribes to that feed. Nice feature for finding other interested in the same stuff. Not sure if Google Reader does this — I’ll check.
Well, if you have gmail account you an just go right into Google Reader with no sign up.
You can import your subscription list from another reader. Don’t have to re-enter all your info.
Since it is part of the Google system, you have easy access to all the other Google tools.
Most important: Google Reader allows you to click a link and share items to a public page that it creates for you. For example, here’s my public page. As you will notice, there is an RSS stream for your public page, which allows other people to subscribe to it. Yes, you can create an RSS stream of what you are reading. Sort of cool.
There’s also a “friends” function in Google Reader. Haven’t played with it much.
As you can see, Google has included a lot of social networking tools within Reader. I think this is what bloglines was missing. They both allow you to aggregate information for your own use, but Google Reader has added the ability to share that info with the group.
Anyway, pretty cool.
Do I want the extra functionality? Probably. Do I want to sign over more of my online activities to Google? Maybe not. Will I continue to ask questions like this and then answer them? Most definately.
UPDATE: I added a link to my shared matrial from Google Reader over in the sidebar, under bibliosk8 stuff.
I think they are a little late noticing this, but I guess it is good. Thing is, you can’t judge a book by its cover. I have worked with some older librarians who were incredibly smart, talented, versatile, and cool. Like my former boss – older than 60 — who speaks multiple languages with great fluency, has 3 Masters Degrees, and can write actual computer code in circles around me. Or my boss now, who is a great painter. You know, you really don’t need to have a nose ring or tribal tattoos on your face, eh? Case in point: yours truly goes to work everyday in his plain clothes — but look what I can do:
So eat your hearts out, hipsters. Bwahahahaha!
But all my 42 year-old old skater bitching aside, rock-on, hip edgy librarians. The image did, indeed, need updating. That fact is attested to by the use of the “shushers” in the title of this NYT article. Every generation likes to take what it is doing and put its own “stamp” on it. I don’t know many old skateboarders that don’t love to laugh about the lack of “style” in newschool skateboarding, but you know, there’s still style there. Just a different style.
Hosting a site on a free service like WordPress.com has some advantages. For one thing, they really keep the blogging software up to date, with constant improvements, new widgets, etc. You never have to lift a finger to upgrade. The problem is that you are limited as to disk space, bandwidth, etc. This is why this blog is not run on WordPress.com – I wanted to go beyond the services that WordPress provides for free. I have a rented server account with Dreamhost.com, on which I can host as many domain names as I need, with tons of bandwidth and storage.
I recently started a new skateboarding blog called “concretelunch.net“. I plan on using a lot of photos and videos on the site, which will require both disk space and bandwidth. I purchased the domain name, but I’d rather host the blog — which will be the “homepage” — for free on WordPress.com. At the same time, I want to use my Concretelunch.net domain name (so I can just refer to “concretelunch.net”, rather than “wordpress.concretelunch.com”) and also use that domain to host and serve large files, run other applications, etc.
Here is a nice way to make it all work. I set up the blog on WordPress.com. Then on my server, under the domain concretelunch.net, I deleted the existing index.html file, replacing it with index.php . The index.php file contains only the following code — a simple redirect to my WordPress.com blog:
Even though I have a fairly active online life, and an active “real” life offline, I have no desire to get started on Second Life. Seriously, I didn’t even know about it until the Internet Librarian last year, which I guess shows that my nerd powers are decaying, but I didn’t.
For those who don’t know, Second Life is an online virtual world in which you assume a Second Life, errr…life…, and then you proceed to do things in that virtual world. I guess you can get a job in Second Life, rob banks, kill people, steal, do good deads, or whatever. Actual real-world financial transactions have started happening because of Second Life events. Weird. Amazing, but weird. Well, I guess it’s not super weird. People who are really into fantasy role playing games, both the on-paper and online kind, probably experience the same kind of thing.
There’s even a group of Second Life librarians who have set up reference service within Second Life. The theory, as it goes, is “meet the user where he/she is”. If the users are mostly living in Second Life, you can meet them there and serve their information needs there.
I have to say, from a purely academic viewpoint I’m sorta fascinated by this whole thing, but man, I have a lot going on in the real world. Websites to run, skateboarding and Aikido to do, a cool wife to have lots of actual fun with, parents to enjoy, nieces and nephews to entertain, etc. I also already have a real world job which I like a lot, but shit — why would I want a job in Second Life? I don’t need a second life.
If I can’t have full-on super powers, I’m just not interested. Telekinesis, Heat Vision, Total Invulnerability — you know — real powers and a cool costume.
OK, I’m rambling. I’m not criticizing the Second Life people/afficianados/addicts, or whatever they are. I just don’t quite get it. Oh well. More on this topic when I am more rested and less prone to ranting.