Blake's blog

Less Than A Year!!!

Just one more year! Good riddance to George W Bush

Is he the worst President in US history? Mr Bush faces stiff competition from the likes of James Buchanan, who watched as America slipped towards civil war, or Warren Harding with his corrupt administration, or Herbert Hoover, who failed to halt the slide into the Great Depression, or, more recently, Richard Nixon, the only President to be forced to resign. But in terms of dogmatism, incompetence, ignorance and divisiveness, Mr Bush surely compares with any of the above.

Making This List Gives Me Stress

So how does this "Blogs To Read" list happen, you ask?

Once again this year I started by looking back at last year's choices to see how our choices looked. The good news is I think we did pretty good. They're mostly still active, and they're all still writing some interesting stuff. In '06 I was happy with 9 out of 10, and last year I'll call it at 9 out of 10 again. I hope if you followed those blogs for the year you were happy with what you read. If you weren't, I'd love to hear from you. First, a bit about the votes.

It felt like I got a million suggestions. In reality, I got about 30 from the comments on the site, and about another 60 via email. Getting feedback from 2 people on something is above average, getting feed back from almost 100 is just overwhelming. I had grand plans of listing all the nominated sites and adding those links to this post. The best laid plans... I will finish that list at some point, let's just say it's loooooong. The total number of links was well over 100 and I looked at every single site I wasn't already following.

I put the top 2 vote getters on the final list. The Annoyed Librarian and Library Stuff received far more votes than the next bunch of nominees put together, so they were the easy choices. Nothing about the final 8 was easy. The next top 10(ish) in the top 10(ish) voter getters (assuming that's a word) were separated by only a few votes. That is to say, there were 2 sites that were very popular, another 8 or 9 that were popular, and then another large group. -- Read More

End O' The Year Bits

Happy New Year! Just a few days left in 2007. This is just a collection of random notes I've had floating around this week.

Right now only 1 story on the NYTimes most popular stories page is about Bhutto’s death while 7 out of 25 are on the Yahoo! news page, and none on the Google most popular news page. Seems strange, eh?

Last weekend almost all the posts were items I had saved in my feed reader for posting later. Overall it was a very different weekend, the majority of the posts where very different than normal. I posted them all on Friday and spaced them out for the weekend. Did anyone notice? I've lined up posts for this weekend as well, but most are what I'd consider to me more "normal" LISNews posts.

Apparently I'm very suggestible, Leo suggested I change the default order of comments, and I followed his suggestion. If you noticed or care you should let me know.

There's about 8 Gazillion [Gazillion is apparently in the MS Word spell check for some reason] votes for the 10 Blogs to Read in 08 post, it's going to take me forever to get through the list. I think this is an important post though, and it's one I don't mind doing.

I'm still in love with Drupal. I'm slowly adding new modules and features that you can find by poking around a bit. One of my big goals is to make the user blogs more customizable by each user. Did I point to the new stats page yet?

Working on my list of New Year's Resolutions!

Worst Headline I've Seen All Year... By Far

Mama Spears book on parenting aborted

from the Boston Herald.

Some Thoughts On LISNews Topics And Readership

I sent an email to the super secret and exciting Authors-Only list this morning and I thought it might make a somewhat interesting blog post as well. I've been told several times over the years LISNews is great because you never know what you'll see next. That's why I like it so much as well. If this was Blake Carver's LISNews I would've gotten bored years ago.

LISNews is a bit of an oddity because of the way it's run and what it runs on. We're a collaborative blog where everyone is welcome, so you never know what you're going to get. Most blogs are one person shows. We have user blogs, we have tons of subjects and many feeds. To make matters worse we've been doing this for over 8 years and we're currently on our 4th content management system. Which means we have legacy feeds going back years that are still used. I was looking at the stats ( this morning when I should've been doing something more productive and got to thinking about how people are reading the site. Based on the current Pages Viewed numbers, most people are viewing LISNews through a feed reader. -- Read More

Write More Matter Less

It's rare that I write random blogger stuff, so one of my resolutions for next year will be to write more. Though I think that was actually a resolution for this year too! But then the more I write, the less it will matter, though now that I think about it, what I write matters little now, so I guess it doesn't matter that it will matter less.
So here's a collection of random bits:

On LISHost:
The domain got hit by a monster joejob yesterday. The resulting bounces numbered in the hundreds of thousands and brought the .org server down, twice. I pulled the MX Record out of DNS. I'm not even sure where all that email ends up now, but at least the server is stable again. Our remote backup company dropped off the face of the earth, along with one of the remote backup copies. Signed up for a new one, hopefully they'll be more reliable. Still have one copy at home. I continue to think of ways to expand LISHost, while simultaneously thinking of ways to do less work. The 2 are mutually exclusive I think. I still really enjoy LISHost and the interesting stuff I learn.

On LISNews -- Read More

Not Much To Say

Really I'm just testing the blogging module. There seems to have been some issues last night and I'm trying to track them down. That seems to have worked. Now, I wonder if I can edit this masterpiece of American literature? Yes, I can post, edit, and even edit again. Funny... when I log out, the home page and blocks are all several hours old, even when I refresh and even if I run the Drupal crontab... funny. Testing something else... some words not written by me

Argentine poet Juan Gelman, who wrote about the pain of loss under
his country´s military juntas, has won the Cervantes Prize, the
Spanish-speaking world´s top literary award.

Gelman´s works include "The game we´re playing" (El Juego en que
Andamos) and "Under someone else´s rain" (Bajo la Lluvia Ajena). In
2000, Gelman has also received one of the most important literary
awards in the Spanish-speaking world, the Juan Rulfo Award.

Thinking Like A Drupaler

I feel like I'm finally settling in the Drupal, and my To-Do List is slowly shrinking. So far the amount of work it's taken to convert has been about what I expected, which is way more than any sane person would put into a project like this. Today I made a connection between moving a website and moving a home. We're thinking about buying a new home in the next couple years, and while it will be much more physical work, I don't think it's going to take quite as much time. Just like we are all settled into our current home, I was all settled into Slashcode. I was able to work with, I had it remodeled, put a fresh coat of paint on, and, well, like our current home, it just wasn't right. I was never even close to happy with Slashcode. I thought it would be easy to call home, but it wasn't. Drupal is proving to be a new house that has a hidden room, or two, or three. The surprises have been all positive, and Drupal is proving to be much easier to work with than Slashcode ever was. And it's on one of the LISHost servers, so I'm back in complete control. I was curious to see how the new server would handle the load, and I'm happy to report there are absolutely no issues. Here's my reduced to-do list:

-Highlight some of the many things Drupal/LISNews can do individually.
-Automate the darn email list.
-Find a way to highlight all the RSS feeds on the relevant pages.
-Is there a module to make custom feeds? Like most popular, latest comments, interesting things like that?
-We need more "browse by" pages.
-What about subdomains? -- Read More

What's Left To Do?

Quite a bit, but I think it's acceptable. Here's my unedited or spell checked list:

Mailing list!
Put something on this page /rss.shtml
Put back this image for Bloglines /images/topics/topicslash.gif
Think about bringing back /article.php3
Need one page to list all feeds
Need one page to list all topics & feed for that topic
Is there a module to make custom feeds? Like most popular, latest comments, interesting things like that?
Make an authors page
fix all the shtml old stories pages
Can I import all the really REALLY old stories/comments from phpslash?
Add/remove stuff from aggregator
what blocks am I missing?
What modules am I missing?
Enable themes so people can change what they use.
Can I build an admin page like slashcode had?
Make "browse by" pages for people.
copy over all the old stuff from the old server
watch logs for big 404 pages
what about the subdomains, can I fix that
double check old site and make sure I didn't miss anything big.
Are all the authors moved over as authors?
How can I change the favicon w/o messing with the misc dir
add in the topics images again like the old site?
Write some "how to" posts for the weeks comig up
annouce to some lists?
Feeds feeds feeds, need to list them
Make some kind of link for the feed for each journal and topic page

Give big thank you to Leo Klein

---------- Done below here

enable the awstats for LISNews
change the link for the agreator, that page is ugly
Make cron run
What the heck are these old things? /rss/descriptions.rss /rss/popular.rss
Add back these /geek.rdf /lm.rss -- Read More

First Post

Isn't Drupal Great??

Left Join On My Right Foot

I think I *finally* have all the sql mapping done between Slashcode and Drupal. This took such a stupid amount of time it's just embarrassing. I don't do much MySQL work these days, so joining more than 2 tables pretty much makes my head spin, add to that I had to learn Drupal at the same time, and something that someone else could've probably done in a few hours took me dozens. The entire conversion process now takes about 30 MySQL statements, and a little perl script. I can move all the data from Slashcode into Drupal (with no errors) in about 5 minutes now. It all looks so simple! The hardest part turned out to be moving over the journals and stories, which is actually something I didn't really need to do, because they're all moving over as HTML anyways. In the end it was a good learning experience, and I got to exercise my MySQL chops, something I don't get to do very often these days.

All that's left now is tweaking Drupal, stuff like themes and modules, which is also easy to those who know Drupal. Drupal has left me thoroughly impressed, while Slashcode always left me thoroughly frustrated. I think I'll have the entire process ready to be finished in time for our 8th birthday on the 2nd of November.

I think we'll all have a more useable and interesting web site.

A Couple Quick LISNews Notes

Today I posted many things to LISNews, but no real news stories like I usually do, just links. I cleared out my bookmarks and saved feed reader items that I've been saving for months. I don't normally do that, but I noticed that I had quite a few really old links sitting around that I've been meaning to post for ages. So there's 8 new link worthy items in the queue that will be showing up over the next 16 hours that I hope you'll enjoy.

In other LISNews news, I'm pretty darn close to having the database mapping finished up between Slashcode and Drupal. The last 2 are comments and stories, which I think will be fairly easy, and optional, since those are all written to html files and will be moved over. The to-do list isn't much shorter, I still have quite a bit of work to do, but I wanted to make sure I could move everything over before I started with Drupal hacking. I still think it'll be ready to do for the LISNews anniversary on November 2.

LISNews - Drupal Beta Site

'Cmon over to the LISNews - Drupal Beta Site and let me know what you think. Sometime within the next month or so I'll be porting LISNews over to Drupal. If you're reading this you Probably had your account moved from here, so you can login with your same old username/password. I say Probably because I didn't move over all the user accounts, but chances are if you're someone who reads this you're someone who got moved.

Let Me Know What You Think!!

Changes Coming @ Your LISNews

I'll be moving LISNews onto the Drupal platform at some point in the near future.

If you're one of the very few readers who have been around since the beginning of the site you might recall I've made changes like this before. I started the site (In1999) with flat html files, then we were powered by PHPSlash, and lately LISNews has been running on Slashcode, which tends to be hard to use, buggy, and rather poorly designed. So to help celebrate the 8th anniversary of LISNews (November 2nd) this year I plan to move LISNews onto Drupal, and yet another new server. That gives me about 4 months to get to know Drupal a bit better, work out all the formatting, and then move over all the old content including users, passwords, comments, stories and journals. I'm also thinking about a to return to the old colors (Some find bright Orange soothing).

Slashcode was never a great fit for LISNews, but it was pretty much the only choice several years ago when I made the move. Slashcode isn't right for us for many reasons, but I think it comes down to just a few things. Slashcode is written by people whose primary goal is crowd control. My goal has always been participation…. The twain shall never meet. And the user/developer community is pretty much nonexistent. Shane over at Lottadot has been our host for a few years, and he's also been the most vocal and helpful Slashcode developer.

So I'm hoping Drupal will increase participation and make LISNews easier to use, and therefore more interesting for everyone. I think the large and active developer community will allow me to add in all the useful modules that are available, which should make the site better because more people will be able to participate and contribute instead of waiting on me to fix bugs that never happen.

The seed to move actually got planted @ALA this year when I was talking with someone about moving her blog. It reminded me of the moves I've made with LISNews in the past, and got me thinking about the future. One trouble with each move is some stuff will disappear. I told her "you just gotta cut the cord", and I expect I'll do the same this time. There's a chance just about every single useful page @LISNews will essentially disappear. All the feeds will change, the articles will all be broken, all inbound links will be 404. Should I care about this? I don't know. I remember Jessamyn trying to convince me I should really care during the last move, but apparently it didn't work, because everything broke then too. I suppose I could do some mod_rewrite work this time and make things not quite so broken.

The move to Drupal will also allow me to host LISNews on LISHost once again. That'll mean it won't cost me any extra money next year! So, sometime soon I'll be directing one of the "other" LISNews domain names at a Drupal install. I'll poke around and practice, get to know the code a bit more, and I invite you to do the same. Then I'll figure out how to move the data over, and we'll be ready to go. Sounds easy, doesn't it? What could possibly go wrong…..

It's A Walmart World

Marketing (or the lack thereof), of libraries has always fascinated me. The loudest voices in our profession seem to be yelling about things that aren't going to help our grow or even survive. Take the Walmart V. Kmart retailing fight: Walmart is successfully growing because it's convinced everyone it's biggest & cheapest. That's what people care about. Walmart knows what people want, and people are convinced Walmart has it.

Unfortunately libraries are Kmarts in a Walmart world. Kmart might be just as cheap as Walmart, but for some reason the message just isn't getting out to people. We may be "better" than the Internets, but our message is not getting out there. "Times A Million" and David Lee King got me thinking about how "we" should be marketing libraries, but my conclusion was even more pessimistic than usual, and I tend to be a pessimist on this topic. Godin writes people are motivated by "something that [they] can have a direct influence on." People don't get the "times a million math," and they* don't get libraries. People don't care that libraries "change lives", that we're "foundations of democracy" or much else we so proudly boast. They don't get it, they don't care, "and repeating it with frequency isn't going to help much."

So to successfully sell, Godin says, we need to make the distant immediate, we need to make the bucket smaller, we need to show people just how our services will impact them, now. People need to know exactly what we can do for them, and why they should support them. Whenever I think about big picture things like this I think of my wife, and her sisters, and our many, many nieces and nephews. That's about 30 people in total I know very well. Of the 30 I can think of only 5 that have any use for any kind of library now. The 4 in college all say they never go to the library, they just use the web (2 of those 4 have a 4.0 average). Only one of her sisters has any time to read, but she never does. Most of the kids don't care about books or anything else libraries have to offer. 3 or the 30 are heavy library users, they need no selling.

So, like I said, my conclusion to this little thought exercise wasn't positive. I concluded the school, public, & academic libraries in my family's lives have nothing to offer most of them. No amount of time and money spent on advertising, collection development or new facilities could possible motivate them to come and use a library. These aren't dumb people. These aren't lazy people. These are really average suburban middle class people that I think are representative of the rest of their demographics. They don't have the time to use what we have to offer. They don't have any interest in what we have to offer.

Each has their own reason to not support the library. One is a neocon who sees libraries as havens for liberals. Some of the kids avoid reading like the plague. Some of the kids only buy books. Most of the adults don't have time. Some of the adults have no interest in much of what we have to offer. Some of them think we're just full of old, outdated, dusty books.

There are many reasons people have for not using/supporting libraries. I don't think we can overcome many of those reasons, nor do I think there is any effort to do so. These reasons are growing and no amount of marketing will change those minds. I don't think it matters if we know we're better, faster, cheaper, a good investment, or not stereotypical. It doesn't matter that we change lives, lift people from poverty or have DDR on Friday nights.

So think about a few questions:

Do enough people "get" what "we" do to keep "us" in business?
Do enough people care about what we do?
Do enough people even have a need for our services?
Is the number of people on our side growing?
How easily can we be replaced by Google for some people?

SCOTUS: The Statistics, and a Super StatPack

If you're like me (and you know you want to be) you'll enjoy This Post from SCOTUSblog. It's the annual statistics for the Term, including justice agreements, opinion tallies, our summary memo, and everything else previously included in their neato "StatPack" for the last few weeks. This year it's all about Kennedy.

ALA2007: People Places & Things

Usually I have a somewhat coherent post conference wrap up post. This year it's just not there. So this is just a quick people, places and things dump. The virus that hit me on Thursday, combined with beer and cold medication makes much of the conference a bit blurry...

People: Andrea & Rochelle. Cyndi, Amy, Heidi, Michael, Jenny, Chad, Walt, Movers & Shakers, Norman, John(s), Mitch, Dan, David, Marilee, Julie, Aaron, Joe(s), Ann, Ryan, Kate, Brett, Kevin, Jason, Karen(s), Talis guys, Hale guys, Michael, Christy, Michelle, Chris, Anna, Meredith, Roy, Casey and MILFs.

Places: Chipotle, Hilton, WCC, Metro, cabs, Capitol Brewery, bloggers salon, exhibits, and Dupont Circle.

Things: Free beer, swag, wifi, cell phones, lap tops, bags, viruses, tissues, beer, shower caps, zen butter, grape fruit pop, Hollywood Librarian, Flickr, Twitter, Google Kool-Aid cookies, escalators, lines, NPR, a boob.

I underestimated just how sick I really was going in on Friday, and it really slowed me down all weekend. I'm still physically exhausted. I managed to surround myself with some brilliant people full of great ideas. Conferences always leave me with a long list of professional and personal goals.

I can't say the conference or programs did much for me, but the people did more than I could've hoped for.

He's Dead

I wouldn't count myself as a fan of The Soprano's. Though I've seen it enough over the years to understand the show, I was never excited about it. My sister in-law came over to our house to watch the last 5 or 6 episodes every week this year, so I ended up finishing the series as a regular viewer. I loved the end last nigh, I actually applauded. At first I was thinking David Chase was having a good laugh on us all, but today I'm not so sure. Upon further review....

I'm pretty sure Tony died. There was a very brief flashback in an earlier episode (last week?), where his brother in-law says something about never hearing it when it happens. So that last scene is what would've happened when he got shot (from his view). He would see his daughter walking in, and that would be the end.

Either way I liked it. It leaves it all up to us to figure out, at least for the time being.

Coming Into The Country

I have a once in a lifetime opportunity to head up to Alaska this year, so I'll be (mostly) away from LISNews for the next 10 days or so. We're flying to Seattle (via Detroit) and then jumping on a little boat and on to Juneau, over to Sitka, then Ketchikan, and finally Victoria, and back to Seattle. The weather, and the Wind don't look terrible at this point, but not great either. If all goes well, we'll make it home Saturday night.

What Are The Odds?

I was just listening to an On Point from last month and I thought I'd see what was popping up on twittervision. The very first thing that popped up was from someone I noticed as a fellow LISNewster. I can't imagine the impossible odds I just beat. Maybe I should go buy a lottery tickets.

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