shoe's blog

I got called a bitch! How cool is that!

I have that shirt from Librariangear that says "Info*bitch" on it. Today I was technically reference bitch. I wouldn't let a girl on the computer without a card. Then I wouldn't let her look over her friend's shoulder. And of course none of her friends would loan their cards because they didn't want to miss out on their second half hour. Therefore, I was a bitch. It was fun being a bitch.

Google ads and miscellany

These are the tabs I have open in Opera: Yahoo! mail, LISNews, and my work email... and I keep getting banner ads for gay singles. The best I can figure is it's centering in on some spam I got in Yahoo. Or perhaps Google thinks it knows something about me that I don't.

I can get a discount on my computers because we're a government agency. Yay! PCs for Staff! Not for everyone! Mwahahahahaha.

building computers

So I've settled on PCs For Everyone. PCs for Everyone, yay! I really want to put together a custom system, because their packages are either a little underpowered or a lot more than we need. But the custom systems I put together, are, of course, more than the packages I am putting together. For, in some cases, less computer.

I just am someone who hates a wimpy ass power supply. And hard drives with 2MB cache.

the ubercomputer is fixed, and I am worried

Thanks to kmhess for jump starting my brain. I don't know what in the name of pete happened, but the fact that I could ping with IP addresses made me take a second look at my TCP/IP set up. Which, somehow, was set wrong. My DNS servers were missing, which I didn't think they were, since I could get most sites. I don't know what the hell happened. Or why it's wrong in Linux too. It actually concerns the hell out of me.

Somewhat relieved to be writing this from the ubercomputer, and somewhat disquieted, as well.

Things that make you go hmmmm

Oddly enough, I can't get on LISNews on my Linux boot on the ubercomputer, too. Which means there's something messed up on a very basic level, or... it's the phone line between the Compaq and the ubercomputer. We have it cobbled together, because we only have one jack... three rooms away. Then we have a splitter, and a phone line going to the external and the internal modem on the ubercomputer (the external for Linux, the internal for Windows.)

the decision is almost made, and the ubercomputer is fooked

I don't know what it is with the ubercomputer. It won't let me on several webpages, including LISNews. Tried everything I could think of to reset the mofo, but to no avail. Thought perhaps it was my ISP's end, but I'm on the piece o' crap Compaq and can get LISNews just dandy.

Neither Opera (btw, Opera 7.50 for Windows is out, and it sucks! I much prefer the Linux version) nor the dreaded IE will allow me to view three webpages in particular.

After the computer week I had, I figure I'll worry about it next week. Which will hopefully be a week free from Edna, the patron from hell.

No, she wasn't in yesterday, but a patron was in who hadn't "used one of these things in years." She kept referring to the mouse as "that little doober." Yeah. She was very nice, and not terribly demanding.

I've always liked the joke: User error. Replace User and strike any key. That's all I could think of yesterday with the Gatekeeper software. People, if they still have time left when they're done using the computer, think they're doing others a favor by leaving their timer running. I guess they figure they're being nice and giving a few extra minutes. In all reality, it fooks everything up.

Inevitably, the next in line jumps on the computer, and uses the last ten minutes. However, five minutes into that ten minutes, their reservation comes up on another computer. Then they completely lose their reservation. I had to explain that to a lady yesterday who kept insisting she hadn't used her number. I know she hadn't. Someone's going to get real upset the day that someone isn't at reference to watch the whole process and figure out what happened, because their request for a second number will get denied.

I have reached a decision, I think, in where I am getting PCs (I hope). The winner is probably PCs For Everyone. It's pretty local. It's pretty cheap. And they use some good quality parts. I'm not real sure about the RAM manufacturer (they have some real duds on their pull down list), but their motherboards are good. And I tested them... It didn't say whether the RAM was parity or non-parity, so I wrote and asked. The response was quick and very pleasing: if I wanted to use parity RAM, I'd need this motherboard for this particular chipset. They seem to know what they're talking about.

I am a little nervous about using a major computer manufacturer like Dell or HP or (cough) Compaq because they use proprietary parts. There's something nice about being able to open the case, whip out the power supply, and know the one I'm putting in can be any ATX form fitting model.

Also, a little nervous because I know computers from major manufacturers are absolutely under powered. If you're getting 250 watts with half decent power supply, you're lucky. Granted, we're not going to be doing any power gaming at work. Or intense graphics work. But I want to know the system has enough juice to burn CDs and run Horizon.

I wonder how Horizon runs on P4 chip? Most of our computers are either Celerons or P3s. Heh. I put together something similar to the ubercomputer. Totally unnecessary for work, but i would probably chop chop chop through Horizon nicely.


I get to go computer shopping! Whether we actually can purchase what I'd like, I don't know, but I'm a little psyched.

One thing I require is a CDRW. I think it's silly to have computers without CDRW drives. These machines would be for use where needed. Right now, for me, where needed screams staff.

Someone managed to make the Google toolbar frickin' huge in Safari. So I made it go away. Granted, it was just because it was annoying the patron who comes in to shop on ebay, but hey.

Feeling better

Holy moses, after yesterday I was beginning to wonder why I didn't become an undertaker like my cousin. The dead don't bitch. If they do, you know it's time to retire.

Today was much better, although I still had a lady tell me our internet set up sucked. I bet she would have liked it better before when people got in fistfights over it.

We took staff development time to shelf read. I did the 300s in reference, which needed it after the AP History class came in this week. I should have done the 900s, too, of course, as they got used in this little foray as well.

A culmination of events

Almost led to a certain patron getting mauled by the systems librarian last night.

We'll call her Edna. Edna is a pain in the butt, and every one knows it. But I find it hard to say to her, "Edna, you're a pain in the ass." Too many years in retail, too polite, too damn stupid, I don't know what my problem is.

software review (no, not an ILS)

Yes, the people at Maxis and EA Games are keeping us at bay by releasing the custom content creator for their upcoming release, The Sims 2. Okay, can you tell I used to work in PR?

It's called Body Shop, and is a whopping 105 MB download. If you want any actual choices with it, you need the starter pack, which is another 110 MB. Honestly, it's still fun to play with Body Shop all on its own, but I'm getting the starter pack burned to disk on T1 line today.

All I can say is wow. You could make your Sim look like anybody. Unlike the really stupid face creator thing that you could download from Maxis for Sims 1, this is actually easy to use, and the faces look real. You make eyes wider apart, closer together, big noses, fat sims, large ears, Angelina Jolie lips... The possibilities, so far as I can tell, are endless. Granted, at the end of the scales you can end up with something cartoonish, but some people like that.

Yes, you can make Sims that look like they have some kind of ethnic background and history... And the graphics are gorgeous. Well, compared to what I'm used to.

My husband immediately found a new market for Body Shop as we looked at the uploaded Sims at The Sims 2 site last night. It would be a handy avatar maker.

Because your Sims age now (and die... all on their own... you don't have to kill them, but you can) you can even toggle through and create different ages in the Body Shop. My one complaint is toddlers all look alike (well, at least they all have freakishly large heads and bad haircuts, sort of like in real life. Heh.)

I am actually sort of glad I don't have the starter pack this morning, because I'd want to stay home and play with it. Even with the standard one skin tone, two sexes, and various eye colors, I could entertain myself all day.

Thus concludes the LISNews frivolous software review. Damn, I can not wait for this game to be released.

lots of fun librarian tasks on the plate

My exhibit is mostly up. I got the thumbs up on it from my supervisor. The sign, which is huge, is a little cheery for my tastes, but it's hard to make things somber with bright yellow construction paper. It does draw the eye though, and I suppose that's good.

There's something rewarding about all the old men gathering around and taking books that I put on display off the shelves and looking at them.

I couldn't find a proper display case for the newspaper with the VE Day headline, so I took a microfilm print of it and blew it up so it shows the cartoon and the headline as it pertains to our town. Then I mounted it on posterboard and hung it. It looks pretty cool.

I also get to do my first real bout of bibliographic instruction tomorrow, which involves taking a bunch of advanced placement kids from the high school and showing them where the US History reference books are. Since I know it's inevitable that some of them will go online for research, I'm going to show them how Infotrac works as well. I do wish we had some better databases for that sort of search, but it never hurts to publicize Infotrac. I threw together a little sheet on how to properly assess the credibility of a website. I'm just full of goodies.

Also get to schmooze for the library next week. Hey, it's a good thing. The event deals with Chinese culture, which fascinates me. So I am looking forward to it. I'm not much of a schmoozer. I'm actually pretty shy.

I am a reference book slut. I love getting catalogs filled with reference books to look at. I love the feel and the smell of reference books. Sometimes it's debatable how readable they are, but hey. They make me feel so smart.

Now I have a confession to make: as we speak, I am downloading the Sims 2 BodyShop. It's going to take all night. I have (cough) dial up. Don't tell. I have a 56K modem, which is now connected at a whopping 33.2K. It's pretty pathetic, all round. Pathetic I'm downloading the Sims 2 demo, pathetic that I have dial up, and pathetic that my modem doesn't even connect at a decent speed.

Today I saw the coolest parent ever. She left in the middle of story time with her two kids... I was at info. I heard her little cherub ask, "Why are we leaving?" and mom said, "Because you couldn't be quiet. I am so disappointed." I think it's cool that mom has the wherewithal to carry through with humane discipline on her children, and the courtesy to remove them and not disrupt story time for the other little cherubs. Way to go mom.

another one for the baby book

I am working on my first exhibit, which is an extension of an outside exhibit on World War II we're having. I have something in local history I'd love to put in it, but I'd want it under glass or something. It's the local newspaper on VE Day. It's in pretty rough shape, but viewable, and definitely shouldn't be overly handled (or opened). If we had a small glass case that would ideal, but that's probably asking too much. What would Nicholson Baker say? Jeez, newspaper lasts forever! Riiiight.

why I hate Mondays

Not just because it's Monday. It's the double edged sword of working late... It's nice to have the morning, but man, once about eleven o'clock hits, I'm ready to go to work... and once about five o'clock hits, I'm ready to go home.

put in for time

I put in for time during the month of July. I don't know if I'll get it. I'm trying to save some time to visit the inlaws in fall (road trip to Florida... I wish I could say I was excited to go, but even in as cool a car as the Prius, it's pretty tough to get excited about that drive) and of course the week or so I'm going to need to take when the Sims 2 comes out. I'm really hoping they announce the release date during E3 this year.

a likely story

Today a young lady came in looking for information on coral reefs. She immediately went to the internet terminal. I asked her if that was specifically what her assignment called for, because we had plenty of good books on coral reefs, and she said her teacher told them to use the internet.

Why? Unless this was an exercise in finding appropriate websites and search techniques, what the hell is the point of using the internet to look up something as ubiquitous as information about coral reefs? Damn, I wish we had as many coral reefs in the world as we do books about coral reefs in the library.

My husband says that for someone that loves computers and the internet, I sure hate computers and the internet. It's sort of true. There's just a time and a place for everything. Turns out this little girl couldn't get on the internet because she didn't have her parents' permission. But she could have easily checked out a book. Or photocopied her necessary information from one, in the off chance she didn't have a library card.

I was asked if we had any printers in the library today that were post-1930 models. I had to laugh. Most people don't even recognize our printer as a printer.

There is a certain staff member I'd like to throttle for his, er, tactlessness with patrons. Instead of coming to me and complaining (as per usual) about someone who made an honest mistake and got on the wrong computer, he went to her, spoke to her (tactlessly), then followed her to the circ desk, where he tactlessly began trying to explain the situation to the circ staff. Meanwhile voices are getting raised (both his and the patron). Finally she came to me and I had to deal with a (rightly so) pissed off patron. It was all so unnecessary.

This guy shouldn't even be on the floor, for pete's sake. He's got no customer service skills. I suppose it's not his job... But then, neither is policing the friggin' internet. It all could have been avoided if he'd come to me first.

I was cheesed at the whole situation.

On the plus side, I had some really nice little cherubs in today. Seriously. They sat and read. I like little cherubs like that.

what I hate about being in the little cherubs' room

The one thing I hate about being in the children's room, besides the children, of course, is making sure the children are authorized to use the internet. It's because the regular children's librarian and her trusty assistant know by sight who is and who isn't, and when you ask the kids for their cards or names or whatever, they look at you like you have two heads. Of course, I give off this aura anyway.

You know you have student loans when...

You know you have student loans and got a job in the public sector when you're going back and forth about whether you should spend $30 on a Linux distro. I know, they should be free but I really like SuSE and I'm not going through the pain in the ass of recompiling my kernel. Besides, if I don't pay SuSE, they will go out of business, and I won't be able to go to their web page and gaze upon that mighty fine blonde dude with the bicycle.

My heart stopped today. Mid-Sim City 4, the ubercomputer stopped. Dead. Turns out a transformer blew and half the town lost electricity, but for a few seconds I was cursing my power supply. All I could think of was RMA'ing another one to newegg, who must think I eat these things for breakfast. Hey, you can't have too many power supplies.

More thoughts on filtering: government and the ALA be damned (no, really, damn them!), I really think the decision comes down to the community in the short run, and the library in the long run.

The first library I interviewed at said it really wasn't a problem. They said, on occasion, a stray patron would come in, view it, and get spoken to. This library is in an affluent community (more affluent than mine, anyway), with an older population of totally different demographics. They don't filter.

Whether it is a problem or not really, I don't know. But both the reference librarian and the director seemed to hold the opinion that it wasn't an issue there.

However, our library is in a closer proximity to the city, and is in walking distance of several schools, both primary and secondary, public and parochial (guess which kids are the most trouble?) I had the new computers up, literally, an hour before I realized I forgot to put the proxy in for SurfControl. How did I realize? Someone left pictures of people "doing it" (as my husband would say) on the minimized on the screen for the next person to find. This was prior to school letting out. It took approximately one hour, in our least busy time, to have the boundary stepped over.

The fact is no filter is perfect, sure. Stuff's going to get through that shouldn't and stuff that should is going to get blocked. And yes, that sucks. But honestly, what is perfect? Choose your evil.

Without filters, I am convinced, there would be no internet access at our library. Or it would be so severely limited, that it would be non-existent for certain hours. It's a cover your ass sort of thing. I am not saying I necessarily agree with the filter or nothing approach. Honestly, I don't know if I agree with it.

All I know is, I spend two hours on reference policing the terminals as it is... The timed access helps loads (though people are still complaining a bit) and the filtering... well, that's one less thing I have to worry about too much. Our major problem now is a certain group of young men that like to gather around in hordes and look at each other's girlfriends' pictures online.

So I spend two hours playing, "Move along, move along." I haven't shut off a computer yet on them. Yet.

They're nice enough boys, though they look a little scary. I sent a text message to the computer telling them to back off or I'd shut it down, and then they came over to my computer asking how I did it... One kid said, "It must be cool to be a librarian!"

Yes, I wield great power. And don't you forget it.

appreciative patrons rock

Truly. I matched a lady up with a book yesterday, and she was thrilled. She was beaming and thanked everyone on her way out.

In the same vein, I had someone at the computers tell me that circulation wasn't terribly helpful in telling her how to get on the computers. Well, technically that's not their job, it's mine, and I wasn't available (I was in the closed stacks getting a book for a lady). I got her on. What puzzles me more is somehow she got two one time use numbers at once, which is a no no.

Circ staff has only a vague notion of how the whole timed access system works. I should have them sit and play with it, perhaps, but I really don't want them to have to do tech support, so perhaps it's better to, er, keep them ignorant. I do wish they'd tell more people about the Gatekeeper software. There's been a real resistance to using that. We actually had a fight break out (our first in weeks) because someone signed in on the Gatekeeper like she was supposed to, while someone who had been waiting longer didn't sign in. So when a computer came available, it was held for the woman who signed in, even though she'd not been waiting as long. After some lengthy explaining, the person who signed in gave up her appointment (nice of her, really) to the woman who'd been there longer. I wish there was a way to more prominently advertise that service. But I'm not sure how.

Signs don't work. I have signs everywhere over the Gatekeeper. Signs with big arrows saying "Sign in here". Having circulation pass out flyers explaining how to use the system didn't work well either. Tried that. Perhaps a huge sign over the computers in use would help. I find it's impossible to get our computer clientele to read -- anything. Signs, books, magazines. Anything. Even if it's to educate themselves about how to get on the beloved internet.

One librarian suggested putting big orange foot prints on the floor leading to the Gatekeeper. Heh.

Disgusting alert: Some patron handed me a library card after her little cherub sucked on it for a good two minutes. I made her wipe it off. Jeez, that was nasty. This was the same kid crawling around grazing on the carpet.

Dude, where's my porn?

Last night, I am told, someone finally did it. Someone came in and asked why he couldn't get to his favorite porn sites on internet terminal one when he always used to be able to do it. Not to sound crass (and pun definitely intended) but jeez, that takes some balls.

Now I am sorry I missed it. But I wasn't well, nor was my husband (and come to think of it, the dog barfed on the floor too).

shoe is having a hard time

I really am. Due to some health concerns, I've been having some real difficulties with work. It will pass, as this is historically a bad time of year with allergies and all, but sheesh. It's depressing.

I ended up taking my personal day yesterday because I didn't want anyone to really know I was sick again. Besides, my husband was also sick. So we were miserable together. Misery loves company.

I do hope those damned lilies are gone. That should make work a bit more tolerable.

So today is going to be my computer free day. I have decreed it. Usually, though, when I decree stuff like that is when Horizon breaks. I do have a couple of local history requests I have to work on. I will rather enjoy that... the peace and solitude of the old building, flipping through the paper card catalog (ah, the beauty of it all).

Thursdays are also staff development day. Sometimes we have meetings, sometimes we just do our thing. If it's a do our thing day, I might take my no-computer rule and lay it aside for that hour to finally stick memory in the circ computers.

It's always a trick getting people out of the building at one when we close for an hour for staff development. Every week someone asks, "Well, can't I just stay?" Um. No.

I am hoping that in the next year I can get some grants for new hardware. I am looking, I am looking. I would like to replace some of our catalog terminals, actually. The Linux story just put my heart into it. Of course, I could always install Linux on the iMacs. I've never done it, but it can be done.

Nothing irritates me like going over to the (cough) iPac terminals and seeing that someone has tried to open the hard drive on the Macs. You just know they were up to no good.

I wonder how difficult it would be to put more outlets in the wall in the reference area. We have many surge protectors daisy chained together there, I noticed as I crawled around on the floor on Tuesday. That concerns me... deeply.


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