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A quick cross-post from Blip.TV

The video below sums up the current question in "Talk to LISNews".

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Testing something in editing I haven't tried before

This shows a nice intersection between iMovie and GarageBand as tools:

Granted, I did have that one relative offer to build something running Cinelerra but I do not think that the time is ripe for that yet.

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As to my previous blog post

The previous post which apparently touched quite of bit of nerves has been deleted. It shall not return.

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Cringeworthiness

I am posting this early although it is a draft script and quite subject to revision prior to airing on the next episode of LISTen.

As this is recorded, ALA Annual 2008 is underway. I will admit upfront that I am not a member of the American Library Association and never have been. I simply cannot afford it while I can afford Christian College Librarians which is headquartered at Harding University in Arkansas. I can manage annual dues of twenty dollars far more easily than what is asked by ALA.

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Thoughts from behind the microphone

So where do I start? My boss at my day job went AWOL today. What was supposed to be a three hour short shift turned into quite a bit more. When the boss finally reappeared it was noted that the boss would have to go in for open heart surgery on top of the diabetes complications already.

Why was there no episode previously? I have been watching my boss decay physically. It has been impacting work and there has been nothing I could do to fix things. My team has been getting physically ill from things. I know it has been taking a toll on me physically. My co-workers are also at the point that we are going to have to force things to be brought to resolution.

Last week, we really had no news to talk about. While dealing with the on-going emergency at work, I kinda could not get home to record anything. On Sunday I got home late enough that we would not have been able to start recording until the very early hours of Monday morning. Rather than produce something with me sounding whiny yet exhausted, we went with speech synthesis. Such saved equipment set up while also allowing us to be sensitive to users who download right in iTunes or another podcatcher instead of going to the web page. That it was downloaded faster than a normal podcast had us initially disturbed but then quite amused.

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Where has imagination gone?

Is librarianship a profession that nurtures creativity? Lately I am not so sure. Reaction to the recent do-it-yourself project released about modifying a talking teddy bear to speak your RSS feed of your tweets as well as your friends brings something to mind.

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Piercing the fog of production

Rarely is it good to talk about the inner-workings of editorial decision-making. Such ranks up there with the making of sausage and the creation of laws as things best not known. Sometimes it is necessary to do so, though.

This week's episode of LISTen features five separate Public Service Announcements. We received absolutely no compensation for running such. The five discrete ads are all available as free downloads from a federal agency, namely the Federal Communications Commission. While it may sound fairly odd to some and perhaps quite condescending, there is a purpose to such.

The role of the librarian in today's Amazoogle world is to meet information needs. When you start from that philosophical standpoint you have to consider some things. When there is a lack of a clutch in a coming paradigm shift, what responsibility do you have to those you serve? How does such impact serving their information needs?

For the audience that LISTen serves, the whole discussion of the digital television transition in the United States probably seemed meaningless. Such misses the forest for the trees. While we acknowledge that librarians are striving today to be technological elites, the people who are served by librarians more often than not are not such elites at all. The whole Tech for Techies discussion was an attempt to discuss the transition in terms of how to approach patron questions. Rather than tell a patron you don't know, why not take a look at some of the common questions patrons might pose let alone some uncommon ones?

I made a conscious choice to use all five of the ads I used. Those are the US government's best effort to reach out to the public. Have you ever heard such outside LISTen, though? With reports of somewhere around eighty percent of the population not even knowing this is coming, can we take steps to at least prevent catastrophic information seeking sessions that barely help anyone involved?

I will not order anyone to "be creative". That's not the way such works! Considering that ALA is entering into a public education partnership with an electronics retailer to try to get word out to folks, it is not like this is an issue that the profession's organization in the United States is ignoring. I would much rather you heard the government's best effort at outreach and be stirred to action on your own to try to do better. As information professionals who deal with the information-seeking needs of rather diverse populations, this should be an easy one to plan a program on! The ALA is already trying to make it easier for you to get speakers in as it is. If a listener can come up with something creative on their own, the result is probably going to be far better than my sounding like a drill sergeant barking orders.

Part of the infrastructure to our Amazoogle world is changing fundamentally. What is the role of libraries in trying to be relevant to their served populations? I do not argree that being hip and trendy is the way to go. Establishing a firm foundation and reputation as being the source for good information is what you build relevance on top of. In an unorthodox way I tried to show something that would be an easy thing to start with.

This wouldn't require an investment in new servers or software. This would not require necessarily an infrastructure investment. If anything this is something that libraries do well but have gotten away from over time. Being the "People's University" doesn't always require a new social network and sometimes requires merely a meeting room as well as speakers and potentially refreshments.

Testing something

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Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday...

It appears I am appearing on Digital Home episode #17. Oddly enough, I actually come up first in the podcast episode I believe. Such depends upon how editing turned out.

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Value for Money

As I write, Twitter has been unreachable for a little over forty minutes. The outage is starting to stretch into an hour. Frankly I question what will come first tonight, the return of Twitter or the kick-off to Uncontrolled Vocabulary #42. This ping shows that the machine lives but is just not responsive:

PING twitter.com (128.121.146.100): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=0 ttl=245 time=315.044 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=1 ttl=245 time=219.245 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=2 ttl=245 time=447.906 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=3 ttl=245 time=221.922 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=4 ttl=245 time=238.351 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=5 ttl=245 time=216.497 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=6 ttl=245 time=233.835 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=7 ttl=245 time=227.089 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=8 ttl=245 time=276.421 ms
^C
--- twitter.com ping statistics ---
9 packets transmitted, 9 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 216.497/266.257/447.906/71.099 ms

This has given me pause to think. Yes, online services that are free can be nice things. As CNet's Charlie Cooper has noted in a column, there is even some talk about nationalizing Twitter. The biggest question is what people want and how is it going to be paid for?

Free services online truly are not free. There are fixed overheads to consider such as connections between the server and the rest of the world let alone the electricity to keep the server running. Without an influx of cash regularly, such things do burn out. This is a fear expressed over Twitter.

While Twitter is a nice thing, I have migrated more of what I do over to Pownce. On Pownce I do have my own site where I can post Twitter-like things but can also do more. For the things that Twitter needs extensions to do, Pownce seems more readily equipped to handle such.

Why do I bring this up? The key question in dealing with free services is their reliability. Is Twitter something that is necessarily reliable for what one might do on a day-to-day basis? Do you truly get what you pay for with Twitter? Think about that for a moment.

I am not against micro-blogging. As a way to promote comity it serves a good purpose. I would almost be more in favor of a subscription site being created for library types using WordPress and the micro-blog template known as Prologue. A subscription rate of USD$1 per month per participant would certainly not pay for all costs but it would defray some.

As we enter into what will be the second hour of the Twitter outage, I can only wonder if this makes more sense than what we're in now. After all, doesn't this outage show we've gotten our money's worth? My pinging of Twitter will likely continue until they're back up.

If they're back up today...which may be according to Lynx. They're perhaps just getting crap-flooded right now. Then again, maybe I am too optimistic.

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Do I really want it all?

The planning wiki for Uncontrolled Vocabulary showed a piece from ACRLog impacting NexGens. As a twenty-something myself, I imagine I would have some reflections about the reluctance to go into administration. I should say that that does not extend to leadership across the board. Library administration just seems to be an odd task.

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The Mechanics of Podcasting

Some days it is a good thing I can somehow afford VOIP service through something like Skype. Skype allows me fairly cheap rates for calling outside the United States. Considering that the per-minute rate for calling abroad with my cell phone is USD$1.49 I think I can manage paying around USD$0.20 or less per minute with Skype.

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If you missed the live recording session for LISTen #18...

Here is the whole video even though the first ten minutes have no audio due to a technical issue on our end:

The official podcast episode will be available for download as an audio file at the usual date and time.

To donate funds in a one-off manner, clicking the relevant link below will take you to PayPal where all you need is a credit card:

US

Canada

New Zealand

UK

To spread out support over a three month period, the links below may help:

US

Canada

New Zealand

EU

For those interested in supporting LISTen and getting a physical item out of the deal, the online web outlet has new items being added over time.

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Night of the Living 503

How odd is it that Twitter offers up a 503 error again? This means that it is very possible that the servers are overly taxed. I cannot fathom how such traffic might be arrayed, though.

This poses an interesting point. With all of the chatter about Web 2.0 over the past few years, where does our infrastructure fit into the picture? While talking about infrastructure is not as sexy as showing a slide-sharing presentation, the slide-sharing presentation would not be possible otherwise.

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Sitting at the bar at Turtle Restaurant in the Lambert Beach Resort

This is one of the few times I am blessed to write a blog post on LISNews from another land. Right now I am trying to eat dinner at the Turtle Restaurant. It has been an interesting trip in and out of the British Virgin Islands. If anything I will spend more time airborne than I will on the islands.

Will LISTen happen this week? One way or another, yes. The dominant US-flagged air carrier out here is American Airlines and so far there have been only minimal flight disruptions. Saturday may be a different story.

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To explain something from the podcast further: podcasters-in-residence

I imagine that the opening to this week's podcast was a little jarring. All I can say is that that was necessary. I will try to explain such further.

What was in the script was:

The production team for Listen is looking for a new home. Due to workplace uncertainties we want to move the show soon. Any library, whatever the type, willing to host the production team that might have related tasks the team could work on is asked to think about it. Provided that work visas are possible, we are willing to consider moving to locations in the Commonwealth of Nations. Our main preference is to stay away from Lake Erie Lake Effect Snow areas within the United States. With a former federal contractor computer technician on the production team, we have knowledge and skills that could bring value to your institution. To talk about this, hit us at the contact form on LISNews but please make sure you complete ALL options shown so Blake is not flooded. You can also send us faxes and e-mails by following the instructions found at lisnews.org/podcast.

Perhaps I might have been too delicate in writing that. Unless we hear otherwise my father is out of a job on April 28th. To use a slang word popular in local television ads, we do not need a blamestorming session for that. Efforts are underway to keep him in place but due to the budget at work being in deficit for the second fiscal year running his departure may be unavoidable. In my own workplace environment things have become unstable due to circumstances beyond my control and the likelihood of a RIF is increasing.

Can the team find new work locally? Right now the mix of available jobs is not pretty in Las Vegas. I do not see either of us able to pull off being waiters all that well. Beyond that, there is not a whole lot out there.

For the purpose of having it on-hand, I put together a budget showing hold-in costs to keep us in place in Nevada until the end of the calendar year. The budget would assume that we would handle the podcast full-time with other production duties mixed in. The total budget including payroll, fixed costs like rent and utilities, and other such expenses came out to a little under sixty thousand dollars. The budget assumed nothing for benefits as frankly nobody here has that at the moment.

So, what was the pitch about at the beginning of the podcast? A potential way around that hold-in scenario would be to have the production team relocated. If there happened to be a library that could host us we would be happy to join your team on a visiting basis. The podcast audio engineer has a few years experience as a computer technician making all sorts of things work ranging from old boxes running CP/M to Sun SPARCStations to SGI Indy and beyond. I have limited experience in electronics and have been a serving cataloger.

The notion would be that a library, preferably academic or public, would host the production team on a visiting basis. The team would have normal and appropriate day to day duties but also have podcast production included in the mix. In terms of relocating, we will be free pretty soon to do such I fear. Some areas we would consider relocating to include:

  • Pacific Northwest
  • Areas of the southern United States not prone to hurricanes and otherwise not California
  • West Virginia
  • Mid-Atlantic states except for Lake Effect Snow areas
  • Canada
  • England
  • Guam
  • Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

I am trying to be prudent in bringing this up. If anything I want to throw the notion out there for folks to consider. There are several ways to reach me. You can find those at http://lisnews.org/node/29265 with telephone numbers in standardized format. If anybody has interest in exploring this seemingly radical notion that is somewhat old-fashioned outside librarianship, please let me know.

Life sometimes throws curveballs. Living is not always a matter of determining how one might act. All too often this modern life requires more attention to how to react.

How I look at being an LISNews author

I try to keep editorial statements to the podcast alone. As I end up needing author abilities to post the podcast I also have some access in posting stories. With the controversies that have erupted over the past week I think I should discuss my editorial philosophies a little bit.

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LISTen is going after radio affiliates?

Yes, you read that title right. As of this morning there were some calls made. None were fruitful. A somewhat positive e-mail was received later in the day from one potential radio affiliate.

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Parts and Equipment Wish List for LISTen

You can find the wish list for the LISTen team in terms of equipment purchases online.

That list contains some of the bigger pieces that we are seeking to acquire. Right now we do not have the funds to do such. Our top two priorities on the list are the Mac Mini and the Nokia N800. The Mac Mini would swap out for the studio computer that is frankly getting very flaky. This is not to say that this would replace the non-networked computer that recordings are made to. We need a computer that is somewhat more reliable for proceeding with Skype calls and other matters. The Nokia N800 would allow for field recordings to happen. I am still trying very, very, very hard to get things in order so I can get into ALA Annual. Unfortunately I have been waiting over a month to hear back from the ALA Public Information Office.

The LifeBook and the external Sony drive are lower priorities. While they would be nice they would not necessarily reduce some of the interesting issues that arise with the hardware we've got right now. The LifeBook would be a more technically capable alternative to the N800 for doing fieldwork in terms of carrying out interviews. The Sony drive would help allow us to be able to back up the show's archives.

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