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Walt at Random: Apparent new feed address

According to Bloglines, I haven't posted anything since June 23. That's not quite right (by three posts). Apparently something in a WordPress upgrade (Blake?) changed the RSS feed.

Here's the new RSS2 feed address, or you can go to Walt at Random, scroll all the way to the bottom, and select the feed. (Or, if you have the Bloglines toolbar enabled, go to W.a.r. and click on the Subscribe button.)

Cites & Insights: A pre-ALA non-announcement

Some of you may be anticipating a July issue of Cites & Insights coming out just before ALA--that is, right about now.

That's not going to happen. Indeed, there's not going to be a July issue at all.

Paying attention to readership patterns and wholly appropriate reading habits during the summer, I'm planning a combined July/August issue for mid to late July. That probably means a total of 13 issues for 2005, which seems as good a number as any.

Ten things I've never done

1. Participate in a chain letter.

2-10. Do the web/meme equivalent.

Cites & Insights 5:7 available

Cites & Insights 5:7, May 2005, is now available for downloading. (HTML versions of most essays are also available from the home page.)

This 22-page issue includes:

One reason I never plan to run for ALA Council

The current Library Juice (if the link doesn't work, just go to www.libr.org/Juice; I typed it in) has a series of postings from the ALA Council list regarding the non-award presented to Laura Bush.

I don't know whether it's the complete set of postings. I have a sinking feeling that it is not.

It runs 23 print pages.

Cheesier!

A while back, I posted on a Wisconsin Dairy promotion that wasn't working right.

I tried again today, on my still dial-up connection. First there's a 675K Flash page that took over a minute to load, to bother me with cheering so that it could present two lines of text and a button...to bring up a lengthy, required agreement.

Then you have to fill out a registration form.

Then you get the chance to enter one of the four supposed entry keys from the ad, and click.

Selective coverage and the free ride

I try to avoid politics, but...

In my California newspaper, at least, regularly drubbed for being a psycho left-wing socialist rag even though it's owned by Hearst and its only full-time op-ed writer is a diehard Republican, there's been an interesting omission in all the coverage of one of the Governator's "reform plans"--the one he's at least postponed.

That is, "reforming" California's public employee retirement system, CALPERS, so that it goes away and gets replaced by a 401(k) equivalent.

Dropping out of the top hundred (almost)

I've never subscribed to very many of the true "A list" blogs, the Technorati Top 100. That's partly to avoid becoming part of the great echo chamber, partly because most of those I've sampled struck me as self-important blowhards.

("It takes one to know one" may be an appropriate response.)

Cheese and crackers

Cheese: The Wisconsin Dairy folks presumably spent a lot of money to have a full-page ad (with three coupons and a contest) in one of the coupon supplements that come with Sunday papers. (I assume nationwide, although it's possible that they're just trying to get back some of the California market, now that California is the nation's largest dairy producer...). And you can log on to their website to check coupon codes to see if you've won.

Except that, when I did so today, I got a 404 error. I guess nobody actually bothered to build the contest page...

Walt at Random

Blake beat me to the punch (and I wasn't actually going to propose a news story), but for both of you who read this:

Walt at Random is now live, with two (count them! 2) posts and a surprising number of early comments.

The date was deliberately chosen to match the importance of the new weblog--but rest assured, W.a.R. will still be there on April 2.

"Policy and Library Technology" out

I just received my author's copies of Library Technology Reports 41:2 (March/April 2005), a 63-page issue on Policy and Library Technology.

I wrote this last Fall. While the ideas in it emerged out of the thinking reflected in the first four years of Cites & Insights, it's nearly all original material: A synthesis and relatively brief overview of the ways policy and library technology interact.

Selective HTML complete for C&I Volume 4 (2004)

Selective HTML now appears for all of Cites & Insights Volume 4 (2004) as well as Volume 5 on an ongoing basis.

You'll find the links on the All Contents page.

HTML does not appear for:

Cites & Insights 5:5 available

Cites & Insights 5:5, Spring 2005, is now available for downloading.

This 24-page issue, PDF as always, includes:

Ego or not

If you're interested, YBP Library Services has just posted an interview with me on their corporate website.

Nothing earth-shattering here, but Bob Nardini's questions were interesting, and I guarantee the answers are honest.

Quick PDF notes

Two quick PDF notes, actually:

1. If you can download Acrobat Reader 7, do it. It's considerably faster and cleaner than 6, without losing any features. ("If you can" is because I've been unable to at work, for odd reasons--something about administrator privileges, which I have. While I could at home, dialup and all, with no trouble.)

Last chance to win little prizes...and an HTML decision

"Name Walt's [putative] blog" contest is still open, through March 12. See the original post.

I think there may be a winner, but I'm still open to even better ideas. As to the putative blog itself, probability is running 90%. I'm talking to Blake about hosting, looking at printer-friendly software alternatives, thinking about registering a domain, and all that.

If it happens, I have an introduction date already picked out that will suit the importance of the putative blog...well, you'll see.

It's supposed to be exciting...

This weekend was a washout--for reasons that might have had us excited if we were younger and had different tastes.

To wit, on Saturday we sold my wife's '95 Honda Civic to her niece's boyfriend/fiancee for a fair price.

Sunday, we got her a new car. Buying a new car is supposed to be exciting, thrilling, wonderful. For us, I'm afraid, it was the whole heart of the day gone; like it or not, there doesn't seem to be any way to complete the process in less than half a day.

Consider that we pretty much knew what we were going to buy. The only cars I've ever owned (with me as the principal driver) were a '75 Honda Civic, an '89 Honda Civic DX, and my current car, a 2001 Honda Civic EX. With the exception of an unhappy divergence to an '81 Nissan Sentra (the Honda dealership we dealt with at the time was extremely offputting...), the only cars we've ever owned with my wife as principal driver were an '88 Honda Civic DX and a '95 Honda Civic EX.

Any guesses as to what we purchased?

Truth be told, we considered the Civic Hybrid a lot. Given the tax credit (that pretty much expires after this year), the net price is really only $1,000 or so more than an EX. And, for some reason, I believed that the Hybrid was an EX with a different powertrain. I'd done enough searching to recognize that we weren't going to see greatly improved mileage (we get 42-44 MPG on the highway as is, in the 2001, 25-30 in town). And since all Civics are ULEV's (ultra low emissions vehicles), the difference in pollution would be nominal: Basically, a 1.3liter VTEC engine might pollute a little less than a 1.7liter VTEC engine, but they're both incredibly clean.

Unfortunately, I was misinformed. The hybrid is based on the Civic LX, not the Civic EX--and the extra equipment in the EX is important to us. So an EX it was. 2001 was a major redesign year for the Civic; the next major redesign will probably be 2007 or 2008. Thus, the 2005 was a lot like the 2001: Same superb engine, transmission, brakes; slight differences in the grille and hood; a little extra brightwork in the interior; different gauges; and not much else. The test drive was exactly like driving the 2001.

Most of the "shopping" time was spent deciding between a silver Civic and a "mist" Civic, both exactly the same price, both exactly the same equipment. My wife preferred the mist's light interior, but two things deterred her: A high-pitched, soft whistle in the engine (pitched high enough so that neither I nor the saleman could hear it, not all that unusual) and slightly hot brakes. Both would probably go away after a few hundred miles, but...

So we now have two silver Civic EXes. Side by side, you can see that the new one's just a shade darker than the old. (My wife would have loved to buy a white car, like her '95--but there are no white 2005 Civic EXes.

We really like Honda Civics. They handle well, the EX's VTEC engine has more than enough power (and great torque), they're the most reliable cars on the road, and the 2001+ transmission is smooth. And, to be sure, they don't pollute much and they get great gas mileage (that 42-44 MPG on highway includes hills and using air conditioning all the time, and that is with automatic).

But we're not big driving fans. We buy good transportation. Yeah, I looked at the S2000 for a minute or two, but I wouldn't really want to own one of those (and where do you drive a true sports car?). So getting a new car was as much a chore as a thrill, particularly the extended process of telling the "credit manager" that no, we didn't want this extra, no, we didn't want that extension, no, they could remove the already-installed alarm, no, no, no...

We got what I believe to be a great price (about $17,500 before taxes and license fees, just over $19K out the door). Financing wasn't an issue. Otherwise, who knows how long it would take?
Now, I have to get the detailing done and change our insurance policy...

That, in considerably more than a nutshell, is why I didn't get much of any writing done this weekend.

A contest! With prizes! Long post, sorry about that

I've been staying out of the s**storm surrounding Michael Gorman's intemperate LJ op-ed piece, partly because I think some people would assume that whatever I said was an indirect attack on bloggers, partly because there's been a lot of intemperance on both sides (as well as some lovely, thoughtful essays and opinions, including one from Blake) within the Web4Lib and LITA-L group conversations. (I haven't gone to ./ or any of the other non-library areas in which this is being discussed, and don't plan to, thank you very much. Life really is too short.)

"Yeah, Walt, but you must have a reaction to Gorman's generalizations." Sure I do. Consider that most of what I make available for public consumption--publish, if you will, not including this blog lite--bypasses editorial control and traditional publishing, putting me pretty squarely in that ignorant semi-literate group of folks with nothing worthwhile to say. (I love good editing, and get it from my editors at eContent and Online, and certainly used to get great, hardnosed editing at American Libraries--but this year, even including a forthcoming Library Technology Reports issue on Policy and Library Technology, I'll publish about 40,000 words through traditional means, about 220,000 in Cites & Insights, and next year's likely to be about 14,000 traditional, about 220,0000 C&I, where there's no editorial oversight other than my own.)

My other reaction to Gorman's "satire"?

That's the contest: Name Walt's blog.

If I started up a real weblog (not just this blog lite), combining quick thoughts that might eventually turn into columns or C&I fodder, library-related (and policy-related and technology-related and media-related) stuff that would never make it into C&I, and some of the personal oddments hat come up, what should I call it?

Assume for the moment that I'll use some comment-friendly, printer-friendly software that's free, and that it would be hosted at LISHost, unless the "free and easy for idiots like me to use" need conflicts with that hosting.

Assume that it won't have daily posts and won't have loads'o'links, and that I'll be as open to comments and "conversation" as possible (but forbid anonymous comments), while necessarily retaining the right to delete spam and viciousness.

What would you call it? (And, for that matter, what hosting/software methdology should I use?)

Prizes for the best suggestion(s):

  • An autographed copy of either Being Analog or First Have Something to Say, your choice.
  • A DVD copy of an independent movie named after one of America's heartland cities, that movie having spawned an indie festival. Yours to keep, pass on, destroy...

If I get one compelling title suggestion and a separate wholly satisfactory software/hosting suggestion, a separate prize for the second suggestion would be an autographed copy of First Have Something to Say--or your choice of either book if the title winner doesn't want Being Analog.

Full disclosure: I am not committed to starting such a blog. I may well come to my senses. But Gorman's thoughts are pushing me in that direction, a direction I've been considering for some time in any case. (Yes, aggregators have something to do with that: I believe that they make "non-daily" blogs more feasible.)

Entries as comments here or as email to me, either wcc at notes.rlg.org or waltcrawford at gmail.google.com. Contest deadline March 12, 2005. No prizes if there's no suggestion that I find compelling.

3/14 addition: The contest is closed. Guess I should say that here as well.

I've concluded that there are two winners: Tangognat and Daniel.

Unfortunately, I won't be using the winning response--because it's already used by at least two other weblogs. Too bad, but I'd just as soon not add to the confusion by creating one more "Something to say" blog.

If/when my weblog does show up, the likely title is one that (according to Google) is not used anywhere on the open web--a title that appears within this set of comments, but as one of my responses. (And if one of you starts a blog with that name before I do, I'll take that as a sign from Gaia that I really should give up on the idea. Sort of like an earthquake swallowing up the proposed ISP, but non-destructive. Or maybe just as some reader being a smartass.)

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