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time's up!

Felt much better to go to work today...

I have a lot of thinking to do about the timed access. Turns out, because of our alliance with the consortium, we'd need a crudload of memory to actually handle the Horizon integration. So that's just not going to fly. We have a decent server, but I don't think I could shove the three gigs or so or memory the public would require to make it run to their standards. Instantaneous! We want things instantaneous! I shouldn't poke fun -- so do I. So do I.

So we are doing timed access, because I think it will help. Staff is going to have to come to the realization, like I have, like the assistant director has, that this is not ever going to be a hands-off proposition. It isn't with the sign up sheet, because people can't police themselves, and it isn't going to be with the one time sign up sheets. I think, however, the public will foresee the timed access as being more fair... justice doled out by machine, not by a human. No one will get just ten more minutes.

This doesn't stop the problem of sign up. I am playing with the idea that perhaps it's better to not give out a one time use number more than a half hour in advance. This way, we won't have people saying that they were next in line when they really weren't. Or perhaps we should have a sign up sheet behind the reference desk. You can make a reservation, but we get to hold the number till you pick it up. I need to look at the logistics, and it might go through several changes.

Hey, that's the price you pay for internet access.

I just fear that the staff has this idea that it will be perfectly seamless. That it will be self-contained and hands off. If anything, it's going to be more labor intensive, but more fair. There should be less sticky altercations -- no more fist fights and name calling and computer hogging. But it's obvious to me now that more than just software is involved... it's going to take some strategic planning and perhaps an overhaul of internet policy to some degree.

I need to make them, in some way, card access only as well. This way we can see that someone has used the computer more than their hour allotted time a day. This should be on a sign up sheet.

Today I had a guy come in and tell me all about cookies and temp files, in a tone that said, "Stooooooopid woman". I've understood the cookie/temp file concept since 1995. In fact, last time this guy complained the computers were down I was actually cleaning out the cookies and temp files and doing computer maintenance. I shut him off, rather rudely, I fear. I have enough self esteem issues that I didn't need to be talked to like I was two inches tall.

He says, "There are programs that will erase your temp files!" I wish people knew the budgets constraints @ your library. Honest to pete. Gotta love Linux. Why didn't libraries anchor on to the open source thing a looong time ago?

Back to Debian

Well, I figured out why the debian box liked to crash and cause an out of memory error. Well, for one thing it likes to run more than 5 mysql processess @ 5~6megs resident in memory a piece. Then there is the apache service coupled with perl. 128Megs of memory is just not enough for a Testing release of a Debian LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-Python-Perl-PHP) server.

Quote of the day

"The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress."
- Joseph Joubert

I just thought that was a neat quote to start my wednesday off. With all the emotional debates we get into over here I think sometimes we forget that no one ever really "wins" an argument or discussion. The goal is to learn or at least expand your horizons a bit.

Conservative disaffection with Bush

In an uncharacteristically long posting, Instapundit blogs about fading support from the "war base". Plenty of space in the Updates section given to the pro-war base as well, including some lefties. Though he's conservative/libertarian and pro-war, I've found that Glenn Reynolds (the Instapundit) is willing to be critical of Bush when he feels it's warranted.

Presidents and jobs

Robert J. Samuelson states what should be obvious in this Washington Post column:

Why Spain was attacked

Many suggest that Spain's Socialists victory at the polls came because the people of Spain blame the rail bombings in Madrid on Islamist ire at Jose Maria Aznar's support for the invasion of Iraq. If only we withdraw from the coalition and don't inflame the Islamists further, the Spaniards are supposedly thinking, they won't attack us.

I have to wonder about that explanation of Spanish public opinion. Everything I read before the invasion suggested that the Spanish people were not behind Aznar in his support for the war. And in the coverage of the massive protests by Spaniards against the bombings, I don't recall having seen much in the way of anti-U.S. and anti-Iraq-war protests. In my view, the more straightforward explanation for the conservatives' electoral defeat in Spain was the unpopularity of the Iraq war, rather than fear and appeasement of the terrorists.

If I am right about Spanish attitudes, it tends to undercut Christopher Hitchens's analysis of the "nutty logic" underlying the elections. He does cite some on the Spanish left has having claimed that Spain was attacked because it supported the Iraq invasion, but must we assume that the wider populace bought into these claims?

Nonetheless, even if the Spanish vote was not intended as a message of capitulation and appeasement, it is hard for me to believe that it won't be seen that way by the Islamist terrorists, who will now imagine that they have been successful in shaping the politics of an infidel nation to their advantage. And in any case, given the goals of the Islamist terrorists, there is no hope of appeasing them.

As Hitchens points out, the terrorists have not spared those countries who were either neutral (Morocco) in the war or who hindered it (Turkey). Fareed Zakarias reinforces this point in his Washington Post commentary:

Some in Spain have argued that if an Islamic group proves to be the culprit, Spaniards will blame Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. It was his support for America and the war in Iraq that invited the wrath of the fundamentalists. But other recent targets of Islamic militants have been Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, not one of which supported the war or sent troops into Iraq in the after-war. Al Qaeda's declaration of jihad had, as its first demand, the withdrawal of American troops from Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden does not seem to have noticed, but the troops are gone -- yet the jihad continues. The reasons come and go, the violence endures.

It seems to me that Al Qaida and the indigenous movements allied to it have declared implacable war by terror on all whom they consider infidels. That includes the obvious suspects as Jews and Americans, but also Islamic nations who are either not Islamic enough (such as Morocco and Turkey), or who deeply conservative but corrupt (such as Saudi Arabia). The only difference among these targets will be the opportunities for and benefits from attacking that they present.

I found Hitchens's column via Eamonn Fitzgerald's Rainy Day and the Zakarias quote via Daniel Drezner's blog.

Humorous tech business headline (rather crude)

From The Register:

SCO lifts skirt but investors recoil

I have to say, the folks at The Register have a way with their headlines. Picturesque to say the least.

Books trying to tell us something

We have this book -- a visually gorgeous folio called The Innocents about (what else?) people incarcerated who turned out to be innocent. Granted, I haven't really looked at this book except for the covers and a few pages here and there. So I know nothing, really, of this book's "message."

However, this book, or the patrons, or the library spirits, are trying to convey something. This book is supernaturally everywhere, everyone on the staff turns. I placed it on the new folios rack in a prominent position, hoping someone would take it out, to free us for a few weeks. No dice. Instead, this book wills itself to be picked up and carried around by patrons, then seeming dropped beside the PACs, dropped on the reading room tables, dropped by the videos (or, most often) dropped on the floor, right in front of the folios. What gives?

I thought it was just me, so I mentioned it to one librarian and two support staff, who noticed the same thing about it.

I am taking today, when I am away from work and feeling bored, to plan the timed access demo introduction. I am thinking that the wheels won't be in place until next week, which is probably just as well. I don't know how long I'll have things down while I configure them, but having them down over a Friday/Saturday period might be troublesome. I also think, to simplify things, and to keep an eye on how things are running, information is the best place to keep the management software. Reference would be really ideal, but inconvenient mornings and evenings, when no one is at the reference desk. This might take some study of patron records. Not in a Patriot Act what-have-you-been-viewing sort of way, relax, but in a when-is-this-computer-most-active sort of way. The problem is (catch 22) our very unscientific sign up sheet. Just because there is no name on the sign up sheet doesn't mean the machine isn't being used. Naturally the computers are most active when someone is on reference, typically from 2 to 6 in the afternoon.

This may be a staff meeting survey sort of thing. I am usually at reference, and less frequently at information. It might be more of a pain in the butt to have to sign up people on the computer all day at information than it is to just do it off hours and have to physically get up to go to reference to do it. It might confuse the bejeebies out of patrons, too.

I am going to try to put Panther on a dying Mac. I think something merely may have gotten corrupted on it, and now it's getting very upset when you do too much with it. I meant to put Panther on it anyhoo so I guess now is as good a time as any. I put my newly zorched and reinstalled Windows unfiltered-now-filtered terminal out for people to, er, have their way with. At least I finally got the antivirus to activate. Sheesh. What a production.

Snow is headed our way. The sky's got the rich gray-yellow pallor of impending snowfall. Up to twelve inches, they say. I wonder if I will have work tomorrow, either. I am sort of hoping I do, because I do get so bored. Then I'm sort of hoping I don't, because my husband has tomorrow off. (What a racket!)

Feeling guilty about missing work, but at least feeling as though it was justified... I feel pretty miserable, and can't imagine holding down the information fort feeling this way.

Snow, snow, snow, snow, snow...

The Allegheny foothills sure are getting a bit of snow today...fortunately I have my dorm-based dungeon as well as a nice warm library to hide out in from the snow...

ready.gov

Well, the Ides of March have come and gone. So many dates now signify a horrific event that happened in our world; September 11, December 7, November 9 and now March 11. I will never be "ready.gov" for untold horrors yet to come. Preparedness for annihilation...what a concept.

I hate taking sick days

I hate taking sick days, but I think today I am forced to. What I thought was a brewing migraine seems to have yielded to a virus. At least, I have a fever. I went to work yesterday feeling crappy, and felt like I didn't really do my job properly. I hate that feeling too. Perhaps a day in bed will put things right. I just feel so guilty.

Meta-Moderating

Tonight I "did" my first meta-moderation. Now I will be plagued by self-doubt and fears of inadequacy for an undertermined length of time ... it's just very lucky I have such poor short-term memory. I should be able to overcome the anxieties associated with the .... errr ...um, what was I saying?

The public library didn't escape this chill

I didn't obsess about religion, but every now and again a question would pop up, and I hunted for answers in the only place I thought might have some. Picture it: the public library in the pre-Internet period of the 1980s and early 1990s. Most of what I'd read about Islam exuded a textbook tone. Lots of reference, little risk. Then, on February 14, 1989, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. This "unfunny valentine," as Rushdie would later call the fatwa, demanded of Westerners more than a collective tiptoe around theocracy. Many people in the West did take a stand against the death warrant and I'd be disingenuous to deny that. But the commentaries I tracked down at the public library seemed satisfied with merely explaining Muslim outrage; they steered away from asking if the Koran is as virgin, as divine, as the effigy-burners would have us believe. What happened to the religiously respectful yet intellecutally messy West I'd fallen in love with? Was multiculturalism losing its mind?


In a crucial sense, I think so. I say this because my trips to the library coincided with the era of Edward Said. He was the Arab-American intellectual who, in 1979, used the word Orientalism to describe the West's supposed tendency to colonize Muslims by demonizing them as exotic freaks of the East. A compelling theory, but doesn't it speak volumes that the "imperialist" West published, distributed, and promoted Edward Said's book?


Within a decade, Said was all the rage among young academics-turned-activists in North America and Europe. Their worship of him effectively stifled other ideas about Islam. By the time Salman Rushdie came out with The Satanic Verses, Said's acolytes stood ready to denounce as "Orientalist" (read: racist) just about anything that affronted mainstream Muslims. In my experience, the public library didn't escape this chill.


I began to regain faith, in both the West and Islam, after the mid-1990s. Praise Allah for the Internet. With the Web making self-censorship irrelevant -- someone else is bound to say what you won't -- it became the place where intellectual risk-takers finally exhaled. They reasserted what makes the West a fierce if imperfect incubator of ideas: its love of discovery, including discovery of its own biases. And as the critics probed Islam, I picked up on some jaw-dropping aspects of my religion.

-- Irshad Manji, The Trouble With Islam (Muslim-Refusenik.com)

Micro$oft's DNS Client on 2000/XP

Why am I not surprised? Well, it was definately not the proxy autoconfiguration script, or the caching proxy server itself. It all has to do with the rediculous DNS client Micro$oft silently runs as a service that is automagically started after installing either OS. This service is only useful for Active Directory, does absolutely nothing for that machine if your domain is not Active Directory.

rewarding the wicked

A disturbing trend: people have been erasing other people's names on our real high tech internet sign up sheet. While I want to commend these people on their ingenuity (and their perceptiveness of at least being able to look at, then figure out our high tech sign up sheet) I feel that this is morally... well, it's between stealing candy from a baby and kicking a dog.

What concerns me more is how I handle it if I am just coming on to the reference desk. Sure, I can see a name has been erased and another has been put in. Sure. But how do I know if your name was there previously? Plenty of people erase their own names when they leave. Besides, if you were really sneaky, you could see someone else's name was erased and say yours was.

So I have to go by what's on the sign up sheet at the present time, if I haven't been there to see who was waiting. That's just not fair. The eraser then gets positive reinforcement, for, as Beavis would say, being a dillweed.

I so want timed access software.

Another disturbing trend: people are telling me our computers suck. Of course they do. The poor things are abused for twelve hours a day. (This was incidentally, uttered by the same aforementioned patron whose frequently uttered cry of "I don't know what I pressed!" is known by the whole staff.) If a machine had feelings, these would be crying out from the ground, folks. Don't mean to get all biblical (but that line is just so poetic). Until the money tree sprouts in the garden though, libraries in general (not just this library, or even libraries in this state) are out of luck.

So they do their best. Go easy on them.

Disturbing trend trois: Library cards are being stolen and bizarre books are being checked out on them! And naturally, are never returned. I've heard this complaint three times in as many days. Odd. As some LISNews stories have reported, if I were going to steal a library card and then steal library materials, I'd steal resaleable stuff. Like DVDs. Not histories of doilies. (Not to insult anyone who's seriously into doilies).

Conservatives are stoopid; LISNewzsters are smart :-)

[Note: this journal entry is occasioned in part by Ender's posting noted below, but also in part by Blake's daring to suggest that there actually is intelligent conservative opinion worth listening to.]

In a reply from Ender, Duke_of_URL (posting as an anonymous patron) in a thread on Christian publishing and culture, said he felt that Christians were more thievish than the rest of the population.

His generalization reminds me of the Duke U. philosophy professor (hmm, Duke_of_Url, Duke U., I wonder ...), who stated that stupid people were generally conservative, by way of explaining why there were so few conservatives in Duke's humanities departments:
"We try to hire the best, smartest people available," Brandon said of his philosophy hires. "If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire.

"Mill's analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia. Players in the NBA tend to be taller than average. There is a good reason for this. Members of academia tend to be a bit smarter than average. There is a good reason for this too."

Observe:

  1. Brandon misrepresents Mill;
  2. Brandon commits a non-sequitur in the first paragraph;
  3. Brandon has the demographics wrong--conservatives are not more stupid than others (scroll down to the Lindgren quote; wait, here's a sample:

    If one breaks down the data by party affiliation and political orientation, the most highly educated group is conservative Republicans, who also score highest on the vocabulary and analogical reasoning tests. Liberal Democrats score only insignificantly lower than conservative Republicans. The least educated subgroups are moderate and conservative Democrats, who also score at the bottom (or very near the bottom) on vocabulary and analogy tests.
    [emphasis mine--ChuckB])

Now think about this for a moment: if LISNewzsters are drawn chiefly from liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, then we come from the two smartest groups in the country!

Ocean Treasure: Commercial Fishing in Alaska: Suggested Read

In keeping with the Alaska theme of the last journal, I'm suggesting an informative book with many pictures for any of your patrons interested in the Alaska fishing industry. There might be more of those in your library than you might think. Each summer, thousands of college students and others come up to Alaska to work on boats, canneries (slime lines), and other desparately hard work that allows them to work in some of the wildest areas America has to offer.

Without further ado, here is some publisher provided information on the book "Ocean Treasure: Commercial Fishing in Alaska":

------------------
Web page with photos: http://www.uaf.edu/seagrant/Pubs_Videos/pubs/SG-ED-41.html

Ocean Treasure: Commercial Fishing in Alaska

Author: Terry Johnson
Editor: Kurt Byers
Pub. no.: SG-ED-41
Year: 2003
No. pages: 200
Price: $25.00 US
ISBN: 1-56612-080-2

Ocean Treasure is a full-color book about the Alaska fishing industry. Author Terry Johnson provides an engaging and authoritative overview of the seafood industry, combined with color photos and drawings of fish and invertebrates and the gear used to harvest them. Ocean Treasure tells how to recognize fishing boats and gear, what the fish look like, and how good they taste. Readers are treated to an account of the fascinating history of Alaska fishing, insight into mariculture, how the fisheries are managed, and the lifestyle involved in subsistence fishing. The book also offers a bibliography, a glossary, and a full index.

Visitors to Alaska whose curiosity is piqued by the fishing vessels and dock activity they see, as well as "armchair" Alaska tourists, will be
rewarded by the information-packed pages presented in the easy-to-read, friendly text of this book.

A resident of Homer, Alaska, author Terry Johnson is a marine advisory agent and journalist, and has sixteen years experience as commercial fisherman.
---------------------

For those you still reading, I came across this book because it is a publication of Alaska's Sea Grant College, and thus is subject to the Alaska State Publications program, which I am responsible for. Ironically, Alaska's "sea grant" college is based at University of Alaska Fairbanks, which is in the central part of our great state and is hours from any part of Alaska's coast.

Reading in bits; no job rights; more random thoughts

Well, I am going back to the Pullman series that starts with The Golden Compass. I started the Subtle Knife and put it down for awhile. I have developed a bad habit of starting novels and putting them down. I guess part of it is that I don't have blocks of time to read anymore.

How to spell "Newbery" - as in the award

A couple of years ago, a friend and I got in a discussion about how to spell "Newbery", he was sure that there are two r's. I was certain there is only one. (Need I say which one of us was correct?)

Anyway, this got me thinking, so I did a web search on "Newberry Award". Hundreds upon hundreds. So every once in a while, I send a few simple e-mail informing webmaster or whoever is listed that Newbery is incorrectly spelled.

random acts of shut down

What does the public do to computers? Honest to pete... I know that people have the tendency to want to really finish what they start and log out of the computer after they finish using the browser (and some staff members are having a hard time grasping if I disable log out, then no one can log out, public or staff). Logging out I don't mind. People have taken to shutting it off entirely. Either that, or it's crashing and no one is telling me.

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