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Good news bad news

The good news is, the printer station is in fact compatible with Macs, despite what the gentleman at the copier place said. The bad news: it's going to confuse the bejeebies out of our patrons. I mean, I'm a little confused, because my Mac knowledge is limited, and for some reason the print spooler prints to the monitor, not the printer. Go figure.

What the patrons will have to do is choose the printer in the Chooser. That scares me. There must be a way I can make an alias to the printer to find my way around that. I don't want people fooling around in the chooser, thank you very much. I think an upgrade to Panther may help this. If I recall correctly, the chooser is gone in OS X, and there's a printer only type tool. Not a "do you want to connect to the server here?" tool. The last thing I want is anyone connecting to (or disconnecting) the server, with the exception of staff. Some staff.

The assistant director wouldn't have it any other way. I can't blame him. Actually, I really appreciate that.

The bad news part deux: I'm not sure the staff is going to like hooking the Macs up much to the printer. It's not complicated once you know, but it is a pain the butt.

I have also been approached with the idea of turning some of our catalogs into ten minute email stations. I am thinking on it. It's not like people use the email station for email. It's not like our catalogs are all always being used. Sure, some people do use the email terminals for email. But most of them use it as a way to surf the net. If I could find a way to limit it, man, that would make my day. Short of making it hotmail only or Yahoo! only, though, it's difficult. Then, I could make one hotmail only, the other Yahoo! only and get on with my life.

The fact of the matter is, I often feel like we're running an internet cafe without the coffee and the charge. In a way that's as it should be, and in a way it bothers me.

You Got Feeds

You may notice all the journals have an button now. You may not notice, or ever care.

I've also had no luck enabling the ability to moderate and post in the same thread. I thouhgt it would be easy, but it seems to be a bit more difficult than I had hoped. Any know perl see something wrong with this?

sub _can_mod {
my($comment) = @_;
my $user = getCurrentUser();
my $constants = getCurrentStatic();
$comment->{time_unixepoch} = timeCalc($comment->{date}, "%s", 0)
unless $comment->{time_unixepoch};
return
!$user->{is_anon}
&& $constants->{allow_moderation}
&& !$comment->{no_moderation}
&& ( (
$user->{points} > 0
&& $user->{willing}
&& $comment->{uid} != $user->{uid}
&& $comment->{lastmod} != $user->{uid}
&& $comment->{ipid} ne $user->{ipid}
&& (!$constants->{mod_same_subnet_forbid}
|| $comment->{subnetid} ne $user->{subnetid} )
&& (!$user->{state}{discussion_archived}
|| $constants->{comments_moddable_archived})
&& $comment->{time_unixepoch} >= time() - 3600*
($constants->{comments_moddable_hours}
|| 24*$constants->{archive_delay})
) || (
$constants->{authors_unlimited}
&& $user->{seclev} >= $constants->{authors_unlimited}
) );
}

It seems like I just need to comment out a couple of those lines, but no such luck.

Moving beyond "They hate our freedom" - Crisis of Islam

Much of the conversation you will hear about America's troubles in the world center around two poles -- that of the President, who routinely says we are attacked because "They hate our freedom" and that of the far left, which has "America is finally getting payback." This last message is branded by conservatives as "blaming America first."

Today I'm recommending the book - "The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror" by Bernard Lewis, copyright 2003, ISBN 0-679-64281-1 because it points out the errors of both sides. This very readable book has an overview of the basic tenets of Islam in relation to government and relationships outside the faithful. As someone who has had a few mideast history classes, it seems fair to mainstream Islamic beliefs. If there's a Muslim out there who has read this book, please comment for us.

Mr. Lewis goes on to trace Islamic - Western relations from the time of the crusades to the present. He notes both Western and Islamic failures.

One of Mr. Lewis' points that may give some comfort to the "They hate our freedom" crowd is by pointing out that other countries such as Syria committed heinous crimes against fellow Muslims (See pages 107-108 for Syrian massacre at Hama, which killed at least 10,000) and yet are not censured by other Muslim nations or groups. As America is the strongest military power in the West, Mr. Lewis suggests we'd be in for some hate no matter what we do.

HOWEVER, Mr. Lewis also rightly acknowledges a vicious double standard held by both the United States and Europe that has led to much suffering and gathering anger in the Mideast:

"As many Middle Easterners see it, the European and American governments' basic position is: "We don't care what you do to your own people at home, so long as you are cooperative in meeting our needs and protecting our interests." - Page 107.

This American attitude in the Mideast exists today. Listen to the President whenever he speaks of greater democracy and freedom. He'll never mention our despotic friends by name. Think back to his November 2003 speech calling for democracy "from Damascus to Tehran." Why not Cairo to Riyadh? Or Cairo to whatever is the capital of despotic ally Turkmenistan? Until the President starts holding our undemocratic allies to real accountability, his rhetoric will ring false for me.

Sorry for the digression, but I didn't know where else to put it. Please read "Crisis of Islam." Especially if you are not familiar with Islamic government and jurisprudence. It is very interesting and relatively balanced.

If you're in the "They hate our freedom crowd," then know that this book is at the top of the Air Force Chief of Staff Professional Reading List. Aren't you curious why the military finds this book worthwhile reading?

Busting rock, um, er, um, ice blocks

In recognition of the cold, wet nastiness that was coming about yesterday, the university's Department of Public Safety issued an order for all resident students to remove their cars from parking lots by 0200 EST Saturday. The key reason for this was to allow maintenance staff access to the resident student parking lots to try to scrape down to pavement and remove as much ice and snow as they could. Singingbelle and I were both working for most of the day yesterday on items classes we are in that had due dates of 0000 EST Friday. At approximately 0015 EST today, Singingbelle and I departed our dungeons to head down to the lot by another residence hall to see how badly frozen in Singingbelle's car was.Singingbelle’s car was sitting on a thick patch of ice that was not there when it was parked about five days prior. Singingbelle and I both shared in the fun of trying to bust her car out. With a hammer swinging to bust the ice up and a shovel being used to move stuff away, it took over an hour for the car to be freed from the ice it was stuck on. Around 0130 EST, the car was loosed from that which held it in place and was removed from the lot.The Key Question: Where in library school do you learn enough about facilities management?Presumably if we both wind up at small public libraries in areas that get weather like this routinely, these will be needed skills, eh?

Things I never thought I'd say

Things I never thought I'd say (some redundancies here, some new. Skim as you see fit):

Honestly, I never thought I'd want to work in a library with a filter. The first library job I applied for had no filters, and I thought that was way cool. Now I'm wondering how they manage to keep complaints to a minimum and their computers running smoothly. Granted, our unfiltered terminal is a lousy P1 running Win98. It runs smoothly when it's off.

Now I want to throw a filter up on that baby. It's going to tick a lot of people off. But we don't put Hustler on the shelves for a reason, and I really think the computer should fly the same way.

I never, ever, ever thought I would hear myself say that.

Same thing with limiting time on the internet. It really ticks me off to see that Patron X has signed in eight times in course of eight hours for the internet. What do they do while they're waiting when we finally kick them off to give someone else a turn? They sit there in front of the reference desk and stare into space. For the love of crackers, people, this is a building full of books.

My husband Paul pointed out to me last night that what used to be about access for me has become about limiting access. Yes and no. Limiting access to a resource is opening it up to people who might not normally get to use it. It's no different than our policy to not renew books that have a waiting list. Enough harping, because I know I've harped on this before.

Today is my day off, but Paul is off table top war gaming (is this a geek house or what... he's off pushing fantasy army men across a board in a hobby store, and I'm a librarian at my computer using Linux) so I am going to be bored in about a half an hour. I figure when that time comes, I'm going to look for technology grants. I would like to bring some new computers into the library, honestly. Maybe be able to throw out that P1 chip box.

I've started taking inventory of all the dead boxes in the basement. I've removed memory from some, tried to get the CD ROM drives out of some others, but the way they're attached is making that a might bit difficult on some. Some are so old if I'm lucky they're quad speed. Basically my rule of thumb is: if it takes a serial mouse, it gets thrown out. We have no replacement serial mice. Is it really worth finding and buying an adapter? If I go into RadioShack or CompUSA looking for one, are they going to laugh when I leave?

That means most of the stuff in the basement goes. It's all 486s and dot matrix printers that were donations, hence, probably didn't work in the first place. Perhaps I'll spend some time down there and pull one of those quad speed CD ROMs. Just to say I did.

The city now has an IT guy! He's going to help if we decide to go wireless. Not if, it's a matter of when. But right now, there are bigger fish to fry.

Never try to pull a fast one on a librarian.

Library Rule #1:Never try to pull a fast one on the librarian who's been sitting at the desk for the last three hours. She's seen more than you think.

Library Rule #2: (Actually, this is more of an anywhere type of rule) If you're applying for a job, it doesn't win you points to say "I'm too lazy to attach my resume" to someone who is potentially going to be your boss. If you do it at the library while applying for the job of "librarian", that just makes the librarians laugh.

Library Rule #3:What is in the catalog doesn't depend on which librarian you ask.

These three rules were broken today. Poor, poor misled public.

At three o'clock, a couple of kids who probably shouldn't use the downstairs internet signed up to use it at four thirty. Fine. I didn't expect it would be real busy with the sleet we were having outside. I sat at reference from two to four thirty, when I was called away to cover info. As I came to info, the kids in question came into the reference area. Because they were physically wee tykes, the two young men monopolizing internet terminal eight ignored them when they said it was their turn.

I know these two young men, and their friends. One signs in, and the others gather round and stare at pictures of the first's girlfriend or sneakers or god knows what else online. Then, about twenty minutes later, they switch seats. Why?

So when the librarian asks, "How long have you been here?" they can say, "Ten minutes."

It didn't fly today. I knew that kid put his name on the sheet, and I knew he didn't erase the older guy's name. I knew they were taking advantage of the wee pup. So I kicked their butts off the computer.

Because it was so dead today I was letting them hang out together at the computer. I also allowed this because the freakin custodian wasn't around to make snide comments about the way I run the reference section. Yes, I understand in your day the library was silent. Today, however, it isn't. For the love of Pete, become a librarian if you want to change the library.

(I don't want to sound like a snob, really, but it gets old when he tells me, for the fifth time in a half hour, that he doesn't think a certain person should still be on the computer... Yes, complaint noted. Now go do something else.)

At info, somebody actually applied for a job and told me that they were too lazy to finish typing their resume. One thing I really like about this job, is that laziness doesn't fly here. People are always doing something. Even if you're at reference and there are no fist fights over the computers or reference questions, you're picking out books or cataloging or doing something. The woman in question applied for the job of "librarian." I was just imagining the look on my supervisor's face when I showed her that one. She is very very adamant, as they are at my library, about the distinction between librarian, administration, and support staff.

I told the person in question not to get their hopes up, but I'd pass it along. Of course, I totally forgot to pass it along. At least I honestly forgot... It wasn't that I was too lazy or anything. I've been a little preoccupied with ordering books.

A patron came in looking for a specific book. She asked the cataloger, who was manning info. I guess she didn't like the answer that the cataloger gave, because she came and asked me. Well, I am happy to report, that in the fifty feet between information and reference, the book in question wasn't returned, nor was it out of processing. So she got the same answer from me. Then she acted like we were incompetent.

I had told her she was two weeks too early... that was about the time it would be out on the floor. The cataloger said she'd put it on reserve and rush it through cataloging, and she could have it in a week. Of course, that won't do when you're assignment's due Monday.

My reference books have started to arrive!

Still feels good to be back...

After my extended 2 month absence, I am happy to be back. Lots of news out there, and good comments as well. I'm still getting some strange re-login problems on various pages, but they seem to have disappeared today after a good WindowsXP system cleaning.

Also, I've been listening to a lot of Björk lately (http://www.bjork.com/). Half MP3s, half MPEG videos. Keeps me typing, so that's a good sign. Check out the Björk video gallery at http://www.bjork.com/videogallery/ (QuickTime needed).

And so I was wrong on the end time...

The flood watch just got extended out to 2200 EST tonight. The fog is rolling in too. What a nasty day to be at library school...

Flood watch from snow...

Library school can be just oh so lovely at times. We've got a floodwatch until 1700 EST while also having had snow, sleet, rain, and just mush all over the campus from last night into today. Today is not a pretty day to go out when even Public Safety is ordering vehicles to be out of parking lots tonight so that Maintenance can get in to clean things out.

Louisiana, Texas, Arizona...hmm...places I may think of working at post-master's?

Mortage Matters

I've been shopping for a house since December, and so far I've found it an interesting game. One of the bright, if not the brightest, spots in this game has been Holden Lewis' Mortage Matters Blog. It's just fantastic. I love his style, and the blog format is perfect for this type of reporting. I learn not just which way mortage rates are moving, but why they're moving, and which way they're likely to move in the future. Things just make sense here. If you're in the market for a new house, or thinking about refinancing, I doubt you'll do any better than this site.

Viruses and the technologically challenged

The NYTimes has an article today called "Geeks Put the Unsavvy on Alert: Learn or Log Off" about how viruses lately seem to be spread (or caught, depending on your POV) by the same people's computers over and over. Tech-savvy people are getting more and more peeved at the supposedly knowledgeable folks who just can't help clicking on an attachment no matter how many times they've been told not to.

I wonder if libraries a serious vector for computer viruses. All those public terminals add up. I'll bet that a lot of libraries don't disable or remove email programs, leaving themselves open to viruses and all the maladies that go with them.

Story about the cage

My first library job required me to work in a cage. It was January 1990 when I discovered that one of my college roommates would not be returning to school (small liberal arts college in Ohio). I needed a new job because I was leaving the theatre department's costume shop where I had been previously employed. (I still can't sew, but I can catalog and organize costumes.) I new she worked in the library and that her boss was named Bev.

I went to the reference desk and asked for Bev. A small, 60ish woman approaches the desk to ask how she can help me. I explain that my roommate wasn't returning to school and that she probably didn't tell them. So, here she was, heartbroken that her employee wasn't returning (it turns out, she was a favorite)--here I was, needing a job. I ask to take her place on a trial basis--2 weeks. Walking away, I realize that I forgot to ask about the job.

The next day, I was showed the cage--the place where a computer, a modem, 2 desks, and the Government Document Librarian's office was located. The cage extended the length of a very long shelf and had a metal caged door that was locked--because of the computer, you see.

I became the student assistant for government documents. The library hadn't computerized its offerings, so I even got to use card catalogs. It was my by far one of the best jobs I ever had. I got to weed the collection, train other students, and process all of the government documents. Storage was on the top floor of the building where the college archives were located. In the summers, I would have to change into long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to work because the air conditioning was so strong.

I miss that cage. The modem made that modemy-sound when I had to logon to the network. I miss all those World War II posters and ration stamps that I organized. The librarians were always talking about books they had read and always seemed to be involved in local politics. I miss the praise I received from Bev when she said, "I'm glad you found us because you are even better than your predecessor."

Atlas shrugged

Well, no, the assistant director shrugged when I gave him my atlas order. And he filled it. The citizens of Malden will now rest assured that the Soviet Union and East and West Germany no longer exist. I'm not touching the Middle East or Africa with a stick. My geography isn't that good, and it changes daily anyway.

I scared the hell out of a patron. She brought me a call number and said, "Do you have this book?" And I said, without batting an eye, "Someone checked it out last night." I know because I looked all over creation for it. It wasn't readily apparent on the shelf (that is, I didn't write down the title and the call number was partially obscured, blush) so I went into the dark and scary closed stacks, where I still didn't find it, and then it turned it up right where it should have been the first time.

It's Black History month. Try to find a book dealing with a prominent (or in the case of my remembered call number, not so prominent) African-American this month @ our library. It's near impossible.

The thing that is bugging me is parents are coming in for their kids, and finding books that are less than age appropriate for their kids. I know this is not a new phenomenon. But this being my first outing in a library, public or otherwise, it still bugs me.

I did get to give mom and son a little tutorial about how risky the web can be for information. That made my day. I felt all official then.

I gave up my proofreading job three years ago. There was a lady that wanted me to proofread today. Right. She also wanted me to show her how to use a mouse, open a file, and how to get capital letters to appear on the computer screen. This was after she assured our paraprofessionals at the circ desk that she could use a word processor.

I guess, since this is the second day in a row it has happened, I have to draw my line in the sand. I'll help with little questions, like, I pressed this button and my formatting disappeared, how do I get it back? But when they start asking how to type, they probably shouldn't be on the computer. I have stuff I have to do. It doesn't involve proofreading your letters, lady.

There was another patron who had the decency to call and ask if we'd type papers. I told her no. At least she asked, and didn't demand. And she didn't show up expecting us to do it.

Tomorrow's supposed to be bad weather. I wonder how busy it will be. I work the information desk early, and the reference desk late. I am reference beyoch lately.

I am becoming one with server.

I got OS 9.1.2.5.3.8.65.77.3.7.4.2 working with our Windows 2003 server. I wonder if our print software really does work with it. I have my doubts.

A crazy country (USA)

United States of Absurdity. Sometimes I wonder what the world really thinks of us. Now the big flap is over Janet Jackson's half-time show. A woman is suing over the "injury" she suffered while being exposed to Janet's exposed breast. story here We're litigious and exasperatingly immature. When are we (USA) going to grow up?

In moderation

Do you guys know how hard it is to give away moderations points? COMMENT, COMMENT, COMMENT!! LOL

Next fiscal year

Next fiscal year we're planning on the time access software. It's a little too pricey to give a go now, unfortunately. Or maybe that is fortunate. It'll give us some time to get patrons accustomed to the idea.

My next plan is to get one of the old computers working, and make two more filtered internet terminals. I might just have to format c: (boy have I been doing that a lot lately) on the existing one (it's so old it has a serial mouse) just to get all the porn and crap that might possibly be on it off. Honestly, I'm sure there are viruses on there that our no longer supported virus software can't possibly catch.

I won't make my OS X mistake again though... I'll make sure our version of Fortres is compatible with 98 before I touch it.

I will also turn the terminal around, so that the screen is visible from inside the library. And it will be monitored for dirty things, which do in fact slip through our filter.

Less work specific: Yesterday a lady came in and stated, "You guys get new technology all the time, do you have any older computers you're selling?" I didn't laugh too much. But I smiled and thought, "Yeah, that's why half our computers are running Windows 98." I told her money was tight.

Bill and Melinda Gates money, over here, over here!

We do need internet education. I mean, we have internet education classes @our library (sorry, couldn't resist). People love them, and there is a waiting list. People still come in every day and need help locating the address bar in a browser. The assistant director, I feel, is right... You can only help so much. I'm not there to teach basic computer skills, I'm there to teach information skills. That being, if someone needs help with Google, fine. Or better yet, InfoTrac. But if someone can't close a window, well...

The same lady that told me we get new technology all the time needed help typing quotation marks. I didn't go to library school to be a typing teacher. Is it unreasonable to require some sort of familiarity with the technology (granted, typing isn't really the technology here)? You're not going to break a book by not knowing how to read the words. You can however mess up a computer.

How do you police that though? And how do you say no? I think it's in the nature of the librarian to be helpful when it comes to someone trying to learn something.

First time!

Hey, I just realized I've never posted in this crazy thing. I'm not sure I have much to share at this time, but I can't leave a feature unexplored. I have a LiveJournal and also a Blogger account but I am too lazy to post anything there. It's a bad precedent for the future state of this journal.

Feel free to leave me a comment or friend me or make me feel like I matter in some small way.

I'm back...

Well, I needed to take a few months off from everything extracurricular due to some pressing business projects. Since I'm self-employed, work hours extended to the evenings and weekends. If it's not my daughter or wife that I'm paying attention to, then it's my work. Everything else falls in when time permits. I've read lisnews everyday, just not a chance to comment, moderate or author. But I'm back. And it feels good.

Filters

Don't get me wrong, I like porn as much as the next girl (that came out wrong), but the more I think, the more I think the unfiltered terminal has to go. I have to do a test today, or tomorrow, or if I ever have time again, just to see the limits of the filtered terminal.

Which means I'm going to have to do searches for things that are dirty. Which I really don't want to do at work. I guess if that's part of the job, though. I just want to make sure, really sure, the filter isn't too restrictive. It doesn't seem to be, being primarily an offensive image blocker, not text.

The vernacular form of the verb to fornicate (a phrase borrowed from someone on one of my husband's newsgroups) isn't blocked by this filter. That's as it should be, if you ask me. But further investigation is necessary.

People have complained about the unfiltered terminal. People being what they are, leave nasty images on the screen for the next user (who may actually being doing something legitimate) to find. This bothers me. Plus the pop ups. For those you who have never gone to a porn site, they open sixty bazillion windows when you click on a link. Sometimes, there is no way to get these windows the hell off your screen, short of shutting down or hitting task manager (which of course, they can't do with our security software).

People aren't going to like this. The assistant director had a good point yesterday, when you give the public something, it's impossible to take it away. But I think it's a lot like kindergarten... We'll just have to explain that four or five people blew it for the rest of you, sorry.

Patrons have complained, about the porn, about the state of the machine. The machine demonstrates the chaos theory though. I cleaned it two days ago. Yesterday, the cookies and the spyware was a mess again. The cost in staff time of maintaining that one terminal is just silly.

What concerns me more is the time management software. People are not going to like registering with their library cards to use the terminals. But they'll have to deal. You need to have a card to take out a book. If anything, those computers are a lot more delicate, abused, and harder to replace than a book.

People might pay another $20 for a new copy of Mystic River. They're not going to want to pay $1,000 for the computer they zorched. But we've had computers zorched. And I sure as hell want to know who the last person that used it was. Not that I'd necessarily blame them, but to see if there is a pattern of destruction.

What worries me about the time software, too, is the difficulties the people might have in using it. People are endlessly confused about our print station. This will tie in the same way. There is going to be a learning curve.

On the other hand, people are endlessly confused by our sign up sheet. Evidently, if someone is already signed up for the time you want, it is acceptable to cross off their names and put yours in. Or if you really want to use terminal 7, it's okay to put your name in terminal 5's box. Then you can get all p'o'ed at the person using terminal 7 when they don't get up at exactly 2:00 and terminal 5 has been open for half an hour.

Ah, if only there were perfect solutions.

Peace in our time?

ALA, like Neville Chamberlain, has embarked upon a policy of appeasement with Castro's Cuba. Placation with furrowed brow, rather than an unseemly resolution that would neatly tuck the organization in the same bed of George Bush and John Aschroft. ALA will pass on this ménage a trois.

Instead we (at least I) get this email. Pasted with the pride only Chamberlain could have felt when his BOAC parked him, his haughty moustache, and his Berchtesgaden stationary amid a crowd of Londoners wanting peace. They didn't know better....we do. So I offer this reply given to me by ALA.

And so we have "peace in our time"?

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