shoe's blog

I hope this isn't any indication of what today will be like

I found a message in my bulk mailbox on Yahoo!:

Do you like to masturbate?

I wanted to respond:

I wear glasses, don't I?

I sure hope that isn't any indication of what today will be like.

I am in special collections today. It should be a nice quiet keel, compared to the issues we're facing in the main building. Perhaps it's time to bring the custodians back to act as bouncers in the library. The thing is, they can tend to get a little overzealous.

Choose your evil, shoe!

I haven't been in special, it seems, forever. I changed the toner in the microfilm machine a few weeks ago, and then I had to switch with someone because a class was coming in, then, of course, was my time in the big house.

Today I'm not going to worry about the fact that two of our catalog machines are being finicky, and I'm just going to concentrate on getting the bureaucratic stuff that comes with this job done.

Sometimes I like the bureaucratic stuff.

In a way, though, I do wish I was at reference today with the kids... I'd like to see their reaction to the Cooler software. I should probably burn off a note to people on reference when the kids inevitably come and tell them the computer's broken.

I wish I knew exactly the effect the software is going to have. It seems to block downloading/viewing of attachments, as well. Which is fine with me. The problem then? I didn't configure it to. I am glad it happened, I just wish I knew why. I am a big one for knowing why things happen.

The assistant director and I had a conversation. When the public kills the old staff PCs I put out, and the Mac TA is introduced, I think it's time that we purchase Macs for PACs. (Wow, does that sound like a grant name or what?) I really like the way you can limit and configure OS X. Why? Becauses it's UNIX! Mwahahaha! Plus, the design of an eMac is beautiful for public use. The old iMacs were good too, but they made them look a little too spiffy this time around and I'm afraid they'd break easier or get stolen. Mostly get stolen.

People just don't know what to do with Macs, at least, not in our community. My husband says, "That's usually not a selling point, you know." It may be true, but there are no disk drives to shove illegal disks or foreign objects in, no towers to kick... It's a thing of beauty.

Leave it to the library to make me a Mac person.

Macs for PACs. I like it.

Drag and Drop

Thanks to kctipton for the subject line idea. Dragging and dropping is sort of how I feel right now. The new meds are making me sleepy and a little nauseous.

But I made it, and the internet is back. I don't think anyone put the math together that when I reappeared the internet soon followed.

I got Cooler working on the computers. I like it. I disabled all saving. So tomorrow, when the punk ass kids come in and try to send pictures of rappers and sneakers and god knows whatever else to each other, they'll get a brick wall.

back to the grind

Today I go back to work. I'm a little nervous, actually. I always get jittery after I've been out for awhile, like after a vacation or whatever. This time was definitely a big "whatever."

I hope that they decide to take me off the desk so that I can get the computers up and running. Although now that I've figured out the Cooler software, it shouldn't take too long to configure everything.

I still think I am going to wait till four to bring it all back up. Our post-four pm patron crowd is considerably more mellow than our day crew.

library - internet access = quiet

I just got an email from the assistant director. Yes, we all are geeks and check our email on weekends.

He said he was glad I was feeling better and that the library has been quiet without internet... and that the staff enjoyed it thoroughly. Some patrons, I guess, were less than thrilled.

CiL June Issue

The CiL June issue might as well said on it, "You will use every article in this magazine at some point or another."

The introduction by Kathy Dempsey mentions some challenges that systems people face. She says, to paraphrase, "You may face one or all of these challenges."

Shoe, sitting in back half asleep, suddenly wakes up and starts yelling, "Me! Me! You're talking about me!"

I wish we had the budget and the layout that we could have used DiscoverStation. Basically it's a Linux system that runs off one PC and powers about ten thin clients as internet or whatever kiosks. It's Linux, dammit, what's not to love? Looks a lot like it runs a desktop similar to Gnome (and does use the Galeon browser). If we ever have money to revamp the whole system, I'd love it.

But the truth of the matter is, I'm tied to the server we have until it's useful life is done. I was hired about a year too late. I would have spent our new computer money (if in fact my new computer request went through) on this, but there are a few things against me.

The staff really needs new computers. Not the public. The library can't run properly without the staff having functioning machines. The library can run, believe it or not, with only three internet terminals. Or, if the systems librarian has the black plague, and our license is out, no internet terminals. Indeed it can. I drove by work today, and the library was still standing.

Our library was built in the mid-nineties, and no one really knew where the PC was going at that point. Well, some people did, but not our architects. The building is wired, yes, but not wired particularly logically (sigh) or well. So that limits us greatly.

The DiscoverStation sales rep that contacted me awhile back was nice... but I had to turn him down for the above said reasons. And cost. Sure, it's probably cheaper in the long run. In fact, I know it's cheaper in the long run. But with what we've got invested and what we've got to pay, it wasn't worth it.

So I'm eagerly awaiting my new boxes. I imagine they'll be here in a few weeks. Then I can take the middle of the road boxes that we have and shove two of them out on the floor for word processing, and maybe one more internet terminal.

I am hoping, believe it or not, that the little problems we have been having with the internet users' behavior continue a bit... I want concrete proof that taking away the table from the reference area will not effect the crowding behavior we get.

Because face it, what's a reference area without a place to plant your butt?

work email

I suppose it's good I couldn't have my wireless iPaq in the hospital, because all I would have done was check work emails... Well, and LISNews, of course, but the work emails probably would have caused an aneurysm or something. Everyone at work is great, of course, but the guy that we have to go to to get our TA software and print station stuff is a real piece of work. The guys at OCS, as always, are great.

It took me three months to get a stinkin' toner cartridge out of the printer guy and he's a town over. It takes, on average, three days to get the photocopier fixed. However, when I didn't get back to him in two days about purchasing the TA software, and OCS made moves (nicely, not aware that there was a problem on my end) to extend my license, he had a mini-hissy fit. At least, that's the tone I read into his email.

He said that this could be done much faster if he were kept apprised of what was going on.

Heh, perhaps I should send him my medical charts.

I wrote back to him, cc'ing the email to my boss, politely saying that sometimes life gets in the way, and that I was in the hospital and unable to check emails.

I wanted to add:

P.S.: What's your excuse been these last five months I've been dealing with you?

I am thankful for the long weekend to recover from the hospital, but I think I will be more thankful to return to work. I was actually sort of missing my patrons.

Well, some of them.

Also giving some thought this weekend to my dear friend and ex-co-worker, Ken Clark. Poor kenclark is stationed in Iraq this year. He was a bright spot in a job that totally sucked. I am worried about him (he was caught in a firefight the other day. Sheesh), but this is something I alternately think he either very bravely or foolhardily chose to do. Most of the time I think bravely.

He wrote to me last week and said he was expecting a wild month in Iraq. Let's hope he's wrong on this one.

Evil Eva

The poll brought me some fond memories of high school. (Yeah, right, like there are any fond memories of high school)... Our high school librarian, Evil Eva.

My first run in with Evil Eva was in seventh grade. I didn't know her name was Evil Eva, she didn't introduce herself that way or anything... so I called her Truffle-Hunter, because she was very troll like in appearance. Okay, I am five feet flat, but I towered over Evil Eva. She also looked like one of the troll dolls that were real popular at the time... The nose, the eyes that looked frickin huge through the glasses, and the hair. I mean, it wasn't fluorescent pink and standing on end, but it was fairly big for an old broad.

So I went along calling her Truffle-Hunter till I was kindly corrected by Peggy M. that her name was really Evil Eva.

This was back in the day when they actually taught library skills in school. I am thankful for it now, and wish that school librarians had the time, funding and resources to be able to do that now. Hell, most schools are lucky to have libraries. But man was it hell at the time, especially with Evil Eva.

First off, she made us memorize the Dewey numbers. They didn't even do that at Simmons, dammit. Then she yelled at me because I asked the girl next to me why the entry on the card didn't have initial caps. (Ah, yes, that's me, anal retentive enough to wonder about this as a seventh grader). I got yelled at, and the girl next to me asked my question and got lauded for noticing. Double damn you, Evil Eva.

In eighth grade she taught us how to do research papers. She also had the second half of the library usage training, which I do so now appreciate. I kicked some serious ass on that section. I knew better than to ask the girl next to me any questions I had at that point. Nothing like the wrath of Eva. I had a 98 average for the end of the unit. I got praise showered upon me from her Evilness.

There were various run ins with Ms. Evil, MLS, for the next four years. She told me I couldn't graduate unless I paid my fine. Two cents. I was ripped about it at the time. I would have felt much better about it, honestly, had it been a dime.

Most of the teachers were frightened of her. Bad way to run a library, really. They would assign papers and suggest we go to the public library. They would avoid the library themselves. In fact, the only person that ever seemed to genuinely like Evil Incarnate was my eighth grade English teacher. She was one of those really PC people (and this was before PC was cool) who liked everybody, even if she really didn't like everybody. If you read me.

She retired the year after I graduated. The reign of terror had ended. God knows the history and language departments breathed a sigh of relief.

In other news:

Thank you all for your well wishes. I also got a get well card from my coworkers. They rock. You all rock.

And yes, I am an internet addict. All I could think was, jeez, why won't the doctor let me use the computer on his little cart in his office. That, and I really wanted to take apart the pulse oximeter. It certainly looked like it had a USB plug.

No, I didn't quit

Got to get a little rest and relaxation in the hospital getting my brain scanned and poked and vivisected and stuff.

I got a lot of reading done, since you sure as hell can't sleep in the hospital.

So far as I know, they have been without internet all week at the library. I had my husband call in with any thing I thought of that needed to be done while I was in the big house. If it makes the patrons feel any better (which I'm fairly sure it won't), the systems librarian was also without internet access.

Will resume normal journaling from here on out.

Yet another day without technology

I am sick today. No migraine this time, no. I have a chronic something or other going on that I'd rather not go into, and sometimes the medicine doesn't do squat. Today it's doing less than squat.

I am trying to do as much as I can from home, but it seems as though the vendor that sells us the TA software (we don't get it directly through the company, although I wish we could) doesn't want to send me the quote in writing, he wants to talk to me on the phone. And when I feel like this, everyone gets the silent treatment. Even my poor husband. So I'm not calling this guy.

when will the internet be back?

Honestly, I think after the week we've had, our logins exceeding the number allowed by the temporary license was a real good thing. I think we all needed the sanity break.

Of course, technology has a place in the library, but I think it's reached a crisis point where I am. I realized how much what I do is tech support... Why can't I reach Google? Why can't I save this document? Why is this computer so slow? And whereas I think computers in the library are fine when people are doing legitimate things, like looking for jobs, or even talking to family members in other parts of world, I feel like a lot of our bandwith is sucked up by people sending pictures of sneakers and hot chicks to the kid sitting next to them.

And honestly, not all the librarians agree with our policies on the internet. So they don't enforce it. So the people get mixed messages, and my machines take a lot more abuse than they should. I have made a new rule for myself. Never, never, never, will I ever put a new machine out on the public floor again, with perhaps the exception of a Mac, which actually seem more durable than PCs.

People hate the Macs. I think I know why. For the same reason they hated my Linux box. It's damn near impossible to really get into any trouble on them. Of course, we have some real old Macs too. The newer ones I want to slowly upgrade to Panther, the older ones... Well, if the staff hadn't needed computers so badly, I would have bought a couple of iMacs or eMacs, whichever looked sturdier and harder to walk off with (the new iMacs are visually stunning, and because of this I wouldn't trust them not to get stolen).

I am the systems librarian. I love technology, and I like people to learn about technology. It makes my job easier. I like people that are willing to learn. However, the word librarian does appear in the phrase systems librarian... And I also like to help people find books, should they be more appropriate (and often times they are). I like to have peace in my library. I like my patrons to be able to use the computer, and I like them to feel like it's safe, comfortable place to do so. That is, I don't want a pack of people standing around staring at them while they use the computer.

Does anybody's library use privacy screens, and has it really helped patrons feel more secure?

That being said, I don't want them feeling too safe. It's unbelieveable how many people willing put credit card and bank information in a public access terminal.

So all day Saturday, and I expect all day tomorrow, I am faced with people asking, "When will the internet be back?" Right now I'm shooting for Tuesday morning, but I make no guarantees. It depends on how quickly the licensing can get moving. And I tell them, "Right now it looks like Tuesday morning, but it depends on when tech support gets back to us." There's not a tech problem, at least, at this point, there doesn't appear to be. But I'm not going to tell them it's working and that there's a licensing lapse. I do wish the software threw up a bit of a warning that I was approaching the limits. Or perhaps it did and no one told me. But I don't think so.

I still have yet to configure my new software. I've figured out how to configure it, but I'm having a hard time getting it to actually work off the bat. I've emailed tech support, who tried to sell me another product (which we already have) and they sort of blew off my question.

I'd like to disable minimizing the browser window. Kids like to minimize when they're looking at something they shouldn't and I walk over.

If I could get the Word Processors (once we can manage to replace them) on the print station that would make my day...

take the money and run

I solved the server problem. Blush. After going back and forth and back and forth, I nailed down that the host file was missing. So I drafted a huge letter to tech support. Then I thought, damn, the license... I bet the license is maxed out. We were still on the trial period. So I switched back to the printing license and whamo! Works fine.

Well, no TA. And I'm sure as hell not putting the old fashioned sign up sheet back. Holy crud.

So I've got to nail down the prices and get the software this week.

Take the money and run, part deux.

Rain! Rain! Please!

Rainy days are historically quiet at the library. I am hoping for rainy days. I am also hoping I got put on reference for most of the afternoon rather than info. At reference I can steal private moments with the server. It's hard to get things done when there is no time to do it.

I could handle another day off. I guess that's what the long weekend next weekend is for. But jeez, that's a whole week away.

Shortly after that we go to our summer schedule, which involves no Saturdays. Yay.

Technology Free Week--Working Saturday

Tomorrow should be fun without the internet. I could enjoy it more, though, if I actually had a clue how to fix my problem. The Cooler software isn't such a big deal, I'll figure that out eventually, it's the fact that Windows Update totally fubared my server. At least, I think that's what happened. And it seems to be one of those updates that just... goes on to your hard drive and you can't uninstall it. You know the ones, the happy little globe with the Window on it. Fooking Windows.

Backups? Right. I do have backups, actually, but didn't occur to me to do it before the Windows Update. So I'd lose all my TA configuring.

Besides, it might not be Windows Update. The server was acting squirrely beforehand. First it was the printer software acting funny, then it was the blasted server that didn't want to recognize that I was starting a service. I'm concerned.

The server builder isn't real reputable in my book. They've given us shoddy boxes before. I'm fairly sure it's a software issue at this point though. But I'm not ruling out anything. Between multiple meetings yesterday and several hours on the desk, it was only 5:30 before I realized that, yes, all our computers are having problems. Ah, the joys of many hats.

On top of that, the problem seems to be the client, not the server. At least from the error messages I'm getting on the client. Hmmmph.

Doing a pretty good job, for me, not thinking about it today. This is the first time I seriously gave it any thought.

Being Saturday, I'll have no time to get anything done really. And it's all over for me if I have to contact OCS's tech support. They work Monday through Friday. I honestly don't forsee any internet access before Tuesday, at the earliest.

I know we offer internet as a service, and it's good to consistently offer the service, but sometimes we have to go down. My once a month computer maintenance day is necessary, which I don't think people realize. And I can't help it when something blows in town and we lose the internet server at the network. I have no control over that.

I finally had one guy that had a clue say to me, "Can I get the catalog even though you don't have internet?"

The internet itself isn't affected... it's the print server and the Timed Access module. Like I said, everyone can ping everyone else. It's a messed up initialization file somewhere I have to find and fix, I think. I think. That's the theory I'm going on now anyway.

But putting the computers up with no timed access and no printing is like throwing them to the lions.

I also have a mouse that needs to be replaced. How long do mice last at your library? Ours last, on the PACs, on average, about three months. Ball mice don't last quite as long, but are cheaper. Opticals last a little longer, but I've caught kids (and adults) picking them up and staring into the the red laser. Ahem.

librarian mode kicks in at home

No, I didn't catalog my book shelves. Yet. It would be a good exercise for me though.

After a bear of a week, I came home to the neighbor kid playing in our water garden. The neighbor's kid name is "Small, blonde, and freaky."

So Small, Blonde, and Freaky says, "Why do you have rocks here?"

And all I can think of to say is "It's a weight to help you sink to the bottom faster and stay there."

But my husband was nice and said, "So we don't have to step on the flowers, like your're doing now."

Then he proceeds to teeter very close to the edge. I do not want to know what this kid falling in and drowning would do to our pH. The pond is about as deep as this kid is tall, seriously.

We have a big fence, which has a tiny hole that Small, Blonde and Freaky can fit through. Time to patch that up.

So my husband politely says, "Okay, we need to go in now, so you've got to go back to your yard."

SBAF says, "I can let myself out."

I'm ready to scream. Holy crap, kid, I don't want you back here. Your yard is huge, and I don't want you stepping on my flowers, throwing rocks in my water garden, spear fishing my koi (caught him trying it once) or falling and drowning, dumb twit.

"No," my husband says, ever so politely, "We don't want you out here without anyone to watch you."

I would have stopped with "We don't want you out here."

SBAF: "I let myself in and out all the time." The little bastard!

Finally librarian mode kicked in for me, "We don't want you to fall in and drown. So you have to leave. Now. Now."

"I'll go out myself through the hole."

My voice raised about three octaves. "Well then go out yourself. Go. Now."

My husband looked at me like I had two heads. I have never snapped at SBAF before. I mean, I've called him every combination of four letter words in the book in the house when I caught him spear fishing my poor koi, or throwing sharp rocks in with our plastic pond liner, or knocking the fountain over... or... or...

It takes a lot to get me to snap, at work or at home. One of our circ staff, who knows I don't do children, said, "You're good with the kids."

I'm good with the kids whose parents are attentive and watch them. They're going to act up, of course, they're kids. But I hate being forced into mom and dad's position. I didn't bring these little people into existence. And whereas in some ways, sure, it does take a village, discipline still begins at home.

I wasn't cut out for parenthood.

Children are like having really really intelligent and non-allergenic capuchin monkeys. I think I'll stick to snakes and fish and dogs.

oh, stool

That's what my husband always says when something is crappy. "Oh, stool."

Well, today turned into a stool-ish sort of day. It should have gone smoothly.

Newb System Librarian Mistake Number One: Hey, let's download some critical Windows Updates to Server 2003. Great idea, we'll run smoother and be more secure.

So secure in fact, that not a damn thing works.My server can ping my clients, my clients can ping the server and each other. But my software for printing and TA is fooked.

a nice quiet day ahead

How do I know? I am taking down the internet terminals! I am taking down the whole server, actually. I am hoping a gentle reset reminds it has to work correctly, not just work. I also had some of my tamper proof software delivered, so I'm going to tweak some settings with it. Disable a menu or two.

Because there was not plenty of advanced warning (my software came yesterday, and I'm so sick of the daily gathering around the computers I thought there was no time like the present) I am sure there will be complaints about my taking down the internet terminals all day. That's what they say... "It's going to take you all day to do that?" Yes. It is.

The truth of the matter is, I have three, maybe four hours to tweak to my liking. The server's gone AWOL on me, too. I think it needs a simple restart to jerk things back in motion, but I have a deep seated fear the problem is more serious. For some reason, our printer is working oddly with the software... all of a sudden. I'm fairly sure it's on the software's end.

The rest of the time, I'm doing librarian stuff like being on info or reference. Both jobs are much easier without the internet. Ahem.

Speaking of internet, I am having some stupid internet troubles at home, too. I know it's my crappy dial up connection, which I test to the max. I really should invest in broadband. Really.

Tomorrow is my Friday off. Yes! For some reason, this week was very taxing. I guess I did do a lot, between computer orders and the situation with our resident evils exploding. And the printer exploding, as well.

Evidently the springs that came out of the printer aren't terribly important, because it's working fine without them. I changed the toner, and all seems well. I am beginning to think that the springs came from the toner cartridge, since it wasn't readily apparent what they popped off of. And it would explain why the whole top popped up. It was really quite disturbing.

forget timed access, we need crowd control software

That's the conclusion I came to last night. Only thing is, no one seems to make that. It would be great stuff, I'm sure.

Imagine the market it would have.

Side note, nothing to do with libraries: Monster the pekingese has gotten himself stuck on the computer desk. He stepped up to take a nap on the lower shelf (literally a small doggie step, even for his stunted self) and now he can't seem to figure out how to get down. It's hard to have a brain the size of a pea.

librarian moment of zen

Or at least, when it all came together today.

As I was leaving, a librarian I have great respect for, a cataloger, and very smart lady, came across something I printed for a patron... The question was an interesting one -- how many states allow just one license plate. I found the answer through a link in the blessed Wikipedia. (Of course I tried print sources first). The cataloger took a look at the map (which would have gotten an A in my info design class) and said, "Where did you get that?"

I introduced her to the joy of Wiki.

somebody please shoot me now

It was a bad day. Bad day. First, the doors open at nine and in walks Edna. Names have been changed to protect the not so innocent.

Then, try as I might, one of the OS X Macs can see the print server, one can't. Neither can print. Software company has been apprised of the problem. Will be fixed in the next update. They'll let us know when that's out. Sigh.

I swear, reference was dead and I was moving people along nicely till three, when I was off desk. Then they all descended on the computers.

little do these kids know

And I think little does some of the staff know... That the assistant director is about three inches from pulling the plug from the internet terminals after school. At least that's my sense of it. He's a little ticked about the whole congregating in reference to stare at computer screens from a distance.

I'm a little ticked myself. I mean, I let them get away with a lot... probably more than I should. I figure if they're sitting at the reference table (not at the computer desks), and don't have their chairs twisted all the way around, it's okay. If they're talking somewhat quietly, it's okay. If they come over and say hi very briefly to their friend on the computer, I'm even okay with that. It's when they kneel there, or stand there, for more than about thirty seconds. Maybe I'm being too lenient.

I just feel like the internet nazi ("No internet for you!") and I feel like some people aren't backing me up on it. There are other people that will let chairs be pulled up to the computer desks. I mean, maybe I should buckle down that if you want to sit at the reference table and wait for a computer, you have to be reading a book. It wouldn't be unreasonable.

The truth is, I fear the wrath of the administration more than I fear the wrath of these little punkasses.

It's not even that some of them are necessarily bad kids, they're just kids who will press the limits. Because they're kids. Some of their non-regular library friends though... very bad kids.

I guess the problem is they're hanging out, and we don't want to be a hangout. Perhaps I should limit the computer to a half hour between 2-5. It would be hard to enforce, though. It would have to be enforced by circ, and they've got other things to do and are quite busy during that time period. The library card system would lend itself to that much more easily than the one time use number system. But perhaps it's worth a try.

I had a gentleman ask me the other day why he couldn't use his cell phone, but these kids could do the things they do. And he's right. Then he wanted to know why I moved the "nice, quiet, one hour" internet terminal. And I told him, honestly, it was so that we could keep an eye on it. I told him unsavory things were found on it from time to time. And he, equally honestly, said, "But the Access Denied window comes up when I go to those sites!"

Some people are too honest for their own good.

The Google Images loophole filter has been found by our YA kids. They take safe filtering off and can get pornographic Simpsons cartoons. Sigh.


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