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I'm too chicken to listen to my own unprofessional presentation style, but if you're interested in what I talked about in Minneapolis, you can listen to it here: http://www.kellistaley.com/2005/11/podcast-tech-trend-anonymous-library.html

Since it's Creative Commons licensed, you can edit out my pauses, bleep out my quite considerable profanity, repackage it, or merely create a YTMND out of it.
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Written yesterday, posted today:

I woke up at 4am to boot up my brain before shutting down the servers back at the office some 1300 miles away. With a minor exception (the newest servers without VNC on them yet), it went smoothly.

A heat wave would raise the temperature to almost 60 before a tailgating cold front brings snow in a few days, but I walked six blocks to the train in 40-degree weather. I'm sure I looked like a wimp in my tan trenchcoat, but I wanted to stay warm if I could.

I reached the airport over three hours early, got oriented, and decided to get a bit of exercise. I walked to the farthest gate on Concourse A, then back across the central mall, and down to the farthest gate on Concourse G.

By the time I finished, I was quite ready to stow my heavy backpack in the lockers. $2/hr is worth it, and seeing my thumbprint displayed on the screen was kind of neat. That thumb, plus a six-character code on the receipt, will let me retrieve my bag.

Thus unencumbered, I repeated my little jaunt -- a mere mile and a half each time, the information desk told me -- and had the pleasure of helping a tourist be in the picture with his family. I also got to sample Leiniekugel's Red, a lager with an interestingly sharp clear taste and banana esters. I could be wrong about the esters, though, since I did eat an actual banana between walks.

While I waited and wandered, I got a call from the office saying that the air conditioner upgrade had gone well and quickly, the servers were all running again, and the server room was now a proper 69 degrees. If we can cough up $20-30k for a proper centralized backup, it'll finally be up to snuff. And if not, I guess I can hack together an AMANDA network.

I stopped halfway back to Concourse A for a pint of Leiniekugel's Honey Weiss (filtered, sadly) with lemon at TGI Friday's. Since it's about the only restaurant in the airport not owned by the same company as all the rest, a pint of decent brew is under $5. That wouldn't buy a Bud anywhere else in MSP.

Since the flight home was 48% full, I traded my exit-row seat for one of the many empty rows in the back. Flying is even more fun with satellite radio (although it's clearly prerecorded and synced on the ground like other in-flight audio). We took off as I was listening to "Wonkavator / End Titles" from _Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory_, soaring into "a world of pure imagination". (Yes, the end title is instrumental, but it quotes richly from "Pure Imagination".)

Later in the flight, I switched from the Cinemagic movie soundtracks channel to Bluegrass Junction. Bill Monroe played or would have recognized almost all of it, but Hayseed Dixie's cover of "Feel Like Makin' Love", mixed in with the more traditional tunes, delighted me.

During most of the flight, I reviewed and made thorough notes on the study guide from yesterday's class. HIP 4.x's architecture of abstractions is really a lot more useful than HIP 3.x's. I have a sinking feeling that there are global settings that should have been delegated to a smaller scope -- what if only some of our libraries want to allow borrowers to get e-mail when the library gets new items on a particular subject, by a favorite author, etc? -- but generally it seems useful.

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Matt Hensler takes his newfound fame in stride



Sirsi-circuit celeb Matt Hensler confided to a co-worker that there were no good photos of himself on the web. You can't say that anymore, Matt!
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"I totally broke this on a customer once. I was their installation consultant, which is scary." -- Eric Graham

"PRO-ject if you're in Canada, PROJ-ect if you're in the U.S." -- Eric Graham

"I offered Steve Orton the chance to come in and type for me, but..." -- Eric Graham

"There is no P.I.P. [purge inactive patrons] in Horizon, and don't even talk to me about BIM-port!" -- Eileen Kontrovitz

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I'm closing the loop on the blogosphere by noting that I am apparently the canonical Dynixland example of a geek who solves problems because he's got an itch to scratch and shares the solutions because it's asinine to do otherwise:
If there's one thing the open-source movement has taught us, it's that innovative ideas, true competitive levers, often aren't found at businesses. Nowadays, they hide in new places: nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations, end-users with an "itch," social networks of folks with common interests, and sometimes a creative individual like a Ted Nelson or a Linus Torvalds. Or Ben Ostrowsky.
-- http://www.gordian-knot.org/index.php/2005/11/08/the-seven-imperatives-of-sirsidynix
(emphasis and links mine)

In an extremely humble way, I insist that the Linus Torvalds comparison is much more apt, because while he does good work, it's really the community of users -- and I want to emphasize the term community -- who make Free Culture work. If you've read Grapevine: The New Art of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing (and if you haven't, perhaps your library will have a copy that you can borrow), you know that it's people like you who make the real difference.

I can invent a barcode generator that prints PDFs for cheap Avery labels, but it's the users like you who tell school librarians that it's a great way to save money (especially if you cover your labels with library tape anyway).

I can write an article on and share it freely with a license, but it's up to you to share the ideas with others and implement it yourselves.

So what's the next big thing that we can all do together? I'd like to see us encourage RFID vendors to establish an open standard for library RFID tags. Oh, sure, there are ISO specifications for how to transmit data over RFID, but (this may shock you; it shocked me) there is no standard for which bytes represent an item barcode, or anything else about the format of the data being transmitted.

One vendor may encode the library barcode as a hexadecimal integer; another may use plain ASCII, one byte per digit. One vendor may put the barcode at the beginning of the data, another may put it at the end, and a third vendor might encrypt it. How would you like it if a third of your books arrived at the cataloger's desk with the table of contents on page 37 and some vendors put the Cataloging-In-Publication data in pig-Latin just to compete with other book jobbers?

Or here's an idea that could be done pretty easily -- if you know enough about podcasting to be dangerous, and you have users who would like to create their own podcasts, why not create a community broadcasting room? All you need is a small study room with a computer, a decent microphone, and a pop filter.

There's already a great Free Software audio editor (the aural equivalent of a word processor or a photo editor) called that will let your users clean up the sound if they choose to, and if you know enough to help them podcast, you'll be leading your community's techies onto the bleeding edge of Free Culture.

Bottom line: although I'm flattered to be compared to Linus Torvalds, it's my fellow librarians who ought to be more flattered. Linux users have rewritten the rules of information technology simply by telling others when they've found something good, and helping each other when things aren't that good.

At the risk of stealing material from Christ, I encourage you to go and do the same. If you don't have a blog, get one and get comfortable with it. Join a mailing list and ask questions. If you see a question you can answer, do it. It is so not about me. It's about you.

Forward this to your colleagues. Keep building strong communities of library people who care about each other. It's what we humans do best.
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The pharmacist said that I probably don't have anything that would care about antibiotics, so I've got some DayQuil and NyQuil, and I'm going to make sure I fall asleep right after dinner. WIth any luck I'll get enough rest to feel better before I have to go get my congested ears blown out on a plane.

Fortunately, I've only missed today's first session. It was one I really wanted to go to, though. I'll have to see if it's being repeated later.
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This afternoon's session on internationalization (or i18n, as geeks call it) was a lot of fun. The new catalog software apparently allows you to supply translations of words and phrases that will be used by people who want their library catalog to appear in Canadian French, Armenian, Chinese (simplified and traditional), etc.

I made a lot of suggestions, since I'm a linguistics geek. For example:

In English and other left-to-right writing systems, it makes sense to offer links like this:
< previous | next >
But in Arabic and Hebrew, it might make more sense for next to be on the left, since that's where the next page is.

Phrases like "You are logged in as " assume that the user's name should come at the end of the sentence. But in some languages, you can't just translate one phrase and follow it with a name, you have to embed the name into the phrase: in the name of Ben Ostrowsky are you logged in. And that's ignoring the languages in which "you are logged in" might be worded slightly differently if the user is male.

And then there were the non-linguistic suggestions like "Hey, if you give us an Export/Import function, then we can share our translations with each other without having to retype all these phrases one at a time."

The presenter said that they obviously need someone like me working for them, and said he knew of a house for sale in the vendor's hometown. I'll stay in touch with them about the idea, since we'll be moving when Jodi picks her next school. Since they already have offices all over the place, they probably would allow telecommuting, especially if my job would involve interviewing native speakers to make sure that we get things translated properly. (You don't want to translate that "Home" link as "Casa", for example. The Spanish equivalent means "main page".)

Some sort of winter-wonderland cocktail hour is starting soon. I saw them setting up Christmas trees, pastel castles, and the like inside the main ballroom. I'll go check it out to get some good pictures and use my free drink ticket. After that, I'll probably go to sleep early. There's a walking tour of Loring Park that meets at 6:30am, and if my knee's up to it, I want to see if I can find the Loring Park Micro geocache.

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sylvar: (Did you hear? (Utena))
I arrived slightly late to the general session this morning, but found a seat and listened to the presentation. It all sounded good, but the real applause came when we saw a live demo of the serials prediction calendar -- an actual one-year calendar that showed you exactly when each issue was expected. Judging by the applause, I'd guess that this feature has been needed for a while.

My presentation went well, I think. At one point I tried to think of a segue and finally just said "Okay, I don't have a smooth segue, so I'll just admit it. Next, I'd like to talk about law enforcement..." I got lots of questions and suggestions, but my favorite was from an Albertan librarian who said "We don't actually have the Patriot Act where I'm from, but let me ask you this: Are you trying to get around the Patriot Act by offering anonymous library cards?" I repeated the question on-mic and answered: "Yes, sir, we are." Brought down the house. I think I got more applause on that answer than on my presentation!

After lunch at the cool kids' table, I attended bits of two other presentations before realizing that they weren't actually boring, it was just that I was coughing too much (and my knee was hurting too much) to pay attention. So I'm back at the hotel, a block or two away, and I'll try to rest up so that I can go back for the last set of sessions -- or at the worst, make sure I'm in shape for tomorrow.

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sylvar: (Hmmm. (Giles))
So here it is, the morning of my presentation on anonymous library cards, and my throat is congested and raw AND my right knee hurts a bit. I know I can get through this presentation, but I'm not sure I should.

If I give the presentation and end up hoarse the rest of the week, that'll suck. On the other hand, it's possible that I'll end up hoarse anyway and it's a good thing my presentation was scheduled for the very first slot so I could still give it. Or maybe, if I duck out, I'll be saving my voice and avoiding further damage.

Well, I guess I'll probably give the talk. It's probably only going to be about 15 minutes, so that shouldn't kill me. And I do really want to evangelize.

The things I do for CODI...

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I'm really enjoying my trip so far. I was sure that I'd get my bag searched, what with all the wires and gadgets, but security was a doddle. While waiting for the plane, I managed to catch a few good photos (as you may have noticed).

Unfortunately, the ballyhooed satellite radio was missing from the Boeing 717-200 that took me to Minneapolis. I wish their amenities were as predictable as their safety record, but I was at least pretty comfortable, and that's a noteworthy accomplishment. I had help from SeatGuru in figuring out which seats were the best on that particular plane.

I took Metro's Hiawatha Line from the airport to downtown. Instead of waiting around for a bus (they come every 30 minutes on Sunday, but much more often in weekday rush hours), I hoofed it about half a mile to the hotel. My fingers were pretty cold by that time, but I managed to sign in and check out my swanky room. Doesn't every hotel room need a king bed and a hot tub? And doesn't every hot tub need a champagne bucket?

A couple on the train told me about Seward Co-Op, where anyone can shop and members get discounts and profit-sharing. It's a good place to find organic groceries, and I stocked up for the week. I stopped next door to get pizza, but settled for miso soup to go as the kitchen was already closing. Guess it's more of a breakfast-and-lunch place.

My bus driver on the way back was the same friendly Cameroonian-American guy who, on the way out, had been talking to a Somali traveler in French and English. The driver also speaks German, but I was satisfied to say je suis un tourist and manage to be understood despite my total lack of classroom education in French. I didn't even catch the guy's name, but Metro driver 64054 was a great welcome to a city that's not nearly as Scandinavian as a Garrison Keillor fan might imagine.

Now, back in the hotel, I'm having dinner: half a baguette with fresh mozzarella and "cranberry 'n' stuffing" flavored Tofurky, and a noodle bowl. I'm hoping to get enough protein to support a walk on the treadmill, but I think I got a pretty good workout walking around downtown -- a mile or so, anyway. I tried to find a geocache but didn't see it (presumably under lots of freshly fallen leaves). Perhaps some morning I'll try a webcam cache, which requires the help of a friend to take my picture. Anyone willing to take my picture some morning this week when I phone you? I don't think I've done a webcam cache before, so this should be fun.

I'll keep posting photos, though probably only two or three per day. If you want more, you'll have to look at my Flickr page.
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Today I packed a rolling suitcase and a backpack with almost all the gadgets a modern Pharaoh would be entombed with: GPS, digital camera, PDA, cell phone, laptop, and cables to connect them all. Then I watched

Tomorrow morning I'll drive to Orlando to take a plane to Minneapolis. You can track AirTran Flight 870 to see where I am. (It should leave around 10am Eastern time.)

I'll be at the CODI 2005 conference, presenting on a panel Monday morning, and learning from speakers through Wednesday. Thursday I'll get trained on a product that doesn't exist yet, and Friday morning I'll shut down almost all the TBLC servers in Tampa around 5am Minneapolis time so that new carpet can be installed in the server room. Then I'll fly home, and assuming that no asshats decide that Veterans' Day would be a peachy time to fly a thousand-mile nonstop jumbo jet into the Mall of America, I'll be home right around rush hour. Those of you who have driven in Tampa during rush hour may wonder which would be the kinder fate.

Meanwhile, the revolution will be blogged with the canonical tag on Flickr, Technorati, and other tag-aware sites.

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