Well I’m back from holidays. Actually I’ve been back for a couple weeks now, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had much time to think about posting. Partially, this is because I got home and immediately took out about 50 books from the library. Yay for fantastic libraries! With lots of English books! (sorry Montreal, you were a bit lacking in that department…). I had a gigantic reading list that I made after the CLA conference, so I’ve been working away on that, as well as reading a bunch of books from the Teen Survivor and Young Reader’s Choice Award book lists from the Edmonton Public Library. Since I’m interested in working with teens, if I end up working at a public library, I’m trying to keep myself up with the current programs around here. So here’s what I’ve read so far:
Another Kind of Cowboy, by Susan Juby
I quite liked this one, as it a) deals with horseback riding, which is something that I haven’t done nearly enough of these days, b) discusses relevant issues for teens, such as drugs, drinking, and homosexuality, and c) its set in Canada (w00t!).
City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare
This one was quite the thrill ride. I thought it was very engaging, and had fantastically written characters. There was lots of angsty teen relationship drama in this series as well, but it had a bit of an odd twist to it, so it was pretty interesting (and not just… angsty). In fact, the day after I read this one, I got the next two from the trilogy out, and read those too.
Next on this list for me to read are So This is How it Ends, by Tui T. Sutherland and Frost, by Nicole Luiken.
Young Reader’s Choice 2010:
The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart
This one is listed in the Junior section for the book awards, and I’m not quite sure if it really should go there. The ages of the characters are right, but the plot is quite twisty, and the book is LONG. Not that grades 4 to 6 can’t read long books, but I could see kids that have a bit of trouble with reading getting frustrated. Even I thought it was a bit hard to get in to at first, but the characters grow on you, and you want to see what crazy things they will try next!
The Alchemyst: the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, by Michael Scott
I just finished this one this morning (the next one is on hold for me!). A great book that brings in a lot of mythology and legend in to the present day. I bet kids who like the Percy Jackson books would like this series, and vice versa.
Schooled, by Gordon Korman
Gordon Korman = insanely awesome. ‘nough said. *digs battered copy of “This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall” off bookcase and giggles maniacally*.
Next on list: Skulduggery Pleasant: Scepter of the Ancients, by Derek Landy.
As for those books from CLA, I’m reading a couple of books that one of the presenters recommended. The presentation was called “Enhancing Engagement: Aboriginal Boys & Reading” and it was given by Dr. Barbara McNeil, who is from the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. Besides being a great session to go to (Prof. McNeil was a very engaging speaker, and you could see how dedicated and enthusiastic she was/is about the topic!), I got a massive list of books to read. So I’m in the middle of reading Will’s Garden, by Lee Maracle, and The Mystery of the Frozen Brains, by Marty Chan. Interestingly, Marty Chan is going to be doing a kid’s program at the Idylwylde branch of EPL tomorrow. If I had heard about it sooner (instead of this afternoon) I would have tried to borrow one of my nieces or nephews to sneak in
Well, its finally official! I got to add a few letters after my name on Wednesday. Convocation was a bit chilly, but well worth attending. I must say, this graduation has felt like a bigger deal to me then my undergrad convocation, and not just because I got a master’s this time around. I think its because I may actually be DONE now (at least for a while), whereas for my undergrad, I knew there was more to do, and it was just a step on the path. The ceremony was good as well. Not too long (which was impressive considering I think there were about 600 or so people graduation from the Faculty of Education), and the speeches were decent. There were a lot of my classmates there (more than I was expecting) so it was good to see everyone.
Anyways, I’m mostly posting to just let people know about a few housekeeping issues. I will be on holidays (driving home to Edmonton, via Halifax. The direct route, I know!), so I will probably not be posting very much since I suspect I won’t have all that much access to the net. I’m also going to be fixing both of my websites (this site and the Colchester Stables site) to get them up to proper web standards. They are both pretty awful, since prior to this last semester, my site building experience was entirely self taught (the Colchester site is full of table positioning. bleh!), and I really didn’t know that there WERE standards, let alone know how to follow them. I figure that since I want to apply for jobs that are tech related (ideally anyways) I should at least have my own websites done properly!
Just a few quick notes on other things, since I mentioned in my last post that I’d talk about Windows 7 once I had used it a bit more:
1) My ancient computer has NO PROBLEM running it. Its fantastic! And there is no way I’d be able to get Vista to run on here, so microsoft has clearly listened to people when they said to make something that can run with less RAM.
2) Its taken me awhile to get used to the organisational system (The whole “libraries” thing). I have only used XP before this, and they have changed quite a bit about how things work. One thing that has annoyed me somewhat is the left hand menu bar doesn’t seem to have as many options as XP does. I’m really missing the “File and Folder tasks” menu where you can click to move files or copy them to different locations right on the one window. With Win7 I find I have to keep a lot more folders open to move things around.
3) When I first installed it, transferring files to usb sticks and my external hard drive took forever. However, this was pretty much completely solved by getting rid of AVG and installing Avira. AVG is fantastic for dealing with viruses, but it made my computer sooooo slllloooowww. I tried to install Trend Micro (as students at McGill have free access to the complete program), but it wasn’t compatible with Win7. So back to Avira.
4) The bubbles screen saver makes me happy.
5) As does the desktop background settings. You can have your desktop background automatically change every 30 minutes.
6) Windows Media Player 12 is driving me nuts. Its a bit buggy, and they changed it too much. ggrrr. I can’t play dvds with it at all (it locks my whole computer up), so I had to buy new dvd software, which was somewhat annoying. Also, they’ve gotten rid of the mini player in the task bar. If you hold your mouse over the WMP icon, a little screen does pop up that you can then use to skip tracks and play/pause things, but that extra step is annoying me. Its not a huge deal, but it worked just fine before! And it seems silly to me to INCREASE the number of steps it takes to do something instead of DECREASING them. Usability fail. Oh yes, and editing playlists is also giving me trouble. You used to be able to click a button that said “edit in list pane” which would move your playlist over to the right hand menu bar, and then you could search for music to add in the main window and click and drag to the right hand menu to add stuff. I can’t for the life of me find that “edit in list pane button”. So you basically have to right click on the tracks you want to add, select “add to playlist” and then go and reorganise the playlist afterwards. Again, usability fail.
7) Its super easy to install drivers and things on the computer. I didn’t need any of my software for my printer or external keyboard. For the scanner Windows couldn’t find a driver directly on whatever they use to find drivers, but it popped up a website that had a link that went right to the Epson site. It even went right to the page that had the drivers for my exact model of scanner!
I like what they’ve done with the task bar (besides the WMP thing). The buttons are bigger, and the way it shows when you have multiple windows open works well.
9) Office 1997 looks really funny on an OS that is 12 years more advanced, however it works just fine! haha.
But I should get going. I have a pile of things to do, because its the CLA conference this weekend. I also have a couple friends from Edmonton staying over (one of whom was presenting at a pre-conference this morning. I hope it went well for her!), and I have to finish packing because I’m leaving Montreal on Monday. That is going to be really strange. I’ve LOVED living in Montreal, and I’m really going to miss it. But life goes on, I guess.
This just annoys me. Apparently people are all pissed off that the Windows 7 RC resets your default browser to IE, and doesn’t come with Firefox or an other browser. Give me a break. Win 7 is a Microsoft product. It comes with a Microsoft web browser. DUH. And lets face it, its not exactly rocket science to change your default browser or have to re-download a different one. /rant.
Speaking of Windows 7, I installed it on my laptop yesterday. (My ancient, slow, clunky laptop. The real test of a new OS! See how well it works on obsolete technology!) The install was very easy, and I had absolutely no problems setting things up. Its working well so far, and is very swanky looking, so I’ll probably have to post more about it once I’ve had more of a chance to play around with things.
This makes me kind of sad, and extremely nostalgic. Yahoo is shutting down GeoCities. I owe my whole interest in web design to GeoCities… In 1997 (man, that feels like so long ago!) my best friend and I decided to make a website for the two of us to share. I’m not entirely sure why, I think it was mostly because it was the ‘in’ thing to do back then, and it gave us an excuse to show off pictures of our horses. We called it “Zanheather’s Barn” if I recall correctly (which was a combination of Zani (my nickname) and Heather. It was that garish default blue colour, with white text and purple links, because we only knew how to use names for colours instead of the hexidecimal codes (could you even use those back then? no idea). And of course, it was full of awful blink tags, marquee text, little animations of horses galloping across the screen, rainbow coloured horizontal lines, and really crappy midi music (we were 14 year old girls after all…). Oh, and I think eventually we managed to figure out background images and got them from random clip art sites. Then later we used the site for our imaginary stables. There used to be (and maybe still are…?) all these horse games where a bunch of people would sign up with one person who organised everything, and then you would “buy” and “sell” horses and have shows with them, and you used your website to post profiles of the horses etc. It was the original social networking on the web for horse-crazy girls!
In 1999 or so, we grew out of that phase, and our joint site disappeared, but we kept up with designing websites. We started one for the stable that we both used to ride at, and then after I changed barns I made one for that stable as well (which I’m still maintaining, 9 years later! www.colchesterstables.com). We made the switch to the paid Yahoo hosting sites after the ads on GeoCities got too annoying (and we wanted our own domain). But GeoCities will always be important in my memories at least. Heather is gone now (she passed away in 2002), but I’ll never forget sitting in front of her computer in the basement of her house, drinking slurpees, listening to Green Day’s “Brain Stew” on full blast, and arguing over whether the main page should have a midi of “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” by Offspring, or “Peaches” by the President’s of the United States of America.
You know, never having spent much time looking at iphone’s, I never really got what the big deal with the applications was about. And then RIM came out with them. heh. For the record, apps are awesome! I spent a few minutes looking around the store until I found this gem:
That’s right, not only can I now play games on two computers, a Nintendo GBA and a DS, I can play trip-down-memory-lane-inducing 90’s computer games on my PHONE. (I used to have the 1998 version of RRT, not the newer 2003 or 2006 versions).
But since I couldn’t just stop there, I had to see what else I could find on the app store. I’m kind of broke right now (that whole “end of semester” thing and all), so I hunted around for a few free apps, and picked up these two:
I’m sure I’ll find more cool ones, but I’m definitely going to need to buy a bigger memory card at some point. That will have to wait for awhile though (since I’m broke). There is a Japanese language app that I really want, since I’m learning Japanese, but it’s too expensive for me right now. Otherwise, there are a lot of different things for the phone. Lots of games, music, and news apps, but also some dictionary/eBook type things (which I should probably talk about, since this is technically supposed to be a library blog after all, though its clearly mostly about tech and gadgets!). And, of course, some social networking apps. (Personally I’m hoping for TweetDeck to get on board). I think it might be neat for libraries to try and make catalogue interface applications some day. I’ve tried to use my CrackBerry’s web browser to check out a few OPACs, but it really doesn’t work out so well (at least not the ones I’ve tried!). Now, clearly someone with better programming skills than me would have to make this mythical app, but I suppose it could be something to consider.
But, next on the agenda for me is the LIS end of year party! I finally finished my classes yesterday, so expect a post about my library school experience in a week or two. (Still have a few assignments to finish). It seems a bit strange to think I’m nearly done a master’s degree though!
Twitter is fabulous. I’ve had several people ask me why I like it so much, and I never seem to have a very coherent answer for them, but today I have a perfect example with which to illustrate this.
The scene: I was working on a document in class this afternoon, using Word 2007. When I tried to save my file in the ‘97-2003 compatibility mode, every bullet point I had ended up with 3/4 of a line of space in between the bullet and the first line of text. I was searching around word TRYING to figure it out (and getting more annoyed by the second). So out of my frustration, I posted this to Twitter:
I hate word 2007. anyone know why its decided to put a 3/4 of a page sized space in between the bullet and the first word of the text? erg!
This is a record of the conversation that ensued:
BethMelton: @zankhamun Check your paragraph indent. Right-click bullet list and then click Adjust Indent Levels.
zankhamun: @BethMelton okay thanks, I’ll try that. For some reason it only does it when I save the doc in the compatibility mode. weird.
BethMelton: @zankhamun Ah! Sounds like a tab. Check the ruler next time. If you see an “L”, select bullets and drag it off. This changed btween versions
zankhamun: @BethMelton awesome! thanks for the help
Now, this in itself, may not seem like such a big deal. I vented, someone helped me. To be honest, I had pretty much sorted the problem out for myself by that point. The cool thing is that the person who helped me works for Microsoft. I did not know this person beforehand, she is not one of the people that I follow, and she does not follow me. So basically, in a moment of me being annoyed and grumpy and mostly just posting that first tweet to gripe about the world, someone from Microsoft took the time to search twitter for posts relating to MS products to try and help their customers. It was like I went to the help/support page without actually having to go somewhere! Talk about pro-active customer service! Usually when I have a problem with some program, I have to spend a half hour digging around on the support page, sorting through 3000 links to try and find the actual way to contact someone who works in customer service. So I thought that was pretty awesome.
Another story: Besides using twitter to keep up with random things that are going on in my friends/library colleagues lives, I find it has a weird sort of serendipity to it (at least for me). Now, I got my twitter account sometime in the winter semester of 2008. I didn’t really use it for much, except posting updates to a few friends, and keeping track of what @wilw was up to. Anyways, in the summer sometime, @edbilodeau started following me, and I followed him back (I think because he and @jambina were also friends, but I don’t remember actually checking out what he had written on his profile). So one day I was griping (again with the griping, I promise I don’t only use twitter to gripe!) about how it was sooo annoying to have to bother the people that work in the IT lab at SIS to edit the links on the student’s life website. This was also right after Fiona (SIS’s Professional Associate, who was responsible for all things IT related) had left, so I wasn’t even sure who to go to talk to about it. (I recall bothering one of the student lab monitors about it a few times… I think she was getting annoyed with me . So I get this tweet from @edbilodeau that read:
@zankhamun re SIS web sites, not sure if I can help with this, but maybe drop by next week and we can see.
At this point I was a little confused… I was wondering why on earth this random person on my twitter feed thought he could help me with getting site managing access to the SIS page. Then I find out… he was hired as the new Prof. Associate. Now I have managing clearance to our very own SIS-Students site. So that’s another story of why I love twitter (and how I ‘met’ Ed!).
The moral of the story? You never know who you might end up chatting with, or how you can get help with things you never thought you could because of Twitter!
Well, this week the president of the CLA came to McGill to give a lunchtime talk for the students at SIS. Fortunately, we had a very good turn out this year (around 40) which was MUCH better then last year, so that was good to see. I’m on the CLA McGill student group exec, and while I didn’t have much of a hand in organising this particular event, its always nice to see a lot of students come to events that we’ve planned (especially after these very busy speakers have come all the way to talk to us). I must say, the group of first years that started in September are way more involved than those in my year! (And its a good thing too, because between the department and the 5 main student groups, I think there are about 3 days that don’t have anything scheduled between now and the middle of March!)
As far as the talk on Tuesday, I found Ken Roberts to be a very interesting speaker. He jumped around to different topics quite a bit, so at first I wasn’t entirely sure what to think, but it ended up being a very inspiring talk. He gave us some examples of how his passion for librarianship and how utilising the most current technology available had changed his (and his family’s) life. He also talked about library management and how achieving a ‘transformational organisation’ should be the goal of a manager. These organisations are constantly changing and evolving, and the best ones are able to make the need for job safety and security work with the need for change. He mentioned that this comes from knowing there will be a role for you to play in the organisation, even if what you do in your job changes.
Roberts also brought a Sony eReader with him and passed it around for the students to look at. I won’t say much about this part of the talk, since my friend Graham, over at The Inspired Library School Student blogged about this part in more detail. As for the eReader, I had never seen one in person before, so that was interesting. It was a bit heavier then I was expecting, but I’d still love to buy one. However, at this point I just can’t afford it (FAR too many student loans). Though what I’d REALLY want in an eReader is something that you can store pdf files (eg, journal articles) and then be able to write/highlight on them with a stylus, in addition to having e-books. That would have been fabulous for my university career! Something like this would be awesome, except its even more out of my price range then the Sony…
After the talk, a few other members of the CLA student group exec went to lunch at Thomson House with Mr. Roberts and Dr. Bouthillier (the director of the SIS department at McGill). That was interesting as well, as we talked a lot about getting hired in libraries and moving up through the ranks to various managerial positions. The cover letter tips were especially helpful, as I’m starting to look at applying for jobs! All in all, it was a great talk/lunch!
My first attempt at starting a library blog didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but I’m going to try it again. All (or at least most) of the blogs I’ve seen have a theme or specific area of LIS that they discuss. My problem was that I couldn’t think of anything so specific. So I’ve decided that for the time being (in other words, for as long as I’m in library school) I’m just going to blog about a variety of things related to librarianship that interest me, and then I’ll try and narrow it down further when I finally get a bit more settled (aka, actually having a job).
Anyhow, I’m currently re- redesigning my website again as well, so its looking a bit more unpolished then I’d like at the moment. I’m working on it though, so please bear with me until I get everything sorted out!