March 28, 2007

Random Musings du Jour

* It takes for-freakin'-ever to copy 27GB (give or take a couple of gigs) of data on a USB1.1 connection.

* I have TWBB (The World's Best Boss). He told me this morning that, after the current going-on-four-weeks crisis is over (hopefully next week), he wants me to TAKE A BREAK from wrestling with this product. Just walk away for a while, and work on some of my other yummy-yet-postponed projects (like my CMS project, which I miss and has been put on hold for this current crisis). Awesome!

* Nothin' to do with systems librarianship, but everything to do with my life: A mommy friend sent this article to our discussion list: The Opt-Out Myth. Very interesting read, especially as one of those women who wasn't willing to give up a career to have a family. I'm thankful I wasn't forced to make the "choice" to stay at home.

* I always feel better (and like dancing) when I watch Daler Mehndi's "Tunak Tunak Tun" video.

After a windstorm Tuesday, we have a calm but very dusty 60° day today. We need some rain to wash all this dust out of the air!

March 23, 2007

Goddess of Mercy

No librarianship, no politics, just.... WOW.

The China Disabled Person's Performing Art Troupe performs a dance called the "Thousand-Hand Guanyin", or Goddess of Mercy Dance. It's stunning in its beauty, precision, and grace. View it over at YouTube.

It rained all night and is supposed to rain off and on all day, and it's a lovely crisp 61°. Nice!

March 22, 2007


Tagged (kinda) by Rachel over at Liminal Librarian, here are five of my regularly-read non-library blogs:

* Neil Gaiman's Journal, because, hey, it's Neil Gaiman.

* John Scalzi's Whatever. Great writer, funny man, wicked posts. I'm currently in a "Get everything he's ever written" modality.

* WWdN: In Exile. Wil Wheaton (yes, the geeky kid from Star Trek: The Next Generation) is a interesting read, any day: poker, parenting, gaming, being the geeky kid from ST:TNG, poetry, User Friendly... it's all good stuff. (Word choice is not always SWF; you have been warned.)

* Thomas Dolby's Blog. Music, tech stuff, geekery. What's not to like?

* New Urban Legends, from Snopes. Always good for either a "Huh, I didn't know that" or "You've got to be kidding me!".

Bonus blog: The Dilbert Blog. If you think Scott Adams is only about Dilbert, read on and learn otherwise.

It's not raining yet...

Coming Soon: A Smarter Web

A neat read by John Borland in Technology Review, "Part I: A Smarter Web" discusses how we've progressed from Melvil Dewey towards the Semantic Web. It's great to read about how Eric Miller (a big kahuna in the Semantic Web world) got that our (that is, librarians') skill at organizing information is necessary to bring some kind of order to the chaos that is Web-based data.

"Part II" continues with a discussion of the issues facing bringing the Semantic Web into the real world - lots of folks are doing lots of things but most of it seems to still be behind the corporate scenes. And there's a big question as to whether the unstructured data of the Web can, or will, ever truly become structured data. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.

It's a brisk, windy 69° right now - and we had rain last night, and the promise of more to come today and tomorrow. Hurrah!

March 19, 2007

A Moment for Fun Amongst the Craziness

Yes, technical hell continues. Let's take a break:

* "Godzilla vs. Nancy Pearl". I think Nancy needed to use her Amazing Shushing Power on Godzilla! found via LibrarianInBlack

* Darn, we're just everywhere, aren't we? "Oh, it's that kind of library." found via Library Stuff

* Create a Visual Profile... an interesting visual profile quiz. Mine was actually pretty close to reality!

We broke some record highs this weekend, and had our air conditioner on for the first time Saturday. Yes, it's March. Welcome to the desert!

March 16, 2007

The end of an era?

We've been using this one particular electronic document management system for going on three years now. It sounded like the perfect tool - manages CAD and Office files, provides for version and revision control, has a very customizable workflow to manage various processes, etc etc - but there's only one problem.

It's never really worked, not the way it was supposed to. Some problems have been small ones, easily fixed, while others have been rather hugely mountainous; yet we keep chugging along, applying upgrades, and blowing time better spent on actual productive work on trying to fix whatever the Problem Du Semaine is. I think we were handed the last straw today; my staff gave an almost unanimous vote of no confidence in this package. Next week I'll be investigating how to manage certain processes automated by this program and moving all our files back to a basic flat file system.

I'm really torn. I think the potential here is awesome, and after all the sweat and tears I've put into it over these last few years it's hard to think about walking away. On the other hand, my users are not able to get their work done. We've just lost - just this week - 3 days total worth of 4 FTE's time. That's effectively 12 days of work lost. We seem to have approached - nay, smacked full into - the "it's just not worth it anymore" wall.

I'll be spending some significant time Monday on the phone with my dedicated technical support person, but unless something astonishing and amazing happens in the next week, I think much as it pains me we're going to be walking away from this product. Even though I can't find (yet) anything else that does what it does, we'd be better served with a networked flat file system than by this mess.

What a rotten end to a rotten week. TGIF, baby. And it's only 94°!

Upgrades R Us

Well, so far nothing's blown up...

Today is the much anticipated Electronic Document Management System Upgrade Day. I kicked off the day with a very large cup of coffee and a series of backups of the SQL databases and the vault archive itself (always back up everything you can think of, and then everything else just in case, at least twice before doing a major upgrade). Then... the server upgrades. Woo hoo - they went very smoothly! There was much joy. I even had a good connection to our replicated server in New Mexico and was able to upgrade that server on the first try. That brought on the first happy dance of the day. Whew!

Along with the upgrades to the EDMS, we're taking this opportunity to apply service packs to the Windows servers; one down, one to go. Also, the new EDMS offers a Content Index service, so I've just gotten that set up and started... it'll be nice to be able to search within our document vault not only by title or state, but also the actual contents of the files themselves. Very nice - can't wait to try it out.

And, thanks to a batch of change requests that were finally approved Wednesday, there are a substantial number of structural changes in our WBS, which leads to many, many changes in our systems database, ICD charts and most importantly, our vault structures. So since everyone is locked out of the vault anyway, I'm using today to get those file moves done. They can take a very long time to do because 90% of the files being moved are SolidWorks 3D CAD files - if you've ever had to re-path a part in SolidWorks, you know how important the referenced paths are; the move function is designed to repath the references as part of the file move, so theoretically after the files are moved, the assemblies that call the files already know where their new homes are - but it takes quite a while for assemblies as large as we have. So while I'm waiting, I'm able to get the clients updated on all my staff's machines, and read some journals and blogs that I'm way behind on.

Today is turning out not to be the Hell on Wheels Day I fully expected when I left the house this morning. For this I am immensely thankful!

It's 90° out there with a whopping 9% Rh. Wheee!

March 15, 2007

Something to Think About

While my computer grinds away at vault file moves, I've actually been able to read a few blogs and try to start catching up with what's been happening in the library world these last two weeks I've been stuck in Tech Support Hell. So that's an up side, right?

Karen Schneider, over on the ALA TechSource blog, wrote a thought-provoking entry about, well, our future (kind of) titled "Dear Library of Congress". Go forth and read it. I don't even - kinda sorta - work in that flavor of the library world, and it made me think.

Currently 88° with an RH of 8%. No wonder lotion and lip balm sell so well here.

RefGrunt, 14 March

An interesting exercise...

8:30am Arrive at work. Make coffee, the nectar of the gods.
Install software package on user's laptop.
VNCviewer fix on Macbook.
IM: Track down someone.
Print several sets of change request forms.
Video capture/recreate problem for technical support.
Install new USB KVM switch and wireless KM combo on user's desktop.
Enterprise Rights Management research, view demo.
Review & proof newsletter draft.
Blog: USA Today's Tech_Space (new to me)
Windows update, with inevitable reboot.
Change Control Board meeting
Update change request forms after meeting, submit for approval, file hard copies, update systems database.
Verify workflow notification setup for user not getting notifications. There's a problem somewhere...
Summary email of forthcoming changes to document vault, WBS and ICD chart to staff (this also serves as my to-do list for the next week).
System upgrade timing issues and discussions.
Install software package on user's laptop.
Leave at 4:00pm for doctor's appointment.

Weather yesterday was wicked for mid-March; we hit 87° and are likely to hit 90° today. Sigh. It's too early for this....

March 9, 2007

The Struggle Continues

So, here it is Friday afternoon and I've not blogged one entry this week! Sheesh!

I was successful in upgrading the webdev server to Drupal 5.1 - but boy, is the admin interface different! I'd just finally gotten used to the options in 4.7 and where everything was, and it's not quite the same. I installed the same modules that Cary installed with me during my tutorial - tinyMCE and IMCE - except even after checking that authorizations were set and the modules were enabled, they still aren't showing up in the actual content entry page. I don't know what I did wrong, and I can't find anything about a similar problem. Am I the only one who's messed up in this particular way? I can't believe that. I've even been in and out of the "Administer by Module" section (which I do like very much about 5.1) and verified that they are enabled, for administrator and authenticated user, but still: nada for the content entry. Sigh.

But, the basics of the system are in place, I have vict^H^H^Holunteers to test it out, I even managed to set up the new user accounts properly. Now I'm just waiting to hear back from them after they've messed around a bit. We'll see what folks have to say, although based on my own experience I think I'm going to send a gentle inquiry about whether a quick tutorial would be welcome...

In the meantime, I'm on to the next CMS candidate: WebGUI. I've got the package downloaded and Monday (if all goes well and no other crises arise!) I'm going to start the installation. I figure if I need outside technical support, well, I got the OK to do it for Drupal, so I should be fine to get it for this as well.

I think for the wiki packages I want to evaluate I may not install them locally to do it. Both candidates - MediaWiki and Twiki - have installations at MPOW, and I think I'll just ask the administrators for accounts and permission to mess about in a sandbox area. At this point, it's taken me almost as long to get the first candidate up and running than I expected to spend on the whole project - silly me! Ha. At least now I know... and as long as we have a functioning site (which we do) there's no real urgent push or deadline for having this in place. If I want to putz around for the rest of the year on this project, I can... except for the fact I put a speaker proposal into Internet Librarian for this, so I guess I have an October deadline instead!

I won't brag about our current weather conditions. Suffice it to say that this week was spring for us, and a glorious spring it has been! (I say that because we're predicted to hit 92° by Monday.)

March 2, 2007

Woe is me

OK, maybe "woe" is too strong a word... but I'm a wee bit frustrated. I had a really great Drupal training session last Wednesday with Cary Gordon of The Cherry Hill Company; remember that rosetta stone I was lamenting missing? Well, he was it! After getting an overview of the site as I had it set up and hearing what I was aiming for, he went through the administrative screens with me, explained that without certain additional modules I wouldn't be able to do what I was wanting to do, then showed me how to install modules (it's not nearly as complicated as I thought it would be). We then discussed 4.7 versus 5.1, and he strongly recommended (since I was starting from scratch and not dealing with a legacy system) that I mosey on up to 5.1 and set it up from there.

I finished the training session with gladness in my heart; and then promptly got sucked into a series of problems with our EDMS (which I am not going to go into, save to say I'm very glad our technical support guy is now in San Francisco instead of outside London). Here it is over a week later and I'm only just getting around to downloading 5.1! Ah well. At least I feel pretty confident that I can get it downloaded and the basic system installed by CoB today, and maybe next week I can get those modules installed and do some real messing around with it.

Lessons learned thus far:

* Don't be afraid to ask for help!
* Modules make the system
* It's not a bad idea to start with the most recent supported version.

Currently a brisk and windy 60° - but hey, the sun is shining, so it's not all bad!

March 1, 2007

The Librarian, circa 1946

A fascinating look (at least, to me!) into the world of librarianship in the mid-20th century (~10 minutes, on YouTube). We've both come a long way and haven't changed much - we're using new tools to do the same job, provide information to the patrons. It was a kick to watch this!

"...Librarians are always developing newer resources..." how true this still is!

Thanks to Liz Bryson for the link!

Internet Librarian Call for Speakers

The Call for Speakers has been sent out for Internet Librarian 2007. I just submitted my proposal; now my fingers are crossed as I wait to see if it gets accepted. (I hope so!)

Winter is having a last fling at us; it's been cold! (OK, well, our high yesterday was only 61°; that's cold for us, at least. Currently it's 56°.) Next week should be much much nicer, with forecast highs in the low 80s. Aaahhh....