Archive for February, 2010

Party Tip #17

Just read this Basic Instructions.

As everyone knows, the only way to salvage this sort of situation is to drown out the noise of the guitar with a discussion of the relative limitations of non-MARC compliant AACR2 indexing in relation to the search habits of patrons today. (The biggest limitation, of course, comes with the balance between the cost of maintaining multiple access points on a card based system versus the necessity of ensuring access points for probable searches, especially in the context of the Statement of Responsibility: did you know that if you made a standard 3×5 card for the film ‘Pirates of the Carribean,’ you wouldn’t mention that Johnny Depp was involved anywhere on the card unless you chose to enter it into the Notes field [which, of course, cannot be indexed seperately]? It’s more of a concern than you might think, really, which is why we’re still using the core rules of AACR2 when we’d hoped to be on AACR3 by now, although we’re pretty much still on schedule [the first draft came out a couple of years back, and the whole thing should be due for launch this summer, is the plan]. Of course it isn’t going to be called AACR3 anymore, because it’s attempting to be less book-centric [AACR2, of course, had seperate sections for the cataloguing of different materials but we’re still talking pretty much about such materials as existed in the middle decades of the 20th Century, with revisions for more modern formats more or less bolted on wherever possible, which is why the new standard aims to be more open-ended] and they propose to reflect this by naming the whole thing RDA: Resource Description and Access.)

You’d think, since I know how to diffuse such an awkward situation as that, I’d get invited to more parties, but I figure maybe I’ve not been advertising well enough. I also have an awesome story about the development of MARC, though. It’s less technical than the background of cataloguing rules themselves, and I do find that it fits nicely into the silence you get whilst everyone is digesting what I’ve just been explaining, and stops that momentary awkwardness where people who don’t feel confident enough to ask for clarification on a more technical issue spoil their own enjoyment by ducking out to get a fresh drink…


Just got off the phone with a very nice lady from Orange, who was conducting a customer survey. (I’m not normally a fan of such things, but I quite want an N900 when my contract comes up for renewal, so I thought I’d try to get a gold star.)

The basic stuff for the survey was home security, and things – how worried are you about home security, do you check up on your home whilst you’re away, and so on. Standard 1-5 scale stuff, really.

Where I think I won’t have been useful is in the second half of the survey: of course I said I was fairly keen on keeping my home secure (although I wasn’t very fussed to check on it if I wasn’t there), but part 2 seemed to be about things I could do with a mobile to increase home security: would I like, for example, to turn off an alarm remotely, or be texted whenever someone entered or left my home, or be able to unlock the doors by text (I’m pretty sure there was also one about turning on the heating, so I guess thermostats are going out of fashion).

Sadly, this was the point in the survey where I jumped from looking like someone who is broadly in favour of home security, to being someone who wants nothing to do with it. No, I bloody don’t want any yahoo with access to my phone to unlock the doors to my house and turn off all the alarms: if I leave my phone unattended on a desk for five minutes today, and then I come back and it’s still there, I don’t have to phone the police. I’d pretty much like to keep it that way, but a 1-5 scale doesn’t really allow for that sort of clarification (and, to be honest, the ability to be texted if something moves in my home is just plain creepy. Have you people never watched Electric Dreams, or something?)

I’m just a little bit confused by the whole thing, to be honest. The woman running the survey was lovely – I think she was slightly confused by my answering all the questions that went “Would you like $suspicious_loophole_technology?” with a one or a two right after I’d answered all the “are you comfortable installing computer software/devices* on your home computer” with fives, but really… text me whenever someone enters or leaves my house? In what way does that increase security?

I figure that being the case, I either know who it is (say, Paul), or I can guess (possibly Ryan) or I have no idea (might be robbers, but what can I do, huh? Call the rozzers and tell ’em that my phone told me someone opened my door and I’m not sure who it was? Or do I have to opt for the frankly creepy-sounding CCTV-in-the-house which I (and probably Orange, or anyone who’s nicked my phone or got into the system some other way) can then view from my phone.

Now I feel bad for being unhelpful in a survey; I strongly suspect that I’ve just completely thrown the results. Eh, but what can you do? Would be vaguely interested to know if it’s just me that thinks this is A Bad Thing, though – am I missing the bit where some latter-day Mr. McKittrick comes up with a bunch of failsafes, or what?

*I’m not sure if by “Devices” she meant CPUs, extra RAM, new expansion cards et sim., but I assumed she did, because I couldn’t think of any other interpretation that wouldn’t just be embarrasing this side of plug & play.

Three Things

Hell’s teeth. Well today, thanks to something of a shift-scheduling snafu at Work B, I got double booked. As much as possible I’m trying to work for whoever offers to pay me first, because I think that works out fairest all round (the NHS pay me more per hour, but work in Holib is going to be more useful on a CV long-term, so there’s not much to choose between them apart from who shouts fastest). Of course, that sort of thing only works if people check your availibility first, and in this instance that didn’t happen quite as much as I’d’ve liked.

Consequently, I just worked 0700-0930 in the hospital, and now I’m in Holib 1000-1200, and then the hospital again 1230-1500. This is quite possibly insane, but I guess it means I will be paid eventually.

Got results for my Management Essay back, with which I am pleased: 68 (Pretty much the level I seem to be working at for everything, which I’m quite happy about, and some awesome feedback, featuring the line ‘Your opening two paragraphs are especially worthy of commendation,’ which – since the second paragraphs was a description of innefective managers in popular culture (viz: Gus Hedges, Gordon Brittas & the PHB) I think is a massive win all round.

Last night’s Troma was rather fun: we inflicted Space Mutiny on Finbar, and then we watched Orphan, a well-filmed and complex drama designed to warn everyone against ignoring the Rules.

The Rules, as every fule kno (except for the dimwits in the film) are, of course,

First: Look Out For Number One (Assuming you have first taken care to look out for Number One’s appointed representatives, if any.)
Second: When In Doubt, Close Ranks.
Third: Apply The Rules From The Centre Outwards, Not The Other Way Around.

Seriously, it’s like the people in that film wanted to be miserable. It’s quite fun, mind, but I think it’s significant that virtually the first sensible thing the lead character says is about fifty seconds from the end credits.

Savage Love: Best. Caller. Ever.

Podcast No. 164: The Story so far:
Dan Savage has called a woman back; she’s been making extra money doing live sex shows on webcam, and her boyfriend is not happy about it (that is, once he found out she was doing it on the quiet, he wasn’t happy about it). Dan wants to know how essential this extra money is.

Savage: Is there something else you can do besides that? I mean, what’s your career goals besides fingering yourself on webcam?

Caller: [Laughs] I actually have two jobs now; I’m a librarian, actually.

My profession kicks arse

(Belated reports of) murdery goodness.

The murder mystery was awesome; I enjoyed it a lot more than the fixed form ones, which I think is because a lot of the important bits of fixed-form stuff are read out from booklets (assuming they’ve been made properly, which I’d like to point out is not always the case), and it’s nice to have extra leeway.

(Having said that, I think it needs a fixed-form into to act as a launching platform, so everyone can introduce themselves & possibly say where they were at what times, because that would leave me feeling less like I need to build the Statue of Liberty to stop this sort of thing [Man, do I miss having a foreign advisor. She kicked arse.])

But once things got going, it was really awesome. I genuinely think I did well early on because I wasnae stingy with the information (which I attribute entirely to having called up The Game of Diplomacy back when I was working at the Bod, and snippets of which kept coming back at me; there’s an awesome sketch Sharp does of the opening stages where a chap is going around saying ‘You’ve got to help me, Turkey’s sister is going to marry Germany’s cousin next week, if you don’t ally with me then he’ll roll right over you before I can even cross the Channel,’ and similar Lies Of Awesomeness [Italy, as I recall, gives up right at the start and gets drunk in the corner…]). Anyway, that was dead handy that was, and I offer to all of you the notion that it’s good to share information with someone you know you can trust to reciprocate with no ulterior motive whatsoever.

(Slightly dissapointed to find that book so expensive on Amazon, sigh. It really is very good; I believe it must be the source of the quote I can only occasionally find excuse to shoehorn into conversations: ‘A ruthless do-or-die merchant who’d knife his own granny in Spring 1901 if he got the chance.’ Hey ho.)

Anyway, the whole thing went awesomely, and it was really interesting to see the way the interactions changed over the course of the thingy. Plus I got astoundingly drunk by dint of mixing both blue and green cocktails – I employed what was, frankly, slightly suspect reasoning, and argued that blue and green paints can be combined so why not drinks – and then woke up without a hangover. I must drink more vintage champagne again at some point, so I can remind myself what a hangover feels like.

Awesome fun, as I say.

In other news, Miriam is well(ish) again. At least, she’s back and running on the requisite number of cylinders, which is important. Her central locking’s gone, however. By ‘gone’ I mean ‘works perfectly, but the actual keyhole on the driver’s side does bugger all, so to lock or unlock her from the outside you have to hike over to the near side door which I suspect is the sort of thing that will get old very fast, although it is just the sort of quirk that Miriam revels in having, and it’s at least better than having a sunroof that leaked whenever it rained.

O, and I’m working absurdly too much, but the Department is being a whole world of co-operative, and has cancelled every other lecture this week so as to leave me more time to play Tropico 3. At least, I assume that’s why they’re doing it, and that it’s an issue of co-operation rather than competence. (I’m nice like that).