Friday, June 29, 2007

Google maps and mashups

My teeny, teeny house
Originally uploaded by MizMagee

This is my house. Happily, it isn't a picture of my house from Google maps - how creepy would that be! But I did find a satellite picture of my house, or at least the roof, on Google maps. So far Google maps hasn't gotten down to cat in the window level in Fairbanks. When they do get that detailed, Fairbanks being the place it is, I expect what will be seen in windows won't be napping cats, but, instead, cranky faces and expressive hand gestures.

I've used Google maps twice as a travel aid. One map was on the button, but the other left me in an empty lot late at night in Austin, Texas, wondering where the heck my motel was. That was an exciting travel adventure!

Google mashups are an entirely different (and entertaining!) story. I went to Cool Google Maps and discovered that I could find out where to locate a taco truck in Seattle, and, even better, I could read a history of each truck's health inspections. If you're curious, hungry for a taco, or on the lookout for ptomaine or salmonella, go here.

Another Google mashup will tell you where in Chicago recent crimes have happened. You can filter your query by location, a list which includes animal hospitals, car washes, day care centers, libraries and sidewalks. I found this list quite alarming and would, frankly, advise simply staying away from the windy city, or, at the very least, plead with you to have your hamster neutered somewhere else. However, if you insist on placing yourself in danger, you can go here to find a likely spot.

And remember, if you can't get out and travel, you can always visit the rooftops of the world on Google Maps.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

How to make a bra out of two handkerchiefs, c1921

It's astonishing how much craziness is out there in virtual space. So, this assignment was to post a YouTube video on my blog. I did a search on "archivists" and came up with 75 hits including this little gem. Be patient with the sewing scenes, because the scenes following them are just too charming and funny for words. Oh, wait, it's a silent film -- there are no words!

Juneau rocks! ... and, oh yeah, minimal processing

Omigod, can you believe these flowers? After more than 30 years in Alaska, I finally got to go to Juneau. I was so excited that, my first morning there, I grabbed my camera, blew right out the hotel door and headed straight uphill! Forget breakfast! And these flowers were the first of many things that brought me to a screeching halt.

I love the gardens and the flowers. I love the quirky little houses that cling to the side of the mountain, with their bright paint and crazy colors. I love how the rain clouds press down on the mountain tops and shroud the evergreens in mist and fog. I love how the light on a rainy day makes all the colors pop and glow.

I was there for a workshop on what is a controversial, and maybe even revolutionary, new paradigm in archival practice dubbed MPLP for "more product, less processing," or, more succinctly, "minimal processing." Well, okay, I admit that using the words "controversial" and "revolutionary" in reference to anything having to do with archives and archivists is really pretty funny. But the suggestion that we ought to do less than organize and describe our holdings right down to the last piece of correspondence, and, even worse, leave them in their original folders with all those rusty paperclips, has left some of us pale and faint. Not a pretty sight, all us compulsive organizers reeling dangerously over our tidy boxes of diaries and correspondence! So really, between seeing Juneau for the first time and experiencing a heady whiff of revolution, I had quite an exciting three days.

While I was being a tourist, I visited the state capitol. Which is not like anybody else's capitol, thank you very much! It's ours and it's unique. No fancy dome, no park like setting. It sits right there on the street, all square and brick and understated. Not that it isn't all fitted out with marble columns, dark wood and shiny brass, but in a most dignified and businesslike manner. I was strangely and embarrassingly moved by it. The "Alaska Flag Song" ran through my head for the rest of the day.

Other Juneau adventures: a drive to Douglas Island and a walk through an alpine bog; first encounter with an actual cruise ship - good god, they block out the sun and are the size of small Hawaiian islands - the horror, the horror; street vender food - yum; a public library perched over a parking garage; the Douglas small boat harbor; Mendenhall Glacier.

Did I say how much I love Juneau?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Online productivity tools, Ford trucks, and other oddities

Well, okay, this is a picture I took on Saturday and which I titled "f-stop" as a kind of wise-ass photography pun. But today's assignment is to use Zoho writer to publish a piece of writing on my blog. So, depending on how this goes, I could just rename this "F" for what I might get if this were a graded assignment.

I can actually see that Zoho writer could be a great collaborative tool. I like the huge flexibility of format and the capabilities of inserting images and graphs. I prefer this to using a Wiki, although a the structure of a Wiki makes more sense for collaboration within an organization. But Zoho seems like something people collaborating on a piece of creative writing might want to use.

So, on Saturday? I grabbed my camera, drove over to the University of Alaska Fairbanks and leaped out of the car, all inspired to do some power walking and work up a sweat. You would think I'd know better, because I've done this before. Two steps and I was already stopping to shoot pictures, and what was supposed to be a forty minute aerobic workout turned into an hour and fifteen minutes of happy, unaerobic photography. Great for the stress levels but forget the cardio thing.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

LibraryThing and Technorati

Children's section
Originally uploaded by p_asbury

Finally, LibraryThing is back up after some major down time, and I annexed this afternoon to get on and get going. I hate to admit what a really bad memory I have (And it's been this way my whole life, hasn't it? It can't just be my age ...), but more than once I've bought a second copy of a book I forgot I already owned. So I was delighted to find a place where I can input my library. Also I read like a maniac, so my friends are always asking what I'm reading, and what books I'd recommend. Now I can just point them to my LibraryThing library. Of course, we'll just have to see if I can bring myself to admit publically to the junk I read. If my list looks suspiciously lacking in trash, it should be clear that I'm embarassed to admit to the bad, bad cozies and horrible romances. Anyhow, I added a widget with random tags from my library to this blog; it's somewhere over there on the right sidebar. So, in a nutshell, yay LibraryThing!

The other part of my day's assignments was to take a look at Technorati. I did register this blog, though god help anyone who actually chooses to read it. I picture catatonic bodies, rigid from near-terminal boredom. Hey, I'm 59 years old and a librarian. I take cute pictures of flowers. I haven't raised any kind of hell since I was 18, and even then it was faint hell indeed. Well, er, so, anyway ... Technorati. The search features were a little different than described on my library's Learning 2.0 page, but it seemed easy to use. It's amazing how many blogs, photos, videos and miscellaneous things people have put up on the web! So the odds are I'm not alone in boring the living brain cells out of any poor victim who opens a blog page.

Boy, have I gotten far off the topic of photography! Photo above taken in the children's section of Rasmuson Library (just in case the title didn't give it away ...), with major post processing inflicted upon it, including a massive saturation boost.

Technorati tags:


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wow, well after the experience with Rollyo I was feeling a little beat up by my 2.0 experience, but is really easy and useful! I can't count the number of times I've been away from home and work, sitting in front of a strange computer and wishing I had my bookmarks.

I didn't add all my bookmarks, just my absolute most favorites. I'll keep adding them over time, but, like a typical librarian, I've pretty much bookmarked the world and then organized them into a system of folders that would make Dewey proud. It looks like provides a way to be that compulsive, but maybe I'll try being a random-abstract thinker for a while. It'll be good for my right brain.

I also like the potential this site has for research, because, well, I really haven't bookmarked the whole, entire world. Close though! But between all the other users, I bet it's very nearly covered.

And the photo - well, crab apples are the only thing I have on my flickr page. I need to take more food photos!

Urgh ...

My assignment today was to create a search roll on Rollyo. I don't have a photo bleak enough to illustrate my experience. I registered and followed the instructions, adding links to three archives sites that would allow me to search for primary sources. I named my search roll "Archivia." Then I decided to edit it. Which is when I found out it had been renamed "My Archivia" and, even though I added each new link on a new line, as per directions, my links had been squashed into a chopped up mess. So I redid the links, retyped the name and clicked on the "create roll" button (since it was that or "cancel"). And guess what, Rollyo created a whole additional, messed-up, search roll for me. And there is no way to delete a search roll. So now I have two non-functional search rolls. Yippeee!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Image generators: you're kidding, right?

Um, well, up until this assignment, I was pretty sure I had an image generator. Specifically, a Nikon D80 camera body, which I love the same way I love babies and puppies. I mean, if I could take pictures of my D80 with my D80, the photos would go in my wallet next to pictures of my grandkids.

So I started off this assignment with a bias. What could possibly live up to my very own portable image generator? Well, not much, it turns out. I created myself an avatar at one site, but then discovered the site didn't offer any way to download the image. That was disappointing, since I could sure use an alter ego with no wrinkles, cool glasses and an attitude. Moving away from image generators to poetry generators, I cooked up a William Carlos Williams-like poem which was too terrible to inflict on anyone who stumbles across this blog. Finally, I came up with the little button at the top of this post, which I thought looked really cool, and which I made at this button maker. I suppose I could use the button as a link, but since it would lead right back to my blog, I didn't.

The crab-apple blossoms were generated with my tried and true image generator, my D80, and were living on the crab-apple tree between Rasmuson Library and the Signer's Hall parking lot earlier in the spring.

We'll talk later: library blogs

It's amazing how many library themed blogs there are out there. Two of my favorites are Library Revolution and Tame the Web .

Library Revolution examines controversial library topics and current thinking in library theory and philosophy.

Tame the Web examines apects of library technology, with several different individuals providing their perspectives on all things technical.

Check 'em out (oh, ha-ha, accidental library pun!).

Photo, titled "We'll talk later," taken after hours in periodicals, Rasmuson Library. Just loved the way the chairs were set, as if the occupants had left just seconds ago.

Ugly technology

Sometimes technology is just plain butt-ugly. I was pretty jazzed about the rss assignment. I read a couple of online newspapers everyday and I check a couple of my favorite blogs, too. So I thought, "How efficient!"

What a disappointment! I'm really visually oriented and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that the feeds to my news and blog sites stripped them of personality and rendered them into vanilla and pale blue homogeneity. And, considering that I had to sign into my rss feeder account and then click on the feed of my choice, I can't say that the whole thing was that efficient, either. I keep my favorite web sites bookmarked, so it's just not that much trouble to get to them quickly.

I love the look of the New York Times online version and I love the photojournalism and documentary photography that help add power and impact to a story. I love arriving at my favorite blogs and figuratively stepping into a personalized space the way I would enter a friend's front door and feel right at home in a place they created and which reflects their unique personality.

So, while I can imagine a life so hectic that keeping up with online information would be difficult without the help of an rss feeder, I would never, ever choose that kind of life! I'll continue to enjoy the images, color and design of my favorite sites.

As for UA Online, well, again, I thought, "How efficient!" And for the most part it was. I will probably use this site for employment concerns. But imagine having to enable pop-ups on your browser to read your email. I don't think so! Not when I was so grateful the technology was created to disable them.

As for the picture? Beats me what function this rusty, crusty piece of machinery once had. But, in 1980, it and some cracked cellar walls were all that was left of a home that once perched on the bluff at Ninilchik, Alaska. It's ugly technology, for sure, but far more picturesque than rss feeders!

Friday, June 8, 2007

7 1/2 habits

This is a picture of my granddaughter, Gracie. Which is not what this post is about, but her, um, "expression" pretty much sums up my feelings about the 7 1/2 Habits of Lifelong Learners assignment. I'm 59 years old so right off the bat you know that peppy, chirpy voices are going to annoy me. And I think formulaic, over simplified, gimmicky presentations are condescending. But then, I'm cranky by nature, so there you go.

Anyway, in the spirit of the Learning 2.0 thingie, I would have to say that the easiest habit for me is to set goals. Sometimes they seem vague (for example: be a better photographer) and sometimes they're very precise (for example: learn to make gluten-free bisquits). The difference between the two is that the vague ones are actually broad statements about a whole subset of goals (learn more about exposure, learn more about composition, and learn how to deal with tricky lighting). Life is a happy thing when there is a goal to attain.

The hardest thing for me is to treat problems as challenges. Eventually I always do just that, but not without a whole lot of whining, complaining and self-pity. But, you know, I've elevated those things to an art form, and when you're good at something, you should stick with it!

Okay, now back to the goofy Gracie photograph. I wish I'd backed off just a little, so the top of her head wasn't cut off. On the other hand, I like how the bokeh kind of frames her head, and I like the way the lighting and white balance lend a seriousness and depth to an image that could have been just another bright and snappy kid picture.

So take that, 7 1/2 Habits.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Off world technology

Right up front I have to say this isn't a photograph I took. Boy, I'd be really happy to create something with such interesting light and shadow! But even if I was technically adept enough and creative enough, this image would still be out of my reach. It shows a sand dune field in Rabe Crater, located in the southern highlands of Mars. The image was produced by NASA and is part of the HIRISE, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, a project by the University of Arizona, Department of Planetary Science, Lunar and Planetory Laboratory. My current assignment is to look at some technology sites on the Web. I was led to the HIRISE site by an article in Slashshot: News for Nerds

HIRISE offers downloadable high resolution photographs of amazing images from space. The image above is a portion of a larger image taken of sand dunes in Rabe Crater. I find it interesting, aesthetically, because the larger image was taken simply to gather information for scientific inquiry into the nature of the surface of Mars, but I suspect that whoever cropped the larger image chose this particular crop not only because of the information it conveyed, but also because it was pleasing to the eye.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Secret corner

Secret corner
Originally uploaded by p_asbury

The assignment I worked on today was all about mashups. The first one that caught my interest was flickr's Montagr. I did a search on "uaf" and got a great mosaic that had some of my own photographs in it, including this one. I really liked seeing everyone else's photos and mousing over the individual images to see a larger picture.

But the really intriguing application was Flickeur. Cheesy soundtrack aside, the longer you watch this film of random flickr images, the more interesting it become. I was mesmerized!

Friday, June 1, 2007

After hours 2

After hours 2
Originally uploaded by

Since this blog is an assignment, some entries, including this one, will be here to fulfill those assignments. I've had a flickr account for about 9 months, and I have over 300 photos posted. One of my flickr sets is "The Library." Rasmuson Library begs to be photographed, especially after hours when it can be really peaceful or a little creepy. Since I work all day on Saturday during the spring and fall sememsters, I love to come in early and take pictures.

This picture was taken on level 4 from a really low angle, while I was sitting on the floor. It's always fun to look at something from a different perspective.