Wednesday, June 30, 2010

3 Reasons Why I Want An iPhone 4

My cell phone is adequate. More importantly it's cheap*, but if I had an iPhone 4 I could do this:

1. Take better pictures while attending concerts, because at the moment this is all I'm capable of...

2. Go geocaching. Is it just me, or is this a great date idea?!

3. Tweet random stuff/pics/events**/etc in real time.

But they cost lots of money and I'm still unemployed and mortgageless. Priorities.

*Might be time to fork over the extra $6 a month for call display or voice mail though.

**Only 36 days until Folk Fest by the way.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Music Monday: Rock Band Track Packs

I recently got a whole haul of Wii games from the Edmonton Public Library, and figured I'd give you a short review of the two Rock Band Track Pack games I picked up.

First of all, a track pack, is (in my understanding) just an extra game with more music on it. There are only around twenty songs per game, but you can play with the whole band. You don't need the original Rock Band, and the games will work with any Guitar Hero/Rock Band instruments. Apparently they are just collections of previously available downloadable content. I suppose the retail price is cheaper too?

Anyways, here goes...

1. Rock Band Country Track Pack (2009)
Who doesn't love country music? Ok. Lot's of people - but I grew up on it so figured I'd try it out. There have been a few country songs on other GH/RB games, but usually they suck. Seriously. Some country songs just weren't made for GH/RB. I found this to be the case with the first few songs, as they were slow and boring, but the pace picked up and I enjoyed the game over all. There are only 21 songs, most of the fast so no country-love-song-ballads. Check out the song list. I tried most of then, but only made it through about half (not because I got kicked off the stage, but because they were boring to play or I just didn't like the song). The best song by far is 'Sin Wagon' by the Dixie Chicks, and it was cool to sometimes play the banjo/fiddle/steel guitar parts.

The worst thing about this game? The sets/character avatars/crowd. I guess designers figured if they put a cowboy hat on a GH/RB character that means their country. Seriously. County musicians don't dress like that usually. And I've never seen a mosh pit at a country concert, fans are usually more subdued (although I haven't been to a country concert in a few years, so maybe that's changed?). It just looked...wrong. The entire game was like one big Big and Rich show, which was kind of annoying actually.

Would I buy this game? No, it's a decent game but I reckon you'd have to really be a country music fan (something I've grown out of) to get the most out of it.

2. Rock Band Metal Track Pack (2009)
Don't tell, but I'm a close metal fan (seen Metallica twice, no kidding - bet you thought I only listened to banjos and accordians!). Guitar Hero Metallica is one of my favourite Wii games (right behind my Wii Fit and Rabbids) so I had high hopes for this one.

But I was very, very disappointed.

Check out the song list - again there are 20 songs in this one. Three songs are from Guitar Hero 3, so I skipped those, but I did try most of the rest. However, I only finished 2. Out of 20. And not because I suck, actually I found game play on this one to be more challenging and more fun than the country track pack. And the sets/characters seemed much more logical and fun.

I just really didn't like the songs. At all.

Would I buy it? Heck no. Guitar Hero Metallica is a million times better.

The Future
Look, I know we're a small market, but please wont someone put out Tragically Hip Hero? Or at least a Rock Band Canadian Track Pack? There is so much awesome talent in this country, it would make one heck of an awesome game!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

90 Minutes of Mythbusters Brilliance

The Discovery Channel has just given us all a gift: 90 minutes of pure Mythbusters brilliance. They have decided to post the latest special episode: Mythbusters Top 25 Moments online. In it's entirety. For our nerdy viewing pleasure. All of this is in celebration of Discovery's 25 year. Thanks Discovery, you just made my day! Happy anniversary!

Watch it. It's awesome. Best 90 minutes I spent online all week. And probably the best 90 minutes I will spend online next week too.

(Oh, just a warning, there are 'commercials' throughout the show. I guess that's how we all just (legally) got 90 minutes of tv online for free.)

For the record, my favourite Mythbuster moment will always be the cement truck explosion because it's one of my most favourite sounds ever:

And honourable mention goes to Tory's bike jump:

I. Love. Mythbusters.

(If you start a collection now, y'all can get me the seasons 1-6 DVD set for Christmas. I'm just saying.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Plagiarism Video Get's The Message Across

This Plagiarism video has made the rounds lately. I've seen it on blogs, facebook and twitter over the past couple weeks.

But I finally watched it.

And it's significantly awesome.

"There is a fantastic place where you can find the information you need..." 
(Applies not only to citations, but the library in general!)

I'm thinking it needs to be required viewing for all new post-secondary students. A friend of mine is a professor, and she has stories of students breaking down in tears in her office after being caught and kicked out of the class (or program or university). Hopefully when I find myself a library home, I can get the message across to students to a) start their research early and b) come to the library if you need help!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Future Blog Uncertainty: A Rant Solves It All For Now

The other night, I got to thinking about this blog, and my other blog, and facebook and twitter and how it all fits in with my new professional identity.

What started this all (this time around anyways)? There was a blog post title Reflections on Blogging on ACRLog, a blog belonging to the Association of College & Research Libraries. The author writes about how blogs have morphed from personal journals to news outlets, and asks if blogging (in a form such as this blog) is dead now that Twitter etc is taking over. Read the post, it's quite interesting.

Thinking about this issue isn't new, I actually spend a lot of time mulling over a bunch of things:

  • Has Twitter replaced blogging (for me)? Do I have anything new to share? Isn't most of this content already on Twitter? 
  • Should I be more worried about the copyright implication of passing on links, reposting stuff and embedding Youtube videos?
  • Will maintaining this blog be difficult once I get a real librarian job?

Oh the whole Twitter issue. I love Twitter, but I have noticed it's effect on my blogging. I don't tend to repost links to cool stuff anymore, because likely the link came from somewhere on Twitter so everyone's seen it already, and my blog gets posted on Twitter too so that's a double repost which is a bit redundant. 

I haven't figured out how to reconcile with the copyright implications. That's a thought in progress.

Yes this blog is time consuming, but I managed to keep it alive during grad school, I can probably continue the life support through the first bit of an actual career.

I'm not sure where this leaves my travel blog though. That's a ton of work to pull together, especially uploading the photo slideshows. And I don't really travel much anymore, so is it worth keeping Ramble-With-Me alive for a once-a-year-only post? I'm seriously considering self publishing the blog into a book on Lulu or something just for my archives. I realize I can keep the content up for posterity's sake, but what's the point of that if no one (including me) reads it? This is another thought in progress.

I wrote about this issue back in 2008 in a post titled Why Do I Blog?. The answer was "It makes me think I should focus this blog on more library/library school stuff. I wont though (for now) because I like letting off steam about all sorts of stuff. This blog is part rant, part therapy, part promotion of...random stuff."

Has that attitude changed?

Yes and no. I still don't thing I need to become a library blogger. There are more, far better librarian bloggers out there and I don't think I need to add to the noise of that beyond commenting. Maybe this is the wrong road to take, but I've always be proud of the fact that I'm well rounded and have a lot of interest, including libraries. Yes, I'll admit it: libraries are not my life. I believe this actually makes me a better, happier person, which allows me to do a better job at my (potential) librarian positions. I work hard on work/life balance, and so far I'm winning that war (as in I'm not miserable at work or at home). I am quite involved in the library world anyways, which is my choice because I am passionate about it and do live libraries. I write for a grouplibrary blog titled Re:Generations (although I am just the student rep, and that will end soon) and often offer my time to committees and events, so I don't think the fact that this is not a library only blog hurts my professional reputation (though I'm not sure the obsessive curling nerdery helps it!).

Writing in general is therapy for me, so that hasn't changed either. I think maybe I rant less (you can be the judge of that) and I certainly post to promote links of 'stuff' less. The big switch over the past year or so for this blog has been the increase in curling related posts. I love curling. I love writing about it. It was fun last season. I looked forward to it. Now that the curling season is over, I find myself struggling to think of things to write about, and have even let the Music Monday posts slide lately.

So what's in store for my beloved blog in the future? If/when I do get a librarian job, library related posts might increase. Or not. When the curling season starts, then the curling posts will increase, but likely not to the amount I was posting last year.  The Curling News is so awesome that all you curling fans out to follow their blog and their twitter feed @curling to keep up to date with what's going on in the curling world. They've really stepped up their online action, so I will likely refrain from blogging any reposts that came from them -  just follow them to start with!I will probably still do event head's ups and schedules, and I might start doing a weekly wrap of of events or other interesting curling news depending on how much time I have. Plus I plan on volunteering for more events so I'll still blog about that. And I'll keep the Music Monday going when I remember or actually have something to say.

Right, I think I just talked myself into not quitting blogging until curling season returns and I see how that goes! Well that was a productive rant!

I'd love to hear your thoughts though. Should I become a librarian blogger? Should I quit the curling blogging? Should I delete my travel blog? What content would you like to see?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

#Curling Does TV: Men With Brooms TV Trailer

Well, Happy Tuesday to curling fans everywhere. To celebrate this glorious Tuesday, take a look at the trailer for the upcoming tv show to air on CBC, Men With Brooms...

"I like the way the rocks go BANG!" Nice.

Thanks to Mike's Bloggity Blog for the video link. Unfortunately Paul Gross is only in the pilot, but he will narrate the show and show up occasionally as his character from the Men With Brooms movie, Chris Cutter. I can't wait for this show to start!

(Curling date?! What a great idea!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Volunteering At The NEOS Mini Conference

I attended another library conference on Friday, this time it was the NEOS Mini Conference. NEOS is a library consortium made up of academic, government and health libraries in and around Edmonton (and increasingly North/Central Alberta) that revolves around a shared catalogue of resources. I'm a huge supporter of NEOS, having worked in a NEOS library for the past two years while I was a student. I appreciate what it does for the libraries, and know and admire many, many librarians and library staff members that work in NEOS libraries.

So I crashed the conference. Well, not really. I offered to volunteer my time to help on the day. The NEOS manager (another one of my librarian heroes) kindly agreed to let me hang out.

I got there super early (seriously early) and helped set up the registration table. There were lots of other volunteers so it wasn't all that strenuous of anything. During registration I mostly just talked to library people and gave out 'swag bags'.

The Keynote was given by Punch Jackson, a library advocate and well known member of the library community. His main message was that if libraries are to survive, we must tell our story to everyone (patrons, community, government, funders). It's a simple, but powerful message, and one that library people don't tend to follow through with. We are nice folks, and don't often talk about or promote our worth.

After moving a box downstairs (see, I'm the best volunteer ever - that or many hands make light work...), I went to a session about library services to people with disabilities. I know the presenter, but missed the talk at the Alberta Library Conference in April, so was glad to have the chance to hear it finally. The presenter gave a lot of good, practical tips. Though a lot of it was common sense, it's always nice to be reminded of best practices that can help us serve all patrons.

Next up was lunch, and then I sat at the registration table during the following session. You might think that would've been super boring, but I read The Economist, a magazine I'd never read before. I learned just as much (about the world) as I would've in a session, plus helped a few people register and find the sessions, so it was a productive hour. There was another coffee break, and then I sat in on another session on finding free federal and provincial legislation online. It's a topic I do know much about, but it was a nice refresher anyways. After that it was goodbyes and thank yous, and then home time.

I had a really great day at the NEOS Mini Conference. I got to help out and learn more about how to run a conference. I learned stuff. Plus I got to talk to many, many wonderful library people. So I accomplished three of my favourite things in one day. Yay!

Once again I thoroughly enjoyed a library conference. I love being a librarian!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Convocation 2010: Officially Finished Grad School

So guess what I did on Thursday June 10, 2010?

Pomp and Circumstance on stage

A rare picture of my parents and I. Notice how we all have the same goofy squinty eyes.

Yep. I graduated. Finally. Praise the God for that!

I never went to the convocation of my Bachelor of Education way back in the day because I was in Montreal. I didn't want to go to this one either. I hate fancy-dress-up-take-lots-of-pictures kind of events. But I many in my class were going, and this might be my last chance to convocate from the University of Alberta. So I went.

And it was alright. The Honorary Degree recipient was a pianist, so for her keynote she played a beautiful piece with her husband accompanying and her daughters turning pages. It was lovely.

Then I walked across the stage. Shook some hands. Hugged some professors. It was a blur really.

And now I'm finished. I am no longer a student. It's weird. I forgot what it was like to live in the real world. It's going to take some getting used to. But there's no homework in the real world (yet), so I'm looking forward to it. Onwards and upwards I suppose.

Should be interesting...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More Mac Woes

Back on April 27, 2010, I posted a photo and ranted about how my beloved macbook case had cracked along the side.

Since it's a manufacturing material defect, the Apple Store fixed it no questions asked. The also fixed my glitchy iSight camera, a reoccurring problem I've had since I bought my laptop two years ago. Because it's under warranty, the Apple Store also fixed it no questions asked. Though I had to leave me mac with them for a week, I got back my fixed up baby on May 12.

Unfortunately, despite the Apple Store being awesome, it was all for naught.

On May 22, a mere 10 days after I got my macbook back, the iSight camera glitch returned.

And on June 9, the case/faceplate cracked along the bottom. It's pretty much the same crack as what happened in April, except it's closer to the trackpad button. Seriously, another crack?! It's been like six weeks!!!

And to top it all off, they've just released Safari 5. Last July, I upgraded from Safari 3 to Safari 4. And my browser crashed every 5 minutes for two months, until they finally released a patch. I'm partial to Safari, but am now scared to download the new version.

What is going on?! A good run of bad luck for certain! I'm not going to bother getting the iSight fixed again - I'm reconciled to the fact my macbook camera is glitchy and that's how it's just going to be. It only breaks 10% of the time and fixes itself upon restart, so I'm ok with that.

However, I am going to go and get the faceplate replaced again. The Apple Store Genius said it's a defect so they'll fix the problem forever. I wont rush out to the mall asap, but will take it on my next trip.

Honestly, I love my macbook and wouldn't go back to PC for anything. I guess I'll just have to get used to having a slightly imperfect laptop. My warranty is good until Jun 2011, and if it ever becomes unfixable I'll just buy a shiny new one!

Has anyone else had similar issues with their mac?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Canadian Library Conference 2010 - #cla2010

From Wednesday to Saturday this past week I attended my first Canadian Library Association (CLA) Conference. Held at the Shaw Conference in Edmonton, I felt most fortunate to attend the big national conference right after I graduated from library school. The timing was perfect, as I never would have been able to afford to go to the conference if it was held in another part of the country. Lucky me, graduation and CLA all in one year, all in the city I love!

Here's a bit of a session by session overview of what I went to:

- Opening Keynote: Sue Gardner, CEO of Wikimedia. She talked about Wikipedia and why it is awesome (useful, education etc). She encouraged us as librarians to sign up and help edit so that we could truthfully educate the world. Her talk was a bit of a sell, but also inspiring. I've been thinking of signing up for awhile, and since I'll have some time on my hands this summer, it's a definite possibility.

- Google Books Settlement: Oh gosh, lots to learn and think about on this one. The speakers pointed out that though Google Books started off as a card catalogue, it's now a book store, and it'll take a lot of work to get it to be a library. There are a ton of issues such as privacy, foreign language content and international viewing rights. One of the speakers pointed out our National Library should be used to archive digital content. Also, the settlement only applies to the US, so once again Canada loses out, which makes sense when you consider how disengaged the federal government and Canadian society are about this whole issue. Interesting, but still rather disheartening. I wonder if in 100yrs people will wonder why we bothered trying to stand up for our content since Google owns everything anyways?

- Collection Budget Cuts/Weeding a Reference Collection: Yay, some practical steps to how to accomplish these two activities! The biggest tip from both sets of speakers was to have a communication plan and involve all stakeholders (faculty, users, administration etc).

- Preparing for the Profession: This session was run by the Re:Generations Committee  I'm on. The panel, and various experienced audience members provided tons of tips on topics such as resumes/CVs/cover letters, interviewing, and other job search topics. I'm not going to lie, I left feeling completely disheartened about the whole job climate right now (stupid recession), but did learn a lot.

- New Technologies: Web 2.0 Tools: I took a class on this, but it was good to see that libraries are using wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, Delicious, and Twitter with success.

- Text Messaging for Reference Services: This great session was really inspiring. It was super easy (and cheap) for the library to implement text messaging reference, and the students at the particular college really like the service and did make us of it. What a great tool, and I plan on using this idea if I ever find myself in a college library home (oh please please, fingers crossed).

- Engagement of New Professionals in Leadership: There's an interesting difference between knowledge of vs willingness to vs ability to vs opportunities for new professionals to get involved in leadership. I'm not sure where I fit in with all this, but this session definitely also gave me something to think about.

Collaborating Across Institutions: Oh! How inspiring. What if school librarians and academic librarians and public librarians worked together to educate students and prepare them for life long learning? Great idea, but lack of time and money seem to be getting in the way. This is another idea I hope to take with me when I find a library home though. Who knew my B.Ed. would come in handy?!

- The Great Debate - The Reference Desk Is Dead: This was an interesting and humourous session. The debaters didn't sway my opinion, but it was interesting to hear both sides. It comes down to the issue of the physical desk vs the reference services provided, and for the moment both are still very important. The vote came down to 102 (desk is dead) vs 105 (desk is alive) so this will definitely be an issue to discuss in the future.

- Copyright: Oh gosh, this session was so informative. Basically it's about to become a lot more expensive to pay Access Copyright tariffs. This is a complex issue and I'm always glad to have someone teach me more about it.

- Streaming Video Content: Another great session with practical tips. This might be a 'new wave' of content to watch for in the near future.

- CLA Awards: What I remember from this is that Wendy Nelson, winner of the advocacy award, gave her cheque back to the CLA to help them fix the organization's financial problems (winning her a standing ovation), and that Lynn Copeland is my hero (also worthy of a standing-O). I found her speech very inspirational. It's nice to know there actually is a place in the library world for librarians who speak their mind! We can't all be meek and on our best behaviour all the time. What I took away from this was that me and my big loud mouth might not actually end up flipping burgers instead of finding a library home.

- Closing Keynote: Michael Geist. He mostly talked about the history of the copyfight in Canada, followed by a lengthy description about the current copyright bill that was just announced, Bill C-32. So interesting. It seems that Geist and the CLA mostly support the new bill, but want the bit about digital locks to become less abrasive. If the bill goes through as is, the fair dealing component will really benefit libraries in terms of Access Copyright. He encouraged librarians to keep an eye on this issue and to speak out about it. Hopefully they don't change the bill dramatically before (if) it gets passed, and hopefully libraries will win this copyfight for once!!

So yes, I learned a lot. The unfortunate thing is that I don't have a librarian job in the field yet, so I can't implement all the exciting things I heard about. I'll have to try to keep all those ideas in my head until I do find a library home.

I can't help compare the recent Alberta Library Conference I attended in Jasper in April to CLA 2010. It certainly was nice to live on-site in Jasper, and that made for more of a community atmosphere. Plus the gorgeous scenery and walks around the lake beat walking to the train station or to the downtown mall in Edmonton. Keynotes were great at both, and sessions were informative at both also. It was very interesting to learn about what libraries around the country are doing however. I learned a lot at both conference, and met a lot of great library people likewise at both. Of course this is all swayed by the fact CLA 2010 was in Edmonton, my home town. Thus there were likely more Alberta librarians in town, and I did talk to a lot of Alberta/Edmonton librarians I already knew. I would certainly be very interested in attending an out of province conference. I imagine it would be very different if I didn't know so many people. I would be forced to meet new people and step out of my comfort zone, something I was pretty reluctant to do this time.

I did, however, meet the cool people on the Re:Generations Committee that I belong to. It was great to put faces to the names of the librarians I've been blogging with. I also met Jason, who blogs at Head Tale. I've been following his blog for years and years (if fact, his blog played a part in my decision to become a librarian), so it was great to meet him in person.

CLA 2010 was a big success. I learned tons and met some great people. I certainly would love to go again sometime!

Check out the official CLA 2010 Conference website, which promises to post powerpoint presentations of the sessions at some point. You can also read the #cla2010 page on twitter for a bit of a recap.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Rediscovering My Mission

I was born and raised here in Edmonton. I left for awhile. Now I'm back. And I love my city. Sometimes inexplicably. Not many people understand why. Mostly I think it's beautiful. And friendly and unpretentious. Sometimes I can't articulate why I love this city. Sometimes I think I'm the only one who does.

But I'm not.

Recently, Pecha Kucha Night 7 was held here in Edmonton. Pecha Kucha apparently stands for 'chit chat' in Japanese. The basic premise is that lots of cool people spend the evening listening to presentations about local ideas relating to design, planning, technology, arts, culture, etc. Check out more details at the Pecha Kucha Edmonton website. It's put on by Edmonton's Next Gen Committee, who are also a group of lots of cool Edmonton locals. Their mission as defined by their website is:
"We are creating a city that attracts and give voice to the Next Generation in the life and growth of our community. The Committee acts as a hub for networking and learning events, fosters leadership opportunities and supports initiatives of interest to the Next Generation."
A popular Edmonton blogger/twitterer, Mastermaq, presented at the recent Pecha Kucha Night 7.

Go to his summary blog post, Local Action, Global Recognition at PKN7, and watch the video of his 6+ minute talk.

I'll wait.


My favourite quote is:
"Find something you are passionate about and do it here in Edmonton"
So that's it. That's how easy it is to fix our city. I agree wholeheartedly. And I've been thinking about how I can accomplish this in my own little way.

What am I passionate about? Well, you're reading this blog, so likely you've guessed curling. Which would be completely true. And I'm already doing that.

But I can do more.

I'm passionate about libraries. And working in libraries. Particularly university/college libraries, but helping patrons and teaching them how to find the information they need is what I really love to do.

So now I just have to find a way to do that in Edmonton.

But we're in the deep end of a crappy recession that is royally screwing public service careers. Jobs are few and far between. So do I hold out for a job here, possibly passing up other opportunities? Do I move away and then move back later? Do I find another city to love? Do I find another job to love (or at least figure out a way to transfer my love of libraries to other similar workplace situations)?

It's tricky. Very tricky. And discouraging.

But I'm trying to remember my newly rediscovered mission. Somehow, some way, some time, I will do what I am passionate about. It might take a few years, but I truly believe I can, in my own small little way, make a real difference to the community in the city I love.

So wish me luck.

And find your own passion, and then do it in the city you love. Good luck! 

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Curling YouTube Treasures of the Week

I'm currently attending the Canadian Library Association (CLA)'s annual conference - conveniently located in my city, so I'm busy busy busy learning and meeting lovely librarian people.

But the following great curling videos have made the twitter rounds lately, and I reckon they deserve being archived here on this shiny curling(ish) blog:

Tiger Woods Goes Curling

"Yeah broom guys!! Doing essential...and mysterious things."

Love it.

Be A Curling Stone!

Oh I would've loved to be in Toronto for that! I hope it becomes a permanent exhibition, I will definitely head back to TO to see that!