Friday, April 30, 2010

Waiting and watching

The vet wasn't able to say for sure what's causing Bear's lower body weakness (his hind legs don't have as much range of movement and control, and his tail is mostly limp). Apparently, he might have hurt his back. He might also have degenerative osteoarthritis. That second one scares me, since it means he's only going to get worse. (I love Rat Health Guide, by the way - it's been very helpful over the years.)

The vet has put him on steroids, and today was his third day getting them. So far, I'm not sure if he's improved, but the vet said it might take as long as a week to see results. I'm also a bit worried about his tumor, which seems to have gotten a bit larger. I had originally planned to take him in for surgery if it looked like the tumor was going to start growing, but with his other problems now I'm not so sure. I'm hoping the universe will be nice to Bear and just leave him alone for a while.

I'm working on creating a single-story cage for him. It's basically just a plastic storage container with some aluminum screen material on top - I doubt he's athletic enough anymore to make it out of the container, even if I chose not to give it a cover, but I figure it's better safe than sorry. I'll probably put him in the new cage tonight, so I can see how he deals with it before work on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Item IDs transformed into barcodes

I dug up Merry Bortz's "Report Makeovers" PowerPoint presentation, in which, among other things, she explains how to turn item IDs in reports into scanable barcodes using MS Word's Find and Replace - and I actually got it to work! The current cleanup project I applied this to is fairly small - only 60 or 70 item types need to be globally changed - but it's nice to know that I've figured out how to do this, in case I've ever got something a bit larger and/or more complex to deal with.

That was probably one of the most awesome SIRSI presentations I've been to so far, and I'm applying what I learned on an almost weekly basis - maybe not the "item IDs into barcodes" part, but definitely the parts where she talked about cleaning up reports. That's how I set things up for batch searching in OCLC.

Some presentations are just so worth the entire cost of a conference - and I'm saying this 6 months after the conference. :o)

Second Life snapshot

I figured out how to take a picture of my screen in Second Life (not a screenshot, which would also show my avatar's name floating above her head, but a "clean" picture). So, here's a picture of me on some island - I can't remember the name of it. It's the one where I fell into the ocean. In the background, you can see a dunk tank, which I've never seen in action, and a merry-go-round. I think there's some kind of water park or something in this picture, too. My computer doesn't really like this island much, because there's so much stuff on it - it takes forever for everything to rez (rez = to appear/finish loading). I don't currently have access to a computer that meets Second Life's minimum requirements - I wonder what Second Life would be like if I did?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Second Life - TLA presentations and solidity problems

After weeks (maybe even more than a month?) of not getting on Second Life, I logged on today so that I could attend some presentations on libraries and Second Life. The presentations were pretty interesting, and they gave me some ideas for places to visit in Second Life that might point to ways DSL could set up its Second Life presence.

One place I was particularly interested in was Know How Island, so I visited that. I'll have to spend a bit more time there, but for the most part I found it interesting, creative, and frustrating. Know How Island sets up little learning activities so that they're a bit like games. There's a swimming pool that's supposed to teach you how Boolean searches work, a boardwalk that you can explore to learn a bit more about how to judge sources, and lots of other stuff (I even found a fish that gave me a notecard that included its subject headings and a few related narrow research topics). As far as exploration goes, it's pretty cool, a bit bizarre, and it must have taken lots of work. I'm not sure it's quite as fun as the presentations today made it seem, though. For example, I couldn't get the darn Boolean pool to advance to the next stage, no matter what I did (were those fuchsia things supposed to be red?) - this frustration factor was repeated in other areas of the island, and I don't think it's necessarily a failing of the island, but rather a failing of Second Life in general. Still, the island is interesting and I plan to explore it more later.

After Know How Island, I went to Info Island, which is another place I'm going to have to spend more time in. From there I went to Info Island International (or something like that) - lots of good stuff there, almost too much. Feeling a bit of information overload just by being there, I decided to teleport somewhere else and decided to see what Second Life thinks is my Avatar's home. I don't know where it took me, but I don't think I've ever been there. I certainly don't remember ever having been somewhere with a road before. A road I promptly fell through and couldn't get out of.

So, to get out of being trapped under the road, I teleported to yet another island, where I immediately almost fell to the bottom of a deep, dark ocean and was saved only by remembering how to not just fly, but fly up. Then I decided I'd hit my Second Life max and logged out. It's a good thing avatars can't die.

Bear go rawr

One of the drawbacks of having a pet rat is that they don't have very good eyesight. I got Bear all excited over a piece of apple, opened his cage to give it to him, and forgot to be careful about where I stick my fingers - so now I'm a little bit wounded. Thankfully, it's in a easy place to bandage and he wasn't trying to do damage, so the bite wasn't very deep and I only bled a little. But ouch.

Friday, April 9, 2010

World War II is over - next up, the Vitenam War

Technically, we're dealing with the Vietnamese Conflict, not the Vietnam War. Hopefully, all our Vietnamese Conflict headings are now updated - I was going to check, but I seem to be having problems accessing the library's website. More than likely I'll have some manual cleanup to do, though. World War II took more manual cleanup than I expected. Just a few examples - headings in which the war started in 1930 or 1936 (typos, don't you love them?), and an instance where the war was a geographic subject heading (which would mean World War II was a place, not an event - an interesting idea for, say, a writer to play around with, but not something that has any place in our catalog).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

World War II ends...TONIGHT!

Or so I hope. Last night I discovered to my embarrassment (as I was helping a student, actually) that we still have books with subject headings in which World War II hasn't ended - the subject heading used is "World war, 1939-" instead of "World war, 1939-1945." I'm hoping they'll all "flip" to the correct heading tonight.

This is why ongoing catalog maintenance is a good idea. I've also noticed that, if a person has died sometime after 1950, there's a good chance they're still alive in our name and subject headings. "Aged" (which should be "Older people") is a known problem and being worked on - I could flip them overnight, but there tend to be more problems with these records than just a single out-of-date heading, so I'm doing them by hand. Headings containing "Afro-American" (which should be "African American") are also still in the process of being flipped - the remaining ones basically need to be done by hand.

::sigh:: I could really use a second me for full-time maintenance work. However, our "browse" searches are working much better than they used to.

Friday, April 2, 2010