shelf by shelf 13 – cookin’ the books

I’m not much of a cook to be honest, not that that would surprise anyone. Cooking for one a few nights a week worked fine, cooking for two one or two nights week also works ok. I have cooked for 4 once when I hosted a dinner party but that’s the exception that proves the rule. I’m certainly reluctant to cook for 5, though no doubt will cross that boundary one day – so far they’ve been happy with me buying pizza :-) I’ve been given a few cook type books and Margaret Fulton’s Encyclopedia of food and cooker has been one of the more useful ones, simply because it covers almost everything. I can look stuff up and gain useful clues.

This is the shelf of childhood memories upon which we move on from series toward individual works and authors. Near the start is one of my favourite books, Palio, about a horse race in Italy. Ah, the Mushroom Planet books, which I read a few times and still trigger good memories. Also present are The Tripods by John Christopher, good SF for kids. Speaking of which, G.R. Kesteven’s The Awakening Waters was another big favourite set in a post apocalyptic time when life has returned to basic farming and most folk are kept drugged as a means of control.

When I was in primary school, there was an occasional dinner held with authors and illustrators of children’s books. I don’t remember much about them but they seemed to be held irregularly and kids from several schools would attend, each group seated at a table with an author or illustrator randomly allocated. I was usually included as it was well known that I had a voracious appetite for books. I adored book clubs and reading catalogues of titles; I even scored a merit certificate in 6th class for library participation – because I’d borrowed the most books. The only author dinner I can remember was being seated with NL Ray and reading her books “There Was This Man Running” and “The Everywhere Dog“. Needless to say, such dinners were also great for getting autographs.

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book buying

Despite having too many devices and spaces and appetite for things in e I continue to buy things in p. I can happily buy books in e, though it tends to be fiction and without pictures. For novels at least. I also subscribe to a few magazines via the zinio app on my tablet. I’m just coming to the realisation that in the last week I have bought close to 10 books…in print:

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looking for botero

I am occasionally, maybe often…ok lots…on the lookout for interesting books. I noticed that this morning’s email from Abebooks featured an old favourite. Last year, or maybe the year before, the State Library hosted an exhibition that included some really old books including an interesting work called “Le relationi vniversali di Giovanni Botero Benese” by Giovanni Botero. The book was open at a page with an unusual drawing, some of which the Library has digitised.

Botero [thumbnail from SLNSW]

At the time I hunted around for a copy but no luck. In my quest for books, I’m not necessarily interested in first editions (though can be sometimes) but simply having any edition of an interesting work is sufficient. Facsimiles, such as my copy of The Voynich Manuscript, are certainly weclome. The book happened to pop up again today so I ran some searches and found that there were a couple of copies of the original available, though at £2,750.00, it was a little beyond my reach :-)

However, it turns out that a facsimile was published in 2010, with a European and a US edition and a much more respectable, and affordable price. I am a wee bit tempted.

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pads

This morning I sat in on an introductory ebook session at work. The session was comprehensive and covered tablets/ereaders/desktops not to mention OS divides eg apple vs android. I had to help someone with an ipad and realised very quickly that it has been some years since I last used one. Consequently I found it a struggle and the screen confusing. I realised later that there was no obvious back button and that I was utterly snared in the android world for phone and tablet stuff.

I recall at a conference a year or so back allowing a friend to play with my old Asus Transformer Prime tablet. They were a dyed in the wool ipad user and kept trying to do things on the Prime that would have made sense on the ipad. They got a wee bit frustrated, as did I as I couldn’t figure out why they would want to perform some particular action. This morning it was my turn for frustration as I struggled to go back to a previous screen, look at a list running apps and so forth. The ipad only had a single home key, whereas android has 3 keys. Long pressing the ipad’s home button didn’t seem to do anything either.

It seemed very easy to make mistakes on the ipad and it took longer to do a full reboot than my current nexus tablet. I didn’t get a chance to try out any typing beyond the default set up as I recall having issues with that a few years ago. Ultimately it was my frustration with typing and text editing on the early ipads that eventually drove me to android at all. My memory of the ipad is that you’re stuck with the provided keyboard, though I’d like to think this has changed. Whereas one of the selling points of android is being able to change the keyboard, not to mention having a cursor key.

As you can see from the screenshot (taken from android’s phone version), along the bottom are arrow keys for moving the cursor around the text for precise editing. As for the keyboard itself, I’ve installed the paid version of Swiftkey, with the flow function enabled. This includes good text prediction as well as the ability to “swipe” a trail for each word rather than typing individual letters. Prior to discovering Swiftkey, I used to use the Hacker’s Keyboard, and Swype. Both are still good but for me, Swiftkey has become my preferred option.

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shelf by shelf 12 – library stuff

Well some stuff, some bits and even a rock. A shiny rock. I can’t quite remember the origins of the rock though I’ve had it since I was a child. It’s not a particularly pretty rock but it does have lots of flecks of shiny, mirror-like bits. Maybe I found it in the bush, or at school or perhaps someone gave it to me. I’ve had it since I was very young.

At the far end of the shelf to the right, I have several years worth of the Australian Library Journal. I still need to add a couple of the recent editions to the shelf and I think the latest edition arrived in the last week. A few years ago I tried to track down a full set in print but didn’t have much luck. I always meant to hunt around some more but there always seems to be other books to pursue. Alongside the journals is a history of LIANZA I picked up at their annual conference a few years ago.

Also on the shelf is an old, old memory: Gareth Powell’sMy Friend Arnold’s Book of Personal Computers“. Many, many years ago in the 80s, Gareth Powell used to edit the computer section in the SMH. He’d actually been the travel editor or writer and somehow moved from there into computers. Lots of computer folk hated him as he was never sufficiently techie nor especially precise. I loved him as he knew how to write and was always throwing in cute affectations “…down in the potting shed I call my office..” and such. His approach was all about being accessible and interesting, and he was willing to take the piss out of himself. Around that time, he put out on a book on how to use computers for folk who didn’t know much about them…like his fictional friend Arnold. I picked up it a copy secondhand a few years ago.

My Friend Arnold’s Book of Personal Com
My Friend Arnold’s Book of Personal Comput
My Friend Arnold’s Book of Personal Compute
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in 5 years time…

After yesterday’s 2005 post, I’ve been revisiting some of my old posts from the era. I didn’t use a blogging platform in those days and only started to when I moved to wordpress in 2007. The site started out as a single page template that I grabbed from a template site. Over time, I modified it substantially, moved columns, and eventually achieved a separation of style and content. I learnt stuff around html, css, and even a little xml. The rss feed was painfully handcoded for each post in xml. No easy generation, no scripts; just chunks of reusable code. Even that site was a relocation of an older site that was little more than a basic weblog with occasional commentary.

Brixton Tube Station

Brixton tube station

The handcoded version lasted from 2002 to 2007 which brings me to this post from April 2004 ie just over 10 years ago.  It was all about the old interview question of where do you see yourself in 5 years time? My answer at the time talked about how much my life had varied over the years and ultimately concluded

Grab opportunities when they arise but I’ll be buggered if I can think beyond that.

10 years later and that still rings true for me. Not long after that post I ended up in a place I never expected to be: working on vendor-side for a digital content provider. Spent 7 years there and had lots of fun, one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I was one of those librarians who thought vendorland was the dark side and to be avoided at all costs. I no longer think that.

Detroit fire hydrant

These days, I’m on library-side once more, working at the State Library of NSW again. I wouldn’t have predicted 5 years ago that I’d be at SLNSW, and I certainly couldn’t have predicted working for a vendor at all. I’ve recently had to re-apply for an updated version of my position and was successful. Oddly, this was something of an affirming result. I’m still doing mostly the same sort of job, though there’s room for it to broaden in interesting directions. I have a bit of a sense I had when I initially got the position two years ago, that there were interesting things to be done, and new ways to go.

I still have no idea where I’ll be in 5 years time. As I said 10 years ago, I hope I’m still grabbing interesting opportunities as they arise.

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where was i in 2005

On the radio the other day, they were asking the question “what were you doing in 2005″. I suspect there was a sportsball connection but was still intrigued by the question. Normally I’m not much good at answering such questions, never really had the memory for it. Oddly, I do remember mum dragging me out of bed in the early 80s to watch Australia win the America’s Cup for the first time.

2005 was an insane year for me, not only that I had to delve into the old, handcoded version of my blog to look for specific posts. This in turn reminded me of the days when not only did I manage to blog every month, I usually blogged at least once a week. 2005 started badly with the unexpected death of my father. My mum came close to death for a while there too and spent several months in hospital including a couple of bouts of back surgery.

I think I summed up the year best, with a post I made late on Christmas night. I’m tempted to repost the content here but think it remains best in situ so to speak. So much bad stuff so much good stuff…I presented my first paper in the big auditorium for VALA 2006, which I think was also one of the first papers on social media in libraries in the country – though it was mostly just an introduction to what was going on elsewhere in the world. At the end of 2006, we successfully hosted the New Librarians’ Symposium, the committee of which I’d joined a few days after dad died.

Since 2005, I have done so many things, been to so many places and met so many people. 2005 was something of a watershed for me.

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