Dysmey Post Archive > Pages for 2006 > Early December 2006 Edition

Early December 2006 Edition


digital commons

The Dean came up with the idea of a Digital Commons, where students and faculty can visit for all their digital resource needs. I think he got the idea from the University of Kansas library site; that has an information gateway that functions like a commons. A committee has been formed to study this idea and come up with a prototype commons.

One of the reference librarians created a visual interface to the prototype commons; it looks like a ring of lollipops connected by their sticks to a black hub marked Digital Commons. My part in this was to create a working image map of hyperlinks over each lollipop, and to make sure the text over the lollipops was readable.

Lollipops, you say? You have to see it to believe it: As of December 2006 its current location is http://www.bsu.edu/libraries/lits/commons/.

web repository

I was also assigned the task of creating a Web Repository like the one on the KU library site. It seems like a cross between our current Online Reference Shelf (which will be renamed Virtual Reference Resources) and the online databases Web application. I worked on this over my vacation, making an application that worked well for a prototype.

Everyone on the Digital Commons committee was appreciative, but they still wanted something that mimicked the Kansas site. That meant that I had scrape every iota of information off the Kansas Web Reference site, which was not difficult; and restrict it so that sites match subjects, which is difficult indeed: We are talking over eight hundred sites under scores of subject categories.


The Digital Commons project was starting to hobble my other projects. Particularly, three new MacBooks have come in, and I need to prepare them for circulation. I had found at first that the impossibility to update the Adobe Creative Suite stuff because our copy is not in Universal format. After vacation I found time to work on one MacBook at a time, so that by the end of the week after vacation all three were done.

The big problem was Adobe Cue, a file metadata service for Adobe Creative Suite. It was the only program to not work on the MacBooks, so I removed it or did not install it. Its lack should be no problem: In fact, it's not even on the support list.

staff lounge

The Staff Lounge committee has been revived. Evidently the Dean's Office has gotten around to approving our work of the past summer. The task list and sign-up sheet has been announced during the staff meeting; and either Jill Shannon or myself will make a similar announcement at the professional personnel meeting next month.

spam spam gorious spam

During the past month I have seen a massive increase in spam in my inboxes. Usually I would get ten or twelve spam e-mails a day. Now the daily range is thirty to fifty, all of them aimed at my dysmey, dysme and webmaster Hostway accounts, and at my FrontierNet account. Even my BSU account is affected, with ten to fifteen spams a day when before it was hardly any. Thankfully my Andy.West.Name and Caitlin Clarke Page accounts have been spared so far; but it is only a matter of time.

The flood is evidently due to a Russian cracker gang with the most sophisticated spam server software, an array of tricks to get around spam filters, and tens of thousands of compromised computers mostly running Windows XP.

I have set up my Thunderbird message filters to identify all e-mail for four of my e-mail accounts as junk and sent to a common holding folder for deletion. Basically, I manage my spam. I cannot get rid of it entirely. Hostway, my Internet service provider, has removed the bounce and delete options to my e-mail account settings; now it's just forward, deliver, and autorespond, none of which are any use.

The average computer user, both individual and corporate, is too ignorant to do like I have done. The Internet service providers (ISPs) will take no action beyond inexpensive but temporary fixes lest they upset the majority of their customers: I say majority because they don't mind lost a few customers here and there when they get fed up with the spam.


I allotted the three days before Thanksgiving as vacation. I did that in October before I let myself be saddled with a Web Repository project.

The student assistants and non-unit staff tend to be the last to be told who is on vacation this week. I got a message about the Cannon color printer refusing to print on Monday. Fortunately it resolved itself.

But that's okay: I decided to recreate the repository on my own box with PHP and MySQL. I got the Repository to list and add. Next I need to get it to edit and remove. It should be in shape before Thanksgiving. What I will do with it after that, I don't know: The unit has a MySQL server, but no PHP (that I know about) on the IIS server to where the Repository will go.

It has been a pleasant week so far. I took a walk past the house of my sister Tina and saw that the big tree in front had dumped all its leaves, which she has not touched. A desperate need for exercise got me to rake those leaves out of my sister Tina's front yard. I left the place with a clear front yard and a pile of leaves for the street sweeper. The back yard I left for Tina.

My only payment? A broken blister on the base of my thumb where rake handle rubbed against it.


It was a wonderful cool and sunny Wednesday when I dropped off the car at Sparks to clean out years' accumulation of carbon gunk and to replace the components that make the car sound like a lawn mower. The tiny lounge there was already full of customers, so I walked across the Lyndenbrook business district, crossed Tilletson and walked across the vast moist lawn of the BSU Service and Stores area to Shiedler Apartments, where I waited at the bus stop for fifteen minutes.

I did not know at the time that the buses were not running, for Thanksgiving vacation for the students starts on Wednesday.

After waiting I decided to walk the rest of the way to the library. That involves crossing McGalliard and Bethel, turbulent rivers of cars at all times of the day. The lawn between Shiedler and McGalliard was a grass-covered mud flat, so I had to wash my shoes off before continuing. Finally I reached the library. I stayed there until noon, then went to Greek's for lunch, where I found Kirk and the student assistants just finishing lunch.

I returned to Sparks via bus to find that they did not do the repairs because they did not have the parts, could not get the parts that day, and could not tell me until I returned (I don't have a cell phone). I had to reschedule the repair on Monday of the following week.

On Monday I dropped my car off at Sparks, one of whose mechanics drove me to work. In the afternoon I took the bus back to Sparks, paid muy mucho dinero, but found the car running quietly for the first time in months. The Check Engine light was off, too, but that lasted only as long as my trip home. The next day, it was back on.

no class

I was supposed to attend a training session on Robert's Rules of Order, which I signed up for due to my new duties as board secretary.

The session was in the Pittenger Building, whose meeting rooms are on floors you can reach only by stairs. (I suppose Pittenger has elevators, but I don't know about them.) Anyway, I left home too late: When I reached the room where the class was to be held it was already in session. And I was not about to barge into the room during a class in progress. I marked the class as lost and walked to the library.

I downloaded the text for Robert's from the Gutenberg Project site and studied it for myself. The text consists of seventy-three sections grouped into fourteen articles with added parenthetical stuff. It is not easy to read, for in late 19th-century America anyone who ever got an education got a good one thanks to readings of actual books (the only textbooks back then were the McGuffey Readers). As a result the reading level of even the backwoods folk (who could read) was good enough to allow what we now call dense content.

local library

With the notarization of my signature on an official document from the county council, I am now officially a trustee of the Board of the Fairmount Public Library for the next two years. I have also been given the job of secretary pro tempore until the end of the year, as the person I replaced was the secretary.

Being secretary of an official body is different from being one for a voluntary group like the Friends of the Library. For the Friends meetings, I write salient points down in a notebook to transcript into an PDF document for my Web site. For the Board, I have to keep up with the talking while writing down what I thought were the salient points in a ratty old book which is the Board's official minutes. I have to read my own writing from last month to see if I missed anything. I also have to list the name and amount of every bill whose voucher I also have to co-sign. At the end of the meeting my fingers are sore.

Anyway most of our business dealt with preparatory work for acquiring the buildings next door to renovate into a new library, given that the current one — the first floor of a house — is clearly inadequate. We had to let the first grant writer for the project go because too often she was not available when we called for information.

The Annual Meeting of the Friends was this past Saturday. We found members to take over from all but the president's position, and had to pass an amendment to the by-laws to allow an officer who already served two years to serve another year in any office that cannot be filled. After the new officers were elected, we listened to a talk from Shirley Jump, a writer of romantic comedies, after which we helped ourselves to food.

Thus ends my term as secretary of the Friends of the Fairmount Public Library, my very first public office of any kind. I have served the office as well as anyone who has never served and had no idea of how to do so. I have faithfully attended all meetings (except the one on April Fools Day this year because I did not realize we would meet at that day); and I posted all minutes of the public meetings every month on the Friends page I created at http://www.dysmey.org/fairmount/ffpl/. I hope that my efforts, such as they are, helped to keep the Friends running as a viable organization.

Copyright © 2006 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Written on 4 December 2006.