Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 37: The Drain Pipe that is YouTube...

I lost an entire 24 hours of my life, at least, to completely wasted activity trying to upload stuff to YouTube. I have 25GB of Quidditch games recorded from the Canadian Cup on Saturday and I hoped I could get them all transferred, edited and at least started on the uploading.

As it is, I did... but all the uploading failed after 12 hours, and all of it has to be redone.


Lesson 37: Never assume anything can be done quickly on YouTube.

As an aside, today is my last day as a free individual. Tomorrow NaNoWriMo starts and I have to write approximately 1750 words per day on top of homework, classes, work, Quidditch and maintaining this blog in order to achieve the 50,000 words in a month goal.

So my apologies if I let any of these things slide. I may start including NaNovel excerpts in my posts...

Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 36: Exhaustion

I set a ridiculous number of alarms to make sure I wake up in the morning. I set two on my iPad, 3 on my computer, and at least 2 on my cellphone, all to make sure that when the time comes that I wanted to wake up at the night before, I have no choice but to wake up.

The different alarms coming from different sources all sound at different times and must be found and shut off separately. That makes one so awake, there's no sleeping past your alarm. And that is what I count on.

Lesson 36: Sometimes, no matter how many alarms you set, exhaustion will win out and you will sleep through every one of them without even realizing it.

After the past three days of stress and minimal, low-quality sleep, that is just what happened to me this morning.

So now, I'll study the slides from the class I missed until I have to go to work.

But for the first time this week, I'm starting to feel human again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 35: Of Madness and Midterms

Today was the dreaded database midterm. Dreaded for good reason. Particularly with the database disaster of Monday and Tuesday leaving me with exponentially less time to study than I would have liked, I don't feel that I did particularly well on the midterm.

I feel like I passed, or at least I hope I did, but I don't think I got the higher marks that I feel I am accustomed to. Which has the overachiever in me fuming a little, but the oft-repeated lesson of library school is smothering those flames as best it can. Today's lesson has been repeated by many people; students, professionals, today more than any other.

Lesson 35: Grades don't matter.

As long as you pass, and don't flunk out of the program, no employer is going to care whether you got a D- on a midterm, a C on a cataloguing quiz or even if you got nothing but As across the board.

When we finish school, our diploma says the words "Master of Library and Information Studies". It doesn't then finish with "... who got nothing but Bs the entire time, what an unremarkable and average student". Because outside of academic institutions, grades really don't matter.

I've even started hearing a new variation on this lesson, saying that specialization doesn't really matter. Yes, choosing archival studies over knowledge management will leave you better equipped to become an archivist, but if when you leave school you realize that what you really want to do is be a knowledge manager in a corporation, what is it that your diploma says?

Ultimately, this program will have us prepared to be any kind of information professional we desire to be. We'll also leave with a few specific tools of the trade from our chosen streams, but in the end, all skills are transferrable.

It all comes down to marketing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 34: Feelin' pretty Charlie Brown

For those of you who don't know me personally, or at the least, haven't seen a picture of me, I have very curly hair. As in, I'm planning on being River Song for Halloween. Actually, I'm going to a mad scientist Halloween party, and archeology=science therefore, a sociopathic archeologist is a 100% valid costume.

But I digress, easy enough to do with my current mental state. Waaay too stressed for focus... which brings us to the lesson.

Lesson 34: My hair is a very accurate indicator of my stress level.

The frizzier and more Einsteinian my hair looks, the closer to the brink of dissolving into a blubbering mess I am.

And that is where I am right now. I had a major database project due at noon today, and I was fine until last night. But last night, my partner had finished the last of the work on our major database project when her netbook fell to the floor, crushing the poor USB stick protruding from its edge. The very same USB stick that contained our entire completed database.

Luckily, we had a backup on the school computers, but we still lost a good chunk of the work. So I went over to her place with my iPad and documented the damage, emailed the professor with photographic evidence to beg for mercy, tried to repair the stick, ordered us pizza and polished up the accompanying documentation so that she could blast through restoring the database without worrying about silly things like meals...

I mean, who needs food? Am I right? [/sarcasm]

This morning the professor got back to us, giving us a few extra hours to fix the damage before handing it in. Hallelujah! Mission accomplished.

But still, this morning every single hair on my head has decided it has a mind of it's own and is sticking straight out. And I could really care less. I have bigger fish to fry.

Like tomorrow's midterm. For the very same class we just handed in our database for.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 33: Everything's biographic and nothing hurts

What do you think when you see a web address that ends with ".net"? I just want to make sure I'm not the only one who goes "What is this? The 90s?"

My professor was going over biographic sources today. Talk about week of the biography! My database project, due tomorrow, is a database of biographies. One of the biographic sources she mentioned was Burke's Peerage, something I've never heard mentioned outside a period piece. It's online now, and (nearly) fully searchable. She gave the address as, which is actually an address for sale. I imagine it used to be the address for Burke's Peerage, but then they felt it was too low rent and upgraded to, as I found, I'm interested to check it out and see if I can find any familial links... so far one "Constance Wilkie" married Sir Something-or-other, but that's all I've found.

Lesson 33: Do your own research. Verify and double check all the information you find. It's rare that the information you'll find is actively or maliciously wrong, outside of people trolling wikipedia of course, but even some of the most esteemed sources are just woefully out of date. However, hands down, the best way to find out if someone is dead, has died or is just having a rumour of their demise spread about, is the very professionally named "Dead People Server".

That's right. Dead People Server.

It sounds more to me like the internet for the recently deceased: Surf the net... from beyond the grave!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 32: Everything is Obsolete

In cataloguing, we use a set of rules called the AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd Update [with 2005 revisions]) to create and structure all our data in a standardized way so it makes sense, is consistent and is therefore easier to use.

However, these rules are largely a throwback to cataloguing for card catalogues, old technology with distinct limitations; space and size being the most obvious ones. So there are a lot of rules that we use that don't make much sense when you're cataloguing on a computer. For instance, if a book has more than three authors, you only list the first one. Even though, since we're using computers now, we could list every author a work has, even if it had 100 of them. Evidently, these rules could use some updating, and that's where the RDA (Resource Description and Access) comes in. A new set of rules for a new age, or some such business. Basically, the 130$ I just spent on the AACR2 will be going by the wayside in 2013 when the RDA comes into force. I'm not bitter, honest I'm not!

 Anyways, to the lesson! With such a major overhaul on the horizon, and one that we aren't really learning specifically right now, there are a lot of things I don't know about it. But I learned one thing today that I found particularly interesting.

Lesson 32: With the restructuring of cataloguing rules, works will have their own authority records.

We currently have authority records for people, so that if they use different names, or people spell their names wrong, it still directs to the one official, approved (authority) record for that individual. Doing that for works as well will allow us to find all the editions, translations, adaptations, etc. of one work in the same place. For instance, whereas now you'd have separate, and likely unconnected, entries for The Two Towers as a book by J.R.R.Tolkien and The Two Towers the film by Peter Jackson, despite the fact that they are the same narrative entity, with these new rules, you'd have a record for "The Two Towers" and it would link you to the book, the movie, the 50th anniversary edition, the french translation... everything! We'll see how it works out, but for now, I think that's pretty cool.

A good example of this concept in action is if you look at goodreads. There are flaws in the execution, which goodreads librarians like myself work to tidy up, but in general, all the editions of each work are combined into one listing. Which is particularly handy for the way you're meant to use goodreads, because it seems silly to say that I've read "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" and have it suggest that since I liked that, maybe I'd like to read "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". Instead, the system knows that those are really just different sides of the same coin.

Though I'd like to know how they're dealing with boxed sets...

Bonus unnumbered lesson: What my program feels is a full course load (4 courses, or 12 credits, a semester), is only considered 80% of a full course load by OSAP. It doesn't really affect or ruin anything, it's just an oddity.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 31: Stuff just got real.

Today's lesson is a little more intense than the usual. But today we were learning about the history of libraries, archives, literacy and publishing, so that's a pretty hefty topic to cover.

The Chinese invented movable type. This much I already knew. 

They had it made of clay, wood and finally metal before Gutenberg was even a glint in anyone's eye. But a very eurocentric lecture about library and archive history made me wonder about this original iteration of movable type. 

While it is undeniable that while the Chinese did it first, it didn't explicitly create the massive waves that affected the very structure of the society we are currently living in the way Gutenberg's press did. 

But why didn't it? What social effects did it have? 

So that's what I started looking into... It's hard to find reference to the Chinese invention, and subsequent Korean attempts, beyond "Gutenberg did it, but the Chinese did it first". But my extensive research (by which I of course mean, Googling till I got what I was looking for) gave me my answer.

Lesson 31: The Chinese invention of the printing press did not have the same impact as Gutenberg's printing press, and is therefore rarely mentioned and often overlooked, because the Confucians (aka, the group in charge of China at the time) actively prohibited the commercialization of printing and the invention was restricted to governmental use. 

So while the Chinese (and Koreans using Chinese characters) had been using movable type for centuries before Gutenberg, the citizenry at large had never encountered, used or benefited from it, so its impact was limited to the scholarly. For instance, we are grateful to it today, because it saved, recreated and revived a lot of pre-3rd century (A.D.) Confucian learning.... which likely had a profound, but subtle, influence on the Enlightenment, rise of humanist thought and by extension the society we are currently living in. But it didn't seem to create any grandiose, "first great ideological revolution" like Gutenberg's press allowed in Europe. It created no wave of skyrocketing literacy rates, or increase in public education,  or emergence of the middle class the way Gutenberg's press paved the way for.

Well, and also: racism, colonialism and eurocentrism. But despite those things, we still attribute the invention of gunpowder to the Chinese, so it was obviously something extra keeping it quiet when it came to the printing press.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 30: I can stand on my own two feet! Or at least, one of them...

Today, as a usual Tuesday, I only had work. Homework too, but just work to actually go out to.

Working the loans desk, a book about Living Assessments and Self-Care Assessments passed through my hands. It was a very thin book, and as I know of relatives having these assessments done on them, I figured I'd see what they were all about.

And despite my mother's ridiculous and constant worrying and badgering, I learned valuable lesson...

Lesson 30: I meet all the standards for self-care! 

So you can all stop worrying.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 29: Guess who's back!

Thanksgiving break was a great success! So much tastiness!

I guess it was a better success for others though... Despite how much I heard about "This break isn't to go off places, it's to study!", my course this morning was ridiculously under-attended. I suppose today's lesson must be that... 

Lesson 28: Some classes are just worth skipping if it reduces your travel costs.


Lesson 29: Some classes should just straight up be avoided. 

I had been planning on taking the multimedia course, but I heard today that it is beyond basic. And I don't mean that it goes beyond the basics. I mean beyond in the other direction. I have also been told that despite my desire to dabble in archival studies, I should not take Records Management. I should stick to Archival Principles and Practice, and Preservation Management, given my interest.

We'll see if my advisor agrees.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 28: Everybody's workin' for the weekend... BUT NOT ME!

I was stressing so much about the assignment that was due today (having been extended from Wednesday, thank goodness). I mean, this week has been so tumultuous and overwhelming, between getting ridiculously sick on Sunday, and getting engaged on Wednesday, having assignments and tests and blaaaaaaaargh.... Anyways, as a result all my plans to work on this paper have been intended and dashed so many times I was worried it would never get done. But...

Lesson 27: Don't worry! Be happy!

Once all that stress and uncertainty is forgotten in the urgency and crush to complete it... All of a sudden it's completely doable, and all of a sudden... it's just done. 

And so my break begins! 

Turkey Time! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 27: Everything's going so well!

Today's lesson is a bit of a remnant from last week, but I figure you can handle it. There's an odd thing about library school: The vast majority of the work is group work.

This often means headaches and logistical nightmares of trying to divide the work fairly and always feeling simultaneously like you're slacking and your partner thinks they're doing all the work, and feeling like you're doing everything yourself. But so far, that hasn't been my experience at all. In fact, today just taught me.

Lesson 26: Buckle down! If you just sit with your partner and talk through the whole project, some things can be done in an afternoon.

My partner and I just sat down and did our authority record project between class and our lab last week, and even though it isn't due for another two weeks, we handed it in today. I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever completed something so far in advance of the due date. It feels amazing!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 26: *_____________*

Lesson 25: Nothing happens when you expect it to.

I got home, planning to go get a special gift engraved and finish up some homework, and instead, I wind up proposed to! <3

I was (semi) ready for him though, and proposed right back! ^.^

... Needless to say: I'm feeling a whole lot better!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 25: Too sick for lyfe

Gorram colds. Forced myself into work today because stupid health. No real lesson today. Just a killer need for sleep.

How do you get better from a cold as fast as possible? Make that my lesson for the day!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 24: Too cool for school

No really... I'm too cold for school. Or more accurately, I have too much of a cold for school. I'll get notes from my friends later, but for now: cold medication and sleep.

Missing out on that social I was so looking forward to as well :( I suppose that'll be the next lesson.

Lesson 24: Sometimes, as much as you may not want to, your body will just force you to take care of yourself.

... Stupid body.