Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day 116: So far so good

Pretty well all of us in McGill's MLIS program seem to share a kind of quirky personality trait: extreme unfounded anxiety. The vast majority of us blow every assignment out of proportion and panic about finishing it, panic about whether we've done it right, obsess, obsess, obsess.
Lesson 116: It's a good idea to have a quick and easy way set up to check your course standing.
I have an app called iStudiez Pro that will not only remind me of when my assignments are due and keep track of whether they're group or solo; it also keeps track of the weight of each assignment and allows me to input my grade for each one and see an up to date assessment of what my grade likely is in that class.

This is a Very Good Thing around the end of semester. With all the final projects due, it would be easy enough to panic and succumb to anxiety, so having something easily available that tells you "no matter what you do right now, you couldn't fail this course if you tried" is invaluable.

Based on the mark I got on my take-home portion of the metadata exam, I think I can hit at least an A- by getting 50% or better on the final paper.

Based on all the As I've gotten in web systems design, I just need to finish the group assignment and I'm golden.

That means that the only wildcards are Archives and History of Books and Printing. I've done fine on everything so far in Archives, but I still have two major assignments (term paper and take-home exam) to do. History of Books and Printing is a great course, but is only evaluated on one project, and I don't present mine till the last class of the term.

But all this to say, it's best to give my logical mind as much ammo against my panicky headless chicken mind as possible. So when part of my brain goes "OH GOD SO MUCH TO DO I'M GOING TO FAIL AT EVERYTHING AND BE A FAILURE" my logical mind can lay on the smack down and tell it to shut it's trap; there's nothing to worry about.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 115: Off the beaten path

Granted, I haven't been at McGill long, but still, being just about done my degree it feels strange to find something new out of the blue.

But that's just what I've done.

Lesson 115: On the first floor of McLennan Library, is a little room, filled with librarians. Just sitting at their computers. Waiting.

They're waiting for you to visit them and ask a question, and they'll help you find whatever information you're looking for.

Granted, you can do that walking up to pretty well any reference desk, or librarian, which is something a lot of people don't realize to begin with. But they've actually got this whole little room set up just for librarian consultation.

It's so quaint! So useful! So fantastic!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 114: Flu Shots are a Bad Idea for Me

Lesson 114: The first time you get a flu shot, your body reacts more severely to it than any time afterwards.
Some people react to vaccines as though they've gotten sick with the disease being vaccinated against.

I am one of those people.

Apparently with the flu shot, it can be really bad the first time you ever get it, but will be better any other time you do. I certainly hope that's the case, because this business is only supposed to last 1-2 days.

I'm on day 3 since my shot, and I'm actually having mild hallucinations. Words are dancing on their pages. It's kind of sickening to watch.

I am unimpressed.

Those viruses were dead, body! You don't need to kill them deader!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 113: The Artist Formerly Known As

Day 113 of my updates, and the 13th day of the month; all at the same time! Feels like some sort of celebration is in order!

Actually, celebration may be in order, just not quite yet. Because...

Today is the day I finally get around to fixing up this blog! You may have noticed that I haven't updated in quite some time. But this doesn't mean I haven't been writing. Oh no! I've been keeping notes, jotting down outlines... the posts have been here. Languishing unpublished. Waiting for me to have the time to give them a last look and hit publish. But between the absolute ridiculousness of my internet situation, assignments and midterms, schlepping back and forth to Ontario so often, and of course work, I haven't had the chance.

So what I'm going to do is get all the missed posts up, and provide a summary here linking to the most interesting posts.

When is a book not a book?
So that's why Canada's so ugly...
Websites are like Bicycles
Paper is not Vegetarian Friendly
ACCESS 2012 was a hell of a time!
Vanity Presses and Blogging
Bewick, Wood Cuts, and Money

As for today?

Lesson 113: Hokusai, and in fact Japanese woodblock printers in general, were the original Artist(s) Formerly Known As.

Japanese woodblock prints, like the famous image "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" by Hokusai, were sort of like posters for that age.

You could hang a picture of your favourite kabuki actor on your wall, or a picture of a beautiful woman.

But the artists of the prints changed their names like socks. They'd take on syllables of their mentor's name to show mastery of their style, inherit their mentor's name when he retired, take on a new name if they came out of retirement.

Hokusai went through an absolutely prolific number of names. When he eventually retired, he passed on his name to an apprentice. However, when a relative squandered their money, he needed to return to working life, but couldn't take his name back from the apprentice, so he changed it yet again.

I don't think I could be a scholar of Japanese printing... keeping track of the constant name changes would make me dizzy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 112: This is the day that never ends... it just goes on and on my friends...

Yet another low-lesson day. But let me put it this way: Metadata is a trap. Don't fall for it! Don't do it!

Lesson 112: Encode an EAD finding aid in XML is not a test. It is not an exam. It is a race.

I did that paper.... which we wound up getting 24hrs earlier than initially promised (thank goodness), but with two books listed to reference for writing the discussion (for 60 people to use in a 48hr period??? WHAT?) that weren't even actually on reserve because they were out (due on Friday at midnight, meaning the request for them to be put on reserve was only submitted Monday, or even Tuesday). Luckily, she was informed (likely by about 40 people emailing in a panic) and put up pdfs of articles for us to use instead (thank goodness).

Can you hear that gong a-ringing?

Then into the in-class portion of the exam, the .dtd file we needed to use wasn't even actually retrievable from the MyCourses system. And once that was solved, it was less a test of skill, and more a test of how quickly you could type, copy and paste.

Listen to Admiral Ackbar. It's a trap, I tell you, a trap!

Teach yourself metadata using w3schools, and reading over Learn to use Altova XML spy by encoding metadata for documents you find around the web.

You'll get all the learning with a fraction of the headache.

You're welcome!

... Now that my brain's turned to goop, I'm going home. Peace out.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 111: Money money money money! MONEY!

In class today, one of the presentations was about an engraver named Bewick. Before Bewick, detailed illustrations in books were done with engraved metal plates, while only childrens' books were illustrated using wood blocks. This was because the grain of wood blocks meant that illustrations could only reach a certain amount of detail before you would just splinter the grain and ruin the image.

However, Bewick had the great idea of turning the block on its end and carving in the end of the grains rather than along and across the grains on the side of the block. This meant he was able to make gorgeously detailed wood block prints. He was actually able to make such detailed engravings in wood that they were able to use them to print money.

He also created the book "A History of British Birds", entirely illustrated with his gorgeous engravings, and really providing an everyman's guide to ornithology.

Lesson 111: Wood block printing was preferred to metal plate engraving for printing money.

This was because when a wood block was made of a super hard wood, like cherry wood, you could make millions of prints before the block couldn't print clearly anymore. Metal plates lost the ability to print clearly much much quicker.

The reason they used metal plates instead of wood blocks was because the extra detail you could get was very good at discouraging counterfeiting.

However, with Bewick's new method, you could get the detail needed to stop counterfeiters with the durability to print in more economical batches of money.

Everybody wins!

He also did the most adorable engravings of bats... Bats for Bats 2012!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Days without numbers: Seriously!? November already??

Our metadata exam from hell is next week. But I am feeling way too miserable to be in class. Studying from home, and catching up on the Assassins Creed franchise will have to do as alternatives.

Jon has told me I have to finish playing Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed: Revelations before I'm allowed to play Assassin's Creed III, which I bought the other day.

Guess I've got my work cut out for me...

Since I'm not in class, this day has no number.