Category Archives: I <heart> robots

As much as I love camping, spinning my own yarn, and reveling in all things olde – I also love toys. Big, electronic, computery toys.

Crane Humidifiers: not scared of futureworld

Long story short, my Hello Kitty humidifier kicked it. I emailed the company asking for a replacement, and they said sure — all I have to do is cut off the cord to the humidifier and send it to them (to protect them from scammers, I imagine). I emailed back and asked if I could take a video of me cutting off the cord, instead of having to buy a mailer, pay for postage, and hardest of all: lug my baby through the sloshy streets to the post office.

I figured there was about a 25% chance of them saying yes. If I was right that they wanted the cord as proof that the humidifier was not going to be used again, a video should do it. That being said, I could imagine a company having a rigid policy that didn’t allow for anything but what they’d stipulated. Or they required the cord for some other reason.

I was pleased to get a response saying they’d be happy to accept a video, as long as I made sure the whole humidifier was in the shot. Easy peasy with my Mac computer. 80 is napping, so I just shot the video, edited out the end where I lunge for the pause button (once an AV geek, always an AV geek), uploaded it to Youtube for your enjoyment, and blogged this all in about 15 minutes.

It’s not too late to help a brother out.

In two scarily short days, I’ll be walking in the 40th annual Walk for Hunger. I’ve bought Dr. Scholl’s inserts for my hiking shoes, and I think I’m ready to rock.

Well, carbo load, then rock.

I would love it (love it!) if you donated to the ol’ fund. You get cookies in return – so even if you hate donating money, buy some really expensive cookies!

Oh, stop being a baby and do it –>>> mwah!

All the cool kids have donated – my mom, for example. (In fact, she donated and asked that I bake my father cookies for his birthday, awwww.)

Thoughts on Radical Reference

If you haven’t heard of Radical Reference, it’s a group of librarians dedicated to providing information and supporting social justice. The thing that appeals most to me about the organization is the event-based work they do. The whole thing started with the 2004 Republican National Convention, where a group of librarians provided assistance to demonstrators (you can read more on their ‘about’ page).

I can just imagine being at a big group gathering, providing any information I can to whomever walks up to me. I suppose one interpretation of the ‘radical reference’ term is that it’s no-holds-barred, street reference. I figured the librarians would have to do some research beforehand to be as well-versed as possible, then use their wits to answer questions. Perhaps they could be in cell-phone connection to people at home in front of computers to answer more detailed questions.

Yesterday it occurred to me that with an iPhone, I can provide answers to practically any reference question, on the fly. The thought gave me (good) chills.

Post request: The Amazon Kindle

I’ve had my first request for a post! I really like that Stephanie did this, because I’ve become out of the habit of posting (on the upside, I’ve picked up the habit of flossing), and I need to kick myself into gear.


So, the Amazon Kindle. Stephanie wondered about my views on the cute little ‘wireless reading device’ that Amazon is pushing. As I am a librarian, the daughter of a librarian, a book lover, a reader, and a fixer of books, you’d think I’d HAAAAATE the idea of a digitalberg book.

I’ll give it to you in my new favorite format (that I learned about from reading soldering iron reviews):

The gut feeling on the device

*Much easier to read than previous versions of ebooks. Not as bit-tastic, and the screen doesn’t glow brightly, so it’s easier on the eyes.
*Don’t have to flip pages, leaving other hand free to eat snacks.
*Wireless means insta-access to more books. No waiting till the library opens, or for your Powell’s shipment
*Don’t need to have crap paperback copies of books you’re never going to read again cluttering your bookshelf.
*With one 10 oz. machine, you get hundreds of pounds of books – better for traveling.

*Requires electricity, which doesn’t work so hot after the zombie revolution, or in the bathtub.
*If no one publishes paper books, we’ll lose all the stories… after the zombie revolution.
*DRM (access control) may make lending a book impossible. I mean, I’m sure libraries will have different access than individuals, but I won’t be able to lend you my copy of Harry Potter.

Now, for what this all means, here’s my realistic look. Not everyone will be able to afford these babies, so I don’t think we have to worry about the death of paper publishing. My hope is that publishers will chose to treat good books by printing them on nicer paper, in fancier cases, and will become somewhat more collectible. I think mass market romance novels (and the like) will continue to be printed in their standard form. This is based somewhat on socioeconomic demographics, and on the exchangeable nature readers treat the books.

I think cover art is still important. Even with digital books, people judge books by their cover art! And I can imagine when you boot up a book, you’d see the cover art. It gets you in the mood for what you’re reading. It’s kind of like how our library system has cover images for lots of the books, so when you’re searching online, you can tell what the book is about. I think (especially for janky library software) it’s easier to tell if some thing’s a novel, nonfiction, kids, etc. based on the cover.

The Wall The Wall

I think the Kindle (and the others that will follow) will bring an ease to our paper use, boost the quality of existing paper publishing, increase the number of books written without going through publishers, and just like all the digital technology before it, continue to inspire a subculture of low-tech, self-published materials (like zines). I think because of DRM and technological limitations (at least until the next breakthrough) paper books and ebooks will live in symbiosis, maximizing the benefits of both.

If this post leaves your brain spinning and your heart racing, a great novel to read is Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age. The plot revolves around a similar technology that allows a single book to act as the one-and-only resource needed for someone to navigate life. This book is one of my favorites. I also like that it’s described as “a postcyberpunk novel”. It’s so accessible as a story, and incredibly well-written. My mom would like it (if she hasn’t read it already – she kind of has a thing for Neal Stephenson books), my grandmother would like it, and my brother would like it. There. Read it!

Bookity update

I work in a library. I love Goodreads. I love it when I read a friend’s review on Goodreads, then walk over to a shelf and now have the same book in my hands. That’s pretty powerful stuff, right there.

So now I have The Namesake in my hot little hands, and will begin reading it right after I finish The Pleasure of My Company. The Namesake was suggested to me by E, and The Pleasure of My Company (which I can only refer to as You Enjoy Myself) was introduced to me by Keem, who brought it up as a fine example of Steve Martin’s humor.

This is literary instant gratification. The instant novel’s gonna get you.

Modified bodies

You may or not know this, but I’m a Pez collector.

This site is via BoingBoing, via my mom. (You know you are one-upped when your mom emails you cool sites she finds on BoingBoing.)

Punk Pez
Sweet World is a site with a bunch of Pez modifications. Some of them are very clever and awesome, some of them you might not notice much of a difference… unless you’re a Pezhead.

49 Up and a bottle of Sutter Home

Tuesday night, Jason and I settled in for a long bout of writing thank you notes (finishing up our wedding tx). We armed ourselves with a bottle of wine given to us by the justice of the peace who married us.

One might consider said bottle of wine to be our ‘wedding wine’, but it’s Sutter Home*, a remarkably ubiquitous liquid**.

So we wrote, and we thanked, and we stuffed, and we licked (envelopes, silly), and when we were done we turned on the PBS. The documentary 49 Up was on, and I had the most wonderful feeling, half-drunk and discussing this very intimate show with Jason. It was a very cozy feeling.

*Oddly, I feel like I wrote the wine descriptions on their website. Mostly due to the short sentences.
**A phrase stolen directly from MC Paul Barman.

Weddings and controlled vocabulary

This weekend I (very, very carefully) travelled to NC for a wedding.


Highlights include catching up with many friends I have not seen since the last wedding we were all at, and being chatted up by no less than five different strangers my parents age about either 1. my Little Prince tattoo or 2. my sling – somehow bikers can sniff out their own kind, and I ended up saying the words “Tour de France”, which I avoid.

My librarian crew will be proud when I decided that we should create a controlled vocabulary so we could all search Flickr for wedding-weekend photos. Controlled vocabulary is the use of specific words in metadata – for instance, if I tagged my wedding photos ‘Geoff&Anne’, people I’m not already linked to would have to know that I used THAT SPECIFIC TERM to find the images.

Anybody else want to try their hand at defining ‘controlled vocabulary’? Now that we’re masters of our own tags, this concept is important.

Also, if you like scintillating cataoging news, you can learn about how activists like Sandy Berman are trying to get the Library of Congress to dump some of the more inflammatory subject headings that were acceptable at one time, but are no more.

“Computer, access secret files.”

From my library mentor, I’ve been reading this page of amazing things computers can do in movies.


My favorite is number 11. “All computer panels operate on thousands of volts and have explosive devices underneath their surface. Malfunctions are indicated by a bright flash of light, a puff of smoke, a shower of sparks and an explosion that causes you to jump backwards.”

One of the comments points out my favorite, and somehow missed on the list: digital images can be zoomed into endlessly with no apparent impact on resolution. “Enhance. Enhance.”



This PT Cruiser was parked outside the videogame store where I chatted up the employee (and probably the owner of this car) about Wii games.

Someday, I’ll have children and my hope is that I’ll be hip enough to do similar things (except never drive a PT Cruiser).