October 2006 Archives

more conference travel

Only a week at home before I leave again. This time to Banff, for the ACM Computer-Supported Collaborative Work conference (also known as "CSCW").

I leave Saturday, and on Sunday I'll be doing a tutorial on folksonomies with David Millen from IBM Research. Then two days of conference-going, and a redeye flight home Tuesday night (ugh) so I can be in class on Wednesday.

Happily, the conference I was supposed to speak at next Thursday in Toronto has been postponed until the spring, so once I'm back from Banff I'll have some breathing room.

a prayer

I'm not particularly religious, as anyone who knows me is aware.

But I love this prayer, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

For too much of my life, I believed that where there was injury, it was my job to sow retribution. One of the gifts that recovery has brought into my life is a recognition of how much damage that approach does--to me as well as those around me.

this week's presentations

As promised during my talks, here are downloadable (PDF) versions of both the presentations I gave this week.

The title slides include a Creative Commons license--specifically, the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 license. That means you're welcome to use or adapt anything I included, so long as you don't sell it or neglect to give me credit.

Internet Librarian 2006 Closing Keynote - 2.2 MB PDF
(Originally entitled "Social Computing and the Information Professional, but it ended up "All the World's a Game, and All the Men & Women Merely Players")

Blog Business Summit 2006 Panel on Blogging Tools & Trends - 510 KB PDF
(This is really just a few screen shots in case my net connection didn't work, and titles for each of the key topics I wanted to talk about. If you weren't there, it won't make nearly as much sense.)

a day to play in monterey!

This was my third trip to Monterey for Internet Librarian, and usually I have barely enough time to wander down to the wharf, let alone to explore the area. This year, however, since I'm traveling to Seattle rather than Rochester, I have a late afternoon flight out of Monterey--which leaves me enough time to do a little sightseeing.

Last night I had dinner at a lovely waterfront Mexican restaurant, with a former student of mine (Katie Giebel, who I wrote about last spring). She's in graduate school here in Monterey now, and thriving. When I mentioned that I had the morning free, she offered to come pick me up and take me for a drive along the coast...how could I possibly say no?

So this morning we'll take a scenic drive, and she'll leave me at the Monterey aquarium, which I've always wanted to visit, before her midday class. From there I can walk back to the hotel, and catch a cab to the airport.

(I've started recreating the missing entries from the blog; two down, several more to go. The sad thing is that I apparently lost a really lovely comment on the entry about my ex-husband's death--written by an old friend of his who shared memories about things they'd done together.)

lost data

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blogging internet librarian

This year, my Internet Librarian keynote is on Wednesday afternoon—I’m the closer. So my husband quite reasonably asked why I was going out on Sunday. There are two reasons. The first is that when you’re the closing keynote, you really have to attend the conference and listen to the speakers who precede you, so that you don’t end up replicating content attendees have already heard. The second is that this is one of the few conferences I attend where I get more information than I give.

So, as usual, I’ll try to blog the sessions I attend. Thank goodness for my Verizon broadband card, which is giving me net access even in the Marriott ballroom, which doesn’t have wifi for conference attendees.

i'm better off today...

..than I was four years ago.

Four years ago this week, I was in Camden, Maine, for the PopTech conference. It's there that I discovered the then relatively new phenomenon of "blogging," and downloaded MovableType (after following a link to it from Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs site). Upon my return to Rochester--on October 22nd, 2002--I created mamamusings and wrote my first post.

Since then, this blog has brought me so much, personally and professionally.

It's taken me to Joi Ito's house in Tokyo, and to a conference podium at the Burj-Al-Arab Hotel in Dubai. It's helped me find long-lost relatives in Brazil, and provided a living, lasting memorial to my late ex-husband.

It's allowed me to write about issues that matter deeply to me--like depression and recovery--in a way that I know has helped others.

I've made more new friends than I could begin to name here, and made more professional connections in the past four years than in my entire career before the blog.

So happy birthday, mamamusings. And here's to four more years (at least) of personal and professional growth through blogging.

october travel plans

I haven't done much traveling since I've been back in Rochester, but the fall conference season is heating up, and I'm headed out of town on Sunday (which also happens to be my 4-year blogiversary!).

First stop is Monterey, one of my favorite places, where I'll be doing the closing keynote at Internet Librarian--a conference where I always end up learning a ton of new stuff, and seeing a lot of old friends.

From there I head to Seattle, where I'm on a panel at the Blog Business Summit--unfortunately I'll only be in Seattle for a scant day and a half, arriving Thursday evening and leaving again on Saturday morning. But it will give me a quick fix for my reverse homesickness, and whet my appetite for a return trip in early December. Part of me would love to stay longer, but I'll have been away for a week at that point, and I know I'll be missing my family (and they'll be missing me).

As usual, I expect my blogging output will increase temporarily--travel and conferences both tend to give me a lot to write about.

mira remote control software for macs

My new Mac came with a nifty little remote control that works with the Mac's "FrontRow" software to play DVDs, music, slideshows, etc on the computer. That's nice for home stuff, but I found myself wishing I could also use the remote for business applications--specifically, for PowerPoint presentations that I use in class and at conferences. I was jealous of people like Larry Lessig and Dick Hardt who didn't have to hunch over their keyboard while they clicked through lots and lots of one-word slides.

Then last week I saw an article about Mira, a Mac software tool that allows you to use the "Front Row" remote bundled with new Macs for a variety of other applications. For $16, it seemed worth trying, so I bought a copy.

And it works! It adds a little control panel to the system preferences pane, and allows me to configure what each remote control button does for any given application. It comes preinstalled with a huge number of defaults, including some for PowerPoint, so I didn't actually need to configure a thing...just point and click and it works.

Well worth the price, and it will make it easier for me to do the kind of presentations I'd like to in class and at conferences.

i got my moo minicards!

My Moo "minicards" finally arrived yesterday (I was notified on 9/23 that they'd shipped, but the postmark was 10/13, so something must have gone temporarily awry).

They. Are. Beautiful.

Wow.

I'll take a picture of them tonight and add it to the entry. I selected ten of my favorite sunset photos for the sample set, figuring that it would give me a good sense of how good the color quality was on the cards. And I was blown away by it. They are really beautiful. The color is perfect--better than any online prints of my photos that I've ever ordered. I will definitely be buying more cards. Goodbye standard business cards, hellooooo moo minicards.

(Just realized I could take some screen shots of my WoW avatar in various locations around Azeroth and use them to create special gam3r cards. w00t!)

Tree Damage at my Dad's House


Tree Damage at my Dad's House
Originally uploaded by mamamusings.
We went to Buffalo this morning to help my dad get his car out of his garage. A neighbor had cleared his driveway, but without any power he couldn't get his garage door open.

What we saw when we pulled into the neighborhood was horrifying. It looked as though a tornado had ripped its way down the street. Hundreds of trees ripped apart, branches strewn everywhere. Since the neighborhood has above-ground phone and power lines, the branches pulled them all down. Even with the hundreds of additional crews and trucks that are pouring into town to help, I can't believe they'll have power in that area in the next few days.

My dad's on his way to Rochester, where there are hotels with power and hot water, where he'll stay until they do get the power going.

But even then, the cleanup will be a formidable task. Already neighbors were out clearing roadways and using chainsaws to cut up the thousands of branches. I'm afraid that many of the beautiful old maples, birches, and willows in the neighborhood will have to be cut down--with the number of branches they've lost, I don't see how they'll survive.

On the "count your blessings" side, the branches all fell straight down (it was the weight of the snow on the fully-leaved branches that broke them), so there was no glass damage. And nobody we know actually suffered any bodily harm.

Still, this is where I grew up, and it's painful to see it so damaged. :(

what a difference 90 miles makes

We woke this morning to a light dusting of snow on the trees and bushes outside.

In Buffalo, 90 miles down the road, my father woke to two feet of snow, large tree branches downed in his driveway, and no power. When I spoke to him at 8:30 this morning he was trying to figure out what he was going to do. He told me the next-door neighbor (my childhood friend Laura) was trying to find a hotel room for her family but had had no luck.

Stranded Traffic on NYS Thruway
Stranded Traffic on NYS Thruway Between Rochester and Buffalo
Photo from NYSThruway.gov

You know that Orbitz commercial that's been playing recently, the one where a flight gets cancelled and two couples compete to see who can find a hotel room faster? I felt like a contestant on that. I told him to go to Laura's house and wait for me to call them. Then I grabbed my computer and started searching. Orbitz told me that there were rooms at several airport hotels, but the hotels weren't answering their phones. So I called the 800 number for the Hampton Inn, and the very helpful reservation agent found that they actually had rooms available in a hotel that's only 1.2 miles from my father's house. I snapped up two rooms, got a confirmation number, and called them back with the good news.

Now, of course, Laura and her husband have to find a way to get the five of them (they've got two kids, around the same ages as mine) to the hotel. And I have to wait and worry about whether they'll get there safely, whether the hotel actually does have power, and whether he confirmation number actually gets them their rooms. But the Hampton reservations agent assured me that if the hotel didn't have power they'd receive immediate notification and reservations would be blocked, and the proximity of the hotel (and the fact that Laura and Vince have a 4wd truck) give me some hope for their making it there safely. And given how hard it will be for people with hotel reservations to get to the hotels at all, it seems likely that there will be rooms for them.

And just so you know...this is not typical for this part of the country, despite our reputation for long, snowy winters. According to the National Weather Service, "Through 5am for Friday, October 13, Buffalo recorded 10.9 inches of snow, setting a new mark
for the snowiest day in October since records began back in 1870. The culprit for this record snow is the earliest lake effect snow storm on record to hit the city of Buffalo."

--

Update: The power was out in the hotel. So much for their corporate process. My dad's back in his house, and is using his gas oven to heat the kitchen and his gas stove to heat water. (Yes, he knows not to leave the oven on for long periods of time, or overnight.) The temperature is well above freezing, so hopefully the snow will melt fast enough for them to get repairs done before Tuesday. Or, at the very least, for us to be able to get to him before Tuesday and bring him back to Rochester. I've got a Subaru B9 Tribeca, so if they reopen the thruway tomorrow I could probably make it to his house. Think good thoughts for him, okay?

midquarter blues

It's the halfway point in our quarter (RIT is on an eleven-week quarter system).

Sandra Boynton's wonderful drawing sums up how I'm feeling at this point:

The

(The image is scanned from a notepad I bought years ago. Yes, it's probably a copyright violation to post it. But so far as I know, it's out of print--otherwise I'd point you to a licensed version. If you have kids, however, and don't already own most of her board books and audio recordings, you must must must go to her site and acquire as many as you can afford. These books were a staple of my kids' childhood, and they still make me happy. And the music...well, go listen for yourself. It's fantabulicious. And while you can't actually listen to cuts from Grunt*, you should buy it anyways. Trust me. )

--
*I just noticed this great line on Sandra Boynton's bio page: "I like to think of Grunt as the culmination of a lifetime of joyfully squandering an expensive education on producing works of no apparent usefulness."

When Rochester was redistricted a few years ago, my suburb was grouped with a bunch of very conservative rural areas rather than the Democratically-leaning city and close-in suburbs we'd been with. As a result, I went from being represented by Democractic congresswoman Louise Slaughter to Republican congressman Randy Kuhl. Most defiintely not an improvement

Today I found that our district's Democratic candidate, Eric Massa, actually has a MySpace site. I'm impressed. Not just a Democrat, but a net-savvy Democract? Could we get that lucky? I sure hope so.

I'll definitely be voting for Massa in November.

(My father, who lives in Buffalo, will actually be able to vote for Tom Reynolds' opponent!)

preteen rebellion in the digital age

It's one thing to know that your kids are likely to reject your basic ideas about what's good and what isn't. It's another to watch it unfold in front of your eyes.

Lane scored a home run in the rejection of parental values category with his Powerpoint paean to bullet points. (The link is to his blog entry, which in turn links to the Quicktime version of the actual presentation.)

getting our money's worth out of our insurance

I spent the first three hours of my morning yesterday in the pediatric emergency room with my almost-ten-year-old, who was making a barking noise that scared the crap out of me. Turns out he had croup, nothing life-threatening, and was back in school today.

Tonight, just as I was settling in to do some grading, Gerald called me upstairs in a tone of voice that made me stop what I was doing and hustle. He was having a severe nosebleed, which wasn't stopping when he applied pressure to his nose. He's a former paramedic, so when he said I should call 911 I did, and the ambulance just took him off to the same hospital we were at yesterday. The paramedics didn't seem overly concerned (they asked him if he wanted to be transported to the hospital, rather than immediately bundling him off), but I figure we're better safe than sorry.

Add to that the fact that on Friday my doctor sent me off for a CT scan to try rule out any particularly scary potential causes of a severe sudden-onset headache I'd gotten earlier in the week, and I'm extremely grateful that one of the benefits of my job is excellent health insurance. (And that we're back in a town where we love our doctors and have great medical facilities.)

[Oh, the CT scan was completely normal. Nothing to worry about.]

All in all, however, I'd prefer not to be getting quite so much of my money's worth out of my coverage.

nick carr on "algorithmic integrity"

Nick Carr has a stunningly good post up today about search engine rankings, which can easily be manipulated by determined parties (a process known as "Google bombing").

He quotes spokespeople from both Google and Microsoft defending the fact that the number one result for a search on Martin Luther King is a white supremacist site. Google's spokesperson said that they "can't tweak the results because of that automation and the need to maintain the integrity of the results," while Microsoft's representative said that they "always work to maintain the integrity of [their] results to ensure that they are not editorialized."

Here's how Carr responds to those positions:

By "editorialized," [the Microsoft spokesperson] seems to mean "subjected to the exercise of human judgment." And human judgment, it seems, is an unfit substitute for the mindless, automated calculations of an algorithm. We are not worthy to question the machine we have made. It is so pure that even its corruption is a sign of its integrity.

how do i love flickr? let me count the ways

I just renewed my Flickr Pro membership, which got me to thinking about how much I love Flickr.

I first used Flickr when it bore no resemblance to the service it is today--back in those early days, it was focused on real-time photo sharing and chatting in an interactive Flash-based environment. The first photo I uploaded, in December of 2003, is photo number 216 in the system--which makes it, so far as I know, the first photo uploaded by someone who didn't work for Flickr.

Three years later, I've uploaded 2,160 photos, which have garnered (as of a few moments ago) 99,914 views.

Wow.

So, that list...

Flickr revitalized my interest in photography. I take more pictures because I want to share them with others.

I bought my first cameraphone because of Flickr, and now it's an essential part of my life. I use it--along with Flickr and the marvelous Shozu software--to document day-to-day details of my life. The small events that are under the bloggable radar, but important enough to remember and share.

My Flickr photos led me to long-lost family members in Brazil.

This week I'll be receiving the ten free cards from Moo that my Flickr Pro account entitled me to. The samples I ordered will include ten different sunset photos I've taken. If they're as good as everyone who's written about them says, I'm pretty sure I'll be buying lots more--for myself and as gifts.

Because of Flickr, every day I get visual updates from people I care about. I know that Eric and Nicole dressed as pirates for "Talk Like a Pirate" Day. I know that Stewart is (was?) in Taipei, that Tantek is in Tokyo, and that Jill has a new camera (ooooo....I'm so jealous! a canon digital slr is at the very top of my wish list these days). I know that Weez has the boys this weekend, that Julie took her kids to visit a salmon hatchery, and that Gina went to a wedding. And I know all that not because of lengthy emails or telephone conversations, but from the constant stream of photos from friends that I see in Bloglines.

I know there are more reasons I love Flickr, but it's lunchtime and I promised to take Alex to Panera.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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