a day in the life of ME

Oh hey, people are doing this all week, so I can participate! I’ve had a busy day, some of it library-related, all of it me-related. This is all in pretty approximate order.

– got up at 9:30-ish and made coffee
– checked email and the MetaFilter moderation queue to see if anything was “on fire” [it wasn’t]. Caught up on the site. Someone posted something questionable (self-linky) and talked with co-workers (over IM) to decide what to do (we deleted it).
– added an update to an anonymous post for a question-asker on Ask MetaFilter
– sent in receipts for reimbursement for recent trips using Freshbooks, filed too-many icons on my desktop which now just has a few folders on it
– answered some MetaFilter mail (a lot of my work is customer service type stuff) and did some administrative stuff
– added some things to the MetaFilter sidebar
– emailed with boyfriend who is in Puerto Rico
– got ass kicked at online Scrabble
– went to lunch at the local hospital cafeteria, across the street from me, with friends & then back to their place for coffee
– chatted with neighbor across the street about a possible job at the high school next year, a little more in-depth than my current tech instruction gig
– post office, asked the guy at the post office some questions that MeFites had about the post office, walked home
– chatted with my co-worker about my past weekend and my upcoming weekend
– updated the Tunbridge Library as to the status of the automation project — 220 books have been item+record linked and my friend Stan wrote a little web-based app. to facilitate further scanning which we were doing on Sunday
– chatted with Stan about the app and moved it to the library server so anyone can scan [if we show them how] talked about the UI for the app
– read facebook email and got some disturbing rumor about some Koha/LibLime drama that I’m still trying to parse (new features not being built back into the code) and don’t know enough about to talk more about
– accepted a few facebook friend requests
– got facebook email from a friend whose dad’s book is coming out in paperback asking me about social software ways to promote it. I gave her some ideas and then asked a friend of mine who is in publishing who not only had more ideas but knew the people releasing the book. Yay small world. The book is good, you should read it.
– That same friend had also just edited a book that she sent a copy of to my Dad who seemed to love it. My Dad can be a tough nut to crack, so this was good news. She and I chatted about work and other things.
– Made a plan via phone to hang out with my Dad next week
– Read the ALA’s new Library Bill of Rights interpretations which are interesting. Wrote a blog post. Tried to see if I could figure out more about what’s changed in the edited interpretations.
– Read more about the Google Book Search Settement via the new website (twittered about yesterday) dedicated to it called The Public Index. Not only can you read the settlement, you can DISCUSS it. Very exciting.
– read twitter, did not post to twitter
– deleted blog spam, bought some postage stamps on ebay
– talked to president of VLA about options for using WordPress to build a “librarian substitute pool” on the VLA website. We’ll probably do it using BuddyPress.
– emailed a recruiter explaining how to post jobs to the VLA website.
– played some facebook Scrabble
– watched the Daily Show’s bit about Sarah Palin, searched The Pirate Bay for some TV I like to watch (The IT Crowd)
– deleted some AskMe comments, deleted a MeFi comment where someone called someone else a “fucking idiot”
– checked out the blogs of someone who will be staying at my place while I am away
– read some email back-and-forths on the MeFi admin list
– checked out the Fenway Park website because my sister’s boyfriend is playing there with his fantasy baseball team on Friday. I am going but I guess I can’t bring my laptop
– cleaned up the paperwork on my kitchen table that’s been there since I got back from New Orleans
– printed maps to wedding I am going to on Saturday
– paid bills (online!)
– read envelope-o-stuff from Sandy Berman
– read Scream at the Librarian briefly in the bathroom
– read the information on the RFID chip that is going to be in my new enhanced driver’s license
– cleaned the bathroom
– prepared a welcome-basket for my friend who just bought a house in my neighborhood
– thinking about dinner, it’s now about 8 pm.

So that’s what I can remember. I’m sure there was more misc noodling. My web cache would tell a better story, but I don’t know how much math you need about this. The upshot was: a lot of email, some in-person time, very little phone time and doing small parts of maybe four different jobs today (library, MetaFilter, VLA webmaster, high school stuff). I did most of it from home, listened to a lot of music (oops, just accepted a ton of pending friend requests from last.fm) and watched the birds on my feeder (blue jays, nuthatch and a cardinal). Now I’ll go have some dinner and maybe see what everyone else has been doing today.

a week in the life, august edition

I have a month pretty free of travel and speaking stuff so I’ve been doing more little library work in August. Here are a few things I’ve done this week both here and online.

  • Stopped by the Tunbridge library in Monday to help a woman who is re-entering the workforce brush up on her Excel chops. I had to tell her that while Excel hasn’t changed much, the amount Excel tries to help the user has. That is, there are all these wizards and auto-widgets that try to make Excel easier but have the end result for novice users of making Excel harder. The main problem my student was having, however, was trying to figure out where her missing Word toolbar went and no matter how many times I said I pretty much couldn’t troubleshoot a personal computer problem remotely (and offered alternatives like a good manual or the help files) she sort of couldn’t stop talking about it. I see this fairly often. I suggested that she buy a USB drive so that I could give her homework assignments that she could take home.
  • I talked to the Tunbridge librarian about a Photoshop problem she was having which was actually a much more complicated problem. She has taken photos of flowers for the library’s flower sale, but the way they show up on the screen and the way they print doesn’t reproduce the colors accurately. I showed her how to do some color adjustment in Photoshop but said that tweaking the printer to get things just right was likely overkill for what she was suggesting. Explained how color calibration works. Sometimes good tech support involves telling people that what they want to do is going to take significantly more time than they have budgeted, and suggesting an alternate plan. This sort of time estimate thing is fairly easy for me and seems to be a big difference between someone who is really comfy with computers and someone who is still in the early stages of getting to know how they work.
  • The lady who lived next door to the library brought her laptop over to see if it had any “network card” in it so that she could use the library’s wifi instead of her dial-up. Answer: no, but I explained to her how she could buy one if she wanted to.
  • Visited the Royalton Library to help the librarian figure out why the computer keeps asking for some sort of HP Setup CD when it starts and pops up a zillion messages, sometimes freezing the computer. Figured out how to turn off the thing that requires it. The staff computer also has some sort of virus file (according to AVG) that throws up random pop-ups but we couldn’t remove it even following Symantec’s instructions. Switching to Firefox at least made the pop-up problem go away and bought us some time.
  • No one came to my Tuesday drop-in time. The network was down anyhow, for unknown reasons. The IT company who has the school contract wasn’t sure what the problem was and could give no firm ETA so I went to donate blood instead of waiting to see if anyone would show up just to tell them that our Internet was down. Even though my drop-in time is just “computer time” 90% of the people who come in use the Internet in some form or another.
  • Wednesday I went with my friend Stan to the Tunbridge World’s Fair office. They are using some sort of Fair Management software that doesn’t play nice with the network. I knew I was in over my head so I brought my pal Stan in for a consult. He mostly hammered the software into shape while I cleaned up the office, organized things, and hung up a few years’ worth of ribbons. One of the library trustees who also works part time for the fair bought us lunch and offered us free tickets when the fair starts next month.
  • I stopped by the Kimball Library in Randolph before drop-in time on Thursday. I’ve been working with the librarian who works on the website, helping make the site more functional for the staff as well as for patrons. I showed her how to get her web log files and run them through Webalizer and we looked at he traffic the site has been getting since we added the online catalog a few months back. I also helped her get a Kid’s Page started in the hopes that it will inspire the (very busy) kid/ya librarian to give us suggestions of what to put there.
  • Thursday I had one student at drop-in time, a teacher from the high school who was trying to make a list of donors for the Crafts Center Restoration project in town. Someone had typed the list up originally and she needed to know how to add a name to the list she has on the disk. She wanted to use her computer at the school but it didn’t have a disk drive. So we muddled through that and I asked if she had any other questions and showed her how to make a mailing list using her ISP’s webmail program and also how to attach a photo to an email message.

Meanwhile this week, I’ve been going back and forth with some folks from VLA about changes we’re planning for the VLA website, bought tickets to Nova Scotia for a few talks I’ll be giving there in September, accepted an invitation to join the Steering Committee of the MaintainIT Project, made plans to do some work with Casey and the Scriblio project, firmed up plans for a talk in Rhode Island, passed on a talk in Delaware that conflicted with a talk I’m giving in Kansas, and started making plans for my next week of library visits and my next month of travel/talks. I have a friend who is another local librarian who is working possibly switching her library to an open source OPAC and we’ve been scheming about that. I got my inbox down to single digits by replying to almost everyone who had written me after the NYT/WSJ articles. If I haven’t replied to you yet, I swear I will this week.

That’s the report for now. Today is a day for guests and swimming in the pool and maybe some grilling in the backyard if the weather holds.

what do people do all day – my version of the refgrunt

And, on the continuing thread of “no one wants my job but me” here’s another exciting installment of what my week was like.

Monday – Got up and spent a few hours doing admin work for the online community I moderate – edit/delete comments, moderate disputes, answer emails, mostly via IM and email. I helped Michael Stephens get his Blog People pages set up on his website, with some custom sidebar information and templates. Headed to the Calef Library where we get the wireless network hooked up in half an hour. My new motto “Wireless for $30 and 30 minutes!” I also configured the librarian’s laptop to get on the wireless network, freeing up one more computer for patron use. Now they have two. When I walked in and said “I’m here to install the wireless” the other patron in the library said, and I quote, “I love you!” She is taking classes at the technical college. They have wireless broadband. She has dial-up at home. She has a lot of online assignments that are pretty difficult for her to do over dial-up but the campus is 30 miles away. This solves a big problem for her.

We copied some of Boston Public Library’s instruction sheets because they’re really simple to use. While I was there I also made a sign for their bathroom to tell people not to drink the water because of coliform contamination. Their previous sign just wasn’t cutting it. On the way home I tried to stop by the Tunbridge Library to set up some evening computer classes, but they weren’t open yet.

Tuesday – Today started with figuring out how to do a screengrab of a playing DVD so I could bring this funny librarian sighting to all of you. I stopped by RTCC, the vocational school where I work, to give my boss some flyers that I made for some of the adult education classes she is offering, then I headed up to Roxbury. In Roxbury I talked to the librarian about broadband, wireless and ADA options. The library is an adorable little box of a building, with no running water or bathroom.

The town has about 500 people and getting money to build on a bathroom seems like a tough job. I said I’d look into community grants for this sort of thing, and talked about what it would take to build the library a website. I said I could make a placeholder site by the end of the day [and did] and then we could talk about specifics of a larger site. We ate cookies and string cheese and talked about rural library services and the Department of Libraries and ALA. On my way out, I checked out a video about local beekeepers showing how they track honeybees to their “bee trees.” I headed back to RTCC where I staffed a PC lab during “drop in time” The weather was pretty good, so I mostly got GED students stopping by needing help with printing and opening documents.

Right before I closed up for the day a 75 year old woman dropped by and said she’d be interested in my computer class. The whole notion of having an open lab is a little new here so I told her that while we could get her started with projects, it was mostly practice time, not class time. She lives with her nephew and his wife and they have set her up with a Mac but she doesn’t like bothering them with questions about it. I said she should come back anytime. I wrapped up the day with Michael’s good news.

Wednesday I swam early in the day and stopped by the coffee shop in town that recently added wireless to their list of offerings. I caught up on paperwork and put up a few flyers for my drop in time. As I was leaving this gal came up to me and asked what the drop-in was for and I gave a rough outline. She said she had a document on her laptop that she wanted to print and asked if we had a printer. In the area I live, there are no Kinko’s or other printing places, so you either get your own printer, go to the library, or get it printed by a friend who has a job with a printer. I told her to swing by which she did later. Turns out that she has an old Mac laptop with no disk drive. Because of security issues at the lab, we can’t put unknown machines on the network, so I told her to go back to the coffee shop and email it to me and we’d print it tomorrow. The letter was a recommendation for a kid who had worked with her who was either going to college or getting a job. The woman lives in a house with no electricity (and no Internet access) so did all of her work at the cafe or other places with wifi. We got the letter printed out on her letterhead and put it in the mail.

In the evening I talked to the Texas Library Association and the Ohio Library Council about upcoming talks I’ll be doing for them. I received a reply email from Bill McKibben — an author whose work I admire — about helping him learn to update the lecture listings on his website. He said it sounded interesting, now I need to figure out how to actually DO that.

Thursday – More swimming in the morning. While I was in the shower, an older lady asked me about my computer classes and I gave her a flyer for the Adult Ed classes as well as the drop-in time. She asked if I’d read On Our Backs magazine, and I said I had sometimes but not recently. She said she thought I might like it and offered to bring it in next time we were both going to be at the pool at the same time. I made more flyers for Adult Ed, for the gardening classes and the mother/daughter automotive repair classes. I helped the school guidance counselor put the newsletter for the school on the school’s website.

I was hoping the older woman who stopped by earlier would come by, but she didn’t. However, a local therapist who was trying to set up Excel spreadhseets and forms for her business brought her laptop by and we looked at some of the things Excel could do for her. While we were there, her husband stopped by. He is a teacher at the high school and also has a website for his business that he wanted to update with new logos. I said I could do it but I’d need some information and we talked about how website changes work. Finished up the Excel spreadsheets, talked a little bit more about Excel, headed home.

Friday – Did some community moderating in the morning and replied to a lot of emails and worked on my A List post for a while which is what happened when I tried to write this post yesterday. Headed to the Ainsworth Library in Williamstown where we dug through boxes of Gates Foundation literature and software trying to figure out if it was really worth it to install the hardware security “solution” they provided the librarian with. We did a lot of talking about technology, discussing the PC/Mac divide, appropriate secuirity for public computers, wireless options and how to work with the OPAC software they use, and get it networked on all three computers.

The librarian there also had her 14 year old son who is being homeschooled so he would pop in and out as we were talking. I fixed her computer’s speakers, we tossed out some old documentation that was out of date. She told me about a job she had interviewed for where the job was 25 hours a week, salaried, no benefits. She said the job sounded interesting, but a part-time salaried position really wasn’t likely to cut it for her. From what she had heard, the previous librarian had worked all the time and the library was unlikely to be able to find a new librarian without making the job significantly different, raising pay or lowering workload expectations.

While I was there a patron came in who had a friend’s resume and letter she wanted to print. However it was in WordPerfect format and she couldn’t open it on the library computers. I showed the librarian how to install the conversion filters into her copy of Office (why they don’t come installed, I’ll never know) and we were able to print out this woman’s resume and cover letter. When we were done, I offered to email her the converted Word documents so that she could put them on her thumb drive at home and have a printable copy. After I left the library Greg and I grabbed a cup of coffee at a cafe in Montpelier before a friend’s birthday party. I did some more community moderation stuff — someone had posted an anonymous question and needed to add a follow-up, my co-moderator had gotten back from a trip and we caught each other up on the site — drank my coffee, worked more on my A List post and went to have pizza and cake.

So it’s Saturday morning now. My partner has a shift blogging for JURIST and I’m writing this. My sister is coming to visit and I think we’ll go take some pictures, maybe go to the roast turkey supper down the road to help them raise money to put a new roof on the Catholic church. Usually I put these sorts of posts over on my other blog but since this one was all librarylibrarylibrary I thought it might work out okay here as well.