DRM woes- when free isn’t

June 19, 2010

I am sure others have sorrier tales than this. I don’t even have an eReader yet. I use my iPhone. And I am a tightwad so I don’t tend to buy much . But I did succumb to a free book offer from Audible. I signed up and downloaded the book but then didn’t continue the membership. As I said I am a tightwad and anyway talking books put me to sleep.

But it was a free book offer so its mine right? Well only until I get a new computer (which I did last week) and want to retain the book. I have to reauthorize the account on the new computer. Only I didn’t continue it. So I can’t.

I can’t even retain it on the phone as it wont sync.



Me! Me! meme

June 18, 2010

Succumbed to this meme for lack of other inspiration …

Two names you go by:

  • Sue
  • Mum

Two things you are wearing right now:

  • Scarf
  • Socks

Two things you would want (or have) in a relationship:

  • Common values and goals
  • Laughter

Two things you like to do:

  • garden
  • plan house renovations

Two things you want very badly at the moment:

  • a neck and shoulder massage
  • an iPhone 4 or iPad (but it’s just new-techno-envy)

Two things you did last night:

  • watched Stargate Atlantis (again)
  • didn’t sleep well (again)

Two things you ate today:

  • Muesli- I make my own
  • Pad Thai- from the work cafeteria

Two people you last talked to:

Two things you’re doing tomorrow:

  • washing/shopping
  • upgrading itunes and syncing iphone to new lappy

Two Favorite Holidays:

  • long car trips with family
  • Europe with hubby before we had the kids

Two favourite beverages:

  • Tea
  • Cappuccino

Two things about me! Things you may not have known:

  • I am an introvert
  • I was born with a mild club foot

Two jobs I have had in my life:

  • Social Security call centre (before it was Centrelink)
  • ran a Dairy quality control lab

Two movies I would watch over and over:

Two places I have lived:

  • Broken Hill NSW
  • Woomera SA

Two of my favourite foods:

  • Roast leg lamb
  • Apple pie

Two places I’d rather be right now:

  • home on my couch
  • Venice (if I had a squillion $$)

Link post. Friendfeed for early June.

June 18, 2010

I often use threads that I see on Friendfeed as a source for my posts. I tried once to cross-post conversations I mark there to Twitter but Peta bought it to my attention that, as I was locked there, she couldn’t follow the links. Automating cross posting can be fraught.  I have an RSS feed from my discussions in FF to my GReader. The feed seems to break from time to time and a conversation that I thought was a DM appeared there. So I thought I would try a sort of edited summary link post to bring to your attention conversations of recent interest there. It’s way more time consuming but less dangerous. Unfortunately I haven’t yet found a way to embed these conversations on a WordPress.com blog (no iframe embed allowed) but I have tested these links and you should be able to follow them without joining up.

As with all social networks the value lies in the people that you follow. On Friendfeed I have managed to find a community of librarian and scientists both interested in scholarly communication and both contributing to a joint conversation. The links here are to the threads not the source posts as it’s the conversations that are of interest  and often contain links themselves. Unfortunately the titles do not necessarily give an indication of the turn that conversations can take.

So conversations that you may find of interest from the last couple of weeks:

There were others that originated from locked accounts that I can’t link to. If I had more time I should find a way to format these better to attribute the post authors and post commentary about why they were interesting to me. Let me know if you find this useful and I may make this a regular thing and solve those issues. Mind you this was a particularly interesting couple of weeks in the scholarly publishing/library space.

And one last one not on scholarly publishing but that I liked – please follow the link- the last comment I found relevant.

And I know I owe you all another post for yesterday. Mea culpa.

Unread …

June 16, 2010

I made a milestone yesterday (not on time but one can’t have everything) and finally finished a big database clean up job that’s been hanging around since March.

So this afternoon, after dealing with the daily emails and inquiries, instead of starting the next major job on my list I took a couple of hours and cleaned up my desk (oh look- it’s grey!).  As a librarian I fail at filing. I took a couple of trips to the recycling bins and sorted the rest. (There were at least three printouts of versions of Con’s and my VALA paper.)

As a result of the sorting and in the vein of Kathryn’s “Unread by my bed”, I bring you “Unread on my desk”, an illustrated but unguided look at the books and articles I have accumulated- unread. The books at least are from MPOW collection, so long as as no-one else requests them I can renew them until I do read them. I do intend to. As for the articles, I can only apologize to those labouring in inter-library loan and subscription departments and again assure them that I intend to read them. Sometime. Soon.

Article pile

Article pile

Book pile

Book pile

kids today!

June 15, 2010

I know I have posted before about how my kids make me proud. They can also cheer me up. After a hard day week month I have come home to hear the story from my Mr15 of the results from his mid year English exam.

Background. Recently there has been a milestone moment in a parents upbringing. We have spent the weekend considering his subjects for Year 11. With all the implication that those choices bring.  With these subjects will he get into whatever choice he wants to make at University? Will these choices fit the prerequisites? etc etc. There is the expectation that he will go to uni but his choices are so many. My Ms-now-18 was very set on what she wanted to do and her choices were clear. She did the big 5 in year 12  – English Lit, 2 x Math, Physics and Chemistry. Mr 15 loves his Drama and Art but also his science but he is not so “hardcore”. He had to nominate 7 so we settled on English, 1 math, Chemistry, Biology, Art , Drama and Media production. I worry that he is under selling himself but contrarily I know he is much more “creative” than his science geek parents and sister and would worry if he gave up his art and drama as well. So, gentle readers, you get that it’s a worrying time for a parent.

Back to the English exam. His question was “Discuss two or more texts that you have studied recently. Compare them and discuss techniques that they use…” (He is a bit vague on the detail here). His elective for this semester in English has been public speaking. For this they have been studying debate, battle speeches,  political speeches… and eulogies.

So for his two texts he chose to compare John Cleese’s eulogy for Graham Chapman and Helen Clarke’s eulogy for Edmund Hillary. From memory. With pointers on how Helen could learn from John.

He got a nice 27/30.

As he was telling me he was channeling Cleese with some silly walks thrown in.

He will be OK.

Slow travel story

June 14, 2010

The travel meme and a tweet yesterday reminded me of a great holiday we took in September 2003. We spent four weeks on my brother-in-law’s yacht traveling down the coast of Western Australia. Ms now 18 was in year 7 and Mr now 15 in year 4. Their teachers’ had no trouble letting them off school for the time as it was a great education.

We flew to Dampier had a look around the iron ore port facilities,  met the yacht then sailed to the Monte Bello Islands. I was more than a bit worried about the kids spending too much time on that bit of  land but we got stuck in the atoll for a few days as the wind turned.

The next leg took us past Barrow Island and North West Cape to Coral Bay. The map I have drawn isn’t accurate. I remember being closer into the coast off North West Cape and managed this picture.

This segment was the highlight. Have I mentioned that I love whales? This was spring and the height of the whale migration down the coast. It was whale soup. We had several scary moments with whales leaping right in front of the boat and coming right alongside. We saw so many we even got blase. “Meh- it’s just another whale.”

We called into Coral Bay, then Carnarvon, and finally left the yacht at Monkey Mia traveling back to Perth by Bus. The whole trip took 4 weeks and we could have traveled the distance much faster by car, bus or plane.

But if we had we wouldn’t have seen the whales.

(And it’s been a few years since I have seen one. I think I have withdrawal. Note to self: plan whale watching trip this spring. )

Sunday- resting

June 13, 2010

I seem to be letting this challenge add to my stress levels. Rather than give up completely I will leave you today with another nice thing currently in my garden.

iPhone meme plus extra Science

June 12, 2010

Jenelle and Kim shared their iPhone home screens with us. And this is mine.

I used to sort my apps by category but then read a tip which said to put the apps that you use every day on your home screen . Doh!- so mostly I use these every day or think that I should. Oz weather gets it’s data from BOM and has great radar maps. I paid for the upgrade. Friendfeed, GReader and the Perth Traffic are Safari bookmarks. The Yammer app is useful as a lot of people in my organisation post first thing in the morning Eastern States time- 2 hours before I get to work.

You call tell that I am a social networking (and Suduko) addict.

However their posts returned me to thinking about an ongoing project. I like to seek out science apps.  These are what I have at the moment:

In looking I have come to a few conclusions.

There is a difference between a app that a working scientist would use and one that just appeals to a science geek. Most of the apps on this screen probably fall into the second category. If you are a science geek have a look at pUniverse and SkyVoyager. They aren’t quite augmented reality as they don’t make use of the camera but do make use of all the location features to help you work out what is in the segment of the sky you are looking at. NASA is doing great work in promoting their science in the provision of apps or data for apps such as 3D Sun. Exoplanet is a nice database mashup app written by a student. I don’t know if the data exists all in one place anywhere besides this app. (And I didn’t know that there were 455 currently recorded exoplanets until I looked at the app)

Some apps  which fall into the first category cost a bit more than the usual so I haven’t actually downloaded them to assess them.

Most of the more common productivity and measurement apps would of course be also of use to the working scientist. Other useful categories include specialized calculators such as ChemiCal, and apps which are basically manuals translated into app form like Promega – hopefully with added interactivity. I have doubt whether an app designed to be of most use in a wet lab eg Promega or ChemiCal, would actually be used in an environment where the iPhone would be vulnerable or there would be a computer anyway. A nice development is the dedicated conference app like SciOnline10 and these aren’t restricted to the science field.

One type of app I can see a working scientist using is the one that helps keep them up to date with the science literature. As with the rest of us, spare time for reading is mostly while commuting, a time in which you are most likely to be using an iPhone. Papers stands out here. I just wish it synced with a PC or somebody would develop a PC equivalent so I can justify buying it. Examples such as the ACS mobile and AIP apps are worth a look. As you can’t access the full text unless you are on a subscribing network it would be nice to see some sort of cloud syncing solution besides emailing the abstracts to yourself. In arXiview you can access to full text and save results to a folder but I don’t see anyway to sync the folders to the cloud or larger machine for the use of the citation when writing your own paper. Martin Fenner has a recent and useful write up of Reference Management software where he also mentions that Nature and Scopus have iPhone apps now. There is also a Pubmed search app that I haven’t yet tried. Another limitation of these apps is that you can search and read but not annotate. You can bookmark in Papers but as I said above I haven’t tried it to see how useful the bookmarking is.

One gripe is that the the lack of advanced search or filter in the  iTunes store makes apps like these hard to find except by recommendation. Does anyone have more nice examples of apps that may appeal to the science geek or working scientist to share with me?

TV meme

June 11, 2010

Now for something completely different.

Kudos to Mal Booth for this meme (Sorry Con. I couldn’t do the book one without revealing that I am one of those weird librarians that have lost the reading habit. Oh … wait …)

Do you snack while watching TV? Snack? Everything especially dinner but not breakfast.

What is your favourite TV show? Currently. Dr Who, House, NCIS, Castle, Spicks and Specks, Being Human, Big Bang Theory

What TV show makes you run to change channels? Commercial “Current Affairs”,Oz Soaps, Most sport, Reality TV

How do you view your TV guide: online, on-screen, newspaper, magazine, other? Kind of online, we use the EPG built into our media centre software which also has a built in web page that can be viewed from our laptops when connected to the home WLAN.

Have you ever been surveyed for your TV-viewing habits or do you know anyone who has been? Yes, We actually had a rating meter in our house for a while but didn’t make the distance to collect our reward. It was only linked to one machine and could only be a “traditional” TV and near a phone point. I remember that it was a pain so we asked them to take it away after a couple of months. The restrictions of the technology meant it certainly wasn’t accurately capturing our viewing habits. (We had multiple TVs even then.)

Do you watch TV news and/or current affairs regularly? Yep, usually more than one but at least the ABC.

Do you watch any TV “soaps”? (Truth please, even if it is embarrassing.) Probably given a broad definition of soap (is Glee a soap?)- but not any of the current offerings usually thought of under that genre. (However, when I was younger we avidly watched “Country Practice” and “The Sullivans” and then when I was at Uni my grandmother, who I was boarding with, got me hooked on “Days of our lives”. Work replaced that addiction.)

What other series shows do you try not to miss? Other than I have already listed? I can’t think of much. We record anything we may miss- also we have 2 tuners so we don’t miss much due to conflicts either.

Any previous series or shows you really liked? How far back can I go?  Monty Python, the Goodies, Star Gate, Dr Who, Star Trek, Torchwood, the early Red Dwarf …

Do you have pay TV or are the digital channels enough? Digital (and other means) suffice.

Do you only watch certain TV shows online? No. Well, like Fiona, they aren’t online when we watch them. Unless you can call Dr Horrible or the Guild “TV” shows.

Do you regularly use services like ABC catch-up or other online replays? No. I have but I wouldn’t say regularly (and see previous answer).

Do you ever pay any attention to the adverts? No-except maybe to wince or to yell back at them. Auto skip is a truly wonderful invention.

Do you multi-task while watching TV & if so what else are you doing? Well lets put it this way. The sofa in the living room has powerboards and laptop chargers positioned at each end and we selected it partially for its nice wide laptop holding arms. I also have the news on while cooking.

Is there a TV show that makes you laugh out loud? IT Crowd, Spicks and Specks.

Have you ever said no to a social invitation to stay at home and watch TV? (Truth again please.) Mind telling us what the show was? Not that I can remember.

Do you record TV shows & if so why and how (VCR, DVD recorder, TIVO, laptop, etc.)? How: We have a computer that hubby and the kids built from components with 2 tuners, a DVD recorder that’s not often used and 2TB of storage. It runs Ubuntu and Mythtv. It is positioned so its “hidden” behind the screen. I am quite proud of this set up. It was a family effort and fits our DIY way of doing things. We did it so that we could upgrade without having to replace the whole thing. Blu ray was looming large at the time but we mostly play things from the hard drive not the DVD. Why: Actually on our set up everything is recorded and we can rewind or pause “live TV”. But also many of my favourite shows are on simultaneously or after I go to bed or while hubby wants to watch the motorcycle racing. Recording means that you are never tied to a schedule. Feel like a movie but a show is on? Just record the show and watch it later. It also means its easier to compromise and watch something as a family or let Mr15 and hubby game on the “nice” screen and watch what I wanted to see later. We are much more discerning now and watch live TV less than we used to (and skip ads).

Least favourite TV personality/actor/character? There are so many that I probably don’t even know. Bert Newton. The people on the football panel shows.

Most popular TV personalities/actors/character? Tennant as the Dr, John Barrowman as Jack. Richard Dean Anderson as Jack (SG1). Seems to be a theme here so to divert you I will throw in Helen Mirren for being and playing a strong “older” woman.

Have you ever seen anything really memorable on TV (not news/events – made for TV drama, etc.)? There is plenty that have left a lasting mark on popular culture. I remember watching Monty Python as a kid and they were just so radical for the time. No-one was quite getting it but we were all hooked. It was great being able to buy the DVDs and introducing the kids to them. Mr15 knew that he was at the right high school when his new peers were also referencing Monty Python jokes.

Do you prefer TV series or stand-alone shows? Series

Is there a specific show you find yourself recommending over and over? Dr Who

Why I work where I do

June 10, 2010

I have been in my current place of work 3 years now. It is a good fit with me as my first degree was a BSc and I am married to a geologist. The clients here are a mix of geologists and engineers but with a fair sprinkling of chemists, physicists, software developers and others  mixed in. It means that, although I do everything from circ to ILL to shelving, I also get to do some  meaty literature searches which keep me on my toes.

The last couple of weeks have been difficult and we are coping with some hard changes. I needed reminding of why I like working here and yesterday I got it.

There is simply some VERY COOL stuff going on which I like being part of and like being able to support. But this stuff doesn’t sometimes pass the selection filter of the main stream media. So I am going to talk about work but nothing that isn’t already part of a media release or two…

You may have heard of the SKA Radio Telescope project and it’s pilot the Pathfinder (ASKAP). Well the “quite large”  data centre (named the Pawsey Centre) that will receive the data stream from the Pathfinder is being built right next door. I will be able to watch it progress. And it will require a large energy input so they will build a geothermal plant. Right next door. The people that are doing the research and project management to build these things are my clients. And I get to help.

Yesterday the Prime Minister was on site to announce funding for the geothermal plant and a “hybrid solar storage and generation plant” in the Murchison. Part of my “other duties as directed” for the day was to be in the audience for the announcement and, I although I am not a fan of politicians, the not so closeted greenie and geek in me thought it was just very cool.

My view