excitement on the bank

I can see once filmfest is out of the way, that I’m going to have a whole series of more think oriented posts to propel me through the rest of June [I say hopefully :-)]. I now have 4 semi written posts in draft mode, at least one of which will need to be split in two. My head is still a little zombie-ish, though not as bad as yesterday – whilst it’s hard to think thoughts through, I am at least jotting down thoughts as they occur. Prior to the June challenge I had fallen out of the habit of writing things down (admittedly that’s electronically and not that paper stuff). A little bit of me wishes that filmfest would hurry up and finish so I can think about such things. Though really, it’s just procrastination and if I did have plenty of time, even less would be achieved.

Finding it a struggle to keep up at the moment; not to mention I also have stuff to do for ALIA Access too. Co-convening is a weird place for me to be; even stranger, given the Camp approach, I have speakers not to manage and I am at least successfully not managing that aspect…mostly because I have no idea how. I keep waiting for someone else to tell me what to do, then I remember that the rest of the committee is waiting for me to tell them :-) And so we fudge ever forward, progress is being made but this is very definitely a leap out of my comfort zone – getting out of comfort zones is good, though often a scary thing too.

Oh bugger, this post was just going to be two film reviews. Oops! Sorry about that, I got distracted. I really don’t want to work today as I keep having thoughts that need development. However, this is the busy time of year and my break will soon be over so on to the film reviews. The good news is that I have manage to obtain a ticket to the Guy Maddin film, Dracula, pages from a virgin’s diary, on Sunday night at the Opera House. Maddin is one of my favourite directors ever and it would be remiss of me to miss one of his films on the big screen.

On to last night’s films, starting with Lola, directed by Brillante Mendoza, set in The Philipines. A studied piece on folk in poverty, especially two grandmothers: one who’s grandson was killed, the other whose grandson did the killing. This event caused both women much hardship, the former trying to get money to pay for the funeral, while the other trying to get money for an amicable settlement to get her grandson out of gaol. This was set against a rainy environment, with floodwaters, which served to accentuate the hardship both were dealing with. It was also a look at how justice is handled and how the community works. An insight, with feeling, of how life works at the lower end of the economic scales.

The second movie was a sellout. Exit Through the Gift Shop by Banksy. A film by a graffiti artist about graffiti artists, not to mention the change from being covert street art to an accepted art form, attracting the big end of town. This was a lot of fun, it flowed well, and had things to say. Occasional comments with various artists and associated folk in LA and London. Some scenes of the shadowy Banksy at work; a few of the artists had their faces blurred on screen. As Banksy commented, they operate in a sort of legal grey area, ie the cops can bust them. The film referred a bit to the move from straight spraypainting to the use of stencils, transfers and other such to paint their works. It had things to say about the nature of art and how it’s received and perceived. It was fascinating and fun with a good sense of humour throughout; would love to watch it again.

of travel

As always, my travel plans have changed many times. Some of my current travel plans are almost frustrating given how well they line up with the original plans. Having travelled less for work in recent years, this year seems to be a return to something resembling my early years with the company. Already this year, I have had two trips to Melbourne, one of which included a detour via Canberra. The year ahead includes further trips to Melbourne, a trip to Albury, another to Mexico, not to mention Brisbane and rounding out the year (so far) with a trip to New Zealand. All of that is either work related or professional development. I had hoped to holiday in NZ separately and do a trip to Africa with a mate.

The one trip I had originally planned for this year was to visit Easter Island in July to witness a total eclipse of the sun. There’s usually a total eclipse of the sun most years though the ideal viewing location varies. I happened to be in Europe in 1999 and travelled down to Munich to witness such…alas it rained all day – though the darkness passing over the landscape was still impressive. I have friends who are Astronomy enthusiasts and chase eclipses, trying to see it each year; last year China was the best location. Visiting Easter Island is something I’ve long wanted to do and to do so in conjunction with an eclipse would have been awesome. Unfortunately thousands of people are all converging on the island, way more than it can handle. I realised several months ago that the trip was logistically impossible. Then I was looking at doing a trip to Africa with a mate, but didn’t have sufficient leave accrued…in hindsight, that would have limited the Easter Island trip too.

Anyways, the reason for the frustration is that work is sending me to Mexico for the International Sales Conf and this would have bookended the eclipse trip rather nicely. I would have started with the eclipse, spent a few weeks seeing sites in Sth America (Galapagos Islands, Maachu Pichu, etc), and finished off with the work thang. Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be. The Mexico trip is definitely on. The conf is in Merida, which is in the SE bit of the country and is surrounded by interesting stuff. I realised last week that Cuba is not far away, however there are no ferries so I would need to fly. Various coffee growing countries are to the south as well.

At the end of November, this year’s LIANZA conference is to be held in Dunedin, NZ. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the conference and I will be attending with work. As per usual, I’ll be on the Gale stand, but will be able to catch several papers as well. No doubt, I’ll squeeze in a few tweets too :-) The current plan is to fly into Auckland, stay a night, then fly to Christchurch. From there, myself and a sales rep will drive down to Dunedin. There are flights available but the drive option sounded too good to pass up. Post conference, I’m going to take a week or so off, perhaps hang out in the wilds around Dunedin, and go to a few wine tastings in the Otago region. I still sort of hope to throw in another trip to NZ too. I haven’t been for two years, nor to Wellington for three, and I miss it. Would be nice to have a long weekend in Wellington and perhaps the surrounding countryside. Just to see if I stil like the place as much as I think I do. I said to someone recently that Wellington is my second favourite place in the world…the first being Edinburgh, Scotland.

a collection of notes

As I spoon into my latest tub of Serendipity ice cream (much to the regret of my waistline), I have been reading on the future of the book in digital. Craig Mod has put together a nice piece on the benefits of digital: both in terms of disposable books (a fair chunk of most fiction) and keepable books ie in the digital age; printed books will have their own significance and appreciation. I think this manages to capture my own approach: my fetish with regard to nice editions yet my desire for something portable and light to read.

For some books and authors, I am keen to have a nicely bound edition, but for the most part, what I read are disposable books. Books that are nice to see on the shelf, but ultimately, I am less likely to treasure or read again. Though “reading again” is not necessarily a boundary in terms of books I want in print. Reading once, in a nice edition, is often sufficient. Though I realised last night that if my home were to burn down, I already have too many nice books to grab and save – better to let them burn and start afresh once more I think. Speaking of which, I really must get round to contents insurance one of these days. Touch wood.

With all that said, and my predilection for things bound nicely, I have decided not to get my nicely bound edition of Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I’ve not read it but Gaiman has become one of my favourite writers and I do have some lovely editions of others of his works. As I’m trying to arrest my rate of spending and perhaps save some money for a change I managed to refrain, though at leastt in part because I am hoping to buy the cheaper versions of The Club Dumas and The Martian Chronicles. The latter particularly as it’s going to be a comprehensive gathering of all related tales – including one of my favourite stories from primary school: “Dark They Were And Golden Eyed”. Whereas The Club Dumas, is a book I’ve read, having seen the Polanski movie on which it is based, starring Johnny Depp, The Ninth Gate. Fond of both, I’d sorta like a nice edition of the book…which I will re-read. So too, the same Press, Subterranean Press, is doing a nice hardcover of a favourite Oz Author, Terry Dowling. I have several of his in paperback and not read any of what will be contained in this volume…and it is a reasonable price, rather than an “eep!” price.

In other areas, I have managed to get in to the 2010 Ideas Forum at the National Library. Once again, they have an interesting lineup of speakers, and already I am already aware of several friends and colleagues attending. My boss has been very supportive of my attending such, as it contributes to my own professional development. I’ve gotten better at asking for stuff rather than waiting for stuff to happen. Not only that, the trip coincides with some friends going to Melbourne for the Mueck exhibition, which I mentioned to my boss and as a result I’ll be working in Melbourne for the following week as well. Serendipity.

vala once again

I’m having something of an odd time. A good time. A time as part of a larger community of shared interests. There’s people I know, with stories to tell. There is buzz and chat and depth and laughter and most of all, friendship. I have been looking forward to #VALA2010 for months and it is proving to be wonderful and everything I hoped for. I work for a vendor yet feel most at home in the library community; they are my peers, my friends, my colleagues. They made me feel welcome.

I’ve been in Melbourne town for a week, having arrived a week ago for the company sales conference. I’ve been careful and taken it slow; pacing myself. Admittedly all such efforts were cast asunder on Saturday and Sunday and Monday, as I caught up with various library folk.

Twitter too, has provided, or facillitated, conversation and connection. I finally got the hang of twitter mid last year, once I moved it from SMS to client-based on my laptop;nevermind the serious smartphone envying I’m currently experiencing. I work in an office mostly by myself, occasionally surrounded by sales reps; no techies to speak of. My twitter community, those who follow and engage, have provided me with a working environment of sorts. Utterly unexpected. I feel disconnected now without that access; disconnected without that community of friends and colleagues.

I am rambling.

VALA started properly yesterday with the OCLC API Mashathon Boot Camp. This was an all day session for coders, or rather, it turned out to be for folk who are code aware, much to the relief of at least half the attendees. It was led by one of my library gods: Roy Tennant. I’d even convinced my boss to send me to LIANZA a few years ago as Roy was giving a keynote. The boot camp didn’t have much time for coding but that was ok. There was plenty of time for ideas, for interaction, for exchange, for communication. For me, it was the first time I’d been in a room where most people were twittering including the presenters :-)

Boot camp was as much about sharing company as sharing data. Meeting new folk and new data streams. If there’s a theme emerging from VALA, it’s likely to be that of data streams. Exposing the data, developing access, and allowing others to re-purpose that data and create new tools, or enhance old ones. Create stuff, put it out there, and let other folk run with it. It’s about contributing to the community rather than keeping it to yourself.

VALA2010, for me, seems to be about creating a sharing, caring environment on so many levels.

george r.r. martin is not your bitch

Sexual politics of the title aside, I think Neil Gaiman’s comments on the nature of the muse and writing are well worth a read. I recently subscribed to Gaiman’s feed and am finally after many, many years reading The Sandman properly. In his blog, there is a down to earth honesty that appeals. He is a writer first and foremost; and human being too. I subscribe to feeds based on my interest in the content, and I like what Gaiman writes. I also like his physical stuff:  Sandman and The Graveyard Book and so forth; stuff that’s published. In print and nice bindings. I’m currently midway through Vol. 3 (of 4) of the Absolute editions of The Sandman. Beautifully bound, enlarged, etc…mmmm. As a bookaholic, or bibliomaniac or other such term, the 4 volumes of The Sandman are some of the best in my collection. They sit well.

While my life is spent, or not spent…I am spending on books at least. Living still, in the home of my childhood, surrounded by boxes, depressed by many things, not least, my inability to gain a home in my favourite neighbourhood. I missed out on a house and was gazumped on a warehouse conversion. I’m in the running for another conversion that is above the one I missed out on. Though I don’t feel sufficiently lucky at the moment

My own writing has faltered as has my reading much. Just in time I squeezed out a dodgy abstract for VALA, I suspect it’s even dodgier than my last effort. That last one was accepted and I think this one would bookend it nicely. Oh well, if it fails to make the grade, that’s ok. An attempt was made. I have time but no mental space for writing. I miss my words; I have confidence they will return though I know not when.

In the mail today arrived yet another purchase, perhaps I should blog about my new arrivals as they arrive. That might inspire other things, other thinking. Today’s acquistion is a new work, of old, by JRR Tolkien, edited by his son, Christopher. This one is “The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun” which I think is based on the old Norse myths of the dragonslayer. Wanker that I am, I have the deluxe edition, nicely bound, and in slipcase. There is a satisfaction in holding a nicely bound volume in your hand. Paperbacks rarely come within cooee. I’ve mostly avoided the Tolkien publishing industry but I’m happy to have acquired this edition. It cost about AUD $80 delivered from the UK, and will be available locally for about $150. A score.

Speaking of Gaiman, I was recently in Kinokuniya, and scored a first edition, also nicely bound with artwork on the cover (once the paper cover is removed), of his Anansi Boys, for AUD $41. There is one more in the shop.

I refuse to buy the OED, though it is still a mere AUD $1,300. It will not be bought until I have my own place to put it in. If I get the place I want, then too, I will get a large painting for the wall…as that is how I want to honour my father…something larger than life, something that dominates the room, something that brings pleasure, something that is looking for a reaction, something that encapsulates the ol’ bugger.

running around

Conference season seems to be looming though some folk are rushing ahead. There’s a few conferences in local circles coming around such as NLS4, ALIA, LIANZA, and even an unconference or two. A few too many for anyone in their right mind to attend all of though it is good to make one or two. It was interesting to read of strategies for choosing conferences, whether you go to the same one every year or a different one. My own approach has been to rely on MPOW which usually sends me to one of the majors each year (usually VALA or Information Online) and occasionally other conferences such as LIANZA (twice) and NSW Public Libraries (twice I think). Plus if there’s one I really want to attend or prefer to attend as a delegate (with my librarian hat on instead of my vendor one), I’ll pay my own way. Sometimes work sends me to ones I really want to go to too, as per LIANZA last year. Having started the year with two good conferences, I’m hoping there’s one more in the wings but no idea as yet.

odds ‘n’ bods

My life is rather fuller than I’d like at the moment, particularly as my house (jointly owned with my sister) is now on the market. My stress levels are way high, my level of forgetfulness is way high, and so on. Nevermind that I’m also trying to find, with lots of wonderful assistance from my girlfriend, a new place to live.

I’d just like to point out that the leather Shorter is now 45% off. I have decided that should either the AU $ achieves parity with the US $, or the leather Shorter reaches 60% off, I will buy a second copy to use at work. The full OED remains steady at 33% off, should it reach 45% off, I will buy it. It is already a bargain but my life is too uncomfortable to consider it right now. There is a leather edition of the full OED too but I ain’t that rich…alas.

Of searches and stuff, I happened upon a link to a search engine, from last year I think, called “Search Mash“. The link is new and contains a summary of a talk on search engines (I think) by Mary Ellen Bates at a conference this week. An initial play reveals that it runs fast, has some nifty features eg start typing anywhere on the page and it replaces the current search with what you type. Also has an option to link to a site specific search from within the results. According to the notes, this is an unbranded google site. It runs sweet.

Also looking good places to see the Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis, a site of long desired to behold. There is a possibility that I may be in Finland later in the year, in which case it would be very tempting to travel further north and see if I can catch a glimpse. The time of year matters and it’s good to see folk, already have tools available for prospective watchers.

It looks like it’s been available for years, but I’ve just noticed that wordpress.com offers domain hosting. This may be a useful interim possibility for relocating my domain https://snail.ws/ (currently ably looked after by one of my best mates). One of these days I will get round, honest guv, to getting a self hosted option going and will move my blog there. Main contender at the moment is LISHost, especially as it’s a library based operation. It seems to work well and I’ve been following various blogs hosted on it over the years, nevermind LISNews itself.


Returned home earlier this evening after a lovely few days in Brissy. Was there primarily for a conference, Beyond the Hype, at QUT, and also got to meet my girlfriend’s brother and his family, who very kindly hosted the pair of us during our stay. A full on conference that was everything I’d hoped it would be, not to mention a chance to meet and hang out with a great bunch of librarians. Will blog in more detail later. Feeling a bit exhausted, and I fly to Melbourne tomorrow for a week or so. First up is VALA, to be followed a few days later by my company’s internal sales conference. Gauranteed that I will be very, very tired by the end of my stay.

BTH was also the first proper roadtest of my Eee, and it performed wonderfully! Twas a joy to unfold it on the plane and have space beside for a coffee and iPod. Was able to work comfortably on the way up. During the conference, it was great and as near as I can tell, I took a few thousand words in notes. Power was one of my concerns but a friend had the answer, Kathryn bought her own powerboard, and 3 of us sat up the back near one of the only powerpoints, all plugged in via Kathryn’s board. No luck with accessing the QUT wireless network so was unable to live blog. Having a small, light laptop meant it was easy to carry (no lugging) and didn’t dominate my seating space, whether I was in a lecture theatre or on a plane. This is the closest I’ve come to a truly portable computer. I’d still like something about half the weight again and I need to explore options for continuous net access, probably 3 or nextg or something like that. Then I can have net access everywhere I go…well, assuming I can get a signal :-)

conferencing and stuff

I’ve had a couple of bits of nice news in the last couple of months. I had been part of a group paper for VALA, unfortunately whether it be my inability to write a paper collaboratively or simply continuing personal dramas, I failed to contribute to it. Actually it’s not necessarily an inability to collaborate, it could just be that I see deadlines as fluid and flexible whereas everyone else meets them :-) While I’m sad that I let folk down, I’m also glad that they got the paper done without me. I’ve also been keen to get my name taken off the paper and requested it a couple of times. Got a very nice email in the last week asking if I’d be ok with my name being removed given my lack of contribution – the person in question had missed my emails requesting the same and I’m guessing was rather relieved when I happily responded that removing my name would be fine :-) In other news, I’ve been asked to chair a session at Beyond the Hype in a couple of weeks. That at least I can do, and do on time, and as I know all 3 folk in my session, should be able to mostly adlib it. Well, I’ll be reading up on all 3 papers and people anyway because adlibbing works best for me, when I have a good foundation of knowledge. Preparation does wonders and it means if my muse fails on the day, I have a fallback position.

beyond the hype

Early Feb 2008, just before VALA, there’s a library symposium in Brisbane that looks rather tempting. Pricing has just come out and it’s just over $200 for ALIA members to attend the 2 day symposium. It’s devoted to 2.0 type stuff and importantly for me, there’s going to be a workshop on open source software for library management systems – an area I’m currently exploring for a work project. The symposium covers a fri and sat which means I only have to get one day off work; as it’s work related I may be able to claim it as a work day. Plus I might be able to visit friends in Brissy on the Sunday before flying back to Sydney. Much to ponder.