one book short

Many years ago, I used to read wine reviews in the SMH authored by Huon Hooke and liked his approach: a mixture of info and chatty. From there I ended up buying the Penguin Wine Guide which was co-authored by Hooke and Mark Shields at the time. I blogged some years ago…ok, nearly a decade back, about collecting the Guides. In that post, I commented on visiting Berkelouw’s Book Barn in Berrima and managing to pick up a guide or two. Alas my last trip wasn’t so lucky and it’s been many years since I last saw a Penguin Wine Guide I didn’t have.

Cover of 1993-94 Penguin Wine GuideThere are 22 editions in the series that I’m aware of with three published in the time since that initial post in 2010 bring my total collection to 20. I have used sites such as abebooks for tracking down other collectable titles, yet oddly never thought to search for the remaining wine guides. Popped them into the search box and found the 1993-94 edition in Germany of all places. I think postage was more than the book on that one and it arrived a couple of weeks later.

As far as I can tell I have but one remaining, the first in the series: 1990. I wasn’t sure if it existed and online searches didn’t bring up a great deal. Nor did I have the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) which would have narrowed it down. Following a few searches I discovered that the State Library of NSW had 14 of them, thankfully including the 1990 edition. I was able, as a member of the Library, to request the 1990 edition for viewing. I figured this would confirm that it actually existed and I could take a photo of the bibliographic data to improve my chances of finding my own copy.

Shortly before it arrived, I remembered another tool, that any member of the State Library has access to: Books in Print. Using that tool I was able to confirm that the ISBN was 0140146261 which made it easier to find as each edition has its own ISBN. This was confirmed when I got to view the actual book and take photos of the front cover and bibliographic data. No luck finding it so far though I did have a near miss recently. It popped up on amazon via a third party reseller but didn’t appear on the reseller’s own website. Plus the reseller’s amazon account wouldn’t deliver to Oz even though the reseller itself did. I asked a good friend in the UK to take delivery and I figured I had plenty of time as no one would want such an old edition. Unfortunately it has disappeared in the last day or so and I sorta suspect/hope that it may have been an erroneous entry.

Wine Guide Bibliographic data

I shall continue to look out for it in secondhand bookshops and perhaps set up some alerts online. On the other hand, I’m pretty happy that I’m only one short :-) I remain amused by the date expressions on each edition:

Cover of 1990 Penguin Wine Guide1991

i babble

I am vague.

Words spew out of my mouth…unstoppable.

That has been my day. Spent in a bubble of vague babblings. Woe to those who encountered me this day. Feel for the poor sales rep, I took visiting to libraries. He’s learning the ropes of libraries and databases and such. Then he got stuck with me. On a day when I was very vague, very disorganised, very little of what I needed to be.

“This is a library” I said “those are books” I said “…and computers too”

We wandered about, upstairs and downstairs…through two libraries. We chatted about searching: the way we do it, the way it sort of works, even played with a federated search at a real library. I think it was a real federated search too.

I am starting to relax a little…my babbling seems mostly of the mouth, and less of the fingers. Thus my worst babbles will escape permanent record.

I babbled so much I missed the first film, Lebanon, at festival. I heard it was good though rather overwrought…somewhat unsurprising as it was shot entirely within the confines of a tank. I arrived at my seat with minutes to spare before the next movie…rushed, I had not taken time to stop, to remember that I was at filmfest once more. Felt a bit strange. The second movie, Heartbeats, was good…ish. The director was more interested in telling a story through framing and image and in mood. He likes to use feet and shoes as something of a narrative device too. It was a story of two friends, guy and girl, who fall for the same chap. Unrequited. They play, they compete, they tussle, they get hurt. Not bad and an interesting start to the evening. A lot less angsty than I was anticipating and a more delicate mood perhaps than I’ve managed to convey.

I had had some hopes of this evening’s blog, being of a poem’s form as that’s the sort of space my head is almost occupying. Alas, such grand designs were dashed by the third movie of the evening, Howl. This was a mix of recreated reading, interspersed with reconstructured scenes from a trial. Howl is probably the best known work of Allen Ginsberg, the publication of which sparked an obscenities trial over whether the book should be banned. The movie is a retelling of the poem and trial, combined with animated effects to illuminate some of the imagery created by reading the poem. The poem was well read and there were also acted interviews with a younger Ginsberg. It was an interesting take of something that is for me mostly historical, a matter of which I am vaguely aware. To my shame, I am still yet to read Howl in its entirety.

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 offers domain hosting. This may be a useful interim possibility for relocating my domain (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.

to search and, not necessarily, to find

It’s been a funny old day. I had a query from a customer today regarding a possible interface bug in our advance search. Most of my work these days seems to have degenerated to a mishmash of data entry, account maintenance and repetitive dull stuff. Yet, the job still has attractions. Today however, I had a proper librarian type question and thinking back it was something of a pleasure to discuss boolean searching, the need for brackets and search phrase construction. It was a reminder of one of the things I like about being a librarian, and that is being able to search, to have skills to search effectively, to seek information wherever it may hide, be it electronic, paper, fiche, film, or even papyrus (not that I’ve fielded one of those sorts of questions as yet). I don’t know if the librarian was satisfied with my response and there may well be an inconsistency in the search interface itself. As I commented, I have a sense that our search interfaces are designed more with the patron/student/customer in mind, than the librarian. Things a patron would forgive, probably not even notice, any good librarian would pick up. I don’t have a great deal of access these days to competitor products but one thing about my own company’s search that I like is that it still provides the ability to construct a full command line style search with nested boolean, etc.

Some of the skills required to construct a good search, or rather an effective search (one that returns primarily the results on topic with minimal superfluous material) are taught at the library school level. It seems that it is still the case, that some library schools are using DIALOG as a means to instruct in the construction of search strategies. When I got to library school, I’d come out of a comp sci degree (not to mention history and philosophy, ever the professional student was I), most of the tech stuff was easy, very easy, as was most of the search stuff, but DIALOG impressed me. DIALOG was serious searching, on the scale of some of the database programming I used to do in Oracle, nested searches, unix shell like options. It was a database that taught librarians how to do stuff compsci folk struggled with, and drove home the importance of good syntax, the need for being dogmatically clear about you asked for, not to mention a database constructed with the searcher in mind. Whereas these days, the database is mostly a collection of sources with a search box tacked on. In database vendor circles, they like to talk about the granularity of the database, the importance of the indexing, the metadata, where the information about the content can be as important as the content itself. For vendors, searching the data and retrieving useful results is very important and most recognise a need to support the needs of the serious searcher. So too, it’s often recognised that many searchers aren’t at home in the world of DIALOG and just want to find a few sources for that paper that’s due the next morning.