Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Here's a real life weekend funny...decorate your Christmas tree with reindeer poop.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Free Computer Upgrades for Life

Fujitsu is offering an interesting computer deal just in time for the holiday season--free computer upgrades for life. That really puts my lifetime subscription to Rolling Stone to shame! Certain rules and guidelines the link to find out more.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This Years Wii...The Kindle?

If you're hoping for a Kindle this Christmas, then it looks like you're out of luck. Amazon says the wait time on Kindle's is currently 11 to 13 weeks. What is it about Amazon selling these things as Christmas presents? The same thing happened last year, and people who ordered them didn't get them until almost the summer of 2008!

Used Kindle's are selling on eBay for over $450 dollars, and new ones are fetching over $600. So apparently I can make a 100 dollar profit for giving my month old Kindle up.

After Oprah's big Kindle show in late October, the wait time was 2 to 3 days; by early November it was 2 to 3 weeks; and now they won't come until next year. Might was well wait for the rumored new Kindle that's due out sometime in 2009.

Monday, November 24, 2008

SJSU Interview

SLIS Descriptor has an interview with me in the November Issue (available online)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Role Models

I am a bit conflicted; I saw Role Models with my wife the other day, and, while I want to say it was funny, I equally feel guilty for paying money to see a movie that exploits little kids.

I knew what I was getting into when I saw why it was rated R; rauchy humor doesn't really bug me. My problem in the movie isn't why it was rated R, it was who was making it R--often it was kids--mostly it was Ronnie, the little boy who played Seann William Scott's little buddy. The only thing he liked more then saying the F word was talking about how much he liked "bubbies" (something that he saw later in the movie, which was another thing that really bothered me--what parent let's there child act in a movie that requires them to see nudity?); it's bad enough to put a little kid in a movie that has adult's swearing left and right, but when it's the kids doing the swearing it's even worse.

The reason Ronnie sweared was completely uncalled for; it was shocking for the sake of shocking. Would the movie have been funny without it? Yes.

I have a feeling somewhere in Hollywood parents were sat down and they had to sign a contract saying it was okay for their little kid to do this.

People used to drop f-bombs with a little more class; when they said it, it truly was shocking and even funny. Now it's purely shock, and shock carries no lasting value. It's actually become just sad.

I'm not for censoring...except for kids; if that violates their rights, so be it--they're kids, their rights are supposed to be violated. Whoever Ronnie is in real life, his right to be a innocent child was taken away by some producer who said he could make him a star--and I paid ten bucks to support that.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quiet Please Black Friday Sale

I am not a fan of the Post Office at Christmas; for this reason (and because I'm basically all out of books), I will no longer sell signed books off my web page as of Monday, December 1. I do not plan on selling copies after the new year either. The cost is $20.00 and that includes shipping.

If you would like to give a signed copy to someone as a gift, please order them before that date; also, if you want it personalized, make sure and say so when you order the copy.

I will also include a free copy of The Library Tree to anyone who orders during this last week (not much of a gift sense the book is already available). I will continue to sell The Library Tree until I sell out completely.

If you want an unsigned copy, I suggest using Amazon, which currently sells the book for $16.50.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Mobile Computer Lab

A few years ago, I had a conversation with an IT guy about computers at the library that he worked at; he explained that all the computers were leased for about 400 each for two or three years; it didn't make sense, and I told him so; for less then 400 bucks you could easily buy a desktop that you would never have to give back. He argued that if things went bad on that, it might not be covered in the warranty, and the cost of upkeep were just too high. I found the whole conversation frustrating, because he was getting paid to upkeep the computers and would save the library a lot of money by not having to get a new lease every two years. Times have changed, computers are even cheaper, and he's probably still leasing them for the library.

Today, however, I think a bigger argument is why would a library lease when netbooks are so cheap? (for reviews, see yesterdays blog) The time of the 200 dollar, and maybe 100 dollar, notebook is here, and I think it's time for libraries to reconsider the idea of checking out computers. A few libraries have experimented with the idea, but the cost of mini notebooks are so cheap that it's more of a reality for even the smallest library.

The problem I've seen in many older branch libraries is there's simply no room for computers; bookshelves are often removed to make space; new libraries are obviously built with computers in mind, but what about the little guys?

As you probably know from my blog yesterday, I am a new fan of the MSI Wind. Not only is this a great computer for the average user, it's a great computer for the average library. Instead of finding odd nooks to handle large desktops, why not check out computers? For less then 10,000 dollars, a library could have twenty+ brand new notebooks. The battery life on a computer with a 3 cell battery is about two hours, so a patron can't horde it all day if you don't give them power supply.

Frequently, even in new libraries, computer labs are in the least desired part of the library--stuffy rooms with no natural lighting.

A patron has the freedom to roam the library with laptops, and use the computer wherever they're comfortable. Theft is not a problem if you have a policy that requires valid library card and ID. Obviously the right check out policy is the biggest issue, but it can be done.

I think the time has come for libraries to seriously consider the mobile computer lab.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Death of a Laptop

My laptop has been dying several months; I didn't want for it to happen, because I love that laptop, but, as a writer, it's something that happens all to often. I type over one thousand pages a year; that means in less then a year the letters on the keyboard begin to quickly wear off. This is soon followed by keys that stick. Those things you can live with, but when the computer begins frequently locking up or crashing, then you know it's time to start looking for a laptop.

For the past two years, I have been using a Toshiba Portege R200; it's less then three pounds, and can go for about 4 to 5 hours if the wi-fi is on, and 6 to 7 hours if the wi-fi is off. The new Toshiba R600's are awesome, and equally light with great battery life; the problem for me this time around is I don't have $1,500 to $2,000 to spare on a laptop. I also knew that I could not go without a laptop.

I could have gone with the cheap 400 dollar laptops that are usually on sale at Best Buy and Circuit City; but I write on the go, and I needed something ultra-portable.

My next option was a netbook. In the past, I've been against them because their hard drives were too small (and most ran Linux, which I like for secondary computers, but not primary ones). This year a swarm of XP netbooks came out with 60+ gigabyte hard drives. The first one to catch my eye was the Acer One; it has 1 gig of RAM, a 120 gb hard drive, and has been on sale at CostCo for $350. I had two problems with that one. One, it had a 3 cell battery, which meant only two hours of battery life; and two, a small keyboard. Further investigation also revealed that it has a known problem with overheating and is quitee loud. There are reports that a new Acer is coming out with a six cell baterry next year.

Next I considered the more costly Lenovo Ideapad ($399); this was a little bit more, but had a larger screen, thus bigger keyboard; it also had a smaller hard drive. The biggest problem I had the Lenovo was the battery—again, a three cell. It was tempting, because it was a name I could trust, but in the end I decided against it.

I did not even look at the HP netbook, which is probably the most commonly purchased business netbook; FYI, I think HP is the worse computer on the market. I have have never had one or known someone that had one that didn't have a series of hardware and/or software issues; part of the problem is they often use Compaq parts, which is basically the lemon of computer parts.

The last computer I looked at was the MSI Wind; Amazon had it on sale for $430, and it was everything I wanted (6 cell battery, 160 hard drive, 10 inch screen, 2.8 pounds); it had a SCSI hard drive, so it would be slower to transfer larger files, but I could deal with that.

I now have the laptop, and couldn't be more please. It's a little bit heavier than my Toshiba, but the flaws stop there. It's quiet, does not get even a little hot on the bottom (unlike just about every other laptop out there), and surprisingly fast. The keyboard feels just like a full size one; although the comma and question mark keys are just a tad to small and awkwardly placed, and the mouse pad is less than ideal.

Normally cheap laptops have tons of software preloaded on the desktop, and your first hour with the new computer is spent getting them off; not so with the MSI. It has a trial version of Office, which I promptly took off because I cannot stand the new version of Office. Once I dig up my old external CD drive, I'm going to install an older version of word, but for now I'm contempt running Open Office, which is basically the same as Word and free.

I've heard all the reviews say that netbooks are great as a second laptop, but not as a main one; I disagree. If you are doing graphics, video production, or something that requires a quick processor then stick with a desktop; but if all you do is type, use the Internet, video conference (web cam is built in!), and take digital photos, then the MSI is the perfect computer. The only thing it doesn't do is burn CD/DVDs, but with most people using USB drives, then why do you need to? I still have a desktop for that, but I could live without it.

Unfortunately, Amazon sold out of the MSI Wind the day after I made my purchase (you can buy them elsewhere, but I haven't found them as cheap); they have a black model for just a little more, but it's on backorder, and won't ship for six to seven weeks. I suspect it will magically come back in stock for Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Day After the Fire

Below is the view I woke up to this morning (currently the fire is 10 miles away in the hills of Brea, Anaheim, and Yorba Linda); my prayers go out to the people who have lost homes in the fire. 

Winds are not as bad today, which should help control the fires.

The Orange County Register has been doing a good job keeping track of the fire...follow this link if you are interested. They also have regularly updated information about damage.

Those interested in the libraries around the area...none are currently threatened, but both the Richard Nixon Library (in Yorba Linda) and the East Hills Library (in Anaheim Hills) were closed because of the smoke conditions. I have not yet heard about the Yorba Linda Public Library, but it's near the Nixon library, so it probably has.

Weekend Funnies

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

PhotoShop This

Not yet convinced that PhotoShop is not the most evil software known to Hollywood? Take a look at this page, which shows some of the years biggest blunders that probably only geeks on the Internet were wise enough to find...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Michael Crichton

The most memorable memory of Michael Crichton I have is my mom lecturing him after a reading. I was in junior high and, at the time, Crichton was my literary crush. I had been in line for over an hour and I was star struck when I finally got to the front of the line and handed him my book. My mom was not as impressed with him; as I handed him the book to sign, he coughed a sickly cough into his two hands. My mom looked at him horrified and said, “Aren’t you supposed to be a doctor?” Crichton looked at her confused and simply smiled. Then my mom said, “I can’t believe someone who is a doctor would cough all over their hands and spread their germs like that—any reasonable person would cough into there arm sleeve, so they didn’t spread whatever they were sick with to every person they shuck hands with.” I half expected Crichton to tell my mom off, and refuse to sign my book; instead he spend the next few minutes talking to me, signed several books, and stood to let me take a picture with him (a picture which my brother exposed the next day and ruined).

Crichton was the H.G. Wells and Jules Verne of my generation; he was the author that, as a young boy, I would check out at the library and whose books I would become absolutely immersed in. I can remember many occasions going to my room with the sun still up, and becoming so involved in the story that I didn’t realize it was dark until I could no longer read the page for lack of light; I often was so involved in stories like Sphere, Congo, and, of course, Jurassic Park that I would be startled when someone interrupted my reading to ask me something. He was one of the authors that made me love reading.

I owe a lot to the literature he created, and he will be missed.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We Did It! We Did What?

I'm sick already of people saying "We did it!" Whenever I hear it, I immediately wonder "What exactly did you do?" Did you campaign? Did you knock on doors for your guy? Did you make phone calls? Did you tell everyone and their mother who you were voting for? Did you volunteer to work the polls on Election Day? Did you stand on the street corners holding up a sign?

Or did you just vote?

Personally, I'm saving my praise for another day—a day when we really did do it.

Maybe we did do it. Maybe we went to the polls and maybe we checked a little box that symbolically said how we felt about things, but the praise should be reserved until we do something far greater then show up for an election once every four years.

I voted for Obama, but I'm still part of the people he has to convince. I voted for him more out distaste for the other guy, than because I really believed he would change things. He put hope in people's hearts, but hope does not automatically translate to a plan that will mean anything at all.

The thing this election has made me realize more than any election before it is we are too far divided to make the difference that Obama and his supporters hope for.

A long time ago, I decided to give to Caesar what is Caesar, and not be guilted into voting for a President who supposedly would make this country more moral (whatever the word moral means); if eight years has taught me anything, it's that saying you believe in Jesus Christ doesn't make you a better President—it seems it does quite the opposite. The only Presidents in my lifetime that really stressed the “Jesus” factor (Bush and Carter) have been the two least favored Presidents of the past thirty years.

Personally, I hope Bush pulls a Carter; I hope he realizes that he did so much damage to this country that he should spend the rest of his life doing non-profit work to rebuild everything he ruined over the last eight years; maybe then he’ll realize what it truly means to say you are a follower of Jesus Christ. But what he did isn’t the countries biggest problem; its biggest problem is a large percent of America believes that he could do a better job leading this country then Obama—and nothing Obama says or does will change this because their minds are already set.

There are a lot of homosexuals in California that woke up following the election and realized that they no longer could marry, and there are a lot conservatives who are all the more happy to rub it in their face and remind them of it. Equally there are a lot of conservatives that woke up following the elections and realized that the man of their dreams was not going to be President, and there are a lot of liberals excited to tell them so.

Politics has made this nation one which groups of people must have superiority--where the elections are held to a certain level of spectacle, and people are led to believe that their are winners and there are losers--that we are not united on one team called America, but divided by party colors. The fact is today there are thousands of people not thinking about what this election means for this country, rather they are thinking about how they can be the winners in 2012.

There are too many people out there who, instead of pausing and saying "how can we work together to fix this country," are saying this is how we can get this guy out of office or this is how we can get the proposition on the ballot again.

There are too many people on both sides of the fence who never stopped for a second to look at the other side. It's time for the left and the right to call a truce, and give each other a fair chance to make the difference that we each believe in.

There are people already lining up to file lawsuits because they believe their rights have been violated; maybe their rights have been violated, but perhaps it's time to say there is something far greater then 'my' rights. I do not believe a thing such as 'my' rights can ever really be solved, but 'our' rights collectively still have a fighting chance if people stop looking at the country in terms of what 'I' want, and start looking at it in terms of what 'we' want. Unity is what has always made this country strong; and unity is the only thing that can ever fix this country.

Unity is what everyone is preaching; it’s what they said the country needed four years ago, and four years before that. It’s what they always say we need. And they are right—we do need it. But until both sides can sit at the same table and not fight about who is more right, then it’s never going to happen.

Yes we can...but will we ever do it?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sarah Palin, 2012!

I'm not saying I want it...but, sadly, it's going to happen. Don't screw it up one wants the PTA running the country.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Does Starbucks Really Care?