Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Google StreetView car hits problems in Bradford

From Neatorama, a report from a reader of the blog about a Google StreetView car getting pulled over by the police for using the buses / cycles / taxis only lane in Bradford....with amusing photos...

Wonder if the close-up views of the car park of the old police station will be turning up on StreetView? :-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Has Harriet given up on blogging?

Since Gordon Brown's gone on holiday, that leaves the country under the watchful eye of his co-pilots.While looking at this BBC News article about deputies, I had a little moment when I wondered whether Harriet Harman (one of the 3 grown-ups currently in charge) had ever got back to her blog. she had a little incident in April when it was hacked, and her 'resignation letter' was posted.

It would appear she's not gone back to it since...although there is a spoof blog that's quite entertaining! Actually, I think I prefer the spoof one to the real one...

Monday, July 28, 2008

In the spirit of the Running Librarian...

...I shall detour from my normal random posting on vaguely law and library related topics, and sidestep into my "real" life for a moment.

On Saturday 19th July , I took part in the Edinburgh Rat Race for the 2nd time, doing the Mean Streets Prologue event. The Rat Race is a team event, 3 people with 2.5 hours to make their way around the city by foot, hitting checkpoints and completing fun challenges along the way. the Adventure Class do it over 2 days, with much more crazy stuff on the second day, and the Mean Streets counts as their warmup, taking placeon the Saturday evening.

As a not-very-fit sorta person, I wasn't sure I could manage this at all last year, but I did, and so I was looking forward to doing it again this year. A friend organised the teams, so we entered 6 teams of 3 peeps. I'd never met my team-mates before, so I was worried I'd be slowing them down if they were really fit:  a 20 year old Uni student and Officer Cadet, and a 40ish marathon runner! In the end though, we turned out to work really well as a much so that, 7 miles, 15 checkpoints / challenges (including keepie-uppies, juggling oranges, Wii ski-ing, deciphering anagrams, piggy back traversing stone ball sculptures, running up and down vennels, lanes and streets, climbing Calton Hill and general madness) and 2.5 hours later, we actually ended up being the winners from our group of 6 teams! And from what I can work out from the spreadsheet, 7th overall of the 35 Mean Streets only teams!

Very chuffed with myself, especially as some of the guys in the other teams were VERY competitive!

And as proof, here I am as we started - the current toxic red hue of the head is particularly distinctive methinks, especially when it looks like I'm growing out of someone elses bandana...!

The difference between a virtual service, and a 'real' service

Well after all my moaning before about the National Archives of Scotland, and how slow they can be to get a document to you, I have to say, the in-person service is a different matter altogether!

I spent a good chunk of 2 days last week rummaging around in there, and the staff couldn't be more helpful. From the security guard at the door to the Duty Archivist, everyone was happy to explain what they were doing, walk me through the processes and procedures, and help me find what I was looking for.

Unfortunately, some time between 1968 and today, the document I was looking for was vapourised by either the Scottish Office or the Scottish Government...*sigh*

But, it just goes to show - the service you receive remotely can never compete with being able to go, in person, and ask the staff for thank you NAS for your great service last week!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gossipy Facebook

I've been getting these emails occasionally from FaceBook over the past few months, and been deleting them, but...I think the whole concept of this email is wrong (and misspelled - gossips?!?!):

Do you know any gossips about your friends? Your other friends may want to hear it.

(Gossip is always anonymous, never appears in notifications, feeds or anywhere else where the author could be identified.)

 *list of friends names*

To check out gossip about you, or other friends not listed here, click here

What the Social Profile application wants you to do is post anonymous, possibly untrue information about friends and acquaintances, and allow others to see that.
Surely there's some issues here with libel? If anyone can 'publish' unsubstantiated information about others, under the guarantee that it'll never be traced back to them, which Facebook will then distribute around its system?

Hell, maybe I'll start posting anonymously about affairs friends have had, bodies they've buried, crimes they've committed...all untrue of course, but hey, it's anonymous, what's to stop me?

And, Facebook's changed their layout - it's gonna take me ages to get used to this, gah!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Feeling the property pinch

So, even the Law Society of Scotland is feeling the effects of the downturn in the property market, announcing last week that it was staying put at Drumsheugh Gardens for now.

Hell, if I'd have had a spare £5.5 million or so (although in Edinburgh the offers over premium could be 20% or more, adding a hefty chunk to that total), I'd have snapped it up in no time...I'm sure I could easily fill it with clutter in no time! :-)


The Estates Gazette is a nice journal - it wraps its issues in what appears to be faster degrading plastic, which is nice for the planet an' all that....but I can't help but giggle when I read that "this polythene is oxo-degradable".

Images of having to dunk the wrapping plastic in hot beef stock spring to mind...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Google StreetView - coming to a city near you...or Edinburgh

So, last week, there I was, slumped in a bus seat with a vacant look (as usual), when I spotted something odd coming out of a side street.
A wee black car...with a huge pole on top, covered with cameras.
Now, it's coming up for Festival season in Edinburgh, when all sorts of strangeness occurs on a regular basis, and therefore such randomness would blend right in, but this was a tad too early.
Aha - it turned a corner, and I clocked the discrete little Google StreetView logo on its side.
Since then, I know it's been into the cul-de-sac where I live (but not got my flat as it's on the wrong side to be seen from the street), and continues to travel through Edinburgh.

Now, I know there's debate over privacy issues (which, to be honest, I think are hugely overblown by the paranoid), but I personally think it's kinda cool!
The usefulness of a walk-through map of a city, with actual images of the physical, 'real' landmarks and what they look like far outweighs the possibility of someone, somewhere being spotted doing something they shouldn't be doing, or being somewhere they shouldn't be.

So, when they launch it for Edinburgh, I'll be the one with the disturbingly red hair on the top deck of the number 25 on Leith Walk....with the blurred out face :D

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

National Archives of Slow

Seriously, the problem with large bodies like the National Archives of Scotland is there's no pressure on them to be better, or faster, or to compete, as they're the only body that holds certain items.
Which means that the speed they deal with enquiries is, just well, what ya gotta accept.

Which doesn't help when you started an enquiry a week ago, they got back to you the next day for details, then the following day they tell you they have the item, and ask you to pay.
You pay within an hour, and wait...and wait...and wait.
3 working days later, there's still no sign of the materials, and of course they're wanted urgently. Urgently, as in last week, when you thought you'd sorted things.

*drums fingers impatiently*

Pretty academic library shelves

How pretty - a project that colour codes library books with partial spine labels shaded according to classification.

My favourite aspect of the colours is knowing a law library's colour palette will be dramatically different then that of a Art & Design library. The colours are assigned to the subjects as a rainbow gradient since there is no such thing as 21 unique colours and the classification system is linear.

Wonder if I'd be allowed to do that here - would make looking at the shelves all day more fun!

From SwissMiss

Monday, July 07, 2008

Fly me to the Moon...

...well, my name, anyway.

I've added my name to the database that'll be put onto a microchip on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Yes: me = geek.

You can add yours too, the press release is wrongly stating the deadline as 27th June, but it's actually the 26th July.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Belated BIALL thoughts

So, after a busy few weeks, I'm finally ready to sit down and pull together my thoughts on this years BIALL conference, in Dublin.

Bear in mind, this is all my persoanl impressions, and my opinions will be coloured by how much relevance I can see various sessions / talks having to my professional life. If I didn't like them, that didn't mean that they were actually rubbish!

I hadn't been to a BIALL conference since Harrogate in 2005, (shortly before I changed jobs and moved into a commercial firm from an institutional body), and I was hoping for more talks of relevance to me this time around. Working in a nice old legal body's lovely, but as you're neither academic, or corporate, finding the useful stuff from the conference can be hard.

To be honest, I hadn't thought the provisional programme had looked too interesting, but I had some hopes that the blank spaces would be filled in closer to the time, and as these talks were obviously still in discussion, I thought maybe they'd be more topical. So I booked in the hope of some Web 2.0 stuff, perhaps something on digital copyright (the new CLA electronic licences)...but mainly, it was going to be a chance to meet people in the flesh that I'd only met online, and hopefully attend some interesting seminars.

Well, the meeting people bit happened, and that was great, I had a lot of fun and made some good contacts and friends. But the useful information bit was sometimes a little bit harder to find...

I was a good girl, and attended all (well, almost all) the conference sessions and parallel sessions.

So, how did they go?

The Plenary Sessions on the Friday morning were fine, although Richard Susskind seemed to be presenting a standard paper, which he tweaks slightly depending on the audience he's presenting to. The bulk of it was presented the next week at the Law Society of Scotland conference. And although Lesley Robinsons talk on "Information to Knowledge - the Process" was interesting, and it would be lovely to be involved in all the process she was talking about, it's just not something I'll ever be doing in my current role.

Lunch was an interesting affair...they may not have been quite prepared for 400 or so delegates descending on the 2 food stations!

The afternoon Plenary Session was one I'd really been looking forward to, appealing to my inner geek as it did by being an interactive panel discussion on Web 2.0. I thought it would be a discussion on the ways we can use Web 2.0 to make our jobs easier, and what the pitfalls were...instead, it began with a 20 min musical chairs and Chinese whispers session. I understand that the point was to illustrate that people in widely separated areas can find it difficult to communicate, that misreading of their messages can happen, and that sometimes, the people originating the messages or passing them on may be corrupting them. And that's a good point to make, but could have been done in 5 minutes. Then it was time for each of the speakers to give their presentations. Janice Edwards ran through some of the basics of Web 2.0, and what it may evolve into. Next up was Martin de Saulles, with an interesting presentation (download available here) about Web 2.0 tools and the hype surrounding them. Then Sue Hill was up, discussing how, as someone unfamiliar with Web 2.0 until a few weeks before, she was enjoying exploring the potential uses for her company. Keep an eye on her site for developments!

Overall, an interesting session, although I have to confess, I thought there was a better understanding in the general librarian population of Web 2.0 than became apparent from some of the discussions both in this session, and in chats following it. I'm in shock - that must mean I'm ahead of the game!

I was a bad girl after that, and scampered away into town instead of going to the Members Forum /Have Your Say, mainly because I didn't have anything I wanted to say! Oh, and of course I needed to buy a dress for the Presidents Dinner...

Next morning, I decided sleep was more needed than my first Parallel Session, so I can't tell you what Margaret Flood of Trinity College, Dublin was like, talking about "Legal Deposit - Preserving the Published Record or More? Facing the Challenges of a Digital World". But I can say that Heather Semple of the Law Society of Northern Ireland's talk on "Researching the Law in Northern Ireland" was very interesting - lots of useful information about where to find NI law, where it comes from, what it's called when...sure to come in useful next time we get one of those "I need an amended version of this NI Act now!!" questions. Although being able to say "Actually, they don't have consolidated legislation for NI" probably won't make me any friends!

Another interesting picnic style lunch followed (aka balancing a plate on my knees while sitting on the concrete floor of the conference venue), then back into Parallel Sessions C: "Who's Really Computer Savvy? Web 2.0 Technologies and Your Library". I have to admit to tuning out during this one, as it was sorta preaching to the converted...see, never happy me! But, as far as I could see, it was very well received, and Stephen Weiter was a very good speaker.

And then it was "Federated Search - the Process and the Problems" from Melanie Farquharson. Again, another one I tuned out in slightly, as it's something completely out of my hands, and in my current position, not going to be an area I'm ever likely to be involved in dealing with. Shortsighted? Maybe, but if it turns out that I need to know more in 5 years, I'm pretty sure the technology will have moved on so far that anything I learned now would be outdated. I'm working on the 'information overload minimising' approach at the moment!

And...the final talks on Saturday sort of blur into one! The talk by Lucy Dillon on "The Impact of the Legal Services Act" had only minimal relevance for me, as it only effects English law practitioners, but I kept one ear open. With my employer covering both Scottish and English matters, I need to be aware of the possible impact of this on Scottish law firms. As far as I'm aware without checking, Scotland's a few years behind, but planning on implementing similar legislation within 5 years or so.
"Law, Crime and Punishment in Bloomsday Dublin" was an entertaining explanation of the real-life legal cases referred to in James Joyce's Ulysses...and also included a 4 page synopsis handout of the book itself, which is probably as close as I'll ever get to actually reading it myself!
Victoria Janetta's presentation on "Implementing an Enterprise-Wide Search Tool" was another one I zoned out in - for various reasons relating to our IT, it had no relevance for me.
And finally, Samantha Steer spoke about "Information Managers in the 21st Century". This was basically a talk around the research done earlier this year for Sweet & Maxwell, and released with much fanfare to The Gazette and CILIP. As I'd already requested the slides from them when they were released in February, I zoned out again here...

I'm sure there's probably links to many peoples presentations available, but I can't find them on the BIALL website...hmmm, maybe I should have gone to the Members Forum after all....

And all that's left now wonder when the CD of everything that we ordered will turn up?

And contemplate next years conference...which does actually look a lot more like my sorta thang! In another year, there'll have been more chances to see what Web 2.0 is and isn't doing for us.
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