Archive for the ‘IRLS672’ Category

In summary about this week’s reading, I loathe the word “projectized” and yet knew instantly what it meant…and for that, appreciated it. As with technology plans, I knew the reading and understanding would not be swift for me with project management. My mind or the material or both turn very slippery, unable to pin down the words. I acquired my own copy of the PMBOK specifically because I need to tackle this hurdle if I am to play with technology projects. As ever, at least being able to recognize the language without visibly flinching in meetings…would be progress. It is hard to believe that I was a co-chair of the steering committee for my library’s first strategic planning effort. Talk about trial by amateurs.

I had an “aha” moment when I saw that this body of knowledge is a body of knowledge because people acquire it and get certified as Project Management Professionals. My stepmother acquired the body of knowledge required to become a Certified Professional Purchasing Manager. I don’t know why, but this gave me a better sense of “place” for this material.

I am very glad to be introduced to the PMBOK as the manual of best practices. The takeaway idea for me is the 5 process groups X 9 knowledge areas. Much as I frankly dislike, or is it disdain or distrust? this arena and its language, I know that having standards promotes cooperation, and the 5X9 scheme seems to me the bare bones of the standard, free for local tailoring. In other words, I know I’m just ignorant and wrong. Less so now, possibly.

Wikipedia’s offering on project management was great for the history overview. Bas De Baar’s video was kind of hilarious. But true. Flesh and blood is always the problem. Forsake the wishes and desires of the stakeholders at your and your organization’s peril.  “Try the flow.” And the James Chapman video was, as promised, memorable. Did the animals correlate obviously with the project tasks? I may have missed something. I did not miss that tracking is the oposable thumb.

I might actually use Chapman’s Project Management Scalable Methodology Guide–this was my favorite item along the way. I kept seeing everything in my work universe as just too small to warrant copies of the PMBOK on every department shelf, but Chapman I felt did a great job of translation down the scale for those of us who need it spelled out.

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I’ve never been comfortable with wrap-ups, really with endings, so this is not my favorite assignment of the course. I also believe that the change the course has wrought is who I am now. So I can’t truly remember my state before the course started. I’ll try.

arcane circle exampleIn May I think I had in mind a rich and arcane mix of secret hands-on techniques, revelation-inducing tricks, and illuminating tips to take data and voilà! And that’s pretty much been the reality. I have loved the course, even if the units hang together in my mind by the most fragile of threads. This is the material I’ve been wanting to cover for a few years now, and I do hope that the program’s remaining coursework revisits, not only adds to, where we’ve been.

I am impressed by how many domains of expertise make up the “simplest” web presentation of digital content. Not all steps along the way are deep, but many complex routines reveal an inner core that in best implementation demand art, not just accurate typing. On the other hand, I should not have been surprised, but I was, at the number of parts of the process that are way up, abstracted from command line, web apps—gosh, at how far we’ve come from machine language! I didn’t know about HTML forms; I didn’t know that Linux would be so familiar and so…complete. I evidently had a pretty warped idea of Linux, speaking of the arcane and machine language. This was probably the biggest revelation of the summer, every single detail about installing, using, updating an actual working instance of Linux. Granted it was exciting to see database query results pop on the screen, but the demystifying of Linux was the deepest change to my reality. It still gives me a thrill to see Hardy Heron and hear the snippet of Hardy Heron theme music.

I’m also less impressed with instances of digital libraries now that I know a little of what it takes (this isn’t the sausage analogy, it’s just that doing it is not beyond the likes of us). But I do have trouble seeing how anyone can be master of it all. I am always curious how professionals keep up with the sheer global volume of the new that exists for every scintilla of IT/digital life; we have been introduced to so many different aspects, each with its standards, forums, official and unofficial documentation, blogs, famous practitioners, lore, and culture. I hope there is time to hang out with Ubuntu just to get a better sense of its nature. We didn’t have time. Dream: build the physically separate practice machine August 19-23.

I am much more appreciative than I was at the beginning that we are learning open source solutions, that DigIn was built this way; it’s a twofer, getting the technology AND the moral high ground (IMHO). Open source is not just a product choice, it’s a piece of a larger social picture that has everything to do with our cultural commons and the means librarians and archivists and museum pros choose to achieve the end of preservation of culture. Various extracurricular talks and news this summer have made me surer that it’s a firmer path; you can always pay money, but with open source you will probably be negotiating, planning, and designing more, and that brings you closer to your product (or process). And it’s community.

The art of crafting the database (the Organization of Knowledge, the holiest of course titles) matters clearly, and maybe some of us are natural artists and some aren’t but will be and some will know better than to try. This was the part of the course I was most invested in as an archivist/special collections librarian. It’s not easy for me, but it’s still compelling. Quest for the elegant.venn_diagram

The only disturbing element of the semester is learning to sit for much longer in front of computers. I can. And that’s not very good.

I am possibly more excited at the end of this course than I was at the beginning. And that’s knowing that all semester I have battled poor memory in remembering where in my three binders for the course that phrase is that tells me how to find Webmin or the syntax for retrieving user permissions info or the libraries of new software for Ubuntu. These are all the threads that are fragile now and will begin to break when not used in the coming weeks, so here’s to using them and weaving some real fabric. I don’t want just to be able to talk to the people who do it all, I still, at the end of the course, want to do. No change in attitude, three binders richer.

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the money day

moneyToday was it. Typing typing copying pasting copying pasting. Then…

* *real answers from a real database displayed on the real screen* *

Few clues why it works the way it works, couldn’t frame the question as invited to do by Professor, but there it is.

Of course, a minute after that I managed to make my Mac select the ubuntuserver804 screen as wallpaper, frontpaper, allpaper, could not find the way out of the darkness, ha ha ha on me and my money day.  Saved by random mouse flinging.

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fear of jinx


This week. Cake. (Last week, spinach, when I hated spinach.)

I do not want to jinx myself, but I have had a nice time with MySQL. It’s probably because a) the database mode is more familiar, b) it’s the area in which I’m probably most interested in becoming truly proficient, and c) the syntax is, as they promised, very friendly. It was great to be able to get in and play via MySQL monitor and phpMyAdmin, with the added challenge/play of using Dia in Ubuntu to create an ERD for my new mosaics database.

Occasionally something I could not get to work in monitor I went into phpMyAdmin to do; there may or may not have been the reverse case. I probably focused way too hard on a few elements of this work and didn’t play with a wide enough range of variables.

Challenging to remember where alter, update, insert work on what. Constantly consulting w3schools.

I begin to find confusion in keeping Webmin, phpMyAdmin, MySQL monitor, Unix command line, and what else have we visited?? straight. On that other hand…I have often found a paradox in *adding* complexity when I already think I’ve reached my limit. Like when my time feels utterly oversubscribed and I *add* something else…I get more done. Not that this is a rule to live by, but adding more to the biophysical database may coax new biotransmitters into happy, more efficient work.

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recursiveCorner Is MySQL recursive in managing databases with a database of grant tables?

MySQL has gone along much more smoothly than last week’s turmoil with ERD and database design–I actually had a grand time working on creating another database to accompany the sample one for class; need to go back and diagram the new one. Having downloaded DIA for Linux (didn’t come with the original distro that I could see), I need to get my money’s worth learning to use it. Just working with the databases is helping a lot to clarify the relationships–intuition can be learned. Diving in is my way.

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data tension


This is the first week I feel behind even though assignments will be submitted on time. I don’t know why…this is so hard. The ERD diagram I produced I’m sure is wrong because the relationships challenge me. I also feel hampered by flashbacks to our nightmare custom-built MS Access database that I tried to troubleshoot, enhance, work with over the last 10 years, with no real knowledge.

In fact I just sat back looking at my simple ERD and found it all wrong, for real. Do I fix everything?

(later) Well, I’m leaving well enough alone. What I think gets me is thinking about what a mess things are if you set things up poorly to begin with, and I’m not having an easy time being certain of 1NF, 2NF, and 3NF. I want to rely on intuition, not rules like “no partial dependencies on a concatenated key”…actually I think it’s dependency I don’t quite absorb. I wish there were a “Head First Entity Relationship” book. We’re talking about v e r y  s i m p l e  databases right now, and I’m squirrely in the head from considering original photographs and digital surrogates.

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rdbms (middle)

fish_Atlantic_codmiddle thoughts on rdbms
@ normalization going better than data modeling
@ better texts and examples
@ Mr. Codd is forgiven

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