Archive for the ‘IRLS672’ Category

rdbms (early)

connectionwheelearly thoughts on rdbms
@ the “art” of this attracts and scares me
@ I don’t get independent/dependent, strong/weak
@ I don’t get resolving ternary relationships
@ I don’t get relationship “type” (how surprising is that, smile to self)
@ I hope that my intuitive sense of this material makes up for my cognitive fog

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I thought this week’s unit on planning would be like pulling my own teeth. And it was, at first. But it hasn’t been a complete trip to the dentist. I’m a middling to terrible planner myself, and I do not look for opportunities to serve on planning committees.

TechSoup and WebJunction turned my little head around. I love these resources. I signed up and am immediately imposing an Event Tracker on my constituency, my library colleagues, so I can track their loss of connectivity, slowness of machine, broken applications, and lost shortcuts.

My opinion is that poor writing and verbiage are the bedevilments of some of the writings we examined for Unit 8. More below. I did find myself wishing there were very current articles to replace a few of the more dated ones.

Readings: selected notes

TechSoup and WebJunction, as mentioned, were a revelation to me. The wealth of help available, easily navigable, amazes me. This information would, could, will, be of help in various slices of my life (and would have been in the past). Including going forward (and backward, exam time) in IRLS672 and future classes. Definitions, advice, tutorials (some for a fee in WebJunction). And clarity of expression.

Information Technology at ALA: 2000-2005 |   I found this hard to like, with inconsistent writing style, parts of it just poor, and a sketchy, internal-shorthand feel. It did make me want to take a look at the ALA site; I’m not a member, but I believe they must have implemented many of their stated web intentions as it is fairly user-centric.

Chabrow, State of the Union |  This was good news! that there is any good news, federally technologically speaking. Modularity rocks.

Dugan, Information Technology Plans |   At first reading, I found this unbearable, dated slogging. BUT I returned to it several times in the process of looking at technology plans. One thought I had when he was discussing the “virtual library” (does anyone say that anymore?) is that I think in academic settings that students often “train” their teachers, without librarial intervention. Faculty may not think to look to the library to learn how to use new technologies; what they get back from their students provides motivation (or not) to learn the new.

Gerding and MacKellar, Applying for Technology Grants |   My hands-down favorite. Soup to nuts practical steps while keeping eyes on the prize: how will this project improve the lives of your constituents? There was much of statistical interest here, too, and I learned that the DigIn program is beneficiary of the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. They point out that once you have a technology plan it is relatively easy to develop a project: simple but not explicitly stated elsewhere! I found this well-written with good links out.

Schuyler, Life is What Happens to You… |   I have to mention this one because he makes a few very, very pointed points that I agree with, but…you have to place them in your own context. I found myself thinking this was a viewpoint from a very understaffed perspective, but aren’t most technology units understaffed? I agree that an institution with truly integrated technology may not need a separate plan because technology is the water in which everything else swims. “It’s Safe to Be Vague” and, of course “How Dare They Judge Us?”. Woof! He’s right, and he represents what many, many technologists in libraries/archives/schools probably feel. It’s kind of a relief to get it out there, cathartically. And then move back to the center.

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ead EAD is where I live, XML-wise, but I’ve been exposed (xposed?) to other flavors of XML, all related to librarial and archival activity. I have played a little with MARC XML in attempts to map archival accession data; I have also played with a specialized schema that lives for and with the Archivists’ Toolkit project, their accession XML schema. Which leads to one of the questions on the table about extensibility and freedom this week: while I have found the AT schema very useful, granted only in testing, there could be, hypothetically, lots of archival accession schemas developed by lots of busy techn/archivist bees, with plusses and minuses. Do we desire this? (actually, yes! maybe). Ungoverned development of schemas of overlapping utility would not be a good thing if it really fractured community. The AT accession schema is not being marketed beyond the confines of the AT; I could see developing an “application profile” hybrid of the EAD and accession schemas to produce EAD accession records, i.e. “draft” finding aids but with a few distinctly different characteristics to be sure no one took it for final.

Just thinking out loud.

Of the tools at hand for learning XML right now, I find the W3Schools tutorials, as usual, good, quick enough and yet connected enough, with good navigation. I can take just as much as I can take but instantly see what’s related–i.e., learn from their structuring of the topics as well as from the topics. Gee, like a book. I went through the Basic and then scanned through Advanced which I found very interesting. I’m so impressed that they’ve compacted so much into morsels my poor attention span can handle. Topics of interest in particular to me were namespaces and PCDATA/CDATA. Namespaces are of immediate use to me; we have just implemented EAD authoring compliant with the current EAD schema, as opposed to the old DTD, and chose new software (W3C’s choice, XMLSpy, came in second to oXygen). All of this to be able to handle xmlns:xlink. None of this sinks in deeply, but with repetition there may be hope.

I also found the VERY densely-packed 10-minute Youtube presentation by James Pasley GREAT. I agreed wholeheartedly with the reviews. It’s all about the quality.

I went through a great many Mark Long videos and found them good–even the ones I found slow usually had a detail or two that were new to me. I do like submitting to the pace of someone’s voice in learning. His accent helps.

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It is very UNnerving…to try to learn more, around, inside what I think I already know. I work with XML every day, not all day, but enough. Actually, not enough. I even try to explain things to other people. But now I realize how much I don’t know and how that stands in my way. Better to be brand new with it. And standards have not stood still. I struggled to get DTD vs. XML schema 3 years ago, thought it was bagged, and now find there are…complications I did not fully appreciate. It’s still raining, and I have a lot of reading to do.

But I did figure out how to get the title above to display correctly.

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colorsI became a webmistress ca. 1996 with the first website (original) of my library, Houghton (current) at Harvard. We hired a student to design it, of course, but after that it was all mine to learn on. For about 5 years it was my maintenance project, sometimes more than that when I had time to learn more HTML. Then the Hierarchy took over our individual library websites and I was retired (from that role).

Since then I have had a number of sort-of websites of my own, for unclear purposes; I have also attended a number of partial classes, including CSCIE 1 (referenced in our Unit 5 assignments), but my endurance has been lacking in learning HTML, or XHTML, thoroughly. The same goes for CSS.  Last millenium I was introduced to Dreamweaver and didn’t often look back at raw code. That said, Dreamweaver can let you gum up the works, and I do aspire to clean code. I just lack the patience. And I don’t find myself studying without a practical goal in sight. I know enough to produce some poor web pages, sadly for at least one non-profit for whom I am the current webmaster (URL withheld to protect the innocent).

Within Dreamweaver, I had access to the server for our web files and would edit, usually split code/visual mode, and upload directly. I remember at first I had trouble getting my head around the locations of these files; at the same time I was availing myself of the allowed personal Harvard web space to attempt my first website, so eventually I got it, but without the background we’re getting now.

Nontheless, I learn best with a systematic—podcast or video or guided online instruction—approach, rather than being left with the book. But my favorite book (and suite of books, for this kind of learning) has been the Head First series–as ever, big pictures and simple shapes. They offer good visuals, which is worth the extra padding they create in the books.

The W3C tutorials are my favorite online source of instruction. I have access via a Harvard account to some commercial tutorials, similar to UA’s suite. I tend to want a cheat sheet nearby and not to have to consult fullblown tutorials, however.

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wetWhat’s happened feels a little like lost-limb syndrome: though there is no face-to-face time, no synchronous class, there is a *feeling* that there are voices (not the worrying kind) and moments of synchronicity for IRLS672. I do miss the personal, especially since I think it’s part of how I learn best—being in the presence of Authority along with everyone else, maybe some vestigial oral historical desire. The closest we’ve had is the set of videos narrated by our Professor—the master’s voice at least. I’ve been listening to a few podcasts (so far just one New Zealander talking about Linux flavors); slowing down learning to the pace of the human voice…is a great help. For good or for slogging ill, when I read, I speak the text to myself (again, not in the worrying way, just as another voice in my head). I just have to go that slowly. I just have to listen that way. All the nuances gotten in person, plus the benefit of classmates who are less inhibited and get the questions rolling.

[I remember speed reading classes, the classes they threw us into at the beginning of high school, to NO effect, except to spawn intense dislike of the teacher who had speed-read his way to a sheaf of advanced degrees and yet here he was teaching high school students speed reading. I digress.]

According to the matrix of active|reflective|sensing|intuitive|visual|verbal|sequential|global…I want the big picture before the little details, I’m impatient, I want to do and have something happen, I want reassurance from trusted humans, I want to know I’m part of the pack, I want to grok it all at once in a blinding flash.

Wikipedia: sorry, I’m weary of you. Be nothing without you, but you are a little cluttered and I’m tired of the “maybe this article isn’t up to snuff” notices. Am I being misled or am I not? I *most* enjoyed reading RFC1180–very simple, redundant, RFC-speak. I guess I’d like everything modeled as large puffy shapes in primary colors, judging by how uncluttered and childlike I seem to prefer things to be. I’m less happy given eight readings to choose from than the two the instructor thinks are spot on. Quite visual, quite experiential. Plain text is hard but not if very, very well-written. I found our cartoon videos cute but not crystal clear, though as padding along the way they serve well. Get the material from different directions.

And by the way, I do enjoy the lectures themselves. To be not myself, I like that they feel like lectures; they read like lectures, they’re well-written, and I trust them. I wish we could spark more of the kind of conversation we’d have in person within the “discussions”. Wish I could have a free trip to Arizona where MAYBE IT’S NOT RAINING AND COLD.

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easy to please

Nowhere else to parade my silly pride at downloading a piece of software we use at work that I knew was available for Linux (oXygen, for EAD authoring) and also setting up Evolution, the Gnome mail client. And writing now from within Gnome. I guess all these years with the MS/Apple duality, it seems like I should be either arrested, or given a party, or sent to another planet for running another system. And it should feel COMPLETELY different, which, of course, it does not. So I’m wondering really about the fervent fanship that systems beget.

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