Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Library Card Month

Bartow Public Library is celebrating September as Library Card Month where we're encouraging people to sign up for library cards for the first time.  There's adults who've never gotten a FREE library card before, as well as kids, so we're doing what we can to promote the effective value of having a FREE library card.

Such as:

  • Library cards are free to get... (okay, if you lose it there's a 1.00 replacement fee, so the trick is "don't lose your library card.")
  • Libraries let you check out a lot of books at one time for a two-week or more period depending on library circ policy.  Bartow allows for up to fifteen books at one time, for up to two week checkouts.  You can renew and prolong the checkout as long as no one is on Hold for waiting for that book.
  • Libraries have audio CDs of music and audiobooks, Bartow circulates those up to fifteen as well for two weeks (plus renewals).
  • Some libraries - like ours - circulate DVDs for checkout.  Again, Bartow allows up to fifteen DVDs for up to two weeks, plus renewals.
Also, you can use public computers to do things like job hunt, study online, email and social chat, creative projects, and yes Facebook.

So, can I interest you in getting a library card FOR FREE at your local library?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Weird. Traffic Bump just an hour ago from France.

I don't mind the statistics much, but the sudden bounce in views that don't link to a specific blog entry, and are coming from overseas, and are using proxy IPs for anonymous connections, kinda makes me wonder if my site's getting hacked or used without my knowledge somehow.

I'm not seeing any odd posts, or edits, or any spammer comments like I got back in 2010 from China.  Good Lord, I got Chinese spam that I could not read so I didn't even know if they were trying to reach me or leave some weird code for other people to read.  Ever hear about Number Stations?  They're these shortwave radio stations that only enthusiasts and spies listen to, and sometimes there's coded messages and stuff, and maybe this is some Internet based Number Station deal where they identify some low-traffic innocent bystander blog site and use it for codes and warnings and stuff.  Oh My God, my blog could be getting set up by... by... what's the French equivalent of the CIA?!  Damn.  I'm getting abused by the DGSE, I know it!

...Okay, if French intelligence is using my blog for coded traffic, they better compensate me by buying my ebooks.  And leave reviews for them on the retail sites!  Five stars, across the board dammit.  If the Chinese intelligence is using my blog, though, uh-uh, no way, not unless you confirm Tank Guy is okay and safe and stuff and you agree to allow multi-party candidates in your next election cycle.

...and now I'm in the mood to do a review of the James Bond movies...

(Update) My Horde allies are telling me this is common: spam bots creating traffic.  I should name my spam bots Coneheads because they come from France...!

Friday, August 21, 2015

There Is Still A Need For Blogging

One of my upcoming computer classes at the library is going to be on social media.

We still get patrons who are confused about certain media outlets such as Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter and Pinerest.  The class will cover some of that.

I'll also be going into blogging as well.

I've seen a few "Blogging Is Dead" articles online, which may sound like it's a fad that's passing into history, but I would disagree.

The blogging they're talking about is the paid-for professional bloggers, the media commentariat you see cross-pollinating on television and magazines and radio.  Many of them are opting out because of the time constraints and external pressures that blogging creates for them.

For the regular public, however, blogging still has its uses.

There are still social groups that can share information through a blog, track events, promote themselves or others.

There are still individuals marketing themselves as artists or professionals seeking clients or audiences.

There are local businesses who can use the effective page creation tools to set menus and directories of information, and maybe indulge in running diaries of projects or flights of whimsy related to their community/marketplace.

It's just when I teach this class I won't be using Blogger.  Sorry guys, I'm only here because Blogspot was cheap and easy back in the day before it merged with Blogger.  I'll be teaching WordPress instead because it offers a slightly easier Comments setup for people to install.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

NEW: Stories For All Seasons

Just released this week!  Woot!

The local writers group - Writers 4 All Seasons - tried out a group project this year: collecting our own short stories and publishing them to a themed anthology.

Stories For All Seasons collects each tale in a chronological order - by season, by month - that provides a sense of scenery, of mood, of time and place.

My submission "Where the Snow Is Grey" is towards the end, as it's set around the Christmas holidays.  The title itself comes from a mondegreen of sorts: I misheard the first few lines of Tori Amos' "Winter" song and... well... from the title came the story idea.

It's only available as eBook as this is a small writers group and we are but humble wage-slaves unable to afford actual print publishing.  Currently it's Amazon Kindle only, but I'll see if we're getting an EPUB variation out as well.  Update 8/20: I've been told that our publishing arrangement with Kindle has it so they have exclusive rights for a few months, so we won't see an EPUB version for about six months perhaps.

For myself, this is a new publication release for which I am feeling the usual buzz of "oh yeah I made it".  I think for some from the writers' group, this is their first publication of any kind, I think they're through the roof.

Makes me wanna finish those damn novels I'm still tripping over. ;)

If any visitors here want to download the anthology, please do.  All I ask is that you leave a review on Amazon, which will help promote the book.  And if you like what the other authors wrote, please follow-up and see what else they've got on market.  Thank you!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cross-Post: I Survived the 2015 Tampa Bay Comic Con, And My Nephews Survived It Too.

Sharing over to the entry I wrote at the other blog I run.  Link here.

Here's a photo or two I didn't post on the other article, just to entice...

The food lines got packed after noon time, partly because it started raining heavy, like a wall of rain, around the same time.  It kept raining well into 4 pm, and there were reports of flooding on certain streets in the downtown area.
Much like last year, the line to get in on Saturday morning - always the busiest day for what I know - went way out along Channelside.  It went under the Harbor Island bridge.  And I got there about 7:30 in the morning.  One of Tampa Convention Center's glaring weaknesses: lack of covered entranceway space, and a not-large-enough foyer area...

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Being a Geek Means Never Missing a Franchise Movie

Seriously.  Even if the movie looks to be bad in the trailers, if it's a franchise movie of a beloved geek-focused literary or televised series, YOU WILL GO SEE IT.

Ant-Man is a perfect example.

I didn't want to see it.  I didn't NEED to see it.  The trailer looked... weak... foolish somehow.  I figured beforehand that I could simply skip it coming out in the theaters and waiting for the DVD/Blu-Ray.

...I ended up going last Sunday during its first weekend.

Problem was, the early reviews for it were not that bad... the excuse of "oh no it'll suck" wasn't sticking... I had to... I HAD TO...

This is all just lead-in to one of the funniest YouTube animated series I've just come across called FanGirls done by OnlyLeigh.

Too many Marvel movies indeed...

...I loved how the lead insurgent was from House Stark.  And the eyebrow twitch she develops as Leigh speaks to truth.

Anyway.  Next Saturday is Tampa Bay Comic-Con.  See you there!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Been Thinking About the Places I've Worked

I was chatting up a co-worker at the Bartow Library tonight about how things were at the other libraries we've each worked at, and I got to thinking about the ones I used to work at in Broward County.

I've posted before about being at North Regional in Coconut Creek.  But one of the things we did as a regional library was cover for the smaller nearby community libraries whenever their staffs were on vacation or short due to sickness/emergencies.  That was one of the advantages of working a large county-wide system: the chance for a change of scenery, different libraries and different patrons, different questions and different collections...

The surrounding north-and-northwest libraries were places I'd go to help as a Reference librarian, or in some cases as a Librarian-In-Charge (someone with the authority to panic if there was a crisis).  I'd go to branches like Coral Springs, a busy mid-sized library before it was replaced by its own Regional (Northwest Regional, where I would work as a full-timer for awhile... but that is another story).  I was a frequent LIC at the smaller Northwest (no relation, this was NW Pompano Beach city) and Margate branches.  I went twice to Beach branch (Pompano), one of the smallest libraries I had ever seen, with an absolutely beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean right across the street.  I covered the Reference desk about four, five times at Pompano Beach branch.  There was another library somewhere in the middle - not Lauderhill, but nearby - where I had to cover once, but I can't recall specifically which it was.  Might have been Tyrone Bryant.  Ah well.

When I went to work at South Regional for a year, I didn't cover other branches as much.  I was at Pembroke Pines community library once.  This was back in the older SR library building and not the newer regional library standing on the Broward College South Campus.  I still tell stories of that fateful summer Saturday afternoon where that college student sitting at Lab Computer #4 lost all his work to a thunderstorm brown-out and screamed the scream of the eternally damned...

Talking about the years I worked at Broward made me wonder how things are down there now.  I hadn't worked there since 2003, twelve years going on forever it seems.  So I looked at the website and checked out the map to see what was different.

I knew some of the buildings had changed.  South Regional, years ago, that old building was leaking every rainstorm so they needed a new place and got one.  West Regional when I was there had been built just before the need for public computers everywhere, so that was a smaller place one-story structure than the county residents deserved.  They replaced it with a larger two-story place, which looked nice the time I visited a few times.

I heard that tiny Beach branch finally closed: a storm in 2005 wiped out the Pompano pier  across the street, and the library itself was damaged.  They built a newer one further inland - which isn't far, seeing the Intercoastal Waterway is about a mile from the Atlantic - that looks like double the size.

The community Northwest looks like it has been replaced.  The old building was small, barely four rooms.  The photo on the locations page looks like a fancier, larger abode.  Pity they don't have more photos of what it looks like inside now.  Did they get a larger Children's room?

The photos of Margate look the same.  It was a good-sized library for the area it served, just needed more room for public computers.  The Pompano Beach building looks the same on the outside, I dunno if they revamped any of the interior.  I think someone mentioned to me when I visited North Regional for their anniversary that Pompano was due for renovations...

I noticed on the map that two libraries are no more: there were both a Tamarac Reading library and a West Atlantic (Blvd) Children's library.  The Tamarac Reading was meant to be a temporary location while the old Tamarac library phased out for a newer building, and the West Atlantic was meant to relieve some of the checkout demands at Coral Springs.  But they were both in major population areas - the suburbs - and when I left I heard their neighborhoods were fighting to keep them.  I thought at least the West Atlantic place would remain standing: partly because if you look at the map there's a need for a library west of Coral Springs Drive on Atlantic Blvd, partly because I knew the Northwest Regional up the road was one of the busiest and stressed-out libraries in need of some circulation relief.  Side note: if you look at that map - I can't add that as an image here due to formatting - the county needs another branch or two in Coconut Creek towards Parkland and somewhere off Sheridan and State Rd 7.

Ahh, I do miss a few things from South Florida... some of the co-workers I knew as friends... the occasional drive down the beach between Pompano and downtown Ft. Lauderdale... movies at Sawgrass... watching Bucs games at Hot Shots off University Dr.  Hmm, memories.