Ebooks and the stats

“Given the proliferation of e-Books and the discussions about the future of print books, the results demonstrate that only 4% of Americans are ‘e-Book only’ readers. Only 28% of Americans have ever read an e-Book and e-Book readers also read print books. Additionally, as the Survey results indicate, people prefer the two formats in different circumstances. People traveling prefer e-Books because they are portable and baggage restrictions don’t apply to them. Print books are ideal for reading to children and for sharing with friends and family. So, the two formats tend to be more complementary than competitive.

The contest between offering free e-Books through libraries and publishers’ fear of losing sales has been brought to rest by another surprising revelation. Active library users also tend to be the most active book buyers, print or e-Book. So, free e-Books in libraries do not actually drive down sale figures.”

from http://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/pew-research-center-7-surprising-facts-about-libraries.html

Just this weekend I purchased some e-books in a series which I like. I got epub format so they would go on my phone in the Bluefire app, and give me something to read during odd moments, usually while waiting for something. At the same time, I am reading print format books from the public library, part of the time while digitizing my phonograph records for music in my vehicle (since operating a phonograph-based stereo system in a moving vehicle is, if anything, even more unsafe than texting). All of that is consistent with the Pew results above (excepting the digitizing stuff).

And there is the argument that some have been making for a while now that e-books will take over and print will/has become obsolete. Thomas A. Edison did not predict that, but he predicted that the phonograph record would replace books (you know, those little wax cylinders — oh, wait, that changed to flat discs), and then motion pictures, and poor old Tom still didn’t have it right when we moved to DVDs of movies, and then streaming videos. The fact is, we have multiple formats because we have multiple uses, and multiple contents, and changing technologies, and personal preferences. Even the inventors cannot predict how long a new format will last. That’s why I’m digitizing my old phonograph records.

While the big publishers are reporting that e-book sales have been falling in 2015, or at least flattening (which is disputed elsewhere as only referring to those publishers sales), it seems that multiple formats will remain in the future. Which formats are available may shift, but versatility continues to be the preference of enough users/buyers that require that flexibility. Print, however, continues to endure and even thrive.

I already have several series that I have read various volumes in print and in e-book format. It’s a little harder to keep track of, but it allows me to use the format that is convenient/cost-effective at the moment.

And so it goes…

Oh, good…

Backchannel.com has a post on legibility in web design – mainly, it’s getting worse, intentionally.

Oh, good. I thought it was just me.


Things you didn’t learn how to do in library school

There are a lot of things I didn’t learn in library school that I’ve come to use in libraries. Many librarians probably do.

I’ve never worked in a library where I didn’t need to bring in my tools to do something. In fact, I have a toolbox under my desk, and we have some tools that the library owns as well. I’ve built monitor and printer stands, rolling carts, assembled and/or modified furniture, and other things.

I know a librarian who took classes in architecture so he could help design library buildings.  He knew something about how buildings go together, and what was needed, and could use that to communicate library needs to architects.

I took business courses, and bookkeeping and accounting, as well as programming and web design, to do the behind the scenes stuff that libraries need.

I also, as part of my sordid past, spent time selling office supplies, furniture and equipment, back in the ’70s. (Yes, just after the Civil War, so clam up, kids.) So I know something about that kind of thing.

Today I assembled a sign holder, the first of two I ordered for our first floor restrooms.

We’d been having troubles with small freestanding floor signs, which we need for one end of our restrooms on the first floor. You see, the way this building was designed, the architects didn’t want somebody being chased into the restroom from our 24 Hour Zone and being trapped with no other exit, so the restrooms on the first floor are open to the library (when we’re open) and lock on the Zone side, and then are unlocked on the Zone side but have alarms if opened on the library side (when we’re closed). So the potential escapee can run into the library and set off the alarm, and the noise will alert people and campus police. So, we have to (a) do lock and unlock on opening and closing, and (b) have the signs near the library side doors to tell people why that alarm just went off (and I wish I was kidding about that).

So, we need small, easily movable signs to put out the easily visible message that if you go through the library side doors when the library is closed, an alarm will sound. (And yes, I worry about being on the road with people that pay so little attention to signs that they go through the door anyway. But some do.)

So, we had signs something like this (only in black):


This looks pretty functional, or it did when I bought them. The problems began to appear upon extended use. The sign itself, in many of these designs, is held onto the post by one screw, and if that strips or breaks away, that’s the end of that. The telescoping post (which comes in pieces to save on shipping) gets loose and then you lift the whole thing (holding the post right under the sign, maximizing strain on the screw connection) and the post comes apart (not what I advocate, but I’m not available 24/7 to tell people what not to do). Now you have two pieces to move and put back together. It just wasn’t working out when various people took various levels of care (if any) to move them. Frankly, anything that has to be moved has to stand up to various stresses from the different handling that inevitably occurs.

The answer, as it often is around here, is quite simple: tell Dennis to find a solution.

So I think I did.


I wanted something sturdy, lightweight but stable, and not too expensive. The one above was well under $100; I had to go above that to about $120 (price plus shipping) for the new one. It’s one piece (once the base is assembled, but the screws should hold well in this design, and when you lift, all the weight is not on those screws – just the base). It’s aluminum, so lightweight (just under 17 pounds). The design is stable and it has rubber feet. It’s small enough to not get in the way, whether set to one side facing the wall (when the library is open and the door alarm not set) and can quickly be put within view but out of the path, when the library is closed and the alarm is on.

Naturally, the sign (11 x 17″) will not be what you see but one warning that the door alarm will be set off if you go through it. It also looks very modern yet graceful, which is in keeping with our 21st century building.

This is not an endorsement of a product; I avoid doing those. But this is in the nature of an experiment – will this design work well enough to use elsewhere in the building? We shall see.

Stickiness and Stupidity

Time for another rant. RANT MODE=ON

I’m seeing web designers for vendors becoming obsessive about sucking people into their systems, getting their contact info, lining them up for a followup, checking the best time of day for a phone call from a rep… oh, you just had one simple question?

Sucks to be you, then, because we’re squeezing every bit of information possible about you into our system so we can sell you something… oh, that’s what the question was about, you just wanted a quote?

Still sucks to be you. You ain’t getting zip until we wind you around the web site a few times and then suck all that juicy info about you into our files.

Which probably don’t have all the much security protection so we’ll get hacked and …

Which allows us to flood you with spam about our products, relevant or not, affordable or not…

Yep, still sucks to be you, customer.

Nobody wants to tell you anything until they get all that contact information out of you and put you on a list of spam advertising which — oddly enough — never seems to pay much attention to the detailed ‘interests’ list you had to fill in just to continue in the process of actually emailing a rep about your one simple question.

Now, I realize that making a web site ‘sticky’ so people stay on it, and getting info for followup, is one of the priorities that web designers are given these days. That has most likely been handed down by somebody who read a post or even a book on how to sell on the web, and the idea of squeezing blood — eh, information — out of the stone — eh, potential customer — was laid down as a new law of marketing.

A little heads up for marketing people:

  1. I’m busy. I don’t have time to set up a login for every site and vendor on the web, and keep track of the passwords and such (even with LastPass, it adds up). Actually, you get my email and/or phone as part of the deal if you just let me ask my question. Or is it too hard for you to extract that, or have the rep enter it into your system for you?
  2. Answer a simple question and I am happy. Jerk me around with sites designed to suck all the info you can out of me and I go looking elsewhere. Oh, you’re the sole source? Well, maybe I can talk the faculty into finding somebody more cooperative to buy something else from.
  3. Chances are, by the time I ever use this login again, your entire web architecture will have changed and invalidated it all. I have had as many as five invalid logins for one vendor, who kept ‘improving’ their services and forcing me to ask for a reset.
  4. I have a delete button. So all the email you spam me with gets deleted. I can even fix it so it gets deleted automatically. So at least go to the trouble to make it relevant, or I’ll block you. You insisted on putting me on a list, even when I unchecked the box for that, so don’t expect me to be nice.

The Internet and World Wide Web is amazingly flexible and customizable. Remember that and don’t be slaves to some general concepts about what somebody thinks you should do to market. Think of everyone from the customers side.

Oh, and try using your own website like a customer would. Often, like at least after every change you make. A lot of the time, you broke the site. Just sayin’.

I am librarian, see me vent.



One Windows 10 to bind them all, Part 2

First, a little rant.


I try to do something, and find it is interrupted by something automatically updating, and then demanding a reboot… who needs this?

Granted, a lot of people don’t do updates at all, so Microsoft and others prefer to force it on us for our own good (supposedly). It doesn’t help that some updates have side effects that discourage people from doing them at all, so whose fault is that?

I prefer to set mine so I can control when they are done, but even then, I have anti-virus updating interfere (from what I can tell) with something else I’m trying to do. It also doesn’t help to have programs do a delayed reaction — let you get started on something else and oh yeah by the way this is also running on its own whether you want it now or not.

All right, on to the show.

Still have a (newer) laptop to upgrade. This started with Windows 8.1.

I’m going to skip getting a dedicated backup program this time. So, Windows key + Q gets me the search box, enter File history, and check the resulting left column down at the bottom for System Image Backup. Backup to my external hard drive. Instructions are here although I skipped the DISM step. Also, if you’re backing up anything else to the external drive, uncheck the box for using the existing file.

Browser, enter “get windows 10” and look for the Microsoft.com entry. Collect from the link that has a number 9194 after it. Agree to the legal thing, compatibility check okay, and away we go at 1:12 p.m.

2:11 p.m and I’m at “Getting your upgrade ready”, downloading, 10%. This isn’t going to be fast, obviously. Of course, the laptop is a slower processor and less RAM than the desktop.

2:33 and the installation is starting.

2:43 and it’s “Checking your PC” in a blue popup box.

2:51 and checking for updates. Since I went to some effort to do all that just before the upgrade begin, it shouldn’t find any required.

At 2:59 it wants to uninstall the Cisco AnyConnect Network Access Manager. Since that isn’t functioning to allow me to connect to my computer at work anyway, I agree. Of course, this also means a restart. Well, that kills the install for the moment. Might as well go in after the computer comes up again and remove all the Cisco stuff before restarting. Need to find an alternative for remote connecting which doesn’t cost (much, anyway).

And at 3:27 we start all over again, using the desktop icon for Windows 10 installation this time, from the beginning. I am still compatible, and the downloading begins anew. <sigh!>

Restarting at 4:18 as directed.

And now the black screen with the circle and copying files. I’m going to walk away, slowly, quietly.

Came back later and it’s ready to continue the process – no more problems. I’ve found that once you finally get back to the desktop and all, it’s still a good idea to let Windows 10 keep working a bit, updating stuff, removing stuff. Don’t start anything right away. Some of the manufacturer’s apps were removed (Windows notified me that it was done) and I had to update my widgets app.

Next day I did a few settings adjustments:

Windows 10 has some optional features, some of which may be turned on. I turned off the suggested apps. I customized some of the settings, including the feedback that got a lot of people upset.

I turned on Cortana to try it out.  Since my desktop is used for music processing, the mic settings conflict somewhat with Cortana, but the laptop seems to be working with it. I’ll see how I like that. I might turn off the recommendations and just settle for voice commands. Wish I could set voices and accents without having to change my location, though.

There are some changes for annoyances. Setting the default browser to something other than Edge worked with the method here, when the “official” method in Settings just ignored my efforts. Edge is generally reported as not-ready-for-prime-time, and I prefer to have my extensions working. Also, I want to be notified to restart after updates, not have it forced on me in the middle of something else, if the system is updating automatically anyway.

Haven’t used Win10 much here yet, but again, functions much like Windows 7 and desktop-mode 8.1. I tried setting the Personalization for tablet, but that just switches from the left slide-out menu to the 8.1 style tiles screen, which I never much liked, so turned that off again.

So I am up to date, as far as I can tell. Yay.

The one thing I’ve noted is that using the same logon (outlook.com) that Windows wants, for both my larger 22″ screen as well as my 11″ laptop, is that the Taskbar is forced to the same place on both, and putting it on the left side on a big screen works much better than on a laptop. Might be an incentive to make the Taskbar invisible when not required, but that would take some getting used to, for me. I understand that the idea was to have everything in the same place on all your PCs, but screen size is a factor that doesn’t necessarily optimize for this.


One Windows 10 to bind them all

The Kübler-Ross model postulates a series of emotions experienced by survivors of an intimate’s death, wherein the five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Gee, kind of how many people approach a Windows upgrade…

Microsoft got a lot of backs up by pushing the upgrade so relentlessly. I tend to wonder if the idea was to be able to talk about how many people upgraded to Windows 10, in order to encourage others to change, especially after the poor reception of Windows 8 not pushing a lot of people off XP and 7. The “spying” thing didn’t help, especially since Microsoft didn’t hurry to assure everyone that it was just intended for quality and interaction — given the amount of info collected these days, it’s hard for anyone to simply accept good intentions as sufficient.

ComputerWorld had a post which didn’t seem very happy with Windows 10. It summed up a number of opinions, including some expert ones.

I tried the upgrade with my old Gateway laptop, and it was a struggle.  But, it finally succeeded.

I had to get a Windows 7 driver for my printer to work on 8.1.  The manufacturer’s website says that the Windows 7 driver should work on Windows 10. I copied it to Dropbox, so I can add it if needed.

Okay, July 3, holiday weekend, got a physical outdoor project done up (pending the rain stopping). Time to upgrade the desktop (a Lenovo B50-30 all-in-one). Documenting via my laptop.

Did my upgrades so I’m up to date.

Got the free Macrium, as recommended, created a recovery disk, and did an image to my external hard drive (all partitions), before anything else. Then cold boot, disconnecting my external hard drive.

Download Windows10Upgrade9194.exe direct from Microsoft (which was the current version offered; your mileage may differ).

Close the browser. Accept the terms, of course. 1:17 p.m. Checks compatibility, all good. Downloading Windows 10. And so it begins….

1:47 p.m. and it’s installing at 2%. 2:02 and 81%. My Internet connection crashed for my laptop where I’m writing this post, but I got back up — weather or something to do with the installation? Or maybe just low battery, so I plugged it in. No idea.

2:15 and ready to restart. My USB mouse doesn’t work.  Not entirely surprised. Oh, well, it’s a touch screen so I’ll use that.

Black screen, “Upgrading Windows”, countdown in a circle. Copying files. 2:19 p.m.

Copying files 37%, 11% in the circle at 2:26 p.m. Now at 2:43 it’s 32% circle and installing features and drivers. 53% at 2:54, so we’re past the dreaded 32% mark, anyway.  71% at 2:57 p.m.  92% and configuring settings at 68% at 3:03 p.m.

At 3:09 p.m. I have a blue Welcome to Windows 10 screen with my avatar and a Next button.  I take the default Express settings; I can change later. Still no mouse. Reboots.

And my usual logon screen at 3:11 p.m. Windows 10 logon screen.

“We’ve updated your PC” and et cetera. Reassurances while the changes continue. Task Bar reappears.

It wants to update my gadgets.  I do, and they appear. Restart, and get my mouse back.

Quicken, VinylStudio and Readerware working (at least, they come up). Both my inkjet and label printers. And my external hard drive.


Frankly, Windows 10 is not all that different.  The all-tiles screen is gone, but on a desktop, that’s not really much used anyway.  The Windows key slides out a menu with tiles from the left, but again, not using that much.

I use the Settings to tweak. And I’m back in business, so far.





Tracfone, Android and other thoughts

ZDNet has noted that Android users tend to be cheapskates: http://www.zdnet.com/article/cheapskate-android-switchers-are-hurting-apple/?tag=nl.e539&s_cid=e539&ttag=e539&ftag=TRE17cfd61

The post notes that “If your budget is $350 or under (whether that be buying the handset outright, or spread over two years with carrier financing), Apple’s got nothing for you.”

Yep. Guilty as charged.

Then again, I do like to say the dictionary definitions for “cheapskate” and “librarian” tend to coincide at about the fourth level or so.  Well, they do for me, anyway.

I’m not doing an endorsement for Tracfone; I’m just stating that I find that service works for me in this area and where I’ve needed it, so I use it. A no-contract cell phone is a practical choice for me and very low-budget.

Nearly two years ago, I had a vehicle breakdown at a busy intersection that proved I still needed to keep a cell phone handy, and most recently, I’ve used my new (larger 5″ screen) model for screen shots to update the ebooks instructions in the Using Ebooks LibGuide.  That, and reading ebooks while I wait someplace for dental appointments, etc.

The phone was under $50 and the case with belt clip under $10 from Amazon, and the 1 year card I got free from a credit card bonus points promotion (normally about $115 to $120). So at this point, I’ve spent less for a new phone and a year of use than most people I know spend in 1 or 2 months without changing phones. I’ve never used up a year’s worth of time yet on these. If I ever need to, I can add more time mid-year.

It is not the latest Android (4.4.2 KitKat) but pretty recent. It will probably not upgrade from that version of Android, which is a limitation of using the Tracfone system, but that’s new enough to have plenty of functionality for my purposes — I’m not that demanding. And the keys are now finally big enough that I can send a decent text if needed, without so much correcting (sue me, I like to spell correctly and I have stubby fingers).

While some who know me think of me as a “gadget” user, I don’t feel I have to have the latest/greatest, or the big brand name (I’ve never used this model’s brand before). I like functionality, rather than every bell and whistle.

And the kicker is, I have to post my cell phone number where I can find it easily, because I almost never give it to anyone, largely because I don’t have the phone on me all the time.

Okay, so I’m cheap and weird in our faces-buried-in-our-phone-screens culture.

Apparently, I don’t need a bite of Apple.