be ninmah

March 6, 2008

Or, more accurately,

Ninmah Meets World is moving! Well, has moved, although there are still some boxes lying around and I haven’t got the curtains hung yet. From here on out I will be blogging at the new location, so please update your links and feeds ( Drop by, I’ll pull up a box for you.

The look’s not finished yet and I have not yet begun to play with widgety things, but the words are there. All it needs now is you!


Twitter’s AWOL

February 29, 2008

It started last night.

I hit “reload” to find out what everyone was doing just before I quit for the night.


Blank white page, little spinny Firefox icon. No updates. No avatars. Okay, I thought. I can cope with this. It’s late, and I can just check in the morning. No problem.

Except I can’t. It’s STILL DOWN. I can’t say good morning to the Twitter world. I can’t find out how the class went for @BryanAlexander in San Francisco last night. I don’t know whether @blamb and @cogdog got their morning coffee. How was @mburtis‘s birthday? Is @mapetite still sick? I DON’T KNOW.

Which raises a question for me: why does it matter so much? Obviously Twitter gives me something that, when it’s not there, I miss. I feel unconnected, uninformed, unaware, and, yes, lonely, out here in the California satellite office of the NMC. I know you are all still out there, doing things. Maybe some of you can actually get to Twitter; I got a direct message from @mapetite this morning (it went to my phone), and gives me a resounding NO (linktribution to CogDog, thank goodness for IM). Great, so now I fear that everyone is happily twittering along without me. This is worse than being the last kid picked for the basketball team.

Twitter, where are you? Come back!

Five Things, or Late to the Party But Hey There’s Still Beer

February 27, 2008

Like Howard Rheingold, I am hooked on Twitter. I don’t update a lot, but I like to see what folks are doing (I think of it as my virtual hallway of colleagues) and I like to be helpful and answer people’s questions. The links that come across there are also usually worth following, which is how I discovered that over a year ago, Alan Levine (the inimitable CogDog) tapped me for Five Things.

[Dear Reader: If you don’t care how it happened but just want to know my five things, please skip down to the numbered list below. Otherwise, read on.] It happened thus: Brian Lamb twittered a Churchill quote and a link to his Five Things (written almost as long ago as Alan’s tap; as you will see, this is sort of a theme here), so I went to check it out. I’m glad I did, too, as now I know to bring my bulletproof vest to places where Brian is likely to be. In the post, Brian lamented that most folks had already been tapped ages ago (true, and a problem I shall face shortly). He also thoughtfully provided the link to Alan’s Five Things, in which Gardner C. and Bryan A. were already snagged, in a comment. Of course I followed the link, because CogDog’s Five Things were bound to be interesting (and again I was not disappointed). Imagine my surprise to find that down at the bottom of that post, I too had been tapped. Thing #0, therefore, is that I can be a little slow on the uptake. There, threw that one in for free. Five Things:

  1. I can draw a mean Bill the Cat.
  2. One of my early jobs was as a secretary. I sucked. Oh, I was so unbelievably bad at it that I can’t even tell you how awful I was. I hung on for six months through sheer bloody-mindedness and then I quit.
  3. While it’s commonly known that I have a background in art, not many people know that one of the media I like to work with is metal. I prefer oxy-acet to arc welding… there is something alive about the flame that I don’t get from the sparks. Unfortunately I don’t have the equipment at the moment so it’s been way too long since I’ve had the opportunity to wield a flaming 6000-degree F (3000 C) torch.
  4. In the spring of 1992 I spent a semester as a Peace Corps Intern in Libreville, Gabon. The internship program doesn’t exist any more, or didn’t last time I checked (mine was the second-to-last group. I don’t think this was my fault, but you never know). Twice a year, six interns were selected to go to various Peace Corps countries to do things like organize the central office library or, in my case, to set up and maintain their computer network. Yes, I hooked up an AppleTalk network, in Africa, and taught people how to use FoxBase, in French. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I loved every minute (except for the 48 hours when I had malaria; that I could do without). I learned to drink beer there, so I am naturally suspicious of any beer that you can see through.
  5. I performed double trapeeze, Spanish web and shoot-thru (balancing ladder) in the circus when I was in college (sorry, no pix, don’t ask). My undergraduate alma mater, Florida State University, has a collegiate circus, and I performed in the homeshows. They take the circus on the road in the summer, but summer is such a lovely, pleasant season in Tallahassee that I always remained at home. Oh wait, no it’s not. I stayed home because I was broke and taking summer classes.

My turn to tap: as has been noted elsewhere, many have already been tapped. I couldn’t find a Five Things post from Gardner C., so I hereby tap him again. I further tap Vidya A., Martha B., Nancy W., and Fleep T. Go get ’em, girls (and Gardner)!

I gather, from reading the Five Things posts of people I respect, that there’s sort of a feeling that this kind of thing is done in spite of our better judgement, and preserving the meme is frowned upon a little bit. I’m delighted that I could bring it back over a year after decent people thought it was over.


dangers vs. pitfalls

April 24, 2007

I’m in a session on digitizing newspapers at the Digital Library Federation’s Spring Forum, in which one of the presenters (Tom O’Brien of Global Business Development) has just defined the difference between dangers and pitfalls very neatly. He showed a photograph he had taken of the city of Pompeii with Vesuvius in the background. The volcano, he explained, is a danger, but it’s not a pitfall, because you can see it clearly.

that talk on data visualization

June 28, 2006

The talk by Hans Rosling I mentioned in an earlier post is available online! TEDTalks is a new feature on the TED website where selected talks from the TED2006 conference, TED Global, and others are made available — the way it should be, free — so that you can view them in the page, or subscribe to them as a podcast. I love the web. Read the rest of this entry »

If your phone book were a person

May 5, 2006

The phone rang the other evening. Uncharacteristically, I chose to answer it. A pleasant female voice identified herself as a staffer doing a survey for the phone book and asked for the male head of the household. “Hey,” I shouted to my husband, who was standing about 10 feet away, “do you want to take a survey about the phone book?” “No,” he yelled back. I turned back to the phone. “I’m sorry, he’s unavailable,” I said politely. The whole exchange had been completely audible to the caller, who had the humanity to laugh. “Then may I speak to the female head of the household?” she asked gamely.

I’m a big fan of usability testing, and market research is its distant cousin, so I like to help; but I think it was the fact that she laughed that convinced me to stay on the phone. Read the rest of this entry »

what happened last night

April 17, 2006

Last night was one of the best nights of my life.

Every night I read a book or two to my son, who is six, just before he goes to bed. Last night we read McElligot’s Pool by Dr. Seuss. We’ve read it before — he loves all the funny fishes. After we finished, he climbed up into his loft and I tucked him in and turned out the light and said “good night, sweet dreams” as I always do. That’s when it happened.

As I was about to leave, out of the goodnight-moon quiet of his just-darkened room, I heard him say, “Mom… would it be okay if I read McElligot’s Pool one more time?”

“You mean you want to hear it again?” I asked.

“No, I want to read it myself. Is that okay? I’ll tuck myself in again after.”

Is that okay? Is that OKAY? Of course it’s okay! My boy wants to READ! He wants to actually READ the WORDS in a BOOK before he goes to bed. Is that okay? That’s totally awesome. That’s one of those things that they don’t tell you about. Sure, there are nighttime feedings for 15 months and you don’t sleep through the night forever. There are epic battles over eating food, wearing clothes, and using the toilet. There are terrifying moments when he falls down and cuts or breaks or bumps some part of his body and you can’t fix it with a band-aid.

But last night I left the light on, and my son read a book to himself before bed.

I had no idea it would feel that good.