Friday, October 30, 2015

Which Literary Monster are You?

Dr, Frankenstein's Monster - My result from this quiz

I don't always do these, but when I do I enjoy them. Happy Halloween!


Friday, September 18, 2015

Carpe Dime: Seize the Coin

These pictures summarize my librarian summer.
Enjoy!

A photo posted by Christopher Jimenez (@cjmnz8) on
A photo posted by Christopher Jimenez (@cjmnz8) on

Feed the fish. Last duty as #saturdaylibrarian #librarylife

A photo posted by Christopher Jimenez (@cjmnz8) on

A photo posted by Christopher Jimenez (@cjmnz8) on
A photo posted by Christopher Jimenez (@cjmnz8) on

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How to send ebooks straight from Gutenberg to Kindle

Intro

Every librarian loves/hates Project Gutenberg. It's an incredible resource which has offers way more pros than cons. However, some warranted feedback on the site has to do with its cumbersome nature. Books have to be found, downloaded, and then sideloaded. It's much quicker and easier to just click on a magic Amazon button and have it magically whisper-synched to your device. I've found a way to do just that!

What you will need

  • DROPBOX - You can get it here.
  • IFTTT - The big workhorse
  • GMAIL - You might be able to use another email provider on IFTTT's list (Yahoo?) but this is the one I used.
  • KINDLE EMAIL - You can find it in your Amazon settings, it's going to be username@kindle.com. Also, make sure your Gmail is authorized to send attachments to your Kindle.

The basic concept

We are going to use Dropbox and IFTTT to automate the process of loading the .mobi file into your Kindle via email. The Gutenberg website has Dropbox functionality baked into it. Kindles allow you to email files from an authorized account. IFTTT will bring these two processes together.

NOTE: you will need to set up the following before going through these steps. Call them your pre-requisites, if you will.
  • Make sure your Gmail is an authorized sender to your Kindle.
  • Make sure your Dropbox and Gmail channels are activated in IFTTT.

Step by Step

  1. Log into IFTTT and make a new recipe.
  2. Start with Dropbox. Fire this recipe off with IF a new file is uploaded. Note that the folder is/will be: Apps/gutenberg.
  3. THEN we will trigger GMAIL to send an email with the attachment. The attachment will be sent to your Kindle email address. The recipe is now created. and should look like this:
  4. What the IFTTT Recipe should look like
  5. Go to Gutenberg and find an ebook that you would like to read. You will have the option to save the .mobi (Kindle) to Dropbox / Drive / OneDrive. Choose Dropbox.
  6. You will be taken to Dropbox, where Gutenberg will install as an app. This will create the Apps/gutenberg directory. Your ebook will be saved there.
  7. IFTTT should take over and automatically email the file from Dropbox to your Kindle using your own email address.
  8. Your Kindle should automatically download the file, making it instantly available for reading.
BONUS: Grab the Dropbox email (no-reply@dropboxcom) and add it to your Kindle approved senders list. Then, you can resend the ebook file to your Kindle by clicking on share. You could just do this and forget about IFTTT, but it won't be automated.

DOUBLE BONUS: I have made this recipe public so you can just go the lazy route and just take it from my IFTTT profile.

Conclusion

And that's it! You can freely browse the treasure trove of literature that is Project Gutenberg and know that any title on there can be auto-delivered to your Kindle. I would love to read your comments below. Suggestions for improvement or other recipes are appreciated.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saving Mr. Banks - Film Review

Intro
Disney's Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks came out in 2013. It tells the story of the making of Disney's transcendent classic: Mary Poppins. This film casts Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.

What I Will Not Talk About

  • The Plot — You can look that up on IMDB. (I linked to it above) Here's a hint: In the end, Disney makes the movie Mary Poppins. Should I have said "spoiler alert"?
  • Whether the movie's events actually happened in real life. Briefly: they didn't. That's not the point.
  • How grumpy British people are. I don't know. I've met pleasant people. I've met grumpy people. Whatever.
  • How great Emma Thompson is at playing a writer — please tell me you haven't forgotten Stranger Than Fiction...

Film Adaptions

What really fascinated me about this film is the process of translating the pages of a good book onto the silver screen. There are a lot of things that go into a movie adaption of a book — as one can easily imagine. A work of fantasy can be interpreted multiple ways. But a movie only shows one interpretation. This inevitably leads to disappointment.

As a librarian, people always seem to ask me what I think of this film adaption or that one. (The Hobbit, Narnia, Game of Thrones...) Each time, I respond the same way: film is an art form that stands alone and has its own merits. This is technically correct (remember Library School?) but when people ask that question, they seem to want to commiserate more than actually listen to a gracious opinion.

This particular film brings several aspects to the fore wich go beyond technical problems and generic filmmaker interpretations. These aspects are as follows:
  1. The Author's Relationship with their work.

    P.L. Travers consistently refers to the characters in Mary Poppins as family. Consider the hardships of writing a piece of fiction and pouring yourself into character and plot development. Imagine how hard it must be to go through the process of having your creative work critiqued by friends, family and complete strangers. Then imagine success. Could anyone other than you really know those characters intimately?
  2. The Author's Second chance to make things right.

    At one point, P.L. Travers made changes to the characters. One specific point that she tried (unsuccessfully) to change was Mr. Banks' facial hair. She (in the movie) mentioned that she pushed for Mr. Banks to be clean shaven in the books, but the publisher insisted on giving him a mustache. Could it be that an author might see a film adaptation as an opportunity to seize back some creative control that a publisher snatched from them? I am in no position to say how often this actually happens, but it does not seem like a far-fetched scenario.
  3. The Filmmaker's passion.

    Finally, we are given a name, a face and a reason why the filmmaker pushed their interpretation onto the film. Specifically, Walt Disney insisting on Mr. Banks retaining his mustache and making the film into a musical (with animated penguins). Filmmakers (contrary to popular belief) probably do not make changes with the intent of ruining a story. Filmmakers are artists at heart. They want to use their creativity to tell stories and have reasons behind their decision-making. You have the right to disagree with their decisions, but they are people too.

Conclusion

I really liked Saving Mr. Banks a lot. It helped me to place a few of the thoughts that I have had concerning film adaptations and why they can still be good even if they don't adhere to the original books. I recommend this movie.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pixar Rankings Revealed

The Wait is Over

See the gallery below for the final, authoritative Pixar Rankings List. Ok, ok, maybe not so final or authoritative. But I had fun collecting responses anyway. Thanks for humoring me. I've learned a few things. For instance, my wife's opinions are more right than mine. Shocker! LOL.

My comments/reactions are embedded in the gallery. I'll keep the survey up for a week or two if someone new wants to add their opinion to the mix. I might have to create an updated list.

...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Pixar Ranking

1A-1O

So, I am very generous when ranking these movies. All these movies are fun. I know this. I created and took my own survey to ensure that I answered as truthfully as possible. There were a few ties, I just picked the one I fancied that I liked better. I'm sure there's a scientific tie-breaker, but I didn't bother to look it up.

Remember, these are MY rankings. Though I tried my best to make it scientific, it's still just one guy's opinion. Enough methodology, here's the ranking!



...

I am surprised at my results. I didn't think either of the Monsters movies would rank as high as they did. Also, Ratatouille is outside of my top-ten! Crazy.

If you want to take my survey find it below. If I get enough responses, I'll post results right here! Thanks for reading.

Create your own user feedback survey

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ranking Pixar

Inspiration

If you follow me on Twitter, you will note that I have been forwarding every Pixar Ranking that I've read. If you don't believe me—or you don't follow my micro-blog&mdashhere's a sampling of these posts:



Criteria

Clearly, the release and popularity of Pixar's Inside Out spawned these rankings and suckers like me click on them. That's fine, I enjoy it. Further, my disagreement with these rankings caused me to think—how do I quantify my own feelings towards these movies? Clearly, I appreciate Pixar's work. The company is out of this world! Ranking these movies is an exercise in hair-splitting.

Yet, the idea has been planted in my head. I must pursue it.

As you could see from my tweet, I ranked the 14 Pixar movies based on based on Story, Characters, Feels and Originality. What does that mean? I tell you:
  • Story
    How was the plot? Did it leave the viewer satisfied? Is it a movie you could watch over and over again?
  • Characters
    Did you get to know the characters? Did you feel love, admiration, symathy?
  • Feels
    I laughed, I cried, it was wonderful! (Or maybe you didn't...)
  • Originality
    Is this just another story? Did this movie revolutionize the industry?

Conclusion

Will I agree with my own personal rankings? I have a feeling I won't. I'll try to post my results tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll ask you to take my survey! If enough people respond, I'll post those results too!

Create your own user feedback survey

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bossypants - Book Review

Book:  Bossypants
Author:  Tina Fey

This title is intriguing. At least, it drew me in. I am a fan of SNL and 30 Rock. Tina Fey played a large role in both. So why not?

Further, my previous boss teased me about this book without mercy. I remembered seeing someone whose look reminded me of Tina. (It's the classic librarian look, she says so in the book.) At the time, there was a huge display featuring Bossypants in Barnes & Noble. We got coffee every morning. So, of course, I got teased every morning.

So here's to my former boss. Thanks.

The Book

The prose was not great, so I'd have to give it 2.5 stars on my scale to 5. Right smack dab in the middle. A few grains of salt: I listened to the audiobook and did not read the traditional medium.

Yet, I don't think the format hurt my experience. In fact, I feel like it may have enhanced it. Tina writes in a conversational style. Though I assume editors made modifications to account for the medium. One liners. Jokes. Anecdotes. These all lend themselves to auditory medium.

Further, Tina Fey lent her voice talents to the production of this audiobook edition. Since the author was also the reader, the listener reaps the following benefits:
  1. Timing was impeccable. Granted, this could have been due to editing/work in the studio. Listening to certain chapters of this book sometimes felt like watching an SNL skit.
  2. Hearing the text read as the author would have it read. Again, directors could have changed the text for greater appeal. Please, leave me the pleasure of imagining that this is how she wanted it read.
  3. Listening to it in the author's voice. I might have done this anyways (in my head), but it's actually reinforced. This is an autobiography after all!

The Review

It is always interesting to learn about the people, places and events that shaped the lives of public figures. Tina Fey describes er breakthrough experiences in Bossypants.

Being a man, sections of several chapters described things to which I cannot relate. I feel that I could react to these moments in one of two ways:
  1. I could dismiss them and consider the book disappointing.
  2. I could learn to empathize with and gain respect for women in society.
Either way, I did not have the option to simply laugh or read for pleasure. Gender colored some of the jokes. Perhaps a late 20-year-old, professional man was not the target audience of this book.

Chapters of note were those dealing with Tina Fey's early experiences with Christianity, the cult following 30 Rock garnered, SNL (and Tina's relationship with Sarah Palin) and the description of Mr. Fey.

My favorite chapter was the last one described. Yes, the SNL/30 Rock chapters were fun and amusing. But the chapter on Tina Fey's dad was poignant and rich. Maybe I'm just being sentimental because I am a new father to two young girls. But it was nice to hear of the love shared between a daughter and her father--even with an imperfect relationship.

Bossypants was an easy listen. I suggest you pick it up and give it a try.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

George R. R. Martin's Character Development


A Quick Observation

This is not a full review. I plan to read these books and watch the HBO series and write a review on the entire saga once I have finished. However, after book two I needed to pause and express a bit of praise for a particular literary quality.

I found myself rooting for Renly Baratheon.
I found myself supporting Robb Stark.
I found myself backing Danaerys Targaryen.
Everyone hates Joffrey Baratheon.

I was engrossed in their stories and motives. I wanted them to succeed. Then I realized something, each of those characters are enemies of one another. For just one of them to succeed, the other two would have to fail. They even outright threaten each other.

Though they stood in direct opposition, I still hoped the best for them. It is an interesting dynamic that I have never felt while reading a novel before. Kudos to Mr. Martin for great writing!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Librarian Problem No. 562: Read the fine print

I have been a librarian for about two and a half months now, and I have solved several problems. From reference questions, to directional assistance to technical aid, I have done quite a lot under the motto, "All in a day's work." However, this one really had me going.

The Case of the Rogue Access Point

So I was asked if we could extend the library's WIFI for inventory purposes. The stacks are a dead zone and our fancy RFID Wand doesn't work too well back there. The only other solution involved moving Access Points (AP's) around and the whole plugging/unplugging thing scared everyone.

So I, the Electronics Librarian (touch me twice), gave my professional advice. I said, "We should be able to buy a couple cheap routers and set them up as AP's. We will place them strategically on the second floor to extend coverage." Piece of cake! I looked it up and everything! Just turn off DHCP and set the AP up with the same SSID/Password and you should be good. I sent the quote off to my Director and he approved the purchase of a couple lovely Linksys E1200s. Woohoo!

So I get these AP's sooner than expected. Awesome! I was busy at the moment and there was no rush, so I scheduled a day to work on them. The day comes and I unbox the first AP. Sweet! This looks just like the AP we have set up already, I'll just mimic the settings and everything will be hunky-dory.

It worked!
Alright!
Score!
Success!
I am a techno-wizard!

I even took it out to the stacks for verification. I connected with no problem. (In retrospect, I probably should have tested more intensively to ensure that the network stayed up. But, in my mind I was done.) This second one will be cake!

The second one would not work.

Oh, I could get it to work in my office. I could see it. My devices would connect to it. It would load web pages. But when I took it upstairs, I got no connectivity. I must have set this thing up 8 different times which felt like 60 times over. What could be wrong? I set this AP up exactly the same. I change the static IP to one in the range. Why won't you work?

I ended that week in frustration. I got one working, but not the other. Ugh! Now let's add some pressure. The Director walks into my office and asks for an ETA on the AP setup. I tell him it should be up by the end of the week. (After all, I am Electronics Librarian and should be able to do these things.) He asks why it would take so long, so we end up with Wednesday as a fair compromise. I have three days before I'm exposed as a fraud.

Monday is all about figuring out what the heck could possibly be the problem. I looked at my network map, I looked at information from Linksys, I looked at my horoscope;mdash&anything that might give me an answer! I was resetting, reconfiguring, testing in my office, running upstairs to test, then repeating the process. Sometimes it would work, once, then stop working. Sometimes it refused to work at all. Always, the AP was frustrating me, mocking me, letting me know how much better it was than me. How I wanted to kick it in the face, but it was busy kicking my butt. Why would it work in my office but not in the stacks? Why, oh why?

Then, two minutes before the end of the day, I found it; I found the last possible solution.

On the aforementioned network map, in the middle of 6 footnotes. MAC locking port security is enabled on the switch that the network ports connect to in the stacks. Only one MAC address is allowed access to the internet from those ports! If I log into the router and change this setting, could it resolve my problem?

Yes! The answer is yes! Oh, thank God, YES! I change the setting and my AP's are allowing all devices to access the internet from all over the library all day and through the rest of the week and into this current week. I finished my project ahead of schedule (technically) and inventory is progressing and everyone is happy.

And all librarians everywhere should know better than to skip over the fine print.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tweeting Poetry

For you geeks who like word clouds and the like, you should check out Poet Tweet. Once you enter your twitter handle, it asks what kind of poem you would like to create (Sonnet FTW!) and then it parses your tweets to compose said poetry. It's interesting to say the least and certain to entertain for at least 3 minutes.

Here's my sonnet, "The Cost":

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Announcement: Got a Job #librarylife


This is my announcement that I have taken the position of Electronic Systems Librarian at the Fort Myers Beach Public Library. I'll be taking care of the technology at this library and providing reference assistance among other duties as assigned. My family has been moved out to the area and I am ready to work in my profession. I have been here for a week already and everything is pretty awesome.

I'm excited to see where the next chapter in my journey leads me.

A short list of things I have done in the past week:
  • Web Design
  • Photo Editing
  • Video Editing
  • Book Return Cleaning
  • Malware Removal
  • Wireless Troubleshooting
  • Hardware Repair
  • Media Presentation Setup
  • Social Media Management

Monday, March 30, 2015

ABC Animal Books Quiz (Sporcle)

Fun Times

Sporcle is a fun site with a bunch of quizzes you can take if that's something you're into. I'm kinda geeked out about it. One of the featured quizzes has to do with Children's Literature. Take the quiz to see how well you know how animals are described in children's books!

Most Common Animals (ABC Books) - Sporcle Games & Trivia

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Nerd Battle

So, I got into a full fledged war at an auto parts store. We have English grammar to blame for the blood shed. 

I was picking up some oil, and saw a sign that read: Oil X or Oil Y and Filter Z $Price A. I glanced over the ad and emphasized the OR, assuming (surprisingly) that I could get the good price without buying the filter. Not logical, but that's how I read it!

My purchase rang up full price. I asked about the promotion. We walked over to check out the sign. She said I needed to buy the filter. I was convinced that I didn't. I was also ready to fight for my savings. 

The salesperson did not have a commanding grasp of the English language. As a result, I got her so confused that she sounded like she was agreeing with me, reading the sign with the emphases I was placing on OR. However, she insisted that I did not qualify for the promotion. I kindly asked for a supervisor. 

The supervisor, clearly a native English speaker, read the sign as intended. He emphasized the AND part of the advertisement. Immediately, it clicked in my brain and I was ashamed to have made a scene at the auto parts store. However, I would make the following revision to the sign in order to increase clarity: Filter Z and either Oil X or Oil Y for $Price A. By placing the AND in a preeminent position, it removes most of the ambiguity in the signage. 

The original saleswoman was a saint who tried to return the oil filter I had purchased online and replace it with the one featured in the promotion. However, they did not have it in stock. 

So I loudly apologized for acting like a child and loudly thanked them for all their help. They were clearly right and I was clearly confused. 

I blame grammar. That's my story. Im sticking to it. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Grammar. Key to more money

Take this to the Bank

A few weeks ago, a representative from Grammarly contacted me asking if I would be interested in writing a blog post about their product. They provided an interesting infographic that provides a compelling case for the importance of strong writing skills for the advancement of one's compensation. Even though grammarly does not claim causation between grammatical proficiency and monetary compensation, it is still an interesting study to consider.

For the purposes of the study, Grammarly proofread 400+ freelancer profiles from all eight categories of the Elance platform for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. To adjust for quality of work, they only selected freelancers with an average rating of four stars or above. Then, they looked at correlation between earnings and number of mistakes.

What's this Grammarly Thing?

As can be deduced from this post, Grammarly is a free grammar checker that scans your writing for errors and suggests improvements to your writing. What I love about grammarly from my experience are the add-ins.

Grammarly will check your grammar in Gmail, it will check your social media status updates, with the Chrome extension it will check anything you type in a text field. There is even an add-in for Microsoft Office that will check your grammar in Word. So there really is no excuse to continue making gross errors in your writing.

It would be nice to make more money because of your impeccable grammatical prowess. But even if it doesn't earn you more cash, at least your writing can look like a million bucks. (I couldn't resist it, it was too cheesy.)

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