Saturday, March 29, 2008

More Spring Cleaning - Exercise 30

In this exercise, we were asked to move files around, delete files and/or back up files in new ways. I moved all the branch photos to a flash drive and plan to make DVD copies as well.
We are lucky at the library in that we have a network which allows us all sorts of storage choices. There is a "P" drive we all share at the branch level. And we each have our own dedicated "Z" drive for documents, etc. Also, for large files , there is an "S" drive that everyone in the system has access to. Files on the S drive do not stay there for long. At my branch, we have not made use of the "P" drive, but once I was reminded of it, I moved a few key documents there so everyone can access them. We are spoiled rotten @ HCPL because we have a great Network Services staff who are always just a phone call away whenever we have technical difficulties.

If only things were so easy at home! We have times when our wireless network disappears. My husband has a new wireless mouse that suddenly stopped working. I tried installing an external hard drive on my computer, but it slowed down every operation on my machine, so I gave up on that concept. I am still backing things up onto DVDs and CDs. A well-reviewed flash drive I purchased doesn't always show up when I try to use it at home. It works fine at the office. I read Smart Computing magazine and have learned a few tricks, but I am no techie. It seems to me that helping people with their home computing problems must be a booming vocational field. Everyone is getting more and more wired, yet most of us don't have all the expertise needed to keep it all ticking along.

This season of spring cleaning has had a good effect on staff. The Children's Librarian cleaned out a craft cabinet as well as her desk files and electronic files. I went through my hobby and travel files at home and threw away about a third of my clippings. I am trying to move to a more electronic mode, but clipping articles is still an inborn habit. It was one of the ways my father communicated that he was thinking of his daughter -- by clipping stories from the NY Times to send to me. The ink and paper smell of the N Y Times always reminds me of him. And while I was reorganizing files at home, I came across a folder of photos and memorabilia related to Dad I had totally forgotten about. He passed away in the Spring of 2003. Spring cleaning really gave me a gift, and I am grateful.

photo: Lily Pond by KAO

Monday, March 24, 2008

Born Together: the Literature of Twins

I've had a week off to get married! So I am behind on blog posts. In the meantime, an article I contributed to Library Journal has been published. It is a "Reader's Shelf" bibliographic essay entitled Born Together: the Literature of Twins. The column is edited by Neal Wyatt.
I hope to get back to the "Next Gen" exercises soon.

photo: Dreamy Bride's Head by KAO (also used recently in issue 161 of Lilliput Review)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spring Cleaning for Email - Exercise 29

Readers' alert: This may be a boring post. Instead of reading it, go outside and enjoy the spring weather! In Houston, spring is here.

1. If you do not have a personal email account, create one. Been there! Done that, and can't imagine a world without email.

2. On your work account, create folders (if you don't have them) and clean out/move emails in all folders or forward to your personal account. Yes, I clean up my email about once a month if not more often. Invariably, I discover something I still need something I deleted, but that's what they call Murphy's Law. A positive take on Murphy's Law involves something called "defensive design". Plan for mistakes! The correct action to take would involve saving certain emails I might need later as files elsewhere on my computer.

3. Clean out and update your address book. I ended up removing about a dozen names for certain individuals no longer involved in any way with my work at HCPL.

4. Write an entry in your blog about deleting files and your plan for keeping your email account up-to-date and clutter free in the future. My plan is to continue the regular maintenance I've always practiced.

Also involved in Exercise 29 was an introduction to the Snopes/Rumor Has It site. I'd always heard of this site as the authority on hoaxes, so it was interesting to troll through the 25 Hottest Urban Legends, many of which looked familiar. Who hasn't gotten an forwarded email from a friend about the dangers of aspartame (false), windfall profits tax (false), or the #-9-0 phone scam (partly true)? I'm glad I don't get those kinds of emails at work and that our Network Services Department does such a good job of filtering spam.

photo by KAO: Kudzu in Faulkner's yard, Oxford, Mississippi

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Staying Organized - Exercise 28

1. Read about GTD. I had to read this article about the action management method of "Getting Things Done" more than once to really get the gist of it. Finally I took notes, which always helps me to digest information.

2. Try one of the online calendars or to-do lists. The choices included Google Calendar, Remember the Milk, Ta-da List and Bla-bla List. I joined Remember the Milk and Bla-bla. Although I liked the "Remember the Milk" moniker (cute), using the Bla-bla site proved simpler and more intuitive. I created a couple of lists of things to do before I take an upcoming vacation.

3. Write a post about how you can use GTD or what organizational system you already use. I feel lucky in that I was born organized. As a child I loved playing with my mother's pots and pans, stacking them and rearranging them. I also picked up my brothers' toys and put them away neatly in the toy box. As a grownup, I have to admit that reorganizing things gives me a thrill -- whether it's the linen closet, my bookshelves or our garage.

I'm not sure that websites can really help me stay more organized. I admit I have to write things down on Post-It notes and calendars to keep up with myself. At work, I use the Outlook calendar. I find it very useful for recurring events or chores. A little bell goes off and a message pops up reminding me of deadlines, etc. That's enough for me. Lists work. Typing a list in cyber space does not give me that portable mnemonic thingy known as a paper list unless I print it with expensive toner, etc. So I'll stick with scrap paper and Post-It notes for the time being.

The thing I most liked about the GTD system was the "6 Levels of Focus".
Those being:
1. Current Actions
2. Current Projects
3. Areas of Responsibility
4. Yearly Goals
5. Five Year Vision
6. Life Goals

It is good to visualize a hierarchy that stretches from must-do tasks to pie-in-the-sky dreams. At work I am very task-oriented and like to plow through projects quickly. But do I remember to focus on yearly or life goals?

Every fall I like to plant nasturtium seeds. In the photo above, among the mix, you can see some nasturtium plants. The leaves are round, and in the variety shown, colored green and white. Nasturtiums produce delicate edible flowers, but I appreciate them most of all because of their unusual leaves. I've learned to keep a packet or two of nasturtium seeds in the fridge. Neither the plants nor the seeds can take much heat. So when summer winds down, at some point the urge to plant nasturtiums pops into my head. The seeds are large and round, easy to tuck in to beds and pots. Somehow I always remember to do this, yet I feel surprised whenever the plants pop up. They hang on until the heat really starts to hit. I'm glad I don't need a computer to help me remember yard chores. Nature has its own way of prodding the memory.

May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgotten. - an Irish blessing