NYPL Web Resources Rock my Mundo

I got my New York Public Library card in the mail today.
rosettaspan.jpgAnyone who lives in New York state is eligible for a card, so I now have access to the library’s impressive collection of online resources.

I spent the morning refreshing my Spanish at the NYPL’s Online Language Learning Center. It uses the Rosetta Stone software, which now has a place on my desert island list of media resources, along with the White Album and the entire first season of The Dog Whisperer.

If you haven’t used or seen Rosetta Stone, it is Language learning software with the remarkable ability to hack your brain and force it to actually understand and remember all of those verb conjugations you had to memorize back in college. rosettaspan3.jpgThe lessons are reinforced with audio, video, writing and images, so it imitates an immersion experience more than a typical grammar-based language course. There’s even a module that has you speak into a microphone and shows you a waveform comparing your speech with someone who doesn’t suck.

I haven’t explored the other web resources, but I’m tickled at getting access to this one. The software is in the $300 range, and Cornell doesn’t have a license, so I feel like I’ve gotten my taxes worth this year. Thanks NYPL!

Packing for Big Cities in which I do not live…

Tomorrow morning I’m getting on a luxury Cornell bus to New York City (the place I don’t live, despite everyone’s impression when I say I’m from New York State) for a week long vacation. Yes, I said vacation.

For possibly the first time in years, I’m traveling for non-work reasons. I’m meeting my librarian buddy Kara at the Newark airport and we’re going to spend four days hanging out with friends and being tourists, damned tourists.

We’re gonna shop, ice skate, lunch, and work on our French. Because midweek we’re jumping on a plane to Paris.

See, I found these $350 tickets on Air India, and my French friend and Cow-orker Gui knows this guy who runs a hotel, and he’s having a big birthday bash, and well, the stars just aligned.

So, moo ha ha, everyone. I’ll write some more on the bus tomorrow. I love everyone’s comic suggestions, by the way. That’s why you are the librarians and I am just the librarian-poseur who works on websites.

Off to pack my toothbrush and slinky red dress.

Did I mention Moo Ha Ha?

HighEdWebDev 2006 – liveblogging

I got sent in as a pinch-hitter for this small local web conference for Higher Education. I’m listening to a keynote-speaker-who-shall-remain nameless reading Google’s mission statement. Which is interesting. At eight in the morning.

Ok, this is interesting. He gets 36 work-related emails per hour at Google.

The Google Book Search got a passing mention…

Hm. Google’s nice, but I like my 40-hour work week.

I could use a nap.

Did you know you can dial 46645 and do a google query on your cellphone? Could come in handy for those ambient askability moments of freerange librarainship…

Do you know anything about the Google CMS?
Nope. Can’t answer that.

I’m really pretentious and want to insert the theme of the conference into a sentence, could you address this?
Blah blah blah.

Great. It’s snowing.

Reference Challenge!

I called in sick to work today, with a sore throat and general upper-respiratory grossness. I spent the day lying on the couch with cats floating on pillows around me. Our two cats are huge wooly monsters. Rescued from cat-jail, they resemble bobcats more than housecats.

chesscat.jpgFortunately, they don’t seem to know how huge and potentially ferocious they are. Curled up in sleeping cat-balls, they resemble furry manhole covers. Occasionally one will purr and try to shove himself up my nose.

Sick days for me usually involve DVDs, Tylenol PM, and tea. Recently however, I have discovered a wonderful website called eBay.

I’ve been online since 1994 and Mosaic. I was one of the first librarians to have a blog (Jessamyn at librarian.net was and always will be waaaay ahead of me!) I subscribed to A List Apart back when it was a list, and learned CSS by copying code from Webmonkey. I’ve been e-around for a long time. But I’d never gotten trapped by eBay until now.

rug50.jpgIt started innocently. We needed a rug. Rugs are expensive. I found an eBay seller with deeply discounted Pottery Barn rugs. I bought one and got it almost immediately. Then I found people selling Anthropologie clothes for crazy prices. I created a favorite search. It was all over.

Living in a rural area like Ithaca is almost ideal. There are mountains, gorges, parking spots, and very few car thieves. But the shopping is terrible. Unless you have a penchant for Old Navy, or hemp clothing, there are no recognizable stores within an hour’s drive. Since I refuse to buy my work clothes at the Farmer’s Market, I tend to shop in short bursts while I’m traveling. EBay has opened a new world for me. The combination of librarian ninja query skillz and quality stuff for a dollar has made online auctions dangerously profitable.

I’ve mostly gotten it under control. Now I just log in to explore new categories.

Your sickly, addicted, digital librarian friend, Erica

Animal Recordings. Dotcom.

Eat my educational interactives baby! The Cornell University Lab of Ornithology project I designed won second place in Science magazine’s 2006 Visualization Challenge.

Plus, we were on the front page of Der Spiegel last week, so Germans love us!

What does this mean for you? It means you can now go online and visit the world’s largest collection of animal sounds and video. Listen to animal recordings and watch videos for free. Explore the crazy world of animal behavior.

Right now you can use Realplayer to listen to sounds, or you can download our plugin that lets you watch and manipulate spectrograms in real-time. Which has never been done before, incidentally.

So, to summarize, alligators, elk, robins, and whales, all online and free. Good? Go nuts. Version two should be out in a few months.

It’s hard out here for a digital library interface designer/product manager

Photo by パックマン

10:40pm and I’m still at work.

Science Magazine is publishing a blurb about our library of animal sounds on Thursday. We got an award for second-best “educational interactive”. Yay.

Unfortunately, this means that a huge group of people are going to visit our site.

And our site was, up to a few weeks ago, still half-baked. We’ve got one of those higher education software teams, consisting of five underpaid geeks and a couple of CS students. Ebay, we are not.
These last few weeks have been a blur. Everyone on my team is pulling dot com hours, working for twelve hours on Sundays, and generally being foolish with work-life balance.

Tonight we ate dinner at the mall food court.

The weird part is, I love this.
I love the focus.
I love the commiseration.
I love the feeling of doing something good for the world that I get working at a nonprofit.

But right now, I would really love a beer and some sleep.
Goodnight, all.

Staff picnic

The staff picnic is today. There are a few firsts this year, including the availability of beer (gasp!) and wine (eek!) provided by our generous overlords. This is a controversial move. Alcohol and Campus Events are a lawsuit-attracting combination, and it takes a brave administrator to go down the Dark Road of Official Permission Forms. avengerhero.pngUnless, of course, the intent is to butter up potential funders, in which case let the vino flow!

Mary, my mentor, boss, and friend has foolishly volunteered to orchestrate an hour of children’s games. In the interest of preserving her sanity (that I might make use of it in the future), I have volunteered to help.

Mary’s plan: lots of candy.
My plan: Superhero games.

Who can jump the highest?
Who can turn invisible?
Who can talk to animals? Quick! Rescue that heiress!
Over there!
Waaaaaaay over there!

For your amusement, the HeroMachine. My superhero has bat wings and an electrical aura. Neyah.

Wish me luck.

Overheard at Cornell

I was shopping for cat litter at Target yesterday because my life is a nonstop carnival of spectacle and decadence, when I overheard a fascinating conversation. The conversation was seriously not work-safe, so I sent it along to Overheard at Cornell, whose readership is much less litigious.

Enjoy! The gentleman in question was loudly hopeful that things might turn out well.

We’re all cheering for you man.