Archive for 2017

Reflections on #blogjune

Friday, June 30th, 2017

It’s the end of June and the end of #blogjune. I can’t believe how quickly it went. At the start of the month I posted a few thoughts on what opportunities participating in this might bring, so now it’s time to reflect on the past month.

I did accurately predict that I wouldn’t post every day – I managed on average every second day & I thought that was pretty good. I did tend to have a bunch of posts on a musical theme.

I wanted to do some housework on my site. I did clean up a few areas and I’m nearly done working up a newer and more modern template. That will be in place shortly.

Going through this process did reignite some thoughts that I wanted to get in writing. I did find that some posts felt a little rushed, so I might revisit and expand on a few thoughts in a more articulate fashion. I’m keen to build on the momentum.

I enjoyed reconnecting with my library community again. Everyone was positive, everyone posted about different things, professional and personal. It was so interesting getting such a varied daily reading fix.

I was thrilled when everyone became passionate about my proposal for a common post topic. This was a highlight for me.

I’m guilty for not commenting on posts. The discussions for me happened elsewhere on Twitter – that was interesting although not unexpected. Ruth was a shining light in comments and has given me so much to think about for future posts. Stay tuned for #shyjuly.

I did find myself slipping back into things that I don’t like about social media. Checking statistics to see if posts had been read, checking twitter stats to see if things had been interacted with. I need to learn to not worry about that.

At the end of the month, I’ve got a few more topics in half finished drafts that I’ll get to over time. I’ve got my vibe back so I’ll be more active here in the future. Thanks #blogjune!

 

Content as experience

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

 

Earlier in #blogjune, Kathryn Greenhill & I were having a conversation in response to her post about a session at the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival, where people were asking where to get book recommendations and libraries didn’t come up in the conversation.

This got me thinking about something that I’ve been embarking on over the past year. It gets murky, because in this day and age, with digital delivery of music, movies and books, the concept of “books being an object” or “music being an object” for many, doesn’t exist. We’ve surrounded ourselves with what are essentially dumb objects that are there for displaying/playing inanimate binary content. The “object” used for consumption is identical whether you are listening to Beethoven or Metallica. Can one device sufficiently deliver such varied experiences? Meanwhile this delivery object sits there when not being used, not necessarily a thing of beauty like a bookshelf full of varied physical objects – fixed containers for content.

Like many people around the world I was devastated when Prince died last year. I wouldn’t have considered myself a die-hard fan – I had a few of his albums & had seen him perform live which was amazing. So when he died, I wanted to seek out more music, listen to the legacy he left with the world.

Prince in concert

This led to an interesting issue. So much of his music was unavailable. There was a massive amount of his career from the mid 1990’s through to around 2010 where his music was essentially self published & not released through a major record company. You couldn’t purchase it in the shops, it wasn’t available for streaming online. How could I go back and fill in the missing parts?

In June 2016 Tidal made his entire catalogue available for streaming. I set myself up with a Tidal account and discovered his music. However, something was lacking. Listening to an inanimate thing was good, but not fully satisfying. I would have loved to read the liner notes associated with all of these albums and find out more. Plus I still love to own things.

So I cancelled my Tidal account & off I went on a journey of discovery to hunt down & start collecting some of these unavailable albums.

It was fun, scouring second hand stores, looking online at discogs and eBay. Going online you can essentially get anything if you are prepared to pay. Half the fun was hunting for the right items at the right price. It was really like going back 25 years and scouring record stores for new releases and hidden gems. It was enjoyable. Along the way I had plenty of conversations with a wide variety of people, all of them fans and lovers of music. It made the process personal again. You don’t get handwritten notes on your monthly streaming invoice!

Music receipt

You don’t get a handwritten note with your monthly subscription invoice

Let me go back to my earlier concept. These albums (content) still aren’t available in an inanimate form (digital) – only a physical form. This is kind of nice as the packaging for these albums was really quite something. There is beautiful artwork, creative packaging. Some are nicely printed, but just in a cardboard sleeve (these were given away for free with newspapers in the UK – another interesting distribution model). It’s a bonus having something that has content and is a beautiful object as well.

The Rainbow Children CD

The Rainbow Children insert

Liner notes for The Rainbow Children album, with artwork by Cbabi Bayoc

NEWS CD

NEWS (North, East, West, South). The packaging fold out to resemble a compass.

Planet Earth CD20Ten CD

 

So I believe that “content as experience” and “objects as experience” work together in harmony. Digital content is inanimate & needs another object to allow you to experience it in any form. On the other hand, these physical CD’s are pretty, and I have a  partial experience by holding, looking, reading – but I can’t fully experience the content without the assistance of yet another object. At least I know, having “objects as experience” will allow me to have “content as experience”.

Time travel challenge

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

When I was thinking about topics to write on for #blogjune, one of them was going to be a reflective post about what the world was like when I started working in libraries. In the meantime, Kathryn Greenhill set a #blogjune challenge to answer the following 2 questions. They are close enough to my initial ideas, so here we go:

If you could go back and tell your 20 year old self one thing that was going to happen to you between then and today, what would that be?

At 20 I was still at university, what I thought was real world experience was nothing like real world experience. I would tell myself to stop worrying, you will be happy. You are going to take some risks, you are going to get out of your comfort zone and there will be times in your life when you’ll be stressed and worried about the future, but it will all be OK. There will be some amazing opportunities presented to you – grab them and make the most of them. You have to trust yourself and your judgement.

In 20 years time (presuming the world gets better, not worse) what do you think will be the biggest technological difference between your life now and your life then ?

In 20 years time I’m really excited about where medical technology is going to be – maybe I’m a little biased as I’ll be in that target age group where age related issues start to develop. I’m banking on having science on my side. I don’t know what form this will take – I’m assuming there will be continuous background monitoring of everything with fully automated detection and prevention of issues that arise. Preventable diseases will be preventable. For more severe issues, ingesting nano-machines to carry out surgery and repair damaged tissue rather than undergoing traditional forms of surgery. This technology will be affordable and available without patents for the benefit of humankind.

The setup wrap up

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Wow! Yesterday I asked everyone who was participating in #blogjune to answer 4 questions about what they use to get their jobs done. There was a fantastic response to my request. I hope I got to read everybody’s posts, I did my best following on Twitter & seeing who linked back to my request.

I really enjoyed stopping and thinking about the tools I use. I kept my answers to those things I use on a very regular basis. There’s a mass of utilities that I use for specific purposes, but I didn’t start listing them as I thought it could go on and on. Maybe they are the really interesting things?

From the feedback I got, it seemed like you all enjoyed the task too. We ended up with a really good overview and insight into how we get things done. I feel like I know a little bit more about everyone, things that you don’t pick up in 140 characters. Thanks everyone!

I use this

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Paul Hagon, web developer at the National Library of Australia. I’ve been working in libraries and museums for nearly 20 years now – always on websites. I’ve been so lucky to work in major institutions and magnificent buildings. I don’t know how much strict designing I do these days (in the sense of picking colours etc). My job covers so many aspects of front end design (HTML, CSS, JS), user experience, analysis and accessibility.

What hardware do you use?

I spend most of my time at work on a late 2014 27″ iMac. The massive retina screen is beautiful. I use an iPad Air 2 for testing sites and apps, meetings etc.

My personal machine is a mid 2011 11″ MacBook Air. This is the best laptop I’ve ever owned & I can’t believe that it’s just about to hit the obsolete list in Apple hardware. It’s 6 years old & still going strong. I am glad I maxed out the processor, memory and storage when I bought it, although these days it would be nice to have more than the 4Gb memory in it, but I can cope.

I communicate and develop websites on an iPhone 5s. I seem to be on a cycle where I keep my laptops for at least 5+ years and my phones for 4 years. You’ll see a little trend developing here. I’m not one to be replacing my gear on a regular basis if it still works fine. Money spent on a holiday provides much better memories than money spent so I can use my phone as a credit card. The only reason I would like to upgrade is for the better cameras you get in the latest models.

I’m not a big gamer or video editor so my hardware needs are fairly basic.

Whichever machine I’m using there’s usually music in the background. I’ll be listening in my own little world via Bose AE2 bluetooth headphones. I can highly recommend bluetooth headphones. Not getting caught up wires is so liberating.

I use an EyeTV USB receiver that handles recording TV shows when needed.

To get from point A to point B and for general exercise I’m on my bike. It has Campagnolo components. I’ve been riding with them for 25 years & the design, quality & efficiency is fantastic. These components just work.

All this coding and cycling makes you hungry – in the kitchen a good set of knives is a must, I use Global. I’m always making pasta using pasta rollers and cutters attached to a kitchenaid mixer. Having both hands free to manipulate the pasta is so convenient. My current favourite gadget is Global pinboning tweezers. I also love my Alessi kettle. It’s always used as an example of impractical design (you burn yourself on steam removing the bird), practicalities aside it is a thing of beauty and doesn’t drip when it pours.

And what software?

The most valuable and essential piece of software I use is 1Password – this password manager holds everything – my life would be a shambles without it.

Much of my day is spent in my preferred code editor, Coda. I’ve tried various coding fonts but have settled on SF Mono at the moment as it complements the rest of the Apple interfaces. I configure Coda with the Monokai theme. Spending so much time in an editor, a nice colour scheme and font become important. Generally if there is a dark theme for software it’s enabled.

Being a web developer I have all the different browsers installed. I use Safari for personal use, Chrome for work (only because it’s what most users out there are using so it makes sense to use it). Both have great developer tools & do the job just fine.

I use Sequel Pro for wrangling with MySQL databases.

All code is in Git repositories managed by Tower. Generally if there’s a GUI interface for something that’s my preference. There’s some things that need to be run from the command line so a Terminal window is always open in the background.

For making things look pretty I now use Sketch for prototyping designs. I did use Fireworks for layout work & was so sad when Adobe stopped developing it.

To keep up with my RSS feeds I use Reeder. It uses Feedly behind the scenes to sync between all my devices.

iTunes is always delivering tunes & the occasional movie or TV show. I prefer to own physical copies of media rather than digital only versions.

Keynote handles all presentation tasks and sometimes layouts and interaction designs. I try to avoid any of the Office apps as much as possible although it’s inevitable that I have to use them. I always feel like I’m fighting with them to get it to do what I want.

All my backups are handled through a combination of Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner.

What would be your dream setup?

I don’t know if I have a dream setup. My needs are limited. I value portability over power. I get excited by the thought of all the fancy features in OS releases, but in reality I don’t use them as the promise isn’t delivered. I’m sure it will one day & I’ll be able to just think of things and it will be done. Until then I just want software that works and a stable configuration.

Oh … and knives that never need sharpening.