Christmas 2003

Merry Christmas everyone. Indulge me as I put up some shots from one of our Christmas celebrations this season. (My standard disclaimer bears repeating – I promise I will misspell everyone’s name eventually. If I do so repeatedly, that means I need to be corrected. Otherwise, consider yourself lucky.)

Our collective circumstances resulted in an interesting Christmas celebration this year. Mother has moved to Berea Kentucky since we last celebrated Christmas together down in Kentucky. Although Tom and Carol still live in Danville, it is not central for all of us – and we also have the added complication that we would need to rent hotel rooms for everyone. Becky and I are fairly central to all of the families, but we live in such a small home we aren’t able to entertain everyone. Mark and Lisa’s homes are spread across three cities and two states. We’re a very complicated extended family. For all of those reasons, we celebrated Christmas on Friday, December 26th in a local Residence Inn.

Lisa and Marjorie
Lisa and Marjorie

Mother rented one room and Mark rented another. We all brought food. We all brought too much food. That’s something we’ll do better next year. We had a whole turkey, ham, several salads, mashed potatoes, yams, several pies and (my personal favorite) cheesecake.

Marky
Marky

Christmas is a special time for all of us, but Christmas is magical if you’re four. You either believe in Santa or (if someone has spoiled it for you) seriously question the person who told you otherwise. As you get older, you expect the gifts to be bigger and better then the previous year. A tub full of crayons, markers and papers stole the show for Marky. The first gift he played with and probably the one he will use the longest. Of course, like all of us he got really cool toys as well. I’m certain that Marky’s memory of this Christmas will be one he holds special for many years.

Stephanie
Stephanie

Stephanie and James were able to celebrate Christmas with us as well. We really enjoyed their company. James, I’m sorry but somehow I didn’t get a good picture of you. Of course, I have three times as many pictures as these in which you can’t tell who the subject is. I’m a seriously bad photographer. Fortunately, Becky’s very good. James might have gotten the coolest toy of the day. His radio controlled – and customizable – cars were very entertaining. I have a whole new gift giving category.

Joey
Joey

I started out on a good foot with Joey and somehow during the course of the evening I stepped on it. He did his best to avoid the camera all evening. I must have six or seven shots of his back and/or hands – but not his face. I’d about given up when Mark asked him to turn and smile at the camera. Good as gold he gave me this smile. I was impressed. As a side note, both Marky and Joey are wearing the official LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers game jersey (#23). Now I know many of us don’t remember that they still have a professional basketball team in Cleveland, but don’t tell either of these guys that.

Matt

Matt, as photogenic as his father, was pretty elusive. I don’t have a good picture of him – so I’m publishing this one instead. I believe he’s either helping Marky with his arts and crafts or he’s helping to put together Joey’s race track. Matt’s big present was the Lord of the Rings – Return of the King video game for Playstation 2. It should surprise no one that he has spent every waking hour since leaving the hotel to beat it. Today, three days later he’s done just that. I’m thinking Halo might be in his future after spending time playing with James on Sunday.

Mark
Mark

You’ll notice that both Michelle and Melanie have no pictures here. Although I made an effort, I wasn’t able to get a good picture of either of them. Michelle was pulling her classic “I will close my eyes every time you get close” ploy. Melanie was a good subject but the photographer was inept. Hopefully, someone else got a good picture. About everyone was jumping off of one wagon or another. The evidence is sitting in front of Mark that his diet was abandoned. Becky would probably dispute the idea that she jumped off the wagon, but it’s safe to say she was dragging a foot.

So what does next year hold for us? Probably more of the same – don’t know. But things will change between now and then. Mark and Lisa will be married and potentially living in only one home. Mother will likely be back in Danville. Hopefully, we’ll still be back here – but a lot can change in a year. A lot changed this past year.

Webcam

Ok, I’m good to go. I have installed my Christmas gift from Mother. The webcam is up and operational. For a monthly rate of just $5 (US) you can watch me parade around my house (just kidding). No, seriously though, it was pretty easy to install. I have a USB port available. Per the instructions, I put the installation CD in, followed the instructions and then plugged the camera into the USB slot. The only wrinkle is that the installation warns you about the device drivers as you are installing them. For whatever reason, they are not identified as XP certified. The instructions tell you to acknowledge the warning and continue. I was a little hesitant to do that at first since I had only recently recovered from a driver issue. After some consideration, I took the plunge.

The camera takes still shots (as you can see). Don’t judge the quality of the camera based on this shot though. Most everything on it is adjustable. My grey shirt and neutral colored background don’t show the camera off well. The video feed is pretty good. You can adjust the size of the shot but the bigger the picture, the slower the refresh rate. With some experimentation, I’ve settled on an intermediate size.

So I’m left with the last piece of work. I will need to set up a teleconference with someone. Who wants to go first?

Further Research Material for Mother

Ran across the following totally by chance. I’m trying to get the code for a new book I recently purchased. I spent some time on the Osborne website and was greatly disappointed. I expected to find a link with a download script like you find at so many other websites. Instead, I found no reference to the book. That was disappointing – especially since I purchased the book for the code and the book cost $50.

So I decided to go look the book up by ISBN. I went to Google thinking I could set some switch there to search by ISBN. I did a search in Google and found the following link by John Udell. It’s an interesting junction of a couple of topics. Not sure what it all means but it looked valuable.

Bookmarks Research

http://www.mybookmarks.com/marks is the highest bookmark resource from Google. I signed up with djpappas userid and the low priority password. A free resource according to the web site – ad supported I hope.

doesn’t quite fit the bill but it does list sites which have defined themselves within a broader classification scheme. I’m betting it would be interesting to Mother. Don’t see DMOZ though…

Another approach would be to use a News aggregator – even on sites which don’t provide news feeds. That way, those sites which do would provide news items and those which don’t would simply have an entry you could follow by clicking on the link. FeedDemon would work OK.

Blogger is a simple blogging tool that has a very low entry cost in terms of ease of use. Setting up a personal blog with a simple list of links would be good. Getting every entry listed and having a search feature are two aspects I’m not certain of right now.

The Blog Rolling approach would be an option for the more technically inclined but I can’t imagine that working for a Junior High/High School audience.

This might be the best option available so far – Yahoo Bookmarks. Free with a Yahoo subscription it has the same kind of features that the Bookmark entry above has – but it provides room for comments which I’m guessing you could use to classify entries.

This commercial site, Bookmark Management, has some of the same features as the first entry but will require some more investigation. Since it’s a paid service it may not work for school children.

Backflip

Murl

The mother load: the Google (DMOZ) category with all of the sites in this category or subject area: Google’s Bookmark links. Gulp, there are 20 of them.

Something for Mother

Most everything I post in this blog is intended to get my feet wet with a technology. I have more pet projects  then is probably reasonable. I don’t very often have the chance to go dig around and get information which is actually valuable. Mother and I have been exchanging some E-mail messages around information technology. She recently sent me this fascinating article from InfoToday. It’s an interesting site encompassing several topics including Knowledge Management, Information Services and Libraries (or how these other disciplines can be applied within). They even have their own multi-author blog, so they can’t be all bad.

I’ve been using FeedDemon as my news aggregator ( I highly recommend it). Out of the box it comes with a large collection of RSS feeds. One of those is the Shifted Librarian. It’s a Radio Userland weblog with a beautiful Bryan Bell theme. Just as an aside, Radio Userland’s web sites are more challenging to style effectively then some other weblogging tools but Bryan Bell has produced some outstanding designs for that (and other) tool set. This design is not canned and was obviously commissioned specifically for the site. This is more then someone’s casual weblog. They have spent time and money putting it together. Anyway, Jenny Levine is the author. Her bio appears on the Library Journal web site. I haven’t had the chance to dig deep but it’s got lots of links to a variety of sources. Frankly, I was very surprised that so many online resources existed for Library Science. Of course, I’m pretty ignorant of the subject area. Anyway, I ‘m going to spend some time wondering through her site and following some of the links. I think it would be a great place for ideas.

Jenny has a blogroll (a list of web sites she frequents). It’s a good collection. It includes the usual blogging and Radio Userland sites such as Boing Boing BlogChris Pirillo’s web site and a variety of others. But more valuable are the Library Science feeds she has identified including The Exploded LibraryConfessions of a Mad LibrarianFree Range LibrarianTame the Web: Technology and LibrariesLibrary Planet and others (more then is reasonable to list here). It’s amazing. I personally like the Library Planet the best – it’s really cool the way they have the links set up on the page (the geek in me speeks).