Friday, 23 November 2007

Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

There is only one word for this resource and that is WOW -- written in LARGE bold letters. Go and look at it for yourself -- it's fantastic.

Thank you to ResourceShelf for bringing this to my attention -- and sorry I've been hanging on to it for so long!

Thursday, 22 November 2007


This is actually a portal to a large number of online job sites. I found the search to be a bit naff -- "information manager" in Kettering came up with Kettering jobs OK but only those with "information" and "manager" in the title or description. E.g. R&D Manager ... for further information contact ... and the list of categories did not include anything about information except IT.

However, it's no worse than many others and better than a lot in terms of range of jobs and locations. If you're looking for librarianship or professional information work then I guess you really should be using a specialist website.

Are tests biased?

Yes, of course they are. No matter how hard an examiner, whether a person or an organisation, tries to be unbiased there will always be some bias.
Scott H Young provides a useful Study Tip at which starts off by saying that "Life isn’t fair. Why should tests be?" He then goes on to provide detailed information about:
  • Testing Bias -- what is it?
  • What to Look Out For
    Memorization versus understanding
    Narrow versus broad
    Agreement versus quality
    Know the difference
    Average versus extreme
    Hinting versus tricking
  • How to Find a Testing Bias by:
    Looking at past tests and course outlines
    Talking to past students
    Asking your professor (tutor/lecturer)
  • Don’t Obsess About Testing Bias, But Don’t Ignore It
Scott Young is a university student who writes about productivity, habits and self-improvement. Scott has been featured on the Be Happy Dammit! Show.

The related posts are also useful so do please read them and share with students / learners of whatever age.

and now I'm back

I got "chucked out" by the hospital because all the Intensive Care beds were occupied by victims of the 'flu epidemic that I didn't know was raging in this area.

Apparently I could be back at very short notice in a week or so but it will be a Wednesday in to prepare for operation on Thursday.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

10 interesting things I've read since 18 November

... which is when I posted my last "10 interesting things" and actually it's only nine since I will be going in to the hospital in about an hour to prepare for a bypass operation tomorrow!

Back with you in a week (I hope)
  1. Dead Sea Scrolls digitisation to be led by King's College London Karl Flinders,

  2. The Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King's College London is leading a team to digitise the Dead Sea Scrolls (Wikipedia).

  3. Arts & Letters Daily (17 Nov 2007)
    There is only one right way to see historical truth, says an official at a Chinese think tank. "There is a pool of clear water and there's no need to stir up this water"... more

  4. Children Need a Playground Like THIS to Foster Creativity from LifeDev by glen
    OH man… does this take me back. Back to a day where playgrounds consisted of things that could easily injure like weathered wood with giant splinters, ample slides, and hardly ANY of that sterile plastic.

  5. Restart the clocks of Britain! from Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
    The Stopped Clocks campaign aims to get Britain's public clocks running and on time again. Many handsome old public clocks are visible from the streets of London, but it often seems that these grand old timepieces are dead and rusted, ground to a halt years in the past.

  6. KABACLIP Contact Lens Case from Cool Tools
    This simple little carrier hugs a bottle of contact lens solution, so the two are always together and easy to find at the bottom of your pack

  7. Animal Farm from Cognitive Edge
    Paternalism has always worried me, especially when it is exercised with the power of the state.
    You really need to read this to appreciate where Dave Snowden is coming from!!

  8. Another nail in the coffin of semantic analysis from Cognitive Edge
    Nice little test site here ... I tested out a couple of the key blogs I read every day.
  9. Eight philosophers contributed to this issue of the UNESCO Courier, focusing on the role of philosophy today. Different approaches, varied concerns, but one certainty: philosophy can’t stay in its ivory tower. It provides a weapon against dogma and manipulation. And, to cite one of Jostein Gaarder’s ideas, philosophers have a cosmic responsibility. (More)
  10. This is where I have to give up for lack of time!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

The EU and Open Access

from Information Research
Thanks, as usual, to Peter Suber for drawing attention to the documents and minutes of an EU meeting on open access. It seems that no general point of access to the files exist, since Peter gives links to each, and I (Tom Wilson at Information Research) have searched the European site without success.However, the point I want to make (and I begin to seem like a rusty record) relates to the so-called 'green' and 'gold' routes to open access. One of the points arising out of the discussions and reported in the minutes is:

Read Tom's post here

10 interesting things I've read since 10 November

There I was, sitting in my office, when I saw something I thought might interest you -- share it! Just press two keys and it's done. OH NO -- that's not the way it should be from now on. I said only yesterday that I would put the interesting stuff into a weekly post called, interestingly enough, "Interesting stuff I've read this week". That means that I do not, definitely DO NOT, simply click on the "share it " button. I copy and paste with proper links and a commentary if required.

  1. Write a Brilliant Pantomime With Billy & Wolfy from Librarians' Internet Index: New This Week A lighthearted description (with "comments" from William Shakespeare and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) of "how to write [English] pantomime scripts covering, basic rules, choosing the story, shaping the pantomime, shaping individual scenes, use of music, and writing and producing for children." Also includes an overview of this form of "Christmas entertainment based on a fairy tale," and three scripts. From a pantomime script author.
  2. The Cult of Non-Judgmentalism: a book review by Rebecca Bynum from Arts & Letters Daily
    "I know that I am prejudiced on this matter," Mark Twain wrote, "but I would be ashamed of myself if I were not."
    Prejudice has its uses. In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas by Theodore Dalrymple (Brief Encounters Press 129 pp. $20.00 US) I'm not sure that I'd ever read the whole book -- probably a bit "heavy" for me -- but the review really made me think hard about where society is going, and has gone.
  3. Re-reading Albert Hirschman from Dani Rodrik's weblog by Dani Rodrik
    Dani tells us that he has been "spending some time with the great man's writings" in preparation for a lecture in his honour. I had to go and look up this "great man" in Wikipedia to discover that he's a German-born American economist who is now 92 years old.
    Post-lecture UPDATE here
  4. 101 gadgets that changed the world from Popgadget via CrunchGear
    Did you know that Velcro was invented by Swiss inventor George de Mestral after he became disgusted with removing cocklebur seeds from his jacket and decided to investigate the reason for its stickiness? Or that the first digital camera was invented way back in 1965 by Kodak engineer Steve Sasson and it resembled a toaster?
  5. Remembrance in Second Life from Intute Blog by Alun Edwards who attended at the Cenotaph on Second Life, built by the Royal British Legion on that virtual world.
  6. Mondegreen from Coffee Klatch by pfitz
    According to Wikipedia, “a mondegreen is the mishearing (usually accidental) of a phrase as a homophone or near-homophone in such a way that it acquires a new meaning.”
  7. Sunday Poem from 3quarksdaily by Abbas Raza Via NoUtopia
    Social Security by Terrence Winch
    This made me weep it's so beautiful and so sad.
  8. Emergency Times from Intute Social Sciences Politics Gateway
    A well known independent blog created by students and political activists to provide grassroots coverage of the state of emergency and political crisis in Pakistan in 2007. It includes blog postings, photographic images and video clips of student protests against the military rule of General Musharraf and discussion of the position of Benazir Bhutto. It also seeks to reveal human rights abuses and the suppression of the press from the perspective of local citizens.
  9. Video: "Lawn Mower" Dinosaur Debuts from National Geographic
    Lawn mower to the ferns of Africa, the 500-toothed Nigersaurus was unlike any other. A reconstruction is on display at National Geographic in Washington.
  10. More notes from the Konstanz conference from Information Literacy by Sheila Webber
    This is another post about the Konstanz (Germany) Workshop on Information Literacy (KWIL), which ran 8-9 November. KWIL was focusing in particular on information literacy for higher degree students (Masters or Doctoral) and the website is at

Friday, 16 November 2007


I was talking to a colleague at a business breakfast yesterday about blogging and small business websites -- thanks Tracy you're a star -- and she pointed out that I did not have a link from this blog to the business information one. Nor is there a link the other way. So if you just happen to find one or the other you won't know that I maintain two blogs.
I need to work out how to make the URL in the blog headline into a proper link but at least the information is there now.

While we're here why not go and visit Tracy's demo website where she shows you that a business website does not have to be all-singing, all-dancing nor does it have to cost oodles of money (£250 well spent would be my judgement).

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The best news yet

Headless chickens have nothing on me today -- got the "please come in" letter this morning for Wednesday of next week. The time allocation from now on is very tight. Mr E doesn't drive and I won't be allowed to for three months so I'll need to make sure that the heavy shopping like dog food and seed for the birds is in at least for the first few weeks. I've got a business breakfast tomorrow and then a couple of errands to do for my colleague from The Accounting Bureau (currently on her honeymoon). I'll be going to London on Saturday to do the research for the November issue of ADSET Members' Update, trying very hard not to work on Sunday (washing and ironing isn't work, is it?) and on Tuesday I've booked to go to Amsterdam for the day. That seems to leave me with Friday and Monday for the office work, reading and writing blogs and newsletters and ... write out one hundred times "I must not use this post as a to-do list".

An Appraisal of the Utility of a Chocolate Teapot

Thank you, thank you, thank you -- both to Phil Bradley for finding this "article" in the first place and to the "researchers" at PLOKTA online for publishing it (in May 2001) -- I haven't laughed so much in a very long time.

How useful IS a chocolate teapot? This paper explains all.....

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

More good news

and this time I reckon that it's really good news -- on the personal front. I had my pre-surgical assessment yesterday including ECG and lung function tests and passed, if not with flying colours at least well enough to be told "Yes, you can come in and have your bypass operation done". The only possible put-offs now to my being in on 6th or 13th December are if I'm an MRSA carrier or if there's a blockage on the Intensive Care Unit bed which I'll need for a day or maybe two. Unfortunately the latter is quite likely as Kettering gets its fair share of accidents from the A14 road and it's nearly Christmas and there's icy mornings but a Thursday should be alright. Another hurdle passed on the way to what I'm assured will be full recovery of movement once the graft settles down.

For my non-UK readers the A14 road crosses from the East coast of England (the port of Felixstowe) to the main motorways going North through the Midlands (the M1 and M6). It's a dual carriageway with only two lanes on either side, is quite hilly (for us) and is always busy with a lot of heavy lorries (trucks) and accidents are frequent!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Best of the non-work stuff in brief

Confession time -- some of this stuff comes from months ago!

I am, at long last, trying to clear out my "starred" items and find that a number of them are things that I want to share rather than just look at in more depth for myself.

"Never make promises that you can't keep -- or even think that there's a chance you may not be able to keep." My mother was fond of chastising me with that saying when, as a small child, I would say "But Mum, I promise ...". She was right -- as mothers tend to be so I'll simply promise that I will try to bring you a selection of "the non-work stuff that I've enjoyed this week" every week.

Some of you will. of course, be aware that I've cheated from time to time and simply clicked the "share" button rather than putting the link into a "proper" post. No more laziness -- shared items will, from now on, be for those work-related things that require no comment from me. OK?

To start as I mean to go some posts from Arts and Letters Daily

Jorge Luis Borges knew the risks of perfect memory. He wrote of a man paralyzed by it. Google's memory is perfect... more

The brain is the final pathway of all action. You can’t do much without a brain, which is why decapitation tends to lower IQ... [Well, it would, wouldn't it?] more

Mesopotamian scribes began 5,000 years ago to catalogue their clay tablets with a reference system. So Google gets this idea... more

With utter lack of self-awareness, but also great clarity, V.S. Naipaul shows us a world with its prejudices... more

Cissy Pascal was sexy, witty, and confident: all the young Raymond Chandler could want in an older woman... more To argue against rock 'n' roll is now as quaint as arguing for the divine right of kings. But 20 years ago, when Allan Bloom first railed against it... more

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Good news

At least I think it's good news.
I've got a date for a pre-surgical assessment prior to having Aorto Bifemoral Surgery (that's a bypass of the lower aorta). It's 12 November so I expect to be in for the op within three weeks. It's a seven-day stay and the first three days I'll be flat on my back but should be back to blogging as soon as I get home.
No, please don't make any comments about optimism -- I had something similar (not quite as drastic) done a couple of years ago and was back at the computer within two hours of getting home!
I do know, however, that I'm going to get very tired very quickly so you can probably count on lots of shared items and not much comment. (I didn't hear someone say "nothing new then", did I?)
I have also prepared myself for the severe depression that hit me last time -- forewarned is forearmed so my mother used to tell me -- my friendly medic will have to up the dosage!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Who do they think they are?

from IWR Blog by dgriffin
Today’s Guardian reports that family historians (both professional and amateur) have raised concerns over the lack access being given to paper-based archives. The report says, “There will never again be public access to the paper records”.

This report raises a problem for family historians but a lack of paper records is not only creating difficulties for this group of people. Have you ever tried to get hold of a government leaflet on ... [fill in your chosen subject here] only to discover that "it's online at ...". You want it to give to a client (customer, friend or whomever) and it would be good to be able to do this as part of a "pack" of information which the other person can take away and study at his/her leisure. Oops, printer gone down, PDF doesn't print, it's so colourful that I can't afford to do it etc etc. Ridiculous!

And if I want to look at how the same leaflet has changed over time and need to rely on someone printing out the new "online only" information and preserving it in the right sequence.