Lego Hitchcock

I love Lego mosaics, so I thought this was really cool…
It’s by Nathan Sawaya —
There’s some really funky large sculptures on his site, including candy canes, a lego dress, and Han Solo in carbonite!
In terms of coolness, it’s up there with the CubeSolver and the 4 foot Lego Homer.
Those of you who aren’t easily offended might also want to check out The Brick Testament (also available in traditional book format).

Guide to Hitchcock on DVD – part 2

Following on from the first part of the guide, here’s the low down on the rest of Hitchcock’s films from the 1920s.
In the US, virtually of the DVD releases of the following films have been lower quality budget “public domain” discs.  Whilst these are a cheap way of getting hold of the films, you’ll probably be disappointed with the video quality.
4) The Ring (1927)
By far the best transfer to date is in the French Les PremiΓ¨res Oeuvres 1927/1929, volume 1 box set from Studio Canal.  For anyone considering this box set, it’s worth noting that the French subtitles (although generated by the DVD player) cannot be easily disabled during playback.
In 2007, there’ll be new DVDs released in the UK (by Optimum Releasing) and in the US (by Lionsgate Home Entertainment) — these should have transfers on par with the French box set.
5) Downhill (1927)
Currently unavailable in the US, “Downhill” has seen a number of good DVD releases (see this page to compare the transfer quality).
If I had to suggest one, then I’d recommend you purchase the German The Early Years box set from Concorde.  Although 3 years old, the set still contains some of the best transfers available.
Completists might want to note that none of the DVD releases of “Downhill” use the original green tinting for the sea-sickness scenes.
6) Champagne (1928)
For many years, “Champagne” was only available on low quality bootlegs — however, 2005 saw two releases on DVD.  Once again, it’s the French release which is the best.
7) Easy Virtue (1928)
“Easy Virtue” has seen numerous DVD releases, but all seem to be taken from the same low quality video source.  According to this 1937 newspaper articles, the British Film Institute may have a good quality print in their archives so there is still hope that we might see a decent quality release in the future.
8) The Farmer’s Wife (1928)
Once again, it’s that French box set from Studio Canal which contains the best transfer.
In 2007, we should see a new DVD in the UK from Optimum Releasing using the same high quality transfer.
9) The Manxman (1929)
In a repeat of the information for “The Ring”, the French box set contains the best transfer currently available, and 2007 releases from Optimum Releasing (UK) and Lionsgate Home Entertainment (USA) should have similar high quality transfers.
10) Blackmail (1929)
Although “Blackmail” is available in a box set from Studio Canal, I’d recommend the German release on the Arthaus label.
The German DVD contains both the “talkie” version of the film and also the the original silent version.  Although very similar, there are interesting differences between the two versions and some might even prefer the more natural performances in the silent version.
The French and German DVDs also contain the amusing “sound test“, shot to check how Anny Ondra‘s voice would sound on film.  Hitchcock takes the opportunity to embarrass Ondra with some good old English innuendo!
To date, the best releases of Hitchcock’s earliest films have been in France and Germany, but 2007 should see similar quality releases of some of the 1920 films in both the USA and the UK.  Fans in the UK should note that “Orbit Media” are planning to release a clutch of early Hitchcock films on DVD in early 2007, but these will be low quality “public domain” transfers — definitely a case of buyer beware!

eeeeeeww – educational spam!

I’m curious as to how many other library bloggers have received the following unsolicited spam from the “Southern California University of Professional Studies”:

Thank you for this opportunity to correspond with your organization concerning advertising on your website. My name is Patrice Madderra and I am representing SCUPS (Southern California University of Professional Studies). Would you please be so kind as to forward to me any information or requirements you may have for banner placement or other advertising options your organization offers?
Thank you,
Patrice Madderra

“Patrice” was so keen to talk to me, he even sent me multiple copies of the same spam. Needless to say each copy is now winging its way to
Perhaps it’s because I work for a University, but I find this kind of spam really annoying — a few years ago, the otherwise reputable University of Liverpool tried using spam as a recruitment tool and I remember receiving several hundred copies of that one, all sent to made-up email accounts ending with “”.

Seasons Greetings!

Seasonal greetings to one and all!
It’s not quite Christmas Day yet in the UK (another 15 minutes to go), but over in Australia my older brother is already celebrating on the beach… the lucky git, bah humbug!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before…  “What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”

                                (Dr. Seuss)

Blog Tag: 5 Things You Didn’t Want To Know About Dave Pattern

Eeeeek — I’ve been tagged by Brian Kelly, so here’s 5 things you didn’t want to know about me (with lots of links)…
1) For the last 8 months I’ve been raising a farm of mealworms to feed the birds in our garden, and there are several thousand of them wriggling around boxes in our spare bedroom as I type this.  Occasionally some of the mealworm beetles escape (I’ve yet to find out how they’re doing this) and you’ll spot them making a painfully slow bid for freedom across the floor… presumably with the insect equivalent of the theme to “The Great Escape” going through their tiny heads.  The garden birds love eating the mealworms, and it’s incredibly cheap to raise them.
2) I spent Christmas 1994 touring Bangladesh, playing bass guitar in a bhangra band.  Over the course of about 7 weeks, we played around a dozen shows (starting in Dhaka and working our way up to Sylhet).  Lizards, cockroaches, and spiders with bodies the size of your fist were de rigeur in the majority of hotel rooms we stayed in.  We were even filmed playing for a TV show, although someone forgot to bring the backing tape to the studio (we had planned to mime), so we had to feed vocals, guitars and keyboards through one tiny practice amp… it probably sounded like a slightly tuneful 5 minute long fart.  Plus I came out of the make-up room with a face the colour of a ripe orange.
3) Prior to all that, I was the bass player in a band called “The Headmen” during the early 1990s.  We were signed to a local label (Positive Records) and released a demo tape (“The Happy Shoebox”), a single (“Kissed to Pieces”) which got quite a bit of Radio 1 airplay, and a 12″ EP (“Reach the Sky”) — the demo tape was supposed to named “The Magic Shoebox”, which was the name of a shoe shop opposite the “4th Wave Records” shop in Huddersfield.  Most of our studio recordings were engineered by Steve Whitfield, although all of the master tapes were lost when the recording studio was destroyed by a fire.  The highlight (for me at least) was getting to play support for “The Wedding Present“.  If anyone asks nicely, I might even try and convert some of the recordings to MP3 πŸ˜‰
4) When I was a young spotty lad, I used to do computer game reviews on Pennine Radio‘s “Chips” programme (as in “computer chips”) — I vaguely remember reviewing “Tir Na Nog“, “Atic Atac“, and “Skool Daze“.  I also got to review an early model of the ZX Spectrum+ and “yes”, the keys did fall off when you turned it upside down πŸ˜‰
5) I can’t stand touching cotton wool, and the mere thought of any cotton wool touching my teeth sends shivers down my spine.  Fingernails scraping down a blackboard I’m fine with… but not cotton wool!

I think most of the bloggers I know have already been tagged, but here’s who I’m planning to do…
1) my partner Bryony
2) my good friend Iman Moradi
3) the one and only Ben Ostrowsky

OPAC search cloud and failed searches

Seeing as I’ve got my head in the clouds at the moment, here’s one showing the most popular keyword search words used on our OPAC during the last 6 months…
To be honest, there aren’t too many surprises in there — students studying business & law and the health sciences are the heaviest users of the library.
Unlike Yahoo, not a single person has done a search for “Britney” on our OPAC in the last 6 months …and “yes”, you would get a relevant hit if you did πŸ˜‰
I’ve also separated out words that appear in failed keyword searches (i.e. they produced no hits) and removed those which did appear in other successful searches — this gives a list of keywords that probably don’t match anything on the catalogue:

  1. newspapermen (96)
  2. socail (90)
  3. buisness (84)
  4. brantingham (74)
  5. renew (74)
  6. metalib (73)
  7. reserach (72)
  8. mortor (67)
  9. vehclos (66)
  10. gieber (63)
  11. thoery (63)
  12. writting (62)
  13. psycology (59)
  14. contempory (58)
  15. donky (51)
  16. facism (47)
  17. reserch (46)
  18. reasearch (39)
  19. ans (38)
  20. hypodermic (38)
  21. ielts (38)
  22. televison (38)
  23. estimation (37)
  24. priciples (36)
  25. superficial (36)
  26. immanual (35)
  27. infomation (34)
  28. ligament (34)
  29. tuberclosis (34)
  30. centuary (33)
  31. resourse (33)
  32. topshop (33)
  33. treetment (33)
  34. devlopment (32)
  35. petherick (32)
  36. proffesional (32)
  37. quantitive (32)
  38. stamps (32)
  39. theorys (32)
  40. enviromental (31)
  41. pschology (31)
  42. statistic (31)
  43. syringe (31)
  44. hanbook (30)
  45. simnet (30)
  46. stratergy (30)
  47. intoduction (29)
  48. pestel (29)
  49. physio (29)
  50. pratice (29)

The words in bold are valid spellings (according to Microsoft Word) and the figure in brackets is the number of separate searches that contained the word.
Compared to the cloud, this is much more interesting…
1) many of them are simple typos — another good reason to add a spellchecker to your OPAC if you haven’t got one!
2) the fifth most common word is “renew” — are our users trying to renew their books by typing the word into the OPAC, or are they expecting the OPAC to work like a search engine and return something like “How to renew your books” as the first result?
3) the sixth most common word is “metalib” — it looks like a lot of people are trying to find help on using MetaLib in the OPAC… maybe we should create a dummy catalogue record that contains 856 links to MetaLib and our Electronic Resources Wiki?
4) “mortor” is an oddity in the list… but the entry for “pestel” near the end makes me wonder if people were searching for “mortar and pestle”?
Outside of the top 50, there are some other interesting failed keywords (with links to Wikipedia or other sites when relevant):

“whatcha talking ’bout?” version 4!

Ok, this is pretty much the final definitive version of analysing the latest hot topics from library/librarian blogs…
The page is updated approximately every 15 minutes and uses the following methodology…
1) posts older than 48 hours are analysed and the frequency by which every unique word appears is calculated
2) posts from the last 48 hours are analysed in the same way and the word frequency is compared to the older posts
3) when a word has become noticeably more frequently used in the last 48 hours, it’ll appear in the word cloud — the bigger the increase in frequency, the larger the size in the cloud
4) if a word appears in multiple new blog posts then the shading is darker
5) if a word only appears lots of times, but only in a small number of new posts, then the shading will be lighter
So, in the last 24 hours, the usage of “2007” has increased substantially.  In new posts the word has a frequency of 28%, but only 7% in older posts.
Several bloggers have picked up on the sale of ProQuest — if other bloggers talk about it today, then it will grow in size and be shaded darker.
The usage of the word “disallow” has also increased, but it only appears in a single blog post (by the Baby Boomer Librarian) and is therefore shaded lightly.
Unlike the previous versions, this one doesn’t require a stop word list — words like “library” and “the” tend to have a high frequency of usage in both old and new posts, so the relative difference in usage is usually too small for the words to appear in the cloud.
The other cool thing is that this version uses the “network effect” — the more posts it has to work with, the better the cloud becomes as delivering the latest hot topics.  For example, Stephen Abram‘s RSS feed is currently delivering posts from the last 3 days and he usually ends them with “Stephen”, so he’s currently making a strong appearance in the cloud.  However, over time, the number of older archived posts with the word will increase which means he’ll no longer (relatively speaking) be a hot topic in the cloud …although not in real life, of course!

Library bloggers… whatcha talking ’bout now?

This is a variation of the previous cloud which attempts to show which words have been used more frequently in the last couple of days compared to previous days.
I’ve added a lot of the more common words to the stop word list (e.g. “librar*” and “google”) to try and allow some of the less frequently used words to gain importance.
So, why is Mozart back in vogue? Several bloggers have recently posted about NMA Online (inc. Peter Scott’s Library Blog & ResourceShelf).
If a word is used several times in a post (e.g. “segala” and “liszen”) then that can make the word appear “hotter” than it perhaps should be, and some posts are appearing more than once (e.g. those from ResourceShelf) — I’ll try and fix that.
You can click on any of the words in the cloud to see links to relevant blog posts.
I’ll continue to tweak the code, so it might change over the next few days…

Library bloggers… whatcha talking ’bout?

Following on from the Second Life RSS hack, I’ve stolen borrowed an idea from Andy Powell
To try and improve the hack, I’ve written my own RSS feed aggregator and it’s been busy sucking in around 90 library & librarian’s blogs.  Then, by analysing the blog post titles and text, I’m able to produce a cloud of the most commonly used words from the last 7 days worth of posts…
…and “YouTube” isn’t one of them! πŸ˜‰
The code is fairly primitive (you might spot that “del” and “icio” appear in there), but it does ignore most of the common stop words and collapses plurals in singulars.
The aggregator will continue to pull in updated RSS feeds and I’ll carry on adding other relevant blog feeds to the melting pot, so keep checking the following URL to see what’s hot in LibraryLand!