May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be ever at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall softly on your fields

Congratulations to our friends, Amanda and Paul, who tied the knot yesterday on a sunny autumnal day in Yorkshire!

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Playing with Processing

Iman first mentioned Processing ages ago, but it’s only recently I’ve gotten around to having a play with it.
So, this is my first stab at coming up with something visual and it’s in the same vein as Dewey Blobs
…you’ll need Java installed to view it.
Rather than lay Dewey out on a 2D gird, I’m using a 10x10x10 cube (000 is at the front-top-left and 999 is at the back-bottom-right of the cube). The code then cycles through all of the check-outs (orange) and check-ins (blue) from a single day, with a zigzagging 3D line linking up the previous transactions.
What I originally wanted to achieve was to have two curving lines, snaking their way through the cube, but figuring out how to do the Bezier curves made my brain hurt 😉 Anyway, if you want to see a version where the line runs more quickly, click here — it’s harder to read the book titles, but the lines fade away more realistically. Or, here’s a 3rd version that doesn’t include the Dewey classification or book title.
A word of warning: the Java might chomp away at your CPU, so I’m not sure how well it’ll run on a slower PC.

million pound butts

Do you ever get the feeling you’re either still asleep and dreaming, or that you’ve woken up in a parallel universe?
Apparently “artist” Damien Hirst will get £1m just for putting a few used fag ends into a box
Personally, I’m blaming the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider for altering reality.
p.s. if the person who buys the butts reads this blog post, please get in touch as I’ve got a pile of old newspapers and a hankering for a ivory back scratcher.

“Oh-oh dedication’s what you need…

…if you wanna be a record break-er, oooooh!” (full lyrics)
I’m not sure if the University of Huddersfield has ever made an appearance in the Guinness book of World Records before, but it looks like we should be in the next edition!

Students from the University’s Department of Chemical & Biological Sciences teamed up with about 60 sixth-form students from local schools and colleges to beat the record in just under one hour, following a morning of intensive coaching and training. The record-breaking model measures 21.5 m (70 feet 6 inches) and exactly copies the genetic code for human insulin. It is the world’s largest model and consists of 1,118 ‘base pairs’, compared with the previous world record, which was a random sequence of about 300 base pairs.

Major kudos to everyone involved!!!

30 years young

Wow — this makes me feel old! Lego “minifigs” (specifically the ones with moveable arms and legs) are 30 years old this year…

Looking through the 1978 Lego releases, I’ve no problem at all in identifying exactly which ones I bought with my pocket money 😀
Space Transport (918)
Space Transporter (924)
Space Scooter (885)
Police car (621)
Shell tanker (671)
The 1978 catalogues also bring back loads of memories.
A couple of years later, I was lucky enough to get one of these — the Expert Builder Auto Chassis (8860-1)

…from memory, it took about 90 minutes to build from scratch 😀
So, many thanks to Ole Kirk Christiansen for the hundreds of hours of fun I had playing with my Lego collection as a child and many happy returns to all of the billions of minifigs out there!
p.s. drool

since when are librarians synonymous with paedophiles?

Working in a library, this BBC News headline was bound to catch my eye: “Paedophile ‘librarian’ is jailed“.
So, this would be a news item about a librarian who was discovered to be a paedophile, then? No.
Having read (and re-read the article), the paedophile never worked in a library nor was he a librarian. Apparently, the mere fact that he collected illegal images of children and shared them on a web site makes him a “librarian”.
So, librarians of the world, how does it feel to be branded as a bunch of dirty, kiddie-fiddling perverts?

Hey up — I’m in a national newspaper!

Wow… that was kinda surreal — I was catching up with the Google News RSS feed for Alfred Hitchcock (who was born on August 13th) and there was this headline from today’s Telegraph and an article that mentions me (well, mentions my nickname, anyway):
Did Alfred Hitchcock make a secret cameo appearance in drag?

Now, I’ll ‘fess up straight away — the answer is “no”, but the devil in me likes to say “maybe he did”. Anyway, you can find further details and the background to the story on the wiki.
I have to admit that it’s been fun to spread the rumour, especially when it really does look like Hitchcock, but I guess now might be the time to reveal who it really is… if you really, really, really do want to know, then click here.

Reshelve all your books by the colour of their spine

Thanks to Iman for jogging my memory about this blog post which I’d been meaning to blog about for the last couple of weeks — in fact, I was chatting to someone after the ARCLib Conference in Liverpool last week about it, but couldn’t remember the name of the library for the life in me (it’s the Emily Carr University Library)…

The above was a senior grad project by Valérie Madill and you can find further details here: “Looking at Libraries: Defining Space Through Content“.
During my ARCLib presentation (which bizarrely ended up as a featured slideshow on the slideshare home page!?!), I mentioned the book shop in San Francisco that Chris Cobb famously rearranged by colour (see Flickr)…

I must briefly mention that the last session of the conference was given by Stephanie Davies of I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at a library conference 😀
Just in case anyone didn’t believe me that there’s a web page with a list of dirty library words, it’s here!
I’m itching to do something cool on one of our library’s plasma screens and I was wondering about hooking it up to a webcam and doing something like this, but using book cover thumbnails instead of the square blocks of colour?
I think I’ve still got the code I used to creating the “librarians as books” kicking around somewhere…

Dewey Blobs

I’ve been fascinated by data visualisation for a year or two now, and I’ve recently been chatting to my good friend Iman about doing something with our circulation data. In particular, something that will be visually interesting to look at, whilst also giving you a feel for the data.
I’ve tried a few different things, but the Dewey Blobs are currently my favourite…
(items borrowed on 23rd June)
The transactions are placed on a 32×32 grid based on their Dewey classification (000-999). Each transaction is shown as a semi-transparent circle with two attributes:
1) colour — based on the School the student making the transaction studies in
2) size — based on the popularity of the book (the larger the circle, the more times it’s been borrowed before)
Where many students from the same school borrow from the same Dewey classification on the same day, the colour is reinforced. If the borrowing is from multiple schools, then the colours begin to blend to create new hues.
For example, on this day the vast majority of transactions in the 300s were by Human & Health students (green)…

…but a couple of days later, the borrowing in the 300s is more complex, with students from several schools appearing (Business students are red and Music & Humanities students are blue)…

You can browse through a few of the blobs on Flickr.