What is important. What is real. What you need to know to survive the 21st Century. How to live a million years and want more.
Are Bureaucrats Evil or Simply Insane (or both)?
Published on April 4, 2007 By Phil Osborn In Politics

Update: 08/29/09

The Tustin libary just opened its new branch last week, with something on the order of 75 computers for adult use, plus the wifi.  The head manager of the library had assured me, several months prior, that bandwidth and access would not be a problem anymore.  (ROFL)

I predicted that within two months the bandwidth problem would be back and they would have lines waiting for access, and I stated the argument for that prediction.

It didn't take two months.

I went on the first Sunday that they were open at the new facility.  When I arrived about 2PM, there were perhaps three (3) computers still available.  However, I had my HP laptop, ready to use the new, faster wifi...

Which was not working - or to be precise, apparently it was restricting usage to a maximum of five laptops, fewer by far than at the old library.  The information desk was not aware that it wasn't working as the other people with laptops told me that they had basically given up on trying to get any functionality out of the computer illiterate library personnel.  

I actually got a technically competent librarian who verified the problem and told me that it should be fixed as soon as IT was back on Monday.  She speculated that IT had forgotten to update its RF licenses.  I.e., business as usual.*   I then sprained my thumb unplugging my laptop power supply, as it took about 50 pounds of pull to get it out of the three-prong socket, and it had to come out at an angle that then jammed the back of  my thumb up against a hard edge.  It's still painful and I have lost much strength and mobility now in that thumb.  (I do web design all day long at my job, so this is no joking matter.)

*(I spoke at length with the IT guy for the OC libraries some years ago, and he told me then that they set everything up to make as little work for them as possible, regardless of impact on the library patrons.)

Meanwhile, there were other little glitches.  The bandwidth on the library computers was already slower than at the old library site, as people used it to download movies or watch Hulu TV while doing other downloads.  As I had pointed out, the inevitable and logical conclusion to offering something for "free" is always going to be lines. People will take advantage until the resource is used up, and then you will have to ration it.

On top of the already apparent failure of the big upgrade, however, there were other slight problems that one might think that any competent designer would have noticed.  For example, the padded chairs in the laptop areas had a seat that might work for someone 6 feet tall or more, but forced anyone shorter to sit on the edge of the seat, with no lumbar support at all, as the chair back was now an inch or two or three separated from their body.

In the main computer areas, the chairs were these unbelievably painful hard plastic bucket seats designed to kill ones back in short order.  I was virtually crippled after spending an hour in one of them. And, to make matters yet worse, the computer tables were at a height such that only a 6 ft.+ person would be centered on the monitor screen pulled all the way down.  Anyone shorter would also have to be reaching up and over in order to get to the keyboard, and the computers themselves were fastened in place.  At 5'8", I had to continuously stretch unnaturally up and forward to get close enough to the screen that it wasn't blurred with my computer glasses on.

There are still no graphics programs on the library computers for even the simplest photo editing, even though there are any number of such programs available as freeware, some of them, such as the Open Source "Gimp," competing directly with PhotoShop, and offering full compatibility for PhotoShop as well as most other image formats.  Maybe MicroSoft gave the library a package deal that included Word, and the associated suite, such as PowerPoint, but the cost was factored in somewhere.  The Open Office package, however, is FREE, and has full compatibility plus additional options beyond the MicroSoft offerings. 

So, my question is, how is it possible for all these kind of simple things to go so totally wrong?  Where - or, more propertly, to whom - is the money going that bought these chairs, tables, computers, software, etc. and why is every complaint message ABOUT IT forwarded TO IT?  It is IT that is one of the main problems and has been for over ten years.  Is it impossible for anyone to take responsibility in the library system?

Or, maybe that's the point.  Imagine depending upon a similar system for your health care. 

I've noted in my blog numerous complaints about the local library system in the OC, as well as previous experiences regarding librarians who consider it their job to “filter” information for the clearly idiotic patrons.


At the Costa Mesa Technical Branch (CMTB) library, the latest atrocity is the banning of "OC Weekly."  http://www.ocweekly.com/


While the "OC Weekly" (OCW) fits rather neatly into the "Yellow Journalism" slot of the media spectrum, it is also rather awesomely competent at what it does best - exposing the worst-case atrocities throughout the OC.  It was the OCW that first began the systematic exposure of the recently indicted Sheriff Corona, long before his indictment on dozens of charges of such minor little peccadilloes as witness tampering, bribery of grand juries, etc. and his recent resignation pending trial.  http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/crime-sex/oc-sheriff-carona-indicted-for/ 


In addition to a host of such news feats over past decades, the OCW is also the major source throughout the OC of movie, music, restaurant, general entertainment, etc., reviews.


It also runs ads, many of them of the pay-for-play variety.


Prior to this past week, at the CMTB it was the practice that all patrons were required as a condition of library use to read the OCW cover to cover and then take a written test to assure that they knew the nicknames of all the call-girls...  excuse me, "female escorts"  ... whose pics appeared between the various articles.


Actually, I'm jesting.  Despite the fact that no one was ever forced to read the OCW (except when the voice in the head insisted, anyway), usually all the thirty or so free issues that were delivered on Thursday had disappeared by the next Monday.  Clearly someone was taking them for some reason.  I personally admit that I looked forward to each Thursday, after a day of white-knuckled website coding at my day job, to laughing at the seditious cartoons, and, of course, the movie reviews and schedules.  I even collect the OCW, as a running record of what is happening in the OC.


All gone.  According to the same head librarian who has been notorious for abusing her authority, hounding patrons who go to sites that display nudity, for whatever purpose, talking at lecture hall volumes about her personal history in the Mid-West, completely oblivious of the thirty or so patrons attempting to submit resumes or examine complex legal documents, etc., abysmally ignorant of the internet, which is the main reason for the CMTB's existence ... according to this "crazy woman," as another patron put it, some patrons complained about the ads in the OCW, so the library was refusing delivery.


So, I"M complaining about censorship in the library.  Having wiped out virtually every internet cafe in the OC via draconian ordinances, such as requiring continuous monitoring of what any customer is looking at by any private establishment offering internet access, the fascist city councils of the OC are, I'm sure, totally behind the effort to destroy the OC Weekly, one of our last bastions of actual free speech.


De Tocqueville was right.  This is how we lose America.




Phil Osborn
And even more...
Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:42PM

So, today I arrive and there are no available "adult" computers. If I take a kids computer and try to research George Carlin, forget it...

So, I go to the computer which is now dedicated to making reservations for the other computers and enter my card # and ID. It then prints out - on a dedicated printer that only does this one thing - my reservation. Minutes later a computer comes open and I try to log on, only to repeatedly get a cryptic choice between two options - would I like to log on for a one-time session for 60 minutes or would I like to log on for a one-time session for 60 minutes. Note that the two options are identical...

However, whichever option I choose kicks me back to the log on screen and I have to start over. After a couple of itterations, I come to the sad realization that one again I have been defeated by the evil sysop. So, I go the librarian on duty, who points out that actually I was supposed to go another computer, reading the fine print off my reservation - which gives a nine digit code which she explains is the code for that particular computer, which was scheduled to be vacated next, at the point when I made my reservation.

I point out that the other computer was vacated first, so why wasn't the system smart enough to just switch me to the one that came available? The librarian shrugs and then manually reassigns me to the one I am already at, thus completely defeating the presumed goals of makeing reservations simpler for the librarians.

Since this system is different every time I log on with it, it seems clear that the evil sysop is working his way through various options, all of them bad from my standpoint as patron, but good in justifying his existence.

Of course, it might not even be his fault. Based on the model where I work in my day job, there is very possibly a MANAGER in the loop, which almost invariably means that everything will take ten or one-hundred times as long and have 1 to 10% the final quality as compared to when the person doing the work has the authority to do it right.

In fact, based again on my work as a web designer and desktop publishing / marketing specialist, it could easily be that there are a whole hierarchy of managers involved, as that makes it much simpler to avoid any responsibility or accountability.

Imagine a whole world run on this socialist model. Then, I prescribe a good stiff drink. You'll need it.
Phil Osborn
More troubles
Sat Jun 21, 2008 2:01PM

The Costa Mesa Tech Branch library has about thirty computers, several racks of books (nothing like a full library) and 2-3 staff on duty at all times. I.e., 1 librarian per 10 or 15 patrons.

Naturally, this means that most - perhaps 90% - of the time, the librarians are effectively on break.

(Note that I can't criticize their actual work performance. The computer knowledgeable among them are good at their jobs of solving minor problems and giving basic instructions to computer illiterate patrons.)

To keep them from overworking themselves, and to justify the existence of the general library sysop for the system (who I personally think of as a malign demon, chortling as he screws the patrons yet again) recently they have dedicated one of the precious few computers (all the stations are currently in use as I type here) to simply putting people in a queu. This should not be a major programming task.

One clicks on reserve, enters one's library number and pin code, selects whether one wants adult-only or any computer that comes available, and then waits for the next computer to time out. Simple, right?

Not simple enuf. There's this little thing called "testing," which clearly was not used. I and one other man went through the process and then two computers suddenly came open and we entered our information. Several times to no avail.

We tried every likely option with no results. Finally the library assistant on duty suggested that we enter our pin in capital letters. That worked.

How is it that with only one very simple job to do, the sysop could not even get that right? Perhaps because there is no incentive to get anything right? That hypothesis would certainly fit the facts for the past decade that the OC library system has had internet computers.

Imagine a car dealership that had installed starter-disable security on all its new cars in the lot, disactivated by the main dealership master key for demos, and removable or reprogrammable to the purchaser's key after sale. However, it doesn't work. It never lets the purchaser actually start the car, unless they also pop the trunk and then reclose it after the car is started.

Meanwhile, the dealership, even after a month of this problem, has not yet informed its salesmen of the problem or its fix, and the manufacturer or installer of the security device can't seem to get around to looking at the problem.

This is a fairly precise parallel, except that the car dealer would NEVER behave that way, because if that were the way they behaved in general, they never would have made it to dealership to begin with, but would be flipping burgers as a career.

The library system, like all state bureaucracies, has no such personal economic incentive. How hard would it be to recompile the code so that the message read, "Use only caps for your pin"? Believe me, as a former programmer of many years and current web designer, that is a no-brainer. So, what is the next level below "no-brain?" Deliberate sabotage?
Phil Osborn
The obnoxious in power
Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:20PM

So, today I'm back at the Costa Mesa Tech Branch, where the incompetent manager has been regailing the entire library about her past in the mid-west, and her relatives. Every now and then she really raises her voice, I think just to watch the patrons who occupy most of the 30 or so computers here flinch, as they desperately try to maintain their train of thought.

The typical patron is not rich, or most of them would not be using the library. Most of these people do a hard day's work and then come here to take care of legal matters or blog or correspond with friends. The last thing they need is to have to make the extra effort to screen out some motormouth.

Originally the Costa Mesa Tech Branch had some really sharp management. The original head manager, Richard, was a computer/internet whiz from way back and a very sharp guy in general. I would run into him and his wife at the monthly Santa Ana art show. His second in command was about equally sharp, although somewhat less personable perhaps. Both, as well as several other long-term employees, were generally quite helpful and dedicated to maintaining a good atmosphere for the patrons.

Then Richard left to take some other position, and I assumed that his second would take over. Instead, they put someone in charge who, it just now occurred to me, was probably one of those people everyone wants to go away. So, the opening was there. It was probably a step up. I can almost see the glasses lifted in meriment and celebration among her former co-workers.

Such events certainly occur in private businesses as well, but there is the corrective factor of the bottom line in play in a business. A coffee shop that allowed obnoxious patrons to destroy the quality of the experience for others would soon go out of business, and a manager that took advantage of his or her position to rant for minutes on end around the customers tables would be gone soon as well.

However, in a government bureaucracy, there is little incentive to do more than follow the rules.
Phil Osborn
Oh, and I forgot the pervs
Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:37PM

One very tall, lean old guy who I see regularly at the Tustin library walked into the men's room the other day, while I was washing my hands, and suddenly dropped his pants - and underpants as well. Of course, he was facing the urinal, but nobody drops their pants all the way to the floor, so that all and sundry can view them naked from the waist down. Since there are quite a few children who go into that bathroom unescorted, I reported the incident to the librarian, who apparently had had some prior experiences with the guy.

At the Fountain Valley branch, slimy looking guys frequently hang out with the Friends of the Library books in the front entrance lobby area, waiting to see who goes into the men's room, and whether they want to follow them. Occasionally they follow me and then do all the manuevers with the feet and the coughing, hurried glances away from privates, etc.

One day, however, I find this guy pulling endless paper towels from the dispencer. He is a burly guy, naked from the waist up, quite filthy with embedded grime, and, as he is doing God knows what with the multitude of paper towels, he is talking about killing people and torturing people and how much he wants to...

I reported him as well.

There are a fair number of folk like the ones above who take advantage of the "free" services offered by socialist institutions such as the libraries. The problem would be eliminated if the model of the Japanese Tea House accross the street from the Costa Mesa Tech Branch were followed.

They maintain a large library of Manga and DVDs, and have a separate, walled off area where patrons can read or watch videos or use the internet to their hearts delight. Because they are primarily a tea house, with an adjoining library, rather than a dedicated internet cafe or gaming house, apparently they do not come under the draconian local ordinances aimed at destroying any of the latter.

Now that their competition has all been eliminated, of course their fees have gone up, but one can use their wifi for an hour or two for the price of a couple of teas or other drinks.

The underlying problem is that the people paying for the state library services are not the ones using them - or at least there is no necessary correspondence. Thus, the people who do use them feel no compunction not to misuse them, and the people footing the bill via taxes have little interest in doing anything either. So there is no direction and the quality of service tends toward zero.
Phil Osborn
Libraries not a proper function of government
Mon Jun 9, 2008 8:28PM

I'm in agreement with those republicans on this issue. However, I would make that double for the state child indoctrination and prison centers - known euphemistically as "public schools."

Yesterday, I came to the Santa Ana public library to use the internet computers. There is almost always a problem and yesterday was no exception. A woman decided to bring her baby to the internet stations.

This would be less of a problem is there were any kind of privacy dividers - which the library does provide for its library catalog computers. However, one universal feature of all the library internet access computers is that they are set up for maximum lack of privacy. This is no doubt part of their strategy to prevent people from using the computers to access PORN!!!

It's also wonderful for all those people who want to steal your private information for whatever purpose, as they can look over your shoulder to their heart's delight. And if you're a regular libary user, they can take their time, picking up your passwords a character per visit. However, this was not my concern yesterday. Rather it was the interruption of my train of thought every few seconds as the baby let out yet another SHRIEK!!!

I was doing my best to bear up and tolerate, but then the guy next to me had enough and cancelled his one allowed session for the day after complaining to the librarians. Finally, after I too complained, they advised the lady that they were terminating her session. However, of course she was allowed to take her time finishing up her work, and by the time she and the noise machine had left, a good twenty minutes of my precious hour were gone.

Today is gang tolerance day. A whole crew of gangbangers to be, based on their dress and behavior and language (homie being the operant term of the day), invaded the internet section and then started intermittent fist fights around the computers. At least they were good-natured about it, and so far I have not said anything. Most of them ultimately got tired of adolescent acting out anyway and left.

More seriously, a regular who has had a few confrontations with me over the past year, a big, burly middle eastern guy, almost got into it seriously last week when some other guy asked him to please stop his continuous cursing. Then there are the people who come in obviously sick and coughing their guts up.

What people seem to forget about libraries is the Golden Rule. Who has the gold, makes the rules. In the OC, it is Bible-pounding do-gooders who are determined to look over everyone's shoulders to keep us all on the straight and narrow. Since they dominate politically, the venues of allowed information are determined by them.

So, Phil, why not use an internet cafe?

Where? In response to the sudden emergence of a host of internet cafes and computer gaming places, every city council in the OC passed all kind of new laws to "regulate" these establishments in the "public interest." Thus, typically an internet cafe has to have full time video and computer monitoring of every patron. Additionally, they are only allowed to operate during certain hours.

Other regulations vary by city, but the net result is that the OC, once known as the "2nd Silicon Valley," has fewer internet cafes than Myanmar or Zanzibar. One by one they have disappeared, priced out of the market by the city ordinances. There is exactly one internet cafe still in existence in Santa Ana, which has the youngest and most Hispanic population in the OC.

While various concerns, such as drug peddling or gang involvement were cited as reasons for the crackdown, the real reason is of course that no city council wants an independent venue of information and organizing operating in their city, where it might be used to generate actual public awareness of the fascist shenanigens that go on continuously behind city doors. All those young people getting together physically and becoming friends is pretty scary.

As with the treatment of the homeless, the various cities know that the victims of their criminal ordinances are unlikely to spend the big bucks necessary to defeat them in court, and so, as usual, they do whatever they please, the constitution be damned - or rather whatever will get them the free perks, special catered dinners at the Fair, free jaunts to China, and especially campaign money.

So, is that what we want? Are these the people who we want managing our information access? If so, then vote for more money for the state schools, and certainly more for the state libraries.

Thank God for meetup.








Phil Osborn
Libraries deserve it
Thu Jun 5, 2008 8:43PM
If the L.A. libraries are anything like most of the OC ones, they ought to be cancelled. The libraries are supposed to be there to provide timely and unbiased access to information, new and old. However, they lagged behind even the public schools in computer access - about ten years behind here in the OC.

The typical OC library ten years ago had one internet computer and the patrons were told that they couldn't use it for email and that it was illegal to save anything on a floppy. At the same time, most libraries had a dozen or more computers accessing the library catalog - which was on the internet, and most of the time all but a couple of these machines would be sitting idle, wasting power.

The sysop for the county library system told me personally that they disabled everything they could, in order to make life easier for them. Thus, simple cut and paste was disabled... Has anyone ever tried typing in the typical 200 character commercial address?

And while they couldn't be bothered to make simple, essential features accessible, they simultaneously waged an ongoing war for a decade with all the people who knew how to use the catalog computers to get to the net.

And, they spent money willy-nilly on buying expensive name-brand computers, when generic boxes from Frys would have been far cheaper and just as good for simple web access.

And of course just getting enough of the right machines is only half the problem. There has been virtually no attempt to bring the librarians up to speed. Worse still, due to seniority issues, librarians with NO skills, but years of service are put in charge of branches such as the Costa Mesa Tech Branch, which is almost entirely computers.

For the head librarian there now, who was slotted in ahead of a couple of people who were FAR more qualified, due to her seniority or connections or whatever, this is a big vacation. The other librarians do all the work, while she does whatever she pleases. While patrons are admonished to carry extended conversations outside, she feels no qualms about talking in an 80 decibal voice about whatever personal topic she feels like talking about, for extended periods of time.

And heaven help anyone who asks her for assistance... The worst thing is that she will actually make the attempt to be helpful. At which point the patron is dead in the water.

This lady is not bog stupid, and she could have been properly trained for her position, but that would have implied a libary system that actually did live up to its alleged purpose. And such a system would never have put her in charge of people who were ten times as qualified to begin with.

When I lived in Columbia, South Carolina, in the early to mid '70's, I had an eye-opening experience when I attempted to find out what it would take to get some libertarian selections onto the shelves.

The librarian to whom I was referred - over the phone - told me quite smugly that not only was there absolutely no chance that any such selections as I had in mind would ever be permitted, no matter how much demand there was, but that she and her communist friends were actively engaged in purging the shelves of any books they felt were a liability to their cause, while bringing in as many pro-Marxist selections as they could get their hands on. And, if I said anything to anyone, she assured me that I would be treated as a nut.

At the same time, I had been using the University of South Carolina's library for my own research, on the basis of a student ID from the previous semester. The library had a guard at the entrance who checked IDs, and for a month or two, he waved me in, saying that nobody cared whether the ID was even real. Then we got into a philosophical discussion, and he turned out to be one of those people who fly into rages when someone disagrees with them. So, no more access for me...

While the libraries are supposed to be neutral about moral or political issues, the South Carolina public library, with its secret Marxist infestation is hardly the exception. Libraries are run by people.

If a car dealership had a sudden major demand for a particular kind of car, they would make every effort to get more of them to satisfy their customers. I have yet to see any similar response on the part of the libraries. At most OC libraries, there is an hour or so wait to get on an internet computer. However, it took the libraries about 5 years to go from one computer to five per library and another 5 to go to 8 or 10.

Let the car dealerships take over the libraries!

Libraries: the New DMV
Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:36PM

For those of us who were born before the mid '70's, one of the outstanding universal experiences of soul-deadening enui was the trip to the DMV, where one could spend a day in a poorly air-conditioned cattle pen, shuffling from arrogant, sullen bureaucrat to bureaucrat, trying to straighten out endless paperwork, just to be able to drive one's car or motorcycle. The absolute lack of any compassion - or even bare competence - defined the hell one endured at least once a year.

One of the high moments of the Rodney King riots has to be the burning of DMVs. In fact, I think that the only government building attacked in Orange County was one of the DMVs. I don't think that any government buildings other than DMV were targetted for serious damage in L.A. County either.

Since then - and I have to think partially in response to the utter loathing that typical citizens felt toward the institution - DMVs have become streamlined, civilized, and even friendly to the citizens.

The title of most loathed now, however, has not been abandoned to Animal Control, but rather rests with the libraries. As I type here at the Costa Mesa Tech Branch of the O.C. library system, the same librarian who regailed us loudly for an hour or so about her mid-Western unbringing a week or two ago, is carrying on a running conversation with someone doing some kind of game machine installation.

I WAS trying to read an online paper on the philosophical grounds of quantum mechanics, but any serious thought is not permitted. I've noted the prevalence of gang-bangers, psychos, and SCREAMING babies at other library branches. At Costa Mesa Tech, however, we don't even need to import the problems.

August 25, 2007: Well, I decided to bite the bullet and get a new laptop. After all, the Orange County library system offers free WiFi, and I can't run anything on their stupid computers but what they choose to allow, which doesn't include ANY modern image processing software, nor now even the ability to see the code on one's webpage. Like their initial disabling of copy and past, they have also disabled notepad now, and there is no longer any way to look at the html.

I bought a nice dual-core Turion AMD HP machine with 2 gigs of RAM and all the supposed connectivity that one could ask for, and at a good price as well, during Office Depot's Back-to-School sale. Of course, it had Vista Home Premium installed.

I should've asked. After an hour and a half of seeing that the machine was registering a good connection, but not able to bring up an actual online webpage, I finally asked the library personnel, even though none of their techies are here today. I finally mentioned that I was running Vista. "Oh, then that's the reason! The library doesn't support Vista. We're hoping that maybe sometime in September they will get around to fixing it."

So now, having waited for three months while someone in the library administration played with the intro to Second Life book before finally letting it go throught the system to me, who was first in line for it, I'm just guessing that whoever played with 2nd Life is probably still playing while the library patrons are stuck waiting for them to get around to actually doing their f***ing job!

And naturally Windows Vista tells me that if I want to install a previous version of Windows, then I should've done that first. Of course, how stupid of me to think that Windows would make things simple or logical. I could in theory run Linux, which I had planned to do anyway in order to run Second Life, which doesn't run on Vista either, but now I'm guessing that the library probably doesn't support Linux either, especially since they spent all that money putting all the standard MicroSoft office products on their computers, when they could've put the superior Open Office on them for free.

Now imagine a whole economy run like the library system. Remember Russia under the commies?

August 21, 2007: Yesterday I actually got lucky. Nobody sitting next to me using their cell until I finally had to call in the library gendarmes, which happened both three and four sessions ago at the Tustin branch. Or, two sessions ago, the guy who looked like a reject from death row, truly awesomely coldly nasty big old brutish character, who turns to me without warning as I start my session and in a mockingly sweet voice says, "I just LOVE the way YOU GUYS scratch your beards."

Then he follows me around the library, lagging a few minutes, but always showing up and muttering God knows what. Still not sure if thought I was gay or al quida... Or both? Have to ask Osama if there are gay terrorists and what kind of virgins do they get, next time I see him.

So, yesterday, nothing. Actually able to get some work done, despite a little interlude as a near fight broke out over some guy who left to use the phone and then came back ten minutes later and wanted to eject the guy who was next in line after him. That only lasted for a few minutes. The run of good luck could not last, of course. The libraries, like any "free" resource, naturally attract the bottom feeders.

So, just to make up for yesterday, I suppose, tonight I get a guy next to me at the Costa Mesa Tech branch who interspirses his actual typing with drumming loudly on the table, and interleaves that with picking his nose, or the running sores on his face, wiping his fingers on his pants and then resuming typing. I understand that they disinfect the computers here, once a week. Thus, in lieu of getting any real work done, I'm adding to this blog... That's my policy, BTW, which I encourage others to emulate. If the socialists want to demonstrate how wonderful their scheme is, then let's make sure to let them know how it's going!

Yet more: August 18, 2007. I had checked out an external USB CD drive for sale cheap yesterday, and wanted to know if it would work as a CD source on the library computers, knowing that I would never be allowed to install the native drivers. No. No CDs are allowed. Period.

Meanwhile, my nephew has just done his first website and wanted me to check the code out. Unfortunately, while, oddly enough, it is possible to view the text contents of a site in Excel now, there is no longer any way to view the HTML source. The View Source hack that I incorporated in the corporate website so that I could check things out from other computers to ensure the site was working no longer works itself. Notepad is no longer available at the library.

In the past, I could have just dumped my nephew's site to a floppy and taken it home to view on one of my antique pre-USB computers. But the new library machines no longer have floppy drives. The Tech branch here does have a USB floppy for just this kind of problem, but I don't have any floppies with me, as I assumed that I would be able to run notepad and print out the HTML.

Bottom line is that the library systems operation is on a par with the traffic control division of your local township. They have to do something, anything, to demonstrate that they are needed, and most of what they are actually capable of doing has the effect of impeding traffic, not facilitating it, and so traffic is never sychronized and you're lucky if the traffic lights even vaguely reflect the actual traffic, and the consequence is enormous waste of everyone's time.

I note that the computers at the library at UCI do not have any of these restrictions, and the users can be completely anonymous as well. Somehow they survive.

It continues: Today, August 7th, 2007 and, after nearly three months of wait, "Second Life, the Official Guide," finally got to me. Note that I was the very FIRST person to put a hold on the book. It took THREE MONTHs for the library to get a book that tells you up front that it is already out of date before it was even printed to the very first patron in line for it.

Now, logically, were there three man-months of work involved in getting a book that was already in the library's possession onto the shelf? Obviously not. So, what is actually the case is that there is a two-to-three month backlog going on. Backlogs are expensive, as any businessman can tell you. You lose customers, you waste time. However, the library has NO direct incentive as a socialist bureaucracy to do anything at all beyond what is necessary to have their budget renewed.

However, the typical wait, according to the quite competent staff person who finally handed me my now out-of-date book, is only two months at most. As we inspected the book, however, it became obvious that more was in play here. I had paranoically envisioned the library sysop, ensconced in his pleasure cave, wallowing in glee as he pored over my on-hold book.

Could it be true? As the librarian noted, the book showed all the signs of major prior use. And this was supposedly a BRAND NEW book!

Since this is a rather long blog, with a number of updates, I suppose I should warn the readers what they're getting into. This is an ongoing examination of socialism in action in the U.S.A. I.e., the public libraries, and particularly how they have dealt with the information revolution here in the "Second Silicon Valley," the OC.

I have a particular interest - some might say, "Ax to Grind" - in the issue of the general idiocy that invariably accompanies top-down hierarchal systems and the way that the "free" libraries have been used in a clever pincer movement - together with the virtual outlawing of cyber cafes - to control thought in the OC, especially thought that might lead to political action.

Interested readers may also enjoy some of my essays on anarchism and law, or my coverage of how the "War on Terror" is being used on a daily basis to smash innocent victims who made the mistake of opening their mouths or trying to organize opposition to the current state/corporate regime throughout the U.S. - and the failure of the corporate media to report on such.

Be warned that there are a LOT of examples, stretching over several years, of the unbelievable idiocy of the library management and its nearly complete failure to correct or learn from mistakes, along with the ubiquitous contempt shown to the library patrons at every opportunity. So, now you're warned, which is better than the library would have done, I can assure you.

Update: July 15th. I got to the Tustin library right at the noon opening, and, for a change, there wasn't the rush to grab every available computer. However, this incredible idiot woman then sat down next to me, with her supersized drink (not allowed for good reason, especially not at the computer stations), who then proceded to take a call on her cellphone (also not allowed, for good reasons).

When I asked her to get off the phone, as it was making it impossible for me to concentrate, she simply told whoever was speaking to her that, "oh, someone is asking me to get off the cell," and continued, at which point I went to the information desk, where the lady in charge informed me that people were allowed to use their cell phones so long as they were discrete and quiet about it.

After a further exchange of words, and after I started raising my voice to reach the info person from the computer station, she told me that "only if the cellphone usage was disturbing someone would they intervene." Oh. So, my getting up and missing several minutes of my little one hour allocation wasn't evidence that I was being disturbed? No. So, I said that, "well, it's disturbing me," at which point she told the lady to get off the cell phone, which she eventually did.

This is hardly the only example of patrons who use the library to assault a captive audience. Quite frequently a group of teenagers or adolescents will decide to party around the computer, and then it's a constant barrage of styfled laughter and snide remarks back and forth, the same syndrome that makes it so dangerous for teens to drive with more than one or two in the car.

The library's position is that whoever makes the trouble is at fault. "Trouble," however is never defined in terms of "disturbing the peace," or "violating the rights of other patrons," but rather, who has the immediate majority in the situation, or who is likely to cause them the most grief. Thus, complaints about the 5-month-old screaming baby, or the toddler who completely screens out her mother's occasional demands for him or her to be quiet, or the gang wannabes, or the nut job who literally spends two hours in the men's restroom here every Sunday, brushing his teeth 500 times or more, are met with, "well, it's a PUBLIC library, and everyone has a right to use it." (Except the patrons who come in to actually use the library as such.)

A company like Barnes and Noble, of course, can make a decision on the basis of actual profits and losses long term, in the best of scenarios, anyway, and then stick to their policy, hussling obnoxious, disruptive clients out the door in favor of the majority who is footing the bill via their purchases. Of course, a library as such could be organized on similar principles, renting material on a profit making basis, instead of depending upon a set, one size fits all, fee, plus tax dollars taken from the general public, leaving them with less to spend at their favorite bookstore.

Update, July 12, 2007

From another patron at the Costa Mesa Tech Branch: This guy reports that a couple of days ago some man was looking at porn - or at least nude women (I wonder if it's OK now for me to type "nude" or worse "porn" or if I may be censored for doing so??? - and the lady who is now in charge called to him on his way to the printer and demanded that he get that filth off his screen.

He reportedly objected on free speech grounds and allegedly her response to him was that there were children present. He pointed out that the children were at the other end of the library and could not possibly see what he was looking at, especially as he was using a privacy filter over the screen, and she responded that they could if they were on their way to the bathroom, which is at the extreme rear of the large room, where the computers are that the porn watchers ususally use.

Note that this is possible, but only if the child was directly behind the computer, due to the privacy screen, and the problem would be easilly solved if the computers were not set up for minimum privacy, an open invitation BTW to identity thieves, who could easily lurk behind a patron and capture passwords, etc., by simply videotaping with a cheap digital camera.

A further altercation reportedly then ensued, with the man telling the library manager that she was only reacting to him that way because she was a woman, and she finally telling him that she didn't care who else was aware of what he was looking at. SHE was aware and it offended her and she wasn't going to allow it.

This reminds me of an incident a couple decades ago, when I attended the Libertarian Party's convention in San Diego and bought what I thought was an amusing bumper sticker from some group promoting nudist rights. It simply had a happy face, yellow on black, and the caption "Have a Nude Day." So I put it on the rear bumper of my little Datsun pickup, and in the next few days several people attempted to force me off the road, one of them sideswiping me on the freeway and hitting the bicycle that I had on a rack up front.

Max Stirner would have had a ready explanation for this. From his "The Ego and Its own," he discusses how people make what they cannot control into a divinity. Thus, the pagan Gods were forces of nature, or closely related to them - Thor or Zeus with the lightning, etc. The Christians came along at a time when civilization had begun to seriously challenge Mother Nature, and people no longer feared the beasts of the wild or the storm's fury. So, they elevated the "Idea" to the divine. They hypostatized ideas into "spirits." The WORD was sacred.

Which is where most people still are today. Thus the rage against the apostate, the person who refuses to recognize the sacred IDEAS of whatever cult one belongs to, whether Dixie Chick or simply the driver of a beat-up little pickup with a simple bumper sticker.

HEY YOU IDIOTS! Just an idea: (actually, from Mr. Natural comix) Did you happen to realize that EVERYONE is naked under their clothes? Of course not. If you don't see it or hear about it, then it doesn't exist. Right? Wow. I'm sure glad that our leaders who have their fingers on the buttons of armagedon don't think that way... (That was a joke, BTW.)

My personal take. Zen atheism. I search out whatever thoughts I find scary and embrace them. I can do that, because I am not a slave to my ideas, unlike some of you reading this. I am not a disembodied floating consciousness, separate from my body, as some of you doubtless think of yourselves. I am a human animal, and my brain/mind/feelings are part of my animal nature, not some ghost from another dimension. From that perspective, I do not have to fear any mere idea.

I wonder now what's next in this little odyssey at the library???

It is curious that the same library system that carries on its shelves books like the manga version of "Battle Royale," one book of which depicts in lurid detail the rape by a psychotic teenage girl of a much younger boy as he is dieing from her earlier attack, is censoring non-violent images of nudes.

Update July 9, 2007

And more news. Now, in spite of the little confrontation of months ago, in which the Russian mafioso types attempted to jump the line to the internet stations, and the library information person tried to mediate between thieves and regular patrons, now it seems that whatever arbitrary and immune idiot is setting policy here has backtracked again. Now, it seems, if you are not here when a computer comes available, regardless of having signed onto the list and waiting for an hour or so, you not only lose the shot at the available machine, but also your place in the queu altogether.

Previously, the policy, as explained to me by a senior information person, was that you only lost your immediate place. I.e., if you didn't show by the time the next machine had rebooted and someone else logged on, then you had to wait for the next one. Today, however, I witnessed the information person crossing off several people who I knew had just left to use other library facilities. When I asked her about it, she acted as though a piece of dog doodoo had just somehow developed a voice. Who was I, a mere patron, to be questioning library policy.

I was in here yesterday as well, and managed to finally locate someone dear to me who had dropped out of sight, and sent material from her website to the printer along with a receipt for an EBay purchase that I needed to get in the mail. Of course, when I logged onto the printer computer there was nothing, nada, zilch, zero there at all. The information desk person offered to make a special exception and let me log back in when another machine came available, but of course there were several people waiting ahead of me, so I lost my print job.

Update July 7, 2007

Oh, new news. The browser history is no longer available. Now how did I find that out? Of course I forgot to save all the twenty steps in a path to a site that I accidentally closed and then realized that I needed. Oops. So, go to history and find the site there. NO problem.

Oops. No more History. Yes, I'm sure it's still there, but now, on one computer the history comes up as a blank area. Or, if you already have "folders" open, clicking history invariabley takes you to folders again. Someone decided before turning on their brain that History was another frill, like the previously disabled copy and paste function.

Or, perhaps someone stupidly used an internet facility that allowed them to enter private information and left it there for other patron to later find and steal - or alter under their name? Solution: auto-clear history every time the browser reloads. Right? Or depend upon the user to clear it before they leave...

Except that that function is disabled as well.

So, just eliminate the history altogether. Wow. Problem solved...

Interesting that the brain-dead CyberCafe next door, even though the computer illiterate woman who runs it is absolutely clueless (and hostile as a general policy), still has no problem giving its clientel access to both history and clearing of history.

And, meanwhile, the real computer whiz who ran the Costa Mesa Technology Branch of the library system is moving on to a higher position somewhere in the bureaucracy, leaving a new person, an apparently largely computer illiterate middle aged woman, in his place. One of her first acts has been to try to shut down the guys who come in and put the privacy filters on their computer monitors so they can look at XXX sites without offending other patrons. Note that nobody is complaining about this behavior so far as I have observed. It is purely censorship on her part. Anti-sexuality being the state religion of Amerika... Update June 21, 2007

So, the new computers are in place. I'm suddenly in mind of that lyric, "here comes the new boss, just like the old boss." Somebody disabled the sound, altogether. Nice. Now all the instructional sites, etc., that use voice are useless. Imagine U-tube as silent TV. It's been over a month now and no sign that we will ever have sound again.

The printing is faster, when it works. Every night at closing, there is a crowd of angry users at the Costa Mesa Technical Branch, having just lost hours of work that disappeared in thin air on the way to the very fast printer. This has been going on since day one, and no sign of anyone trying to fix it.

Tonight I was working on a critical legal document and, due to prior problems of the same kind, was groggy from lack of sleep and forgot to save regularly. So, I had just asked the attendant, a new girl, to give me more time, and she did, supposedly. I go back to work. Suddenly I get the message to save or delete and about a half second later the system shuts down, losing the previous two hours of work. So, I had to go to the CyberCafe next door, which does not even have Word loaded, and use Wordpad to try to replicate everything, even more tired, of course. Do I sound pissed? If not, please forgive my failure to communicate effectively due to my state of fatigue.

Update May 13, 2007

The new computers are here!!! Without floppies, as the library warned us. And, while noticeably faster than the old machines, still with the same stupid glitches as before, such as the message that comes up if you try to open a new window, to the effect that that function has been disabled by the system administration. Hello? Is there a HUMAN somewhere in the library admin? To emphasize just how idiotic this is, it is still perfectly possible to drop back and punt - i.e., go back to the opening screen and start another session from there. So this only impacts the people who are NOT internet savvy, not the hackers or miscreants. Update May 8th, 2007

Notices are now appearing at presumeably all the OC libraries concerning their acquisition of NEW computers for the internet. The gist of the information, however, is in what they are leaving out. Namely, floppy disk drives. Patrons are being warned to be sure to buy some kind of USB memory device, as floppies will no longer be supported.

I won't speculate on the morals or intelligence of whoever came up with this hare-brained idea, but it fits with the overall lack of responsibility by our local socialist bureaucrats. First off, how much does a floppy drive add to the cost of a computer? I know places that will sell you floppy drives all day long for $5~$10 dollars. And memory sticks, while they are convenient and fast, still abandons that patron who has put dozens or hundreds of records on old floppies over the past decades. One floppy can hold a sizeable text-only novel. Sure, in general it's just an inconvenience, but I wonder if it ever occurred to the library administrators to ASK the patrons what they wanted?

What a radical concept... A library that actually responds to patron desires. But that would be virtual heresy. The library is a living testament to the concept of hierarchy.

Update: April 29th, 2007

At the Fountain Valley library today. Here, all in a row, with no sign-up sheet and only one chair for prospective internet users, are five (5) nice computers with LCD screens. Unlike the Tustin antiques, they don't take 3 minutes to reboot between users, and they don't cut off printing without warning 3 minutes before a session ends. There is also one additional short-term (15 minute max) computer for people who need to quickly check for email, etc., and there is a pre-scheduled computer.

However, there are still three computers in the row dedicated to the library book catalog. While there has been a continuous waiting line for the internet computors here, I have only seen one person use one of the book catalog machines.

From the wrecker theory of anarchist action, I suppose that I should actually shut up and just let the facts speak for themselves. Socialism doesn't work, and the library system is the perfect example. Any private profit-making company that ignored consumer demand the way the libraries have with regard to the internet would have long folded in the face of more responsive competition.

I note that some libraries, such as (at last inspection, which was several years back) the marvelous Huntington Beach Library, which is independent of the county system, actually charge a reasonable fee for internet access. One would hope that the charges are gauged to the demand and that additional computers and bandwidth would be added until the profit margin fell to close to cost. That's how a private business would do it. Why should we, the taxpayers, be forced to subsidize someone else's usage anyway? But then, that's free market talk, and we're dealing with the opposite, elitist socialism or fascism.

Update: April 26th, 2007 - more idiocy at the OC library

Here I sit at one of the former book catalog computers at the Tustin library. I had planned to be elsewhere, but ageism dictated otherwise.

In brief, a friend of mine, who I haven't seen for some time, as she moved to New York to go to college, has just had her first novel published, with reasonably positive reviews. I used to see Robbie every Thursday night at the Pure Fiction League, a writers group that met and still meets at the Barnes and Noble in the Tustin Mall every Thursday night, and I gave much advice - probably largely ignored (but I tried) - on the writing of her "Better Than Yesterday," a passable first novel, IMHO.

So, the other day here at the library I noticed a big poster featuring Robby's pretty face and announcing that she would be speaking on how to get into writing tonight. I didn't want to intrude, but figured that I would at least stop by and say Hy, as I haven't seen her for a year or two now.

I had the option of free tickets to see "Rent" and passed on it since I didn't want to miss Robbie and had already sent her an email indicating that I would check out her talk. And I took one of her flyers from the Tustin Library to the Costa Mesa Tech branch for display there, to try to increase her attendance.

So, I showed up, and presumeably Robbie is here as I'm typing this, but when I went to the meeting room door, through which I could see any number of both teens, almost entirely girls, and a dozen or more older adult women, I was physically blocked at the door by a librarian, who informed me with what felt like real hostility that I could not enter, as the meeting was "only for teens or adults with teens." Note that I had not actually even attempted to enter the room at that point, but rather had stopped at the door and was trying to spot Robbie. I also note that the negative reaction to my presence was apparently shared, as I got a half dozen angry scowls from the crew of mostly obese middle-aged moms.

I could point to any number of sites that discuss the pernicious impact of the artificial segregation by age (and sex, as I'm betting that if a non-teen accompanied woman had walked in, no one would have said a word) that our culture endorses, and how that moral wedge segways directly into the unquestioning acceptance of all kinds of other, equally evil and stupid kinds of segregation and classist divisiveness, but the reader has access to google and a brain, one hopes.

For those who have not already read the rest of this piece, or at least a recent edition, as I tend to keep updating my stuff as I have more ideas, I will use this hateful little episode as a useful segway into a branch of the original topic that I've been intending to get into anyway, but kept getting sidetracked by my other commitments, such as the ongoing dialogues at my fave intellectual talk site - RebirthofReason.com.

To wit: the control of information. How the U.S. is quietly being moved into a Chinese model of social control. And on that note, I should mention something that I just heard the other night on the BBC. It appears that the utterly shameless Chinese authorities are now going to try to use the upcoming Beijing Olympics to force the world's hands into de jure as well as de facto acceptance of their hegemony over both Taiwan and Tibet. China is reportedly demanding that the Olympic torch be carried through both Tibet and Taiwan as though they are actually parts of China. (Right)

Somehow, I think thay got the timing a little wrong on this one. I don't think that this will sit well with the U.S., not in the wake of the mass pet (and probably human, as well) poisoning by Chinese food additive suppliers. The Chinese are not big into pets and probably have no idea just how angry this is making pet owners here, and just how many of them there are here.

In case you haven't been following this typical Chinese act of crass criminality, the latest word is that melamine was deliberately added to gluten sold to U.S. food processors in order to make it appear that there was more protein in the gluten, as the standard test for protein actually simply measures the amount of nitrogen, and melamine - a plastic used to make cheap dishes -has a whole lot of nitrogen in it.

Very likely hundreds of pets - and probably some humans - have died rather horrible deaths from kidney failure at this point, although it appears that the media have been told not to push the story, as the Chinese are holding a few trillion U.S. dollars... In fact, the first story in the OC Register on the Olympics manipulation by the Chinese government finally appeared two days after the BBC reported it, but with the opposite slant, implying that Taiwan was the troublemaker in the picture.

This story, entitled "Taiwan complicates plan for torch relay," came from Stephan Wade of the Associate Press. Note that the "Orange Couty Register" is editorially a libertarian/conservative paper, but the editorial section has a major firewall between it and the news department, due to past decade's complaints that they were spinning the news. The spin of blaiming Taiwan for a fast one that the Mainland Chinese government wants to pull, forcing the rest of the world to line up on one side or the other of the issue of independence for Taiwan - and Tibet - would have gotten exactly the reverse take from their editorial staff, I am sure.

But Orange County California has one of the largest and wealthiest ethnic Chinese enclaves in the world outside of China. A lot of these people buy and read the "OC Register." It will be interesting to see if any protest comes from them. One can hope. Some idiot (non-Chinese) supervisor or something in Irvine, which I believe is about 75% Asian now, did some silly sister city deal with a mainland Chinese city recently, which involved a declaration implying that Taiwan is a part of China, and they got deluged by a mass protest by the outraged local ethnic Chinese, most of whom are anti-communist, and probably mostly from Taiwan or Hong Kong.

So, back to the OC library critique: Am I biting the hand that feeds me here? Here I am using the Tustin library computer to heap abuse on the Tustin Library. No, no, no, mon chere'. As it turns out, I actually pay taxes (at the point of a gun, to be sure). So, I have as much right to be here and bitch and moan as anyone. So there.

However, it would be nice to have alternatives, given all the problems and restrictions associated with this particular library and the OC libraries in general. It would seem, given the popularity of the internet, that one would see Cybercafes all over the place, offering super fast pipes and really nice computers with high-end graphics, etc.


The reality is that all over the OC, various municipalities have passed all kinds of draconian restrictions aimed at outlawing public internet access. For example, in several cities in order to operate an internet cafe, or offer access to the internet in general for a fee, you also have to ensure that all internet access is under constant surviellance. You actually have to have continuous video monitoring of every internet station. This is to protect us against terrorism, and of course kiddie porn.

However, any yuppie with enough money to purchase a decent laptop with WiFi can go to any number of coffee houses or some entire cities, or even the libraries (!) and plot with Al Cuida or drool over naked kids to their heart's delight. So, what does this actually accomplish?

It locks out the poor and the young. It constitutes a gentrification of the very system that has brought us more nearly to a level playing field than anything since the printing press. The excuses for the mandatory monitoring - and the outright banning of internet access sites in at least one major OC city - were, of course, that the cafes and gaming sites were becoming gang magnets.

SO? CLUE: ANY site that attracts hoards of youths from all ethnicities and classes will inevitably attract the gang-bangers as well. Deal with it. That's why we have cops. But don't trash the entire Bill of Rights as a pre-emtive strike against what might be.

However, I truly don't think that the threat of gangs or terrorists or kiddie porn - all of which can be facilitated ourside of all these channels - had anything to do with it. It was the sight of all those kids getting together, of all colors, sexes and sexual orientations, from all ethnicities and levels of income, without adult control.

That's the connection. The destruction of the middle class in America, the division of society along ethnic, sexual, racial and income lines, are all a part of the move to destroy any possibility of the original American dream. Keep people separated by age, class, sex, race and you can keep them at each other's throats. The LAST thing we need is new venues where people can get together - except by special permission and appointment and only if you're the right age, sex, or class...

This is not a new phenomynon, although it appears to be accelerating. When I moved to Long Beach in early '76, I looked around for the coffee shops. Long Beach is a college town to a significant degree. Cal State Long Beach is a major university. There should have been coffee shops all over, as in any college town on the East Coast. But, California is different. The movie "Vanishing Point" paints a pretty accurate picture of the fascist model of government that rules in most of Southern California.

The cities and the local cops pretty much do whatever they feel like, knowing that they may occasionally get sued and will probably lose and get hit with some Federal Court injunction, but so what? They're playing the odds. Most people who they screw are not going to do anything because if they try then they will get hit with a dozen more bogus charges and end up bankrupt or dead or in prison.

And how many cop movie and cop TV shows have you see in which the hero cop cuts a few corners - as in, breaking into some bad guy's house secretly in order to get the goods on the perp. Of course, the evidence itself can't be used in court, but it can lead our hero to real evidence that can be. All in a good cause, right? They said that in Mussilini's Italy, too. And Gitmo (Guantanemo)? Hey, the CIA finally got kicked out of their illegal Europpean secret prisons, so NOW, finally, the REAL bad guys are being shipped there, so how can anyone complain? The several hundred totally innocent - and how can any MUSLIM be really innocent, right? - individuals have just be place holders while our heros in uniform (or not) sorted things out.

What I noticed in 1976 Long Beach was that there were NO independent coffee houses where kids could hang out. Nor was there any other alternative. I discovered that the Long Beach police had been running a little racket. Whenever someone attempted to open a coffee house, after a month or so the cops would show up and inform them that they were aware and had evidence to prove that they were selling or permitting the sales of illegal drugs on the premises. So, they could quietly shut themselves down, or go to jail.

Of course, as the Los Angeles Times documented in detail about a decade ago, there are literally thousands of people who make a living as professional snitches, both in and outside of jails. You want someone to volunteer to sell pot in a coffee house that might serve as an organizing site for anti-war or (worse) anti-Petroleum Club hegemony? No problem, dude.

And so the cyber cafes in the OC have largely disappeared or been severely restricted, leaving only the libraries. We should be SO GRATEFUL to have to use - for free, but with major limitations as discussed below - a facility that is mandated under the Homeland Security laws to keep track of our every web address visited. Right.

But then, there are always the jerks like me, who notice what's happening and open our fat mouths.

Tough. I work for a Chinese company. I KNOW what we're up against. I have a permanently ruptured cervical disk from two years ago when the company enforcer gave me a karate chop to the back of my neck as I was stretching in the chair from which I do their 1500 page corporate website - apparently because I made a tasteless, silly joke about the company president's daughter - who is actually a friend of mine. I can't sue, because Workman's Comp is taking care of it... sort of. And, as an anarchist, I don't believe in Criminal Law to begin with, so I would only press charges if it were a matter of self-defence. Meanwhile, I live with pretty much continuous pain.

We DON'T want to go there. But that IS where we're going, with the breakdown of trust in America. We are moving towards a Chinese model of face, appearance, deception and class, where you get the justice you can pay for, and your measure of wealth and power is precisely a measure of your corruption.

End of update(s)....

In an earlier blog, I used the local OC library system as an example of the problems of socialism. Recapping in brief, at the beginning of the library system's plunge into modern media, they offered unlimited free printing of web pages. Like the nearly free bread the Russians supplied under communism, the result was naturally gross waste and long lines.

After a year or so of unhappy patrons who had to fight for the still limited print time, with some people printing dozens, or hundreds, of free pages, thus locking out those who desperately needed to print out a simple legal document or a term paper, the powers that be restricted the free prints to five per day per patron, charging a meager 15 cents per page for more prints. The backups largely disappeared.

However, other problems persist. Note that the library system runs Windoze. For several years, only the MicroSloth Explorer browser was provided, and it was deliberately and severely limited by the library webmaster. Even the most basic functions, such as copy and paste, or opening additional windows were shut off, forcing patrons to try to type in 120 character web addresses from a handwritten note.

Even if there were computers available, the policy at all but a couple of libraries in the system was that each patron was limited to one hour per day online. Of course, this made it unworkable for many students who needed more time to find resources for their homework assignments. And there WERE other computers available - just not for web access. While the web computers were severely limited in number, typically many more computers sat idle, linked to the internet, but blocked from accessing anything but the library resources or a few large databases.

But, due to the abysmal quality of the management of the system generally (the webmaster told me that they just disabled every feature they could in order to make life easier for them), for several years it was possible to hack ones way past all the firewalls, etc., and get on the web from the library catalog machines. Typically a librarian would eventually discover the miscreant and intone "these computers are not for the web." Most people would acquiesce at that point. Some curmudgeons, however, would simply snarl like a junkyard dog and go right on with their web access.

And, for whatever reason - probably, "it was easier than thinking" - logging on is disabled at most of the libraries within 30 minutes of closing time. Now I have no great problem with the terminals shutting down within ten minutes of closing, but many has been the time that patrons were backed up on the sign-up sheet, and a computer came available at 8:28PM. A patron who may have been waiting for an hour or more to check for a critical email sits down and waits through the three-minute reboot, only to discover that he or she is locked out because it is 8:31PM.

Many people only pop online for a few minutes for that sort of access, and there simply is no reason for the policy. However, like so many bureaucratic edicts handing down from on high to the poor insignificant patrons, there is nothing anyone can do, except vote to reduce library funding again, of course.

Another purely arbitrary edict posted on the wall for every patron to read: "Two people sharing a computer cannot have back-to-back log-ins." WHY? How is this wrong? How is two hours shared separately on two different computers different than two hours shared on a single computer? Why is the library punishing couples or partners as such?

I know the answer, of course. It is annoying when one is waiting in queu to discover that a computer that one thinks is going to come available will in fact be tied up for another hour. That doesn't make it wrong or unfair. It just means that the librarians may have to field complaints. Anything that causes them to have to deal with patrons is unwelcome, especially so when they have to act as a judge, which means that someone is likely to be unhappy enough to raise a stink, and then the head librarian may be called in, and NOBODY on the staff wants that..

Every library has their own policy as to how to deal with queus. The Fountain Valley library forces everyone to literally line up - in chairs (if available) and wait for their turn, unable to access any other library resources for the nonce. To their credit, they have attempted some limited remedial diversification of services. One computer is only available for brief on-line sessions. Another is only available via appointment by phone or in person at the information desk.

The Tustin library for several years has used a sign-up sheet. The weakness of this system is that it requires constant vigilence on the part of those who have signed on, especially now, as Tustin, after a decade of fighting the internet, has finally submitted to the truth that there are a lot more patrons interested in getting on the web than in reading the libary catalog. Thus, three of the six machines previously dedicated to the library catalog are now switched to the internet. However they are in a separate location in the library not easilly included in the internet queu. Very often, someone will observe one of these computers coming open and rush to grab it, having not signed in at all, on the assumption that they will probably not be noticed, and what is the library going to do to them anyway?

When disputes do arise, the information desk librarians have to deal with them. However, then the policy becomes a matter of whichever librarian has the ball. At one point a group of rather abusive large Russian men tried to insist that their position in the queu take precedence because other patrons had temporarily left the area to use other library resources. Of course, the point of a sign-up list was precisely that, to allow one to leave the immediate area, along with creating a reference as to who is waiting and what one's queu position is.

The information desk librarian, however, (the same one I discuss below censoring a patron for no reason.) was clearly reluctant to oppose these goons, who looked and sounded like Russian Mafia for real, and seemed ready to simply allow them to have their way. At which point, of course, I stepped in and got even LOUDER than the Russians, making it clear that I was not going to back down, and, sensing the balance of force majure shifting, the librarian finally did the right thing.

Note that this is all happening in the OC, the county that bills itself as the second "Silicon Valley." How embarrassing.

Then there is the issue of censorship. Several libraries have NO censorship whatsoever, and lurid movies of teens engaged in group sex might be running on a machine right next to a mom with a young kid. However, THAT problem could have been easily solved by correctly positioning the computers to begin with.

It is reasonable to assume that many people would not want their web activity to be freely available for public view. Without any presumption that the patron might want to view sexually explicit material, there are a host of perfectly innocent activities that one would want to keep private, especially those involving checking ones bank checking account, using a credit card online, writing a love letter, or writing a political blog taking an unpopular position. Many other examples easily come to mind.

Nonetheless, the libraries seem to have universally positioned their web computers so that anyone can spy upon the patron's activities without the patron realizing it. I.e., virtually every computer leaves the patron facing the wall, with a large open area behind them, where any hacker or identity thief could lurk. How easy it would have been to have corrected this from the get go. But that would not occur to a bureaucrat whose priority is inherently power, not performance. Oddly, the computers restricted to accessing the library catalog and databases ARE installed in little stations with partition for privacy, just not the internet computers where it matters most.

Other libraries, such as the Tustin branch, have a zero tolerance attitude, with big signs advising patrons that their sessions may be cancelled by library staff if they dare to display - or print (!) - "objectionable" material.* In one case, a patron was going to great lengths to make sure that no one else could see the sites he was visiting, using tiny browser windows, etc. Upset over witnessing - not the "objectionable" material, but the effects of the censorship, I chose to make a complaint.

*The actual notice reads: "Please be mindful or our patrons when viewing or printing explicit materials. The library reserves the right to end an internet session when such material is displayed." When I went to the librarian at the reference desk and expressed my views on their censorship policy, her response was to go the man and shut down his machine. Note that not a single person had complained about his activity, no children were anywhere near, and only by careful examination of the mostly closed windows he was using could anyone have determined that he might be viewing something "bad." This was not aimed at protecting other patrons, but simply at pure censorship. And here I thought that the library was about making information available.

The City of Orange's library - a separate system from the county libraries - takes this a step further. When I got my card from them and went on-line, I was served with a notice to the effect that the libary keeps a record of all your web activities, and, if you use the libary to access pornography, then you WILL be prosecuted. Under what unconstitutional law I'm not at all sure.

Then there is the choice of hardware and software. With all kinds of cheap, perfectly good clones on the market, the libraries chose to buy name brand equipment. However, that's a minor issue compared to the software. Any computer savvy nerd can be called upon to tell one just how truly awful the MicroSloth Windoze is, compared to any number of other platforms.

Specifically, however, Windoze (spelling intentional) is extremely slow, buggy and limited compared to any of the many versions of LINUX, which is why most internet servers run LINUX. And, LINUX is FREE! And, yes, people are used to Windoze. But LINUX can be easily configured by the Webmaster to look and feel so much like Windoze that very few people would notice any difference.

The advantages would have been much greater speed on the same hardware, vastly fewer bugs, and greater security. These are generally accepted conclusions throughout the professional computing community. The disadvantage would have been that the sysop would have to learn LINUX, and that MicroSloth, which considers LINUX its major competition, might try to exert pressure on the library system.

However, even running Windoze, there could have been fairly trivial efforts that would have yielded relatively vast returns for the patrons. It has only been in the past year or so that most of the library web computers have also offered MicroSloth Word. Even if MicroSloth is donating Word and Windoze to the system, it is not worth it when one considers that Star Office is available for free and is a better product, including a full-featured database, spreadsheet, paint, and even 3D rendering programs, besides the desktop publishing program which again can be configured to look and feel just about exactly like MicroSloth Office or Word.

Word has extremely limited capabilities regarding the use of images, and only the Costa Mesa Technical Branch library even offers the patron access to the antiquated piece of garbage called Windoze Paint. Thus, once again Patrons are restricted from access to the technology that any home user would have readily available, not due to price - the "Open Office Suite" is free for the download, and there are dozens of other free alternative word processors and paint programs - but due to the lack of incentive for a bureaucracy to do anything beyond a bare minimum.

The problem here is not the librarians on site. The librarians at the Costa Mesa Tech Branch have been the model of helpfulness, even when dealing with patrons who are abusive. At most of the other libraries, the librarians are simply ignorant about basic computer processes. I recall one librarian telling me early on that it was "illegal" to download onto a floppy. Another informed me that the library web computers not capable of being used for email.
Yet another told me that the couple dozen 486's the library had for library catalog access were "too slow" for web use. Note that the catalog access was itself on the web. And, running LINUX, a 486 is actually reasonably fast at web access. Anyway, since that day in the late '90's, the library catalog computers have been upgraded to Pentiums. And, as I mentioned, the Tustin library has actually converted three of those machines to be used for web access, only a decade late.

In summary, in virtually every respect, the socialist bureaucracy we call the library system has fallen down on the job regarding the information age. Ironic, considering that information is allegedly what the libraries are all about. Consider the comparison between a typical home library of books versus the public library. There is no comparison. The public library can afford to provide thousands of times the number of books and magazines that a typical individual could.

Yet virtually anyone on the web at home has vastly MORE access to information resources than at the very library. The only advantage that the library provides is access speed, due to having invested in high-speed servers. But speed alone is not the issue. One can only read so much. More important are the ability to collate, connect, link and record information, which is where the library system has made virtually no intelligent, informed effort.

And what about the ability to connect PEOPLE? Why hasn't the library system forged ahead in inviting people with like interests to use a library sponsored "meet-up," with facilities for on-line discussions of local issues and face-to-face meeting scheduling? Or patron generated reviews of literature? So far, the library has pretended that the information age

Whoa! That's twice now that JoeUser has lost my edits, even after a save. So, try, try again....

stopped in the 19th Century.

As I discuss in some of my reponses to comments below, the libraries should and could be synergizing with the patrons. The top-down model of knowledge is over, so forget it, ok? It's over for academia, for business, for politics, for medicine, and for the library. People are becoming experts in their free time. We're becoming a nation and a culture of information junkies. Need to reduce gangs? Steer the kids to the library.

But if you plan on keeping them there, then you've got to provide them places to meet and talk and schmooze and organize peacefully and safely. So, what's wrong with a library combined with a coffee shop, a gym, a deli, a Mall? Who has not visited a Barnes and Noble and observed the dozens of teens sprawled accross every chair or bench, avidly poring through some book or magazine? Is Barnes and Noble the new library? Is the old library model simply obsolete?

The Tustin library has done some minor good work in this direction, in terms of bean bags in a special teen-oriented area. However, when I asked them about the possibility of using their meeting room (I had the idea of starting a second OC science fiction club), I was told that it was only open to "authorized groups" with non-profit status. OK. How many teenagers are likely to have jumped through the hoops to get non-profit status for their desired group?

This is by far not the first instance I have slammed into of obdurant socialist bureaucrats stimying access to information. When I lived in Columbia, S. Carolina in the mid '70's, I called the libary to ask how I could get them to carry particular books. I had in mind various books having to do with free-market economics and the libertarian philosophy. The librarian informed me that typically if a number of patrons requested a title, then they would look into it.

However, she was quite amused at the titles I mentioned and added that in the case of those books, I could forget it, because she and her Marxist friends had gotten jobs at the libary for the express purpose of keeping such reactionary trash out of the library and making sure that books more conducive to Marxism/Leninism made it to the shelves. When I asked for her name, she hung up on me.

(I note in that connection that certain books that one might expect to be on the shelves somewhere in any library system - especially the conservative OC system - are missing, such as the 1941 best-selling "Out of the Night," by Jan Valtin, which documented the evolution of the Comintern into the Checka, discussed how the Checka perverted Unions and political parties throughout Europe and SE Asia to support the Moscow line, and gave names, dates and places for dozens of Checka agents.)

In the early '80's, for several years I was using the xlnt Cal State Long Beach library quite a lot, and had paid the substantial fee for a card. I typically kept a dozen or more books out at any given time, and depended upon their notification cards to remind me to nenew them, as my schedule involved swing shifts that kept me disoriented as to dates and times.

Then I got a bill for about $170 in late fees, with no warning. It turned out that they had switched to a new computer-based system, and someone had only allowed for "x" number of characters in the address line for the cards. My address was a few characters longer, and so the cards had been going to someone else, a jerk who simply trashed them instead of notifying the Postal worker. When I protested the bill to the librarian in charge, she took obvious pleasure in refusing to forgive or reduce the bill, which of course I never paid.

The CSULB library during that period was open almost 24/7, and patrons could check out a room - for studying or meeting or whatever - not just books. As an example of what a real library could and can offer, I had missed the entire "Roots" TV series and discovered that CSULB had it on 16mm film. So, I checked out a room, a 16mm projector and screen and the series, spending most of a weekend watching episodes back to back.

I don't expect that sort of capability from the cash-strapped OC libraries. However, if they have a meeting room sitting empty, then WHY NOT make it available for a nominal fee to cover wear and tear, etc.?

What else? I've got 15K+ hits on this blog and only six responders. Let's hear some really radical ideas on how to fix the libraries. Go for it!

on Apr 05, 2007

Then there is the choice of hardware and software. With all kinds of cheap, perfectly good clones on the market, the libraries chose to buy name brand equipment. However, that's a minor issue compared to the software. Any computer savvy nerd can be called upon to tell one just how truly awful the MicroSloth Windoze is, compared to any number of other platforms.

Specifially, however, Windoze (spelling intentional) is extremely slow, buggy and limited compared to any of the many versions of LINUX, which is why most internet servers run LINUX. And, LINUX is FREE! And, yes, people are used to Windoze. But LINUX can be easily configured by the Webmaster to look and feel so much like Windoze that very few people would notice any difference.

These two paragraphs show how truly you do NOT know how the system works. lets start with the first one.

Libraries buy name brand equipment for TWO reasons. It's called WARRANTY and ON-SITE SERVICE. Which you don't usually get with clones of any type.+

The second shows your ignorance on "Windows" itself. I'll make a personal guarantee that I can make "my" system run Windows 2000 Pro as faster or faster than "any" Linux system with comparable equipment. It has been tried before and I proved it to the big-mouthed Linux user. By the time you configure the Linux machine to look and act like Windows...it's crawling!

And MS Words inability to use pictures? What version are you using? MS Word 2003 does just fine and so did MS Word 2000. I personally use 2003 for my HTML editing "including" pictures and graphs along with MS Frontpage 2000 for publishing. If you're going to talk smack at least try to know what you're talking about. You...on the other hand, "obviously" don't!

And what about the ability to connect PEOPLE? Why hasn't the library system forged ahead in inviting people with like interests to use a library sponsored "meet-up," with facilities for on-line discussions of local issues and face-to-face meeting scheduling? Or patron generated reviews of literature? So far, the Libra has pretended that the information age is a fad that will hopefully go away in the future

And why should they? They have limited resources (most come from the surrounding communities) and are spent on imagine this...."books"! That is the "main" reason for a library isn't it? Books? At least that is the official definition.

li·brar·y Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[lahy-brer-ee, -bruh-ree, -bree] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun, plural -brar·ies. 1. a place set apart to contain books, periodicals, and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study, or reference, as a room, set of rooms, or building where books may be read or borrowed.
on Apr 05, 2007
Usually, a large organization that uses hundreds of computers would rely upon maintenance via an in-house technician, rather than paying the high prices that a home or small business would pay for the insurance of a store or factory warranty and service contract.

The version of Word that the libraries here use has only the very basic options of cropping, sizing, positioning relative to text, etc.

My experience yesterday, which led me to write the post, involved attempting to print a large image. When I tried to break it into pieces using Windoze Paint, it eventually choked and lost my work, locking up the entire system in the process. When I tried to crop the picture in Word, it clearly retained the non-cropped area in the document as sent to the printer, as the file was never printed.

BTW, I make my living doing image manipulation in-house for both print and web use, including large posters for shows like CES, tech manuals, and a 1500+ page corporate website, all hand-coded by me. Due to my efforts, there are about one hundred critical product-related keywords that will bring up my site on page 1 of Google, which has to be some kind of record.

At work, I use COREL Draw 10, COREL PhotoPaint 8, Pagemaker 7, and Indesign CS2. If it were not for heavy-handed sociopathic neurotic fools running the company, I would also be using The Gimp for Windoze for most of my Web-related imagery and EMACS for my web design, but that's another rant...

As far as LINUX vs. Windoze, I have to go with my limited experience and the observation that every tech-savy person who I personally know considers Windoze pathetic garbage and vastly perfers LINUX. I note that not only the majority of servers, but also the majority of print service bureaus run on LINUX, at least for the local intranet.

I watched as Windoze wiped out one competitor after another, not because it was better, but via clever and often deceptive marketing to an ignorant market. The Mac OS was and is better. The Amiga OS was a LOT better. OS/2 Warp was a LOT better. NEXT in its day in the late '80's was a LOT better. BeOS was a screaming monster BETTER. And, by most accounts, LINUX is a LOT better.

Note that the OC libary patrons do not have access to much more than the browser. They can run a couple of applications and even save their work to their own disk, etc. However, even doing that brings up all kinds of messages from the system advising that they are not permitted to do it, to which you're supposed to click cancel and continue. Not exactly a well-maintained system.

Now I think I'll do the spell check on this baby that I didn't get to yesterday, due to all the problems attempting to print a simple image.
on Apr 05, 2007
As far as LINUX vs. Windoze, I have to go with my limited experience and the observation that every tech-savy person who I personally know considers Windoze pathetic garbage and vastly perfers LINUX. I note that not only the majority of servers, but also the majority of print service bureaus run on LINUX, at least for the local intranet.

I watched as Windoze wiped out one competitor after another, not because it was better, but via clever and often deceptive marketing to an ignorant market. The Mac OS was and is better. The Amiga OS was a LOT better. OS/2 Warp was a LOT better. NEXT in its day in the late '80's was a LOT better. BeOS was a screaming monster BETTER. And, by most accounts, LINUX is a LOT better.

Well lets start with you are talking to a senior computer technician. About 20 years. I made it to IT manager for a national company. Got that much tech experience? I doubt it. To "me" Linux is garbage! It's one step up from DOS! If I wanted to play with a command line I would have stuck with DOS. And if you make it look like windows, it crawls like a snail! As far as the rest.....I've used and installed too many OS-2 systems. It SUCKS! Which is why "nobody" bothered to write device drivers for it. Just because Linux is free, don't make it better.

If Linux is sooooo great why isn't "everyone" using it? I have Linux (RedHat version). And one day I'll get around to throwing it away! And the rest of the op systems were done away with not through deceptive marketing. But due to the fact that most were cludges at best (can you say Amiga? They lost out through having sh*tty equipment that was too limited). Or complete flops at worst(OS-2 comes to mind).

Note that the OC libary patrons do not have access to much more than the browser. They can run a couple of applications and even save their work to their own disk, etc. However, even doing that brings up all kinds of messages from the system advising that they are not permitted to do it, to which you're supposed to click cancel and continue. Not exactly a well-maintained system.

I explained this before but you obviously missed it. A library is for BOOKS. Computers were an after thought. Most libraries do not have the money to hire a "professional" IT staff. They put those restrictions in to make it easier on the people they "can" afford to hire.

Besides that in this day and age the price of a system is so low that anyone who can't afford one is dumber than snot! I mean COME ON, you can buy a complete baseline Dell system for $359. And you can get systems from ebay for less than $100

My experience yesterday, which led me to write the post, involved attempting to print a large image. When I tried to break it into pieces using Windoze Paint, it eventually choked and lost my work, locking up the entire system in the process. When I tried to crop the picture in Word, it clearly retained the non-cropped area in the document as sent to the printer, as the file was never printed.

A word of advice? MS Paint was NEVER meant to be a powerhouse. It's a VERY basic program meant for basic users. You'd have been better off with Adobe Photoshop. Although Corel could have done it. Here's something else quit complaining about the libraries systems and get off your wallet and buy your own. It's people like you that kept me in business for so long.
on Apr 06, 2007
I'm still wondering what exactly you think is particularly socialist about your local library. It is, after all, a fundamentally socialist ideal to provide educational materials to the general populace, so wouldn't a reduction in universal access be a reduction in socialism?
on Apr 07, 2007
Cactoblasta: Ideals are nice to point to, but socialism is about top-down state power as means to get there, and means determine ends in the real world. At one branch, the Costa Mesa Tech Library, which is an ongoing experiment with about 30 computers and a nice color printer, the staff is very focussed on helping the users get the most out of the system, and various staff members there have essentially echoed many of my own concerns and objections. However, their hands are tied by the power structure.

At other branches, Yuppie Utopia Tustin's being only 2nd to the City of Orange in terms of power-tripping authoritarians, as I've mentioned, the staff knows nothing, cares not a whit, and jumps to impose authority just because they can.

BTW, a nice example of socialism that recently made some news was when one of the Scandinavian countries legislature was about to pass a bill allowing the authorities to listen in or wiretap any and all electronic communications, without any judicial oversight. In response to people objecting on the grounds of basic human rights, the top legislator said, essentially, that the point of the new law was to regularize what had already been going on for the past 6 decades.

Socialists tend to assume that they, or people like themselves, will be in power, and so everything will be nice, because, of course, that's how they would do things. However, power is addictive and once established attracts exactly the last people to whom you would want to give it to.

A capitalist or market library would be in competition with other information providers, and, upon observing a demand among their customers for more computers or computers that could do more things, or facilities for patrons to network and organize interest groups, clubs, etc., using the centralized library facilities, would look for a way to meet that demand and make a profit doing so.

One of the real limitations on the libraries as they stand now is the ability to find the information. The information desk can only do so much. If I were running the libraries, then one of the first things I would have done with the library catalog computers would have been to allow patrons to enter comments, links, reviews, etc., searchable so that people could use the experience of other patrons to help them find the information or the novel they really wanted to read. When a patron checked out a book, the librarian would be instructed to ask them to please leave a comment or review of the material.

In most cases at the present the catalog listings do not provide any kind of review, and there are none of the liks to related material that one would think that any modern library would provide.

A chat room or news group would also be useful. If you are new to a field, then why not post a question about what kinds of library resouces other people have found helpful?
on Apr 08, 2007

A capitalist or market library would be in competition with other information providers, and, upon observing a demand among their customers for more computers or computers that could do more things, or facilities for patrons to network and organize interest groups, clubs, etc., using the centralized library facilities, would look for a way to meet that demand and make a profit doing so.

See that's the whole thing right there.The libraries are "not" in competion with each other. That's why they're called "Public Libraries". They are "neither" capitialist nor socialist. They are not controlled by big brother. And what was said before is still true. They are mostly funded by the communities they are in. You want more computers? Tell the "community" to get off their wallets and help out. Either that or buy your own.

You want to smack about libraries? Go read this first:
on Apr 11, 2007

I wouldn't mind paying a fee for library use. I already am via my taxes. Same for "public" (state) "schooling" (indoctrination).

The local universities offer access for a significant fee of ~$100/year. If it weren't for the parking and long walks to get there on my bad knee, that would be attractive. I pay three times that for my gym access. There's an idea! If I could just combine gym and library, with internet terminals on the standing bicycles - actually available, BTW, at some of the more up-scale gyms. Yeah, that would work.

I use the public libraries because they're cheap and convenient. If a profit-making substitute replaced them, charging up front, then I would likely pay them, just like I pay to use a gaming computer to get on the net if the library isn't available.

The issue is that because of the lack of any real feedback from their market, like all socialist institutions, the libraries are slow to adapt, and very poor in general at anticipating or even meeting their "customers" needs. We're in an information age. Most information is no longer being delivered via print media, and the nature of the information itself is changing radically. If people aren't supporting the libraries, then perhaps there's a good reason. Chicken and egg.

People will be taking courses and attending college level seminars and book readings more and more in virtual settings like Second Life in the future, just like IBM, which is moving its conferences there and has put $50 million into 2nd Life for that purpose, yet even the techies at the Costa Mesa Tech Branch had barely heard of Second Life. Good luck on pursuading the lazy sysop of the OC library system, who turned off the cut and paste in the browsers, to install the software on the libary computers, even though that would possibly be the most farsighted and long-term useful thing he could do for the patrons.
on Apr 11, 2007
use the public libraries because they're cheap and convenient. If a profit-making substitute replaced them, charging up front, then I would likely pay them, just like I pay to use a gaming computer to get on the net if the library isn't available.

The issue is that because of the lack of any real feedback from their market, like all socialist institutions, the libraries are slow to adapt, and very poor in general at anticipating or even meeting their "customers" needs. We're in an information age. Most information is no longer being delivered via print media, and the nature of the information itself is changing radically. If people aren't supporting the libraries, then perhaps there's a good reason. Chicken and egg.

Are you being "deliberatly" obtuse....or is it just me? You refuted your own arguement. And like I insinuated before...I don't think you know all that much about how a network is run or why they are run the way they are. Or did you forget abot this?

Well lets start with you are talking to a senior computer technician. About 20 years. I made it to IT manager for a national company. Got that much tech experience? I doubt it. To "me" Linux is garbage! It's one step up from DOS! If I wanted to play with a command line I would have stuck with DOS. And if you make it look like windows, it crawls like a snail! As far as the rest.....I've used and installed too many OS-2 systems. It SUCKS! Which is why "nobody" bothered to write device drivers for it. Just because Linux is free, don't make it better.
on Apr 12, 2007
Sorry drmiler, sounds like trolling to me. I started with computers on an IBM 360 in 1970 using punch cards, and I was an early adopter with personal computers in the late '70's. I also instigated the Watts Computer Gang Project, out of Sheenway School and Cultural Center and financed by Richard Prior in the late '70's. I consulted with schools on educational computers in the early and mid '80's, and I worked as a free-lance journalist covering cutting-edge digital arts and technology for various magazines in the late '80's up to the mid-'90's and meanwhile I was providing computers to low-income home schoolers and trying to get someone to write a web browser, for which I already had a design, starting about 1985, when the Amiga first appeared.

I well recall watching Harv Laser fire up his A-1200 Amiga, with 7 Megs of RAM and an 040 Motorolla accelerator in about 1993, and jump on line in a few seconds from turning the power on and have seven browser windows running on 56K dial-up with no slowdowns, able to instantly jump back and forth between them, something that no 486 or early Pentium running Windoze could ever do. I also know a number of IT Managers who would tell you in a flash just how far off you are in terms of LINUX.

It is true that LINUX is not for everyone at this point. Installing LINUX can be a bear and a half from what everyone tells me. For that matter, so can a clean install of Windows. Most people buy their machine pre-installed with Windoze or Mac OS/X and never think about it until it's time to upgrade and then they find a techie to do it for them.

For the library system, however, that shouldn't matter. The patrons here are shielded and walled off from the OS anyway. All they can do is run the Browser and Word, and they can't save anything beyond cookies to the system. For them, it really wouldn't make much difference whether Windoze or LINUX or Amiga OS was running. All that does matter is how smoothly and quickly it responds in that limited sandbox setting, and my impression is that LINUX would run a lot faster.

However, that's not the main point I was aiming at. The real point is illustrated by all the ridiculous artificial constraints put on library patrons, and, even worse, although invisable, all the things that patrons should be doing or have the capability to do on the library machines which they can't, simply because the library is still in the 19th Century, which is why it isn't seen by enough people to be important enough to continue its funding.

Q? Which of us is actually out to save and enhance the library? I've got 14K+ hits on this blog article, so far. So, how about it, folks? Is the library more likely to survive and prosper by just sticking to 19th Century information technology, or by embracing the possibilities of the new information technology?
on Apr 13, 2007
so can a clean install of Windows

This is so wrong that I can't even "begin" to get into this. It's "very" obvious that you are a MS Windows hater. While I on the other hand have tried just about all the systems offered over time. But I've had Windows since "Ver 1" through XP and have "never" had a problem on an install that could not be tracked back to a bad piece of hardware (usually high memory address). The only real dissapointment was ME. That one was just garbage. And more to the point in all your rambling about what you've done...I saw NOTHING even remotely current on IT network administration. If you had some, you would know exactly "why" the library systems are set up the way they are.

You more than likely got the hits because of the use of the word "socialism" in the title.