Monday, 25 July 2011

Cam23 2.0 Week 6, Thing 11: Reflection

What have you learned that's new?

Blogger template change and Twitter display; Lightshot; Pushnote .

What have you enjoyed about '23 things' so far?

The discipline and regularity of getting to grips with at least one new thing a week; the challenge of explaining myself.

Which of the things do you love/hate?

I enjoy the Twitter display on my blog. Like the advanced Twitter search on my homepage, it lets me get a substitute for my Twitter fix at times when I'm too busy to get to Twitter itself.

Which ones will you carry on using?

The Twitter display on my blog carries on happening without further input from me, so I will carry on using it almost literally in my sleep. Lightshot I found useful in explaining a Google wheeze. I learned the basic screenshot trick in the 2010 23things; it was very useful when explaining to geeks in what way I had screwed up some application. My use of it fell off as my inertia and inherently unpictorial nature reasserted themselves. If the same thing happens in my use of Lightshot, which is screenshots + editing, I will have let a very valuable resource go to waste.

Can you incorporate the things you're learning on this programme into your (working) life?

Well, yes. The uses I have described are part of my working life. And I might additionally go back to the instructions for screencasting, which I read but didn't try or blog about, with view to helping users of the Haddon Library blog.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Cam23 2.0: Week 5, thing 10: Pushnote; Extra thing: Dropbox

This post will be nothing like as detailed as my last one, but I have tried Pushnote and Dropbox.

Dropbox I probably won't use, because other sites already fulfil its functions. I use ADrive to store files, Google Docs (thing 9) to let other people work on them, and YouSendIt to share them -- especially when that means sending hi-resolution files of nineteenth-century pictures from the Haddon Library to publishers for reproduction.

Pushnote I have given myself an account for, but I feel awkward already at the thought of using it. Its purpose is to let one express an opinion of a website. I have opinions of websites, yes, and often tweet these, with links, drawing attention to the sites; but Pushnote is to let you comment on sites that your readers can already see for themselves, and it's rare that I'll be able to think of a comment in that situation that won't be self-evident. Also, very few of the names I input into the box on Pushnote's 'Find Friends' page turned out to be followers of the service.

Pushnote has not got much for me to join in with yet. I might come back to it later, if I hear things are otherwise.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Cam23 2.0: Week 4, thing 8: Google calendar: an extra wheeze

Yes, I thought I'd have a bash at Thing 8 rather than the week's Extra Thing ("add library books feed to Google Reader and Google Calendar"). I installed the library widget into my i-Google page & Google calendar last year, and I don't have any adventures to report from its use.

On the other hand, I can pass on some Google Calendar information that not everyone knows: how to establish when an entry was posted to the calendar. Moreover, this gives me a chance to play with that LightShot that I last week made a hash of.

My source for the information was a contributor to Google Forum. What you do is this.

1. Click on the 'Settings' link at the left-hand side of the calendar screen (shown on the left-hand side of this blog an' all). The resulting page will include these options:

2. Click on 'Export calendars'. The click should call up a dialogue box looking something like this:

3. What's being downloaded is the ics file for the calendar, or, in the present example, the ics files of several calendars zipped together. I'm guessing that nobody who's followed me this far will need help with the next steps in opening the files. When you've opened the chosen file, you'll see miles of code looking like this:

The line "BEGIN:VEVENT" marks the start of a new calendar entry, and "END:VEVENT", unsurprisingly, marks the entry's end. What is visible between those lines is the code for the event itself. The line
means that the entry was created on 5 April 2011 at 16:45:02. By my watch it was 17:45, but the 'Z' at the end of the line means that the time is being shown in UTC (GMT).

You never know, you might need this information some day. From that Google Forum page you will see that I was not the first.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

City poems

Here come three poems from 1996. All of them were written for a competition, organised jointly by the Times literary supplement and Poems on the Underground, for poems with an urban theme. They weren't placed in the competition, but they were accepted for publication within the year -- a pattern from which I drew perhaps too much encouragement.


Measuring our wants
straight as itemised phone bills
you can predict that
we go for straight streets also --
they show in red on your screen,

while violet means
streets choked by corners and kinks
and crook frightfulness,
those that are least travelled by
and therefore least travelled by.

It's called space syntax,
and, I've no doubt, yields some mileage;
more than from tracking
a friend's, a sister's random
crisscross of Damascus roads.

ELYShould have been written in dactyls or anapaests,
but here it is at Ely's rubbish tips,
sober trochees of a legend:

London swings, they used to say
(on a gibbet, someone quips);
AUSTRALIA SUCKS, a spraycan cried
(NEW ZEALAND 3, a wag replied);

Jerusalem will come down from heaven,
a bride adorned for her husband; Ely's lips
are pursed, she rises purposively, strides
over the trains, over the river,
years fall away with Bury St Edmunds,
and on the Suffolk coast, at Southwold, ELY CITY SKIPS.

Not the great cloud-gorge that a flying lesson
revealed to two men, and them only, moving;
not the moon's shadow crossing India,
a sight for gods, and millions looked on;
but still a sight -- the A1 in December,
sun-cold, a sky-green-freezing winter day,
we travelled northwards, and we saw the steam
of cooling-towers bunched -- dense golden mounds --
churning themselves intact, and never spreading --
a sight for passengers, a sight, not more,
not metaphor or symbol or instruction,
only the weight of townage, living weight
of townage that requires such clouds and towers
to stand cooling for light and power and warmth;
and, using them, something you'd hardly see.
All of the poems were published in the magazine Orbis: 'City planners' in #121, spring 2002, p. 58; 'Ely' in #106, autumn 1997, p. 59; 'Skyscape' in #106, autumn 1997, p. 14, and again, to my great joy, in #115, winter 1999, being a personal selection by the then editor Mike Shields of poems from the magazine's first 30 years.
For drawing my attention to Ely City Skips, I thank Peter Hocking.