Soapbox

22 February 2009

Fit for work?

Filed under: Moans — malwen @ 9:06 am

As I get older, I feel more than ever the importance of physical exercise. I know that I ought to do two twenty-minute sessions evey day but all I manage is two longer sessions twice most weeks and a brisk ten minute walk most workday lunchtimes. I could try to get up earlier and go for a jog or walk before setting off for work, but I can’t get through the working day if too tired. I could give up my evening classes and abandon domestic duties more than I do now to fit in more exercise in the evenings, or could give up some socialising at weekends to make space. However, being fitter yet having no¬† time for anything out of work other than keeping the home running strikes me a depressing.

I think the answer must be making more time during the working day for exercise. I certainly feel that I work better in the afternoons when I have had a good, if short, walk than the days when I can’t walk. I was on a course not long ago that presented all sorts of evidence to support the ideas that taking breaks from work for exercise and for meditation boosted productivity sufficiently that it made up for time ‘lost’.

Sadly, my employer does not see it that way, and I think I am stuck with the present situation until I retire and can control my own time during the day. I hope that before long most employers encourage staff to take breaks during the day to promote physical and mental well-being.

7 February 2009

Captions at an exhibition

Filed under: Moans — Tags: , — malwen @ 6:25 pm

Today I am complaining about two captions that bothered me. I very much enjoyed the exhibitions, but two problems are worth a short moan.
In one of the problem captions, one the beliefs of Christianity was presented in the past tense, implying no-one believes it any more.
In another, I was told by the caption what mood I felt on looking at the painting concerned. It was wrong. I think it is wrong to tell the viewer what they are meant to feel, and is undoubtedly wrong to tell them what they do feel, when looking at a work of art.

5 February 2009

Plastic bags left at the door to be filled

Filed under: Moans — malwen @ 6:32 pm

Where I live, we often get large plastic bags from charities (and possibly other organisations trying to look like them) with a request to fill and leave out for collection. Almost invariably, I have nothing I want to put in so I leave the bag outside to be collected and reused. No-one has ever taken an unfilled bag away to re-use, which seems very wasteful.

While one unused bag or more lies on the step, others are still delivered, sometimes from the same organisation.

My sympathy has been eroded away. I am fed up with them and have resolved that I shall now leave the unused bag for a few days so they can recycle if they will. Then I will use it myself for cat litter disposal.

1 February 2009

Presenting conference proceedings in electronic format

Filed under: Moans — Tags: , , , — malwen @ 9:51 am

In my work, I often have to deal with conference proceedings provided on CD. I need to look through the contents, work out which papers are suitable for inclusion in our bibliographic database, and then read those papers. Some providers make this easy but many put obstacles in the way.

For a start, there is no consistency over the way the contents of the CD is presented. Most convenient, I find, is where the contents is as HTML with hyperlinks to the individual papers, or as a PDF file of just the contents, with hyperlinks to individual papers. It is best if those individual papers are each a single PDF file, or possibly a page of HTML, but this is rarely seen so I don’t have much experience with that format.

Often, the whole proceedings comes as one huge PDF file. This means that some computers really struggle to open the file, and some never manage it. Scrolling through any one paper gets tricky because it makes up such a tiny part of the whole file. I know why it is done like this, at least in some instances. Authors and other scholars like to be able to quote references in the traditional way, giving the range of page numbers for a particular paper, so the publisher produces the file on CD as if it was for a printed book. Indeed, in some cases it goes out as real hard copy as well as in electronic format.

Some publishers of conferences use proprietary software to present the proceedings. This is very unfortunate. To use it, one has to install software on the computer, which probably means it has to be a PC rather than any other flavour of computer, and one where one is allowed to install things. In a work situation, this can mean going off to the IT department for permission.

The worst case I have yet had to deal with involve proprietary software presentations. In one instance, each paper was presented in small sections, each displaying in a relatively small window within the frame shown on my screen. Thus one had to keep fiddling with the navigation controls while working on the paper to produce the database record. Printing out a copy of a paper for a researcher was only feasible by making a series of screen copies – this may have been a deliberate move against copying.

It would be so good if some suitable format could be agreed and adopted. I am in touch with the leader of Council at my professional body, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, in hopes that the institute can have more effect on publishers than I can alone.

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