Where I continue to admire the Problem without a complete Solution.

Hi — it’s me again. It’s been a while because I’ve been “stuck” on what I have wanted to populate this space with. I’ve decided on for now as a loud thinking space for problems I am working on at work because writing it out helps.

A problem I run into on a daily basis is knowing what I want to accomplish, the steps to accomplish it but now knowing how to piece it together. This is where I think that fundamental training (have you) in computer science would help. I have all the pieces but I don’t have the glue. Yet. I’m learning what I need to do to solve this but there’s little structure to it, because it’s all in the moment. See also why sometimes the formal education can be helpful.

Current problem I am trying to solve: we send out new hire emails and currently that’s done manually, meaning we receive an email notice with bits of information on a new employee/intern/etc (but not their email because it may or may not have been created at the time the notice was sent). We retain X, Y, Z of that information, put it in an excel spreadsheet and then manually look the person up in our internal directory for their email (if it exists) and drop that into the excel sheet & then do a mail merge on an email template (with a sizable amount of links).

This is a LOAD of work and there is a large back log that exists and to do that manually would be 100% inefficient, expensive & a waste of time.

Current solution I have: Run an ldapsearch query for exchange accounts created equal to or greater than a certain date & are not test/dummy accounts and print the X, Y, and Z variables for all of those accounts. Then convert that data from LDIF to .csv and save to a file on the server, which I can then drop the file into local shared drive (OR send email w/ attached file) where person who does mail merge can then take the csv file and run the mail merge. Goal is to automate the mail merge in the sense of once the file is created, have a job that checks “modified date” when that changes automatically send email and then have a VB Script that can be ran to check for certain emails (this is where instead of email attachment, might be better to have the file in the local drive) or check the local shared drive folder for this file & run the mail merge on it to send the emails.

New problem I have *no* idea how to glue all of this together so it can be executed and ran from a single command. I have the ldapsearch query, I know how to print the output, I have the Perl script to convert the data from LDIF to csv, I know how to email the output file (as an attachment), I don’t have the script all the way together for the mail merge yet because I’d like to focus on and solve the first problem of getting the data because you can forget about the mail merge if you don’t have the data.

Solution? I don’t have one yet.

To say I have no idea how to glue all of this together is not completely accurate. I know I want to write a bash script because I can run all of these pieces from the command line, that was purposeful. I know that I will want to use the python-LDAP API. I know that I can (will?) use perl for the data format conversion. I know that I want to automate the emailing of the output file as a cron job. What I don’t know. Yet. is the syntax of gluing these together so that they run seamlessly from minimal effort on my part (in the end).

Python-LDAP Applications (using the python-LDAP API) [part 1] [part 2] [part 3] [part 4]

Blanket Statements [written in frustration]

I really struggle with blanket statements, statements that imply your frustration of one person apply to a large group, or even not large group of people.

Recently there was a post written on the LITA Blog that discussed stereotypes about men and librarianship and if technology is bringing more skillful men into the field. The post has not been well received, for justified reasons. I too am scratching my head at the topic of choice and lack of research done in the piece.

Something to keep in mind is that saying things that imply your disgust in a blog post applies to every person that writes for that blog is a bit harsh. Implying that the organization as a whole is not worth your time if they let something like this get posted.  There have been several really great pieces written by members of the LITA blog team that have NO association with the current post (http://litablog.org/2015/10/is-technology-bringing-in-more-skillful-male-librarians/). Yes we are a team but we don’t all have the same views, we don’t all agree on the same thing, but we do all write for LITA Blog and we choose our topics. Topics are NOT assigned to us, we have the guideline to write about libraries and information technology.

Yes, I am a LITA Blog writer. Which is why these blanket statements are taken personally because the generalization that the entire blog writing team is bringing shame to the profession is harsh. Maybe instead you should provide productive criticism or comment on the blog post so the author gets to hear directly that the piece ruffled your feathers & why. Instead of making a blanketed statement, and discrediting (whether intended or not) the work and writing of others.

As I write this I’m frustrated, and I think rightfully so, as a LITA Blog writer, I’m not thrilled that a fellow writer wrote what they wrote, but it’s their topic, something they felt they wanted to write about. I do not have to agree with it, but I think I can disagree with it with respect.

I ask, in the defense of the talented team I write with, that you don’t discredit the entire blog based on one post that really pissed you off. We all see this world with a different perspective, remember that and even though I disagree/dislike the view given in this specific post, if I want different ideas to be presented, then I have the opportunity as a LITA Blog writer to do that.

If you want something to change then you must be proactive for its change. Tossing it to the side like it’s not worth your time, what good does that do? Work towards making things better. We have that ability.

A fantastic response to the post being mentioned by Galen Charlton, https://galencharlton.com/blog/2015/10/books-and-articles-thud-so-nicely-a-response-to-a-lazy-post-about-gender-in-library-technology/

LITA Forum, 2014: My Recap

Last week (Nov. 4-8, 2014)  I attended the LITA (Library and Information Technology Association) Forum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This was my first LITA anything that I had been a part of and had no expectations beyond those of myself in networking and learning. There were so many fantastic sessions to choose from it was really difficult to choose and thanks to the incredible use of Twitter, I was able to get snips of what was going on in the sessions I couldn’t attend.

I was volunteering with the 2014 planning committee to help out at the conference and showed up a day early to help with the pre-conference sessions. Can I recommend that if you go to a conference, volunteer. Especially if this is your first time at said conference. It open the doors to a lot of opportunity for me and I was able to meet and do many things I would not have if I wasn’t volunteering. Showing up early turned out to be in my benefit because there wasn’t much for me to do besides monitoring the pre-conference sessions so I took advantage of the time to visit of some local attractions in Old Town Albuquerque, specifically the Natural History Museum of New Mexico.

Having some down time prior to the conference was wonderful and I highly recommend to designate downtime either before or after the conference. My reasoning for this is that the conference becomes more than just sessions and lots of people learning/speaking about for the most part very similar topics. It gives you an opportunity to experience life outside of the conference venue, in this case the hotel.

I used Twitter for a substantial amount of note taking for multiple reasons: Sharing session snips with those who couldn’t make it and so that I could refer to it later easily. I have put any embedded tweets in [ ] as I refer to them throughout my recap.

**My recap includes only a few of the sessions I attended. As I gather my thoughts on the rest of them I will add them in along with more resources.**

Feel free to read them here: 

My primary focus going into the conference was to attend as many sessions on institutional repositories (IRs) that I could, learn how they are being used and what other libraries are using. My current place of employment is actively researching IRs as we are on the cusp of moving from our current option, ContentDM, to something that will better suit our needs. Choosing an IR has become increasingly more challenging as OpenAccess and data, where’s our data & what does it say, are major factors in what you need to and want to accomplish with your IR. How it is used, presented, accessed and managed can change what software you go with.

Goal: Learn what others are doing with their IRs.

Achieved: Margaret Heller’s session on “What Does Your Repository Do?: Understanding and Calculating Impact” showed me how Loyola University Chicago’s IR is being used. [PDF]

Margaret’s presentation was super interesting as it took Loyola’s IR and showed how it was being used. The content in the IR is accessible all over the world and when Loyola looked at the data of their IR it showed countries that they never would have thought would have interest or be accessing the content.

The story of why: limited access to resources at their library/institution or lack of resources on that specific topic.


Having the story beyond the numbers really stuck with me; if done right an IR can serve people you never thought would be accessing your content. [Are the traffic drivers of IRs aligning with the institution’s goal/mission? #litaforum Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

This session more or less reconfirmed the importance of having and IR and the OpenAccess movement.

Resources Gained:

Real-Time readership map from LUC: http://ecommons.luc.edu/readership_map.html#content

Goal: Learn/Discuss an IR in action and resources used.

Achieved: Tommy Keswick’s session on “Using Islandora for Digital Content Delivery” discussed and showed Detroit Public Library using Islandora . [Check out an #Islandora repo from Detroit Public Library. http://t.co/oYgI4up5nF #LITAforum Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

Tommy and I had talked about Islandora a couple of months back at a meet-up in L.A.; prior to my move to New York and prior to my immediate interest in implementing an IR. Islandora is on MPOW’s list of IRs to look at, primary reason our entire site is on Drupal. Islandora is a Drupal, Fedora & Solr developed DAMS (Digital Asset Management System). Why use a DAMS and not just a CMS? A DAMS like Islandora offers standards for metadata, integrity tools and extensibility. A major drawback I have with many IRs is the presentation of the content is never “sock blowing” awesome. No, Islandora isn’t sock blowing but it is definitely a major step closer.

Resources Gained:

Git Repo for Entity Bridge [Cherry Hill devs figured out a way to utilize the flag ability from Drupal with Islandora, Entity Bridge :https://t.co/xGsJejbFpz #litaforum — Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

Solution for Indexing [A solution for tricky indexing create a catch all field(s). Use them to search whole words & to search partial words. #islandora #litaforum — Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

Git Repo for JQuery Zoom [View GitHub repo for JQuery Zoom https://t.co/rwkKHq2Yln #islandora #litaforum — Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

Goal: Be inspired. Achieved: Keynote sessions #1 and #2 (I missed #3 due to flight conflict).

AnnMarie Thomas: Playing to Learn: A Maker’s Perspective. Obviously, her entire keynote was about being a maker. It was by far my favorite point of the entire conference. “It doesn’t feel like work if you’re laughing” so often we get stuck in the “work no play” aspect that we forego opportunities to learn. Her keynote session resonated with me. As a newly dubbed librarian over two departments that are recovering from a stressful reorganization, this session gave me the humph to encourage play at work.

[After being inspired by @amptMN keynote at #litaforum I put out a puzzle this AM & my dept enjoyed the fun. #MAKERS pic.twitter.com/kxb4ludDm4 Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 11, 2014]

Lorcan Dempsey: VP at OCLC. He spoke about Thinking about Technology Differently. “The network reshapes the society and the society reshapes the network.”


infovsknowledge by the GapingVoid

We have a lot of text. A lot of records and what we want to do with it is turn it into a form that is more usable. That will yield more insight, more knowledge.


We want to make a qualitative difference with the quantity of data/information that we have. I enjoyed this keynote because working in libraries and in library systems, surrounded by information and technology. How I think about it and know it’s use and how it ties together is not how someone else may think about it. Lorcan boldly said, and I agree, “Technology is integrated. It isn’t something you pick up and move over. It is implied and incorporated.”

We have moved from caring just about the outcome to caring significantly about the method. We want to know the how not just the what. Libraries are working constantly with learning behaviors and research behaviors, we see software that has been created to manage the data to tell us more than the what.

You can view the entire keynote session here LITA Forum 2014 Lorcan Dempsey [70min]

Goal: Network and meet others. 


Volunteering: My reasons for volunteering were both monetary benefit and personal networking gain. As I mentioned I had never been to a LITA forum before. I had interacted with a handful of other attendees via Twitter but didn’t know anyone in person. Volunteering gave me a ground to start running. I recorded keynote sessions (gave me a front row seat, WIN!), introduced conference sessions and worked with the planning committee and met up and coming committee members.

Game Night: Cards Against Humanities! [You’re missing out. Come join us! #LITAforum pic.twitter.com/EiadiwR4JB Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

OpenRefine Skill-share: The last night of the conference there were networking dinners to sign up for. A couple of us had tweeted interest in playing around with OpenRefine so instead of doing a networking dinner; I took the initiative to do a sign up for playing with OpenRefine. We ended up with a decent response and had some fun. [@cm_harlow @ranti @lorcanD Say what?!  pic.twitter.com/cK5gyif7DM Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

Unfortunately most of our time, due to dodgy wi-fi, was spent getting installs completed. However, most if not all of those who came left with a bit more knowledge of the program than before and we opened a door of possibility for those who hadn’t any clue as to what OpenRefine could do. [and we’re almost up and running. Installs on multiple OS’s takes time. #litaforum pic.twitter.com/U8rolMh55H Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 8, 2014]

Overall the conference was great. I learned a lot and was able to come back to MPOW with a stronger knowledge of IRs and a stronger reasoning behind my recommendations.

Things I learned for next year, always volunteer, have a goal in mind prior to going but be willing to change/adjust that goal as you need, pack snacks, take good notes, and don’t cement yourself to session that does not hold any interest to you.

Other Resources from the Conference:

The title? What we make of it.

While talking about my position and VERY jokingly saying I’m the hot-shot. What I say goes cause I’m kind of a big deal. It was followed up with ‘What is your title?’ The initial thought process was, my title doesn’t really matter really, but actually it does. What we do shouldn’t be dependent on our title but our title should be dependent on what we do.

Titles should be meaningful. Tell the reader what they are about to get right? Do they work the same way in the professional world? I think that was the intention but it really isn’t so and it really is much more than a precursor to what you’re getting into.

More often I hear ‘Your title doesn’t mean anything’ and I disagree, it means something even if it doesn’t amount to much in relation to everything you do and it is up to us to put the meaning behind it. I’m beginning to think that those who say ‘titles don’t mean anything’ believe that their job does not emulate their job title. Many times we have ‘other tasks as assigned’ that can convolute the initial focus of the position. This happens, especially when things get shrunk and other things get stretched thin. I think you know what things I’m talking about.

Mind you, this isn’t always a bad thing. Depending on how you look at it of course. It can be a really great opportunity to hone and expand your skill set. What we do with our skills helps bring meaning to our titles.

My official title: Technical Services and Systems Librarian. Someone looking for help on the library system or technicality help in records would come to me. I know this stuff and I can help them. See my title means something. A title should not however limit you. As with writing a title should introduce an overview of a story and help guide the reader to what they need. If we keep this in mind while we create our jobs our titles will be more worthwhile.

This all stemmed from the desire and need to blog but I couldn’t come up with a blog title.

A leak or an invasion of personal privacy.

**disclaimer: this may not be eloquent because I’m slightly frustrated at the misplaced blame**

There has been a lot of discussion about the nude photos that made they rounds on the internet. The photos that created so much activity sites like 4chan, Reddit and Twitter has explosions of activity they almost crashed. 

It wasn’t a leak, it was a break in, full on robbery. Our choices define our destiny, but this can always be disrupted by other’s choices. Dr. John Armstrong states “Agency is the power that people have to direct their actions. Actions may be observable from the outside such as raking leaves, reading a book, or eating a sandwich, or they may be those which are entirely contained within an agent’s mind such as summoning a memory, focusing one’s attention upon a speaker, or thinking about tomorrow’s trip. All of these actions we can direct, but there are also actions, or perhaps ‘doings’ (to use a weaker term), that can happen without our direction or even against what we would prefer. When either of these circumstances obtain, we can be said to be acting involuntarily.” (Agency in Plato’s Laws, 2006)  

I keep seeing things written about the nude photos like “they shouldn’t have taken them in the first place” or “if they don’t want others to see them they shouldn’t have taken them”. My response to that is: Why? The photos were taken, this isn’t the crime here, the crime is the involuntary sharing of these private photos. 

Some will talk about disrespect, others may say stuff like it’s their own fault for taking the photo, but guess what, it isn’t. That’s like saying, because I bought a nice 60″ TV and left my blinds open for natural light I was BEGGING or DESERVING for it to be stolen. The fault lies in PRIMARILY in the person who decided it would be their right and enjoyment to publicly violate personal privacy. I don’t think there is a single thing wrong with taking a nude photo of yourself. It is in fact the ONLY time that consent is 100%. You are taking the photo of yourself. I’ve taken nude photos of myself; especially when I am feeling particularly awesome about my physique. Yes, I could do this in my underwear, and I have. I see no issue in taking the photo, in fact I see NO issue in sharing the photo, especially if I made the choice to share the photo (say you know like TheHusband cause we like to keep it hot and sexy like that). Again, this isn’t me confessing that I’m sending nude photos of myself to someone, it’s merely me expressing my thought on the matter, so don’t take anything out of context and think “Whitni is sexting or sending nude photos of herself to people!”

What I do, in my personal privacy is my choice. See there is that choice again. I (and I’m sure the celebs) don’t take these photos expecting them to be hacked and distributed. Like your home, we want nice things, we want a clean home and we like to admire our home; we take precautions to protect these things. As with many other things. Guess what, to hack the accounts that means the owners were ALSO taking the precautions to protect their goods. If you didn’t know the word hack means “use a computer to gain unauthorized access to data in a system.” They weren’t lying on the street with a free sign. They weren’t sitting in a cloud storage with a CC license (Creative Commons is a non-profit organization headquartered in Mountain View, California, United States, devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon *legally* and to share). 

I think so many of us are missing the point of this situation and we are essentially saying “You deserved this”. NOBODY deserves what happened, ever. Violation of privacy, zero consent given, and personal information shared with anyone and everyone willing and wanting to see. Are you getting my drift? This isn’t about taking the photo, this is about security. This is about abuse of power and abuse of knowledge. Those who hacked the accounts (abuse of knowledge), could have seen the photos, enjoyed the photos and then left but they didn’t. They chose to flood the internet. 

Our focus should not be on the subjects of the images, our focus should be on are we keeping our valuables secured from malicious hackers who if accessed could try and destroy our lives. Appreciate your goods, but keep them safe.

All I ask is be careful. Don’t be naive, protect yourself. Look at the larger picture before making claims and pointing fingers. STOP JUDGING! Just don’t do it. Taking a nude picture of yourself doesn’t mean you disrespect yourself. It’s risky (and risqué :-P) so again be careful and don’t be naive (showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment). Protect the things you want to keep private.

Learn & use the protocols for strong passwords (http://www.infoworld.com/d/security/creating-strong-passwords-easier-you-think-206865). Understand what cloud storage is, if you plan on using it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_storage). Know your privacy settings on your computer (https://www.privacyrights.org/securing-your-computer-maintain-your-privacy) & on your mobile devices (http://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/home_users/Secure_your_mobile_phone_and_devices)

How unemployment took up all my time

Prior to February of this year I worked full-time as an ILS coordinator at the University of California, Riverside, I went to school full time to get my MLIS with San Jose State University – School of Library and Information Science and I worked part time as a graduate assistant. Between August 2013-Dec 2013 I was a full-time graduate student, full-time employee, part-time employee (20hr/wk) and an intern….yet somehow when I was provided with 40hrs/wk of ‘free’ time, I am busier now than ever. Why?

Because I got involved. I took the moment to grab lunch with friends. I applied myself in every aspect of life (professional development, scholarships, publications, building connections & relationships, exercise, applying to jobs that I wanted to do in places I wanted to live, we eat out less and the laundry is done more often.)

I still go to school full-time (but only really for about 6 more days), I’m now graduated. I work part-time and I train for marathons/half-marathons/5ks. Being unemployed is hard work. I cannot sit around collecting a small paycheck and doing nothing with myself to improve my situation.

I have attended a handful of workshops. When you have the time to look for them you will see that there are local workshops/meet-ups just about every week sometime multiple times a week.

I continue the intensive job search but am fortunate enough to actually have plenty of jobs to apply for.

But most importantly I do not stop learning. I took it to myself to get involved in Treehouse tracks and learn or hone my skills. I started following repos I’m curious about on Github. I freshen up on my language skills (Spanish and American Sign Language) you never know when these can come in handy. I take the time and I work more with committees and groups and volunteer. I got involved and did the things I wanted to do but couldn’t because I didn’t have time.

Unemployment can be stressful, and usually is. However, you can’t change your situation without moving forward. Put your full effort into a job you want. Take the time to reassess your goals (personal and professional) and take a breather and refresh. Spend quality time with family and friends. Have fun, it is good for the mind and the soul.

My first shot at installing Ubuntu (Windows PC_netbook)

So I realized that I am lacking significantly on some of the key tools with server admin >> system admin. Linux/UNIX experience.

I am working with an old (2008) HP mini 5101, Intel Atom N280 .66GHz, 1GB memory, 160GB HD, currently running Windows 7, originally came with XP.

I’m documenting my experience to hopefully provide help/insight to others who decide to venture down the same path with the same level of experience that I have.

I started with this article <http://librarian-dev-ops-intro.readthedocs.org/en/latest/intro.html> shared with me from my Twitter “cry for help”. (Thanks @Kayiwa!)

“It is yes written to install Ubuntu as a virtual machine but it should essentially amount to DL ISO and burn install.” (Exact words from the response to my cry.)

Since I am installing this on a Netbook I first need to DL Ubuntu and then put it on a USB so I can boot it on my netbook (read no CD drive to burn disc from) You can read about how to do this here: Ubuntu documentation installation/From USB stick This article is pretty straight forward so you should not have any issues doing this. **I didn’t follow the document, I kinda just did it my way**

Once you have the ISO on your flashdrive it’s a plug and play & reboot and wait.

This is by far one of the easiest installations I’ve done and I didn’t use more than the URLs in the first article to get myself started. Probably because I really only need the URL for the ISO DL. But I do see myself most likely referring back to it for the Ubuntu Intro.

UPDATE: not as easy as I thought it would be. I thought that it was going to be a very easy install but with my lack of knowledge (surprisingly so) it wasn’t as easy as what I thought it was going to be. I started with writing this: “seriously it was give or take 5 steps to get my netbook running Ubuntu (this is assuming you have a little more than a basic knowledge of DL and installing software)

1. Go here and DL ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop)

2. Open the DL and Copy to USB stick (make sure USB is 2GB)

3. run from USB device on netbook & reboot (it tells to you, you just click yes)

4. Let it run it’s magic and then refer to this link to get you started (http://librarian-dev-ops-intro.readthedocs.org/en/latest/ubuntuintro.html)

On to bigger and better things. ”

Then a couple of hours later I ran into this annoying error that wouldn’t let me actually boot Ubuntu. (see a forum thread here about the error: Forum thread about serious errors….)

It seemed pretty straight forward on install but if you have NEVER installed an OS before either from bare or along side another OS then it’s not entirely straight forward but this will tell you what I did and it worked for me. Keep in mind if you aren’t currently running Ubuntu you need to ignore all the documentation for creating a bootable USB that mentions “Open the dash and search for Startup Disk Creator.” because well you AREN’T using ubuntu yet so you can’t access this.

Do this instead.

1. Install UnetBootin (http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net) you’ll go through the steps to select your drive and install onto the USB.

2. Insert USB into netbook and install Ubuntu (usually accessed by opening USB and double clicking on the .exe file), you’ll need to reboot the comp (it asks you). This is where I ran into all sorts of errors until for some reason or other decided to boot the comp into boot menu where I then was able to run from the USB disc and WALLAH! I got the menu for installing Ubuntu. (documentation on this is slightly confusing & vague or I’m a bone head)

For my first install I decided to install along side windows 7 until I am really sure I won’t ever need it or any of the programs again and then I will perform a whole new install.