This is a public service announcement! I have been getting queries about our library’s website that I am kind of tired of… tactics used by SEO trolls to get links.

Usually you can smell a V1a9ra-style spam email from a mile away, and taken as an aggregate I realize that the techniques below do look pretty obviously spammy.

The problem is they are rather isolated. And we are too nice! Librarians approach online reference interactions trying to be helpful and positive, so it doesn’t always occur to us to be suspicious if it looks on the surface like someone is just trying to help us out by sharing information. Even if we don’t understand everyone’s motivations for contacting us, we try to take them at their word. But look a little further… at the about page and the domain and the sites they link to, Google the phrases they use, and their whole house of cards crumbles. Also, what is their motivation, why in the world did someone take the time to develop a Thomas Hardy information page? Just for fun, to be referency?

Who are these people? I am guessing they are low paid freelancers working for giant Internet marketing firms with connections to the for-profit distance learning industry. (If this is all tl;dr, just scroll down to the last link on this post.)

For me, this whole biz is creating some urgency for me to do something about our old-school link directory. Just be aware if you get a request like this: ignore it, mark as spam, and do not link to them. Read more…

Todd and I have been living together for four years this summer. For a long time our method of settling up joint expenses was a magnetic notepad on the fridge with a pencil in a clippy magnet right underneath. We’d come home from dinner or the store and whoever paid (Did you pay? Did you give me cash? I forget! Is there a receipt?!) would write it down on the pad.

It was not ideal… mostly because I would always forget to write stuff down. And then I would get yelled at (gently of course) about that and feel guilt and hatred for bookkeeping. There is also the issue of recurring monthly expenses (cable, phone, newspaper, Netflix, YMCA) and forgetting to write those down. We would then tally everything up at the end of each month or, more likely, every two and a half months. This went on for three and a half years and I have the stack of cryptically-acronymed notepad pages to prove it.

We’ve reached a point in our relationship where we both now have smartphones with always-on 3G connections; this was not always the case, and up ’til now that made a technological solution more trouble than it was worth.

But now I bring you:

(Click to use this template)

Read more…

This might be the first in a series of posts. I’m not sure if it’s one of those things that is only interesting to me and my nineties teen nostalgia. Even so it might be of some anthropological use? Some day. These tapes are also a memory aid for recalling hilarious and awkward stories of the time.

This is a mixtape I made in preparation for my first big trip… a tour of France starting in Nice and ending in Paris. Two weeks, two school groups, two good friends. No parents. The summer between junior and senior year; the summer France hosted and won the World Cup. Read more…

At the end of sushi dinner, with Todd:

“You’re a bit hoarder. You have all this music, and all these games you’ve never played.”

“I can’t help it! It’s how I GREW UP.”

My name is Lauren and I’m a bit hoarder. I hoard digital music. (Also, apps and games that go on sale, but that might be the subject for another post.) The way I justified my behavior to Todd this evening is that when I was finishing sophomore year in college, I had a university-issued PC full of Audiogalaxy– and Epitonic-obtained mp3s and nowhere to transfer them. This was before CD burning drives, kids! There was some website I signed up for, I forget what it was called. It gave me a few mb of storage for free, something pitiful, and I selected the choicest and rarest of low-quality files to upload and then download to my next machine. I also might have put some on a zip drive. Olde-tyme rock and roll.

iTunes stars

I probably still have these files. I still have everything I have ever downloaded and ripped! I’ll be honest: some of the digital stuff I have accumulated over the years has never been listened to. It exists so that I could send my physical media into permanent storage. It exists to make me feel complete, like a serious music collector, an historian of obscure random ’60s, early ’80s, late ’90s rarities. Also that eMusic subscription that I had to justify every month with fresh downloads, or lose my ten bucks. So maybe if some of these weird cuts ever came up on shuffle I would “next song” repeatedly. WHAT OF IT. They are not taking over my living room floor or anything. Why throw away perfectly good music files?

Enough about digital hoarding — that’s not what this post is about! This post is about everyday uses of technology to make our lives better and more manageable. And what I want to tell you about is stars, baby. iTunes STARS. Read more…

I like to cook. I feel the need to organize files so much it’s almost pathological (hence, the MLIS). I have terrible handwriting. And I love my iPad. So I thought I’d share the way I’m doin’ recipes now since it really has improved my life a lot, and I can’t imagine cooking without it now.

Simplenote tagsSimplenote is an iOS app that also has a web interface. You log in with your email address. It is a very simple, minimalist even, text editor/file manager. It lets you add tags to each of your files as a means of organizing them (no folders).  I only use it for recipes.  I guess I could use it for other types of files, but I actually keep most of my writing/text apps separate in terms of their purpose in my life.

I tend to tag recipes according to use (dessert, vegetarian, Thanksgiving) awesomeness (★ means it was a big hit and I need to make it again) and source (Cook’s Illustrated, Mark Bittman, Martha in the NYTimes, Giada, Everyday Food, etc.) Because sometimes I tend to remember the source if not where or how I heard about it or what it even was (“Bittman was talking about some amazing new uses for sherry vinegar… oh where was that oh god.”)

Simplenote screenshot

Files get added by clicking the “+” sign. Copy and paste from the website’s printable version to get the cleanest version of the text. I have even resorted to typing recipes in here from books, but only the BEST ones, and only in my own indecipherable typing shorthand.

Read more…