Author Archive

Next level of gaming

I figure we could all use a post on the lighter side of things for the moment.

For those who don’t know, Nintendo is working on the next version of DS which will have 3D capabilities without the need of glasses.

Videos have been slowly leaked onto the web over the past week but this one completely blew me away.

As an advocate for video games, I am often asked if there are actual benefits to playing them.  I think will start pointing them to this video as a perfect example of how games can help enhance perspective and spatial reasoning.

And incidentally, yes, I have technolust at this very moment… oh, and a birthday coming up :::cough::::

Tyler

-Update-

As posted in the comments section by WC, it looks like this is simply a 3D game created for the regular DS (but not available in the US).  Props to WC for picking this up and pointing is out.

I’m gonna keep the post up though as it still does show us a taste of what 3D gaming could hold and definitely emphasizes the educational aspects of gaming.  That, and it still whets my technolust palate.

March 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm 5 comments

Missing Mayors and Freeholders in our Libraries

This is less of a post and more of a request for comments.

I’m just curious how many of us have seen their mayors in the library recently?  How many librarians have seen any state/city official in their library over the past year or so?

Is he/she a regular user? 

For that matter, do you think he/she is aware of libraries increase of patrons, circulation and services?

Personally, I’ve generally thought that most city officials do not use their libraries ( I would love to be wrong about this).

A few years back, when I worked in Trenton and we were experiencing the first wave of a budget crunch, employees joked that they had not seen their Mayor at the library in years.  While we felt he talked about libraries in a positive light we were not sure if he actually knew what problems and condition his city’s libraries were in.

That said, I am happy to say that I now work in a library where we do see our Mayor.  In fact, we see several of the administration and township employees on a regular basis.  They are enthusiastic, supportive users and it clearly shows.

I would love to hear how other people view their elected officials and they feel their library is supported.  Remember, you can always comment anonymously ;-)

Posted by Tyler Rousseau

March 12, 2010 at 9:56 am 9 comments

Ten TED Things to Think About

Posted by Tyler Rousseau

Sorry, I love a good alliteration.

I came across this article on my traditional morning tech-news search and thought it was a pretty decent article.  Originally posted at CNN, Richard Galant presents 10 ideas from TED2010 that he feels are worth special note.

Overall, I think he is right on the money with most of these choices, which have a somewhat humanistic tone to them.

-Money can’t buy happiness but it can relieve stress.

-You are what you eat.

-Many children die needless because we choose not to fund programs and distribute the monies poorly.

-People will spend what it takes to believe in a placebo.

-A ukulele is good for any occasion… especially when stopping a war.

I think what I liked about the choices are that they can easily promote discussion and even a little outcry.  Anyway, take a look and let me know what you think.

February 12, 2010 at 11:10 am 3 comments

Growin’ a Mo to raise awareness



The Movember Foundation is a charitable organization that began in Australia in 2004 and has since gone worldwide.  The primary focus is to create funds for cancer research with a focus on prostate and testicular cancer.
Participants do this by shaving their face clean on the last day of November and then grow a Mo’ (i.e. mustache) over the month of November.  I did this last year and it was pretty fun, if not slightly itchy.  Once again, I am asking for your help.
In the short time of its existence the Movember Foundation has raised over $29 million dollars in order to help find treatments for victims of cancer.
As an added incentive, whoever is the most charitable (i.e. sponsors the most amount of money), I will let him/her/them pick the style of mustache I grow over the month!  Last year, my former house mate, Mary Ellen, graciously donated a crazy amount of money to make sure I grew a handlebar mo’ … the result was truly frightening.
I also set up a day-by-day photo diary so that we can all share a little laugh as I grow my Mo from a strange straggle of stubble into the marvelous glory that is a mustache.
Many of us already know what it is like to have lost a loved one to cancer.  Some of us may be experiencing this now.  I, myself, had a pretty good scare earlier in the year.
I ask you to think of those who battle this illness, lost or survived their fights and please help me in fighting by donating whatever you can give.
Tyler Rousseau (registration #11554)

November 1, 2009 at 1:48 pm 1 comment

At what point do we stop investing in a format?

By Tyler Rousseau

My wife and I just bought an HDTV as a spoil-ourselves gift for our five year anniversary.  Of course, being a type-A compulsive who needs to take things about one step further than necessary, I started looking for ways to extend our viewing pleasures.

While a Blu-ray player would seem to be the next logical step for most, I was a little wary.

I decided to head to the local electronics store and ask their opinions on the matter.

The employee recommended I buy the PS3, which comes with a Blu-ray.  When I asked for any other suggestions, he was ‘hesitant.”  While he clarified that there was nothing wrong with Blue-ray players (quality of video and sound was definitely superior to other options) he wasn’t positive that this format was the way to go when upgrading your media.

It was an interesting lecture (I hesitate to call it a conversation). Since his answer took well over 10 minutes, I am just going to try to highlight his argument in bullet points.

  • If Blu-ray were to take off it probably would have done so by now. It took audio CDs less than ten years to overtake audio cassettes. One of Samsung’s Executives made a statement that he thinks Blu-ray will be gone in another five years.  Not a very optimistic outlook.
  • Netflix has taken off in a seriously big way and that is not really a good thing for DVDs or Blu-rays.  It means people may be watching Blue-rays but they are actually buying less.  In fact current economic conditions have led more people to renting nowadays.
  • On the topic of increasing rentals, Redbox isn’t helping the situation.
  • Blu-ray is already in a new format war…
  • Downloadable movies are looking more and more like the next big format.  Whether through your cable provider or the Internet, the instant gratification of streaming movies, in HD no less, is a tough thing to compete against for the casual viewer.
  • While not quite ready, many TV manufacturers are looking to include wi-fi connections to their products.
  • There was one other point; something about not having to buy things, possessions being fleeting and sticking it to the man or whatever, but I’ll just skip over that one.

While this did nothing in terms of getting a sale from me it was definitely food for thought.

The lecture got me thinking about the difficulties of introducing new medias into a library collection.  It then got me thinking about old collections; more specifically, when to stop funding the collection.

Obviously, changes in formats are nothing new.  Even in the relatively short time I have been in the profession, I’ve seen libraries stop buying audio-cassettes, CD-Roms and videotapes.  More so, I’ve seen them stop purchasing the paper copies of publications in order to invest in the cheaper online versions.

And while I definitely applaud libraries who have decided to invest in Blu-rays I do wonder about how long this media has.  While 5 years seems a little short to me, I would not be surprised to see it obsolete within 10.

By all means, let me hear it; at what point do we back out from a format?

By Tyler Rousseau

September 30, 2009 at 12:00 am 4 comments

What do we do when wi-fi booms?

We’ve been able to use free computers and Internet as a selling point for library services over the past few years. It has led to an increase in patron visits for most libraries and continues to be a major service provided for many patrons. Overall, the only major problem patrons have with Internet usage in libraries is the ability to customize the computer to their liking (i.e. download/update software, files, etc.). 

Wi-fi is a nice addition as it allows patrons more access to more content and the ability to download software without having to worry about the library policies and security settings. Considering the latest drop in laptop prices and the rise of the netbook, wi-fi is becoming a major sell for many of our patrons.

But what happens when wi-fi becomes commonplace?

The affordability of laptops and other wi-fi enabled devices becomes more negligible each day. Just this past weekend the Trenton-area circulars advertised laptops for under $200. Wi-fi cellphones may still cost a bit right now but two years down the road, when it’s time to re-sign your cellphone contract and get the free upgrade, don’t be surprised is wi-fi is standard or available on the lower end models. Even personal gaming systems have wi-fi capabilities; no upgrades required.

The point is, the ability to access wi-fi is already here, the thing holding it back is where to find free wi-fi… and that is quickly growing.

This past week, my family and I took a vacation to Deep Gap, North Carolina. Don’t feel bad if the name doesn’t ring a bell, its major selling point is that it is in the middle of nowhere and hard to find. That said, the recreation center had free wi-fi for all visitors and residents. The Burger King we stopped into to let the girls burn some energy on the playground also had free wi-fi for all its customers. As a matter of fact, we probably had more difficulty getting a good cellphone signal than we did finding a wi-fi signal (this was certainly the case in the Blue Ridge Mountains).

Many companies, social organizations and eateries are finding out what most libraries know; free wi-fi brings in more people and that means more sales. Going to Google and typing in “Free wi-fi New Jersey” pulls up several sites dedicated to finding free signals. Some of the sites even catagorize the signals by establishment (restaurant, hotel, spas).

I’m happy to say that libraries still seem to be the leader of free wi-fi areas for most of these sites.

July 30, 2009 at 8:18 pm 6 comments

But doesn’t that mean the teens will start coming in?

An Ethics professor once told me the best way to test our bias and prejudice is by replacing your intended subject with a different one. Her particular argument was against the use of generalized statements but it fits this situation just as well. Replace the word ‘teen’ (but make sure to keep ‘the’) in the title with another age group, race or religion, political belief, etc.
Try to say it aloud or, better yet, walk up to someone and say it to them.
Did it feel weird?
So, why was it okay to say about ‘the teens?’
The title of this post almost reads like a joke and, in fact, I did get a few good laughs when I repeated it.
But it wasn’t a joke…
It was something a librarian asked me at the NJLA Conference… right after stating how wonderful a gaming program would be for the children and seniors of her community.
The question took me a bit by surprise, I guess I thought most libraries had gotten over this hump. I thought, in a time when we fight to justify our relevance and existence, we would strive for as many patrons as possible. Then I thought of the question I should have responded with;
 
“Well, if you don’t want them to come in as teens, when do you want them to come back?”
 
I wonder how the desired life-cycle of this library’s patrons is supposed to happen. They start their life as a child full of wonder and excitement, eyes gleaming at the expansive collection of books with silly pictures of cats, dogs, bunnies and ducks (my daughter’s personal favorite). The child returns to the library in order to nurture their love of reading and, perhaps, even help another child learn their own first word. The children are always welcome to return and grow their love of books…
until they develop an opinion and interest in a social life.
At this point, The Teenage Years (or The Rebel Era if you prefer), the still-child is cast out into the lands. He/she will learn to fend for themselves in the jungles of peer pressures, learn how to find weaker prey and attack with stunning emotional-precision and develop new languages built around four-letter words and the slang of 30 years ago. Think Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
But eventually, these teens will persevere. They will develop the skills needed to make it in the adult world. They will move on to attain college degrees, grow more children and learn how to live and respect the social expectations of ‘decent society.’
At this time, they may return… and please bring their children!

May 20, 2009 at 10:06 am

You Never Know Who Your Patrons Were

We all have that patron… just slightly off psychotic, generally unkempt, possibly drunk and has a seemingly delusional story of grandeur. You know, the one who:
- Continually asks for books on advanced theoretical mathematics to disprove some Ivy League professor’s latest theory but has yet to figure out the equation “water + soap + body = less stinky”
- Claims they were once mayor of a town, possibly the one you work in, but was then run out by some unethical person of minority (take your pick and probably use the derogatory term for the chosen minority member)
- Plays chess in your library every single day and talks about how they once bested Bobby Fisher in a competition in Central Park
- Claims to be a former director of some popular videos, friends with former celebrities yet can’t seem to enter the library without making an enemy
And despite that little voice in the back of our heads saying “yeah right” we, as good public servants, listen to their story and smile, allowing them a chance to bask in memories that are, in all likelihood, probably false.
But what if, one day, that music-producer patron asks for help scanning pictures and it turns out his story isn’t complete BS?
This happened to me about a month ago.
One of our patrons, who I would love to but cannot name, comes in every single day and tells us stories of how he produced, directed or worked on videos for “many famous and successful bands.” He has always been very keen on name-dropping celebrities he used ‘hang out and party’ with. And every day, the staff smiled, nodded our heads at the appropriate times while taking very shallow breaths in order to help lighten the strength of his rather strong body odor and stale booze aroma.
So when this patron asked me to help them make a Myspace page of his former work, I took the challenge basically because I thought it would be neat to see just where the truth lies in his stories.
Imagine my surprise when he walked in with an entire photo album and film negatives of him with Jimmy Page, Gene Simmons, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Jon Bon Jovi, George Bush Sr., Hank Williams, Loverboy and Motley Crue.
How to respond? Well, I just started laughing and couldn’t stop. Each picture, musician, actor, political figure brought on another chuckle. It all seemed wholly unbelievable even though the pictures we arguably authentic. In fact, I laughed until the patron finally turned to me and said, in all seriousness, “What?! You thought I was always a drunk?!”
And then it hit me.
I thought of who my friends were in high school and then of who they are now, 15 years later. I watched a heavy drinker build his own Web-development company. I also watched one of my smartest friends trade all his potential for alcohol and pills. My best friend, who swore that children were ‘the most annoying thing on the planet’ kiss his baby on the head, tear up and say “This is awesome, I can’t believe I ever felt differently.”
And then I thought of myself and how life is most certainly different from what I thought it would be ten years ago.
Is it really all that crazy to think that we may have a former music and film director in our library? Is it unlikely that, surrounded by all the other influences that stem around the rock and roll lifestyle, that he might have succumbed to it and that today is the result of such vices?
How little we really know about the people we see day to day. How we only know who they are now, not who they were or who they will become.
Anyone else have a story they want to share?

January 14, 2009 at 3:18 pm 5 comments

Growing a Mo and you get to choose!

Haven’t you also wondered what I would look like with an early 1900s mustache complete with connecting muttonchops?
How would you like to see me grow a tex-mex so hairy that little children fear there is a caterpillar on my lip?
The Movember Foundation is a charitable organization that began in Australia in 2004.  Its primary focus was to create funds for cancer research with a focus on prostate cander.  Over the past four years, the novelty has spread to England, Ireland, Spain, Canada and into the good ol’ U.S. of A.  In just a short time, the Movember Foundation has raised over $29 million dollars in order to help find treatments for victims of prostate cancer.
All this money just by growing mustaches!
I am asking for your help as join the cause and risk strange looks in public, potentially painful ingrown nose hairs and possibly even rejection from my spouse and children as I try to smooch them with a lip-rug.  Please consider donating whatever you can (yes, it is tax deductable). 
As an added incentive, whoever is the most charitable (i.e. sponsors the most amount of money), I will let him/her/them pick the style of mustache I grow over the month!  That public humiliation thing could be a distinct possibility now.
During the month, I will also be setting up a day-by-day photo diary so that we can all share a little laugh as I grow my Mo from a strange straggle of stubble into the marvelous glory that is a mustache.
Many of us already know what it is like to have lost a loved one to cancer.  I ask you to think of those who battle this illness, lost or survived their fights and please help me in fighting by donating whatever you can give.
Tyler Rousseau (registration #1335611)

October 16, 2008 at 6:56 pm 3 comments

Obama looks towards gamers for votes

It seems that one of the presidential candidates is taking note of just how large and active the gaming community can be during the electoral season.
Barack Obama has recently purchased ads within Burnout Paradise (XBox Live version) to have his face and campaign message appear on billboards as players race by. These billboards have been purchased for display in the 10 battle ground states.

The big question I have is whether the decision to purchase such a unique advertising space was influenced by the recent PEW report, “Teens, video games, and civics” which seems to show that avid gamers and Internet users tend to have an increased interest in civics. While the report itself is directed to the 12-17 year old demographic, I imagine there is a certain correlation with older gamers and Internet users as well.
As odd as this sounds, this news made my day in so many ways. It legitimizes video games as an important media that can be used for more than entertainment.
The real question is what happens from this point on for game developers? Are gaming companies going to be viewed as liberal or conservative (think in terms of an anti-abortion ad in a video game and which companies may or may not put it in their game). Not to mention, will they have to conform to TV advertising standards (no alcohol commercials until a certain time or rating).
Certainly, there is a potential can of worms being opened for game development and hosting companies but, at the moment, I’ll let it be. I’m just thrilled that gaming (aka the third media) has been recognized by a candidate as a medium for messages.

October 15, 2008 at 9:48 am

Older Posts


Creative Commons

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed on this blog are those of the authors and are not intended to reflect the views of our employers.

A Note on the history of posts

Please note that all Library Garden posts dated earlier than September 13,2009 originally appeared on our Blogger site. These posts have been imported to this site as a convenience when searching the entire site for content.

If you are interested in seeing the original post, with formatting and comments in tact, please bring up the original post at our old Blogger site.

Thanks for reading Library Garden!

wordpress
visitors

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37 other followers