My mom the librarian

My mom with Tiffany Craft and Mayor James Craft
My mom with Tiffany Craft and Whitesburg Mayor James Craft

I just wanted to write a pride post about my mom, Lina Tidal. For the last 29 years, my mom worked as a librarian for the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library, in our small hometown of Whitesburg, Kentucky. Today, she was recognized by the Kentucky House of Representatives, the Letcher County Fiscal Court, and was even given the key to the city of Whitesburg!  Continue reading “My mom the librarian”

Bootstrap and the New Twenty Fifteen

Today, I had the opportunity to teach other librarians on how to use the Bootstrap framework. It was a workshop sponsored by the LACUNY Emerging Tech Committee. It was well-received, and I was happy I could discuss what I think is one of the best web development tools out there. Here is the presentation and handout I used.

Ironically, I used Bootstrap for this blog site for a long time, but now I’m experimenting with the new WordPress theme, Twenty Fifteen. It’s as minimalist as Bootstrap and also responsive. That is not to say that Bootstrap isn’t a good framework, but it’s always a good idea to expand your web toolbox!

The Internet’s Own Boy

I’m going to ALA MidWinter in Chicago this week. One of the committees I have volunteered for is the Video Roundtable’s Notable Videos for Adults committee, where we review films to suggest for other libraries. I recently watched this video about Aaron Swartz, called The Internet’s Own Boy. It is highly recommended if you want to learn about the contributions that Swartz had made for the betterment of society. It can be viewed for free on YouTube.

Usability and the Mobile Web

I’ve very happy to announce that my book Usability and the Mobile Web: A LITA Guide, has been pressed by ALA TechSource!

If you are interested in the basics of usability for mobile devices, user-centered design, and some tips on building mobile sites for your library, you can get a copy here or better yet, ask your local library to pick up a copy.

Much thanks goes to Pat Hogan, Angela Gwizdala, and Rob Christopher at ALA for allowing me this opportunity. A very special thanks to Paul Mendelson who copy edited the book.

On data loss

This week I’ve had a couple of data loss stories.

I’m applying for promotion which requires creating a CDR  (believe it or not) containing evidence of all the service, scholarly work, and librarianship work I’ve accomplished over the 8 years. I submitted the CDR, which also contains my teaching portfolio, CV, and self-evaluation for review. I thought it would be a good idea to backup my work.

At my institution, we have a shared network drive for all faculty for backup purposes. As I was copying over my work to this shared drive, my destination partition filled. This stopped the data transfer, and at the same time erased most of my source files. I didn’t discover this for a few days because I usually let file transfers happen in the background as I’m doing other work. I found a backup – although a few months old – that I could reconstruct from. Maybe at the end of the semester I could get a copy from my file, but my department chair doesn’t know if that’s possible.

My other story is a bit more interest. I migrated our library’s website onto an Amazon instance. One of the things I really wanted to change from our server to this new one is updating WordPress from the browser without using FTP. This includes the core, plugins, and themes. This can be done by adding( ‘FS_METHOD’, ‘define’ ); to the wp-config.php which forces a direct IO exchange using PHP.

This also requires messing with permissions using the chmod command on the commandline. As I was changing the subdirectories of a few files, I accidently typed sudo chmod 644 /*

This basically changed the permissions for the whole file structure of the instance. I didn’t catch it until I noticed that I had denied myself permission from much of the OS on the new server. In a frantic effort, I rebooted the instance thinking that this would fix the permissions problems. Instead, this caused a kernal panic and the system couldn’t even boot. It was dead in the water.

After talking to a friend (Thanks Adam!) who has experience working with AWS instances, he suggested I take a snapshot backup of the inaccessible OS. That way, my data could still be accessible. He also suggested to start a similar built instance and try to access the snapshot that way.

Basically we have 2 AWS instances: broken and fixed. Take a snapshot of the broken instance and turn that into a EBS volume. Then, use the fixed instance to access the EBS volume. Detailed instructions on how to access a EBS volume can be found here.

Surprisingly, this worked. I was able to access a file structure whose whole permission scheme had been changed accidentally. I think this is the real power of cloud computing, to generate machines quickly and easy, for data recovery.

Moral of the story: make backups. Sometimes your backups can crash, but if you make consistent backups that won’t be a problem. Also, make multiple backups!

My next project is to install Apache Solr on a micro instance to drive our site’s search engine. Fun!