The Saga of the Self-Checkout

Wow! An actual library post! Doesn't happen as often as it should. Bad me.

Our self-checkout machines are finally working again. They've been down since Sirsi upgraded Workflows in august. This, of course, has ticked us off to no end.

The original self-checkout machines were made by 3M. They were 12 years old, which is seriously out of date, and the law doesn't require parts manufacturers to provide for anything over ten. So we had to ditch the old ones. The nice part about throwing out the old is getting to interview the new.

We interviewed no less than 5 different self-checkout machines. Each one was utterly different from the last and each had their own pros and cons. After much debate, we went with Libramation. This is the model we went with. Pretty spiffy, huh? Though the older of the two sells reps for Libramation wasn't all that nice, the product was enough to speak for itself. It has a built in two language function (we're set to English and Chinese) and the screen placement allows for checkout of materials with strange barcode locations.

After moving in these beauties, we got a high customer satisfaction rate from them. They are essentially stupid-easy to use. Even if you select the wrong language, the graphics are self-explanatory. And I must say that checking out your books in Chinese is much fun.

So on to the Upgrade of Doom.

Upgrades are the most dreaded thing we get from Sirsi. We never know how even the simplest patch will effect the entire system. An upgrade made to fix a glitch in cataloging can screw up everything in the reserves folder. And we won't know until it happens. So here comes an upgrade and low and behold: Everything is working great! The system is loading a few seconds faster, records aren't scrambled, and the system is finally synced properly with the catalog. It was great! An upgrade has never worked so well!

And then we noticed that the brand-spanking new self checkouts were down.

We and Libramation contacted Sirsi about, but didn't expect much movement on our problem. If you want Sirsi to fix or change something, you have suggest it on their forum where everyone else who uses Workflows can say whether or not they think it's a good idea. If everyone thinks it's a good idea, you might see the change in three years. Emphasis on might.

Amazingly enough, Sirsi shot off four patches to attampt to fix the situation almost immediately. (I could say a few things about why this happened, but I'll be nice today.)

None of the patches worked. After months of no news and failed attempts to reboot and sync them, we have the self-checkouts back.

It is now November 30th and the machines are back on-line. Finally. We are calling it our Christmas miracle.


Birthing Cats and Dogs

A Brazilian couple claim that their cat Mimi gave birth to cat/dog hybrids after mating with a local dog. The Passo Fundo University plans to take blood samples to determine if this is true.

Here's a picture of the cat and her... puppies?


The Legend of Bloody Mary

Everyone knows about Bloody Mary. South Park spoofed it a few weeks ago, with Biggy Smalls and the Hell on Earth party.

Here's the legend:
"Bloody" Mary Worth was a slave cathcer in Illinois. She would catch escaped slaves and torture them using witchcraft. She was caught and burned at the stake.

Why this makes no sense:
1. No witches were burned at the stake in the use. We hung our witches (Salem being the most notorious place).
2. Mary Worth was buried in a Catholic cemetery. She wouldn't have been buried in any cemetery at all if she'd committed this sort of crime before the pre-civil war era let alone a Catholic one.

So was "Bloody Mary" just a legend built up like the boogey man?
Dan Moran has an interesting update on the story.



Stem Cells

Few people are aware that embryonic stem cells, the harvesting of which kills children, have zero ability to help anyone in anything according to scientific research. And it isn't for lack of trying.

We have two ethical approaches to stem cells: adult and cord blood. Both of which have been found to advance cures for many diseases.

For example:
British scientists have grown a liver from cord blood stem cells.

Here are links to articles on it.
Daily Mail
Life Site
Catholic Exchange

Notice how the big media outlets aren't reporting it. They won't. Successful research like this doesn't support their claim that only embryonic stem cells will help us.

Be wary. People are trying to fool you into doing something terrible.


Woodland Houses

Low Impact Woodland Homes use the environment around them, natural forms, and very little money to create cozy homes. Many of them look like hobbit houses!

Here's a site with pictures, including construction pictures.
Here's another site with a similar project.

The low impact homes are part of the green building initiative for sustainable living. There different levels, or classifications of green building (Platinum, Gold, Silver, etc.). Several of the buildings on the University Park Campus of Penn State are green or green committed, such as the Stuckeman Building.

The idea behind these buildings and homes is to bring the outside indoors and the indoors out. You use as much as you can from the immediate environment to support local businesses. You recycle all the materials you possibly can and use environment safe equipment. The Stuckeman Building, for example, used recycled tires for the patch carpetting. Why patch? So when a square wears out, you only have to replace the square and not the whole carpet.


Faking It

The photo, people. Get your minds out of the gutter.

Here's a post-Halloween post.

Jenny Chisney is an Information Designer with Kodak. On the A Thousand Words blog, she teaches us how to fake a paranormal photo.

Spook your relatives with some after Halloween delight!