The final post for June

June 30th is here, which means it’s time for the last #blogjune post. Some days it’s been easier than others to come up with a post, but I guess that’s to be expected. I plan to blog a bit more often, but probably not every day. I don’t think I have enough to say to be able to do that.

If I get the chance I’ll try and blog about my experience at the ALIA Biennial 2012 Conference, which is coming up in just over a week. It won’t be a live blog of the sessions that I attend, but will be more likely an end-of-day summary (or possibly end-of-conference, depending on how I feel each evening).

Thanks for reading over the past month, and I hope that you’ve found the blog entertaining.

Lunchtime geocaching

A new cache was recently placed on the campus, and I kept meaning to go and look for it. It’s located near a carpark, so it’s hard to search for the cache without being seen. Well, now that it’s the mid-year break, there are a lot less students around, so today I took the opportunity to find it.

I’d done a bit of reconnaisance of the area, and had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for and where the cache was hidden. I had tried to find it this morning before work, but there were some workmen close to the cache location, so I had to give it a miss. At lunchtime, however, the coast was clear, and I was able to make the find. That takes us to 240 finds, which only leaves us 10 short of 250. Hopefully we can get to this milestone during our trip to Canberra this weekend.

Build the library of your dreams

Google and Lego have teamed up to create Build With Chrome – a site which combines Google Maps with Lego bricks. As the name suggests, it only works with Google’s Chrome browser. Currently the site only has a map of Australia and New Zealand, so we get to have a play before the rest of the world.

The idea behind the site is simple – find a vacant block of land using Google Maps, and build your Lego masterpiece, using up to 1,000 bricks. Once you’re done, you can publish it for everyone to see. In order to publish a Lego creation, you need to either log in to your Google account, or provide an email address and/or date or birth.

Some very creative designs have already been produced – the Parramatta Eels logo at Parramatta Stadium, the Captain Cook water jet in Canberra, and Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

I had a bit of a play around and built a couple of things, and it is a bit of a novelty. It’s not the same, though, as being able to handle and assemble the bricks as you create your own Death Star or Star Destroyer.

A reading program with a difference

Reading programs or book clubs are a common service offered by libraries, especially public libraries. A recent news article discusses a book club with a very exclusive membership and offering rather unique benefits.

As reported on the ABC website, authorities in Brazil have come up with a scheme which rewards prison inmates who read books with a reduction in their sentence. For every book they read and submit an essay on, they will receive four days off their sentence. It’s certainly an interesting approach which aims to help improve prisoners’ lives and prospects once they’re released.

First programming unit finished

I’ve just finished the first unit in the CS101 Computer Science course run by Udacity. I enjoyed the fact that it’s self-paced, and that you get immediate feedback on your answers to the quizzes. It’s taken me longer than a week to finish it, but that doesn’t really matter – I haven’t set myself a deadline to finish the course by.

It’s been fairly easy to understand the concepts. I haven’t done any previous programming or computer science study, and the content is nicely packaged and presented so that you work through it at your own pace, and you can go back and review any of the previous topics at any time.

I’m certainly not planning to make a major career change and move into programming/software development. I guess I’m doing the course to try one of these new online learning systems, and also to increase my understanding of computer science. It’s more for personal development rather than professional development.

One unit down, six to go!

Day with the boys

Our day started with Thomas’ last session of Ready, Steady, Go Kids. He’s done two terms, which means he’s done all 10 sports that they offer. He seems to have enjoyed himself, and has done pretty well at them. We’ve enrolled him in Socca Joeys next, which starts in a couple of weeks. He’s seen a couple of classes and was interested in having a go. The only problem is that he doesn’t understand the concept of “a couple of weeks”, and keeps thinking we’re starting it “tomorrow”.

To celebrate the end of Ready, Steady, Go Kids we went out for a babycino (which Blake was asleep for). After that it was a short walk to a nearby geocache which we hadn’t found, and we found it after having a bit of a walk around the reserve that it’s in. We’re hoping to get to 250 geocache finds on our trip to Canberra this weekend. We seem to have reached our milestones when we’ve been on holidays – our 100th cache was in Port Macquarie and our 200th was in Port Stephens. We’d like to get close to 250 before we go so hopefully we can make it without too much trouble.

These boots are made for walkin’

This morning we all went for a walk to the park and the shops, and Blake walked along for a lot further than we thought he would. It was first time wearing the “monkey backpack” – one of those harnesses that are attached to a backpack that the kid wears. He decided that the hill was too hard, and got a lift from there to the park. It’s great to see him growing up and becoming a bit more independent. He had fun at the park, and enjoys going down the slippery-dip by himself or with his big brother.

On the homeward stretch with #blogjune, I think I’m going to make it to 30 posts.

How now, brown cow

Today we went to the Family Farm Open Day at Hurlstone Agricultural High School. Dad went to school there, and he got an email about the day and let us know about it. The boys had a good time looking at all the animals, although I think Thomas’ favourite was the fake cow which you could “milk”. They were both a bit put off by the noise that one of the calves was making (Thomas decided to leave very quickly), and Blake wasn’t too fond of the pigs. They were pretty big animals, so I guess to a 16-month old sitting in a pram down at their level they would have looked quite scary. We ended the day with a hay ride which they both enjoyed.

They boys do enjoy visiting farms and seeing the animals. My sister has done some house-sitting at a farm, and we’ve visited her while she’s been there a couple of times. We’ve also been to the farm owned by a former work colleague of mine. We’ll try and get to the Castle Hill Show next year, and maybe even take Thomas to the Royal Easter Show.

Are you an average Australian?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has just released the 2011 Census QuickStats. These show the totals and statistics within the categories of People, Families, and Dwellings. I’d thought I’d compare myself to these results to see if I’m an “average” Australian.

The median age of Australians is 37, so in that respect I’m slightly below average (I know that medians and averages are different concepts, but average is what I’m using. It’s only a fun blog post after all). The median age of married people is 50, so in that regard I’m well below average.

English is the most common ancestry (25.9% of Australians), and with one ancestor who came out on the First Fleet and another who arrived on the Third Fleet, I fit into that category. Both my parents were born in Australia, which is the case for 53.7% of Australians.

The workforce data won’t be available until 30th October, but there is some income data available now. My weekly income is higher than the median, so that’s an above average for me.

My dwelling and household all appear to be average. We are a couple with children, which is the most common family type (44.6% of all families). Our dwelling is the most common dwelling type (occupied private dwelling), dwelling structure (separate house), number of bedrooms (3*), tenure (owned with a mortgage), and household composition (family household). When the Census was conducted we had one car (which was the second most common ownership), but we now have two (the most common ownership).

So it looks like I have the characteristics of an “average” Australian. How “average” are you?

* NB at the time of the Census we were using three bedrooms, but we’ve recently moved the boys into one bedroom, so we’re technically down to two.

ALA Annual – ahhh, the memories

This year’s American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference is on in Anaheim, starting tomorrow. Four years ago I was in Anaheim as a presenter as part of the New Members’ Round Table (NMRT) President’s Program. It was a great experience, and it was amazing at how massive everything was. There were over 20,000 delegates and there were sessions in several hotels within a radius of a couple of miles. There were shuttle buses to move people between venues. The exhibition was huge, and you could have spent a whole day just walking through it. I learnt the hard way that you needed to get to sessions early, as the very first session I went to was full by the time I got there. Often there were three or four sessions on at the same time that I wanted to attend, so it was hard to decide what to see.

There was time for fun too, because you can’t go to Anaheim and not go to Disneyland (especially when the theme park is within walking distance). There was also the skill and elegance of the Book Cart Drill Teams. If you get the chance to attend an ALA Annual I’d recommend it.