Friday, April 28, 2006

Search the library from here

I've butchered some forms from Talis Ltd's Silkworm Directory to search your library from the blog. The search forms are in the sidebar on the right, and there's one for each library service we cover (Bolton, Trafford and Wigan, which you knew already).

I've kept ISBN, title, author's last name and author's first name in the forms, because I think they're the most useful options. Having had a lecture at Library School about the general uselessness of ISBNs to non-librarians (I disagree - it's a unique identifier and it's something bookshops are likely to ask you for as well) I'm open to heated debate on the issue of searching libraries.

Search the Oxford English Dictionary from here

I've added an OED search box at the bottom of the blog, with code that comes from the nice folk at OED Customer Service. Scroll down, type your word in, and find a definition from one of the most authoritative dictionaries available.

A word of warning - it will only work if you're in a library with a subscription. If you're in one of Bolton, Trafford or Wigan's libraries, you'll be fine; but not if you're at home or work.

Of course, you can still access the OED using your library card number via Signpost's list of online dictionaries, no matter where you (and your computer) are.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Telly addicts

No, this post is not an homage to Noel Edmonds, currently of Deal or No Deal "fame": it's about a catalogue of the BBC's programmes going back to the 1930s.

The BBC Programme Catalogue, which I learned about via the Guardian Technology blog, indexes the Beeb's radio and TV shows. It doesn't quite cover everything (yet), nor does it offer downloads of programmes, but it does what it does very well.

You can search for people, programmes and series titles, among other options. Searching for people seems especially useful, as your results will show you what programmes people appeared in, when they were broadcast, and usually a brief description of the programme.

There are some errors, which the BBC site makes clear from the off, but it's worth a try if you're trying to track down details on half-remembered BBC shows. There are plenty of really nice touches - subject category clouds, lists of people your search target appears with (if your target is a person), as well as some feeds for updates.

Noel Gallagher as a search term gets some typical results - 134 broadcast appearances between 1994 and 2006, pop music as the most common/relevant category, but he's got a questionable "often appears with" list of Robbie Williams, Cherie Blair, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Liam Gallagher. Blimey!

You'll find a permanent link to the BBC Programme Catalogue in the Television and TV listings section of Signpost.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Keeping tabs on aging celebs

I found a link to the aptly-named http://www.whosaliveandwhosdead.com/ on the brilliant Phil Bradley's blog.

This site answers those questions we all have about famous folk who are, let's face it, getting on a bit. People's birth (and death, where appropriate) dates are listed in helpful categories. I looked up Creedence Clearwater Revival under the Musical Performers category and, whaddayaknow, bassist/drummer Stu Cook is 61 today. Happy birthday Stu!

Who's alive and who's dead is far less morbid than you might expect. Remember to look for it on Signpost's Useful sites list next time you're having one of those "but I thought s/he was dead..." arguments. Or is it just me?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Graphic novels

Bolton Central Library's Graphic novel reading circle will be meeting tomorrow (Saturday April 22nd) at 3.30 - 4.30pm. I aim to be there, having missed the first couple of meetings.

If graphic novels are your thing, give it a try.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Conversion, conversion, conversion

I stumbled across http://www.asknumbers.com/ when reading the oh-so-useful Internet Resources Newsletter the other day, and I felt the need to share it.

It lets you convert things from one unit to another - pounds to kilos, miles to kilometres, UK to US shoe size - which is very useful if, like me, you have no idea what all of this stones/pounds/ounces stuff is about. Similarly, if you think kilos are krazy (it actually hurt to type that, would you believe), you might find it handy.

Access it through Signpost's Useful sites list and look at the other stuff we're spreading the word about.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Clone Wars (DVD) review

It's Star Wars, only in cartoon form and better than that "new" trilogy nonsense. No Jar Jar, no whiny brats, plenty of cool Jedi action.

Check it out at Bolton or Trafford.

Update:
I thought I should flesh this out a bit, since the original post was added rather hastily.

Clone Wars was originally broadcast as a daily series of 20-odd five-minute shorts on Toonami. When you take out the credits and adverts from each episode, that's more like three minutes each. The best thing by far about this format is that your three minutes have to be action-packed.

The DVD edits all of these shorts together into a feature-length whole. It's quite fast-paced, which is a legacy from the broadcast format. The stylised visuals complement the pace really well - there's always something going on and it always looks impressive. The sound effects we know and love - light sabres, blasters, general space noises - are all present, along with the John Williams theme tune.

Clone Wars is set between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode II: Revenge of the Sith. The DVD has some interesting featurettes, documenting the design and production process, as well as how the cartoon links with the films.

All in all, a very nice DVD. I found watching this much easier than making sure I was in front of the TV at 7am every day for three weeks.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I've seen the future and it's the past

Any of you who have been into Bolton Central Library recently might be interested to see what it looked like before any of the refurbishment and redecoration of the last 68 years. Luckily, thanks to our good buddies in the Archives and Local Studies department and the Museum, you can. The website, called Our Treasures is full of fascinating pictures of Bolton, its people and buildings and of artefacts in the museum and art gallery. Believe me, somethings don't change (except the fashions). One of my favourite images is this. It's graceful neoclassicism wouldn't go amis on a Led Zeppelin album cover. These days it goes by the name of 'UpFront'...

Serenity (DVD) review

If, like me, you think Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Astonishing X-Men, the forthcoming Wonder Woman movie) is brilliant, you probably don't need to be told about this DVD of the 2005 film. If you're not acquainted with the Whedonverse (shame on you!), stick with me. You may have guessed that this is not going to be the most objective review you'll ever read.

Serenity is a space Western, following a group of gun-totin', wise-crackin' space desperadoes trying to carve out a semi-honest living in a less-than-Utopian future. It's a sequel to Whedon's TV series, Firefly, which I hadn't actually seen before watching this movie. The movie is well-constructed enough for the uninitiated to follow it, which I managed quite happily.

The plot follows the crew of a Firefly-class space ship, the Serenity, on a journey of self-discovery and general universe-saving. It's a particularly gritty future, with some very unpleasant baddies to face up to. It's fast-moving, acted well, and it looks absolutely stunning. In refreshing bid for realism, there's no sound in space. The effects are realistically rendered and believable, but it's a character-driven piece at its heart. One for SF fans and you "normal" people as well.

Check it out at Bolton, Trafford or Wigan.

And, for the record, I'm now working my way through the Firefly box set, and it's brilliant.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Don't feed them after midnight!

I've added some RSS feed buttons for people who want to subscribe to the blog. Of course, when I say people, that's pretty much just me... The buttons are at the bottom of the sidebar on the right.

Oxford online

Your library now subscribes to a package of online reference books from Oxford University Press (OUP). This set includes the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB).

Click on the links above or head to the Reference link in Signpost to find them. You'll need your library card number to use them if you're not in a library. Go easy on the OED though - you could spend hours looking at words. Or maybe that only applies to sad librarians...

First post

This is the inaugural post on the Signpost blog. We'll be bringing you reviews of books and films available at your library, as well as other fun bits and pieces. Stick with us, it'll be good. Honest!