19 May 2004

oh, yeah, a blog is useful for taking notes at the public library (civil war pensions)

okay, yes, i do live in one of the areas where the local public library computers may have been used by some of the people plotting 9-1-1, so i do understand some - maybe even all - of the constraints put on the library terminals. really.


it's a pain. a real pain.

i have to go the library to access ancestry dot com, and i hadn't minded until recently. i'd just pack up some some notes and floppies and make a regular afternoon of it.

that was then.

i found several work-arounds when they first took away our right click abilities. floppies are de rigeur at our library. thumb drives are banned. so i'd save a bit of text to one of the floppy disks i'd re-formatted, erasing those files i'd diligently backed up in 1997 and now can't remember why. after saving my new line or two as a text file, i'd open the file, delete the text and use the open empty page to take notes i really needed to have these days.

no more. this is now.

nowdays, you can't even see a file listing for your floppy. you may or may not have something on it, but you won't know until you get home. and no more image downloading. period. even if there's a handy little box right there on the page, built into the site's interface, saying "download image." nope. and you won't know until you get that little floppy home and discover that there are no images on it at all. i have noticed that if you pay close attention, you'll see that the drive light blinks to access the floppy as if it were letting you save the graphic - just as it does when it's actually letting you save a text file. but there is no blinking when it's purportedly downloading that dandy little census image it took you hours to find.

so, the big deal? can't you just print the census image? well, yeah. duh. but there's a rub there, too. for some reason - likely in the pursuit of saving ink - our library only permits printing in econo mode and in portrait orientation. i am serious. you can guess: what you wind up with is a miniaturized, illegible version of a page that was originally ledger-sized. totally impractical. even with a magnifying glass in the comfort of your home office.

on the visit during which i took the notes at the bottom of this entry, i think i really offended our librarian. fed up, i couldn't help but stop her sojourn across the room to ask her why, pray tell, do they even bother to give us access to databases we have no way to use effectively anymore. how, i asked, were we even to take notes from them? when she gave me that use-your-common-sense look and said we could still use pencil and paper to do it the old-fashioned way, and i responded by gesturing, wrist-flipped and palm-up toward the only available space at the computer workstation - about a four by six inch area of desktop - she quickly averted her eyes and mumbled something to the effect that she guessed it was a bit inconvenient. ahem.

to complicate matters further, we can't resize windows or minimize browser windows, either. i have taken to clicking on the "restore down" boxes in the right hand corner of the browser and then sliding my main screen off the edge of the display until i can just find the desktop and its button to begin browsing the internet. and that's when technically, i guess, i become a criminal. at the very least, i become a liar.

here it is: i click right on that button and deliberately open myself a second window. i type in my blog address, create a draft post in this blog, and into that, i stick my research notes.

i have one alternative strategy. that is to go not to my blog but to french teacher pierre renault's online web-based text editors and use them because they'll let me save the notes straight to floppy.

but here's the thing:

no matter which method i use, i have to remember to save my work frequently because sometimes the computer will reset itself for no apparent reason, and i'm back at the library agreement page, and that second window has closed up.

and here's the real thing:

no matter which method i use, i'm very aware that i've agreed to the library terms and am knowingly and deliberately breaking a bond. and you know, although the library computer window police may not believe me, i really just hate when that happens....

notes written at the public library on one of their computer terminals follow. avert your eyes if you don't want to see me break the library law:

civil war pension file index
giles surname in tennessee

Absalom Giles Sarah Giles Alabama and Tennessee
Charles C. Giles Tennessee
Charles Wise; Dock Giles Fanny Giles Tennessee
Charles Wise; Dock Giles Fanny Giles Tennessee
Cyrus G. Giles Tennessee
Damuel H. Laughter Mary Laughter Tennessee Ida E. Giles, et al
Dennie A. Giles Bertha Giles Tennessee and Kentucky
Issac Lockmiller Nannie M. Lockmiller Missouri and Tennessee J. C. Giles, Gdn.
James M. Giles Tennessee
Jefferson T. Giles Tennessee
Jesse A. Giles Tennessee
John B. Allen Tennessee and C. G. Giles, Gdn.
John M. Giles Nancy Giles Tennessee
Richard Giles Emily Giles Tennessee
Samuel R. Giles Tennessee
Sidney C. Giles Charlotte L. Giles Tennessee and Florida
Stephen O. Miller Nebraska and Tennessee Cyrus G. Giles, (Gdn.)
Thomas B. Giles Tennessee
Thomas J. R. Giles Tennessee
Thomas T. Giles Tennessee
Tilman Giles; Robert Powell Tennessee
Tim Giles Tennessee
William Giles Tennessee Nancy Giles By Gdn. H. A. Siles
William H. Giles Tennessee

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