Monthly Archives: December 2006

I love Lego mosaics, so I thought this was really cool…


It’s by Nathan Sawaya —

There’s some really funky large sculptures on his site, including candy canes, a lego dress, and Han Solo in carbonite!

In terms of coolness, it’s up there with the CubeSolver and the 4 foot Lego Homer.

Those of you who aren’t easily offended might also want to check out The Brick Testament (also available in traditional book format).

Following on from the first part of the guide, here’s the low down on the rest of Hitchcock’s films from the 1920s.

In the US, virtually of the DVD releases of the following films have been lower quality budget “public domain” discs.  Whilst these are a cheap way of getting hold of the films, you’ll probably be disappointed with the video quality.

4) The Ring (1927)

By far the best transfer to date is in the French Les Premiรƒยจres Oeuvres 1927/1929, volume 1 box set from Studio Canal.  For anyone considering this box set, it’s worth noting that the French subtitles (although generated by the DVD player) cannot be easily disabled during playback.

In 2007, there’ll be new DVDs released in the UK (by Optimum Releasing) and in the US (by Lionsgate Home Entertainment) — these should have transfers on par with the French box set.

5) Downhill (1927)

Currently unavailable in the US, “Downhill” has seen a number of good DVD releases (see this page to compare the transfer quality).

If I had to suggest one, then I’d recommend you purchase the German The Early Years box set from Concorde.  Although 3 years old, the set still contains some of the best transfers available.

Completists might want to note that none of the DVD releases of “Downhill” use the original green tinting for the sea-sickness scenes.

6) Champagne (1928)

For many years, “Champagne” was only available on low quality bootlegs — however, 2005 saw two releases on DVD.  Once again, it’s the French release which is the best.

7) Easy Virtue (1928)

“Easy Virtue” has seen numerous DVD releases, but all seem to be taken from the same low quality video source.  According to this 1937 newspaper articles, the British Film Institute may have a good quality print in their archives so there is still hope that we might see a decent quality release in the future.

8) The Farmer’s Wife (1928)

Once again, it’s that French box set from Studio Canal which contains the best transfer.

In 2007, we should see a new DVD in the UK from Optimum Releasing using the same high quality transfer.

9) The Manxman (1929)

In a repeat of the information for “The Ring”, the French box set contains the best transfer currently available, and 2007 releases from Optimum Releasing (UK) and Lionsgate Home Entertainment (USA) should have similar high quality transfers.

10) Blackmail (1929)

Although “Blackmail” is available in a box set from Studio Canal, I’d recommend the German release on the Arthaus label.

The German DVD contains both the “talkie” version of the film and also the the original silent version.  Although very similar, there are interesting differences between the two versions and some might even prefer the more natural performances in the silent version.

The French and German DVDs also contain the amusing “sound test“, shot to check how Anny Ondra‘s voice would sound on film.  Hitchcock takes the opportunity to embarrass Ondra with some good old English innuendo!


To date, the best releases of Hitchcock’s earliest films have been in France and Germany, but 2007 should see similar quality releases of some of the 1920 films in both the USA and the UK.  Fans in the UK should note that “Orbit Media” are planning to release a clutch of early Hitchcock films on DVD in early 2007, but these will be low quality “public domain” transfers — definitely a case of buyer beware!

I’m curious as to how many other library bloggers have received the following unsolicited spam from the “Southern California University of Professional Studies”:

Thank you for this opportunity to correspond with your organization concerning advertising on your website. My name is Patrice Madderra and I am representing SCUPS (Southern California University of Professional Studies). Would you please be so kind as to forward to me any information or requirements you may have for banner placement or other advertising options your organization offers?

Thank you,
Patrice Madderra

“Patrice” was so keen to talk to me, he even sent me multiple copies of the same spam. Needless to say each copy is now winging its way to

Perhaps it’s because I work for a University, but I find this kind of spam really annoying — a few years ago, the otherwise reputable University of Liverpool tried using spam as a recruitment tool and I remember receiving several hundred copies of that one, all sent to made-up email accounts ending with “”.

Seasonal greetings to one and all!


It’s not quite Christmas Day yet in the UK (another 15 minutes to go), but over in Australia my older brother is already celebrating on the beach… the lucky git, bah humbug!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before…  “What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”

                                (Dr. Seuss)

Eeeeek — I’ve been tagged by Brian Kelly, so here’s 5 things you didn’t want to know about me (with lots of links)…

1) For the last 8 months I’ve been raising a farm of mealworms to feed the birds in our garden, and there are several thousand of them wriggling around boxes in our spare bedroom as I type this.  Occasionally some of the mealworm beetles escape (I’ve yet to find out how they’re doing this) and you’ll spot them making a painfully slow bid for freedom across the floor… presumably with the insect equivalent of the theme to “The Great Escape” going through their tiny heads.  The garden birds love eating the mealworms, and it’s incredibly cheap to raise them.

2) I spent Christmas 1994 touring Bangladesh, playing bass guitar in a bhangra band.  Over the course of about 7 weeks, we played around a dozen shows (starting in Dhaka and working our way up to Sylhet).  Lizards, cockroaches, and spiders with bodies the size of your fist were de rigeur in the majority of hotel rooms we stayed in.  We were even filmed playing for a TV show, although someone forgot to bring the backing tape to the studio (we had planned to mime), so we had to feed vocals, guitars and keyboards through one tiny practice amp… it probably sounded like a slightly tuneful 5 minute long fart.  Plus I came out of the make-up room with a face the colour of a ripe orange.

3) Prior to all that, I was the bass player in a band called “The Headmen” during the early 1990s.  We were signed to a local label (Positive Records) and released a demo tape (“The Happy Shoebox”), a single (“Kissed to Pieces”) which got quite a bit of Radio 1 airplay, and a 12″ EP (“Reach the Sky”) — the demo tape was supposed to named “The Magic Shoebox”, which was the name of a shoe shop opposite the “4th Wave Records” shop in Huddersfield.  Most of our studio recordings were engineered by Steve Whitfield, although all of the master tapes were lost when the recording studio was destroyed by a fire.  The highlight (for me at least) was getting to play support for “The Wedding Present“.  If anyone asks nicely, I might even try and convert some of the recordings to MP3 ๐Ÿ˜‰


4) When I was a young spotty lad, I used to do computer game reviews on Pennine Radio‘s “Chips” programme (as in “computer chips”) — I vaguely remember reviewing “Tir Na Nog“, “Atic Atac“, and “Skool Daze“.  I also got to review an early model of the ZX Spectrum+ and “yes”, the keys did fall off when you turned it upside down ๐Ÿ˜‰

5) I can’t stand touching cotton wool, and the mere thought of any cotton wool touching my teeth sends shivers down my spine.  Fingernails scraping down a blackboard I’m fine with… but not cotton wool!

I think most of the bloggers I know have already been tagged, but here’s who I’m planning to do…

1) my partner Bryony
2) my good friend Iman Moradi
3) the one and only Ben Ostrowsky

Seeing as I’ve got my head in the clouds at the moment, here’s one showing the most popular keyword search words used on our OPAC during the last 6 months…


To be honest, there aren’t too many surprises in there — students studying business & law and the health sciences are the heaviest users of the library.

Unlike Yahoo, not a single person has done a search for “Britney” on our OPAC in the last 6 months …and “yes”, you would get a relevant hit if you did ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ve also separated out words that appear in failed keyword searches (i.e. they produced no hits) and removed those which did appear in other successful searches — this gives a list of keywords that probably don’t match anything on the catalogue:

  1. newspapermen (96)
  2. socail (90)
  3. buisness (84)
  4. brantingham (74)
  5. renew (74)
  6. metalib (73)
  7. reserach (72)
  8. mortor (67)
  9. vehclos (66)
  10. gieber (63)
  11. thoery (63)
  12. writting (62)
  13. psycology (59)
  14. contempory (58)
  15. donky (51)
  16. facism (47)
  17. reserch (46)
  18. reasearch (39)
  19. ans (38)
  20. hypodermic (38)
  21. ielts (38)
  22. televison (38)
  23. estimation (37)
  24. priciples (36)
  25. superficial (36)
  26. immanual (35)
  27. infomation (34)
  28. ligament (34)
  29. tuberclosis (34)
  30. centuary (33)
  31. resourse (33)
  32. topshop (33)
  33. treetment (33)
  34. devlopment (32)
  35. petherick (32)
  36. proffesional (32)
  37. quantitive (32)
  38. stamps (32)
  39. theorys (32)
  40. enviromental (31)
  41. pschology (31)
  42. statistic (31)
  43. syringe (31)
  44. hanbook (30)
  45. simnet (30)
  46. stratergy (30)
  47. intoduction (29)
  48. pestel (29)
  49. physio (29)
  50. pratice (29)

The words in bold are valid spellings (according to Microsoft Word) and the figure in brackets is the number of separate searches that contained the word.

Compared to the cloud, this is much more interesting…

1) many of them are simple typos — another good reason to add a spellchecker to your OPAC if you haven’t got one!

2) the fifth most common word is “renew” — are our users trying to renew their books by typing the word into the OPAC, or are they expecting the OPAC to work like a search engine and return something like “How to renew your books” as the first result?

3) the sixth most common word is “metalib” — it looks like a lot of people are trying to find help on using MetaLib in the OPAC… maybe we should create a dummy catalogue record that contains 856 links to MetaLib and our Electronic Resources Wiki?

4) “mortor” is an oddity in the list… but the entry for “pestel” near the end makes me wonder if people were searching for “mortar and pestle”?

Outside of the top 50, there are some other interesting failed keywords (with links to Wikipedia or other sites when relevant):