Category Archives: My Life

Happy Holidays 2013!

Well, it’s that time of year yet again — it seems like only a few weeks since last Christmas!

We’ve been rather rubbish at sending Christmas cards this year, but have at least managed to take a quick festive family photo before we head back to the U.K. for the Christmas and New Year’s festivities.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Tony, Lori Ann and Vivienne!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Tony, Lori Ann and Vivienne!

Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and a fabulous 2014!

Tony, Lori Ann & Vivienne

Brooklyn, NY

The Mechanical Turkish Librarian?

There’s a bitter-sweet sensation that I’ve encountered periodically throughout my life when I discover that an idea I’ve had in the past for a product or service has become reality — but that someone else has made it a reality. I’m sure many other people have experienced this same feeling.

It happened again this week when I discovered the existence of a New York-based start-up called Tagasauris.com.

These folks have created a service that leverages Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service (a “micro outsourcing” service which matches businesses that need “Human Intelligence Tasks” completed with a network of digital “piece workers”) to address a challenge that I’ve been involved with for many years — adding metadata to digital images to make them more discoverable.

It will be interesting to see what the quality of the tagging is like, since Tagasauris is using non-professional cataloguers, whereas I’ve always worked with qualified librarians that have a deep understanding of cataloguing rules, classification schemes and controlled vocabularies. Tagasauris claims to have a sophisticated quality assurance engine to maintain a high quality of tagging.

It will also be interesting to see if they can make the service financially sustainable once the start-up funding runs out, of course!

I will be keeping an eye on them to see if “my” idea turns out to be a good one.

Happy Holidays 2012

I’m resurrecting an old tradition this year by sending electronic holiday/Christmas greetings to friends, family, acquaintances, and the Interwebs at large.

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it, and best wishes for 2013 from all of us here in Brooklyn, NY!

Holiday Greetings for 2012 from Tony, Lori Ann and Vivienne

Holiday Greetings for 2012 from Tony, Lori Ann and Vivienne

New WordPress Website Goes Live Today

After a few months’ of messing around with WordPress in my (increasingly limited) spare time, I finally decided to pull the trigger today and go live with what has, until now, been the development website. What do you think?

This new site replaces my previous hand-coded personal website that I was surprised to discover has been online pretty much continuously on various web hosts for the last sixteen years!

R.I.P. Gore Vidal

I was saddened to hear that Gore Vidal passed away earlier this week at the age of 86. There’s a nice obituary by Hillel Italie over at HuffPo.

I spent a pleasant afternoon drinking vodka with Gore Vidal and friends (both his and mine) at a restaurant in Ravello high above Italy’s Amalfi Cost back in 1993.

I was doing a placement at the nearby University of Salerno as part of my Master’s degree in Communication in Computing, and was staying in Vietri sur Mare a little further down the Amalfi Coast with Katie, my girlfriend of the time.

My friend and fellow MA CiC classmate George Woodcock — a big fan of Vidal’s — was visiting with his two young sons for a few days, and, after recognizing Vidal, introduced himself to pay his compliments. Vidal and his party were most hospitable, and invited us all to join them for some postprandial refreshments.

I wasn’t at all familiar with Vidal’s literary work at that point (and in fact had always struggled not to confuse him with Vidal Sassoon, the British hair stylist who coincidentally also died recently in Los Angeles), but he was most charming and entertaining despite my ignorance, and showed a warm and seemingly genuine interest in our academic pursuits.

I have since read and enjoyed a number of his books, both fiction and non-fiction. His “Narratives of Empire” series of historical novels are an excellent way for an immigrant such as myself to become more familiar with American history, while his essays on American imperialism are damning indictments that are still highly pertinent today.

Here’s a selection of Amazon.com links to some of my favourite Gore Vidal works:

Hot & Hungover in NYC

Woke up to 33°C (92°F) temperature and 60% humidity with a killer hangover that even Berocca couldn’t completely mask today (incidentally, if you haven’t discovered this miracle of dietary supplements, I strongly recommend you pick some up next time you’re in a commonwealth country. And thanks for Jim Michalko for tipping me off to the stuff!).

My next apartment, which is looking as though it’s going to be in the Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens neighbourhood of Brooklyn, is DEFINITELY going to have an air conditioner.

Tempus Fugits

I’ve aged since my last post; I’m now 35 years old. Friends who witnessed my panic at turning 30 (can that really be 5 years ago!?) will confirm that I’m not aging very gracefully. And as my little brother pointed out, it will only be a few blinks of the eye before I’m staring down the barrel of 40…

On the positive side, I got a nice tax refund from Uncle Sam, and have finally treated myself to the digital camera I always wanted (Canon Powershot S230 Digital Elph), so hopefully I’ll be able to get images up on this cobweb site in a slightly more timely fashion in future…

Stuff Arrives

My stuff finally arrived in NYC just after 9am today, 22 days (i.e. more than 3 weeks!) after it was picked up by Bekins. That’s only slightly less time than it took to ship 5 crates from Britain to San Francisco by boat! A few inconsequential items were physically damaged, and some of the boxes were badly water-damaged — my stereo will need to dry out thoroughly before I try using it. Most of the boxes looked like they’d been bashed around quite a bit; the fact that most of my possessions seem to have survived intact is entirely due to my girlfriend Jessica, who did an amazing job of organizing my packing when I was walking around cluelessly scratching my head, helping me pack, and dealing with the movers in California after I’d already set off. Thanks Jess!

Day 8: Mt. Pocono, PA to New York City, NY

Day 8 (Mt. Pocono, PA to New York City, NY): Another late start on the last day of my journey, followed by an even later breakfast, and then it was just a short 110 mile hop from Pennsylvania on I-80 across New Jersey, into New York state and through the Lincoln Tunnel to Manhattan!

Stephen (who I’m subleasing an apartment in SoHo from) met me on the corner of MacDougal & Houston, and guided me to a suitable parking space for unloading the car and checking out my new home for the next 6 months or so — so far it seems pretty much perfect (thanks again to Lucy Norris for putting us in touch with one another)!

Shortly afterwards I was off again, swinging by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to say “Hi” and pick up my homework for tomorrow’s ArtSTOR retreat, then off to find the parking garage on Roosevelt Island that will be the Deathmobile’s new home for the immediate future. At the end of her trip, the odometer read 90,904 miles — which (assuming the odometer is accurate) means that we covered some 4,134 miles together since leaving San Francisco a week ago!

So… I’m finally here!