September, 2012

Animals

Posted on September 30, 2012 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off

October 4th is World Animal Day. That’s a perfect excuse to get your critters an extra treat and celebrate with 10 gems from our catalog.

Imagine taking a walk with your partner, and all of a sudden she turns into an animal. This is what happens to Richard Tebrick in David Garnett’s book Lady into Fox. How long will the metamorphosis of his wife last? And will he be able to conceal it?

Living with animals is not always easy. Nor is living with people. Hear all about the household of Kiki-the-Demure and Toby-Dog, or rather that of Colette Willy, in our dramatic reading of Barks and Purrs.

Just as cats and dogs, so can men and animals be friends. In the story Told Under a White Oak Tree, we hear about the tribulations of one of the first movie actors – as told by one of his friends, Bill Hart’s Pinto Pony.

There are many instances where animals work for humans. Details about the production of honey and how to tend to bees can be found in On the Hive and the Honey Bee by L. L. Langstroth, a master bee keeper.

Many more winged creatures, albeit of the feathered kind, are described in The Bird Study Book by Thomas Gilbert Pearson. An absolute must for any (hobby) ornithologist!

When she gets lost in the Australian Bush, little Dot makes her own studies of local, marsupial wild live. Her findings are described in Dot and the Kangaroo, a charming fairytale by Ethel C. Pedley.

In reality, wild animals tend to be less social when it comes to humans. Just like the bear Wahb, who desperately tries to stay out of human reach in The Biography of a Grizzly, noted down by Ernest Thompson Seton.

The clashing of human and animal habitat is one of the reasons for Our Vanishing Wild Life. The book by William T. Hornaday, written in 1913, has never been as hot a topic as nowadays.

Very cold instead it is on Penguin Island. When a short sighted priest mistakes the birds for humans and baptizes them, they begin to establish an almost human society. Read the satirical novel by Anatole France to find out if this was a good or bad thing.

Good and bad are traits only we posess, but we readily ascribe them to animals. This is especially apparent in the Fables for the Frivolous, a modernized variant of Jean de la Fontaine’s Fables, written in verse by Guy Wetmore Carryl.

Enjoy – and lots of bearhugs to you!

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LibriVox Mellon Grant – Update

Posted on September 25, 2012 by | Posted in about LibriVox, News | Comments: 12 Comments

We are now 3 months and a bit into our Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded project to rebuild the LibriVox infrastructure. Some of you may be wondering: Where’s my new shiny LibriVox?

The answer is: it’s coming! Please be patient. Since most of the work so far has been “behind the scenes”, we thought we’d take a moment to bring the world up to speed on what’s been happening.

While the grant was awarded in April, we went through a rigorous hiring process to find the right developer and project manager for the job, and the team didn’t get finalized until June 1.

Since then a small committee of LibriVox old-timers (Jo Smallheer, Cori Samuel, and me) have been working with Val (our project manager) and Jeff (our developer), as well as Artom (systems admin) with input from a wider group of admin volunteers. The objective of “phase one” has been getting from “OK, we need to fix this bunch of things” to really pulling apart LibriVox’s existing software and workflow, so that the team can understand fully all the moving parts (of which there are many), and what the final outcome should be.

There are 3 paid staff members on this project: Jeff Madsen, developer, Artom Lifshitz, system administrator, and Valerie Bock, project manager, have logged about 145 hours, or about 15% of paid hours budgeted for this project.

Additionally, volunteers Jo Smallheer, Cori Samuel and Hugh McGuire have contributed time, probably roughly at the same levels, throughout this period, and other LibriVox volunteers have participated in a number of forum conversations as we did the spadework for the foundation of the new system.

Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we have:
* Obtained new server hosting (free!) through the Internet Archive
* Begun to migrate the existing system to the new servers
* Documented the current state of LibriVox systems
* Documented user stories which explicate current issues within the existing system and desired features of the new one
* Developed the initial database schema

In the weeks ahead we will be:
* Completing the server migration
* Developing prototype screens of the new project start and cataloguing systems for community commentary

We have all been impatient, Jeff most of all, to get to the stage of generating new system code, but we are confident that the investment in thoroughly understanding the current system and the community’s sense of it’s benefits and limitations will pay off in a truly user-friendly and efficient interface for all LibriVoxers. Now that we’re finally here, please stay tuned, there are great things to come!

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