A quick Shout-Out to LibraryThing

In addition to watching TV shows I also spend a lot of time reading. I actually try to set aside half an hour every night for reading. I have by now assembled a small library of some 200 books that I’m very proud of. It is currently growing at about three books a month (see below for how I know this).

If you know me, you know I am a super organized person and a total sucker for statistics. Hence I had been looking for a way to properly organize my books for quite a while. One of the ways I pondered for doing this was to set up a little Excel spreadsheet and write down title, authors, year of publication etc. for every book I owned. Even though my library was considerably smaller back then, this approach was too laborious. I briefly toyed with using Amazon Web Services for retrieving my books’ authors, titles etc. in order to reduce the amount of manual work required, but this solution would still not offer the kind of rich statistics and analyses I was looking for.

Thankfully, I stumbled upon LibraryThing last year. This site is truly amazing. For one, it reduces the amount of cataloging one’s books to simply typing in a list of ISBN codes. Once you have input (and possibly tagged) all your books, LibraryThing generates a cloud of the authors showing how many books you have from each of them. There are a bunch of other cool statistics, too: like a distribution chart of when your books where originally published, what languages your books are written in, when you added them to your library and many, many more.

But what really makes LibraryThing great are its social features. For instance, you can see which other LibraryThing users have libraries similar to your own. I have found a couple of interesting books as I was looking what other books people with libraries similar to my own have. Also, you can compare your library to “legacy libraries” such as the library of Thomas Jefferson. Apparently, he and I share six books. Didn’t know that. Finally, other users can add your library to their “interesting libraries” list. I’m not quite sure what that entails, but it appears there is one LibraryThing user who thinks my library is interesting. Thank you, Doug Cornelius, I guess.

So, if you are interested in what books I have, check out the picture below (not my complete library, though) or simply go to http://www.librarything.com/catalog/StefanH which contains a complete and regularly updated list of all my books.

Book Shelf

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No more Household Chores for Me

Household chores suck. Seriously. They are tiresome and I’m not very efficient performing them, so it takes me forever to clean my apartment, even though it’s not that big. Also, I don’t see a lasting benefit to me cleaning, as soon enough the apartment will be dirty again. Thankfully, somebody at iRobot felt my pain (I assume) and invented the Roomba.

I don’t know why I have been waiting this long to get one, but a week a go I finally took the leap and ordered a third generation Roomba 555 from Amazon. This isn’t the high end model, so it doesn’t support the Lighthouse mode on the virtual walls, but it does have all the features I think I am gonna need: it can be programmed with a schedule to clean during the day and when I come home from work, my apartment will be clean. Also, it automatically finds its base station and returns to it when it is done with its work or it is running out of power. Its infrared sensors detect obstacles reliably, so it touches them gently instead of bumping into them like early generation Roombas. So basically, I should be able to have it do its thing automatically and never again worry about vacuuming.

And the best part, unlike some cheaper robots I had read about in reviews that promise all this too, the Roomba actually makes true on these promises. The other day, I just turned it on and went a way for an hour. When I came back, it had cleaned all rooms whose doors I had left open and was back docked to its base station recharging. In fact, it had done a much better job at cleaning than I would have with my old vacuum cleaner in a couple of hard to reach spots under the kitchen table. After its first tour through the apartment, it had already collected much more dust than there could possibly have been on the floor. So either the dust bin came pre-filled with some dirt (possible, but unlikely, I would say), or the Roomba is much better at cleaning than I am.

Additionally, the Roomba has made vacuuming fun again. I mean, just watching this thing work its way around obstacles and finding its way around the apartment is worth it. Vacuuming has never been his enjoyable before. Thank you iRobot.