Sunday, October 26, 2008

#66 Directory 2.0

Thing 66 brought to us by Baldgeek is about directories to help on the Web 2.0 journey. I first looked at AllMyFaves which presents as a great screen of icons. I found a lot of my faves, but was surprised not to find Picnik amongst the photo sites and not to find Foodbuzz amongst the recipes. These are really two of MyFaves that I use regularly. I was also surprised to see Bloglines under the category "Blog" as I think of it as a management tool for RSS feeds.

I tried two icons I didn't know. All recipes looked pretty useful and immediately asked me if I wanted to go to their .au site. I also clicked on the National Geographic icon under Maps suspiciously thinking it wasn't about maps at all. I was pleasantly surprised to find a link to National Geographic's Mapmachine. It looked pretty US centric, but I popped in Athens Greece and then honed it down to Syngrou. Success! AllMyFaves, nonetheless, is pretty US based particularly in services eg banks, couriers etc.

43Marks is a different concept: it displays names and not icons and the idea is that you set up your own lists of favorites in various categories. I signed up very easily and added and deleted and faved sites, as well as setting up a new category Food into which I popped Foodbuzz. Picnik also was not on the original list for photos but it is in Polyxena's list now. 43Marks also has an embryonic tool for managing RSS feeds but I'll be sticking to Bloglines. The task also mentioned doing the tutorial but when I tried to access it I got a message: Tutorial coming soon! Well, it is a beta site.

In terms of sites I don't use, I tried Lonely Planet which is under Travel. I always think of it as a publishing company but guess that it is fine under Travel. I also tried Fandango under Movies. It's a site for finding movie and theatre showings but very US based. I looked up The Duchess which I happened to see yesterday and got comprehensive info about the film. I could have signed up in order to rate the film or give a review. However, if I wanted to find a session I needed to indicate a US place. I decided that I was interested to see what was showing today at Virginia Beach, VA, as some friends are there this weekend. There were three venues and I could have seen Body of lies (and lots of other things I had no wish to see). I suppose the site is useful for its summary of films but there is a very limited number of films included at any given time, ie showing or about to show, and these aren't necessarily ones on release in Melbourne. I think I'll stick to Yahoo at present as it gives me my local cinemas and their sessions. Curiously, Yahoo isn't a Movie site on 43Marks.

The US based nature of the sites notwithstanding, I think 43Marks is a good little tool for gathering together in one place all the sites one uses and categorizing them. I currently have them in my bookmarks but I can see that the tool could be useful. I just have to find a bit of time to input them all...

#65 It's hard to think about anything else

I went on a discovery exercise of most of the sources recommended here in the hope that they would help an economically-challenged historian cum librarian get a handle on all this. The Subprime Primer on was my favourite. When I started second-guessing the dialogue I realized how simplified a view it was! It is good to have some clear sources if the public want to have them, but I think I understood the situation reasonably before.

I find it very hard in this environment to understand the huge amount of US$$ being raised for the presidential election campaign, on both sides but particularly Obama's. And as for the amount of money being spent on Palin's clothes and makeup, well I think the press has been having a field day on this. Oliver Burkeman's article in the Guardian "How to spend $1.5bn on elections - first lavish $150,000 on Sarah Palin's clothes" is just one comment. Spending to boost the economy? I am glad I live in Australia for many reasons.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

#64 One hit wonders

#64, the return Thing after the summer break is all about one-hit wonders. Some of them might be useful but others: well...

Site: Yep this one could be useful. If you want a £ sign like this, or an accented letter like this ä, or joy of joys a fraction like this ½. Yes, I could use this!

Site: Kuku Klok This online alarm clock might be useful I suppose if you happened to have pc or laptop around and no phone or clock. Of course, it might force bad risers to get up and go to the pc. The only sound I liked was the Cockerel which set a rooster crowing to herald the dawn but I don't think I would hear it in the bedroom. The Slayer guitar I would hear but it would drive me bonkers and get me up in a very bad mood. I am going to stick to the alarm on my phone and Classic FM on the radio.

Site: Stormpulse This site is for hurricane watching and I am sure that it would be very useful to track the progress of a hurricane. There were no hurricanes active when I looked at it but I tracked a couple of recent ones like Gustav and Ike. As far as I could see it covered only North America and particularly the East coast, so it is of limited local use in Australia. but it is a site that is good to know about.

Site: Pixdaus I had difficulty yesterday loading this social ranking for pictures site as the link always returned an error message. Tonight it is ok. The photos on the front page were fabulous. I didn't do any ranking but I did a subject search on Athens and came up with a few great photographs. You can get rss feeds so I subscribed through Bloglines.

Site: FakeNameGenerator I am not sure what I would use this for, though the Learning 2.1 blog suggests a use when wanting multiple email addresses or signing up for lots of things online. Well, Learning 2.0 and Learning 2.1 certainly lead to this need. Following on from my Athens search in Pixdaus, I wanted to be Greek but the closest was to be English based in the Greek part of Cyprus. I came out with the following:

Alicia L. Doherty
Πατησίων 27

It looks like is available! Click here to register it!

Email Address:
This is a real email address. Click here to use it!

Phone: 2165139
Mother's maiden name: Fraser
Birthday: April 17, 1962

Visa: 4716 5595 3080 1051
Expires: 8/2011

UPS Tracking Number: 1Z 42A 73A 60 7301 811 1

Site: PicApp Creative or news related photographs can be found here under a variety of topics and they are all available for use in your blog or elsewhere. I found a couple of photos of the Acropolis under snow a few years ago and some historical ones of the Parthenon. You can email these photos or share them with a large number of places such as Facebook. The photo above is an example of an historic photo from PicApp. I emailed one to me and attempted to post one to Facebook. You could also get rss feeds from this site, so I signed up for that.

Site: Regator This site was offered as a place to find some more useful sites that could be investigated. Regator calls itself "a bite of the blogosphere's best" and has bites from blogs ordered in subject categories. I found a couple of sites randomly but there were lots of others to explore.

Site: is a simple point-and-click element removal tool to make printing sites and pages without printer-friendly links much easier, and without any software. Lifehacker was my source for this and much of the description in this paragraph comes from that blog. You paste in the URL of a site, and you'll get a left-hand sidebar that lets you click and and remove pictures, headlines, and other page elements. You can pull out the background image, isolate selected parts of the page, and even resize individual elements, change fonts, add and remove and put back elements, all in the name of reducing ink usage and improving readability. Better still, you can copy a link to the page you've just hacked to bits, giving web site owners with popular pages a free resource for printer-friendly versions. It seemed pretty easy and use-friendly for me.

Site: Crawlanime Downloadsquad drew attention to Crawlanime, a sort of Youtube that specializes in free Anime online. There seemed to be quite range of titles, and I looked at one with English sub-titles and another with Spanish sub-titles. I don't really like anime much, but can see that this is a useful source for those who like it. It is also a useful source of Japanese language material if your library has Japanese users, or Spanish for that matter if you go for the sub-titles.

I have been feeling rather jaded with Learning 2.1, maybe because of the break, or maybe because of the topics recently. However, I found this Thing great fun.

Monday, September 22, 2008

#63 PDF Form-Topia: PDF Form Filler Freeware

I found the Foxit Reader very confusing to load and to use. I went to the site and seemed always to be getting to places where I was being asked to pay or to use Trialpay to get Pro edition for a year. When I finally loaded a free version I didn't find it very easy to use. Yes, I know the instructions said to look at a video but I only realized that later. I opened a PDF and tried to edit it. When I clicked to Tools, Typewriter etc I got a message saying that this function was a Pro function and if I used it I would get marks. I persevered but really couldn't work out how to get it to type properly.

I don't think I'll be using it, though maybe I haven't tried hard enough as it is the end of a long and tiring day. The critical thing for me, however, is if we had this installed on public PCs how would the public work out how to use it? I don't think it is very intuitive and people would be put off by the messages about needing to pay for Pro to get the proper use. It's also easier to use a tool that doesn't require loading. I've tried de-install this from my PC and still seem to have the toolbar in Firefox. So I suppose now I need to play around with Firefox plugins....

#62 PDF Form-Topia:

After my challenges with PDF conversion last week, I was keen to look at some other options. So this was stimulus enough to get me back to Learning 2.1. I have been very slack and stuck at #61 for a couple of months. Of course, the US crowd have been on summer vacation so why shouldn't I take a winter one as well? is a free online PDF reader, editor, form-filler and designer we are told. You can open PDF documents from a URL or open a saved PDF. I opened the url and decided not to register, though it said it was free, contrary to what I had thought. I immediately browsed my PC and selected a PDF version of the enduring power of attorney document that caused me grief on Friday. It loaded pretty quickly and then once I had worked out how to write and install the text it was all pretty easy. I then saved it as a PDF to my PC. I didn't get a message warning me that there would be a logo or anything and there wasn't. I opened the PDF to print and again no logo or anything. Have they changed it since #62 was posted?

Anyway, I found it a very useful tool and could imagine that I could use it with PDF forms. Conversion tools like Zamzar convert into another format and always lose something along the way. They have their place, of course. But this tool does what it says: it allows you to fill in and save a PDF in its own format.


Michelle over at Connecting Librarian has been posting about which creates lovely clouds from words. And now it can do whole blogs! I thought I would give it a whirl for a couple of my blogs and see what words I obsess about. This is the result for this blog Hecuba's story. The big featured words are not surprising given my addiction to Facebook and Boroondara and library.

My food blog, the Librarian and the Kitchen, came out thus. Yes, I understand most of the words. Greek food is something I am very interested in. And so fetta etc.
This was fun to do. You can change the colours and layout. I did find trying to load them into the blog a bit frustrating. You had to save to the Gallery to get the code and then it pasted strangely so that you had to edit it to get the HTML to work.

Friday, September 19, 2008 the new Zamzar?

Wah! How sad am I? I quickly wanted to convert into Word a pdf of a financial enduring power of attorney that I want for tomorrow. Yes, I know it is 11.34 pm. BUT I did save the document and believed I had converted it on Zamzar this morning. The email response hadn't come by the time I left for work. Later on webmail I saw that it had come but I didn't try to open it at work. Mistake! What a pity! I might have been able to get the converted document via the Explorer browser at work. It sure doesn't work at home on the latest version of Firefox. It looks like it will but then there is no hyperlink to collect the document

What to do? Well, I know I could have looked at some of the more recent Things that I haven't completed. But I also looked back at my post in January when I was doing Thing #24. Zamzar certainly worked with Firefox then. But the interesting thing was that someone posted a comment directing me to So I tried that. It's the same deal. You go to the site; type in your email address, browse on your PC for the file to convert, select the format to convert to, and it converts it and sends the result to your email.

It all seemed to work fine until I downloaded the conversion and got gobbledegook with whatever encoding I accepted. Obviously I am not going to get a Word version of my PDF very easily for tomorrow. Well, maybe tomorrow I will get back to Learning 2.1 and finish some of the later Things. But I am VERY disappointed that Zamzar doesn't seem to work for me any more.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Posting from ScribeFire!

I am posting this from ScribeFire! I will be interested to see how it turns out as this is the first time I have used ScribeFire.

ScribeFire which is an add-on to Firefox seems to work well. Once you have installed and set all the links to your blogs up, they are all there at your fingertips. You can blog on a screen that pops up or you can right-click (or left-click in many people's cases) on a page and select the blog option from ScribeFire. That will post your heading and url as a blog post to the selected blog. This is a fun discovery that I made quite serendipitously via Kat Clancy's wall on Facebook. Thanks for posting to my wall, Kat, and leading me to respond to you! The one downside seems to be that if you want to insert labels to the post you need to go to blogger to do that.

Except that you don't! You click on the categories tag, and either choose an existing category or add a new one! Remember: category = label!

Postscript: this doesn't seem to tinyurl properly. I have never had a problem before with my link to Twitter from blogger. I can only assume that the ScribeFire interface is causing a glitch. As I feed all my blog posts to Twitter, that is not going to work very well. I'll have to experiment more with this add-on. I suspect it may be causing a problem with my blogfeeds to Facebook as well. Sigh!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

#61 Library Apps on and for Facebook

I'm one librarian who thinks that Facebook is great. I've done the "library" search before and become fans of library pages, and I've also checked Boroondara. From that search I reached a lot of library staff as well as staff in other Council departments.

We have a City of Boroondara Library Service page and have had it for a while. Today we had 56 fans and the reality is that we haven't really advertised it anywhere. These people have just found us by word of mouth. Well, hey that's what Facebook is all about: social networking. Some people aren't aware that there are profiles (for individuals), groups, and pages on Facebook and these all have different standard components and different applications that can be added. On pages, you can monitor your usage, the demographics of fans etc.

On the City of Boroondara Library Service Facebook page, we have general info about the library service and links to our website, bebo site and blog. We have a couple of FBML applications which currently talk about Chinese computer classes and links to our catalogue on Bookjetty. We feed our blog into the site and through Notes we also feed in the Boroondara Town Hall Gallery blog. We have loaded photos, we have Artshare which loads random works of art from selected galleries and museums and we have a recipe of the day from Epicurious.

We have Worldcat and we are just waiting for our vendor to finalize a link to libraries on our system. We have a series of maps giving our locations - this is done using Google maps. And we have the standard discussion board and wall. But most importantly we use the events function to advertise all of our library events. Come and visit us on Facebook! Tell us what you think.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

#60 Facebook!

Facebook, well where do I start? I am absolutely addicted to Facebook and don't need to join up or do any of the suggested tasks ;>). I first came across Facebook in the 23 Things at #19 Web 2.0 Awards where we could choose our own thing. I chose to look at MySpace and Facebook and because it was Australian election day I looked around at Kevin 07 and my local member Lindsay Tanner's presence on both sites.

It took me a while to really get into Facebook but now I am addicted and get into it daily. I have 118 friends as I write and they increase regularly as different parts of my life get connected. I feed my blogs into Facebook, and my Twitter updates my status. I have set up a City of Boroondara page and we are gradually getting fans - 46 as of today. We feed the library blog into this Facebook and I have just linked the Town Hall Gallery in via the notes section as well. We mainly use it to promote our events and they are regularly updated by a team of library staff.

I use Facebook to communicate with friends and family both locally and overseas and have managed to catch up with some people I was quite out of contact with. My friends vary substantially in age and generation, and cover all aspects of my life. The majority of people who are my friends are people that I actually know physically but I have also linked up people I only know virtually or only have linked up with through Facebook. Yep, I love Facebook! I think that it is a fantastic example of community engagement and social networking. And that is what libraries are all about!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

#59 a reprise - Fantastic Fiction

Thanks to Tapsister for pointing out the Fantastic Fiction website! It is truly fantastic. I tested it out for all the authors that I couldn't find on AuthorsOnTheWeb and found an extensive list of stuff (including pseudonyms, photo, list of series, dates, who writes like, forthcoming titles, audio-books, author and fan websites, links to UK and US bookstores) about Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie, Paul Collins and Sean McMullen, all of whom I couldn't find in the previous post.

Now I know these four authors are not the be-all and end-all of fiction writing but they happen to be the ones that came into my head when I was doing the work for #59. They cover a range of genres and a large time range, two are famous world-wide and the other two are known more locally, in Melbourne to be precise. What they all have in common is that they are NOT US authors and I think that that is truly why they are not on the previous website.

Thanks, Tapsister! Fantastic Fiction is a winner for me!

Friday, May 2, 2008

#59 Authors on the web

Authors on The Web is an interesting book site with lots of stuff about authors on it. There are sections on the front page about forthcoming titles, and author news. A link takes one through to AuthorYellowPages which is a directory of author websites, though limited by the fact that these aren't collected but dependent on authors taking the initiative. Another link through featured crime/thrillers took one to a mass of info on where there are reviews (organized by title which I found slightly irritating), a section on books into movies (and DVDs), lists of complete works by authors (rather limited and didn't include Georgette Heyer or Agatha Christie), searching by genre (a try at Science Fiction & Fantasy didn't find Sean McMullen or Paul Collins) and ReadingGroupGuides.

There is a wealth of information about authors here but there did seem to me to be a decidedly U.S. bias to the authors featured. As a U.S. site that is not very surprising. However, I think that as a site it is probably more useful to U.S. public libraries than to Australian ones. But it is good to know about.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

#58 Being Green

Being green was quite an appropriate Thing for me this week. I spent most of the week in bed with the worst sinusitis/throat infection that I have had for years. And the cause of it? Melbourne was covered by a smoky haze emanating from scheduled forestry burnoffs in other parts of the state. There's nothing wrong with burnoffs - we don't want bush fires - but presumably some meteorological idiosyncrasy led to the smoke being stuck over Melbourne. Yuk!

I was amused when I got back to my PC today after days away from it (I was really, really sick) to receive a link to this video which has a section about cats and greenhouse gas ;>). It's not a very serious approach to take to Being Green I know, but my laughing was detrimental to my recovering cough though not my spirits and my cats came from the other end of the house to discover what was happening to the cats I had hidden here.

On a more serious and relevant note, I was also interested to learn about Earth Day on 22 April as it isn't something that we celebrate here, at least not in my circle. I was feeling quite confused as I thought I had just celebrated Earth Day on 29 March when we all turned our lights off for an hour. But I'd seen stuff on Facebook about 22 April (in Li'l Green Garden) and then Sandy's Thing mentioned it. I hit Google and an article in Wikipedia soon told me why. There are two Earth Days: the UN celebrates Earth Day annually around the March equinox and there is a second one mainly in the US on 22 April.

I had a browse at all the sites mentioned including the Going Green Matters blog where there were a couple of posts on tips for being green. These included sensible things like insulating houses, not heating and cooling places when you aren't there, and scraping not rinsing dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. There were also quite a few tips around reducing your "gas" consumption in cars. That was well and good but I would have had using public transport or walking or cycling up there in the tips well above these.

The strongest message I got from these tips was one about turning off things when you are not using them. This really reinforced the message I got on 29 March when I went to turn the lights off for an hour. I couldn't believe how many lights there were turned on all around the house! I really only focused on lights that night but I know others looked at everything they had on standby and not turned off at the wall. I still need to get better at both of these.

And what is the learning from this for libraries? We need to build (and renovate to) more energy-efficient buildings. We have a very energy conscious Council and are in the forefront of initiatives in this area. For example, we have waterless urinals in some libraries; we trialled motion and photo-sensitive lights in parts of one of our libraries but it wasn't very satisfactory; we are installing tanks linked to the downpipes at Camberwell and Balwyn Libraries this year; we are very conscious of recycling; we encourage people to travel to meetings and between branches on public transport by giving people free Metcards for this. As I am lucky enough to have a large external window in my office, I rarely turn the lights on: this does lead to useful discussion when people ask me why I am sitting in the dark when dusk is coming on and I haven't noticed how dark it is ;>).

These are only the physical things we can do in library buildings, but there are many other things we can do in terms of user education, of providing access to sites and databases etc. I like the cry: "Save a tree, borrow a book!" But wonder if an even better one mightn't be "Save a tree, read an ebook!"? Both of these are services that our public libraries offer and between them they do save trees.

Friday, April 18, 2008

#57 TasteSpotting - yum!

How yummy is this! I'm in heaven. I had a quick look at TasteSpotting just before lunch but had to stop and get my lunch cooked very smartly. This site is one for me. Though someone who loves cooking and reading about it, I just couldn't get interested in I'm Cooked, the focus of Thing 50, where people post videos of themselves cooking.

But TasteSpotting is another thing. When you go to the url you are immediately faced with a sea of luscious-looking food set out as on recipe cards. You can star them and search. Click on one of the recipes and you are taken to the source. I found a whole swag of foodie blogs from all around the world - Australia, New Zealand, U.S., U.K. and even one in Greek, the Saffron-gatherer.

I used the same terms to search as I had with I'm Cooked. Taramasalata still wasn't successful, and plum sauce only gave me a link to a recipe where you served it on the side. So I guess I'll stick with Maggie Beer for the plum sauce and either buy the taramasalata ready made or use one of the many recipes I already have. However, I got a hit for moussaka and hit gold (or meringue) with pavlova where I got eight hits, all of which I wanted to eat. Excited by this I just keyed in "lentils" as I was thinking of making a lentil salad for lunch on Sunday. Voila! There were 47 posts.

I was quite over-excited by all the food blogs I discovered and can see a whole new Bloglines addiction coming on. If I am not careful, I shall overtake Batgirl and Tapsister in the number of feeds I am monitoring. I also can see a personal organizational and de-cluttering application. One of my foibles is collecting and not sorting recipes. In fact, I have a very large folder of them in the dining room at present awaiting weeding (aka reading and throwing out). These are all paper ones or scribbled notes, but, of course, these days I also see them online and want them. If I set up my own food blog, I could store and label them there. I'd be able to search by label. I'd be able to post online recipes there using Clipmarks or other sources. The Librarian and the Kitchen blog is born and I have found yet another way to organize my life through Learning 2.1

Oh, and of course there is the library aspect. This is a great site to use if someone wants a recipe.

PS I didn't ever find the widget from the TasteSpotting web-site. However, I remembered that Tapsister had loaded it. So I grabbed it from her blog and easily loaded it here and on my Facebook profile, and other options were available. Someone please tell me where it is on the website!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

#56 Smilebox - smile in a box?

Smilebox was fun and easy to join up. It provides a large number of templates for slideshows, ecards, scrapbooks, postcards and photobooks. Like many of these programs, there is a basic free version and a tempting one with frills that costs. You did have to install the program on your PC and from what I could see execute it every time you logged in.

I signed up and was quite spooked to discover a swag of my recently uploaded photos displaying along the side panel. I tried a few designs and had a bit of trouble with landscape versus portrait as the photos weren't very easily manipulable if they were portrait and the templates mainly wanted landscape. Finally, as funerals were on my mind, I did a floatings photos tribute to Elizabeth Moisidis. I emailed it to myself, I loaded a link to it on my Facebook profile and here it is below in my blog. It was quite slow to load up the link from Facebook and I also found that with Jamie's one included on the Learning 2.1 blog. This may be to do with the speed of my connection?

Smilebox is fun and useful and something that we could have loaded on our public PCs. I wonder if it would be worthwhile having a Click goes the library session on a number of these photograph tools? I could see it as something that could be quite useful to prepare a presentation of someone's life for a funeral or retirement event, and Jamie's example showed that it could also be useful for local or family history.

Click to play Elizabeth  Moisidis Floating Fotos
Create your own postcard - Powered by Smilebox
Make a postcard - it's easy!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

#55 Slideshare - Presentations online!

Slideshare claims to be the Youtube of Powerpoint and it certainly does provide a great community of online presentations. You can upload presentations and search and view presentations (without joining up) or you can join up for free and set up an account. I had viewed presentations there before but I hadn't actually joined up.

So as part of the work for #55 I joined up and loaded up a few fairly banal presentations. They did seem to lose some definition in the conversion to Slideshare format, but I suppose that is not really surprising as conversion always seems to lead to some change. I was able to share these slide-shows publicly or with my friends or not at all. So I chose to make some private and some public. You tag the presentations to allow for searching. You also deal with copyright through Creative commons. There are also a number of communities e.g Web 2.0, Second life, Web 2.0 tools for effective teaching.

As I was researching my ill-fated VALA talk on Facebook and public libraries while I was experimenting with Slideshare, I did a search on Facebook and came up with a number of useful presentations. When I had completed my presentation I loaded it up on Slideshare so that I could, er, share it with the other presenter and the person chairing the meeting. That worked well except that it seemed to truncate some of the urls in my presentation. As the others didn't comment and one of them uploaded a link, I need to discover if this is a Firefox issue. I'll check out my Slideshare account at work on IE and see if the urls are truncated there. The other advantage of having the presentation on Slideshare is that you can present from there so long as internet access is available, thus obviating the need for uploading the presentation onto the PC in use or bringing along a PC.

I have already found uses for Slideshare in my work, in terms of searching for presentations I would like to read and also in uploading a presentation of my own that I wanted to share. In the lead up to the VALA talk there were several enquiries about where the presentations would be available, and I was able to reply that mine was available on Slideshare and to suggest that VALA set up a Slideshare account where they could either load presentations given at their meetings or at least fave them.

As I found it a useful presentation, I am uploading here Laurie M Bridges Facebook 101 for librarians (2008). Uploading was easy as any presentation that is freely available has a code for embedding. You can also share to Facebook, reddit and all the normal suspects. So I also tried sharing it on Facebook where a link was posted on my profile to the presentation and its url. This is a great tool.

Friday, March 28, 2008

#54 Bookjetty - your books, your libraries!

I became familiar with Bookjetty at the VALA conference this year when Singapore's Schubert Foo mentioned this home-grown tool in his keynote address. I was immediately struck by the difference between Bookjetty and other book sites, namely that you could search library catalogues as well as bookshops. I set myself the post-conference task of looking into it properly and seeing if we could get Boroondara's catalogue up on the site. Well, we succeeded in that and our users can now use Bookjetty to search our library catalogue (along with others) and easily link to the site to place a reservation.

LibraryThing also now has access to library catalogues for searching. They weren't able to do this last time I used them, but I did say they were going from strength to strength! Thanks to Casey from LibraryThing for pointing this out to me. However, the standout thing for me about Bookjetty from the minute I saw it demonstrated by Dr Foo was the federated searching capability. At Bookjetty, you select your favourite libraries from a list and your item will be searched for on these simultaneously, rather than you having to go to each catalogue. As three of Boroondara's neighbouring libraries, Stonnington, Monash and Darebin, are now accessible via Bookjetty, this provides a useful local federated search facility. It will be interesting to see how Bookjetty continues to develop.

#53 Litlovers - a well read online community

Litlovers is a fun site, and one that I can see being useful not just for providing information for people wanting to set up a bookclub but also of general use for personal book knowledge and for readers' advising.

I wasn't feeling very creative so I checked out the site's suggested books for the month. There were three and I chose Geraldine Brooks' People of the book as I had been talking about it over Easter and want to read it. From there, a quick look at the resources section showed that four of her books have notes: March, Nine parts of desire, People of the book, and Year of Wonders. Thus the reader was provided with info about a number of titles to allow a more detailed study of her work. I looked at People of the book in detail and was provided with a summary of the book, biographical data about Geraldine Brooks and links to an interview and lots of critics' remarks about the work. All of this seemed to provide me with a good start for a discussion - now I just need to reserve the book!

I also checked out the LitCourse section and enrolled in the first course which was about romantic fiction, not because I was particularly interested, but because I like starting at the beginning! It provided a useful introduction and discussion points about the two extracts being looked at. One criticism I had was that the course seemed a bit black and white about the answers, whereas I was more interested in being discursive and could easily argue pros and cons of situations. From this you can see that I got some "wrong" and disagree. There are ten courses covering characterization, plot, setting (important for the romance novel - I learnt that!!), irony, symbolism, and other topics.

I could probably live without the produce available at the LitShop and a lot of the LitFun, but I liked the idea of looking up recipes to suit the setting you were reading in. That is a clever idea. I checked out the Greek page and found a few favourites (much more than in the I'm cooked site previously discussed, though the US names for Greek favourites in Litlovers made me wonder whether another search on I'm cooked mightn't find some?). These recipes appeared to be linked to countries, so if I wanted an accompaniment to Ellis Peters' Cadfael series or Georgette Heyer's regency novels I'd be pushing my luck. But maybe historical recipes will come later. Likewise the film adaptations list was pretty short but calling for input.

This is a great site and will, no doubt, continue to grow in strength!

#52 Clip the highlights with Clipmarks!

While it is still just March it is good to be getting onto the March Things and feeling like I will soon catch up with the PLCMC people. It is particularly special to be doing the Australian March things that we have written ourselves! How exciting it has been for Fiona and me to participate in this program from afar! That really brings out the universality of the web and how it makes everyone closer. Only one more thing to go for us! I do hope they let us have another go later ;>)

As stated in the Learning 2.1 blog, Clipmarks really, really is my current favourite Web 2.0 tool. It is so great to be able to save all those articles that come my way through Bloglines and also any websites that catch my eye. They are all saved in full text (or abridged as it takes my fancy) rather than just with a url which will require me to open it before reading. And who knows whether the url will still be current?

I have used Bloglines for a while to clip stuff, and while you can sort into subject folders it is just the url. Likewise I have played with Furl and eSnips (which I was really looking at in relation to online File storage and as a replacement for the ill-fated Omnidrive). The good thing about Bloglines snipping is that you can stay in Bloglines to do it and when you have finished you are taken right back to where you were. However, I like the full text potential of Clipmarks.

I have had Clipmarks linked to my Facebook profile and access to my Clipcasts there since I first started using it. Yesterday because I wanted also to place some news clips on the Boroondara Facebook page (and you can't add news clips to Facebook pages, only to profiles), I set up a new blog, From the news desk, linked my Clipmarks to that blog in Blogger (you have the choice of inputting multiple blogs and can select which you want to send particular clips to), and then fed the blog into the My blogs feed on the Boroondara Facebook page. Voila! Newsclips there! And I love Clipmarks even more! It's a slightly circuitous work-around but it works for me!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

#51 Libraries and the social web a hot topic

Libraries and the social web is certainly a hot topic. If for example you do a browse through Facebook pages (ie not personal profiles but organizational pages) you will get over 500 hits with the word library in the name! There are also groups on Facebook which are library-based.

It was interesting to run through Jessica Hupp's 25 useful social networking tools for librarians and to realize that, whilst I don't use all of them, there were very few that I was not aware of. I took the opportunity to look at a few that I wasn't aware of: LinkedIn (a site for linking professionals), TeacherTube (a YouTube for teachers), Footnote (a history site which is very US based), Community Walk (a mapping tool for history talks etc), and DaftDoggy. Of these, Community Walk was one that I felt could be useful for family and local history and I made a mental note to go back and try it.

If I think about the City of Boroondara Library Service in relation to the tools mentioned and how we are using them. I do think that we are starting to get somewhere. We made a decision to set up profiles/pages on Facebook, Bebo (not mentioned here but very big in the UK), and MySpace in an effort to cover most bases in terms of age groups. The Facebook has been up and running for a while and the challenge there seems to be to work out ways of linking the page into other applications, Web 2.0 or otherwise, as it seems very different from how you do it on a personal profile. We have just set up Bebo, and MySpace is still a work in progress. We have been focussing in these sites on general information and news about the library service and particularly in promoting events. The next stage needs to be putting the links on the website, and adding applications that will encourage interaction such as reviewing.

Number three is Ning and at Boroondara we have three nings: a general staff ning, a training ning for learning 2.1 and an embryonic local history one focussing on Hawthorn's history. I belong to a number of other nings as do a number of Boroondara staff. With nings, I am coming to the conclusion that they are great for staff but I am not sure that they provide the tool I want for community interaction, hence the stagnation of the Hawthorn history ning.

Four is blogging. The City of Boroondara Library Service has had a staff blog for some time, though a limited number of people use it and we have found that more seem to be attracted to the nings. We have also finally got a library blog developed for the public and this is fed into our Facebook page and hopefully the link will be on the website soon. The Town Gallery and Art Nerds blogs are linked now, so hopefully ours will be soon. At present we only have the one library blog that covers the whole spectrum of library services, though we will probably develop a local history specific one. Outside work I have been working on a blog for the Collingwood Historical Society and this one is integrated in the website. I have also set up another blog, From the news desk, which enables me to post clippings relating to books and libraries to the blog and thence to the Facebook page.

Meebo is five and we have done some experimentation about using this for enquiry in wikis; it could be installed on the blog(s), Facebook, Bebo, on wikis and hopefully in Spydus on the "no hits" page. Before that can be achieved however work will need to be done with the organization about the ability to load such tools on the Council network.

Twittering is number seven: a number of staff Twitter, follow each other's tweets, have links from blogs to Twitter, links from Facebook etc. We have been following some libraries and their Twittering and will shortly set up a library Twitter account which in the first instance will be linked to the library blogs via Twitterfeed. This is another way of getting out into people's spaces.

We have an embryonic Flickr account for the City of Boroondara Library Service (tool 8) and need to do some serious work loading images on to it. Whilst we are using Wetpaint as the platform and not PBwiki as favoured by tool 13, we do have two experimental wikis, one general one and another specifically relating to the Hotels of Boroondara.

Many of the other tools mentioned in the list (or related ones) are used by City of Boroondara Library Service staff, either in their work or play. It is certainly an exciting time to be working in public libraries with all these possibilities for interacting with our users.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

#50 I'm cooked!

Imcooked (cook it, film, share it) is a web community for sharing recipes. But it isn't just about sharing recipes: you videotape yourself cooking the recipe and share it on the site! It's like Youtube for cooks, they say. There are the usual social networking elements as well as other elements: groups (not too many yet), friends, information on how to make and upload a video, a range of channels (we would call them subject groupings perhaps?) e.g. cakes/pies, desserts, bread.

I did a search for some favourites: taramasalata (no luck), plum sauce (no luck - I'll have to stick with Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander), moussaka (no luck) and then pushed my luck with pavlova (not surprisingly, no luck). So as instructed, I clicked the Video tab and explored the Top Favorites. There I found "Cheap and evil guacamole" which I fancied would be good for Tapsister, but I thought "why would one bother?" and she would prefer to shop. Guacamole is readily obtainable in a variety of very good brands (guacamole with lime is to die for). I used to make my tzatziki from scratch, starting out with straining the yoghurt. But I haven't done that for years, i.e. since really good tzatziki has become readily available.

I also saw there was a video of How to clone a Big Mac. ROFL. Why, why, why? Paul McCartney, Sir to you, making mashed potatoes had its amusement value. I was interested that he peels his potatoes with a knife.

Well, what of the site? It's a creative idea and takes the sharing of recipes into the social networking realms of Web 2.0. But is it for me? I love cooking and I love reading recipe books. I love creating recipes and find that Stephanie's bible is so good for reminding one of what goes well with what. I always like the fact that Stephanie is both a trained and experienced librarian and also a local Boroondara (even Hawthorn) author. But do I want to emulate Geraldine Dillon (that's dating me but her programme was really important in stimulating my love of cooking) or Maggie Beer or Jamie? I don't think so. I don't even want to be a new librarian/cook, like Stephanie. I actually don't really even want to watch someone cooking most of these recipes; the site seems very American, ie US, based, and I guess that the type of cooking covered here is not what I am interested in.

And the library application? Well, I didn't find an historical section so I guess it is about knowing that the site exists if library users are interested in this sort of thing.

#49 So many great music sites, so little time!

What an absolutely amazing site is Soundsnap!

I know there is music on it, but I was more interested in some of the other categories like a hissing cat or a baaing sheep or a roaring lion! I am glad that creator Tasos Frantzolas decided to create the site as he needed it himself! Again,it's a good one for tarting up presentations or adding to your slideshow or video click or wiki. These sounds are certainly not just for musicians to use!

#48 Is there any free AND legal music out there?

It looks like there is free and legal music out there, though it is rather limited in scope on this site for the types of music I am interested in. There were 111,052 free MP3s here on today: that's quite a few since January 16 when Jennifer posted that there were 110,462. The Thing #48 instructions warned that it was mainly top 40 stuff, but, ever perverse, I hunted around through some other categories like Folk which has 2790 items.

I had been to a Peggy Seeger concert during the week and hunted unsuccessfully for her, not minding as I know there are some songs on her MySpace profile. There were quite a few subheadings in Folk but a lot of them with rather sparse entries. This was also the case for World music where I got excited by the headings Dimotiko and Nissiotiko only to find them empty.

I uploaded an MP3 of an early mediaeval Georgian Alleluia which will be topical next week. The file was easy to upload to my PC and then to play. Use for the library? Well, I can't see much use for my avowed aim of usefulness for local and family history, but the site could be used to provide music for a slide show or video clip. And it would also be useful generally in case library users ask for such a site.

#47 For the musically inclined or Not!

I signed up to Jamstudio and using first the 1,2,3 demonstration and then Help I played with creating chords, adding instruments, changing tempo and changing type of music. I created a song called "What!" but I have not managed to get any sounds out of Jamstudio yet! I also went to Tapsister's post on Thing 47 and linked in through that connection. Voila! Still no sound when you press play! I saved the song and tried emailing it to a couple of addresses: I got the link to the song there and pasted it above. Maybe I am just not letting it have enough time to load? Maybe it's jammed?

I am not into musical composition, nor particularly into the type of music featured here, but I can see that it could be fun to play with. We could use it to create background music for podcasts or other such things. But why can't I get any sound?

Monday, March 3, 2008

#46 Updates!

Thing 46 is a chance to review the changes made with a number of Things since they were first written up almost a year before this task #46. As the Victorian public libraries Learning 2.0 was happening about the time or just before these updates were being written up, I didn't find that there was all that much that was new for me here. The Things that were updated and/or commented upon were #3 Blogger, #5 Flickr, #8 Bloglines, #9 RSS feeds, #10 Generator, #11 LibraryThing, #12 Rollyo, #13 and #14 Technorati. However, it is useful to have these updates for when we want to roll out the original 23 things to the next group of staff.

Interestingly the majority of these are ones that I still use daily or at least on a regular basis and many the ones that Michael Stephens talked about in his talk last week. These have all become pretty mainstream now, it appears. It's hard to believe it, but it is really so. Tempus fugit.

I was interested in Flickr's partnership with Picnik which I must have passed over (though it should have come up in the Picnik thing), and the fact that LibraryThing offer a facility to scan titles not on their database. That sounds good to me as I find it very frustrating not being able to add new items in Bookjetty (they say next release....). It was also interesting to see the comment about the role of Facebook in social cataloguing. I guess I had noticed it with the various books and reading applications but I hadn't really thought it out.

#45 Go with the flow - Flowcharts & Mindmaps

I was quite looking forward to doing mindmaps and flowcharts, but when it came to the point it took a while to get into it.I signed up with Gliffy for the flowchart example. It provided examples and possibilities for flowcharts, organizational charts, network diagrams, floorplans, SWOTs and technical drawings. It seemed to take me quite a while to get the hang of it and I didn't find it very intuitive. I think the trick would have been to have had a flowchart mapped out and just to input it rather than being free-flowing as I was. However, I did think that it was rather light on instructions and with a the floorplan layout for example I never found out how to rotate an item. I wasn't really sure how much better it was than Word.

For the mindmap example, I tried both and mindmeister. With it took me a while to get the hang of how to do it (it hadn't made it clear that I had to sign up before I did anything) and I then got rather a jumble with boxes covering each other as I expanded the brainstorm. Mindmeister, however, was a program I went for immediately. The demonstration video produced on camtasia was pretty clear and the draft prototype clarified remaining queries. I really enjoyed using mindmeister, but think that perhaps I like doing mindmaps in that linear way. In fact I actually like drawing them with marker pens and butcher's paper ;>).

Mindmeister was the standout application for me from this group. The site also provided a forum for online discussion, the facility to publish to web or blog, and the facility to set up notifications if others were working on and amended the mindmap. This could be done through Twitter and a link through Skype allowed people working together on the map to communicate. I liked the way it used third party software such as Skype and Twitter to improve functionality.

And the differences between mindmaps and flowcharts? Well, flow charts provide a logical flow and map out a process, while mindmaps are about brainstorming everything to do with the key issue.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

#44 Nag yourself

This task is about using Jott to nag yourself. Jott uses your mobile phone to convert your voice to emails, SMS, reminders, lists and appointments, You can Jott to yourself, or you can link to other web services e.g. Google calendar, Blogger and Twitter to name a few. You can investigate more about Jott at their website, but it was created for the US market and isn't available in Australia.

Would I use it, if it were available? It could be useful for those things that pop into your mind suddenly when you are out on a walk or in bed and have to grope for a pen and paper - a sort of automated nagging list. As it isn't available, I'll have to rely on my memory and the odd pen and scrap paper.

#43 Midi Files

Ho hum! I have had this Thing sitting here awaiting my attention for weeks and weeks, while I have been playing with other potential Things and other Things that I already use. Well, MIDIs. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and was apparently first standardized in the 1980s. I read the wiki article and that was quite informative - maybe more information than I felt I needed.

MDIs allows all sorts of media control devices to talk to each other and computers - that's the theory and I'm sure it is probably the practice too (though not in Polyxena's life as we know it). MDI was also a major factor in getting rid of the walls of synthesizers in 1970s and 1980s rock concerts. Another result was the development of hardware and computer based sequencers, which can be used to record, edit and playback performances. These are used for mobile phone rings, and can be used for composition.

I had great difficulty with the task and didn't complete it. I thought that I downloaded the jazzmidi sequencer from, but then it wouldn't install. I thought it was a free download but Tapsister thought she had to join up so maybe that was my problem. I did manage to access and save the Hallelujah chorus from Alamo5's midipage though the instructions were different to those in the discovery exercise. It was amazing to see how many midi files are around.

But, of course, as I couldn't load the sequencer I couldn't do the next part of the exercise. Ho hum! Do I care? I am glad for curiosity's sake to know of the existence of midis and midi sequencers but don't believe that I would ever use this knowledge theoretically or practically. In terms of applicability to libraries, I suppose that these files could be used in making film clips etc, but I didn't explore the copyright issues and am not sure whether this is all free for all to use.

Guess what? Omnidrive

I have made another attempt today to sign up to Omnidrive. The register page is still giving an error message. I have had no response from my communications with them. I sure hope that this is fixed before we have the whole swag of Boroondara Learning 2.1 staff wanting to access it. The one other Boroondara person aside from me who has done this Thing (and wasn't previously using Omnidrive) couldn't sign up either, so it can't just be me ;>(

It's a few weeks to go before Thing 32 for Boroondara, so I will keep checking the website. Sigh! I suppose I can explore some of the other sites in this category and use them as options when I post the tasks to the Boroondara Learning 2.1 ning.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Omnidrive again!

Well the Omnidrive server apparently crashed a couple of days ago, according to their blog. Everything is supposedly back up and working but not the "Register users" page! I'm not getting the same error message as yesterday, just nothing happens. Maybe it is the old IE/Firefox problem. Anyway, I left a comment on the blog. Meanwhile, I was cruising through the Web 2.0 winners and noticed that Omnidrive won in their category...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another go at #32 Omnidrive!

Having been enthused by being told by my friend Tapsister that the signup option was working properly now on Firefox, I decided to have another go at using Omnidrive. Well, it was not to be. I got onto the main page, and then clicked Signup! "Unable to connect". I tried getting in going through a range of different sneaky approaches. "Unable to connect". This time I can't even get to the signup page. Sigh! I think this product would be so good - if I could sign up!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Animoto - postscript

Needless to say I did go back to Animoto. I wanted to put together some photos for the family (or for me) of an uncle who died in recent times. Now that was frustrating. I had photographs scanned on my hard drive and it took me ages to work out why I couldn't see all of them when I was trying to upload from Animoto. Duh! I finally worked out the difference: these are .tif and the ones I was able to load were all .jpg. So it looks to me that this tool can only be used with .jpg files. Anyway, I was glad to have worked out what was happening. Meanwhile, as I have posted a couple of my video clips over at the City of Boroondara Learning 2.1 ning, I can look at them there to my heart's content.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More Animoto - a family history tool

This is positively the last play I am having with Animoto this afternoon! Note that that leaves this evening, of course. This one, with great originality labeled La vita, is an attempt to see how family history photographs could be used to create a video clip. I know I am quite transparently playing with this to avoid housework so I had better get on with it!

Agatha Christie in Egypt - without Murder at the Vicarage ;>)

I've had great fun playing with Animoto, remixing and reloading things for this video clip of Agatha Christie. I ended up going back to the original one and just exchanging the Murder at the Vicarage cover with one for Death comes at the end.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Rereprise of #32

I thought while I was still in Learning 2.1 mode that I would go back to Omnidrive. I did - and with exactly the same result. There is still a problem registering. I sent them a screen dump of my problem when I first encountered it over Xmas and New Year and have simply not heard a word since - brilliant customer service! Other Boroondara staff doing Learning 2.1 have also not been able to access registration. These sites sound wonderful and an answer to one's dreams, but if one can't register....

#42: Google Groups/Usenet

Like RA Meyer who was composing task 42, I was pretty amazed to discover that newsgroups were still around as these electronic bulletin boards seemed a thing of the past. But they are obviously still there, if not quite getting the same use as they did before Google took off. I clicked on the site and had a look at the usage, i.e. it was great in the early days of the internet but has decreased greatly in recent years. Surprising? I don't think so.

I then did a search in Google Groups for breast cancer and came up with 6,690,000 groups!! I hunted through a couple of the lists for their postings and wondered where a newly diagnosed person would start? Well, probably they wouldn't start with Google Groups but with Google, and the question of what he or she might find there is another one.

#41: Live Mocha - learn a new language and make friends along the way

Like many people I know, I have the desire LATER, like when I retire, to go back to languages I have learned in the past and try to revive those competencies, or to start new languages. I know that to some extent this will always be a dream. I have never had any trouble learning the grammar of a language or reading it, but when it comes to oral competency just forget it! I do not have the ear for it. So, I am interested to see how this site works. I really want to brush up my grammar and reading skills in a couple of languages and think that I am capable of doing so, but do I still dream of the oral competency?

I was interested to notice recently on Facebook an ad for another social networking language learning program, My happy planet. This program also talked of connecting with others to learn, though it was closed down for production when I sourced it. However, it seems that the idea is not limited to LiveMocha.

So I logged in and joined LiveMocha. It seems that one can learn, practice and return the favour there, people who are learning your native language. A whole list of languages was offered initially and I chose French because I'd like to revive my competency in that. I did study it for six years at school and for a year at University so I am hoping that I can get into this reasonably easily. Louise and I, however, were quite challenged a couple of years ago when we thought we might get back to French at Alliance and were freaked out by the induction test.

Once I had chosen French, I discovered that despite the long list of languages being offered, in fact the only ones really offered were English, Spanish, French, German, Hindi and Mandarin. Others are "coming soon". There were a few people who were learning French whom I asked to be my friends, though I think that for this program to be effective there would need to be a greater network.

I then embarked on French 101 (I was offered 101, 102, 201 and 202) and completed the first lesson. The course (French 101) is supposed to take a total of 50 hours but as yet I haven't any sense about how long it will take me. I found it quite confusing in each section as there were no instructions and I had to play about trying to work out what to do. I lost scores while playing around and felt that with clear instructions I would not have, as absolutely none of the language was new. I wondered what it would have been like to start a course with absolutely no knowledge, and maybe that is really what I need to do to test the usefulness of the site.

It's an interesting concept and maybe an area where social networking can really help one's learning. I think from my experience of LiveMocha and MyHappyPlanet that this is still very much in an embryonic phase but I'll continue with the French and maybe later when I have time to ponder it I will have access to the other languages I am interested in.

#40: Retroland - reminisce about the good old days

When I am not being a librarian or a manager, I'm an historian. In fact, I started the day today surfing around the online MMBW maps at the State Library of Victoria for some guy in the UK who is trying to trace some information about a family member who was in Collingwood in the 1860s-1870s.

I love the past, but I don't find that that makes me a fan of Retroland. It's a site where you can reconnect with things you liked in the past and, as it also has a social networking role, you can connect with people who are interested in reminiscing about the same things that you are. I found a lot of the stuff, such as food and music, very U.S. based and didn't connect with it a lot. However, it is good to know that this site exists in case I want to find out some information about clothing, food etc from a particular era. So I can see that application for local and family history. It just needs to be taken with a grain of salt and a bit of awareness that things might not have been quite the same in Boroondara.

#39 - Another bit of fun

#39 Animoto - make video clips like pros!

Animoto is absolutely cool! After my lack of skill and enthusiasm about the comic relief topic, it was great to get into Animoto and let them create a professional video for me. I continued on the theme of Agatha Christie and Egypt that I started in Photobucket a number of things ago and also carried on with in Scrapblog. Animoto was easy to join up to.

The first glitch came when loading from Photobucket was not available as an option, even though it was listed as one and they had apparently promised that it was coming in September 2007. But as I had loaded some of the Agatha Christie and Egypt photos onto my hard drive, I loaded them from there. That was pretty straightforward though it took a bit of time. I could then spotlight photos I wanted highlighted and reorder them or delete them. Then I needed to choose music. I could have uploaded some from elsewhere but chose to use some of theirs. The range was not great - Electronica,Indie rock, hip hop, Latin and Singer/songwriter - and none of it probably suited my archaeology and sleuth theme.

Animoto then analyzes the images and the music and pieces it together into a video clip. It took a while for this process to happen, but they warned you and offered some entertainment. Once the video clip is produced you can then remix it or tweak it yourself. I was happy and easily uploaded it here to my blog and also onto the Boroondara Learning 2.1 ning. You can do 30 seconds clips for free and these take about 10-15 photographs, or you can join up and pay for longer videos.

I was so excited I decided to start another one based on some photographs of Polyxena and Hecuba. Those photographs are higher resolution and took quite a time to load. I also remixed them and changed the photos. It all takes time but it is fine. Some of them turned out quite grainy in the application and I'm not sure why. With this one, I also uploaded it to the blog (see next post), to the Boroondara Learning 2.1 ning and also to Facebook. It all worked fine, though I am now wondering about the automatic start here on the blog as both want to start in conflict. Sigh! The challenges of technology.

#38 Comic relief

I am afraid that this topic didn't do much for me. I got onto ToonDoo and looked at the comic strips linked to library in the cloud of tags. Some of the Self Check ones were good, and I liked Library 1 and Library 2 about the implications of not talking in the library. However, when I signed up I didn't become instantly creative. I played around for a while on the theme of trying to encourage people to become computer savvy seniors at the library and experimented with a witch and a Santa who looked like they could do with some computer skills. But I'm happy to keep my results private.

I can see that such a tool could be used in a public library to promote events and activities. I like reading comic strips and get an RSS of Unshelved regularly so I like the library theme. But I don't think I have it in me to create them.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

#37 Music to our ears

Task 37 is about expanding musical horizons by using online radio stations where the user tells the station what they like listening to. We were given two options, Pandora or LastFM. Fortunately Fiona had done this task before me, so I knew that Pandora wasn't available in Australia, so that left me with LastFM. You can join up and listen, select music, link it together in albums, and then embed the link to your blog or to other social networking sites - I used Facebook.

I focussed on folk music, though there did seem to be some classical music there as well. Judy Small was unknown, but Martyn Wyndham Read and A.L. Lloyd already had "stations" and I uploaded them to the side bar of my blog, though I later put them in this post as my sidebar seems to be getting widgeted-out.

I could also have contributed information about these artists to LastFM as neither of them had any, taken part in discussions, found friends with similar tastes, journalled and found out about nad posted events. I could also have uploaded a software link that would have enabled LastFM to track what I was playing and link to my profile, what they call "scrobbling".

This is an interesting concept in social networking based on musical tastes and again the assumption that one wants to link to other tools such as blogs and Facebook. I can't see a great deal of use for this in terms of family and local history but it is obviously yet another tool that could be of use to publicize events. This seems to work something like Facebook events and there were certainly events in Melbourne.

#36 Dressing up your photos

Xmas Xena
Originally uploaded by Hecuba's Story
This task is looking at sites which will allow you to play around with photos - crop, resize, recolour, fix red eye and add features. We were given a couple of options Picnik, Fauxto now called Splashup, Pixenate and Snapfish as well as some other less well-known ones.

I chose to sign up with Picnik and found it very easy to use, though I did keep on getting tantalized by the Premium components which I would have for US$24.95 a year. You can upload photos from your computer, do web searches or link to various sites. I easily linked to my Flickr, Photobucket and Facebook accounts but ended up loading a couple of very familiar photos from my PC - they are the ones featured in this blog for Polyxena and Hecuba.

I played around with colour options (B/W, sepia etc), adding text and stickers and borders, and cropping and resizing. In both cases I added the vignette tool to highlist the cat, though this is not quite so clear with the Xmas trappings added. Then I saved my photos. Initially I thought I could only save back to the source where I had uploaded, but with the second one I discovered that by clicking on the Flickr tab I could easily save to Flickr.

I don't know what the other tools are like, but this is a great one. I can see great use for it both for staff who don't have access to Photoshop and also for use on public PCs.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Reprise on #32

Well, I have had another go at Omnidrive at work using IE and I still get the same error message when trying to sign up. So I think it is something wrong with the Omnidrive site at present. I sent them the details on the weekend, so hopefully I will hear back. The good news is that I successfully signed up for Zoho at work without crashing the PC as it continually does at home on Firefox. The test will be whether I can login ok at home and work on stuff. If I can't, the value of the tool will not exist.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

#35 Mini or micro blogging

Back in #19, I remember Jonathan deciding to explore Twitter and there it is still on his blog (s). It is easy to see how these short messages started life as SMS messages, but perhaps less obvious how useful they can be outside SMS. They remind me of the quick takes in Facebook where people tell you what they are doing at this minute and indeed that is one use for the tweets. And so I suppose that if these tweets are coming through on blogs and other network applications, people will know where you are and where you are heading, and whether you can be at Brunetti's for a coffee in ten. I am obviously working this through in my head as I go.

So this is possible, but do I want to be reporting on my actions every minute? I looked at Twitter when Jonathan was experimenting with it in #19 and my reaction then was that I didn't. However, despite yesterday deciding that I wasn't going to bother, today I have enrolled and have linked Twitter up to this blog, Hecuba's Story, and also to my Facebook profile. Doing both of these connections was simple as and just a really good example of how interconnected all these applications are and how interconnected people expect them to be.

I can see the usefulness of it, but don't seem to have many friends who use it. Surprise, surprise - I found two colleagues, Jonathan and Fiona. It certainly could be useful if friends were online and wanted to catch up. Maybe having it up on my Facebook profile will make people more aware of Twitter and encourage them to join in. Like many Web 2.0 things it is good to know that they are possible and to know how to sign up and operate them. Again, in terms of my specific personal learning goal, I am not clear what I could use this for in relation to local and family history. In the library generally, however, Twitter could used to tell people where you are and what you are doing, e.g. at a meeting. VOIP should enable us to do this when installed but in the meanwhile maybe this is an option.

#34 Using the web for better health

As with the previous thing, thing #34 doesn't have too many applications for local and family history in public libraries. The only, but a fairly loose, connection is about the health and well-being of staff. Again, I tried both FitDay and Nutridiary but I found both of them fairly frustrating to use. One of them allowed one to build up a standard meal and then repeat it, and that was useful but mostly I found the food they had listed didn't seem to relate to food that I wanted to report - that went for both of them as they seemed to focus on a limited range of processed food. It was good to have the various reports, particularly those about the calories consumed versus calories burned, and also the nutrient requirements.

Nutridiary also had a community element and this may be useful for people who need to be part of a community to manage their weight. It, like many other online tools, seems to be capitalizing on the value of social networking. I see ads often about WeightWatchers having an online program and I wonder where this paid program fits into the general scenario about weightwatching which is indeed what this topic is about. I imagine that the infrastructure of Weighwatchers would be able to provide a much more comprehensive food database.

#33 Express yourself through online art

This topic was just about having a bit of fun and it was, of course, hard to fit into my avowed aim of finding stuff that is potentially relevant to local and family history. I tried all the sites, Falling sand, Mr Picassohead, Snowflakemaker, and String Spin. Falling sand was very engaging to watch and it was fun to interact with as well as to seeh the inevitability of things coming together and then the changes that could occur with a flick of the mouse. Mr Picassohead was a fun application and one that I can see application for in youth services, but I found the Snowflakemaker fairly boring. String Spin in the version one was also a bit basic but I enjoyed version two where I could draw and it would create an increasingly amazing structure around what I had drawn. It was certainly fun to see some of the potential of the web.

#32 Online file storage with Omnidrive

Omnidrive sounds like it would be the answer to this woman's prayers! How often do I find myself at home wanting a file from work or vice versa? And 1 gb of free memory in a web-based application sounds wonderful. I email backwards and forwards but that doesn't always get through firewalls, and I carry stuff on my "message-sticks". I am attracted by the SnipShot facility for editing images and the ability to use Zoho for editing material. But maybe that's where the warning bells should have started out in my dream. In #18 I never managed to register for Zoho and it hung my Firefox several times until I gave up and used Google for the exercise instead.

So what happened to my Omnidrive dream? I got into the website easily enough and proceeded to sign up. My email id was accepted as available as was my username, but every time I tried to sign up I got an error message and that was that. I seemed to be able to everything else I wanted on the site, just not sign up! I have sent the error message to Omnidrive help so we'll see how we go. BTW I also went back to Zoho and the website came up with a signin for me but said the password that they had on the screen didn't match my id. I tried to do the forgot password scenario and guess what! My Firefox hung and I had to reboot. Is this about ME and my PC, or is it that these applications don't work with Firefox? I can pursue them further at work with Explorer but that will be no use to me at home with Firefox.
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