Sunday, July 3, 2011

#blogjune Boroondara challenge

We set ourselves another challenge at the City of Boroondara during the month of June, and that was to complete #blogjune for our library blogs. Well, when I say WE set ourselves the challenge I really mean that @tapsister set us the challenge to do #blogjune for the City of Boroondara Library Service by one or other of us doing a Boroondara blog-post a day.

We have four library blogs: Library News which covers general stuff, Bookends which is devoted to adult books and reading, About the books which has a youth focus and Telling Tales which is our family and local history blog. Having set us all the challenge, Tapsister did a beautiful colour co-ordinated roster for blogging during the month of June and we were away! I am not going to comment on how the Boroondara challenge worked generally as that is Tapsister's prerogative. I just want to focus on the posts that I aka Polyxena did for Boroondara during that time.

Apart from a couple of posts I did as normal business during June (and I don't think I even tagged as #blogjune), Telling Tales was my baby and we were rostered by Tapsister to do seven blogposts. Bookwoman did four of them focusing on our current celebrations on 150 years of public library service in Boroondara. They were on Camberwell Library, Camberwell Library and the Bookmobile, Camberwell Central Library and Balwyn Library. As we were about the celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Camberwell Central Library there were no surprises there.

Polyxena was rostered to do three. I moved away from the history of the library service for mine. My first was on the 1988 Kew Urban Conservation Study and the usefulness it has for family and local historians despite its unprepossessing cover. My second one was on the City of Hawthorn Centenary 1860 to 1960 and featured a video by Swinburne.

As I normally try to reframe and recycle my personal Hecuba Reads for one of the library blogs, I also did nine unscheduled #blogjunes on Bookends and once we put them into the equation decided that enough was enough. So I did a total of 11 blogposts for Boroondara in June. These included the two local history ones as well as ones for Bookends on Dorothy L Sayers, More Peter Wimsey, Striding Folly, In the teeth of the evidence, Last gift of time, In tearing haste, Manhattan dreaming, Lord Peter: the end, and finally Franklin and Eleanor.

So 11 Boroondara blogposts and 30 personal blogposts! A total of 41 for June for Polyxena! Yes, I know that nine of these were recycled and reframed and on the same topics but I am really very pleased with myself. I am also very pleased with the Boroondara challenge and look forward to Tapsister's analysis of it. Well done to Tapsister for giving us this challenge! I wonder how many posts we all did at Boroondara for June covering both Boroondara and personal ones?

#blogjune 30 Reflection drinking Gorgeous Geisha

Well, the end of June has come and a few days later I have finally come to the end of my 30 personal #blogjune posts, or rather I will be when I get to the end of this one and press the publish button. So I sit in Melbin's cold eating cake, drinking T2 Gorgeous Geisha tea and reflecting on what #blogjune meant for me.

Was I absolutely mad to take up the challenge? I had already taken up the #2011PAD challenge on 1 January and that involves a photo and sometimes a comment every day. I find with #2011PAD that I simply don't do it every day. But I basically do keep up to date by posting every few days. And yay! 30 June must have been the halfway mark for that as well as the end of #blogjune.

With #blogjune I decided that I wouldn't stick to one blog for my posts but I would spread the blogs over my three active (er semi-active?) blogs depending on how the mood took me. This meant that I would be focusing on technology (Hecuba's Story), books reading and writing (Hecuba Reads) and food (The Librarian and the Kitchen). This also meant that the focus of my blogging was restrained and not limited to random reflections. So what did I actually post about and what was the spread of topics?

I started off with Hecuba's Story as I needed to blog about the death of my feline Hecuba and the barriers her death had given me to writing in that blog. After the struggle of writing that one I didn't get back to Hecuba's Story for a while but did eventually do eight other posts there: 16 paper-li, 17 paper-li reprise, 18 Martyn Wyndham-Read, 20 Neighbourgoods, 21 Rouxbe, 24 Keepmeout, 26 Google+, and, of course, I am now doing 30. So that meant I did a total of ten posts on the general theme of technology - be it exploring new sites or commenting on the value of others. There probably were at least another 30 posts I could have written on this all-absorbing topic :)

After my initial post, I moved quickly to the comfort zone of books and writing and did a total of 14 posts on my blog Hecuba Reads. These basically focused on what I was reading during the month of June: 2 Macrobertsonland, 3 Dorothy L Sayers, 4 More Peter Wimsey, 5 Beyond the Ladies Lounge, 8 Striding folly, 9 Vale Patrick Leigh Fermor, 10 In the teeth of the evidence, 11 Last gift of time, 14 In tearing haste, 18 Manhattan dreaming, 22 Five books meme, 23 First Merchant Venturers, 25 Lord Peter: the end, and 27 Franklin and Eleanor. On looking back I am fascinated to see that what I read and thought about serendipitously in relation to recreational reading in June held no surprises: crime fiction, biography, local history, Greece, feminism, archaeology. Yes, these are always my key reading interests.

Another key interest is food and cooking and this was reflected in the six blogposts I did in The Librarian and the Kitchen. They were: 6 Chicken coriander and mushroom pie, 7 Mackerel and vegetable pie, 12 Turkey and coriander balls, 13 Turkey and coriander balls in tomato sauce, 15 The Flavour Thesaurus and 28 Sweet chilli prawn pies. There were no surprises there either. I love reading cook books and books about food and in terms of actual cooking I have been going through a phase of cooking different pies recently. And the meatballs? Well, meatballs are simply one of my favourite meals so again I am always trying out variants. During June I was so pleased that one of the other bloggers actually cooked one of my recipes and another friend whipped out a camera to take a photo of a pie I cooked her! Cooking and reading and writing about it is always fun and a constant in my life.

So would I do #blogjune again? I certainly would take up the challenge again as it provided me with a framework and a discipline. That being said the only topic discipline was provided by the actual blogs and I am really interested to reflect back on what I actually blogged about and how reflective it was of me. Will I blog more as a result or heave a sigh of relief? Well, probably the answer is yes to both.

This post is, of course, only my comments on my own personal blog challenge. I was also absolutely blown away by the volume of blogposts and the wide range of topics my fellow #blogjune bloggers came up with. To review my reactions to all of that would just take a lot more space than a blogpost. And I don't need to anyway as my colleagues provided regular updates for us on Libraries Interact.

#blogjune 29 Google+

Yes I know that it is 3 July and I should have finished my 30 #blogjune posts by now. But on Thursday evening I did one and still had two to finish. Exhaustion got the better of me - as did a website and app I was wanting to comment on and which got into a loop when I tried to signin. I'll pursue that another time as it may just have been my tiredness and not the site.

The end of June of course coincided with the launch of Google+. I was annoyed to get onto it just as I was in the midst of end of year financial transactions and really haven't looked at it properly until this morning. Here's a link to a good Youtube introduction to it that I found when I was searching Google+ in my Sparks section.

At this point of time it is not possible to get a perfect prediction from the crystal ball, but I really like lots of things about it. I like the clean interface. I like the Circles and the ease with which you can add and take away people and the ease in which you can limit or broadcast your posts and Sparks. I really like the Sparks function which is, of course, building on the integral strengths of Google. And I like the way it is all part of a Google package: if I am using it I also have immediate access to Googledocs, Blogger, Youtube, Mail, Reader, Calendar, Picasa, etc. I don't use all of these regularly and some hardly ever but this is a strength of Google+. I haven't tried a Hangout yet and my experience with the mobile site on iTouch/iPad is that I prefer the web much more. Hopefully there will be an app soon.

At the moment with such a limited number of people participating my circles are only in the 80s and the majority are librarians with a few IT geeks thrown in for good measure. Maybe that has a lot to do with my limited range of acquaintance but I do know that the range of my followers and those I follow on both Facebook and Twitter is much broader than this. Will it have common appeal to say my extensive group of breast cancer friends on Facebook?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

#blogjune 26 Geoloqi

I have been puzzling for a while how to share local historical data and photos via apps, i.e. if someone is walking down the street they will get a push saying this is the Leinster Arms, it has been a hotel since blah and blah and a link to old photo. Recently I had an email (yes it was the Webbys again) telling me about Geoloqi. This is a mobile and web platform for location sharing. I'm rather cynical about location sharing but what got me to check this one out was the suggestion in the email that you can use Geoloqi to create a virtual guided walking tour if you have friends visiting.

It was easy to sign on as you can just do that with Twitter and there is a free app for iPhone4/iTouch though not for iPad. Unfortunately there are no Australian timezones either. You track where you have been as well as where you are going.

The function I am interested in is about leaving geonotes for your future self which you can have emailed, texted or pushed to you when you get to the location. So you can leave a note at the supermarket to buy cat litter, leave a note at work about an important task, or leave an historical comment at a site. As far as I can see you can't add a photo as part of your Geonote but presumably could add a link to a photo (e.g. on Flickr or Picture Australia). And each Geonote only works once so that is not really want we want.

There are "layers" that you can subscribe to which are said to to be such that you could have information about the street as you walk down it. Yay! And you will be able to make your own layers soon but now you need to build by using Geoloqi api. It does seem to me that this is the type of tool I have been looking for but as it's in beta maybe more exploration is necessary and a bit of patience.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

#blogjune 24 KeepMeOut

Here's another one from the Webbys! Are you addicted to certain sites and find them distracting and that they keep you from things you should be doing? Do you find playing with Yoville houses and gardens more entertaining than doing your own housework? Do you want to curb your use of various sites?

Well, in that case KeepMeOut is the tool for you. You can enter various urls that cause you angst, and set up KeepMeOut to warn you if you go there more than the times allocated. You can spell out frequency, limit your usage every day or just on weekdays, and specify times for the limits to be effective. You bookmark the site and store it on your browser. There's a list of most popular bookmarks that you can choose from. These not surprisingly include my favourites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube but also a number I never use. Partly this is because you can set the language of the site to eight European languages or Chinese and some of the bookmarks relate to that.

I entered Facebook as a site whose use I want to limit to once in 60 minutes every day between 9am and 5pm. It was easy to make a bookmark and drag it to the browser or favourite it. You can then easily change the settings if you want. I changed my settings to weekdays only easily. KeepMeOut keeps usage stats for hits - both blocked and allowed. There are various testimonials on the site such as "KMO saved my degree". The idea is that you use the KeepMeOut bookmark to access any limited site, so you need to keep up that discipline yourself. It won't work if you just sign on directly to the url.

I'm not sure that I will use it but if you are in the middle of exams or other deadlines and want a tool to help with some self-discipline it's a neat little thing. Of course, you have to want the discipline and sometimes I just need Facebook to provide distraction from my housework :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

#blogjune 21 Rouxbe

Another site I was introduced to by the Webbys is Rouxbe. Rouxbe is an online cooking school which has over 65 online lessons. The lessons are very comprehensive and each has a series of video steps, practice, quizzes and discussion. The lessons vary from Sharpening knives, making stock, knife handling and many more. It is iPad and iTouch compatible and looks fabulous.

Of course, the catch is that it is a business and there is a price tag. The options are US$29.95 for a monthly membership or US$239.95 for an annual membership (works out at $20 a month). If you want to do cooking school stuff online it certainly is something to consider.

#blogjune 20 Neighbourgoods

I've been inundated with Webbys emails telling me about various sites I might try. I saved them up intending to use them to explore during #blogjune. I am not sure how it has got to day 20 of #blogjune before I have explored any of these though. But a start is good.

One site that fascinated me was Neighbourgoods which is a site where you join up to borrow or lend goods to your friends or connections. So instead of buying a drill or a ladder or a tool that you will only want to use once, you can search here and borrow. You can limit who you lend to if you feel uncomfortable about strangers and you can charge if you want.

Signing up is easy as you can do it through Twitter, Facebook or OpenID though you will then be sent a verification code via email. You can either search directly for availability of a particular item or browse or post a request. As there were only four people registered within 100 miles of me and they had no items registered this didn't turn out to be of much immediate use. I also discovered that none of my Facebook or Twitter friends were registered.

Years ago when I and a number of my friends were all renovating houses in inner urban Melbourne we had a collective where we shared tools such as sanders, ladders etc to say nothing of each other's labour. I think that this is potentially a great way to manage such an arrangement.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

#blogjune 19 Martyn Wyndham-Read

I often speculate how we all got along before Web 2.0. Well, I suppose I mean I speculate how I got on as these days I can't imagine my life without many of the tools which didn't even exist a couple of years ago. Youtube is one of the sites that I am constantly finding stuff on that relates to quite long-standing interests of mine, interests that pre-dated Youtube by decades.

Folk music is one of those areas and Martyn Wyndham-Read is one of my favourite folk singers. Well actually, I think he is my very favourite folk singer. He is an English singer but has a strong Australian connection and I have only seen him perform here. I own all his CDs which I have gathered from gigs in Melbourne over many years. In fact I have some cassettes too. Imagine my pleasure when I discovered through a serendipitous search earlier this year that he has been videoed at various folk concerts and festivals in England and that these videos are on Youtube! Joy to the world indeed!

A song that was new to me on his 2011 Australian tour was Farewell to Anzac Cove based on a poem by Cicely Fox Smith. This performance on Youtube was at the Whitby Folk Week in 2010.

It always reminds me of my grandfather, Robert Alexander Leslie Purves, who was at Gallipoli but lucky enough to get gastro-enteritis and be taken offshore to a hospital ship and thence to Malta and then England. I wonder what he must have thought about the comrades he left behind and wonder whether he asked himself the questions that arise from the poem and song. His photo is here on Flickr but also heads this post.

#blogjune 17 paper-li reprise

Further exploration has meant that I have discovered that indeed previous issues are available under the archive tab, and that the widget does work on one of my other blogs that that doesn't have a black background. It appears that you can change the HTML coding to change the colour of the heading but that still didn't improve things for a black background.

I also changed the title of my newsletter after I produced it and it seems that the widget has embedded in it the original title and I can't work out how to change it.

However, I have explored the newsletter a bit more closely and realize that what I was looking at was really only my headlines! Now I realize that if I click for example on #blogjune the newsletter will give me links for many, presumably all for that day! Wow! this is a very useful tool. I have been reading #blogjune posts in a very scrappy way so this will give me any easy way to get to them and scan them.

#blogjune 16 paper-li Polyxena Press

I know that for a while I have been vaguely noticing tweets coming into my stream which refer to so and so's Daily News. I know I have noticed Kathryn Greenhill's a few times, looked at it and wondered casually how she did it. But it was only in the last couple of weeks when I got @ messages alerting me to the fact that my posts had appeared in someone's news that I thought I should investigate. And let's face it, the search was also going to give me something to blog about in the #blogjune challenge that I am behind in.

So how did I end up with my tweets (both curiously links to my Librarian and the Kitchen blog) in Punch's Library Place and the Tom Roper Daily? Going to one of their "papers" and a quick hit onto other information on the paper-li site showed me how! SmallRivers is a company focused on facilitating the discovery of relevant content and other people of interest on the web. Their enterprise paper-li allows Twitter and Facebook subscribers to produce the stuff coming through their streams in a newsletter style. You can choose your title, the frequency and them up to five streams of stuff to be featured.

I found the site a bit confusing to navigate. It appears there are ten credits for each title but it is not clear what happens then. Does one just create another title? Or is there then a charge? There is no mention of a paid version that I could find on the site, but who knows? I signed in via Twitter, but can I also sign in via Facebook and create a different paper? There is an ability to embed a widget in your blog. I have done so here on the side panel but it doesn't appear to work very well on a black background. I will try it elsewhere. I am also not quite sure about whether the separate issues are available anywhere but clicking on the archive link sounds like a good move.

Anyway I will be curious to see what comes up in it daily. Is this the essence of my tweetness?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

#blogjune End of Hecuba's Story

Hecuba by Hecuba's Story
Hecuba, a photo by Hecuba's Story on Flickr.

This is going to be the hardest #blogjune for me so I am going to get it over very quickly. This blog, Hecuba's Story, which I used for Web 2.0 and continued to use for general technology posts was named after my cat Hecuba. The reasoning behind it doesn't matter. You will note that the previous post to this one was in October 2010. The end of the feline Hecuba's story came on 3 November 2010 and I haven't been able to post here since. I tried a couple of times to do an Animoto tribute to her to post here but it hasn't quite happened. And maybe during June I will manage to achieve that.

Meanwhile by a very strange coincidence yesterday someone on Flickr accessed twice one of the series of photos I took of her after she had died! How amazing is that! The photo above (not the one viewed) shows her laid out in her shroud with flowers and one of her favourite plastic bag toys to play with in eternity. You can see her other gravegoods in Flickr and the lavender and daisy bushes that mark her spot.

So one Hecuba's story is finished, but the other Hecuba's story which involves the excitement of technological change lives on! And I am glad that the blog bears the name of the feline Hecuba who loved lying between me and my keyboard when I blogged!!

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