Saturday, January 4, 2014

#anz23mthings Thing 10 Social reading

Over time I have investigated a few different book and reading sites. Bookjetty, LibraryThing and Goodreads stand out amongst the ones I have used most. And I think ultimately the choice depends on what you are mainly using the tool for.

These days I use Goodreads regularly and not any of the others.  I don't want to catalogue my books at home. The non-fiction is arranged in broad DDC categories and the fiction is in a bit of a jumble but all in the one bookshelf and it needs weeding. Most of my new purchases are ebooks and I can search for them in their apps.

What I want a reading tool for is primarily to monitor my own reading and to have social interactions with followers and authors.  So I decided a few years ago that Goodreads was the one I wanted to use.  I have nearly 300 friends from a range of backgrounds and covering most elements of my life. I can't ever keep up with what they are reading but I like to see their opinions about new books getting added to my to-read shelf. We don't always agree but that doesn't matter. 

I mostly use the Goodreads app on my iPhone and have it linked to report to other social media about my reading progress. I usually find the books I am reading on there but have occasionally had to catalogue a title not already present.  However, some times I just don't bother recording those titles.

I set an annual target for my reading on Goodreads but I keep it very modestly at 52.  I know people who read 365 a year but I am not really interested in doing that.  I just really want to keep a record of my reading as proof to me that I really still do it.

And therein lies a problem. I really like re-reading books. But if I re-read books the re-reads are not counted towards my annual target as the books still have their original completion date.  I have got around this in previous years by adding shelves called "read-2012" etc.  Or at least I had thought I had. However, this year I have had a real difficulty.

Elizabeth Peters
I reread a whole swag of Elizabeth Peters' books last summer in sweltering, can't do anything heat. So they are counted in my read-2013 shelf.  However, quite late in the year when I was ill and with my cotton-wool head barely capable of reading, I picked up a well-read Elizabeth Peters.  Of course, that didn't get counted either in my target or in my read-2013 shelf as it was already there once. And it got worse. After I had read that book, I went to Elizabeth Peters' site to identify the other books in the series. And I discovered that she had died. So I then reread a swag of her books which I had already reread in January 2013. This means that to calculate my annual reads I need to add the number of these books to the number of the books in my read-2013 shelf.

These calculations are not beyond me, but I really do wish that computers could do the stats for me.  It also really under-estimates the number of books read in Goodreads annual targets IMO.  Or maybe others don't re-read books?  Do you re-read? In total, I read (including re-reads) at least 106 books last year. I say at least as I think here were some others that weren't on file.  I am very happy with that as I had set a target of 52 books, the same as I have now set for 2014.

Goodreads with its iphone app is a tool that I use practically daily and a great example of a mobile tool. You can check out my Goodreads profile here.  Please feel free to add me as your friend.  I am always happy to have more.

#blog12daysxmas Post 11 #anz23mthings Thing 9 QR codes

I must admit that I am not really sure what to think about QR codes.  Are they are passing fad or are they just too much of a bother to read?  Certainly they do provide opportunities in libraries for links to lots of other information e.g. on a membership card or in displays. 

I have been experimenting with online tools for creating local history tours and maybe rather than doing a lot of writing for a stop a QR code linking back to where the data is would be enough.  Or would this work?  If you are doing a mobile tour on an app how do you go to another app to read the QR code?  Am I missing something?  However, the QR code I found above on interpretive signage on a walk in Virginia Beach, VA, shows a good use in local history. Minimal clear info can be provided on the board with links to more comprehensive info elsewhere, in this case a video about the history of the lighthouse.

QR codes do crop up in all sorts of places these days, although I think they are far from ubiquitous in Australia.  The one above is my ticket to a film called Nina at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).  The tickets for MIFF sessions on its app are all QR codes which are scanned for entry.  Another use by a Councils can be found on the information board below where the City of Yarra directs people to more information about the temporary relocation of the Council Customer Service Centre. 

I have a couple of different apps loaded on my iPhone for reading QR codes.  One is called QR Reader and the other is the RedLaser app.  These are pretty simple transactions and either work ok.

I have also been part of a Flickr group called QR codes in the wild for a while.  I have illustrated this post with a couple of my contributions to that group. If you want to look at the variety of places people have found QR codes, go over to the group and have a look. I think I might has said once or twice before that I heart Flickr.

Friday, January 3, 2014

#blog12daysxmas Post 10 #anz23mthings Thing 8 Calendars

On the tenth day of Christmas I got back to #anz23mthings!   Yes, I am going to finish this in January.  No stopping me!

Thing 8's theme is Calendars. I have tried various online calendars over the years: Outlook on my home computer as a standalone, Lotusnotes at work, Outlook at work, work calendar synced with work phone, work calendar sending invites to me on home calendar and so it goes on.

I did try Google calendar a few years ago (and know plenty who use it) but I think the key thing was that my work calendar which was critical was on Lotusnotes and then Outlook.  So Google calendar was only ever going to be a duplication for me. Finally I got to a stage when I abandoned my personal Outlook calendar and just used my work Outlook which synced with my work phone for all personal and work commitments. Of course, that led to some loss of data in terms of personal appointments (eg recurring ones) and contacts when I left that POW.

These days I am pretty happy using the native calendar interface on my iPhone. Via iCloud this syncs across various iThings.  It also allows me to add calendars from other sources eg Google, Yahoo, as well as iCal.  It also syncs with my Facebook invitations and events.  And now there is also an iCloud sync with my desktop Outlook so I have even started using that calendar again.

#blog12daysxmas Post 9 Yay for Helene Blowers!

Fox Hotel , Collingwood

Yes, I am behind again but I have two posts ready to do today.

On the ninth day of Christmas I had a wonderful social media inspired time at the Fox Hotel in Collingwood.  We were having a Melbourne Flickrup for members of the #2013PAD and #fp13 Flickr groups. My involvement in both of these groups started in late 2010 when I joined the #2011PAD along with Caroline Ramsden, the only other Australian in a group that we got involved in because of UK library Twitter friends.

Those of us who gathered were @emerald_j, me, Nicky from Civica, @birdsey7, @pru (a prospective member!), and Fiona and Terence who are fiant and their two children.  Unfortunately @csmramsden, @kat_frame, @bonitoclub and Pat M2007 all couldn't make it because of other commitments or last minute ill health. How amazing that we could have a face to face gathering with more than a couple of people!  That was unbelievable in 2010.

It was great to meet the people behind the photos and work out how we were all connected. We discovered that Fiona and Terence, the non library people in the gathering, had become involved via @csmramsden's daughter.  There were those of us there who reported that we were taught by @csmramsden's father in library school.  So now there is a hash tag on Twitter #ramsdengenerations! Unfortunately we were so interested in our face to face interactions that we forgot to take photos of the people.  But photos of the Fox Hotel were taken and posted on Flickr.

Fox Hotel, Collingwood

This probably sounds like a very personal little gathering of no interest to anyone else except a few Flickr geeks.  But I think it was a very significant gathering.  I joined Flickr as part of Thing 2 (I think - the number is the query not the process) in Helene Blowers' 23 Things when we did a Victoria wide roll out of it to all public libraries. And I am still there using it as an integral part of my life. A couple of others mentioned above did that Victorian 23 Things program too.  Many of us also started experimenting with a new thing called Twitter at that time and through it we made UK contacts and so the story goes on.  And we are still there enjoying our world wide networks.

All of the Melbourne people who are mentioned above have come together virtually and physically via various combinations of Twitter, Flickr and personal connections that can be traced back to several of us doing and embracing 23 Things as part of our lives.

So I say:  Yay for Helene Blowers!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

#blog12daysxmas Post 8 #anz23mthings Thing 7 Communicate: Google+Hangout and Skype

This topic's theme is Communicate! And we are asked to look at Skype and Google+ Hangout. I've had a Skype account for a while and I have used it mainly for communicating with overseas friends or with family and friends in Australia when I am out of Australia. However, I really do find email, Twitter and Facebook often a very good way for virtually instant communication. So I do tend to use those mostly. On Facebook you can easily do group discussions and I have found these very useful for many group discussions, be they with friends, family or colleagues.

I have also had a Google+ account since beta days but I must say I still don't use it very much.  In the early days I remember thinking that the Hangout was one of the best things about Google+, and experimenting with a couple of people. I can see from the use that it has been put to for discussions about the #anz23mthings that it is really beneficial.

I can see great opportunities in libraries for various things with all of these sites. Really anywhere you would like to have some face to face discussion. That could be with staff in various locations or with the community either in groups or singly. In terms of local history, I can see advantages with both Skype and Google+ for recording oral history and for group discussions about local history topics. Often people enquiring about local things will come from interstate or overseas and these tools could be used to great advantage.

Another tool that is worth considering is Facetime now that so many people of all ages have iPads and use them regularly. The photo above shows it being used in Virginia Beach, Virginia on two iPads which allowed the two people in Virgina Beach as well as the person in Amsterdam on one iPad and the person on the other iPad in New York City all to communicate!

Since my diagnosis with breast cancer I have been part of an international online breast cancer support group. The group has a face to face gathering once a year in North America whence the majority of people come. For a number of years, as part of this gathering, I have organized an international chat. It is really for any members who are in either in North America or the rest of the world and who would like to participate whilst not being physically present, so it is strictly speaking an online chat session on the program. We have experimented with a number of ways of doing this - successfully and unsuccessfully. We have an online chatroom on our website and that has been a constant for a number of years.

But in 2012 for the first time we trialled Facetime. You can see Jax in Amsterdam on my iPad participating in this photo opportunity in San Diego, California in 2012. In 2013 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we used Skype, the BClist chatroom and also Facetime as seen in the photo at the head of this post. We had a couple of laptops set up for Skype and for the chatroom, as well as a few iPads for Facetime. People used what they felt comfortable with, or swapped around. We had talked about a Google+ Hangout but it didn't come off. The reasons were complicated (and involved illness and death) and don't need to be gone into here.

But when the BCList has its 2014 Gathering in Akron, Ohio this year, I certainly hope that we can get a Google+ Hangout organized.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

#blog12daysxmas Post 7 #anz23mthings Thing 6 Youtube+Screencasts

I am not really much into video creation, I must say.  I have been using Youtube for years and I really love the use it has for archival material.  It is great to preserve and disseminate film footage and sound archives.  These play a very special role in family and local history, and any sort of history really.

I have had a Youtube channel for a few years, but I have usually used it for videos that I have made using photos.  Sites such as Animoto and the late lamented Pummelvision have been ones I have used to document things, such as my year in photos, my uncle's life when he died, a trip to Shanghai and others.  Yes, cats have definitely featured.  But that's the web.This is my Shanghai video:

I can see a real use for this in family and local history to document a series of photos about a particular place or person. This is a very brief one I did when my uncle died, but I would like to experiment with doing some local or family history focused ones.

While doing this Thing I signed up for Vine and was amazed at the very large number of my friends who were on it.  I was also interested to see that one of the trending topics was cats.  I am a great Henri and Simon's cat fan so this was heartening to me. I haven't loaded anything to Vine yet.  I think this has a lot to do with my real aversion to jerky handheld video. For the library profession, I think it is important that we don't produce amateurish stuff that gives a bad impression.  I am sure that many members of the profession do have these skills - just not me.

And I did do a Vizify twitter video of my account today.  That showed me who my golden followers are.  You can see it here.

Monday, December 30, 2013

#blog12daysxmas Post 6 #anz23mthings Thing 5 Photos+Maps+Apps

I was determined to use the opportunity of #blog12daysxmas to get back to my #anz23mthings, particularly as I fell out of it during #blogjune and have lacked the mojo to get back to it since then. Unfortunately working on this Thing has made me feel rather disheartened.

Thing 5 of the 23 mobile things is all about a mixture of my favourite things: technology and local history.  So I should be so excited about this. We were given three apps/sites to explore Historypin and WhatwasThere which both have both apps and websites and Sepiatown which only has a website.

This combination of old and new photos and maps is something that I have long felt was a really special thing that mobile phones could do. I want to be able to walk down the street and have my phone tell me when there is something that someone has considered of historical importance nearby, show me what it used to be like and give me info about the site as well as links to further information. And yes I know someone has to research the places and input the photos and data and do the geo links.  But I am more than willing to do that if I can find a good app.

All these sites show the potential for this long term dream of mine, but unless I am really missing something none really do it for me.

SepiaTown: from here to then is a nice site but it doesn't have an app, so it only ever had the potential to succeed in part of my dream.   Unfortunately there were very few photos around me (three in the Melbourne CBD to be precise) but that's a matter of them being put up. It is fairly clean and simple site:  you search a map and find nearby photos, click on them and then you can also look at Google streetview. Or you can do a random search.  The photo and the map/streetview are adjacent to each other on the screen so I don't know how this would work in an app without being completely configured. I played around with a photo of the State Library of Victoria, and then some Random searches which mostly brought me to NYC but also France and Germany. Sepiatown focuses on specific cities and has a number of featured cities including Sydney where there are lots of photos loaded. All that I hit were from the Powerhouse, but that may have been chance.

Then I did a specific search for Athens, Greece. Not good: there seemed to be only one photo in Greece taken in Livadeia in 1947. There was no Google imagery available for the Now version of this photo.  I was interested in looking for Greece, because I was thinking about how we could use such tools for relating to our aging ethnic communities and how we could use their photos and memories.  And that's certainly not to say we can't use the tool for that purpose, just that we would be starting completely from scratch. And it looks like the Now part of it might be very limited.

WhatWasThere has both a website and an app.  Again Melbourne didn't feature highly on the agenda so in this case I decided to give in and move to North America where most of the photos seemed to be centred (er centered).  I had fun playing around with some places I knew in San Francisco. Again, you search for a location and the site goes to the Google map and brings up a list of nearby sites.  I enjoyed looking at Mission Dolores and a couple of other buildings in the Mission area.  The way this site worked was slightly different.  You got the "old" photo and then when you asked for the now the old photo was superimposed over the now and you could fade it out. Nice. Again I did a check of Athens, Greece.  There was one lovely old photo of the Agora in 1908.  But for Greece there was no Now option on offer. Not even in Athens.  Leaving aside photos belonging to our ethnic communities, there are fabulous historical photos of Athens and this could be such a great tool for documenting that history.  But apparently there is no Now for comparison.

I loaded the app for WhatWasthere and went out for a walk with it.  But as there was nothing there it wasn't very useful.  It looked like I could look at existing photos and load new ones but I couldn't work out a way to search the app ie to find the photos of Athens or San Francisco I had found on my desktop. The app seemed only to be interested in where I was.

And then we come to Historypin.  This really is the site with the most potential. I had heard about it ages ago and had the app but I had never done more than have a quick look at it.  I got off to a bad start with the app.  It kept on freezing on me or throwing me out if, for example, I tried to go to Help.  I tried deleting it and reloading it, a necessity because of the freezing.  But to no avail.  I also couldn't signin in the app as it sent me to a place on the website where I got a message that the page was unknown.  Sigh.

So I went to my desktop and opened the website.  Setting up an id was fine through Google+, Twitter or Facebook and I created one.  I played around on the site looking at all the Channels that had been set up by different organizations and individuals, and also the Tours though I was a bit irritated that you appeared only to be able to browse the Tours not search them. There are good FAQs for loading photos and other processes.  I went on a couple of Tours in NYC and was quite excited about the prospect of doing a little trial tour for myself. I looked at the map locally and found quite a few photos.  So I worked out my tour which was going to be linked to the Collingwood Historical Society Hotels  Database. There was one photo of a hotel already there and I thought I would add a few more in the street and create a tour.

I headed off with my phone but alas and alack I still couldn't sign in on the app even though I now had a valid id.  It still kept on sending me out of the app to the site to a message that the page requested couldn't be found. This meant I couldn't really do much with the app,eg I couldn't take photos. Also strangely the nearby photos that appeared on the website never came up on the app. I took photos and came home. I wondered if my lack of access to the app had something to do with my phone?  I remembered I had loaded the app on my ancient (well a couple of years old) iPod and checked there.  Again I couldn't sign in and got sent to the same page missing part of the site.  But I did manage to get into Help which I had not been able to do on my iPhone. So I sent an email explaining my issues.  The result was immediate:

Eventually I found another email address on the website and so I wait for a response about the app.  I do have photos and I will experiment setting up a Tour but it is very frustrating not to have mobile access. And yes there are also lots of lovely photos on the Greek map. But unless I am missing something the only way I can see streetview on Historypin is if it has been incorporated into a tour?  I'll have to try to create a Greek one to see if there are any options.

Meanwhile, I need to delete the Historypin app and reinstall it again as it has hung again.

I still have my dream, but I do wonder why all these sites only allow loading of photos from live camera or your own files.  I would love to be able to load stuff from Flickr or websites like Trove.  It would also be good to have interactive links as I found one example of a photo on HistoryPin with an incorrect caption that has been corrected on the main website.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

#blog12daysxmas Post 5 #2014PAD

Cat purse for Xmas 365/361 #2013PAD by Hecuba's Story
Cat purse for Xmas 365/361 #2013PAD, a photo by Hecuba's Story on Flickr.

For the last few years I have enjoyed the fun and the challenge of taking a photo every day and loading it on Flickr and then into a Photo a Day (PAD) group.  The groups I have belonged to were started by my library friend @sarahgb in Wales who administered the group for a few years. She bowed out of being admin this year so I took over the reins for #2013PAD. 

We have 67 members in the group and as of today these members had loaded 6,778 photos for 2013. Well, it looks like we won't hit the hoped 7,000 this year (unless lots of people in arrears get a move on and load photos up), but it is pretty good. In fact, it is a great achievement!! So well done, members of #2013PAD!

From those figures you can see that everyone has not loaded a photo every day.  Some barely got off the ground, others dip in and out adding photos when the pleasure takes them, and other diehards take a photo every day and load it up.

I am one of the last group, the diehards, and I have posted a photo each day since 1 January.  Other top contributors include Dyfnaint, Graham Dash, louiseholmquist, fiant, and Emmadukew.   I love doing PAD.  For myself, I can look back over the year and see my life at a glance through this set of photos. As we are a very widespread group covering a number of countries in the northern and southern hemispheres, I love seeing the different seasons showing through in the photos. Sometimes, particularly in Spring or Autumn, there will be a bit of overlap with the same flowers featuring in photos from places in very different seasons.  We post photos with all sorts of subjects. There are no rules relating to content.  Just post a photo you took on the day.

As a sign that the end of 2013 is fast approaching, this morning I set up the new group for 2014.  You can find the 2014 Photo a Day Challenge group here.  Why don't you join up and enjoy the pleasure of taking a photo a day and documenting your life in that way?  Or why not join up your organization?  An example of an organization who has been posting photos in 2013PAD is Civica.  It has been fun to get a different perspective from them.  This is a great way to document a year in the life of your library service.

Look forward to seeing you on Flickr #2014PAD!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin