19 May 2009

Thing 46: WebJunction MN

I explored WebJunction in more detail today than I have before, and I am very impressed by all that there is to learn and do on this site. I see WJMN as a good place to share ideas with other MN library staffers and a GREAT place for those interested to get Certification - I really liked all the course work that was available for MN's Voluntary Certification.

I also found a lot of value in the calendar feature. It is really nice to have one place to look for many of the regional activities and programs happening around the state. It is very easy to see what's coming up, which is very helpful.

Thing 45: Cloud Computing

My head is in the Clouds! OK, maybe just my computing is, but I do enjoy a variety of cloud computing options. I love my Google Docs, since I don't have to remember anything except my password when traveling without my laptop. I can access the same files at home and work as I can at my parent's home in Madison, WI, or in CA when visiting a friend. It also makes it very easy to get projects done since I don't have to make sure the computer I'm working on has Word.

I also use PayPal somewhat frequently - especially when paying for an online purchase from a vendor I'm not very familar with. I don't have to trust them with my credit card or bank information, but instead they only get a direct deposit from my PayPal account. This makes me feel more secure with my financial information.

Thing 44: The Economy

I have used/seen many of the websites in this "thing" already when I was looking for information on investing & saving for the Smart Investing @ Your Library grant I've been working on for the last year. Feed the Pig is one of my favorites since it is fun and has great interactivity. I particulary like the immediate feedback given by its different activities.

I have also used Gas Buddy in the past, and enjoyed it so much, I contributed to it for a while as well. I kept my eye out for gas prices & posted them to the site when they changed. Since moving to Rochester, I have fallen out of this habit since gas prices in this town are much more stable than in the Cities for some reason.

Craigslist is another popular site in my family. I have both sold and purchased things on the site, only not as much as my older sister. She is a Craigslist champion, and has saved tons of money by buying directly from other list users instead of visiting antique stores & paying their markups.

I have decided that anything worth buying is worth buying second hand. This is my frugal tip! Especially for "disposable" items like baby/children's clothing, toys & accessories that are only used for a brief period before they're outgrown. I have given many almost-new gifts I found at Savers and garage sales for friends & family, and also many items in my own home.

Thing 43: Online TV and Video

My husband & I finally learned about the power of Hulu this week from IMDB.com. We were looking at information on Michael York, and we noticed there was a film clip in his biography. Upon following this clip, we realized it was a full-length movie - The Last Remake of Beau Geste, a Marty Feldman film that we never would have discovered otherwise. The hubby hooked the laptop to the TV, and we watched it last night. It wasn't earth-shattering, but it was fun, and it opened the door for us to explore more online TV & video.

I am not sure that the ability to watch on-demand shows & movies will change my daily television viewing since the shows I like to watch are not available online yet, but it will add a bit of fun when nothing is on and we don't feel like going out and renting a movie. I don't see this kind of service replace broadcast or cable television, but I do see the possibility of Hulu & Joost to allow my family to lower our service package and watch more of these free shows. And I have the feeling with the ecomony as it is, we're not the only household that will do so. So this could have a big impact on the higher end cable & satellite packages.

18 May 2009

Thing 42: Music 2.0

I’ve used Pandora quite a bit – it’s a wonderful service to add a bit of music to what can be a very quiet office. I really like the fact that I can select a band and a station will be created for me that allows me to listen to music like that artist plays. I have run into a slight glitch in the site for novelty music – like the stylings of Weird Al and other Dr. Demento stars - Pandora matches music only takes into consideration the overlying feel & theory behind their music, and doesn’t include the content/comedic aspects. Besides this completely understandable drawback, I really enjoy Pandora.

Another Internet radio site I’ve used quite a bit is 1.fm. You can listen to a wide variety of music with more traditional radio programming as its format. I particularly like the Flashback Alternatives station on 1.fm.

I do not believe that broadcast radio will be replaced by Internet radio – at least not for quiet a few years yet. There are too many places that do not offer wi-fi and not enough car stereos that allow you to tune in to Internet sites for radio.

15 May 2009

Thing 41: Mashup Your Life

I took a look at both FriendFeed & LifeStream’s overviews, FAQs and other help files, but decided not to join either of them, nor any of the other aggregators listing in this thing. I have other aggregators, including an iGoogle account that I don’t check on a regular basis, so I do not want to set myself up for failure in keeping up with another one. My main problem with these kinds of websites is that I do not check them daily since I don’t have time…and my backlog builds daily until I find myself not reading any of them anyways, but just delete them instead.

13 May 2009

Thing 40: Mashup the Web

I took a look at Time Tube, Wheel of Lunch, & CrimeReports for this Thing, and really enjoyed exploring the first 2. They were fun and a very interesting and new way to look at videos of a given topic and area restaturants, respectively. I have the feeling I'll be going back to those 2 mashups over and over again. On the other hand, CrimeReports did not pull up ANY crimes for the last month in Rochester, MN, nor in Minneapolis - not even for moving violations. And for some reason, I don't quite believe that! I have the feeling that the database they pull from for the crimes is not longer available or changed in a way that the information isn't available. Which is a shame.

I was very hopeful for CrimeReporter to work, since I can see this being the most useful for use in the library of the mashups listed. The main purpose I'd see is for real estate research or similar studies. Helpful to househunters and the like.

I had fun playing with some of the mashup tools that were provided as well. I particularly liked the Phreetings, and can see library staff using it to send thank you emails to volunteers, program presenters, etc.

One of my favorite mashups that isn't listed it LOLWRUS. It allows you to search for friends Twitter feeds and once you pick 1 of their Tweets, it pulls up 6 random images from Flickr (usually with a cat in it!) that you can pair with the Tweet. Oh, and of course, it automatically "translates" their post into LOL-speak. Here's one I created this morning:

11 May 2009

Thing 39: Digital Storytelling

I am not a scrapbooker, but I can see the value in creating virtual scrapbook pages for a variety of library events & programs. This seems like a great way to share photos and informtion about goings on in your library. I used Smilebox to create my own mini scrapbook for Smart Investing @ Your Library library programs that I coordinated earlier this year. It worked well enough, but I'm not too fond of the ads and the need to download software onto my computer. You can see my results below!

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Smart Investing Programs
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox scrapbook

Thing 38: Screencasting

I have been creating screencasting video podcasts all this year as a part of SELCOtv using Adobe Captivate for the software. It is effective, but just like any other software, there are wrinkles and things that could be improved upon. The videos I've created are for librarian training purposes, and they are quite effective. The main issue I've encountered with them is needing an additional piece of software to convert the Captivate created file to a flash format that is uploadable to our hosting site: blip.tv. You can see all the episodes we've created for SELCOtv here.

Thing 37: Photo Tales

Animoto video featuring pictures from Christmas 2008.

This service was really easy to use to create this short video. I can see using this in a library setting - especially to highlight special programs or services. I can imagine a wonderful slide show using pics from a summer reading program or something similar. I am definately going to be sharing this video with my family, and can see doing more in the future.