Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I did it! The 27 Things have eaten up a lot of my free time in the past few weeks and more than once left me gritting my teeth in frustration. Still, I've learned a lot, and writing a blog has actually been fun. I feel more able now to help patrons in their Web 2.0 explorations. Today, speaking with a woman who was checking out a set of CD's for learning Spanish, I showed her how to use Mango and told her about my recent positive experience with it. Then shortly afterward. a fellow asked about SPL's digital library, and I was able to guide him through the steps of checking out an e-book.
Another thing I liked about the 27 Things was that it brought a lot of SPL staff at different branches together in a common activity. That almost never happens. Even at the big annual meeting in October, people tend to sit with their friends rather than talking to other library staff they don't know. And sometimes we even helped each other figure things out! There was a bit of camaraderie. And I learned some surprising personal things about other staff -- who's hilarious, who likes birdwatching, who's into science fiction, who's building a new house, etc.
The one suggestion I would make is that it would have been nice to have one place we could all go to post our questions or problems with the technical stuff. It was rather hit-or-miss to have to post our desperate pleas for help as comments on someone else's blog, hoping they or another reader might answer.
Should the SPL 27 Things Challenge be repeated? Maybe for any SPL patrons who are interested -- why not? But it should be advertised widely first.
Okay, now I'll kick back with a glass of ice-cold lemonade or maybe a margarita and root for others who are nearing the end of this great techie adventure. Go! Go!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
PS - I signed up for Twitter and am now tweeting away. Check out my newly embedded Twitter badge on this blog. There's an awful lot of self-involvement and navel-gazing in this whole idea, no? I suppose it would be a good way for a large family or group of friends to stay in constant contact, if they all signed up for Twitter. Maybe it could work among SPL staff? The problem is that most of us are too busy working to do any tweeting. I found a site called Twellow (the Twitter Yellow Pages) that could be a good resource for finding folks with similar interests whose tweets might be something I'd actually like to read.Right now, instead of following the tweets of a bunch of librarians, I think I'd prefer to follow a few comedians. And maybe a couple of cheerful Buddhist monks for good measure? A daily dose of humor, a little spirituality...
Sunday, May 24, 2009
To tell the truth, China was never very high on my list of places I'd like to visit, but recently two friends returned from vacations there (separately) bursting with enthusiasm. So now I'm rethinking the whole thing. Beijing? Naaah -- too many people and way too much pollution. But Shanghai sounds fascinating, and I'd like to see some of the smaller towns and the countryside, as well. With that in mind, I've decided to take my Mango lessons in Mandarin Chinese! Stay tuned...
We just got back from a few days in Cambria. It's so beautiful there, and still relatively quiet. There are tourists, of course, but far fewer than in most California beach towns. I tried to embed a slide show of some of my photos. See it there, on the right? But Flickr is giving me fits. Sometimes it works correctly and sometimes it just sits there, frozen, with the big black & white arrow blocking the view.... Any hints about how to fix the problem would be welcomed.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Today I downloaded Overdrive Media Console and then checked out three E-books. So -- I did it, but I'm still a little confused about how I would actually listen (if I wanted to, which I don't really) to what I have checked out. I can probably figure it out, but shouldn't that be very, very clear for our patrons from the get-go? Also, why don't the items I checked out show up on My Account? I thought maybe I'd made a mistake and didn't really have anything checked out, but then when I tried to check out another e-book, it said I already had three items out. Anyway, I do think it's a good idea for all SPL staff to go through the procedure. In our little branch, we have had very few questions about the Digital Library so far (only one, in my case!) but I'm sure people will discover it eventually. Or maybe we should be more actively spreading the word?
Perusing SPL's catalog is something I do every day, all day, as part of my job. Therefore, it was a snap to find and check out Twilight in 3 clicks, get financial advice about how to save money, and find information about job-hunting. Nobody asked, but I will say that the new web page has a lot of room for improvement as far as I'm concerned. The colors are nice, the design attractive...BUT what is MOST important to users? Finding what they're looking for quickly and easily! And what are most people looking for? The catalog, their own account information, the PC Reservation button, and/or location and hours of branches. Those things should be in BIG letters, maybe bright red, maybe with a bold circle around them or an arrow or blinking light! Instead, the page has lots of information, all in the same-size and color font. It's way too easy to get lost in there.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Okay, I think I've mastered Podcasts 101. My favorite is "This American Life" (TAL) from Chicago Public Radio. You can check it out by going to the NPR website. It was easy to subscribe -- just clicked on the Bloglines icon. As an experiment, I also downloaded something called Juice and can use it to grab podcasts. I selected one called Book Babbler. But since we already have ITunes on this PC, I was able to download episodes of some NPR programs there. too. They just started playing without my having to select a player. It's a mystery to me how it happens, really magical since I didn't even tell the computer to use ITunes. It's just smarter than I am, I guess.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
(Wait, wait! I just read Ray's instructions and with his help, was able to add my Rollyo genealogy search box over there in the sidebar. Try it out! You might find a long-lost ancestor or two. I did! And now I'm wondering if maybe ole Ray has provided the answer to my YouTube dilemma. Can it be that the same instructions will plant my favorite video in the siedbar, too? Am I brave enough to try that?)
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
(Filched) Words to Live By
I realized recently that rather than being a deep thinker or creative writer myself, I go through life collecting aphorisms. A particularly pithy, succinct line encountered casually can stick in my head for years to come. Whether it shapes my views or merely reflects them, I'm not sure. Way back in high school, it was a line from Emerson (I think?) that kept echoing for decades: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." The truth of that sentiment struck like a bolt from the blue! It seemed to me that along with most of my friends -- and their parents -- I had been going along, blindly and smugly following the herd, never giving much thought to why we did what we did. A few years ago, I lifted a line from Rumi ("This moment is all there is.") Next came a sentence in a greeting card, author unknown: "Show me a day when the world wasn't new." Finally, just last week I picked up this tidbit in Nevada City: "When you stumble in life, make it part of the dance." My gut response was, "Yesss!" as if I'd bumped into an old friend unexpectedly. That line is mine now, because it expresses so perfectly my present philosophy.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Sunday, May 03, 2009
And then I read that loooong thing about the future of libraries. The one thing that will probably stick with me is the term "technohustle." I felt a bit like I'd wandered into a convention of used car salesmen or telemarketers. Why the hard sell? Of COURSE things are changing and will continue to change. The technology today is way beyond what most of us could have imagined in our wildest dreams a few years ago, truly exciting! And it continues to evolve, rapidly. Does that necessarily mean we will not recognize libraries in five years...and would that be a good thing? There has been huge change in the past 5-10 years, but when I walk into a library, I still know it's a library....and I'm glad!
A few more tidbits I gleaned: "There are Second Life subscribers who spend more than 40 hours a week online." (Those are not well people. Get them some help.)
In the future, library patrons "will expect librarians to be Virtual Reality coaches and will collect librarian 'superstars' based on 'buzz' and customer ratings." (Really?! Well, I predict that in the future, many library patrons will still like to read quaint things called BOOKS and will have an appreciation for librarians who do, too.) Do any of you remember a couple of decades ago -- no, longer than that--when everyone was confidently predicting that by now we'd all be whizzing around, skimming merrily over the earth in flying vehicles like the Jetsons had? Well, I was about to say that never came true, but then I Googled it and look at this!
Okay, enough ranting. Did you see the article in the New York Times last week called Immaterialism? It's about all the nonexistent "things" people give each other on Facebook and similar sites and how some folks have figured out how to make money off that weird urge.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Watching the tutorial for de.lici.ous, I started thinking about the concept of tagging and how it might be put to use for people who are losing their memory, whether due to the normal aging process or Alzheimer's or chemo brain or some combination thereof ( a subject of more than passing interest to me). Last night I attended a meeting of my writing group, all women in their sixties. We were laughing hysterically over one person's vain attempt to remember the title of a book. She knew the 1st word was "A" and the last word was "Wife." The 2nd word started with an "R"...or maybe an "M"...and it had 2 or 3 syllables. It was like playing Charades. We were all yelling out helpful guesses: "rambunctious?" "malignant?" "rodeo?"Yes, this is your future, Youngsters, so get ready! Your only choice is whether to laugh or cry about it. Might as well laugh....But just think, if she had put that book on Library Thing or Shelfari, all she'd have had to do was remember tags. Well, first she'd have had to remember the URL for the site, then her username and password, and THEN the tags. The question is, would that be easier than just remembering the title itself?
P.S. Here's my best Rollyo search engine for finding your ancestors. I had first created one for finding information about birds but somehow, that one didn't pass the usefulness test.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
(Do I get extra credit? I should get extra credit.)
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Still looking into RSS feed stuff this morning, investigating a whole host of interesting sites I might want to select for my aggregator. (Hah! Did you get that, how smoothly I'm incorporating the new terminology?) Actually, my language deficits are presenting a few obstacles to learning. It's hard to follow directions when you have NO IDEA what the words used actually mean! Just ask anyone who has ever tried to assemble a made-in-Japan toy on Christmas Eve. Could be the greatest benefit of this whole 27 Things exercise for me may be bridging the chasm that has always separated me from those who are fluent in technobabble. I know trying to communicate with Techie folk often leads me to the verge of babbling...They're all just obfuscating, if you ask me.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Yesterday was crazy busy at work - definitely no time for 27 Things. I was just thinking that the creators of the 27 Things blog made the assumption we'd all have coworkers to collaborate with, but that's not necessarily the case. I'm the only one participating at my branch, so there's really no one to help figure things out. And in any case, there is no free time for that kind of collaboration.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Technology is the topic for today. Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with it. Right now, I'd just like to have enough knowledge to choose my first laptop, and maybe a GPS system...and maybe an I-Touch. And a little home music system with a docking station for my new I-Pod. And I'd also like enough money to buy all those toys.
As for the online stuff, what interests me most is mastering the tools for downloading and editing photographs. I have a Kodak Easy Share camera with a good, 10x zoom, so I've mostly been using the Kodak Gallery website tools. But lots of people have told me Google's Picasa is better. I want to try it next, after I finish familiarizing myself with what Flickr has to offer.
The most mind-blowing thing about the Net, to me, is the amount of up-to-date information that is now at our fingertips. That has never been true, in the history of the world! As a result, the balance of power has shifted. For instance, when my HMO refused to cover a particular test I felt was needed, I quickly and easily did some online research, wrote up my argument providing plenty of documentation, and mailed off an appeal to the California Dept. of Managed Health Care. They agreed with me! And the HMO was instructed to pay for the test once a year. In the past, I wouldn't have had a clue where to find that information. And "information is power"-- right?
Google Earth, more than any other site, makes me shake my head in wonder. Wow! How cool is that, to be able to zoom in on the back yard of a friend who is now living in France?! Of course, people can zoom in on our yard, too. That's okay.
I'm a little more dubious about the value of some of the Web 2.0 stuff, though. My initial enthusiasm for Facebook, for example, quickly waned when I saw how SILLY and pointless lots of the so-called communication that goes on there is. But I'm trying to keep an open mind. Maybe this "27 Things" experience will change my mind. Twitter, here I come!