How di-Vine!

What is Vine?
From the Vine FAQ: "Vine is a mobile service that lets you create and share short looping videos. Videos you post to Vine will appear on your Vine profile and the timelines of your Vine followers. Posts can also be shared to Twitter or Facebook."

What do you need to make a Vine?
Use the Vine apps available for Android or IOS devices. After installing Vine on your device, you can sign up using an email address or sign in with your Twitter account. Then find people to follow, post your own videos, and more.

How short are these "short" looping videos?
6 seconds, max.

What can you do with 6 seconds?
You'd be surprised! If you're looking for ideas about how to use Vine in your library, check out the April 2013 Computers In Libraries article, "Here's One to Adopt Early: Vine for Video."  (available full-text through BadgerLink to Wisconsin libraries and residents)

Interested in more fun Vine videos? Check out the amazing vines of Zach King! I could watch them all day...

Simple surveying about technology needs

If you want to ask your community about the technology services they use and need, Impact Survey could be the tool for you!

ImpactSurvey

  • asks patrons about how they use library technology services like public computers, wireless networks, online resources, and digital training
  • helps gather information about how to improve those services to enable better patron outcomes
  • analyzes the data from the patrons' survey responses and creates a variety of easy-to-read reports that present the results in text, charts, and graphs in a variety of documents and appropriate for a variety of audiences

What is Impact Survey?

"The Impact Survey is an online survey tool designed specifically for public libraries that want to better understand their communities and how people use their public technology resources and services. Written and validated by research staff at the University of Washington Information School, the Impact Survey is designed to quickly and easily provide busy librarians with useful data on how their patrons use library technology services. The program saves libraries the time and costs associated with writing, programming, analyzing, and reporting an in-house survey."

Impact Survey is currently in Beta Mode, but it looks like it could be pretty slick!

I first heard about Impact Survey through this TechSoup blog entry, and then was reminded about it by this post, which includes webinar recording about it.

Creating meme images

Nedstark-braceyourselvesDid you ever wonder how those "meme" images you see in your Facebook feed are created? The different types of Internet memes are too numerous to list here - there's Grumpy Cat, Ryan Gosling, lolcats and other various animals, Star Trek, etc. etc. It's difficult to track down the origin of popular meme images, although there is a database dedicated to documenting Internet memes, including photos, videos, catchprases, etc. 

Once an image has gone viral, anyone can create a customized meme using various websites. You go to the website, select an image, and enter your text. You can then download the captioned image and post it to Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Some meme captions are snarky, but they don't have to be snarky. Libraries could use memes as a fun way to communicate information via social media. Closed-jan1

Here are a few websites that you can use to create memes. Note: this is not an exhaustive list:

Online Organizing Tools

MessyDeskEvery January, "getting organized" is one of my New Year's resolutions. This year, I decided to look at a few different tools to help me organize some of my online information - bookmarks, articles, etc. - and thought I'd share them with you. 

Back during Project Play, I tried out del.icio.us (now Delicious.com) as a way to save or bookmark the articles and links I found on the web. Then, in 2010, the rumor was that Delicious was heading for a shutdown (see this TechBits post from 2011). While this turned out not to be true, I had already stopped using the service. One of the alternatives offered in this Lifehacker article was Diigo. Bookmarks I created an account back in 2010 and then never used it. Instead I bookmarked everything in Firefox.  Here's a partial snapshot of my current list. These are somewhat organized but rarely used.

Both Diigo and Delicious make it easy to add links to your account when you add the Diigolet and Delicious buttons to your bookmarks toolbar. When you are on a page that you want to save, click on the Diigo or Delicious button and add tags or a description and save the bookmark. So easy!

Bookmarklets

 

Both services are free, although Diigo does have Premium options. As these are both web based services, your bookmarks are available where ever you have an internet connection. Want to take your bookmarks with you on your mobile device? Both Diigo and Delicious offer apps for iOS and Android devices.

 I'll be playing with both of these during the next couple of months to decide which I like best. What do you use to organize your online bookmarks, articles, and links?

P.S. I also personally use Evernote to organize my recipes and other things at home. I'll save that for another TechBits post!

Messy Desk photo from MorgueFile.

 

Fun with Photos

Way back in 2009, Rose wrote a post about Finding and Using "Free" Clip Art and Stock Photos. I thought I'd add a couple of sites where you can easily find free stock photos to use in your next presentation, brochure, or blog post.

ChairsI first discovered MorgueFile when preparing for a presentation earlier this year. I was looking for images that conveyed a message like "Be Negative" and "Keep Your Distance" - not easy concepts to imagine. The site is really easy to use. Browse AngryKittenthrough the photos or try searching for a keyword or color. Then download the photo to your computer and use how you'd like. Beware, though, this site can be dangerous - you can spend hours and hours looking at photos! 

Another site I've heard of and explored briefly is Photo Pin. This site searches Flickr (they're not associated with Flickr) for creative commons photos that you can use for your blog or other creative uses. When you find a photo to download and click on it, you get all Poppiesthe size options as well as the HTML to use for attribution. I downloaded this pretty summery photo to help get you through this cold weather. 

What's your favorite spot to find free photos or images? Please share!

P.S. I apologize in advance for anyone who gets lost in MorgueFile - happy browsing!

 

 

photo credit: Vainsang via photopin cc

Can I get a piece of that Raspberry Pi?

I'm a big fan of Pi(e): I like making it, eating it and I think Pi(e) day (March 14) should be a National Holiday.  So I HAD to attend Joshua Cowles' WLA session "Have some Pi: why your library needs cheap, tiny computers."  The session blurb mentioned using the Raspberry Pi for an OPAC kiosk and I thought "Great, inexpensive OPACs that libraries can put all over the building. How cool is that?"

Well, I learned quite a bit during that session, including the fact that some testers were unable to optimize the Raspberry Pi for an OPAC kiosk and ended up having to power their prototype with a larger board that that would render web pages faster. 

I contacted Joshua to confirm my notes and he stated that "The Raspberry Pi does suffer from some slowness and the lack of a ready-made set of scripts or instructions to set up an OPAC kiosk like libraries would want to have.  However, after the session I learned that the tech folks at Winnefox are further along with their version of RPi kiosks than I thought, and they actually have them successfully deployed. I haven't been able to speak with them yet about the choices they made or how it's been working out."

But the Raspberry Pi project is more than just OPAC kiosks!  One major component of the project is to teach people, especially kids, about computers from the components up.  Kind of like making a (pastry) pie from scratch. 

From the Raspberry Pi website: "The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming." 

Check out these links for more information and fun projects:

Raspberry Pi

10 coolest uses for the Raspberry Pi

Ten more awesome projects for your Raspberry Pi

25 fun things to do with a Raspberry Pi

 

--Heidi Oliversen

 

Visualizing a web site's HTML code

GogglesThis article is for all of the web site maintainers out there, as well as those just trying to learn something about HTML. Check out the tools and tutorials over at webmaker.org, especially my new favorite coding toy, the X-Ray Goggles.

Any time I come across a really nice web page design, or a page with a unique feature, I jump to the obvious question: How did they do that?. The webmaker goggles can make that question really easy to answer, and they in turn are really very easy to use.

Just follow the simple instructions they provide, and you'll have the ability to check out all kinds of data just by passing your mouse over the elements of what's on your screen. It's all color coded, and structured and clean.

Click on a highlighted element to open an editing screen where you can play around with the HTML and data. In the editor view you can mock up design and content changes to the page, or check out what your own data might look like if it were put into the same HTML and CSS context.

Note: the Preview function of the editor mock up doesn't always seem to work, especially for rather small elements, but if you Save what you've done you can see even your smallest changes in the context of the full page.

Prezi - Interactive Web-Based Presentations

Hi all! I'm Joanna, the Cataloging/Serials Technology Specialist at SCLS, a member of the group that supports LINKcat services. The ILS (Integrated Library System) Team will begin adding posts to TechBits on a rotating basis.

In an instructional literacy course I took as part of my MLIS program, I explored Web-based instructional literacy tools that could be applied to library services. My favorite is Prezi, an interactive software program that mimics PowerPoint, but with smooth animation between "slides". It inhibits the frequent wordiness you'll find in most PowerPoint presentations. (We just can't help ourselves.)

Building a Prezi is easy: you can choose from many different templates that are ready-made. They're also simple to customize, and adding your own images is a snap. While there is a bit of a learning curve in making your first Prezi, the program is forgiving. You can easily start over or scrap pieces that you don't like. It's also easy to import an existing PowerPoint into a Prezi template.

One advantage to Prezi over PowerPoint is the simplicity in displaying visual hierarchies. It's also highly collaborative. Users can share editing privileges with a small group of people or with all Prezi users if they choose. Prezi is mobile-enabled, with iPhone and iPad apps available.

While you can have a limited amount of free storage on an unpaid account, if you upgrade to a higher level of service, you can have Prezi Desktop to work offline on Prezi documents.

Some great library-related Prezis are linked here:

Technology in the Library

Library 101 by Chris Kerndt - an interesting way to do a public library orientation!

Glendale Library Arts & Culture by Suzanna Tadevossian - a colorful overview of library and community services

Fotor haiku

Essen haus - "Seatnig"?!?
only the neon is in color!

Fotor 

Online editing
choose some photos and upload
loads of cool effects

 

crop, rotate, adjust,
resize, straighten, enhance, tint
it's easy and FREE!

 

Flowers
simple collage

quickie collages
stitch together some photos
see my examples?  

 

 

(click on images to see them full size)

 

 

kitts
stitched together with rounded corners
 

 

 

Cool Tools: Advanced URL Builder

Find-using-linkcat-highlightedSounds a bit dry, right, perhaps even difficult? But no! This tool is fairly easy to use, and if you're a LINKcat junkie (by choice or by job description) then it can put the "fun" in functionality.

Advanced URL Builder (AUB) is a Firefox Add-On that lets you create custom search links on your right-click context menu. I found it while looking for a tool that would let me rapidly convert street addresses to a map display. AUB does that by default, and with just a little work it can do a lot more. You can get AUB here.

Installing AUB inserts a new context menu item, Find using..., that is available by right-clicking whenever a word or phrase is highlighted in your browser window. This new menu item has several default search widgets: Just Open (for text that is a URL), Google Maps, or Dictionary (reference.com). Note that the Google Maps option defaults to the UK edition. You may want to adjust the Google Maps search widget by changing the ".co.uk" part of its URL to ".com".

To adjust the Google Maps URL, or to add your own search widgets, select some text on a web page, right click, select the Find using... menu item, and finally select its Options... Then you can double click the Google Maps URL to modify it, or you can add a menu option for any website having a search function that uses a structured query URL.

Using AUB with LINKcat searching

As an example, let's create an AUB search widget using the LINKcat launcher. Here's how to create a general keyword search widget for LINKcat. This AUB widget will yield the same results as you get when you search LINKcat Catalog in the PAC.

1. Get into the AUB Options window if you're not already there.
 
Highlight any text on a web page, right click, choose Find using... and then Options... The AUB Options window will open.
 
2. Click the Add button.
 
A new item will appear at the bottom of the list of options, named New Item, with an empty URL.
 
3. Double click the new item's Name to change it.

For this example: LINKcat Catalog
 
4. Double click the new item's URL to edit it.
 
Type in (or paste) your search URL. For this example:
http://launcher.linkcat.info/go.cgi?idx=&q=

Note that this is a partial URL. The search term is going to automatically get appended, matching whatever word or phrase that you have highlighted when you right click in the browser.

5. Click OK to finish, or go ahead and Add some more search widgets, perhaps these:

LINKcat Title
http://launcher.linkcat.info/go.cgi?idx=ti&q=

LINKcat Author
http://launcher.linkcat.info/go.cgi?idx=au&q=

LINKcat Subject
http://launcher.linkcat.info/go.cgi?idx=su&q=

LINKcat ISBN
http://launcher.linkcat.info/go.cgi?idx=nb&q=

Now, if that all went well, then you should be able to select any text on any web page, and launch these searches from it. Below are some phrases for testing. Just select a name, book title, place or ISBN, then right click and search with your AUB widgets.

Tomorrow, July 30, is the birthday of novelist Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights. She was born in 1818 in the town of Thornton, West Yorkshire, UK. Are you traveling there? Try the audio book version, ISBN 9781400106882.