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.

MOOCs

CowReally, I do mean MOOC, not Moo. And, yes, it's another acronym for you to learn. According to Wikipedia, a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is "an online course aimed at large-scale interacive participation and open access via the web."

I've been hearing more and more about MOOCs lately. In fact, the New York Times called 2012 "The Year of the MOOC." Many MOOCs are associated with universities like Yale, Stanford, and MIT, just to name a few. Google even joined in the MOOC world with their "Power Searching with Google" course last July.

MOOCs, while an interesting way to learn, weren't for me - or so I thought. Turns out, I was waiting for the right course. A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for and started my first MOOC - Syracuse University's New Librarianship Master Class taught by R. David Lankes. The course is free (unless you want credit for it), taught by one of the top professors in the library world, and is all available online - and will continue to be even after the first, moderated version of the course is over.

The course is a combination of readings from The Atlas of New Librarianship, recorded lectures from R. David Lankes, discussion forums, and tests. I've been impressed with the quality of the recorded lectures - Lankes is very inspiring - and the readings. While I've been keeping up with the lectures and readings (and passed the tests), I haven't participated in the discussion portion of the course.

Have you tried a MOOC yet? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

P.S. The Cow picture is from MorgueFile, Free Photo Archive - check it out!

Google Indoor Maps

Food court and restrooms at East Towne MallHave you noticed Google Maps offers indoor floor plans of some of the more popular buildings around the world. I discovered this while playing around with Google Maps and noticed the local shopping mall by our office showed the layout with all the stores. When you're in “Map” mode rather than “Satellite mode”of Google Maps keep zooming in on a building, if it's part of Indoor Maps it will show you the floor plan of the building you're in or looking at. This also works if you happen to be using the Google Maps app built in on your smartphone.

My favorite feature if you happen to be looking at your smartphone while in a building that's part of this is that is shows you where the restrooms are.

Clipping Magic

2013_03_22_pacoLet's say you want to easily eliminate the background around an object in an image... and you don't know Photoshop or Gimp.

Clipping Magic* lets you do this using 3 simple steps:

1.  Upload the image

2.  Mark the object/foreground green, and mark the background red.

3.  Download or share your result

KittyAs they note on the Clipping Magic page, faint/non-existent boundaries will lead to a bad result, so Kitty with all his fuzzy cat hair may not have been the best example... but I can say that the process was quick and painless!

 

* Clipping Magic is currently free while it is an alpha, with an option to sign up for freebies once the service comes out of alpha

 

Google Reader Being Retired - SOON!

In case you haven't already heard the bad news Google Reader, an awesome aggregator of RSS feeds, is being retired effective Monday, July 1, 2013.  If you want to read the official announcements you can read the Google Reader Blog posting or if you're interested to see what other applications Google is retiring you can read Google's blog posting entitled "A second spring of cleaning".  I personally used this application for about two years and really loved it.  After the announcement a lot of people, including myself, were left asking: "Will I lose everything I had in Reader?" and "What do I use instead?" I'll try and answer these questions for you in the rest of my post.

The first thing you'll want to do, hopefully you already have as there is not much time left, is to download your Reader data before Monday, July 1, 2013 when they close it down for good.  To assist you with this Google has created a program called Google Takeout, appropriate name, that will allow you to download a copy of all your Reader data.  This program will give you all of your subscription data in an XML file and the following information will be downloaded as JSON files:

  • List of people that you follow
  • List of people that follow you
  • Items you have starred
  • Items you have liked
  • Items you have shared
  • Items shared by people you follow
  • Notes you have created
  • Items with comments

Once you download your subscription data you should be able to easily transfer to another product, where you can continue to keep up with your online reading.

The second thing you'll want to do is to pick another reader.  If you're just not sure what to use you can read Lifehacker's article "Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives" or Wired magazine's article "Where to Move Your Google Reader Subscriptions, and How".  I read these and I chose Feedly, which is an RSS news reader that allows you to browse the content of your favorite sites, rss feeds, tumblr blogs and YouTube channels.  It is also available for android phones and tablets, so now you can keep up with your reading no matter where you are.  Once I signed up for an account it was very easy to import the files I got from Google Takeout and within minutes I was reading all of my favorite feeds.  Feedly also has been working hard to add new features for all of the Google Reader switchers.  You can read all about these on Lifehacker's article "The Best New Features Feedly Has Added for Google Reader Switchers".

Leave me a comment as to what you use for keeping up with your RSS feeds.

Readers Advisory, QR Coded

My favorite part of being a librarian has always been talking about books - also known as Readers 3528816226_a626b5ea17_tAdvisory (RA). Since 1997, I've kept a list of the books that I've read. It started out in a print journal, then migrated to an Excel spreadsheet, and is now kept on LibraryThing. This list wasn't only for my benefit. As a librarian, I would use my list of books to help provide RA services to patrons.  

Librarians are great at making lists, especially book lists. We generate read-alike lists for every genre, subject, and age range. In addition to using my LibraryThing lists, I often used NoveList as a great resource for generating these lists for our patrons. What then? How to get the book lists into the hands of our patron at the point of need?

Qrcode.14189148The Swiss Army Librarian's library has an answer - a really great answer, I think. They've put their booklists online using their online catalog, generated a QR Code that links to that list, printed a label with the QR Code and put it in towards the end of the book. The QR Code directs readers to a list with similar titles. Talk about keeping the interest of our readers/patrons! 

(QR code will take you to my LibraryThing catalog)

Analysis ToolPak in Excel

Excel has some advanced statistical analysis tools available that are NOT installed by default.  These MP900390096 tools are called the Analysis ToolPak.  This ToolPak allows the user to perform amazing things like the analysis of variance (ANOVA), correlations, covariance and make histograms.  It's hard to believe I actually knew what these things were in 1996.  Anyway, if you have any interest, these are the instructions to enable the Toolpak in Excel 2010.

  1. Open Excel
  2. Click File
  3. Click Options (beneath Help)
  4. Click Add-ins
  5. In the dropdown menu next to Manage, make sure Excel Add-ins is selected
  6. Click Go
  7. Check the box for the Analysis ToolPak
  8. Click OK

Now you can access the Analysis Toolpak by clicking the Data Analysis button on the Data tab.  On Vista/Windows 7 public stations, patrons can enable the Toolpak on a per session basis.  Thanks to the Ruth Culver Community Library for the post idea.

Google form logic

How did I miss this?

Google expanded their logic branching capabilities in Google forms, making it easier to direct respondents to relevant pages based on their answers to questions!  For example, if a respondent answers "Yes" to Question A, you could ask some follow-up questions before returning them to the rest of the survey or perhaps just direct them to a different set of survey questions. More information can be found in the blog post, "Page Navigation in Google Forms," or in this short YouTube video.

Here's a very short silly example of logic branching in my form, "5 mischievous raccoons"  (which is loosely based on a recent event).

Touch Screen Monitors

Td2220_left_hires_1Several people have asked me about the touch screen monitors Reedsburg Public Library is using for delivery and at their check-out desk. To help answer some of your questions, I created a short video highlighting some of the features of the Viewsonic touch screen.

Reedsburg Public Library also opted to purchase different stands that are more flexible than the included stand that comes with the monitor which only lets you tilt.

If you are interested in purchasing one for your library you can order them by going to the peripherals order form.