Litsy - Part 2

As I promised in my Litsy post of June 27, here's my update on using Litsy. I was a little hesitant about joining another social Litsy4network - even one that focused on books. As I've mentioned before, I started a LibraryThing account 10 years ago and have used it consistently since then (and plan on continuing) to keep track of my books. I also have a Goodreads account but that platform never really grabbed me - it's almost too social for me.

Litsy is in the middle. I like the community aspect of Litsy - focused around the book and reading (or listening) experience. Anything you post is tied to a book whether it's a review, a blurb, or a quote. You have limited options when rating the book: Pick, So-so, Pan, or Bail. I appreciate having the Bail option - I recently added a collection on LibraryThing called Started and Abandoned to keep track of those books I started but didn't finish. And, I like not trying to figure out whether a book is 3, 4 or 4.5 stars. The books I finish, I tend to like so they all end up in the same range. Litsy's options fit me.

Over this past weekend, Litsy participated in the 24 in 48 Readathon - another new thing to me. I followed along on Litsy but didn't formally participate. There were giveaways and prizes and it sounded like a lot of fun. Maybe next year...

Here's are my stats for my first month on Litsy:

  • 13 books read 
  • 11 posts
  • Followed 18 people
  • Followed by 25 people
  • Litfluence increased from 42 to 73

Litsy3                 Litsy7

 

Litsy recently did an update to the app and I highly encourage you to read the "What's New in Version 1.4.1" as it's quite entertaining. I haven't found the Litsy Librarians yet and I want to join them! I'll let you know when I figure that out.

Want to know more? Litsy is on Facebook and Twitter. There have been a number of articles about Litsy recently including this one from Publishers Weekly. Connect with me, pandalibrarian, on Litsy and let's talk about books! Happy reading!

Hands On with Virtual Reality

IMG_20160621_133617865

The Oculus Rift has finally reached the market and I had the luck of getting my hands on a set and showing it to the office. Getting to wear one is truly an amazing experience. Imagine being able to stand toe-to-toe with an alien, face-to-face with a T-Rex, or towering over a miniature cityscape, in each case feeling like you'd be able to just reach out your hand and touch them.

This is what it takes to get one:

  • The Oculus Rift, itself, is $599
  • A computer that's able to support it is $999.99

I understand that that's a pretty steep cost for most people and most libraries, but if you could swing it I bet you'd be able to garner the attention of quite a few teens and young adults.

There are cheaper, less robust, options out there as well; namely Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard is most simply a mount with lenses that can turn most any smartphone into a pair of VR goggles. The base "cardboard" set is only $15, and there's many other more structural options as well for various prices. Phones are not included, however.

There are some libraries already using Google Cardboard in some programming events. Some articles can be found here, here, here, and here.

Very similar to Cardboard, but a little more cleaned up and more expensive, is the Samsung Gear VR. The headset is $99 and requires a Samsung Galaxy S6, S7, or Note 5 to use it.

Spheros are here!

Several Spheros Silently Sitting StillThe YA iPad kit will be getting a new addition in two weeks. We’ve purchased seven Sphero 2.0 robots to join the seven iPads. If you are not familiar with Sphero (like me) they are simply robotic balls. However, the more I learn about them the more it’s clear they are not all that simple. Sphero’s make a nice toy and even better learning device. All the iPads in the YA iPad kit will have the SPRK Lightning Lab app installed to allow block based programming, very similar to the Lego MindStorms kits we offer. I loaded this app on my smart phone and played around with it a bit the other day and found it very intuitive. In only a matter of minutes I had created a program and modified it to complete a task of moving the Sphero in a square around my office and back to its original starting point and change colors at every turn. I know it sounds simple, that’s because it is! If you’re not into the whole programming thing you can also use the app to treat the iPad like a remote control for the Sphero and roam around your library with it, that’s fun too!

Ergo-what now? (recap)

In my last post to TechBits I indicated having little luck in finding good, affordable options for a new ergonomic keyboard. Someone's ears must have been burning, because a few weeks later came updates to this article from The Wirecutter.

In it they review a variety of options, some quite affordable. They also summarize many of the criteria to look for when selecting an ergonomic keyboard and why those options are important for different physical needs you may have. Finally, they link to a number of other keyboard review sites and even to the scientific research behind the ergonomics.

Whether you're looking for a little more information or a lot, this is a good place to start.

 

Report from ALA: Tech in the Streets

AC16Pod-LookBackAt the ALA conference earlier this week, I had the privilege of hearing how two librarians enhance outreach by using new technologies outside the library. The presenters were Erin Berman, a recent Library Journal Mover and Shaker, and her colleague Amelia Vander Heide, both from the San Jose Public Library. The program was called Tech in the Streets. This program was very timely due to the recently deployed SCLS mobile hot spots and the soon-to-be deployed mobile circulation kits. Having live access to the ILS can be very beneficial to mobile outreach projects. Below are my "takeaways" from the presentation.

The presenters provided a common-sense approach to identifying and planning programs using technology that you can do outside of the library.

  • First, ask Why. One of their "whys" was to reach patrons where they are, especially in under-served areas.
  • Second, ask How. They suggest doing a community assessment. What do people want? Then do an internal assessment. Do you have the hardware, staff, time and resources to do the program. Are there grant or sponsorship opportunities? Do you need anything special, like permits to use the location? SCLS provides maker kits and other equipment that could help you meet some of your internal needs.
  • Finally, identify the Where. You can pick more traditional places, like farmer's markets or street fairs. But they point out that un-traditional spaces equal new opportunities (for example a skate park). Fs-cat-ereader._CB325814377_

Their projects have ranged from very simple like taking a tablet to show people e-content or very complex like their new "Makerspaceship" which is a $400,000 plus bus. On the simple side, they described their experience with going to a senior center to show people how to download e-books on various devices. One of the things they had to do was to help people re-set their passwords. SCLS has two e-reader kits that can be reserved for a program like this.

Europe!!1 241A more complex event involved taking GoPros and a mobile maker kit with laptops and movie editing software to a skate park. They provided harnesses for the GoPros. Quite a few kids tried out the GoPros. I thought this was pretty nifty as they reached out to a group of kids who may not otherwise experience library services even if in the end, only a few kids tried the video-editing software. SCLS has a stop motion animation kit that includes video editing software which could assist with a program like this.

I hope that my summary of this awesome presentation inspires you to "take tech to the streets."

 

Litsy

BookRiotLast summer, I told you about book podcasts that I listen to and one of them is All the Books by Bookriot. The podcast is just over a year old and still going strong and I'm still listening to it every week. One of the hosts, Liberty Hardy, has been talking about Litsy for a while and I've resisted checking it out.

Then, I came across this tweet from Bookriot today and clicked on the link to get the coloring sheet (yes, I've joined the adult coloring book phenomenon) and saw a reference to Litsy and decided to check it out. That tweet and post led me to this one: 10 Wonderful People to Follow on Litsy by Liberty and decided to give it a try.

For all the details on how Litsy works, read this post by Brenna - another Bookriot writer. While signing up for an account was easy, I wasn't sure of how Litsy worked exactly or why I'd be interested and this article helped immensely.

LitsyI signed up today and set up my profile and am starting it from where I am right now in my reading life. My next TechBits post will be at the end of July so here's the plan. I'll play around with and use Litsy to capture all the books I read in the next few weeks and report back to you.

If you're already using Litsy, let me know in the comments or find me on Litsy and share your experiences.

P.S. I'll still keep up my LibraryThing account - I've had that account for almost 10 years!

 

 

 

Find a Grave, or why I love technology.

I attended the Support Staff and Circulation Services conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin last week.  I really enjoyed all of the sessions I attended but one piqued my interest so much I spent way to much time later that night exploring.

Barry McKnight works in the La Crosse Public Library Archive Department and he presented a session on "Local History Programming and Partnerships".  One of their programs, "Dark La Crosse", sounded like something I would want to do as a tourist.  As I was researching the LPL Archives and Local History Department's webpage, I kept finding new and interesting links to investigate and, as I said, spent waay too much time exploring.

But my favorite was "Find a Grave".  How cool is that?  Instead of driving and walking and writing to various municipal clerk offices you can plug in a name, or a cemetery or add photos or .....  The last time I was at our family's cemetery I couldn't locate my maternal grandmother's gravesite.  And my Mom and my Aunts couldn't remember either.  But with the use of this tool I found the section, lot and space number. 

I love technology.

PC and laptop order form update

The SCLS PC order form has been updated to include a current Dell PC and laptop.


We are offering the Optiplex 3040 for staff and patron PCs with a starting price of $499.00. The biggest difference between the new 3040 model and the previous models is that it has 8 USB ports, 4 in the front and four in the back. The previous model had 6 USB ports in the back.The new laptop is the Dell Latitude E3570. This is a 15 inch laptop that includes the number pad on the keyboard.


The biggest difference between the old models and the new models is we are starting to offer solid state drives for and extra charge. These drives are much faster than the standard hard drives we are all used too.


Dell is in the process of moving away from the docking stations they’ve supported for the last 10 years to a new USB docking station. The price is comparable to previous docking stations at $103.00.

Ergo-what now?

The TechBits blog has had a good number of articles on ergonomic work spaces and accessories over the years, not to mention many tricks for work flow reduction. It's important tech, and often generates a lot of buzz when the subject comes up.

Here's a mind-bending wrist-twister that I don't think we've covered. Keyboards that split, tilt, fold or stand up, or even all of the above.

KeyboardsI got my first tilting, split keyboard along with my first vertical mouse, and I have to admit that I really kind of hated it to begin with. Just as my brother said when he first saw it, my initial sense was "Dude, that's just... wrong.". Well, chalk up one more thing that I initially didn't much like, yet now seems indispensable.


What could be more right than a tool that doesn't hurt to use?

Unfortunately, my first ergo-board is starting to show its age, and while shopping for potential replacements I have found that (unlike vertical mice, where competition exists and low cost options are available), there are really few major vendors in the adjustable keyboard field. As a result, while there are many product options they are generally not cheap; about $80 at the low end, and up to $300 with all the optional bells and whistles.

Maybe I'll just push my aging one a bit further, unless anyone has suggestions?

Pronounce Wisconsin


If you're not from around Wisconsin, you might find Wisconsin place names like these to be quite a mouthful:

  • Waukesha PronounceWisconsin
  • Menomonee Falls
  • Ashwaubenon
  • Mukwonago
  • Butte des Morts
  • Weyauwega

(Miwaukee Journal Sentinel video: Texans trying to pronounce WI city names)

Even if you are from around Wisconsin, you might not be able to guess a place's pronunciation based on spelling alone... you might need to hear it once or twice first to get it right. Take these, for example:

  • Muscoda
  • Barre Mills
  • Gratiot
  • Nanaweyah Ominihekan
  • Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Luckily, the website Pronounce Wisconsin can help. A collaborative effort between the Wisconsin State Cartographer's Office and MissPronouncer.comPronounce Wisconsin is an online pronouncing gazetteer of Wisconsin placenames.  Simply mouse over the map and select the county, city, village, or unincorporated community you'd like to have pronounced for you! If you have someplace specific in mind, you can type it in the search bar in the top and the site will navigate to the place on the map as well as pronounce it.