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, 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!


Online editing
choose some photos and upload
loads of cool effects


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


simple collage

quickie collages
stitch together some photos
see my examples?  



(click on images to see them full size)



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 ( Note that the Google Maps option defaults to the UK edition. You may want to adjust the Google Maps search widget by changing the "" 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:

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

LINKcat Author

LINKcat Subject


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.


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.