All About the Books

If you've heard Meghan Trainor's "All About that Bass" (I seem to hear it everywhere now!), you may appreciate the Nashville Public Library team's video celebrating library cards, "All About the Books, No Trouble."

Virtual Reality for Everyone

We all know that Google is always coming out with cool new technology, like Google Glasses.  Well, they have done it again and came out with a virtual reality visor that you can make yourself.  All you need is some cardboard, two lenses, a magnet, velcro, a rubberband and a smart phone.  MacGyver has nothing on the folks that came up with this idea.  You can read the CBS article entitled Google Cardboard puts virtual reality in everyone's reach to find out more about it.  If you're interested in how it works then take a look at the below YouTube video that is found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxAj2lyX4oU.

 

If you want to build it yourself you can download the plans from this website.  If you need help building it then take a look at the below YouTube video, found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPHVjHxEqAo, that walks you through the making of your own Google Cardboard.

 

I think that this would make an awesome MakerSpace project.

Your library is a portal

Ingress_LogoYour library is very likely a portal. Resistance and Enlightened team members are hacking it, deploying resonators and mods, and linking it to other portals to create fields. And they're doing it from inside or just outside of your building using an app and their GPS-enabled device.

Intrigued? The game is Ingress, an "augmented reality massively multiplayer online GPS-dependent game" from Niantic Labs, a startup within Google. Whew! That's a mouthful. 

People all around the world are participating one giant game using their mobile devices. They download an app, create an account, pick a team, and join the fun. There's a back story for the game that gets quite complicated, but it all boils down to some basic tasks: capture and control portals, link them up to make fields and control territory, earn points and badges, and increase your level and score both individually and for your team. Players can also submit new portals as long as they meet the criteria. As stated in this article, Ingress "is like a combination of geocaching and capture the flag," and it's incredibly addictive.

Baraboo Public Library in IngressWhere does your library come in?

You're probably a portal. From Wikipedia: "Portals are typically associated with buildings and landmarks of historic and/or architectural significance such as sculptures and other public art, libraries, post offices, memorials, places of worship, public transit hubs, parks and other recreational or tourist spaces."

You may see some unusual traffic. You may see cars outside your building at odd hours with the drivers' faces lit up by their cell phone screens or see people with their cellphones furiously hitting a "fire" button to blow up the other team's resonators so they can take over the library for their team. In any case, there are folks who may be non-library users who are now very aware of where the library is.

There may be some programming possibilities. I found one library that even held an Ingress-themed program for Teen Tech Week.

Personally, I've found Ingress to be a great way to easily find points of interest when I venture to a new town. Public libraries, historic landmarks, interesting public art, and sometimes even unique local businesses --- it's great to hack and explore at the same time! (and a very clever way for Google to get the low-down on all of the cultural points of interest in a city!)

What's this button called?

Want to know something kind of silly?* On a website or app, those three lines you click to open the main navigation or get more options has a name.

The Hamburger in Firefox

The technical jargon for that is "The Hamburger."

Hamburger

* That's not why you read TechBits? If you want a side of info to go with your hamburger, you might be interested in usability practices for when hamburgers are and aren't appropriate, or the backlash against hamburgers. For most websites, visible navigation links for the most important areas of the site are still recommended.

Real time malware map

Seems like not a week goes by anymore without hearing about some new virus, Trojan or Kasglobeother bit of malware attacking PCs.  But have you ever wondered what these attacks look like?

Kaspersky has released an interactive map of malware.  They’ve taken their data and plotted it out on globe so you can see the various threats and where they’re coming from in real time.  Leave the map alone and it will spin on it’s own and show you a country.  Using your mouse you can spin the globe and take a look at where the attacks are heaviest.  If you click on each country, you can get statistics on how many attacks have happened so far that day and a global ranking of each country.  

The map can be found at: http://cybermap.kaspersky.com/  (The map seems to work best in Chrome)

What are these holes for?

I made an arrow pointing at the holeWhile sitting in our office on a freezing cold day last month a question was asked, “What are these holes for?” The holes in question are at the end of every modern day power plug. The two flat prongs have a little hole at the end. Why? After a little research it turns out those little holes serve several purposes.


Reason #1: When you punch out a hole it saves money on material. This seems reasonable.


Reason #2: When you insert the plug into an outlet, it slides along the contacts which have little bumps that fit into the holes to help secure it into the outlet. I haven’t taken apart any outlets lately so I’m going to take their word for it.


Reason #3: You can put a zip tie or small lock through the holes to prevent someone from plugging it into an outlet. I could see losing my temper if someone pulled that crap on me.


Trust me, you’re a better person now that you know this.

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...

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:

Pinterest Place Pins

Pinterest has a new feature that I think has potential for libraries--- Pinterest Place Pins allow a map to to be added to a Pinterest board and pins to be added to that map using integration with Foursquare and other partner sites.

PinterestBoardHere's a link to one of my regular Pinterest boards, "Library and book stuff." It contains lots of pins I found interesting-- but no related map. (Tip: if you're prompted to join Pinterest when viewing the board, you can dismiss that window by pressing Esc)

Now here's a link to a board I created of some of my favorite places... Place Pins: SCLS LibrariesSouth Central Library System libraries! To clarify, ALL the South Central Library System libraries are my favorites, of course, but for this example I only added Place Pins for those libraries that already had pictures on FourSquare. (Tip: Older versions of IE may not display the map.)

Now... it seems like there are some possibilities here! Users might pin your library as a place they like to visit, a good place to go with kids, etc.  For example, New York City Public Library gets a listing on this "Free and almost free in NYC" Pinterest board. Libraries might create boards with links to resources in the community or even just other places of interest. Check out this Today post with step-by-step instructions for using Place Pins and an example of Place Pins using sunsets submitted by viewers.

From a social media and marketing standpoint, this might be one more reason to claim your library's location on FourSquare -- a click-through from Pinterest has the potential to bring new visitors to your website or to your building with correct URL, address, phone, and hours information from FourSquare! A lot of sites are already pointing out the potential for businesses, bed & breakfasts, restaurants, and more. I think libraries could be in the mix-- what do you think?

Side note: One of my favorite parts about writing this post was seeing the variety of pictures and tips that FourSquare users added for the libraries. Fun!

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