Where's Santa?

Radar

image © 2014 Nelson L., Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Just for fun I thought I'd try to find a TechBits topic that was in the holiday spirit.

After a bit of creative searching, I was surprised to find that we can track Santa Claus using radar, heat-seekers and high definition spy plane cameras. Starting on Christmas Eve, we can even monitor these trackers in real time using a web browser.

Have fun at www.noradsanta.org/. The navigation controls are not those of a typical website, but they're simple enough; use the left hand menu buttons and look for the Next, Previous and Close buttons presented as icons.

2017 Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference

Looking for a great January conference you can attend from your warm office while drinking hot chocolate and watching the cold winds blow?

The Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference is a state-wide virtual conference developed by the Nicolet Federated Library System and supported by 15 other library systems in Wisconsin. Several 60-minute web presentations focusing on public libraries will be given over three blustery days in January. This year it is being held January 24-26. Some of the "tech-y" topics include web trends, free online tools, coding, and makerspaces. Wisconsin in January... brrrr!

Anyone, in any library, of any size, is welcome to participate!

You can find more information about the sessions here. Sessions will be recorded for those who can't attend online.

Snapchat

SnapchatHave you used Snapchat? Pictures, short videos, captions, and filters for fun/silly pictures make it great for keeping in touch with friends and family.  It's especially helpful for keeping up with a teenager I know who isn't so keen on TALKING, but who is very willing to send me quick snaps of her pets and recent activities. 

As a slightly-older-than-teenager adult, Snapchat was not intuitive to me. I had to have a lesson from the silent teenager's older sister, but how glad am I that I did -- it's a fun little program!

In August, I told you about TechBoomers.com, a free educational website that teaches people how to use popular websites and apps. This recent TechSoup for Libraries post discusses using TechBoomers as resource for library staff and patrons to quickly learn how to use things like Snapchat, Vine*, Pinterest, and Instagram. The full list of TechBoomers' social media courses can be found here. All of the TechBoomers content is Creative Commons licensed, and you are free to reuse it in your own technology training for patrons or staff.
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*Did you hear the news? Twitter has announced it will be shutting down Vine in upcoming months.

Build a Font Using Your Own Handwriting

I stumbled upon a fun website last week.  It is called MyScriptFont.com.  The site allows you to build a font using your own handwriting.  It is pretty simple and quick.

  1. Go to MyScriptFont.com using your favorite web browser.
  2. Print off the pdf or png template.
  3. Use a medium-thick, black marker to fill out the template
  4. Scan the template.  You can save it as a jpg, png, pdf, jpeg or tiff file, but make sure the scan is less than 6,500 x 6,500 pixels.
  5. Upload the file.
  6. Name the font.
  7. Select TTF for the output format.
  8. Click Start.
  9. After the font is generated, click it and you will be able to save it to your PC.
  10. Install the font by double-clicking the font you just downloaded then click Install (Note: On SCLS PCs, you would need to call the Help Desk to have the font installed.)
  11. The next time you open Word or other supported product, you should see your font in the fonts drop-down box.

Here is how my font turned out.  Click to enlarge.

Andrew Font

 

 

 

 

 

 

My former co-worker, Michael, also created a font.

Michael Font

 

 

 

Gail's Toolkit for technology training

What do you get when very motivated librarians teaching lots of technology courses wants to standardize their course templates to make life easier for everyone (and have a grant to do it)?
Gail's Toolkit, built by staff at the Gail Borden Public Library.

From their website:  "Gail's Toolkit is a project funded by an American Library Association Publishing Carnegie-Whitney Grant that runs from 4/1/15 through 3/30/17. This free, online portal—sponsored by the Reaching Across Illinois Library System—offers lesson plans, presentations, handouts, and surveys that librarians can use to teach classes ranging from Microsoft Word to LinkedIn. The portal also offers an online bibliography of training resources for those who want to learn more about instruction."

I heard about Gail's Toolkit at WiLSWorld this year (presentation, handout), and I thought it had a lot of potential to help libraries everywhere with technology training. The Gail Borden Public Library staff have already developed a collection of courses that are free for anyone to use. For those interested in developing their own courses, the course templates are designed to make the courses so standardized that in the case of staff illness or other unexpected changes, any staff person could step in and cover the class.

GailsToolkit

Tracks & Classes: http://www.gailstoolkit.com/tracks-classes (templates to design your own classes are also included on this page)

As of September, there are already-developed classes for computer and internet basics, Microsoft programs, Google tools, resumes, and LinkedIn. Not a bad start!

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.

Pokémon GO: Rising to the Challenge

Aspen Report

IMG_2913As I have been playing Pokémon GO with my family, I have continued to think about how it makes sense for libraries to reach out to patrons playing the game. I think this is because for the past year, we have been talking about the Aspen Institute Report "Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries (AKA Aspen Report)." In discussions lead by Jean Anderson and Shawn Brommer (summary), SCLS member library directors have identified what libraries are already doing with "Library as People, Place, and Platform" and they have generated a list of "Strategies for Success." I encourage you to re-read the reports and lists and identify how you think reaching out to patrons through Pokémon GO might help your library rise to the challenge. Below are some of the things I have been thinking about for libraries this past week in relation to the "Aspen Report" and some resources that might be helpful to you.

Rising to the Challenge

PokéStop 
IMG_2889As I mentioned in my blog post last week, if your library is a PokéStop you have a unique opportunity to be of use to patrons. PokéStops are used by players to collect some of the tools required to play the game. PokéStops are also used to set up lures for 30 minute periods. Lures attract Pokémon and they will attract players. You WILL have people hanging around the library at all hours of the day when they know a lure has been set or to replenish their supplies. Some libraries are placing signs in a window or on their lawn to welcome Pokémon players. Really cool libraries will schedule "Lure Launches" and announce them via social media. Aspen Report: Libraries are seen as trusted and neutral spaces--great for playing Pokémon GO. Welcoming gamers may reach new library patrons and will show that you are paying attention and anticipating needs.

Wi-Fi
IMG_2909While Pokémon does not use a huge amount of data, any time a player can use Wi-Fi they benefit. In some communities, cellular data may not be very good and this makes it difficult for people to play the game. Players may be able to use the library Wi-Fi to catch Pokémon by using Incense and also to do some of the maintenance required with the game. If your library is a Gym, players will be able to battle each other at the library. You can also reach out to rural patrons who may have little, if any, opportunity for playing the game. Aspen Report: Wi-Fi is an element of "Place."

Other needs
PokémonGO is a huge drain on device batteries. Perhaps your library could provide places for players to charge their phones--this could be as simple as a power strip. Libraries also provide air-conditioned spaces and water (important on hot days) and bathrooms. Aspen Report: providing a comfortable space and even bathrooms are elements of "Place."

Multi-generational opportunities
The majority of players are Millenials, but IMG_2887people of all ages are playing the game. I have found this to be true as I wander around searching for Pokémon. The best thing is that strangers talk to each other and learn from each other. I have learned everything I know by talking to other players. Libraries are providing Meetups and other activities which will naturally encourage multi-generational attendance. People will be eager to share tips and experiences with each other. Aspen Report: Encouraging multi-generational activity is an element of "People."

Outreach
I have heard that some libraries in SCLS are using the new mobile hot spots to go on Pokémon hunts! If you don't have one at your library, you can borrow one of the mobile circulation kits which include a hot spot. Aspen Report: Outreach outside the building is one of the "Strategies for Success." 

More help and ideas

Helpful library guide and philosophy on the library role http://galaxybookjockey.tumblr.com/post/147240001718/everything-librarians-need-to-know-about-pokemon

There is a FaceBook page for Pokémon in libraries! It has tons of ideas and includes a survey to share what you are doing https://www.facebook.com/groups/pokelibrary/

Techbits article on Ingress, the foundation for Pokémon GO http://scls.typepad.com/techbits/2014/08/your-library-is-a-portal.html

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!

Is your library a PokéStop in Pokémon GO?

 

What is Pokémon GO?

Pokemon_GoJust in case you made it through the weekend without hearing about it, Pokémon GO was all the craze. The Wikipedia article provides a pretty good explanation of what it is. If you saw people wandering around pointing their IOS or Android Smartphones at things, there is a good chance they were playing the game.

 

Is your library a PokéStop or does it have a Gym?

PokéStops and Gyms are two of the things that people are looking for when playing as they help progress the game. The game integrates with the phone's GPS and you have to physically walk around so your avatar can locate them, and also Pokemon to capture. PokéStops and Gyms are often located near churches, bus stops, public monuments and LIBRARIES! The foundation for this game is Ingress which you can read about in the Tech Bits post "Your Library Is a Portal." Libraries are already capitalizing on this.

  • It is a topic on reddit Wla
  • Someone at the New York Public Library has blogged about playing the game there
  • Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Facebook post
  • American Libraries post

Some suggestions for libraries are:

  • Find out if your library is a PokéStop or has a Gym (by downloading and playing the game)
  • Post on social media and your web site if your library is a PokéStop or Gym
  • Create a Pokémon book and media display
  • Organize Pokémon GO hunting expeditions (it's more fun to play in groups)

At the South Central Library System office, we don't have a PokéStop, but the Wisconsin Library Association does (image above)!

What's great about it?

WarningNot only is this game a great opportunity to promote your library, but it is an oppoKidsrtunity for socializing and bridging generation gaps. I played the game along with some of my young adult children this weekend. I don't know much about Pokémon but they grew up with it. Still, I had a lot of fun playing with them and having them explain it to me. The best thing is that it gets you outside and walking around. Here is a link to the Pokémon GO YouTube video that illustrates this. But make sure you don't follow the example of my stepson and me this weekend--this is what it looks like in real life.

 

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