Reference Desk Toolkit

I’ve been invited to a presentation on reference desk tools at Mt. San Antonio College on Friday, April 17. The moderated panel presentation is sponsored by CARLDIG-South and I will be sharing the stage with Michelle Jacobs of UCLA and Amy Wallace of CSU Channel Islands.

If I remember to video or audio my talk, it will be posted after Friday. In the meantime, here are the slides for my presentation:

MacBook Pro – I Will Not Gush.

A 17" Apple MacBook Pro
Image via Wikipedia

I will not gush. I will not gush. Though I’ve been a Mac user for 15-years at work, this is the first Mac that I’ve purchased personally. It is hard to believe that this move has finally happened. When I noticed our family Dell laptop starting to lose life, and I’d been using the work MacBook a bit more frequently, it seemed time to give the Mac a closer look for the family computer replacement. The other thing that played a key role in the decision is my transition to cloud computing. My email and all my files are happily living in the cloud.

When decision time came, it became a choice between the iMac, the MacBook, and the MacBook Pro. Since this will be our primary family computer and also serve as our “television” when we watch DVDs, we wanted something that would last and meet those needs. The iMac was a brief consideration but we opted not to get it because we need flexability to move the computer around the house and the office. The primary difference between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro is about 2″ of screen real estate, a faster video card, and some extra ports. Oh, and $400. Even that isn’t 100% correct because the Apple Care will cost you more on the Pro version too. Nonetheless, we decided on the Pro because we really wanted the larger screen. We made two visits to the San Francisco Apple Store and finally made the purchase at the San Luis Obispo Apple Store.

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Top 10 iPhone Apps for Librarians

I started writing this post on my iPhone, using the WordPress app; all the pictures were taken and uploaded from my iPhone. Since I’ve been using the iPhone (had a 1st generation and now 3G), I have been thrilled with the development of applications and it is easy to just start downloading anything and everything (especially the free apps). The idea here is to help focus the user on a few key apps that can support us as librarians. Of course, all can be used by anyone and most people will find these useful. Further, if you’ve had an iPhone for a while then you probably already use many of these apss. There are certain ones that I use constantly, and all of them are on this list.  A handful of apps that I use periodically didn’t make the cut this time round (Brightkite, 12seconds, Mint, Shazam) mainly because they were not specialized enough for a “librarian” list. I tried to select applications that would have the widest interest and usage in a typical librarian community, though a few have a more technologist/early adopter bent.  In addition the top ten apps for the iPhone, I’ve added two for the geeks out there and two that are web-based but might as well be iPhone apps.

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Twitter Dominated ALA Midwinter

The predominant player at ALA Midwinter Meeting, at least from my personal angle, was Twitter. Though I have been using Twitter for two years, I continue to find more useful applications for this free tool. It does seem that Twitter is reaching a more critical mass, based on the meeting tag (#alamw09) activity, and so there is more conversation on the feed. In fact, I picked up about 50 new followers just over the weekend. I see two positive outcomes from the heavy usage of Twitter at ALA.

First, it made for a more inclusive and broad environment for discussions to occur. On more than one occasion, meetings being held in person were enriched by tweets from afar. Bringing in those voices make ALA more open and accessible – especially for those who cannot attend. Secondly, since there are so many overlapping meetings The Twitter helped attendees to be at more than one meeting at once. So yes, you can be in two places at once. In the LITA Town Hall meeting I sat at a physical table with eight other folks. We decided to hold our conversation on Twitter so we could easily log the conversation. Two things happened: more people joined virtually and, when I had to leave, I could continue participating from the next location. This provided for rich content and open participation. Also, see LITA’s well known Top Technology Trends program as it unfolded on Twitter.  Continue reading “Twitter Dominated ALA Midwinter”

PeopleBrowsr – Up and Coming, but Still Developing

I’ve been playing with a new product for the socially minded web user, but especially for tweeple. Currently in alpha, with new updates coming almost daily, PeopleBrowsr “is a simple visual dashboard that adds power to Twitter and your other online Identities. It funnels in data from your friends and IDs and then funnels it out by publishing, reweeting, rebloggong and tag-grouping.”

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Work and Play – Keeping up with Technology

Unbelievable that it has been three weeks since my last post here on misc.joy, but some of you already know that the Fall semester has begun and I am teaching two extra classes this semester. It has been a blast to teach the San Jose State class again, though the work load is high. I’ve also been working on several volunteer projects that have occuppied time. Namely, volunteering for the Ojai Green Tour on October 4, planning a Benefit Concert for the Ojai Library on October 11, organizing Bike Valet for Ojai Day on Ocober 18, presenting at Internet Librarian on October 19, planning Gold Coast Library Network Professional Day on October 24, coordinating an Education Forum at ALA Midwinter, and helping with the Thich Nhat Hanh 2009 Tour. You may have also noticed the Peace One Day icon on the web page and I will be giving a brief (5-minute) talk on peace and Buddhism at a multifaith event here in Ojai. Yes, it is too much and I am learning how to delegate and ask for help – Leslie has been a life saver on several fronts – but as you can see I still don’t say no. One thing I have learned though is to look for the joy in each of my activities and be fully present when engaged. The March 2008 post 12 Essential Rules to Live More Like a Zen Monk is helpful to read again.

Despite all the above, I’ve still had time to try and keep up with my Friendfeed and play with new tools like  12seconds.tv, Twine, Chrome, and Ubiquity. What’s most promising? What am I finding most useful?

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Teaching Technology Online

Back in 1997, I taught a class for San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science called Information Technology: Tools and Applications on their main campus. This fall I have been invited to teach the class again, but this time it will be taught online. The first official day of this online class is tomorrow. I have sent out notifications to the students and for the next 16 weeks we’ll be learning about web site design, building, and programming. The past 11 years have brought significant changes to the “tools and applications” for information technology, so the class needs to be rewritten a bit. Teaching online it isn’t as simple as walking into a classroom and sharing my knowledge and experience but now the content must be organized and written out in advance for the online environment. Despite the work load, this is an exciting opportunity for me to look more closely at the underlying architecture of the web and help guide future librarians.

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Web 3.0 and Semantic Web

My friend Tyler posted a social map on Twitter recently and I realized I am involved with many social tools on the web but definitely don’t have time to create one of these fancy maps. However, what I’ve have been playing with lately is Twine and social|median – two tools that deal with the semantic web. My understanding of the semantic web is that it harnesses collaborative groups and technology to analyze data to provide content intelligently. This is Web 3.0. It’s kind of like the Propaedeutic Enchiridion in Neil Stephenson’s Diamond Age. Anyway, I don’t know if we are quite there yet but some progress is being made. Twine is invite-only beta and social|median is in alpha (launched in February).

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