Thursday, December 11, 2008

#23 "We’re out of the woods, we’re out of the dark, we’re out of the night!"

OutoftheWoods
1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
The biggest deal for me was finding out how easy it is to use blogs, and to discover that by using them and other free hosting services (flickr, YouTube, last.fm) you can create a fully-developed web presence without having to spend a dime!

"Just try and stay out of my way. Just try! I'll get you, my pretty and your little dog too!"

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
As with others, the program has encouraged me to examine a little more closely all these things you hear in passing and try to ignore, but really can't afford to.

"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."

3. Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
See 1., above.

"Oh, don't cry! You'll rust so dreadfully. Here's your oil can."

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
Like others have noted, one hour is not enough time for many of the assignments. Also, bandwidth issues offer a major challenge, not only in completing the assignments--many of which were better completed away from work--but in putting the various applications to productive use in the Library. If we develop these web 2.0 resources with the current limitations of RAM and connection speed, we are setting ourselves up for failure: we will be sorely challenged developing applications in an efficient manner; and, if our customers, particularly of the in-house variety, can't get them to work properly the results will be counterproductive.

"The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. Oh joy! Rapture! I got a brain! How can I ever thank you enough?"

5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you again chose to participate?
I guess it really depends on what's being examined, but, yes. This has been among the most useful of any of the job-required training courses I've taken (and I've been with the city more than a couple of decades...).

#21 Personal. On. Demand.

'Nuff said...
Ask a Ninja
Well, probably not 'nuff to complete this exercise.

Didn't much care for the iTunes podcast directory. I googled "podcast directory" and tried podcastdirectory.com and their listings for Jacksonville -- not too many, and the one I listened too had two brothers phoning it in--one in Hollywood (CA) and the other (the host) somewhere in New Jersey. What up?

Searched Google again for library podcasts--subscribed to something from the Library of Congress--it is our MotherShip, no? Went back and tried podcastalley, under comedy, but chose a reference! feed: Ask a Ninja: You got questions. Ninja got answers. (I learned about Salameanders and cutting off parts that don't grow back...).

So now I understand the best way to deal with problem customers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

#22 Nightmare on Main Street

Freddy's glove
I skipped JPL2.0 #21 -- will wait till I get home. Would take too long here-- bandwidth issues.

Blithely on to exercise #22:
To establish an Overdrive account, you must first create your account through the JPL website. I know you’re tired of creating user names and passwords, but we're almost there!
I go to the Overdrive page to set up my account. Yes, yes. I am almost there ...

Only, no account set-up in sight on site. Is this a hideous trap?! But she seemed so nice.

I go for Help! Need...Quickstart! No mention of creating Overdrive accounts to log-in, nothing. Nothing. FAQ! N-o-t-h-i-n-g!

Where to turn? I'm lost...gasping...sinking...

Can't watch the Guided tour. It -- won't -- load. No alternate print version offered.

The sky darkens. Melonee approaches--is she too among the lost? I ask for help--She must know--What? She's been this way before! Thank heaven! Only... She looks at the web page, looks at me, at the web page -- can't find -- anything! Nothing! "Something should be done."

No way out--can't...breathe--AAArghhh!

Epilogue
"So," I ask, but none is left to hear, "If you need to log-in to use the service, why is there no mention of this on our web page? Isn't that a 'basic.' Do you set up a new account, or is it already there, included in the same login/password you use for everything else? It seems the latter is true (the usual worked for me, anyway) -- if so, we should proclaim it: 'If you have a card you have access!'"

The MYSTERY of setting up an account aside, I probably won't use Overdrive unless I get an mp3 player that works through my car speakers--driving is the only time I listen to books.

But the site really should mention about registering/logging in, or registration should be made more obvious it it's hidden somewhere. Also, the 1-2-3 Quickstart steps should be listed first thing, without having to stumble on them along the way. No wonder customers are confused.

#20 All right, Mr. DeMille ...

I'm ready for my close-up...


Ah, the good ol' daze. ...
Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance: "All is prepared / Stay, Frederic, stay"

From a February 1988 "Ex Libris" concert in the old Main Library...soprano Judy Wade and I accompanied by Rosalind McEnulty. Everything went pretty well except near the end Ros chose a quicker tempo than we had rehearsed...But tempo shmempo! look how thin I am! YouTube is great because this is how posterity will remember me, even if now ... "I am big. It's the pictures that got small"!

In response to #20, the Library could use YouTube for various types of promotions-- program ads, booktalks, demonstrations (like self-check), etc. We could give video tours of facilities, public art, special collections. Endless possibilities!

#19 And the Winner Is...

last.fm
When asked to explore a site from among this years Web 2.0 Award winners at SEOmoz.org, not being in a mood for surprises (let's save those for Santa) I looked under MUSIC and chose their #1 site: last.fm It's a great site, only...

Don't try this at work.

At least in the afternoon because it requires bandwidth which the City connection and/or the crappy PCs (and my resulting blood pressure) can't handle. I couldn't find anyway to pause the streaming until the entire file loads, so if you don't have enough bandwidth you'll get a thousand, give or take, stops and starts as a recording progresses.

Started as a legal music-sharing substitute for Napster, last.fm is a site where musicians or record labels can share their music--excertps, full tracks, even complete albums. You don't have to set up a free account to listen, but if you start an account you can set up a personal library of recordings. Much music is free to listen to, and you can set up an account to buy mp3 downloads. (Perfect for when we get our players for participating in JPL 2.0)

I set up an artist account and uploaded two albums of original compositions I recently compiled:

http://www.last.fm/music/Edward+Lein/+albums


Please listen to some of my FREE tracks some time, and invite a friend ...

They apparently made some big improvements to the site lately, so typically a lot of the stuff that used to work doesn't work now. Progress. For instance, for newly added accounts (like mine) the tags don't currently get indexed. But they know about the problems and they will be fixed (sooner I hope than later, since it isn't Cheers and everybody doesn't know my name so no one will ever find my stuff...unless you go and tell your friends...), and the old (pre-improvement) entries still work.

I only looked at classical stuff, but for many composers you can listen to entire albums for free, or at least hear representative works. It's pretty incredible.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Concert in Brunswick, GA : 8pm on Monday, 12/15/08

The Coastal Symphony of Georgia is including a piece I wrote-- "In the Bleak Midwinter"--on their program!

goldenislesxmas

#18: 1st Go with Zoho

Go ZOHO!  or  ZOHO shmo-ho?

This is my first go with Zoho Writer, and an immediate annoyance is with page set-up.  The margin settings are in percentages -- no one mentioned that there would be math ...   Why not use the more common inches (or centimeters for the rest of the world)?

Exactly what percentage of the height would you need to set the top and bottom margins to to get the same margin width as 10% of the width left and right margins?  Also, what happens with the actual margin size if you switch from portrait to landscape? The HELP info doesn't seem to care. This is all rhetorical so don't send me your worksheets, but I'm just saying... 

In actuality, it doesn't seem that changing the top and bottom margin settings makes any difference anyway--I haven't experimented with different settings enough to really know what's going on, but at first glance changing these settings doesn't seem to have an effect on printing anyway.

"Preview" and "Page View" seem to do the same thing and neither shows you how the printed page will really look--except, you can go directly to a PDF from "Page View" and see the page margins that way.  

But when you do either "Preview" or "Page View" there is no instruction on how to get back to the document to continue typing.  (All you have to do is to reopen the document, but until you figure this out, it seems like you're just stuck with what you have.)

However, that you have the option to export as PDF is fabulous.

Everything else seems good, too, and it's great that all these formatting features are available for free, and that you can allow collaborative editing online. 

The unlimited online storage will diminish to 1GB when the site finishes testing and goes commercial (at which point you can buy more storage), but even 1GB seems pretty good.  And it means Library customers who use it to type up a resumé can save it even though they never have a flash drive or disk ...

Monday, November 24, 2008

#17: PB, hold the J

Very similar to editing blogger blogs, using the JPL Learning 2.0 sandbox at PBwiki was a smooth (not chunky) experience. Put in mind of food, I even added a Favorite Recipes page!

#16 Wiki stick it:


photo: Getty/daylife
(Achieve a speedy gymnastic dismount triumph ... )
Though I'm too much of a control freak to wholeheartedly endorse universal editing by anonymous (potential) reprobates, there is a lot to be said for sharing community information -- our own E*vanced calendar offers a wealth of up-to-date information about Library programs and events that would overwhelm an individual webmaster.
Besides community calendars, I like collaborative subject guides and pathfinders, and multi-perspective reviewing. Also for event planning--how great would an online sign-up be for holiday potlucks? I'm all for immediate gratification (as long as there is at least some accountability and oversight).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

#15 Library 2.0 : Embracing the Internet

Public Libraries continue a noble purpose: to provide community access to resources that would otherwise be unavailable.

Often this boils down to money-- most individuals can't afford vast libraries of diverse materials on their own, so they pool their money (in the form of taxes) and share what they buy (in the form of public libraries).

Unless the capitalistic nature of our society is radically altered it is unlikely that new and desirable resources will ever become freely available to everyone. So, regardless of the formats the resources take, the need for public libraries (in one form or another) will continue.

And, as always, public libraries will collect what their constituents want and develop the most effective means to deliver the goods.

Digital formats are part of the evolution of information-sharing, not really a revolution (granted, the evolution has speeded up considerably since the heyday of the papyrus scroll). So I'm not worried-- libraries and librarians aren't facing extinction but will continue to evolve as well. The more information that is available, the more people need teams of information professionals to help them find what they seek.

We (JPL) have embraced digital formats and work to expand our digital collections. The Internet provides the ideal avenue for digital delivery, and we try to take full advantage of it, including granting free access to non-residents via free eCards. Only ...

Our immediate problem is marketing-- we have all these really great databases and online services available, and are providing more and more downloadable materials. But sooo many people remain unaware of them, even those who routinely use the Internet for virtually everything (pun intended).

Another thing-- why don't we (JPL) have scanners so we can e-mail copies from print items rather than faxing them? (E-mail is one of the most universally accepted delivery methods, is one of the greatest advantages the Internet offers, and is way more reliable than using outdated fax machines--not taking advantage of the available technology just doesn't make sense.)

Festival of Trees

The Main Library is hosting the Junior League of Jacksonville's annual Festival of Trees November 4 - January 7.

The decorations for most trees are based on specific books or stories, including:

  • Make Way for Ducklings

  • The Nutcracker

  • Treasure Island

  • Gorgeously Green

  • The Vile Village

  • Green Eggs and Ham

  • Wild About Books

  • The Night Before Christmas

  • The Little Engine That Could

  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins

  • Little House on the Prairie

  • Bob the Builder

  • The Yearling

  • The Legend of Bagger Vance

  • Mr. Peabody’s Apples

  • The Secret Garden

  • Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella

  • How do Dinosaurs Go to School

  • Around the World in 80 Days

  • The Paper Crane

  • The Gingerbread Man

  • Jamberry

  • Emma’s Turtle

  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

  • Tony’s Bread
  • Monday, November 17, 2008

    #14 Not a Book by Dale Brown ...

    technorati
    I guess there's a need for Technorati, but it's very comprehensiveness, i.e., hoarding masses of swine amid a few pearls (too bad the URL "" was already taken ...), undermines its usefulness in finding reliable information. In fairness, though, at least they let you change the "level of authority" for the blogs included in a search.

    As for searching "Library 2.0," when I finally figured out how to control the search (entire blog vs. tags only) for blogs with "a lot of authority" (a celebration is planned each year on 11/18@7:15am), I got 1,052 results for "search the entire post", and only 259 hits for "tags only"; the blog directory didn't get that specific -- "" is a close as you get, but I was surprised that it gets that close since the directory is limited to pretty broad headings. (I guess I'm too old-fashioned, but I wish they had a big index of suggested tags.)

    TIP: The easiest way I could find to change between searching complete blogs to just tags is to:
    1. Search your term using the SEARCH box on the Technorati home page, and then
    2. Use the CHANGE link to set your parameters:



    CLICK to enlarge

    I was a little surprised by some of the popular searches because they include names of a few folks I've never heard of. But I had no real expectations so there were no big surprises with the "most popular" blogs, except that I would have expected more celebrity gossip than political news, but maybe everybody's still keyed up from the elections...

    #13



    The first thing I noticed is that the URL has changed to the more user-friendly http://delicious.com.

    I'm so used to e-mailing myself URLs to include in the jplstaff Ready Ref pages and in my own Guide to the Best Internet Resources that it will take me a while to get used to the delicious-ness of this site. But I certainly see advantages to having a handy, universally accessible place to store favorites, and expect I will create an account of my own. It could also prove useful in group projects as a central place to store references.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    #11 Pottery Barn

    check out My Spelling Books

    thing




    (Library Thing might be useful if you could inventory DVDs & CDs...)

    #10 : Tasteful saying ....

    biteme
    Recipes for fun at http://www.redkid.net/generator/soup/sign.php

    Beauty secret ...


    mona
    Create a masterpiece at http://www.txt2pic.com/toons/4.htm

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    JPL 2.0 #9: Finding Feeds



    Poster available from despair.com

    This exercise was really quite depressing, and this despair.com poster pretty much sums up my experience.

    Bloglines' Search Tool seems reasonable enough--I searched "classical music" and immediately added a feed from the New York Times, and will likely add others using this tool.

    Feedster wouldn't load.

    Topix.net really made me nervous -- FOX has set a terrible precedent by distributing unverified opinion as "news" and the political posts that dominated Topix "most popular" stories seem only too eager to join this bandwagon. I'll stick with Reuters and NPR for credible news.

    The seemingly indiscriminate nature of sources included in both Syndic8 and Technorati has no appeal to me. I'd rather find sources with some degree of accountability, or at least some that come recommended by folks whose judgement can be respected (e.g., visit some of JPL's Recommended Websites of particular interest and look for newsfeeds on them). There is too much chaff with the wheat for me to find these other sites very useful.

    This is America and I do believe that everybody is entitled to an opinion. But really. So many bloggers try mightliy to disprove this. (Op.cit despair.com)

    JPL 2.0 exercise #8 : RSS & Newsfeeds

    Why it's just like Christmas...

    The initial set-up at Bloglines was a breeze (especially after viewing a couple of brief videoclips: RSS in Plain English and Adding Rss Feeds to Bloglines), and it was easy as pie to subscribe to blogs by whatever method presented itself.

    But enabling the public sharing of my blogroll using the instructions included with both the JPL 2.0 post and from Bloglines was impossible for me on my own because there was never any mention that you must create a Bloglines user name separate from the email address used to sign in, or how to go about creating a Bloglines user name -- Refman Greg had to clue me into this or I never could have finished.

    DO THIS: 1. Create your account at bloglines.com & login.
    2. Once at http://www.bloglines.com/myblogs, click on Account in the top right corner of the screen.
    3. Click on Blog Settings
    4. Make up and type in a new, unique username.
    5. Next to Show my Blogroll, choose Yes, publish my Blogroll
    6. Click on Save Changes

    After doing this, the formula http://www.bloglines.com/public/USERNAME will work.

    My blogroll may been seen at http://www.bloglines.com/public/EdLein.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Technological Heads Up -- DTV Deadline: 2/7/2009



    All-digital treehouse?
    Photo by PGP Design
    Federal law requires that all full-power television broadcast stations switch to an all digital format beginning February 7, 2009. So on February 8 the old analog frequencies will no longer be used to transmit any TV shows, but instead will be used for public safety broadcasts, and also some of the freed-up frequencies can then be applied to anticipated new commercial wireless services.

    Most TV sets purchased before May 25, 2007, were not required to include digital tuners (or warn you of the absence), so unless you bought your TV within the last year and a half chances are you will want to get a digital-to-analog set-top converter box. Just in case the cable goes out ...

    If you have a commercial cable or satellite TV service, its converter box does bypass the immediate need. But you never know. So between January 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, all U.S. households may request up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used toward the purchase of eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is administering the coupon program. For more information, visit the NTIA website at www.dtv2009.gov.

    TIP: these coupons will expire 90 days after mailing.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Pukin' Punkish Punkin

    or,

    Squeamish
    Squalid
    Squash?


    Sick of traditional pumpkin pie? Then why not try one of these ...

    You'll be gorging gorgeous gourds!

    More marvelous morsels at: Ed's Favorite Recipes

    Magic Spells (just in time for Hallowe'en...)

    M U S Wooden Tag I C                            at symbol @
    M A I Letter N on Glass (Takoma Park, MD)
    This didn't work for me the first time I tried it...While exploring some of the Flickr-related mashups for JPL2.0, I used the speller at http://metaatem.net/words/, but I couldn't get
    the html code to copy/display properly. So I went on to create this kaleidoscope-type image of the Music@Main flyer on a different site, but then I lost the URL to that site... So I tried the spelling one again and it worked like, well, like a charm!

    Music @ Main : Polish Music for Violin & Piano

    flye120808
    Programming classical music concerts at the Main Library has given me the opportunity to meet a great many of the First Coast's finest musicians. This image publicizes the next scheduled MUSIC@MAIN concert, which will take place on December 8, 2008, at 6:15 p.m.

    The program will feature two world-class performers, each of whom has played concerts at the Main Library, but this will be the first time they will appear together on the stage of the Library's Hicks Auditorium.

    Piotr Szewczyk is a Polish-born violinist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra who regularly performs at various venues throught the United States and Europe (I believe he is currently in or on his way to Munich). Jacksonville native Christine Clark is an award-winning pianist who is President of Friday Musicale, and who appears frequently in solo recitals and with many of the area's finest instrumentalists.
    CLICK HERE for bios of the artists

    Mark your calendars--you won't want to miss this concert!

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    The 7½ Habits of Lifelong Learning


    Photo by melcsee
    The City provides its employees at least 24 hours a year of educational opportunities, and among those the Library encourages staff to follow a 9-hour interactive online course to learn about Web 2.0 applications, both to better help customers understand the popular Internet applications available and to enhance communication with the public and among staff via the Internet. The JPL Learning 2.0 course is based on a similar program out of Charlotte, NC.

    These "7½ Habits" are reviewed in this "Learning 2.0" training:


    5 Habits in action ... Photo by NanaJanet1954
    Habit 1: Begin with a goal in mind
    Habit 2: Accept responsibility for your own learning
    Habit 3: View problems as challenges
    Habit 4: Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner
    Habit 5: Create your own learning toolbox
    Habit 6: Use technology to your advantage
    Habit 7: Teach and mentor others
    Habit 7-1/2: PLAY!

    I expect that Habit 3 is both the easiest and the hardest for me ...
    • Easiest because I like finding answers, solutions and work-arounds relating to new problems; but
    • Hardest if the problem is a recurring one that isn't really under my control -- e.g., I have less and less patience with the same problems and issues over and over again, such as continually having to remind different customers working at library PCs to turn down the volume !

    "Ready Reference" web page goes public

    Being editor of the homepage for Library Reference staff has provided me the opportunity to discover firsthand a lot of very useful websites. I have created a single-screen public web page that organizes many of these, plus some additional "civilian" websites of interest especially to Jacksonville residents. "Ed's Guide to the Best Internet Resources" is available at http://home.comcast.net/~edward_lein/refsites.html
    -- I'd love feedback on how to make it more useful!