Thursday, December 11, 2008

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

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, 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 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!

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

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!


#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 ...