Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Check out the Advanced Search on Eventful

Brian Dear from Eventful contacted me with some helpful information on how to use the proximity search in Eventful (See his comments here).

After taking a closer look at the web site, I recommend using the Advanced Search for conducting proximity searches. Give it a try!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Worlds Collide on Facebook

I have used Facebook for about a year now. I enjoy the service and have used it to post photos and keep in touch with friends around the world. A couple of months ago, I began receiving friend requests from co-workers who found me on Facebook. How cool! I was excited and surprised at the same time. I had never told any co-workers I had a Facebook page--yet they found me through the magic of the internet. I am a little reserved at work, so Facebook provides a way for me to connect with co-workers on a personal level that I often do not take the opportunity to do face-to-face.

Imagine that....a web site that brings people together who see one another all the time, yet never connected on a personal level! While there are many things about the internet that divide us and separate us, Facebook is a good example of technology that can bring people together.

Einstein would use a Mac

I looked through the Overdrive audio titles on the Broward County Library web site and put a hold on an intriguing title, How to Think Like Einstein. I then proceeded to look at system requirements for listening to the audio book and found that Overdrives STILL only works on Windows PCs. This is incredibly short-sighted on Overdrive's part. Macs are gaining in popularity. Over 80% of portable music players are Ipods, and yet Overdrive only allows users to listen to the audio books through Windows Media Player.

No thanks... get back to me when you're thinking like Einstein. :)

Podcast Alley and the Library Geeks Podcast

Normally I use the podcast search built into the Itunes store to find podcast content. That's going to change! I recently discovered a great podcast search website called Podcast Alley. The site provides a convenient way to search a vast array of podcasts--much more than one would find through Itunes. Web sites like Podcast Alley are great when looking for podcasts about specific topics. For example, I looked for library technology web sites. I found several interesting ones, but Library Geeks is my new favorite. Library Geeks focuses on harnessing web technologies in librarianship.

The only rub I came across when using Podcast Alley was that subscribing to the podcast through Itunes was not intuitive. Perhaps Apple is equally at fault for not making this easy to find in Itunes. After a search in Itunes help, I discovered that a user must click on the "Advanced" menu, and then click on the "Subscribe to Podcast" option. The user then can paste the URL of the podcast into a dialogue box. Rather than use the "Advanced" menu, it would be easier if Itunes provided a button in the Podcast area of Itunes. That would have been much easier for me to find.

The Adventures of Super Librarian

Enjoy this cute cheesy commercial made by the McCracken County Public Library on YouTube. I'm not even sure where that is?!?! This is a light-hearted example of how libraries can use social web sites like You Tube to reach out to those who may not already be using library services. Most libraries do not have a huge budget, so it's definitely a plus that these videos can be made with little resources and be seen around the world. 

My guess is that many You Tube devotees are young people. It is important that we make contact with these future voters and tax payers now--in their forum. Putting library commercials, event videos, and even library tours just makes good sense.


I learned about Eventful through Webware 100's 2007 awards site. First, the good news... Eventful looks like an up and coming tool for people to learn about special events in their area. Also, it is a great way for non-profit organizations such as libraries to publicize their events. In addition, several organizations are using the site to publicize specific volunteer opportunities. On the negative side, the search function needs some tweaking. I was surprised to find that Eventful does not support search by zip code. You must match the city name exactly. I live in Broward County where there are 30+ cities in one county. I don't want to have to guess that a performance is going to take place in Sunrise or Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A proximity search by location would really help out here.

Update: Brian Dear from Eventful contacted me with some helpful information on how to use the proximity search in Eventful (See his comments). After taking a closer look at the web site, I recommend using the Advanced Search for conducting proximity searches.


Zoho is an impressive attempt to provide a free on-line version of office productivity software. Presentation, spreadsheet, word processing, organizer, and even database software are all included. The first benefit is the cost savings. Tools such as Microsoft Office are quite expensive. Zoho costs nothing to use. Another plus is that your files are always with you, no matter which computer you are using. A big caveat here is that you must be connected to the internet.

Living in South Florida means this is a big caveat indeed for me. After Hurrican Wilma, I was without internet service for 3 weeks. Imagine what would have happened if I had depended on a service such as Zoho to store an important document I needed during that time. Zoho does offer an online feature, but you must install additional software on a computer and download the documents in order for this to work. This defeats the benefit of having access to your files anywhere.

For my purposes, I will shell out the bucks for Microsoft Office.

Wikis at the reference desk

The Library Success web site lists several wiki examples. I think that wikis are even more useful for libraries "behind the scenes" rather than for the public. For example, a wiki allows reference librarians working at different shifts (or even at different locations in library system) to share their current research findings. For example, a librarian working the Monday morning shift might find he's suddenly getting a flood of calls about a local news story in today's paper. That librarian can post some helpful research links about the story in the reference desk wiki. Then, other librarians working later in the day can quickly access those same resources, make comments, and add their own resources. A wiki allows for quick collaboration. In the reference world, several heads are clearly better than one.

Disney vacation plan search with Rollyo

The Rollyo web site allows a way for anyone to create and save a customized search of several web sites at once. This is a great way to consistently search only the web sites you wish, rather than searching the entire world wide web. Users have the option of sharing these saved search with others, so you can discover helpful search strategies that have already been created.

Unfortunately, Rollyo puts a lot of extra adds at the top and smack dab in the middle of search results. This makes for a busy and hard to read page.

I created a Rollyo for searching my favorite Disney Vacation Planning Sites.

Library Thing and Delicious Library (Apple computers only)

While Library Thing is a wonderful way to get book suggestions based on my current library, I cannot imagine using it without Delicious Library! (Important note: Apple computers only).

The amazing Delicious Library software allows you to scan the bar code on your books using your Mac's built in isight camera! No typing required! After scanning your entire collection, you can then export the list and even share it on the Library Thing web site. At $40, this is a no-brainer for any one with a sizeable book collection.

Unfortunately, Library Thing charges a $10 annual fee ($25 lifetime) for libraries greater than 200 books. That's why my library stops at 200 titles.

Here is my library on Library Thing.

Fun with Online Image Generators

There are a varitey of fun online image editors out there. Simply enter a few key phrases and an image will appear like magic. The image can be downloaded, printed, or emailed to others. The results can be a lot of fun. Here is my current favorite: Make your own "Dummies" book cover

Library 2.0

Reading about Library 2.0 on wikipedia seemed only appropriate as this web site embodies many of the characteristics of this concept. The article makes a good point that many people enjoy debating about the "newness" of Library 2.0. Some love to argue that these concepts are nothing new. I beg to differ. While involving customers in libraries may have been around since the 19th centutry, the emphasis on this and the web technologies to do so are certainly new.

Libraries must invite customer participation in order to survive and stay relevant. When selecting a book, how many of us have used the online user reviews on Amazon and then gone to our library's web site to procure the book? (My hand is currently raised high). Let's tear down the brick walls around our library web sites and let customers post their opinions of movies, books, etc. This would be a great first step in maintaining a place of relevancey in the online world.

Check out my new Mouse Minute web site

As part of my lifelong learning, I am working on my Masters in Library Science degree from the University of South Florida. This past semester, my project for a class was to create a web site. You can see my results here

As you can see from the web site, Disney and theme parks are a passion of mine! I learned a great deal from this project. The main thing I learned was that is important to take the time to plan web sites out ahead of time. All of my previous web projects were thrown together as I thought of them. Having a formal design process truly helped me organize my web site so that it is easier for visitors to navigate.

Mmmm Delicious!

I had tried the Delicious social bookmarking site about a year ago, but my attention quickly fizzled. I just couldn't seem to get started. However, the excellent quick start introduction here helped me get going with this web site.

At home, I use an Apple Computer and an Iphone. Any bookmarks I save with the Safari browser on my Apple computer automatically synchs with the browser on my Iphone and vice versa. However, Internet Explorer is my only choice at work. Therefore, I have 2 different sets of bookmarks (aka favorites). Add onto this that I sometimes use Firefox at home for my class work and I actually have 3 different sets of bookmarks. Delicious gives me a way to use the same set of bookmarks no matter what computer I use.

I added the buttons at work and plan to add them at home as well. The buttons will increase the odds that I will consistently use Delicious.