Friday, August 29, 2008

Mango Languages

This shortlisted language tool seems to try to do too much. On the one hand it teaches very basic foreign language conversation (I explored the French one) but on the other hand it gets totally bogged down in grammar, which probably shouldn't be included until at least some competency has been achieved. Until you know how to greet someone in French and know you have been understood, you won't really care too much about what each individual word in "Comment allez-vous" means. But it's certainly a good idea in principle, rather than listen to CDs in your car so people think you are talking to yourself when you stop at traffic lights. So "Could Do Better" is my comment, but a brave start.

Zoho Writer

That was very straightforward (once I'd remembered my Blogger password - so many passwords, so little time). I like the idea of being able to access your documents through Zoho from any PC, and even working offline being able to pull up the last 25, rather than being PC-specific. Much more portable, especially for people who don't have laptops but rely on "hot-desking" on PCs. I liked the fact that the toolbar looked so familiar too, but with additional things like the smiley face. All in all a good tool.


Well, this is my first experience with Zoho Writer, so I am going to try and be clever by sending this message to my blog - will try Publish, then if that fails, Export, then if that fails I might have to email it back and forth till it works - wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I didn't much enjoy this exercise. I wished that Rollyo automatically saved your work in draft form as you went along, but it doesn't seem to - consequently, due to interruptions, I lost my list of sites twice before managing to finish it and load it successfully. I also didn't like the predominance of red on the site, or the name "Rollyo". I don't think I'll use this again, as it didn't strike me as very user-friendly, or maybe I just need another cup of coffee.....
Anyhow, here's my (shortened, due to frustration) list:


I liked the look of LibraryThing when it was emailed to NSL some months ago, but this is the first time I have used it. It is similar to BookCat which I used in a previous job, but less texty and more graphic. The Patricia Cornwell book in my library has a huge number of co-owners in LibraryThing, but the Practical Smallfarming in New Zealand book only appears on two other LibraryThing shelves. Obviously people would rather read about Jack the Ripper than how to castrate a lamb - shame on them. AND there was no cover picture available so I decided I would rate it with five stars, which it thoroughly deserves, being a classic. I will add more books as time permits, but for a personal or small business library LibraryThing is wonderful.

Here's the link to my catalogue

The Generator Gap

I can see how this "Thing" could become addictive. It was SO easy to play around with the image generators, then just save onto the hard drive and pop them into the blog. I always tend to save things to my desktop temporarily, and then when I have used them in whatever way, get rid of them. My digital camera is also in Wellington at the moment, so I was a bit limited as to what photos to use as there are very few stored on the PC itself, they're all on disk. I thought Superstickies were great - could be used for our "Thought of the Day" or "Library Quote of the Day" on the webpage maybe. The FD toys site was definitely the best - so easy to do mosaics and all kinds of other special effects, like the Warhol one. Now when people talk about Picasa I know what they mean, and I understand that Andy Warhol and Picasa were great mates and often met over a beer to talk about art. The link for Andy is at


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Andy Warhol is alive and well and living in the 759s

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

A lick of Wetpaint

This has to be the easiest, most user-friendly wiki tool in the world. I loved not having to know any commands other than the standard Word ones, and being able to contribute without having to worry about ANYTHING too technical. I'm sure the "behind the scenes" stuff is probably complicated, despite what the video and demo reckon, after all, any girl daring enough to drive a Vespa in Auckland traffic can probably do ANYTHING. If you had a fairly obscure passion, like (in my case) collecting Sylvac, a Wetpaint wiki would be a very good place to start to connect with other like-minded souls, but if your passion was more general, for example cycling, I could see that the wiki could get quite out of hand very quickly.

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The wonder of wikis

First of all, a confession - I LOVE wikipedia despite all the negatives about bias, vandalism and ill-informed opinion it is a fantastic one-stop shop not only for overviews of subjects, but also for trivia and fascinating facts. For those of us who can't remember the name of the actress who played Magenta in the Rocky Horror Show, a quick click into Wikipedia is all you need, without having to trawl through endless Google hits. I liked the SJCPL site very much, and thought - again - how Fitches, wikis, Delicious, Intranets etc. are all really intertwined - how useful it would be for us to load up a guide to say, APA, Dewey, etc. on our homework computers. And the "most asked for" local knowledge and resources - genealogy, a list of local JPs, Plunket locations and hours, pre-schools, etc. etc. And what about, in election year, a list of polling stations?

Book Lovers wiki had a very inviting front page and an enticing book review which led to me submitting a Request for Purchase to Collection Management. Nice and easy format, not too technical. I also had a look at the Electronic Resources Wiki from the University of Huddersfield (well, a Pom has standards!) To me this didn't seem any different from a NZ university library intranet, requiring individual student logon to access just about everything, but maybe there were some interesting bits that WERE publicly available, I just didn't find them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Delicious indeed!

Where has Delicious been all my life? I am refusing to use its silly little dots, only its proper name. It is fantastic! It is a bit like the Unitechnology site that was set up by English teachers years ago for model lesson plans and links to supporting material, but the scope is just HUGE as often a bookmark "belongs" in more than one folder, and putting sites into folders restricts them, whereas tagging ensures they are always available, not only on your computer but wherever you go. Interesting discussion about LibraryThing too - I really like LibraryThing, and Bookcat is very similar - the full programme costs about fifty dollars and you scan the ISBN of a book and it races off to Amazon or several other sites, depending on your preferences, and downloads the whole record of a book, with review and cover picture. Awesome and so easy to use. Interesting too to read of Encore, Innovative Interface's new product, which presumably can be integrated into Millennium? One to keep an eye on. From this day on, my whole social (bookmarking) life is going to be Delicious. And that's a promise.

Some thoughts on Web and Library 2.0

This whole "23 things" learning experience is wonderful on a personal level, and thinking about it in terms of libraries of the future, including ours, is very exciting. WiFi will mean not having to concern ourselves with how many PCs we provide as people can bring their own laptops (or borrow library ones from a pod) so multiple users can be connected for at the same time, for as long as they wish, and the question of "how many power points do we need in the library building" will never again need to be asked. I was reflecting on how things have changed in such a short time, reading the link "To more powerful ways to cooperate". My previous job was in a school library, and when I started, in 1996, there was only one Internet computer, obviously dial up using good old Trumpet Winsock. It was only available to Year 13 students, who had to not only get written permission from their parents, but also had to have a "sponsoring teacher" who would take the rap if the student accessed any inappropriate sites, or used email. That's only twelve years ago. That same school is now investigating Web 3.0 and several staff have been trained in Marvin which is a tool for creating avatars. I do find it all very exciting, but I find it equally horrifying to think that Second Life devotees spend up to forty hours a week online. It doesn't say much for their "First Life". I think it would be interesting to compare statistics from OECD countries about Web 3.0 use, particularly among the under-25s - I suspect that the US would be far out in front, followed by the UK and other parts of Europe and that Australia and New Zealand would show a healthy disregard for spending forty hours a week being an avatar, preferring instead to balance an online presence with sport and actually talking to people and physically being with them rather than a click and a hyperlink away. I hope so - once again I vote for "all things in moderation", which is probably the same as sitting on a virtual fence.

Some thoughts on Technorati

A search in the Blog Directory on Techcnorati for "Learning 2.0" yielded 7,795 results, which was pretty overwhelming, but the tag search yielded 780 which was much more manageable, and most of these were much more targeted to what we are doing - some of the directory ones had no relevance at all as far as I could see (though I didn't trawl through all of them, obviously!) I liked the fact that you could "save" a search query by subscribing, though I didn't do this myself. Ever the Pom, I searched for Coronation Street using the directory and tags, and got 200 blog posts and 271 tags, but I had to stop myself from reading them as most of them were written by Poms in England who are a whole year ahead of us here and I hate knowing what is going to happen! I had a discussion with a colleague yesterday about Heritage Week and having a "Speakers Corner" soapbox where people can get up and say their piece about whatever they feel strongly about, and it occurs to me that blogs are just that - a new take on Hyde Park. If you were to integrate some Facebook applications, you could even throw virtual rotten tomatoes at the blogger if you didn't agree with their point of view. Now there's a thought.......

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bloglines, RSS, Technorati and the rest

Well, this was a very interesting exercise indeed. RSS could have all sorts of uses in the library (I'm thinking about the Olympics and having the latest news on them automatically popping onto the Learning Centre computers at homework time, as just one example. I got a bit bogged down (blogged down?) in trying to pop my feeds onto my blog - because I had created another account (Bloglines) the logistics of getting them onto my original blog were a bit mind-bloggling (sorry......)After Alt-Tabbing with what seemed like half a dozen tabs and getting mightily confused, I went to Google and typed in "adding a bloglines blogroll to blogger" and some wonderful person called Jamie Christenbury had given very straightforward instructions as to how to do it, and best of all - it worked! Here is the link and if you follow this to the letter it works beautifully. (I tried to add this as a hidden link under his name like we do with Fitch, but no joy - not sure what I was doing wrong). I liked Topix too, good layout. The best thing about all this is playing around with places I've never been, though of all the tools, I found the Bloglines one the easiest. I found a very good link to comparisons of different types of heating, which was uppermost in my mind as my house is FREEZING right now!