Friday, May 4, 2012

New IT Interest Group Meeting Notes – April 26, 2012

For this month's meeting, we explored two video-casting tools:

1) Jim, Ian, and Tom experimented with this web tool before and during the meeting, and it works pretty well. You can create an account for free, but there are some advanced functions that you will have to pay for, including removing advertizements and increasing storage space. Ustream allows some handy free customizations, including the ability to record your sessions and have them play on your channel when your channel is not broadcasting live. Once you have created an account, simply click on the "Broadcast Now" link listed under your account menu. After giving the site access to your camera and mic, you click "Start Broadcast."

2) Jim discovered and demoed this tool. It allows you to creat a free account, but there is no free recording/storage for videos. It is strictly a live broadcast. However, it does offer the very helpful option to broadcast multiple cameras from within a single broadcast instance (and on a single browser screen), including cameras from people who have joined the video-cast, but are not members of the site.

Those two tools used up the entire hour, and were all we had time for! If you know of other video casting tools, let us know too!

See you next time!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New IT Interest Group Meeting Notes – February 23 and March 23, 2012

For this blog entry, we are combining February and March. For both months, we had shortened meetings/discussions, and the notes combine well into one post...

The group started by welcoming Ashley, Memorial’s ISIP student worker during the Spring Semester.

The group then discussed various cloud storage applications. In all, we discussed SkyDrive, iCloud, GoogleDocs, MyWebSpace, and DropBox: Sue has used iCloud (5Gig free) for her personal contact book, calendar, and AppleNotes and said that it works ok for her personal purposes. We have all used Google Docs (1GB free), and though it has quirks it works OK. Ashley has used SkyDrive (was 100MB, now appears to be expanded to 25GB free), and she thinks it worked OK for storage. Ian has used DropBox for file transfer (2 Gigs free) and has also found it to work OK. This comparison page may also help. It is from June 2011. We have all also used MyWebSpace. An interesting interface...

Ian reminded the group about the Campus Mobile App bundle (v1.2 out soon, or now) that consists of a suite of apps related to UW and useful for faculty, students, and staff.

Sue noted that she has used (in her iPad) the Papers app as a PDF reader and the Scribble app to annotate on the PDFs. Cool.

Nancy demonstrated the Dragon Dictation app on her iPhone. She uses it to recognize names in her contact list, and then also dictate texts/email/twitter posts. Amazingly, when dictating text, it accurately recognizes when to capitalize proper nouns. Cool! Nancy also mentioned the Dragon Go app which you can use to speak your queries and look up information in Wikipedia, Google, NetFlix, IMDB, Amazon, YouTube, etc... Also cool!

Friday, January 27, 2012

New IT Interest Group Meeting Notes – January 26, 2012

Here we are in a new year, with many interesting tech ideas before us just waiting to be discovered. Happy 2012!

We began the meeting with a discussion of how patrons with mobile devices such as iPads would likely access and use ebooks available through the EBL platform. It proved to be an interesting and useful experiment. (Many thanks to Ian and Sue for bringing iPads and getting them hooked up to the projector.) We approached the experiment as though we were complete newbies, and went through the entire process that a new EBL user would encounter.

  • We accessed the EBL database with the iPad and opened a book.
  • After clicking the book's “Download” tab, in the screen’s lower left there are some non-obvious instructions for downloading the BlueFire app. This app is required to download and use the book.
  • If a user were to access the EBL books using a PC, the instructions would direct the user to download and install the Adobe “Digital Editions” application. This is something that public services staff might want to carefully note. Sue noted that Adobe “Digital Editions” is needed when downloading Overdrive ebooks from the MPL.
  • At this point, it is not clear how the user is to proceed. After some experimentation we determined that the user must go to the site to create an “Adobe ID.”
  • After logging into our new Adobe ID, we can click the EBL download button that shows up in the download tab for the book. The book is downloaded to our iPad, and is listed in the BlueFire app when accessed.
  • We did a bit more experimentation, and we can happily report that the ebook is usable on the iPad with the WiFi turned off.
A very cool experiment! A big thanks to everyone for participating.

Ian kept his iPad running, and told us about the new (and great) efficiency app that College and the DoIT Infolabs have put together for accessing the Equipment Checkout System. The app allows students to “Stay informed on the availability and location of hardware that can be checked out from over a dozen locations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison DoIT InfoLabs program.” It looks fantastically useful. This is exactly the kind of app development that the libraries need too. Ian mentioned that the libraries could benefit from an app that schedules study rooms. It sounds great. Ian encouraged everyone to be sure to check out the UW suite of very helpful campus apps:

Tom mentioned the UW “Classroom Media Support” site, which every liaison librarian should know about. The site provides a very thorough overview of campus classroom media and AV equipment, and provides a channel for applying for a pass code to access the “Podium Touch Panel Control Systems” installed in many classrooms across campus. The tutorials cover both new and obsolete technology (laptop access, document cameras, DVD players and VCRs) … pretty much every piece of AV equipment you would use in a classroom

Jim told us about the very useful Edudemic site that focuses on promoting and experimenting with social media in education. In particular, Jim drew our attention to the “100 Teaching Tools You Should Know About” on the site. This is a great list. The IT Interest Group has looked at many of these but there are a bunch that we have not played with, yet! We highly recommend taking a look!

Karen told us about an “agriculturally-themed” game called Pig Chase, that lets users interact with REAL PIGS! (Holy Oink!) See this article and the YouTube video: And here is the game site: (Yes, they are Dutch pigs. No, we do not know if the pigs will wear wooden shoes.)

Ian finished off the hour by bringing up the debate that has swirled around the proposed SOPA-PIPA legislation and the proposed ACTA treaty. (Search Google News for plenty of news stories on all three.) Ian showed a portion of the informative and humorous (and to the point) video clip about SOPA and PIPA at the Penny Arcade TV site:

Thanks for a great first 2012 meeting. See you next time!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New IT Interest Group Meeting Notes – November 4, 2011

Ian, Jim, and Tom made their way to Milwaukee for the 2011 WLA Conference. We held a classic IT Interest Group meeting! It went great and we heard lots of really good ideas from everyone who came to see what we are up to...

We started with a discussion of the principles of the group:

  1. We stick to discussing "technology" issues.
  2. We all explore as newbies.
  3. We stay focused on the goal of "producing creative thought."
  4. Attendance is not required.

NOW, on to the fun part...!

Ian got us started by looking at Photosynth This is an amazing application that you can use to merge photos in order to create panoramas or 3D views of objects. Ian showed us how to use a mobile device such as an iPhone to take pictures from a central point (such as where you are standing at the moment) and then use Photosynth to stitch the images together. Really amazing! Ian notes that this is useful for making library tours, and mobile games.

Karla (Lakeshore Tech) shared her experience with circulating iPads. She explained that they were trying a variety of mechanisms (including giving users a budget) for allowing users to add apps to the iPads. It was mentioned by another participant that they had circulated the iPod Touch and had used “app vouchers” as the way to grant users the ability to add apps. Two very interesting ideas!

Amber introduced us to the free TextPad application It is useful for manual coding because it uses color to identify tags. It costs $27, but you can use it for free for a while as a demo copy! CNET has a good review here.

Amber also told us about the very handy FireFTP FireFox add-on This effective FTP client operates within the FireFox browser.

Speaking of fires, Jim fired up an in-session instance of TodaysMeet This really useful web-based application makes creating a participatory backchannel conversation fast, easy, and effective. Our instance from the session is now expired (because you can set the expiration for a very short time - so, sorry, no link) but we did have a good backchannel discussion in our session!

Nancy showed us her LightWedge book reading light: She mentioned that they illuminate well and also create very little extra light that may bother other people when you use it on a plane, or in a dark conference room! They cost about $35, and look very nice.

Cynthia (Globe University) explained for us her past predicament when helping students that were using Microsoft Works as their primary way to type their papers. The students were having difficulty printing out their documents. Luckily, she discovered ZamZar which can be used to convert documents from one type into another, and ultimately helped the students to print. This looks very useful!

Marta (Carthage College) explained how she had been using Glogster to assist students with creating posters. This fascinating web-application allows you to add text, images, and media into an online “poster” which you can use to demonstrate class projects and presentations in a very engaging way. Cool!

Beth mentioned the helpful GoogleGoggles application. It allows you to use your mobile device’s camera to capture an image and then use that image as a way to search for information about the object. For example, an image of a book cover can be used to locate the Google Books object. In addition, this app can be used to translate text on the fly from one language to another. That is amazing!

Beth followed up with another useful tool: the Free Technology for Teachers blog: She mentioned that it is a really useful place to learn about new technology. Thanks Beth!

The assembled participants then began a short discussion about (short) battery life for mobile devices. Jim helpfully suggested the Android app JuiceDefender which “improves battery life behind the scenes by intelligently managing the battery-draining components of your phone.” Ian mentioned the cool Minty Boost project You may not be able to purchase one of these but you can make one! How does Ian learn about this cool stuff?!? Try out the LifeHacker site: Another participant suggested using one of the (many) helpful USB adaptors out there. Handy!

Jim showed us the very cool web-based application Topicmarks The site allows you to upload PDFs of readings and articles, and then the site then runs a variety of algorithms on the PDF to analyze the text in order to 1) index the article, 2) auto-generate a summary of the article, 3) list the important facts stated in the article. That really is AMAZING!

Jan mentioned the EarthPoint tool It has many facets and uses, but one helpful application is for converting township/range information into coordinates in Google Earth.

Sarah mentioned the helpful InstaPaper “a simple tool to save web pages for reading later.” She let us know that it will strip the pages (that you save in your account) of all extra content and will keep the article text. This text can later be reassembled into a personal newspaper for you!

Amber finished up the session by mentioning the TechRepublic site that aggregates many different types and sources of IT information, and is very useful for staying up to date.

We had a GREAT IT Interest Meeting! Thank you to all of the participants. Please start your own group! We would love to meet with you all at WAAL and WLA in 2012.

[To All Participants: If I have your name wrong or if I omitted your institution and you would like to see it listed (or maybe even removed), please let me know. I can edit the post, no problem.]

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New IT Interest Group Meeting Notes – October 27, 2011

Happy Halloween! This month we met and discussed a few tools in preparation for the Milwaukee WLA Conference in November. (And we had Halloween treats!)

Ian started off the discussion by demonstrating the PhotoSynth application and the ways that you can use your mobile device’s camera to capture images to compile into a rotating 3D image. (Ian used his iPhone to take continuous images from a central rotation point, and then used PhotSynth to mesh them together into a continuous 3D image.) Very cool!

Nancy discussed the Memorial Library Reference “iHelp2” roaming librarian project. They visit various areas of the library and use iPads to help students working on projects. The iPads are fitted with a “HandStand” to make it easier to carry the iPad without breaking it. The HandStand also works as an angled prop if the iPad is set on a flat surface. Nancy and the other roaming librarians (the SLIS students are helping with the project too) have found that students in some areas of the library want help with research and in other areas they are studying for tests and do not seem to need help. A significant portion of the assistance is directional.

Carrie R. recently joined the group as a new member. Ding! She described the Wisconsin Uprising game/tour project that she had been working on for some time. This project uses the ARIS tool to organize and present images, audio, and video about the 2011 protests into an interactive narrative. The media and dialogue text came from a variety of contributors, including herself and other Folklore Program affiliates. In total, there are 90 media assets in the project. It took a lot of time and work to put it together. It looks great!

Nancy also mentioned the new Ask A Librarian SMS Texting project. It was recently featured in a news release. The SMS text chat is handled via LibraryH3lp. As usual, each text string (both incoming and outgoing) is limited to 140 characters. We can only imagine the spike in usage that will be forthcoming!

See you all at WLA!

Friday, October 14, 2011

New IT Interest Group Meeting Notes – September 22, 2011

The group discussed Google+ General open membership for Google+ has opened up, and its popularity has grown significantly. However, the group also noted that it is still a long way from overtaking Facebook.

The group discussed MPL and their use of Overdrive Nancy directed us to their explanatory page, and as the MPL site explains, it is “a library-purchased subscription to eBook, audiobook, music and video content. Madison Public Library, as part of the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium, has access to this shared collection. Using your library card, you can browse for titles to download to your computer or a variety of portable devices including MP3 players, iPods, iPads, and smartphones. OverDrive content does not yet work with Kindle, but is expected to in the fall of 2011.”

The group discussed the recent changes to Facebook Ian pointed out that the FaceBook product “is you.”

Tom mentioned the recently upgraded Google language tools , which now include diacritic keyboard support and audio pronunciation enhancements.

Ian told us about the fascinating FoldIt game that researchers at the University of Washington designed which used gamers to solve problems with protein molecular structure research. HIV researchers were having difficulties while trying to “decipher the structure of a protein called retroviral protease, an enzyme that is key to the way HIV multiplies” and gamers were able to figure out the protein structure in 10 days.

Jim reported in about the success of the Mini Golf event at the Party at Helen C. Sounds like it was a lot of fun!

Ian mentioned to the group that he is interested in collecting a list of “Librarian Recommended Apps.” Dave L. might then post the list to the LWS. These apps would include anything (like barcode readers) that our users might find useful in the course of their university work and library research. Please forward your ideas to Ian.

See you all next month!