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Minnesota, United States

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Short URLs- Where am I Being Directed To?

You're given a short URL such as http://is.gd/w

How do you know exactly where this URL will take you?  Is the URL likely to be from a legitimate site?  Or it is a site known for phishing, malware, or viruses?

LongURL will expand the short URL into the full, original link, so you can see exactly where you would be directed to before clicking on the link.

Thanks to my colleague who shared this tip on the staff intranet where I work.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Which Windows Version Am I Using?

Simply click here and it will tell you the version of Windows your PC is using. 

This is useful in situations where I'm helping patrons on laptop computers or over the phone, whose version of Windows may be different from what the library computers have.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Alternative Children's Book Titles

I'm planning a baby shower for my sister and was looking at possible shower games to play when I stumbled upon the alternative children's book titles game.  Well known children's books are disguised under alternative names.  For example:  "Emerald Yolky Food with Accompanying Pig Product."  Can you guess the title?  Scroll down for the answer.  This would also be a fun activity to display in the children's area in the library.  Something for the grownups to do when bringing their children.

Answer:  Green Eggs and Ham

Monday, August 4, 2014

Genre Blender

So many books nowadays don't fit neatly into just one genre.  Looking for romance mixed with horror?  How about mysteries combined with fantasy?  If you like blending seemingly unrelated genres, you may want to check out Genre Blender.   It's simple- select 2 or 3 genres to blend, and you will get a list of several titles with summaries. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 23- Evaluation

Go back to your thoughts/ideas about mobile devices and apps.  Has anything changed as a result of this experience?
There are more mobile apps out there than I ever dreamed possible.  As a result of 23 Mobile Things, I'm alot more confident in my skills and knowledge in using mobile apps.

What were your favorite Things and discoveries?
Thing 12 (Books)
Thing 20 (Games)
Thing 22 (Discovering apps)

How did you connect with others doing the 23 Mobile Things?
I read and commented on other peoples' 23 Mobile Things blogs.  I also used social media mobile apps such as Facebook and Pinterest.

Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
Quixey was a great find.  I didn't realize there was a search engine devoted specifically for apps.
I realized there are apps for things I never expected there to be an app for. 

What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or content?
I can't think of anything.  This was a great learning opportunity.  If you have access to multiple mobile devices, that's better because some apps are only for Apple or only for Androids.  Also some apps work better on tablets than on mobile phones.  Having a more current version of your device is also useful.  Occasionally, I'd run across into some Android app that didn't work because my version is older.

If we offered another 23 Things program like this in the future would you participate?
Definitely yes.

How would you describe your learning experience in one word or in one sentence, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities to others?

Free Professional Development opportunity that will quickly make you more tech savvy

Addendum to Thing 21- Moves App

The Moves app is another app I'd recommend if you are into tracking your walking, cycling, or running.  It is available for both Android and iPhone.  It has a built in pedometer that can count your steps.  There is also a map feature to see the paths you took.

23 Mobile Things- Thing 22- Discovering Apps

I found Quixey to be a useful source for finding apps for a given type of device.  You can search for a specific type of app or just browse to see what's currently popular.  I was happy to find that there is a Quixey app for Androids.

I also had fun using the Droid of the Day app and looking through the list of the 100 Best Android Apps of 2014.  While, I probably won't be using most of the suggested apps in the near future, I had fun learning about the wide diversity of good apps available. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 21- Free-for-all

It's hard to think of apps I enjoy that were not covered in the 23 Things modules because it is so comprehensive already.  In Thing 4 (Keeping Up), I would add Feedly to the list.  Feedly is a popular RSS feed reader and one I use regularly.  It's similar to the formerly popular but now extinct Google Reader.  It's easy to use and you can sort your feeds into various categories and save posts to read for later.  For Thing 20 (Games), I would add Words With Friends to the list. It's a word game very similar to Scrabble where you invite your Facebook friends or Twitter followers to play with you.  If I think of any other great apps I'll let you know.

23 Mobile Things- Thing 20- Games

I had alot of fun exploring new games and downloading apps of my favorite games on my Android.  Bubble Mania and Candy Crush Saga are both very popular but this was my first time playing these.  I found both to be highly addictive.  Candy Crush saga is similar in some ways to Bejeweled Blitz, one of my favorite games for killing time.  Candy Crush saga though, is even better as it adds more new twists and levels.  I also tried the Frogger game.  That one was really frustrating.  It was difficult enough getting one frog home let alone all five.  I tried downloading Take Ten from the Google Play Store and when I opened the app, the text was in Russian!  I'm not sure how that happened, I'm guessing it's some sort of glitch.  One of my favorite card games is Cribbage and I was happy to find a good free Android app for it.

Friday, May 30, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 19- Hobbies

For this thing, I explored Road Ninja, a road trip app where you can find various services at each exit along the way such as restaurants, gas stations, lodging and more.  You can also compare gas prices and share various places with friends.  When I downloaded Road Ninja, it knew right away the nearest highway and exits.  I found the tool fun and easy to use and think it would be really useful for a road trip.  One problem I had though was I couldn't get it to search for a different highway other than the one closest to me.  I entered the highway I wanted in the search bar but didn't get any results.  I'm not sure if I was doing something wrong or if that's just the way the app is.   Also it looks like the app just does major highways.

I also tried out the Spotify app.  I really liked this app because it makes it really easy to find your favorite music and also new music that you might enjoy.  You can browse by genre or search for a specific album or artist.  You can find artists similar to your favorites.  You can also create your own playlist and share it with friends.  One drawback is that there are some ads since it is a free app.  Also some artists may not be found here because they don't want to have Spotify access their works.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 18- Education

I tried out the Duolingo app.  I found it fun and easy to use.  This would be a good way to quickly learn some basic terms and phrases in a foreign language.  The only drawback is that the number of languages is rather limited- just 5 (Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and German).  I've been wanting to bone up on my Spanish skills and I think having this app on my phone will make it more accessible for me.

I also downloaded the Google Earth app to my phone.  I use it frequently on my laptop already so I was glad to see an Android compatible version.

I played around with the Quizlet app.  Quizlet lets you create your own flash cards or look up someone else's flash card set by subject area.  Currently the Android version, does not allow you to make your own flash cards yet, but you can still view flash card sets made by others.  When viewing flash card sets, you can start with either the term, the definition of the term, or both.  You can also shuffle the cards in a random order.  I remember back in high school and college, making my own flash cards for study purposes, well before the days of Quizlet.  I wish this app was around when I was in school.

I didn't try out the Show of Hands app, but I can see how this could be useful in libraries.  As an anonymous polling tool, it can be used to conduct library usage surveys, or as a feedback tool for library programs.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 17- Connecting to Community

For this thing, I explored some of the apps relating to local community and Minnesota resources. I downloaded the Minneapolis Star Tribune app so I can check the news on the go.  I also downloaded the Minnesota Department of Transportation 511 app so I can easily check road and traffic conditions on the run.  I enjoy hiking and the visiting the North Shore, so I also checked out the Highlights of the Superior Hiking Trail app.  There's descriptions of maps of eleven recommended day hikes along the trail.  I also downloaded the app for the Minnesota State Fair but it hasn't been updated for 2014 yet.  A couple of other apps I wanted to try the Minneapolis by Open Places app but it was for Apple devices only.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 16- Audio

I don't have a personal need to make audio recordings at this time so I wanted an app where I could easily browse other peoples' audio recordings without having to set up my own account.  Of the three apps I explored in this thing, I found that Audioboo and Soundcloud did not require creating an account in order to browse audioclips while ipadio did.  

I tried to find recordings related to libraries and librarians in Audioboo and Soundcloud but didn't find too much of interest.  In Soundcloud, I mostly got songs with the word "library" or "librarian" in the title rather than the library-related podcasts I was looking for.

If you are looking to create your own audio recordings and share them, ipadio looks like the best way to go.  ipadio allows up to 60 minutes for each recording and it's free.  Audioboo, on the other hand limits your recordings to 3 minutes.  It's fine if you're just interested in creating short audio clips, but not so good if you want to create a podcast.  Soundcloud allows for a maximum of 120 total minutes from all of your recordings.  If you want more minutes without deleting any recordings, you have to pay $6 a month.  

Libraries could use the above apps to record book reviews, to promote a program or service, to interview library staff or patrons, and to share music clips from an artist that performed in the library.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 15- Infographics

With my old Android phone, there wasn't much I could do with this thing.  Infographics Hub, the app for searching infographics was not compatible with my version.  iVisual Info Touch Lite is designed mainly for tablets and didn't work at all on my Android.  I ended up relying on my good friend Pinterest for infographic searching.

Infographics are a great way to present statistical data for the visually inclined.  Libraries can use them to make annual reports more eye-catching and enjoyable to read.  The statistics in an infographic can be used to promote a need for a given library program or service or just show how awesome libraries are.   Here is an example of a library infographic I found on Pinterest:

Did you know there are over 121,000 libraries in the U.S.? Americans rely on libraries for everything from books and magazines to digital media and internet access. OpenSite.org published an infographic looking at the hi-tech challenges facing the libraries and how they are responding to new hi-tech demands.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

3Doodler Kickstarter Video - The World's First 3D Printing Pen (Official)

If you can afford the $100 per pen, it would make for some creative library programming ideas.

Monday, May 5, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 14- Videos

Many libraries are now using video apps to promote events, to showcase a part of a collection, or show how to do something (e.g. catalog search).   One of the most well known of the video apps is Vine.  I like to think of it as the Twitter for videos.  The maximum length is 6 (yes, 6) seconds.  At first I was skeptical about 6 seconds being enough time to record anything of use.  After viewing some videos on Vine, I found that 6 seconds can be sufficient for many things.  Examples would be someone doing a funny impression or demonstrating a quick computer tip.  Also the 6 seconds, do not have to be consecutive.  You can hold down the record button for say, 2 seconds, let go and then hold record again, then let go and do this repeatedly until you hit a total of 6 seconds.Similar to other social media, you can 'like' and comment on videos.  You can use hashtags to incorporate search terms for your videos. You can also link them to your Facebook or Twitter account.  I decided to try out Vine on my Android.  Unfortunately, my device did not support making videos, probably because I have an older device (Samsung Galaxy S).  I could watch Vine videos though.  

If you want to make longer videos, there's apps such as Viddy and Socialcam.  Viddy has a 30 second time limit for videos and Socialcam has no time limit.  Both apps allow you to share videos on various social networks, 'like' videos, and comment on them.  Viddy is supposed to be Android compatible but did not work on my device at all.  Socialcam did work.  Socialcam also gives options for various filters on videos.  You can make it black and white, give it a vintage look through the sepia filter, or use the negative filter to make it look like photo negatives.  I had a lot of fun with the last one.  

Finally, the Magisto app lets you generate short movie clips up to 45 seconds  from photos you have on your device. There is a minimum of 5 photos and a maximum of 10 photos per video clip with a free account.  Magisto does recommend uploading your own videos along with your pictures for best results but it's definitely not required.  Once you upload your photos and videos, you can choose from several different themes and songs to enhance your video.  I haven't tried this app yet, so let me know how well the photos translate to a video.  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 13- Presentations

I find it rather awkward to make presentations on the small screen of the phone, plus the nature of my work does not involve giving presentations (although that could change someday) so I did not get too much out of this thing.  I think I would be far more likely to view presentations on my phone rather than design them.

That said, I did decide to give Deck Slideshow Presentations a try.  With this app, you don't need to have any special design skills.  All you need to do is type in the text and import the images, tables, and diagrams.  Then choose a theme.  Once you've done that, the app will turn it into a professional looking presentation that you can view.  If you like it, you can then save it and export the file to attach to email, post on Slideshare, etc. 

I had little luck finding 'before' and 'after' examples of starting text/images/diagrams and the resulting final presentation.  I was hoping I could see more examples to see if it was worth downloading but since I couldn't find hardly any, I ended up trying it for myself.  When I downloaded the app, it gave me a sample text layout and the corresponding presentation.  The presentation definitely looked professional but would have been better if photos or diagrams were also added.  I also tested the sample presentation in three different themes.  As is turns out, only three themes come with it.  A few require downloading and the majority cost money.  Also the app, doesn't allow you to alter things like font size or style or color.  I have enough design skills that I prefer to be able to customize these things myself.

I found it frustrating to try to create my own presentation.  The app didn't seem very user friendly and was difficult to navigate.  I found myself pressing the wrong button by mistake because the buttons were small and there was no way to enlarge them.  I also couldn't get pictures added.  I think I'll just stick with using Power Point on my laptop.  

Haiku Deck looked more promising to me, and more similar to the Power Point that I'm used to. You can only create presentations on Apple devices though.  

I also read about and watched videos on two different recordable whiteboard apps:  Lensoo Create and Educreations.  The latter is for Apple only, while the former is for both Apple and Android devices.  I haven't downloaded either of these but they look like they would be very useful for educators who want a highly interactive presentation with the ability to integrate a voice recording with a whiteboard functionality.

23 Mobile Things- Thing 12- Books, Books, and More Books

For this thing, I downloaded the Free Books app to my Android phone. The Free Books app allows free access to over 23,000 'classic' e-books, mostly in the public domain.  You can also highlight text and add notes as you are reading.  It's nice to have quick and easy access to so many books.  You won't find the latest bestsellers here, but if you're a classics lover, its a great resource.  Or even if you are a student who quickly needs a copy of a particular classic novel for English class.  For a $3.99 fee you can also get access to over 4,000 free audiobooks.

If want a free audiobook app, try the Audiobooks app.  This will  give you free access to over 2,800 classic audiobooks.  There are various search options available, including by genre or by narrator.  For the adventurous, there's also a "Surprise Me!" feature.

I also explored the Wattpad and iStoryBooks apps.  If you are an aspiring author and want to share your work and have others comment on it, then Wattpad might be the app for you. iStorybooks looks like a fun app for young children.  While listening to the story, kids can also read the text and view the pictures.  The biggest drawback though, is a very limited selection of books with only about 25 titles listed.  Hopefully, this list will expand in the future.

I wanted to try the YALSA Teen Book Finder app since I enjoy reading teen literature but it was for Apple devices only.  I think this app would be a good readers' advisory tool for teens.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 11- Library and Reference

I tried out the mobile friendly website for the Electronic Library of Minnesota (ELM).  ELM seemed to know I was using a smartphone to access their website because it automatically pulled up the mobile-friendly version.  I didn't have to download a separate app to make it mobile-friendly.  Nice!  The mobile-friendly website, also lists which of ELM's databases are mobile friendly.  Many of them are but there are still several that are not, some which I use frequently such as Points of View Reference Center and MEDLINE.  You can still access and use any of ELM's databases on a mobile device, but navigating them may be more difficult.

I have mobile apps downloaded for Hennepin County Library and Carver County Library, the two library systems I use most frequently.  Both apps allow quick access to commonly used features from their respective websites such as account information, searching the catalog, locations/hours, events/classes, ebooks, Ask a Librarian, and links to the library system's social media accounts.  The mobile apps do not include a quick link to everything that's available on the library's full website.  For instance, I did not see a quick link for the databases or subject guides for either of these library systems.  However, both library systems did offer a link to the library's full website, allowing for more content to be accessed.  As with ELM, you can access everything from the library's full website on a mobile device, but some sections may not be as mobile friendly and thus harder to navigate.

Both Hennepin County Library and Carver County Library's mobile apps are powered by Boopsie and look very similar in layout and design and offer similar features.  Hennepin County Library's app offered a Booklook feature, that was absent with Carver County Library.  Booklook allows you to check to see if the library owns a particular book by scanning its barcode.  Unfortunately, it was not compatible with my model of phone, which is an older Samsung Galaxy S.

23 Mobile Things- Thing 10- Sharing Photos

I already have the Instagram app downloaded on my phone so for this thing I explored more of what Instagram has to offer.  Previously, I've used Instagram primarily as a means of editing and sharing photos.  Instagram also has the ability to record short video clips and share them.  I have not used Instagram for videos before so I thought I would try it out.   Like photos, you can apply filters to video clips to alter the appearance.  You can share videos directly via email, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.  As with photos, the video feature on Instagram was easy to learn.

Many libraries now have Instagram accounts.  This is a good way to show pictures of the library, share recommended reads through book covers, or highlight construction/renovation projects.  It can even be used to promote events by taking a picture of a flier and posting it online.  As with other social media, you can "like" certain photos and follow various libraries Instagram accounts.  

For this thing, I also explored Snapchat, another photo sharing application.  What's special about Snapchat is that not only can you control whom you share photos with, but you can control how long that person sees a photo you share.  After that, the photo remains hidden from view but not permanently deleted as many have been led to believe.  With the right forensic software, such photos can be retrieved.  So nothing is totally private.

Other features of Snapchat include the ability to add captions and draw on photos and recording videos.  I decided not to download Snapchat to my phone.  Not because I dislike it, but because I'm already using Instagram and don't see a need for another photo sharing app at this time.  Also, I'm not overly paranoid regarding privacy of my photos.  It's nice to know such an app exists though.  

I would think that libraries normally want to make the photos they share public and not just disappear from view.  So I'm not really sure how it would be advantageous for a library to have a Snapchat account aside from showing library patrons how to use Snapchat.  Perhaps for that reason I didn't find nearly as many libraries with Snapchat accounts as I did with Instagram.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 9- Taking and Editing Photos

I downloaded both Line Camera and Aviary photo editing apps to my Android phone.  I had fun playing around with both apps but of the two, I preferred Aviary since I found it a little easier to use and navigate.
The layout of Aviary was more similar to the other photo editing apps I have used.

With Aviary, all of the editing tools are in one place at the bottom of the screen, unlike Line Camera, where the 'beauty' and 'design' tools are separated out.  In Aviary, under the settings, you can rearrange the editing tools to list the ones you use most frequently first.  By default, the "meme" feature is last but if you use memes frequently on your photos and don't want to have to keep scrolling right to find it, you can move it closer to the beginning.

The Line Camera app seems to have more options for enhancing faces on photos. Using the 'beauty' feature, you can do various things like remove blemishes, remove dark circles under eyes, and even alter the eye size or face shape to some degree.

Both applications allow you to add creativity to your photos by changing the style, background, or adding drawings or text.  You can even download various sticker sets to put on your photos. Some of the stickers are free, some are available for a small fee.

Next, I tried the Color Splurge app.  Color Splurge lets you alter the coloring on your photos.  A color photo you take or upload is converted to a black and white version.  You then color over certain areas to bring the color back.  So you could have the background in black and white and the person in color for example.  The challenge was trying to only select certain areas to be colored.  When I tried it, I ended up coloring areas I did not intend to.  You can also alter the color of certain areas so that the color of someone's shirt is changed from red to blue, for example.  Once again, it was difficult to select just the area I wanted without coloring something else.

The CamMe app looked promising but it is for Apple devices only so I wasn't able to try it out.  From what I read about it, you stand several feet away from the phone and by waving, you tell the app that you are ready to pose for a picture.  I looked for similar apps that would work with Android phones.  The closest thing I've found so far was Selfie Camera app.  There is no waving with this one.  The only difference between this app and a standard cell phone camera is that it defaults to front camera rather than back camera so it's immediately ready to take a picture of yourself.  You still have the awkwardness of holding the phone back from your face and pushing the button.  As a result, I don't think you would get as good of a picture as you would with CamMe.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stack Map tells you the exact shelf a book is on

If you've worked in a library, you've probably helped patrons numerous times finding a particular book on the shelf.  Sometimes pointing to a shelf and saying "it's over there" isn't clear enough.  This is especially true in larger libraries with many rows of shelves.  Usually there are call number ranges on the ends, but patrons tend to overlook these or not know what they mean or how to interpret them.

Walking over to the exact shelf with a patron to retrieve the item is often needed but sometimes this is not always feasible when you have several other people waiting for help with the phone ringing.  Furthermore, the reference desk may look unstaffed to patrons who happen to arrive while you are retrieving a book for someone- especially when the library is busy or short-staffed and you are the only librarian on duty.  Then patrons wonder "where did the librarian go?"

As a librarian, don't you wish the library catalog would more clearly indicate where a book is in the library? Not just a call number, but a map showing the shelf it is on?

StackMap is a type of web software that can be integrated with the library's catalog to show the exact location of the book.  Various libraries such as Orlando Public Library are using StackMap in their catalog.  When a patron does a catalog search, they can click on a "Map It!" icon next to the copy of the book they are seeking to bring up a map of the location of the book, shown by a red marker.  See the screenshots below for an example.

Is your library using StackMap or something similar?  Or is your library considering it?  If your library is using it, I would be interested in its effectiveness.  Do patrons find it particularly useful?  Does it save staff time and improve efficiency?  Are the benefits worth the costs of implementing such software?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 8: Social Media Management Tools

I'm already using the Facebook app on my phone, so I was curious to try out the Friendcaster app. Friendcaster allows you to access your Facebook account into what I found to be a more user-friendly interface.  When you first set up Friendcaster, it will ask you what types of notifications you prefer to receive and how frequently to be notified.  Nice.  Also you can choose between 6 different color themes.

I use LinkedIn regularly so I decided to download the LinkedIn app to my phone.  I think I prefer accessing it from my laptop, just because of the bigger screen size.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 7: Content Saving and Sharing

For this thing I downloaded the Pinterest app to my phone.  I'm already a regular user of Pinterest so I was glad to see a mobile app that's Android friendly.  The mobile app was easy to use and navigate.  I searched to see if any local libraries have Pinterest accounts, and I discovered that the Eden Prairie branch of Hennepin County Library uses Pinterest to post recommended reading lists, using pictures of book covers. I also found a new Pinterest board to subscribe to:  Minnesota Libraries.

I also learned more about Bitly and its uses.  Previously, I've heard of the site but haven't used it.  Bitly can be used to shorten long URLs and also to save and share your bookmarks.  You can put bookmarks into bundles (or folders) and choose to keep them private or share them with others.  You can also see how many people click on your bookmarks.

Since I already use Google Bookmarks to store bookmarks online, I didn't see a need to set up a Bitly account.  I would probably just use Bitly to shorten URLs and you don't need to set up a Bitly account for that. Also, the Bitly app is not compatible with Android phones.  You can use a third-party BitDroid app but it loses some functionality.  You can shorten URLs and add bookmarks but you can't bundle them or track statistics.

I did find an Android-friendly app for Google Bookmarks here that I was able to successfully download to my phone.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 6- Creating and Editing Docs

I downloaded the Quickoffice app to my Android phone.  This app allows you to create and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point documents.  You sign in with your Google account and the files are saved to Google Drive.  I mostly use my phone to view documents rather than create them due to the small screen size and keyboard.  It makes it kind of awkward to use for creating documents.  So I probably won't use the app that much but nice to know its there. 

I wanted to download the CloudOn app to compare it with Quickoffice but found out it wasn't compatible with my Android phone.  I did watch a video clip about and it looks similar in functionality to Quickoffice.  Both apps allow you to create and save Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point documents.  The biggest difference I found was that CloudOn gives you more options for saving.  With CloudOn, you can save in Google Drive, Dropbox, Sky Drive, or Hightail or more than one of these; whereas with Quickoffice, you can only save in Google Drive.  I use Google Drive exclusively for cloud storage so this is not an issue for me but I see how it could be for others. 

If you create documents that need signatures, you may want to try the SignNow app.  SignNow lets you add signatures for free, for up to 5 documents a month. I don't create or work with documents requiring signatures so I didn't download this app but its nice to know that such apps are available. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sample Cover Letters from Hired Librarians and Archivists

Are you hunting for a librarian or archivist type job?  Or know someone who is?  Are you already employed as in a library but seek a different type of library position?  If so, check out Open Cover Letters, a repository of various anonymously submitted cover letters to a variety of library type positions.  Whether you are seeking a public, academic, school, archivist, or other type of librarian position, you'll find it here. You'll find sample cover letters ranging from entry-level to director positions.  Although the cover letters show a wide diversity, they all have one important thing in common:  they all resulted in the candidate getting hired for the position.

Friday, February 28, 2014

23 Mobile Things: Thing 5- Note taking

I don't always have my mobile phone on me, so I'm not sure that the note taking apps mentioned in this thing would be all that useful to me.  On my computer, I typically use Google Docs to make lists of things to do, goals to accomplish, books to read, etc.  And I use Google Calendar to set reminders.  Those programs work well for me already, so I don't see much need to download a note taking app like Springpad or Remember the Milk.  Also I just use the old fashioned paper and pencil method alot.

I did try to download Bamboo Paper though because it resembles an actual notebook and it has a whilteboard like feature where you can draw pictures, add color, and highlight.  I was disappointed to find that my device was not compatible.  I have an old Samsung Galaxy S phone.

I was also curious about Dragon Dictation because I wanted to try out a speech to text app but since its for Apple Products only, I wasn't able to download it. I found something similar, Dragon Mobile Assistant which works for Android devices.  I was able to download this app and try it out.

Dragon Mobile Assistant does many things and is surprisingly accurate.  You can ask for directions to get somewhere and it pulls the map right up.  You can ask it to email, text, or phone someone in your address book.  You can ask it for the weather, ask it to play a You Tube video, or a song by your favorite artist on Pandora.  Plus you can ask it to search the Internet for just about anything you choose.  Occasionally, it will confuse words that sound alike but are spelled different, but usually the speech to text conversion is very accurate.

23 Mobile Things: Addendum-- CardStar

CardStar is a mobile app that allows you consolidate the barcodes on your membership and reward cards on your mobile device so that you don't have to bring the cards with you when you shop.

I downloaded the app and I found it really easy to use.  You can search for a company or if your company is not listed you can select "Other" and then name it whatever you like.

You can manually type in the barcode or scan it in.  I tried scanning in barcodes from several of my cards:  Panera bread, Rainbow Foods, Famous Footwear, Superamerica, and Walgreens.  Except for Walgreens, I was able to successfully scan in the barcode.  I'm guessing Walgreens did not work because the barcode on there did not resemble a standard barcode.

Once you enter or scan in a barcode, you can then click on that card for more information about that company.  You can find deals, access their website, find nearby locations on a map, or contact customer service.

I heard someone say that it can also be used for library cards.  I was able to scan in my library card barcode.  I tried scanning it on the self-checkout machine at Hennepin County Library and it did not work for me.  At least I have a way of storing the barcode number though.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

23 Mobile Things: Thing 4: Keeping Up

For this thing I downloaded the Flipboard app to my android phone.  Flipboard is a way to create what looks like a personalized magazine with content from topics that interest you.  I used it to access content from my Facebook account and my favorite news feeds and websites.  Its a great way to gather your favorite content all in one place.

I'm also an avid user of Feedly, an RSS feed reader on the PC.  I was delighted to find that there is a Feedly app for the Android.  I found this app slick and easy to use.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

23 Mobile Things, Thing 3: Utilities

For this thing, I downloaded three apps: Red Laser Barcode & QR Scanner, Google Goggles, and Wi-Fi Finder.

Of the three apps, I liked Red Laser the best.  It works by scanning a barcode or QR code.  Once the barcode or QR code is scanned, it brings up online and local store locations for the item and the cost.  With the local store locations, you can pull up a Google map to locate the stores.  You can also find related products and product reviews.  The app also allows you to create lists, share your scan results, and scan and store your loyalty cards.  There is also a QR code creator built into the app.  This is an app I think I will be using frequently, to compare prices of a given product and to read product reviews.

Google Goggles works by taking a picture of an image or a barcode/QR code.  It tries to recognize the image and if it does, it displays search results.   Barcodes worked well but I did not have as much luck with other images.  I tried taking pictures of various images such as pieces of artwork, food, shoes, product labels, and other everyday objects.  The app was able to recognize the correct brand of shoes and the product label search results were accurate.  For the other things, it did not generate any search results.  I thought it would be able to recognize a well known piece of artwork but it did not.  Recently I had a patron ask me to find the name of a piece of artwork, which was a lesser known one by Picasso.  We had no luck using a Google Image search.  I was hoping that maybe Google Goggles would be able to recognize it but probably not.

Wi-Fi Finder locates wi-fi locations near you and tells you which ones have free wi-fi.  It's easy to use and you can also use it to find wi-fi locations for any city.  This would be particularly useful for those who are travelling.

23 Mobile Things, Thing 2: Mobile Device Tips

Right now the only mobile device I own is a Samsung Galaxy S phone, an older model, so I ended up having to search on YouTube to find videos of tips applicable to my device.  Two useful videos I found were 10 Essential Galaxy S Tips: Part 1 and 10 Essential Galaxy S Tips: Part 2.

Some of the useful tips I learned included the following:

*To access task manager, hold down the Home button.  This brings up your recently used programs.  You can click on one of these programs to return right where you left off.

*A quick way to uninstall programs is to click on the Home button, then click on the Task Manager button, then click on Downloaded.  Your programs will be listed and there is an Uninstall button next to each program.

*Swiping is an easy way to make a quick call or text message.  In your Contacts page, swipe left on the name to send a text and swipe right to make a phone call.

*The calculator also performs functions typically seen on scientific calculators.  To access these functions, once you're in the calculator, turn the phone sideways, and the extra function buttons will appear.

*In the music player when playing a track, you can lock the phone and the track will still play.  You can also get any of your music tracks as a ringtone.

*To add a wireless or bluetooth shortcut to the home page, hold your finger down on the screen.  Then press Shortcuts, then Settings, then Wi-Fi settings or Bluetooth settings.  The shortcut will now appear on the main page.

*To copy data between the phone and the computer, go to Settings, then Applications, then Development, then select Turn on USB Debugging.  I wasn't clear though if this allows transfer of data from the phone to the computer, from the computer to the phone, or both.

*The layout of the home page can be changed by simply clicking on the Menu button and then clicking on Edit.

*It's easy to quickly reject incoming calls.  When the call comes in, swipe the Reject Call button up to get options of text messages to send to the caller.  Examples include "I'm driving" or "I'm at a meeting." You can also create your own message.

*With web links, hold down on the link to access options such as opening link in a new window, bookmarking the link, saving the link, share the link, or copy the link.

*Your phone contacts list can be shortened to include only those with phone numbers.  This is useful for those who sync their contacts with Facebook friends.  To do this, click on Contacts, then Menu, then Display Options, and check the box "Only Contacts with Phone."

So those were several of the useful tips and shortcuts I learned from those videos.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

23 Mobile Things- Thing 1

I'm excited to start another professional development experience: 23 Mobile Things.  This is similar to the 23 Things on a Stick program, with an emphasis on mobile devices.  I am hoping to become more proficient with using my Android phone, especially with library related applications.  I would also like to become more knowledgeable in using other mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads, and tablet computers.  More and more library patrons are asking for assistance in using their mobile devices and I would like to be able to better help them.  Also I'd like to see what the future holds for mobile devices in the library.