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Minnesota, United States

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.