Saturday, 31 December 2011

#blog12daysxmas 4 Yet more things to do

Yesterday saw me forced persuaded by @polyxena and @csmramsden to take part in another challenge for 2012. It's the Friday Photos 2012 Flickr Challenge. I've avoided these challenges, not because I can't make the commitment - I can and I have - but because I am not a fan of Flickr (ducks for cover). I find it cumbersome and not very user friendly. Things may have changed though since I experimented with it last (early 2009 for the NLS4 photos) and so I have another challenge - get up to speed with Flickr.

The photo challenge in itself should be fairly easy to do (Flickr gripes not withstanding) because I am also starting Project 365 again from tomorrow (as opposed to my last one which went from April 2009 to April 2010). My plan is to have one of the daily photos incorporate the weekly challenge theme. Of course, in order to do this, I also need to regularly take the images off my camera. As good as I am at taking photos, I am woeful at downloading them! And so there is a third challenge - download photos regularly so I can upload photos weekly.

Thanks @polyxena and @cmsramsden - three challenges in one hit, because one is obviously not enough....

Thursday, 29 December 2011

#blog12daysxmas 3 Moving to the dark side

It happened. I didn't think it would, but it did. I bought an eReader. More so, I am using the eReader. One of the reasons I delayed for so long is one we hear all the time - loving the feel of books, turning pages, cosied up in bed at night, especially in winter. The other reason (and to be honest, the main one) was the inevitable quagmire of information I would need to wade through to find something that suited me and was potentially the most user centric. By user centric I don't mean user friendly; I mean finding an eReader that would allow me to read as many books as possible and not be so proprietary.

So many people tend to use 'Kindle' interchangeably with 'eReader' and I started to get asked quite a few questions about buying a 'Kindle' from people I knew (based on my profession) because they wanted cheap books and they also wanted to have something light and portable. Explaining to them that buying a Kindle did not mean they would have access to all the books they may be after and then trying to further explain that not all books may be released as an eBook and the further complications of DRM made me realise that I needed to increase my own awareness of what was out there and what the suitability is for libraries.

Yarra Plenty is part of a consortia with Brisbane City Libraries offering ebooks and audiobooks for download. Whilst this has taken a while to really become well used, we are now lending out over 2000 eBooks/audio books via Overdrive a month. Unfortunately, not one item is compatible with the Kindle (although I believe it can read a pdf? I need to play more). Because of the tendency of the public to gravitate towards a Kindle as their eReader of choice, I feel we (myself included) needed to find out more about eReaders. I have two staff members who were always very keen to train the public in using eReaders and downloading from Overdrive. They became so proficient that they ran training sessions for the rest of the library service and will be running refreshers later next year. To help facilitate this, Yarra Plenty provided each branch with a 'digital petting zoo', comprising a Sony eReader, iPad and Kindle, for staff to borrow and play with in order to become more familiar with these particular devices. Budget permitting, it’s a wonderful way for staff to learn through play.

I asked flexnib and snail for pointers in starting me off and ended up with more information than I thought originally possible. Even though an eReader may take a particular format (for example .epub), there was no guarantee that actually buying a title in that format would allow me to read it in a device that accepted .epub. Try explaining that to someone who wants a ‘Kindle’!

So what did I end up getting? I bought a cheap Gear2Go from Big W :) It’s compatible with .epub, pdf, .txt, .rtf and .html. It shows pictures in colour and is backlit, although not with the glare of the iPad. Battery life is ok, could be better, but for the price I can live with it.

Who else has gone to the dark side??

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

#blog12daysxmas 2 Managing my information

It's starting to get harder and harder for me (and I am sure others) to manage accounts I have with various Web 2 tools that I have been playing with (and I'm mindful that I set a January challenge to play with another 5!)

I use Pinterest, Springpad, Clibe, Dropbox and Google Reader, just to name a few. I log in and to be honest, I stay logged in. While some may be appalled at my lack of security, the truth is, if I had to log in every time I wanted to access them, then I wouldn't bother. Some sites take this out of my hands by logging me out automatically if I don't use it for a few hours. The need to keep checking my information makes me think twice before joining something else 'just in case' I may need it at some point. Let's face it, if I wasn't using this site regularly, would I even remember it was there if the opportunity came to use it? Probably not.

It would be lovely to have an aggregator that could somehow do everything all my Web 2 tools do. There is always just one thing that I would like a tool to do that is done superbly by another tool. And now I have been told about Path, another smart journal. Is it any different to the other sites I visit regularly? Not available as an app for a Windows phone makes me less inclined to try it now, however I do have an iTouch and it is probably available for the iPad...

Maybe this will be a January trial :-)

What Web 2 tools do you use and what have you decided to get rid of?

Monday, 26 December 2011

#blog12daysxmas 1 Catch up

Today saw me start another blogging challenge, in the hope that it will kick start my writing and reflecting again. I started the #blogeverydayjune challenge with the same hope and that sadly fizzled out by July 1. If however, I can write for the entire 12 days, then I have at least achieved something.

In January this year, as part of the blogging challenge, I wrote about maintaining a healthy balance in life. As I was going to be home for most of 2011 on maternity leave (this changed - more later), I felt I couldn't quite refer to the post as maintaining a 'work/life' balance. I updated my progress here and wanted to see how much on track I have kept up with things.

1. I will continue to avoid buying items for my scrapbooking stash so I can use
what I have faster (this has been in place for almost 4 years and nothing seems
to have depleted...)

This is still well and truly on track. Although one would think that depletion would occur through heavy use, which has not really happened....

2. I will make all my Christmas cards again this year.

Happened and posted before the end of November!

3. Accomplished by June

4. Accomplished by June

5. I will continue with Project 365 for Anthony

This was completed on December 13, Anthony's first birthday.

6. I will finish crocheting my granny stripe blanket.

Yes I will...

7. I will unpick some jumpers that I no longer want and reuse the wool


8. I will finish scrapbooking Project 365 for 2009-2010

Ongoing, however have progressed majorly

9. I will host more crafternoons

Accomplished. Met with Gemma once a month till she went back to work and with Rachel once a week till I started kitchen renovations

10. I will experiment more with PhotoShop

Done and ongoing. Learned how to use digital brushes.

To up the ante (and potentially give me something to blog about) I am setting a challenge to learn about 5 new social networking tools during January.