bibliotechy

Posts Tagged ‘smartphones’

In my crystal ball I see a RedLaser

In STT on December 18, 2009 at 1:08 pm

So there’s this nifty iPhone app called RedLaser ($2) which is touted as the best barcode reader for iPhone available (consistently high ratings and sales rankings in iTunes). And I have it from reputable sources that it works great on the 1st gen iPhones as well as the iPhone 3G and the new iPhone 3G S. I luv it! I’m scanning anything in the office that sits still … and has a barcode … RedLaser website: www.redlaser.com

RedLaser uses the iPhone’s camera to scan barcodes so you can do on-the-spot price comparisons. It works best on books, DVDs, CDs (who buys those anymore?) and even paper towels and breakfast ceral. But you can also create a link to a custom database so that when you scan a barcode it will link to this custom data source to retrieve results. Yaaawwwnnn…. But what if that custom database was like say a library’s OPAC!?
ooowww aaaahhh ooohhhh!

I’ve heard from fellow iPhone geeks in MVLC and NOBLE who tried this successfully and I created custom database links myself for MassCat, MVLC, and NOBLEand they work! … It’s slooow, as the iPhone is connecting to your custom data source via a web link thru the iPhone’s browser (Safari) and then doing some RedLaser magic (the RedLaser app without a custom setup is pretty pretty quick).

When you set up a custom database what happens is you scan the ISBN from a book and it takes you right into the OPAC’s public record/circ info! Now when I’m in B&N or Borders I can look up books and see if I can get them at my library for free, except those books I really really need to own myself. It’s like my iPhone is saving me money, the iPhone really pays for itself ūüėČ

To create the custom data source, which is actually the URL for ISBN searches, you follow the step-by-step instructions from RedLaser linked below. They are concise, not detailed as to all the possibilities you may encounter, so it may take some time. And it turns out all OPACs are different! The MassCat (Koha) set-up was easy as the parameter was the same as the example RedLaser gives, whereas NOBLE (III) and MVLC (SirsiDynix) were totally different, so it took a lot of trial and error to get the parameters set correctly.

The good news for you dear reader, who happens to use the MassCat, and/or MVLC, and/or NOBLE networks, is that along the way I realized I could do this on the my laptop’s browser. Email the URL to my iPhone, and save my work as I went along by bookmarking. And then I realized I could save these bookmarks to delicious.com and share with this with other iPhone users! Now you can goto my delicious.com site, email URL to your iPhone, and add link to your homescreen and not spend time figuring this out!

Crystal Ball Alert! I see the future, in a couple years when everyone (or lots of people … or everyone) has an affordable app-phone w/camera (Droids, GoogleFon, iPhone, whatever), the way people search and access OPACs is going to change and this could be really good for libraries and tech-saavy patrons (incidentally you have a slew of tech-saavy patrons already, they’re called kids).

It’ll will get even more exciting when librarians or vendors develop new Evergreen-Koha -III-Sirsi, etc. mobile app that will allow you to do this and place a hold/request an item in one fell swoop! Being a library user in the 21st century is going to be cool!

Hey, it already is the 21st century, let’s get with it!