Posts Tagged ‘web2.0’

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:

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 and share with this with other iPhone users! Now you can goto my 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!

Wordle is the Word

In STT on December 4, 2009 at 4:02 pm

OK, here’s another of those things that I heard of long ago (honest!), thought was totally cool, had lots of potential, combines two of my favorite thingstag clouds & graphic design – and then I promptly forgot about it … until today!

And I owe to Mary here in the NMRLS office for showing it off by using Wordle as a way to sort the context of some recent survey results.

Find it, use it, bookmark it here:

Wordle is fascinating even in black & white just to see what words actually are being used most often whether it be survey results, a strategic plan, a resume, or a blog posting (see below).
In case image doesn’t load (thanks WordPress!), try this link:

Jing – Do one thing and do it well!

In STT on April 10, 2009 at 9:00 am

To compliment upcoming workshops I’m teaching, here’s an updated re-post from last spring.

I’ve been Jing-ing like crazy lately prepping for a D-I-Y presentation at MLA 2009 in Springfield. ¬†If you don’t know already Jing is a FREE program that can take screenshots or make “movies” of whatever is going on on your desktop. ¬†It’s a great to show¬†folks¬†“How-To” use an online resource like say InfoTrac or OverDrive or EventKeeper.

Video is saved and presented in the Flash format and you can store your videos online at a realted site called Screencast. ¬†Each of your videos has it’s own URL, or you can link or imbed them from your own website.

  • Click here for a collection of NMRLS “how-to” videos on Screencast.

Jing also takes single screen shots which you can store online for FREE at Flickr, here’s my collection of Jing tips on Flickr (also linked below).You can also annotate these images before you upload them to highlight or add notes.

Everything I mentioned above is FREE!
Run, don’t walk, to your nearest internet and
download Jing now!

OK, so there may some expenses involved … ¬†you need a microphone unless you want all your videos to be silent movies. ¬†Pretty much any mic will do and if you’re lucky you have a laptop or netbook with mic built-in.¬† NMRLS has USB mics to loan out to our member libraries, just contact Scott, click here to see all of the NMRLS loaner equipment & gadgets.

There is also a Pro version of Jing, it allows you to save video in either Flash or MPEG4 format as well as direct uploads to YouTube. It costs $14.95/year, not bad for a few more bells & whistles. ¬†The nice thing about this version is you can edit the video afterward, add another voiceover or a backing music track (see my tips below for another way to do this), as well as link to it off you own server, you don’t need to use Screencast or YouTube.

Here are a few of my YouTube NMRLS How-To videos:

Here are my Jing videos on (via my account):

It’s easy, it’s fun, it can be time-consuming …
But, it’s informative, it helps your users, and it’s easy and it’s fun!

Scotts Jing Tips

Scott's Jing Tips

All a flutter about Twitter!

In STT on March 18, 2009 at 3:32 pm

So what’s up with this Twitter thing!?¬† Seems like it is suddenly all the media can talk about and attempt to explain.

It’s only taken me two years to catch on to it myself.¬† Like many librarians I know, I created a Twitter account in a Linda Braun workshop where she got us all excited about all these web 2.0 and social networking applicationsand then I promptly forgot about it … until this past Fall when I got a few emails from member librarians requesting that they follow the NMRLS feed, which was, and is, currently dead … “hmmm NMRLS has a Twitter!? What was that again?”

But I decided to give it a try again after I heard an NPR Weekend Edition story on it (find here).¬† And because I realized that it didn’t sound as time-consuming (or as personal) as FaceBook. And I own an iPhone and you are morally obligated to have every cool social networking app on your iPhone or they take it away!

So for my personal / psuedo-professional life I created an account and I love it!  It can be as interactive or as passive as you want.  There are famous people on it like Linda Braun (on it 24/7), Shaq (basketball star), and Tina Fey (hardly posts, very busy).   And lots of great informative really useful post-ers too like: NASA (latest on space shuttle and Mars rovers); FDA recalls (kinda scary); Boston Red Sox (via Boston Globe);  News, News, News (NPR, NY Times, Starbucks, etc.) .  As well as library news:  Library of Congress; Library Journal; DC Public Library (interesting just to get an idea what a public library could do with it).

I was just at a conference, NERCOMP 2009, where they had volunteers tweeting in each workshop and it was a delight to check the Twitter feed on your phone and read what you were missing (or weren’t) in real-time!¬† And it also helped you decide whether you should you cut & run or stick with the presentation you’re in (I made both good and bad decisions based on this Twitter method). They had bloggers too, but who wants to read all that when Twitter is short (it can only be 14o character, counting spaces, after all), and you can read on a cell phone as well as on a laptop or PC.

Maybe it’s my choice of feeds, but there seems to be a lot less of the inane posts like “I just ate a grilled cheese sandwich …”¬† I see those kinds of earth-shattering missives on FaceBook all the time, so it is a welcome relief to read useful and humorous posts online whether on the web or a phone.¬† Plus nearly everyone posts links to all this interesting informative stuff they’re talking about via Tiny URL (because you only got those 140 characters!).

Find a nice video introduction/tips & tricks by one of my favorite C|Net reporters, Tom Merrit. He does a weekly program called Insider Secrets on C|Net TV, here’s the link his a recent episode on Twitter (time: 4:41).