Tuesday, 17 July 2012

NZ 2.0

I checked out the article about the Queenstown and Manurewa Police using Facebook as a way to communicate with their communities and to seek help solving crimes.  Given that the article was written in June 2010 I was interested to see how the initiative had developed.  Both accounts were still operating, with the Queenstown one especially still very proactive in seeking help.  It would have been nice to have seen some feedback on whether or not the crimes had been solved, especially using information received through the Facebook community.  I then did a quick check to see if any lower South Island Police stations had since picked up on the idea.  While those I checked all had a page, there was no activity on it, so I guess not every one had seen the benefit of using a Web 2.0 tool in this way.

As far as the Dunedin City Council's use of Web 2.0 goes, I must say I was impressed when I had a good perusal of the website.  They have active Facebook and Twitter accounts; offer RSS feeds to such things as job vacancies, road closures, latest news, etc; and allow people to make submissions, and take part in surveys on line. 
I couldn't see any other applications that actively engage citizen participation, but there some other nice features like the web cam at St Clair beach where the surfers can check out the waves, or the one on Highgate where drivers can see whether its worth trying to tackle (steep) Stuart St on icy mornings!

The next part of the module had me looking at the way NZ businesses, educational institutions and community organisations have made use of Wed 2.0 technologies.  For example, the University of Otago Alumni & Friends has a Facebook page; The University of Otago has a YouTube account, where you can find videos about studying at Otago, research at Otago and International Students experiences at Otago; and Citizen's Advice Bureau offers a limited "Get advice live online" service.

I appreciated having a chance to have a good look at some of the sites identified in the module from the GLAM sector.  There is some great work being done out there.  The challenge is to remember these resources, when being asked a question that they could answer.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

In the Cloud

For Week Four I chose to look at the "In the cloud amongst the crowd" module.  I must say I was nodding my head in agreement when one of the people in the video explaining The Cloud said, "I don't care what's up there, as long as it works", but it was interesting to learn the basics of how it works.  And also to realise that I'd actually been participating without really knowing it, through applications like Gmail and Picasa Web Albums.
After reading about Google Calendars I got excited about trying to sync Outlook, but unfortunately the work computers are not compatible.  So I will have to hold off experiencing this until we get an upgrade.  When I worked through the cpd23Things course we also had a look at Google Calendars, and at that stage I entered in birthdays.  It is really helpful receiving the email reminder that a birthday is coming up. 
Putting in the weather forecast was another setting I activated, just because I could. 
Here at Dunedin Public we will be moving from Symphony E-library to Enterprise 4.2 at some stage, and I am looking forward to working with this discovery tool.  Being able to search across our catalogue and electronic resources will make our resources much more accessible to our customers.
I enjoyed having a look at the various formats discovery software takes.  The ones that excited me the most were those, like Nelson's, that show that the community has taken ownership, by adding reviews and ratings.  User tagging is an interesting concept, offering as it does an added dimension over and above the cataloguer's work with subject headings.
As far as Library Thing is concerned, I am not keen on signing up for the sake of signing up, and listing the books I own on-line is just not me, so I just had a look around the site.  I particularly liked the way it provides recommendations.  Library Thing is certainly a powerful reader's advisory tool, and I will be promoting it to staff and customers alike as such.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Google Docs

While I had used Google Docs for a few of my own files, I was keen to explore the sharing side of this feature.  This lesson was also a good opportunity to have an in-depth look at Google Docs.  Previously I'd just gone in, done what I needed to do, and left again.
I was very impressed with how easy it was to upload and download files.  I found the cutting and pasting method to be much more cumbersome, but good to know it can be done that way.
Sharing documents looks to be very intuitive, and I look forward to using this function in a practical way.
I thought the range of templates on offer was extensive, and again could be potentially useful in the future.
I see that Google Documents will soon be upgraded to Google Drive, so will be interesting to see what improvements that upgrade brings.

RSS, Newsreaders, Podcasts

The BBC summary on what is RSS was excellent. I have been using the web-based Google reader, which allows me access from where-ever I am, as long as I remember to log in to it, and check what new content has been added.  It was useful to learn of the browser-based News Readers.  I can see the usefulness of these, as they are there on the desktop (in either a folder or in Favourites) when you log in to your computer i.e. you don't have to log-in separately like you do with a web-based reader.  Both have their place.
Practising adding different RSS feeds was useful as it demonstrated the different ways one can do this.  I was able to add the Radio NZ feed by copying and pasting the URL, but this method didn't work with the Christchurch City Libraries Blog.  There I had to click on the "Subscribe to this feed" link.  Then it not only got added to my list in Google Reader, but it also appeared in my Feeds folder under Favourites on my desktop.
Learning how to unsubscribe from feeds was particularly useful.  As the notes say, at the start one tends to be very enthusiastic and subscribe to everything that looks remotely interesting, and then one gets overwhelmed.  I now have a much more manageable list of subscribed to feeds, thanks to this lesson.

I have been going into the Community of Practice and reading the discussions on the various sessions that were posted in previous courses.  They are very interesting and I always seem to pick up additional information, or perhaps it's just information I missed the first time round.  While reading the comments about RSS feeds I learnt how to add a feed subscription to this blog, which you will see I've done.  Isn't it great how all these things work in with each other.

I had recently compiled a topic finder on Podcasts for Dunedin Public Libraries website, so I just had a quick look at the Podcasts information.

It was interesting having a more in-depth look at Google Reader in the Extend section of the lesson.  Under 'Browse for stuff" I learnt about "bundles", where you can subscribe to pre-packaged bundles of feeds.  This could be a good way to compare various sites dealing with the same subject.
What I liked most about the search by keyword feature was that it told you how many posts per week you could expect.  As much as I love funny cats, receiving 129.5 posts a week seems a bit excessive to me.
Explore Recommended Items, sorted by magic, and apparently based on my past reading behaviour threw up some interesting articles.  I wonder what I'd been looking at that Google thought I'd be interested in using tennis balls around the home!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Week Two of Learn@APNK had us concentrating on photos & images:  how to extract images from external devices; image types; how to store images onto local devices; cropping and straightening images using Paint.Net; what Flickr and Picaso offer; and some fun things you can do with images e.g. Wordle.

Things I have taken away from this module are:
  • It was good to be reminded that you can transfer images from a memory card, using the APNK computers.  You don't need to have the camera and a cable.
  • A good habit to get into is safely removing hardware, like a USB stick, by using the icon in the notification area, at the far right of the taskbar.
  • A handy hint given was to make a copy of your image, and do any editing work on it, rather than the original.
  • I learnt that you need to be prepared to have a good look around a new programme and become familiar with the terminology used as it might not be immediately obvious, e.g. in Paint.net if you want to straighten an image you go to Layers > Rotate/Zoom.
 Of the websites given for a bit of fun with images, I had a play around with Wordle.  Here's the link to my wordle on The Owl and the Pussycat


In my Skype meeting with Moata she showed me how to share screenshots, but the very next day Skype had changed the rules on us, and now sharing screenshots is a premium service!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Next challenge - Learn@APNK

Well I'm back at Dunedin Public Libraries, after my sojourn on the Coast, and am well immersed in life in a large City library again.  It's time for a new challenge, so am delighted to have been chosen to be a participant in the latest round of  learn@APNK sessions.
APNK has made such a difference to our working lives here in Information Services, at Dunedin Public (DP), since its arrival in February 2010.  We are seeing a wider range of people coming in, including the elusive young male (18+ years), to use the computers.  And as they become more familiar with the library setting and us, they start to use more of the resources.  It's been a positive experience on the whole (there will always be challenges with difficult customers in libraries, but that's another blog post)
APNK offers a range of programmes, and learn@APNK will be an opportunity for me to explore in-depth some of them (just like cpd23 Things did).  This will not only benefit me, but also the APNK customer as I will be able to share my learning, as appropriate.
I am using this blog post as a journal to record my experiences and thoughts, as well as getting some more practise at using a blog. 
Moata Tamaira from APNK is the guide for the 6 of us participating in the programme.  I haven't been introduced to the others yet, but will hopefully have some interaction through the COP forums over the next 5 weeks. 
The LAMS system, on which our modules are loaded, has been easy to navigate.  The introductory module was informative, and I look forward to experiencing this form of on-line learning.
The Effective Browser Use module was likewise informative, and while I was familiar with all the procedures covered in Internet Explorer, I used this opportunity to have a look at Firefox.  It was a little disconcerting that the screen shot on the back of the workbook showed an older version of Firefox, as this was no help with what I was actually looking at.  It also didn't help that the way my screen was displaying it had hidden the vital orange Firefox button which allowed you access  to the Options menu.  However, with the help of a colleague, some Google searches and a bit of playing around, everything became clear.  So I ended up learning more than was in the actual lesson (always a bonus).
The Scopia meeting with Moata worked well too, and it was nice to meet her "in person".  I look forward to experiencing a Skype session in the future, as Moata will show me how it can be used to share screen shots.
Week One has been an introductory week and I have certainly gained more knowledge about new programmes e.g. LAMS, the use of Scopia Client for video conferencing, and how to move around the Firefox interface.  One of my goals for each week is to try and incorporate something I've learnt into my working life, so it will be interesting to see what evolves from this new knowledge.