Know the Code!

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We’re taking a fun course designed to help librarians keep up with technology called “23 Mobile Things“. There are 23 great ideas presented through this self-directed course, and we can take it at our own pace. It’s meant to showcase programs and apps that are currently useful in the library setting, such as Twitter, Instagram and Haiku Decks. We’ve been downloading, trying some of the new technology out, and grumbling over a few things we realize we’re not good at. But this week, they’ve stumped me.

If you have any experience in coding or HTML for websites, this is probably an easy course for you. Codecademy is a BRILLIANT site, which is now being used in school settings throughout North America more and more, to help people learn the art of coding. This is probably especially important for the younger generation coming up. They present the basics of many types of computer languages and how to use them, from baby steps on up.  And the fun thing about it is that it “rewards” you with badges at every step of the way.

I started the basic HTML course this week as part of the requirements for our course…..and found myself staring at the keyboard every time I had to type a simple command. All of the <:/!p> stuff just doesn’t sit in my head, or at least, not yet. I’m hoping that will change.  I’m in awe of programmers who can whip together a sheet of code that looks like someone just sat on a keyboard, and actually make beautiful, responsive websites. Good for them! For now, I’ll keep going in order to earn my basics badge, but I don’t expect anyone will be calling me any time soon to re-design their website!

If you’re interested in learning anything about computer languages (and they say you can design a gorgeous site by the end of the final courses), then you might want to give this site a try. It’s free, and you can work at your own pace, and trust me…there is LOTS of help! Give it a try. We’d love to hear what you think of it!

The 50,000 word Email

If you’ve ever had those days when your email inbox constantly dings, you’ll understand the resulting problem.  You now have to answer those emails. But some of them seem to go on for days, and you lose the will to live before getting to the end of the email. Shouldn’t there be email rules? Should we all know and follow those rules so that we can get more work done?

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I came across this great article with The 7 Guidelines for Writing Emails that People Actually Want to Read.  And they’re simple, simple rules. I’m going to try to DO more of these in my own correspondence. My favourite?  The Three-Sentence rule…..if you can’t write your email in three sentences, then maybe you need to pick up the phone, or really think about what you’re trying to say. Good advice (although tough).

Do you receive more email than you can manage in a day? Do you have your own ways of dealing with it?

 

 

(Photo credit : Alejandro Escamilla)

Published in: on May 22, 2014 at 3:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Paper cutting or Drawings?

I love looking at illustrations.  It is a big part of my job when it comes to selecting picture books for the library collection. Illustration plays a major role in this type of book and can often make or break a story.  And a trend we’ve been seeing more of in the last few years is paper-cut illustrations. The artist uses paper and cuts in intricate ways to make gorgeous pictures that seem to jump off the page. That’s what I thought when I saw the work of Eiko Ojala.

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Ojala uses his computer to digitally render these illustrations….no paper involved at all! Of course, paper art is his inspiration, and you’ll love looking through the various examples on his website. While the digital world has dramatically moved forward in making realistic images (CGI, anyone?), does this take away from the “real” art of paper cutting?  I don’t think so. It has merit on its own, I strongly believe.

Take a few minutes to wander through the site. You won’t be disappointed!

Published in: on May 14, 2014 at 3:46 am  Comments (3)  
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Typing, the New Way!

The library had a typewriter in use up until only a few years back. I remember one young man who stopped in his tracks when he heard the click-clack of the keys as Judi worked on a library card. He looked back and asked what that sound was. We thought it was hilarious, but like most kids from his generation, he had never heard one in use. Yes, it made us all feel old.

But the beautiful old typewriters were quite impressive. The original ones weighed about a million pounds, and of course, there was no such thing as correction tape. If you made a mistake, you needed to either strike out the word, or start all over again. Can you imagine how accurate we’d be as typists today if auto-correct/spell-check and correction tape had never been invented? (Actually, maybe we better not go there. I’m sure we wouldn’t be any further ahead, and probably more frustrated.)

The typewriters made right before computers were much less impressive, and geared toward efficiency, not beauty. They were often quieter, but certainly didn’t inspire anyone by their form. But what if you could have the beauty of a typewriter, with the function of a computer? How about a USB typewriter??

il_fullxfull_410105148_88tj_largeThis is such a neat idea! The company provides conversion kits, completed typewriters or custom builds—including your choice of paint jobs! How fun is this?! (It’s so fun, I can’t stop using exclamation points!)

Now I want one of these.

Published in: on May 12, 2014 at 3:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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It’s a Book. No, it’s a Soap Opera!

Recently, Mills & Boon publishing announced it is going to turn reading on its head! They are publishers of romance novels, under the Harlequin company header, who have decided to try something different for readers.  It’s an online version of books + soap opera. Readers will log into The Chatsfield Hotel, and be able to interact with a variety of people who are either staying or working at the hotel, and read their stories.  Then, readers will be able to have some input on how the stories will develop.

George RR Martin The stories will be played out through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs and short stories on the site. You can purchase single copies, or download the entire eBook collection purchased through the site. Don’t worry though, they’ll also be offering up some free stories to get you hooked.  If you enjoy the scandals and adventure in traditional soap operas, this will be right up your alley. And just like their series of books, the same characters will be followed throughout, focusing on each one in individual parts of the site.

If this type of interactive serial works, we just might see other publishers trying the same thing. It certainly is unique in the world of books and online publishing. Do you think you’d like to read books in this manner?

 

 

BookMyne

The library has a great new way for you to access your accounts!  It’s an app called BookMyne, and while it’s been available for a while from the Apple store, it’s now available for Android users, too! All you need to do is download the app, choose our library, and then sign in with your library card number and PIN. 

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You can access all of your account data on your phone or tablet now. Once you log in, you can see what you have out, renew your books, and even see what your fines are! But it gets even better than that! You can also access the entire library catalog through the app, place holds, and much more. If you happen to be in a bookstore and want to see if we have the book at our library, just scan the barcode on the back of the book with the nifty app feature, and it’ll take you directly to our library catalog record! Place a hold and pick up the book when you’re at the library later on.

If you love social media book sites like Goodreads, you’ll also have access to reviews right from the app. Now, there’s no more wondering if the book you’re about to take home is good or not. Read the reviews and check out the book. Or not.

Drop into the library to get your PIN if you don’t have one, and then download the app and start using it right away. We think you’ll love it as much as we do!

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