Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thing 41: Going Native with Live Mocha

The hardest part of this exercise for me was deciding on what language I was going to explore. As a student I studied French, but I wanted an all together different experience. I narrowed it down to Japanese and Mandarin Chinese and had a tough time deciding at that point. There are aspects of both cultures that I enjoy but when it comes to purely speaking the language, the tones of Chinese sound like flowing musical notes to me, circular like a Tai Chi form. Japanese seems stacatto and linear. Like a katana strike. So I decided to step out into the unknown wilderness of Mandarin Chinese.

Creating an account on Live Mocha was simple, pick your language and add a little information about what you are looking for in a language buddy. You can post what country you are from if you like. In less than an hour I had four people send me friend requests to want to be a language buddy. There is no pressure to begin speaking with a buddy. You can start when you are ready.

You can really go at your own pace with Live Mocha. You start with learning the pronunciation and Live Mocha shows you a slide and the Pin yin words to start with. There is space below to write what you think it means. Since many others have taken the beginning part of the course, the answers had already been filled in. I'll be repeating things for a while to get used to the tones. For some sounds there is no English equivalent and I feel like I'm speaking from the back of my throat. You then proceed to reading, listening, magnet (match the words to the corresponding box), writing, and speaking. You get points along the way and are shown your progress at all times to keep you motivated. Overall Live Mocha was a fun experience and not intimidating. Take your time and enjoy the exploration. Before you know it you'll start to feel comfortable with your new language adventures. I'm sure that I'll take Japanese as well just to compare the experiences.

For our library this is a great tool to offer as a referral if our foreign language materials are checked out and the patron can't fit a CPCC or Crossroads Cafe language course into their schedule or book a time at the International House. We just lost our subscription to Rosetta Stone and at the first of year, 2009, we'll lose Netlibrary--which means no more Pimsleur Language Learning digital audiobooks either. Our new digital media provider, Overdrive, has some foreign language materials but not extensive. So Live Mocha will fill many language learning needs and fit any schedule.

Xie_Xie/Arigato Live Mocha!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thing 40: Going Retro

I created an account on Retroland and began exploring its version of the wayback machine called "The Retropedia." Browsable by topic or you can search by keyword, Retroland gives you many avenues for exploration. You can browse by TV, Movies, Toys, Music, Fashion, Arcade Games, Food, Places, and School Daze. I guess what surprised me most was how much junk food was popular in every era! No wonder we keep dentists in business. The other thing that surprised me was that many people enjoyed the same things at school, with field trips topping the list.

Things that I was reminded of that brought back a smile were The Muppet Show, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, The Empire Strikes Back, The Princess Bride, trips to the beach with my grandparents and playing games like canasta, UNO and Monopoly, PB&J sandwiches, popcorn, and Coke Classic-when it was still made with sugar instead of high-frutose corn syrup. I would make my granddad laugh when I repeated the commercial slogan, "Ahh, Now that's the real thing!" We would keep it in the car on the way to the beach because it would keep me from getting motion sickness. I also enjoyed browsing the Book Worm forum and seeing how many entries were posted for favorite comic books and Dr. Seuss.

Retroland certainly made it easy to navigate popular culture by decade. This will be a useful supplement for students who have been assigned a particular decade and need to find out what was popular during that time.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thing 39: Animoto Energizes Your Photos

Here is the short video I created with Animoto.

Video Title "Touring Asian Gardens"
Producer Christie BW - The Questing Librarian
Images/duration 11/0:30
Track Tafubar - The Wicked Thoughts of You (MoShang Asian Space Mix)
Artist MoShang & Various Artists*
Video description - US National Arboretum, Asian Collections and Bonsai and Penjing Museum, Washington DC (1/21/01) during ALA Midwinter.

My experience with Animoto was very straight forward. My only delay was that the photos I wanted to use were still on floppy disks! I recently upgraded my computer and forgot that it does not carry a floppy drive, so off to the library with my photos I went to do the digital transfer. I started by uploading about 17 photos and then narrowed them down to the ones I most wanted in the clip. I ended up with 11 photos and found some nice creative commons music available at Jamendo by Tafubar, who had a guest appearance on MoShang's album. I then uploaded the video to my blog, emailed it to myself, added it to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and anything else I could think of.
I can certainly see some practical applications for promoting and showing the results of library events. These short clips could be used as attention grabbers or filler before programs. Overall a very nice tool. Thanks Animoto for making it easy!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thing 38: Comic Generators


After browsing several comic generators for library related strips, I came across two that I enjoyed. The first was Shelf Check #254 by Poseygalore on After just coming down from the summer reading marathon, I can really appreciate it. The second one I enjoyed was from StripGenerator. It's called "Whoa there, We got ourselves a Reader!" Great fun.

Next I signed up on ToonDoo to create a comic of my own. I called it Wonderland after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I took four photos and uploaded them to Flickr. Then I took the small size and uploaded it to ToonDoo using the ImaginR feature. The images appeared and you could crop just the part of the picture you wanted. You could also resize it. After you name and save, it's saved in your photo gallery for use. What took me the longest was choosing what background I was going to use that wouldn't clash with the photos. After that it was a snap to add the speech balloons. You can choose from several types and you can resize the balloons and even what direction they are oriented by dragging the mouse in the direction you want it to go.

I have had a few patrons with student assignments asking them to create a comic strip. Now I can offer them something that looks really snappy and it's fun to use. I can also use it to create fun publicity for programming. Another item for the Web 2.0 toolbox.


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