Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thing 50: Cookout

This discovery exercise has us looking at It's like a YouTube for cooks. Since it was fall I thought I would take a look for Russian tea or apple cider but they were not posted. So I thought, "How about pumpkins?" So I took a look and sure enough--tons of recipes for pumpkins. Some of the more interesting ones were: Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Hummus, Roasted Winter Vegetables (including pumpkin) and my favorite--Pumpkin Brulee. Mmm. Now I'll be ready for the Great Pumpkin to arrive.

I'll certainly consider it if I come across a stumper recipe or student assignment that needs an international dish. Getting the "how-to" as well as the recipe is great for beginning cooks.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thing 49: Soundbites

This discovery exercise explores Snoundsnap. It has a vast array of sound effects and snippets that are available. Since Halloween is coming up I thought I would search for some scary sounds. Scary Movie eat your heart out! Some of my favorites were: a witch's cackle, creepy organ music, scary background noises, squeeky door, wolf howl, and cat hiss. It was simple enough to download the MP3 to my PC. Sound clips can be used for slideshows, attention grabbers during storytimes, presentations, on a welcome kiosk--or library haunted house? Muh-wah-ha-ha! Where was this when I started my book club quiz show? Well the nice thing is that I know about it now. Thanks Soundsnap!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thing 48: Free Music Downloads

This learning exercise featured C|Net's It is very easy to use for free music downloads. Don't expect to find that "one song" that you've been looking for but you can probably find other songs by the same artist or songs that sound similar on the site for download. It's nice that you don't have to create an account for this service. At the time of this blog post there are 111,052 songs for free download. There are many ways to sort the songs--song name, artist name, average rating, total listens, total listens last week, date added and date updated.

At the bottom of the page is a search box. I limited the search to "Artists" and looked for Tiesto. When you click on the "see all free tracks" link you will see if there are songs available for download or not. If there are it will say "Download Free MP3" in the Playlist. I downloaded a song from Tiesto's Elements of Life CD called "Global Harmony". This is certainly not one of the headliner songs on the CD but it was available for free download! Downloading was simple and it gave you options for what file you wanted to save it in on your PC. If you want to upload to your MP3 player just follow it's directions.

I'll certainly keep in mind for patrons who would like music downloads for their MP3s. But since patrons are using public PCs, downloads are a hit or miss thing. If their portable device requires a software download to interface with the website, they may be out of luck.

One of the commentors to this learning exercise mentioned Red Ferrett. Red Ferret is a directory listing of other free music download sites. It boast's "One Million Free and Legal Music Tracks." The more time you have the more this listing may be useful. As with many free sites, some are better organized than others.

Don't forget the music downloads that are available on the library's downloadable content service called Overdrive. You'll need to download the Overdrive Media Console to your PC at home first but then you can transfer those songs to your MP3 player. Overdrive music downloads are not available inside the library unless you have a wireless device to access the Internet. Otherwise you'll want to download from home.

If you want some creative commons MP3s check out Jamendo and Freesound. They allow you to download anything on their sites. Many budding musicians will post here to get exposure. These are great for programming, slideshows, and background music before presentations.

Many artists will offer podcasts of their music for download. If you go to their website or Myspace page they will mention if that is something they do. The artist that I did a search on for this exersise, Tiesto, has a weekly podcast that I download and listen to. I keep track of it in my Bloglines feed reader.

I have so many hours of music downloaded to my Ipod from my CD collection that I'll be in retirement before I go through the entire rotation. With many smart phones/PDAs having Internet capability, now you can go to sites like Last FM, Pandora, and Seeqpod and have the songs streaming into your headphones without having to download them. I've found that I can get many more major label artists this way since I'm not actually downloading the content. This is more like a radio service but without commercial interruptions.

Seeqpod even lets you arrange a playlist which is great for programming in a pinch. Say you need a song for a storytime activity and all the copies are checked out from your library collection. Go to Seeqpod and search for the songs you need and 95% of the time they are there. Create an account so you can save your list and save it on the website. Then if you have a smartphone/PDA/laptop with Internet capability you can go to the site and play the song list that you created. It's certainly a backup. I wouldn't use it all the time because depending on the latency of your internet connection it may come to a grinding halt in your program. But its a great backup.

These sorts of sites will certainly keep expanding. I'm sure that we'll have an update to this exercise in the future.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thing 47: Rock On with Jam Studio

I easily created an account with Jamstudio. All that was needed was an email account and password. If I was musically inclined I'm sure that I would have played around with it more because there are infinate possiblites. Everything is available for preview so you can get your sound just right. Select your chords, choose your instruments, select your tempo, 4/4 or 3/4 time, and the sounds you want for each of your instruments. It even lets you play your pages in what ever order you choose for a long composition. I just created a very simple A A B A style pop song. Major cords in the A line, Minor cords in the B line. I called it "Trial and Error". You can share your song with others via email, including yourself.
This could be used to introduce students to the basic concepts of music and draw them in. Now they can be their own mix masters and not feel intimidated by the virtuoso composer in music theory class. I could also see the songs being used for what ever project you are working on--slideshows, programming, etc. because you certainly wouldn't have to worry about copyright since they are your own creations. Rock on JamStudio!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thing 46: Updates, Part 2

Unfortunately the links in the Zoho Notebook that was used to explore Part 1 and Part 2 of the updates to the Original 23 Things do not directly work. You have to rest your mouse over the hyperlink and right click and open the link in another tab or window. It took me a bit to figure that out.

Library 2.0 - I think it has went from it's introduction phase to staff to implementation with patrons. We're comforable enough with its resources and terminology now to start thinking of how it can be implemented to facilitate the needs of patrons. From workshops to new communication tools, libraries are reaching patrons where they are to offer services.

Wikis - Wikis are wonderful for collaboration to pool information knowledge quickly as soon as its found out. People as a whole have more knowledge together than a singe person. I've seen wikis created for games and books so that players and readers can have a quick list of references. I have a wiki that is a humble work in progress that will be an archive of PLCMC gaming programming. I have everything stored in ready for linking, I've just got to design a nifty homepage to draw readers attention. *Sigh* So many projects, so little time.

Web Based Apps/Productivity - Zoho and Google are still king of the hill in the web based app world, but it will certainly be useful to let patrons know about other up and comers as options if needed such as Adobe Buzzword and Microsoft Office Live. It is simple phenominal how many web based apps that Zoho has created since 2006. Google Docs and Spreadsheets combined with all the other features that Google offers is another great package.

Web 2.0 Awards - I love Seomoz's Web 2.0 Awards so I was tickled to find The Crunchies - another set of Web 2.0 awards to compare them with. Crunchies is more for innovators in the field as a whole whereas the Seomoz awards have winners for each cateory of Web 2.0.

Video - YouTube and more. I am simply amazed at what is available online now. Now there's Joost, legally offering 20,000 TV shows a day, requires a software download; Myspace videos, and the major networks CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox now offer their shows but include commercials. PBS Videos are availabe via the library's NCLive subscription and some are available on Snagfilms. Snagfilms is a way for documentary creators to distribute their work. You'll see PBS, National Geographic and Indie documentaries that you would see featured at Sundance. If you have Netflix just download the player and view films online.

Podcasts - Most websites will have podcasts available in audio or video format. Just add to your feed reader. I've really enjoyed seeing things that I might otherwise forget to watch or listen to if not for my podcast feeds. This will be a natural extension of library programming with the advent of easy to film and upload devices such as the Flip. What a great outreach tool for patrons that are homebound or homeschooled!

Netlibrary and Overdrive - Our library's downloadable content is changing. NCLive is dropping Netlibrary so unless our library picks up the subscription on their own we will lose some great resources such as the Pimsleur Language Learning series. Overdrive's big claim to fame is that it is compatible with Ipods now but doesn't feature bestsellers yet or have a comprehensive foreign language collection. I do not like the overdrive media console. I liked that on Netlibrary you could at least view the ebook text inside the browser window without having to download or checkout. Now with Overdrive you do. I also used Netlibrary to supplement our print resources for adult learners taking online classes. Their college library is miles away and not everything is accessible through the college library's website. Overdrive's ebook collection is mostly entertainment. I don't see as much nonfiction. I hope this will be remedied by collection development so it will be a useful resource. Otherwise it will not be used.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thing 46: Updates on the Original 23 Things

Blogger - I was fortunate that when I created my account on Blogger in 2006 I was one of the lucky that were selected to use the New Blogger when it was in beta. So I got to learn Blogger in it's new format. I also use Facebook and browse Myspace but have been hesitant to create an account on it. Facebook seems more civilized than Myspace. Myspace makes me feel like I would be exposed more than I would be comfortable with.

Flickr - Flickr Uploadr and Picnik have made Flickr an even more valuable tool. I haven't heard about Flickr Places so this was a welcome find. It uses geotagged photos and gives you a listing of groups and featured photographers that focus on that place. I can't believe all the new Flickr mashups available. Wow! I was intrigued by the All of Ibiza from one Google Map.

Bloglines - I was considering Google reader but when Bloglines updated its features in it's Beta I decided to stay with it. For finding feeds I still like Technorati but I also like Google Blog search. I've come across single topic image generators that I've bookmarked, but none have come close to the archival depth of the Generator Blog, keep up the good work guys!

LibraryThing- I still like to use LibraryThing, but I also add books to my Facebook accout using Visual Bookshelf. I also like to use the LibraryThing widget for my bookclub blog to list what we have read.

Rollyo - Rollyo is still king of the self made federated search of websites you trust. Keep on rolling!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thing 45: Flow Charts and Mind Maps

I chose Gliffy to explore as a web-based flow chart utility and MindMeister as my web-based mind map/brainstorming utility. Setting up accounts on both was simple. Gliffy let you create your flow chart directly after making an account but needed email confirmation before you could make it public. MindMeister needed email confirmation before letting you use the tool but it showed up in my email in no time. Since I am on vacation at this point, I thought I would use it to toss around some ideas for how to spend my time. "What to do on vacation?" is what I called my flowchart diagram and mind map. I know that my flowchart is not technically correct since I did not link anything. But I got my thoughts down to see them.

I liked that MindMeister gave you a video tutorial immediately after logging in. Their help files were very nice too. Gliffy's layout was very intuitive and labeled very well. I had a flow chart of vacation ideas in no time. I would probably use flowcharts for conveying ideas to a group and mind maps for personal brainstorming and exploration. It's nice to have a tool that lets you visualize your ideas and their connections to decisions that you make.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thing 44: Jott this down

I've always wanted my own personal transcriptionist. I remember seeing old movies and TV shows where a person, usually a secretary, would transcribe something for some important "pooh-bah". They would have to know some superhuman shorthand. Now I get to be the special "pooh-bah" with Jott! Jott, would you please take this down? I could get used this. ;)

Setting up an account was very easy. I called in a reminder to myself to check out the Learning 2.1 blog next Monday. The "How To" links on the Learning 2.1 blog post were dead but they were simple enough to find on Jott's site. With the Basic Account, it shows you how to create a Jott Note, Set a Reminder, Post a Jott Link, Listen to a Jott Feed, and Add an Item to a List. There are even downloadable apps for your favorite gadgets like: desktop widgets, iPhone, iGoogle gadget, Outlook and Blackberry. It even gives you tips on improving your transcriptions.

I created some "To Do" lists and sent email to individuals that I had imported from my Plaxo account. However, if I wanted to send a group email I would have to upgrade my account. I'll be Jotting this blog post but I wanted to type it out first so that it would sound coherant and include all that I wanted to say. Jott walks you though how to do it on their how-to page. Also, you can name new lists and organize them in what ever order you like.

It looks like "Jott the Vote" is no longer active. You'll no longer be able to contact the candidates to give them your questions, comments and concerns and have your message posted on Jott the Vote. I guess Obama and McCain have other Web 2.0 gizmos to keep them occupied. I also learned how to Jott to Twitter and sent a little verbal update its way. If you want to hear the Questing Librarian blog via your phone, you can now do that via Jott. Check out the "Listen to the site with Jott Feeds" widget in the right sidebar of this blog under Subscribe. Thanks Jott for helping to write down ideas at the moment of inspiration and store for later use. A very useful tool.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thing 43: Getting Musical with MIDIs

I was amazed at how many songs on the Internet had MIDI versions. I'm not a musician, so I won't be using MIDI sequencers for creating songs anytime soon, but it was good to find out what they can do. I didn't want to download any software for this exercise so I used Jamie's online sequencer suggestion from the Learning 2.1 activities forum. For my song, I decided to try Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" from Ragtime Piano MIDI files by Warren Trachtman. There were plenty MIDIs of this song to choose from!

I saved one to my hard drive and then uploaded it to the Online MIDI Editor. I could choose to play the song in Quick Time, Windows Media, or Real Media. The editor let me transpose up or down 1 octave at a time, double the tempo or half the tempo, delete tracks so that I could hear a single part played. In the case of "Maple Leaf Rag" there are the right and left hand piano parts so you could take one of them out to just hear one side. I can really see how a musician would appreciate this so you could hear how your particular part should be played out of the entire composition. You could also show the midi result as text. You could always revert to the origial file at any time. When you created a new MIDI from your original track, it gives you the option to save the altered file.

As for finding sheet music for the song, I tried to download the suggested MidiNotate Player v.1.1.1 but it was no longer available from the Hitsquad Musician Network - Shareware Music Machine. So I did a search for Maple Leaf Rag sheetmusic and came up with one from Guitar Chords were available at Since the song was first published in 1899 I thought it might be available online.

I can certainly see the usefulness of MIDI files for musicians to help them learn the parts of a song and to fill in parts when not all members of the band are present. Their small size makes for easy downloads. As for myself, I'll probably use them mostly to make my slideshows more interesting.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Thing 42: Following Discussions with Usenet News/Google Groups

I've used usenet newsgroups for quite a while and was delighted when Google took over and maintained the Usenet newsgroup archive from DejaNews. I find that I use usenet for very specific things such as the alliancesecondlife and the LibGaming groups. I also like to see if the books I'm offering as selections in our branch book club are being discussed. It's a place to get ideas for book discussion questions.

I browsed and subscribed to it. I don't know that I will use it often but it is good to see what is being posted. Expecially if something about libraries or librarians comes up in the mainstream press and what people are saying about it.

Overall Usenet/Google Groups works best when there is a group of dedicated users that want a place to discuss topics by invitation only. That way you always know that the messages will be on topic. I suspect that special social networking sites like Ning are also eating away at its user base, but Usenet/Google Groups offers the flexability of having discussions posted to your email in what ever format you choose.


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