Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Zoho Show

Created a slide show using Zoho Show and then embedded it in the blog. The options for creating the slideshow are basic but after a little experimenting I produced a set of slides, made them public and then pasted the code for embedding the slide show in the blog. It did not work but will try again. On the second attempt it worked.

There are also options for importing slideshows created by other software.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Zoho Writer

The online options in this Library 2.0 project continue. At first glance Zoho Writer seems have the major features required for creating word documents -

  • general formatting,
  • ability to add images,
  • add lists and
  • insert tables.

Tags are used instead of folders but this also means that a document can be stored in more than one place. If a tag contains more than one word inverted commas must be used to enclose the phrase.

Other Zoho applications such as

  • Zoho Sheet - a spreadsheet tool or
  • Zoho Show - a tool for slideshows

can be embedded.

The document can also be worked on offline which would be an advantage when the Internet connection is slow or unpredictable.

The information in the document can also be posted to a blog which I am attempting to do now.

Technorati Tags

#16 So what’s in a wiki?

A wiki would be a useful tool for creating a website as a group project. There are a number of Internet sites allowing the use of wiki software and space for hosting a group wiki. A site providing the opportunity to compare features in wikis is WikiMatrix. A number of these sites provide this service free of charge though charges may apply once the site reaches a certain size. The features provided in these wikis varies so it is useful to be able to search and compare what is available before undertaking a wiki project. Some wikis include the requirement that contributors must have a password which helps reduce the likelihood of spam being added to the wiki.

A major advantage of a wiki over a conventional website is that information can be added easily whether an addition to a topic already online or a new topic. Being dynamic and collaborative a wiki could be a good way of collecting information. If the ability to edit and add information to the wiki is limited to those with a password the reliability of the information should be able to be checked.

However having the provision for anyone to edit a wiki could be a good way of collecting and sharing information and also of empowering users. Adding information to the Learning 2.0 SandBox wiki was a useful and fun exercise to experience first hand how easy it is to add information to a wiki.

Last week I attended the History Teachers Association of Victoria conference where one of the papers discussed using wikis in schools both for collaborative projects as well as showing the students that as it is easy to add information to a wiki they should always check other sources and not necessarily take the information that they find at face value. This of course applies to all information sources on the Internet and in print, however the ease of anyone being able to add material online via a wiki emphasises the need for care.

As an easy way of publishing information online wikis provide the potential for groups with a common interest to collect and publish information not necessarily available in other sources.

I have started a wiki - Family Connect - for collecting information on the history of my family using PBwiki. Some years ago I made a website with some basic information and regualrly receive emails from extended family members who have located the site. This will hopefully be a way for some of them to add their information to the site. At present I am transferring some content to the wicki and becoming used how it works - at times the formatting seems to have a mind of its own but it should be a useful resource for collecting and sharing family history information - when time permits. I will then contact other family members interested in family history and invite them to participate.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Need help using technology?

Recently a friend alerted me to this item on You Tube - It Pro or the First Help Desk Call

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

#15 On Library 2.0 & Web 2.0 ...

At the Museums Australia conference in Canberra in May there were a number of papers on social networking (using web 2.0 features) in the museum sector. One of the speakers was from the Powerhouse Museum and he described a number of their projects including allowing users of the online catalogue to create their own tags (or user keyword) that they felt helped locate items in the collection thus creating a separate facility to search user produced keywords as well as the conventional museum headings. The rationale behind providing the two different search options is to help "bridge the 'semantic gap' between the language of the museum and that of the user".

The Powerhouse Museum, in its online sources section, also provides podcasts and videos on a range of topics as well as a blog associated with an expedition held at the museum - "Walking the Wall follows the 3000 kilometre hiking journey of Brendan Fletcher and Emma Nicholas along the Great Wall of China. Walking the Wall is associated with the Great Wall Of China exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney".

The discussions on museums using web 2.0 stressed the need for the users of websites to not be just passive observers. Increasingly visitors to museums are online visitors only, especially as people from any place in the world may visit a museum website but may not necessarily be able to physically visit the museum itself. Museums and galleries when designing websites are increasingly adding features to involve the online visitors in exploring the museum collections and exhibitions online.

Libraries can also use features of library 2.0 to enhance the experience of visiting the library website as an information resource. Library 2.0 allows for greater interaction between library staff and patrons for providing, sharing and creating information resources. The argument about search terms used by patrons not necessarily being in the same form as thesauruses used in libraries (terms for an object or concept also differ from country to country and even state to state) also applies to libraries. Creating a blog or a wiki for a specific purpose - subject area (local history, genealogy), book reviews etc - is another way libraries can encourage user involvement in the websites. Making podcasts of talks and information sessions available online allows those unable to attend an event access to the information.

The publication of library catalogues and access to other databases on the Internet has made the library available to patrons at any time including the ability to reserve and renew material online. The inclusion of web 2.0 and subsequent developments on websites will rapidly increase interaction between patons and the library and create an interactive information hub.

#14 Getting not-so-technical with Technorati

Experimented searching for sites and blogs on topics in Technorati. Advanced search is a better option than a general search. Can search for a specific phrase (exact words) with additional options of searching "All blogs" or "Blogs about" to further narrow the search. Just searching in the Tags option also refines a search.

Once a set is displayed there is the option of viewing posts, blogs, videos or pictures mentioning the search term(s). A wide range of social networking sites can therefore be searched at one time, primarily through use of tagging for blogs, blog posts, images etc.

Examples of one search:
A search for Australian Rules Football (exact phrase and all blogs) produced 200 posts, 10 blogs, 20 videos and photos galore.

Entering "Australian Rules Football" in the Tag Search box produced 15 posts, 10 blogs, 20 videos and photos galore.

Monday, October 22, 2007

#13 Tagging, folksomonies & social bookmarking in Del.icio.us

Having the ability to select and group often used websites as provided by del.icio.us provides another useful tool for organising online resources.

Although the site is realtively easy to use it can also be clumsy, especially when you want to access it from different computers with different operating systems. I originally used it on a computer using Firefox but when I tried to place the buttons on the toolbar of my laptop using Windows Explorer, the FAQ suggested going to the stage 2 of Registration (resulting in having to create a different account). Both times when I registered I did not automatically receive the confirmation email until I went into settings and requested that it should be resent.

I have since found some instructions via the about link (very small print at the bottom of the del.icio.us page which I will try again tonight.

As an exercise I exported the bookmarks from the first account and imported them into the second account - this worked well but each of the sites in the second account is marked as not shared (I must have missed a step).

There is also an option for changing tags collectively which I tried and it said it worked but the tag I altered did not change until I edited each record individually.

Despite the frustrations this could be a useful tool for collecting and sharing urls. The ability to add tag rolls and link rolls to a blog or website would be a useful addition for websites on a specific topic.

Definitely worth exploring more when I am able to get the buttons on the main computers that I use.

I added a tag roll (including network badge) to the blog - getting quite a collection of resources there now. Once the code for the tag roll has been added to a site it automatically updates as new sites and tags are added to del.icio.us.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

#10 More playing with images

I used the Flickr Badge Maker to create a frame of moving images from my Ballarat images. This can be done by going to http://www.flickr.com/badge.gne and following the directions. The resulting code can then be pasted into a blog or website.

I also tried making a slideshow Ballarat slideshow
using Slideshow part of fd Flickr Toys

Saturday, October 13, 2007

#12 Creating your own search engine with Rollyo

Once again a relatively easy tool to use to create search facilities on specific topics. The topic search engines provided on the site are American but if you want to use one of these they can be modified by adding sites chosen by you or the entire list of sites can be replaced with sites of your choice.

For a website devoted to a single subject interest or theme, creating a facility to search for a topic on a number of useful sites in one search could be a useful resource for researchers.

When searching you can select the search engine to be searched or just one of the sites searched by the search engine.

Rollyo includes the ability to search the web in the selection of sites in the search engine created which can result in unwanted items in the result list. You therefore need to be specific when undertaking a search.

#11 LibraryThing

An easy way to keep a record of books read and to categorise them. It was pleasing not to have to fill in a form to open another account but just provide a user name and password. I particularly liked the option of being able to select the cover for the book record and not have to use the default (usually American) cover. Being able to choose additional catalogues from which to choose items apart from Amazon and Library of Congress is also useful (though the selection of organisations is limited).

I was unable to locate a recent British publication which I read from our library last month so there is obviously a time delay in books (or just non-American books) appearing.

All in all an easy tool to use. Being able to provide your own summary of the item is useful, though I have not had time to do that yet. The ability to join subject blogs and also to view list of other readers with similar interests could be a good way to discover new titles and authors and, if time permitted, allow for extending interest in, and discussion of, a particular genre or group of books.

Adding the script for placing the search mechanism for the library created to a blog was also not difficult and adds to the usefulness of the tool.

I look forward to adding summaries of books I have enjoyed reading and adding additional titles to the list as time permits.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Usefulness of RSS

Some time a go I attended a session where a staff member from a newsagency described how staff collected news items on specific subjects for subscribers to access using RSS newsreaders. The session was very technical dealing with xhtml , xml as well as rss and I left being impressed at what could be achieved but confused by the process and the jargon.

Since then I have tended to put rss , xml etc into the 'will look at this later' category. However recently I was asked about adding podcasts to a website and started to look seriously at using rss as a means of alerting users to the site that a new podcast had been added. This exercise therefore came at the right time for me as experimenting with Bloglines has demonstrated the usefulness of adding RSS to a site where the content is regularly changing.

RSS is becoming more accessible with the latest version of browsers including functions to read RSS feeds. RSS will no doubt become a standard feature on websites with changing content - though in my searching I was surprised at a number of the large cultural institutions not already doing this.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Selection of Blogline feeds collected -

Monday, October 1, 2007

#Technology - what a learning curve

In the mid 1990s I returned to RMIT to learn about advances in computer technology with the view of returning to work in libraries after a ten year break. What a learning curve!

My previous experience with computers in libraries had been at Monash University in the 1970s when a paper printout of student loans was generated overnight by a computer on the other side of the campus. During the three years before I left I had spent many hours checking forms completed for an inventory of the collection against a computer printout, filling in correction forms and then rechecking the new printout the following day. I left Monash before the first version of the computer catalogue went 'live'.

When I started the course my experience with computers was, to say the least, limited. At home we had a cast off Amstrad computer which had a habit of 'crashing' whenever I tried to save files so I used it as little as possible.

At RMIT we were introduced to cd-rom - a miraculous way of storing large amounts of data on a portable disc. We discussed the different type of files that could be stored and the possible uses that this technology could be used for, we designed projects and with great care tested the data because if we were actually to create a cd-rom it needed to go to a bureau where this would be done at great cost, though multiple copies would be made relatively cheaply.

The Internet was another mysterious world that developed during the course. At the time the use of the Internet was limited to research and educational institutions. One discussion was what would happen if this resource was made available to business and even to the public. The screen was black with green or orange text and searching for information was done via hierarchical lists. Then there was a great new development - Mosaic - with a more user friendly interface and images could be viewed. One evening a member of the class showed me a site she had discovered. We waited for ten minutes for an image to appear of a painting in an art gallery in Russian and we marvelled at the wonders of technology.

On another evening we were introduced to a strange concept called email and as an exercise we had to send an email to another member in the class. We sat there looking at the screens wondering why someone would bother doing such a thing when they could make a phone call.

In 2007 life is very different. We cannot imagine existing without email, we regularly use the Internet and curse when the site we want takes more than a few seconds to appear and we think nothing of burning our own cd-roms or dvds.

The world of technology is constantly changing and now we are exploring the next wave of communicating and sharing information online. Meanwhile the there will be other innovations around the corner. The technology adventure continues.