Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Last Issue of Things On a Stick News

Things 69 & 70 (below) make up the last issue of Things On a Stick News. Minnesota's seven multicounty, multitype library systems have been introducing new "Things" to library staff since 2008--more than 1600 staff have read & learned about Web 2.0 tools using various online learning methods.

So, what's next? The
seven multicounty, multitype library systems are exploring various options for continuing 23 Things On a Stick. You can help by completing this evaluation of Things On a Stick News and the future of 23 Things On a Stick. Thanks for reading and sharing this with your colleagues. Stay tuned for whatever is next!

Thing 70. Productivity in Your Pocket: Portable Programs

A portable program is a piece of software that you can carry around with you on a portable device and use on any other computer. It can be your email program, a browser, system recovery tools, or even an operating system. The best part about it is that all of your data and settings are always stored on a flash drive so when you unplug the device, none of your personal data is left behind. Handy, right?

Does anyone really need portable applications? Laptops and smartphones have made 
mobile computing as easy as grabbing your device(s) and hitting the road. With cloud computing like Google Docs, Delicious, Zoho, and more, you can access your stuff from any Internet-enabled computer. One reason for portable apps seems 
obvious--you don't own a laptop or other portable device. Another reason--you must rely on public computers at the public library for access to online services. Flash drives with portable apps let patrons access their information from any computer--they don't need to worry which version of which software is on the computer; they have the one they need in their pocket.

The USB flash drive has virtually eliminated the existence 
of a floppy drive unit on most computers because the flash drive serves the
 same functions as the old floppy, except that flash drives are more durable 
and offer much greater storage capacity. Flash drives are even more
 portable than laptops when you consider the size difference. Plus, you can use 
a flash drive in any computer that has a USB drive.

Window PC users are able to download a wide range of portable applications 
using PortableApps.com. The PortableApps.com
 platform is available for download onto any portable device including a
 flash drive, portable hard drive, PDA, or iPod. One 
download can capture a complete collection of apps. PortableApps.com has three choices that 
allow you to pick various components for your suite. The application directory 
provides a number of open source applications including word 
processing, graphics & pictures, games, music & video, and more that give you productivity and entertainment wherever you are. Mac users can find portable apps at Freesmug.org or MakeTechEasier. Need more choices for portable apps? A Google search on portable applications with either Mac or Windows will turn up hundreds more.

How does any of this apply to libraries? As Nick Prieve suggested 
in his 2010 MLA session Distance Tech Tools for Your Average Patron: Ten
 Ways to Make Technology Viable, Marketable, and Cost-Effective in Reaching 
Distance Patrons libraries should consider educating patrons about portable applications. It may be possible provide patrons with a pre-loaded flash drive of their 
very own, either free or at a nominal cost. This would allow patrons the freedom to access their files and applications from any computer station. As flash drives continue to decrease in price and more free applications become available, portable applications are accessible and useful to most patrons

For those of you envisioning horrific scenes of virus-infested work stations
 or other technology calamities, consider that the risks associated
 with allowing patrons to use portable apps on their own flash drives are no greater than the
 risks you already face every day. Patron education about security and these devices is still necessary. PortableApps.com does include a 
number of security tools, including portable antivirus and spyware programs that can help ease your mind and your patrons'.

Even if you're not ready for full-blown patron usage of PortableApps.com,
 give it a try on your own and see what you think!

By Lynn Stern, SAMMIE

Thing 69. No Issue with Issuu: Digital Publishing

It's time to publish that annual report and this year you really want to make a "go green" effort. Here's an easy solution! Introduce yourself to Issuu, an online digital publishing platform that allows for amazing presentation of all types of material including newsletters, magazines, catalogs, or similar publications. 

"Issuus" look like a magazine or book--color photos or illustrations, layouts as you want them, pages that turn digitally. Start thinking, "Right now, what does your library offer, be it on your website or through a direct e-mail that you would really like to present in the most professional way?" If you can think it, Issuu can probably make it happen with a little effort from you.

In 2009, TIME magazine included Issuu as one of the 50 best websites of the year. "Maybe a gadget like Amazon's Kindle can compete with the old-fashioned ink-on-paper experience, but for our money - which in this instance, is zero dollars - we'll take Issuu, an online newsstand with infinite shelf space, hundreds of interesting micro - publishing projects and a slick online reader.”

Once you create your content, uploading a PDF of your publication will create a professional-looking virtual version. Besides the ability to make your publication viewable on your website, you can also link to it from Facebook or your blog. Issuu offers functionality by allowing you to use your own logos, choose colors, and include icons. The process is guided and simple. Once complete, your finished product can function as a book, complete with pages that need to be turned.

An excellent example of how this tool can be used is found at Free Technology for Teachers, a blog written by Richard Byrne, that provides “Free Resource and Lesson Plans for Teaching with Technology." Byrne has used Issuu to create resource guides on topics such as Beyond Google and Google Earth Across the Curriculum. A quick browse of the Issuu website quickly reveals a wide variety of publications on topics such as college sports, crafting, and catalogs, all of which have the glossy, full-color appearance of newsstand magazines.

Another online publishing tool is YUDU. Like Issuu, YUDU allows you to upload a PDF of your publication. YUDU automatically creates a digital version that readers can flip through just like a magazine. Publications can be hosted on the YUDU site or embedded on your website in three formats: the full version, an image of the front cover with a link to the file at YUDU, or a small flash animation of the first eight pages flipping back and forth. The last version is a nice way to introduce some motion to your page to capture readers’ attention. Readers do not have to download anything – everything can be read online. With YUDU, you can add audio and video for a multimedia experience, and you can include live links to allow readers to click through to related sites.

With costs for printing and postage rising all the time, why not take a moment to consider virtual publishing as an alternative by exploring these new tools?

By Lynn Stern, SAMMIE