Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blog #7: Freaks and Geeks Training

ACPL has a program which focuses on new technologies that they call Geek Out Don't Freak Out. I haven't been able to attend this session before the one this week. The newest edition of this (which my assistant manager calls Freaks and Geeks Training (as if we need to be trained to be bigger freaks and/or geeks) was today and focused on mp3s, analog to digital music, and the new Amazon book reader called the Kindle. I have to say I really wanted to go see the digital turntable. My dad has wanted to convert his records to cds for a long time. He has some things he can't find on cd. So I wanted to go and learn more about this. I was also interested in seeing the Kindle up close since we've all been talking about it around the library for a while now.

The mp3 portion was something I didn't really need to know. I've geeked around with that equipment for a while. We did all just get new mp3 players if we participated in learning 2.0 though and this will be able to play audio books (which we are getting back as downloadable in the system soon). I'm excited about this since my ipod will not work with them and I haven't had a reason to be able to use it before. I did learn that we are getting that service back soon and am excited about that option.

The digital turntable was great. The One Kay used was called the Ion and it looks very easy though I'll have to make sure my dad cleans his vinyl before we use one. It's funny because I'm so used to burning cds which takes no time at all but to do this, it's like going back to when we had to make a copy of a tape which took as long as it took to play it. It will take a while for him to convert his stuff but apparently we can find them pretty cheap on half.com so this might be worth looking into. Kay also showed us how to take analog music from a guitar and microphone and use Garage band (an apple application) with them. We're starting a band. I get to play drums. I always wanted to be a drummer so this is great. Ha!

The Kindle is kind of cool. I have to admit it. I like the digital ink (e-ink maybe) and how it doesn't look like a computer screen but an actual book. It is kind of cool that way. It turns pages by flashing to the next page which is weird but interesting as well. I have a lot of doubt that this will ever come close to taking a big percentage of book sales but it is cool to play with. It's also really expensive and I can't see owning one even though new releases and best sellers are 9.99.

In less happy technology news, this last week with oncourse has been horrible. First it wouldn't let anyone log on, then it was slow, then I uploaded a few assignments for my other class and one posted but the other one gave me a confirmation screen but didn't post. Being 2 hours away from Indy and turning all assignments in via oncourse, when it goes down and has issues it can be really frustrating.

Well, I'm off to pick up my 35mm film now!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Blog #6: The Wiki Begins

Starting with the wiki has been an interesting experience. We set up a new group wiki with a common password to get us all in. We logged in and started to look at the look and feel of the site. After a minute or so we decided that we'd wait on that, it being not all that important. We discussed what content we needed and where this content should be located. What needs to go on the navigation bar? What should we include? What should we leave off. We ended up generating a lot of questions...quite a few more than the five we needed to record to answer the next time we meet. With luck we will have answers to these questions and be able to move forward.

After the meeting I started playing around with the wiki on my own. After I actually logged in with the right user name and password that is. It's interesting to just look around and try to locate tools and how they can be used. I made a test page on my own personal wiki just to try it and I'm wondering how easy it is to delete content or pages in case I mess something up and want to start over. It's been interesting just to take a look around but I am excited about actually getting started.

In other technology news, I have been working on trying to put together a digital newsletter and or digital flyers for programming. ure this is something I will ever use but it might be and I've been finding new ways to use Word that I haven't done before because we don't have access to PageMaker and PhotoShop at work like I do at home. It's been a little frustrating but I'm really glad I know I can do the things I want with a program I have access to both at work and at home.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Blog #5: Old technology in new ways...

In the past week I have gotten a few new toys. I ordered a new Polaroid instant camera, an Action Sampler and a Fish Eye camera. The first is the old style instant Polaroid and the other two are 35mm which I haven't worked with in ages since I got my first digital. I bought the Polaroid for art purposes...well I bought them all for that actually. I want to work with some scratching and manipulation of the instant shots. I did it once in an art class and want to explore more. The Action Sampler takes four pictures in rapid progression and then develops all four shots on one print. Therefor it records action and movement. The fish eye I haven't gotten yet but it's on it's way. It takes 170 degree shots and I am excited about using it to distort images.

As excited as I am about the new stuff I got, each one has involved some level of discovery for me. I haven't loaded 35mm film in so long I forgot how to do it right and spent ten minutes just trying to figure out what I screwed up. I did finally get it but now I have to learn how to use this thing to my advantage. When they say rapid succession they mean it. I could barely move as the flashes went off and everyone I have shown it to is like 'It's done?'. I think I did get some good shots of my new puppy as she moves pretty rapidly but I don't know yet. There's another aspect to get used to again...developing film. No more instant gratification. Also no more steady cam shots. Oh how I do rely on technological advances. I'm also going to try distorting these pictures but I'm not sure how.

Just got the Polaroid today. It's been around a while but I have never used one besides the one time. I didn't know how to load it. I can't even seem to find out how to change the battery or how often it's going to need it. I have started scratching though and that's been a lot of fun.

I realize that this is technically old technology, some of it dating back a while but for the most part I grew up with digital and there are a lot of differences. It will take a lot of getting used to and a lot of exploration. I am definitely finding the irony in me being the person many people come to for help with new technology and not knowing how to use technology that they don't think twice about because they've been using it for so long.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Blog #4 - Beginning Podcasting

I am a podcasting newbie. I have to admit I never really had anything I wanted to podcast but thanks to an interesting new possible opportunity, I decided to go ahead and try it. We have a step-by-step explanation in our Library 2.0 site at our library but that seemed kind of complicated and I want to be able to use this podcasting with others who will probably have less experience than I do. In short: make it easy. The less steps the better. There’s a blog on Livejournal (where my personal blog is located) that I read quite often. It’s the blog of a guy from Chicago who has started his own publishing company to self release his own books and audio books. For a long time he has been doing what Livejournal refers to as voice posting, which is basically podcasting. A person can use the phone to call in and host the voice file on the Livejournal site. Recently he has wanted to expand and be able to make longer posts (Livejournal limits to 5 minutes). He is a self professed technophobe and someone gave him a link to a service called Gabcast. He has since used it several times and raves about how easy it is. This was for me. I had to try it. If it really was as easy as he said, I wouldn’t even need a microphone or recording device. All I would need was my phone.

It was that easy! I set up a GabCast account at www.gabcast.com and created a channel for posts so I could use different channels for different aspects of my life and people could subscribe and learn whenever this channel was updated. I got a channel code and pass code to post and all I have to do is call a toll free number, record my post and they convert it and host it. I can delete, listen to make sure everything sounds alright before posting, and then take the link and add it to other sites when I’m done. It’s so easy, not a lot of steps, and I will be able to show others how to use it easily as well. Now all that is left is to try to include it in this posting and see if that works. I’m really excited about this.

Did I mention the podcast can be either streamed or downloaded?


Gabcast! Booktalks etc. #1 - Fat Kid Rules the World

Booktalk for Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Goings.