Category Archives: Techie stuff


I’ve been working with the Writing faculty here at MPOW to introduce students to Zotero, which is a bibliographic manager. It’s an add-on to Firefox and will save web pages, PDFs, articles, etc. for retrieval later, and will allow the user to create a bibliography (in the proper format) in a snap. The bibliography needs to be tweaked here and there, but most of it is done. Oh, to have had something like this when I was in grad school!

Meanwhile, I’ve poked around in the Facebook Memories section, and found a few that I thought I’d like to revisit. The pages where whatever I thought I had ‘saved’ no longer existed; the links had been changed, or removed, or had otherwise disappeared in the the ether. I know that DH will occasionally use Facebook to save a recipe he’s interested in trying, and I have friends that will say they’re posting to ‘save’ the page.

In comparing the two, I’m realizing that saving to a bibliographic manager is a better choice than saving something on your Facebook feed. It doesn’t help if the link is lost, but while nothing on the Internet is truly gone, it doesn’t mean it can’t be lost. (Rather like that earring or sock or key you’re missing. It’s lost, but not irretrievable.)

If you haven’t tried one of these bibliographic managers, I would encourage you to give it a try.


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Filed under Miscellaneous, Techie stuff


It was an interesting day yesterday at MPOW. An overenthusiastic someone with construction equipment managed to cut the fiber optic cable, and we lost access to the Internet. We also lost phone communication, as our phones are VOIP.
We’re a laptop campus, and so being online is a constant state of being. Students, staff, faculty are online All Of The Time. Losing access to the world online was borderline catastrophic for some. It took a few minutes for everyone to wrap their heads around the fact that 1) we lost it and 2) it wasn’t coming back for a while.
That’s when things got interesting. People starting talking to each other. Classes that normally had students marginally engaged had students complaining that class was over so soon, as they had gotten so into the discussions they were having that they didn’t want them to stop. One professor told me that there was a group of students who stayed an extra 20 minutes to continue the discussion that had started in class.
There is a palpable difference in the pace of the campus. Things are slower, gentler. No one seems to be rushing around, but instead walk slower and allow themselves to be stopped and to enter into a conversation. The encounters that are usually a bright and quickly tossed, “Hi!” are now genuine inquiries into each other’s lives. It’s rather lovely.
Technology has been a boon, there’s no doubt. But I sometimes wonder at what cost. Unplugging is definitely worth the experience. Perhaps we should have an official Unplugged Day every now and then.


Filed under "Hmmm...", Me and mine, Techie stuff, Things that make you go


The 23 Things has morphed into 23 Mobile Things.   Back in the day, I was one of the people helping to coordinate the 23 Things.  Now that I’m at another POW, I’m not in the loop on these things, though I do try to keep up.

In any case, I thought I’d officially see if there aren’t a few things I can still learn about this stuff.  My suspicion is that, yes, I can.

I’ll keep you posted. If you follow along on Twitter, watch for the hashtag 23ThingsMN.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Techie stuff

3-D, redux

I’m beginning to change my mind on the topic of 3-D printers.  There have been stories of wonderful things people have done with these printers, one of which started to revise my opinion.

Now, someone has published a children’s book with the option to print the characters on a 3-D printer.  That, my friends, is seriously cool.

It’s enough to make me want to run out and get one for the library. Or me. Who knows?

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Filed under Techie stuff, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."


I don’t get it.

3-D printers have become increasingly more popular. They’re cool, no doubt. Libraries have begun to jump on this newest bandwagon, installing these new toys in their libraries.  A few bloggers have mentioned them; Stephen Abram has a post listing some of the printers available and their prices.

The printers are surprisingly affordable. Here’s my question: what do you actually do with one of these? I mean, you can certainly recreate a bust of Lincoln, like museums would let you do a thousand years ago when I was a kid. But once you’ve exhausted the neato factor, what can you do?

I understand industrial designers having one, in order to create a model of their design. Ditto artists. After that, I draw a blank.

So, libraries, think before you jump. Those of you with experience in these things, please feel free to comment and educate me on the practical uses for a 3-D printer. I’m all ears!


Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Techie stuff


When Pinterest began, I jumped in to investigate, as we librarians are wont to do. I must admit, I wasn’t all that intrigued. I found the idea of posting pictures odd; I guess I’m more word-oriented than visually oriented.

DBF, on the other hand, is visually oriented. She has, for years, kept a binder of photos from magazines that she used for inspiration in decorating. And damned if she didn’t use it, too. I’ve been shopping with her when she’s carried the binder with her, choosing items that most closely resemble the items she wanted to create the space she visualized. Pinterest is the virtual version of her binder. Perfect.

I have a cousin that’s a professional photographer, and her Pinterest boards are a wonder. She has a zillion of them (okay, 124.  But still.) They’re a collection of things she finds interesting, or beautiful, or funny.  And since she’s a wedding photographer, there are wedding boards. Blue weddings. Celtic weddings. Rustic weddings. Pink weddings. Wedding dresses. Wedding cakes. Amazing stuff, and I would think very useful for a bride-to-be. (Warning: you can get lost for hours looking through Susan’s boards. Seriously.)

I have begun to be more involved in Pinterest. I find myself using it as a holding place for recipes, primarily. It’s handy, quick, and in this instance, I find the photo to be more helpful than a title. My pins are occasionally repinned, most popular being a photo I took at DBF’s lake cottage at sunset.  It is a beautiful photo, if I do say so myself.

Here at MPOW, we’re talking about how we can use Pinterest. I know there are businesses that are using Pinterest, and there are libraries using it, too. It’s definitely a shift in presentation, going from the written word to photos to represent your message. The Mayo Clinic has started using Pinterest.  A number of retail companies are using it, too, which is like having a virtual catalog at your fingertips. Clever, that.

It feels like we’ve reached the tipping point with Pinterest. How are you using Pinterest?  Please share!


Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Techie stuff

Fear of Pinterest

There have been a number of articles circulating lately about Pinterest and how you’re inevitably going to be sued/responsible for legal fees/in BIG TROUBLE, MISTER.  University of Minnesota librarian and copyright expert (and overall cool chick) Nancy Sims brilliantly parses the arguments and explains the whole mess.

It’s a bit long, but very worth the read. If you’re using Pinterest – or any other social networking site, for that matter – you should head over and read it.


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Filed under Techie stuff

The Machine

I’m a bit late to the game on this one, but it was brought to my attention by one of my colleagues. It’s a terrific presentation and is still relevant as we sort through the issues that are inherent in digital media.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Techie stuff

Just because we can…

A few years ago, I tried to jump into Second Life.  It was all the rage at the time, and librarians were flocking to the site.  Some organizations were even holding meetings in Second Life, and a few colleges were holding the occasional class via the site.

My main problem with the whole thing was that it made me sick. Literally. I am very susceptible to motion sickness, and after spending 30 minutes flying around in Second Life, I was nauseated and headachy for two hours.  Not worth it.

Second Life seems to be fading in popularity, although recent reports have it grossing $100 million a year.  Usage statistics seem to have leveled out, suggesting that anyone who was interested in Second Life is already there.

The next fad that isn’t possible for my motion-sensitive self is the 3-D thing. I have trouble with swoopy moves in movies, so I can’t imagine that having things come at me would be easier. Or less sickening. And I already wear glasses, thanks, so I don’t need to wear another pair.

So we have 3-D movies and televisions, and now there is a 3-D computer.  Not sure why you’d want a 3-D computer, but the kick is this: there are all sorts of fairly major health warnings in the fine print.  The fine folks at Mashable have read the fine print, and have reported on a few doozies. (Mashable is a great blog, by the way. I highly recommend reading it.)  One mentions the possible risks to those who have epilepsy.  However, you apparently are in danger of having a seizure regardless:

“Due to the possible impact on vision development, viewers of 3D video images should be age 6 or above. Children and teenagers may be more susceptible to health issues associated with viewing in 3D and should be closely supervised to avoid prolonged viewing without rest. Some viewers may experience a seizure or blackout when exposed to certain flashing images or lights contained in certain 3D television pictures or video games. Anyone who has had a seizure, loss of awareness, or other symptom linked to an epileptic condition, or has a family history of epilepsy, should contact a health care provider before using the 3D function.”

Seriously???  And if that isn’t bad enough, the warnings go on to say that,

“If you or any viewer experiences the following symptoms or any other discomfort from viewing 3D video images, stop viewing and contact your health care provider: Convulsions, Eye or muscle twitching, Loss of awareness, Altered vision, Involuntary movements, Disorientation, Eye Strain, Nausea/Vomiting, Dizziness, Headaches, Fatigue.”

Uhmmm….no, thanks.  Even without by particular sensitivity, you can count me out.

Repeat after me: Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.  Step away from the shiny thing.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Techie stuff

Shiny things

I am one of the librarians that enjoy techie stuff. There are those that are far techier than I, and are really on the cutting edge of various and sundry new technologies that do – or at least are capable of doing – new and swell things.  We also have the tendency to be easily distracted by these new shiny things.

One of the latest of the trendy technologies is the QR code.  For those of you that aren’t sure what that is, it’s the block of weird shapes that occasionally will be posted on a sign, or on a label, that you’re supposed to scan with your smart phone or something similar.  Once you’ve done that, it will take you to a site that tells you something else about the place or product.

It’s kind of cool, but I haven’t jumped on that wagon just yet. It seemed like a lot of work for not much benefit. I mean, I have to create the code thingy, create the backpage I want it to go to, and then I have to educate my entire patron population about what the thing is and how to use it.  And oh, by the way, help them download the app onto their smart phone, since most of them don’t already come equipped with an application that automatically reads these things.

As it turns out, it may have been just as well.  Dan Frommer has written a piece in the Business Insider calling for the Death to the QR Code.   He notes in his last line that, “it’s hard to see them really taking off. Their utility hasn’t yet made up for their awkwardness.”  He’s right. I think I’ll stay off this bandwagon for a while.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Techie stuff