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Archive for July, 2007

Here’s a button I’ve made:Linux Dork button

Not too inspiring, is it? I really wanted to make myself a Simpsons avatar, but it got too time-consuming.

(If anybody’s interested, I’m not actually a Linux Dork — I only have pretensions to be one.)

As I see it, the image-generators or the images themselves don’t have a bunch of educational value, and my intellect doesn’t feel enhanced by playing with them. However, they make nice additions to web content and can make your product more enticing.

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So far, I’ve tried finding library blogs with Bloglines and Feedster, and they both stink. The key to finding a host of good blogs is not getting them from some silly blog search, but is finding one or two good blogs to begin with. (Maybe you have to use the blog search for that.) You don’t have to find them all, since any good blog will find information on — and thus link to — other blogs. Once you’ve found those couple of goodies, check out what they’re reading, and soon — SHAAZAM! — you’ve got a pretty wide variety of quality information.

I’m already subscribed to too many blogs to start with (some of which I’ll name below), so I’m applying a pretty high standard in subscribing to any more. Through the Bloglines blog search, I found the Library Juice blog. Library Juice is certainly not neutral; they have a progressive, community-minded, civil-libertarian slant to all they publish and aggregate.

Here are a few library blogs that I’ve found useful:

Bon appétit!

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My first experience of the MyUA Portal portal (since starting Learning 2.0) is that it is unfriendly to my browser. I’m using Konqueror, a browser and file-manager for the K Desktop Environment (KDE) on Linux operating systems. MyUA tells me, “The browser you are using is not supported.” It kindly adds, “You do not need to use a supported browser to enter, but it is highly recommended.” But, really, what the hell does “not supported” mean, if you can still use the site? And why the browser chauvinism?

My main thought while using MyUA is, “Why is this page so busy?” It’s got stuff all over it, and it makes my simple brain ache.

Here’s another thought: Wouldn’t it be nice if it could integrate my MeetingMaker calendar with its other calendar app? Apparently, it “can” — that is, you can go to MeetingMaker, export a date range of events to a file, then upload that file to your MyUA calendar, giving yourself quick access to a static, quickly dated calendar of events. Why not just use MeetingMaker?

My general opinion of the portal echoes that thought. I don’t feel that I need a “seamless” information experience, at least where this kind of information is concerned. I would much rather use MeetingMaker for my appointments, Thunderbird for my e-mail, and Bloglines for my RSS feeds.

I appreciate that OIT wants to create a one-stop experience for my UA-related information, the way Bloglines does with RSS feeds. But it incorporates too much technology that’s not my first choice, with not enough additional useful information to make it worth my while for now.

I have a nagging feeling that I’m not giving it the chance I’m supposed to. But these days I have too many technology pieces on my plate to bother with something that doesn’t seem useful right out of the box.

Post-script

I played with “groups” and became a member of the Rasmuson Library Database Group (or whatever). It offers an RSS feed, which is swell — however, the MyUA portal seems incapable of rendering that feed’s information in a useful way. Again, I’d rather use Bloglines.

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I’ve had a Bloglines account for a few years now — and I get a tremendous mileage out of it, at least as much as I have time for. There are scads of good uses for it, including:

  • Article alerts. Once you’ve perfected your search in EBSCOhost, click on the “Search history/Alerts” tab, create a user account, and save your search. Under “E-mail Properties”, you’ll have a chance to select “No e-mail (RSS only)”. When you save the alert, you’re given the URL for an RSS feed. You can get alerts every day, every week, every other week, or once a month.
  • Similarly, Book tracking. Sure, the canned RSS feeds of the University of Alberta Library are is nice, but what’s slick is to customize a search, then “RSSify” it. The Hennepin County Library does this. From their catalog, perform a search — then notice the “RSS” button at the top of your results screen. This gives you a URL to paste into your Bloglines account that will alert you of any new items in the catalog.
  • Package tracking. Federal Express, UPS, DHL, and the U.S. Postal Service all allow customers to set up RSS feeds that are unique to their respective packages. On the Bloglines home page, look under “Cool features” and click “Package tracking”: just enter your tracking number under your choice of four major service providers.
  • Keeping “clippings”. While it disposes of already-read posts by default, Bloglines allows you to save any that you’d like to keep — not just by marking items as new, but by saving them to your “Clippings” folder, a virtual vertical file (for those old enough to know what a vertical file is).

The danger of Bloglines is finding too many good things to subscribe to. We all tend to suffer from information overload, and Bloglines makes that all too easy.

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