Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Thing 4 - Keeping Up

So, for Thing 4, we were supposed to install an app to collect RSS feeds, blogs, news, etc. that we may be interested in.

As someone who tries to keep up with a basic knowledge of new technology, I have been aware of RSS feeds for a long time.  But I've never participated.  There's something about only getting the news & blog posts that you know you'll be interested in... never seeing stuff you know you'll disagree with, be upset by.

Living in the country, well outside the Twin Cities, and 5 miles outside our hometown of Faribaut, we can't get a Twin Cities paper, let alone a national paper, delivered.  We do get the local paper - a 5-days/week paper - but it's pretty spare on the national and international news.  My husband reads the Mpls Star-Tribune online, as well as the Washington Post, every day during the winter and when he can during the farming months of April-November.  I scan headlines from the Strib and MinnPost, and skim through other headlines during the course of my day - reading in depth what catches my eye & what I have time for.  So, I guess I'm kind of doing what an app like Flipboard will do for me.

I installed Flipboad and set up a few magazines and threw some content into each of them.  I also subscribed to a couple of RSS feeds from sites I already visit.  I've not been sure how much I like reading on my phone (my device is an iPhone), but it gives me something to do when I'm waiting in line, in a waiting room, alone at a table (without a book!), and so on.  Of course, reading eBooks does the same thing... but I don't find myself doing that often enough to finish a free (library)  eBook before it's return date.  So maybe this will work better for me.  Staying informed about our nation and the world is important to me - personally and professionally.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Thing 3 - utilities

I added another browser (Chrome), RedLaser, and a wi-fi finder to my phone.

I've been mostly pleased with Chrome on our home computers. We live out in the country and get our Internet through a wireless modem.  The speed is not exceptional, but using Chrome has helped some.  So it might help occasionally when Safari bogs down.

RedLaser is something I might use occasionally - I shop online a lot and much prefer a full screen to do that - the phone screen is just too small to be helpful.  But it may make me look cool and up-to-date in front of friends... And just like I occasionally whip out the phone to look up a quick answer, I may use RedLaser to look up a price/scan a QR code/whatever. I like having options, even if I don't need/use them often.

The wi-fi finder will be helpful.  Whenever I can find free wifi, I log onto it to save using the data from my phone plan - which is limited and expensive.

Since I was installing 3 new apps, I finally got around to organizing the apps on my phone into folders. For example, I have 3 mapping apps on my phone: one it came with, and 2 I downloaded.  None of them can find my home address.  What is it with mobile mapping apps?  The full software programs find my home just fine - the mobile apps not so.  I have reported the problem to all 3.  Mapquest was the only program that was at all responsive. They at least claim to have reported the problem to TomTom, from whom they get their maps.  TomTom may choose to update the maps someday, but it hasn't happened yet.  Reporting to the other 2 apps seemed like it might have worked, but my report may also have gone into a black hole somewhere since I got no reply or acknowledgement.  Because I know that the apps can't find my home address, I also know to take all of the directions they offer with a grain of salt - and continue to use full map software programs and paper maps before going somewhere totally unknown.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thing #2: Mobile Device Tips

It would feel pretty strange to spend work time playing with my phone - an iPhone 4S - so I did most of this on my own time.  I found a bunch of things that I didn't know about my phone, most of which I won't use because that's not how I use this device at this time.

One thing that I'm really happy to have learned is that I haven't been closing apps.  I've been trying to figure out why our data consumption has been going up and up, and now I think I know!  In trying to explain to my husband what it meant, I put it this way: by pressing the home button we were minimizing the app, but it was still running in the background, just waiting for us to come back to it, refreshing itself, and eating up data time.  It'll take a billing cycle to figure out whether that's the cause of our data use or not, but I expect that it is.

Another feature I discovered is one that my farmer husband will probably like.  A spirit level built into the phone.  Heck, I might even use it in the house occasionally!

I think the most useful part of this exercise is that it should help me remember to mention the same option to people asking about their devices - whether from a manufacturer's website, youtube, or - there's a lot of help out there.  We already use Internet searches to find answers to eReader questions - odds are someone else has had the same question & posted an answer.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mobile Thing 1

I've been debating with myself whether I was going to begin this project or not.  But here I am, writing the first blog entry, so I guess I've decided to begin.  Remains to be seen whether I finish or not.

I am an older librarian and feel that I have kept up with technology reasonably, though not exceptionally, well.  I was an early adopter of personal computers and Internet, excited about the possibilities for research that the Internet could provide.  [You'll notice that I still default to Internet with a capital I - it's an automatic reflex and I'm a touch typist from the old school.]  I have not been an early adopter of newer technologies, such as eReaders, tablets, etc.  For example, I got my first 'smart' phone less than a year ago.  But I do have the smart phone now, and my branch library has 5 tablets on display for patrons to explore.  So it seems reasonable that I should try the 23 Mobile Things; learn new things, explore new technologies, keep my brain active, etc.

The biggest reason against doing this project is that I know much of it will end up being done on my own time.  Even though my library system is supportive of staff working on the 23 Things, my particular branch is pretty short on librarians given its size and busyness, and I just don't have an extra hour or two (more if I end up struggling with an app) each week to spend on something that doesn't directly benefit the library.  Today I am able to write this first post during my off-desk time because, for some bizarre reason, all of my major projects are temporarily caught up.

The biggest reason for attempting the 23 Things is as stated above: I have quite a few years yet until retirement and I want to keep reasonably current with technology.  I don't want to rely on younger colleagues to have to regularly pull my fat out of the fire when dealing with new things.  That said, Thing 1 was fairly simple, since I have a personal blog already.  I chose, for 23 Things, to create a new blog, keeping my work and my personal life separate.  This blog will exist only for the 23 Mobile Things project.  And I will probably never post to this blog using my mobile device (an iPhone) because I find typing on mobile devices tedious at best and painful at worst.  Having grown up in the era when most girls were encouraged to learn to type, I am a touch typist.  I am getting better at typing with my thumbs to send text messages, but will never be as fast as I am with a keyboard, where I can type pretty much as fast as I can think the words.

Thing 1: done.