Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Thing 10: Play around with an online image generator

I got my name in lights with

Thing 9: Merlin

9. Explore MERLIN and a few useful library related-blogs and/or news feeds. Well, I'm a Merlin site supporter, so I reckon I can test out of this one, eh? akg

Thing 8: RSS & Newsreaders

Week 4:
8. Learn about RSS feeds and setup your own Bloglines newsreader account.
I signed up for Google Reader and Bloglines so that I could compare two different RSS feed readers. I like the look and feel of Google Reader. It's much more user-friendly, and less busy than Bloglines. Bloglines has several tabs in which you can do other things, like create your own blog, for instance. It also has a tab labeled "Clippings" and one labeled "Playlists." I have yet to investigate those. When I do, I will edit this post with the information.

Finally, it all makes sense. I was really beginning to get pretty irritated with bookmarking everything. Having all these little blogs running around in my head and in my browser was really getting on my nerves, and keeping up with what I had already read, as opposed to what I hadn't was giving me major information overload syndrome (MIOS). I was really beginning to feel rather put upon by all the blogs that people have been insisting that I take a look at, especially when they really were just for fun. I always put those on the back burner - my private thoughts were: "Do I have time to see the latest little doo-dad you've put on your blog? Do I look like I have time to look at that?

It's pretty easy with a feed reader, believe me. Because you only have one place to look, and that one place shows you what is new, right off the bat.

I happen to get a real kick out of "The Brick Testament." Some guy, a self-ordained minister, has taken on the task of reproducing the Bible using Legos. I've been reading it for years. It's funny enough to choke a moose, seriously. Anyway, whenever something new is added, I have to hunt around for the entry that is labeled with "NEW!" If it's been quite a while since I've looked at the site, I might actually miss that little "NEW!" label.

I am completely sold on blogs now, because RSS makes it so easy to keep up and keep track. RSS feed readers keep track of what you have read and the new content waits for you until you are ready to read it. And you can sort entries in chronological order (rather than the reverse, which is how blogs usually are). So when I go to Google Reader and sign in, I get a list of all my subscriptions and the number of new posts. I click the "Brick Testament" subscription name and get a list of all the new posts, which I can read or mark as read, until I'm done looking at them.

Browsers can serve as feed readers, or you can use a reader that resides somewhere on the web. I recommend the latter, because you don't have to be at your own computer. Google Reader is excellent, in my opinion, because it is so simple. It also has a nice optional feature: each entry is marked as read once you've scrolled through it.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thing 7: Technology Musings

Week 3:
7. Create a blog post about anything technology related that interests you this week.

Something Chris Anderson (The Long Tail) said during his address to MLA has kind of nagged at the back of my mind. He told us that his children have no concept of television that is NOT on demand. They are accustomed to being able to select exactly what they will watch at all times.

Look how far we've come.

A short walk down memory lane - go back 30 years, when I was ... an infant (yeah, that's the ticket), I lived in Baltimore, and we had 2 color TVs. We used rabbit ears to receive 5 channels: ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and whatever channel 45 was (it's FOX now - btw, FOX didn't exist). We waited for the programs we wanted to watch, and if you missed it, shame on you, because you were stuck waiting for the re-runs in a few months, if you did. And your friends would discuss whatever was on "Starky & Hutch" the night before, and ruin it all for you.

Nowadays, I have the TV on a lot in my condo, but it's mostly for background noise, because I don't really watch it, except for the news and "House, MD," my favorite show. Tuesday night at 9PM on FOX. I'm not doing anything but House during that time, so don't ask.

I've become a total fanatic - no - FANGIRL - that's the correct term now. You can log on to the House, MD website, and any number of unofficial websites about the show, too. There is a whole livejournal community of fangirls/boys out there who actually discuss the program on the Internet while it's in progress.

Hundreds of messages are flying back and forth all around the World about exactly what is happening on the screen, whether the writers are doing a good job, whether the characters and lines were silly or on-target.

Did I say WORLD? I meant it. There are folks on the West Coast who just can't wait another 3 hours for their Hugh Laurie fix, and people in England who watch the posts because they can't wait for season three to start over there! And someone in Canada seems to get what's happening about one minute before everyone else, and sends spoilers every now and then.

People who are actually watching express their irritation with whatever they don't like, or their pleasure, or what-have-you. Immediately after the show you can log on to another site to participate in the "Post-Mortem," where everyone takes the show apart after the fact.

If you should miss the show, you can just wait about a week and head over to TV-Links to see if someone has posted a link to a pirated copy of the program. Commercial-free. How cool is that? Of course, you can just wait until the following week and watch the latest House, MD on another network. Seriously, TV-Links is very cool. I was able to catch up on all the "Pimp My Ride" episodes which had kind of gone off my radar screen a couple seasons back, but I'm all caught up now."

I'm such a fanatic, though, that I bought a DVD recorder (I'm not buying TIVO for one show) - $95 at Walmart. So I have about half the season recorded, just in case I want to re-watch before the re-rerun season. Good thing, too, because I wanted to see a re-broadcast of "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" at a local movie theatre the other day, and it ran from 7-10PM. The New York Metropolitan Opera is simulcasting live operas in HD to movie theatres now! (Why haven't we been doing this since forever? Sports are shown all over creation, but the arts? What's wrong with us?) Anyway I got to have my cake and eat it, too.

So we truly get to control our consumption of media now. And I am torn between shocked and thrilled that there is a whole generation that has no idea what it's like to have to wait - a long time - until the media is ready. And they are being preceded by a generation that didn't have "tying your shoelaces" as a developmental milestone.

Every time I am confronted with evidence of such a major change in the way we live our lives, I have to remind myself that there was once a time when the ancient philosophers were concerned that writing everything down, rather than memorizing it, might be detrimental to humanity. They were worried that it might de-evolve us in some way (of course, not in those exact words). Instead, writing things down freed up the brain for other thinking, enhanced by information stored elsewhere. Think of all the ways the brain is being freed by computers, the Internet, and now, all the cool 2.0 tools out there. We've been in the middle of a tremendous intellectual renaissance for quite some time; I have no idea where we're going to end up, but I can't wait to see where we will be.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thing 6:

Week 3: 6. Have some Flickr fun and discover some Flickr mashups & 3rd party sites.

Hi, I'm apparently going to appear in theaters - one near YOU - sometime this month.

I explored some of the cool toys in Flickr, and settled on making a movie poster for myself. It's a musical with dance numbers, choreographed by yours truly. This comes as a result of my brief stint on American Idol. Below is a picture of Simon's reaction to my audition: