Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Thing 23: Evaluate 23 Mobile Things

There were times that I was so frustrated with this project that I literally banged my head on my keyboard (see Thing 6).  I only wish it had happened after I became familiar with Vine so I could have recorded and posted the experience.

But typing right now, after reviewing all my completed Things, I find myself smiling.  And not just because I'm almost done, and not just because I'm listening to an old episode of Wits with SoundCloud...although both are factors.

Mostly I'm smiling because I realized that I've actually learned a lot in a very short time, and some of the stuff I've learned will be useful on a day-to-day basis at work and in my non-work life. I can use Lookout to locate my missing phone with a conveniently loud scream.  I can compare prices with RedLazer or yShopi.  I can promote library services in a visual format (Vine, Piktochart, Haiku). I can save photos and documents to Quickoffice or Dropbox.  I can waste time in new and interesting ways - Pinterest, Line Camera, Bubble Mania.

I was reminded that if (okay, when) I get stuck with a new technology or app, I can go to my colleagues for advice.

Finally, yes, I would absolutely participate in another 23 Things learning activity.  But I need a break to catch up on all my regular work first.

Katherine Stecher

Thing 22: Discovering Apps

There is a bit of overlap between this Thing and the previous (not shockingly), but despite the fact that I found several apps that I suspect I will use more than is good for me, I went on an mission to find even MORE apps using Quixey.

My goal: find a shopping list/task list app that is even simpler than the already-simple Springpad.

I searched Quixey for "shopping list" and got a number of results (again, not shockingly). I liked that the apps had user ratings, and the hits were listed, as far as I could tell, in order of these ratings. I ended up selecting the second on the list, myShopi, which is supposedly the most popular shopping app in Europe, for what that's worth.  Also, it works offline, so I don't need to use any of my data plan to consult my list while out and about.

Here's the description from the myShopi listing:
Create multiple shopping lists
• Add items to your list by tapping images or searching by text
• Select from a database of more than 1,000 predefined items or add your own
• Add notes, quantities or sale prices
• Track frequently purchased items for easy adding to current lists
• Share lists by email or SMS

So I downloaded it, and although you can make a list of just random items, you can also make lists for individual stores: Albertsons, Costco, Fry's, KMart, Kroger, Safeway, Sam's Club, Smith's, Target, Trader Joe's, Walmart, and Whole Foods.  Luckily, two of the three go-to stores (Costco & Trader Joe's) are included, so it was fun to make an imaginary shopping list by tapping on icons of various items - coffee, milk, sunscreen - and then adding notes re: brand, quantity, etc.

Of course, the imaginary shopping list quickly morphed into a real shopping list as I realized that I hadn't been grocery shopping this week.

I think I'll find it useful.

Thing 21: Free-for-all

Every week a magazine I subscribe to (titled, not shockingly, The Week) features the top apps for a random topic - "Top Apps for Shopping," "Top Apps for Travel," "Top Apps for Buying a Home," and I thought I'd check this week's list and picking from there.  But of course I forgot to do so last night.

I was kicking myself this morning, when I realized, "Hey!  I bet The Week has an app that will allow me to check their list of favorite apps!"

And lo and behold, they do.  But there isn't much to say about it, except that if you already have a subscription, you can look at current and archived editions, and download up to six issues to read offline.  Oh, and there is an excellent (IMO) Daily Briefing section that has the top "10 things you need to know today."

Since this was basically just a way to access info I already have access to, I thought I'd try a couple others. 

PC Magazine has a list of "best" apps for shopping; the second on the list (RedLaser) we'd already looked as in an earlier Thing, but the first on the list, BuyVia, was new to me.  This app allows you to compare online prices, and also use your location to give you local coupons/deals, which I found kinda cool (although if I know I'm going somewhere, I usually check their website for coupons).

I also did an incredibly unscientific survey on my colleagues' favorite apps, and found Dropbox to be pretty popular.  According to Dropbox, "Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again!"

I currently use Google docs for this type of thing, but I do like the idea they Dropbox automatically uploads my photos to the cloud (never hurts to have a backup), and it seems that I should be able to easily access the files even when I'm offline.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Thing 20: Games

Bubble Mania.  The ultimate time-waster. Worse even than Pinterest.

Actually, I shouldn't make such a proclamation when, aside from Spider Solitaire, this is the only game I've ever played on my phone.  I'm sure there are more intense games that would distract you to the degree that you'd look at the clock, and WOW!  Three hours have passed!

But I hope I never try them, because this one was bad enough.  I won't try to explain the game - the premise doesn't make sense...something about saving baby birds (?)...but apparently you can spend at least 20 minutes playing it without blinking an eye.

Or at least, I can.

Thing 19: Hobbies

I've always enjoyed, which was suggested by a colleague about 8 years ago.

As far as I can tell, it is essentially like Spotify, but a little bit more flexible when it comes to playlists.  Also, apparently a great venue for virus-catching. 

Regardless, Spotify is fairly straightforward, andI love that it offers a bio of the artist/group, and also provides tour info. It would, I think, be useful should we decide to reinstate Friday Morning Music.

In days past, staff members would volunteer to select about a half-hour's worth of music to play over the library speakers between 8:30 - when most staff arrive - and 9:00 - when the doors the the library vestibule open.  We used either burn a disc or swap cds on the library's handy-dandy boombox, but it would be soooo much easier to have a playlist on a phone or tablet. 

I made a (super-short) play list of work-appropriate songs that could be used for this purpose...
Monday Music

Monday, June 9, 2014

Thing 18: Education

This seemed like a fun Thing, so I picked some fun apps.  Specifically, the Eat This, Not That Game, and the National Archives & Records Today's Document.

First I played the Snack game on the ETNT, and discovered that yes, everything I thought was probably bad for me is actually really, really bad for me.  (Honestly, I think this game is going to be uninstalled before then end of the month.)

But the second app, the one by NARA, was very interesting.  The document of the day was the Marquis de Lafayette's Oath of Allegiance, signed before George Washington on June 9, 1778; it was surprisingly powerful to see de Lafayette's signature on a document that, while seen by me only in digital format, actually still exists.  And then I couldn't resist checking up the document for my birth date (June 19) - it was the act (signed in 1934) to establish the national archives.  Important, but decidedly less moving.

I'm not entirely certain that either of these apps will be particularly useful professionally, but they would be good for personal enrichment.  (And the latter might help me with Sunday night pub trivia. And that's not nothing.)

Thing 17: Connecting to Community

I've lived in Rochester for over 10 years, and am pretty familiar with the community and activities for non-children.  The problems I run into are when my friends/family visit with their small children, and I'm tasked with coming up with activities for the under-10s.  This is where RochesterNow and Marquee Rochester could - and will - be very useful.

For example, after consulting RochesterNow, I would have know that Frozen was the June 7 "Movie on the Peace Plaza" (free), there was a Live Eagle program at the National Eagle Center, and The Honkers played a home game on June 9 at 1:05.

After consulting Marquee Rochester for next week's events, I now know that there is a free Carillon concert next Friday, there is an exhibit at the History Center that might be of interest to the little girls in the crew, the Rochester Children's Museum has a Ball-O-Rama exhibit, and (of course) there are family story times held at the Rochester Public Library.

In other words, far more activities than the average 5-year-old could manage in one weekend.