Sunday, May 31, 2009


I am very ambivalent about Twitter and have pondered the pro's and con's. To be really clever I was going to Tweet these arguments for and against; however, on trying to reapply to Twitter (they remembered my name,etc.!), I was temporarily locked out because I couldn't remember my password and tried too many times to sign in!! Imagine, at my age being locked out of Twitter.

In the meantime, I'll have to blog it the old fashioned way. Arguments for Twitter (in 140 characters or less):
1. good way to share ideas, technologies, and links (you can even make the links smaller)
2. for survival in tricky spots, e.g. waterless in the middle of the desert (c'mon there's always Twellow)
3. brevity is the soul of wit
4. you can always ignore the "What are you doing" prompt, the Twitter police won't get you (they only lock you out).
5. you can "retweet" to share someone's ideas: "retweeting@username" then paste

Arguments against Twitter:
1. your thoughts are stored in your account in perpetuity; they may come back to haunt you
2. the English language is taking a big hit; who cares about grammar and spelling? pidgin here we come.
3. TwitterLit twitters the 1st lines of books. Sometimes the power of a book falls beyond the 1st 140 characters.
4. even news sometimes needs more than 140 characters for the full story
5. in Twitter for Librarians, King said "you can check out potential colleague's twitter feed to see if you'd personally like them or not" (I don't like what he just said)

So, 5 pro's and 5 con's; the deciding factor will have to be whether or not I can re-enter Twitter or will forever be persona non Twitter.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My cousin, Charlie

I selected the Spanish Course to learn (again) from Mango Language Online. I say "again" because I took Spanish in college many years ago and I didn't retain any of it. Part of the reason for my failure to learn is because I never really learned to "think" in Spanish, hence my "cousin Charlie" above (he is an excellent mimic).

Of all talking birds, budgerigars are the best mimics; Puck is the world record holder, with a vocabulary of 1,728 words. But beyond mimicry, other talking birds hold first places in cognitive ability and intelligence. African Greys not only can have fairly large vocabularies, but the famous Alex understood the concept of zero. Crows have been known to use stick tools to get food. You get the idea---learning a language goes beyond just parroting the words(did I really say that?). So, I vow to use Mango to learn Spanish again and try to "think" Spanish!
P.S. I've never heard a bird speaking a different language; unless you count the opera singing parrot.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Road Trip May 09

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Home, Sweet/Simple Home

We took a quick plane/road/ferry trip through Portland, Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver. We saw lots of water, some birds and gardens, and a few libraries. A friend suggested that the new Seattle central library was worth a visit, but unfortunately, it wasn't open on Memorial Day. Instead, I had to Google it. Considering that a ten-year $290 million system wide project was just completed (including a new Central library with 500 computers!), I was not impressed with their Home Page. It was too "busy"; they also devoted a lot of space to touting their tours of the library (at that price, I guess they have bragging rights---does that sound like sour grapes?).

But back to Home. To be balanced, I googled SPL to see how it fared in comparison. I was brought via computer to the Catalog page and was quite impressed with the simplicity of Sacramento Public Library's streamlined look. The Home Page had the crucial tabs across the top and in the upper right hand corner were the most used tools: Search, Reserve a Computer, and My Account. When looking for a specific library branch, also listed were libraries in the same general vicinity. SPL is doing a valiant job of keeping the "wired" generation in mind. It is a necessity---I noticed that even on the ferries, there were many computer users plugged in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

First Things First

By now you may realize that I have a tendency to do things in reverse order; or in following a map, I choose the wrong direction. In exploring the OverDrive Digital Library, I thought I would start by watching the OverDrive Tutorial. It took over a minute to load each minute of tutorial for a grand total of over an hour. I was thinking "This can't be right" while I numbly continued to watch each step load. When it was over (finally), I went on to FAQ's. I think it was there I discovered that the Tutorial requires Flash installation and the prompt will tell you that. I didn't see any such prompt---it should flash in big red letters for a beginner like me. I read elsewhere that the first step should be to download OverDrive Console.

The Virtual Branch is amazing. The E-medium isn't my first choice, but I understand some people really prefer it; it can also be adapted for the blind. You don't even get charged late fees, although if the item is overdue, you can no longer open the file. It was easier to get into my library account than it used to be (or maybe it's just that I am more used to the computer---remembering one password is nothing). I was browsing in the audio books and the first item that flashed in front of my eyes in the self improvement section was "10-Minute Stress Manager"; I put it in my "shopping cart". Instead of checking it out, I signed out and turned off the computer! Feeding the birds is still my best stress reducer.

P.S. The Macaulay Library of the Cornell Lab has the world's largest archive of animal sounds and video; that's where WREN radio got her bird sounds.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Subscribe Now

That magic word, subscribe, was making me a little nervous in my foray through the world of podcasts. My husband was nervous too; enough to create an account of my own on the computer! Since we don't have iTunes installed, I tried a few book reviews in the Podcast directory. I love Michael Palmer's medical thrillers, so I selected a review of his newest, "Second Opinion". In my (2nd) opinion, the review wasn't a review, it was just a summary that was eight minutes too long (that's the function of the book jacket). The reviewers didn't even rate the books---if I were a popular author, I would ask them not to review my book!

It wasn't so easy to pull an RSS feed into my Bloglines account from Podcast; I could send a feed to Facebook, Digg, etc.---anywhere but Bloglines. So instead, I sent an RSS feed to my blog (see WREN Radio below My Favorite Sites on the right side of the blog). One other problem with Podcasts is that they did not search all podcasts, just the ones in their collection. I was trying to find Bill's Podcast, This Birding Life, and it was nowhere in Podcast. Oh well, you can't hear everything.

P.S. I just found this bird post from grandCentral's blog; check it out!

Friday, May 15, 2009

YouTube as a source for scientific study

Snowball is a world famous cockatoo who even has his own Wikipedia entry. The bird is famous because he can dance. And how! Dr Patel and his researchers recently published an article in "Current Biology" about Snowball and other dancing animals after extensive study. Yes, Snowball is actually dancing: his movements and leg lifts slow when the music slows.

The whole idea of the research was to prove the hypothesis that some animals, like humans, have evolved the capacity to mimic sounds they hear; this can lead to talking and dance. To further their research, Patel's team searched YouTube for videos of other dancing animals. Of about 1,000 such videos, 33 showed convincing evidence of animals following the musical beat: 14 types of of parrots and one elephant (yes, it is a recently established fact that elephants are vocal mimics).

The conclusion: some animals, like Snowball, have great rhythm.

Some white birds can dance

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So Many Sites

In perusing the Web 2.0 Awards nominees (174 Web 2.0 sites in 41 categories), I felt almost overwhelmed and so I clicked on the short list. The short list was quite helpful in giving a quick over view of the top three sites in all the categories. It was noteworthy that in the category of "News and Blog Guides", Google Blog Search was #1, Bloglines #2, and Technorati #3. was #1 in Bookmarking. The short list would be a useful guide to steer people in the right direction for general "what would I use for..." questions.

Since I hadn't eaten for awhile and we're going on a road trip soon, I selected the Food category. The #1 site for Food was "imcooked". However, that site is a web community for video recipe sharing, and I was looking for something that could be useful in travel. Most helpful was the Urbanspoon. It was quite useful, because it listed for each city, the restaurants by type (hungry for Indian?)and neighborhood. With a click, you can get a map; another click gives you cross streets, phone #, etc. At the page for a specific restaurant, you can get a menu. (I think if the restaurant doesn't present a menu, I wouldn't bother). There are also reviews of some, voting, and price range. Urbanspoon would be really helpful when you're traveling, especially if you have a mixed bag like our family where two out of five are vegetarians. I can see this web site being more useful at a Visitor's Bureau than a library, but we do get visitors at the library as well. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Time Out

The other night I got home from work and my husband handed me his library card and requested 20 minutes on the computer. In my B 27 (before 27 Things) life, I never touched the computer at home! At least I remember to feed the birds!!

A word of warning to other new bloggers like me: view your blog in a new window before moving on! In one of my earlier posts, I inserted a link, and when I viewed it, the link was to a confirmation of a reservation my husband had made with too much information. (yes, we are still married). OOPS. It's almost time out for vacation.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Do you know...

Do you know....that the collective name for a group of crows is murder? If you didn't, don't feel bad because you're not alone. I was explaining to someone that in an earlier blog, I had a picture of a murder of crows and I got an EEEW because she thought I was being bloodthirsty. In a local branch poll, one person knew what a murder of crows meant.

Someone else asked if that was like an exultation of larks? Well, that was new to me, so I thought it was time to take a closer look at COLLECTIVE BIRD NAMES WE KNOW (or don't):

A murder of crows,
pietousness of doves,
charm of finches,
gaggle of geese,
brace of ducks,
rafter of turkeys,
peep of chickens,
lamentation of swans,
and so the list goes on.

In an "{openbrackets" column on the web, collective names for animals was called one of the "loveliest inventions of the English language". The author goes on to suggest making up some collective names for people, e. g., a "bloat of politicians" . Others added contributions, e.g., a "meme of bloggers". It looked like a perfect example of how Zoho Writer could be used to collaborate on the web. How about a "net of webbers"?

P.S. This was posted from Zoho Writer after a heroic effort to find the key to do it (I hope I didn't sell my firstborn ).

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Wiki certainly seems to be popular:
  • Blogging libraries wiki
  • WikiSpot
  • Wikify the OPAC, etc.
It blogs my mind that you can Wikify the OPAC! Can you imagine managing that site. But seriously, the concept of a collaborative website has some great uses. WIKI seems to be like a giant bulletin board with input from everyone or anyone. I played in the WIKI sandbox for a little bit, but to me it seemed a little bit lonely; you're connecting before or after but never with.

I have used Wikipedia from time to time, but now more than ever after seeing how easy it is to EDIT and SAVE with WIKI, I question the "authority" (veracity?) of the information. I'm back to sources again. The recent Dilbert cartoon below really sums it up.

Dilbert says it all

Saturday, May 9, 2009

(Library) Traffic Director

Pyongyang - Traffic director
Originally uploaded by p!ng
This idea of pause leads into thoughts on Library 2.0. "Away from the icebergs" used the analogy of the library as a boat, with librarians "rowing heroically". I see a library more as a space where the staff are traffic directors, directing streams of information and users. Using pause as a service model can help direct the users to get to the information they need: 1.breathe (maybe count to 10) 2.organize 3.act

Pause...don't panic

I was in the dentist's office the other day waiting...while waiting, I read a survival column in an adventure magazine about how to respond in a life or death situation. The author's main point was that it is important to pause; otherwise the body's automatic fight or flee response could get you into trouble. The three things you should do to pause: 1.breathe 2.organize 3.act.

On reflection, I figured out that this would be a good way to proceed in learning the 27Things (now they tell me!) Initially, everything I tried I did without that crucial pause:
1. breathe...Take several deep breaths to search for that key or link I'm looking for before I push the wrong one.
2. organize...What do I need to know (or how to do it) to get the result I want. What do I need to ask (or what tag to use) to find what I want.
3. act...Too often I skipped the first 2 steps and ended up falling off a cliff ; I also drowned a few times.
The good news is that this pause model doesn't cost anything and it will save me time in the long run.

Friday, May 8, 2009

TMI can be murder, but it won't kill you

Imagine 56 million blogs flying around the blogosphere cawing "Pick me! Pick me!" (Alfred Hitchcock move over). For you other new bloggers: check out the interests you listed in your profile. There is a link for each of them, and it links you to all the other bloggers with the same interest. For example, I listed "birding" as an interest and I am linked to 19,000 other birder bloggers (complete with their profiles). "Reading" was another interest and I am now linked to 4,460,000 other reader bloggers!TMI.

I tried a keyword search in Technorati of "Learning 2.0" and was surprised that there were 399 Blogs listed (there were almost as many for "Library 2.0). A search in Blog posts yielded 3 times that amount and a search in tags yielded about 450.

In exploring Technorati, what amazed me most is the popularity of blogging. There are 94.1 million US blog readers (that's 50% of the Internet users). So there seems to be a growing influence of the blogosphere on mainstream media. The only issue I have with this influence is the caveat that news isn't news just because the blogger has more "authority" (followers). What happened to sources?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Opus at Aoraki/Mt. Cook
Originally uploaded by ghewgill
Opus should be counted as a bird, too. Delicious doesn't count him as such. LibraryThing actually did with a "bird" tag. Cartoon birds are generally lovable or at least have good intentions. How many mean and nasty cartoon birds have you met? Berkeley Breathed, the creator of Opus, obviously has a fondness for birds, even though he tried to off Opus.

But back to Delicious; I can see why they call it "social". Delicious actually keeps track of how many people have bookmarked a site, like a poll. You can also see what specific users are bookmarking which seems a little scary to me (but that's only with permission, so Big Bird isn't watching me). And the more tags you use, the quicker it is to find something; using "birds" will give you over 37,000 entries, whereas using "birds"+"baby" will give you 300 entries. Tag, you're it!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

One step forward...

Fortunately, I discovered how to edit posts after a little misunderstanding with html. Next, I was going to try a Rollyo search:

As a woman of a "certain age", I have a great interest in keeping current with osteoporosis news. I tried an "osteopenia" search with "health" to limit the search. Much to my dismay, I had to use the "entire web" to find my favorite site in the first 20 hits. Even worse, the only two links there that I could click on were sponsored links that were pushing a specific product. FYI, my favorite web site for all kinds of information on osteoporosis/osteopenia is osteopenia3. Check it out. We don't want light weight bird bones!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Here's the Widget!

What are you doing?

I can't think of a single person who wants to know when I am brushing my teeth or making dinner. Alternatively, speaking metaphysically, pondering my present role in life would take more than 140 characters. R U sure U want to know?

I didn't join YouTube for one reason: it would have taken longer to read the conditions for membership than it would have taken to watch a video on YouTube. (Too many words!)

Now LibraryThings is a great site. In spite of myself, I felt myself drawn in, although it seems to assume a greater computer knowledge than I have (where did that widget go?)