Friday, June 12, 2009

The End of the Things

I looked over the rest of the Things tonight, and I've decided I'm not going to complete the project. Some of these I've been using already and I don't have the energy to blog about them, and others seem pretty useless to me. Perhaps it's because I'm up against the deadline as well.

Something I didn't think to add to the survey is this: It might be nice to do a "pick 10" program, i.e. have 20 things to choose from, and pick the 10 that would be most useful/interesting to program participants. I ran into one or two here that I really didn't want to do, which affected my decision to do the rest of the Things.

Thanks for putting together the program--the multitypes have done a lot of work with this and I don't want you to think your work was in vain. I plan to return to the program pages when I encounter new things; it will serve as a good reference in that regard.

Thing 31: More Twitter

I knew there were a lot of twitter apps out there, but Thing 31 really emphasizes the range of them.

I've used twitter through a variety of formats, including those for Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and iPhone. I used Twhirl for quite a while but now have settled on Tweetdeck, where I like being able to organize people into groups, so the tweets I don't want to miss are grouped in one column.

My husband still thinks it's crazy that my Twitter Grader score is 99.9. According to them, I'm the #20 tweeter in Minnesota. Aren't you proud of me?

I peek at twitter several times a day. Whereas I use Facebook to connect with people I know in real life, all but two of my twitter people are strangers. They are, however, people with whom I have things in common.

I use twitter to keep up with travel bloggers/writers, as well as with people who have a handle on local events and commentaries. I follow some local news personalities and stations and actually get some good information from twitter via that route. I've also used twitter to do something I was never brave enough to do by phone: call in to WCCO radio. Some of my tweets have been read on-air.

Twitter is a useful piece of my blogging arsenal. Could I live without it? Yes. But is it useful for me if I have the time? Yes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thing 33: Travel

I was eager to get to this Thing, because my primary blog is a family-travel blog and I also do some writing for another travel site, Uptake, which should fall into the Travel 2.0 category, as it aggregates info from Yahoo travel, TripAdvisor, and more.

Notes from the Road is one of my favorite, if for no other reason than that beautiful blog layout/header.

I've used TripAdvisor many times in the past for trip planning. A new site that's similar for family travel (but doesn't yet cover the Midwest) is trekaroo.

The travel journal sites are interesting, but I don't know that I'd ever post my trip on one of them. Maybe that's because I already have my own travel blog.

Wines and Times is an interesting niche mashup; the wi-fi directory is user-submitted and therefore not very complete.

In a library setting, having links to these sites for people travel-planning would be useful. Seeing others' reviews, adding your own pictures, and viewing other reactions is very useful in planning a trip.

And of course, featuring my Travels with Children blog as a local resource would be an excellent idea!

Thing 32: Maps and Mashups

Ah, yes, Google Maps. I've used them often, from vacation planning, to geotagging photos, and sometimes for fun.

The mashup I created was for a blog post I did last fall on 13 places with Halloween-ish names.

View Larger Map

Really, I did embed the map into this post, but it's stuck on "loading" for me. :-)

I did have a bigger plan in mind for Google maps, that of mapping locations for children's museums around the country, but I found one big limitation (after hours of input)--there's a limit to the number of places that will show up on the map. (I think it's 100.)

I also like the integration with Google Earth. When I geotagged some photos recently, I was able to see exactly where the photo had been taken by looking at the combination of roadmap and satellite image.

Thing 30: Delicious and Feeds (Hungry, anyone?)

I read the article on seven tips for RSS reader and found it to be interesting, but I'm not sure how many of the items I'd actually use. I do agree with the first item, oversubscribing, as that's exactly what I do. I have my feeds in Google Reader categorized, and then I scan them periodically, skimming the titles and reading the ones that interest me. It's a lot like reading the newspaper: I don't read every article, but make a judgment based on the headline. I might read the Travel section one time and the Social section the next, and just mark some as read if I don't have the time to get through them all, while still continuing the subscription.

I did think it was interesting that Google Reader has problems with 1000+ feeds. I have trouble keeping up with the 250 I have.

Delicious still baffles me. I understand having bookmarks online for ease of access, but the social element of bookmarks--sharing, tagging for others, subscribing to people's bookmarks--still confuses me. I'm not sure I want anyone subscribing to my bookmarks. Maybe it would be different if I used Delicious for research projects, etc., but for my personal bookmarks, I don't get it. (Someone feel free to enlighten me on this subject.) I usually put my bookmarks in igoogle so I have access to them but no one else does.

Thing 29: Google Tools

I've used Google Alerts now for a while. I have an alert for my "minnemom" moniker and another for my blog address. This allows me to see when people are referencing my "name" or blog on other sites.

Google Web History is kind of fun to look at, but I don't see it being particularly useful. I deleted my web history; I can put up with privacy concerns if there's a use behind a product but don't want that info available if I'm not going to put it to good use. (On a related privacy note, I have more problems with the info in the Google profile being so public and have stripped nearly everything out of that profile.)

I tried gmail's interface a few weeks ago after hearing many good things about it. I thought it was all right, but was frustrated that every time I deleted a message, it took me back to the message list, not to the next message. I played around with the theme and some lab items, but in the end went back to using Outlook for all my mail. If I'm going to use a web browser e-mail app, I still prefer Yahoo Mail's interface.

I've also had good experience with's e-mail as a free pop3 provider.

While I don't use Google's calendar for my personal use, I can see good applications for group projects or calendars for special tasks. I was hoping to find that I could sync Google calendar directly to my iPod Touch, but it looks like the only way to do that is through Outlook.

I use Google Toolbar and Google Desktop all the time. For the toolbar, I specifically like the Autofill element, which saves me from retyping my name and address on website forms. I use a few Desktop gadgets, but what I really like is the ability to search my hard drive from the interface. It's much better than XP's search, in my opinion.

When I looked at my account, I was surprised to see how many Google products I currently use, and how many I don't.

Thing 28: igoogle, you google

For this thing, I chose igoogle because . . . well, because I already have and igoogle account and I'd rather look for ways to enhance it than to start all over.

I had set up an igoogle page quite a while ago and used it as my home page for a while. I had a twitter feed on it, several bookmark gadgets, weather, etc. I'm not sure why, but I seldom use it any more.

I tried the Blidget thing to put on my Ning page but it wouldn't accept it using the Ning code. I have an existing feed widget from springwidgets so I'm going to stick with that. I did get the Blidget on my igoogle page but it's not sized correctly for the space. I do like RSS feed widgets.

One way that I have used igoogle is for my kids. I set up a separate igoogle account for them and have it installed on the computer they are allowed to use. It has parental controls on it, so they can't search for things, but I can set up safe sites for them as an igoogle bookmark and it's accessible to them with each of their logins.

I also made the Show Yourself widget and put it on my ning page. Not sure why I'd put it on my igoogle page, but it could be useful for social media.

One thing that I do like in igoogle is having a section for Google Docs. I find that it's an easy place to keep track of the Docs I've created.