Friday, February 6, 2009

Thing 13 continued

Whew! I think I bit off more than I could chew with Delicious. I went back to it last night and imported all my favorites and bookmarks from my work computer, my laptop, and my old desktop and craziness ensued. Over 800 favorites and over 100 different tags! I was up till midnight trying to reorganize and rename the "tags" and get rid of the duplicates.

Is there a way to automatically get rid of duplicates or dead links? That would be very handy. I also seem to be having a personal issue wrapping my head around the concept of organizing by tags. I'm so used to organizing my files and favorites using Windows folders (with a strict naming convention and filing system) that the tagging system seems a bit too willy-nilly and unstructured. I'm sure I'll get used to it but it was surprisingly frustrating.

Is anyone else having trouble adjusting to a more relational model of data organization?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Thing 13

Wow, I just realized I have a pronounced negative initial reaction to anything new that I don’t immediately recognize as personally beneficial. My initial reaction to several of the Things I’ve done in this program was “what use is this?” And, if I had not been doing this for ConEd credit I probably would have passed up learning about these new technologies (I have a very short attention span).

For example, Thing 13, social bookmarking, was immediately repulsive to me. I don’t want to share my “favorites” with the world (you can deduce quite a bit about someone from what they read or listen to and there’s a lot I’m not sure I want the world to know about me). Plus, if I’ve already got my favorites stored in my computer why in the world would I need to store them again on a social bookmarking site.

If I had been looking at this on my own I would’ve simply skipped on to the next Thing and filed social bookmarking away as “irrelevant”. But, knowing that I had to do a blog post about using it, and doing some of this training from home, I stuck it out, dug a little deeper and found that this social bookmarking thing just might be worthwhile (just like RSS feeds and Rollyo).

When I was working on my Rollyo searchroll on Low Carb Recipes for Thing 12 I was adding my favorite sites to the list when I found myself having to search for websites that I had in my favorites on my computer at home but hadn’t bookmarked on my work computer. Plus, last night when my wife asked for help working on her homework on her netbook, I found myself searching for a particular website that I knew I had bookmarked on my laptop. Dang, if I only had my bookmarks in one place that I could access from any computer… wait! Social bookmarking! And, I can keep my favorites private and not share them with the world.

I’m not sure if I’ll use the social networking aspect of the bookmarking much but I can see how it could be useful for professionals (like the math teacher in the tutorial). I find myself using upward of five different computers regularly (one at work, three at home and various other public or staff computers when I’m out at branches doing classes) and having the same favorites available on all of them would be extremely useful.

I need to stop being so initially cynical about the value of something new. Doing these 23 Things is not just teaching me about technology but also about myself!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thing 12

I’m so Google-dependent it hurts. When I first started working on Thing 12, Rollyo custom search engines, I thought to myself “why in the world would I need a ‘custom search engine’ when Google works just fine.” But, thanks to the 23 Things program my eyes are now open.

After racking my brain for an hour trying to figure out what in the world to make a Rollyo searchroll for I decided to take a break and work on my family’s meal menu for next week (yes, I make a menu and draw up a shopping list, not to mention I do most of the shopping, and I’m just nerdy enough to do it all in an Excel spreadsheet). I try to keep the menu fresh by adding new recipes every once in a while and since my wife and I are controlling our carbs I started to go for my usual low-carb recipe sites when BANG! It hit me. I could use my favorite low-carb sites for a Rollyo searchroll.

Of course, being lazy I immediately searched Rollyo to see if anyone had already made one (why reinvent the wheel when I could just steal one) but, unfortunately, nobody had. So, I created my own and made it “public” so everyone can see it. I named it Low Carb Recipes (creative no?) so if you’re interested you can check it out.

Now, back to my menu.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thing 11

LibraryThing is pretty sweet. I wish this had been around a couple of decades ago when I had a pretty serious collection. Now, I don’t have a “library”. I gave all my books to my daughter because I got tired of lugging them around every time we moved (which was nearly every two years when I was in the Army). Of course, now that my daughter is off to college the whole collection is back and stuffed in the back of her closet. Oh well, I guess I can lug it around a few more times for her.

To complete Thing 11 I added a few of the books I remember having in my collection. I believe my daughter still has them although the pure sci-fi books don’t get much use anymore. Here’s the link to my LibraryThing collection.

I found it to be pretty easy except for a few minor annoyances. One, it’s hard to find the older prints of books. I have a 1987 print of Dune by Frank Herbert but I could never find the associated item entry (plus, none of the cover pictures match the book covers I have). Also, when I was adding books from a series such as Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality, I wish there were some way to simply go back to the previous search results list. Having to search every time was time consuming, particularly if you had gone several pages into the list to find the appropriate entries.

All in all, LibraryThing is pretty cool. Is there something like this for my music collection?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why Can't You Google a Library Book?

I was playing around with (Thing 11) when I stumbled across an article in The Guardian that caught my eye. I had always wondered why library books don't come up in a search engine's results. Now I know.

Thing 10

I have always been envious of people who could "photo shop" cool signs and stuff. But, now that I know how they did it I'm horribly disappointed to find out I have no creativity whatsoever. Darn it.

Thing 9

I have to agree with Melissa’s assessment of the feed search engines like Syndic8 and Topix. I’m not sure a dedicated search engine just for RSS feeds is necessary. Google Reader’s search function worked fine for me and, like Melissa, I found myself mostly just going to the websites in my favorites and either clicking their RSS feed links or copying and pasting their URLs into Google Reader.

I suppose you could save a little time by simply searching for a particular website’s feed on Syndic8. You wouldn’t have to search around for the RSS feed link on the site’s webpage (they’re never in the same place and some sites don’t even have them). Plus, they also proffer “featured” or “random” feed links on their homepages that may introduce you to a link you might never have purposefully searched for. And, they typically offer a way to browse through related feeds in case you’re looking for something new. Technorati is pretty impressive but Syndic8’s categories leave a lot to be desired (particularly because you have to drill down through several layers to actually get to a feed).

Technorati did a much better job of finding related feeds to blogs when I did a custom search for “raising chickens” than Syndic8 or Topix and the Bloglines’ search produced comparable results to Google Reader’s search.

All in all, I will probably end up doing what’s easy and familiar and continue to use Google Reader’s search function.