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 LibraryThing.com (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.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Things 7b and 8

Things 7b and 8: I commented on Memory’s blog a couple of days ago and I just commented on one of Melissa’s posts so Thing 7 is complete.

I actually did Thing 8 before I completed Thing 7 only I used Google Reader instead of Bloglines because I already had a Gmail account. I made the mistake of adding feeds from all of my favorite blogs and opened Google Reader this morning to find 457 unread items. I think I’m going to have to do some weeding. :-)

Thing 7a

Thing 7a says to blog about something technology related. It’s hard to choose just one topic, particularly since just about everything nowadays has some kind of technology aspect.

It’s amazing just how thoroughly my life has become driven by technology. My household has three computers (2 laptops and a desktop all linked to my home wi-fi), 4 televisions (with digital cable), 3 cell phones (plus VoIP land line with 2 wireless handsets), 2 video game systems (PS3 and Wii not to mention the 4 Nintendo DS handhelds we got this Christmas) with all the accompanying accoutrements and uncounted various other electronic gadgets and doo-dads from Zunes and iPods to an “atomic” clock and programmable coffee pot.

I pay all my bills online. I read all my news online (mostly from news aggregate sites like Google News although I do listen to NPR in the morning). I listen to all my music via MP3 or Pandora internet radio. I use my credit or debit card for nearly every purchase. I pay at the pump. I watch “on-demand” TV both online and through my digital cable and DVR. I text more than I talk on the phone (not by choice but everyone I know only wants to text anymore). I Gmail, Facebook, MySpace, Digg and, now after completing Things 1-8, I blog and RSS (sometimes all at the same time). I use Excel for my household budget and grocery lists. I even walk the dog listening to podcasts on my combination “smart” phone/MP3 player/digital camera.

Sheesh! But, what’s even more amazing to me is that I’m still not on the forefront of integrating technology into my life. I don’t Twitter. I don’t have a PDA, or an iPhone or a GPS. I don’t play MMORPGs (like World of Warcraft) and I don’t have a Second Life (although I did create an avatar). I don’t access the internet from my cell phone nor do I lug my laptop with me everywhere or frequent “internet cafes.”

And yet, I know people who do all of those things and more I probably don’t even know about. In fact, I’m doing the 23Things because I know I’m not “totally digital” but want to at least be aware of what’s going on. How much more technology can we as human beings take? I’ve read about eyeglasses with “heads up” computer displays, “wired” clothing and even directly connecting electronics to your brain! I love technology, but where do we draw the line?

So far though, I have to admit that all the technology I’ve adopted and adapted to has improved my life significantly and I expect more progress will make my life even better. I may be a “late adopter”, but I eventually get with the program.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Things 5 and 6

Picasa's pretty cool. I've used other photo-sharing websites before but never really got hooked on it. My sister-in-law uses one and sends me links to her albums regularly, but I can't remember the name of it. I have been using Facebook which has similar photo sharing capability, but I only have 2 pictures up so far. For some reason, I'm just not a big picture sharer. And, I would definitely never make my photos "public". I like to decide who to share my memories with.This picture, Heidelberg, made me wistful for a stroll down the hauptstrasse of Heidelberg, Germany. I was homesick while I was stationed over there and now I'm "homesick" to go back. :-D

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Things 1 thru 4

Well, this is the completion of Thing 4. Let the conversation begin!

Update - I forgot to talk about the 7 1/2 Habits video. It's a good video with some excellent ideas. The contract is a little much for me. I don't find that they motivate me any more than not signing a contract. But, it does force you to think about your goal in specific and concrete ways which I think most people don't do. I'm glad they included having fun because to me that's the most important. If it's not fun, I won't do it for long.