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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

My favorite news database is PressDisplay. More than likely you have free access with your library card. Check out your public library website list of databases or call your local librarian.

PressDisplay touts itself with:

Over 1,000 U.S. and international newspapers in 40 languages. Newspapers are available in full-color, full-page format with a 60-day archive.
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The FTC has released a report detailing an invasion of privacy by Sears. In short, Sears enticed users with $10 in order to have them downloaded software to assist in consumer research. This software then collected an insane amount of web-surfing data. [via LibraryLaw Blog]

Sears now has to cease the operation and delete all collected data. I wonder if lawsuits are on the horizon or if the agreement keeps Sears safe. For the most part, no one reads software license agreements (not that most of us could make sense of the legalese anyway). Either Sears really gets the Internet and how to manipulate it or they are a bunch of goombas. At any rate, users need to be better educated on WWWdangers, especially potential offers from “trusted” companies.

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Gizmodo wrote up a piece on an important difference between computers (e.g. the new MacBook Air) and the iPad.The gist of which is: creation is greatly hindered on an iPad or iPhone. While I’ve edited photos on my iPhone, they weren’t quality/skilled changes but simple template driven adjustments. I’ve done research on my iPhone but never delivered a product that encompassed a gamut of databases and files/reports.

Could an iPad replace a librarian’s computer? Doubtful. Results would take more time to deliver and would leave out inaccessible Internet resources. We can easily digest information on an iPad, find a title, call-number, or even a citation. Yet, doing a full background search on a corporation, a legislative history, or finding a medical article from 1934 would prove tedious if not impossible. A research project can involve dozens of PDF, word, and image files, I can only imagine the pain of organizing and sifting through them on a touch surface.  The same headaches go with spreadsheets or power point presentations. Lastly, would you even attempt to catalog on an iPad?

I look forward to the day when we can do research with touch screens or projected images (see Minority Report); but that day isn’t today.

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Today is follow a library day on twitter. So get on it! You may be best served finding your local libraries but can get some great information from nearly any library twitter!

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Findings

The dissolution of a library often leads one into the deepest pits of archives, storage, offices, and the back of file cabinets. Hidden in the recesses of one of these cavities was a California Continuing Education of the Bar floppy diskette: Marital Termination Agreements.

Now where did I put that old 486 PC and my copy of WordPerfect? Here’s a bonus, care instructions.

If this were a copy of the original Oregon Trail, then I’d see about finding a machine to run it on.

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The title of this entry is a bit of a misnomer. The Library of Congress hasn’t put out a video game, although it would be fantastic to have an LOC board game; rather, they have released an iPhone app.  The application is a virtual tour of the library, taking adventurers into the deep and mystic rooms of knowledge and history. The application is optimized for the iPhone 4, containing rich graphics, sounds, and interface structures. In short, a free must download app.

I decided to tackle the app in the most rigorous testing regime I know, as a video game. Here’s the opening scene:

The LOC is epic and luckily the app serves as a Virgil, casting light onto a certain path. After reading the opening scene I knew this journey was not for the weak of heart. Thusly, I finished my sandwich, braced myself, and tapped “explore”. Without hesitation the game was afoot! Gracing my screen was a list of levels, luckily I didn’t have to unlock them- I could travel wherever I wished:

I’m no fan of spoilers or jumping ahead, so the main reading room was the only place to start. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t craving excitement or adventure, as it so happened, I had found it:

The initial screen contained a detailed history and description of the Main Reading Room/ Level 1. The beginning textual mission could have been better displayed if the font were adjustable, as it stands its hard to get a paragraph onto one screen and it becomes difficult to visualize. However, this is quickly remedied by the audio mission.

Sheridan Harvey gives life to the Main Reading Room and engages my imagination. She calls the Main Reading Room the “living heart of the library” and she truly makes The LOC an inviting place, as anyone 16 or older with a valid ID can use the space and materials. She would be perfect for audio books too! After my encounter with Librarian Sheridan the game had me. I was ready for the next mission: photos!

The text and audio description prepared me for a battle with living statues. These high quality images put me in The LOC, feeling the DC sunshine light up the room and bask me in a fountain of olden days. It’s easy to click onto each image, zoom in and out, and learn.

The last mission, link, is exactly what is sounds like: related links to supplemental information. How often do we go to presentations, read an article, or visit a blog with related links? It’s great to have but I bet dirt to donuts that the percentage of actual related links clicks is less than 10%. This mission didn’t challenge me as the others before it had. Yet, minus related links, The LOC app/virtual tour left me pleased to have spent a portion of my lunch break wandering the Main Reading Room, listening to Sheridan’s tales, and mingling with greatness of past times. I look forward to the next levels and expect the same captivating lessons.

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Apps, ideally, are designed to take advantage of a mobile-phone’s interface: touch-screen, small screen real estate, accelerometer, etc. Functions that the web, ultimately, cannot equally provide. The Transportation Security Administration has an app that is both useful and functional for the iPhone.

The “status” list displays all delayed airports in the USA. While I always recommend checking your flight status with your airline and flight number this is a handy option nonetheless.

Tapping into the airport will give you delay information. It’s a great tool for when you’ve volunteered to pick up a friend from the airport and find yourself sitting in the parking lot wondering, “how long is this gonna take.” Moreover, the bottom icon to the right, “Wait Times”, gives a run down of time needed to get through airport gates/security.

What self-respecting TSA app would go without a feature that details carry-on items and travel tips? The typical stuff is provided: how to dress, how to pack liquids and how much, what to expect, what is forbidden, acceptable IDs, traveling with kids, etc. Yet this app goes a step further and offers a search function. As you can see nun-chucks are going to have to go with checked-luggage.

I can easily see myself using this app when traveling to/from home. And being useful for family and friends who often ask about what they can or can’t pack. While most of us won’t use this app everyday or even every few months, the TSA app is a must download, given the information it provides, ease of use, and constantly updated data.

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