Missives from the Bat Tower

Doing 23 Things all in the name of Web 2.0

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Thing 11: Oodles of Doodle

A lovely labradoodle puppy

A lovely labradoodle puppy

Thing 11 is a nifty tool called Doodle which lets you find out when people are free to meet up. I decided to try it out to organise a lunch date and found it really easy to set up. You can choose date and time options and then can either let Doodle send out an invitation or write one yourself (I chose this option). The people I sent it out to seemed to have no problems using the system (although one wrote a comment instead of using the poll which is a handy feature). The lunch date never happened because there wasn’t a time we were all free but the process itself worked well.

I would say that Doodle is probably more useful for larger groups meeting up, with just four people I did feel that I could have done it more easily over email. I can definitely see how it would be useful for large meetings, especially with those outside the organisation or people who don’t tend to use their Outlook calendar on the internal system. In fact, I have come across it before being used for just that – a meet up of Archivists from across different organisations so I will bear it in mind for future use.

Thing 17: Screencast-o-Matic

With a name that sounds like something from a Wallace and Gromit story and a promise to help users actually use the archives catalogue, I was keen to have a go with Screencast-o-Matic. Our archive catalogue does actually work quite well but it isn’t very intuitive, especially for first time archive users. A screencast seems like the perfect solution to show people how to use some of its features – mainly how to browse collections from your search results.

I found the whole process of recording a video with Screencast-o-Matic very easy. The controls are simple and there are a few things you can customise (like whether to highlight the mouse in the video). I even found the caption writing a breeze which I thought might be a bit more tricky. You have to write a text file with the captions and the timings you want for them and then they appear at the bottom of the screen. It took a little bit of fiddling to get the timings right but after I’d sorted that out I was pretty pleased with the outcome.

But… when you finish your video you have a couple of options, you can either upload it to YouTube or Screencast-o-Matic or download it as a video file. I wanted to put it on the RHUL Library YouTube channel but I didn’t have the log in to hand so I thought I’d save it to Screencast-o-Matic in the mean time. All was well, I could share the link – great. However, when I came back to try and upload it to YouTube it wasn’t anywhere near as easy as I had hoped. There was no longer the option to do it straight from Screencast-o-Matic but I could still download the video as a file. So I saved it and then uploaded it to the RHUL Library YouTube channel which was all quite easy. When I played it back my lovely captions weren’t there! Disaster! I didn’t record a voiceover because a) I don’t like the sound of my recorded voice and b) a voice over isn’t very helpful if the user is in the library so the captions are quite vital.

I haven’t yet worked out how to rectify this so to see the video please follow this link (I can’t embed it because WordPress is mean and strips out the code and I’m not tech savvy enough to work out how to embed it another way). I suspect I may have to record it again to upload it with captions to YouTube but if anyone has any tips please leave me a comment below!

Thing 23: Dropbox

Dropbox cartoon

Dropbox has changed my life and is the answer to all my woes.

Possibly a slight exaggeration but the 23 Things team have definitely saved the best ‘til last as I discovered today when trying to work out how to get a high res image from my computer to the BBC for use on tonight’s One Show programme without involving a CD and a motorbike. I’d heard of Dropbox before and thought it sounded quite useful but had never really had call to use it myself – I’ve used CDs before if I have a big file to give to someone. Now I have discovered it though, I will definitely be using it when I need to give an archive image to someone and it’s too big for an email attachment. It allows you to put files into your drop box which is then saved into cloud storage and any made available to any other device (PC, Mac, iPhone) that you have the software on. You can then share a file with other people and allow them to download it to their own computer. The only downside on the sharing files side of things is that if you want to share more than one file with someone who doesn’t have their own Dropbox account you have to send the link to them for each individual file but if they have their own you can share whole folders with them – great!

Dropbox is also going to be very useful when I’m wearing my other archival hat – Secretary for ARA South East – which involves me organising meetings and events. It will be so useful to be able to put all the documents into Dropbox so I have the most up to date version at my work and home computers and my mobile too. It will also let me share docs with other members of the committee which will be really useful and avoid me having to email everything to myself.

Dropbox might even be edging out Evernote as my favourite Thing because, although I love the Evernote tick list, I have found it a bit clunky when saving PDFs as notes and I think for Word Docs actually just keeping them in their original form is best for the purposes I want to use them for. Evernote, as the name suggests, is great for notes though so I will definitely still be using it!

Thing 22: Library Wiki

In an effort to do some more of the 23 Things before the deadline I thought I’d pick Thing 22 as my next thing as it seemed like quite a quick one to do. The Thing is to add myself to the Who’s Who page on the Libray Wiki. Expecting to find a whole page of the smiling faces of my colleagues, I was a bit disappointed to see that only two people had added theirs (and only one of the 23 Things team – shame on you!). I was a little bit put off but thought I would preserver and add myself anyway.

Moon face (c)penguinbush via Flickr

(c) penguinbush via Flickr

Following the instructions on the RHUL 23 Things blog was pretty easy and as I’ve contributed to Wikipedia before it was all quite familiar. The only thing I did have a problem with was adding the photograph of myself. I decided to use the one that had been taken for the library’s main Who’s Who page as it’s already on my computer so I duly followed the instructions and uploaded it. I put in the code to embed it and then when I checked the edit I was greeted with my GINORMOUS FACE. Turns out that you need to have already sized your photo before you upload it to the wiki or, if you have a high res image as this turned out to be, it will be huge. After a quick bit of resizing with Photoshop I’d got myself down to a more suitable size and I re-uploaded it (I think removing the original as well – or at least I hope so, you could see every freckle on my face it was so big!) and because it was the same file name the version in the page automatically updated to the more manageable sized me.

Voila – Thing 22 ticked off the (Evernote) list.

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