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One New Thing
Monday, April 25, 2005
 
Some new things:
Via Kept-Up, When iPod goes collegiate. If you have heard that some colleges are giving out iPods to students but didn’t know why, this article covers some of the uses students and professors are putting them to. The idea is to use the iPod as a portable storage and audio recording/playback device, not as something you use to play music on – although professors concede that this is what most students do with them when the iPods are off duty as study aids.

Via LISNews, Does more IM = a lower IQ? You’ll be glad to know the reported effects are only temporary, and really due to more to lack of focus on one task than an actual loss of intelligence.

Both of these articles bring up a point to ponder – the methods people use themselves to integrate newer ways of communicating and sharing knowledge into their everyday working or studying habits. For instance, students that meet in person on campus and exchange IM details can then reach each other from where they are studying at home and discuss classwork and assignments online. But one would imagine that these students also need the discipline to turn off IM programs when they become a distraction. The students with iPods need to recognise when to switch from music to course content. It’s a whole new set of study skills to learn.

And I wonder if academic libraries are having to come up with new sets of infolit classes on how to use an iPod?

While I am thinking of it, I came across this page with lots of resources for Instructional Improvement in Academic Libraries. Useful if you are looking for models of programs and schemes on teaching and learning.

For end-of-week links, here are two readers advisory type sites you may like:
- StoryCode.com - I was emailed a link to this site, which looks like it has the potential to develop into a useful tool. Reading the Help pages will give you an idea of how it all works.
- Smart Bitches Trashy Books (worksafe warning on this one) - You probably don’t want to send the majority of your romance-reading public to this site, but for those of you sneaking romance novels home for the corny entertainment value, this site is great fun!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
 
One New Thing: Getting the balance right with ESL clients.

ESL clients being people who speak English as a second (or third, possibly) language. With any client there is always the need to determine exactly how much help you need to give them: when they come in and ask “where are the journals?” you need to judge whether they seriously want to be pointed to a collection that covers a large amount of floorspace, or if they want a rundown on how to search in ProQuest. With ESL clients, you also need to become a good judge of whether they are able to clearly follow your meaning.

When I studied French at uni, we were taught how to read and listen the same way as you would in a native language, that is by hearing unfamiliar words in context and deriving their meaning, rather than running for the dictionary. I know one person asking for directions was confused by my instruction to “come back across the walkway”, never having heard of a “walkway” before. But if someone comes to the reference desk and asks you to look over their 500-word essay for grammatical errors, are they looking for an expert opinion or a native speaker who will pick up basic mistakes? I helped someone today with a question about reference lists, and when I had answered her questions , she carefully began numbering the items to show how she would alphabetise them, and numbered two the wrong way around (e.g. putting Johnson before Johns). I think it’s more these little unknown things, not the “language barrier” as a whole, that we need to be aware of when assisting ESL clients.

Sunday, April 17, 2005
 
To try and make up the appropriate number of One New Things, here’s a roundup of all the things that caught my interest most on others’ blogs over the past few days:

Via explodedlibrary.info, and confirmed when I checked my email, Meetup.com is starting to charge for services. This is a shame, because Meetup is one of those simple yet great services that may just be too simple for people to pay for. At least Australian readers can do what explodedlibrary suggests instead: use Getalife.

Via LibrarianInBlack, a link to this Web Builder’s Toolkit and specifically to some CSS templates and tools and generators. I can see where my next lot of free time is going. ;)

Via Catalogablog, this link to the Library Clips blog and a post on Social bookmarks so far… Social bookmarking seems to me to have sprung up out of nowhere and taken over the online world of late. This is a nice collection of thoughts on where tagging is, where it is going, and the folksonomy angle. (I’ve also just realised how many tools people are using that end in “.us” or “url”.)

Via Researchbuzz, a lesson in making sure you use multiple search engines: Yahgoohoogle.


And finally, my end-of-week link (yes you counted right, the second one): a story, Experience required, from the Feel Good Librarian. I hope someone makes the post’s last sentence into a T-shirt. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
Sorry about the larger-than-usual gaps between posts – it’s caused by general busyness. I don’t plan to give up the blog! If you are one of those who visits the page to read, try signing up for Bloglines or another newsreader so you don’t have to visit to see if I had time to post.

Some of the things I have been learning:

I’ve been looking at some of Eric Meyer’s CSS stuff, and there is so much of it to take in! Having originally learnt CSS to take the place of HTML elements on my web pages, I’m now working out what you can do with it that you can’t do at all in HTML – particular styles and functionalities, like menus and layouts in particular. Most of what I am doing at the moment is copying and pasting other people’s code and then customising it, but since I am starting to remember some of it and also just be aware of what sorts of things can be done, it’s working for me!

Discovered a use today (some things I access at work) for those Unix commands that I had to learn at library school for reasons that were never quite clear to me. Finding out that I may be able to use that information is reassuring, now I just have to find out if I can cope using text-only commands and no Microsoft “Are you sure?” warnings. ;)

Since I missed an end-of-week link I’ll try and squeeze in two this week, the first being NationStates. A friend introduced me to this online game where the only participation that is required is that each day you make a political decision which affects the direction your nation takes. When you read the FAQ, you find out that the game was actually developed as advertising for a novel, and the person responsible was the author himself Max Barry. And he has a blog which discusses the book, too, for all of us who have ever wondered what happens once a novel is released into the wild.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005
 
One New Thing: Firefox and CSS.

I’ve discovered that when you are using CSS in your webpages, you should test their appearance in Firefox over any other browser. Firefox seems to be particularly picky about having code down to the standard letter, and will display things exactly as you have written them, rather than overlooking your errors like IE and Netscape do (or do to an extent).

Since I missed last week’s amusing link, whilst you are installing Firefox, you should also install the Firesomething extension. Much better to have a browser you can have fun with – it might take some of the frustration out of trying to work out what is wrong with your CSS. ;)