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Presentation

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Library-friendly technology: Presentation

Presentation for NLA Technical Services Round Table/College and University Section Spring Meeting: Next Generation Library

 

Karin Dalziel(karin@dalziel.org) and Marcia Dority Baker

 


Examples of portable and web applications: Karin Dalziel

 

What is a portable application?

 

A portable application is one that does not require that you install it. This has several advantages:

 

  • You can run it from a USB drive and take applications with you from computer to computer.
  • You can download and use a portable application on a computer that you don't have installation permissions.
  • Because there is no installation process, the program won't put itself in your start up folder, shortcuts on your desktop, or add itself to your start menu.
  • On Windows, a portable application will not write to the registry.

 

You may have heard about U3 applications, which are a special breed of portable applications which must be run from a specifically formatted U3 drive. The applications I will show can be run from any USB drive, and are all free and open source (most U3 applications are not free and they are not open source.) If you are looking at USB drives, getting a U3 drive is fine, but the applications I am demonstrating do not require it. Make sure your USB drive is USB 2.0, though!

 

Open source applications

 

There are many advantages to open source software:

 

  • It's free (most of it, anyway). Everything in this presentation is free, as is most open source software. Many open source companies make money off support, not the software itself.
  • You can redistribute it. If a patron finds a piece of software useful, you can send him or her the link, or even burn it on CD for them! Likewise, you can outfit the entire office with a piece of software.
  • Most open source software is community supported. You don't have to rely on a company for support- many of the more popular pieces of software, like Firefox, have a huge development base, community run and supported. There are forums where you can ask your question, and if you mention you are a librarian, you are likely to get the best help!

 

Software Demos:

 

The portable software below is for Windows computers. On Macs and Linux computers, you can use the same software, but not necessarily in a portable form. All the links are to the portable, Windows version, but a quick web search will find the website should you want to download other versions.

 

Firefox and its extensions

 

Firefox is a great application, not only for what it has built in, but what you can add to it. It comes with spell check, tabbed browsing, built in search engines and many security features. What makes Firefox so great is the add-ons that let you extend and change it.

 

Extensions change Firefox's abilities, tweak performance, or add new functionality. You can even choose from hundreds of themes to change what Firefox looks like!

 

Extensions that make Firefox easier to use.

 

One of the Firefox add ons I use most frequently is DragdeGo. This handy little extension lets you add some simple mouse gesture functionality to Firefox. For example, normally in Firefox you can press control and click a link to open it in a new tab underneath. With DragdeGo, you can assign actions to dragging a link- so, for instance, when I drag a link down, I get a new tab underneath. When I drag up, I get a new focused tab. I can also select text and perform actions- dragging down looks the highlighted word or term up in an online dictionary. Dragging up looks it up in Google. Left looks the term up in Wikipedia, and right looks it up in Lincoln City Libraries catalog. You can completely customize DragdeGo's options, and make it do what you want.

 

A nice complement to Drag de go is a handy little extension called Add to search bar, which that lets you add any search engine to the search bar at the top. Just right click in any field and choose "add to search bar" - this is handy for adding a library's page to your search box.

 

You may have encountered the frustration of needing to post a lot of information on a web site, but are given only a tiny text box to type in. A handy extension called Resizable Textarea lets you drag to resize any text box.

 

Greasemonkey is an extension that allows you to download bits of code from userscripts.org that changes functionality of pages. One of my favorite scripts highlights items on Amazon that have free shipping. A similar extension, Stylish, allows you to download styles from userstyles.org or make your own and apply them to any page. One application of this is to change the look of a page, for instance, turning Google blue instead of white. Another use is to block ads on web pages using the Ad Blocking Filterset. This style works great, but you must use it with caution because it occasionally blocks legitimate content.

 

Extensions that add functionality.

 

Zotero is by far my favorite Firefox extension. Zotero is a project of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University with sponsorship from the IMLS and the Mellon Foundation. It is a citation management system like End Note or RefWorks- and can import into and out of these systems. Zotero can save citations from the web as well as store snapshots of web pages and PDF's. One can even annotate snapshots of web pages and add notes! Zotero will format citations in a few formats, and if you want more, you can help develop them.

 

Office Applications

 

Open Office is a full featured office suite of programs, similar to Microsoft Office. Most Microsoft Office files can be opened and saved in Open Office.

 

  • Write=Word
  • Calc=Excel
  • Base=Access
  • Impress=PowerPoint
  • Draw=PageMaker

 

AbiWord is a lightweight word processor. It cannot open word docs, but can read and save rtf. The nice thing about Abi word is, it does not auto format!

 

  • Media Apps
    • GIMP is a program that lets you manipulate photos. It has many of the features of PhotoShop, but without the $600 price tag.
    • Media Player Classic, VLC and Billy are portable media players. Between VLC and Media Player Classic, you'd be hard pressed to find a video format that won't play. Billy is a super lightweight MP3 player- just open up a folder of MP3's!

 

Web Tools

    • Gaim (now called Pidgin) is a portable IM client software that works with most major instant messaging services. (AIM, Yahoo, MSN, etc)
    • FileZilla and WinSCP are FTP programs that are stable and fast. If you've ever needed to upload files from many different computers, these are helpful!

 

Web Applications

in addition to applications that can be stored on your USB drive, there is an increasing number of applications that live entirely on the web, making them ideal tools for collaboration.

 

Document and image creation

  • PB Wiki is a site that lets you quicly and easily create a wiki. You will need to create a password to alter the wiki, but you can publish that on the main page if you want. You can choose whether to make your wiki public or private, though public is encouraged. You can create as many wikis as you want!
  • When you want to collaboratively work on a single document or spreadsheet, you can use Google Docs. Google Docs gives you most of the formatting options you'd expect of a word processor, and lets you share your document or publish it to the web. You can easily see what changes others have made.
  • When you need to collaborate with someone on something more visual, Skrbl works well. Skrbl is a whiteboard collaboration tool that makes it easy to collaborate from afar.

 

File sharing sites

There are an enormous number of ways to share your creations with others now and elicit feedback. Here are just a few:

 

  • Most have by now heard of Flickr, a photo sharing tool. Flickr is also a great tool when you need a picture for a flyer or webpage: just do a search on a Creative Commons license!
  • Scribd is a site similar to Flickr, but it lets you share documents. You could use it to embed a PDF in a web page. One of the most useful features of Scribd is the ability to re download your document in different formats, including MP3.
  • If you want to share a Power Point or other slide presentation, you can use Slideshare. Slideshare will accept most formats, and users can leave comments on individual slides.
  • Most people already know about the website YouTube, which is a great way to share videos. Another video sharing website, Vimeo, accepts only original content, and offers a slightly cleaner embeddable video.

 

Uses

 

  • Library 2.0 training- preload a USB drive with software and bookmarks to explore Web 2.0 and other new developments.
  • Carry all you bookmarks, passwords, etc. with you wherever you go.

 

Notes and cautions

 

The next step is to download some portable applications and start playing! As with any software, though, there are cautions: Always read the user agreement carefully, download only from reputable sources (look for an open forum, see if there are user comments, ask around, etc.)

 

A couple of websites to start with:

 

  • PortableApps.com has a suite of applications you can download, along with a self starting menu to launch them and a ready made document structure.
  • Source Forge is a repository for community supported open source applications.

 

Demonstrated Uses (Marcee)

Library-friendly technology: applications that work @your library

Marcia Dority Baker &

Karin Dalziel, UNL

Why Change?

 

  • Change is good for you, your organization & your customer service!
  • Necessities of lifePrairie of change

Colors of design

Incorporate technology into the workplace!?

 

  • New staff abilities & interests
  • Your customers are using it & asking questions!
  • Why Not?How?

 

  • Nebraska Library Commission
  • Look at your staff!
  • Network & COMMUNICATE
  • Popular literature (use the technology!)How to keep up?

 

  • Try it, technology won’t bite
  • Practice isn’t perfect but loads of funWeather the changes

 

 

Places Mentioned around the web

  • Is There a Place for a Library Equivalent of the Flock Browser - "Even if a fully fledged customised browser (a la Flock) isn't adopted, then customised browsers with a suite of extensions and added search functionality (such as ) can easily be provided in library foyers. Users might be encouraged to try out such enhanced/extended/customised browsers for themselves by borrowing USB memory drives with portable, customised browsers preloaded on to them (this is perhaps another area where libraries might support wider training functions within an organisation – loaning out software applications in a portable format to users so they can try them out without having to install the software on their own machine)."
  • Library Tourguide to Technology - "Portable Applications. What is it? Your cool new USB Flash drive that I told you to buy a few weeks ago? Well you may be able to load applications onto it to use when you're on the go - so you know you'll always have your favorite programs available wherever you are."

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