Meeting Notes – November 19, 2013

The Tech Interest Group is back!
Today JH demonstrated a new app we are trying called BrowZine. It allows us to browse, read, and track academic journals. Read more about it on the Library News blog.

KR reports that we are very close to having the iPad kiosk, MediaSurfer, delivered to the library. Testing is happening now and we have a few more issues to solve, but we are close!

HJ mentioned that the Access Services department is investigating new ways of taking counts in the library. We may be able to better track use of the library using the methods they are testing now. It will give us a new use for our old iPads!

Zotero has a new app called ZotPad that will allow you to sync your Zotero library on your iPad or iPhone.

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Meeting Notes – December 14, 2012

JH showed us the Newsstand on her iPad. We are going to investigate setting up the staff iPad with the digital versions of the magazines and journals that we subscribe to. We will need to talk about how to manage the subscriptions on one iPad and how it will be loaned out to students.

KR showed us some ebook apps from a class she took this semester:
Pyramids 3D – an app about the pyramids in Egypt that allows you to tour different pyramids and view objects in 3D (plus read a book).
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian – an app version of the popular cookbook.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore – an app version of the short film. It is very interactive and allows the user to participate in the story by making the wind blow characters around or giving books to people at the library.
What Technology Wants – an app version of the book; organized into stacks of ‘cards’ to allow for easy browsing.


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Meeting Notes – September 13, 2012

KR outlined the plan for the new website using a whiteboard. The group gave great feedback on how to share the information with the rest of the library staff.

We looked at two blog posts that listed some tricks for using Google more efficiently. There were a few interesting bits of information, but we thought some of the tips were things most everyone already knows.
20 Google Search Shortcuts to Hone Your Google-Fu
10 (More) Google Shortcuts to Hone Your Google-Fu

We looked at some images of interesting libraries:
10 Quirky Libraries – Part 1
10 Quirky Libraries – Part 2

KR mentioned a course she will be taking – ebooks as iPad apps. An example is the app (book) called The Elements. KR hopes to have more examples in about a month.

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Meeting Notes – August 9, 2012

Today we discussed the new library website. KR demonstrated an online wireframing tool called Mockingbird. She is encouraging everyone to play with the tool and create their own version of the library homepage. KR has login instructions for anyone interested.

KR answered questions about the Voyager upgrade and the upcoming website migration.

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Meeting Notes – July 12

Today we had an interesting conversation about cloud storage, blogs, file organization, and privacy. It was a support group day more than a show-and-tell day. Some of the highlights are listed below.

  • Privacy – why do most sites assume that we want our files public? We would prefer to upload files and then make the choice to make them public rather than having the site assume privacy settings during upload. An example from KR – videos uploaded to YouTube are automatically set as public until you find the setting to keep the videos unlisted. That setting is easy to miss.
  • File organization – why are we going to an “organizational” structure where everything is kept in one big blob? We want our folders back so we can organize our documents/emails/files in an orderly structure. Google Docs and Gmail are two good examples of storing items without any sense of organization. For some of us, it isn’t natural to automatically search for something. SK made a good point about wanting to browse for a document that you might not remember exactly what it is called. MO told us about Windows 8 and how the start menu is being replaced by a search bar. Now we will have a difficult time finding anything on our computers! KR wonders if we have trouble with this lack of organization because we are librarians or if others feel the same way. SK said that nothing else operates like this (do grocery stores place random objects next to each other? Not usually), so why is it okay for computers? The frustrating part is that we are losing control or have already lost it.
  • KR asked about the difference between Google Drive and Google Docs. MO said that Google Drive is the new Google Docs, but that you will be able to store all types of file formats there.
  • We briefly talked about Microsoft Office and their alternatives. KR didn’t bother installing office on her new personal computer because she uses it infrequently and relies on Google Docs. SG uses Simple Office on her computer. SK suggested Open Office. We took a quick look at Prezi and asked TT about her use of SlideShow
  • KR asked if anyone had a good method for keeping track of passwords. A few of us use spreadsheets, but no one had a great answer. We talked about how hard it is to remember usernames and passwords.

A few show-and-tell items:

RelateIQ: – look for Annie!

A list of higher education technology blogs:

A couple of funny library blogs:
Lib Etiquette
Will Manley:

Visual representation of your blog posts and other online interests:

For the cat lovers:

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Meeting Notes – June 7

Today we spent our time talking about video conferencing. JH helped us test the different tools.

FaceTime is an app that is on all iPads and iPhones, but was not on KR’s MacBook. It costs $0.99 from the app store. Users must have an AppleID to use FaceTime. The conversation is between two people only.

JH reported being able to hear us clearly and we found the audio to be fairly decent given that we were using the iPad speakers. The video was surprisingly clear. Out of all of our experiments today FaceTime was the easiest to use, but JH and KR had tried it once before and that may have helped.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a feature of Google+. Users must have a gmail account to use Hangouts. The university email accounts do not work. Multiple people can join one hangout. There are other tools built into Hangouts, including screen sharing.

KR had trouble getting Google Hangouts running on her Macbook. Everything magically started working after going through multiple tries to install the plugin. It was confusing to figure out how to join a Hangout. TT set up Google+ under her gmail account, which allowed us to Hang Out with three people. Once we got everything set up, using the tool was pretty easy. It took us at least 30 minutes to sort through all of the issues, however. The video was not as clear as FaceTime, but we had more control over the audio since we were using laptops.


We have talked about Skype before, but thought we would try it today. Multiple people can have an audio-only conversation, but users have to pay for a premium membership to have multiple people on a video call. Users need a Skype account to use the tool and the software must be installed on the user’s computer.

We connected via Skype fairly easily, though adding the third person proved to be slightly confusing. The hardest part was making sure all three people had approved the Skype connection to allow the calls to go through. The audio quality seemed fine, though we had some feedback from two computers being in the same room. It was difficult to tell if we lost our connection with JH because various screens kept coming up asking us to subscribe to the premium membership.

This site has some interesting information about Skype. It also has an article listing five reasons why Google Hangouts is cooler.

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Meeting Notes – May 10

We’re back!

Apps and Devices

The group briefly discussed Instagram – which KR has seen primarily on Facebook. It is an app for Apple or Android devices that allows a user to take photos that have been altered to look more artsy or old fashioned. They remind KR of polaroid photos.

We talked about other social media applications such as Four Square, Urban Spoon, Around Me, and  Yelp. All of these tools help users find restaurants and other locations in the physical world using their mobile devices. Four Square started out as a way for people to “check in” at various locations. KR mentioned that she heard a lot of stories about people having their homes broken into while they were checked in somewhere else. We aren’t sure how true the stories are.

Some of the tools also have websites. DM told us about Yelp and pointed out that there are reviews for all types of products and services to be found there. We had a brief discussion about reviews in general and how most seem to be negative, but the positive reviews are becoming more prevalent as it becomes easier to post a review.

Streaming Media

KR mentioned Hulu and other sights that allow streaming media (Netflix is the popular example). Hulu used to allow users to view television shows for free, but MO heard that a fee may be put into place soon.

DM told us about his DVD player that has apps built in to allow access to different news stations and other information. An interesting idea! TVs are starting to have similar features.

KL said the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has begun charging for online access past a certain number of page views. New York Times has a similar subscription model. The group finds this frustrating.

JH hopes to be able to add access to some of the library’s journals onto one of the library iPads. Many of our print subscriptions now come with free online access.

We had an interesting discussion about illegal downloading of content and using sites such as BitTorrent. There are many sites that allow users to collect the ‘bits’ of a movie, software, etc. to download onto their computer. MO mentioned that a user’s ISP keeps track of what sites he/she visits and that it would be hard to illegal download something without someone finding out. The FBI is trying to get a bill to pass that will allow backdoor access to Internet search history without a warrant. DM made an interesting point – this is like librarians telling what books people check out. The potential lack of privacy is very scary. JH mentioned that there are sites that allow streaming of games as well. It is hard to keep track of the legality of using the sites. MO asked the group how we came to the point where we expect to have access to large amounts of entertainment. We seem to expect to be entertained for free!

Online meetings

We briefly discussed our options for online meetings. Google+ offers a service called Hangout that allows people in multiple locations to “hangout” virtually. KR tried to get it working on her computer, but was running into issues with the browser plugins. If it works it could be a useful tool for people with a gmail account.

Skype is the tool most people think of when talking about online conferencing. It is possible to have a conversation with multiple people using Skype, but it requires upgrading to a subscription account.

Facetime seems to be a one-on-one tool for online conversations.


SK asked for help with her older Macbook. She wants to use a new iPod Nano with her Macbook, but the version of iTunes is too old and it can’t be upgraded because the operating system is too old. MO said his wife had the same problem and they were able to upgrade the operating system fairly inexpensively by purchasing a disc online.

SG is also having computer trouble and it may have been hit by lightening. KR suggested checking out New Egg for refurbished computers if people are looking to save some money and don’t care about having the most recent technology.

JH suggested talking to Matthew at Orange Computer for help with computer issues.




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