Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Category

Can we blogjune? Yes we can!

June 28, 2011

I am Fran
Fran I am
Can we blogjune?
Yes we can!

I am blogging in the rain,
I’ve been blogging on the train.

– Not been blogging in the car –
That would be a step too far!

Are you adding films and pics?
Those are really clever tricks.

Have you blogged about your cat?
Some can’t get enough of that.

You can blog about your work
(careful not to look a jerk).

Or you blog using a meme
(not as easy as it seems!).

Luscious blog posts about food
Sure to get us in the mood!

You can blog on crafty habits –
Knitting, scrapbooks, breeding rabbits?*

Do you blog using an App?
With your iPhone in your lap?

Use email to post your blog?
Easy as – fall off a log!

Find all posts through RSS?
You can soon sort out the best!

Bloggers mostly library geeks,
They’ve been blogging weeks and weeks!

Posting every day in June
(but glad it will be over soon)

I am Fran
Fran I am
Can we blogjune?
Yes we can!

With apologies to Dr Seuss, Barak Obama and Bob the Builder!

* I don’t think anyone actually blogged about breeding rabbits but I needed a rhyme!

Via iPhone on the train!



iPhone, a digital multitool

June 26, 2011

Screenshot - I am queen of the appsMy friends and family will tell you I’m an iPhone geek (oh no, they say and roll their eyes as I whip the phone out to check something…) however I love my phone, not just for it’s shiny techie-ness but for what it does for me… Since Friday I’ve used it:

  • as an alarm clock
  • as a bus/train timetable to find my way to a seminar on Friday and the Tweetup on Saturday
  • as a street directory/GPS
  • as a music player to listen to my new Badpiper CDs in the car (via a cable and FM adapter) and wirelessly via the Bluetooth adapter for my AV receiver
  • to make notes so I can update my rainfall and sunshine spreadsheets (and to make notes of something I learned at the tweetup and a weekend to-do list)
  • to contribute to the WA Weather Group forum discussion during Friday night’s storm (finally downloaded Tapatalk)
  • to take lots of photos
  • to write Saturday’s blogpost (with some of the photos I’d taken) about the Tweetup
  • to follow my social media – twitter (and add people I’d met at the Tweetup), facebook, feedly and check and send email (mostly on the train but also at home when the computer wasn’t turned on)
  • to search on the net when the computer wasn’t on
  • as a cooking timer when making date loaf
  • for texting to organise going to hear Verbitsy conduct Tchaikovsky
  • as a phone to book the above (I did switch it to silent during the concert)!
These are just my day-to-day uses.  I’ve got many more apps which I’ll write about another time – this list has made me think what a versatile and useful thing it’s become in the 18 months I’ve had it, it’s a digital multi-tool!

What blogjune has taught me so far- learning something new almost every day!

June 13, 2011

Thanks to a friend of mine I’m participating in blogjune.  I saw her tweeting about it and on finding out it wasn’t a private party I took a spur of the moment decision to join.  About 80 bloggers, mostly, but not exclusively, Australian and New Zealand librarians have committed to post to their blogs every day in June.  Apologies, but I’ve not managed to read everyone’s every post!  You can find out more and follow the fun on the Libraries Interact blog.

This blog, which I began in 2009, had been a bit moribund recently, so I saw blogjune as an opportunity to revive it (don’t they say it takes 3 weeks to establish a new habit?).

A side effect is that not only have I been writing and reading daily across an array of topics (ranging from the professional to the highly personal – what is it with librarians and cats and knitting?) but also I’ve been learning a whole bunch of new, professionally useful, Web 2.0 skills.

So as I end my 2nd week of daily blogging, I thought I’d make a quick list of things that I’ve learned so far:

  1. how to add a tweet button, counter and twitter feed to my blog (and I’ve revamped some of the other widgets)
  2. that it’s easier to sort picture editing problems out in html editor rather than in the visual editor – even if your html skills are minimal!
  3. that there’s a neat bit of code that enables you to embed flickr videos into your blog, even though flickr doesn’t show in the add video button
  4. That the WordPress  app on the iPhone allows you to blog a photo direct from the phone
  5. That the WordPress app on the iPhone can be used to add hyperlinks and retrospectively add photos (but not videos, unless you pay for an add-on).  This is the basic stuff, I think you could do a lot more if your html editing skills are up to it!
  6. That the publicize feature on WordPress appears to work sporadically when posting from the iPhone app (more investigation required!).
  7. How to follow blogjune using a Netvibes Blogroll
  8. What an OPML file is and how you can use it to import a blogroll into Google Reader (if someone else has done all the prep! thanks @katejf)
  9. Then how to set up a Feedly app in Chrome and on the iPhone to read the blogjune Google reader feed.  I’d been a bit slow taking up feed readers so this promt from blogjune has been great!
If I’ve learned this much in two weeks what more will I know by the end of the month!  Hooray for blogjune!

Blogging from the train!

June 7, 2011


Today I thought I’d join some of my fellow #blogjune participants and try using the WordPress app on my iPhone. I know a couple of us have tried this already, but it’s another skill I’d like to master. Looks like the quickphoto option is just that- upload a quick photo! Can’t add hyperlinks, and you have to edit after posting to add tags and categories.
No dolphins sighted today!

Global, Local, Personal, computers, the internet and me!

June 3, 2011

Some of you might have seen this video on the growth, not just of the internet, but of the personal connections it fosters, and the undeniable massive changes that this is bringing…

It made me think of my personal journey in the digital world and I thought I’d try a timeline to see how my digital connections have grown…(this isn’t a comprehensive list, rather a compilation of milestones!)

A First Course in Data Processing 1977

A First Course in Data Processing 1977

  • 1974-78 a printer terminal connected our high school to the education department computer, I thought it was called MINIWAFT but it turns out that was the programming lanugage….
  • 1979 studied Systems Analysis 151 as part of my Library Studies degree at WAIT (now Curtin University), using A first course in data processing.   I remember having to submit batches of punched cards to the computing department and wait about a week before picking up the printout.  Hopefully it would be thickish as a thin printout usually meant the programme had failed at the first line!
Thermal paper terminal with acoustic coupler 1980s

Thermal paper terminal with acoustic coupler 1980s

  • Early 80s Worked in a corporate library, we used to search on Dialog using dial up, using a portable terminal with thermal papers and acoustic couplers! The library catalog was automated but accessed from dumb terminals connected to mini or micro computers.

    Computing at work 1985

    Computing at work 1985

  • By the time I changed jobs in 1990 we’d moved on to networked PCs (386 machines anyone?) In January 1993 my new employer sent me to the Information Online and Ondisc conference in Sydney where I remember being very impressed by the latest thing – GUIs (graphical user interfaces) which freed us from navigating by menu and saw the advent of the mouse!
  • The 90s progressed and the internet really fired up – I find I have certificates for training in: Introduction to AARNET utilities (1 November 1993) – AARNET was the first real ISP in Australia, anyone else remember using gopher to search?; Introduction to the internet (June 1995); and Navigating the internet (July 1995).  Those were the days of Mosaic and Netscape browsers and of Webcrawler (with it’s spider logo), Lycos and then the Altavista search engines.  We began to use the web to search Dialog and STN databases.
  • By 97 I’d moved on to part-time work and further study and it was time for a computer at home!  If I remember rightly it cost me a couple of thousand dollars and I signed up with a local ISP NetTrek, which was swallowed up by iinet in late 1999.
  • In 2000 I took a unit in digital art as part of a Fine Art Degree at Curtin and I had my first experiences of setting up webpages and html coding, alas I think that that work is long lost… I’m not sure when I first set up my own website in the iinet members zone but it was running by 2002 and was overhauled  once or twice taking its current form in about 2006…  My use of the web was strong, but, with the exception of my webpage, was as a consumer,  both for myself and as an intermediary for library clients, not a participant.  The biggest change was joining the crowd and becoming a user of Google!
  • In the last decade the personal and professional use of the web and the development of web 2.0 have grown exponentially.  Again, attending Information Online 2007 helped me focus on the changes that social media would bring to my worlds.  I think I’ll mark my milestones in social media adopted and used or abandoned!
  • 2001, now Friends Reunited – not really used, but check occasionally for school reunion purposes
  • 2005 Flickr– this is the granddaddy of my social media spaces, I signed up when I bought my first digital camera.  I use it to back up, organise and share all my photos and I now have nearly 12,000 items in my photostream, most are public, but I have not yet embraced creative commons and retain copyright on them, something I’ll be rethinking.
  • 2007 MySpace – I briefly blogged on MySpace, but abandoned that blog when I started using WordPress, I still have a MySpace account but very rarely use it – occasionally I check on musos, which seems to be MySpace’s strength, I’ve just logged back in and its all changed!
  • 2007 Second Life – had a go after attending the Information Online conference in 2007 but really couldn’t get into it.  It’s one step too far removed from real life, I use my virtual world as an adjunct to rather than an alternative to my real life… So, yes I have an account but I can’t remember when I last visited!
  • 2007 YouTube – slower adoption here, as I use Flickr for unedited video but I now back up my edited videos to YouTube, though as they are mostly family, most of them are private.  This year I’ve been experimenting with using Xtranormal and YouTube, and since I bought the iPhone and the cable that plays videos from it from YouTube through my TV , I’ve been favouriting and making playlists!
  • 2007 facebook – what can I say, I resisted, then dipped my toe in the water and now I’m an addict!  I’ve connected with people I’ve lost contact with, I keep up with friends and causes, I love it… I keep my privacy settings high, am more personal in what I say, but also run the “postcard test” on my posts (i.e. would I write it on a postcard?), I’m also an admin for work’s account.
  • 2008 LibraryThing – I’m adding books as I buy or read them, this year I’ve linked my reviews to automatically post on facebook
  • 2009 WordPress – intermittent blogging, and this is where I started to think in terms of linking between my website and Web 2.0 identities.  Now I automatically publish my posts to facebook and Twitter.  My most popular post is on using the iPhone as a barcode reader in the library.  I also blog for my library…
  • 2009 I bought my beloved iPhone! Now I could start accessing all my social media on the go!  I’ve become an adept and an addict! Got a wireless router for home use…
  • 2010 Delicious – my own social bookmarking account, getting more use now I have added a widget to my browser bar!
  • 2011 Twitter – this is more for sharing information and links, I have low privacy settings on Twitter so try to keep the personal to a minimum
  • 2011 LinkedIn – OK, I’ve just joined this one, so I’m not quite sure how I’ll be using it!
  • 2011 I’ve been an keen onlooker at LibraryHack but am painfully aware I need more practice and skills! I’m dipping my toes in with cross platform applications and cloud computing, using Dropbox and Evernote to sync my devices.  I love the EBSCOHost smart phone app!  I’ve got 4 eBook readers on my iPhone, and I’m eyeing an iPad! (We’re using them at work).
Where to from here?
The journey continues, the personal and professional are melding in ways they never used to, change is the only certainty, and the future is going to be a wild ride!  One thing I know, I’m a librarian because I like knowing things and knowing how to find them and the skills of finding, organising, and facilitating access to information are going to be in demand in the future, but what that future will look like I don’t know!

iPhone in the library – How to use your iPhone as a library card and barcode scanner

December 3, 2010

I’m a librarian in my day job, and I love my iPhone so recently I’ve been exploring ways I can use it to search library catalogues and in bookshops by scanning the ISBN barcodes you find on the back of  books and even by scanning the library barcodes that libraries stick into their stock.  On the way I’ve also found that you can generate the barcodes from your membership and loyalty cards so they display on and can be read from the screen of  your phone.  Not all of this works perfectly yet, but there’s enough working  successfully to make it worth a go…  so if you’re in the profession, be ready for customers waving the phone at you rather than their library card!

pic2shop icon


I first found out about using the iPhone as a barcode reader a few months ago (I think it was on a local librarians’  email list).

pic2shop search result

pic2shop search result

It suggested using a free app called pic2shop.  Like most of the barcode scanning apps it’s primarily a shopping tool enabling consumers to compare prices by scanning barcodes on goods (and a common complaint is that currently the Australian coverage is poor). However if you scan a book’s ISBN  it does include a “see local libraries” option:

As long as you’ve set your country preference, it will pull up records from WorldCat .Click on the library name and it will take you to the library catalogue.

pic2shop local libraries

pic2shop local libraries

I’m amused to see as I scrolled down that the next batch of libraries are in South Australia, followed by Victoria – it’s a generous definition of local!:



A similar app that also connects to WorldCat is RedLaser, you can read about using RedLaser to link to WorldCat on the WorldCat site.  At the time of writing RedLaser has become a free app.  RedLaser also enables you to create custom barcode reading apps – more on that later…

zbar icon


My favourite barcode reader so far (and I’ve not done a mass of reasearch) is ZBarit’s free and easily customizable, even by amateur geeks like me! I found out about ZBar by Googling for information on using iPhones as barcode scanners in libraries.  The best information was in a great post in Aaron Tay’s blog Musings about librarianship – How to check your library catalogue by using your IPhone as a free barcode scanner – ZBar & RedLaser.    His instructions for setting up ZBar are really clear so I won’t repeat them here!  I played around with customizing it search the State Library of WA’s catalogue using ISBNs.  Quite easy to set up using Aaron’s instructions but I did have some troubles as some of the information required to display the results correctly (for the technically minded it’s the scoping data ) was in the suffix of the search URL.

If you do an ISBN search in the SLWA catalogue the resulting URL is:

Setting up Dymocks search in ZBar

Dymocks on ZBar

To set up a ZBar search string you need to drop everything after the first =, but in that particular catalogue you also need the searchscope data for the result to display correctly.  I’m no expert in the inner workings of catalogue softwear, however I realised I needed to be able to specify the scope data earlier in the search string.  I fiddled around in the Innovative Users Group listserv (where the catalogue system geeks come out to play) and found an alternative that seems to work:

(select ISBN-13 as the barcode type)

i.e. the ~S2 has the same function as searchscope=2.  It works, but I’m prepared to be corrected by the experts if there’s a reason you shouldn’t do this!

You can easily set up other customised ISBN searches as well, I’ve done the same for my LibraryThing account and for Dymocks:

ZBar SLWA barcode

ZBar SLWA barcode

Of course ISBNs are not the only barcodes used in libraries, individual items of stock have barcode stickers that enable library staff to quickly stockcheck, and loan individual copies of items in their collections.  With a bit of inside knowledge I was able to use this string to set up a ZBar search that scans the State Library’s item barcodes and brings up the catalogue record:

(select Code39 as the  barcode type)

The only downside is that I can’t get the camera in the app to lock on to  the very long Code 39 barcodes used by the library – it may be better if you’ve got an iPhone 4!  There is a slightly cumbersome workaround – go into camera, take a picture of the barcode (use landscape mode and tap to focus, zoom may also help).  Then open the ZBar app and instead of using the camera icon in the centre of the bottom taskbar, use the picture icon (mountains in a frame) on the right hand side – you can then select the picture of the barcode and proceed as normal.  I’m going to contact the app developers about this as it seems to me to be the way the app uses the camera that is the problem.

RedLaser Custom Apps

RedLaser Custom Apps

You can use the same search strings when setting up custom apps to search for ISBNs at libraries and bookshops using RedLaser (only for the ISBNs, RedLaser won’t read Code 39).   Note that if you are using a later operating system for your iPhone you’ll need to use the send icon in the middle of the toolbar to save the app, rather than the suggested +.  At time of posting RedLaser has a glitch where you get a blank screen after scanning.  You’ll need to use the send icon and select “Open with Safari” to see the result (this has been reported by others to RedLaser so should be fixed in a future update).

CardStar logo


Now, from identifying media to identifying clients – as mentioned before I’ve had a play with CardStar – again this hasn’t been developed as a library app but it does enable you to create a virtual library card on your iPhone.  At the time of writing the option to scan the card in is freezing the app [it’s fixed! 21 Dec 2010], so it’s “type in the numbers and try different symbologies until the image on the screen matches your card” time!  I’ve generated a whole bunch of virtual cards, which I won’t show here (nice though it would be) as I’d like to keep my identity private!  I have tried scanning a CardStar generated library card with two different barcode readers – an old one read it perfectly, the newer more powerful scanner wouldn’t read it at all, so this isn’t yet a complete solution – however it does point to future trends that the profession need to keep an eye on!

Last of all here are a couple of youtube videos from WorldCat User in the USA on using pic2shop and RedLaser to search WorldCat:


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