Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’

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!

Today’s challenge – blogging by email

June 20, 2011

Thanks to following @kellymhall ‘s Twitter feed I took a glance last night at CPD23’s blog, particularly which made me decide to have a go at blogging by email. I’m using the iPhone email client and including a photo I emailed myself from the flickr app. Now to add a category and tags using the code from the CPD23 blogpost. I plan to set up a dropbox document with all the odds and ends of HTML (hyperlinks, photos and video embedding) that will be useful for mobile blogging!

Taken by Figgles1

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!

Back on my bike!

June 12, 2011


I’ve been somwhat handicapped for the past six weeks as I’ve recovered from a badly sprained ankle. Fortunately most of the recovery time fell during the break between Summer and Winter sailing seasons, but its still been frustrating – no kayaking, no cycling, no gardening and limited walking and house-cleaning. So I was glad to be able to get out in the sun this morning and muck out the worm farm, clear out and re-plant my vegie patch (in two old concrete double laundry troughs) and tidy the yard. Lots of home grown carrots!

Later in the afternoon I cleaned up my pushbike and went for a 7.2km trip down the coast. So nice to be out and not in a car. I love the “in touch” feeling you get when you walk or cycle in your neighbourhood and I’ve missed it whilst I was laid up!

How do I know I rode 7.2km? RiderLog app on my trusty iPhone!


Written using the iPhone app!

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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