Friday, March 28, 2008

It's Spring Break!!!

Kick back and relax or take the time to catch up!

Haven't signed up yet?!? Become a player today, you still have time!

Next week's Things will be posted on Friday, April 4th. See you then!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thing #9 - Finding Feeds

powered by ODEO [3:08]

Now that you have a newsreader (your
Bloglines account), you can begin adding other newsfeeds that interest you. There are several ways you can locate newsfeeds:
  • When visiting your favorite websites -- look for news feed icons that indicate the website provides it. Often a feed icon will be displayed somewhere in the navigation bar of the site. (Here's an image that contains a sampling of several feed icons).

  • Use Blogline's Search tool - Bloglines recently expanded search tool lets you search for news feeds in addition to posts, citations and the web. Use the Search for Feeds option to locate RSS feeds you might be interested in.

  • Bloglines has a feature to allow users to make their blogroll (the list of blogs they subscribe to) public. You aren't required to do this to complete Thing #9, but you might be interested in seeing a public blogroll. Here is link to Jill's public Bloglines account: are over 50 library-oriented blogs listed in the left column. Click on the blog title to see a preview on the right column. If you want to subscribe to the blog, click the subscribe link in the bar over the title to start the process.

Other Search tools that can help you find feeds:

  • - This search tool allows you to locate recent newsfeed items based upon keyword or phrase searching. The tool focuses specifically on news and media outlet RSS feeds for information, not weblogs.

  • - Syndic8 is an open directory of RSS feeds that contains thousands of RSS feeds that users have submitted.

  • Technorati - Technorati is a popular blog finding tool that lets you search for blogs. Since RSS feeds are inherent to all blogging tools, Technorati Blog Search can help you find RSS feeds for topic specific blogs you may be interested in.

  • Additional Resource: Technorati Tutorial on finding and adding your blog

Discovery Exercise:
  1. Explore some of the search tools noted above that can help you locate some news feeds.

  2. Create a blog post about your experience. Don't know what to blog about? Here some questions to think about:
Which method of finding feeds did you find easiest to use? Which Search tool was the easiest for you? Which was more confusing? What kind of useful feeds did you find in your travels? Or what kind of unusual ones did you find? What other tools or ways did you find to locate newsfeeds?

EXTRA STUFF: Feed Icon Info
In February of 2006, the adoption of a
standard feed icon among websites and browsers finally began to assist in stopping the madness and confusion caused by so many variations. So far this icon has been adopted by many websites and browsers, including Opera and FireFox, where it displays in the address bar:

While you're surfing the Web, you can quickly subscribe to a website by clicking the orange feed icon in the address bar.

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Thing #8 - Make life "really simple" with RSS & a newsreader

powered by ODEO [5:15]
FYI & ICYW: This is the longest podcast in the program.

You’ve heard of RSS? You’ve seen those small funny tags on websites? You’ve heard co-workers and acquaintances swear by it, but still have no idea what RSS is? Well don’t worry, according to a recent survey you’re still in the majority, but this is changing rapidly. In the information world, RSS is not only revolutionalizing the way news, media and content creators share information, but it also is swiftly changing the way everyday users are consuming information.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is a file format for delivering regularly updated information over the web. Watch the video from Common Craft below for a really simple explanation:

Just think about the websites and news information sources you visit every day. It takes time to visit those sites and scour the ad-filled and image-heavy pages for just the text you want to read, doesn’t it? Now imagine if you could visit all those information sources and web pages in just one place and all at the same time … without being bombarded with advertising… without having to search for new information on the page you’d already seen or read before… and without having to consume a lot of time visiting each site individually. Would that be valuable to you? Well, it’s available now through a newsreader and RSS.

This week’s discovery exercises focus on learning about RSS news feeds and setting up a
Bloglines account (a free online newsreader) for yourself to bring your feeds together.

Discovery Resources:

Discovery Exercise:
  1. Follow the discovery resources above to learn more about RSS and newsreaders.

  2. Create a free online Bloglines account for yourself and subscribe to at least 10 newsfeeds. See Using Bloglines Tutorial steps 1-3 for instructions.


    • Then try adding a few other types of news feeds from news sources and even OCL's Event Calendar. (Select at least 3 from the list below to subscribe to)

      • The OCLWebThings blog feed (you'll find a Feeds section in the sidebar to the right; click the Bloglines button to subscribe).

  3. Create a post in your blog about this exercise.

    Don’t know what to blog about? Think about these questions:

What do you like about RSS and newsreaders?
How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your work or personal life?
How can libraries use RSS or take advantage of this new technology?

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Thing #7 - The Scanner and You

We'll be taking a technological step backwards for thing #7 and working with some of the software and hardware that navigate between Web 2.0 and everything prior.

Discovery Resources:
  • Hardcopy photograph and/or document
  • PC Plus and scanner
  • If you happen to have an HP Scanjet4070, here is the manual.

(Don't panic if the scanner you're sitting next to is a different model or even brand. Most, if not all, company websites will have complete user manuals. There's also a great website you can check, the

Discovery Exercises:

1. Scan an image

There are two ways you can intiate a scan:

  • open the software and hit the appropriate button
  • press the button on the front of the scanner (it may look like a photograph or scanner

After you do this you will most likely be presented with an image of the object you placed on the scanner, as well as the rest of the scanner bed. You can select the area you want by dragging a rectangle around the area. Once you've got the area you want selected you can save it. It is likely you will have a choice about which file format to use when saving. For our purposes JPG is probably your best choice. After the image is saved you can move this file around as would any other.

Trying to give specific instructions for scanning is difficult, without knowing exactly which scanner and software combination you're working with. Luckily, there are some good places to go on the web for help, listed above in the resources section.

If all else fails, check the help menu on the software, or ask a coworker or a committee member for help

2. Attach the image you scanned to an email and send it to us at

Sending attachments is very similar across different email programs. These instructions are geared toward your Outlook email, but the basic steps will be the same in Yahoo or Gmail. Also, keep in mind that you can always look for more specific instructions by clicking on help - Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo all have detailed help documentation.

To begin, click on "New Mail Message" to start a new message. Write out the message you would like to appear first, just like you'd write a regular email. Don't forget to include a subject and our email address ( in the "To:" field.

Next, click on the little paperclip icon in the menu bar - it should be right next to the Send box. Another way to do this is by clicking on Insert --> file in the menu bar at the very top of your screen.(In other email programs, this will show up as a link that says, "Attach a file".) A window will pop up showing the files and folders on your computer. Select the file from the list and click "Insert".

This will send you back to the main Compose window, but now you can see the file under the box where the Subject line of your email goes. This means that you successfully attached the file. (Sometimes, the file will show up next to another little paperclip icon.)
If you have already put in the person's email address and a message, you are ready to send this email. Click "Send" to send the message.

That's it!

Optional Exercise:

Scan and OCR a document. OCR stands for optical character recognition and tranfsers text from a hardcopy source to editable text. This can either be a very simple task, or very complicated. Luckily, we have some great software that make the process easy.

Next up: RSS & Newsreaders.

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Thing #6 - More Photo Fun

For thing #5 we asked you to explore Flickr, but now we're going to ask you to do something with it.

Discovery Exercise:

Create a free account in Flickr* and use your location's digital camera to capture a few pictures of something in your branch. Upload these to your Flickr account and tag at least one of the images “oclwebthings” and mark it public. Then create a post in your blog about your photo and experience. Be sure to include the image in your post. Once you have a Flickr account, you have two options for doing this: through Flickr's blogging tool or using LiveJournal's or Blogger's photo upload tool.

In an effort to make things simple for you, digital cameras actually make it seem a lot more difficult to get pictures onto your computer than it actually is. Image files are just like any file and can be dragged and dropped. Transferring images from your camera to your computer should be the same as transferring them from a disk or flash drive.

To do this you're going to need the USB cable that came with the camera. Plug one end into the camera and the other into a USB port on your computer. Most likely your computer is going to pop up a screen asking you what you want to do with "device". Though most of these options will work, the simplest is open a file to view folders.

Originally uploaded by oclwebthings
Optional Exercise

Explore some online photo editors, such as FotoFlexer, Splashup and Picnik. Post your thoughts or results to your blog.

Don't forget to check out our FAQ if you need help figuring out what to blog about.

Remember, if you need any help ask a coworker or give one of the committee members a buzz.

You can also check out Google's Image Labeler, which allows users to make a game of improving their image search.

*Some of you may have gone ahead and done this during thing #5, or before this challenge.

Next up: The scanner & you

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Thing #5 - Flickr (or Photo Fun)

Listen to this podcast:

powered by ODEO

Photo sharing websites have been around since the 90s, but it took a small startup site called Flickr to catapult the idea of “sharing” into a full blown online community. Within the past year, Flickr has become the fastest growing photo sharing site on the web and is known as one of the first websites to use keyword “tags” to create associations and connections between photos and users of the site. For this discovery exercise, you are asked to take a good look at Flickr and discover what this site has to offer. Find out how tags work, what groups are, and all the neat things that people and other libraries are using Flickr for.

Discovery Resources:

Discovery Exercise:

Take a good look around Flickr and discover an interesting image that you want to blog about. Be sure to include either a link to the image or, if you create a Flickr account, you can use Flickr's blogging tool* to add the image in your post. Another option you have for including images in your post is to use LiveJournal's or Blogger's photo upload tool.

So go ahead, explore the site and have some Flickr photo fun and if you're interested in looking at some photo hosting sites, then why not check out Jamie's recommendations & this Wired story. (Thanks Jamie for the link).


Optional Exercise

If you want to play some more take a look at some other picture hosting sites, like Picasa and Photobucket and blog about it.

Don't forget to check out our FAQ if you need help figuring out what to blog about.


PS: A quick word about photo posting etiquette - When posting identifiable photos of other people (especially minors) is it advisable to get the person's permission before posting their photo in a publicly accessible place like Flickr. Never upload pictures that weren't taken by you (unless you have the photographer's consent) and always give credit when you include photos taken by someone else in your blog.

*P.P.S.: Flickr appears to be having some difficulty in talking to Blogger. You can still download and upload a picture where permissions permit.

Next up: More photo fun

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Thing #4 Register your blog!

If you’ve made it this far, you already have three items or “things” completed of the twenty three that are required to earn your prize (not to mention qualify for the Nintendo Wii drawing). But how do you qualify? Good question! By registering your blog and recording your progress on each of the 23 things.

It's easy to register your blog! All you need to do is send an email to us at and tell us the address of your blog, your name, and your department and location. That's it!

So, here’s to Thing #4 – It’s really that easy and just think, now there’s only 19 more things to go. :)

NOTE: We are adding a blogroll (a link list in the sidebar) of all the blogs created for this Challenge. Please remember that this is a work activity and your peers and supervisors will view what you write.

Next Up: Learning about online photo sharing.

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Thing #3 Grab yourself a blog in 3 steps

Listen to this podcast:

Now that you’ve done some exploring around this website and understand how this program will work, it’s time to setup your very own personal blog to begin recording your thoughts, discoveries and exercises in. For this program, I recommend that you use Blogger*, a popular free online blog hosting service that is extremely easy to use.

There are many different blog hosting services out there, and each one has benefits and drawbacks. One popular service is LiveJournal. Many users prefer LiveJournal because of its focus on communities and "friends." With LiveJournal, you can set privacy restrictions on your posts so that only those you have previously designated as "friends" can read them. Wordpress is another very popular blog hosting service. Some people prefer Wordpress because it allows you to fully customize the look of your blog, but it is a bit more advanced. The OCL Web Things main blog is on Blogger. We recommend that you use Blogger for this challenge because it is extremely quick to set up a blog, and very easy to use for someone who's just starting out.

Creating a blog using Blogger takes just three steps:

  1. Create an account (view screenshot)
  2. Name your blog (view screenshot)
  3. Select your template. (view screenshot)

Once you’ve created your Blogger site here are two important things to know:

  • To add posts: The maintenance interface that you will use to add posts, edit or change the step-up your blog is accessed online at Be sure to write down your login and password.
  • To view your blog: Your blog address is http://(xxxx), (xxxx)=the unique identifier you entered in Step 2. Be sure to also write down your blog address. For example, this blog is
If you run into problems or would like more information about blogs and using Blogger here are some discovery resources you can use:

OK -- Now, it’s your turn...

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Setup a blog for yourself through Blogger.
  2. Add a test post or two.
    Note: Use one of your test posts to create an entry about the habits among the 7 and 1/2 lifelong learning habits that is easiest and hardest for you & why. REMINDER: You can ignore the learning contract.
  3. Have fun!!!!

IMPORTANT NOTE: How you choose to identify yourself on your blog is your choice. You can blog under a screen name, anonymously, or as yourself. However, in order to qualify for the staff incentives and staff day prize drawings, you will need to register by emailing us.

* Use of Blogger is only a recommendation. If there is another blog hosting site that you are more comfortable with, please feel free to use it.

Next up: Register your blog!

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Thing #2 - Learning vs. Training

Listen to this podcast:

Among libraries, lifelong learning is one of those core values we shelve our books by. So it makes sense that before we embark on this new online learning and discovery journey that we should take a few minutes to review a few habits that can assist in creating lifelong learners.

These habits, which we’ve called the Seven and 1/2 Habits of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners, will provide you with a refresher on what it means to be a lifelong learner. It will talk about a learning contract; please disregard. We're all friends; no need for contracts! Unless you are a lawyer...just kidding.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Make sure you have headphones or speakers attached to your computer.
  2. Open up the 7 & 1/2 Habits online tutorial and view the online tutorial.
  3. As you watch and listen, write down which habit among the 7 & 1/2 that is easiest for you and which is hardest. You will use your personal blog (which you will set up next) to post your thoughts about lifelong learning. When you are watching the 7 & 1/2 Habits, you can ignore the section on the learning contract and stop the slide show.

    Have fun! If you haven't jumped on board yet, it's never too late to become a lifelong learner. Thank you for joining us on this journey of discovery and fun.

    Next Up: Creating your blog so you can begin tracking your journey.

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Thing #1 - Introduction

1. Read this blog and find out about this program.
2. Discover a few pointers from lifelong learners and learn how to nurture your own learning process.
3. Send an email to and tell us:

you are playing, your name and what branch you work in.

Tutorial format:
Each week begins with a brief explanation of a new web 2.0 topic or tool, followed by a list of activities. These exercises give you the background you need to understand the tools that you are learning about.

When you have done the items on the list, you comment or post to your blog. Don’t panic, we will show you how to set up a blog next week. Your blog is the tool to communicate your reactions, new found skills, ideas and questions to the other participants in the web challenge.

Next Up: Learning vs. Training

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