Monday, May 21, 2007

Links from Open Mic Night

We had a great time at our first ever Open Mic Night -- even if no one from the audience was brave enough to take the podium and share. Bob, Evan, Jim and I were each prepared with more than enough sites and tips to share. It is a rare occurence for the 4 of us to be together in one place and the chance to share our "favorites" with the Tech Talk audience was a lot of fun. Here are the links to what we demonstrated and talked about that night:

The evening kicked off with Jim Crawford sharing the news that he recently became a grandfather (congrats Jim!). Jim then demonstrated some of the ways that he and his wife were involved with the arrival of their granddaughter even though they live on opposite coasts -- all thanks to the wonders of the modern Web.

For instance, when the baby shower was being planned, invitations were sent via Evite, a site which allows guests to rsvp online with notes to the hosts and guest of honor. So even though Jim and his wife could not fly to California for the shower, they could send their regrets with a personalized note.

On the day of the shower they were able to contribute to the buffet by having a beautiful "bouquet of fruit" delivered from Edible Arrangements and have their gift sent automatically using online baby registries.

Now that their granddaughter is here, they get to see her grow via a flickr photostream.

Jim also shared a few items from a list he compiled called Jim's Web Picks. We will post that list shortly as a separate blog entry as it is lengthy.

Next up was Bob Keith who shared 2 "freebie" utilities that he uses regularly, a new online photo editing site as well as one site that is "just for fun" because we all need a little fun now and then.

The two utilities that Bob demonstrated are CCleaner and LogMeIn. Bob will write more about those in a separate post in the coming weeks so stay tuned... next up was Picnik!

Picnik is a photo editing site that is still in beta, so all of its tools and features are currently free. After they come out of beta, a good portion of the site will still be free but you will have to pay for some of the premium features. Bob is excited about Picnik as it is a good alternative for quickly editing photos when you do not have access to other software. Also, you can grab your photos right from your flickr photostream for easy-editing. Bob will be teaching a class on Picnik on June 26th at 7 pm. Why not sign up and explore! Check our class calendar for this and other exciting classes.

Finally, just for fun, Bob shared the KrazyDad Colr Pickr -- a great way to explore the color fields tags on flickr and a fun way to surf for images.

I was up next (I am Janie Hermann, for those who do not read this blog regularly) and my selections were somewhat eclectic.

I started off with a live demo of using a new service called Jott. I had literally just set up my Jott account a few days before this session and am still loving this service. With Jott I can dial a 1-800 number from my cell phone to send messages to my email -- and much more! My best ideas often occur to me on my morning commute, so now I can just send myself a Jott and not worry about forgetting a single thing!

I am a list maker and have long used calendars to keep myself organized, so I demonstrated two online tools that I use to keep my life organized: Cozi Central and Tada Lists.

I finished off with a demonstration of how to stream music using Pandora. I have blogged about my love of Pandora before and you can read about it on Library Garden (my other blog). Pandora and other

Last, but certainly not least, was Evan Klimpl who gave us a tour of the tools we used to create PPL's Poetry Podcast Blog for National Poetry Month in April. We were able to create and host an ambitious podcasting project using a variety of free tools.

The blog was hosted on the free version of WordPress and each entry consisted of the text of the poem(s), a biography of the poet and their photo. We recorded the poets using a free audio editor and recorder from SourceForge called Audacity. We also used Audacity to edit the files and Evan gave a fun demonstration of the capabilities of Audacity to clean up sound files for clear quality. All of our sound files were then hosted for free on the Internet Archive and linked to our blog via a free Adobe flash MP3 player.

If you are interested in some hands on experience with creating podcasts, Evan will be teaching a 3 week course on podcasting this July in our Tech Center.

We are going to do another Tech Talk next spring with the PPL Tech Staff, and even though the format may be different I can guarantee that it will still be fun.