Archive for the ‘Web 2.0 Applications’ Category

Didn’t need much prompting with this one. All my mobile devices are FULL of apps, and have been for about 5 years since I first got one!

An app is either a trimmed-down version of a web program, or a completely individual program, designed for use on a smart device – phone or tablet.

There are literally millions of apps (if you count the non-English language ones) on absolutely anything and everything. 99% of them are possibly completely pointless. And yet, the global market revenue for apps is somewhere in the region of US$20 billion (and that’s not even counting the free apps!) so something’s working!

The main apps I have on my devices are:

  • Games. I have a lot of games. I also have a lot of kids games, but that’s because I have a toddler, a lot to do and poor parenting skills 🙂
  • Reference. I’ve got the app versions of Wikipedia and IMDb on my devices. The content’s no different to the web version, and it’s not equipped for offline use, but the apps are easier than the web versions to use on a tablet and phone touchscreen
  • Maps – UQ Nav, Apple Maps and Google Maps (the latter mostly so I could catch Pokemon on April Fools Day)
  • Shopping. Again, most of these shopping sites have web versions, but the apps are easier than the website for smart devices.
  • TV – both ABC iView and SBS On Demand so I can watch catch-up TV. (iPad only)
  • eBooks – got Overdrive for reading BCC Library ebooks, and BlueFire Reader for UQ ones. I got the Kobo app but haven’t used it yet. (iPad only)

One really useful app I check every day is AppOfTheDay – every day they have a different app (usually a paid one) that they’re offering for free for 24 hours. I don’t get most of the apps they feature – many don’t appeal to me – but I’ve picked up a couple of useful productivity apps, and a game or two, from there. Sometimes you get a $4 or $5 app for free.

I reckon I probably add one new app a week, and keep maybe one in every two I download. Many apps offer a Lite or Free version of a full app so you can take a test drive before you commit to paying for the full version.

In some ways, apps have made life easier – remembering things, communicating, accessing information – and in many others they draw more and more on my free time. Though I suspect that’s my own fault. Now please excuse me – I have candy to crush!!

 

It’s everyone’s worst nightmare, isn’t it? Log in to your email at an internet cafe on an overseas trip, and all of a sudden your bank accounts are drained, your email address is sending Nigerian Bank Scams to all your friends and your Twitter is spamming half the world with cheap dodgy pharmaceutical ads…

But I think that, for all that we’re paranoid, we’re not very good at doing anything about it. I know I’ve used Wifi in public places (cafes, airports, hotels, libraries) heaps of time, and while I don’t do my NetBanking over Wifi (I don’t NetBank at all, to be honest) I’ve paid for credit card purchases, filled out forms with private information, logged into social networks, and more.

Ironically, the only time I’ve ever had an account hacked and stolen was in pre-wifi days when my old Hotmail account password mysteriously changed and friends and family reported receiving suspicious body-part-enhancing emails from “me”. Likewise my mother, before she discovered wifi, had her email hacked and messages asking for money come through after visiting an internet centre while on a trip in Europe. So perhaps the scaremongering about wifi security sort of masks the real message – wifi’s not the criminal here. Criminals are the criminals. And maybe wifi makes it easier for them to be on the same network as you and find a back door to your information, but these people are clever, and they’ve always been able to do it.

Lately there’s been lots in the news about the Heartbleed bug, a flaw in the security programming behind 90% of what we do on the internet. So even the computers are against us! Perhaps we’re fighting a losing battle!

I guess whatever you do online, whether you’re on an iPad in your local park on council wifi, on a university computer using the university’s highspeed broadband, or firing up your old desktop at home (hopefully not on dialup still!) there are things you can/should do to make sure that you’re not flashing your private data at the whole world:

  • Don’t NetBank without some security in place. For example, many banks have a feature where money transfers out of your account network over a certain amount need to be verified with a code sent via SMS.
  • Don’t leave your social networking sites logged in. At the very least, your younger sibling may update your status while you sleep to “I like poo”.
  • If you don’t recognise the name of a free Wifi network, don’t use it. If you’re using the network in a hotel, cafe or other public place, check with the staff to find out which is the official network. Don’t assume that just because it says “hilton hotel wifi” that it’s the official network – cyber-criminals are clever, remember?
  • If you’re overseas, try to use networks or internet facilities from recognised public organisations (libraries are great!). We UQ folk are lucky that we’re on the eduroam network, if you’re in/near a university town look for that.
  • It might be better to buy a pre-paid 3G sim card for your wifi device, or a portable hotspot device, than rely on public wifi. The long-run cost (and convenience) might be worth it!

 

I remember the first time I used Prezi: it was 2010, the audience sat down and a colleague and I treated everyone to a whirlwind tour of some new technology or other. Everyone sat in relatively stunned silence. I thought this was a good thing, and asked my manager how it had gone. “Oh, the content was good. But between you and me – it did move around a lot. The screen I mean. We all felt a bit motion-sick!”

Prezi has thankfully come a long way in 4 years (or maybe it’s just that my skills have improved!) and things are a little less hurl-inducing. The premise is that Prezi is a presentation software, much like a PowerPoint slideshow, but hosted online, and allowing through zoom and movement a sort of image-mapping of a presentation topic in a visual way. Beginning with a central premise, zooming in on specific sections or branching out on tangents. As long as you are careful and use good design and viewer experience principles when you make it, Prezis can be quite powerful presentation vehicles.

Here’s the Prezi I did last year to present my thesis research findings at a meeting. I hope nobody gets ill – I’d like to think I’ve learned from my mistakes all those years ago!

I’d like to think I can consider myself reasonably well-versed when it comes to RSS. I used to teach classes on subscribing to RSS feeds back in “the noughties” when they first started becoming commonplace. We’d help people set up a Google Reader account, show them how to get journal contents, database search and citation tracker RSS feeds. It was a great tool for researchers (academics more so than students, but maybe PhDs) to just set and forget as long as they checked their Reader once in a while.

hungry cat

Not this sort of feed…

Another thing we used to show people, and a tool I quite liked myself, was the variety of programs that used to convert RSS feeds to emails and send you a daily digest. I used one (Feedburner from memory?) myself for a while and it was great. Even easier for the set-and-forgetters as it’s coming in to something they check all the time, no need to go to another site.

I used RSS feeds quite a lot – used to get the feed from the XCKD webcomic and it’d give me a smile every morning when I came into work. I used to get feeds from a few library and tech blogs, so I could do a browse through for professional reading quickly (there was always a lot of duplication). I used to be involved in the Blog Every Day of June challenges many Australian library professionals did annually, and my reader was a great way to amalgamate all those blogs together for reading, commenting, being part of the community.

Google Reader has since been, um, “euthanized” by Google (what were they thinking? Did they not look at usage stats at all? Surely it could have just sat there without any developer having to lift a finger to update it or anything? *sobs*)  Feedburner also suffered tragic abandonment and assisted death. All my RSS tools were decommissioned in the space of about 6 months, and I tried a few other services but they were so buggy I gave up and looked for alternatives.

What does that mean? Does it mean RSS is dead? Maybe not – maybe it’s just changing where it lives and how we get to it. Building LibGuides, I’ve put an RSS feed widget into every single one. It feeds in new release news stories on the given topic and adds meaningful content to my LibGuide without me having to lift a finger. Lots of people are using things like TwitterFeed and similar to get the RSS from their blogs into their twitter accounts. I must say, many of the personal blogs I’d previously followed on GR have gone down that route and I still see all their content, just via Twitter now.

So maybe microblogging and widgets are the way we get push-out content now. Maybe readers are (were?) a second-tier tool in a tech toolbox so full these days that the second we could get our other tools to do that for us, we didn’t need them any more. But the more a tool gets subsumed into a larger do-it-all tool, the more it gets missed in the minutiae of everything else that tool gets used for.

If you do still use a reader, I’d love to know why and which one! I could be tempted back, I think, given the right tool…

(P.S – I still miss GR and Feedburner a bit every day…)

Cat with a camera

Not much of a contest this, seeing as Picasa now requires an installation and I can’t do that at work. So, fail, Picasa, you’re skipped in favour of Flickr!

Flickr hasn’t changed a whole lot since 2008 when I first used it. It’s gotten a bit more socially-oriented since Yahoo took it over, and the look and feel is a lot more graphical now too.

I’ve used the Creative Commons search of Flickr quite a lot, especially at work to source images for one of our staff training websites. However, the metadata of the search isn’t great, only as good as the tags people think to put in, so sometimes it can be hard to find good stuff (and sometimes you find a lot more than you bargain for!)

The personal pages and photos I could take or leave – Flickr seems to be about 10% artists, 90% narcissists – but I really like the buy-in from some of the big institutions like the Library of Congress and several international universities. Old photos get new life in Flickr, and it’s beautiful to see.  Here’s one of my very favourites for you… three little country Jewish girls eating Pesach snacks together.

Eating Matzoh

 

Nice to Meets You

This is a welcome back for me: I first did 23 Things back in 2008 when it was first launched at UQ Library.  I figured 5 years is a LOOOONG time since I completed the program, and the world (online and offline) has changed a whole lot since then! I’m really keen to learn and use new things to make life easier and more fun, so here’s hoping there are some new “Things” I can pick up in the next 10 weeks to expand my knowledge portfolio a bit.

Task 1 for 23 Things 2013: set up a blog. Cheeky me, I’m using my original 2008 blog stripped of all the old posts. I originally picked WordPress,  over Blogspot/Bloggr last time because it was a little bit edgy, all the cool kids were using it. I find I still like the look and feel, the useability and the functionality – it looks a lot cleaner and has a few more gadgets than last time but the principles and the ease of use are the same.

I’m not a “tutorial” user so much – I’m the kind of person who will play around, search a help file or forum and then search Google if I have a problem. I think I’m a self-paced learner (pace = breakneck sometimes!) and don’t like endlessly clicking “next” on dozens of steps and tips that are as plain as daylight for me. I know that if I come to need to post a YouTube clip or similar and I can’t do it, I’ll search around until I work it out. I don’t get frustrated with tech tools easily, so that approach works fine for me.

So that’s it for Post 1: apologies for being lazy and recycling!