My quest continues. I didn't think it was all the way back in January that I last posted about this dream, but it was! Postifier is a little gizmo intended to be put inside a mailbox that will alert you when there's actually something placed inside:
The device lives on the inner roof of your postbox, attached with adhesive. It has a sensor that detects changes in infrared light when new mail arrives. When it detects mail, it activates the Bluetooth module and waits for the Postifier/smartphone reunion, at which point it will connect with your paired device and tell you the news.
So it's not quite the reporting structure I imagine, but the technology would be perfect to detect whether there's a pair of legs under a given study table, no?
Postifier doesn't actually exist yet, as it's looking for funding on Indiegogo. Waffling about whether to throw in some money just for testing. At $20-$25 each, it's still not an economical way to cover a couple hundred seats :-(
I should also point out this project at Oregon State that Cathrine linked to in the comments of my earlier post: http://beaversource.oregonstate.edu/projects/44x201213. Can anyone tell if these design files are enough to manufacture? I had been in touch with the students involved in the project, but haven't heard anything from them lately...
Oh, and there's this too: Wimoto.
I haven't had a chance to look through it at all, but was really pleased to learn about the new Alberta Open Data Portal, which,
...makes data the provincial government collects on behalf of citizens publicly available in machine readable formats with an open licence. This means there are no technical or legal restrictions for using the data.
By sharing this data, the Alberta government is increasing the transparency of government business, promoting economic opportunity and increasing citizen involvement in government.
The open data portal currently contains about 280 data sets. New data will be added to the site on an ongoing basis as departments identify what data is available and ensure it does not contain any personal or proprietary information. The public can also request data sets through the portal.
Also announced is a landing page for official Government of Alberta mobile apps. I'm less enamoured of the fact that money was spent to develop an app for Alberta Baby Names when funding for higher education in Alberta has been so recently and brutally slashed.
Thanks for the notice, Dani!
Serveral weeks ago as a result of a post by Michael Stephens I was introduced to this awesome page of usage visualizations at the Traverse Area District Library (Traverse City, MI). I had a great email exchange with the developer, Bill Rockwood, about how he put it together, and he's since posted a page outlining how it was built. Eventually, as time permits, Bill and his team will put the code up on GitHub for the rest of the world to use :-) Definitely worth a peek. Are you aware of any similar projects?
Just wanted to draw your attention to a great article I finally got around to reading: How Users Search the Library from a Single Search Box, May 2013 College & Research Libraries, vol. 74 no. 3 227-241. It's the story of how the search box at NCSU Libraries was developed, and word for word it pretty much mirrors why and how we built ours here at the U of Calgary.
Oh wow, this might actually be a real game-changer. Clippick is a cross-platform (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android) tool / app that does one thing only: you copy something on one device, and then the next time you hit Paste on any of your other devices, whatever you copied on the first device ends up there. In my very limited testing so far, text and URLs are available to paste almost instantly. Haven't tried yet with images.
I distinctly remember sitting next to a student while helping him work through a search back in, probably 1995 or 1996 - it was when I was working at Nova Southeastern University. We were running the same search on computers next to each other, and I had found something with a long URL that I wanted to share. I thought, "self, wouldn't it be cool if there was some way I could just copy this URL and have it appear on his screen?". THIS is that tool!
As it's currently configured, you couldn't just install this on all the machines in your reference area 'cause people would be pasting other people's peanut butter all over their chocolate. But if this could be configured with multiple accounts, or some sort of trigger that support staff could flip when desired, this tool could come in play as necessary.
Check out the intro video - There's no specific iPad app, but you can install the iPhone app there and it works just fine.
Back in November I posted about my desire for some way to reliably monitor and report available study seats within the library. I recently heard about Pinoccio, an Indiegogo project, and suspect it might do the trick! It's a very small Arduino board with an optional WiFi board. If one plugged a motion sensor, or used the included temperature sensor, it'd probably be able to report whether there was a body sitting at a given location. Small enough to work, WiFi and a long-life(?) battery. Ooh, even better, you don't need the WiFi bridge for each unit, only one for a given area, so that brings down the cost and complexity.
Pricing in bulk seems reasonable - they have a $999 package that would get you 20 monitors and a WiFi shield. Unfortunately we still have a couple hundred seats I'd like to be able to monitor, so realistically we probably still have to get the cost down. That's the primary reason I haven't given more thought to a more finished product like Twine... I think I'll drop the founders a note asking if they think this whole thing would work, and if so, go ahead and pick up a starter kit for testing.
Following a link from Lifehacker, I went ahead and signed up for the Advanced Power Searching course taught by Google. Guess I should go ahead and work my way through the archive of the Power Searching course that's still available online...
The Advanced course begins Jan 23, 2013 and includes the following challenges:
According to my confirmation email,
Course materials will be released in two batches:
In order to pass the course and earn your certificate, you must submit and evaluate two assignments and complete a final search challenge by the deadline of 11:59 p.m. PT on Friday, February 8, 2013.
Nice to finally see our new library here at the U of Calgary hosting non-traditional events, just as this year's edition of Global Game Jam. If you're in the Calgary area, why not participate?
The Nov 2012 issue of EDUCAUSE Review has a couple of nice articles looking at screencasting, specifically how they can be used to enhance the "flipped classroom". Both are by Michael F. Ruffini, an Associate Professor of Educational Technology at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
Screencasting to Engage Learning is the one that ties the concept into the flipped classroom, and Creating a PowerPoint Screencast Using Camtasia Studio provides a nice walkthrough for the novice screencaster. While this one would work well as a printout to follow along, I found it slightly ironic there wasn't a screencast of his process. Maybe I just missed it though...
Finally, as a library-related bonus, Chad Boeninger had a brief piece in the Nov 2012 issue of Elsevier's Library Connect, Tips for creating and sharing instructional videos.
We've got the whole workstation availability thing licked, but I want to be able to show our users which study seats are available here in the TFDL. That's one of the top two most common complaints here; that students spend too much time wandering around looking for a place to sit/study.
Here's my stream of consciousness on the issue. The solution can't be built in to the chairs, because those can move from table to cubicle etc. I think the most accurate bet is going to be a small proximity or motion detection device at every single table top, either above (subject to being blocked by study materials) or below (subject to confusion by a pushed-in chair?). The problem with that solution is cost and infrastructure. Unless very efficient, each unit would require electricity and a wifi transmitter. Building or buying and maintaining several hundred small Arduino-like devices seems too cumbersome and expensive.
Some other ideas I've come up with, or that have been suggested by colleagues, include cameras that can monitor a large space and tell which spots have bodies sitting at them. Possibly IR cameras? Tracking the number of active wifi connections on a floor, or around a particular antenna, and then guestimating that there must be a certain number of available seats, though not able to pinpoint them on a map.
Are you aware of any solutions out there already?
So you may have noticed I haven't been blogging much over the past year or so. In part, this presentation explains why. At the University of Calgary we (not so) recently opened a new building, the Taylor Family Digital Library (aka TFDL). I was heavily involved not so much in choosing, but in implementing a fair amount of the technology we put in place in the building, which we wanted to be one of the most technologically advanced in North America, if not the entire world. Last week, my colleague Dr. John Brosz and I presented on the new building at Internet Librarian 2012 in Monterey. You can read Info Today's writeup of the presentation (with correct URL to virtual tour), and you can watch the presentation via slideshare below, or follow the link and download the presentation to enjoy offline.