November 2011 Archives

In the last two weeks, Google+ has become available for UMN Google accounts. You can tell it's live because if you're logged into your email, then in the black bar across the top of the tab at the very far left of the screen will be "+YourFirstName", e.g. "+Amy" for me.

If you click on the "+YourName", you'll be walked through basic setup.

Now, here's the thing. You might already have been using Google+ with a non-UMN account. Or you might want to add someone to your circles who's been using a non-UMN account. In neither case will you necessarily be able to tell the difference. Nor will other users wishing to add you.

So, before I show you ways to disambiguate your accounts, I think it's worth talking just a little about whether you should even care that you can't necessarily tell which account you're adding to your circles.

After all, the big promise in Google+ is that it can act as a hub for an integrated, relatively complete online identity which, because it's tied to Google Search and other products, can provide some really useful exposure across the web.

Some people have noted that since the purpose of a circle is to help target content to specific groups, it should therefore not really matter which one you use or which account you choose to follow.

However, I see at least a few reasons why it would matter which account goes with which colleagues. One, making sure you're connecting with the right account for the right people means you're starting out with the right context (h/t Nancy Sims for this useful way of phrasing). For example, if you're using your work Google+ and you use a mobile device and you failed to modify the default photo sharing settings on your mobile device, you might find yourself sharing photographs of boots you want to buy with, say, your supervisor's supervisor. This isn't tragic - everyone needs shoes and it's a not a question of propriety, but it may not be the first thing you want that person to think of when they think of you.

Two, it's very likely that Google Docs, Sites, Calendar et al will soon be tied to Google+. Because you may put things like "don't forget to scoop the cat boxes tomorrow" on your personal calendar as opposed to your work calendar for a reason, you similarly may wish to consider just how closely you want your personal and professional identities to be connected.

Three, it means that items you share in Google Reader, things that amuse you in general web searching, photos you post, etc must always, always, always be checked very carefully to ensure that you're sharing with those and only those you wish to. It means that you may be spending an awful lot of time manually locking posts to prevent re-sharing.

It seems to me that, given the centrality of Google services for most of us in the Libraries whether personal or professional, that we could just save ourselves a lot of time by keeping our accounts (as) separate (as possible). By taking this approach, we put some time in up front to think about what kind of identity we want to create, but then we don't have to spend as much later on making the same decisions on a case by case basis.


Ok. So. What can you do to simplify this process for your colleagues?

You can go to your Profile in Google+, click on the Edit Profile button to the upper right and then do any of the following:

  1. List your current place of employment
  2. List your current job title
  3. Just below your name, add a brief bio indicating that this is indeed your work account. See my profile for an example.

Then when someone looks you up and gets that little envelope-shaped icon with your name and picture (if you have loaded one), they should also see at least one of these fields. It appears, based on some experimentation just now, that current place of employment gets first priority, current job title second priority, places you've lived third priority and brief bio the fourth or lower priority. So, if you decide to share with the whole world that you work at the UMN, then it'll just say "University of Minnesota". If you limit that field to any group - say just to the UMN - or fail to fill it in, then the little envelope should show your job title and so forth.

Similarly, you can modify the profile on your personal account so that it prioritizes personal information over work-related information.

I know this is a fairly long post, so if you've read this far, thanks for sticking it out!

Coffee Club: Collaboration in the Cloud

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Black Coffee
Current Issues Coffee Club
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
1:00pm - 2:30pm
Wilson S30A
Reading: Collaboration in the Cloud: Untethered technologies for scholarly pursuits

As a follow-up to last week's Emerging Tech Expo, the PIM Collaborative will be hosting a coffee club tomorrow to discuss tools that help with group collaboration. We've provided a short article as a jumping-off point. Come equipped with your own tips, tools, and questions to share.

Image "Black Coffee" CC BY-NC-ND Professor Bop"

Graduate Students and Twitter


twitter_newbird_boxed_blueonwhite.pngA couple weeks ago, I attended a session sponsored Center for Teaching & Learning titled Let`s Tweet Up! Creating a Digital Identity in Support of Research, Teaching, Learning. Dr. Ilene Alexander led us in a discussion of how to leverage Twitter and social media in general as a busy graduate student. This was a great opportunity to hear from graduate students how Twitter is being used in their fields, and to learn about some useful tips and resources.

Some of the big questions the graduate students had coming in to the workshop were:

  • How do I separate my personal and professional identities online?

  • Why should I use Twitter when I already have so many things to pay attention to?

  • How do I fit twitter use into my workflow?

  • How do I find other tweeters in my subject area?

Here is a partial list of some of the uses for Twitter that were mentioned in an attempt to answer some of these questions:

  • crowd source

  • follow sources

  • track professional organizations

  • curate resources

  • post calls

  • contribute

  • intentionally making connections

  • seek new ideas

And finally, here are a couple of resources I came away with that could be useful to a wide array of researchers:

This also inspired me to do some updating of the PIM Social Networking website.

Life Could Be Easier - On the Go, Part 4

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Shortly after our September Life Could be Easier: Mobile Edition feature, Nancy Herther suggested that we investigate mobile apps with voice recognition capabilities. She also pointed out several apps to get us started. Days later, Apple announced the iPhone 4S, which features the greatly enhanced (and now Apple-owned) Siri app.

Siri's getting a lot of press right now, but it's not the only app out there that responds to your voice. Here are a few choices that support everything from web searching to more "personal assistant" functions:

Dragon Mobile Apps: iPhone and Blackberry
Nuance's Dragon Naturally Speaking speech recognition software has been available on desktops for almost 15 years. Nuance also markets several apps for iPhone and iPad that take advantage of the Dragon engine: Dragon Dictation allows you to send emails and texts or update Facebook. Dragon Search provides a voice interface for online search. And the recently released Dragon Go brings Siri-like functionality to earlier model iPhones and iPads. Nuance also throws a bone to Blackberry users, with Dragon for E-Mail.

Workflow example: Jerilyn Veldof reports that she records her thoughts following meetings using Dragon Dictation and sends the text straight to Evernote.

Google Search: Android, iPhone, Blackberry, and Nokia S60
Google Search provides voice access for general web searching.

Google Voice Actions: Android
Clearly, Voice Actions is the application that Siri leapfrogged over. With Voice Actions, you can send emails and texts, call contacts, get directions, play music by asking for a song title, artist, or album, and do general web searches.

Bing Apps: Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, and Windows Mobile
If you're looking for an alternative to the Google world, the mobile version of the Bing website works great. It provides quick access to location-based deals, movies, news, and more. Although the mobile site doesn't support voice search, you can download a Bing app for that does. I had a little trouble finding the right app at first; at least for Android, Verizon phones require the Bing on VZW app instead.

Vlingo: Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, and Windows Mobile
Like Siri, Vlingo focuses on keeping your hands free and translating what you say into the appropriate action. Lifehacker selected Vlingo as the closest thing Android users have to Siri of the apps in the field; the linked Lifehacker post profiles several other personal assistant options for Android.

Jeannie for Android
If you're looking for something with a little more personality, check out Jeannie. I haven't tried this one yet, but the video on its Android Market page is intriguing. There's even a kid-friendly version.

Life Could Be Easier - On the Go, Part 3

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Published in the September 12 Monday Memo:

From Amy West, Data Services Librarian, Device Type: Android

RememberTheMilk - app is free, but only available for RTMPro subscribers ($25/year)
Android Market
RTM Pro does cost $25 a year, but for the absurdly absentminded like me, that's a bargain. I have my todo list right on the home screen of my phone, installed as a plug-in next to my email and integrated into my calendar. Since I've got it on my phone, then when I think of something that I should do for work or home (usually on the bus coming or going), I can note it right then. I still forget things, but way, way, way less than before. Since the phone's always with me, RTM makes a nice bridge tool between work and home.

Tweetdeck - free
Best Twitter client for Android. You can specify notifications by type, e.g. do nothing for new tweets, flash a light for @ replies, make a noise for a DM, etc. You can also receive updates from Facebook when someone comments on a post of yours - better notifications than the native Facebook application. I do find the fonts a little small and you can't choose which photo upload service to use, but these problems haven't been enough to make me switch. Tweetdeck also supports multiple accounts.

PowerNote for Android - free
Android Market
PowerNote is a tool developed by Diigo the bookmarking service. I don't care for PowerNote as an independent app, but once it's installed you can save things from other applications like Tweetdeck to your Diigo account via PowerNote. Diigo is fabulous - it supports bookmarking, annotations and notes. I now use it over In the mornings while I throw cat food for Leopold to hunt down, I get caught up on Twitter. Any substantive tweets get saved to PowerNote so I can read them later at work. Since it's already added to my Diigo account, this means I only have to decide if I want to make it a public bookmark and if so, add tags. I have found that this is the single most efficient way to manage bookmarking & professional reading. For what it's worth, I have a standing reminder in RTM to check Diigo each day for items I saved!

Weatherbug Elite - $1.99
Very nicely laid out screens, displays temp in notification bar at the top of the phone and, for those days when I want to make sure to tell my family about all the character I'm building up here in February, built-in screen capture that I can then post to Facebook.

OurGroceries - free with ads
Shopping list application. Unlike RTM or other tools, this one remembers previous entries and displays the most commonly listed ones first. Turns out that makes it worth having a separate application just for lists. You can have multiple shopping lists and they'll be rearranged based on whether they have anything in them and/or how recently they were modified. I've also found it very handy for packing since ALA Midwinter because once I've entered "ipod charger" the first time, it comes right up every other time I put together a packing list. You're supposed to be able to share lists, but at the moment I'm the only one in the household w/a smartphone so I haven't tried that.

From Paul Zenke, University Libraries Instructional Designer Device: Paul uses a (self described) dilapidated iPhone 3G.

GoodReader (iPhone/iPad) $4.99
My favorite iOS application for reading, highlighting, managing, and syncing .pdf and .doc files. GoodReader has so many advanced features it feels like a desktop app.

Sample workflow: Save a .pdf article in Dropbox, sync to GoodReader, download the article into GoodReader, highlight sections and make comments, zip the original and the marked-up version, then email the zipped files to a colleague for their review.

Tweetbot (iPhone) $2.99
My favorite Twitter interface on any device.

Simplenote (iPhone/iPad) $0.00
A simple multi-platform writing tool.

Dropbox (iPhone/iPad) $0.00, web service has free and paid subscription options
Access your files on the go.

Apps previously mentioned by my colleagues on the PIM blog, that I also use:
Evernote (iPhone/iPad) $0.00, web service has free and paid subscription options
Where I keep my notes, images, and audio files.

Sample workflow: After a meeting, or while walking across campus, I'll create a new audio file and will record audio straight into my phone. I use this when I want to talk through an idea, or to avoid forgetting something while I'm not able to write it down. The audio file then syncs with Evernote's desktop and web interfaces so my audio note will be ready for my review on my desktop when I get back to my office.

Another Sample workflow: I use the iPhone's camera to capture whiteboard drawings directly into Evernote. I'll often paste them into the same note I was using to take notes during a meeting so I'll have all my media together in one place. I can also email these notes to a group directly from the application.

App to watch:
Mendeley (iPhone/iPad) $0.00
I use the Mendeley desktop app daily, however the current version of the iPhone app (1.3.1) consistently crashes. I can't wait for them to fix the bugs.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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