Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is Twitter Relevant?

Date: March 29, 2010 10:22:08 PM CDT
Subject: Boom! Tweets & Maps Swarm to Pinpoint a Mysterious Explosion
Source: ReadWriteWeb
Author: Marshall Kirkpatrick

What would you do if you heard a giant boom and you didn't know where it came from? If you're like thousands of people in Portland, Oregon, you might hit Twitter and Google Maps to participate in the city-wide exploration of a slightly frightening mystery. Last night at about 8 p.m., people in a big part of the city felt their windows shake and no one could tell them what caused it.
Was it a sonic boom? An angry deity? Even the mayor himself tweeted this morning that he was looking into the sound. In the meantime, thousands of people were using the hashtag #pdxboom and adding themselves to a hastily configured Google Map showing where they lived and how loud the boom had been there. In just a few hours, a pattern emerged, with reports clustering around one city park. This morning the police found a detonated pipe bomb there and cited the Google Map in their announcement.

Pausing the Stream
Reid Beels is a designer, geo-developer and one of the community organizers of Portland's forthcoming conference Open Source Bridge ("The conference for open source citizens").
Beels says he was sitting in a restaurant in southeast Portland when he heard the boom, and saw tweets streaming in about it within minutes. He searched Twitter for "boom" and "explosion," limiting the results by location. Within five minutes, he says, a hashtag had emerged: #pdxboom.

What was the #pdxboom, people wanted to know? Some people said it sounded like thunder. Lots of people said it sounded like an empty trash Dumpster crashing on the ground. They mentioned their locations in their Tweets and Beels quickly grew frustrated that all this data was just streaming into the ether, lost from analysis.
So he threw up a Google Map with instructions to put a pin in your location and describe how the boom sounded to you.

Within an hour 100 people had placed pins on the map. Beels and developer Audrey Eschright came up with a color coded system to describe the intensity of the sound, and began retroactively coloring in pins based on any comments people left.
Then they found out that Google Maps will only display the 200 most recent pins placed in a public map. Beels' friend Aaron Parecki wrote a script to download the map's data every fifteen minutes. That came in handy when a few hours later someone vandalized the map by dragging a large number of markers outside the town. It was trivial to roll back to the last valid data.

The local TV news and the newspaper ran stories about the boom, and pointed their audiences at the Google Map. Thousands of people visited it, and just under 1,000 added a pin marking where they where and how loud the boom had sounded to them.
It became clear that the boom originated near the Sellwood Bridge; a big cluster of red markers surrounded the area, especially to the east. Thousands of people are still streaming in to look at the map; at the end of the day it's now approaching 70,000 views, even if the mystery, if not the crime, is solved.

Some people thought it was a precursor Earthquake Boom. (I woke up convinced my basement bedroom was underground in an earthquake.) But the Portland police went to a park in the area most filled with red flags on the map and found a large, detonated, pipe bomb. A Portland police spokesperson said the maps and tweets were very helpful.
A topographic view of the map made some inclined to believe that cliffs across the river and low-hanging clouds combined to make the sound travel as far across the city and in the direction that it did.
That Was a Practice Run
Beels says two big lessons came out of the experience for him. First, the tools they used were easy and fast, but they were also quite limited. Google Maps in particular was capable of multi-user collaboration but did poorly when it came to displaying a large amount of data. As Eschright wrote after the action, "It's not the best platform for a couple hundred people, many without prior experience editing maps, to be using all at once."

Inspired by campaigns like CrisisCampPDX and the CrisisWiki, Beels says the community is interested in setting up an installation of open-source, crisis support software Ushahidi on standby in case a real crisis has to be dealt with.
Beels says he's inspired not just by what was done in this situation, but by what it revealed about the future. "The community of people who will search for things online and go out of their way to try to figure out what's going on," he says, "is larger than you might think."

Friday, March 26, 2010

PLA Day 2 - my feet hurt!

Okay, I am ready to eat crow - the first session I wanted to attend was too full - so I guess there ARE alot of people here. I have to say I have attended really good sessions today.

The first one was "Oh, I Wish I'd Said.....(aka: Dealing With Difficult People by Pam Parr and Gail Johnson - these ladies are funny! They also suggested two sentences can help handle almost any situation.......and they are: 1. I am sorry that happened and 2. I can take care of that for you. Neither of these mean you or the library is at fault - but that you are sorry about the situation and will take care of it - even if that means calling the police. Many people feel upset if they think they weren't treated "fairly". But fairness is in the eye of the beholder.........so ask them what they think is fair.

Next I have attended an update on Paco Underhill's Envirosell and their library study "Why We Borrow" - for those that know me you know I often refer to his book Why We Buy. Very insightful information - I plan to incorporate more of this into the Image Audits that I do with libraries. One comment made is "retail" is not a four letter word! Look at how your users use the library space and respond accordingly.

A side note: I am becoming quite the seasoned transit rider - it is so nice - we need this system in North Texas. The rail police even talked to me this morning - and thankfully I had bought the right ticket! : )

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I am at PLA!

I arrived today at PLA and hit the ground running.............and I am proud to say that I have the light rail connections figured out.

I attended a couple sessions and visited several exhibitors - and yes, grabbed some freebies. There seems to be a common thread running tnrough the sessions - survival in tough times. It may also be my imagination but it seems like there are fewer people here - an example of a tough time in library world? One thing I have definitely taken away from the sessions is that it takes the dedication of all of us to keep our libraries relevant and growing. Speakers are building morale and being supportive - truly cheering on all of the hard working staff.

Also discussion of a revolution is prevalent - to dewey or not, support your supporters and tell non-supporters to take a hike, grow civic activities together and so on............

Oh yea, the really important stuff - went to voodoo donuts - the best one I had was the dirty rotten bastard - a concoction of chocolate, peanut butter and I am not even sure what all - yum! Popular local joint as we waited in line for 30 minutes - there is ALWAYS a line apparently.

Hopefully will get more rest and will have a very pruductive day tomorrow.....

No problems.............they seem to say that phrase alot up here.............

New Program


The Texas Workskills Development in Libraries, better known as TWDL (pronounced Twiddle), has begun. It is a cooperative effort by North Texas Regional Library System, Big Country Library System, Houston Area Library System, Northeast Texas Library System, Texas Trans-Pecos Library System, and the West Texas Library System. It is made possible by a grant from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

TWDL was created to help Texas residents obtain information and learn better ways to look for a job as well as providing ways to improve their job skills. The project supports Texas library staff, management and volunteers in gathering job training resources that can be easily accessed and offered to all Texans.

Carolyn Davidson Brewer, Assistant Director at NTRLS, has developed and scheduled a series of more than 52 free workshops thoughout North Texas to provide information about resume writing, interviewing strategies, job searching and much more.

One of the most exciting developments of TWDL is the web site
www.twdl.org. In addition to information, another highlight online is the links to self-paced tutorials, lists of agencies offering free training by region and much more. Because each library system offers different programs all over the state, go to www.twdl.org to see what is available in your area. The TWDL web site allows all to access the valuable information 24/7.

At NTRLS we are seeing tremendous success early in this project. Workshops are full and even when a workshop has ended, people stay to talk to Carolyn to try to get additional personalized information. She is often on location an hour after the workshops end.
If a librarian needs help getting information about TWDL to their communities, promotional materials have been developed that are easily personalized for every participating library to use in their community. The materials include bookmarks, flyers, and posters.

The need for this service is great and to quote Adam Wright, Executive Director at NTRLS, “The public library has always been known as a resource for providing quality information and now during these economically stressful times, we wanted to provide work skill information that will help people become employed or improve their skills.”

If you would like more information about TWDL, please call Aera Yoon at the North Texas Regional Library System at 817.377.4440.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

From no library to showcase library!

Almost exactly five years ago, Bedford (TX) residents in favor of a tax rollback won that election by 10 votes. As a result, the Bedford (TX) City Council voted 4-3 to close the Bedford Public Library and several other city services in order to repay 3.5 million dollars collected before the rollback was put in place.

Since then, library supporters have succeeded not only in getting the 17,000 square foot library re-opened but also in urging the City to purchase a former Food Lion building and contracting to have it redesigned as a 40,500 square foot library.

Last night, March 23, 2010, the Bedford (TX) City Council approved the $1.9 million dollar grant for a 244.75 kw solar panel system from the State Energy and Conservation Office for the new Bedford Public Library. The non-roof penetrating solar system will save 343,384 kw annually.

The new library will be a showcase for the community on sustainable and energy efficient green technologies combining geothermal wells, a reflective roof, energy efficient lighting and solar panels. You've come a long way, Bedford!

For more information about the geothermal project, visit http://www.bedfordlibrary.org/assets/PDFs/GeothermalPres.pdf .

For more information about the entire renovation, click on the links in the lower portion of http://www.bedfordlibrary.org/ .

BTW: The floor plan for the new library originated in the focus group made up of Bedford teens.

Visit NTRLS.org before March is over!

Be sure to check out the NTRLS website before the end of the month so you don't miss the March news.

Libraries other than public libraries can now become members of NTRLS. It's free and easy for academic, school and special libraries to join the community that determines NTRLS programs and services. See http://www.ntrls.org/membership/ for membership criteria and membership application forms – or look for 'Criteria for Membership' under the 'Members' menu.

Award nominations are open through April 12. See http://www.ntrls.org/awards/ or look for 'Award Nomination Form' under the Resources menu. Awards will be presented at the Awards Luncheon following the System Assembly on May 27.

There's about a week left for this month's theme – Comparing Office Software Suites, in which we compare Microsoft Office, OpenOffice and GoogleDocs in our theme article and podcast. You should also check the column from Adam Wright and Adam Beatty's story about keeping Internet Explorer 8 in good working order.

We're putting together the web theme for April. Come back to NTRLS.org after April 1 to see it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

National Call Center for Homeless Veterans

Librarians may come in contact with homeless Veterans, Veterans at risk of homelessness and/or families and friends of Veterans who may be homeless or at risk. Below is information to share:

While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has not yet made a formal announcement about it, the National Homeless Veteran Call Center and Homeless Veteran Chatline Service are up and running and the telephone number and related information are on the VA website.

To access it, log onto www.va.gov, scroll down to the right hand corner to Special Programs. Click on Homeless Veterans. Once on that page, click the third bullet (left hand side) – National Call Center for Homeless Veterans—under Useful Links.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Finding Jobs | Texas Workskills Development in Libraries

Finding Jobs | Texas Workskills Development in Libraries: "If you use Twitter, you can sign up for job notifications with TweetmyJobs.com.
The TweetMyJOBS service lets job seekers receive instant notifications on their phone when new jobs are posted online via the popular micro-messaging service Twitter. The company aggregates the Twitter-based job postings from over 7000 companies and maintains over 8250 specific job channels within those companies, all of which are searchable via their website."

How TweetMyJOBS Works

The TweetMyJOBS service lets job seekers receive instant notifications on their phone when new jobs are posted online via the popular micro-messaging service Twitter. The company aggregates the Twitter-based job postings from over 7000 companies and maintains over 8250 specific job channels within those companies, all of which are searchable via their website.
However, it's the job matching service that makes TweetMyJOBS worth using for those in need of work. Instead of having to follow potentially hundreds of Twitter accounts belonging to companies, the service will match a Twitter user's interests with the available jobs posted to Twitter. Users can also specify a particular geographic region where they prefer to work. They can even use the service to post their resume to Twitter. When a job seeker and a job listing match up, the user is alerted via a text message sent to their phone via Twitter.
For job posters, there are fees involved for adding listings just like there are with any other job board. At present, it costs $4000 to list 500 jobs and $8000 for unlimited job postings. Single posts are $1.99. In return, companies are able to directly connect with qualified candidates while also tracking the clicks on the jobs they list.

Sears Holdings: 7000 Jobs Now, Hundreds of Thousands to Come
At launch time, Sears Holdings has posted 7000 jobs to TweetMyJOBS. The lineup includes everything from cashiers to vice presidents, a company representative tells us. And this is just the beginning. Over the course of the year, the company will continue adding all their available jobs to the service. Since, as noted above, the company posts hundreds of thousands of jobs per year, they will soon have thousands more to post to TweetMyJOBS.

In today's tough, competitive hiring market, a service like this can give motivated job seekers an edge. Since it allows for instant notification when a job is made available online, users of TweetMyJOBS can be among the first to apply to available positions. They can also rest assured that the jobs sourced are from reputable companies assures Rich Trombetta, TweetMyJOBS co-founder. Unlike on many job boards today, filled with questionable get-rich-quick schemes, work from home offers and other spam, only legitimate jobs are made available on his service. "We are very careful about the types of jobs we list on the site," Trombettarecently told the Chicago Tribune. "We eliminate the spam."
Interested job seekers can sign up for the service here at TweetMyJOBS.com

Thursday, March 18, 2010

LoKast : The Disposable Social Network

LoKast : The Disposable Social Network

Written by Mike Melanson / March 18, 2010 11:29 AM

Here's an idea for you: instead of slowly amassing followers, like on Twitter, or carefully culling your friends list over time on Facebook, making sure everyone is in their appropriate list and category, collect and dispose of friends like you ask for the time or a spare cigarette on a busy city street.

That's what Lokast, the self-described "disposable" social network lets you do - carry your throw-away lifestyle over into the digital world.

The LoKast iPhone app was released earlier this week at the South By South West festival in Austin and is the perfect app for finding yourself among throbbing masses of the technologically inclined. But what is this disposable thing? From the email we received this week on the app's release:

Disposable? Yes. That means unlike Facebook which is friends and family, this app is about finding random people in close range and being able to share and see parts of their public digital profile including downloading their public-share videos, music and pictures. The best part, is that after you're in that close range, you may never see them again. IE: Disposable.
According to the press release, the name is short for "local casting", as opposed to broadcasting, and "aims to eliminate the need for physical media sharing, thereby eradicating physical CDs, plastic cases, video DVDs or waiting to get back to a PC computer to share and experience content."


Text4baby is a free mobile information service designed to promote maternal and child health. An educational program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB), text4baby provides pregnant women and new moms with information they need to take care of their health and give their babies the best possible start in life. Women who sign up for the service by texting BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411 will receive free SMS text messages each week, timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth.

Text4baby is made possible through a broad, public-private partnership that includes government, corporations, academic institutions, professional associations, tribal agencies and non-profit organizations. Founding partners include HMHB, Voxiva, CTIA - The Wireless Foundation and WPP. Johnson & Johnson is the founding sponsor, and premier sponsors include WellPoint, Pfizer and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. U.S. government partners include the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense Military Health System. The mobile health platform is provided by Voxiva and free messaging services are generously provided by participating wireless service providers. Implementation partners include BabyCenter, Danya International, Syniverse Technologies, Keynote Systems and The George Washington University. MTV Networks is a media sponsor.

Thanks to Tina Hager from Little Elm for sharing this information...........

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Free Personalized Newspaper and TV Listings Service over the Telephone

NFB-NEWSLINE is a free electronic service that gives any blind, visually impaired, or print disabled person access to newspapers, magazines, and TV Listings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week using a Touch-Tone telephone.

Notes from the National Federation of the Blind:
* Anyone who cannot read conventional newsprint can qualify for this free service
* Blind children are now able to research their own school assignments and do homework independently.
* Anyone with a physical disability who is unable to turn a page can qualify.

Seeing this service reminded me that there are people that still rely on the newspapers to deliver their daily news and events........especially seniors. This service would provide them the opportunity to stay informed. Take time to check it out.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

IMLSUpNext - home

IMLSUpNext - home: "Welcome to UpNext!
Now Open—Theme #1: Changing Roles with Discussion Leader, Martín Gómez, City Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library and Theme #2: Shifts in Power with Discussion Leader, Cassie Chinn, Deputy Executive Director, The Wing Luke Asian Museum

Thank you for taking part in the creation of UpNext, a resource to guide thinking about the future of museums and libraries! From March 3rd until May 12th, 2010, we encourage you and your colleagues to weigh in about the big challenges and opportunities facing these institutions through UpNext: The Future of Museums and Libraries Wiki."

Friday, March 05, 2010

Cute Turtle USB Flash Drive
Posted by: Jeff In: USB Gadgets

It’s a turtle, it’s a USB flash drive. He holds 4GB of data. He’s cute. His name is probably Myrtle. Here he is really coming out of his shell:If you prefer your USB drives to be incredibly adorable, this turtle is the trick. He’ll lovingly store all of your necessary files and look cute doing it. What more could you ask for? Sure, some might claim it’s not the most adult looking USB drive, but not everyone wants to be stuck with a plain looking drive. Plus, if you have any kids they’d probably fall in love with the drive as well. Then again, that might be a bad thing once they start stealing it and hiding it in with their toys.

The drive itself is pretty basic, it’s made out of durable silicone casing to make sure that the turtle will last a little while. After all turtles are supposed to be tough, hopefully it doesn’t have all of the turtle type of characteristics. No one likes a slow USB drive. On the drive it’ll hold a whole 4GB of all of your pictures and random word documents. It doesn’t come at a bad price either. You can pick it up for $20 through USB Geek.

Source: CraziestGadgets

Thursday, March 04, 2010

'Funeral' being held today for aging Web browser - CNN.com

'Funeral' being held today for aging Web browser - CNN.com: "(CNN) -- More than 100 people, many of them dressed in black, are expected to gather around a coffin Thursday to say goodbye to an old friend.
The deceased? Internet Explorer 6.
The aging Web browser, survived by its descendants Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8, is being eulogized at a tongue-in-cheek 'funeral' hosted by Aten Design Group, a design firm in Denver, Colorado."