Category Archives: Fun

Fun stuff for libraryland!

Envirogadget makes going green groovy!

Looking to make your home and life a little more eco-friendly?  Being tech saavy and earth-conscious no longer has to be an oxymoron in practice.  No sir.  Let Envirogadget help you green up the world with a little bit of fun and flare.

From water-powered clocks to bug zappers that get their power from the sun, Envirogadget has green gadgets for every tech toy lover!  Seeking to stem the tide of throw-away consumerism, blogger Dan Harrison has created a site that showcases the latest in eco-friendly technology.  Not only are the products he features fascinating and fun, they are also practical and affordable.

Appropriately enough, the site itself is clean, friendly, and easy to use.  The main page features the gadget of the day.  Links on the top provide access to the Envirogadget archives and gadget galleries.  In the interest of full disclosure, Harrison does let readers know that he is compensated to review products.  However, he is also very clear that the compensation does not affect the review or his honest opinions on the site.

With so many environmental mishaps making the headlines these days, we can all do a little more to help heal our wear planet.  Luckily, even those of us who are gadget-obsessed can do our part as well.  Thanks to Envirogadget, our love of technology just got a bit greener!

A National Library Week Message

Happy National Library Week, America!

The iBraryGuy team wanted to start the week off right by extending NLW greetings to all of our readers.  Whether you are even in the USA, any day is a GREAT day to celebrate libraries.  We are just fortunate in this country to have a whole week to sing their praises and to share the joys of what it means to be a librarian.  We are honored to be part of this noble and exciting profession and to be surrounded by so many amazing colleagues.  Librarians, this is your week!  We here at iBraryGuy are proud to stand among you!

A National Library Week Primer:

  • Observed:  Second full week of April annually.
  • First Celebrated:  1958
  • Sponsor:  American Library Association
  • 2010 Theme:  “Communities Thrive @ Your Library”
  • 2010 Honorary Chair: Author, Neil Gaiman
  • Promotonal Tips: HERE

Did you also know:

With so much going on, what are you waiting for?  Get out there and celebrate libraries!

Review: iPad IS a game changer!

After months of heightened anticipation and rampant speculation, Apple’s seemingly mythic iPad has finally made its debut. Hardly a media outlet has been able to escape the ensuing debate over whether Steve Job’s latest creation lives up to the hype. Now that the iBraryGuy team has managed to get their hands on one and taken for a serious test-drive, we are ready to weigh in. The iBraryGuy verdict? Apple’s iPad is powerful, sleek, and worth the price. Yes Virginia, it IS a game changer!

They say that a thing if beauty is a joy forever. The iPad may not last forever, but it is truly a gorgeous little piece of machinery. In the capable hands of Apple’s design and tech wizards, this beauty is also a thing of power, form, and function. The iPad is light and easy to hold with one hand while manipulating the touchscreen with the other. The screen is highly sensitive and quickly moves from portrait to landscape modes. The screen is crystal clear and easy on the eyes. All in all, the design is solid. Does it look like an oversized iPhone? You bet. Then again, why not build on one of the most successful and revolutionary devices of our time?

We really enjoyed the speed of the iPad in navigating applications and switching between them. Sure, you cannot multitask right now. But let’s be real. Is it really necessary to always be doing many things at once? That’s what a full-fledged computer or laptop is for. These new tablets are not meant to be replacements for their bigger, more powerful cousins. The iPad and the wave of competitors that are sure to follow ushers in a new level of convenience computing technology. To approach them with the same standards to which we hold actual desktops and laptops is to do these tablets and ourselves a huge disservice.

Some of the apps we have tested have been awe inspiring, to say the least. From the tactile page turning and full-color display of iBooks to the sweet video-streaming of Netflix and ABC to the interactive, pushpin format of the Associated Press, app developers have pulled out all the stops to create some really amazing offerings. We have also been impressed with the usability and functionality of Apple’s own iWork suite of productivity tools. If someone had told us we’d be walking around the house using a word processor and typing with only three fingers, we would have never believed it. Yet that was exactly how we typed this blog entry. It was a true “Jetsons” moment!

Yes, there are some drawbacks to the iPad. A camera for videoconferencing would be nice. A USB port would also come in handy. But the lack of these was no deal breaker given the convenience the iPad offers. The onscreen keyboard will take some getting used to for some folks as well. Our biggest complaint so far is that when the unit is turned off, tou can see all the fingerprints. At least they show just how much we are already using it. We also have not experienced either the WiFi connectivity issue or the overheating that some folks have reported. We’ve even found a workaround for the fact we did not buy a 3G model. But we will save that for a future posting.

The iBraryGuy team is happy with its new iPad and we expect to get a lot of “on the go” use out of it. That is what these new tablet computers are about after all. The iPad lightens our load while providing all of the computing power we need to be productive and have some fun. And yes, we certainly did have some fun with it. Pac-Man anyone? The iPad was worth the wait and the price. Apple has thrown down the gauntlet and changed the game.

BookCrossing: The World’s Largest FREE Book Club!

BookCrossing aims to be the world’s largest free book club. With a membership of almost 800,000 people in over 130 countries, if it already has not met that goal, it has got to be pretty darned close! BookCrossing’s idea of sharing the printed wealth is both novel and fun. If you love your books (but you are done reading them), set them free!

We all have books we’d like to just give away. We often have a list of books we’d also like to read and find on the cheap. The folks behind BookCrossing want to help us do both … for FREE. Register for a free membership and the world of BookCrossing becomes your literary oyster. Register the books you want to give away and then just leave them somewhere. Use the site to tell folks where you left them. Book seekers will find your books (which you mark with a BookCrossing statement), go back to the site, and register them as taken. Every time your books are subsequently released and picked up, you can follow along! If you are looking for a book, you can search on the site to see if anyone has released it into the wild and where you might find it. It’s like a huge treasure hunt for free books!

This site also features discussion groups and a store where you can get things such as stamps and sticky notes that can make “marking” your books even easier. Our favorite BookCrossing innovation is the BCZ or “Book Crossing Zone”. These are coffee shops and other public places that have signed on as actual host-sites for the leaving and retrieval of BookCrossing books. Tres cool, if we dare say so!

We librarians are giving types and we love to share our books. We are also fans of a great deal on books we want to read. For us, BookCrossing can become the ultimate enabler. We are already hooked!

Too busy to read? DailyLit does it in doses!

With tight schedules, commutes, and family and social obligations, it is little wonder that time is such a premium these days.  It’s a wonder that they don’t teach time management in kindergarten!  For many of us, having some spare time to read is more of a luxury than the norm!  Given that so many of us are librarians, that is sad and almost ironic.  Enter DailyLit and a unique solution to the time crunch!

Thanks to the people at DailyLit, it may be tough to ever again claim that you have no time to read.  Their site’s concept is simple, novel, and may even be revolutionary.  With DailyLit, you can have a book delivered to you in bite-sized (or shall I say “byte-sized) installments via either e-mail or RSS.  You even have control over the number of installments into which the book is broken down and when the snippets are sent to you.  It is easy AND convenient!

Currently, DailyLit makes hundreds of public domain books available for free.  If you want one of the more current bestsellers, they are available at a fee.  Sure beats reading just the headlines on your smartphone as you ride the bus or train!

Map, Schmap! (Rather, Schmap for maps!)

Why use a boring old map, when you can use Schmap?  I know . . . “What’s a Schmap?” you are thinking.  Well, these are not the same old (albeit VERY helpful) maps you find on the other popular sites.  No sir!  SCHMAP takes interactive mapping to new heights, integrating maps, photos, and place reviews.  Schmap is actually a publisher of digital travel guides that now cover over 200 destinations worldwide.

Schmap Guides actually allow you, the end user, to publish your own “schmaps” and thus share your itinerary, as well as reviews of places you have visited.  Use the Schmap widgets to put these on your blogs and other sites!  By using the “Schmap.Me” feature, you can even publish mobile-friendly maps to help friends and folks find you or your events.  Pretty cool!  Schmap also has versions optimized for the iPhone and Nokia smartphones.

The next time you need to know where you are going or want to share your travel with others, don’t map it, Schmap it!

Easy, Interactive Grocery Lists a Zip with ZipList!

Although shopping for groceries is not necessarily a library or research function, the iBraryGuy team recently came across a resource that was too good not to share with our professional colleagues.  Besides, we know that you all take your shopping seriously and that, as a whole, librarians are an uber-organized bunch.  Thus, today's review and recommendation – ZipList.
ZipList is a hot, new set of tools designed to make the task of creating a grocery list not just easy, but also interactive.  Create lists online, using a free account, and then share them with friends and family via the web, e-mail, and even text messaging.  They can then add things to your list or even do some shopping for you.  Your list is accessible on the go from your laptop or smartphone browser.  An iPhone app is on the way!
There is much more to ZipList than just making and sharing lists, however.  It is literally designed to make list creation easy, help you plan meals, and even save you money at the store!  It comes with thousands of recipes already built in.  Add them your online "recipe box" or just have ZipList create a shopping list directly from the recipe.  Don't like the recipes they offer or want to add in some of your own?  ZipList has a recipe clipping function that will import recipes from other web pages!  Other awesome features include the ability to designate the stores from which you want the items, setting item priorities, adding reminders to items for which you have coupons, and even filtering your lists by stores or priority.  AND . . . if that is not enough to win you over, ZipList is an intelligent solution . . . it learns!  It remembers your lists, allowing you to add favorite items, and will even warn you when you add something to the list that you recently purchased.  ZipList can help you reduce waste and expenses!
We may be librarians, but we cannot live by our books alone.  We have to eat and we have to shop (we are human after all . . . ok, superhuman maybe).  Using ZipList, we can take a little of our library know-how and put it to some really practical use!  Enjoy!

Jury duty online? InstantJury is the People’s Court of Cyberspace!

No doubt, many would argue that jury duty is about as popular as a root canal.  Though it is a legal and civic duty, it is not something to which most people look forward.  So then how is it that a website dedicated to solving disputes before online, armchair juries is gaining in popularity?  Perhaps there is something to be said for decided cases in your pajamas.  Whatever the reason, at InstantJury, court is always in session!

The concept behind InstantJury is a novel one.  Whether it's an argument over where to go for dinner or whose fault an accident was, parties can plead their cases online and get a quick result.  The judges and juries come from an eager pool of at-home participants.  Unlike actual courts, there is no fee to file your case with InstantJury.  Signing up to be a judge or sit on a jury is also free.  However, also unlike real courts, the decisions of the judges and juries are not legally binding.  No, this site is all about vindication . . . winning one in the "court of public opinion".  Dare we say that it is actually kind of fun?  We know, also unlike actual courts!

InstantJury has been earning its share of press lately and has even begun expanding internationally.  Who would have thought justice would become so popular!  Then again, courtroom drama has been a staple in entertainment for ages now.  With InstantJury, it makes a grand leap onto the web.  To that, we gladly raise our gavels!

iBraryGuy is a Shorty Awards Nominee! We need your help!

Hello iBraryGuy readers!  We are excited to announce that iBraryGuy has been nominated for a Shorty Award in the #tech category.  The Shorty Awards recognize individuals and organizations that use Twitter as a means to reach their audiences and contribute meaningful discussion.  If you enjoy our blog, PLEASE consider casting a vote for our way.
There are two ways to do it:
  • Or from Twitter, tweet the following:  #shortyawards @ibraryguy #tech because librarians know info best!

iBraryGuy asks, “What is your Professional New Year’s Resolution for 2010?”

Well here it is . . . the last day of 2009 and our last blog post of the year.  We started iBraryGuy just six months ago.  While we were certainly hoping this little blog of our would catch on, we were still overwhelmed by the support of our readers.  Thank you all!  Each of you has been a bright spot in what was definitely a trying year.  Our little editorial team wishes each and every one of you a safe and happy New Year.  May 2010 bring you new joys, new successes, and fulfillment.

Our last posting of 2009 is a simple one.  We are going to share our professional New Year’s Resolution with you.  A new year brings hope and promise, but to seize it, we must go into the year with our own hopes and promises.  Won’t you please join us in sharing your professional hopes for 2010?  Together we can generate some really positive energy with which to kick off the new year and renew this wonderful profession of ours.

iBraryGuy’s New Year’s Resolution: 
In 2010 we will do more with less, not because we have to as much as we want to.  We will renew ourselves, our skills, and our unwavering dedication to quality customer service.

Please share your professional New Year’s Resolution in the comments below.  It will only take a minute to do our profession a whole year of good!