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Lauren Pressley wrote a little thank you to the 750 words site that got me thinking about how I use it (go check out her explanation of how she uses it and then come back – I’ll wait). During the summer, I was using it pretty regularly as I sat outside on my back deck in the evening, drinking a hard cider and futzing with my iPad (and killing little green pigs – the time I lost to that game…). It was a handy way for me to get a handle on my day – a way for me to reflect about what I’d done and what I had yet to do (kill more green pigs!). When the weather got colder and I didn’t spend so much time outside with just me and my iPad, I dropped the habit. Recently, though, I’ve been doing pretty much what Lauren has – firing the site up first thing and spending a few minutes writing about anything that comes to mind. What I’ve found is that it’s becoming a tool for me to use with my GTD system. I spend a good deal of my writing time, since it is first thing in the morning, considering what I have to do over the course of the day. Sometimes I hash things out in my head about what research methods I’d use to figure out why my cron jobs crash at random times on my web server (my latest “research this issue” task item…), other times I use it to solidify my thoughts on an upcoming meeting. Occasionally, I use it as a prompt for library (or personal) blogging – coming up with ideas and, very minimally, working them out before I begin the process of actually writing the posts.
Mostly, though, it’s helped me focus on my to-do list (often I check my to-do list on my iPad as my computer is booting, so that’s pretty much the last thing I’ve read before the site appears on my computer). I work through what needs to be done and come up with action items that I might have missed when adding stuff to the list earlier – it’s sort of like a mini-review (of 10 minutes or so) every single morning. That is seriously helpful, folks!
I know that many people use the site to journal their days or to have a platform for coming up with story/article/novel ideas, but I’ve found that it’s actually more useful to me as a productivity tool! I can write, consider and reflect without worrying too much about editing and revising (see previous blog post on why that isn’t really a problem for me in this forum…).
Lauren’s post really made me consider how I use the 750 words service – I don’t think I’d have realized what a help it is to me in getting things done, both professionally and personally, without her post! In that vein, I hope that this either encourages some of you to try out the site to see what having a blank page, 10 to 15 minutes of reflection time and nothing in particular to write about will do for you or that it will make some of you think about how you already use the site and maybe tweak it a bit so that it works even better.
Speaking of luck (see my previous post on doing what you love and have a passion for), I can now say that I’m a professional knitter. I submitted a few of my prettier washcloths for a staff art show at work this month and, because of that, ended up getting a commission to knit a couple of washcloths for a co-worker. She’ll even pay me for them! (In a completely usual turn of events, she’s going to pay me more than I’d asked for – I NEVER ask for enough money when I’m pricing out my services…). Anyway, the picture attached to this post is of my cloths hanging in the art gallery at work (in the corner – next to the beautiful quilts – hard to see in this pic…). Considering the caliber of work (check out the pic of the quilts hanging right next to my humble little cloths!!!) my knitting is surrounded by, I’m pretty happy to be included. Even happier to get paid to do something that I love and that provides me with such relaxation and de-stressing time!
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Sort of a round-up post today – Facebook has been making some changes (and some third parties are making some cool tools) that I wanted to discuss. First is the change to being able to surf Facebook *as* your organization. Now my library can “like” other libraries, comment on news stories as the library and pretty much do anything a personal account can do. This is accomplished by clicking on the link at the right side of your organization’s page that says “Use Facebook As Your Organization“. After you do that, you can find your favorite pages, like them, comment on them and generally interact with Facebook just like a real person. This is something I’d been wanting to do for a while, so it was a nice change for me!
The other very cool tool I wanted to mention was Pagemodo. This is a free (for one page with an advertising footer) service that helps you create customized landing pages for your organization’s page without coding. I haven’t actually tried it out yet – though I’m in the process of working on a customized tab for my library’s Art Gallery FB page. I’m looking forward to seeing what it will do and if I’ll be able to make quick changes without having to learn a whole new code.
Just as a note – I’ve been quiet because I’ve been recovering from a fairly nasty fall down my basement steps that resulted in no broken bones (yeah!) but a fair number of bruises and 14 stitches on the top of my head (boo!). I’m back in the saddle, though…
One of the biggest drawbacks to providing public access computing in a library is the fact that the public has access to the computers. I was in a web demo the other day (for the new Centurion product – we were wowed…) and the salesman asked us if we had heard of USB wireless managers. Apparently the trend to use these started in IL (at least for Centurion hearing about it) with someone putting a wireless manager coupled with a keylogger that recorded every keystroke subsequent patrons made on the computer and wirelessly sent them to the bad guy via the wireless manager. Centurion has a setting that will disable those, which is why it came up. I’d never heard of people doing this – but within a week of that demo, I’ve seen 2 stories now on similar hacks to public library computers.
The story I linked to above talks about USB keyloggers, which have been around for a while and which we have given our computers a quick once-over for at least once a day, when we are starting up the machines in the lab. This, however, includes a wireless component that means that even if we take the USB stick and confiscate it, the bad guy still gets the data, since it was sent wirelessly. This means that keeping an eye on your network logs is doubly important – any strange activity or unknown networks accessing your computers should be checked out.
Inviting the public into your network and allowing them physical access to your machines means that you have to be both aware of current trends and vigilant about keeping an eye on the computers. I remember when the major issue we had to look out for was teenagers stealing mouse balls to use as jewelry… Now we have to make sure that patron privacy and security are not compromised just because they are using our machines!
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Yeah, I’ve got nothing else – just wanted to put that out there. Y’all are lucky that I didn’t add my Amazon wish list link to this post, really… 😉
The Shelf Check blog posed a question a couple of weeks ago about setting up a space in the library for coworking folks. For those of you who aren’t familiar with coworking, there is a good article (lots of ’em, actually) at ReadWriteWeb that explains the concept. Basically it’s a space where independent and self-employed folks can go to work for and by themselves, but with shared resources and companionship made available by the coworking space and their coworking coworkers (awkward, I know…)
I follow a listserv for my neighborhood, and folks are often looking for coworking spaces (to rent) and others to cowork with. Plenty of people already run their small businesses from or do their freelance work at the library, but entirely independently, without the quietly social, communal feeling that it seems those who are looking for coworking spaces crave. Could we fashion a “coworking area,” much the way we fashion teen and children’s areas, in the library? And aggressively, cleverly promote it as a “coworking space–but better,” because workers in the library will have access to on-site librarians who can help them with database searches, etc?
Emily Lloyd, the author of the Shelf Check blog, posed the question above and I have to admit it intrigues me. I like the idea a lot. My particular library has space challenges right now that are pretty much incompatible with the idea of creating that sort of space – but that won’t be true in the future (hopefully!). One of the benefits of coworking spaces is the shared resources – not only on-site librarians, but computers, wireless access, color printers, copy machines, scanners and other bits of office hardware that people may not need to buy on their own but that they might find useful occasionally – and those are just the things that libraries (my library at least) provide already!
Like I said, not something I can do with the resources at my library – but if you all know of a library that does it or are thinking of doing something similar, let me know!