Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

My earlier question about if it was the book or the baby was about this book, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. I finally managed my way through it about 2 weeks ago. Here's the thing--I think it was a mix of the two. It's an ok read, nothing too terribly exciting in the way of Jane Austen fan fiction. Its pretense is that JA wrote a memoir that was discovered hidden in an attic wall and it tells the story of her long lost love. The novel dragged at the beginning and that was why I was struggling to get it read. I found that I got into it a bit more, skipped the middle and went right for the ending where the novel redeemed itself a bit. For me the voice of dear JA didn't quite work. I can't quite pinpoint why that was--was it that I was mad that she let the guy go at the end even though it broke her heart? Was it that I just struggled with the concept? I don't know. Although, I did find a great quote from the novel, so perhaps it was worthwhile after all?

Quote from the novel: " We can always find a reason to put off that which we aspire to do, or fear to do, until tomorrow, next week, next month, next year--until, in the end, we never accomplish anything at all." (pg. 127 Syrie James.

3 Bonnets!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Quote of the Day

As seen on a student's T-shirt today:

"I had to sell my homework so my parents could pay for gas!"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Two Worth A Read

I've had these two articles on my list to mention but I keep getting sidetracked. Darn Facebook! Anyhoo, the first is actually a blog posting about the recent court decision regarding JK Rowling and the Harry Potter Lexicon. While I don't find copyright mesmerizing, it can be interesting to see what happens at times in regards to fair use (esp. in our digital age, although this one has nothing to do with that). I won't go into detail about this one so if you're a non-copyright person you won't be bored. Basically it boils down to, "Have some original content if you are writing a commentary or guide to another work." So, here's the link to Getting Fair Use Right: Maximize What you Give, Minimize What You Take.

Another article that came across my desk a while back that I thought was quite interesting, was The Atlantic's article, Is Google Making Us Stupid? With online and digital literacies, are our minds changing how we interpret and read texts? The author of the article touts, "...the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind...Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski." This quote jumped off of the page at me! How true that feels--we skim, skip along and scan to our hearts content but do we really sit down and read content like we used to? (Or did I ever being of the generation that is more of a Net Gen than earlier ones?) All food for thought. I'm not going to philosophize much more, it's just find to contemplate!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oh No! Is it me or the book?

I keep falling asleep while reading my latest book pick. And yes, it's a Jane Austen-ish book. I'm trying to get through The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. I'm enjoying it, I just can't seem to stay away while reading it the book or the baby that is doing this? I'll let you know how it goes...:)

In the meantime, here's a JA quote:
"The person , be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." --Northanger Abbey

Monday, August 4, 2008

My Favorite Mac OS Software

My favorite piece of Mac OS software is Library Books. JD introduced me to this marvelous piece of software maybe about a year ago. It has saved me time and many library fines in the last year. Let me explain how & why.

Once installed, library books appears in the upper right toolbar by the clock and battery as a little star with a number by it. (Also called menu extras to a Mac expert. :)) By clicking on the star, a pull down menu appears. If LB has your library system in it, you can enter your library card number and it will download your record for you. Amazingly, LB has numerous library systems in it for most metropolitan areas. It can do more than one library card at a time (you will see JD and I both have a record). LB will tell you what you have checked out from the library in chronological order that they are due and will also tell you when your holds are ready for you. It also allows you to click on "renew items" and automatically opens the library's renewal page for you.

The star in the menu is the real gem of the software--it changes colors when different actions are needed. Black--all is ok. Red--the day before a material is due. Green--a hold is ready. LB is a great time saver--I can just click on it easily to see what I have checked out and when it is due.

The only downside I have found and haven't figured out a solution for is that I have my library card registered at more than one local library (different county system). Because it is the same card number, it can't seem to load both of my records at the same time. It just errors out, but I'm still playing with this problem and trying to figure it all out.

Craving Indian Cuisine

By chance, the last two books I've read were about Indian culture and immigrants and also--Indian Cuisine. In fact, I am now craving samosas & chicken masala! Hmmm, maybe that will have to be our next adventure out to eat. But back to the books...

The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan alternates chapters with 3 30-something Indian -American women and their 3 Indian immigrant mothers. Each chapter ends with recipes that coincide with the previous chapter. Food is big in this book. In fact, much of the action takes place eating or cooking. It's a fun book that might constitute a beach read or chick lit, but I gobbled it up (note the eating reference) in about a day. It deals with mother-daughter relationships, love and dealing with families that get along and must mesh 2 cultures into one.

Next, I happened to pick up Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins. MS is on the division 2 Maud Hart Lovelace nominee list for this school year and that is why it ended up in my book pile. It tells the story of 14 year old Jasmine. She spends the summer in India (monsoon time) because her Indian born/American adopted mother wants to give back to the orphanage she lived in as a little girl. Jazz must learn to find her place in her family and survive a long distance crush with her best friend, Steve. She also makes some Indian friends and learns to look Indian dishes. (Sorry, no recipes in this one.) Great conversations happen over the making of meals and the smells of India come through loud and clear in this one, too. This book will appeal to girls who want a light romance/coming of age book to read.

Bring on the samosas. :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fearless (Fourteen)

Contrary to popular belief, not every book I read is a JA or a JA knockoff. Stephanie Plum is back and this time supposedly "Fearless." I'd argue that she isn't quite so Fearless as the title suggests. But she is still amusing and her life could not be any more crazy. Grandma Mazur is at it again in a graveyard, Lula is wedding crazy and Joe and Stephanie have several house guests that keep them more than on their toes. It's just Plum full of fun! And Baby agrees wholeheartedly--she had a kicking fest as I finished it this morning--she must like the fast paced ending complete with shooting potatoes. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sense & Sensibility

Seeing the newest movie edition of Sense and Sensibility inspired me to reread S&S again. Much to my dismay I realized I didn't actually own a copy of this book and remedied that immediately. I ran to the local B&N and grabbed a B&N edition of the book.

First, let's take a look at the cover. I was about half way through the book when I stopped and stared at the cover for a moment. Do the women on the cover look like women from Regency England? They look a bit more like women from another time, maybe more Marie Antoinette like than anything else. This discrepancy bothers me. It will forever taint my copy of S&S now. Apparently, I am purist when it comes to things like this. Get it right people!

I did, however, enjoy reading S&S again. What struck me this time through, was that JA's sentence structure needed some help and vastly improved throughout her writing. S&S was the first published novel, and I felt like I could tell. Some of the sentences were lone paragraphs in and of themselves. And they were hard to discern. I had to read some of them outloud at times. I don't remember having such a problem with P&P or Persuasion or any other JA work for that matter. Does that mean her writing style changed or improved some? I don't know. Just food for thought.

Otherwise, it was an enjoyable reading of S&S. Elinor just as level headed as ever. Marianne just as emotional as ever. But one more question: Would Elinor really have forgiven Edward Ferrars so willingly and easily? I mean, he deceived her and she still things the world of him and finds no fault in him. In fact, he is more honorable because he chose to stick by Lucy. But he was not honest with his friends and with Elinor and shouldn't she have been upset with him?

Anyhoo. Just some thoughts.
5 Bonnets. :)

Confessions of A Jane Austen Addict (the book, not me)

First, let's set the record straight. I wasn't trying to copy this book title when I created my blog. I really hadn't heard of it yet. I was just trying to be clever in the creation of said blog. And yet, it seems someone has beaten me to the punch. So much for creativity...

Second, I finally read an honest to goodness book. Along with a blogging hiatus it seems I took a reading hiatus as well. I opening admit that this is the first book I'd read in (ACK! Dare I say it?)--3 or so months! Anyhoo, 23 Things has finished and I got caught up in the end of the school year and the need for sleep. A lot of sleep. This peanut inside me is kicking my behind.

But alas, back to books and dear Jane....

Book: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler.
This book tells the story of Courtney Stone, a love scorned LA woman, who wakes up to find herself in Regency England and in another's body. She finds herself, or rather her new persona, Jane to be an unmarried 30 year old like actual LA self. Courtney struggles to understand how to behave in her new life and how to get back to her old. All the while, trying to figure out if Jane's love interest, Mr. Edgeworth is really worth it.

This book was fun and entertaining until the end. I was a bit miffed--it just kind of ended for me. It felt like there was not much of a resolution and sort of like the author wasn't sure how to end it and just tried to tidy up the ending but didn't succeed. It was unclear what really happened to Courtney. Jane's life was nice and neat but it was confusing and let the reader wanting more for Courtney. She just faded into the background of the story as Jane's story took over.

That said, it was fun and I read the whole thing in a afternoon/evening, so it must have been reasonably entertaining.

3 Bonnets!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Final Thoughts (Thing 23)

Several final thoughts on the 23 Things on a stick library learning program:

1. My network/filter powers that be are going to hunt me down and find out why I keep unblocking sites like YouTube, Flickr and Ning. If anyone looks at my internet usage record for the last month at work, it looks like all I do is play. YAY! Isn't it fun to play!

2. I really enjoyed learning about all of the various tools that are out there and what other folks think are ways to use these tools in the library setting. I am more and more curious about various ways, but continually frustrated by my school district. I can't add certain tools with Java or that embed into our school website software because they aren't allowed. This site or that is blocked. We don't allow kids email or outside storage devices. It's all quite maddening. How do we explore some of these great tools when they aren't allowed or we constantly tell our kids no??

3. We test too much. (Oh, that's not a 23 thing, thing...That's a thought about this week...)

4. I'd definately explore more tools or try another learning program that Metronet offers.

5. I'm not sure what my favorite tool that we discovered during the 23 things journey was. I really liked exploring all of the tools and learning new things. I liked Library Thing and Shelfari. I liked Facebook for making me actually join it since I was so anti-facebook. I liked finding the fun tools like ImageChef to make fun images online. Overall, it just felt good to learn new things and keep up with all that changes in the blink of an eye.

Keeping Up! (Thing 22)

Thing 22 encouraged us to keep up the learning, keep at it, and keep trying new things. It offered several blogs and/or sites to read that might be of interest. Curious enough, I already have several of them in my Google Reader account. For me, that is the one way I will continue to keep up with the numerous "things" we've learning about and tried out. It's a way to consolidtae information into one place and get it all at once. I like that. One login, one place to read most of the blogs I read. I haven't gotten into my Google homepage much yet, but I think that will be another place to keep up with other sources of information, too.

Monday, April 14, 2008

To Infinity and Beyond (Thing 21)

For this thing, I played around a bit in Ning and looked at some other social networking sites.
Ning is another social networking site where groups can make there own special interest forum and group. I joined the 23 Things group and here's the badge.

Visit 23 Things on a Stick

I found I did more exploring with all of the settings on Ning and just did a lot of looking around. I'm worn out from all of this "signing-up." I like that certain groups have communities on Ning, but I didn't care for the layout. And I can't pinpoint why. It's driving me nuts. It feels too cluttered, I think.

One of the sites listed to try was Shelfari and since I am already a member, I was excited. I'll be honest, I have too many logins I may never use again. I like Shelfari and am going to stick with that. See my thoughts, here.

I also scoped out some of the other social networking sites listed in this thing. I liked, a site for those who like to cook and like recipes. But just what I don't need right now are more recipes to site and collect dust. :) So, perhaps that isn't the right networking space for me.

In other notes, I keep finding more friends on Facebook. I need to write on some walls, there are people I haven't talked to in ages. :)

I have friends--on Facebook! (Thing 20)

This thing made me do what I'd been avoiding for quite some time. At last, I am a Facebook user. I spent much of last evening setting up my profile and finding friends. (Ok, sending generic friend requests to folks in my email address book.) I was happy to find I had friends in less than 5 minutes. What does that say about Sunday evening computer usage? Everyone's online on Sunday night? Or better yet, what does that say about my gen, the somewhere in between X/Y's that we are...I know that most of my college friends are on facebook. I now know that most anyone from my HS class is not. Or at least I can't find them. That's somewhat interesting if you ask me. Or maybe they just won't own up to the fact that they went to school in rural WI. Either way, I sifted through the 500 some alums of my HS that are listed just to see.

In good news, it seems that I mgiht actually hear from my sibs-in-law. (Are you two reading this? :)) It seems they are just enough younger as to use facebook much more frequently. When JD joined, he was told he was, "too old!" Last night, I was more or less told, "nice to see you took the plunge." Perhaps we are just a bit too old, but I can see where the networking facebook employs can be useful. I can't get DT to answer an email, but I wrote on his wall and had a response that night! Now that's what I call networking and the power of Facebook.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

La Vida es Hermosa

La vida es hermosa. TV with new episodes is back. I suddenly have programs to watch again. Whatever will I do? I so enjoyed not watching TV for so long...But it was nice to watch NCIS this evening. :) But the real question is: When does Chuck get back to new episodes? Ok, so maybe that's not that important. I mean, I never watched them on TV to begin with, we downloaded them and watched them, so really does it matter... And isn't it a shame that the complete works of JA are done? I guess it's time to start re-watching them!

Sense and Sensibility Part 2

Sense and Sensibility's second part aired on Sunday night. It was a good culmination of the story, but I think I was a bit let down. I think that the first part did such a good job of setting the story and tone. It gave detail and didn't skip over things. The second part felt fast and perhaps somewhat rushed. All of the events happening so close together made the time go by quickly, but there wasn't the same time to savor the story in this part. Like the first part it is well done and I think if I sit and watch the whole adaptation straight through, I will find a bit more continuity to it. I was frustrated by the appearance of Willoughby after Marianne has been sick. Is it that disjointed in the book? He sort of appears out of nowhere. The same can be said for the appearance of the two Miss Steele's at the Ferris household. They were just invited there? What? What's the connection that would lead to such an invitation? I guess it's no wonder I just bought a new copy of S&S at B&N last week. We know what I will start to read later this evening....Overall, a great version. Andrew Davies wins my kudos again for a great screenplay of dear JA.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sense and Sensibility Podcast (Thing 19, Part 2)

Masterpiece offers this sudo-podcast about S&S (I argue that it is not a podcast because it does not have a RSS feed/link to download it. It is only available on the webpage to listen to and not even download. But, they call it a podcast, so there it is.) by life coach Cheryl Richardson. There are two segments, one for each portion of the broadcast of S&S.

Part 1: Richardson offers these questions in relation to JA and S&S.
What speaks to you from this film? What is it that you might be longing for?
She notes several points that speak to her and I thought they were well thought out.

Simplicity: The simplicity in the film (and perhaps all of JA) speaks to her. It should make us stop and think about what we really want and how we might go about clearing our life from all of its clutter. I think that the film does a good job of showing the simplicity of life in the Regency era compared to the busy lives we lead now. I think that can be why JA still appeals to readers. Somehow we find refuge in the simplicity of the stories. There does not seem to be as much clutter and complications make from numerous committments and time constraints. Life was simple--a bit of gossip, wit, find a husband, Life was good.

Importance of connections & relationships. How do you relate to others? Do you have a support system in place for tough times. She notes how Mrs. Dashwood deals with the loss of her husband and the lack of her stepson's follow through of duty to she and her daughters. What did the others do?

She also notes that amount of containment or repression of emotion that takes place in the film. You just want to scream out and yell at the women who don't speak up and say what they are thinking or meaning. Instead, the stay proper and refined as a lady should. It can be maddening to watch!

Food for thought: Richardson points out to watch for the ocean and how it shows emotion in the movie. It connects certain periods in the film and certain character's emotions. She also says to pay attention to some of the characters and how the film uses light and dark to portray certain issues or certain sides of some of the issues or conflicts that arise in the story.

Part 2:
She asks us to identify which character of the book/film we identify most with? (In terms of obvious, free qualities and in terms of hidden qualities and similarities, good and bad.) I would have to say that I agree with Richardson and can identify with Elinor the most, but know that at times I exhibit (depending on the situation) parts of Marianne's personality. It is dependent on what the situation is. Mostly, I would argue, however, that the level headed, thinker would be easier for me to relate to. :)

The plot also makes a point of how important telling the truth is throughout the entire story. Pay attention to this theme and you begin to notice how it runs throughout the whole of the story. (Think Edward, think Willoughby, think Margaret, think Elinor and Marianne. All have points where this theme shines through.)

Podcasting (Thing 19)

I am not new to podcasting. We listen to certain podcasts fairly religiously in on our iPod in the car--NPR's Sunday Puzzle and A Way With Words.

In searching out some new podcasts, I discovered a blog that has a post that lists numerous links to, what else, Jane Austen Podcasts!! HURRAH!

I looked at some of podcasts the author lists and found one from NPR when they intereviewed screenwriter Andrew Davies on Morning Edition about his numerous Jane Austen adaptations. It was from the Morning Edition: Interviews portion and I added that feed to my Google Reader account. I also have Nancy Keane's booktalks podcast feed in my GR account as well.

I think iTunes is so simple and easy to use. I did do some exploring in PodcastAlley and Yahoo Podcasts, but I am partial to iTunes.

I have tried podcasting on my media center website for bookreviews. I have published 1 and have 1 waiting in the works. (I just need to sit down and take the time to finish it.) I am trying to get some 8th graders to do some book podcasts with me, but they just aren't biting at it right now. I think the only way I'll get them to try it is if it is with or for a class activity. Here is the link to my podcast, which I made using the software GarageBand on my computer. I have also played with Audacity.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sense and Sensibility Part 1

Sense and Sensibility was on Masterpiece last night. It's brand new adaptation of the book and it was worth it. Andrew Davies wrote the screenplay and it was apparent. It was well done and explained the story without confusion and without leaving certain details out. The actresses who played Elinor (Hattie Morahan) and Marianne (Charity Wakefield) both fit into the roles with ease. I enjoyed them and their acting and the script really let viewers get the differences between the two sisters. Really, I think it is the characterization that sets this version apart from Emma Thompson's version of S&S. The characters were very real and believable. The look and feel of the film also fits the Regency period. It feels damp and cold by the sea and even the colors (muted and darker, say at dinner) fit with what lighting must have been like. The use of light and dark is also well done (so far). There is a scene in which Marianne and Willoughby are in a window and she is all white in light and he is all dark in black. It's a great use of light and dark for setting some foreshadowing and what might happen.

So far, this adaptation does S&S justice, where other versions in the past, have not. (Despite how much I love Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars. :)) My only disappointment was that it was only an hour and a half long instead of a full two hours in length for the episode. Until next week.

Online Video Tools (Thing 18)

I thought this page that lists 62 sites for online video sharing was cool. Has anyone ever heard of many of these?

Check out the video above from YouTube titled, "A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto." I thought it was appropriate given 23Things and what I am learning about all of these tools. It's a bit long, but fun to look at.

You Tube is great and I am quite familiar with it. The hardest part about this thing was that I decided to do it at work and YouTube is blocked. So...I had to go around the server about 20 different times and it just took a bit. BUT the videos do load faster at worker than at home, so that was why I chose to do that. At least as the media specialist I have the rights to unblock certain sites.

ELM Productivity Tools (Thing 17)

This thing asked us to explore ELM (Electric Library of MN) database special tools. Most of the databases now offer special Web 2.0 tools like RSS feeds & webpage development tools.

Gale Info Trac Student Edition RSS Feed:
I did the search on "youth smoking" and clicked on the link to add an RSS feed. I'd read a lot of other blogs that said the original link was dead or that the link once posted in an aggregator did not work. The first time, I pasted it into Google reader, it did not work, but then I noticed it had 2 extra spaces after the last character. I deleted those and it worked perfectly.

Ebsco Page Composer in Academic Search Premier:

This part of the thing asked me to created a web page. The tool has features to search specific databases (I chose Ebsco Animals) and created a link my media center wepage, and added a blue background. I struggled with this one. What would someone use this tool for? I already have a media center webpage and already create webpathfinders for classes and their projects, so when would I use this? (I already to direct links to search the databases on my pathfinders.) Here is an example of one of my pathfinders.

Proquest: To the left is the page that I created using Proquest Newstand. This tool was simple, it was just saving articles and then choosing to save the articles to a webpage or to email them. I liked this because it was easy and didn't require me to do a lot of work like the Ebsco one did.

Netlibrary: I viewed the Netlibrary book and checked out different parts of the book. I could see this being helpful to students in college or above for serious research when the content you want is only available in an eBook. The ability to mark pages or portions of the book and just jump back to them would be very useful. In my day to day use right now, however, I'm not sure I'd use this or could get my MS students to use it.

Arrrr, matey, I'm a pirate! (Thing 15, Part 2)

I have successfully played several games in Puzzle Pirates. I created my own personal Pirate, BlogginBB (sorry, no creative names last night) and learned to Bilge and Carpent the ship. I lost interest in Sailing. This was a site to use and the games were fun, but I am not much of a game person. (This said from someone who did NOT grow up with a game system in her house.) The site was easy to start (creating said pirate) but not so easy to follow after that. There were too many text boxes all over the place and it wasn't the most intiutive to follow around. I felt like I was clicking here and there with no direction at all. I also could not the to "intereact" with the other sailors. Again, not as intuitive as it seemed or maybe I just missed something. It was cute, but not something I need to do again.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Student 2.0 Tools (Thing 16)

I have looked at the Research Project Calculator before. I like that it offers one the real planning capabilities and shows ALL of the steps research involves. But, I find that when I work with my staff, they are not willing to take this kind of time to spend on their projects. I just can't seem them working with this tool. I feel like I've made great strides in getting them to plan and do the the research correctly (spending time, like several days! on research, using citation, taking time to teach kids how to take notes) and that this is just something that they don't need.

When I created a login about 2 months ago, one of the things that distracted me was that it (the RPC pages) seemed to cluttered and hard to follow. I like teaching tools to be very simple for my MS kids. I don't think this is very simple in a visual sense. Working with 6-8 grades on a daily basis makes me realize how simple you have to make everything. It just needs to be extremely simple and the RPC is not.

The assignment calculator from U of MN libraries is great. I just pretended to have a project due in 15 days and chose a subject area to see what would happen. I like that it really breaks it down and says today you should...and then offers you links to the tools that will help you accomplish this step. HOWEVER, do students, rather most students work like this or think like this? I'd argue no. I'd say that it's a great tool and we need to work on getting more to use it, but the majority of students or parents helping kids do a project need the material bc it's due in 5 days or the next day. These tools are great to empower folks, but how many are using them? Just food for thought.

Online Gaming & Libraries (Thing 15, Part 1)

I have to skip this one for now. We are traveling and I can't get either to download with our laptop and internet connection. Saving it for home or school.

Jane Austen Quote of the Day Blog

I have discovered a Jane Austen Quote of the Day blog. It's great! It is by the author of a book called, A Walk with Jane Austen, Lori Smith. I've been enjoying reading it via my Google Reader account. She has a lot of fun links on her blog, so I've been trying to actually go to the blog to read it at times, too. Enjoy.

Oh Emma!

Emma re-aired on Friday evening this week. It is the Kate Beckinsdale version from 1996.

I was reminded how much I:

1. Don't remember a lot of the specific details of the story. Obviously, I need to reread Emma. I was trying to remember and explain to JD the details of Jane Fairfax & Frank Churchhill and those details were quite hazy. Sigh.

2. While Emma isn't one of my favorite JA stories, I did so enjoy the movie. There are just some great moments. Mr. Elton in the carriage proposing to Emma. Box Hill. It's just a treat to watch.

3. I really can't stand the actress who plays Harriet Smith. JD described her last night as a 2 day old kitten with her eyes hardly open. That was more of a description of the character, but that actress, Samantha Morton, drives me batty. She was also in the 1997 A&E production of Jane Eyre, which was the sole reason why I disliked that version. What can you do?

I'll close with this quote from Mr. Knightley, on the Box Hill incident.

"It was badly done, indeed! You, whom she had known from an infant, whom she had seen grow up from a period when her notice was an honour, to have you now, in thoughtless spirits, and the pride of the moment, laugh at her, humble her--and before her niece, too--and before others, many of whom (certainly some,) would be entirely guided by your treatment of her.--This is not pleasant to you, Emma--and it is very far from pleasant to me; but I must, I will,--I will tell you truths while I can."

Dear Mr. Knightley chastising Emma for her ill treatment of Miss Bates
Emma, volume 3, chapter 7

Friday, March 28, 2008

LIbrary Thing (Thing 14)

This week I tried both Library Thing and Shelfari! (Thanks to Frenzied Media for letting me know about Shelfari!) I'd just discovered Goodreads, too.

Library Thing & Shelfari are great ways to make lists of books and show what you are reading, have read etc. After trying both sites out, I like Shelfari better. Shelfari is a fun tool that allows you to make lists of books--what you've read, what you own, what you're currently reading, what you want to read or your favorites. But it's not a just a list. You select the title and it's a book cover that gets added to your shelf. A visual representation of what you are reading. It also has a widget option that allows you to post your Shelfari shelf to a blog or other webpage. If you view the actual blog (not in an RSS reader or email :) ) you can see my shelf. I haven't had time to actually add reviews to any. But it's fun. I decided to just do a "What I'm reading" shelf on the blog here, that way, I can blog about what I've finished reading in a blog entry. (Should the spirit move me, that is.)

Library Thing is much the same, however, the cataloging is much more in depth than Shelfari. Here's what it looks like:I think this is great, but the librarian in me isn't much of a cataloger. I don't need this much information. I am quite a Type A, but that person inside me doesn't need to catalog all of my books at home or make a list of everything I personally own. From what I can tell, Library Thing seems to have a more vast selection of books (with cover images) than Shelfari. It seemed that I had several from Shelfari that did not have cover images. Both LT and S allow you to make "friends" and see what they are reading and tag your books for easy finding. Another reason I like Shelfari better right now, I already had friends signed up for it. :) I also liked the widget better in Shelfari. Rather than just show a "random" selection from my shelves like the LT widget does, S lets me pick which list to share. I like that better, too.

I think that using either tool in a library setting could be useful. Rather than make handouts (brochures, lists of what to read or if you like this or that), a library could tag books that are similar. The hardest part of this is getting patrons to use the site. There are also databases (What to Read Next, NoveList) that allow patrons help in finding materials, too. I'm not sure which site would be better, but for making lists and sharing the tags, LT would be easier to use and offers a bit more flexibility. However, the widget from S, looks a bit more fun and clever on a webpage as an extension of what someone is reading (maybe what this or that librarian is reading) or or what the top checkouts are for that week?

All in all, both are fun tools!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Online Productivity Tools (Thing 13

Customized Home Page: I chose to use iGoogle simply because I am familiar with the customized Google products and already have a login and I am getting "login" overload. I like the options in the Google homepage. I loaded my Google Reader feeds, along with news and cooking feeds. I found a fun header and there it was. Creating a google homepage is easy and to me this is nothing new. I've been a Yahoo user for a long time and the MyYahoo main page is essentially the same thing. Although, I think that iGoogle offers a lot more choices and more tabbed pages. I like the drag and drop features, the ability to move the feeds around as much as you want.

Calendars: Again, I used the Google calendar for ease of use. It is very easy to use and I am tempted to share my calendar with JD's and then we can have a combined family calendar. I do like printed, calendars and like to write stuff down, so I'm not sure if it is something I want to use or will use on a regular basis.

To-Do Lists: I quickly tried Remember the Milk just to see what it looked like. It also had the option to import it into the Google calendar. I thought that it might actually inspire me to use it at a later date. HA! For me, to-do lists are a tactile thing. I like to write them out and rewrite them and cross things off. There is something in scribbling, though, isn't there?!

Backpackit: I'm on login/tool overload. I looked at it, but didn't sign up or try it.

I think that these tools can be useful. But there comes a point when I'm just sick of being on the computer. (And I'm really getting to that point tonight, so I need to finish this blog entry.) I want to use a piece of paper and a pen.

JD and I discussed using calendars at work for scheduling. In my school, I have a print calendar for the media center and for my personal calendar. Our computer labs use the electronic calendar in our email client. I hear people complaining about them all of the time. People want a calendar to view in front of them, not on a computer screen. They want to flip through the weeks and see it quickly and in front of them. I've thought about going to an online calendar but I don't think folks would use it and I'd get stuck with more scheduling that I want to deal with or have time to deal with.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Just a quick note: Emma is on PBS on Sunday!! Be sure to watch!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Best of Social Bookmarking--Diigo (Thing 11, Part 2)

This School Library Journal article, Best of Social Bookmarking Article, was one I'd saved from a while back for when came up. It mentions Diigo and the author of the article says it his favorite social bookmarking tool. Because of that, I thought I'd take a look.

Diigo is very similar to, except that is has more features and tool for a researcher. These tools were what appealed to me from the article. Diigo allows one to import bookmarks just like, so I just imported my bookmarks complete with tags from there to speed things up. There are two ways to have the sticky note and highlighting tools that Diigo offers. You can download an extension for your web browser, which of course, I didn't have the latest and greatest Firefox, so I couldn't. The other way is to create a Diigolet on your bookmarks toolbar (simply a drag and drop) and then you click on it when you are on one of your bookmarked pages and the tools appear in a navigation bar at the top of the screen. I can then add a sticky (post-it) note to anywhere on the page and also highlight text and have it saved for later. Then I can come back to the page and look at what I'd marked up. If only this had been around for my senior undergrad paper... Below is a screenshot from the Republic of Pemberly. (Which btw, is a great JA, site if you need one!) See the yellow sticky note and the yellow highlighting I did? Diigo remembers what you've done on that page in your bookmarks. Kinda cool, eh?

Overall, I liked Diigo. Although, I think has a more simpler user interface. I also noticed that I was pretty much the only person that had some of the bookmarks I do and on, I was one of several hundred. I guess that means more people are using right now. I will have to play with Diigo a bit more but I could see real applications for use in high school and colleges and how students do research.

I'm Not Sure I Can Digg It (Thing 12)

All of these news/information sites seem the same with a few exceptions.
Mixx homepage sorts by subject (Popular, Tech etc.), Digg and Newsvine were not anything special to me. Although, Newsvine's homepage is a bit much for me. They could do without some of the content to clean it up a bit. But that's just me... Reddit's homepage was simple, but almost too much so. It is almost hard to tell the stories apart because they seem very close together on the page.

I also noticed that the Reddit help lists four ways to use Reddit. The first one being, "Read: User-submitted links, it's more fun than being productive!" Ok, so isn't that right there the crux of the matter?! When do I have time to use these sites and do I care? Ok, so some of the more "news" content I find interesting, but I don't know that I need to read about all of it. And whatever happened to good ol' newspapers? Seriously. Is it is a good thing that people are stuck on their computers reading all of the time. They might be well informed but do they have social skills.

Ok, sorry about that rant. I think for me this is really about that I do not need 20 different service to bring me information and find web content I enjoy. What I am learning about some of the Web 2.0 tools is that we really need to pick and choose what we like and just stick to that. Otherwise, where does the rest of your life kick in? When do you eat? Exercise? Have hobbies? If I'm stuck reading all of the various information sources, I wouldn't have time to go for a walk (speaking of which, it's almost spring in MN!...) or cook dinner! So, can you tell I think that these tools are a productivity DETRACTOR?

That said--I am still struggling to figure out how to use these sites in a library setting. If anyone has any good ideas, put them on your blog. I'm going to start looking at what others have said, because I am drawing a complete blank.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tag! You're It! (Thing 11)

Tagging and is not a new thing for me. While it was the first time I'd actually created my on account, I've used it plenty because of work and friends. This thing, for me, was more about sitting down and making the time to do the tagging. It took some time and a good hour and a half was spent just puttering around looking at other sites that people tagged Jane Austen related. I disovered some fun new fanfiction blogs. Yes, there are numerous people out there that read more JA fanfiction than I do and are even a trillion times more obsessed with it than I am. GASP! Here's a link to my account.

I haven't used at school because I already have a system to create links/bookmarks for classes. While I think that the tags can be great, I like what I've done on my school library website (not to mention the time it's take to create the links) and I am not going to start using something different just be using a web 2.0 tool. I am essentially doing the same thing, but without

In exploring I realized how valuable this site could have been to me when I was working my my senior research paper in undergrad. It was a topic (Women as Other in literature and magazines.) that was hard to find solid information on and the web didn't have anything as organized or as helpful with links from others on it like does now. I remember searching and searching and it took time to find valuable information and it wasn't out there. I think this site could be useful in that sense. What others deem insteresting or valuable might be for someone else doing a research project, too. Of course, there is a lot of junk out there, but it is another tool to use and put in the research toolbox.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wikis (Thing 10)

Wikis can be a fun tool. They are not new to me. I think that they could be useful, but some of the features in Google Docs could be just as useful or equally useful. (If I make a word doc in Google Docs, doesn't it serve much the same purpose--of course, depending on the purpose of the document you need a group to edit.) The link to the St. Joseph County Public Library system wiki pathfinders was excellent. That was the idea that I most liked and found applicable to what I could incorporate into what I use at school. JD shared this link about Web 2.0 merging into Web 3.0 and the joys of editing forums like Wikipedia. It's interesting--basically stating that people are getting sick of others editing becuase it's the same old people again and again and some do it for personal gain. A new generation calls for more fact checking! Hurrah!--Fact checking? A librarian's dream! (Yes, JD, I just linked to Slashdot. Aren't you proud?)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Enthusiasm & More Letters

Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman (Young Adult Fiction)
Julia loves P&P and she introduced her best friend Ashleigh to it. Ashleigh becomes more than enthused with P&P, she becomes obsessed! Suddenly they speak like 19th C heroines and are dressing in empire waste dresses and are on the quest to find Mr. Darcy & Mr. Bingley. They crash the nearby boys prep school ball and meet two guys. Then it's romance and a series of misadventures until True Love is found. Cute, funny, although somewhat predictable. I don't see this one being popular with teens and it's a teen book...
2 Bonnets

More Letters From Pemberley: A Novel of Sisters, Husbands, Heirs 1814-1819 by Jane Dawkins
This sequel takes off where the first Letters left off in the saga of their lives. However, while the first book was only letters from E to Jane, this book contains letters from E to Jane, Mrs. Gardiner and even to D himself. It is an interesting addition to the story and would have been a bit boring without the change up in who the letters were to. The story takes us on joys and sorrows with E & D and is another fine addition to the pleathora of P&P continuations out there.
3 Bonnets

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Good Friends, Books & Food

Bookclub had game night last night. It was a non-book meeting planned to just allow for gabbing and some good laughs! There was good food, good friends and lots of laughs.

Sigh....La vida es hermosa!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sharing Docs (Thing 9)

Thing 9 asked us to explore sharing documents online using Zoho Writer and Google Docs. I tried both or at least attempted to try both. Google Docs is very easy to use and was extremely straightforward to use. I created a new document in no time and shared it with JD (knowing he'd get the email at work and actually look at it). In minutes he'd commented in it and edited what we'd created. I also asked to be included in the 23Things doc (they just had to share it with me--a simple click and soon they'd added me) and added a word to the Declaration of Independence and made a comment about what I'd added. It was slick.

Zoho Writer, however, was not slick. I tried to use it and while many of the buttons looked the same, something was not loading correctly because I could not get it to work properly. I kept getting these weird purple lines through things and strange windows appeared out of nowhere and I couldn't edit. I tried and tried but finally gave up. It wasn't worth it.

That said, I might find a use for Google Docs, but right now, I don't know if I will. We'll see...

Will Weaver Author Visit

Will Weaver visited my school yesterday for I Love To Read Month. His talk was fun and the students did a pretty good job of listening. (As a teacher you get nervous about half way through when they get fidgety, but that's just MS students.)

Will talked about his new book, Saturday Night Dirt, which is part of a trilogy about dirt track car racing. He brought the driver of his car (Will sponsors a car) and they talked about racing and safety etc. The book will be released at the Mall of America on March 24 at 5pm in the Rotunda. See MotorNovels for more details.

I created this little slide show via Picture Trail with the help of two of my 8th grade student workers. They picked the border and transition. They agreed we didn't need glitter. :) I tried to post it to my school webpage, but the program my district uses does not allow for additional javascript codes, so it will not post. (SO VERY ANNOYING! If you ask me...) So, I'm stuck just using it here. Oh well. As another side note, this is also why I cannot post Twitter to my school webpage. Nrrrrr......

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sharing Information (Thing 8)

Slideshows: I thought that Zoho Show was the better of the slideshow options. It seemed to offer different clipart and transition options that I found appealing. I watched one of the demo videos (or maybe it was just a page about how great the tool was, it's all starting to blend together tonight) and there was this image of being able to access the slideshow from all over the world via the site and bc it's hosted on the web. And I thought that maybe I just don't get it. You can post it online (website, blog etc.) or email it to that person bc it is not as if this slideshow is a live slideshow and it is a presentation you are giving to someone around the world. It is not synchronous learning/viewing. It is still on one's one time. Another "benefit" was to have it all online and have it accessible from anywhere. Ok, I have a flash drive. And sometimes the internet connection doesn't work. The web crashes or just comes to a complete standstill. Doesn't matter who you are or where you are or where you work. That happens and counting on that for the big presentation that might get you a big deal, promotion or maybe it's just your lesson for a class of unruly 13 year olds---if the web is down, that site isn't going to help me. But my flash drive will save me. Maybe I just don't get it.

Sharing Photos: I thought PictureTrail was a fun site and I am thinking I will use this one more often. Although, did anyone try the bling section? Whoa! That's a bit much for me. I can see my middle school kids liking it, though!

>Database: Ok, I just didn't see the need here. Why do I need to post a list or database online? A wiki would work just as well...and perhaps seems a bit easier to use?

eFolio MN: Ok, I think this is a great site. It's just not for me. I do not need another place to have a website--I maintain a school website, I have a blog. It could be useful to post ones information online and perhaps have a professional site for marketing oneself rather than having a personal account on a blog or a Facebook account. I am going to recommend this site to my B-in-L, who is just starting out looking for an internship and job. I think I could see him using this site for professional networking.

I really found the link to this site, 50 Ways To Tell A Story, to be really unique and really informative. It overwhelmed me a bit, though, with how few this Thing asked us to explore and how many there actually are! Yikes! I thought the webslides from Diigo was a cool tool to show the various tools. It's a good tool to use in presentation to show websites you talk about.

One other thought: I was surprised that Google Docs didn't get a mention in the online communication and sharing tools portion of 23 Things...Oh wait, that's part of Thing 9....Nevermind. :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lady Catherine de Bourgh

JD made this comment on Sunday night and I (we) felt it needed a post: Has anyone else ever thought that Lady Catherine looks like a poodle (in the '95 version)?? A gray, mousey poodle. I can never look at her in the same way again!

This time 'round we've also been adding our side comments into the mix. For example, when Darcy tells Caroline Bingley that Lizzy is one of the most handsome women of his acquaintance and Darcy walks out of the room, we think he was thinking to himself something like, " Darn! That felt good to tell off Caroline! Take that!" Then he continues to walk down the halway with that smirky smile he has...

Hope you are enjoying P&P this time 'round.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Twittered? (Thing 7 cont. part 3)

One of the challenges for Thing 7 was to try another Web tool. I finally tried Twitter this afternoon, because while reading my extreme backlog of SLJ at Caribou, I read an article titled, "Tweets At Your Library." It gave some excellent suggestions for using Twitter in the library setting.

First, though, let me ruminate on my Twittering. One of the options was to load your address book from your email account and search for 'friends' and others that Tweet on Twitter. (Say that 5 times fast!) Anyhoo, of note is that no one in my address book matched any emails or whatnot for Twitter. All 180 some of those in my address book! What does that mean? Hmmm....Does it mean no one of my Gen Tweets on Twitter? (I'm enjoying writing it, sorry!) Does it mean that no one uses their names? Or their emails that we usually use? Or are their settings just set to private so they aren't on the Twitter public roll of what's new etc.?

I have added the Widget for Twitter to my blog, just to see. One of the suggestions from the SLJ article was to post micro-content booktalks. I am eating this one up! I am thinking of trying this idea. I am set to do booktalks on Friday with a class and maybe I could highlight some of them? Again, the time thing...but we'll see. Could I use Twitter's HTML link and link it to my library homepage and try to gain some readership there? I might try. Of course my school will probably block it but it's worth trying.

Let me play a day or two and see what happens. I'll report back.

Golden Thoughts

Again, I am just finishing catching up on reading my SLJ's for the last 4 months. (Articles only, I still have to read the book reviews!) But I came across a snippet from the January issue where Philip Pullman says this quote in response to some of the backlash against the His Dark Materials Trilogy due to the Golden Compass movie that came out in December. (Remember, these books have been out for ages, so they didn't just appear out of thin air. It's just heightened publicity due to the movie.)

Pullman says about the story,

They'll find a story that attacks such things as cruelty, oppression, intolerance, unkindness, narrow-mindedness and celebrates love, kindness, open-mindedness, tolerance, curiousity, human-intelligence.

What a Golden thought to describe these books! Again, read the book before you judge it. I couldn't have said it better myself.

P&P on PBS Part 2

Again, P&P was on PBS this last Sunday. I am ashamed to admit that I fell asleep for the last 45 minutes. I did, however, see the proposal and the end of the two hours to see Lizzy meeting D at Pemberley. (Really, the best bits if you ask me.) I don't think I need to say more on this topic. Just to say....Sigh....

5 Bonnets. (Again, in case you forgot.)

Another P&P Mystery

Suspense and Sensibility (or First Impressions Revisited): A Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery by Carrie Bebris.

Ok, so the first one in this series is good. The second one, not so much. I read the first chapter. Then I read the last 3. I skipped the middle. It was too hokey for me and it couldn't capture my attention like the first one. The supernatural elements in it were a bit too outlandish and just didn't fit my take on JA and P&P. To each their own.

1 Bonnet out of 5. Sorry.

Communication Tools (Thing 7 Cont.)

Just a thought as I sit at Caribou and catch up on my SLJ (I'm 4 months behind! YIKES!) They did an article from the January issue about Skype the article is called See Me, Hear Me--Skype in the Classroom Another tool to add to the communication tools list. ...

Web 2.0 Communication Tools (Thing 7)

Email: Been there, done that. Have several email accounts since HS. Do I need more? Nope.Use it everyday. Very useful at work. But then sometimes we don't have actual conversationswith people and I still truly value person-to-person contact. Sometimes communication is bestin person rather than print (email) where it can be miscontrued.

Funny comment on email--wetalked this weekend in my family that my little bro-in-law no longer emails. The only waywe can get a hold of him is to post on his Facebook wall...:) (Did you read that D?)

Instant Messaging: Been there, done that. That was more of a college thing. I still have an AOL AIM account. Not sure if I could remember the password right now, though. How else was I supposed to survived a summmer without college friends far far away?
To me IM seemsold, but in terms of library services, I like it a lot. IM reference services for publiclibraries is huge. I have tried it several times for very quick items and have been pleasedwith the fast response times and how easy it was to use. I like that it doesn't tie down a reference librarian to the phone. But then, I don't work in a public library--if you aredoing IM reference are you at the main ref desk? Do you get interupted? Do you stillwhere else so as not to be interruppted by others? What's the scoop there?

Text Messaging (Short Message Service): I am not part of the revolution. I can't text fast enough. I use it here and there with friends,but here is the great generational divide. I just can't get into it. I don't want to payextra for it and it's easier to call than to get the letters punched into my darn phone.(Note, I am a GenX/GenY someone. I think this makes the difference. If I were a Millenialwould I be into it?)

Web conferencing: I listened to the podcast about web conferencing. The author of the podcast states that it is, "Telephone conference calls on steriods." One has the ability to record them and then podcast them. It allows folks to meet online inleiu of a personal meeting and with gas prices rising perhaps this is a good way to beatthat problem. One of the possible problems that WebJunction offers about web conferencingis the distraction problem. I haven't done much with the Webinars offered by Minetex becausethe timing isn't right for me. They are often over the lunch hour for my assistant and it'swhen I need to be "more" available to my students at the drop of a hat. SO for me to join oneand then need to cut out doesn't seem very polite.
One of the surprises I had from reading the PDF from Webjunction was the number of resourcesavailable for web conferencing. Especailly the number that are available for FREE! WOW! Check them out here.

I also listened to an archived OPAL that is similar to the Webinars offered by Minetex.(All of the current OPAL were next week and I want to finish this "Thing" today.) I only listened to 5 minutes because it was just audio and I didn't have the patience to just do audio today.
Also tried the archived Webinar from Minetex on I enjoyed that and itwill come in handy in the future. (Didn't do a live one because of time constraints.)

I have been exploring options to create some of these tutorial settings for my own schoollibrary. I am contemplating getting SnapzPro to do some of this. There is a freebie outthere (name is failing me right now) and I might try that first. I think it only does videowithout the audio and I'd have to put that in at a later time in iMovie or something. I am thinking of these tutorials because we just switched circulation systems and I thinka help video might be good for my students. Similarly, I am contemplating doing something like this but more video for library orientationin the fall so I don't have to do the same speech 40 different times.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

QOTD/Article of the Day

"Are some books inherently bad--junk food for the mind? Are some books inherently good--the literacy equivalent of an oat bran muffin?"
--Barbara A. Genco in SLJ March '91 "Juggling Popularity and Quality"

I read this article with my student teacher last week and just pulled the note I wrote the quote on out my purse today. Doesn't this quote just make you nod your head and make you think. Is any reading bad for you? I'd argue no it is not. But don't you feel that way sometimes--like, "I shouldn't be reading this, there's nothing to it."

I feel that sometimes we (teachers, schools) give our students this impression. Namely, that some books aren't worth it--series books like Goosebumps or what have you, graphic novels, magazines. That those types of reading won't count for book reports or towards reading goals. This lack of inclusion makes me frustrated. Doesn't Krashen pretty much lay it out there, that reading, ANY reading is good for you? That it doesn't matter what we read as long as as read?

I'd once read that most adult fiction is written at a 6th grade reading level. So when I read the latest Stephanie Plum novel, that might be my "junk food" reading, but I'm still reading. I'm enjoying it. I'm laughing. I'm relating to the character's family antics. I'm discussing the books with friends and family. Isn't that the point? I'll save my "oat bran muffin" for something meatier at times, but there is nothing wrong with either.

Similarly, a co-worker gave me a copy of the article titled "Reading to Learn and Learning as We Read" from Booklist Jan 1 & 15, 2008. In it the author, Joyce Saricks, discusses the merits of reading fiction to learn, not just non-fiction to learn.

She writes:
"I came across a comment that got me thinking: readers read nonfiction to learn something...(this) implied that one doesn't learn from got my dander up: Is nonfiction essentially superior because it offers information, the opportunity to learn something? And is it true that we don't learn from fiction?"
She continues:
"Sometimes we read to escape, sometimes to discover and to learn, sometimes to be challenged to be comforted."
We read bc it fulfills some need within us. We can learn about history from historical fiction. In fact, it often prompts readers to learn more and seek more out about certain topics. I thought that fiction and non-fiction are similar to the "junk food" and the "oat bran muffin" analogy used from Genco. Can't we learn from both kinds of reading? I rarely make it through an entire work of non-fiction. I skim, I read a chapter here and there, but that's it. Does that mean I'm not getting anything out of it? No. Both types of reading are good for us and it's important to keep that into perspective whether we are working with students who are struggling with reading skills or just even struggling with the liking to read bit or if we work with adults. It's all important and good for us bc it's a desire to learn!

Avatar Update

I finally added a background to my avatar. Why had I not done this previously? Bc I'd spent a good 2 hours plus playing with my avatar changing clothes, hairstyles etc. I couldn't handle it that night. This time I went with a computer lab to represent research in the library at school. How exciting!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Can't You Just Watch Your DVD? (P&P on PBS)

Pride and Prejudice (A&E '95) started airing on PBS last night. JD just couldn't understand it. His repeated comment: "Couldn't you just watch your DVD's?" My response was, "Uh, no. It's on TV, I should watch it." I mean, I feel this personal commitment level to watch it if it's being aired. So what if I watch it at least once a year. So what if I've seen it more times than I can count. It's dear JA. It's 6 hours of pure JA, people! It's the Andrew Davies adaptation! It's got (dare I say it?) Colin Firth!

And the real kicker is--I got up about three quarters of the way through it in order to make lunches for the next day and throw some laundry in the wash. And who was still watching it (albeit while surfing on his laptop) and making comments about Mrs. Bennet and her lack of taste? That's right, JD. :)

Remember, this P&P adaptation receives 5 Bonnets!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Online Image Generators (Thing 6) - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and moreIn case you weren't sure what blog you were reading... :)

Playing around with ImageChef was fun! There are a lot of options to choose from and I recognized many of the images that I've seen people use on other sites or other blogs. The trading card creator was one of the mashups that I looked at for Thing 5, so I'd seen it. This time I got to use it. JA sits on top of my file cabinet at work. My after school students thought I was a bit nutso to be taking pictures of Jane (really, I only took so many because I was trying to get the camera to focus on her face.) I could see uses for both Image Chef and the Trading card creator use in the school setting. The hardest part is just finding the time to do some of the work. If I made trading cards of authors--would would find the pictures? Write the brief bio for the lower half of the card? Is it worth my time? Is it worth a teacher's time for another project? Just food for thought there. I really like Image Chef for programming ideas. I think that website was most useful. I can see that one coming in handy. If I copy and paste the image, can I get it into a word document? I haven't tried that yet and that might be a good idea bc then you would put it in a flyer or a display idea.

A P&P Mystery

Pride and Prescience (Or, A Truth Universally Acknowledged): A Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery by Carrie Bebris.

D & E are shocked to discover that Caroline Bingley as announced her engagement, on their wedding day no less. She is to marry a wealthy American named Mr. Parrish. The wedding is to take place within a fortnight and D&E must delay returning to Pemberley in order to attend the wedding. Shortly after the wedding, strange things occur surrounding Caroline Bingley. Turns out the entire Bingley family is under attack of a mysterious plot to harm them. D&E stay by their family and friends, quietly trying to solve the mysterious events.

Overall, P&Prescience was a fun plot twist to the P&P story. It has elements of the Gothic Novel in it and of course, referred to The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe several times. Characters are generally believable except for Caroline Bingley (even if the events that occur hadn't happened--I don't want to spoil anything here). I just felt that she was too nice, even when she was too much like her Caroline Blingley self. If anything was amiss it was her character. Not much romance, just a fun mystery to solve.

3 of 5 Bonnets. (For lack of tradition on the D&E story, but fun nevertheless.)

More on Mashups (Thing 5)

One of the blog prompts asked users to consider ways to use various mashups in their library settings. I struggle with some of these, because these are the eqvililent to bulletin boards for me. I don't do bulletin boards. Really. At all. If you visit my school, you'll notice that the library has several bulletin boards. One is standard research bulletin board that doesn't change throughout the year. The other is for newspaper articles and images for when something or someone is my school is recognized by our local newspapers. Simple, sweet, to the point. Not a lot of putzing and creativity. Also, I don't want to spend time working on these things. It's just not me. I do do library displays but they are my style, a little cloth over a table, a theme and a few signs here and there.

I equate some of these mashups to bulletin boards because I think you can over do it with bulletin boards. I think, too, you can overdo it with mashups. Do I need to spend time doing these photo editing tidbits and adding them to my library webpage or anything similar? Maybe. Maybe not.

I supposed I could....make sure the fabulous techno wizard students who do the school newspaper know about spell with flicker and the captioner. I can see them finding some goofy pictures and placing captions on them and putting those in our school newspaper. I could see myself utilizing Spell with Flickr to create some signage for a display at some point or updating something new on the webpage. But, otherwise, I am struggling for applicable uses in a middle school setting. Anyone else? Any other ideas?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mashups! (Thing 5)

M A S H wide u plain card disc letter p fire hydrant S
Exploring Flickr mashups was a lot of fun. The article about the 10 best Flickr mashups was a good one and listed some fun ones to try. Flickr Sudoku and Flickrball also looked entertaining, but I don't have the time to spend. I could waste hours playing with them. (Reminiscent of avatars and Snood and Yoshi....) Flickr captioner looked good, too. I just didn't feel like spending more time in Flickr trying to find another photo and trying to be clever. It's Saturday, I'm not sure I can be clever on a Saturday.

I'd seen Flickr spell used quite a few places, so I knew what to expect. I've started to noticed that there are only so many letter photos because I recognize the style of the letters from other words that have been spelled.

I also did some playing with a website called FD's Flickr Toys that had a Billboard maker from various photos. I tried to upload one of ours from our iPhoto and the result is below. The Flying Monkey makes his debut on Broadway!

Flickr Link Directions Not Helpful (Thing 4)

A short rant about Thing 4 and linking the photo I pulled from Flickr back to Flickr from my blog. The 23Things blog links to the Flickr photo help link that describes finding and using a link that is the "correct" was to link back to a photo on Flickr.

Here's the thing. This link only appears when you are logged into Flickr and for your own personal photos. I thought I was doing something incorrectly and asked JD for help, feeling incredibly 2.0 incompetent since I deem myself fairly intuitive when it comes to these things. He logged in with his Flickr account and we did some trouble shooting. No links when the picture isn't yours, but there are links there when it is yours.

So--Flickr, get some new help directions!!

Just copy and past the link from the view photo page and cite your source. Enough said.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Flickr (Thing 4)

I thought that the Common Craft video about photosharing the 23 Things blog linked to was quite well done. Other 23 Things blogs I'd read noted the Blogging video from the same person so I watched that one, too. They were both great explanations of the two 2.0 tools. (Note: I did not put the video into this Blog entry because I didn't want the page to take forever to load for folks.)

Because of my goofy Internet access I ended up doing this thing in several parts. (Watching the videos at school because of Internet speed, but looking at Flickr at home because it is blocked at school and I ran out of time.)

I think Flickr has its fun. I have friends that use it. While we do not use it for our photosharing as a family (we use Picasa Web Albums via our Google accounts), I thought it was interesting to note that when I searched for "Middle School Libraries" there were only 721 results. Is that because we aren't using it, haven't figured out how to use it or because it is blocked in our schools? Similarly, "middle schools Minnesota" only yielded 180 results! Not that popular for MS usage, I guess. Public libraries are using this a lot and there were some cool images out there from programs past.

I could see this being fun to show book titles or fun things like that. But the posting of student pics on the web gets complicated with the photo policies etc. I was going to take some photos of my super busy library. I think it'd be cool to show that we are a busy busy place, and hey, my mom wants to see what I do, but I don't have the time to go look to make sure each student has the photo policy "OK." That's reasonable right? I mean, when my desk is stacks deep, we have a new circulation system to learn the idosyncracies of, I need to pull books for booktalks and also keep my student teacher working and learning, I just don't feel that that's a good use of my time. Or am I mistaken? If so, someone tell me. And maybe that's why others aren't using it in MS, too?

Then, I thought, "Well, you could take a picture of all the Jane Austen stuff you have and people would think it's cute." But here's the rub, I check most of it out from the library and don't own most of it....

And then I remembered Peeps in the library. Unfortunately, there are no photos from this fabulous little website on Flickr.

Instead I decided to find a picture that demonstrated what I have spent the last two days in my library working on. Weeding the reference collection! While I did not take any photos during this project, with the help of my student teacher, we removed numerous titles from our collection. (No pictures taken because there just wasn't the time and I'm not that clever to think of taking a picture to in the midst of a project like that!) But here is the image that Jenica26 took when she weeded her library and posted to Flickr. Thank you, Jenica26! (Her image is used with Creative Commons license.)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Modern Persuasion

The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz (read 6/07): 3 Bonnets. A modern take of Persuasion. Jane Fortune is 30-something and lonely, but when an old love, Max, returns to her life she's not sure what to do and how to be around him.

Modern Day Jane Austen

Books set in modern day time with a JA basis that I have read so far...

The Jane Austen Bookclub by Karen Flowler (read 9/04): 1 Bonnet. Needless to say I did not see the movie. And is there another one? I didn't seek it out.

by Shannon Hale (read 12/07). 2 Bonnets. Modern day. Jane, trying to get rid of her Mr. Darcy obsession, goes to England to Pembrook Park, an estate that takes visitors back to Regency England. Ok, I have this nasty habit of reading the first several chapters of a book, skipping the middle and then reading the end of the book. I did that with this one. It didn't keep my attention, although I did go back and read the middle to the end. It was cute and I like Shannon Hale's other works.

Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter (10/07): 0 Bonnets. This is the only one that I've read that I started and did not finish. I didn't like it at all. Plot: Modern day, woman who loves P&P goes on a trip to England, the tour guide is a modern matchmaker, but has hints of JA in her.)Apparently I am pretty hard on these types of books. I seem to give them low Bonnet scores.

A Plethora of Pride and Prejudice

Someone commented on whether or not I had read this or that JA sequel etc. And here's the thing. I've read so many that they blend together. I was thinking that I might try to blog on each one. Although most I have read recently because persuing them has become a new hobby of mine. So, here's what I've read so far, complete with the Bonnet Rating System.

Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife (read 1/06) & Darcy and Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley (read 6/06 ) by Linda Berdoll. 5 Bonnets. Colin Firth must have been in that book somehow! Ok, they were fun and well written. I wasn't so sure of the Wickham plot in the 2nd one, but it didn't make me not like it. They were a bit steamy at times (notice how the second book lists nights first, not days?), so it was the closest thing to a Danielle Steel novel that I've read. These are also detailed enough and faithful to JA enough that they deserve 5 fully laced Bonnets.

Darcy's Story
by Janet Aylmer (read 3/07) 4 Bonnets. P&P told from Darcy's perspective. A well-done change of perspective. True to the characters that JA wrote. I read it twice, so it must have been good!

First Impressions by Marilyn Sachs (read 4/07) (Young Adult fiction): 3 Bonnets. A young girl reads P&P in class and finds that she relates to Mary, the unnoticed middle child, more than the other characters

Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange (read 6/07): 3 Bonnets, no lace. Another P&P take, again Darcy's side of the events told in diary format.

Fitzwilliam Darcy Trilogy--1. An Assembly Such As This, 2. Duty and Desire and 3. These Three Remain by Pamela Aiden (read 8-9/07): 3 Bonnets P&P told from Darcy's perspective. Good adaptations and true to the characters. Book 2 deals with the time where Darcy is away and has a character, Lady Sylvanie, that reminds me of Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park. They were entertaining.

Letters From Pemberley: The First Year by Jane Dawkins (read 12/07): 3 Bonnets. Told as letters from Elizabeth to Jane, we learn about the first year of marriage from Lizzy's perspective. Good, nothing too exceptional here. The author said she had fun and played on other Austen characters (using names from other books) and I didn't care for that, but that's just me...

Pemberley Shades by Dorothy Bonavia-Hunt. (BB read this in HS) 3 Bonnets: Ok, I don't really remember this one. But I think this one may have started my adaptation craving obsession, so it was a worthy one.

The Diary of Henry Fitzwilliam Darcy by Marjoirie Fasman. (BB read in college.) 3 Bonnets: My dad bought me this one when we presented at JASNA in '00. It was fun and again, fed the beginnings of my obsession. I should read it again...

Mr. Darcy's Daughters by Elizabeth Aston. 0 Bonnets. Ok, I haven't read the books in this series. But Darcy and Elizbeth would never name a daughter Octavia. I'm sorry, but no. I stand on that principal alone and will not read these books.