Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Yeah, yeah, yeah

I've reached Thing 20 'Mobile music' which looks at music, streaming music sites, and the distribution of music to mobile devices generally.
I checked out a heap of online music delivery sites earlier, see Free MP3s post
I used to access LastFM till they asked for [payment (knowing the music wants to be free) it now requires you to download Spotify. I feel that the free version of Pandora is better and easier to navigate.
Looked at Freegal, which has been subscribed to by some of the city libraries.
Re streaming music - true, the way music is distributed has been revolutionised. More and more people subscribe to streaming services where you pay for access to a big catalogue of music instead of buying an album or downloading a single.

Totally different to actually going to a physical music store and flicking through CDs, cassettes or even vinyl records. Though with the renewed interest in vinyl LPs could there be a resurgence of the Brashs or Allans music shops?
Going even further back in time is the record selectors in cafes, milk-bars etc. where for a few coins you got to select your song from a Wurlitzer style machine - so American soda - a time when Top 40 charts meant record sales, not the number of downloads.
So music in libraries - demand still seems to show a preference for borrowing CDs, and often CDs of times gone by. 
Playing on demand and 'ownership' of the music may still be a factor rather than the here at the moment gone in a instant streaming services. Time will tell.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Refuge for beauty

How to formidable is it to write/illustrate a beautiful picture book about a difficult or delicate subject - enter 'Teacup' written by Rebecca Young and painted by Matt Ottley.

Once there was a boy who had to leave home . . . and find another.
In his bag he carried a book, a bottle and a blanket. In his teacup he held some earth from where he used to play. 
This is one boy’s story of leaving his homeland, surviving a long journey by sea . . . and finding a safe, new place to call home.

'Teacup' is a gently crafted story about a young boy set adrift to find a new home. He leaves, alone in a small row boat with a book, a bottle, a blanket and a teacup full of dirt from where he used to live.
Some days the sea is calm, gently lapping against his hull. Other days the sea is rough and he is tossed about on the wild waves. All the while the small boy is on the look-out for safe land.
One day he finds a plant has sprouted in his tea cup. This plant grows into an apple tree providing shelter, shade and fruit. After his long journey he does find somewhere to start his new life… and he finds a friend.
This is a unique refugee story of a young boy. We are touched by his innocence, loss, courage, resilience and hope.

Matt Ottley is a highly talented picture book creator and musician. His tender oil painting illustrations provide a magical accompaniment to Rebecca Young’s gentle text. This book has the same style of whimsy as his 'Parachute'.

Rebecca’s aunty arrived here by boat, shortly before her dad was born. Throughout the highs and lows of her journey, and in her new home, she never let go of where she came from. Instead, she carried it, cared for it, shared it. When Rebecca and her brothers were young she gave them stories of her past, warm bowls of jook, and Cantonese swear words. She showed them that you can find old memories in new places, and old friends in new faces. 'Teacup' was a story that emerged from Rebecca's need to write for her.

What spoke to Matt most about the text for 'Teacup', when he first saw it, was quite simply that it was the most beautiful picture book story he'd ever read. It is such a huge story about the human spirit, about loss and grief, love and joy, about beauty and also high adventure. Yet it's told in such a spare, minimal way, like a piece of poetry, that there was room for him to interpret the words in so many ways, which is an artist's dream. He'd also wanted, for a long time, to do some paintings about the sea, about the drama of sea and sky, so 'Teacup' was a perfect project to do that with.

'Teacup' is one of two books that Matt has in the Notables list for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards for 2016. The other is 'Suri's wall'.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Sky writing

Now that mobile devices allow you to work almost anywhere, how do you access the files you need? Thing 29 File sharing may be the answer.

Dropbox is a file-hosting service that provides cloud storage and file synchronisation, while also being very mobile friendly.
Skydrive (now OneDrive) is the Microsoft cloud storage service and a range of mobile apps. 
Google Drive  is a personal cloud storage service from Google that works with a suite of web and mobile apps
While Hojoki offers a single access point for a range of file sharing and cloud storage apps including Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, Skydrive, Box and Cloudapp.
I've used both Dropbox and Google Drive to send and share files, especially large PowerPoint files with colleagues across the state.
I've even got a company to send me a whole heap of photographs via Dropbox after the USB file was corrupted.
Whatever you choose to use or not use, everyone has to balance the ease and efficiencies against the security and costs.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Your circuits dead, there's something wrong...

The other night I watched the DVD "The Martian" starring Matt Damon, a sci-fi adventure film with touches of humour, and some great atmospheric shots.

During a U.S. manned mission to Mars, astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after an intense storm hits and he is left behind believed dead by his crew, as they abort the mission and return to Earth. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet.
Trapped in the mission's habitat, with only insufficient meager supplies and some humble spuds, he (‘a biologist not a real scientist’) must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist, and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
Watney's own potato famine
Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring "the Martian" home, while his crew-mates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission.
As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to champion for Watney's safe return - to ‘Bring him home’.
The Mars long-range scenes were shot in the Jordanian desert at Wadi Rum. The habitat and surrounds were shot inside the Korda Studios in Budapest, Hungary.
The "cloak-and-dagger" meeting to propose the Rich Purnell Manoeuvre is dubbed Project Elrond after the Council of Elrond in the "Lord of the Rings" series. In the scene concerning Project Elrond, Teddy Sanders (the Head of NASA, played by Jeff Daniels) quips that he wants his Codename to be Glorfindel. When this name is questioned, the first character to explain the connection is Mitch Henderson, played by Sean Bean, who played Boromir in “The Fellowship of the Ring” and was present during said council.
Author Andy Weir originally wrote the novel as a serial on his blog, then a Kindle title, publishing and film deals.
With regards the music in the film , the soundtrack to the film is "Bring him home" from Les Miserables.The soundtrack also quotes the ping at the beginning of “Echoes” by Pink Floyd.
When Mark digs up the Radioisotope Thermometric Generator (RTG) to provide warmth to the interior of the Rover, he plays an appropriate selection from Commander Lewis's dreaded disco collection - "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer. 
Other song titles also pull directly from the action “Rock the boat”, “Don’t leave me this way”, and “I will survive”. Bowie’s “Starman” was a must, but they could also have played his “Space Oddity”.
Moments in the film are reminiscent of the classic "2001: A Space Odyssey", the sling-shot manoeuvre has appeared in several movies, and the duct tape on the helmet visor => “MacGyver”.
Another great Ridley Scott venture into space, and wonderfully portrayed by Matt Damon with just the right amount of larrikin.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Time for Thing 18

Have I got time for Thing 18 Productivity apps?
It is about being efficient and effective and some tools on mobile devices can help organise tasks and schedule activities, provide reminders and help with motivation and time management. 

And while I utilise the phone's calendar and alarm, I still carry the old-fashioned paper diary for appointments, notes and various slips of paper, and not just for its Pooh cover.
The Discover task was to check out- Remember the Milk  is a task and time management app. It integrates with Evernote, Gmail, Google Calendar, Siri, and Twitter. You can even email tasks to your Remember the Milk account. You enter your task's properties (due date, priorities, tags, alerts), sync it with all your devices, and get reminded by email, text or Instant Message.
Doodle  is a scheduling tool, for coordinating times for meetings and appointments. It's 'MeetMe' coordinates your meetings with colleagues or friends, it shows them when you are available and how you want to be contacted.
Pomodoro technique is a productivity system that breaks work down into 25 minute chunks to improve concentration. To get the tomato timer you need to buy 8 for 60Euros.
Lift  (now called Coach.me) is a goal setting app, helping you to set goals, monitor progress and tap into support groups.
For me, I prefer my productivity less interferring, is that an oxymoron
unstructured organisation?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Crumbly craving

Cookbooks are a dime a baker's dozen, and heaps pass across my desk, but this one cried out to me to open it...cook it...eat it!

It is "Mug crumbles" cooking or microwaving in just mugs is one of the trendy fads at present, however this particular book looks particularly appetising, and the idea of a crumble on top - yum.
Whether you're after a late-night treat or a super- speedy dinner-party dessert that will still impress your guests, Mug Crumbles will have you sorted. 
With over thirty recipes for delicious crumbles that require minimal effort and time, all you need are five minutes to spare and a serious crumble craving! 
Prepare an easy fruit mixture and a quick crumble topping, put in the microwave for a few minutes, and zap! You have a heavenly crumble to indulge in.
From your classic apple crumble, rhubarb and strawberry, and pear and ginger, to flavour combinations that give your taste buds a kick, such as rum and raisin crumble or raspberry and matcha green tea these recipes will bring new life to your crumble repertoire.

The recipes are:
Apple Mug Crumbles

  • Cinnamon & apple mug crumble
  • Apple & caramel mug crumble
  • Pecan &​ apple mug crumble
  • Apple, dried fruit &​ nut mug crumble
  • Carambar &​ apple mug crumble
Fruit Mug Crumbles

  • Rhubarb, apple &​ almond mug crumble
  • Blackberry &​ apple mug crumble
  • Apricot, apple &​ pistachio mug crumble
  • Banana, apple &​ coconut mug crumble
  • Raspberry, apple &​ matcha tea mug crumble
Chocolate Mug Crumbles

  • Vanilla, apple & chocolate mug crumble
  • Choc-nut &​ apple mug crumble
  • Raspberry, apple & white chocolate mug crumble
  • Pear &​ chocolate mug crumble
  • Cherry, apple &​ chocolate mug crumble
  • Strawberry, apple &​ double-choc mug crumble
  • Pear with gingerbread &​ white chocolate mug crumble
  • Ganache mug crumble
Creamy Mug Crumbles

  • Pear & chestnut puree mug crumble
  • Fig, apple, yoghurt &​ hazelnut mug crumble
  • Blueberry & lemon curd mug crumble
  • Red berries, apple, lemon & cream cheese mug crumble
  • Banana, apple & peanut mug crumble
Biscuity Mug Crumbles
  • Pineapple, apple &​ caramelised biscuit mug crumble
  • Red berries, apple &​ shortbread mug crumble
  • Damson plum &​ apple with Breton butter biscuits mug crumble
  • Mirabelle plum, apple &​ shortbread mug crumble
  • Raspberry, apple &​ pink-wafer biscuit mug crumble
  • Peach & strawberry biscotti mug crumble
Savoury Mug Crumbles
  • Salmon with courgette &​ hazelnut mug crumble
  • Cherry tomatoes with three cheeses mug crumble
  • Courgette &​ feta with polenta mug crumble
  • Olive, tomato & Parmesan mug crumble. 
I'm going to trial the 'Raspberry, apple & white chocolate mug crumble' and the savoury the 'Cherry tomatoes with 3 cheeses mug crumble'.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Everthing from Evernote to Zotero

Thing 17 is Evernote and Zotero.
Playing with Evernote to scan a business card - which worked except it chose to ignore the 'Wimmera Regional Library' bit and came up with the company name 'Corporation', liked that it would then add those card details to your contact list - easy! (the Evernote Team do seem to pester my email with with 'must have' tips)
I wasn't familiar with Zotero - open-source reference management software to manage bibliographic data and related research material. It can do your citations and bibliographies (think Endnote), organise your files:PDFs, webpages, images, into a searchable tree interface (think iTunes playlists), and syncs your data to your other devices (think Google.docs).
Even though both products have mobile apps, some of their capabilities are really only suited to a pc web browser - I'd like the Evernote web clipper to work on the phone or ipad and easily save text, links and images I come across.
Checked out Zotfile the advanced PDF management tool for Zotero, but the rules and configurations looked a bit off-putting, so I backed out.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

When in Benalla

The Thongaphones

Found this interesting sight when crossing over the bridge in Benalla.

The ceramic mural which incorporates mosaics, pottery and tiles, began as a community arts project in 1983, the mural was created in 1985 and the whole project took 27 years to complete, it was officially opened in 2010. The mural is situated on the northern bank of Lake Benalla, (near the Information Centre and Museum in the old Mechanics Institute building). 
Overhead from Benalla City
The Gallery from the mural

It forms part of the Art Gallery's collection - the Gallery is across from the mural on the southern bank.

The structure includes an amphitheatre, viewing platform and two sets of sound pipes (Thongaphones), tuned to a pentatonic scale, they are played with a thong. 

Benalla also has some great painted street murals, including works by Adnate (there's also an Adnate in the Art Gallery), Guido van Helten & RONE.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The 'e' of books n' things

Thing 16 eBooks and eBook apps is related to the previous Thing 15.
It covers some of the challenges faced by libraries providing ebooks 
There is the device dilemma - tablets versus readers for eBooks ; the difficulties of proprietary material ; why libraries don't have all the latest bestsellers in the eBook collection ; patrons with El-cheap-o devices that don't access app sources like Google Play or iTunes ; and well-meaning family who gift elderly parents with eReaders without explaining their use.
We still have a few DRM controlled eAudio titles, and it isn't that obvious they have restricted rights when you're browsing, luckily they are being fazed out.
In the Explore I checked out the LibraryBox 2.0 - a Kickstart Project it is a "combination of a router (a variety of hardware will work), USB drive, and software that, when combined, give you a small, low powered webserver. The webserver acts like a captive portal, and delivers files that are stored on the USB drive". The portable digital file distribution system is designed to share digital information in areas of limited or no connectivity (that can be us).

 In the Thinking Points it was how to display and promote ; the different devices, vendor selections, and file formats of eBooks.

It is vital that the eAudios & eBooks are viewed as part of the larger collection, so hurry on eRC (eResource Central) integration - providing our eContent in the general catalogue, so it can be searched alongside the traditional physical collection - you're looking for a copy of "Brave new world" and don't care if it is in large print, CD or ebook format, you just want it NOW.

Also thinking about the born digital local content and historic content converted to digital.