But there are some things that I would like to do more of in the coming year… Now that I’m not in school full time, along with being a mom, full-time employee and doing enough writing/presenting to qualify as a part-time job, I’m ready to start focusing on things other than school and work.
First is cooking. I do sooooo much better when I spend a few minutes each weekend before hitting the grocery store just going through some cookbooks (super-easy with all the resources I have on my iPad!) and picking out meals for each day of the week. I get the ingredients on my weekly shopping excursion and I don’t have to wonder each night what I’m going to make when I get home (something that generally encourages a close enough relationship with *more than one* restaurant delivery person that they start asking how my life is going between visits), it’s already planned and in my RTM daily to-do list. Not only will this be cheaper than ordering take-out a couple (or more) times a week, but it should be healthier – especially since I’m going to really try to keep red meat to a weekend-only indulgence. I’m not saying we’ll stop ordering take-out, just that we might try to limit it to weekly, instead of what seems like all-the-freaking-time.
Second is knitting. I’m going to work on getting Christmas gifts knitted in advance this year. I’m still working on the last Christmas gift scarf, days after Christmas is over, and I have spent way too much energy freaking out about getting stuff done this year. I may take January off (since I’ll still be knitting that last scarf into January, I think…), but I’m going to work on a Christmas knitting project a month starting in Feb. That should get everyone on my list *something* next Christmas!!
Third is yoga. I’ve done something really, really mean to my back and last night was miserable – finding a position that didn’t make what feels like a pulled muscle hurt even more (and I really haven’t done anything to earn a pulled muscle!!). I’m hoping that spending some quality time stretching and toning with some yoga will help stave off these random aches and pains. Combine this with healthier eating by cooking at home rather than out all the time and I may just lose a pound or two as well!
Again, these are not resolutions that I’m making – these are just things that I’d like to focus on a bit more in the coming year. No hard-and-fast goals attached to them (well, maybe the knitting one, but other than that…), no pressure on me to keep resolutions, just some things to consider as I try to figure out what to do with the extra time I’ve been devoting to homework and school participation.
I work in a public library, as most of you surely know, and we have recently begun offering Overdrive audio and e-books to our patrons. On one hand, I’m delighted. I’m listening to the Hunger Games on audiobook as I rush through my Christmas knitting projects and love the fact that I can listen to them for free (though I still have my 1 book a month Audible subscription – it’ll be a while before I feel comfortable giving that up). I’m not as crazy about the ebooks because neither of the readers that work with Overdrive on my iPad are particularly pretty (as compared to the Kindle app in which I spend a LOT of time…). Overall, though, it’s a great thing! I’ve informed the librarian in charge of the service (who, in the interests of disclosure is also my boyfriend) that he can forward any iPad related Overdrive questions on to me, since I have the only iPad at the library and can hopefully answer them for patrons as they come in.
What this has taught me is that Overdrive is not a particularly easy to use service – even on the iPad, arguably the absolutely easiest way to use it! Both audio and e-books can be downloaded directly from the Overdrive catalog to the iPad and then consumed using the Overdrive media player, a free iPad app. This should make things easy, but the combination of format issues (not really Overdrive’s fault that the iPad won’t play Windows media files, I suppose…), poor documentation on the Overdrive site and glitches in the Overdrive software make for some frustrating experiences for our patrons.
While Overdrive can (and hopefully will very soon!) fix the documentation and software crashing issues, the format issues are larger and beyond the control of the service. I spent a good 20 minutes on the phone trying to assure a patron that, despite the fact that she “read somewhere” that Windows Media files (WMA) could be played on the iPad, I’ve not seen it happen, nor have I seen any indication that it can happen – and Overdrive says specifically that it won’t happen. This confounded her. She didn’t understand why, if she had Windows Media Player on her computer, she couldn’t then transfer the file to iTunes, then to the iPad. Beyond the fact that this seems like a LOT of trouble to me – it’s also not possible due to file format incompatibilities (I understand – if I’m wrong, please let me know!).
E-books and audiobooks are becoming more and more popular with our patrons. While I try to explain to people who are using them now that they are on the cutting edge of technology and many of the bumps they experience will be smoothed out with time, this really isn’t the case. This stuff has been around for a while and file format issues, DRM (and the problems with signing into various bits of software with YET ANOTHER username and password), and the like should have been taken care of by now. Many library types have already covered the issues with e-material formats and DRM – I know it is something that libraries really need to get cleared up if we expect people to use our services, but I’d also like to take a moment to ask our service providers (and yes, I’m talking to you, Overdrive!) to work on making the experience smoother, as hassle-free as possible and as pretty as commercial vendors do. I will, almost without fail, purchase a book from Amazon to read on my Kindle rather than borrow it from my library to read on the unpleasant e-book reader bundled with the Overdrive Media Console. Maybe when Overdrive puts out its native iPad app (the one available now is actually for the iPhone) the issue of ease of use and desire to use will be taken care of – until then, I’ll continue to help out patrons who are baffled by all the arcana surrounding the use of the current crop of e-materials services and hope for better days.
Web Worker Daily (www.webworkerdaily.com, WWD) has been posting some great stuff about collaboration and social networking over the past few days. Here is a quick list of the best posts:
* Social Networks allow companies to call “Contingent Workforce”
* Social Tools make managing remote workers easier
* Integrating social collaboration into workflow
* Unleash employees to remain relevant
but there is much more at the WWD site, but those were posted fairly recently and all of them are applicable to any kind of collaborative work – whether you are an enterprise or non-profit organization or library!
Reading through an excellent post on the importance of capturing information at The Cranking Widgets blog, I was reminded of how regularly I fail at this activity. I carry with me a smartphone with Evernote, Memos and unlimited texting on it, an iPad with all that and more and a moleskine notebook with a pen just about everywhere I go (phone in a pocket, iPad and notebook/pen in my purse). I still can’t manage to write stuff down when I should.
I used to use the Jott service, but it started charging for more and more of the stuff I used (occasionally) and I couldn’t really justify the price of the service for how I used it. It was handy to be able to call up a number and dictate a note that would be in my email when I got back to a computer, though. Now I keep thinking I can use Google Voice for that, but I’ve gotten out of the habit and I never think to do it (maybe I should reprogram my speed dial key that still goes to Jott’s number to my Google Voice number… hmmmm). Even then, though, I didn’t remember to write down everything that needed to be written down.
This post won’t conclude with a “and then, I got a brilliant idea and this is how I’ve solved that problem” statement, unfortunately. I’m still bad at capturing things, but I do think that running across articles and blog posts like the one I mentioned above is of great help – it will remind me, for a while at least, to write stuff down when I hear it/think of it/get told about it and maybe, just maybe, this time will be the one that sticks as a habit.