Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Google Keep?

I’m a fan of Evernote, have been for a very long time. I’ve gotten into the habit of checking Evernote whenever someone asks me a question – chances are the answer is in there in notes I’ve taken, IFTTT recipes I’ve created to dump random info into Evernote or in something I’ve clipped from a web page. Now, Google has come out with Keep, which seems to be aimed squarely at Evernote. I’m torn. On the one hand, I have 3 “links” on my desktop to my Google Drive, Dropbox and SkyDrive folders – all of which hold various parts of my document-centric life. I don’t need that kind of fragmentation in my note-centric life, too. On the other hand, I really like Google’s services and tend to use them pretty heavily. Adding Keep to the mix may make life easier. It may also make life a bit more precarious, though, too – see the recent loss of Google Reader.

Maybe the answer is to use them all and figure out a method (work notes go here, personal notes go there or notes for training go here, notes for tech work go there, etc.) and be willing to move notes around as services come (and go). Maybe the answer is to take a page from my new System Administrator, Ryan Sipes, and use something that I can control like OwnCloud (what we are using at NEKLS these days to serve as our new File Server interface).

Whatever I decide, it’s a pretty good problem to have, really. Having too much choice is better than not enough!!

How time flies and Project Management Skills

Those two things *are* actually related – keeping track of schedules while managing a project is pretty important. While I have managed to keep track of my schedule in planning the project of my upcoming Project Management class, I have still been surprised by the passage of time. The class starts tomorrow!! I’m finalizing content uploads and getting ready to start interacting with folks in the class. It’s not too late to sign up, though, if you want to brush up on one of the Top 7 Most In Demand Tech Skills of 2013 with me in a low-pressure and supportive environment!

Time will also fly by between now and my next real-world workshop – to be held in Maryland – on the use of the Getting Things Done time management theory in libraries on the 19th of February. I’m putting the finishing touches on that workshop too. Fortunately, nothing big (like, say, my 40th birthday on Feb 3rd or an upgrade of the ILS that I help to manage and 40+ libraries rely on that is happening the weekend of the 9th and 10th) will be happening soon… ;) Also, I can’t ¬†forget that I’m writing a book on Evaluating Cloud Services for Libraries that will be due to my publisher in April. Between all of those activities – the class, the birthday party at my best friend’s house, the upgrade weekend, the book and the workshop, February will be an interesting month. It’s a good thing it’s so short!!

Web 3.0, Knowledge Graphs and Google

Several years ago, at the 2008 NAGW conference just outside of Chicago, IL, I gave a talk about the coming of Web 3.0. Fast forward a few years to yesterday, when I was trolling about on the Internet and came across the explanation of Google’s Knowledge Graph – a GUI for the technical stuff I presented to government web developers those few years ago. The presentation is embedded below and, while it’s 4 years old and a bit outdated, it does still describe the underpinnings of the Semantic Web, mostly. No mention of HTML5 resources, of course, and some of the stuff I mentioned didn’t really pan out…

But, I checked today – just to see if one of my predictions came true. In the presentation, I said that with the proper coding of the web with semantic markup, search engines would become very powerful – able to answer questions asked in native English. So I went to Google and entered the same phrase I’d used in the presentation – “who starred in both saturday night fever and pulp fiction” and got the answer – John Travolta’s wikipedia page is the 4th response and the 3rd response shows a video clip with him featured in it. The future is here!!

Search for "who starred in both saturday night fever and pulp fiction"

Semantic Web In Action

All that being said, we aren’t yet at a “good enough” place – anyone who has spent more than a few minutes fighting with Siri can tell you that there are improvements to be made. Google is making those improvements, though, and pretty soon our patrons will be asking Google the exact same questions they are asking us at the reference desk – and finding the answers. This doesn’t mean reference librarians will become obsolete – it means that reference librarians will become the resource of choice for those who need more than a simple answer to a simple question. That’s what reference librarians are good at, so I’m not concerned about the “future of the profession” in that regard, but it is something that we’ll want to keep an eye on!

Until our patrons become universally wired into the ‘net (if that ever happens…), we have a way to get those simple questions answered now without resorting to fancy boolean statements ¬†and we have a way, with Google’s knowledge graph, to point our patrons to even more information about their subject, should they want it.

ALA Techsource Webinar

I, along with the ever-cool David Lee King, will be presenting a 2-part webinar for ALA Techsource on the 1st and 8th of December (both at 2:30 EST aka 1:30 CST (I just put that last Central time reminder in there for me, honestly…)). We’ll be talking about:

  • Collaboration with libraries and patrons using YouTube, Flickr and Dropbox
  • Marketing your library with Facebook and Twitter
  • 4 things your library MUST do when signing up for ANY social media tool
  • Time-savers and tools for maximizing your library’s social media reach
  • And much more!

The cost for both workshops is $85 and you can register at the ALA store. As with all ALA Techsource workshops, you will get some reading material, worksheets for you to use at your library and LOTS of information about collaboration, Web 2.0, social networking and whatever else comes up in the question and answer part of the sessions! Join David and I as we dump out all the accumulated knowledge we’ve gotten from our experiences in social networking at our libraries and bypass all that messy trial and error stuff yourself!

Collaboration 2.0 Update – FriendFeed’s files

Of course, as soon as the report is published, big news happens… FriendFeed is now allowing the upload and sharing of files (other than just photos, which they’ve supported for some time now). I saw this in action the other day when a friend of mine uploaded a PowerPoint presentation into a room I frequent – there was much rejoicing in that room, and we immediately came up with all kinds of ways to use the new functionality – and we aren’t even a “collaborative group”. For groups using FriendFeed rooms to collaborate, this is a HUGE great big deal. It makes FriendFeed just that much more useful as a collaboration platform – as well as that much more fun as a social network!

Google’s & Zotero’s newest “Cloud” offerings

Google is going to be releasing, sometime this year, their GDrive application. TG Daily says:

Gdrive is basically a cloud-based storage that should have two faces: A desktop client that keeps local and online files and folders in two-directional sync via a web interface for accessing your desktop files anywhere and anytime, using any network-enabled computer. In addition, it will come tightly integrated with other Google services to enable editing of supported document types, like spreadsheets and presentations via Google Docs, email via Gmail, images via Picasa Web Albums, etc.

This opens powerful possibilities. For instance, you could start working on a spreadsheet at home and continue via Gdrive web interface accessed in an Internet cafe. When you arrive back home, changes to the spreadsheet have already trickled down from the cloud to your desktop. The idea, of course, is all but revolutionary, but Google’s execution could set it apart.

Plus a whole lot more, of course. The question is, for me, will it work as seamlessly and as beautifully as my Dropbox account? I LOVE Dropbox – I have a Dropbox folder on my laptop, my home desktop and my work desktop machines and it does an absolutely effortless job of keeping the files in that folder perfectly synched up and perfectly usable. If GDrive does that for my entire computer… I may be even more in love.
Now, this is all speculation for now – there are no official announcements from Google to back this up, and there are issues (privacy, of course, but cost and reliability guarantees and various other niggling little details) that have to be considered before folks will willingly upload the entire contents of their computer’s hard drive to a corporation’s care. If, however, the service works as well as currently existing services do *and* if Google gives some thought to privacy and practicality concerns of users, this could be an AMAZING addition to Google’s services!
Finally – before I forget – as a Public Computer Center manager, I am always looking for ways for patrons to be able to use our computers as their “home away from home” without *actually* letting them save their work, install their programs or otherwise screw with my computers. This could be a good solution – something that many of them will already have a user/pass login for (their Gmail accounts) and something that they are familiar with. Hmmm, I’m already getting ideas and making plans and the silly thing hasn’t been announced yet.
The other big announcement this week was the release of the new Zotero plugin for FireFox. This new version now includes synchronization between multiple computers – so if you find a great resource and add it to Zotero on one computer, it will sync up and be available on any other computer you have Zotero’s plugin installed to. Finally, Zotero has made it so that I can happily use it! With my reliance on 3 or 4 different computers and my heavy use of Dropbox-like applications, I just couldn’t get into a single-computer use Zotero application. Making it available on multiple computers, however, means that I’m there!