Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sale at Threadless

Threadless, the indie-cool tee-shirt company that was mentioned in Learning 2.0, is having one of their periodic $10 sales. So if there was something at Threadless you've been craving ...

Zamzar: We have found the problem, and it is us

So, Zamzar is working great this morning. The difference? I had the bright idea of using a different email address to receive notification that my conversions are ready for download.

So the lesson is: If you're having trouble, don't use your PLCMC email address at Zamzar. Try Hotmail, or Yahoo!, or Gmail, or whatever else you've got.

Because the service itself works well, and works quickly. Wait, I'll show you.

I also converted several YouTube videos with good results, although they could be a bit balky at times. And I converted a PDF into a Word document, which worked quite well.

I did notice that quite often, Zamzar doesn't look like it's finished uploading a document or a video, when actually it has. If you have an upload that seems "stuck" at 24% (or any other percent, for that matter), check the email address you supplied anyway. Most of the items I've had this "trouble" with have in fact been in my Gmail box waiting on me. (I suspect it's some kind of bandwidth issue on the library's end.)

I can imagine many, many uses for Zamzar, but the most intriguing is converting from PDF into an editable document. We see many, many patrons who want to edit a PDF but, of course, can't do so.

Zamzar will also be useful the first time a patron brings in a file they created in Word 2007, which of course we have no way to convert to a document they can use on our computers. (You can use Zamzar to convert the Word 2007 docx format to a plain old doc.)

And for personal use, Zamzar is absolutely the easiest way I've seen to download a YouTube video! And I can watch it on my iPod! That totally rocks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I have a bad feeling ...

that the reason I can't upload a file to Zamzar for conversion is bandwidth. Virtual Village is full of patrons watching videos at YouTube, playing games at Yahoo! Games and messing around on MySpace pages. Not that there's anything wrong with that, except that it means I can't connect to the Internet with enough speed to get anything at all accomplished. Other than Zamzar, I need to be trolling new sites for my 60 Sites in 60 Minutes class and grabbing screencasts from the ones I decide to feature.

It's this hot outside on a Tuesday afternoon, and it's not even June yet? It's going to be a long, hot, dry summer, with no bandwidth to speak of. I may go insane before the end of July, and it's hottest here in August.

Zamzar update

Just as a quick update to last Friday's Zamzar post - I still haven't gotten any emails from Zamzar saying my file conversions are ready! So I'm going to try again ...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Thing 24: Zip, zam, zot

The name of the website in the first exercise for Learning 2.1, Zamzar, reminds me a a tennis-ball-on-a-pole came my sister and I had when we were kids, called Zim Zam or something. My sister used to make really horrifically lame jokes about zim zam zot all the time.

Hopefully, the Zamzar service won't be as lame as those jokes.

The first thing I tried to do at Zamzar -- convert a YouTube video of the inside of a hard drive as it works to an mpg so I could include it in the PowerPoint presentation for computer basics. It took me several attempts to realize that to convert something from a URL, I had to click the URL link about the "Browse" box at Clicking that link takes you to, and the "Browse" button now says "Add URL." I tried converting a YouTube video to a couple of different formats; the only one that I was able to get to even complete the conversion process was mp4.

I also uploaded a Word document for conversion to a PDF; we'll see how that worked.

Right now, I'm waiting for Zamzar to email me with a link to either one of my conversion projects. I'll let you know how they turned out!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Old Hardwick Hall

richardr posted a photo:

Old Hardwick Hall

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ah-ha! New scrablog!

The new version of Scrapblog is even more fun than I thought! The stickers and backgrounds, for example, are much easier to use but they are also a lot more fun to look at. The themes are pretty great too. And coming soon - the ability to put a Scrapblog on DVD as a gift, and to get a nicely printed and bound version.

This Scrapblog is one I'm creating for my grandfather's 90th birthday party this June. I had planned to use PowerPoint to make it, but I actually think Scrapblog is easier and more fun. (Especially if I can get the presentation on a DVD. There won't be any Internet access at the party.) Although I must admit this one Scrapblog has taken the better part of a day. (But then I'm at work on the service desk, so I've done it in the minutes I've been able to snatch between users needing help.)

Scrapblog's embed/post to blog function doesn't seem to be working right now, or at least it isn't working well. I'll try again tomorrow, but right now it is time to go hoooooome!

Wait, let's try it right now:

Scrapblog, again

Scrapblog recently released a new version of themselves. It's a whole lot easier to use (as long as you have the latest version of Flash), there's great new art and themes -- an overall improvement that makes this service worth considering again.

I'm in the process of creating a new Scrapblog, and I'll embed it here as soon as I can. So far, I'm really having fun!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

There's gotta be a better way!

By God, I write too many words sometimes. There's gotta be a way to do "extended posts" in this new version of Blogger, so that you see the first paragraph or so and then have a "read more" link to click for the rest. I could do it in the old version, but I don't know about this one.

So, off to track that down.

Wow, It's been a long time.

Hmm. So. It looks an awful lot like I've fallen down on the job and not kept up with my Learning 2.0 adventure.

But I have, really I have!

I just haven't blogged about it.

If I'm not careful, this is going to be one of those horrid catch-up posts where I wind up listing a lot of links. So I'll just list a few of my favorite new discoveries, and catch up with a few more next time.

Recent Web 2.0 goodies

  • Backpack has taken its rightful place as the ruler of my world. Okay, not quite, but it's incredibly useful. Backpack lets you create pages for just about anything; each page can contain lists, notes and links. For a small charge ($5 a month, paid monthly) you can also add pictures, files and whiteboards. Regardless, you can share your page with anyone you want to see it, which makes it great for collecting notes for a joint project. I'm essentially using it as a notebook; after every meeting or brainstorming session, I transfer my notes to Backpack. I've also got pages for shopping lists, knitting projects, stuff I need to blog about, etc. I've tried websites like this before, but for some reason I can't quite put my finger on, Backpack really works for me.

  • Weatherbonk, which is a lovely mash-up of weather data with Google maps and traffic cameras, even helps you plan a trip by car based on what the weather is forecast to be along your route.

  • Twitter is meant to let friends know what you are doing at exactly this moment. Most of what's there is one-line posts like "Check out this neat site," but political candidates are putting it to really good use. See the John Edwards Twitter, for example, to see how this "vanity" site can actually be quite useful.

  • I've become a follower of The Consumerist, a shopping advocacy blog. Before you go shopping, check here! You'll learn about bad products, bad customer service, how a certain cell phone company really can't do math ...

  • Finally, I really like using the Flock browser. Flock is based on Firefox, but has been created specifically for web 2.0 tasks. Flock makes it easy to blog, use Flickr and other photo services, and read RSS feeds. It is a program that must be installed on your computer, but if you have the drive space for it, it's worth it! (Actually, there's a lot more to Flock, but I'll get deeper into the topic later.)

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