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SnapSession – Doodle

I have been using Doodle to schedule meetings with people for a while now and was very surprised I’d never done a SnapSession on it. For the 15 minute test period (since I was already familiar with the Event function), I tested the Choice function and the Doodle FaceBook application.

The one thing that strikes me about this application is its simplicity and ease of use. You have the default options, which serve the most basic needs, and then there are advanced options for more granular results. Best of all, there is no account to sign up for – so no user name and password to have to remember.

The difference between an Event and Choice is that a Choice lets you choose between a variety of items – for instance,”What should we have at the party?” or “Which movie should we go see?” This is good for getting consensus on things. The Event is geared specially for a place in time, meaning, a meeting or function. So if you have 10 people and 15 potential meeting times, Event would be your choice. If you have the same number of people but you are trying to decide where to go for dinner, Choice would be the option. I can see Choice being very useful in the classroom.

Both functionality, as well as the Facebook app, work pretty much the same way. Select if you want an Event or a Choice. The next screen asks you to provide a title and description respondents will see. You then provide your name and an email address, which is option but I strongly recommend including it. Every time someone completes an entry, the application will email you and let you know. This is so much more convenient than checking back all the time.

This is where the two choices are different. For Event, you will now select the DATES you want to include. Once you click on a date, it turns green showing it is now active. Click NEXT and you will now be able to enter the times on those day for people to choose from. If you don’t have enough columns for your times,click the ADD FURTHER TIME SLOTS. If you want each date to have the same times, you can click COPY AND PASTE FIRST ROW and all your dates will have the same times as the first date.

You can click finish here or go to OPTIONS. This is where you can get really granular with your needs. The option I like the most here is for a “if need be” response, instead of just the yes/no option. When planning meeting times, this has been an essential option for me. Click Finish, and you are done. If you included your email address, you’ll get one email with theparticipants link and one for the administration. Never give out the admin link

Step 2 for Choice gives you rows to list your choices. The options button works pretty much the same as described above. Once done, click Finish and the results are also the same as described above.

The Facebook application does mostly the same thing, except it places the poll in Facebook for you. The thing I did not like about this was that I needed to type individuals names to add them to the poll. It would have been far more convenient to have an invite window come up with all my friends and let me select who I want to invite, the way they do with events.

All said and done, I love this web based application and recommend it.

Update on CoverItLive info in this blog

One of the problems I’ve had in moving my blog from Blogger her to WordPress (and then eventually from WordPress.com to my own [wordpress.org] site, is that it was not accepting the coding from CoverItLive. I checked the CiL support site and also the WordPress support site and could not find anything. I guess I was just overlooking it, or its new, but here is what I just found on the CiL site.

Adding the Viewer Window as a Link

These instructions are useful for WordPress, Edublogs, Facebook and MySpace Users

When you run a live event using CoveritLive’s software, you place our Viewer Window on your site or blog. This is a simple process that works with virtually every publishing tool available. Unfortunately there are a few places that do not allow their users to publish iFrames which is what the Viewer Window sits in. Not to worry, you can still use CoveritLive to run your live event by following these instructions:

* Your Viewer Window is going to run in its own window instead of being directly embedded on your web/blog page. All you need to do is provide a link for your readers.

* To get the link for your specific live event, copy ONLY a portion of the embed code we provide when you are building your event. An example is shown below, with the code you will need highlighted in blue. Please note, every live event you build will have its own unique link that will need to be copied and pasted.

CiL code for pop out window

NOTE: Do not copy the code in this example. The correct code for your live event will be generated when you are building your event.

o When your readers click the link, the live event will pop up just like this Instant Replay.

Ok, so now I am going to go back and try this on the past entries where this became a problem and I’ll report back in comments.

SnapSession – Zotero

As many of you many already know, I’m beginning my doctoral studies in the Educational Communication and Technology program at New York University. The last time I was in an academic classroom as a student was 2003 and many of the technologies we take for granted today were not around. For instance, during my last semester of my masters program there was no Facebook, flickr, YouTube, Twitter, and Google was just a search engine (not even a verb!).

In fact, as a graduate student, I’d never heard of EndNote, perhaps it was around, perhaps not. Now, I know a lot of faculty around here has asked for Endnote and have even purchased it for themselves. Zotero (http://www.zotero.com) may change all of that. Having never used Endnote, I can’t speak to its operation, but those I know who have used Endnote told me I have to check our Zotero. So check out Zotero I did.

The people who recommended Zotero to me told me they stopped using Endnote once they found Zotero and can’t think of a reason to go back. In fact, they can think of several reasons not it.

According to their web page,“Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself.”

Ok – so what does this mean right away? First off, it means you have to use Firefox. What this also means is that you can be a Mac, Windows, or Linux user, as long as you use Firefox. It also means that it doesn’t matter if you work on a PC in the office and a Mac in the studio, if you have a Zotero account, its cross platform.

Basically, when Zotero sees that you are looking at content that is academic, it will, at the click of a button, import all the necessary information for the citation. If you want it to import something, you can still indicate that and fill in any information that Zotero might have missed.

Once something is stored within Zotero, it become searchable. Entires can be personalize, with your own notes, or with tags, which are all searchable. You can even attached screen shots or other attachments, like a PDF, which are ALSO searchable.

Now, here is what I think make Zotero better than Endnote – Zotero will follow you where ever you have access to the Internet. Lets say you take your computer to the library and you are working from there, you have Zotero. How about at the Starbucks, yup – you’ve got Zotero. How about if you go to the library ans use one of THEIR computers? Well, you can sign into the Zotero web page and access anything you’ve stored in “my library” in your account.

Here is the list of things Zotero does, according to their web site:

* Automatically capture citations
* Remotely back up and sync your library
* Store PDFs, images, and web pages
* Cite from within Word and OpenOffice
* Take rich-text notes in any language
* Wide variety of import/export options
* Free, open source, and extensible
* Collaborate with group libraries
* Organize with collections and tags
* Access your library from anywhere
* Automatically grab metadata for PDFs
* Use thousands of bibliographic styles
* Instantly search your PDFs and notes
* Advanced search and data mining tools
* Interface available in over 30 languages

No more needing to remember how to format something (although it is still important to check to be sure it is correct). I was “brought up” in MLA, but now have to switch to APA, and for several of the journals I submit to, they want APA. Now, I no longer need to try and remember what to do on which one.

Do you use Zotero? If so, what do you think? Do you like it better than EndNote? If so, why. If not, why not? If you need to make use of citations, are you willing to try Zotero? If so, would you be willing to come back here and add your thoughts into COMMENTS?

SnapSession: Dropbox

I recently put out a note to my social network asking if anyone knew of a photo sharing service I could use where the photos would be private. When you upload photos to Flickr, even if you mark them as private, the web crawlers can (will) still find them and then your private picture end up on Google Images.

Suzie Medders, over at Clemson, suggested I try Dropbox. Quick glance, I liked what I saw, so I decided to do a SnapSession on it.

It really could not be easier and the product does exactly what it says its going to do, at least as I can tell. You download an application to your computer (it is an .exe file for PCs and .dmg for Mac – it also runs on Linux) and this puts a dropbox folder either in your Documents folder, or you can tell the program where you want it (I choose my desktop). I downloaded Dropbox to both my PC and Mac, sitting side-by-side, so I could compare as I went.

The install was simple but I did make one mistake. When going through the process it asks you to provide a name for the account, which is not a name for the entire process, just for the computer you are on. Even though they provided the example “Joe’s Laptop”, I wasn’t sure, so I called my office computer “My Stuff”. When I did the install on my Mac laptop, I realized it was asking the same thing and that the name was for the local machine. I went back and tried to rename my office PC but could not find out to do so. Perhaps I’ll find it later on.

I uploaded a file I carry around on my flash drive. It magically appeared on my Powerbook right away. Wonderful. I’ve thought about what might happen if I lost that flash drive or if it got damaged. I do back it up regularly but use it all day long, it has my most active documents on it (one’s I work on at home and in the office). Losing even a few hours work could be time consuming, annoying, and potentially costly. This has now solved that problem. Well, for all files but one. I won’t put my financial budget excel sheet up there. I know they say it is private, but I’m just not that trusting. Remember, putting something on the network means its always there, pretty much, forever. It means that if Dropbox has its servers audited by law officials or the government, they can have access to anything they want. So if this is really something super secret you never ever want anyone else to ever see, don’t put it up on a network anything!

I loaded a file up into my “public” folder, which makes things public by default and when you right (control) click on it, you get the URL. Here is the document I put up there. http://files.getdropbox.com/u/1450981/mj-google.gif

There is also a folder for photos, which I didn’t have time to test in my designated 15 minute test period for these SnapSessions, but I will get to that on my own.

You can connect as many computers as you want, as long as you have the sign in (so I can do my work computer, laptop, the netbook I’ll be getting for school, home desktop, and even the computer I use when I’m at my mom’s!). You can share folders with others (didn’t get to test that either). If you working in a public space, you can even access the entire set up via a web site (once you sign in). And all this happens in relative real time.

The only glitch I ran into was I found a file that was the same as another file but with the word “conflict” and the name of my office computer in the file. It turns out that if two computers are accessing a file at the same time, the one that saves first wins and the second on is called the “conflict”. The help/FAQ told me why right away. I found this help/FAQ pretty easy to read and reliable.

The sign up was easy. They give you 2GB of storage space for free (and have paid accounts if you want/need more space). The product seems to perform exactly as it says its going to. In my book, this is a win. I’m interested in hearing what others think, especially those who might have been customers for a while – Dropbox has been around since 2007.