by Michele DeSilva, Library
It’s almost the end of the term. Whether you’re student, staff, or faculty, you’re probably slammed with end of the term work: finals, grading, paper writing, etc. And, you’re probably looking forward to the winter break and having some time to read for pleasure, watch some movies and catch up on everything you missed while buried in books, studies, and end of term work. That makes winter break a great time to learn about some new tech tools. Some of these will be useful for the classroom or office, while others are just plain fun and will help you enjoy your break a bit more. So, check them out, and feel free to submit comments if you’ve got something you want to share!
This is an increasingly popular tool – with good reason. Jing is a program that you can download for free that allows you to take screenshots (snapshots of your computer screen) and save them or upload them to a website and link to them to share them. Not only can you take a screenshot but you can also add text, draw arrows, or highlight parts of the screen (see example below). You can even make a screencast (record what you’re showing and doing on your screen) up to five minutes long, with or without audio.
If you use more than one computer on a regular basis, Delicious is a lifesaver. Delicious is a bookmarking tool that allows you to save and categorize (and share) URLs in a web-based application that is accessible from any computer. You simply sign up for a free account and then you can bookmark favorite sites and access those bookmarks from any computer. For computers that you use frequently, you can download a widget for your Internet browser’s toolbar that allows you to save bookmarks with one click. You can also share your bookmarks with others, even with people who don’t use Delicious. For example, I could share my favorite gardening websites with you by sending you to this URL: http://delicious.com/michanna/gardening. Some libraries use Delicious to collect sites about certain topics that can be used to answer frequently asked questions. You might find Delicious helpful to organize sites that you use for research, for fun, or for work.
Surely you’re familiar with Google, but you may be less familiar with some of Google’s useful applications, particularly the Google Docs suite. Google Docs includes a word processor, a spreadsheet, and a presentation application – all online and all free. You simply create a Google account, then go to http://www.google.com/ and click on the “more” button at the top of the page. Choose “Documents” from the drop down menu. The beauty of Google Docs is that you can access your documents on any computer by simply logging into your account. You can also share your documents with others (as long as they have a Google account). You can allow other people to edit or just to view the document. I have used this feature many times to work on group projects with people who are far away. With everyone sharing and working within the same document, you don’t have to worry about version control or sending huge files back and forth via email. The program even keeps track of what’s been edited and by whom it was edited, so you can revert to an older version if necessary.
For those of you who might be in the process of job hunting, you can use existing templates to create professional-looking resumes and cover letters. When creating a new document, choose “from template,” rather than a blank document, and you’ll get a list of templates you can use.
Leisure Reading and Listening
Need some over-the-break reading suggestions? Well, first, you might check out this blog’s summer reading post, which includes a lot of great suggestions. But, if you want more, you should try LibraryThing (http://www.librarything.com/). LibraryThing is a site where you can create a virtual library based on your home library, which is nice if you’ve got the time for it. Even if you don’t have the time to do that, you can click on the “search” tab and then type in the title of a book you liked (see screenshots below).
LibraryThing will return dozens of suggestions of books you might like – enough to keep you busy all break (and then some)!
Already got some reading lined up or want some non-textual entertainment? Try a site called Public Radio Fan (http://www.publicradiofan.com/). This site lists programs currently playing on public radio stations all over the world that you can stream via your computer (some have links to downloadable formats, like podcasts, too). There are some really interesting and unusual programs to explore, including music of all varieties, radio documentaries, and news programs. The world beyond Bend is revealed through sound and you’re sure to have an enriching and entertaining winter break!