Use a Different Browser for Work Stuff

using two browsersMy last post talked about some tools to use when managing multiple Instagram accounts. When I was writing that post, I realized that I had another tip to share … here it is!

And it’s an easy one. Use separate browsers for work and personal stuff. This works great for me. For example, I’m logged into my personal Google account (for gmail, Google plus, Google Apps, etc.) all the time at work. I use Chrome for that. Chrome is also hooked into Facebook, my personal Twitter account, etc. – pretty much anything “me related” goes on Chrome.

For work-related web tools, I use Firefox. This gives me an easy way to log into separate social media accounts at the same time. For example, I can be logged into work and personal Twitter accounts, or work and personal Google accounts at the same time. No logging out of one and into the other one.

So – a simple tip that might work for you. Have any other tips to share? Please do!

 

Cheap & Easy Audio for Videos

I recently picked up a new lavalier microphone, and it works great! The audio in this video was recorded using it – give it a listen (ok, and while you’re at it, check out my daughter’s GoFundMe campaign – that’s why I made this video).

So what’s the microphone setup? Pretty simple. It consists of two things:

I found out about the Azden microphone from this guy. I’d agree – it works great! Here’s what I did in this video:

  • Video – recorded with a DSLR camera
  • Audio – recorded separately. The Azden mic plugs directly into the Zoom H1 recorder. I turned off the Auto Level setting for more control. I also turned on the Low Cut setting (to keep rumble down), and recorded in MP3 format (the Zoom also records in WAV format)
  • To sync up the separate audio and video files, I used the PluralEyes app, which automatically syncs up the audio and video. Nice.
  • Then I edited the video in Final Cut Pro.

The beauty of this audio recording setup is that for about $123 or so, I have the “budget version” of a wireless lavalier microphone setup that can cost much more. The Cable on the Azden mic is about 3′ long – long enough to plug into the Zoom, then put the Zoom in a back pocket, on a chair, etc. (if you need a longer cable, get the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Microphone. It has a 20′ long cable, and is still under $30. Here’s a video of me testing it out).

And for $23, it sounds great! What’s not to like about that?

Do you have any “budget-minded” ideas for making videos better? I’d love to hear them!

Five Things to Remember when Opening a Makerspace

My library just opened our new makerspace, called the Make-It Lab, on Monday. If your library has opened a makerspace, or is thinking about it, remember this – it’s a very different type of service to create, and you most definitely WILL be surprised by something.

Here are some things we have learned through the planning and opening of our makerspace (I’m sure there are more than these!):

1. You can’t train for everything. When you create a service involving stuff you simply haven’t done before, like digital music creation, 3D printing, or offering Mac computers … I guarantee you will be surprised at something. So make sure to train for flexibility, and know who to call when you get stumped.

2. You don’t have all the equipment your customers want. You won’t have everything your customers want. On our opening day, an older gentleman who was interested in seeing the space started asking questions. He liked our VHS-to-digital transfer tools, but wondered if we could also do cassette tapes, VHS-C tapes, and DVDs. We had to say no to some of that because we don’t have all the equipment needed, but told him that we’d keep track of the request and see what we could do as we adjust the room for our customers.

And that was just the first day.

3. You have more stuff than you realize. You didn’t just buy a camera, a 3D printer, and a microphone. You bought a camera (and a power cable, and a battery, and [hopefully] a battery charger, and an instruction manual), a 3D printer (and probably an extra spool or two of filament), and a microphone (and probably a microphone holder, maybe a mic stand adapter, a mic stand, and an XLR cable). You have to figure out where to put everything, how to label all this stuff so it makes sense for customers and staff, and how to check that nothing “accidentally” walks away.

4. There are a TON of details. I’ll admit – details are not my strong suit. Thankfully, I work in a library with some remarkable detail-oriented staff! We had to work through some processes like: how do you check out the room; do you check out the room or the computer; how many people can be in the room at the same time; how, exactly, do you pay for your 3D print; how do you go about getting equipment to customers, etc.

And each of those processes have multiple steps behind them.

5. 3D printers are persnickety. We first bought a Makerbot 5th Generation 3D printer (my earlier post about the Makerbot still holds true – no improvement). As of now, it has not worked well enough for us to feel comfortable putting it out for public use. Makerbot’s “SmartExtruder” is not so smart – it jams every couple of prints. So we did some more research, and purchased an Ultimaker 2. In the week or two that we’ve had it, it has worked great – no jams!

Bonus point – have fun! If you’re opening some type of makerspace/hackerspace/digital media lab, you have a good chance to attract people to your library that don’t usually use your services, or you might introduce a regular, more traditional customer to a fun, new experience.

What’s not to like about that?

Does your library Spotify?

I follow Ellen Forsyth, a really smart Australian librarian, on Flickr. Yesterday, I saw this image in her photo stream (see the pic in this post).

Feast magazine has created a Spotify account. Here’s what the magazine says about it:

We are excited to announce that Feast is now on Spotify! Join us at sbsfeastmagazine to listen to the new additions to our profile: a Greek-themed playlist to match our Global Roaming story on life in Lesvos, and Christmas songs from around the world to get you in the spirit while you whip up festive goodies. Old favourites abound in ‘Char Time’ for tunes while you grill, and ‘Celebrate: Diwali’ to channel your inner Bollywood star are still online as well.

What a cool idea! Can libraries do this? I bet so. Spotify (huge music streaming service, for those not familiar with Spotify) allows users to create and share playlists of music.

A library could easily set up some fun playlists. Some examples:

  • seasonal or holiday-based music
  • theme-based music for new books or movies
  • a playlist connected to a major event (i.e., summer reading)
  • literary-focused music playlist
  • or just have fun with staff favorites

What do you think? Has any library done this? Please share!

Pic by Ellen Forsyth

 

Equipment for my Library’s Makerspace

M-Audio USB 25-key keyboard controllerMy library is putting the final touches on our fledgling makerspace/digital media lab. It opens December 8, assuming all the details fall into place! I thought it might be interesting to do a few posts on our plans – to share equipment ideas, policies and guidelines, and planning – in hopes that someone else will find it useful.

We are calling it the MakeIT Lab. Our goal is to allow customers to use computers and digital technology to make stuff, including:

  • edit and manipulate photos
  • create digital art
  • create and edit videos
  • record music, podcasts, and oral histories
  • transfer videos from old formats to newer ones
  • scan photos and documents
  • and make cool stuff with our 3D printer.

We’ll let customers do this inside the building in the lab, and outside the building by checking out a Media Bag. We’re placing the 3D printer in a very public area with signage about the MakeIT Lab in hopes that it promotes the rest of the makerspace just by … being cool (fingers crossed on that).

This is very much a pilot project for us. We have a starting list of equipment, procedures, trained staff (still working on that one), and a small room. If it goes well, we might need to expand services – more on that next year!

Here’s our starting list of equipment:

For the room:

  • Two Apple iMac computers
  • Alesis Elevate 3 studio monitors for the computers
  • flatbed scanner
  • Wacom digital drawing tablet
  • MakerBot 3D printer and filament
  • Canon Vixia camcorder
  • Elgato A/D converter
  • tripods and video lighting
  • M-Audio Oxygen 25 USB Keyboard controller
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio interface
  • Microphones (Audio Technica AT 2020 and Shure SM57 mics)
  • Microphone stands and cables

For the Media Bags. These are bags of stuff that you can check out. We do lots of “bag” things, including Travel Bags, Health Bags, and Book Group in a Bag. Each of the Media Bags will have some basic equipment and a Dummies Guide book in the bag. Bags include:

  • Video bag: Canon Vixia camcorder
  • Photography bag: Canon PowerShot digital camera
  • Field Recording bag (for podcasting, oral histories, etc): Zoom H1 digital recorder
  • Songwriters Bag: Tascam DR-40 Portable digital recorder, Audio Technica AT 2020 microphones (2 of them), mic stand and cables.

Software:

  • iLife suite (GarageBand, iMovie)
  • Google Sketchup
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • And probably some other software that I’m forgetting at the moment.

Should be a fun project!