Addicted to your Smartphone?

In my last article, I talked about the silliness of a CEO’s belief that smartphones are bad. There is another side to that coin – some people are really, truly addicted to their favorite mobile device. Or at least “have issues.”

If you are one of those, what can you do? Here are some suggestions, culled from the depths of Google (ok – just the first 8 or so articles that I found):

  1. Turn off notifications. I do this with email (because I get too much). I manually check email on my iphone, rather than having my iphone alert me to email every minute or so. Works great.
  2. Uninstall apps if they become a problem.
  3. Turn on Airplane Mode when you need to focus.
  4. Don’t answer the phone/text/email/tweet/etc. Some people even schedule times during the day to process emails/voicemails/social media replies, etc.
  5. Charge your phone somewhere other than your bedroom. Or, some smartphones let you set a “no notifications” time.
  6. Use a “smartphone addiction” app like Moment or Breakfree
  7. Do something that doesn’t involve your phone.
  8. Or, just turn it off. You’ll save battery life, too!

Control your device – don’t let your device control you!

Image by Buzzfarmers

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