iPads for the Tweens

We have an iPad pilot project going on at our library right now. If it goes well, we might expand the project – more iPads, more areas, etc.

But for now, here’s what we’re doing:

  • We have two iPads out in our kid’s area – specifically in our Tweens area (kids ages 9-12)
  • Somewhere, we found some huge, spongy iPad cases
  • Each iPad has some games, art apps, and other age-appropriate apps
  • They are chained to a table so they don’t walk off

And they seem to be pretty popular!

[GARD align=”right”] The project is going well so far. We started off with some pretty normal black sleeve/cases – those didn’t last long, hence the huge, thick, spongy cases. There’s no power connected to them, so we have to recharge them every day. And I think we’ve had some problems keeping customers out of settings, etc. Sure, you can set up a password for some things – but that won’t keep people out of all the settings on an iPad.

Otherwise – it’s going well, and we’ll assess it and either grow the project or kill it, depending on feedback.

What’s your library doing with iPads or tablets? I’m curious!

Still Talking about Old Technology?

I’m guessing that your organization is still talking about how to implement old technology. You are holding meetings, creating working groups, forming committees. All based around implementing something that still seems new to you, but in reality is pretty darn old!

“Old technology? No way!” you say. Wanna bet? Here’s a short list of technology that gets discussed in libraries right now, with origin/founding/first appeared dates (yay for Wikipedia!):

  • Twitter – 7 years old (founded 2006)
  • Facebook – 9 years old (founded 2004)
  • ebooks – 42 years old (we’ll say 1971, though prototypes and patents go all the way back to the 1940s!)
  • ebook readers – 15 years old (1998, probably earlier)
  • QR Codes – 19 years old (created in 1994)
  • PC with OS’s newer than XP – 7 years old (Vista came out in 2006, though no one actually used it)
  • Apple Mac – 29 years old (Came out in 1984. I’ll guess many people remember the commercial, but haven’t actually used one)
  • Cell phones – 40 years old (First call made in 1973)
  • smart phones – 12 years old (started appearing in 2001)
  • text messaging – 21 years old (created in 1992)
  • IM/Chat messaging – 25 years old (IRC appeared in 1988)
  • wifi – 25 years old (appeared in 1988)
  • RFID – 30 years old (first patent in 1983)
  • Youtube – 8 years old (founded in 2005)
  • mp3 files for music – 19 years old (appeared in 1994)
  • digital media labs – 93 years old (ok, this one’s really hard to date. DMLs are really just small recording studios, which have been around in one form or another since at least the 1920s)
  • hackerspaces – 47 years old (This is another hard one to date. The Chaos Computer Club, an early hackerspace, was founded in 1981. But I think you could put the Homebrew Computer Club in this list, started in 1975, which helped spawn Apple. And my dad and my uncle Bob have had workshops in their basements with all sorts of crazy machinery since I’ve been alive. So I’m dating these at 47 years old :-)
  • Cloud computing – 63 years old (There have been mainframes/dumb terminals since the 1950s, which could be argued to be early cloud-based computing)
  • 3D Printing – 29 years old (the first working 3d printer appeared in 1984)

So I ask again – are you talking about old technology … like it’s new technology? Do you have staff who can’t use ebooks, are wary of smartphones or text messaging reference, or look at you crazy when you introduce the concept of a hackerspace to them? Is your library/city/governing board still wary of new-fangled social media tools like Facebook or Cloud computing?

Makes you think, doesn’t it!

Steampunk mobile phone pic by Urban Don

LibraryBox 2.0 Kickstarter Project!

Have you heard about Jason Griffey’s LibraryBox project? It’s pretty cool … and it’s time for the next phase of the project – LibraryBox 2.0!

Jason has set up a Kickstarter project for LibraryBox … and it’s already funded. The main goal ($3000) was funded in like 2-3 hours.

But there’s 29 days left to go on the Kickstarter project, and Jason and LibraryBox have some really cool plans they want to develop to flesh out the LibraryBox project more, and YOU can be a part of that.

So watch the video, visit the pages, and think about funding Librarybox!

My Smartphone has Replaced these Things

I’ve noticed that I use my iPhone for a bunch of stuff that I used to have another device or system for. Here’s what I mean:

  • Paper plane tickets: I recently started using e-tickets with the iPhone’s Passbook. Works great, and I don’t have to carry rumpled-up paper tickets anymore.
  • Guitar tuner: I use Guitar Toolkit for that. It’s actually the most accurate tuner I’ve ever owned!
  • Metronome: I now have lots of app-based metronomes, so there’s no need for a hardware-based metronome anymore.
  • Drum machine: I tend to use drum machines for metronomes. On my iPhone, I use DrumTrack8, and on my iPad, I use DM1. Both are fabulous.
  • Alarm clock: I use the built-in Clock app, and it works great. No need for a travel alarm clock, or a hotel wake-up call anymore!
  • Bible: YouVersion from Lifechurch.tv. Coolest Bible app ever.
  • Camera: I still use fancier cameras, but for a simple point-and-shoot? My iPhone is great at that – as long as I don’t need to zoom.
  • Encyclopedia: What’s that? I have Google/Wikipedia/etc. In my pocket.
  • Newspaper: There are a TON of news apps. I do most of my iOS news reading via the Flipboard app.
  • Weather radio: I live in Kansas. I need to know when those tornado warnings go off. My TWC Max app from The Weather Channel goes off when the weather does.
  • Notebook: See my last post on iA Writer and Byword. But I still like a good Moleskine notebook and a pencil, too.
  • Calculator: the default iOS calculator app is always with me…
  • Calendar/Daytimer: Currently using Tempo and Any.DO for these.
  • Exercise book or video: Currently using the brutal YAYOG (You Are Your Own Gym) app. Pretty handy!
  • Voice recorder for reminders: There are a ton of apps for this, too. I frequently use Evernote for this.

Do you use your smartphone or tablet for things you used to carry around? Extra gadgets that did unique things for you? Share in the comments!

Notes on an iPad – IAWriter or Byword?

ALA 2013 is coming up in a few days, and I want all you iPad note-takers to be prepared! For the last year or so, when I take notes on my iPad, I’ve been using iA Writer, and it works great. But I’m not really fond of the font. And I’m apparently the only one like that – iA Writer’s “beautiful design” gets mentioned a lot. But it’s not my favorite.

So… I tried another app. Byword, to be exact. Here’s what I found.

iA Writer and Byword are pretty similar. They are both popular writing apps for iOS devices. Both sync to iCloud and Dropbox if needed. Both have handy keyboard extension bars for easy-to-access keystrokes (like colons, commas, etc).

And Byword gives me a choice of fonts – so my problem was solved with Byword. Yippie!

One big difference between Byword and iA Writer is the keyboard. Both have a keyboard extension bar, but iA Writer’s works better for me. iA Writer has punctuation shortcuts that I actually use, like dashes, colons, semicolons, and apostrophes.

Byword’s keyboard extension bar includes a LOT of cool functionality. It actually has three rotating bars, and even shows word count, which is very useful. The 2nd and 3rd bars have some punctuation, but  … well, not what I need. No dashes, colons, or semicolons. And it includes a bunch of shortcuts that I’d never really use – things like brackets and the star key.

The deciding factor for me?

The iA Writer keyboard seems to work better for me. On Byword, the keyboard looks pretty much the same as iA Writer, but it seems like the software behind the keyboard isn’t picking stuff up the same way iA Writer does. With Byword, I get missed keystrokes, misspellings, and a bunch of weird auto-corrects.

With iA Writer, the keyboard … just works. The only errors I get are from me and my fingers.

So – after testing, it looks like the only thing I don’t like on iA Writer is the font … and you know what? I can live with the font. I’m sticking to iA Writer for now.

For more info, here are some other articles comparing iA Writer and Byword:

Tablet users – what do you use when you type on your tablet?