As blogging becomes more popular among journalists and other experts, as well as people "on the ground" in places like Iraq, the quality of the information in blogs becomes even more important for researchers. It may have also just become a bit more accessible with Google's new search engine, Google Blog Search. For a review, see Mary Ellen Bates' September 2005 Tip of the Month - Google Does Blogs and Search Engine Watch's Roundup Of Google Blog Search Commentary.
September 2005 Archives
In Part I of PowerPoint Alternatives, I talked about presenters who use HTML to display the visual portion of their presentation. Now that blogs are popular, some speakers are using blogs as presentation tools, including Steven Cohen of Library Stuff fame. Here’s a presentation he created in a blog last February and his post on the
topic. Note that he used Blogger, a tool that is free and can get you up and running with a blog in just a few minutes.
Downsides of using a blog instead of PowerPoint include a busier screen that you would find on most PowerPoint presentations. Also, a blog entry is not going to fill the screen the way a PowerPoint slide will, so it could be more difficult for the audience to read. From the presenter's standpoint, getting the slides in the proper order is cumbersome; you need to tweak the dates and times so as to get the blogs to display in the proper order, then remove the date from the blog template, since in this context, it’s irrelevant.
As with HTML, the advantages of using a blog are greatest when you be presenting using a live Internet connection. You can include the links you want to visit in the blog/web page, and easily link out to web sites. The blog also makes a great "take-away." The audience doesn't have to worry about writing down URLs; they can simply revisit the blog at a later time. If you enable commenting, the blog also can serve as a discussion forum for the audience to use to ask questions, or further discuss the topic.
A blog is a natural tool to turn to when the topic is blogging because it helps illustrate the basic features of blogs. I experimented with using a blog for a presentation I recently gave to the Greater Los Angeles Legal Administrator's Association called Blogging 101.
I know you're all sitting at the edge of your seats wondering what's going on with my Live Meeting recording issue, so I thought I'd give you an update. A very persistent gentleman at Live Meeting support went above and beyond the call of duty, and tried producing my recording using several different video editing applications, including Microsoft Producer, and was also unsuccessful. That is, until he tried Sony's Vegas Movie Studio. I downloaded a trial version, and it worked! I had to run it overnight because it took hours and hours (the recording I was editing is about 3 hours long), but I finally was able to finish the recording.
I'm still hoping for another solution, since Vegas costs about $500, but at least I know the Live Meeting videos can actually be edited. Just not by any Microsoft product! :-)
I'll keep you informed if I get any more information on this.
I want to thank Steve Matthews of the Vancouver Law Librarian blog for thinking of me as a techie librarian. Unfortunately, I'm not a RICH techie librarian, so I'm afraid I won't be purchasing the new Hummer laptop. Actually, even if I WAS rich, I wouldn't buy a Hummer laptop OR a Hummer. I don't know what it is, but something about Hummers gives me the urge to buy spray paint. :-) (I'm kidding, of course. I have not now, nor have I ever spray painted a Hummer. But a girl can dream, can't she?)
Anyway, this was a fun introduction to Steve's blog, which is quite interesting, by the way!
I guess you could say that most people have a love-hate relationship with PowerPoint. Ever since PowerPoint became the de facto standard in presentation software, presenters have been looking for an alternative. When the web came along, many speakers tried using HTML to compile presentations. For those who were comfortable in HTML, it was an easy way to create the materials to be projected during the presentation, and also made it a simple matter to distribute those materials, complete with live links, for participants to view after the session was over. For those who weren't comfortable in HTML, well, they were out of luck. There were other downsides as well, as Rich Wiggins details in his article "Will the Web Browser Replace Powerpoint?", Internet Outlook, Oct. 1, 1997.
HTML presentations can be useful for presenting with a live, reliable Internet connection so that instead of screenshots, you simply link to the live web sites. But if you decide to incorporate screenshots or downloaded web pages, things quickly get much more complicated.
I do have one small thing to add on the subject of wikis. If you want to try out a wiki for free, but don't really want the just anybody to post, try PBWiki (Peanut Butter Wiki). It will let you create your very own password protected wiki and give you a craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich all at the same time!
[Spotted on Teknoids in a message from David Dickens.]
I guess I could write a blog on wikis and how they could be used in law firms. I could include links to recent blogs on this topic by reputable lawyers, as well as to wikis in action. I could also detail the reasons why you might want to consider a wiki as a KM tool. Lucky for me, I don't have do, because Joy London already has. So instead, I think I'll just enjoy my glass of Trader Joe's Chardonnay and watch an episode of Foyle's War. Thanks, Joy!
Creating unique passwords for the many different sites that require registration can quickly become an unmanageable proposition. But using the same password at every site is a security hazard. Roboform will keep track of the various passwords I use, and even generate an unique one if I like, but it doesn't help me when I'm away from my computer.
Holly Riccio sent me a link to another option for generating passwords that you might find helpful called the Password Generator. You can use this web page to create a unique password for every site you visit. It's available to you at whatever computer you're using and if you're afraid the page may disappear some day leaving you high and dry, you can even save the page to your hard drive. The passwords are assigned based on your master password and the URL for the site you want to log onto. The passwords are not stored anywhere, making this a very secure option.
Wouldn't you think that by this time email should be fairly straightforward? Sure the interfaces we use to access it are a bit different, but the basic function of sending and receiving email should be a no-brainer.
I guess not. After happily switching from Mailblocks to Gmail, I hit a snag; selected email messages were not making their way to me. Enough were being deposited in my inbox to give me a false sense of security, but somehow it seemed like the email I most wanted was rejected. Irate friends were [gasp] having to call me on the phone.
A variety of error messages were returned to the senders, sometimes after 24 hours had past, all of them indicating that gmail's network wasn't accessible. I contacted Gmail support, but never heard back.
So here's the thing. I like Gmail's threaded emails, the search engine is great, and the speed is quite nice. The price (free) is certainly right. But none of this means a thing if I can't get my email on a consistent basis. So back I go to PC Magazine's Editor's Choice, Yahoo Mail.
I've had a bad technology week. I'd better sacrifice something to the technology gods to get back into their good graces. Do you suppose an old Deskjet 932 would do the trick?