5.19.2009

Keep a Library Book Longer, Without Fines

This a very local tip, for those of who partonize the Hennepin County Libraries in Minnesota. Though, if other systems have a similar policy on overdue fines, this tip may work elsewhere.


Got Fines?

Stack Books by dianeoz


I am no stranger to overdue fines from the library. Despite all the wonderful tools and reminders available, I still manage to forget to return books or sometimes just need to keep them for an extra day or two. When I do get fines, I suck it up and pay them without complaint - I do deserve them after all. That said, I've figured out a way to avoid some of my fines (without any begging or social-engineering), and I would like to share the wealth.

When a book is returned to a Hennepin County library after operating hours, the book is checked in as being returned the previous business day. For example, whether a book is returned at 11pm on Thursday or 5am on Friday, when it is checked in on Friday morning it is counted as being returned on Thursday. So, as long as the book is returned before the library opens (the day after it is due) the book is counted as being returned on time. While this may only get you an extra couple hours in most cases, not all branches are open every day, enabling a patron to have a book for a few extra days, if returned before the library opens again.

5.17.2009

Travel 2.0 (Thing 33)

These days, I rarely spend money on anything without reading reviews from previous purchasers first, and travel is no different. With the advent of Photoshop and stock photography, it is easy for a hotel or restaurant to publish nice pictures of their business, accompanied by flattering copy; personal reviews from actual customers are so much more telling. Without a specific trip in mind, however, it was difficult to truly test the different review sites, but I have definitely bookmarked them for later, i.e. when I finally give into my Id and empty my savings account for that backpacking trip through Asia…it’s going to happen, I’ve promised myself.

One site that I found inspiring to that end, was The Lost Girls blog. It was started by three twenty-something New Yorkers who “ditched their media jobs to embark on a yearlong, round-the-world journey in search of adventure and inspiration.” It was fun to live vicariously through there journaling. While the “girls” are no longer on there journey, they still use it to chronicle their various travels.


GreenRoutes

GreenRoutes Map


I like the concept of Green Routes, which is a map mashup showing unique places to eat, play, shop, or learn. The visual interface of finding places to visit was useful, since I am usually searching for attractions near specific locations. It was also nice being able to filter the places by type. It would be nice to see this expanded to include a lot more places.

This was really only one of the travel websites that I thought would be useful in education. As previously mentioned in Thing 32, MapVivo is an easy way to create and share a travel journal; it maps out your travels, corresponding to your journal entries. Teachers could have students map out historical journeys (Oregon Trail, Long March, Louis & Clark, etc.), along with fictional journals.

5.04.2009

Map Mashups (Thing 32)

I had a lot more fun exploring Google Maps than I thought I would. Thus far my experience with Google Maps has been to get driving directions or to record mileage for business travel; although I was aware of the mashup capabilities, I never really had a need to use it, or so I thought.

My favorite mashup was the Mailbox Map website, a tool that shows all USPS mailboxes and post offices in a given location. While I know of at least four post offices in my area, they are never “on the way” whenever I am out and about – I always seem to be making special trips to the post office. It is nice to be able to lookup where other mailboxes are located…now if only I had cell phone to be able to do this when I am already out running errands, I’d be set.

If I had said cell phone, I would also frequent the Starbucks locator and Hotspotr, a wifi hotspot map. I particularly liked that Hotspotr included reviews of the wireless, food, and outlet situation at wifi spots, and I even added my own review of a coffee shop I recently visited, warning others that the wifi was nice but the coffee was not.

Wikitude

Wikitude displays landmark information.

Reading about Wikitude, a mobile travel guide for Android based phones, almost made me give in and buy the G1 after all. Wikitude sounds good as an overall travel guide, but the coolest feature is the augmented reality cam view,

…users hold the phone’s camera against a spectacular mountain range and see the names and heights displayed as overlay mapped with the mountains in the camera. Users may look out of an airplane window to see what is down there. Users may walk through a city like Seville, Spain, holding the phone’s camera against a building and Wikitude tells what it is.

Other mashups I enjoyed were MapVivo, which I would like to use the next time I go on a journal-worthy trip, and If I Dig a Very Deep Hole, Where Will I End Up?, which taught me that the hole I started in my backyard would not actually take me to China, but to the middle of the Indian Ocean – poor planning on my part.

With all that can be done with Google Maps, it made me wonder if some of the teachers who use Google Earth in the classroom might be able to use Google Maps instead. Doing so would both save on bandwidth and also allow those teachers to use the mobile lab, which does not have Google Earth installed; this could help alleviate issues we’ve had with lab scheduling and our limited bandwidth. I bet students could even create some very cool mashups of their own. This is definitely one Thing I want to explore further.