Friday, June 29, 2012

We're open!

Don't forget that the Library and Student Information Desk (SID)
are open throughout the summer!

For the month of July, we are open as follows:

Monday 10.00am - 5.00pm
Tuesday 10.00am - 5.00pm
Wednesday 10.00am - 5.00pm
Thursday 10.00am - 5.00pm
Friday 10.00am - 4.00pm

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Using online tools to organise yourself: Nirvana

When "stuff" is taking over your life
Getting Things Done®,  or GTD®, is a system that was devised by David Allen.  It is based on the principle that, sometimes, we spend more time and energy thinking about what we have to do than in actually doing it!  One of the key recommendations of this system is to separate "the thinking about stuff" from "the doing stuff" by using effective "to-do lists".

Some of the most useful online innovations are tools that help us to organise ourselves, such a Remember the Milk, Toodledo or Nirvana.  This is a short video about how to sign up for, and use, Nirvana.

So how do we move from making lists of things that need to be done to actually doing them?
Another key part of the Getting Things Done system is considering how we "process" information.  Most of us are information-magnets!  We collect information via email, meetings, phone calls, list servs etc.  The sheer amount of information that we encounter everyday can mean that some of it sits in an inbox gathering dust.

In order to get things done, we must process that information effectively.  We need to decide what we will do with each piece of information in our inbox.  Allen suggests a simple (not easy!) way of doing this.  Take each piece of information and consider:

Is it actionable?  Do you need to do something with this piece of information?

And if all else fails...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Using social media to build current awareness: RSS feeds

What are RSS feeds?
RSS means Really Simple Syndication; by "syndication" we mean "sharing news stories".  RSS is used to allow us to subscribe to a website that frequently updates content, such as a blog or a news site.  When we use RSS to subscribe to a blog or a news site, the new posts on those sites are automatically shared with us, or "fed" to us.

Let the mountain come to Mohammed!
For instance, let's imagine that Kate is passionate about sustainable gardening.  Everyday she looks at her favourite blog: Sallygardens Smallholding.  Sometimes it has been updated, sometimes it hasn't. 

Recently, Kate has also started looking at other good blogs every day: Sustainable Garden and The London Vegetable Garden.  Checking each site regularly is starting to take a lot of time; however, she is worried that if she doesn't check them regularly she will miss something important!

RSS feeds are the perfect tool for Kate.  She can subscribe to each blog using RSS feeds, and whenever there is a new post she will be informed.  This means that instead of her looking for new blog posts each day, new blog posts will come to her! 

So, how does it work?
Kate needs to sign up for a Google Reader account.  This reader is the place in which she will read the new posts.  Instead of searching for three different blogs, Kate can log in to her Reader and find any new posts there!


And now for the last piece of the puzzle... follow this video to see how to subscribe to blogs using RSS feeds

Monday, June 11, 2012

Using social media to build current awareness: twitter

Information overload
As we saw in Week 1, the internet has changed the way we share news and information.  Having made it easier for ordinary citizens to publish information, the internet has grown exponentially over the past 20 years.  However, trying to keep up with all this news can threaten to overwhelm us at times! Luckily, there are online tools help.
This week, we will look at two of these tools: Twitter (Monday) and RSS feeds (Thursday).

Having looked at blogging last week, this is an opportunity for us to look at micro-blogging.  Twitter allows us to share our news and information, but on a smaller scale!  In fact each tweet, or Twitter post, can only be up to 140 characters long.

As well as including URLs in your tweets, you can also attach a photo or a video.  KCOMITServicedesk have a good introduction to the basics of Twitter below:


Isn't Twitter just a way for celebrities to tell us what they had for breakfast?
It certainly can be!  But, you will only see the tweets of the people you choose to follow.  So if you aren't interested in someone's tweets, just don't follow them!
Twitter can be a really useful tool in both your personal and professional world. Twitter allows you to:
  • share your news
  • follow the news of people or organisations that you are interested in
  • follow trending topics or news that is currently relevant

What people or organisations can I follow?
With 140 million users, deciding who to follow on Twitter can be a challenge!
For fun: you may wish to follow interesting characters such as @stephenfry, @miriamocal or @ghook; you may wish to follow relevant organisations such as @draiocht_blanch, @FAIreland or our very own @itbdublin.
For work: or you may be interested in what's happening with @HEA_irl, @EramusIreland, @SpringboardHEA, @bluebrick; or you may be curious about what our colleagues in other institutions are up to, e.g. UCCStudntHealth, DCUStudentSport, GradIreland etc.

How do I follow a news topic?
When we think about search engines, Google, Bing or Yahoo tend to spring to mind.  Surprisingly, Twitter handles over 1.6 billion search queries each day!  It is a fantastic source for breaking news and trending topics (although it isn't necessarily the most reliable of sources).
Hashtags (#) create a context for our tweets and allow people with similar interests to communicate with one another. Whether you are commenting on #Bloom2012, watching Primetime (#rtept) or simply being inspired by a fun trend (#10thingsImustdobeforeIdie), hashtags allow conversations to grow around the things that people want to talk about.

Twitter is a fantastic tool for keeping in touch with news, events, publications etc. from sources that interest us #truestory

RSS feeds: to follow on Thursday!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry

"A splash of light from the late afternoon sun lingered at the foot of Nariman’s bed as he ended his nap and looked towards the clock. It was almost six. He glanced down where the warm patch had lured his toes. Knurled and twisted, rendered birdlike by age, they luxuriated in the sun’s comfort. His eyes fell shut again. By and by, the scrap of sunshine drifted from his feet, and he felt a vague pang of abandonment. He looked at the clock again: gone past six now. With some difficulty he rose to prepare for his evening walk. In the bathroom, while he slapped cold water on his face and gargled, he heard his stepson and stepdaughter over the sound of the tap. ‘Please don’t go, Pappa, we beseech you,’ said Jal through the door, then grimaced and adjusted his hearing aid, for the words had echoed deafeningly in his own ear. The device was an early model; a metal case the size of a matchbox was clipped to his shirt pocket and wired to the earpiece. It had been a reluctant acquisition four years ago, when Jal had turned forty-five, but he was not yet used to its vagaries. ‘There, that’s better,’ he said to himself, before becoming loud again: ‘Now, Pappa, is it too much to ask? Please stay home, for your own good.’ ‘Why is this door shut that we have to shout?’ said Coomy. ‘Open it, Jal.’ She was two years younger than her brother, her tone sharper than his, playing the scold to his peacemaker. Thin like him, bit sturdier, she had taken after their mother, with few curves to soften the lines and angles. During her girlhood, relatives would scrutinize her and remark sadly that a father’s love was sunshine and fresh water without which a daughter could not bloom; a step-father, they said, was quite useless in this regard. Once, they were careless and spoke in her hearing. Their words had incandesced painfully in her mind, and she had fled to her room to weep for her dead father. Jal tried the bathroom door; it was locked. He scratched his thick wavy hair before knocking gently. The inquiry had failed to elicit a response. Coomy took over. ‘How many times have I told you, Pappa? Don’t lock the door! If you fall or faint inside, how will we get you out? Follow the rules!’… He dried his face while she continued to rattle the knob. ‘Pappa! Are you okay? I’m going to call a locksmith and have all the locks removed, I’m warning you!’ His trembling hands took a few moments to slide the towel back on the rod. He opened the door. ‘Hello, waiting for me?’ ‘You’ll drive me crazy,’ said Coomy. ‘My heart is going dhuk-dhuk, wondering if you collapsed or something.’ ‘Never mind, Pappa is fine,’ said Jal soothingly. ‘And that’s the main thing.’ Smiling Naiman stepped out of the bathroom and hitched up his trousers. The belt took longer; shaking fingers kept missing the buckle pin. He followed the gentle slant of sunlight from the bed to the window, delighting in its galaxies of dust, the dancing motes locked in their inscrutable orbits. Traffic noise had begun its evening assault on the neighbourhood. He wondered why it no longer offended him… ‘I’m not going trekking in Nepal. A little stroll down the lane, that’s all.’ Relenting, Coomy knelt at her stepfather’s feet and tied his laces as she did every evening. ‘First week of August, monsoon in fury, and you want a little stroll.’ He went to the window and pointed at the sky. ‘Look, the rain has stopped.’"

Nariman Vakeel, his step-son, and step-daughter share a apartment in Bombay. Advancing Parkinson’s Disease and a broken ankle dispatch him to his daughter, Roxana's, more crowded and loving home. However, Roxanna’s husband has financial woes that spur him to deceive his family and set in motion a worrying series of events.

Family Matters is a beautiful portrait of family life and all its complications: its treasures and its heartaches. A crowded home, in modern-day Bombay, plays host to this warm and tender tale of love and redemption. Shortlisted in 2002 for the Man Booker Prize. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What is blogging?

First things first...
A blog is an online journal or a "web log".  It is a way for individuals, organisations or groups to share their news and interests online.

What makes a blog different?
Blogs are part of the second wave of the world wide web, or Web 2.0.  Originally, web sites were static, "read only" sources of information.  However, over time there was an increase in demand for an interactive, "read-write" web.  Readers wanted information that was frequently updated and relevant to themselves, and blogs were able to meet these demands.

Blogs were flexible and easy to update.  Each new blog post was situated at the top of the page for easy access.  Conversations emerged as readers left comments on the blog posts that interested them, interacting directly with the author.  Bloggers linked to other blogs that they found interesting and small like-minded communitites were born.

In this video, Commoncraft introduce blogs in plain English:

So, why do people blog?
People blog because they have something to say!  Some are prompted by personal interests, such as baking, photography or hill walking.  They like to engage with other people who feel the same; they share their thoughts and experiences, and learn from one another.  For many people, blogging presents an opportunity to be creative.  Others blog for professional reasons.  They aim to share their expertise or to promote something.  Such blogs might cover topics such as higher level education, professional development or effective presentations.  

A lot of the time, people blog about the things they love.

How do you go about blogging?
Luckily, it is very easy to set up a blog!  You can quickly and easily set up a free blog on Blogger or Wordpress; new multimedia-friendly blog sites are also available, such as Tumblr and Pinterest.