BTS Fall 2014: IFTTT, TechFifteen, WCBCAY? & Meet Darin Freeburg



Welcome to the start of a glorious new semester. SLISbits is now in session. Fall leaves are crunching and we’re all wearing sweaters with elbow patches, smoking pipes and speaking of Kierkegaard. Well, that’s how it is in my mind, anyway. In reality, the Columbia day temperatures still reach the mid-90s, no leaves have fallen on campus yet, and many SLIS students are distance learners, but we shall take that as progress, and it is still wonderful to start a new semester. (Order elbow patches in cowhide or iron-on tartan as needed for fall.)


Sure, there’s the ever-useful Evernote (at the top of each and every list of most useful apps for students), and the oh-so-helpful DropBox. (If you don’t have them, go ahead and get them, you’ll need to sooner or later.)  But to put some fun into the functional, try IFTTT (rhymes with gift).

rsz_unnamedIFTTT, which stands for If This Then That, is in a different league. It’s an exercise in logic and conditional statements, which may sound stilted, but IFTTT is anything but! IFTTT can be linked to up to 128 “channels” — news feeds, Facebook, weather, Android phones, iPhones, Twitter, etc. to produce numerous if … then action statements. For example: IF I post to Pinterest THEN also post to Facebook. Or, IF John checks in on Foursquare THEN text me.” Or, IF I get an image attachment labeled ‘bears’ THEN put it in DropBox.” Can you see how this could be endlessly fun?

The site talks in terms of recipes, ingredients and triggers, which is mixing metaphors a bit and brings to mind someone being shot in the kitchen, but this is useful stuff here from clever folks based in San Francisco. (If for nothing else, they get kudos for their address extension on their about page. Giggle, giggle.) Set IFTTT up to make your life easier, more manageable and maybe more interesting. To get started and see just how IFTTT works, read PC Mag‘s The 101 Best IFTTT Recipes.


images-7So, you have all your e-gear, but how are you going to carry that spiffy laptop or tablet? Check out the 10 Best Back-to-School Laptop Backpacks 2014 from the Laptop Mag blog. The Hex Outpost Cloak Backpack (99.95) stood out as well as the Minecraft Creeper, a kids thirty-dollar backpack that achieved cult status and now can only be found at exorbitant prices. (At last check, $115 on Amazon).  For the ecofriendly out there, soak up the sun and charge your electronics (Whaaat? Crazee!) with a solar backpack from Brooklyn-based Voltaic Systems. The Array Solar Laptop Charger ($389) charges phones, tablets and laptops. The Switch Solar bag charges phones and tablets ($129). 


Check out new Assistant Professor Heather Moorefield-Lang‘s YouTube channel TechFifteen, a vlog series about “web tools, apps, and technology in general as well as how they can be used in teaching and learning.” The frequent videos come in under 15 minutes long — generally around 5 — and expose users to new and useful apps.  Recent videos include:  Canva: Addictive Publishing Platform. The Webbys call Canva “the easiest to use design program in the world,”  and can be used for print and Web design; Evidence Based Practice for School Librarians; and  Presentation Tool: Haiku Deck. No, Haiku Deck for iPad and Web won’t help you with your poetry, but it will help you create gorgeous presentations for school or work.  Bookmark Heather’s channel or use the link to the right. If you missed Heather’s spring introduction, see SLISbits Chitchat: Meet Heather Moorefield-Lang.

SLISBITS CHITCHAT: Meet Darin Freeburg

images-8A big welcome to Darin Freeburg, Ph.D., new Assistant Professor at Davis College. He joins us from Kent State University where he was and adjunct professor at the College of Communication and Information. His research focuses on how information is received and perceived. Chat him up about it if you see him around. We now welcome Dr. Freeburg with a hardhitting Q&A.

What are you teaching this semester? SLIS 202—Introduction to Information Literacy & Technology  PC or Mac? Easily, a MAC. The quality of the hardware, integration of its systems, and innovation of its offerings made me a convert a few years ago.
Most used apps? Spotify, Wunderlist, Circa, YouTube, and the iOS calendar, reminders, notes and voice memos.
Your go-to websites? University Libraries: Thomas Cooper Library,
Most used browser? Safari
Most used search engine that is not Google?’s search (I like dogs)
Family? A wife of 7 years; no kids yet.
Pets? A 7-year old Lhasa Apso named Callie. Her great-grandfather was a prize-winner, so that’s cool.
What kind of phone? iPhone, of course.
Books or eBooks? Books—I need to underline and write in the margins with my own penmanship.
Favorite Web guilty pleasure? I don’t feel guilty about any of the websites I visit. : ) But, some  (my wife) might make fun of me for my visits to to see what’s new in the world of Apple products. It’s my version of celebrity gossip.
What kind of tablet? iPad, of course.
Favorite Social Media? Facebook … I guess.
Why USC? It’s a place that supports faculty research, encourages student engagement and promotes collaboration at all levels.

WCBCAY: What children’s book character are you?

128px-Le_petit_princeAre you Charlotte? The Little Prince? Pippi Longstocking? Take the What Children’s Book Character Are You? quiz from the New York Public Library to find out.

iPad Checkout @Thomas Cooper Library

IMG_4913Libraries pride themselves on taking technology to the people. USC-Columbia is fulfilling that mission at its own Thomas Cooper Library. For those who haven’t yet taken the plunge into the world of tablets, Thomas Cooper Library is now lending iPads to students, staff and faculty. You have to sign paperwork and face steep fines for late returns, but, hey, would you lend your iPad to a stranger?

It was interesting to note the apps that TCL deemed useful to students (icons pictured). The one that caught my eye most was Remember the Milk. I was thinking (hoping) it was a game along the lines of Home Sheep Home, but, just as good, it’s  a list wrangler. Remember the Milk can sync with just about any gadget. It’s available for Android, iPhone, iPad, Google calendar, Microsoft Outlook, Evernote, Gmail, Siri, BlackBerry 10, Twitter and the Web. It’s everywhere! And it’s free.

Other curiosity-piquing apps: NextBus Free (USC shuttle service), Shazam (music finder), FlipBoard (news organizer) and iCiteAPA (more on this soon). See iPad Checkout @ Thomas Cooper Library for details.

S.C. librarians EXPAND their right to shush

A special session of the SC House of Representatives was called in August to override the governor’s veto of a bill that would give libraries more muscle to ban disruptive people.

Was Gov. Haley showing her support for library as a third place when she sided with a law that said librarians could not evict patrons for being rowdy? Was she progressively standing up for the library as lively community center? Or was she worried that if the homeless can’t take refuge in libraries she will have to provide services for them with other taxpayer money?

Gov. Haley took flak for the veto, but wrote that her mindset was one of concern for the spirit of “true public use” in libraries. The Library concept may be in flux, but old habits die hard. In SC, people want order in the stacks. One cannot be loud, rowdy or obnoxious in public parks. The same goes for libraries. Read more in the Post and Courier’s Keep it down — or get out (Opinion/Editorial) and WSPA’s SC House Meets to Vote on 2 Vetoes, Costs Taxpayers $34,000.

SLISbits wants you FOR YOUR MIND
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