I am the webmaster for the Rutgers Association of School Librarians and we recently decided to create a shared Google calendar to highlight some of our upcoming events. Part of what is tricky about being an officer for a student group, at least in my case, is I live and work in California and Rutgers is located in New Jersey. This means that I am constantly working in two different time zones when I’m trying to make schedules for things: EST for official meeting announcements and PST for my own calendar to try to tune in or re-arrange my lunches at work to virtually attend a meeting. One way to make this easier on myself was to install FoxClocks to my Firefox browser. The other is to set my Google calendar to PST but when I put a meeting in to place the meeting’s time in EST and let Google do the translating for me.
However, when I was updating the RASL site last month I managed to scare myself with the time zone confusion. I uploaded the new pages at home and went to work. Once at work I decided to take a look at the website to see how everything was working, and when I went to look at our calendar the 7 pm EST meeting for February 29th was showing up as 4pm. I frantically logged into the calendar and checked my settings, everything was listed in EST but when I went back to the website I still saw 4pm. After looking back and forth several times I must have gotten frustrated and logged out of my Google account. I then looked at the calendar in the next window. It said 7pm. So the moral of the story is: if you are working in multiple time zones, make sure you log out of everything when updating to save yourself some gray hairs. I hope this cautionary tale will help you, or provide a good laugh for the programmers who are more skilled than I and would have caught this right away.
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I recently bought a new netbook after realizing just how much programming I was doing last semester as the RASL webmaster. Roting my 17.5″ laptop (with a rather short battery life) was no longer an attractive option with the amount of work I was trying to do on my lunch breaks. My new netbook is very stripped down and when you are setting up a new computer you realize just how much of your day to day computer usage is customized to how you work. One of the first things I did with my computer was download Firefox, in part because eCollege never seems to work right in IE but also because of all the fun add-ons that you can download.
Mozilla’s Firefox add-ons make moving through the internet easier and more convenient. There are several bundles on their website that are pre-bundled. I downloaded the Reference Desk collection and I actively use about half of it (more on my favorites below). I found some of my other add-ons in the Traveler’s Pack. I will probably post again later as I start using some of the add-ons I did not list here. StumbleUpon looks like it is a lot of fun but I’m still getting a handle on Twitter and I did not want to swamp myself with too many new programs at once.
I was introduced to Zotero by a colleague and it’s now hard to imagine writing a paper without it. Although the citations for APA are often flawed it does make it easy to go back and find the information you were referencing, it is possible to save webpages as a shot in time as well. Zotero is great for taking the grunt work out of alphabetizing a list of sources – but remember to go back with your style guide to insure that the citation format is correct.
A new add on for me is the Firefox Clocks which now I’m don’t know why I was ever doing without something like this, it has made scheduling so much easier. Before starting grad school I could not imagine ever uttering “what time is it in New York?” on a daily basis. I live and work in California but I “attend” school in New Jersey via Rutger’s distance program. Classes are asynchronous but many of the student organizations provide simulcasts of their meetings. In addition to student groups, I am beginning to dabble more in professional development webinars where most of the time stamps are listed in EST. FoxClocks lets you put a small clock in your Firefox status bar; I have my local time alongside the time for New York (US Eastern Standard). This is a must have if you collaborate with someone in another city or you want to take advantage of nationally broadcast professional development opportunities.
Another new discovery is Read It Later. I’ve started going through a massive number of blogs thanks in part to the ease of RSS reads and Google Reader. Often, I will go through my email and skim through my reader in the first few minutes at work and open up multiple tabs so I can go back and read through interesting posts in depth later in the day. Usually what happens is I when I have 20-30 tabs open, the phone would ring, a patron would need help or I would have to help a student worker so I leave my tabs set up. At some point between my beginning work and my next break one or more of the tabs would overload Firefox and cause it to run slowly, crash or otherwise interfere with another web program. Now, I can open my tabs and before I start working move some of them to Read Later with a click of an icon in the address bar. The best thing is Read It Later has a free app for my iphone, so I can pick up my blogs later in the gym or when away from my desk at lunch or on a break.
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