Saturday, June 14, 2014

23 Mobile Things 2014 #23 Evaluate

So proud that I finished the 23 Mobile Things program (just under the deadline!) It was time consuming and could have been even more so. I began the program right after purchasing my first tablet, a Kindle Fire HDX, and it really helped me learn how to use it. I'm a lot more comfortable with it now, in spite of rarely using it due to my kids playing games on it all the time. I like the Kindle Fire for the ereader and tablet functionality, and the price, but Amazon limits the apps that can be used. It is an Android, but Amazon prevents Google Play use, which is a shame. If I had to do over, I might have bought an iPad mini instead. This course also gave me practice using the iPad at work.

My favorite Things were #9/#10 photos (I'm a shutterbug), #12 Books (why I went with the Kindle tablet), #19 Hobbies and #20 Games (fun!).

Our library system supported 23 Things training, so I was able to consult with my colleagues who were also working on them. I learned how to make photo collages from Sarah with the iPad during our Flickr program (#9). Christina showed me her blog using Tumblr. I worked on creating a video from photos of our booksale with Deb. It was helpful to be able to reference other people's blogs when I was stuck.

I was amazed at all the useful apps, often for free! It's not just all fun and games. For example, code reader apps and  Duolingo for learning a language. Some of the apps featured in the 23 Things were not applicable to our library, but I am glad to have exposure to them and will use them at home.

Suggestions on what to do differently to improve the 23 Mobile Things are:

1. Don't ignore the Kindle Fire HDX. I know you can't address every kind of device, but I think that is in the top three and is just different enough from Android to require Amazon app examples.
2. Have more coaching. Mine might've been overwhelmed, but I posted a question for him about Thing #6 and have not hear from him ever again. Just that one "Welcome, I'm your coach" message.
3. Put Thing #22 "Discover apps" earlier in the program.

Yes, I would participate in another 23 Things program! Very well done! I did the original one in 2008 but only got 1/3 of the way through due to being busy with my young kids. Now they are busy teens, and it was challenging to find the time to work on them, but I completed it! If there is another program in the future that is different (a lot changed between 2008 and 2014 technologies!) I will participate again.

My feedback for future participants:

Overwhelmed by the sea of apps and don't know where to start? 23 Mobile Things provides structured learning in many facets of mobile devices.

Thank you everyone who made this training possible!

23 Mobile Things 2014 #22 Discovering Apps

This Thing should have been earlier in the lineup, such as #5. It would have helped with some of the other lessons.

I really liked Quixey "The Search Engine for Apps" and will definitely use it. I found some apps I had been looking for, such as a large selecting of Geocaching apps and a free Algebra game: "The Fun Way to  Learn Algebra." (Dragonbox is there too.)

Other sources for finding apps are the website LoveMyFire which focuses on Kindle Fire. Browsing magazines at the library often feature "Best apps." One of the "Best of" web searches listed "Cinex Player" which allows the Kindle Fire to play many Media File Formats.

Friday, June 13, 2014

23 Mobile Things 2014 #21 Free For All

I recently downloaded a Free for the Day app called Stellarium Mobile Sky App. It is a sophisticated astonomy app. I'm not much of a star gazer, but it makes me want to learn. It uses GPS to diagram the night sky for your time and location. There are cool overlays, such as constellation drawings and pictures. You can search for a star or planet by typing the name. It compares different cultures', such as Aztec or Navajo, views of the heavens. One drawback for the Kindle is that it requires wifi, so if you are out in the wilderness, away from city lights where stars can be best seen, there is probably not a wifi signal. It would probably work on a smartphone. I will have to practice more, because when I tried it in my front yard, I couldn't see many stars as it wasn't quite dark and a little cloudy.

Another app I want to try is Facetune. [ ] Last time I checked it was only available for Apple and costs $4-8 (therefore I can't load it onto the library's iPad). It claims to easily touchup portraits but making the Photoshop features for face correction, such as airbrush, easy to use. (It says it can even add hair to bald people.)

23 Mobile Things 2014 #20 Games

Another Fun Thing!

I have TONS of games on my Kindle Fire, downloaded by my teenagers. My daughter is addicted to CandyCrush Saga. It reminds me of my old favorite, Tetris. My son is addicted to Battle Friends and Temple Run. My husband likes Plants vs. Zombies. Since we share the Kindle, I don't get much time to play games. However, I like "Flow Free" where you must connect pipes without crossing them. I hate Flappy Bird and can't get further than the second level.

Friday, June 6, 2014

23 Mobile Things #19 Hobbies

This is my favorite Thing so far! I discovered Spotify
a few months ago and it became my favorite music site (farewell Pandora.)
I am #86 on the library waitlist for Katy Perry's new album "Prism,"
but I can stream the entire album for free any time I want on Spotify.
I wonder if it will stay viable, as it seems too good to be true, and I've
heard that some artists are disgruntled at the low royalties they receive
from Spotify. CDs still circulate at the library (but not as well as a few years ago),
and our library offers free music downloads on Freegal, however music streaming
seems to be the next step that will eventually make them obsolete (free instant
access to any music, or adless with paid subscription, and no files to download
and take up memory storage on your device.) I still like the independence and
permanence of owning music on CD, however.

I tried Wine Secretary for Kindle (similar to Vivino wine scanner) and the collector/librarian in me enjoyed creating a "catalog" database of favorite wines. (I had a notebook with wine bottle labels and ratings to input.) It was easy to search Wine Secretary's database of hundreds of thousands of wines and add to my list of "favorites." I can dictate comments via the microphone.

I've been considering a library Geocaching activity / program. There was not one for the Kindle, one wouldn't have access to Wifi in the "wild." iPad offers Travel Compass Lite Geocaching GPS Location Finder for free, and there were others, but I think an iPhone or Android smart phone would be ideal.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

23 Mobile Things 2014 #18 Education

Duolingo is a fun app that uses short games or mini-tests to teach a language. Variety keeps it from becoming boring. I used it to brush up on my German. You can even speak sentences using the Kindle's microphone (found on the "keyboard"). I can see why this app has won many awards. (note to self: schn23 p2 ymail)

iTranslate also allows you to type or speak a phrase with the keypad microphone, and then translate it to another language, both textually and audio! The accents seem authentic (not robotic). I will try to use this when having trouble communicating with a patron who doesn't speak English.

I've tried Khan Academy on desktop computer in the past. I wasn't able to access it on the Kindle Fire.

I looked at math game apps. There are a lot, and there are a lot of "best math apps" lists, so it is hard to choose. (app star ratings are helpful). has a list that looks promising. DragonBox 12+ seems to be a top app, but it was $9.99 and who knows if my jr. high algebra student will use it? HCL is developing lists of apps for Early Literacy.

23 Mobile Things 2014 #17 Community

I accessed Minneapolis Star Tribune's "Going Out". It lists events and schedules in the Twin Cities. I was able to bookmark some venues, such as the Guthrie Theater and Park Tavern Bowling schedules. It doesn't have much detail, but often includes links to the venue's website. I wanted to add the MN511 traffic site, but it wasn't available for Kindle (I searched and couldn't find any Minnesota traffic apps for Kindle.)