Guest Post: Addicted to Jing

I just Jinged again. It’s becoming a bit of a habit… How to check to see if we have a journal  – Jing. A search strategy in a quirky database – Jing. The steps to request an article through interlibrary loan – Jing again!!

Jing is an alluringly addictive little piece of freeware that allows you to make movies (as well as screenshots) of whatever’s transpiring on your computer screen.  (There is a Pro version with additional features, including upload to YouTube.)

Jing comes to us from Techsmith, maker of SnagIt (for screenshots) and Camtasia, used by many libraries to create instructional tutorials. You may be familiar with Adobe Captivate, also for tutorials.

Even if you are a Camtasia or Captivate guru, think of Jing as a quick fix for the tutorial urge.

  1. Library interfaces (and librarians) tend to be fussy and showing can often be better than telling.
  2. Jing is simple: it records in real time, with few choices to make…and if you bollix it up, just start over!
  3. Jing offers the option of posting your video to a free Screencast account – that means that you do not have to host these (massive) files on your own server, but can just send a handy link.

You probably wouldn’t create a full-blown tutorial to address an individual patron’s question, but Jing is perfect for this. I’ve also used it to recap demo searches for instruction sessions and promote new databases to faculty.

Your first Jing video

jing

The Jing sun

Launch the program, whose icon (the Jing “sun”) will then lurk at the edge of your screen until you are ready for Jing action.

Hover over the sun and select the crosshairs, so you can set your screen capture dimensions.

Select the video icon in the toolbar that appears under your capture zone.

After the 3-second countdown, now you’re recording! Move your cursor, type, click, etc. Your video can be up to 5 minutes long (I never got that far).

To stop the recording, click the rectangular stop button on the toolbar.

Once you are done, you can view your video. You can save a copy (it’s in Flash) or better yet, “share it” to Screencast.com so you can send a link for viewing. Your video can also be embedded within a web page for extra coolness. To add an embed button to your toolbar (you know you want to), go to your “More” button (the cogs), click again on the cogs to delve into preferences, and proceed to Customize Jing buttons. (Again, to upload directly to YouTube, you must cough up for Jing Pro. )

Link to tutorial

Here’s an example of my handiwork, made in response to an emailed reference question on media in the Ukraine (!). My accompanying email sketched out the steps and the reasons why I tackled the search the way I did, but at least I didn’t have to write, “on the left side of the screen….”

Some notes

  • You have the option to record audio along with your video. I do all my Jings “mute” as I don’t have a good-quality microphone. Also, I’m not certain of my ability to chew gum, perform a snappy database search, and narrate the experience simultaneously.
  • To compensate, I’ve developed some recording mannerisms.  When choosing a link I may “highlight” it with the mouse (maybe go back & forth). To emphasize an area of the screen, I may lasso my mouse around it a couple times.
  • The free Screencast account includes 2 GB storage and 2 GB monthly bandwidth.  After 9 months of Jinginess, I have only used up 10% of this. Now you can organize your Jings into folders, if you sign into Screencast.com directly. (Filing the Jings into folders does not adversely affect your sharable links.)
  • If you happen to have Camtasia, you can edit your Jings.
  • If you want to use a Jing for more formal purposes, you could rename the link to something less weird with a URL shortening service, such as TinyURL, that allows custom aliases.

Screenshots with Jing

Just choose the image icon instead of video and set your screen capture parameters as for video. Once you’ve snapped the screen, you can label, highlight, and add arrows.

A screenshot created with Jing

A screenshot made with Jing. Pretty darn professional!

Where to get it

Jing is available for both Windows & Mac. More information at:  http://www.jingproject.com

Another option: Screentoaster

Link to Screentoaster video

Here's a Screentoaster video I created. I got to change my preview screen!

If you are excited by the idea of making quick tutorials, you may want to check out another free service called Screentoaster (thanks Carissa!) that does not involve a software download at all but merely logging into your free Screentoaster account. Working by means of a Java applet, Screentoaster can record all or a portion of your screen at the prompt of the Alt-S command. After you create your movie, you can add audio and/or captions, even change your preview screen. Then you can upload to YouTube or Screentoaster (for better quality not to mention speed), or save the movie to QuickTime (.mov) or Flash (.swf) Formats.

Link to YouTube tutorial

The same video on YouTube (which wipes out the cute captions).

While I like the option of adding captions and audio, this may mess with the quick-fix ethos, and Screentoaster seems to slow things down a bit while it’s running (and the resulting shaky screen, while not visible in the final product, gave me a bit of stage fright). However, Screentoaster is still well worth pursuing, especially if in your workplace administrative rights (needed for Jing installation and occasional software updates) are hard to come by.


Shana Gass is a Reference Librarian and liaison to the College of Business & Economics at Towson University. In addition to Jing, she’s intrigued by the new FASB Accounting Standards codification, post-industrial landscapes, and ugly yet catchy music.

You don’t have to be just a Libtechtalk groupie. Did you know that this blog is looking for guest authors? Contact ctomlinson at towson.edu to find out how you too can write about your favorite technologies and how they might be used in academic libraries.

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Guest Post: Mash things up with (Yahoo!) Pipes

Well, I don’t know if I can live up to the expectations that come with being formally introduced as a guest author, but I’ll do my best with this post about (Yahoo!) Pipes.

Pipes is a cool online service that lets people without programming experience create their own “mash-ups”.  While it does take a little time to learn, and even longer to appreciate it’s full range of functionality, there are many things that can be done with Pipes after only a few minutes.  And, if you find an existing Pipe you like, it is even easier to get started because you can grab a copy and tweak it to your liking.

As an example, I am going to create my own alert service using Pipes.  Let’s just say that I am interested in teaching information literacy over the web.  Wouldn’t it be great to monitor several library related journals and blogs for items discussing information literacy?  It sure would.

It turns out a lot of journals offer their tables of contents as RSS feeds. (As an aside, one quick way to find RSS feeds is through a service called ticTOCs. A subject search of ticTocs for “library” reveals 59 Library and Information Science Journals. )

I am going to start by using feeds from five journals:

pipes2I can use Pipes to combine these five feeds into one. When you “Create Your Own Pipe” you will see several options on the left and a blank canvas on the right.  Since I want to mash-up feeds, I am going to select the “Fetch Feed” module on the left and drag it to the work area on the right.  When I do this, a single box appears for entering RSS feed URLs.  Since I have five feeds to add, I am going to click on the “+” button until I have five boxes.

pipes3

Once I’ve entered the feed URLs into their respective boxes, I need to tweak the mash-up so that it will list the most recent stuff first.  To do this, I’ll expand the “Operators” section on the left and select the “Sort” operator box.  With the “Sort” box, I can sort the results by item.pubDate (a standard tag in RSS feeds) and ask for “descending” order.

I can complete this Pipe right now by clicking on the dot below the “Fetch Feed” box.  If you drag your mouse from that dot to the top of the “Sort” box, and then do the same thing from the “Sort” box to the “Pipe Output” box, Pipes will be able to process the instructions in the correct order.  You will see lines connecting the boxes.

You may notice that I have just created a simple feed mash-up.  In fact, by changing the feeds in that “Fetch Feed” box and sorting by date, you can create pretty much any feed mash-up you want.   But Pipes can go beyond just a simple feed mash-up, so I am going to refine this a bit.  Remember at the beginning I said that I was interested in articles about teaching information literacy over the web.  I can filter the results of my feed so that I only get results that match specific search criteria. For this, I am going to drag the “Filter” module, or actually two of them, into the work area.
pipes4

The first filter module is looking for (permitting) items with “information literacy or instruction” while the second one is looking for “online or electronic”. By routing  the connections (pipes) through these filters, I can effectively create a Boolean search where my output will be articles from my journals that meet the criteria: (information literacy OR instruction) AND (online OR electronic). The terms would have to appear in the title or in the “description” field, which is essentially the abstract in this case.

pipes6

Check out the Pipe so far. Remember, too, that I can add  RSS feeds from other types of sources simply by clicking on the “+” sign in that Fetch Feed module and entering in more feeds.  So, I could include a blog that might talk about information literacy or the results from a saved search in Academic Search Premier, which EBSCO allows me to export as an RSS feed.  I could also be more general and use a blog search engine (such as Bloglines) and run a search for blog entries containing the terms “information literacy” AND online.  The search results include a link to an RSS feed that I can add into my Fetch Feed box.  Since the search results will contain the terms information literacy AND online, the filter is a bit redundant, but it won’t hurt anything to add it to the list of feeds.

To view this Pipe (with a few more feeds thrown in) and see the results, you can go here.

pipes8You may notice that Pipes provides several options for embedding results into other web pages, or generating a single RSS feed from the output .  Plus, if you create your own account, you can “clone” this Pipe and use it as a template for additional alert services simply by changing the journal feeds and filter words.

Happy piping!

See also:
Using Yahoo Pipes with Ingenta RSS feeds – All My Eye


Michael Shochet is a Systems/Reference Librarian at the University of Baltimore.  He currently serves as President of the Maryland Library Association’s Academic and Research Libraries Division.

Our First Guest Author

Look for an upcoming post from our first guest author, Michael Shochet, Systems and Reference Librarian from the University of Baltimore.  Michael will be writing on the topic of Yahoo Pipes and how this application can help us in the academic library.  Thanks to Michael!

-Carissa

Systems/Reference Librarian

Look at all the pretty words…

There’s a new visualization on the block, and it’s called a word cloud.  Well, okay, it’s not that new, but now you can EASILY create your own!  We have one on the side of our blog to help you browse our content, del.icio.us does something similar, as do many other sites.

Click the "Create" link to start making your word cloud

Wordle's homepage: Click the "Create" link to start making your word cloud

Today, though, I’m talking about using word clouds to define things – concepts, terms, your personality, etc.  Much more interesting and engaging than a one-sentence definition, word clouds will make your audience “ooh” and “aahh” and hopefully remember what you’re talking about.  Our tool of choice? Wordle (http://wordle.net).

First step, gather some text for your word cloud

If I’m trying to “define” a term or concept, I’ll often use a ‘define:’ Google search to gather some text, as in “define: peer-reviewed“.  Wikipedia might be another good source for text to define something.  For this example, I’ve gathered text from .edu sites that list characteristics of scholarly articles.

Next…

You’ll want to do some basic editing of your text.  Wordle will remove stop words (articles, etc.) but you might not want the term you’re defining to show up in your word cloud or URLs or other non-related terms that don’t add anything valuable to your definition.  To do this, you can copy & paste the text into Word or Notepad or some other word processor.  (Hint: Find & Replace will save you some editing time.)  The text doesn’t need to be gathered in any neat organized fashion; Wordle will do the work for you.

Insert text here

Insert text here or provide a URL for the text you want to use

Then…

You need to go to Wordle and click “Create” – ’cause that’s what you’re gonna do!  There are a couple options for getting text into Wordle – you can link to a certain URL or a specific del.icio.us user.  Since we gathered all this text, though, we’re going to “paste in a bunch of text”, like they suggest.  Copy and paste your assembled text (Ctrl+C, then Ctrl+V) and click “Go” to get your visualization.

Your text doesn't have to be well-organized. Just paste it in there.

Your text doesn't have to be well-organized. Just paste it in there.

Now…

Wait for your visualization to appear (it may take a few moments).  If all goes well, you’ll be presented with a stunning visualization of all that boring B&W text you collected.  If it’s not so stunning, hit the randomize button or use the menu options to customize your visualization.  You may also find that a certain word sticks out like a sore thumb and you’ll want to go back to remove it (or at least reduce it’s frequency to make it smaller).

My sparkling visualization

My sparkling visualization. Use the "Randomize" button to get a different version of your word cloud.

Use the menu options to customize your visualization

Use the menu options to customize your visualization

Finally…

You need to get your visualization out of Wordle and into your presentation.  Use a screen capture program or the old school “Ctrl+Print Screen” method to take a screenshot of your visualization.

I’d recommend the fantastically free Wisdom-soft ScreenHunter for this task.  Once your visualization is saved as an image, you can use it anywhere you please: your website, a presentation, or for wall art.  Just make sure to give Wordle there due credit!

Here’s my final visualization.  I may just use it the next time I have to explain scholarly articles…

My final visualization for a "definition" of scholarly articles

My final visualization for a "definition" of scholarly articles

Flickr for Special Collections

Need to find a way to show off your special collections?  Want researchers from your institution as well as around the world to utilize your photos and artifacts?  Flickr is a great tool for doing this.  Flickr is a social image sharing website that allows you to show off photos and images to a much wider audience than simply putting your materials on your special collection website.

Flickr works like this:

  • Set up an account with a name related to the collection or institution.
  • Upload your images to that account
  • Organize your images in related collection sets
  • Tag your images with a variety of terms that help users locate your material.
  • Don’t forget about copyright!  Flickr allows you to attach a Creative Commons license to your work or to specify that all rights are reserved.
  • Watch your images’ tags and notes grow as people find and use your collection.

The Library of Congress is a great example of an institution that successful utilized Flickr for a special collection.  In January 2008, the Library of Congress started their Flickr debut with about 3,000 images.  After only 24 hours and a lot of publicity, their collection had a total of 1.1 million views! (See: For the Common Good: The Library of Congress Flickr Pilot Project) The Library of Congress encourages viewers to add tags and make notes on the images, therefore making their collection and its organization a social project.  Some other institutions utilizing Flickr for their special collections include: