Tech Roundup

Technology Committee members here at Towson University’s Cook Library are always on the hunt for new technology applications to bring into the library or technology-related issues our library should be addressing.  As we scour the internet for important, interesting, or just plain cool examples of technology applications, issues, or news, we post links and  summaries with our take here to the blog.


A Renewed Focus On Net Neutrality

Several recent court rulings have may change the way the FCC regulates the internet. These are seen by some proponents of Net Neutrality as steps toward a more closed and corporately controlled internet.  You can read more from Reuters. Confused as to what “Net Neutrality” is? Check out this video and article from CNBC.

Still having trouble deciding which is the best way for internet regulation to go, check out these videos* in favor of Net Neutrality and against Net Neutrality/

*Note: Given this is a hot political issue, these videos of course may be seen as biased.

 Eric G.

Code4Lib 2014

The 2014 Code4Lib Conference took place in Raleigh, NC just about a month ago. I wish it was a conference that I could attend more often, but I’m grateful to the conference planners that they make a point of making the conference content available to those who cannot attend. While some of it may be a little “techie” for general consumption, I think it is a great reminder of how much we can do without investing in the latest gizmos and gadgets but instead investing in skilled individuals with great ideas. Take a look at the conference schedule and check out a couple of the video recordings. There are also some nice write-ups about the conference experience from scholarship recipients. – David

Google Drive Tips

Google tools remain popular with many academic librarians for a variety of tasks. With continual changes, it can sometimes be tough to keep up with all of the neat tricks built in to Google apps and Google Drive. Mashable has a rundown of eight quick tips on some recent updates. – Kim

DIY Holograms

This awesome video produced by PBS Digital Studios and featured on Gizmodo demonstrates how to create a 3D hologram using the “Pepper’s Ghost” technique. Using some 19th century illusions and modern technology, the library can become a campus host for some unique hologram creation and display events. – Kim

 


What do you think about some of the issues or technologies presented?  Have you found anything interesting online this week? Share in the comments!

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Guest Post: Exploring the Cloudship App

Library Tech Talk is happy to welcome a guest author, Towson University Albert S. Cook Library’s current Residency Librarian for Diversity and Innovation, Sarah Espinosa! Sarah has been rotating through departments in the library during the first year of her residency, contributing to a variety of projects and services in Research & Instruction, Archives & Special Collections, and Technical Services. Here on Tech Talk, she shares with us how she keeps all those projects organized!

Academic librarians manage multiple projects with greater complexity than the traditional to-do list can handle. Projects have collaborators, tasks and sub-tasks, due dates, communication plans, required resources, and more. I’m finding paper organizers too limiting for constantly developing projects.  However, the tools we use for office communication and organization (the Microsoft Office suite, Google apps) don’t cut it, with their limited task structure. Students experience the same challenges as they face more collaborative and experiential projects in their disciplines. So I looked for free project-management applications online that I could use and recommend to others. After using Cloudship for a couple months, I’ve decided that it works well as a web-based application for limited personal project management.

Using Cloudship

Cloudship can be utilized as a desktop application, a web application and a mobile app. I use the web application to manage my work projects, which I like because of the option to create sub-tasks, notes, tags, and due dates.

The dashboard of the web-based Cloudship app.

The dashboard of the web-based Cloudship app.

I enter a task in the top text bar, and then I simply drag-and-drop the task into the correct project. Or, to add tasks within one project, I select it from the left sidebar. The drag-and-drop method makes it easy to reorder tasks by date or in order of importance, and to drag tasks beneath others to create sub-tasks. I can filter my tasks using the To Do, (due) Today, Flag, Completed, Scheduled, and Trash buttons at the top of the screen. The search filter for tagged tasks works extremely well.

Drag-and-drop a task beneath another to create a list of subtasks.

Drag-and-drop a task beneath another to create a list of sub-tasks.

I haven’t utilized a lot of Cloudship’s functionality, which includes linking resources to my project, adding details and collaborators to projects, and sending communications between collaborators. Since I’ve been using Cloudship as a personal project manager, I’m not sure how well the collaboration aspect works. I also have not used the resource tab. It makes more sense to add a resource directly to a task, instead of having a free floating list of resources. Also, Cloudship doesn’t handle URL resources well. The thing that really bothers me is the calendar: there’s an option to use a Cloudship calendar, if you create a paid account, but Cloudship doesn’t integrate with my Outlook or Google calendars.

Cloudship Mobile App

Even so, Cloudship has been exactly what I’ve needed so far–a task manager that allowed for more complex task structures and the flexibility offered by a cloud-based manager. Because of that, I thought I’d try the mobile version. Unfortunately, a lot of the functionality and ease of use I appreciate in the web application just isn’t there in the mobile app.

Here’s the mobile dashboard, which echoes the project-task list from the web dashboard:

The dashboard for the Cloudship mobile app

The dashboard for the Cloudship mobile app

To access my project list, I click the arrow in the top-left corner; to add tasks, I click the plus sign in the upper-right corner; and to navigate between Tasks, Projects, and Resources, I click a tiny arrow next to the plus sign. It isn’t impossible–just clunky. I find myself having to constantly switch which sidebar or window I’m using because I’m always in the wrong section. The app makes no use of the swipe gesture or the ease of drag-and-drop.

Worst of all, I can’t figure out how to create sub-tasks. This deficiency differentiates between Cloudship’s mobile and web versions, and as a developing mobile user–and a librarian recommending apps to students for their own project management purposes–it’s enough to make me jump ship and try out something else. Applications like Wunderlist and Trello make better use of drag-and-drop, swiping, and sub-tasks.

I’ve also noticed that there’s a lot of Cloudship community support and suggestions, with frequent response from developers, about a year ago–then everything stops, which leads me to wonder if Cloudship is still developing. It would be sad if this project were abandoned, because it has potential. However, other apps have both web and mobile ease-of-use, while Cloudship is better used as a web application.


Are you interested in contributing a guest post to Library Tech Talk? Contact kimberlymiller [at] towson [dot] edu for more information.