Freelance 2.0

I was looking forward to be able to mess around with some different tools this week, and was immediately drawn to the image generators. I played around with several of them and, for the most part, thought they were really fun. One of the first ones I tried was a glitter text generator, which resulted not only in me trying out lame-ish kind of stuff like my name
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The glitter text was fun, but I thought the options (at least the ones that I found) seemed a little limited.
Then, I got a little psycho and tried out the "make me babies" generator. I now have two children of indeterminate sex, one with Christian Bale (on the left) and one with David Beckham (on the right). Hot!

I'm not really sure that I can see myself in these kids, but whatever. They're cuter kids than I thought they would be. I assumed that the generator would deliberately turn out ugly babies.

I was also able to generate my own seal. Granted, I wasn't very original with the text, but I think the result is kind of awesome, and I wish that I could have my "seal" made up for real. The Official Seal Generator that I used was really easy and gave me a lot of options. I geeked out a little bit when I noticed that the fonts they were offering were completely different from the fonts that I have on my computer or have ever seen on any computer. Here's my seal:

Love it!

I also tried the Library Thing system. I have a similar catalog on Facebook through Living Social that I've actually tried to post as a gadget here, but I keep getting an error message. I am now 0 for 2 when trying to post a link to some kind of library of my books on this blog. The Library Thing catalog that I created is woefully incomplete (I just picked a few random books that I could see on my bookshelf), but the link is here.

Overall, I enjoyed exploring these things on my own. I had a great time with the generators: there was also a tartan generator that I tried, but I wasn't really crazy about the result, so I didn't include it here. And I've bookmarked my personal seal so that I can go back and fine-tune it and get it made into a magnet or something. Now I have to go...my celebrity babies need a diaper change.

UPDATE: The glitter stuff is screwing with my post! Those little boxes don't appear anywhere until I look at my published page, and everything is aligned much better in my preview screen. Boo, glitter text!



I have never heard of Pecha Kucha. It sounded a little bit like a cross between a Pokemon character and a Southeast Asian festival or something. To say that I was mildly curious to discover its actually meaning would be...putting it mildly. So when I did some investigating, I was intrigued to learn that it actually is a method or setting that aims to trim down presentations in corporate and other environments. When I read this, I had a big laugh. The company that I used to work for had (and, according to my friends who still work there, still has) a mind-numbing propensity to create interminable PowerPoint presentations on everything from annual company meetings to health insurance presentations to demonstrations on how to use the new coffee machine. I sent a few of my friends an email cluing them into this idea that presentations should be limited to 20 slides in 6 minutes and 40 seconds and suggested that one of them present this information to the higher-ups...perhaps via PowerPoint. They got a kick out of it.
In theory, I am a big fan of Pecha Kucha and think companies and other entities would do well to keep presentations concise and easy to digest. It is my personal experience that unending presentations only allow guests to nod off, become bored or disinterested, or to lose their focus entirely and wind up doodling in their notebooks. In my former employer's case, it caused most of the staff to make the higher-ups the subjects of mild ridicule for their heavy reliance on PowerPoint. All this being said, however, I recognize that in some instances it might be impossible to limit all presentations to this time limit and slide number. For example, in a corporate setting it might be very difficult to keep an annual state of the company presentation to such a short duration, however much the employees might appreciate such an effort. But no doubt the effort, at least, would be nice.  


Lost at the orchid

I'm a huge lost fanatic. Just wanted to represent on my blog ;-). Ok, commercial's over. Back to the action. What happened to Aaron???!?

RSS Feeds

I have to admit that, even considering my crowded, never-seem-to-have-the-time-for-anything life, I'm a little against RSS feeds. Part of what I enjoy about surfing the internet is being able go the websites that I enjoy and poke around, see what the site looks like, check out the pictures, the archives, whatever. The variety of content and design draws me to them. I have to own up to a fascination with celebrity gossip, so I'm constantly checking people.com, ew.com, usmagazine.com, even Perez Hilton. Truthfully, I can't imagine not being able to actually look at Perez Hilton's personally altered images. 
This being said, I found it really easy and user-friendly to set up an account on Bloglines, and I subscribed to some feeds that are interesting to me; some are websites that I check every day and others are sites that I would like to be able to read, but don't have the time (or I completely forget that I want to check them). Being a library person, I obviously love books, so one of the sites I subscribed to was the New York Times Book Review. I also subscribed to ESPN, but I might remove that one...I check ESPN constantly and I prefer visiting the website. There might be a few more sites that I add to my list, but they'll probably be sites that I wish I visited more regularly rather than sites that I check daily already. 


Flickr Firsts

I was looking forward to getting lost on Flickr, a site that I have never used before. I am horribly out of touch with photographs--I don't even have a digital camera. Most of the pictures that I find online are from Webshots, where my sister posts every picture she ever takes. I do, however, like using these kinds of image services to get photos to use for my desktop, and I am always drawn to images of nature, particularly close-ups of flowers. Fortunately, I was able to find some great images--of flowers and of other things--on Flickr. 

One of the first things I searched for was "fields of flowers." I love these pictures; they make me feel like I'm running around in a vast open space on a beautiful day. They make me happy. I found an image of a dahlia with a raindrop on one of its petals that I thought was really pretty.

I noticed in this image that the raindrop had a little box around it where someone had commented on that particular feature of the image. This is a feature that I've never seen on any other imaging service and I thought it was interesting and fun for people to be able to not only post a comment in the traditional sense, but also to be able to post a comment directly on the photo using Flickr's notes feature (see the photo here). 

I also searched for "stained glass," which I think is really beautiful, but sometimes the religious overtones make me wish for some kind of stained glass that is abstract-looking. Luckily, I was able to find some Tiffany stained glass that was really gorgeous. I used this image to create a Trading Card, which is an awesome feature. I wish that there had been a little more flexibility with this feature, though. I had hoped to be able to change the font or use other backgrounds, but all in all this was a really unique option. 

I was also really intrigued and excited with the Flickr Commons. I once worked for a book publisher that put out children's nonfiction titles, and one of my jobs was to locate images for the books online, mostly from the Library of Congress. Looking at historical images is something that intrigues me; I love thinking about the history behind the photos. This image is from the Powerhouse Museum collection, which is a collection of glass plate negative images.

One of the other cool things that I discovered on Flickr was one of the mashups called Flickr Color Pickr. It was a color wheel that allowed you to select a color and instantly, all around the color wheel, Flickr images matching that color would appear. I found this blue image, which is of the water in the polar bear tank at the Philadelphia Zoo. 

Some of the mashups that were available on Flickr were really ingenious. I thought the Flickr  Color Pickr was a great way for people to be able to search for images based on a particular color, and the accuracy of the images located based on the color selected from the color wheel was astonishing. Granted, the number of photos returned were no doubt a miniscule sampling compared the number of photos on Flickr, but it was an easy one-stop shopping kind of thing that I thought was convenient and clever.

Finally, one of the last features that I investigated on Flickr was the World Map. I thought of looking at images from around here, and even though I did search for my town on the World Map (I found some images that were sort of around my town, but not necessarily very close), I also wanted to see some of the images that were from Iceland. I don't really have a particular desire to visit Iceland, but I'm envious of the people who live there and who get to see things like Northern Lights on some kind of regular basis (there was one time probably about 5 years ago that the Northern Lights were, through some kind of meteorological anomaly, vaguely visible from my house, so I have seen them and they were stunning, however pale they might have been). I certainly don't envy the winters in Iceland; I've been complaining enough about winter here! But I thought that this picture looked really peaceful and quiet. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Flickr. I'm sure that there are tons of options and extras that I didn't get a chance to look at, but the images I found were beautiful and the features that I noticed made my first Flickr experience enjoyable, and it made me look forward to exploring some more.


lifelong learning

I am looking forward to taking advantage of Learning 2.0. From reading about the program and the 23 things, it seems mostly comprised to technological things that I don't know, which is one of the things that I was hoping to rectify with this class. I think the concepts behind Learning 2.0 are really wonderful. The idea of controlling your own learning and that pace at which you learn, I think, can only yield more positive results. Being required to move away from a topic or issue before you have grasped it, for me anyway, only creates frustration and a disinterest in continuing to pursue and learn that issue later. Granted, because we are learning these things in class, I'm sure there will be times when I will need to devote a  little more time to things than our schedule allows, but understanding the ideologies behind Learning 2.0 will encourage me to continue my enquiry after our class has moved on.
This also ties into the concept of "lifelong learning." Being a lifelong learner is something that I can relate to in many senses. If reading is a method of learning throughout your life, then I've got that part in the bag. I can also relate to this in a literal sense--I've been out of school for 5 years now, so continuing my education by going to school is another way that I'm hoping to enrich my future. And I think that by learning communally, as we will do, will benefit us all. I think that some of the best ways to learn new things is to experience, make mistakes, and discuss those things with other people. 
Of the 7 1/2 things, the one that I am most intrigued by and looking forward to practicing is number 3, turning problems into challenges. I'm pretty certain that there are lots of challenges ahead for me, and this is a helpful attitude to have. It'll help me battle the stress, I'm sure!