#secretsanta

Half the fun of receiving a gift is the anticipation, which is why I have always enjoyed the Twitter #secretsanta undertaken by a group of librarians each year. Organised by @katejf, the call goes out to interested peeps in early December with names and addresses sent out around the second week of December. The cost of the gift is $10 which does not include postage and it is sent as soon as possible, with fingers crossed it arrives before Christmas.

Over the past couple of years, I have received a book, celebrating the history of books, a string shopping bag (which accompanied me overseas last year), a cookie cutter and this year a lovely set of Babushka measuring cups.

My twitter #secretsanta present arrived! Thank you 🙂

A post shared by Steph Cummings (@stephmcg71) on

It is fun not only receiving, but giving a gift! You usually have a good idea of a person’s interests through their tweets and posts and you go with that, crossing your fingers in the hope that the recipient likes their own present. My own references to baking, opshopping and reading have no doubt been used by my secret santas over the years to influence my presents :).

So to all my secret santas- thank you for the lovely gifts and have a happy Christmas

Pics please! Instagram and Flickr

In 2003 I went out to lunch with a techie friend from the State Library. His newest phone had a camera! It felt strange having my photo taken with a phone- my phone at the time was a little Nokia, capable of little more than texting and well, calling people.

10 years later and the  vast majority of the photos I take now are with my phone, rather than my camera. In fact it was a major factor in deciding to go with the phone I currently have.

My modus operandi is to take a photo and then share it via Flickr, Instagram,  Facebook or my blog, which is good if I feel  the need to post something, but don’t have the words :). I can also take photos with the Instagram and Flickr apps on my phone which then have the option of sharing via other social networks.

Untitled No 3 #anz23mthings

I have had a Flickr account for a long time, and used it more as a repository of images rather than a network to browse. It has really only been since I participated in a couple of librarian-inspired challenges that I was actively using it on a regular basis. I have found that the mobile functionality on the Android version of the Flickr app is quite limited. I can’t seem to find a way to link an image to a group via the app- I have to go to the desktop. I can place an image in a set, and I can browse through my contacts’ images via my app and that’s pretty much it.

Morning walk #happy365 #2013pad # SLV #melbourne

I must admit I was turned off by Instagram’s revised Terms of Service and deleted my original account, but after a while I succumbed to peer pressure and rejoined. I must admit I am in awe of peeps like Kim who take selfies, as I feel uncomfortable with seeing myself when I take a photo. I do find that Instagram is much more like Twitter, in that you can follow other people’s accounts/photostreams, and they don’t have to follow you back. Accounts can either be private or public, and a picture can definitely inspire great conversations!

Flickr though has greater flexibility in that you can choose which images are private or public and you can release your images out into the wild with a Creative Commons licence. There are some images of my children which are limited to friends and family, but other images are available for others to see.

Girl on a train #happy365 #2013pad #ballarat #Emily #heritageweekend

Exploring Flickr and Instagram as an individual, I see they are quite different beasts. Flickr has the greater advantage of being a repository , while Instagram is a far more social animal. If Flickr wishes to take Instagram on, it really needs to upgrade the mobile user experience, in order to replicate the desktop version.

For use in library settings, much of the corporate use of Flickr is in sharing an institution’s image collections-and a good way to share your images from Flickr is to link to them on Twitter or Facebook. Next time you’re on Twitter, search for  #collectionfishing, a hash tag used by instutions such as PROV and NLA do this quite well as do the SLV

This exercise, especially when thinking of how to use these apps in a library environment, does raise some questions. Is the librarian evolving from being content curators to creators? Is our role library to document,  or to promote? Can we be a community hub, much like Christchurch city libraries and use Flickr and Instagram to broaden our content?

Twitter- Hello World!

I signed up to Twitter in…a long time ago. A friend at work had joined up and she was quite the savvy person, jumping into social media and all things Web 2.0, so I quickly followed!

Twitter has been a lifesaver, a saviour of my sanity, comic relief, a honing of my communication skills and developed my ability to  LOLspeak 🙂

I have always seen Twitter as a conversation- it can be private, using Direct Messages (DM) or a private conversation in public where people can interrupt and add their own 2 cents, or a group conversation where people will be talking and casually add you to the conversation. Sometimes I can hop in and try and make pithy and witty remarks, and other times I will lurk, listening in to arguments, conversations and banter. I try and get on every day, but owing to work and family, I’m not on it permanently.

I’ve used my twitter handle as both a professional and personal tool, and the 2 spheres will often collide. I try and follow the maxim not to tweet when I’m angry, as I don’t want to say something on the public record that I will regret.

Professionally I use it as a collegiate, networking tool, sucking up information from article shared, blog posts, and conversing with all the librarians on Twitter- and there are lots!

Personally I use it for news gathering, following my own interests, other bloggers and interesting people. I  have followed quite a few Ballarat people, which has been great for meeting new people, and discovering good Indian takeaway in Ballarat :).

I have learned the power of a hashtag, which makes it an easy way to follow conference proceedings from afar, or keep abreast with what is happening on a trending event, or in politics (something to which our library is quite attuned).

Exploring Twitter in a mobile capacity though is quite a different matter. Tweeting from your phone is good for deft fingers, though much of the functionality of the desktop is lost on the phone applications. Much of the functionality of Twitter is best configured on a desktop, rather than from your smartphone, though there are a few tweaks you can do from your desktop to make your mobile experience an easier one.

1. Under Settings -> Mobile, you can customise Twitter for your phone. This is where you can select Text notifications for mentions, if people have retweeted your pithy tweets, or if people have replied to you.

2. Under this setting you can also put Sleep Settings. That way you are not getting bombarded late in the evening or early in the morning with replies or mentions.

If your library or greater organisation is somewhat reticent to use Twitter in an official capacity, please don’t let it stop you from engaging with the broader community yourself, or your users. Twitter ought to be seen as a way of being another avenue of reaching out to them. With any luck they’ll talk back to you.

10 things I love about maths

This morning Kate Hunter on website Mamamia wrote a humorous post on the 10 things she hated about maths.
She’s right, there are people who don’t get maths, who proclaim their hopelessness with numbers, and who hate it with a passion, much in the same way I hate Brussel sprouts with a passion.
However just as there are math-phobes in the world, there are those who enjoy numbers. I’m a math nerd from waaay back, and here are my 10 reasons for loving maths.

1. Maths is more than numbers. It’s patterns, shapes, angles, curves, and letters. It is visual, tactile and cerebral at the same time.
2. You can get a wrong answer in maths and still be right , well sort of. I remember getting a maths question wrong in a spectacular fashion for a question during my mid year Year 12 exams. However, my workings out of the problem showed the examiner I had understood the concept, applied the correct rules and followed through correctly. I just managed to stuff up a little bit along the way. Applying what you learned and blagging your way through got me through in the end :).
3.Rules for maths don’t really change, so much as evolve. On the other hand, teaching methods do change- my son is learning maths differently to the way I did, which did involve a lot of rote learning and flashcards of my times tables. He is learning patterns, measurement and the fact that maths is an everyday part of life. We haven’t yet gotten to long division, and I hoe we never do- I loathed long division!
4. You wouldn’t have Google, Facebook, Twitter, nor the Internet without maths. The biggest conveyor of information, pictures, communication tool is all down to the fact that groups of very clever people nutted it out with numbers, algorithms and lots of 1’s and 0’s. Though I ask the people of Twitter- why 140 characters? Why? Why? Why?
5. There are 26 letters in the Western alphabet and look at how language has evolved, with new words being created and added to the Oxford English Dictionary- with just 26 letters. Numbers, on the other hand, stretch to infinity! It is the universal language which makes it all inclusive, rather than exclusive. One of my maths lecturers at uni was very hard to understand when speaking, but his equations were much easier to comprehend.
6. Numbers cAN make you joyous- the amount of money you have in your bank account on payday, when you’ve had your long service leave paid out, and when your husband’s EP is the number 1 selling title for a label.
7. Do you budget, bake, crochet, knit, drive? Do you play Scrabble or Sudoku? Are you blogging or writing to a deadline of time or to a word limit? Do you write poetry, songs, or even sonnets? Chances are you are using your numeracy skills, and you don’t even know it.
8. Being a ‘word’ person or a ‘numbers’ person aren’t mutually exclusive. In Year 11 I could recite tracts of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and knew the value of Pi to about 50 places. I can count in French, Italian and German, and love reading
9. 567, 796.48, 994, 004.78. In my early days as a librarian in a public library, I got to know the Dewey Decimal Classification (which classifies and organises non-fiction books in a library) very well. Dinosaurs were located at Dewey number 567, the Olympic Games at 796.48, Australian History was at 994 and the Internet was at 004.78. Surely the combination of words and numbers is a marriage made in heaven?
10. My dad was a maths teacher. He made maths fun for me, and if I was sick at home would leave me little sums to work out. He showed me not to be afraid of numbers and was extremely patient with me when it came to teaching me new concepts (he was my maths A teacher in Year 12). The only times he was angry at me was as a dad, and that was a lot! I think the number of white hairs on his head increased exponentially when I reached puberty.

My mum always claimed to be ‘rubbish’ at maths, but she was the budgeter, paid the bills, and managed the family’s finances. In some way it was a bit of a self-esteem issue, as she was seen as the less clever child in comparison to her elder sister.
There are so many different aspects to mathematics, and numbers that it can be a bit of a generalisation to say you hate maths. I don’t want to see this hatred or fear normalised, especially amongst girls and young women. There needs to be more positive angles given to stories about maths (pun intended) :).

Secret Santa and Stockings

One of the best things about Christmas is the surprise of getting a present that you have no idea what you are getting. It could be the Secret Santa or Kris Kringle present from a work colleague, or a Twitter colleague like my lovely present of a string bag and note holder,

or a present from totally out of the blue of lip balm and American chocolates from my gorgeous girl Jenelle. I can attest to the yummy minted rose lip balm and I did eat a Hershey’s peppermint before the photo was taken!

I think that’s why my favourite part of Christmas was the stocking. Because we would write out a list we kinda knew what Santa would bring. However, Santa always managed to fill the stocking up withsurprises like lollies, chocolates and what mum called knick knacks that we loved. They were not that expensive, but it was the thrill of finding out what we were getting that was the  I confess to say it has only been a few years since the stockings were retired for me by my mum and dad *squirm*.

If I had one wish for Christmas for myself it would be to have something nice in my stocking that was a total surprise- unfortunately my stockings are big enough to hold this surprise 🙂

5 things that make me go woo hoo!

In the need to provide balance to my previous snarkiness and ranty rage, here are 5 things this week which have made me smile and go huzzah!

1. My neighbour Shannon. Apart from being a lovely lady with 2 gorgeous girls, one of whom is in Master BG’s year at his school, she does the most wonderful favours. Yesterday, she had both my kids around after school for a play for two hours. I managed to drink a couple of cups of tea uninterrupted while doing essential stuff like laundry and reading a book :). Thank you Shannon!

2. You’ll be Sorry when I’m Dead by Marieke Hardy. A thoroughly readable and enjoyable collection of essays that are loosely a memoir, that had me laughing out loud on the train, and blinking back tears at home. Incredibly poignant, self-deprecating and hilarious, it is a also brutally honest book.

3. Twitter. Some lovely people make my day with their witty repartee. I don’t spend a lot of time on it, and sometimes I just lurk, but they are a great bunch of people, especially the librarians :). And of course, my personal trainer Tim who is now following me :).

4. The sun. After a fairly chilly spring, summer seems to be finally arriving. The sun is out finally, as are the roses in my garden. It almost makes me want to get out there and weed- almost…

5. The BG family for their curiosity (how does a time machine work? was one of the questions this week), their tenacity or pester power, and their ability to keep me grounded and mindful of what’s important in life.

Have a great weekend and let me know what things have made you smile this week 🙂

x0

So much to tell you…

Have you ever been asked “So, what’s happening with you?” and your mind goes completely blank?Are you left floundering, and all that comes out of your mouth is “ahhhh, ummm, not much…”? Do you then realise after the conversation has ended that there was heaps you could have said, had your brain and your mouth moved out of first gear?

This is a regular, and unfortunate occurrence with me in real life, and it appears to have also happened with my blog. Looking at a blinking cursor for the past couple of days, I was at a sudden loss for something to say.

Of course this hasn’t been helped by the fact I have been busy at work, and that I have been reading more books which has taken time away from the computer. There are however, some milestones which have happened that are kinda exciting…

Miss BG turned four, with a party. She received lots of lovely presents and is set to take the baking world by storm with her array of cupcake paraphenalia and aprons, or open a toystore specialising in My little Pony and Barbies.

Master BG is beginning to read to himself for fun, and decided to do add-ups for fun on the weekend- another geek in the making :). He is probably another reason why I am spending a bit less time on the computer as he is agitating for a bit more time on the computer. He enjoys playing maths puzzles on the PC with his dad and Poptropica with me. It’s amazing to sit with him and see him nut out logic and maths problems on the computer.

Mr BG’s genealogy bug is in remission, but as spring has sprung, his thoughts have turned to outside. Our next major purchase will most likely be a lawnmower to go with the lawn we laid in autumn, and we are talking about getting some paving done. I also picked up for him a very nice green check Ralph Lauren short sleeved shirt from the Salvo’s in Bourke Street on Monday for $8.00 in very good condition.

As for me, well…um…I’m sure there was something, apart from reading, mending, laundry, cooking, drawing, going to the gym, being a taxi driver, kid-wrangling, organising stuff, watching DVDs of Jonny Cash and The Gilmore Girls (a guilty pleasure)…

Actually, there is something lovely which happened yesterday. The wonderful Sally from Sally Sets Forth, gave me a lovely shout out from her blog yesterday. It is somewhat inspiring to be an inspiration to someone, especially when I haven’t blogged in over a week :).

Sally is also doing a survey on Twitter for Professional Development and Career Progression. It is aimed at library staff, so please take a look at the survey and fill it out.

And if I think of anything else to say, I’ll let you know, sooner rather than later!