Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Being Tech Savvy Before and After Retirement

I was asked to do a piece for a panel at MLA: Happily Retired, Well-Adjusted and Tech Savvy: For Those Librarians Planning (or wishing) for Retirement.

I've created a PowerPoint/Keynote presentation for the conference but I realized there were a lot of links to tech resources that could best be listed in a blog.

General News Periodicals with Good Tech Coverage

The New York Times - Check out their Technology section online for tech news, reviews, tech business.  I subscribe to the iPad app.

Wall Street Journal - Good tech section behind a pay wall.

Digital Tech Magazines

Engadget Distro - this is a new category but one that might bear watching.  The tech site Engadget has come up with their own magazine app for iPad to distribute their content.  If you like getting your tech news in a magazine type format, it might be worth checking out and it's free.

Library Focus

American Libraries - AL Direct - this comes out as a weekly electronic newsletter for ALA members and other subscribers.  They include some interesting content in their Tech Talk section and E-Content sections.  I'd consider keeping up with this to be a good start at becoming and remaining tech savvy.

LITA Top Technology Trends - LITA is the Library Information and Technology Association, the techie division of ALA.  They host the Top Technology Trends panel at Mid-Winter and Annual Conferences.  It's worth at least taking a look at the blog posting to see what library technology enthusiasts are talking about.

Stephen's Lighthouse - Stephen Abram's blog

iLibrarian - a blog I just discovered recently.  I like her inclusion of tips on how to use social networking resources in libraries.

David Lee King - a librarian at Topeka & Shawnee Public Library. Covers trends and social media.

Feel free to add some of your favorite blogs in the comments section

General Tech Blogs and Websites

CNET - news, reviews, podcasts


Boing Boing

Read Write Web

The Verge

How do you even begin to keep up with tech news from multiple sites you might ask?  Well, it probably isn't that important to try to keep up with all of them.  Anything that's big news will show up on all of these and more eventually.  So, just checking in on one that you like on a regular basis is probably sufficient.  But the secret to being able to follow multiple bloggers and websites is feeds.  You can subscribe to RSS feeds and have them show up in an RSS reader (rather old school at present I'm afraid).  Or you can follow a number of these sites and individuals via social media.  Or you can use an app to keep track of your social media and news sites.

Google Reader - RSS Reader that also works with a number of other platforms

Facebook - the preeminent social networking site at the moment

Twitter - communication in 140 characters

Google + - Google's foray into the world of social networking.

Flipboard - a magazine-like app for iPhone and iPad for news and social networking feeds.

Google Currents - Google's magazine-like app


TWiT This Week in Tech.  Features podcasts on a wide range of topics - Android, Google, Apple, computer hardware, law.  Generally good quality with interesting guests but can run long and ramble.

Revision 3 - they both produce their own podcasts and promote others from the Internet.  I particularly like Tekzilla and Lab Rats.


Butterscotch.com.  Quick tutorials covering a wide range of gadgets, websites and software.

CNET How To.  CNET also offers tutorials on how to use products, apps and gadgets.

The Problem with Android

As some of you know, I recently moved from Android to iPhone for my smart phone.  This wasn't as big a switch as it might initially seem, I'd started out with an iPhone 1 several years ago and really liked it but it was really more a problem with the carrier over the device.  So, when Verizon came out with Android phones about two years ago, I moved carriers and smart phones.  Now, I'm still with Verizon but back to iPhone.

I love the idea of Android but find the implementation to be unsatisfactory.  There are so many manufacturers (HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG, etc.) and even more models to choose from.  Most manufacturers customize their Android phones with their own user interfaces and an array of pre-installed software (bloatware).  I really liked my HTC Droid Incredible for about the first year.  Then I realized that I probably wasn't going to get any more firmware upgrades and I started running into serious problems with the Verizon bloatware.  I finally ended up rooting it and installing Cyanogen Mod as a new operating system.  And that worked pretty well and I was glad that Android doesn't make it a crime to want to make alterations to your phone.  At the same time, I resented having to root it in order to continue to have a functional phone.

One of the things I like about Android is the overall spirit of innovation.  They really do come up with some interesting hardware and software.  But what really pushed me into the iPhone camp was the most recent Google flagship phone - the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  The first Android phone I had was the Nexus One.  I really liked that phone.  Unfortunately, it suffered from the same carrier problems as did the iPhone 1.  So, I moved on to the Droid Incredible, which came with its own carrier-imposed issues.  I was looking forward to a pure vanilla Android experience along with a better camera.  Unfortunately, Verizon refused to provide that and for all of the impressive innovations of the Android ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) interface, it was put on a mediocre piece of hardware.

A tech journalist on Android Atlas Weekly recently stated that the Apple iPhone has become the safe choice among smart phones.  It may not have the same WOW factor as some of the star Android attractions, but you can be assured that Apple will continue to update and support it for at least 2 years.  Just about every app imaginable will be made for Apple devices and often first.  There will be hundreds or thousands of accessories available from battery extenders to cases to speakers.  What I was really looking for was a better camera, and iPhone does have one of the best cameras in a phone around.  And, if you happen to live near an Apple store, you'll get stellar customer support.  Add to that, great resale value, and it's hard to come up with a good argument against.  In a world of two year carrier contracts for phones not designed to last for two years, it's comforting to know that you can sell the one you've got.

That said, the phone that's really piqued my interest at present is Windows Phone 7.  I like the fact that Microsoft has really made an attempt to rethink the smart phone.  But Verizon has yet to embrace it so I'll stick with my iPhone 4S until something better comes along.