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June 29, 2015 / carlispina

A New Javascript Resource From Code School

Javascript.comCode School recently debuted a new resource called This site combines a new tutorial with a curated collection of resources and news items on Javascript. It also links visitors to Code School’s FiveJS podcast and newsletter. According to the Code School blog, the site was made as an answer to the question “If JavaScript had a homepage, what might you find there?”

At this point, it is clear that the site is very new. The brief tutorial that first time visitors see is quite simple. While the look and feel is engaging, it only walks users through a few very basic elements of Javascript. This seems to be an intentional choice since the goal of the tutorial is more to pique the interest of those who have never written Javascript before than to create experts. Once visitors complete the tutorial, they earn a badge that ties into the Code School profile system and are given the option to explore more of the site’s resources. Most of the resources right now are beginner tutorials, though many of the news items may be of interest to more experienced programmers. Overall, those with an interest in learning Javascript might like the resources, and particularly the tutorials, found on the site, but so far there aren’t that many new resources that can’t be found elsewhere. However, it will be interesting to see how the site develops over time.

June 22, 2015 / carlispina

Who’s Going to ALA Annual?

AC15_Speaking_250x124Later this week I’ll be headed to San Francisco for the ALA Annual Convention and I’m looking forward to some great programs. I haven’t decided everything I will be attending yet, but I am hoping that I will get to learn about a lot of new topics and get more involved in areas that already interest me. I definitely know that I will be leading the meeting of the Library Services to People with Visual or Physical Disabilities that Prevent Them from Reading Standard Print Interest Group at 4:30 PM on Sunday as part of the ASCLA All Committees meeting. I’ll also be speaking as part of the Data-Driven Libraries: Capturing Users’ Behavior Across Library Platforms panel on Monday at 1 PM. I’d love to meet up with others who will be there, so let me know in the comments or on Twitter if you would like to meet up.

June 15, 2015 / carlispina

Take Beautiful Black And White Photos With Lenka

Lenka LogoLast week on the YALSA Blog, I wrote about Lenka. This free app for iOS and Android devices makes it possible to take beautiful black and white images with your mobile device. Best of all, since it was developed with input from a professional photographer, its design is thoughtful and focused on making the process simple for both experienced and amateur photographers. If you enjoy taking pictures with your mobile device, this app is well worth a try. You can read my full review on the YALSA Blog.

June 8, 2015 / carlispina

Manage Your Chrome Tabs With Spaces

Last week I wrote about The Great Suspender as an option for managing tabs in Chrome, so this week I thought I would look at another option, an extension called Spaces. This browser extension takes a different approach to the same issue of multiple Chrome tabs eating up RAM.

Instead of suspending tabs when they aren’t in use, Spaces is designed to encourage users to organize their tabs into multiple named windows by type of project (work, leisure, shopping, etc.). At the same time, Spaces is tracking your web activity in a separate window on your computer. It displays your active spaces (which refers to any browser window) as well as any closed spaces. For each space, both active and recently closed tabs are tracked, which makes it possible to close tabs, or even whole windows, that you no longer need and then reopen them later. You can also easily import new spaces by typing in a list of line-separated URLs. As soon as you click import, each of the URLs will be opened in its own tab in a new browser window.

Spaces Screenshot

Overall, Spaces is a nice way to organize and track your tab and window usage in Chrome. It won’t necessarily inherently improve your memory usage since that still requires you to opt to close tabs, but if you are interested in better organizing your Chrome usage, Spaces is an interesting option.

June 1, 2015 / carlispina

Improve Chrome’s Functionality With The Great Suspender

Regular readers of my blog probably know that I am always interested in options that make it possible to keep multiple browser tabs open without slowing my computer down. One of my favorites is One Tab, but I was intrigued when I read about a new option for Chrome users called The Great Suspender. Unlike One Tab, this tool suspends inactive tabs rather than closing them.

The free Chrome browser extension can be installed with a click without the need to restart the browser. Once you have installed the extension, it will automatically prompt you to go to the settings page to customize your experience with the extension. You can opt to have tabs suspended at any point between 20 seconds and three days when not in use. From the settings page, you can also specify if there are certain tabs that should never be suspended or that you would like to only suspend tabs under certain situations, such as if you are running on battery or are connected to the internet. At this point, you can decide if you would like tabs to automatically become active when you refocus on them rather than waiting for a reload or if you would like to grab screenshots of pages before they are suspended. The settings page is also where you can find information that is tracked about your sessions, including what links you had open.

The Great Suspender Screenshot

Once a tab is suspended, if you click on it you will see a message telling you what the page is and that you can click to reload it (assuming that you haven’t specified that tabs automatically reload when focused on). The page also allows you to automatically whitelist this URL for the future so that it won’t be suspended at a later date. Some users have commented that the reload takes too much time, but I have found it to be no slower than a typical reload and definitely worth the memory savings that can be achieved, at least in my case. If you are a Chrome user who finds that the browser slows down your computer, this extension is worth a try.

May 25, 2015 / carlispina

Learn More About Beacons

This month I had an opportunity to write my second entry in ACRL’s Keeping Up With… series, which offers brief summaries of new technologies and topics that have potential applications in libraries. I wrote about bluetooth low energy beacons, which make it possible to trigger events on mobile devices that pass into range of the beacon. If this is a topic that you find interesting or are considering trying out at your library, I recommend checking out my full Keeping Up With…Beacons piece.

Also, I wanted to note that this summer, I will again be blogging only once a week. Twice weekly posts will resume in the fall.

May 21, 2015 / carlispina

Add GIFs to Your Emails With Giphy for Gmail

Are you a fan of GIFs? Are they your favorite way to convey reactions and emotions? Do you include them in all of your internet communications? If so, you’re going to love Giphy for Gmail. This new Chrome extension brings Giphy‘s database of GIFs directly into your Gmail account.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 8.13.07 PM

When you open a new email, the Giphy logo will appear directly to the right of the send button as seen above. Clicking on the icon pulls up a small Giphy box which automatically displays several top GIFs. If none of these suit your purpose, you can navigate through a list of reaction types or search through the entire Giphy database.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 8.13.21 PM

Once you find the GIF you want, you simply click on it to have it added to your email. The GIF will expand to full size within the email and you can add text before or after it. The GIF will also include a small credit line below that links back to the GIF on Giphy, which makes it easy for both users and email recipients to find the original version of the GIF. If you are a frequent GIF user, this free extension will be a fun addition to your Gmail account. If this doesn’t quite meet your need, try Giphy’s other Chrome browser extension, which makes it easy to search Giphy from within the browser to add GIFs to anything from emails to tweets.


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