cool tools day #3 recap

Our third Cool Tools day happened on January 25th, 2011. Thanks to everyone who came out to learn/share about some neat technological tools! If you missed the event, well here’s a summary of what went on (courtesy of our ASIS&T@UBC Secretary, Jessie).

Presenters and their “Cool Tools” (Also available as a PDF)

Catie “Library Value Calculator” & “FreeFoodUbc”
Niagara Falls Public Library Value Calculator

  • Calculate the value of your library use
  • It doesn’t subtract your fines or other glitches
  • You can see the value of your library card


  • “Freefoodubc” Twitter account
  • Not interactive, instead just like calendars of where to find free food on campus at any time
  • Kept up to date

Bonnie’s – “Web of Trust (WOT)

  • communitive based firefox add-on
  • “revenge on malicious websites” and promoting safe websites, etc.
  • Uses colour codes (ex. green means ‘safe’)
  • Good for warning against sites with viruses/malware etc.
  • Informative video available on youtube
  • video is called “WOT: Web of Trust demonstration”

Andrew’s – “Readability” & “Readefine”

  • Reformatting text tool
  • Designed to find large chunks of text, highlight it, crop it, and bookmark it
  • Can have small glitches in cutting out part of text at the beginning or the end of
    the text (because mistaken for advert image etc.)
  • Is a Firefox (or Chrome) add on
  • Can change how the text displays on your browser


  • Need Adobe AIR
  • Or can use in web browser
  • Can do RSS, html, etc.
  • Will sync with Google Reader
  • Works really well with keyboard
  • Can upload files, copy and paste text
  • Both tools can be used to change the display of online readings (like news sites, etc.), and are nice for net books

Justin “Quora

  • Alternative search engine
  • Need to login
  • Since it is a social search “asking questions and getting answers” instead of keywords
  • Gives guidelines on formatting questions
  • It is other users answering queries (not spider bots)
  • Place your queries according to topic categories (different users can follow different topics)
  • Can ask obscure, difficult to Google questions – and people will offer synthesized answers
  • Not very efficient
  • New and currently getting a lot of buzz in the tech community
  • There are a lot of opinion questions asked, library topics, many things to search and

Yolanda’s – “linear footage calculator” & “Skim”
linear footage calculator

  • Good for archival/preservation purposes (and class assignments!)
  • Tool meant for measuring boxes etc.


  • pdf annotator for Mac
  • Highlight, make boxes around things, anchor notes, works on a lot of pdfs, can
    take notes and export them out other document

Schuyler “GoodReader” & “Dropbox”

  • Free reader for the iphone (also $2.99 in the app store)
  • Some issues – trouble getting annotated documents from the phone to the
  • Works well with dropbox!
  • For iPad use – good for changing documents into pdfs and then annotating them


  • Online cloud based storage system
  • Organization tool – keeping all of your files, folders etc. in one place and accessible
    from any computer with internet access
  • Efficient back up strategy
  • If you get others to sign up from an invite, you then get extra file space
  • Starts off with 2GB free – which is plenty for pdfs/school readings

Again, thanks to everyone for showing up, and to the presenters who piped up in the presentation. We’ll be having another Cool Tools day before the semester is done, and we’d love to hear from you.


cool tools day #2 recap

Date: November 9th, 2010
Time: 12:30 – 1:30pm
Location: SLAIS Terrace Lab

Presenters and their “cool tools” (also available as a PDF)

Will “Firebug & Firesheep”

  • Shows html, css for each element in a web page
  • Can test/see how styles were implemented to specific elements
  • Look at layout (ex. pixels in padding & layout)
  • Other features – will tell you what elements are causing issues if pages are having trouble loading
  • Can help identify errors/messy code (it’s nice to have clean code)

Firesheep Sidejacking

  • People can use cookies to steal your information
  • Dealing with cookies – install it in your firefox for when using wifi networks
  • Making sure you use secure wifi networks
  • Should see https if the wifi is secure instead of http

Alex “Yahoo Pipes

  • Interface is confusing, but should be aware of the tool
  • Can send RSS feed links to friends etc.
  • Can use for sending filtered (types of) images from flickr

Meghan “cIRcle

  • UBC Digital repository
  • SLAIS graduates’ work are not being heavily represented
  • Contribution to cIRcle helps increase visibility, helps students, helps for future job opportunities (ex. can send employers links to works)
  • Uses open source software
  • Think about submitting your papers for showcasing your work
  • In sending paper, student is not giving up copyright
  • Just need to 1) sign form to say cIRcle can showcase it on the site, and 2) have a professor email cIRcle saying “yes this is a good paper.”

Catie “blekko

  • Search engine uses slash tags in search box
  • ex. search query can be watchdog /Christian … Recipes /vegan … Recipes /vegan/ gluten-free … etc.
  • If a slash tag doesn’t exist in the list of slash tags, you can add it to the user index
  • The user generated libraries added to the index is makes this search engine different
  • So the user searches through the site’s original list of slash tags and users’ added slash tags

Tosha “GazoPa

  • Image search engine
  • Search by image (not by keywords – no words needed)
  • Upload, draw, or type in URL of image to search
  • For example, upload an image and get results of similar images and information on how similar retrieved results are to the searched image
  • Can change view of results
  • Good for finding information with an image that would be very difficult to describe using words
  • Has flickr option, so you can search through license types for images (fair use or copyright)
  • Can retrieve information about the subject in the image
  • Advanced search with colours, shapes etc. to find other related images
  • Cross-language
  • If you upload your photo, it doesn’t get added to the images searched – but it does stay on their server
  • You can add text to your image

Cynthia “Foxit

  • free for downloads
  • PDF reader tool if you want something different from Adobe
  • Can add annotations/notes to all pdf texts (not same restrictions as in Adobe)
  • Text recognition is a little wonky, but still okay
  • Add notes to highlighted sections of the text (icon put in the margin)
  • Write comments in the margins of the text (easy to add and delete)
  • All notes are visible and readible in the actual document

Alex “Mendeley

  • Mendeley is another type of reader that also allows for annotation in notes and also is good for creating bibliographies.
  • Foxit is good for editing pdf when done (ex. good for signing a pdf document etc.)
  • In January a PDF conference in california will be held for fixing the tool

Justin “ebook management”

  • Open source e-book management
  • Tag all books, metadata
  • Conversion tool – take a pdf and convert to other style of document
  • Features include ability to set it up to sync through wireless to your phone from your desktop at home
  • Built in e-reader (for epubs and other ebook formats)
  • Possibly useful for annotation – need to explore that option


  • didn’t want to be locked into the system from Amazon/Kindle
  • Good site for finding public domain ebooks with better interface than Project Gutenberg itself
  • Can browse through different categories – ex. creative commons
  • Get in different formats (html etc.)
  • Also check Baen who have a good good selection of older or advanced reader copies for sci-fi DRM free and for cheap.

Qinqin “Wink

  • Free download – capture screen shots for creating instructional videos etc.
  • Can set it to capture many screen shots/frames over a set period of time
  • Can use voice overs/audio track to accompany video
  • Create video project of frames taken, edit frames, copy and paste frames, set time duration for viewing of each frame
  • Set streaming medium in firefox
  • File size is very small
  • Can send to friends
  • Compatible for Mac and PC use
  • Limited features, but good for creating basic videos

Shannon “What I Learned Today

  • Blog by Nicole C. Engard (Director of Open Source Education for open source library systems)
  • Talks a lot about gadgets
  • Library based tech blog and other library related topics that might not be found elsewhere
  • Useful for keeping track of information related issues
  • For example, getting announcements about Facebook’s privacy setting changes etc.

Comments/suggestions from participants:

    In posting summary notes of tools presented, tools should be hyperlinked to their live web urls.

cool tools day recap

If you missed our Cool Tools Day in October, well, I’m sorry. Here’s what we talked about (also available as a PDF). Just to show there’s no hard feelings.

Bronwyn’s “iTunes & Audio Podcasts”
Visit iTunes website for free available podcasts including:

  • TechNews TodayThis Week in Tech (TWIT)
  • MacBOOK weekly
  • This week in Google
  • Search Engine – net neutrality and copyright
  • Spark from CBC radio – lifestyle and tech

Alex’s “Pure Text
For Windows users:

  • Application stevemiller.net/puretext
  • Keyboard shortcuts that allow you to maintain font and formatting when copying & pasting text

For Mac users:

  • Visit alternativeto.net (similar to the process of using Firefox add-ons)
  • Browse site for applications you want to use
  • Select application and then click on “Visit Website”
  • Download application to your browser

Franklin’s “Data Visualization: Many Eyes

  • Website: http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/
  • Good place to find data sets
  • Good place to share data sets (warning: no way to keep data sets private so careful about uploading data sensitive documents)
  • Can do tricks with mapping
  • Provides options for visualizing data (example: using tag clouds, word trees, bubble chart, etc.)
  • Alternative website: visualizing.org (It is free, but new – so it is still being built)

Will’s “UBC Blogs & UBC Wiki”
UBC Blogs:

  • Digital Learning Commons
  • All you need is your CWL to make a blog or website
  • Social media aspect to blogs are groups, forums, profiles, friends, etc.
  • About 6000 people are using the service now
  • Built using WordPress
  • Supports custom CSS in themes
  • Consider it a content management platform (rather than a blog platform)

UBC Wiki:

  • Functions on Media Wiki software
  • It is not private, anyone can edit
  • Based on philosophical ownership, not structural
  • Your CWL should last “forever”

Jonathan’s “WilsonWeb”

  • Audio capability for reading/hearing articles off of WilsonWeb interface
  • Can download audio files as well as text
  • Can listen to audio while following along with the html text (words are highlight as they are read)

Trevor’s “OneNote

  • Virtual notebook
  • Can organize into binders – notebooks – pages
  • Can type anywhere on screen/page (not line-based)
  • Can keep all different kinds of documents/files in one page (so that you have all related documents in one place)
  • Can link from it
  • Takes good snapshots of pages & will include url of html pages (only difficult doing this with pdfs)
  • Can keyword search through ALL One Note documents at once
  • Autosaves along the way (no save button)
  • Create shared notebooks
  • Can draw on page
  • Saves time in filing
  • visitmix website – works with silverlight

Schuyler’s “Search Shortcuts in Google Chrome”

  • Edit search engines
  • Can set up keyword shortcuts for different sites
  • Add to google toolbar add to chrome search
  • Example: type “gs” for google scholar
  • Might be able to do sim in FireFox
  • Another tool is Yubnub
  • Can set Yubnub into Chrome search bar and execute yubnub commands directly into your search

Schuyler’s “Dropbox & GoodReader

  • Backup option
  • Stored in the cloud
  • Can stop using usb keys (all you need is access to the internet)
  • Can invite collaborators to your folders
  • For iphones, load GoodReader to navigate into your Dropbox account

Frankin’s “Portable apps

  • Website: Portableapps.com
  • Legitimate site
  • Can store on usb key without having to download applications onto the computer’s hard drive
  • Good way of getting around restrictions of downloading