Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2.0 Extra Credit

OK, not really extra credit. It's not like I'm getting graded or anything. Once finished, I will receive a thumb drive, courtesy of the Friends of the Library. (All you grumpy taxpayers out there who think public employees are mooching off your dollar, you should know by law we are not allowed to get perks from doing our jobs, unlike you private sector employees. This is allowed because the Friends is a private entity, and the gift is available as a reward to all one is given special consideration.)

It was around 12 years ago now that I was introduced to email through work. My first husband got his first computer (paid for by the guy for whom he contracted to write jokes), and spent so much late-night time browsing and chatting, he practically growled at me if I interrupted. We speculated that the lack of blinking ignited a primitive aggression response. It was just over 10 years ago that we got a divorce (unrelated to the growling) and soon after that, bankruptcy for both of us, separately.

Imagine my surprise that when the bankruptcy went through, I started getting oodles of credit card offers. The lowest kind of credit card offers. Believe me, I did not want to get back into a debtors hole immediately, but I remembered that a little piece of plastic was the thin line that kept us from homelessness more than once in the years since college, so I applied for just one.

All those bills erased, wow. I could pay my living expenses with ease. I realized if I decided to get a computer for $1000, I could pay it off in 3 or 4 months. My friends advised against it. I knew I could pay it off quickly, but wasn't sure I could actually save the money that quickly, so I went for it. I did pay it off within 4 months.

Port Orford ocean view

In the beginning my internet access was through work, and then through the free Juno. From the time I got that first computer, my home page has been My Yahoo. Listed among the 2.1 applications were other sources of home pages.

I was briefly distracted by the simple blocks of Sputtr and symbaloo, but it was iGoogle that captured my attention. Netvibes seems similar, but I liked the look of iGoogle better, and it got bonus points for not requiring me to sign up for gmail.

My Yahoo has just been getting stale. The "new look" is annoying to me. The cool thing about iGoogle, you can add gadgets. (Widgets with muscles?) You can move them around, and change the settings. So I found the ones for bloglines,, yahoo mail, flickr*, movies, and kept the ones for weather and How to of the Day. You can even create your own gadgets. They want you to. So after 10 or so years, I am changing my home page.

Further down the 2.1 page, I was introduced to some organizing tools. A few years back, our ability to organize over long distances was transformed by FreeConference. I have participated in teleconference meetings involving people from all over the US, along with a few from around the world. I also use MeetingWizard to find the best time for a meeting that will work for the most involved. These were not listed, but are still good to know about.

I got especially excited about Yugma as a replacement or augmentation for FreeConference. One person can present their desktop to many, anywhere in the world. A team can take turns sharing their desktops, showing each other what they are doing. Those not in front of a computer can still make a phone call. The free service allows for 10 people at a time, but it is possible to upgrade for just one month at a time, in case one wished to schedule a session with more people. Participants can use chat while one is presenting. How cool is that? You can talk while the one person has the floor, and it's OK.

By this time it was the other side of midnight, but I was too excited about one more thing: TeamworkPM. No, not am/pm, but Teamwork Project Manager. As the 5th Annual Buddhist Festival in the Park looms ever closer (first Saturday in June), for which I am the lead organizing volunteer, I hope this will help more people stay involved in the planning and decision process. We can use this to monitor deadlines, keep track of who is working on what, and share and update documents. I was also thinking I could use Google Docs for faster updating as well as blog publishing, but that is a subject for another web 2.0 post.

*The photos are from my flickr gadget, which displays random images from my flickr account. Clicking on the photo takes you to that flickr page. You don't need a password, you could enter any flickr user name. Heck, you could have a whole iGoogle home page of flickr gadgets. Consider them filler.

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