Sometimes there are apps that turn your head, but you can’t quite decide if they’re useful. Yet you still want to share.

These note-taking/note-saving apps fall into that category for us. They’re our bubble apps and they didn’t quite make the bracket.

What do you think? Did they deserve to make the big game? Read on and make your case in the comments.


Want to jot down some notes and have them available at another computer? Just go to and start typing. Give your page a name and you’re done. All you do is type the web address of the page you made into the address bar and there are your notes! No sign-up, no password (unless you want to set one, which you can do by clicking “options”), no hassle.

Cl1p is for quick notes, so your page will expire after a set time – from one week to 9 months.

I’m thinking of this for those last minute notes when I don’t want to open up my email or Google Docs. I could use a slip of paper, but I tend to lose those. The only catch here is remembering the web address you create – but you can give the cl1p a name so remembering is easy!

Here’s the one I made:

I can come back and edit it at any time just by going to the web address. You’ll notice, I did not set a password, so you can add to my Cl1p too.


Clipmarks is similar to Cl1p, but instead of writing notes, I’m copying sections of a webpage (text, photo, video) and saving it or emailing it to myself. I could also print it, which makes it a lot like Print What You Like.

The downside to Clipmarks is that you do have to register. The upside is that it is a good way to take notes on things you find on the web without cluttering up your inbox. And it is more precise than just bookmarking a site.

I like the idea and doing the actual “clipping” was easy. Finding the things I “clip” – well, I’m still working on that.

Remember the Milk

Remember the Milk (RTM) is a powerful to-do list organizer that will keep all your projects in order. But it is also a simple, but powerful, database you can use as personalized notes manager.

remembermilkOnce you sign up, you’ll see a page with several tabs: Inbox, Personal, Study, and Work. New items  you add to RTM go in the Inbox, then you can sort them into the other tabs. You can have as many customized tabs as you want. 

You can create a simple list or each item has room for additional notes.  So, if you were making a list of books, you could add  comments within each entry. 

You can add items directly from the web, phone or email. Plus, RTM is compatible with any Web-enabled mobile device, so you can update your “what-to-read” list from anywhere.


Evernote compiles all your notes – from web sites, email, your computer, scanner, or even your phone – in a free web application. Simply drag and drop from the web or send yourself an Evernote email. Don’t even write it down, just leave a voice mail on your Evernote account!

Here’s what my Evernote notebook looks like. I emailed myself the titles of a book and a movie I’d like to watch. Evernote provides a custom email for you to use to send yourself notes. Why is this better then emailing yourself? It gets all your notes in one place! Email is for email. Evernote is for notes and lists and everything that isn’t an email.

The Bracket


Your mission, should you choose to accept it: 

1. Take the survey and tell us your favorite apps from each group AND your favorite app of them all.   

2. Is there a web app we missed that everyone should know about? Tell us in the comments!


whaleDo you ever find yourself thinking that you might like to start a blog?

If your answer is “I don’t have enough time to write wonderful blog entries all the time,” you should check out microblogging!

Microblogging is blogging, but much smaller. We think of blog entries as having several paragraphs. But not all updates need to be the length of a Tolstoy novel. What about just a few sentences every few hours or days?

Plus, microblogs let you add new posts from your mobile phone. You can blog at the bus stop, in the grocery store checkout line, or during intermission at the theater.

Check out these great apps that let you keep folks in the loop without signing over all of your free time.

Maybe you’ve heard of a little thing called Twitter?

Twitter is a microblogging service that allows updates up to 140 characters in length. Updates are called “tweets.” It sounds a lot like texting but it is different – texting is person-to-person. Twitter is like a blog – anyone can read your tweets.

Here’s how Twitter works:

Create an account. Tell you friends so they can “follow you” if they want to. Follow just means that they’ll get any of the things that you write in your microblog. Your friends can comment on the things that you write.

My favorite Twitter account is the National History Whale. You know, the whale that hangs from the ceiling of the American Museum of National History in New York? He tweets.

Twitter isn’t just about telling everyone your moment-to-moment activities – it’s about communication. Imagine being able to ask all of your colleagues a question with one tweet! That’s what the folks at Skokie Public Library are doing.

Check out this quick video explanation of Twitter:

Like Twitter but more visual: Plurk

Plurk is similar to Twitter in that members post messages that are no longer than 140 characters. But it feels very different from Twitter, from the design to the social network terminology.

Plurk is meant to be a cross between a blog and a social network. If you’ve ever looked at a Twitter page, the design differnce will be obvious. Plurk displays updates in a timeline.

After using Plurk, you’ll find the other design difference: all the plurks that are part of a conversation are grouped together. If you want to follow a conversation on Twitter, you have to dig around for all the related tweeks.

Plurk certainly looks more fun, with the pretty colors and the headless whatever-that-is in the pictures. If you’re intriegued, check out this comparison of Twitter and Plurk.


Easiset to set up and use: Posterous

Send Posterous an email and they’ll send you a microblog. No registration needed. You’ll get a confirmation email – click on the link and you can create your own Posterous web address. I like that you get to use the service without signing up. But if you want to set a password after your first post, it is really easy to do.

The best part? When you want to post something to your microblog at Posterous, just send an email to It’s that simple – just make sure you use the same email address you used to sign up.

Here’s the one I set up:

Design your Microblog: Tumblr

Tumblr is a lot like Posterous. Set up an account and start posting photos, text, audio – whatever you want. You can update your Tumblr by emailing your posts to or by going directly to your Tumblr page. You can even phone in an audio post!

What makes it different from Posterous is that you can customize the look of your page.

Here’s the one I set up:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Take a look at some existing microblogs:

Twitter | Plurk | Tumblr | Posterous

2. In the comments, tell us interesting things libraries could do with a microblog. What do you think of Skokie Public Library’s use of Twitter?

Every tournament needs a few teams that were counted out, only to rise up again. We liked these apps but they didn’t really fit with the video editing sites. This extra post will give them their moment in the sun.

YouTube and Motionbox are great – if you have some videos to share. But what if don’t have a video camera?

If you want to make a video but you don’t have a video camera, you can make a pretty snazzy video out of your still photos. Just use one of these handy video-making apps!


I was kind of skeptical of Animoto at first. You start by uploading photos and music to Animoto (or choose from the stock photos and music). Next you add text and select elements you want to “spotlight”. Click create and Animoto will analyze the photos and music and create a video for you. You don’t have to worry  about timing or transitions or learning new software. It bothered me crazy that I couldn’t control the final look of the video. But after seeing the finished product, I was impressed.

Animoto is free – just register and you can create an unlimited number of 30 second videos. Share your creations on MySpace, on your blog, or embed on a webpage. Check out the one I made for Summer Reading 2009. Pretty cool for two minutes of effort!


Slideroll allows you to make a slideshow/movie out of still photos. You can add music, transitions, and captions.

Unlike Animoto, you have control over what you’re doing, but it isn’t as cool. It gets the job done if you want to quickly create a video-like presentation out of photos.

One True Media

One True Media is just like Slideroll, but with cooler effects. There’s a lot of pay-only content, but there’s plenty of free stuff to play with. You can share what you make on MySpace, Facebook, blogs, and even your own webpage. The biggest downsize to One True Media is that you can get lost in all the special effects and easily spend an entire Saturday afternoon making one slideshow.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Choose one:

Sign up and create a slideshow in Animoto (use stock photos and music if you like).


You can test Slideroll without signing up! Just use the Flickr pictures they provide.


Sign up for One True Media and make a slideshow using the stock photos they provide.

2. In the comments, share any ideas for how libraries might use these tools. And share the link to your slideshow!

I’m assuming that we’ve all heard of YouTube. I’d even guess that we’ve all watched our fair share of cat videos or Daily Show clips. But if you’re like me, you’ve done a lot of watching and not much sharing. In fact, I just uploaded my first video to YouTube this week!

After using YouTube to share my own videos I realized three things:

  1. I want to be able to edit parts of my video – who needs to see my arm reaching up to hit the record button?
  2. I want privacy controls that are easy to find and easy to understand – who wants a stranger watching your karaoke performance?.
  3. I want to share videos from several video sites – is there an easy way to do that?

There are a lot of video hosting/editing sites on the web, so we’re going to take a look at what’s out there beyond YouTube.


Vimeo is a video sharing service, like YouTube, but with a difference. It was “created by filmmakers and video creators who wanted to share their creative work” so you’re not going to find a lot of footage of teenagers playing Guitar Hero. It’s like fancy YouTube – a great looking site and easy to use. What I like best, though are the privacy settings.

If you want a video to be private in YouTube, but you want to share it with a few people, you have to be friends with those people IN YouTube. Vimeo, on the other hand, lets you set a password for a video. So you can email your sister the link and password for a video and she can watch it with no hassle – the video is private and your sister doesn’t have to sign up for Vimeo and friend you just to watch your video!

Other cool features: Vimeo lets you download your videos. And you can upload HD videos – great for anyone who  has one of the nifty new HD video cameras. You can even create your own channel, just like in YouTube.

It’s a video sharing site, though. No editing.


Viddler is another video sharing site, like YouTube and Vimeo. The biggest difference is that you can customize the video player in Viddler. You can change the color of the player and even add your own logo. Another unique feature is that Viddler lets people who view your video to comment on a specific part of the video.

But there’s still no editing on Viddler.


What if you want to share your video, but you just want to trim out the first few seconds? Motionbox is the tool to use.

Motionbox allows you to edit one video or mix together several videos into one. Just click upload, find the video on your computer, and you’re ready to edit. It is the easiest online video editor I’ve used.

You can share your video by email and embed it on a webpage for free. Motionbox also has a download feature, but it is only available with their subscription. Not bad for a free tool. Motionbox also has easier to use privacy controls than YouTube. So you really can pick who you want to see your videos.

While it is a simple way to clip a section off the beginning of one video, Motionbox describes itself as a way to merge several videos together. It is a wonderful tool to use if you want to make a highlight reel of all your favorite videos. So, all those videos you have of your cat/dog/bird/kid…get cracking and mix ’em together!


JayCut is a free online video editor. We’re talking full-featured editing with transitions and fade-outs and all that fancy stuff. I tried it out because my favorite video site, Jumpcut, is not really working anymore. I won’t get into it further because it made me want to throw my computer off the roof.


embedrMaybe you don’t want to edit video or share your own video. Maybe you want to make a playlist to share with a friend.

YouTube has a great playlist tool. You can see it in action on the library’s gallery page (scroll all the way to the bottom). The only downside is that you can only use YouTube videos in the player.

Embedr allows you to create a playlist of videos from different video sites. So, we can make a playlist of videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Blip, and more. Check out the short playlist I made.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:  

1. Choose one:
If you’ve got a video, upload it to Motionbox and give the editor a try.


Make a playlist with Embedr and link to it in the comments.

2. In the comments, share any ideas for how libraries might use these tools.

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It’s a mouthful, but the important part is voice over Internet. VoIP is a way of sending your voice over the Internet to someone else.

There are 3 ways to make a call.

  1. You can use an analog telephone adaptor
  2. You can use a special WiFi Phone
  3. Or you can call computer to computer.

We’re going to talk about how to make a computer to computer VoIP call.

All it takes is a microphone and some free software and you can make free calls using your computer. These are four of the free services you can use:

  1. Skype
  2. Meebo
  3. GoogleTalk
  4. YahooIM

Skype is a program that you can download to your computer for free. It allows you to make calls to other people who use Skype.


To make a phone call, just click on the person you want to call and then click the green call button at the bottom.

In the image at right, it shows that the line is ringing. Once David picks up, we can talk to each other using our computer microphones!

Because we’re both using Skype we can talk for free all day long. It doesn’t matter if David is in Huntsville, Alabama or Holland. The call is free.

If you have a web cam connected to your computer, you can also use Skype as a video phone. Finally! I was promised video phones back in 1985. It is about time…

It isn’t just for talking – it allows you to send links and files to people too. So, it is a great way to collaborate on a project or have a meeting when folks aren’t able to travel.

gtalkGoogle Talk is another VoIP program. It is very similar to Skype. To get started, you have to download software and install it on your computer. To make a call, you have to find a friend that also uses Google Talk.

The video isn’t as good as what you get with Skype, but it isn’t bad. And the best part – calls are free, no matter where you are in the world!

Remember when we talked about Meebo?

Meebo allows you to make VoIP calls without installing software. It doesn’t get any easier!

The best part? If you’ve got an account with AIM, Yahoo, or Google Talk, you can sign in to Meebo using your AIM, Yahoo, or Google Talk account.


Have your friends sign in to Meebo too and you can talk over the Internet instead of typing messages back and forth. And it is free – no matter where you are in the world!

I hope you’ll give VoIP a try. My brother has Skype, so I can call and say hello and actually SEE how everyone is doing. It is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:1. Use your existing Yahoo, Google, or AOL account to sign in to Meebo.

(If you did the Google Docs lesson you should have a Google account already.)

It isn’t super impressive if you don’t have a list of friends to call. If you really want to try out Meebo and VoIP, buddy up with a colleague-friend and give Meebo a try.

2. In the comments, tell us: Have you had any experience using VoIP for meetings or library conferences?

March Apps Mania 2009

March 2, 2009

Welcome to March Apps Mania 2009!

I feel very out of touch with basketball season this year. So out of touch, in fact, that had completely forgotten about March Madness®. Thank goodness my co-blogger remembered!

We celebrated with our own nerdy version last year and we had so much fun that we’re doing it again.

Allow me to remind you how this works.

We’re going to showcase some cool web apps this month. And at the end, we’ll do our own clunky version of a bracket.

I know, it’s March Madness®, not March Mania, but March Madness® is a registered name. So, we’re having March Apps Mania instead – because why risk the wrath of the NCAA?

For those of you looking for hoops, please visit the official website for madness.

What is a web app?

Web app stands for web application. We’re going with a very broad definition of a web app; it is a program that you use on the Internet.

Why do I have to register with all these websites?

Most web apps require registration. Do you ever bring a VIP card with you to Food Lion? The cashier scans the card to identify you and apply a discount to your groceries. Same deal. Web applications must differentiate you from everyone else to save your work and keep it private.

What’s so cool about web apps?

They can be very useful, like the word processing Google Docs, or fun, like youtube. They’re free, as in library card. They’re social, so you might see your friends there. They’re everywhere; you can use the application or access your data from any computer in the world.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Take the survey and tell us what Web Apps you use.