Learning 2.1 - Thing 26: Little bits of the Internet, on your desktop

by tosca on Tuesday, September 2, 2008

So, carrying on with Learning 2.1, I'm up to 'Thing 26: Little bits of the Internet, on your desktop.' Essentially, it's Widgets! Which is good timing because I'm looking at various types of kids book-type widgets at the moment (how they work, how well they work, what they look like and what value they add).

For this activity, I'm looking at widgets from YourMinis. A widget is a small, interactive programme that allows users to access tools or info. My instructions are to:

1. Go to YourMinis and click Open Startpage.
2. Click one of the "templates" at the bottom of the right-hand pane to add a tab full of widgets to your pages.
3. Create a new tab by clicking Add Tab at the top of the page, and use the gray bar on the left to add some widgets to your page. (If you don't see the bar, click Add Content in the upper left corner.) It's easy to drag them around on the page. Mouse over each widget and click the buttons that appear in its top right corner to set options and change widget color, etc. You can also use the small drop-down arrows beside each tab's name to change the tab background color, delete the tab or perform other "maintenance" tasks.
4. Blog about the experience.

Very simple to log in and Open Startpage. YourMinis does NOT like my Mac - or my Mac doesn't like YourMinis - either way it's a crap shoot for me. So, have resorted to the big pc, which seems to be fine. After some playing around I now have a tab for blogs of interest, one for podcasts and one for general interest 'things'. You can view my public profile here.

The beauty of YourMinis is that you can personalise it however you want, add whatever tools (podcasts, rss feeds, videos etc.) you want, and have it all accessible in one easy place. I couldn't think how to put it, but Master New Media say it better, it's a 'great way of bringing the web to your desktop without having to go searching for it first.' Your virtual online desktop provides all of the relevant information you choose and can be accessed anywhere there's an internet connection. To really get an idea of how YourMinis can be utilised (for personal, work and other puposes) read Master New Media's article and then sign up - it'll make much more sense that way. You'll get a better feel for what it can really do. Play is good - heck, play is great - but I didn't realise it could do half of what is available until reading the article.

So, yes, easy to use and quite fun and nice to have what you want in one easily accessible place! Will I keep using it? Yes, just not on my Mac!

Am currently looking at creating a catalogue widget for Manukau Libraries. That way if we decide to look at a Facebook profile, or blogs for various parts of our services (YA page, Childrens, Maori, PI etc.) then we can also have a catalogue search box there, too. I've almost got it - just got to figure out how to open search results in a new page (_blank instead of _top - only where the heck I put it who knows! I know where I'd like to put it and it's all unladylike!). I did figure out how to get the 'Add Our Search' button on my blog (see top left 'Search Manukau Libraries') and this added a 'ManukauLibraries' search engine on the top right of my browser. So if I'm reading something online and want to see if we have anything on this topic/author etc. in our catalogue, I simply enter the search terms in my toolbar search engine and BINGO! I'm re-routed to a listing of Manukau Libraries' related items. See pic! Although, a word of caution - it only works for Firefox. Bah humbug!

Am still looking for an e-reader for my Mac that incorporates RSS feeds as well - I'm ever hopeful. My next post will be looking at another item off of infodoodads 'Top *13* Web 2.0 Tools for Librarians' list :-)

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