How many things? Only 23.

[Why have I waited so long to do this Thing? Well, I wanted to spend some time on it, and see if it would be possible to use these things in work, but I kept on running out of time, and in the end I found out they aren’t possible anyway, so I’ve finally written the blog post!]

Sharing your work is great (not in a plagiarism, can-I-copy-you at school sort of way), but sharing documents if you’re working on something with a group of people, possibly remotely from each other as well. (Thing 13.)

Unfortunately, in work, Google Docs/Drive is disabled, and we cannot install software like Dropbox onto the thin clients. Although there are occasions when I would like to make a document available virtually for a select group of (external) colleagues for their edits, it’s currently not possible in work. Internally, an electronic records management system was introduced last year so now we can view all documents and edit them, from one central place, which is much better than before.

I don’t really do home working so I don’t really need to work at home on a work document, so having Dropbox at home wouldn’t really help anyway.

I actually looked into sharing documents online about a year ago, not for my job/work, but for my yoga life. I have a range of typed handouts I wanted to make available to anyone, and looked into a number of different options, including Dropbox and Google docs, but the one I liked most was It is simple, free, uncluttered, doesn’t require installation, can be accessed from anywhere and does all that I needed. (Admittedly it’s not really designed for multiple-author editing.)

You can see my minus profile here, and download any of the yoga handouts you want!

And whilst I have used various wikis, I’ve never created one. Not really seen the need to do that yet.

{August 10, 2012}   Oy! Refs! (Thing 14)

Thing 14 is all about using software for managing your references.

Back when I were a wee young student, I used a hotch-potch of systems, including card indexes. Oh yes! However, as I moved with the times, and worked my way through Master degrees, and then a PhD, I also moved onto reference software. I used Endnote at Aberystwyth University and it did the job well. I recall having to tidy it up a bit manually once I’d imported the data because my version of the Harvard author/date style was subtly different from the inbuilt one, but it was loads easier than typing out hundreds of references.

Now I’m now longer a student I [thought I*]have no need for this software. Any research I do get to do (e.g. a Web 2 report – oh so dated title, a mere 2 years later!) or articles I write in my current job are not at the same level as a degree or further degree and therefore just bunging in the references manually into the Word document is perfectly adequate for my current needs. (That sounds slap dash, but it isn’t!)

However, I had a quick look at the three free tools suggested in Thing 14, which are Zotero, Mendeley, and CiteULike. If I were to need one in work I’m not sure that I could use the first two as they require software downloads onto the computer which I don’t think I’m allowed to do.

*Having read the Green Stone Librarian’s blog post on this I now realise where I’m missing out. I often come across reports I want to keep for work purposes. We’ve moved over to an electronic records management system and there isn’t really a suitable place for them as pdfs/other documents. It never occurred to me that I could use a sharing citation tool to create a list of the reports and make it accessible to colleagues. Lightbulb moment! A couple of years ago we were researching library things whilst planning the next library strategy for Wales and just used a Word document with different sections to create a bibliography.

But with this new knowledge, I could investigate one of these and then start using it to record useful reports etc. Amazing!

(NB Thing 13 to follow, one day.)


Given that work had blocked Evernote, I looked at it at home. The IT people did say that if, after looking into it at home, I could see valuable ways of using it in work I could apply to get it unblocked.

However, after giving it a go, I have decided it’s not quite right for me right now (sorry Sharon and Sam!). I created notes, tasks, a diary entry (which didn’t look like a diary to me), clipped a picture and had a nosy round. However, I can’t quite see how it would save me time and effort at work or at home.

If I’m at home I don’t tend to use an electronic device to remind me to do things – I save urls in the bookmark bar if I’m keeping them to view for later, and if I come across something suitable for work I just email it to myself which is one click. I can understand that you can save things into Evernote, but, I’d have to then remember when I was in work that I’d got something in Evernote for X project or for so-and-so.

I can appreciate that if you’re researching something you can clip and save all the things you need to in one place and sub folder in Evernote, and you could be typing up conference notes into one folder. But, for me, if I’m researching something when I’m in work I’ll be saving information into a Word document. And I don’t do much research at home. I also don’t always have an electronic device with me in meetings or conferences so tend to use pen & paper for note taking. In some conferences I have used the work laptop to make conference notes, so I could have used it then I suppose. But I can’t see how that would be massively different from just typing the notes into Word.

I can see that if I had a mobile device which was always on and had the widget for that then it could become more useful. But for now, it’s something I’ll leave on one side.

A by-product of doing this thing though, was using a sneak-around system that means you don’t have to create an account just to try a web service out. I was recommended to use Bugmenot – you go to the website, type in the website of the service you want to try, and it gives you a trial login and password. So you can get in, see all the functionality, give it a go, but haven’t had to sign up or create an account. Genius!

{July 4, 2012}   Awaiting Evernote (Thing 9)

I’ve had to put Thing 9 on hold (Evernote) as I can’t access it in work as it’s classed as a banned site. I’m discussing this with the powers that be.

I could of course look at it at home and consider if it would be useful for me. Judging by some of the other blog posts on this, and the eulogising from friend/colleague Sharon Crossan, it could be really useful. But then, if I do look at it at home and decide it’s going to be v.useful for me to help organise my work and make notes in conferences, gather info about topics, remove the need for emailing myself links etc, but it remains blocked in work, it won’t be that useful will it?


{June 30, 2012}   Organising myself (Thing 8)

Ok, so I’m behind, but I’ll catch up. Thing 8 is Google calendar, addressing the issue of ‘organising tools’. Now, I like to think I’m quite an organised person (this statement is not contradicted by my first sentence, by the way. There are mitigating reasons why I’m behind. I may be behind but I’m still organised), and I have my own ways of keeping track of dates, events, meetings, birthdays, jobs to do etc, at home and at work.

I’m also discovering during this 23Things process that I’m quite different in work and at home.

In work we use MS Outlook for email so we have a shared calendar function within that. Anyone in work can see my calendar and I put all my meetings in it and annual leave, and times when I’m finishing early or starting later due to a dentist/optician appointment at 9am or something. I find the shared calendar function useful for checking when other colleagues are around so that we can plan a meeting date and really useful if someone rings up and asks for a colleague and you can check if they’re away, in a meeting etc. So there’s no need for Google calendar in my present job.

I also use Outlook’s ‘task’ function to record all the jobs (big and small) that I need to do in work. This is a really useful tool and I use it all the time. Yes, I have many tasks in the red (overdue), but it’s easy to change the date on them so they’re not overdue for a bit longer! I remove the ‘alert’ function though as I don’t like all the pop up boxes telling me a task is overdue. I know it’s overdue, ok? (Again, having overdue tasks does not contradict my first sentence of the blog post – I just have a very busy job and not enough hours, like most people!). So, I don’t really need Google calendar for that either.

I also use a small hard-back diary – yes, those old fashioned things. I like it. A lot. It combines my work things, and my home things. As I can’t access my work calendar at home (ok, ok, so, if I used Google calendar I could, but, I would still have to use Outlook calendar in work so that my colleagues could see my work things and duplicating entries would be double the work – update, partner pointed out should be able to sync Outlook to Google through Exchange but as work lock down many settings I’m not convinced) I need to be able to look on Sunday night and see that on Monday I have a 9am meeting at XX.

My hard-back diary also has birthdays in so I can remember when to send people a card, and it records my other things like yoga classes, other exercise classes, holidays etc. And has phone numbers and 2013 calendar for planning ahead. I really can’t see me getting rid of it any time soon. I don’t want to have to turn on a computer just to check where I am tomorrow morning, or what’s happening next weekend. No technology or energy needed just to open my diary.

I also don’t have a smartphone (or any sort of mobile phone), so wouldn’t benefit from the Google thing linking into other apps (or something – I stopped reading what Google said it can do with your iphone thingy). And again, don’t see the need to turn on an electronic device just to check a date of something. Open the paper diary, find the event.

For tasks/job list at home, I have an ongoing little pad with all the jobs written down (yes, I like lists). Some of them have been there for a long time (e.g. the list of sewing jobs), but I can see at a glance what jobs need doing at home. Like writing a blog post. Weeding the garden. Renewing the insurance. No need for an electronic device, just pen and paper. Works a treat.

I sound like a total Luddite at home, but the system works for me.

[Update – ok, it’s been pointed out by my partner that I also have two paper calendars on the walls that record things that could go in an electronic system. Yes, they could, but I’m given calendars as presents so use them for ‘household’ things like the recycling date and our organic fruit/veg box delivery.]

[And, I’ve just remembered an instance where I tried an electronic online system for my tasks at home, using one of the widgets in Netvibes, but I stopped after a few weeks and went back to paper. ]

The one instance where I can see an online shared calendar being useful is on a joint project I work on with two sets of external partners totalling about six people in three locations. We’re looking into some shared project management software and if we have a shared calendar in there it will be useful so we can see who’s off, who’s in (two/three people are p/t) etc.

The recommended link to a blog post about the ways libraries are using Google calendar is good – there are some good examples and I’m not dismissing Google calendar totally, it’s just not for me in work or at home. Pah.

et cetera