Friday Fun: Bookmas Trees Galore

Last year I posted about Texas Medical Center Library’s Bookmas Tree and their “How To” guide to create your very own bookmas tree.  This year I found a whole slew of bookmas trees in all sizes and styles.

Here are two examples, browse the 12 styles of bookmas trees at The Mary Sue.

Have a wonderful weekend and a Merry Christmas.

Friday Fun: Library Phantom Returns

A friend of mine posted the link to this story and I thought it would be perfect for a little Friday Fun. 

Edinburgh, Scotland has a library phantom sculptor who has been leaving beautiful paper sculptures made from books  in libraries and museums in the area. 

NPR first reported on the library phantom sculptor in late October describing how librarian, Julie Johnstone, found a sculpture of a tree made of twisted paper on a book with a broken gold leafed eggshell filled with strips of paper from the poem, “A Trace of Wings.”

Photo by: Chris Scott/flickr


It didn’t end with the tree.  The sculptures kept coming. A coffin, topped by a large gramophone showed up suddenly at The National Library of Scotland.  A local art film theater found a book carved with warriors leaping off a movie screen  into the audience.  Then came a little dragon peeking out of an egg at The Scottish Storytelling Centre.  The gifts kept coming, and it became quite a mystery as to who the very talented person could be.  BBC, Scotland TV, and The Guardian all reported on the story. Who was this mysterious person? 

Well it seems we will never know because even though there are a few suspects (a former music librarian thought he recognized the style from a paper sculpture he bought from an artist) it seems the public wants to keep the mystery alive and doesn’t want to know the artist’s identity.  The mystery artist remains a mystery and sadly as the latest NPR story says, the gifts have come to an end this November. 

Let me just tell the mystery artist, if she is ever in the United States, I am sure there are quite a few libraries that would love to get such a beautiful and unique gift.  Why not make the mystery international?!

Friday Fun: Cheer for the Cardinals

The World Series is going on right now and my home town team the St. Louis Cardinals are playing the Texas Rangers.  Normally, I would root for the team that hadn’t won a Series yet, but unfortunately they are playing the team I grew up with.  I cannot root against the Cardinals, it is physically impossible.  I may be living in Cleveland, but I am a St. Louisian. 

My brother, the investment professional, just sent me another good reason to root for the Cardinals to win the World Series.  A reason that all of us with our limping along 401ks can appreciate.   Apparently the Dow Jones industrial average has risen an average of 12.9 percent in the calendar year after the Redbirds with the World Series. That is the best of any team with at least 4 World Series wins.  So even if you aren’t from St. Louis, you still might want to cheer the Cards on to win. 

So if you don’t live in St. Louis or Dallas and you haven’t picked a team to cheer for, you might just want to think about rooting for the Cards.  However, if you are a Dallas fan (or a Cubs fan incapable of cheering for the Cards) all is not lost.  According to the article the market has risen an average of 8.97 percent the following year after a first time winning team has won the Series. 

Still…I am cheering for the Cards.

Friday Fun: Audio Books of the Future

The Centered Librarian recently posted these drawings and I thought they would be perfect for a little Friday Fun.  These are illustrations by French artist Villemard in 1910 of what he imagined the future to be like in the year 2000.  For other prognosticating fun this Friday, you might want to check out Tex Avery’s Car of Tomorrow (YouTube) and his House of Tomorrow (YouTube).

Friday Fun: Get $400 To Go To Seattle, NOW!

Yesterday I posted asking people about what kind of things they want to see at the Seattle meeting.  PLEASE keep the suggestions coming!

In one of the comments Halyna mentioned that some librarians do not get any funding or partial funding so having discounts, coupons available for restaurants, attractions would be very helpful.  I am all about coupons and I like the idea…and I will pass it on to the LAC who would be in the best position to find coupons or discounts as the meeting draws near.  But Halyna’s comment also served as the perfect reminder that librarians facing travel money issues have various opportunities to help pay to attend the meeting. 

There is still time to enter to the contest sponsored by the NPC to win $400 toward the meeting.  How do you win?  Simply submit the best method you used to justify your attendance at an MLA annual meeting to receive funding from their institutions or employers.  Two people with the best stories will win $400 towards either travel expenses or registration for the Seattle meeting.  So far there aren’t a lot of submissions so your odds of winning are VERY good if you submit.  You must enter by November 1, 2011! So get to your computer and type something out and submit it!

You also might want to check out if the MLA Section you belong to is providing scholarships to attend the meeting.  As a member and current Chair of the Medical Informatics Section, I know that we have recently been offering a travel grant each year to an MIS member to help with traveling to the MLA annual meeting.  Perhaps your one of the sections you belong to is doing something similar.

As the dollar gets tighter we have to get more creative about finding ways to be able to attend the meeting.  The travel grants are out there for this meeting, it is up to you to try and get them.  If you don’t apply you certainly won’t get them.  If you do apply and for some unlucky reason you don’t get a travel grant and can’t afford to go, don’t forget about attending as an e-conference participant!

Friday Fun: About the NLM

Did you know that the National Library of Medicine responds to more than 100,000 questions each year and many more questions are self answered as users search the NLM site including the FAQs. 

Some things that can be answered by NLM’s FAQs:

Other things you probably didn’t know about NLM:

  • More than 1,000 people work at NLM
  • NLM was one of the first institutions to use HDTV for biomedical imaging (started in 1994)
  • NLM has developed two missing persons Web and mobile application

For more fun tid bits that you can share with your friends on Friday and store in your mind to whip out during trivia night go to NLM Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and NLM Factoids: Did you know that NLM…?.


Friday Diary: Moving from iPhone to Android. Final Post

To read the first three parts of my switch from an iPhone to an Android click on Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Also check out Alisha’s helpful comment about the Android.

It has been about 4 weeks since I made the switch from an iPhone to Android.  There have been some growing pains but all in all things are alright. 

First off I am going to say I still prefer my iPhone.  It has only been a month and while I have grown to like my Android, it just isn’t my iPhone.  This could be because the iPhone was the first smartphone I ever used and it is what I learned on.  For example, I learned to use Medline on PubMed, but Ovid Medline will always be my DOC (database of choice) because that is what I first learned when I was in library school and what I used years ago when I was an Electronic Resources Graduate Assistant at the University of Missouri Columbia.  

I ran into an interesting blog post yesterday stating basically that you are what you use.  According to Ars Technica, researchers at the University of Illinois believe “people treat brands as they treat themselves, leading users to feel more affected by brand failure instead of less.” Attacks upon people’s favorite brands can be perceived as attacks against their self image.  Because the brand is perceived as a part of ourselves we are more likely to minimize its failures and maxmize the failures of its competitors.  Right now it is the iPhone vs. Android vs. Blackberry debate, but it could easily be Coke vs. Pepsi.  It is hard for me to think that I feel a certain brand is a part of me, I kind of would like to think I am above all that.  But hey if I was able to always have my way I’d be an iPhone talking, Coke drinking, Ovid searching librarian.  But this is life, and things happen.  If Pepsi is in the vending machine and I need caffiene, I’ll drink it.  As much as I used my iPhone and currently use my Android, I can now say that this whole phone thing is like the soda wars to me.  I prefer Coke but the two are so similar in taste that if I want a soda, I will take either one.  I prefer the iPhone but an Android gives me such a similar experience, it isn’t worth the extra $1200/year to be on AT&T with my iPhone.

Now things in the telecommunication world change rapidly.  Who knows maybe a year from now Sprint will sell VirginMobile or VirginMobile’s rates will go up.  If things change and the cost of having an iPhone (on AT&T or Verizon) is cheaper or closer to the same price as my Android then I will go back to an iPhone. 

The biggest problems I have had with my Android have been with the contacts list.  It is horrible.  Hopefully the kinks will get figured out.  The biggest problem I had with my iPhone was the lack of Flash.  Sorry, I know there are people out there who said they don’t miss having Flash.  I missed it.  Both phones have their faults. 

Android doesn’t have as many apps as the iPhone but as I mentioned in an earlier post, most of my favorite apps are available in the Android Market anyway.  If you have specific apps that you rely upon on your iPhone but you are considering moving to an Android, go the Android Market and look to see if it is there.  See if one of your friends has an Android and will install the app for you to play with (assuming the app is free).  However, the Android Market is growing and more more iPhone app developers are also developing for the Android.  According to a survey of 47 developers at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, 47% said they develop their apps for both iOS and Android.  “While that’s admittedly a very small sample,” appolicious advisor says, “it still seems to indicate that quite a few developers are expanding beyond the walls of the iTunes App Store to check the waters in Android’s pool.”  Additionally with the new open source project, “in-the-box” Engadget thinks more iOS apps will be brought to the Android platform.

If you have an iPhone and want to move to an Android it will be bumpy because you are used to things being a certain way, but once you get used to things you will be fine.  I am assuming the same would be true if you went from Android to iPhone. If you have never had a smartphone you don’t have to get an iPhone, you will be happy with the Android provided you do the research to find one that fits your lifestyle.  Hint: Go for the best antenna signal strength, nobody ever complains when their signal is too good, but a constantly weak signal will having you saying words you never knew existed. .

That brings me to one of the strengths of an Android, lots of options.  If you are somebody who likes to have a lot of options the Android is for you.  Everything from camera, OS, memory, etc. are all different for each manufacturer.  An iPhone is an iPhone, there is no extra memory or another “brand” with a better pixel camera. 

The best thing I have gained from this is that I have a working knowledge of both phones.  I am now able to answer questions on either platform fairly easily, which has been helpful on several occasions professionally and personally.

Friday Diary: Moving From iPhone to Android Part 3

Click here for part 1 and part 2 of the series.  Also check out Alisha’s very well thought out comment addressing some of the things I mentioned about my phone in my Part 2 post. Thanks Alisha 🙂

I am slowing starting to get used to my Triumph.  It takes a while for my brain to reprogram itself from iPhone thinking to Android thinking.  I have finally straightened out my contacts list, learned more about my battery life and reception, and looked at some of the top Android apps (non medical).

Contacts List:

Sigh… This by far is Android’s worst feature.  My sister works for a cell phone company in Chicago and her husband works for an even bigger telecom company.  Her company does not have the iPhone, his does.  She uses an Android. (Everybody recognizes iPhones and it would be really gauche of her to have one indicating she is not even using the carrier she works for.)  He has had an iPhone almost since they were a glimmer in Steve Jobs’ eye.  So, when it comes to cell phones I can call for help.  I called my sister and asked her about my contacts list problem.  She made a big sigh and glumly said that it is awful.  She said iPhone does a much better job and that Android and Google have made a real mess of the whole thing.  Judging from the Internet and the Android help boards, a real mess is mild.  The boards are full of people in the same or similar situations as I was with their contacts list.  My sister said her husband helped her with her contacts list and she still has duplicate entries, old emails, etc. that she can’t fix.  Unfortunately in the Android contacts list there can be information that are from FB, Gmail, Yahoo, or anything else you have synced and if that information is a duplicate or wrong you can’t delete it.  You try and it says you can’t delete information because it is from FB. Once I discovered the mess and realized it was from syncing things I turned off syncing.  You would think that would eliminate the duplicate entries and all information in my contacts from FB and Yahoo. Nope, still there and still couldn’t delete it.  That is what was the most frustrating.

I would like to say that now that I have fixed my contacts list that I have learned something that I can repeat back on this blog.  I would like to say that, but I can’t.  Have you ever been working at a problem trying so many ideas that get you partially to where you want things and only by constantly plugging away at it do you eventually get it to work?  That is what happened with my contacts list.  I tried so many things, turning off syncing, turning on syncing, entering my contacts directly into Google, downloading Contact Analyzer 2 (an app that supposedly fixes Android/Google contacts), and manually deleting some info (when it allowed me to).  I tried so many things that I am not entirely sure what worked when, how, why, or whether some things ever worked.  Long story short, I got my contacts list fixed, but I don’t know how. Sorry.

Battery Life:

Supposedly the Triumph battery has 500 min of talk time and 300 hours of standbye time. Uh huh.  Well if they mean standbye time as the phone is sitting on your desk not synced to anything (email, FB, etc.) and you have perfect reception so it doesn’t have search for a signal, then it probably has 300 hours of standbye time.  In real life, like the iPhone it all depends on what you are doing with your phone as to what your battery life is going to be.  I learned very quickly with my iPhone that I needed a car charger.  I would use my iPhone all day and it needed a charge going home. I often used my iPhone in the car for directions and geolocation is hell on a battery.  So I didn’t even blink and bought a car charger for my Triumph.  I also downloaded and installed the free JuiceDefender app, upon recommendation from my husband.  (He said the free version is just as good as the pay version, we’ll see.)  In general I have noticed my Triumph gets about the same battery life as my iPhone.  If I didn’t have JuiceDefender would I notice any difference in my battery?  I don’t know, maybe.  But it all depends on the apps running.  Listening to my Sirius satellite app sucked the battery life out of my iPhone just as quick as my Android. 


Eh. The Triumph does not get good reception inside.  This has nothing to do with VirginMobile’s network (which is Sprint) it has to do with the phone.  If I am outside I can get a signal, if I am indoors it depends.  Like I said this all depends on the phone.  If you are interested in an Android I highly recommend hitting the boards to get as much information as you can about signal strength for the phone.  Not all Androids are alike, some get a better signal, some don’t.  Don’t forget the iPhone 4 had signal problems too.

Another quirky thing, I am able to text and receive calls when my signal is too low to place calls.  I am not sure why receiving is better than placing calls. 

Starter List of Android Apps (non medical):

AndroidStatic tweeted me a list of the “Must Have Android Apps for Your New Android Phone -July 2011.” I agree some of the apps they list are must haves, but others I don’t think are as essential.  But apps are a very personal thing, one person’s essential apps is another person’s waste of screen space.

The apps I use that I feel are essential for my normal Android life are:

  • Facebook -mentioned on the list
  • TweetDeck -Twitter was mentioned on the list. I hate Twitter’s web interface, its mobile isn’t much better. TD has way more features and options.
  • DoubleTwist -They recommend Amazon MP3 but I spent way too much time and money on building play lists. So I am keeping my iTunes and using DoubleTwist. Plus DoubleTwist is so easy, it just uses iTunes, there is no moving files, converting files, etc. 
  • A good radio or music app
    • Sirius Satellite app – I have Sirius Satellite radio and I love it. The app is free but you have to pay for a subscription to the radio content. This app is all I need for live(ish) radio and music.
    • Tunein Radio and Pandora are on the list.  I used to use Pandora and it was fine but I pretty much stopped using it when I got Sirius.
  • Good news and weather app.  I actually like the on that came with my Triumph.
  • Juice Defender -Helps prolong your battery life.
  • Prey Anti Theft – I didn’t have a theft app on my iPhone because I didn’t have a Mac (MobileMe) and at the time I investigated the anti theft iPhone apps a lot of them got very bad reviews and were little more than window dressing.  Prey appears to work pretty well. I tested it by “losing” my phone in my house.  Now the GPS wasn’t exactly helpful for finding it within the house, but it did show up on the map andI could set off the alarm to find it.

Most of the above apps I had on my iPhone and they work almost exactly like they did on my iPhone. (One exception TweetDeck column views are little different but fine.)  In fact the only app that I had on my iPhone that I miss and is not available for the Android is a game, Zynga Word Scramble.  For some reason Zynga has not made that available on the Android. 🙁

Medical Apps:

I am going to lightly touch on medical apps because I hope Iltifat Husain at will be writing more about medical apps on the Android from a physician’s perspective. 

There are not as many medical apps in the Android Market as the iPhone market.  This is kind of a good news bad news thing.  The good news is there isn’t as much junk to sift through when browsing.  Bad news is there aren’t as many medical apps. 

For medical textbooks on the Android, make sure you look at Unbound Medicine.  They are in the Android Market. They have been around forever putting medical texts and resources on mobile platforms (originally with PDAs…remember those).  In addition to selling these apps/texts to individuals, Unbound Medicine deals with instituions providing texts and resources on smartphones to employees, students, etc. 

Epocrates and Micromedex are both on the Android platform and both free.  Lexicomp is available in the free apps, but that is only for a 30 day free trial.

Just like on iPhone there are a lot of fully functional trial versions of medial apps masquerading in the free apps area. Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, Nursing Spectrum, eMS Pocket Drug Guide TR and other apps are all hanging out in the free app area but are really only trial versions.

Just thinking out loud… I am curious as to why McGraw Hill can get apps of their texts in iPhone and Android, but when institutions access some of their texts through AccessSurgery or other Access sites it doesn’t work on the iPad.

As I said earlier, this is just a brief run down on medical apps. I am looking forward to reading (and linking to) what Husain writes about apps and the Android from a physician’s perspective.






Friday Fun: Medical Library Helping At Risk Youth

The  A.R. Dykes Library of the Health Sciences serves at the University of Kansas Medical Center is open to the public and within walking distance from a neighborhood middle school.  Students would often come to the library to use the 4 public PCs after school.  As students were sometimes disruptive and disrespectufl to staff tensions rose among them.  There were no other appropriate and safe places within walking distances for at-risk youth to go besides the library.

They describe the situation at A.R. Dykes Library of Health Science as unique yet I personally think it is more common of situation that we don’t hear about  as often or with positive approaches.  I am assuming (and please let me know if I am wrong) since they are open to the public, they cannot just kick out or prevent a large portion of the public such as middle school students from the library.  They probably can only ask them to leave as individual(s) presented problems. 

The librarians decided to create a positive and safe environment (instead of just a hagnout with free computers) where the students could learn vocational skills and “expand socially, emotionally, intellectionally, and physically.”  As a medical library they were not for a lack of resources but a lack of experience as to how to apply these resources effectively with teenagers. Through partnerships with various organizations they created a “community within a community at the Medical Center.”  Students participated in hospital department tours, tutoring sessions, activity days, and guest speakers. 

For more information on their program or contact information go to: