Tech-Life Balance

Tech-life balance is not a new catchphrase, and it is at times used as an extension of work-life balance. However, it differs in that finding a balance between the tech in our lives and living our lives extends beyond work. This idea comes to mind lately because of two books I’m reading: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing and Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (book review links not sponsored ones). The former helps you consider the best times to do certain sorts of tasks while the latter discusses the importance of distraction-free work time.

I am definitely a lark with a tendency to–SQUIRREL! Needlesstosay, I’m working to optimize my work patterns and make more progress on projects in my off-time. So what this amounts to is restructuring my life to regulate the times spent on what Cal Newport (Deep Work) calls shallow work out of my peak work time, which for me is about four hours from 9-1. It is not easy. Continue reading “Tech-Life Balance”

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Thank you libraries & librarians!

I was hoping to write a simple post about library technology, but then I woke this morning to the news about Las Vegas. This is not going to be a political post. That is not the focus of this blog. This post is a thank you.  A thank you to all the librarians who work tirelessly to make sure that their library remains a haven in chaos, a place to get information when people are lost, and an access point to services they might not otherwise have (e.g. internet).

I took a break in the middle of last month because I was helping some of my family evacuate from South Florida to Durham to escape Irma. Many were able to leave, and for that I know I am fortunate. However, my father, who manages an airport, was not. It was stressful.  In the midst of this, I was no in the mindset to write another emergency resources post.

While I was focused on family, so many libraries were creating resources for their patrons. Libraries are essential for connecting patrons to the resources they need in these times of crisis. Knowing this, librarians accessed the damage and determined ways to get back online as fast as possible. Thank you. Thank you to my partner Dee for stepping up in her own community when crisis hit. Thank you to all the librarians in areas affected by the storms and events for all that you have done.  Thank you for guiding patrons to FEMA applications and crisis counseling. Thank you for creating resource flyers. For those in areas unaffected, thank you for informing patrons on ways they can help. Thank you.

I am proud to be in a profession that remains a beacon in every squall, leading their communities to the information they need to move forward. If you have not already read it, there is a great piece on American Libraries by Timothy Inklebarger called Rebuilding Communities after Disasters. It highlights just a few ways libraries are being so amazing in such troublesome times.

-Cas

Keeping up with tech

Keeping up with tech

I think the hardest part of each day is fitting in the time to look for and learn something new. There are so many projects running across my some days, I don’t have much free time. It’s taken a while to find a system that works. The one thing I’ve learned is that, in the area of time management, few things are universal. Regardless, I’ll share what is working for me, and hopefully get some ideas from you in the comments below.

The first thing I had to do was get organized. You may have remembered my BUJO experiment. Well that failed, mainly because I would forget to bring it or not have a pen. I tried several mobile task managers, but settled on Asana. It’s a group project manager, but I love the way it looks on my phone and it’s ubiquity. Once I could better organize the projects on my plate I opened up a great deal of time for myself.

My biggest friends are aggregators. I subscribe to LibrarySherpa (which is powered by Nuzzle) and utilize Feedly (adopted after Pulse was bought out and changed). Also, RSS feeds have proved to be a huge boon. So for that last one, I fought RSS feeds for a LONG LONG time. I didn’t see the point, until my inbox was already full and was now additionally cluttered with emails I didn’t have time for. The RSS feed leaves it on the side of my Outlook, waiting patiently for me, and does not follow me when I get home. RSS has really allowed me to step away when I got home, as my inbox was no longer pinging early in the morning and late at night with some new post. Instead, on my lunch break I scan through my different feeds, open what links seem most interesting, and I feel decently informed day to day. Continue reading “Keeping up with tech”

Cas 1 – 0 Google Script

Cas 1 – 0 Google Script

Sometimes you have to step away from a problem to better be able to tackle it. I have been wrestling with my google apps script for weeks. After that last post, I put it away for a bit, but apparently not long enough. I had a goal: create a form using Google Apps Script that uploaded files and the recorded the information submitted. Seems simple enough.

It wasn’t.

But the difficulty was my fault, not the code. My brain didn’t formulate the problem the way I phrased it above. My brain had already decided how we were going to solve the problem. So I spent weeks playing with the code so that I had a form that uploaded a file to Google Drive, imported information into a Google Sheet, and sent an email that there was a new submission.

Are your eyes rolling yet? Continue reading “Cas 1 – 0 Google Script”

Nightmare on GoogleApps Script

Nightmare on GoogleApps Script

If it isn’t obvious by now, I often take projects that force me to learn new things. This was not one of those times. As part of some committee work, I agreed to help build a form for member submissions to a social media platforms run by the organization (e.g. submit your twitter or blog post here!).

It seemed straight forward, until I realized Google Forms doesn’t have an upload option on the free version. Ok. So I went on to search other options. I found that many people used a combo of Google’s Drive and GoogleApps Script to code a Google Forms-esque upload form. I copied the code to my personal drive, and womp! It would not run, even in its initial iteration. I would just get a blank screen.

To be completely honest with everyone, I’m still not completely sure why the code would not work for me. I was sure it was an ID10-T user error, but after sending my sysadmin friend a video of what I was doing, he was stumped as well. It was working for him. He could run it with no issues, and it seemed like I was doing all the same things he was doing. After about an hour of tinkering, which left me with a deep desire to flip my desk, I closed the window to revisit later.

Later has not quite come yet; I started this project only four days ago. This post is a testament that using tech is never all success without complication. It’s completely ok to fail or hit a set-back. This is why you start things a month before they are due (take that procrastination brain). I’m jumping back into it today, hopefully. Expect a follow-up post once I get the code to submit, but for now, happy tinkering!

-Cas

OpenCon 2016: Part Two

The last major focus for OpenCon was Open Education. Open education is about opening lecture notes, assignments, and creating and using open textbooks. With dwindling budgets, states scrambling to find qualified teachers in an ever dwindling pool, and teachers burning out on a daily basis, open education should have a brighter spotlight. Using open textbooks can save schools and college students a great deal of money. Open lecture notes and assignments helps often overworked teachers and new teachers save time by not having to build each class from scratch and lessening preparation time at home.  Continue reading “OpenCon 2016: Part Two”

OpenCon 2016: Part One

OpenCon 2016: Part One

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending OpenCon thanks to a gracious sponsorship from my institution, the University of Arizona. What is OpenCon? It is a small three-day conference of researchers, entrepreneurs, librarians, and others, where attendees learn about open access, open data, and open education through a series of keynotes, panels, and workshops (called unconference sessions) that finalizes in a day of advocacy. That sentence makes it seem like an overwhelming amount of information to pack into a short few days, and it was. It would make for a very long post, so I’m going to spread the information over two posts.  Continue reading “OpenCon 2016: Part One”