When I was in the Army, there was a surprising amount of focus on the presentation of the intelligence we gathered. In the beginning, I was frustrated. I was young and could not imagine why it mattered so much that our presentation to the higher-ups had to be as clear and simplified as possible. It seemed like a waste of valuable time. I remained skeptical until I started comparing our work to that of some of the other units. It became blatantly obvious how well-manicured presentation of information can help inform the reader quickly and effectively. Since then, I fell in love with the process of synthesizing information into presentable formats.
In my current job, that has translated into learning to use Tableau Public. It is free. It is flexible. And it is powerful. It allows you to visualize data by dragging certain elements into the worksheet. The best part of Tableau is the video tutorial library. The community is helpful, but when you are starting out, the tutorials are priceless for understanding how to take advantage of Tableau flexibility.
The HUGE limitation is the lack of private storage options. If you use the free versions, your choices are to start from scratch later or save information publically to cloud community. If privacy is an issue for you, you can take the hard road, make graphics and clip the images for use in different apps. You won’t be able to manipulate the graphic later, but once you get used to using the program, retracing your steps will often not be terrible.
Another interesting option for pumped-up visuals is Vengage. It is not as powerful as Tableau, but it has infographic templates to model yours after and myriad options for visuals. The free version maxes out at 5 infographics. Depending on your needs, that may be enough. Often, because of my desire to tinker and limited budget, I often find myself bouncing between programs I have access to in order to take advantage of each ones particular strength (e.g., Publisher’s set to transparent feature, Powerpoint’s fill a shape with image options, or Canva’s free elements). It can be a bit taxing, but it can create great results.
I’ve gotten better at creating visuals that tell a story, but it takes a good deal of practice. I’ve learned the most by keeping an eye out for impressive visuals and analyzing their components. Hopefully, these tools can help you tell a story you need to tell.
As part of starting my new job, I had to set up my new computer. Doing this always reminds me of the things I take for granted. The set up of my desktop, the icons pinned to my taskbar, and the extensions on my browser. However, the shake up in my complacency also made me reevaluate what privacy measures I’m taking. I did some research, and while not a ton has changed, there are some new developments. So, for this short post, I give you a annotated list of privacy extensions, apps, and programs you should know about if you don’t already.
Privacy badger – A browser extension created by EFF that blocks third party cookies.
Our lightning posts are finished, so we will be resuming our regular schedule of the 1st and 15th for posts. With all this tech talk, we’re going to take a break. I’ll be talking about my pen and paper method for staying organized, which is inspired by the bullet journal. I know. I know. You’ve probably seen a million unrealistic instagram photos on the ‘bujo.’ It can be a bit intimidating for those of us without artistic talent, of which I have ZERO. I take a much simpler approach. Continue reading “Low-tech intermission”→
Kahoot is a free web based interactive quiz creation platform. It allows you to build your own quiz, project it to a room, and have the audience provide answers. You can choose to give the participants points for right answers, like in trivia night. Or you can use it to survey the room, no points, no leader board. I have to say I’m not a big fan, mainly because of you can’t customize the way it looks. The primary color scheme and overly playful design makes it less that ideal as a teaching tool in university and higher level classes.However, if you have a more playful event, or are teaching to young kids this tool may be ideal for you. You can play with Kahoot and see if it will work for you here.
Though it was made by the same people that made ReadClearly, WriteClearly is a more universal tool. You place the bookmark on your toolbar and are then able to use it to test the reading level of your website. WriteClearly will give you suggestion to help simplify the language to better fit lower reading levels. Have a section on the library website geared to children; get that website down to their level. Targeting teens or adults? WriteClearly can still help you identify where you content might be bulky, dense, or too loquacious. Click here to get started.
I have fallen in love with this tool. Why? Because I hate slow loading webpages. I am one of those individuals you will lose if the site takes too long to load. It’s terrible but true. Large media files are often the cause of slower webpages. Compressor.io prevents this by compressing the images you want to host, sometimes by 50+%, but keeps the quality of the image in tact. How? Simply by removing all the information in the image that is irrelevant to humans (colors on a spectrum we cannot see) and optimizing coding. It supports JPEG, PNG, GIF, and SVG. There are two options for compression: lossy (doesn’t keep all of the data after compression so it is smaller) and lossless (keeps all the data so original image can be recovered later should you need to). Don’t believe it’s possible? The featured image for this post was compressed by 57%. Find the original here. See if you find a difference.