February 16, 2009

Week 11: Things 24-25

Welcome to the final week of 25 Things @ Huddersfield!

24th Thing – Reflection

Yes, you’re nearly there! A bit of a different exercise this week as there’s nothing for you to discover, but we want to learn from you. Spend some time writing your blog to summarise what you think you have learnt during the 25 Things programme. Tell us what you have enjoyed most and what least and what you think you might carry on using, if anything. Will any of the Things be useful in your work? Let us know.

Is there another Thing that you’ve heard about and would have liked us to include?

25th Thing – Survey

If you’ve made it this far, then we’d like you to take another survey so we can see how much you’ve learnt over the course of the programme! We’ll be sending out the link to the survey via email, so please keep an eye on your inbox.


Well done for making it all the way to the end!!!

(Graduation Cap Cupcake by clevercupcakes)

January 26, 2009

Week 10: Things 22-23

Welcome to week 10 of 25 Things @ Huddersfield!

22nd Thing – YouTube

Online video

YouTube is probably the biggest and most well known of the online video sites. To find out more read the entry in Wikipedia.

Go to YouTube and do some searching to see what is out there.

You’ll find everything from vintage Top of the Pops to extreme ironing (for a bizarre sock puppet take on Doctor Who and Torchwood try searching for “Randy Weasel”!).

Search YouTube and find something worth adding as an entry in your blog. Try placing the video inside your blog by copying and pasting the code in the embed box to the right of the actual video clip.

Note: Videos, like music downloads are bandwidth hogs. It is recommended that you complete this exercise either at university unless you have broadband at home.

23rd Thing – Podcasts

Podcast is a former word of the month in the Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary.

Podcasts take many forms, from short 1-10 minute commentaries to much longer in person interviews or panel group discussions. There’s a podcast out there for just about every interest area and the best part about this technology is that you don’t have to have an iPod or a MP3 player to access them. Since podcasts use the MP3 file format, a popular compressed format for audio files, you really just need a PC (or portal device) with headphones or a speaker.

(Apple Ipod Generations by Brendan Wilkinson)

iTunes, the free downloadable application created by Apple, is the directory finding service most associated with podcasts, but if you don’t have iTunes installed there are still plenty of options.

Some popular podcast sites that do not require software to download are:

Take a look at some of the podcast directories out there and see if you can find a podcast that interests you. Add the RSS feed for your podcast to your blog. Create a blog post about the process; is there anything useful out there?

Optional extra

If you’re ambitious, why not try out the Gabcast service and add audio post about your experience to your blog.

January 19, 2009

Week 9: Things 19-21

Welcome to week 9 of 25 Things @ Huddersfield!

19th Thing – Online Image Generators

These are websites that allow you to manipulate images easily. To get you started, here are a few sample sites:

Find a few image or text generators to play around with and write a post in your blog about one of your favourites and then display the result.

Often adding the image you created to your blog is as simple as copying and pasting code that the page provides. If not, you may just need to right click on the image and then save it to your hard drive before using the blog image button to add it to your post. If you’re having difficulty getting your image added to a post in your blog, ask a colleague for help or email the team.

Step 1: Play around with some image generators and find one that you like.
Step 2: Create several different types of images and save them to your computer.
Step 3: Post some of your creations to your blog and describe your process for creating it.
Note: Be sure to include a link to the image generator(s) you used, so other participants can discover it too.

Take some time and have fun with this exercise. (And remember to be tasteful too!)

20th Thing – Google Docs

Sign in to Google, click on “more” and then select “Documents” from the drop down menu. Create a new document (or try a spreadsheet if you want to get fancy) and enter your favourite things – see below for ideas. Try playing with the formatting if you like.

How about listing your 3 favourite films, books or songs (pubs, places you have been, recipes – whatever)?

Select share – check the 25 Things blogroll to find someone to share with and enter their Google Mail address. Ask your friend to add their favourites to the list and to email your Google mail address when it’s complete.

Remember: do not use Google docs for University business or for sharing sensitive documents

21st Thing – LibraryThing

Are you a booklover or cataloguer at heart? Do you enjoy finding lost and forgotten gems on the shelf to read? Then LibraryThing may be just the tool for you.

(bookshelf spectrum, revisited by chotda)

Developed for booklovers, this online tool not only allows you to create an online catalogue of your own, it also connects you to other people who have similar libraries and reading tastes. Add a book to your catalogue by just entering the title and find other users who share your reading tastes. There are lots of ways to use LibraryThing. You can even view your books on a virtual shelf, add a widget to display titles that are in your catalogue.

Watch this short video which tells you about LibraryThing…

So why not create your own library online. With 29 million books catalogued, you’re bound to discover something new.

Step 1: Take a look around LibraryThing and create an account.

Step 2: Add a least 5 books to your library.

Step 3: Blog about your findings and be sure to link to your LibraryThing catalogue. How popular were your books? Did you find any discussions about your favourites?

Useful LibraryThing links

January 12, 2009

Week 8: Things 17-18

Happy New Year and welcome to week 8 of 25 Things @ Huddersfield!

Don’t forget that you’re on the home stretch now — there’s only a few more things left to do :)

17th Thing — Social Networking

Here’s a video clip to introduce this topic…

According to Wikipedia, social networking “focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most [of them] provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant messaging services.”

The internet has always been a social space, but it wasn’t until around 2003 that it hit the big time. Three sites in particular became extremely popular — Bebo, Friendster and MySpace. At the peak of its popularity, MySpace was getting more hits than Google!

For this particular Thing we’re going to look at a social networking site that was developed at Harvard University and launched just a couple of years ago — Facebook.

Wander around any of the PC labs in the Library & Computing Centre and it won’t be long before you spot a student using Facebook!

If you’re not currently a member of Facebook, then your task will be to join. If you are already a member, then your task will be to write a blog post about Facebook.

Tasks for non-members

Step 1: Go to the Facebook homepage and sign up for an account. You will need to use a valid email address.
Step 2: It’s up to you how much personal information you add to your profile. You can also control how much of that information is viewable by other people.
Step 3: Find some friends! Using the search box, search for someone you know who is already using Facebook — it might be a work colleague or an old school friend. On the search results page, you might want to click on the “People” tab to limit the results. Once you’ve found someone you know, click on the “Add as Friend” link. You might have to wait for the person to confirm that you are indeed a friend! Once you’ve added some friends, try exploring their Facebook pages.
Step 4: Join a group or become a fan of something. Using the search box, do a search for something you like — it could be your favourite TV show, film, singer or band. This time, you’ll probably want to click on either the “Pages” or “Groups” tab on the search results page. Some pages and groups are just for fun, but you can also find some more serious ones — see if you can find a sensible group set up by either students or staff at the University of Huddersfield!
Step 5: Whilst you’re playing around with Facebook, don’t forget to occasionally update the status on your profile page. That way, your friends will know what you’re doing!

Hopefully you’ve not spent too much time messing around on Facebook! Write a short blog post about your first impressions of using Facebook.

Tasks for members

If you’re already a member of Facebook, then that doesn’t excuse you from doing some work! Write a sizeable blog post about Facebook. What do you like about it? What do you most dislike about it? Is it just for fun or do you think Facebook can be used for more serious things?

18th Thing — Microblogging

You should be a seasoned blogger by now!

Some people like to write really long blog posts but, more often than not, you sometimes just want to quickly write something short. Maybe you just want to share a funny YouTube video or post a link to a useful web site — if so, maybe microblogging is for you :)

Microblogging is blogging for people who are in a hurry. Why say 10 paragraphs when just 10 words will do? If you updated your profile status in Facebook, then that’s a form of microblogging.

The king of microblogging sites is Twitter. Watch this short video to learn a bit more about the site…

Step 1: Go to the Twitter home page and create an account for yourself.
Step 2: Over the next few days, try to remember to occasionally update your Twitter status.
Step 3: Search for someone or something to “follow”. If you have any friends that you know are already using Twitter, search for them and click on the “Follow” button. Otherwise, search for “bbc” and follow one or more of their Twitter feeds.

Quite a few famous people use Twitter, including Stephen Fry and William Shatner,

Spend a few minutes watching Twittervision — it’s a mashup of Twitter and Google Maps.

Write a short blog post about your experiences with Twitter. Did you find it a useful service? How does it compare to normal blogging?

January 5, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all you 25 thingers. We hope you have had a good Christmas and are looking forward to continuing with the 25 things. After all, you’re over halfway there now! Don’t forget- if you get stuck, please get in touch with either Dave, Graham, Antony, Lynn or Derek.

December 15, 2008

Week 7: Things 15-16

Welcome to week 7 of 25 Things @ Huddersfield!

15th Thing – Google Maps

Google Maps is an online mapping services that you use to pan (by dragging the mouse) and zoom (by using the mouse wheel) into a desired location.

Alternatively, you can enter an address, postcode, city, or landmark to quickly find it on the map.

(Castle Hill on Google Maps)

Go to Google Maps and enter the postcode or address of a place known to you – the University (HD1 3DH), your house, the hairdresser’s etc.

Use the map, satellite, terrain and more buttons to look at the different views of this location. Zoom in using the mouse wheel to see how detailed a map you can get.

If you do look at the University, how old do you think the satellite view is and what day of the week do you think it was taken?

Copy the web address of your location and paste it into your blog. Write a few words about Google Maps and how you might use it.

You can also search for businesses and attractions in or near a given place. For example, when you get hungry, you could type in Pizzas in Penistone or Curry in Cleckheaton to find something to eat.

Like many other map services, Google Maps can generate directions between any pair of locations. In Google Maps, click the Get Directions link to find how to get from Huddersfield to Madrid.

In your blog put in the distance and how long Google thinks it will take you.

Google Maps has given rise to a number of interesting offshoot projects and fan sites:

Optional Extra

Using your Google login, you can create and share your own maps. This YouTube video will show you how…

Use the My Maps tab in Google Maps to create a map of your own and add some place marks. Make sure your map is public, then use the Link to the page link to copy and paste the web address of your map into your blog. Write a few words on why this map is important to you.

16th Thing – Google Earth

If your stroll around Google Maps has whetted your appetite for more map-based fun, the next level is Google Earth.

This is a virtual globe that maps the earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and other sources. With Google Earth, you get better resolution, 3-D views, the ability to swoop down a location and a wide range of overlays that show the locations of different things – including stars and planets in the sky.

Perhaps the best place for you to start, would be to take a tour.

The downside of all these extra features is that Google Earth has to be downloaded and installed on your computer – which may not be possible if you are working on a University PC.

Take a look at an example of the interesting and amusing videos that people have created using Google Earth…

Do you think there might be privacy issues relating to the every higher and higher resolution digital mapping? Put your thoughts down in your blog.

You might want to read these BBC News stories for more background information:

Optional Extra

If you are feeling brave and you have the appropriate permissions on your PC, download and explore Google Earth yourself.

December 8, 2008

Week 6: Things 12-14

Welcome to week 6 of 25 Things @ Huddersfield!

First off, just a quick note to say that WordPress have rolled out a new version of their software to all of the blogs. You can find more about the new features here.

12th Thing – Wikis

What is a wiki?

Wiki is taken from the Hawaiian word wiki wiki meaning quick or swift. In Web 2.0 terms a wiki is a website in which content can be added, edited and changed by a group of members. This means a wiki is great way of getting people working together and collaborating online.

(The Wiki Wiki bus, by Kables)

Some of the benefits that make wikis so attractive are:

  • anyone (registered or unregistered, if unrestricted) can add, edit or delete content
  • tracking tools within wikis allow you to easily keep up on what been changed and by whom
  • earlier versions of a page can be viewed and reinstated when needed

And users do not need to know HTML in order to apply styles to text or add and edit content. In most cases simple syntax structure is used.

Are all wikis open to everyone?

No, the ethos of sites like Wikipedia is to be open and allow anyone to contribute – a wonderful idea, but this can cause problems. However, in most cases you will only want certain people to be able to contribute or even to see your wiki, especially if you’re using it in a work context.

Watch this short film to see just how useful wikis can be…

13th Thing – Wikipedia

Some of you will have seen and most likely used Wikipedia to find information.

Step 1: Choose the random article link, keep clicking on it until you find an article that interests you, and write about it in your blog. Be sure to click on the discussion tab on the article to see what people are saying about it.

Step 2: Click on current events link and see what’s in the news – put this in your blog post too.

14th Thing – Wetpaint

Hopefully you should have received an email invite to join the 25 Things Wiki on the Wetpaint web site. If you didn’t get it, please send us an email (25things@hud.ac.uk) and we’ll resend the invitation email to you.

If you haven’t done so already, find the email and accept the invitation to join.

The objective of Thing 14 is to add some content to the wiki and to create a “Guide to Huddersfield“. In true “Blue Peter” style, we’ve already added some content to the wiki and you can see some information about the village of Netherton.

Introduction to Wetpaint

Wetpaint is one of dozens of different websites that you can use to create a new wiki…

Let’s Get Wiki’d!

Step 1: Go to the wiki and click on the Guide to Huddersfield link

Step 2: Browse through the main “Guide to Huddersfield” and select one of the pages that you would like to add some new content to — it might be the area where you live or perhaps one of the places in the town centre. If the page doesn’t already exist, then select the “Would you like to create the … page now?” link (as shown below).

Step 3: Once you are looking at the relevant page in the wiki (which might be blank if no-one has added any content yet), click on the “EasyEdit” button. You should now be able to edit the text of the page. You can use the “EasyEdit Toolbar” to format the text and, if you are feeling adventurous, you can add links to other pages. Don’t forget to click on the “Save” button!

If you enjoyed added content to the wiki, then explore some of the other links in the “Guide to Huddersfield” and either add new content or update some of the existing pages!

Optional tasks

Optional task 1: Explore some of the wikis hosted on the Wikia web site. There’s plenty to choose from, including Wookieepedia (Star Wars), Muppet Wiki, Psychology Wiki, and the Recipes Wiki.

Optional task 2: Write a new blog post about your experiences with wikis. Do you think they are useful tools?

December 1, 2008

Week 5: Time to put your feet up!

Welcome to week 5 of 25 Things @ Huddersfield!

You’ve all been working hard, so it’s time to have a Play Week :-)

There’s only one mandatory task to do this week and that’s to accept the email invitation to join the Wetpaint Wiki web site, which we’ll be looking at next week. If you’ve not received the email invitation, then please let us know (25things@hud.ac.uk).

For this week, you’ve got a choice of 3 options…

Option 1: If you’re a little behind, then you can use this week to play “catch up”.

Option 2: If you’re keen, then revisit one of the Things you’ve enjoyed doing the most and explore it in more depth. Be sure to write a blog post about what you’ve done!

Option 3: Do something else! Take a break and do something more productive… you could tidy up your email inbox, sort your drawers out, or you could spend an hour wallowing in TV nostalgia ;)

November 24, 2008

Week 4: Things 10-11

Welcome to week 4 of 25 Things @ Huddersfield!

10th Thing — Tagging

Tagging is an open and informal method of categorising things that allows users to associate keywords with online content (webpages, pictures & blog posts).

You had a quick look at tagging back in week 2, when we played with Flickr.

Here’s a video clip to introduce this week’s topic…


In addition to having an excellent name (yes, that’s a real URL – the .us at the end stands for United States), Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site that lets you save bookmarks to a central location (no more copying them to multiple browsers on multiple computers) and classify them all with tags.

How is that social?

Well, in addition to tagging your bookmarks, you can see how other users have tagged the same links and see related websites important to them. This is an excellent way to find websites that may be of interest to you.

Tagging is completely unstructured and free form, allowing users to create connections between data in any way they want.

(Most popular tags at Flickr)

Optional extra

If you’re up to the challenge, create a Del.icio.us account for yourself and discover how this useful bookmarking tool can replace your traditional browser bookmark list.

Is tagging a good idea? Create a blog post containing your thoughts.

Note: If you do setup a Del.icio.us account, here’s a quick word about the Del.icio.us Buttons. On PCs that have the toolbars locked down, these will install as options in your browser bookmarks. Use the “Post to my Del.icio.us” link to add the current webpage to your account (you may need to log in). Use the “My Del.icio.us” link to view your online account.

11th Thing — Technorati

So now that you’ve been blogging for a while, you might be wondering just how big the blogosphere is.

(Britain Going Blog Crazy by Annie Mole)

Well according to Technorati, the leading search tool and authority for blogs, there are over 112 million blogs currently being tracked by the site. Yes, big numbers. But, as you’ve already seen for yourselves, blogging is so easy that almost every industry have been trying to find ways to make blogging work for them.

That’s why, this week, we’re going to look more closely at Technorati.

Do you want to make sure your blog is being tracked? Register your blog with Technorati. Do you want to tag your posts to make them easier to find through a Technorati search? If you owned a business and were trying to attract attention you’d register it with Technorati.

Step 1: Take a look at Technorati and try doing a keyword search for “Huddersfield” in Blog posts, in tags and in the Blog Directory. Are the results different?

Step 2: Explore popular blog, searches and tags. Is anything interesting or surprising in your results?

Step 3: Create a blog post about your discoveries on this site.

As well as Technorati, you can also use Google Blog Search to find interesting blog posts — for example, you might want to track down all the latest “Strictly Come Dancing” gossip :-D

In the same way that spam emails are a big problem, the same is happening with blogs — when you use Technorati or Google Blog Search, chances are that some of the results will be spam blogs (also known as “splogs”!). They’re not too difficult to spot, as the blog post text is usually gibberish along with lots of links to buy Viagra.

Optional extra

If you’re up for another challenge, learn how to tag your posts with Technorati tags so they can join tag searches. The WordPress FAQ pages also have a section on how to add tags to your blog posts.

November 17, 2008

Week 3: Things 8-9

Welcome to week 3 of 25 Things @ Huddersfield!

8th Thing — Learn about RSS feeds and set up Bloglines account

You’ve heard of RSS? You’ve seen those small funny orange icons on websites? You’ve heard friends and colleagues swear by it, but still have no idea what RSS is? Well don’t worry! RSS is not only revolutionalising the way news, media and content creators share information, but it also is swiftly changing the way everyday users are consuming information.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is a file format for delivering regularly updated information over the web. Just think about the websites and news information sources you visit everyday. It takes time to visit those sites and scour the ad-filled and image-heavy pages for just the text you want to read, doesn’t it? See this video at BlipTV.

Now imagine if you could visit all those information sources and web pages in just one place and all at the same time … without being bombarded with advertising… without having to search for new information on the page you’d already seen or read before… and without having to consume a lot of time visiting each site individually. Would that be valuable to you? Well, it’s available now through a newsreader and RSS!

(Firework Display, Scotland by foxypar4)

This week’s Things focus on learning about RSS news feeds and what free tools you can use to do this.

  • Using Bloglines Tutorial (how to Keep up with dozens of blogs everyday) – This online tutorial walks you through how to setup a Bloglines account and add newsfeeds. Follow Steps 1 to 3 to set up your Bloglines account. Steps 4 – 9 are optional and cover how to subscribe to different types of feeds (podcasts, Flickr albums, etc)
  • See also a short video on YouTube on how to add feeds
  • Google Reader – You may prefer to set up an RSS aggregator in Google Reader. Tutorials include: Google Reader Tour, Google Reader in Plain English and these two videos

Step 1: Set up your own, personalized RSS feed reader. Learn about the difference between RSS feed readers, Bloglines, and Google Reader.

Step 2: Create a free “RSS aggregator” account from either Bloglines or Google Reader and subscribe to at least 5 newsfeeds to your reader. If you’re struggling to find some newsfeeds, you can use the ones listed below…

Sample newsfeeds

…don’t forget that the 25 Things also has a RSS feed, so you could subscribe to that too!

9th Thing — Finding RSS Feeds

(Magnifying glass by 3fold)

Now that you have a newsreader (your Bloglines or Google Reader account), you can begin adding other newsfeeds that interest you.

There are several ways you can locate newsfeeds:

  • When visiting your favorite websites — Look for RSS icons that indicate the website provides it. Often a feed icon will be displayed somewhere in the navigation bar of the site.
  • Use Bloglines’ Search Tool — Use the “Search for Feeds” option in the search box to locate RSS feeds you might be interested in.
  • Other Search tools that can help you find feeds:
    1. Topix.net — This search tool allows you to locate recent newsfeed items based upon keyword or phrase searching. The tool focuses specifically on news and media outlet RSS feeds for information, not weblogs.
    2. Syndic8.com — Syndic8 is an open directory of RSS feeds that contains thousands of RSS feeds that users have submitted.

Step 1: Explore some of the search tools noted above that can help you locate some news feeds.

Step 2: Create a post in your blog about this exercise. Don’t know what to blog about? Think about these questions:

  • What do you like about RSS and newsreaders?
  • How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your work or personal life?
  • Which method of finding feeds did you find easiest to use?
  • Which Search tool was the easiest for you?
  • Which was more confusing?
  • What kind of useful feeds did you find in your travels?
  • Or what kind of unusual ones did you find?
  • What other tools or ways did you find to locate newsfeeds?