Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oh, it's ON.

It was a year in the making.
It  involved the scanning of 200 images. (And counting.)
It brought together the combined efforts of 1 history professor, 2 librarians, and 37 UMF students.
And it just went online.

We Used To Be "Normal": A History of the Farmington Normal School is an exhibit that
was launched this week on Maine Memory Network, a digital museum presented by the Maine Historical Society, in partnership with over 250 Maine organizations.

The exhibit was a collaborative effort between Mantor Library's reference librarian, Laurie MacWhinnie, reference assistant Kelly Boivin, history professor Allison Hepler, 36 students enrolled in 2011-12 courses "History of UMF" and "History of Maine", and student research assistant Zach Stevens.

I'm not going to talk too much about the nuts and bolts of the project in this space, because Laurie and Allison will be giving a presentation during common time in October to talk about how it all came together, and I want you to come hear it from them, as well as see some of the original materials from the archive. I will just say, for now, that the project involved hundreds of hours of preparation, research, and digitalization. "We Used to Be Normal" is actually several exhibits, all highlighting the history of the university during the years 1864 - 1940, when it was known as Farmington State Normal School.

Faces and Places
 This exhibit explores the buildings and grounds of the University.  Every day we pass the names: Merrill Hall. Stone. Purington. Mallet. Dearborn Gym. Mary Palmer Garden. Who were the people behind the names?

Cottage Baby John
Cottage Babies and Home Economics
 Can you imagine picking up a baby at an orphanage and bringing it to live in a cottage with rotating groups of college students? While using live babies as "Practice Babies" might be considered a child development nightmare today, the program thrived here for decades.

Mottoes and Memories focuses on many of the customs, traditions, and celebrations from the early history of the school.

Off to College, Off to War, F.S.N.S. 1917-1918, is an exhibit that was created entirely from a single scrapbook kept by a girl named Liz during her two years at F.S.N.S. Liz's spirited personality leaps from the pages of her memory book through photographs with humorous captions as she chronicles life on a college campus during wartime.
"The next morning after graduation we left on the first train for home. I got off the train & took this one last picture in the dear old place. June 1918."   

Two more exhibits focus on the histories of athletics and theater at the Normal School.

And last, but certainly not least:

The Angel Alley girls go skinny-dipping, c. 1929
More Darn Fun: the Roaring Twenties at F.S.N.S.
The archives contain a collection of seven memory books from the 1920s. This exhibit is a love letter to the scrapbooks and the marvelous, madcap girls who lived here and recorded their adventures (and misadventures!)  for us to share. If there is one person in this entire cast of F.S.N.S. characters that I could meet, it would unquestionably be Dolly Dunphy, christened by friends "The Merry Maker of Angel Alley". (The third floor of Purington Hall.) You are going to love her, too. I promise.

You'll find Dolly, and all the other exhibits here:

"We Used To Be Normal" on Maine Memory Network.\

We do intend to continue the work, and expand our collection of exhibits to include a wider span of University history.
Brochures and other marketing materials are available in Mantor Library and around campus. Spread the word!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Does this background make our butt look big?

The blogging bunch here at Mantor met recently to discuss all manner of tech-y things, and we decided it was time to update the blog's look. We knew we wanted something fresh, clean, and streamlined, while still embracing a library feel. We tried on a few new outfits, and thought this one fit nicely. What say you like the new style?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Online Backup/Storage Solutions

So about a week ago, I got the urge to start taking backup more seriously. Not because I had a close call with losing all of my information. (That's a good reason to start backing up, but it's not really a great reason. I'd rather not get that close, thank you very much.) I already use Dropbox for my personal files, and I added all of my wife's files to it, too. That's very convenient, and I like it--as I've mentioned before. I have 3GB or so of space over there, and that's more than enough for my text files.

But I have more than just text files. I have a whole lot of music I've ripped from my CD collection. I have a slew of digital pictures. And I have a growing collection of digital video (quite large, since I transferred all of my mom's home movies of my childhood to digital format a year or so ago).

How large?

450GB worth.

That's a lot of gigabytes, for those of you who don't know. I've backed it all up locally to a 2TB external hard drive, but with the advent of the cloud, I had to wonder if there was a better way of going about storing it all. I love how with Dropbox, I can access all of my information from anywhere, at any time. I can get it on my iPad. On a friend's computer. Anywhere.

But storing over 400GB of storage with Dropbox is going to set a guy back $795 per year. I like my data--but that's just too much. SugarSync would cost $400. Google Drive would be $240.

I back up my music to iCloud and iTunes match. That costs me $25 a year, and I'm very happy with it.

For a while, I was thinking I'd have to just go with backing up my photos only, and letting my video just sort of wait for now. Not a perfect solution, however. I'm using my iPad more and more as a video recorder, and HD video takes up a lot of space. I wanted a way to transfer stuff off my iPad and into the cloud. Wasn't going to happen, it seemed.

50GB would be a more manageable $25 per year through Microsoft's SkyDrive. Then again, I also considered piecing together all the free offerings out there--you can get about 25GB without too much trouble, though then your data's spread out all over the place. Again, far from a perfect solution.

Then a friend pointed me toward the online backup service CrashPlan. Through their CrashPlan+ offering, I could store an unlimited amount of data in the cloud, for $50/year. Unlimited. Including video. I could access it from any computer, as well as from my iPad and other iDevices.




I've been using it for around a week now, and I'm happy with it so far. It's more limited than services like Dropbox, in that it backs up one computer (and connected drives), no more. So there's no free wheeling storage option, where you add a file from a different computer via the cloud. But you can always email that file to your main computer, and then add it that way. So upload from only one place, but download from anywhere. That works for me.

Honestly, the biggest hurdle is the fact that 426.9GB of data is an awful lot of data. I've been uploading almost constantly since I signed up, and I'm at 150.4GB done so far. That's at a speed of around 2mbps. I was going faster for a while, but my network seems to have bogged down some since. If you don't have a fast connection speed, then uploading to the cloud isn't a super idea. (Though CrashPlan does have an option where they send you a drive and you backup directly to it, and then send it back. It's fairly costly, though--something like $200, although that's just a one time fee.)

Anyway--that's what I have for you today. Anyone out there have questions, or use a different service they prefer? Speak up!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Laser Sabers"

It's finals. I get it. Your interest in reading about the latest technology trends isn't way high at the moment--you've got bigger and better things to do. Things like checking out cool light sabers--I mean . . . "laser sabers." Because they're totally different. :-)

Sure, these might not slice through metal. But they look like they could. And you can buy them. Or better yet, buy one and give it to me. Because you know you want to.

Read more about them here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mantor Monday - Finals Week

It's Finals Week, and all of us here at Mantor wish you maximum success and minimum amounts of stress.
Best of luck, and don't forget to breathe. 

Finals Week Hours:

Mon. - Wed. 7:45 a.m - 11:00 p.m
Thurs. - 7:45 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Friday - 7:45 a.m - 4:30 p.m.

Friday, May 4, 2012

AV Friday : You're Okay

(This brought to you by my friend Elise, who last night IMd me with "You need to go listen to this." After I did, I told her it was the perfect thing to share with all of you on this Friday before finals week.)

So. Ze Frank has a reputation for doing awesome stuff on the web. He's done two TED talks (Ze Frank's nerdcore comedy, from 2004, and Ze Frank's web playroom from 2010.)

But the thing I want to tell you about is neither of those. See, the thing my friend linked me to last night is a song he wrote. And got people to help with. It's the chillout song.

What I love about it is how he writes about it - and how he breaks the process down. First, he gets a basic idea going, riffing on the idea of an audio-hug, for when things get overwhelming. Then he gets people to sing along with it. Then he mixes those tracks to create the final piece. And in the end - well. That's one pretty convincing song to remind you that you're okay. You'll be fine. (Just breathe.)

You'll want to be somewhere you can have speakers or headphones on for this. Just saying.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Not So Gross Anatomy

Remember those plastic models, the Visible Man and the Visible Woman? I got one for Christmas one year, painted all the "innards" as directed, got them all corralled inside the back and the front, and then...he visibly collected dust on a shelf for the next few years. Yawn.  Bring on the Sea Monkeys.

The anatomical models I'm sharing with you today are light years away from Mr. and Mrs. Plastic Parts.  They don't reek of formaldehyde or look uncomfortably like your Uncle Edgar, either, which is a big improvement over the traditional gross anatomy class experience.

The Biodigital 3D Human Simulator is 100% digital, and completely interactive. You can change the gender. You can explore body systems in 360 degrees, with zoom. You can simulate the effects of disease. And it's free. (Unless you want to pay for the turbo version.)
Try it here. 
Then, if you still want a Visible Man of your very own, you can find him here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hulu and Google Developments

Some good news and some not so good news today. First up is the launch of Google Drive, Google's answer to Dropbox--basically an online cloud-based storage space. I've used Dropbox for quite some time and really enjoy it. Google getting into the game has to be a good thing, right? Maybe not so much. There are rumblings about how they've worded their terms of service. (If someone had told me ten years ago how much "terms of service" would grow to be a pain in the neck, I never would have believed them.) Of most concern here is that, according to the letter of the law, Google gets the right to use your documents, pictures, etc. for anything they want for . . . forever, pretty much. Now, they also state that Google lets you retain the rights to those items, but it throws everything into a bit of a grey area.

I'm torn when it comes to these sort of issues. Do I really think Google is going to steal all my files and start using them for its own nefarious purposes? Not really, no. I do wish that the lawyers in this country would back off just a bit in their constant need to make everything spelled out to the letter over every little thing, however. But maybe that's just me being idealistic.

And in the more bad news category, free TV service Hulu has now come out with rumblings that they'll make it so you can only use their service if you subscribe to cable, which has to be one of the dumbest decisions I've heard in quite some time. They do state that it would just be in the form of a time delay. Subscribers get access to the shows immediately. Non-subscribers have to wait a month. To me, this is just another example of outdated delivery mechanisms trying to hold onto their business models in the face of new technology. The result will be more people turning to piracy, until at last the companies face the fact that they need to change the way they do business. You would like to think that companies would have learned from the music industry.

Apparently, you'd be wrong.