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Handy Tools

Snipping Tool for screenshots

How did I miss this very simple and incredibly handy tool for taking screenshots?  The Snipping Tool, available in Vista and Windows 7, lets you capture your whole screen, the active window or a section of the screen. It has some simple editing tools for highlighting areas of the capture and scribbling notes.

You’ll find it from: Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> Snipping Tool. The first time you use it, you’re prompted to add it to your taskbar.

I only discovered this because Fireshot, my favorite screen capture tool, isn’t working right now and someone in the Fireshot forum mentioned it.

My favorite feature that I haven’t seen elsewhere is the Freeform Snip option that lets you draw a line to capture an irregular area.

I’d love it if Fireshot started working again, it has lots more options. But Snipping Tool is quite handy and what an improvement over the old Windows Print-Screen option. More tips on using the Snipping Tool.

Google Fusion Tables

I discovered Google’s Fusion Tables tool while preparing for a workshop on Google Tools for Reference Staff at the CT Library Consortium’s Reference Roundtable meeting last week. I’m still exploring all the features!

Fusion Tables is a Google Labs project that lets you work with sets of data uploaded from Google Docs spreadsheets or other .xls files. It lets you create charts, graphs and maps to visualize your data, filter data to focus on subsets of your data and even merge it with other publicly available data tables to create new data sets.

One very handy visualization is the Intensity Map. This is based on geography and your table must have a column with some geogaphic information – states, countries, etc. For example a table with state population data from the census can be turned into this sort of data map:

The Filter feature lets you find data in your tables based on certain conditions and create new visualizations in a flash. For example, this map of states with population over 10 million.

If you make your data public, you can embed visualizations on other web pages.

The aggregate feature opens up all sorts of possibilities for sharing data sets. This feature lets you can pull in columns of data from data tables that others have shared.

Are you using this tool? Or do you have ideas for how it could be used? I’d love to see examples of what others are doing with it.

Google sky map

Droid phone - Google Sky Map I’m having a great time playing with my new Verizon Droid phone and learning how to interact with a phone that is way smarter than me. My old phone was 6 years old, hip for it’s day, but that day is long gone!

My favorite app so far is Google Sky Map. My local astronomer immediately took it outside to test it against the real sky and gave it two thumbs up. The sky moves with you and zooms in to give you more detail of any section of the sky.

There are options to turn stars, constellations, grids and other sky features on and off. Type a planet or star into the search box and it helpfully suggests objects so you don’t have to type the whole name. Select an object to get a big circle and arrows that point you to that object. Look, I found Mars! I wonder if it will show the location of meteor showers?

My astronomer is now fearing redundancy. I promise that will never happen! Really.

p.s. There’s a web based version of Google Sky and a Sky feature in Google Earth too.

How to Embed Almost Anything in your Website

digitalinspiration has a great post today listing  ways to add all sorts of content to your web pages – videos, audio, calendars, presentations, and more.

Learn how to embed almost anything in your HTML web pages from Flash videos to Spreadsheets to high resolution photographs to static images from Google Maps and more.

And while you’re there, check out their post on How to Insert YouTube Videos in PowerPoint Presentations. Another handy tutorial.

Bookmark them for future reference!

Zoho Creator for simple, free, online signup

In something for nothing Aaron Schmidt explains how his library is using Zoho Creator for a handy and effective summer reading program sign up form that is embedded on the library’s web site. After the kids sign up, they’re taken to a page where they can download a reading log and get other info about the program. Very cool. Could be used for many other types of sign up. Free, simple, easy, effective.

As Aaron said: “I’m all for making library services easier to use, but making people’s lives easier is an even better goal.” Couldn’t agree more.

Wondershare QuizCreator

Free – if you install it today – June 25, 2008.

Wondershare QuizCreator – a robust Flash quizzing and testing tool
that helps instructors easily create Flash-based quizzes and tests as
online assessments to track and manage learning performance.More than efficient edting, QuizCreator can integrate a variety of
multimedia and interactivity to engage and interact with learners.
Owing to the customized player templates, flexible publishing options
and advanced results tracking and reporting kit, QuizCreator is ideal
to create professional quizzes with little skills and efforts.

Looks useful, though I haven’t had a chance to install it yet.