Peaceful Polemics Online


Peaceful Polemics Online by

I did not set out to link to two Challies articles in two days, these just crossed my path like that.  This article was in this month’s Tabletalk magazine, (a devotional magazine I have been reading for several years… highly recommended).

The basic premise of the article is that with our new technology we can communicate around the globe in an instant of time.  How often do we let fly our immediate (and often irrational) opinion?  We give little thought to how it will come across, and little thought to speaking the truth in love.

This is a good reminder to think before hitting that send button.  To speak, and type, with the strength of truth combined with the softening quality of love.

Don’t Tweet that Sermon! by Tim Challies

Don’t Tweet that Sermon! by Tim Challies

I have mentioned before how much I’ve appreciated Tim Challies’ writing; in fact I have another article by him that I am planning to post also.  I ran across this one this afternoon, and as usual he got me thinking about technology and how it is changing our everyday lives.  This is a good read.  His second point really struck home with me.  Tweeting a sermon means you think someone else needs to hear it rather than thinking about what God is saying to you in that moment.  How often have I had that thought?  “I sure hope so and so is listening to this,” and inevitably a few minutes later I realize how much it applies to me.  Pride sneaks in all too easily.

His next point is frightening… “tweeting reduces a sermon to its tweetability.”  We as a culture tend to be ADD.  Life moves faster and faster, we are less willing, and even less able, to focus on something for more than a few minutes.  But I personally don’t want a tweet from God, I want an extended conversation.  And I suspect He doesn’t want a tweet of worship from me, He wants an extended period of time that is completely devoted to worshipping Him, and that includes the sermon.

So yeah, I echo Challies’ assessment.  Don’t tweet the sermon.

Reflections on IT Literacy/Fluency

As I mentioned in my previous post, the semester, and LS560 in particular, is coming to an end.  As I described the class projects, I thought about how far I have come and how much I have learned.

Learning HTML has helped me on this blog… I understand what I am seeing when I look at the back of it, the HTML tab view, and I can adjust things.  That is cool.  I also have a greater understanding of websites that I am viewing because I know more about what makes them work.  This project also showed me that I am capable of acquiring new tech skills, which proved to be a good thing to remind myself as we moved through the semester.

I have enjoyed having more knowledge about website design, and I see that it has helped me in my other job.  I have been helping my boss (we do background checks) evaluate a new web platform for his business, and also some new vendors.  Again, this is something I have proven I can learn, but really it does not come naturally to me because I am more of a content person rather than a form person.  But form is important when you are trying to communicate something.  Good form, good design, makes the content easier to reach and use.

I am glad I have now helped conduct a simple research survey, I can see that will be useful in my academic career.  I have thanked God nearly every day for my group in this class.  I also enjoyed doing the personality tests we did to help us interact in a group.

While I understand the basics of databases, I was not the one in our group that designed our database (I am not complaining, I’m fine with that!).  Nor did I do the tech tutorial; I mentioned previously I would like to develop that skill.  This class, as in every other class I’ve had as a library student, has given me something new I want to study, and that is a very good thing.  But the class has also shown me that I do not want to pursue this particular field of library studies.  I enjoy knowing how things work, I can see how it is useful, but I don’t want to build these particular things.  I’ve had to look up how to add something to my website as each project was finished.

To sum up, I have definitely improved my IT skills and knowledge.  I am definitely IT literate – I can function well, I can learn new things.  I am not sure where the line is between literacy and fluency.  Maybe in common user areas I am fluent, but in the tech design world, I am not, and frankly, I have confirmed that I don’t want to be.  There are too many other areas of life I would rather explore.  I will leave that area to those gifted with it!


Information Technology Class Projects

The semester is coming to a close.  Allow me to take a moment to tell you about the projects from LS560.  A later blog post will include my personal reflections.

I have learned quite a bit about Information Technology these last few months.

I created a hand tagged website using HTML, starting with nothing but a blank notepad page.  I am a bit proud of that, and will even share it with you: Becky’s First Webpage.  This site includes links to each of the projects completed for LS560.  I found a great resource for learning and using HTML.  W3Schools is a web developer site with tutorials and examples for everything you can imagine.

I also learned about web design, and finally understand why some websites are so easy to navigate and read, and others aren’t.  This web design study moved into the practical realm with a group project to evaluate a website for CommPro, a company that provides real time captioning service for the deaf and hard of hearing community.  We conducted a usability survey to help them in the updating of their website, and I look forward to sending them our results.  They offer a great service and I hope our survey will help them.  You can find a link to the work we did for them on my website listed above.

In the course of that project, I worked with a fabulous group of ladies.  There are so any horror stories about group projects, but really, I had such a great group.  We worked well together, and we balanced each other’s abilities well.  This has been a difficult semester for me in my personal life, and I don’t think I could have managed the last part of our assignment without them.

After the usability study, we were introduced to database design.  A database is kind of a 3D spreadsheet.  We built a simplified database to house client information for CommPro.  I can see how a database like that would be very useful in their business; useful for their clients to be able to access account information and for the business to use for marketing.

The last part of that project would be the most useful tool of the semester for a librarian.  Producing a tutorial.  We chose to teach a beginner how to use Dropbox.  This involved using a program to record the audio instructions and video of actually performing the tasks on the computer screen.  We were also able to add closed captioning to the video.  I really wish this project had been a stand alone project and not a group project, with more time devoted only to it, so that each of us could gain experience using this.  But there was only time for one of our group members to do it while the rest of us did other parts of the project.  Even at that, it was time consuming to get it right.  But think about a library being able to do this for your library’s website!  Tutorials for all kinds of things, easily accessible, what a great skill to have.  Again, there is a link to this on my website.

That wraps up LS560.  Read the next post for my personal reflections…


My Briggs Myers Test

This past week I took the Briggs Myers’ personality test for a class. I have to admit that I was skeptical going in. How could a quick free test really show my personality type? My understanding is that this not a truly scientific definitive test, and I know several people who score differently on it every time they take it. I answered the questions, some of which I would like to have had an “it depends on the situation” answer, but I tried to give true typical responses and feelings.

My results were INTJ – Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging. It gave percentages of each:

Introvert(56%)  iNtuitive(38%)  Thinking(38%)  Judging(44%)

  • You have moderate preference of Introversion over Extraversion (56%)
  • You have moderate preference of Intuition over Sensing (38%)
  • You have moderate preference of Thinking over Feeling (38%)
  • You have moderate preference of Judging over Perceiving (44%)

So in other words, I am not extremely any of those things, but I am definitely in those categories. The website then went on to describe my personality, learning style, communication style, and listed famous people (and literary characters) who share my personality type. It also listed some career choices, and I was pleased to see Librarian listed!

I found the results interesting, and very accurate. I can see that this type of test could help people evaluate and understand themselves, and give them words to help others understand them too. Reading this also gave me a clue as to how other people might react to me. Seeing my strengths and weaknesses in words helps me see some traits I need to be aware of and sometimes work to change (or at least reign in and control) as I relate to other people. I am also aware of how I have grown and changed over the years, and would be curious to see what trends there are in the scores as people grow older. I would think a growing, maturing person would tend to become more moderate in personality… although, maybe not. Some people do seem to become more set in their ways, whatever those ways are, and more extreme in their personality as they grow older. I’ve always taken that as a reason to work hard to become a better person while I can. As I said, seeing the scores over a lifetime would be an interesting study.

On a team, using this type of test to understand ourselves and our team mates this way could help everyone work together, and work to each person’s strengths. There is a handy chart on the website where you can click any of the personality types to read about them.

I would love to see my family and friends scores! Feel free to take the test and share with me.

Website Design

I can now say I know CRAP.

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • Proximity

After studying CRAP I looked at one of my favorite new websites to see if I could figure out why I consider it to be so easy to look at and use.

Todoist is a great productivity tool that allows you to create and change your to do list with ease.  You can schedule items for specific days, and to recur at any imaginable interval of time.

The Contrast on todoist is simple white background with black print.  The left side menu is set off with a very light grey background.  The red print makes the overdue items standout, just as the red bullet circle makes the most important items stand out.

Repetition consists of the logo following a red and white theme in the menu bar, and the menu bar repeating on every page.  The format of the entire page stays the same, no matter what page you are looking at.

The Alignment is very easy to read.  The left side menu follows an outline format that is very easy to add to and follow.  The menu side of the page lists the parts of your to do list you would want to choose from first.  The main part of the page is left justified with tags and color coding being right justified, which makes it easy to scan for specific types of items.

Proximity is nice.  The page does not feel crowded at all, the items are spaced so that they are easily distinguished from each other.  It is easy to find whatever you are looking for.

Overall, the website has a nice clean design with no extra information.  My only problem at first was that I felt like I had to hunt for help, there were no instructions anywhere.  But once I figured out where to look, that resolved itself as well, and I realize now it is part of the clean feel of the page.

I personally like the not too dark tint of the black print, which is also a characteristic of this blog style.  Sometimes I get headaches if there is too much stark contrast on the page.

I am a word person, not a picture or design person.  I tend to focus more on the actual content rather than the style of the presentation.  But I am seeing in this assignment that good style of presentation makes me want to keep reading, while bad style might make me want to go somewhere else.  I hope I can implement this into my own work.

Information Tech Proficiency/Fluency revisisted

Since this class began I have learned a lot about HTML tagging.  Part of me thinks so what, I am just parroting the instructions and that doesn’t mean much.  However, I realized this morning some of it is sinking in.  I wrote something in Word to post on my blog.  The formatting changed in the process, so I looked at the HTML of the blog post – and fixed it!  Wahoo, something did indeed sink in.  Perhaps that is becoming more fluent, I would have just left it not quite right in the past.

Also, as I was watching the videos for Module 2c, I found that I had already done some of it earlier (playing with color, the header part of the page and giving the page a name, etc), whenever it caught my eye in the book or w3schools.  I don’t think I will ever be a programmer or a website designer (I am still slow and have to think a lot about what I am doing), but I like understanding more of how it works, and being able to see the tagging and know how to find the resources to figure it out.

In other areas – my iPhone 3G died a couple of weeks ago.  It had been given to me as a hand-me-down phone years ago, and yes, it was extremely old and outdated and would no longer run most apps.  Money, and lack thereof, was a huge consideration, so I did some online research (consumer reports) to decide what to replace it with and had my son verify that my choice seemed a good one.  The phone arrived, I got a new SIM card, and immediately became frustrated with the learning curve.  I could not even answer the stupid thing.  Switching from Apple to Android was more difficult than I imagined, because the basic operation feels different.  Or maybe it is the six years that have elapsed since my old phone was new.  Whatever the cause, it took a week to just not feel stupid with the new phone.  I am still picking up little details, but now I am feeling quite comfortable with it.

The moral of these stories is that whatever technology I need to figure out and use, I can.  And the more I use it, the better I will be at it.  And the more I know, the more comfortable I will be, and the more natural it will become.  I see that as the path to IT fluency.

The alternate moral would be when all else fails, exit the system and get back in.