Archive for Free


I was very surprised to note that we haven’t ever talked about SurveyMonkey on this blog considering I use this tool pretty much every day.  We couldn’t do our jobs at LHL without knowing what you, the users, need from us.  We have lots of ways to get that information but SurveyMonkey is at tool we use to both gather the information and keep track of it.











We have had a library SurveyMonkey account since 2006 and have more than 250 surveys.  There are several plan options.We started with the Basic (free) plan, moved up to Select pretty quickly and now are Gold customers.  While everyone at the library has access to the surveys and results, we haven’t found that to be a problem.  Especially since you can group them and view your surveys separately.  There is a new Enterprise solution that might be better if you don’t want everyone to have access to everything.

Typically, I create a survey, either from scratch or from an existing survey, though there are lots of templates to edit and use.  The templates are both business and non-profit focused and can be edited to fit your needs.   We usually create a weblink that we embed on our website or send via email.  It is actually very easy to use, though if you are new to creating surveys you might want to plan a bit with the question types to determine how best to ask your question.

We use this tool to solicit information from a target group, for example a survey of faculty on resources or to do a class evaluation.  We also have surveys that we’ve created for our staff to use to track information from users or about things that have happened.  Data is presented in a variety of ways and can be downloaded and shared.

Find out more online or sign up for a free account to give it a try.

There are some other tools out there, Google Forms as an example, but I highly recommend SurveyMonkey.

The Emojli Network :) or :(

You’re either going to love this or really hate it.

A couple of guys from London, Matt Gray & Tom Scott, are getting ready to launch an all emoji social network for iOS called Emojli, which will make exclusive use of the emjoi keyboard on your mobile device.

All the posts will be made up of emoji–only emoji.  Even your username.

It’s certainly not Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and not intended to be.  For those who get bent out of shape in thinking that texting and tweeting have ruined our ability to communicate in writing, Emojli isn’t that serious.

Emojli is like the Monty Python of Social Networks.  It will be silly.

They hope to make it available on iPhone sometime this month, and for Android soon after.

To reserve your username and watch their promo, click the image below.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.35.31 AM

FYI: Before you enter in a username, be sure that you’re comfortable with it.  If you try a username and it hasn’t been taken, it’s yours.  And with over 250,000 two-image combinations still available, you can also waste, I mean spend, a lot of time trying to come up with something clever.

If you do decide to be a part of the big Emojli joke, look me up.  I’m timebomb


To add the Emoji keyboard to your iPhone or iPad, follow these steps.


Saving in Facebook

Perhaps you already know about this but it was new to me so I thought I would share.  I have lots of librarian colleagues on Facebook and they often share interesting articles that I don’t have time to read during the workday. Sometimes, if they look interesting enough I will open them and clip to Evernote or Pocket but I don’t often bother.  But now there is an option to Save them in Facebook.

HIN FB save


















Just click on the tiny down arrow in the top right corner of the post to open the menu pictured above.  Click on Save “name of the post” and the content is saved for future enjoyment!

home saved


To get back to the stuff you’ve saved, just look at the top left on the home screen under your profile.  You can see a list of what you saved, when you saved it, who posted it and where it is online.  You can even go back and share the link if you decide the content is worthwhile.  If you click on the “via NPR” by the article it takes you back to the post so you can see the comment and discussion.

saved in FB

I think this is a great feature!  Now I have another place to save articles that I’ll never have time to read!

Your very own food compass: Foodspotting

If you like to discover new restaurants or cuisine, or if you’re of the kind that routinely takes pictures of their food to show off on Facebook, you might be interested in Foodspotting.


Foodspotting is a app that works with your location, so wherever you are in the world, you can see where and what people are eating.  This is my go-to app when I’m out of town.

Two testimonies:  A few weeks ago I attended the Medical Library Association conference in Chicago.  A friend and I wanted breakfast.  We were walking around for a bit when I decided to pull up my app.  We were able to scroll through dozens of plates posted by other foodspotters.  We picked what looked like a cute brunch place, clicked on the link for directions (which melds really nicely with the navigation on your phone) and walk right to it.  My friend said it the best oatmeal of her life–it did look really good, they bruleed the top!  And I had some really wonderful soft scrambled eggs topped with fried kale.

I also use the app when I’m in a very touristy location–like Gulf Shores, and Savannah, and New Orleans.  I’m not often dazzled by the pirate ships and neon…I want the small local places.  I was able to find a place in Pensacola called Fisherman’s Corner…it is literally under an overpass and hands down has the most unique shrimp and grits I’ve ever seen, and one of the best tasting.

If I had seen this tin can crab on Foodspotting, I probably would have skipped this place.

If I had seen this tin can crab on Foodspotting, I probably would have skipped this place.

In the background is the shrimp & grits--that's a ball of fried grits!

In the background is the shrimp & grits–that’s a ball of fried grits!













Pros: If you’re a fan of Yelp Reviews, they are featured with every foodspot.  Quick connection to maps and directions. Great when you’re already on the go.  I’ve never been disappointed with the restaurants I found with Foodspotting.  Less chance of being disappointed in your meal when you can rely on real people to do the research for you.

Cons: There are plenty of pictures of McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks.  And so you have to scroll through some unexciting, typical chain eateries.  There is a desktop version, but it doesn’t have as much to offer.

And on a related note: Birminghamians know that Birmingham is a foodie town.  From our well-renowned fixtures (Highlands, Botega, etc.) to the newly established food trucks (Shindigs, Melt, etc.) this town makes some really good food.  So show the world!  Take a picture of your food, be proud, and post it to Foodspotting!

& follow me JillD!

This pizza was divine!  Gulf Pizza, Algiers, NOLA

This pizza was divine! Gulf Pizza, Algiers, NOLA.


Public Health Potpourri

Public health applications are a particular interest of mine, as one might gather from my past posts in this blog. Lately so many new online resources are being introduced, it’s difficult to select just one to highlight for Tech Lister. So instead I’ll give you a “potpourri” of new public health online applications. My selections include a couple of global health initiatives and one focused on historical disease statistics.

  • Community Health Systems Catalog ( This project was recently rolled out by Advancing Partners & Communities. It is an “interactive reference tool on community health systems” in USAID priority countries. The “intervention area” often focuses on family planning and reproductive health, but it also covers such vital public health issues as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and “neglected tropical diseases.” Using this resource, one might view a snapshot of a single country’s community health programs as well as compare community health systems between selected countries. Interventions are also identified according to their implementation status, such as nationwide, in selected areas, or “scaling up.” Funding partners in the venture include USAID, JSI Research & Training Institute, and FHI 360.CommHlthSystCatalog
  • Global Health SiteFinder ( This is an interesting application whose purpose is to facilitate collaboration in global health research and interventions. (Recent reports highlight the importance of such collaborative projects.) Are you looking for projects in Africa, for instance? You can click on a map of various sites or search by particular country. An Advanced Search feature also allows you to search by disease topic, clinical facility and global subregion. Perhaps you are actually interested in attracting collaborators to your project. You might register on SiteFinder and describe your project so that other potential partners can find you. There is also a link to the Global Health Regulatory Requirements Database, as well as relevant funding opportunities. SiteFinder is a project of the Global Health Network, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.SiteFinder2
  • Project Tycho Data for Health ( Project Tycho is an ambitious effort from the University of Pittsburgh which seeks to “advance the availability and use of public health data for science and policy.” The exciting part of this is the digitization of all the weekly U.S. NNDS (National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System) reports dating back to the 19th century. This data includes mortality statistics, reporting locations, time periods and diseases, and is searchable as well as downloadable (in Excel format). Registration is required to access the data, but it is free.Tycho

There are more online public health applications and databases being released all the time. Watch this blog for more information!



Have you ridden the new Blazer Express?  UAB has really upped the game for campus transportation with new buses and routes.  The buses and shiny and new and beautifully branded for UAB but best thing about the new system in my opinion is the app they are using to communicate.  TransLoc is an app and website that many transportation systems use to track their routes and buses.  Once downloaded, in the app, you can choose to view stops or routes and get real time information on where your bus is and when you can expect it at your stop.

UAB map on the web

UAB map on the web


UAB map on my mobile

UAB map on my mobile

UAB routes on my mobile

UAB routes on my mobile

The system is free, easy to use and updates on the fly.  If you need to move around campus on a rainy cool morning like today, I recommend you use Blazer Express and TransLoc!

P.S.  I’ll talk about TransLoc Rider in an upcoming post.


3G Watchdog

watchdogMost people have no idea how much data they use monthly on their cellphone until they get a dreaded overage message. I’m still on the unlimited data plan with Verizon, but  soon it will be time to stop clinging to the past.  To help me with my transition, I’ve been using an app called 3g Watchdog.


The app has helped me track how much data I’m actually using. You can set your quota limits and billing dates;  for example, set a limit of 2G per month starting on the 18th and you can get a notification when you are at 75% of the quota. You can view daily, weekly or monthly usage and see how much time you have left before your monthly plan resets.

The icon in your notification bar will advise you of your status from a glance by changing from green to yellow to red. It will also send you notifications when you are getting close to your limit and it can even be set to auto disable your mobile data to prevent overage. 3G Watchdog Pro gives you many advanced features like exporting a CSV file of your usage, viewing your usage by application or even restricting apps. I’ve found that the basic functions of the free version are enough to give me a good handle on what I’m using. This app is only available on Google Play but other similar applications Onavo Count and My Data Manager are available on Itunes.

OverDrive Media Console

Read and listen to eBooks & audiobooks from your library on the go or at home with OverDrive Media Console. The app is available for every major desktop and mobile platform, including Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Kindle, NOOK, Windows 8 PC and tablet, Blackberry and Windows Phone.

This is a great product that enables you to literally have a library at your fingertips.It’s a great product that works across multiple platforms. I of course am a Windows and Windows Phone 8 user and the app is free!

Download eBooks and audiobooks from your library directly to your Windows Phone! OverDrive Media Console gives you on-the-go access to eBooks and audiobooks from your public, school, or college library. More than 18,000 libraries worldwide offer best-selling and classic titles via OverDrive, so use the ‘Get Books’ feature in the app to find a library near you.
Digital titles from your library are borrowed just like print material. Once you find your library using ‘Get Books,’ you can browse your library’s digital collection website in the app, check out a title with a valid library card, and download the title directly to your Windows Phone.

Once you open the app you can search for a library by name, city or zip code. tech


After which you select your member library and browse their collection and check out theebook of your choice. The title automatically expires in the app at the end of the lending period, so there’s never a late fee. There’s even a handy countdown clock built into the app so you know how long you have to read or listen before the title expires.

Some of the neat features included but aren’t limited to:

Change font size, margin, contrast and more to suit your style
Bookmark your favorite passages for repeat reading and listening
The built-in dictionary makes word lookup a breeze
Let your friends know what you’re reading on Facebook.

All and all a pretty handy tool for those avid readers out there that want a convenient way to take their favorite readings wherever they go.



So long Google Reader, I hardly knew you

I consider myself an average consumer of technology, so there are only a few moments in my life where I found myself truly wowed by the next new thing, moments when I realized that I was doing it all wrong, moments when technology answered questions that I didn’t even know I had.  One of the most significant moments was looking down at the Nokia flip-phone in my hand after seeing Apple’s 2007 pro-mo for the first generation iPhone.  And most recently, discovering FeedlyLogo

I had to use Google Reader for a class in 2010, and I just didn’t get it.  It felt like another email I had to check.  When the class ended, so did my patience with Google Reader.  But when, earlier this year, Google announced that they were quitting with Google Reader, I figured I ought to do something with the feeds that I already subscribed to, feeds that I wished I read more often.  My husband mentioned Feedly, and said that all I had to do was click a button and everything would move over, I thought it was worth a shot.browser


The verdict: Switching over could not have been easier! and I love Feedly!! It is the answer to everything I disliked about Googleexample article Reader.  I went from signing in to Google Reader every once in a while, to opening Feedly everyday. I never feel like I have to check Feedly; I feel like it’s always waiting for me.  It’s there at my convenience, right beside my Google search bar. There are no more files and folders! Anything I’m interested in is clearly and invitingly displayed, all I need to do is scroll/browse through, like a magazine.  I don’t have to stumble across new blogs and news feeds to find something new–I can search within Feedly and add & organize new feeds in a matter of nanoseconds.  In fact, when I made the switch over to Feedly, I added at least 10 new blogs within minutes of loading the app to my phone.  I love it when something works so well I don’t even have to think about it.

mobile appFeedly is really lovely in its design and function.  The ratio of images to text is just right.  It’s not busy, it’s not flashy, it’s just really clean and attractive.  Everything I want to read is in one place.  My news categories are organized in alphabetical order, so my cooking, writing, and window shopping blogs are side by side with my library, teaching, and healthcare-related blogs.  Every time I open the app, I feel like I’m discovering something serendipitously (even though I know that I’m not; after all, I’m the one responsible for the content).

My favorite way to spend my lunch break is browsing through my Feedly either on my desktop or my iPhone.  I love the yin-yang balance of seeing all my news feeds at once, yet in their respective categories.  I’ll read something fun about finding great fried chicken in New York City, the next section will feature a story about a bookless public library in Texas, and the next section will feature world news from my NPR feed.

Feedly just made Feedly Pro available.  It’s a $5.00 a month charge, andfeedly pro ad I’ll have to wait to see if I think it’s worth paying for.  It will come with a handy search feature, which free Feedly lacks.  Other features include one-click sync with Evernote and One-click Pocket, and premium customer support.  The fact that Feedly wants users to start paying for a better platform makes me wonder if ads are on the way…in that case, I probably would pay $5.00/month to keep my Feedly looking the way I want it to.

There’s plenty of debate in the Tech World about the “death of the RSS feedSome say that Google+ is Google’s answer to its own problem.  Others argue that Twitter was always the answer, with news in real time.  I can’t really provide insight to the on-going debate, all I know is that I find Feedly incredibly refreshing and I love that I have control over how I want to use it–something I feel is lacking in my social network life.  I’d rather keep my news stories separated from friend’s new haircut update.

Feedly works for me.  If you found something else to replace your Google Reader, we want to hear about it at Lister Hill.  Leave us a comment!!


Ipad/iphone Apps for Reading the Current Literature

Keeping up with the literature in your field is necessary, but can be time-consuming!

This post is about 3 different, but similar, FREE apps that are designed to make the process much easier. Each has included the UAB proxy server in its options, so you will be able to link to the full text PDFS in a click for many articles that UAB licenses. Which one(s) you use is really a matter of personal preference. The apps are Docwise, Docphin, and Read (by QxMD.) You download them at the iTunes App Store.

All 3 of them feature:

  • An easy-to-use interface.
  • Settings to choose the journals to display whose current issues you want to read.
  • Searches to find a specific article, or articles on a topic (keyword searches.)
  • Once the topic is found, the ability to set alerts and topic updates so all new articles will be identified when published.
  • Can have email updates when new articles meeting your criteria are published.
  • One click sharing through Social Media such as Twitter.
  • The ability to favorite a PDF so you can read it when you are offline or traveling.
  • Easy access to the full text article for most UAB holdings (after you set  automatic log in with your Blazer ID and password.)
  • Please note:  These links work very well for content UAB licenses directly from the publisher, but may not work for content purchased from other vendors and will not work for unlicensed content that is not freely available.
    • The app developers work with the publishers and Lister Hill Library simply provides the proxy settings.  Often it is not clear why full text is not displayed, but the library cannot do anything about it.  We can help you get any articles need, though.  Simply Ask a Librarian.
    • Still, for a great many journals, this process is fast and nearly seamless.

Docwise   Read Review    Read Review

Docwise includes a customizable news feed from sources including CDC, FDA, Forbes, Time,  Washington Post, CNN, Medscape and more.   If you want to be able to scan current medical news in the same app as literature, this is very useful.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Docwise_journal docwise_topic

Docphin:  Read Review  Read Review

Docphin includes a section on landmark articles, by speciality.  The app covers approximately 250 carefully selected journals. News from feeds chosen by Docphin, and including some Twitter feeds, is aggregated into the Medstream feature.

docphin Medstream Docphin journals


Ckick on the images to enlarge them.

Read by QXMD  Read Review   Read Review

Read allows you to choose to follow specialties, journals, collections and keyword searches.  It aggregates and highlights important articles under the “Featured” tab, although it is not clear how these are chosen.

Read_list Read