Archive for Social Media

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.


Wearable Tech

From Google Glass to a variety of wearable fitness trackers to smart watches to gesture rings, is resistance really futile? We can already control most of our lives with a smart phone and now it seems we’ll be able to do the same with a stylish wearable accessory. It is kind of ironic really. We buy an activity tracker to help be fit but then buy a gesture device, like the Nod Gesture Ring, that will let us control our TV, house lights, and environmental controls without moving from our seat on the couch.

According to Daniel Bulygin on, 82% of Americans that have wearable tech believe it has enhanced their lives. No doubt that technology has enhanced lives throughout history. The flushing toilet alone was certainly an improvement over the outhouse. But for the everyday person, how much of this really makes our lives better or easier? I’ve kinda decided that wearable tech is kinda like library instruction without a course assignment. It isn’t very useful until you actually need it for something.

For instance, a gesture ring could seriously improve the life of someone who is wheelchair bound. If someone is really motivated to get fit then a health tracker could make a real difference.

So what is the verdict on wearable tech? You tell me.

Medical Technology, Caregiving and Health Literacy – Issues to Consider

The Affordable Care Act encourages the use of technology in making health care more efficient and less administratively complex. (This emphasis on technical efficiency may strike some as ironic, considering the initial online snafus plaguing the Marketplace registration site.) There have been other recent legislative efforts to address the adoption of electronic medical record keeping especially. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is particularly concerned about protecting the privacy of individuals’ health records in electronic transactions. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 established federal support for investment in health technology, including of course electronic health records. It seems that the impetus for medical technology is widespread in this particular point of our history.

At the same time, “patient engagement” has also become a key focus among health care providers. Patient engagement is defined as the process by which a patient is actively involved in maintaining or improving his or her health often in partnership with health care providers. (See For those patients whose conditions may necessitate their dependence on others to help them with their daily care, a caregiver can and should be recruited to act as partners in this patient engagement process. However, the family caregiver’s important role is sometimes overlooked by promoters of patient engagement. In addition, while many articles in the literature and online seem to naturally conclude that patient engagement and technology go hand in hand, there is a danger that those without technical means and/or know-how will be left further behind in this ever more “linked in” society.

As I write this, Health Literacy Month , which is observed in October of each year, is wrapping up. As a consumer health librarian, I encounter people every day who struggle with making sense of health and health care information, not to mention the complex health care system we all must navigate the best we can. Often these are folks who are caregivers for others in their families, a vital role not only for their own loved ones but generally speaking for all of us in society. Suzanne Mintz, blogging for Engaging the Patient, makes a credible case for regularly documenting who it is in a family that performs any primary caregiving role in the medical records of a patient. In so doing, not only is the role of caregiver highlighted and promoted to partner status with the healthcare team, but the caregiver’s health literacy skills might also be considered in any provider/patient communication, online or otherwise. The patient’s and caregiver’s preferences should be solicited in terms of how they want to receive information. Naturally, one would hope and expect that no provider would make assumptions about a patient’s or caregiver’s access to technology in communicating with him or her without checking first. Still, it is true as Ms. Mintz suggests that caregivers are often not given their due either system-wide, from insurers for example, or individually from providers. This is due for a change – and now seems to be the time!

Tell Me a Story… via Social Media

Most people love a good story.  I know  I do.  I first heard of Storify when reading an article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Profhacker blog. Storify is a social media curating tool that makes it easy to gather content from a variety of sources and present it in a narrative.  You can incorporate a mix of links, videos, pictures, social media posts and add commentary as well. You control what elements you want in your story.

I found Storify easy to use. You can use your Twitter or Facebook accounts to log into Storify or create a separate account (you will still have to connect to those accounts to add tweets or FB posts to your story). Storify interfaces with Facebook, YouTube,Twitter, Flickr, Google, Pinterest, RSS Feeds and more, which means you can search them to add content to your story.  Once you identify the content you want to include, you drag and drop it into your story.  With a click you can add commentary if you wish. It’s that simple. Once you publish your story it can be shared via the publicize feature. You can also embed a story into a web site or blog.

Here’s a quick video that demonstrates the basics.

Storify is free, but it does offer a “business” package with additional features, such as private stories, SEO optimization, custom embedding and more. Storify also has a free iPad App and a Chrome extension.

What is good for?

Many news organizations like to live blog developing events and public reaction to them. Here’s an example from CNN:

Filibuster in Texas

Some people like to record insightful tweets from professional conferences, whether it’s the entire conference or an individual session.  Example:

Highlights of #altmetrics: May 2013

No doubt there are other creative uses of Storify.  Perhaps you work in public health and want to gauge what people are saying about vaccines on social media for a pitch for funding for a public service campaign.  Or maybe you work in marketing at XYZ company and want to capture what people are saying about the company for a presentation.  Or perhaps your teenage daughter is a big fan of a musician and she wants to capture the live twitter chat he had with his fans for her Live Journal.

Can you think of some practical applications for Storify?  Let me know in comments.



Graphite Lite App.

A while back I wrote about picking up sketching again and now I am seldom without my sketchbook and pencil. I never really considered sketching electronically until I started watching tutorials by Sycra Yasin.

Yasin made such neat sketches and made sketching electronically look so easy I thought I’d give it a try.

After reading about the different apps in the App Store I settled on Graphite Lite because it looked to be the best for regular plain ole sketching. I didn’t want stamps, architecture tools, or paints. Graphite also had good reviews for their pencil and charcoal tools.

I downloaded the free version to check it out and liked it so much I went ahead and spent the 2.99 for the full version.

For tools you get charcoal and pencil as well as a regular hard pencil eraser and a kneaded eraser. This version also includes a blending tool.  For all of these tools you can set the color and size (width) of the mark and the pressure.

The app also includes undo, redo, and zoom — zoom is really handy for working on small areas like eyes.

What I really like though is you can import a photo and trace it. This is really useful for practicing hard shapes like puppy noses. You can also save your work and email it or share through social media channels.

The interface is really easy to use and help is conveniently provided in the area with the icons for the pencil, charcoal, etc. Actually drawing, however, took a little getting used to. I tried using my finger first and that didn’t work out very well. Then I tried a regular old free stylus that came in the mail. Both my finger and stylus were too wide to get the precision needed to use the pencil very well. Using the charcoal worked better. Overall, this is fun and easy to use app but if you are serious about doing drawing electronically you will want to invest in stylus designed for artist.

So how did I do? Below is a picture of my dog, Ellie, and a quick sketch I did of her. I was using the charcoal tool mostly.

ellie elliesketch








This won’t replace my paper and pencil though!



If you’re anything like me with a hectic schedule, you’re constantly trying to find a way to keep organized and manage your physical, mental and creative space. You may use it to collaborate with team members on projects and track the stages of said project. I have good news for you; with Trello you can do just that and more.

If you’ve ever had to manage any sort of project or just try to accomplish all your personal to-do items, you know how hard it is to figure out how to track everything in a simple way, find a balanced way to prioritize all the things you have to do, and actually get them done.

Trello is awesome way to make this easier. It takes two basic steps:

First, sort your personal to-do’s into three spaces: physical, mental, and creative.

Second, use Trello.

What exactly is Trello you ask?

Trello is a free web application that you can use to track pretty much anything you want. Just go to and register/log in using your email address.

So give Trello by first:

Sorting your personal to-do items (3 spaces) physical, mental & creative.

Trello’s three main building blocks are cards, lists, and boards. Cards are things you’re working on, lists are collections of cards, and boards are collections of lists. You can put all kinds of things on the back of cards: comments, color-coded labels, checklists, file attachments, due dates, voting, and more.

One of the greatest things about this flexible (easy to use) is that you can access it on pretty much any device you choose including your pc, laptop, tablet or even smart phone. It also works with


Sorting your personal to-do items (3 spaces) physical, mental & creative.

Other than the 3 categories mentioned above there is also a “to-do list” as well as a “doing/waiting list” and finally the “done list”. Keep in mind you have the flexibility to edit or rename or add or delete any list as you see fit. Each item may be dragged and dropped appropriately. A great tool to use and also an alternative to the ever so popular Evernote!

Tech Tune-up: 50 sites (Part 1)

Here are the 25+ sites that I presented at the Tech Tune-up on 4/24/13.   Michael Fitts will be posting his list as well. Hope you enjoy visiting these sites! — Valerie Gordon

p.s. Do you have suggestions on other types of fun classes you’d like to see at Lister Hill?  An Evernote Users Group?  Lifehacker Happy Hour? Productivity Tips & Tricks?  Post your comment here or send a suggestion to

Tech Tune-up:  50 Sites (Part 1)


  1. TechLister
  2. Profhacker
  3. Study Hacks:
  4. Becoming minimalist
  5. Yarny:

Plus old favorites: Lifehacker: & Zenhabits:

Home & Garden

  1. Apartment Therapy:
  2. Gardenista:
  3. A way to garden:
  4. Ikea hackers:
  5. Take them a meal:

Plus old favorites: Houzz & design sponge

More design

  1. Polyvore
  2. The sartorialist:
  3. I love typography


  1. Road trippers
  2. Birmingham Library Pinterest Page
  3. Storyverse
  4. IMDB: Downton Abbey:

Plus old favorites: AirnBnB & Yelp  & Tripadvisor


  1. Open Culture
  2. Sulia
  3. What NYPL is reading:

Plus old favorites:  Stumbleupon & reddit


  1. Catalog living
  2. Zoo borns
  3. Soulpancake
  4. Funny or Die:
  5. LetMeGoogleThatForYou:

My Fitness Pal


Although I haven’t been a long time user I’d like to share with you all a fitness application that a good friend and doctoral student recently shared with me known as myfitnesspal (the app not my friend lol). Basically MyFitnessPal is a diet and fitness community built wish one purpose in mind and that is providing individuals with the tools and support needed to achieve weight loss goals.

I will go on record that one of the first things about the product was the fact that is actually available on all of the major mobile operating systems including my system of choice Windows which often gets overlooked by application developers. fitnesspal_os

Studies have shown that keeping a food journal can actually double your weight loss. MyFitnessPal provides you not only with the tools needed to be successful but also the support system as you communicate and share with either your friends or others trying to lose weight as well. The more you use it the faster and easier it becomes as it becomes more customized to some of your common favorite food entries.

In addition there is actually an online component as well and it integrates with Facebook so that you can invite your friends or see if they have already discovered this tool. One think about it that I find particularly useful is that fact that when registered whether you update diary online or via smart phone, it automatically syncs and updates the other device for you.

With myfitnesspal you can track not only your food & exercise but it allows you to set your weight loss goals and how many calories that you need per day in order to accomplish your goals. It allows you to interact with a community of your friends to keep each other encouraged yet accountable. One of the most useful tools on the application is the food look-up that has literally thousands of food items (including restaurant menu items) that help with your nutritional tracking. Better yet it has a barcode scanner that allows you to simply scan the items barcode and up pops the nutrition facts of said item. It also gives you the option of adding new food entries.

Here is a sample of one of my completed food diary logs: fooddiary

To begin your journey all you need is a username, password and email address. I’d like to encourage you to try myfitnesspal out to see how it can and will benefit you. Afterall its free and you have absolutely nothing to lose but unwanted weight:


New Year’s Resolutions: Find Balance


Here are the resources presented in the first class in the New Year’s Resolutions series.  If you have other suggestions for apps, websites, or books, we hope you’ll share them in the comments section.

Simplify – Decide what’s important to you

How you spend your time is how you spend your life
The Happiness Project
37 days
Steve Jobs How to Live before you Die
Rescue Time
Hours Tracker Free

Figure out what you can reduce or eliminate
Zen Habits
The 4-Hour Work Week
Screen Free Week

Decide what routines or habits will help you simplify
Simplify your work and other books by Elaine St. James
Remember the Milk

Be present
The Amazing Power of Being Present
Three beautiful things


Practice gratitude
The Joy of Appreciate Living
The Gratitude Journal

Give to others
Do One Nice Thing
29 Gifts
CSW Suits for Success

Serenity to Go
Free UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center meditation podcasts
Universal Breathing
Resource Center Meditation, Yoga, & Tai Chi

Get help keeping your resolutions

Free You Tube Downloader

Free You Tube is freeware for downloading and converting video. It downloads video from You Tube converts video to the standard formats for cell phone (3GP); Windows Media Video (WMV); Xvid MPEG-4 (AVI); iPad, iPhone; PSP (MP4) & iPOD (MOV), and also plays back videos in a very basic player. This software is 100% free to use and is guaranteed not to contain any spyware, viruses or any other kind of malware.

Why would one even want YouTube Downloader? Well I am glad that you asked as there are many practical applications with this tool including but not limited to:

You want to view the video on a mobile device or phone such as an iPod, iPad, iPhone, MP3-player, MP4-player, Zune, PSP

You have a slow internet connection or you’re viewing HD video, which causes buffering delays while streaming video.

You’re only interested in a specific part of the video and you’d like to cut out any parts you don’t need.

You want to make sure you don’t lose the video when it’s removed or altered by YouTube or by the author.

So how does You Tube Downloader Work?

Step 1: Start YouTube Downloader

Start YouTube Downloader by clicking the desktop or Quick Launch shortcut. The main window should then appear.
Download YouTube videos

Step 2: Choose a video to download

Enter a YouTube URL (for example “″) choose an output format and the preferred quality of the video, then click “Download”. The application will now proceed to download and convert your video.
Downloading a YouTube video

Step 3: Finished!

As soon as YouTube Downloader has finished processing the file, you can open it using your favorite media player and you can then play the downloaded and converted file.