Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Life Organized - Final Thoughts

Here is the last of the three posts describing the tools I use to make life easier.  In this post I will discuss:  Bookmarking but better, Twitter and never reading the same book again (well at least not by accident).

Delicious Diigo - free/$
Both Delicious and Diigo are bookmarking tools.  You probably use your web browser (IE, Firefox, chrome) to do the bookmarking for you.  You probably have a long list of bookmarks or maybe you created some folders at an attempt to organize them.  Remember that awesome idea on graphing quadratic functions you found?  I bet you can not find the bookmark within five minutes.  With Delicious or Diigo, you could have found it within five seconds.  You use a bookmarking tool to obviously bookmark instead of using your browser.  When you bookmark a page, you can add a sentence or two or three description to it.  How many bookmarks do you have in your list you have no clue what they are for?  You also "tag" your bookmark with a keyword or words.  To use the graphing quadratic functions idea, I would have tagged using "graph". "quadratic", "function".  Diigo will also suggest tags to you based on what other people have used.  Later when I want to search my bookmarks I can search by tag.  First I can click on the tag "graph".  Any bookmark with graph as a tag shows up.  Then I click on quadratic.  Any bookmark with graph AND quadratic shows up.  You can choose your tags in any order.  No more remember what folder you put it in.  You can also search your bookmarks similar to how you would search using Google.  Another benefit to a bookmarking tool is you can search someone else's bookmarks if they made them public.  If a person took the time to bookmark a page it must good or you can do what you normally do and search using Google and have to shift through thousands of pages.  I switched to Diigo along with many others when it was leaked that Yahoo was looking to get rid of Delicious.  I actually like Diigo better.  I recently had all 6-12 math teachers in our district create an account and join a group in Diigo.  Now when any of us bookmark a page, we can share it to our group.

Seesmic Web/Twitter - free
I know what you are thinking.  "Why would I want to read about someone's life?  Like I care if they just farted in line at the store."  Twitter can be much more.  I have met wonderful teachers who are willing to share anything they have as well as help you think through those random ideas you get for a lesson.  A teacher on Twitter created an applet for me to use in stats.  I am currently doing a book chat with a few teachers on twitter (search for #sbarbook on Twitter).  I have gotten more out of Twitter than most professional development sessions (except for the math PD at Oakland Schools.  Those have helped shape my teaching for the better).  Instead of using the actual twitter site I wanted something to use on my computer and Droid.  I also did not want to install anything on my computer.  I wanted to be able to log in using any computer and get the same experience (set up).  It was hard to make the choice.  There are some good options out there and each has its own pros/cons.  I am using the Seesmic App for Droid and Seesmic Web whenever I am at a computer.

LibraryThing - free/$
Ever read a book and about half way through realize that nagging thought in the back of your head was right?  You did read this book before.  This is another tool where there are many options.  I settled on LibraryThing mainly because you get the feeling the owners built this site because they love books, not because they want to make a million dollars.  A free account lets you add a certain number of books.  You can get a lifetime account for $25.  Yes I said lifetime.  Any book I have ever read or owned is recorded here, since I signed up that is.  Just how many Hardy Boys did I read back in the day?  You can look at your books as a list or by covers.  You can organize them anyway you want.  There is a community forum,  book give aways, author chats.  You can see recommendations based on what you have in your collection.  I also use it to keep track of my kids' books.

Hopefully I was able to help someone out with an idea to make their life easier.  Feel free to contact me with questions.  I only charge $40 an hour per tech support call, or I like cookies.


  1. Thanks for this! I think Diigo is a better option than my bazillion bookmarks on Firefox, however, I'm reluctant to make the investment until I know that it will be the sole survivor of the Diigo vs Deliscio war: unless there's an easier way to migrate the info to another service before it disappears, I could find myself losing all my info. Or maybe I'm just being overly cautious here.

    Re: Twitter and #sbarbook. Is there a way to quickly get to the beginning of a Twitter conversation and read it chronologically? I searched for "#sbarbook" and was brought to the most recent tweet. I then read a few pages of the #sbarbook discussion backwards and it was a bit incomprehensible to me what they were talking about: I felt like I was entering mid-conversation and they were talking in shorthand without the context self-evident.

    Payment in advance:,r:0,s:0

  2. It only took me about 10 minutes to export my delcious bookmarks over to diigo. Most of that 10 minutes was spent figuring out what I needed to do. Diigo also has an option to export your bookmarks into various formats so you could save them locally. I just looked and Diigo also has an option to import your bookmarks from a browser.

    I do not have a good answer for you regarding twitter. I use Seesmic web. When I did a search for #sbarbook I could not find a way to reverse the order. You have to scroll to the bottom and then read up. I can see how it is hard to follow. If we forget to use the hashtag our tweet does not show up. Also a couple of us have our tweets locked. I believe those do not show up in a search unless you are following that person.

    Thanks for the cookies.

  3. Appreciate the clarification, Jamie. I went ahead and signed up for Diigo last weekend. Here’s an update on my experience:

    Okay, so it took three days for Diigo to import my bookmarks, but they emailed me when it was done, which is always helpful.

    I agree that it has some useful features but ultimately, I found the tagging and the highlight, copy and paste functionality of Firefox’s “Organize Bookmarks” view to be a lot quicker for me. Plus, I usually just want a single-spaced list of the bookmarks in a folder and Diigo’s taking five lines of screen space to show each bookmark in “simple view” means I can’t see all of the bookmarks for that folder on one screen.

    The downside of continuing to use Firefox for my bookmark repository is that I have to continue to manually add new bookmarks from my school laptop to my home pc and vice-versa: if you import the backup file on the school pc to your home pc you completely replace all of the bookmarks on the home pc, including the new bookmarks on the home pc that aren’t on the school pc backup file.

    On the upside, per Mozilla’s website, “Firefox Sync is being added to Firefox 4 so you can synchronize a new installation (or Profile) with personal data that was sync'd from an existing Firefox installation.” Which means that in six months, every weekend I’ll just take five minutes to sync up my laptop and home pc bookmarks. Not instantaneous like Diigo, but certainly workable.

    Thanks for sharing about Diigo! Even though I decided against using it, I ended up finding some useful functionality in Firefox that I didn’t even know existed.