The Desk Setup

Derik Badman

Developer, Springshare

Who are you, and what do you do?


I’m Derik Badman. For a paying job I work as a web developer for Springshare, Inc (creator of LibGuides and LibAnswers). Most of my time is spent working on LibAnswers: adding features and occasionally fixing bugs. I also spend time working on a new product (as yet unannounced), and answering support questions from our customers.

In non-paying capacity, I make (drawrite) comics, often of an experimental nature, which get posted at my website, Madinkbeard.

What hardware are you using?

My main computer is a 22.5″ iMac with a 3.06 GHz processor and 8GB RAM, running OS 10.6.4. I use this most of the day, most every day for my programming, drawing, and other things like watching tv/movies. I also have an 12.5″ ASUS Eee PC laptop running Windows 7. I mainly use this for testing Windows issues (Internet Explorer) or for when I need to do some typing related work away from my desk.

My laptop use has cut down a lot since I got my Motorola Droid running Android, which I use far too much for email, texting, Twitter, RSS reading, managing my todo list, taking photos, and note taking.

I use a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet for making my comics, and I’ve got a Western Digital external hard drive for backups. For scanning (mostly) and printing (rarely), I’ve been really happy with the HP PSC 1510 All-in-One, which was cheap years ago and has held up really well.

And what software?

The software I really live in right now:

  • Chrome for my regular internet browsing.
  • Firefox for viewing and testing my development work (primarily because the Firebug Add-on is so useful for dealing with CSS and Javascript).
  • TextMate for my actual coding.
  • TweetDeck for Twitter and Facebook monitoring.
  • Adium for instant messaging.
  • Evernote (on my Mac and on my Droid) for notetaking and listmaking.
  • Mac Mail for my work email.
  • Adobe Creative Suite 5 (primarily Photoshop and InDesign) for making my comics and for various image-related work tasks (icons, logos, etc.)

If you count web applications:

A lot of these applications I use on all three of my devices, and often that multi-platform use is why I’ve chosen products.

What would be your dream setup?

Probably the only thing I could ask for is one of the Wacom Cintiqs, which is a very large tablet with a built-in screen. Otherwise, for now, I’m really happy with my setup, which admittedly is mostly all new in the past few months.

Paula Brehm-Heeger

Library Services Manager, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Paula Brehm-Heeger and I am the Central Region Library Services Manager for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. I manage the direct public service departments at our large Main Library located in Downtown Cincinnati and also six of our 40 Branch locations. All six of the locations I oversee are located in urban areas. I’ve been working in libraries for more than two decades with a lot of that time dedicated to serving teenagers. I was the President of the American Library Service’s Young Adult Library Services Association in 2007-2008. My first book, Serving Urban Teens was published in 2008 by Libraries Unlimited.

What hardware are you using?

At work I use a standard desktop setup with a Pentium 4 processor.

At home I mainly use a Dell XPS laptop and sometimes sneak a few minutes on my husband’s laptop—also a Dell but an older model (Inspiron 6000). I use my husband’s laptop when I need to run numbers because he purchased a number pad to make calculating easier. I’m too lazy to actually buy one but always think it’s a great example of a simple hardware add-on that can make a huge difference in efficiency.

For my portable devices, I have a Blackberry Storm and my first generation 60GB iPod Classic. I’ll probably have to update the iPod soon but I really do like my Classic’s display so I haven’t been compelled to try anything new yet.

At home we recently updated our TV—finally abandoned our tube-TV in favor of a new Samsung flat screen! I also have three weather alert radios that I use in some capacity every day, including one that features a sensor to tell me the temperature on my front porch because I hate to be surprised about the weather.

And what software?

At work and on my home setup I use a Windows OS. I use Internet Explorer at work and Firefox at home.

I used standard Office products for writing my book—Microsoft 2003, and I worked with a freelance graphic designer to produce a few of the charts. The biggest challenge in writing the book was keeping things organized in my email and folders! I requested reproduction rights for a number of items and also did my own indexing.

The primary tools we have used in analyzing data are Microsoft Excel and SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). Greg Edwards (the Library Services Director at my Library) and I set up a logical data entry form in Excel which he then utilized for entering the data in SPSS. Our data analysis, like any good evaluation of data, depends heavily on constructing a logical way to compare the data. Excel and SPSS are just tools—figuring out what it is that you’re hoping to find out is the most important step. GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out)—even the best spreadsheet and data-mining software won’t help if you haven’t taken the time to logically think through what it is you’re comparing and how the data points relate to each other.

On my Blackberry my favorite apps are Google Maps, Weatherbug, Pandora, Facebook, and QuickPull. Pandora has replaced satellite radio for me in the car. I just plug the Blackberry into the auxiliary jack and select my station. QuickPull was an important find for me. A lot of times I concentrate on apps that make me happy and ignore things that keep my devices healthy and functional, so setting up a nightly schedule for rebooting was a big step. At my Library we now employ a Blackberry Enterprise server solution so I can review all my work-related email on my handheld, too. I wasn’t a big Facebook user until I started using the app on my Blackberry. Now it’s so simple and easy to check whenever/wherever that I check it a lot more, update my status, and send pictures regularly.

iTunes is software I use all the time. I’m addicted to downloading TV shows—especially those shows no one else I know is willing to watch with me. I watch them whenever I get a chance. This is especially great whenever I have to go anywhere on an airplane.

The other software that has changed my life is my Digital Video Recorder—does that count as software? I think it does. I love it and don’t know how I ever managed my TV life without it.

What would be your dream setup?

The Quantum computer described in The Traveler trilogy by John Twelve Hawks. How awesome would it be to have technology designed by beings from another realm? Though I’m guessing the tech support might be complicated. I also need to invest in my first ebook reader but haven’t committed to any on the market yet. The iPad seems impressive but is much more than an ebook reader, so maybe the Nook is the best option for my particular need. I’m planning to make a decision sometime before the Holiday season. Whatever I select, my ideal set up would allow for easy, simply downloading of ebooks and viewing them on a device that is lightweight with reader-friendly eink. I think even the highest-end ebook readers aren’t quite there on reproducing the eye-friendly feel of ink on paper. But it’s close.

Ellie Collier

Reference Librarian, Austin Community College

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m a librarian at Austin Community College. My title is Reference Librarian/Assistant Professor (we have faculty status, I don’t teach any credit courses), but I also do instruction and collection development, am the subject liaison to a number of departments (psychology, radio-tv-film, and visual communications), and serve on library and college-wide committees. I’m also an editor and writer at In the Library with the Lead Pipe. I’ve recently started calling myself a technophile Luddite because while I geek out over tech in my personal life, much of my day is spent helping users who don’t own personal computers and are not comfortable with technology. I try really hard to be an advocate for those users when discussing new technologies and interfaces for the library.

Away from work I’m an active board and card gamer, and a less active video gamer, crafter, and cook.

What hardware are you using?

At work I mostly use what they give me. Right now that’s a Dell Optiplex 780 (2.93 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, 150 GB Hard drive—of which 119 GB is free right now) and a fairly nice sized flat panel monitor. I have the standard mouse, keyboard, and speakers for peripherals, along with personal earbuds that I brought in to spare my office mate from whatever I’m listening to. We’re also given a thumb drive which I pretty much only use to transfer pictures to a laptop that has an SD card reader so I can put them on the SD card for our large display TV, or to take documents to a computer that has access to a color printer. Each campus has a digital camera, but I don’t use them that much. I did request and receive a Logitech webcam and a Blue Snowball microphone which I use for creating tutorials. I used to have a printer that I shared with my office mate, but it’s been out for repairs for months, so I share the main one with the whole office, and I use the student printers as well.

At home I have a 2005 Dell that was good for gaming when I bought it, but has been reinitialized and barely sees use anymore. A cat knocked the speakers onto the CPU and shorted it out. I managed to get most of the drivers reinstalled, but the sound card doesn’t work anymore and I’ve been too lazy to bother trying to fix it.

My main computer is my little netbook, an Asus Eee PC 1000HE. And more and more, my Motorola Droid. I have an external CD/DVD burner that I almost never use and an external hard drive (one of those cute Passport ones) that I thankfully used to backup my desktop before the cat attacked it. I also have one of those low end all-in-one scanner/printers.

I own a hand-me-down medium sized TV that I use to watch David Attenborough documentaries and play my GameCube (I’m currently loving Baten Kaitos). I have accidental cable because they couldn’t figure out how to shut it off when they set up my internet (through a smaller local company), but I don’t have that hooked up. I use a wireless router for my netbook and I have the cheapest possible internet, so between the dinkier computer and the slow internet I pretty much never watch any internet videos at my apartment. I save those up to watch at my partner’s place on his big screen TV that he has hooked up to his computer or watch them on my Droid.

And what software?

I am incredibly lucky to have full admin rights over my work computer. We’re running Windows 7. They’re actually pretty good about getting us software if we ask for it, but I’m more an instant gratification person, so I tend to just download something free at my moment of need. I use GIMP and sometimes just Paint for my photo manipulation. I have NVU for the rare times I need to do more with HTML than I want to mess with in Notepad. Foxit for editing PDFs. FireShot and Jing for screen captures. Snaplinks (now Multi Links) is my favorite Firefox add-on ever (you click and drag over a bunch of links on a page and it opens all of them in new tabs). Chrome and Firefox for browsing. Delicious for bookmarking items for the staff development committee. I use WordPress for my work blogs and we have an internal wiki run by eTouch SamePage. We also use LibGuides, LivePerson (for chat) and iii/Millennium. But honestly, most of my day-to-day tasks are accomplished in my browser (GDocs, showing students library resources, my email—which I run through Gmail) or in Excel.

The dying desktop has OpenOffice because I couldn’t be bothered to dig out my MS Office installation disc the last time I needed to open a document. The Eee PC has whichever version of Windows and Office it came with. I use Picasa for pictures, Pandora for music, iTunes for podcasts, Firefox for browsing, GChat for talking to my brother, Gmail for email, GBookmarks for bookmarking, GDocs for most of my word processing, GReader for blogs. Sensing a theme?

On my Droid I have Google Sky which is super awesome and I pull it out all the time even though it can be a little sad with all the light pollution in big cities, but it’s always good for figuring out whether that really bright thing is a star or a planet (tip: it’s usually a planet). I used to always carry a paper day planner, but I think I’ve begrudgingly made the switch to filling those roles with GCal and GTasks. I use GTasks for my grocery list, too. Oh, and GVoice for transcribing my voicemail. It’s hilariously terrible, but often close enough to get the idea.

What would be your dream setup?

I’m really pretty pleased with my current situation. I wouldn’t turn down a killer gaming computer, but I wouldn’t use it enough to justify owning it either. What I’d really love is a dedicated, built-in kitchen computer for cooking—with one of those plastic, gel covers over the keyboard so I can wash it off afterwards. Or maybe just a touch screen. And that’s probably totally attainable with current technology and will probably be within what I’m actually willing to pay for something like that within a few years.

Clayton Copeland

LIS Doctoral Candidate, University of South Carolina

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi, Everyone! I’m Clayton Copeland, and I am currently a doctoral candidate and teaching fellow with the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. Go Gamecocks! I’m a true “Carolina Girl,” and in more ways than one! In addition to being a student with the University and earning a Master’s degree in library and information science here, I was born and raised in the Palmetto State.

Libraries are the places of my earliest and happiest memories. The library was such a peaceful, tranquil place to me, a place where happy days were made happier and challenging days easier. No matter the burdens of my heart, somehow opening the library door, finding just the right book, and cuddling in a soft comfy chair made everything seem OK again. All of my worries seemed to be carried away by the gentle rustling of turning pages. My book journeys allowed me to discover both far and distant places and places within myself. Books gave me the gifts of learning and self acceptance. I loved the library so much that I became a “mini-me librarian” in second grade, when my school librarian made all my dreams came true and asked me to be her “assistant.” I’ve worked in libraries in one capacity or another since, and I have loved every minute of it. To me, there is no greater privilege than putting a book in a child’s hand or helping any library user find the information he or she is seeking.

Of late, my day-to-day work involves my dissertation study, Equity of Access to Information: A Comparative Exploration of Library Accessibility and Information Access from Differently-Able Patrons’ Perspectives. The study explores the lived experiences of library patrons whom society labels as “disabled,” and seeks to understand the extent to which our libraries are meeting their information needs and are providing them with equal access to information.

What hardware are you using?

A Dell Latitude D 620, with 2.16 GHz and 2 GB Ram. The computer travels well and is also flexible in its capabilities and functions. After long days of work, I connect to a 20 inch LCD monitor and standard size keyboard for better visibility and greater ease with typing. In a recent pursuit to find a small, lightweight computer for easier transport and travel to and from professional conferences, I purchased a Samsung netbook. I use a walker for ambulatory purposes, so space for carrying books and everything that must travel with me on the road and day-to-day is at a real premium. The small size and lower weight of the netbook offer a reliable and portable alternative to the more substantial laptop.

And what software?

Windows XP is the university-supported operating system at the moment. My professional day would not be complete without numerous interactions with the Microsoft Office Suite, which I use for writing and preparing course lectures for the courses I am teaching. I also rely heavily on Adobe Acrobat for creating PDF files as well as Dragon Naturally Speaking Version 10, a voice recognition program I use for recording notes, writing papers, and transcribing interviews with dissertation study participants. Of course, Google Calendar and Gmail are absolute musts when it comes to staying organized and in touch with colleagues, family, and friends.

What would be your dream setup?

Opportunities to interact with technologies personally as well as opportunities to learn from students, colleagues, and the people I am getting to know via my dissertation research increasingly make me aware of an ever-growing need for affordable, reliable, responsive, and Universally Accessible technologies. Technology has incredible potential. My greatest hope and “dream” is for technologies to help their users overcome barriers—whether physical, economic, social, or otherwise—that traditionally could prevent or inhibit access to information. Although so many facets of accessibility and technology have been (and are being) addressed, I am becoming more and more aware of our need to improve their accessibility; without it, the tools we intended to be facilitators of inclusion become another cause of exclusion.

Birkin James Diana

Programmer, Brown University Library

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Birkin James Diana. I’m a programmer for the Brown University Library. My work there focuses on enhancing our digital-repository, developing APIs and services based on lightweight SOA principles, enabling disparate systems to work together, and developing cool desktop and mobile-friendly services for users.

What hardware are you using?

I am one with an early 2010 13″ MacBookPro laptop. An Apple laptop has been my primary machine since the black and white 1991 PowerBook 170. They work for me. My previous laptop had a beautiful 15″ screen but I regularly missed the portability of a beloved 12″ PowerBook G4 I had around 2004. When this beautiful 13″ model became available, I took the leap, and have been thoroughly happy with it. Over the past few months I’ve experimented with an external display at work. A bluetooth Kensington Slimblade mouse drives the laptop. I also use an iPhone 3GS extensively, and have an iPad I bought largely as an experiment to monitor the UI creativity explosion I knew it would foster, and to understand first-hand what space it can occupy between a pod/phone and laptop. At home our numerous Macs are connected by and backed up to an Apple Time Capsule base-station.

And what software?

TextMate is my favored programming tool for Python and Django, my favored language and framework (the Django documentation oozes a refreshing depth of thoughtfulness). Initially trained in Java, around 2005 I came to love Eclipse and its plugins, and periodically fire it up and look at the latest version of Pydev (for Python development), but I always come back to TextMate. It’s not as full-featured as some other editors, but its clean interface and lightweight speedy feel are a pleasure.

I tend these days to have Chrome open to University email, calendar, and wiki tabs, Firefox open with the Web Developer Plugin and Firebug for examining webpages, and Safari for other browsing. I also always have open BBEdit, Apple Mail (which integrates fairly well with the University’s switch from Outlook to Gmail), Transmit for FTP, Apple’s Terminal, Versions for subversion work, and Clockwork, an old 2006 shareware app I use as a timer for focused work-bursts. Daily, I use the iPhone app ToDo which, with some angst, has replaced the wonderful LifeBalance as my preferred organizer. Lastly, in the context of API and complex web-communication analysis, Wireshark is an impressive, powerful tool I regularly dust off.

What would be your dream setup?

To a large extent I have it, in terms of hardware and software. That’s a nice thing about programming: it doesn’t require a huge tool investment, even for those drawn to high-quality well-designed tools. My move toward the dream setup has to do more with ‘practice’ and ‘environment’. Regarding practice, I periodically play with that balance between using known, comfortable tools and systems, and experimenting with possibly better ones (example: trying distributed version control). So an ideal setup would inherently be a bit fluid. Regarding environment, a dream setup would somehow allow for others to know when I need to be left alone to concentrate, and when I am / will be approachable for the good collaboration that our team values. No easy solution to that. But that’s why a single-screen portable laptop setup remains so appealing. I can just pick up and go find a quiet place to concentrate and work for a while if unable to do so in my normal workspace. (Of course, this does bring up the hardware desire for much, much faster wireless-speeds.) This is a great question; I see a group brainstorming meeting in my team’s future!

Emily Drabinski

Instruction Librarian, Long Island University, Brooklyn

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Emily Drabinski, an instruction librarian at Long Island University, Brooklyn (go Blackbirds!). I come from a failed first try at being a writer and editor, two things I do lots of as a librarian. I edit a book series for Rory Litwin’s Library Juice Press about gender and sexuality in librarianship, work on a journal called Radical Teacher, and saw my first edited book, Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods (with Maria T. Accardi and Alana Kumbier) come out last spring. I still daydream about running away to a tiny house on top of a mountain overlooking an ocean and writing the most beautiful book ever written ever in the whole wide world. Maybe if I get tenure.

What hardware are you using?

I walked to a friend’s house the other day with nothing but my pockets, and realized I was carrying almost $800 in gadgets. And I think of myself as a paper-and-pencil kind of person! I use a 13-inch white MacBook at home, an Dell OptiPlex desktop that takes up my entire desk top in the office, a Motorola Cliq phone that I wish had the latest Android update, a second-generation Kindle, and an 8GB fifth-generation iPod Nano. (Those last three are my New Yorker commute trifecta. They’re my car.) Love my gadgets, but I still buy two thirds of my books in print, use my Kindle primarily to pay for the newspaper again, and track my reading using an old card catalog drawer. I love living in the future, but the past is relentless. So far, there seems to be room in the present for both.

And what software?

I live in Google and Google lives in me, even though I know they’re tracking me and selling me and locking me in. Mail, Talk, Voice, Calendar, Reader, Docs (love Google forms!), Scholar, Groups, Books, I’m a fan of it all. Dropbox has been a godsend for manuscript-length files. I backup on a La Cie drive, but everything goes into Dropbox, too. And I love the social web, Twitter and Facebook, and WordPress for blogging, mostly about my lunch.

What would be your dream setup?

I’d love a featherweight laptop with a battery I could recharge in the sun, something I could take from home to work to play and back without even thinking about the weight. My mobile device works great for most things I do, but I still want a computer I can sit down and type on with a nice big screen. And I know this is unpopular, but if Google could insert a Firefox browser with all my tabs open just behind my eyeballs, I’d be fine with that too.

Ryan Eby

Sysadmin and Developer, Ann Arbor District Library

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m a sysadmin and developer at Ann Arbor District Library. I take care of the network administration, system administration, and helping the development team when able with the website and other software development projects. My day-to-day responsibilities and projects vary considerably and it’s difficult to generalize with everything we do.

You can find some of the software we’ve released on the Ann Arbor District Library page at GitHub.

What hardware are you using?

I use pretty much all Apple hardware. I have a Mac Mini running OS X Server as the occasional desktop, though I tend to be mobile, and use a MacBook Pro 17″ 2.5 GHz intel Duo with 4 GB RAM for most of my work. An iPhone 3GS and iPad complete my mobile setup. With fixing things constantly as part of my job, I want something that just works for my personal setup and I’ve had good luck with this arrangements. OS X gives me enough Unix underpinnings to let me do everything I need.

For general hardware we tend to be an HP shop with numerous DL360‘s with mix of dual and quad core Xeons for various tasks and various ranges of HP switches.

The public computers are all HP thin clients, and staff thin clients are being migrated to the same hardware. You can read more about the hardware on Ann Arbor District Library developer blog; a post about our software is forthcoming.

Connection is fiber to all of our branches except one, which has a T1 due to location.

I have no real hardware at home as I do mostly work related things. The exception is airport expresses, which are scattered around the house for Airtunes.

And what software?

OSX Snow Leopard with some common apps installed:

The iPhone/iPad have SSH and RDP clients along with Instapaper, Stanza, Things, 1Password, Dropbox, and a couple of Dropbox-powered notes apps.

We’re mostly an open-source shop. Our public computers are thin clients that run a simple Debian installation. They connect to Windows terminal servers, giving patrons a Windows environment while retaining the back-end manageability of Linux. The thin clients were rather cheap, and we already had a Citrix-based server farm. Since we’re running it as a web-based application, we could drop the Citrix licensing, so costs are low. Running it as a Linux/Web-app combination has also allowed the public computers to become a rapid development platform where changes can be rolled out quickly, both to the OS and for other management needs. We plan to open source the software once our current round of testing is finished.

Most of the other servers run Gentoo with software installations based on the tasks we need to accomplish. Most of our development is done in Drupal, so servers tend to run Apache, MySQL, and PHP. We also have Nginx, CouchDB, Redis, and Ruby running for a few applications.

The Windows terminal servers are virtual.

What would be your dream setup?

I’m pretty happy with the current setup: having pretty much all Linux clients allows administration and debugging to be fairly straightforward. Dropping Windows would be nice, but is probably far in the future given the ongoing demand for Microsoft Office.

Ahniwa Ferrari

Library Development Project Manager, Washington State Library

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m a nerd (and incidentally a librarian) who tries his best to find ways to push reference services forward, on a grand scale, for libraries in Washington State. I’m a project manager in Library Development at the Washington State Library, and I spend most of my time coordinating our statewide reference cooperative, Ask-WA. With over 65 library systems participating in this project, this means that I do a lot of scheduling and quality control work, provide a lot of reference and technology training, arrange continuing education opportunities for librarians throughout the state, and generally try and get the word out to the public that reference librarians are awesome.

I also coordinate our statewide database trials, assist with our statewide downloadable audiobooks project, review grant proposals for other projects, act as editor-in-chief for the official agency blog, and am the chief architect and curator of our Hard Times Resource Guide.

What hardware are you using?

I use what the State gives me, which works fine for my purposes.

It’s an HP desktop machine, runs Windows XP Pro, and packs a dual-core 3 GHz processor and 3.5 GB RAM. My favorite thing about it is the added NVIDIA Quadro NVS 290 video card, which supports my dual HP L1950 LCD monitors (in a side-by-side configuration). They could take away everything else, but I’d go nuts of I had to work on a single monitor again.

Peripheral to the desktop I have a Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 that I use for web- and video-conferencing, along with a Plantronics .Audio 400 DSP headset. I have an i-rocks IR-4610 USB 2.0 4-Ports hub that I purchased personally and brought from home (I have much more use for it at work), into which I regularly plug:

  • My iPod Touch (2nd generation, 8GB), which I use to keep track of apps for libraries, and which was quite helpful in designing my own app, Ask-WA, which recently launched for both iPhone and Android platforms.
  • My MotoZine ZN5 mobile phone, which I don’t actually like to use as a phone, but which I use quite frequently as a camera when I’m out visiting libraries.
  • My SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 player (8GB), which I decided to purchase for myself after a great deal of research in light of our downloadable audiobooks project, and which I mainly use to listen to said downloadable audiobooks in my car during my commute.
  • My SanDisk Cruzer Titanium flash drive (4GB), which wouldn’t be noteworthy except that a. it’s made out of titanium, which is automatically rad, and b. it’s a rugged beast that has lasted on my keychain for over three years now and has survived regular use.

When I’m on the road I have a netbook that I use for work, which is an HP Mini 2140 (the 1366×768 resolution version), and which sports an Intel Atom 1.60 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM, and which also runs Windows XP Pro. I have the larger, 6-cell battery, which lets me (if I shut off Wi-Fi) run for about 7 hours at a conference without having to plug-in. It also has a built-in VGA webcam which I use occasionally to record presentations at conferences.

At home I run a three-year-old desktop that I assembled inside a quiet Antec P180B case with hand-picked components. It’s a little worse-for-wear for my having dropped it off the bed, but it still does what I need it to do.

And what software?

Ask-WA runs on OCLC’s QuestionPoint software, so I get to use that a lot, and after 2+ years, I’m happy to say that I almost have it figured out.

I’ve crowd-sourced some of the scheduling aspects of Ask-WA so that now libraries can manipulate their own schedules using Google Calendar, which saves me a lot of time. I like a lot of other Google applications as well, and regularly use Google Reader, Google Voice, and Gmail, for their respective functions.

I’m a Firefox user and devotee, and have a number of add-ons now that I couldn’t imagine living without. Among others, I regularly use Pixlr Grabber to swipe screenshots for presentation slides, and I use Shareaholic about a dozen times a day to push library-related news items (and other items of interest) to my Tumblr account, which in turn pushes out to my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

At work I use a lot of Microsoft Office products: Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, all 2007. Nothing too exciting there.

I use Camtasia Studio 6 for creating screencasts and training videos, which I switched to after using Jing for a time and finding it too limited.

I like free software, including 7-Zip for zipping and unzipping files, CutePDF so that I can print anything into a PDF file, TagScanner for mucking with MP3 filenames and tags (useful for audiobooks), and Pidgin for the occasional informal work-related chat.

I use Elluminate for web-conferencing and webinars, including my own monthly webinar series for reference librarians, Ref22. Elluminate does more than the software we use to have (Wimba), but I haven’t decided if I really approve of it or not, yet.

What would be your dream setup?

In terms of a desktop system, I actually think I could use two more monitors. I think that four monitors total in a 2×2 setup would be pretty awesome. Aside from screen real estate, so long as the computer is fairly responsive and I don’t spend too much time waiting, I’m pretty easy. That said, I’d still like to bump up to Windows 7, and I wish that Outlook worked better than it does.

What I would really love is a mobile-sized device that dual-boots as an iPhone and Android device (maybe even throw Windows 7 Mobile in there), with at least 64GB of space, with at least a forward-facing camera that takes good quality photos and video, with an integrated microphone and speaker, and that could connect via Wi-Fi and all mobile data networks. This magical device would also have a battery capable of eight hours of continuous use, and would allow folder-level file management on a PC connected through a simple USB cord.

I really want the magical mobile device that works as a camera (photo and video), MP3-player, cell phone, mobile gaming, and all-purpose work device, and I want it to be open and I don’t want to pay exorbitant monthly fees to be able to use it. And I’d really rather it wasn’t an Apple device. Is that too much to ask?

Alison Hicks

Romance Language Librarian, University of Colorado, Boulder

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m a modern language librarian who researches technology and foreign language librarianship. While language learning is more and more driven by technology, language librarians aren’t exactly known for their flashy tech expertise. My aim is to help spread technology skills and enthusiasm throughout language librarianship and departments in order to push the language/literature/information/technology frontier. To this end, I’m active in SALALM, the Seminar for the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (¡Vamos SALALM!) where I write a Web 2.0 column for the newsletter/blog, set up a mentor social network, and head SALALM’s first e-strategy committee.

My work with my departments and SALALM is mostly informed by the more general reference and instruction technology stuff, such as usability testing, widgets, QR codes, and mobile learning. I’ve kind of muscled my way in on it but I love exploring how new technologies can (or cannot) be adapted for research or teaching purposes.

I’m currently the Romance Language Librarian at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where I serve as the bibliographer for French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Comparative Literature.

What hardware are you using?

This section is going to be embarrassingly short; pretty much my only gadget is my 13″ Mac Book, which replaced my beloved G4 Powerbook earlier this year. Yep, that’s right: no cell phone, no TV, no Wii, no nothing… What can I say?! My Scottish genes just can’t bring themselves to shell out that much for a smartphone, although I have to say that when I replaced my Mac earlier this year I did receive a free iPod Touch and I’m getting pretty addicted to the small screen. My uncle also once gave me a first generation Sony e-reader which I used fairly regularly, but not enough to replace it when it died. Though I do use my computer to excess, so I guess that makes up for the lack of other hardware.

And what software?

I moved to the US in 2005 to do my MSIS with the impression that Americans learned to code in the cradle. I soon realized I was wrong, but this didn’t stop me from taking all the technology courses I could find. And this probably helped me get my first job at LANIC, a Latin American website where we used Terminal. I still use Terminal today, largely for my husband’s retro webpage, but it’s more likely that I’ll be using TextEdit, Text Wrangler, and Fetch at home, and Dreamweaver at work.

Mostly I work in a pretty standard Firefox enabled cloud though. I used Bloglines for five years for RSS and since the sad news of its demise, I’m looking for a replacement. Yahoo Pipes for fancier RSS, Google Alerts for, well, web alerts, Jing for screencasting, WordPress for blogs, Flickr for photos, and Delicious for personal and subject guide bookmarks.

For collection development activities, I use a lot of targeted RSS fed through Yahoo Pipes. Instruction is when Jing and Sporcle (a quizzing software) come to the fore. I also helped implement Libraryh3lp for IM and text messaging reference, and Jing for IM videos. My latest reference project involves QR codes, and I use Microsoft’s Tag program for this.

Most of my collaboration with colleagues happens through Google Docs. I’m a new convert to Google Docs: I resisted the Google siren call for years because I was worried about privacy issues, but Zoho downtime finally made me change over and now I can’t go back. I use Ning for the social network that I built for SALALM, and Twitter for other professional development activities. I withstood Twitter for ages too, but I found that having to consolidate and condense my thoughts really helped my learning process.

Nothing very unusual on my Touch (Stanza for ebooks, MetrO for public transport, Pandora for music, The Guardian for news), except Convert Everything, a conversion app. It’s taken me five years to manage to translate feet and inches and I’m pretty sure that I’m never going to understand fluid ounces.

What would be your dream setup?

That we move beyond dismissing Web 2.0 as just a technology. Web 2.0 isn’t a thing, a tool or a trend; by its very uncontrolled, decentralized, and conversation-enabling nature it has engendered enormous sociological and pedagogical change. By continuing to look at Web 2.0 as just a trendy tool, we fail to understand its true potential and we fail to support the changing information paradigms. I love what I do but I think there’s a lot more room for truly enlightened discussion and reinvention in the research world.

My second greatest dream is that there is universal Wi-Fi. Enough of the spotty, slow connections, the extortionate costs, and that frustrated, useless feeling when you’re out and can’t look something up. Yay Finland for making broadband a legal right; I hope other countries are equally inspired.

Thirdly, and slightly less grandly, that every page that I want to follow has an RSS or a Twitter feed. If a page doesn’t have a feed then I’m pretty much never going back—it’s very frustrating. Subscribing to individual RSS feeds may be a little old school now, but while Techmeme and other aggregators filter a lot of the noise, Jaron Lanier has inspired me to try and avoid being “trapped in someone else’s recent careless thoughts.” So RSS, and increasingly Twitter, is still my number one choice for a web desert island. All that news! That I want to read! Just waiting for me!

And lastly, I’d love a Guardian newspaper quick crossword app. I can’t do US crosswords (too many baseball players as clues), but a non cryptic quick crossword app would make my day.

Anna Johnson

Library Instruction Coordinator, Mt Hood Community College

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Anna Johnson and I coordinate the library instruction program at Mt Hood Community College. I schedule librarian-led research skills instruction in about 200 different classes every year, in a wide variety of subject areas (even Math!). I teach about half of these library instruction classes, and I also teach several one-credit courses, like “College Success” for new students and “Teaching at the Community College” for fellow (and future) educators. My job is completely different every day and I absolutely love it.

What hardware are you using?

At work I use a college-issued Dell setup with Windows 7 (64-bit) and a 17-inch monitor. I had a second monitor until a few weeks ago when I realized I care more about wooden desktop real estate than digital desktop real estate. Our library’s tech guy bet me a Dr Pepper that I’d ask for that other monitor back by December, but I’m happy to have it gone. So far.

Thanks to a decade-old wrist injury, I use a Natural Ergonomic Keyboard and a Natural Wireless Laser Mouse (both from Microsoft). I love this weirdo ergo equipment but it renders my computer pretty useless to anyone else who tries to use it, especially since all the letters on the left side of the keyboard’s split have somehow wiped off.

The other hardware on my work desk is an iHome, for the rare days when I’m in my office long enough to listen to my iPod, which is a 5th generation (video) model, 4 years old and still going strong. I have an ancient cell phone, so old it still flips closed, on purpose—if I had a smart phone I’d be an even bigger slave to email than I already am.

At home I have an Acer Aspire One netbook. I love it for three big reasons: it actually fits on airplane seat-back trays, it’s perfect for TV watching on Hulu and Netflix, and it doesn’t get in my way when I hook it up to a projector for presentations.

And what software?

If circa 1990s graphic designer me was reading this, she’d be so disappointed to know that I spend 90% of my computing time using Microsoft Office programs, but most of my work these days can’t happen without Word, Excel, and (especially) Outlook. I quite like the Xobni add-on for searching in Outlook, and it tells me fun facts like that I send way too many emails.

Nearly all of my work involves collaboration, so I give folks lots of ways to chat with me. Between Outlook, Gmail, Meebo, and Windows Live Messenger, I’m constantly getting four different pop-up notifications in my system tray.

This year I’ve been trying to better integrate library resources into the college’s online classes in Blackboard, so the Adobe CS5 suite is the newest addition to my software toolbox, especially Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Captivate. Alongside these I use lots of “helper” applications, like Audacity, and I’m a big fan of Levelator for cleaning up uneven audio files. I can’t live without Adobe Acrobat, and never post documents online without first converting them to PDFs.

iTunes is almost always running whenever I’m at the computer. At work I stream WERS, a great radio station out of Emerson College in Boston, and at home I dive into my 560 gigs of music on my Buffalo TeraStation external hard drive.

What would be your dream setup?

I’m still chained at the hip to my flash drive so I’m trying to decide if I should get on the cloud computing bandwagon or if I just want a powerful laptop that I can take between home and work. I have high hopes for a one-computer future for myself. I’ll be a happy early adopter guinea pig if and when my college starts supporting laptops instead for desktops for our faculty office computers.

Lynda Kellam

Data Services and Government Information Librarian, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Lynda, the Data Services and Government Information Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I do numbers and track down the government stuff. I also help train our reference interns who are LIS graduate students.

What hardware are you using?

At home I have a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with a 20-inch screen. I am also a bit of a gadget collector, so I have an Acer netbook, an 6 six-year old Dell Inspiron laptop (mostly for running Civilization III), a 64GB Wi-Fi iPad, a 30GB 5th generation iPod, a 1GB pink iPod shuffle, a 16GB 4th generation Touch, and an HTC Hero phone with the Android platform. I really need to sell some of these! The main things I use now are the iMac, iPad, Touch, and the phone.

My work computer is a 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Dell Latitude laptop hooked up to another big as an elephant screen. I also have some hand-me-down equipment to use for scanning and other projects. The laptop has been a great tool; I wouldn’t be able to do my job well without it because I need the mobility. On a given week I’m rarely in my office for long.

And what software?

Day and night I use mostly Firefox. It is the first program I start up when I get up in the morning and when I get to work, especially now that we have switched over to Google Apps for Education. I tried using Google Chrome on my iMac but it didn’t have my passwords so I lazily switched back. Firefox’s homepage goes to my work and personal gmail accounts, the library homepage, our library chat (Libraryh3lp), and my personal chat (Meebo). After logging into those I usually check the Echofon Firefox add-on Twitter feed.

During my typical workday I’m switching between Google Documents, for things I’m sharing, Microsoft Word, for big writing projects, and Evernote, for pretty much everything else. I’m currently finishing up a book project so I have spent most of my time in Microsoft Word this month. I regularly use SPSS, a statistical software, for data work. I have SAS training, but have few requests for it. And for some reason, I end up using Adobe Photoshop quite a bit. I know it better than any other editing program so I just default to it, I guess. We aren’t allowed administrative rights to our computers, which means I don’t get to experiment much with software on the Inspiron. I have to save the experimentation for the Acer or my iMac.

On my iMac I use primarily Evernote, Pages, Skitch, TweetDeck and Cultured Code’s Things. I would love to have Skitch at work because you can do photo editing in a fraction of the time it takes me in Photoshop. It is a super program! I am an Evernote junkie, too. Everything I need is in there and I can access it on my gaggle of gadgets. I’ve gone Pro because I use it for so many work projects. I’m a recent convert to Things. I’ve used Remember the Milk for a couple of years, but it can be so complex that I always get confused and abandon it. I now basically use RTM for my grocery list. Things, on the other hand, has a simple interface that is easy to use, and I have access to it on the iPad or iTouch.

What would be your dream setup?

I think for work I am finally reaching that point. We switched to Google Apps, LibGuides and Libraryh3lp this year, which means that I can answer student questions, update my library course guides and help out on chat from anywhere. As a reference and instruction librarian I shouldn’t be tied down to an office space; I should be able to roam and still have access to my work.

The only thing I would change is that I would love to have a Mac Pro for a second work computer for the Mac-specific software like Skitch and Things and because I prefer the OS. I bring my iPad to work regularly, which is a good substitute. I have remote office hours in a dormitory, and I’ve used it several times there. The library website and databases display pretty well. I do wish it ran Flash because then it would be the perfect little remote reference machine.

I’m pretty happy with my current home set-up. Out of all of the gadgets I’ve bought my iMac was one of the wisest. It does everything I need.

Bohyun Kim

Digital Access Librarian, Florida International University Medical Library

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Bohyun Kim (Twitter: @bohyunkim) and I design web sites, create databases, manage electronic resources, and plan and manage all aspects of technology (hardware, software, and services) at my library. I also write grant proposals and work as the project manager for technology-related grant projects. I am the Digital Access Librarian and one of the library’s four founding librarians of Florida International University (FIU) Medical Library in Miami, FL., which opened in the fall of 2009.

What hardware are you using?

At work, I have a Dell PC with Intel Core 2 Duo (2.4 GHz), 3.35 GB RAM, and a 20″ monitor and a Mac Mini with Intel Core 2 Duo (2 GHz), 2 GB RAM, and a 19″ monitor. I use a Gefen DVI switcher to connect the PC and the Mac Mini with one keyboard and other USB devices.

At home, I have a 19″ iMac with Intel Core Duo (2 GHz) with 2 GB RAM and a 17″ MacBook Pro with Intel Core 2 Duo (2.33 GHz) with 2 GB RAM. I also have a Samsung N120 netbook (Intel Atom 1.6 GHz and 1 GB RAM) and I own an iPhone 4, which I use every day, and an iPad that I use mostly for PDF reading. I use an Evoluent Vertical mouse at both work and home.

And what software?

I mostly work in Adobe Dreamweaver and Photoshop. The text editors I use for scripting are Notepad++ (Windows) and TextWrangler (Mac), both of which are free. My favorite SFTP programs are WinSCP (Windows) and Cyberduck (Mac). I have been quite tempted to purchase TextMate and Transmit for a while. So I may purchase those sooner or later. I rely on XAMPP and MAMP for testing server-side scripts on my local machine. Firebug and Colorzilla are the two Firefox extensions that I most frequently use. I also occasionally use Live HTTP Headers (Firefox extension) to troubleshoot access issues with e-resources. I heavily use Firefox for web design and development work, but for general web browsing I prefer Chrome for its speed. I heavily use iPhone simulator for mobile web app development. For creating instructional materials, I use Jing, FireShot (Firefox extension for Windows), Screenjelly, Camtasia, Audacity, and GarageBand for screen capture, screencasting, and video and audio editing. I use Dropbox on all my computers including my mobile devices.

The apps that I most frequently use aside from Mail, Calendar, and iPod are Dropbox, Good Reader, and iAnnotate on my iPad and Twitter, PS (Photoshop) Express, Podcaster, Facebook, Audiobooks, TWC (The Weather Channel), and Stanza, and Dropbox on my iPhone 4. I love playing with note apps although I am a terrible note taker. Among many note apps, I love Push+Pop for its extremely simple interface. I also have several games on my iPhone, and my recent favorite is SuperQuadra and Frict. I have been trying to revive my long-lost doodling ability after listening to the inspiring talk about Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown at the Big Web Show and TED. But so far, I haven’t gotten much beyond purchasing the Brushes app and drawing a few palm trees and dogs!

What would be your dream setup?

As far as available hardware goes, I would like a MacBook Air with a 27″ Cinema Display and a Mac Mini on the side with the fastest processor and the largest RAM possible.

For things that do not exist yet, I want a foldable and rollable paper-thin touch-screen computer that can be charged wirelessly with the projection keyboard feature.

Emily Lloyd

Associate Librarian, Eden Prairie Library

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Emily Lloyd, an Associate Librarian with a large public library system, a mom to a teen and a tween, and the author of Shelf Check, a librar* comic and/or blog. Some of my interests right now include the idea of spontaneous library programming and librarians as Lifehackers for their communities, as well as the possibility of libraries offering library-published original or curated free ebooks to members. Why limit our ebook offerings to our Overdrive collections when e-publishing is so easy and free? We could partner with local historical societies for an e-volume of local lore, or publish a collection of our staff’s favorite public domain stories, or an anthology of poems or humorous essays by staff or teens from our teen advisory groups, etc.

What hardware are you using?

I have a Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop. I’ve had it about two years, and it’s my first new, not hand-me-down laptop, a gift from my Mom. It’s fine, but could be faster.

Since mid-August, I’ve had a Wi-Fi-only Barnes & Noble Nook. I use it for library books, the occasional purchase (I was able to download Mockingjay at 11:00 p.m. when it was released at midnight EST! [I’m in Central]), and (most heavily) with Instapaper for reading longer articles and blog posts. Outside of the slow start-up time, I think it’s great, and really like the way it feels in my hands.

I don’t have a smart phone yet, but I bought a 3rd-gen iPod Touch last Spring so I wouldn’t feel completely out of the loop when it comes to trying out apps (backfire note: I still feel out of the loop, since many of the apps I’m most interested in require a camera that the Touch doesn’t have). I used the Touch as an ereader before I got the Nook, and continue to use it for free books from FeedBooks via Stanza.

And what software?

Google Docs. iTunes. Skype. There isn’t much I don’t do online or in-browser. Blogger, Google Reader, Delicious. Twitter. I make Shelf Check at Toondoo, a free strip-building site I’m very grateful for, supplementing their clip-art style graphics with things I slap together at Picnik (also free). I use Picnik a lot for library book display signage as well. For browsing, I use Chrome and make frequent use of Talon, Aviary’s brilliant screen capture extension, which lets you edit your capture in-browser.
At work, we recently upgraded to Office 2007, and added Audacity and GIMP to all public computers. I’m excited to spend more time with them.

What would be your dream setup?

Unfettered access to a great tech zoo. I don’t feel I need to own things so much as I feel that not being able to play and spend time with them is becoming a liability. I’m thinking of trying to start up a kind of tech gear co-op, either neighborhood or workplace-based, where you can take my Nook home for a week (I don’t think a weekend’s enough) and try checking out a library book, and I can take your MacBook and camera home and try out iMovie. Or even something as simple as a “Bring Your Gear to Work Day” or staff meeting, where we lay all our stuff out and teach each other the basics about it.

Clifford Lynch

Director of the Coalition for Networked Information

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Clifford Lynch. I’m the Director of the Coalition for Networked Information; I’m also an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information. In terms of computing-supported work, this means that I deal with vast amounts of email, spend a lot of time looking at various kinds of things on the net, experimenting with various software and services, and editing or commenting on documents. I struggle to get original writing done, and to mange the research materials that underpin this. And I’m on the road almost all the time, so portability and reliability are very important.

What hardware are you using?

I’ve had Apple powerbooks for years and years; I’m currently on a 13 inch aluminum MacBook Pro that’s about a year old, with a solid state drive replacing the hard drive and the memory maxed out to 8 GB. These machines are finally at the point where you can put enough memory on them so they aren’t memory constrained (at least for what I do), which is really nice. I don’t use an external monitor; I have an assortment of external drives in various places as one level of backup. And handy access to a good duplexing laser printer (I’ve been using HPs for the last seven or eight years) is important.

I don’t use a lot of gadgets at present: for example, I have a boring quad-band unlocked cell phone that basically makes phone calls and roams internationally pretty gracefully. Though in due course I suspect I’ll end up on an iPhone or something like that.

And what software?

Of course the usual stuff: OS X, Safari and Firefox, Microsoft Office. I should say that the current trends towards very highly integrated software systems scares me to death and I try to avoid it (update your browser, and your mail and calendar suddenly break!). For email I’m still on classic, now four years unsupported, Eudora, and live in fear that it will suddenly stop working when Apple updates the operating system. The good news is there are some promising successors coming along, albeit slowly. I use Meeting Maker for calendaring, and an absolutely fabulous, indispensable program called CircusPonies Notebook for note taking, list making, and organizing.

There’s lots of other software I’m experimenting with on an ongoing basis, including various word processors and text editors, and systems like Mathematica, Netlogo, and TeX that I’d like to really master someday. And I still haven’t found a solution I’m fully happy with for bibliography management and organizing the masses of papers, reports and other documents that I have on my local drive that have been downloaded from the net.

What would be your dream setup?

In terms of hardware, I feel like I’m in pretty good shape, finally; I don’t feel like my laptop is severely underpowered for the basic work that I’m trying to get done. I do find some of the Apple product line trade-offs between capability and portability frustrating—the laptops with the bigger screens are consistently much more capable, and I keep wishing they’d couple the computational and storage capabilities less tightly to the screen size for those of us who prize a small footprint. I miss the non-glare screens that Apple used to use, and battery life can always be improved—particularly now that you can’t just pack an extra battery.

Network speed, ubiquity, and cost are real issues for me. I wish I could count on fast reliable wireless, backed up by fast backbone network connectivity (think about hotels, where the wireless is OK but everybody then bottlenecks onto a single T1 line out of the hotel)—everywhere and affordable. This is a particular nightmare when traveling abroad, but it’s bad even in the US. This is a major barrier to making more integral use of cloud services of various kinds (even basic things like backup; I do use this, but only as part of a broader strategy).

In terms of software, I think there’s still tons of room for progress towards a dream configuration. And let me close with a plug for content. Availability of journal articles in digital form is pretty good, and this is a huge boon when doing research. I can’t wait for the day when I can get the vast majority of the books that I have in hardcopy digitally so that I can put selected books on my hard drive, search them and annotate them when I’m working on writing something.

Sarah Murphy

School Librarian and Desk Set co-founder

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Sarah Murphy, and I’m a school librarian at an Independent K-12 Boys’ School in Manhattan. In 2006, Maria Falgoust and I co-founded The Desk Set, a fund raising, party throwing organization of librarians and bibliophiles. I live in Brooklyn.

What hardware are you using?

At home, I use my laptop—a MacBook—and when I choose “About this Mac,” I discover that it’s a MacBook 4.1 with an Intel Core 2 Duo speeding along at 2.4 GHz.

I have an 8GB iPod Touch to carry around music and photos, and check the Web when I’m lucky enough to hit a Wi-Fi spot. For playing music, I’m considerably more fond of my circa 1955 Magnavox console turntable.

I adore my decade-old Canon CanoScan which lets me make flyers (or my own wedding invitations) using paper and other physical media (like Scrabble tiles!) and still distribute them like a proper 21st-century gal who wants to avoid extra waste and cost.

And to supplement all of this, I’ve got a ten-dollar phone that doesn’t even take pictures.

So, if I need to capture the moment, I might borrow my husband’s Canon Rebel XS or I’ll use my super rad Diana+ from Lomography (a gift from some of my Desk Set pals).

At work, I’m primarily hooked to a 21.5-inch 3.06 GHz iMac, and I often teach lessons using a SMART SB660i3 SMART Board ® 600i interactive whiteboard system and UF55 projector. I’m circulating 24 Dell 2100 Netbooks, 4 MacBooks, and 2 iPads.

And what software?

Most of what I do happens online, and my browser of choice is Firefox. At work, when I’m not teaching, I’m usually staring at either our online library catalog (Destiny Library Manager from Follett) or my email (.edu mail powered by Gmail). At both home and work I’ve more or less ditched MS Office in favor of Google Docs. And I can’t get through the day without my Google Calendar.

The Netbooks run Ubuntu, and I encourage the students to use Google Docs rather than Open Office. When they return the netbooks, I’d rather not have to worry about what files they leave behind: when all their work is in their email, it disappears when they log off.

The Desk Set has a blog powered by WordPress, and the blogs at school also happen to be from WordPress.

And I’m pretty wild about iMovie for library instructional videos starring fourth graders, or for video invitations for Desk Set events. When screenplays are required, I’m happy to use Celtx, mostly because it’s free, but also because screenplays for fourth graders don’t really require Final Draft.

What would be your dream setup?

I am fairly satisfied with what I’ve got, but I admit that I’m sort of loving the iPads at school and would love one of my own. But I wouldn’t use it for its (very nice) Kindle app or its (also OK) iBooks app, because my ideal setup for reading is still the book. Honestly, I’d love to ditch everything digital all together. My eyes have been more strained lately and I often feel like I spend most of my time writing and reading emails about what I’m going to do, and very rarely ever do anything. So my ideal ideal setup would be a house full of printed books, the aforementioned Magnavox, and a bottle of wine.

Kenley Neufeld

Library Director, Santa Barbara City College

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Kenley and I like to explore new ideas, play, listen to music, sit in meditation, and do my best to help others. If I can listen, to myself and to others, then I’m on the right track. If I can “be present” and bring “awareness” to all my actions then what I do is what I am doing. That said, I recently came across a Seth Godin discussion on what we should be doing in our organizations. I like what he wrote. My job should be seeing new opportunities, making decisions that work, and understanding the connection between my audience, brand, and ventures. I try to apply this in my work life where I serve as the Library Director of a large community college library in Santa Barbara. It’s a great place to arrive every day. It has a motivated, passionate, and supportive staff. What a difference that makes!

What hardware are you using?

Main device (appendage?) is my iPhone 4. Wow, what a device!

When using a full size computer, at home and in the office, I have a 15″ MacBook Pro (2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 4 GB) running Snow Leopard (and Windows 7 via Parallels 5 as needed) with an attached 24″ Apple Cinema display. Blue Snowball microphone and G Drive for backups.

My iPad comes in handy when going to meetings or the coffee shop.

And what software?

On the iPhone, I love using Gowalla, Foursquare, and Facebook. Safari and Calendar are the close follow-ups. Hipstamatic camera app for taking fun pictures. 1Password for tracking my virtual wallet and passwords.

The MBP keeps Chrome and Firefox open all the time. I use the Dev version of Chrome and am also testing Firefox 4. Some sites that I use don’t work well in Chrome (my preferred browser) and by having Firefox open and available I can easily switch over to the other browser. Also, I have two different Google accounts that I use and prefer to keep them open in different browsers.

TweetDeck appears when I can support the time. In the background is Adium, Skype, Dropbox, and Jing. 1Password for fast logging in to websites.

My iPad needs to have other functionality so I use iAnnotate PDF, Instapaper, GoodReader, IM+, and Tweetings. 1Password is a must, again.

Overall, I spend quite a bit of time with web apps. I’ve lived in Gmail for most of the last six years. All my calendars are in Google, but I have them connected with my iPhone and iPad using the Google/Exchange option. Pay for MOG for my music listening needs. WordPress is the bomb.

What would be your dream setup?

I’ve worked pretty hard at setting up systems that meet my needs. The laptop needs to stay small enough to travel, but large enough to work at the desktop. It’d be nice to have a second Cinema Display on the desktop.

Still waiting for the ideal audio storage and playback system in the cloud. Nothing quite has the mix right… cost, speed, ease of use, integration with existing tools, etc.

An Android to play with and explore

Carlos Ovalle

Computer Systems Developer, University of Texas, Austin

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Carlos Ovalle. I’m an IT person, doctoral student, and occasional lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin’s iSchool. I offer various types of tech support and run the IT Lab. I teach an undergraduate class called Information in Cyberspace. I study technology and law (especially copyright) and try to figure out how these things affect the practices of cultural institutions like libraries, archives, and museums, and maybe have suggestions for various groups about those subjects. I’m an American Library Association Copyright Scholar, and I try to help answer librarians’ questions about copyright at the website I helped build at librarycopyright.net. I’m on the board of EFF-Austin. I’m working on my qualifying paper and some other projects involving some local archives and museums. Also, I play games when I have time. Sadly, that isn’t too often recently, but my wife and I are on the library guild in WoW.

What hardware are you using?

My work desktop is an older system, but I really like it: a Dell Precision PWS380, Pentium D 3.20 Ghz, 4 GB of RAM, 500 GB hard drive using RAID 5 (basically, 3 hard drives striping, so that if one fails it can be replaced—that has saved me on multiple occasions). I also occasionally use a Dell Mini 10v or a MacBook Pro.

Home personal computers: Dell XPS 6301. Intel Core2 Quad, 3 Ghz, 8 GB Ram running 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate, NVidia GeForce GTX 285 video card, 750 GB hard drive. That’s supposed to be my gaming/high processing computer, but in all honesty it gets used the least of any of my systems. I mainly use this one when I want to hole up in a room and do a ton of academic work.

The computer I use the most often is my laptop, a Dell Vostro 1720 with an Intel Core2 Duo, 2.66 Ghz, 8 GB 64-bit Windows Vista, NVidia GeForce 9600M GS video card and 500 GB hard drive. I use it for absolutely everything.

The latter are the newest systems; they’re a bit of overkill for what I ordinarily do with them, but I expect them to last 4-6 years without much problem. The rest of the systems I mentioned are probably 5-6 years old, but still very usable.

My newest project is going to be getting Ubuntu running on a six-year-old Precision.

And what software?

Lots. I try to be at least familiar with everything we have in the lab. I regularly use Windows OSs because I support them, and I run XP, Vista, and 7 on my various systems. Although a coworker does most of the Mac stuff, I do try to keep familiar with OS X for the times I support it.

This second, I’m using SSH Secure Shell Client to connect to a Red Hat Server and using alpine to check my email. I’ve got about 40 or so Firefox tabs in five windows. I’ve got Skype and Pidgin running for IM, and Winamp Pro for music. I’ve got Excel and Word open for a research paper I’m collaborating on.

What would be your dream setup?

Dream—two main systems. For a desktop, up the RAM, processor, and graphics card on my XPS system, and since I’m dreaming, also have it be a lot quieter. Plus a giant monitor, naturally.

The biggest problem I regularly face is with my laptop cooling. I’ve had to purchase a cooling pad, and it still overheats regularly. So a fairly high-end laptop that doesn’t suffer from cooling problems is like a dream right now.

Dan Scott

Systems Librarian, Laurentian University

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi, I’m Dan Scott, a decrepit 38-year-old systems librarian at Laurentian University. I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to help the Evergreen free software library system project on most fronts: features, bug fixes, community, and ease of use. I also maintain the File_MARC PHP library for reading and writing MARC records.

What hardware are you using?

Most of my time is spent on a Lenovo ThinkPad T400 with a dual-core 64-bit processor, 3 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB 7200 RPM hard drive (I buy a 3rd party hard drive and swap it in myself rather than paying the crazy premium that the manufacturer would demand). I never use an external monitor, and I disable the trackpad in the BIOS—I love the nipple—but I do plug in a stock external Lenovo mouse and keyboard when I’m at the office. I’ve used ThinkPads for ten years; I blame my previous career with IBM for getting me hooked.

Coffee|Code runs on a Linode virtual private server with 512 MB of RAM and 16 GB of storage.

My HTC Nexus One phone is my truly mobile computer; having email, a full Web browsing experience, and GPS navigation continuously available changes things. I own my phone outright, so I was able to switch to a local SIM when I spent two weeks in Amsterdam and got unlimited data for €2.50/day. In the last two weeks I relied on the phone’s ability to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot while working at a cottage without an Internet connection, and then again for a few more days when I returned home and found my DSL connection was dead. The 3G speed on the phone is as fast as my DSL connection—hard to believe that I used to use a 300 baud modem to connect to the world. I also use the phone to read books to my daughter at night; we just finished Alice in Wonderland and are moving on to Through The Looking Glass.

The Nexus One has also taken over most of my on-the-go media consumption needs, but when I’m traveling light or conserving batteries I’m very happy with my 8 GB Sansa Clip+ with an additional 8 GB microSD card. It has a tiny form factor, long battery life, and supports Ogg Vorbis and FLAC, which is how I’ve stored most of my music collection.

I ride a 2008 Norco Nitro (hardtail, hydraulic discs) and occasionally take advantage of the great trails in Sudbury, but usually it suffers the indignity of being used for commuting.

And what software?

I’m currently running Fedora 13 on the laptop. Linux has been my primary desktop for over a dozen years. I’ve been a Gnome user for the last few years; before that I was a KDE user (during the halcyon KDE 3 days), and before that I ran WindowMaker.

The software behind the Coffee|Code blog is Serendipity. I run “Screen” on every server so that random network problems don’t really interfere with my work.

I use mutt for email, and I use LibreOffice to create presentations or when people send me Microsoft Word or Excel documents.

I use KeePassX for password management on my laptop and synchronize the password database with my phone running KeePassDroid.

I run VirtualBox OSE (Open Source Edition) as distributed in the Fedora packages so that I can build and test virtual images of Evergreen on other distributions such as Debian and Ubuntu, and occasionally to test software on a Windows XP (ugh) virtual image.

I mostly program in Perl,JavaScript, and PHP using the Vim text editor and Subversion repositories. I write tutorials and documentation in AsciiDoc and store those in Bazaar repositories.

For Web browsing and Web development, I’m pretty much evenly split between Firefox + Firebug + NoScript and Chromium. Neither browser helps with the hell that is debugging Internet Explorer, though.

For communication, my primary tool is the XChat IRC client for staying in touch with #code4lib and #evergreen on Freenode. I also run Empathy so that people who aren’t library geeks can contact me via various instant messaging protocols. I fairly obsessively use the standard Web interface to communicate on the Identi.ca microblog service, and very rarely I check in on Twitter.

For a podcatcher, gPodder is the bomb.

What would be your dream setup?

I downsized from a 15″ laptop to a 14″ laptop, but was surprised that it was a 14″ widescreen—which ended up having approximately the same footprint as my old laptop. My first ThinkPad was a 13″ ultra-portable; I would happily go back to that form factor if I didn’t have to sacrifice the processor, RAM, hard drive capacity, or battery life. It looks like the ThinkPad x201 line is what I would be dreaming about currently. Throw in a decent port replicator and a dual-monitor setup; I’m sure I could get used to it.

I would ideally be using that setup to work on free software written in Python, stored in a distributed version control system, bolstered by a rich set of unit sets and solid documentation.

Cindi Trainor

Head of Library Technology, Eastern Kentucky University

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Cindi, and I’m a librarian. I’m also a mom, wife, student, photographer, crocheter, runner, reader, and writer. I work at Eastern Kentucky University currently, where I’m the head of the
library technology division. The word “Division” is a little heavy to describe my Fantastic Five, who keep all the technology in the libraries (from SFX to the public PCs and everything in between) a-humming along as best we can. Which is to say that we set it up, and when it breaks, we fix it. Like many librarians responsible for technology, I’m an accidental technologist. My current favorite distraction—aside from crocheting and running—is watching Dr. Who.

What hardware are you using?

My work computer is a 13″ MacBook, which I love and take everywhere with me. At home, I have a 24″ iMac. I shoot primarily with a Canon 5D and the f2.8 24-70 mm, f2.8 70-200 mm and f1.8 85mm lenses. I use the 24-70 mm lens for most shooting, but the best portraits come with the 85mm lens, which yields sharp images with vibrant color and butter-soft bokeh (the out-of-focus background that makes the subject POP!). Fantastic! I have experimented with off-camera lighting using the ultra-portable kit recommended by the Strobist blog including the Canon 580EX, Canon ST-E2 flash trigger, and Westcott collapsible umbrella—but mostly rely on natural light for shooting.

And what software?

What would be your dream setup?

I would love to have a Canon 5D Mark II, but by the time I buy a new camera I bet there will be something even better available. My next camera-related purchase will probably be another L-glass lens. Now that I have a camera that can shoot acceptably in ISOs above 100 (the Rebel I had really couldn’t), I don’t have to rely so heavily on lenses with huge apertures. When I eventually get better training on studio lighting, I’d like to own a cloth backdrop and a few studio

If I ever decide to move on from librarianship, my absolute dream job would be to be the Presidential photographer, provided that by the time I get around to it, the President is still someone I like. More realistically, I’d probably be content shooting and writing for a publication of some kind.

Dee Venuto

Media Services Coordinator, Rancocas Valley Regional High School

Who are you, and what do you do?

For almost 20 years I’ve been a teacher librarian. For the past three years, I’ve served a wonderfully diverse and large population as the media center coordinator at Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly, New Jersey. Most of my technology choices are based on creating relevant experiences for my students and networking with individuals interested in the library world.

Recently, a challenge led by the county chapter of Glenn Beck’s Project 9/12 group resulted in the banning of our school’s copy of Amy Sonnie’s Revolutionary Voices, an anthology of writings by LGBTQ individuals. This threw my career into a new direction: I now find myself an advocate for intellectual freedom and spending more time working on our nation’s growing digital/educational divide. Whether presenting at ALA or working as a member of the state library cooperative board of New Jersey, I hope to offer insight that helps all types of libraries collaborate for the benefit of our profession and patrons.

What hardware are you using?

I regularly use a HP 8510w notebook with Windows XP. Although quite heavy, it easily travels to and from work with me and offers me security when presenting in other locations. The lab in my library uses Vista and offers me another experience.

At home, I’m addicted to the wireless laptop, much to the chagrin of my family, but am integrating the iPad too. In addition, anticipating the purchase of Macs at our school I’ve started to play with a MacBook Pro.

And what software?

Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, Google Docs, primitive website design using our school’s provider, Delicious, NoodleTools (checked out Zotero, but my students and I aren’t ready for that), SmartNotebook, Prezi, Windows Movie Maker, PowerPoint, professional listservs, Firefox, Safari, research databases, Yahoo IM, and iTunes. As always there are plans to learn new things really soon such as TweetDeck and iLife, with possibly Ning on the horizon.

What would be your dream setup?

Besides being shown a source that outlined exactly which technologies would best serve my students’ needs, I would love to have a second 30-station iMac lab in our library—complete with dual platform capabilities—so I could teach students how to create content using iLife or Movie Maker with information from their own devices (phones, MP3 players) or the library’s. I also dream of an educational system that allows this to happen by catching up to its 21st century learners and integrating a curriculum which gives them skills in the ethical use of technology. Personally, I entertain the idea of an iPhone or Droid, but really don’t think I should be plugged in anymore than I am.

Brett Bonfield

Library Director, Collingswood (NJ) Public Library

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m the director of the Collingswood (NJ) Public Library and a part-time PhD candidate at the Rutgers library school in New Brunswick, NJ. I’m also a co-founder and editor at In the Library with the Lead Pipe, treasurer for the New Jersey Library Association, and I work on a couple of presidential task forces for the American Library Association. Outside of work, I’m a wedding officiant, a barefoot runner, and a certified yoga teacher.

What hardware are you using?

My primary home computer is a new Apple iMac (21.5-inch, 3.2 GHz, 4 GB), which we bought in August to replace a Dell PowerEdge 600SC (Pentium 4 2.4GHz, 2GB, Sceptre X7 monitor) we’ve had since 2002. The iMac is my first Apple computer and so far I’m very impressed. I got it, in part, because I’m so taken with my 8 MB iPod Touch, which I use all the time.

My laptop is a first generation Pangolin Value from System76, an independent computer vendor out of Colorado that sells Ubuntu machines and provides very good customer support as well. We bought it in 2006 and it’s still going strong, though if I had the purchase to do over again I would have gotten a much lighter machine.

At work, I use a white label PC (Pentium 4 2.8 Ghz and 2 GB) sold to the Library by an independent, local computer vendor a year or so before I got here. Dealing with its finicky motherboard sold me forever on Kingston memory, as much for its customer service as for its products.

My camera is a Samsung SL270, though I’m a terrible photographer and, as I discovered when using its HD video mode, an even worse videographer. I also have a long-discontinued and practically invulnerable Nokia cell phone on a prepaid T-Mobile plan (the next best thing to my dream of not having a cell phone at all).

And what software?

I like and rely on Dropbox, Firefox, Google Docs, Gmail, Pinboard, LastPass, LibreOffice, Photoshop, VLC, and the three-headed notes team of SimpleNote (for Touch and synchronizing), Notational Velocity (Mac desktop client), and ResophNotes (Windows desktop and portable client).

On Windows, I’m a fan of 7-Zip, Foobar2000, Notepad++, PuTTY, WinSCP, and Microsoft Excel and Word (2003 and earlier), and Security Essentials.

On OS X, I’m a fan of Cyberduck, iTunes, and Skim, and I really like Safari, Stanza, iCombinator, and Hacker News Mobile on my Touch.

I’m trying to learn Vim yet again, this time by choosing MacVim over TextEdit as often as possible. If Vim finally takes, I’ll owe a big debt to Yehuda Katz.

I like Chrome (especially its developer tools) and Safari, but almost never use them now that I’m in school and rely on Zotero, which is only available for Firefox. Fortunately, almost everything I like about the other browsers is now available for Firefox as well (and sometimes exclusively), including Private Browsing Mode, Smart Keywords, Sync, AdBlock, BetterPrivacy, HTTPS-Everywhere, Instaright, Link Widgets, OptimizeGoogle, Readability, and Scrollbar Anywhere. I also use and appreciate Firebug, Flashblock, and NoScript, though I’d like to find a way to be less aware that I’m using them.

For Maintaining the Library’s Vista-based public workstations I depend on Ninite to keep the software up to date and SteadyState to maintain security and set session time outs. I’d like to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7, but Windows 7 doesn’t support SteadyState and I won’t upgrade without it.

The Collingswood Public Library’s website (including its catalog) run on the WordPress-based Scriblio, and WordPress is the platform for In the Library with the Lead Pipe as well. I use WordPress.com and FeedBurner to maintain the email list and send out the newsletter for my wife’s yoga studio, and Mad Mimi for the Collingswood Public Library’s list.

I host rss2email on my own server and send all my feeds to Gmail. I’m also playing around with TweetByMail, so I can interact with Twitter via Gmail. The fewer interfaces I have to deal with, the better.

What would be your dream setup?

Most interface/platform improvements don’t mean much to me. CPU speeds have long surpassed my cognitive limitations, and interfaces have been good enough for so long that it’s hard to remember a time when I wanted them to be more responsive. If anything, I tend to consciously slow down how fast I speak and type so that I don’t say or write something I haven’t thought all the way through. Meanwhile, I’m assimilating new information ever more slowly.

What would really impress me would be ways to seamlessly provide privacy and security in networked environments. For instance, I would really like to have access to a wireless mesh network, like the one being developed by the One Laptop Per Child project. I also dream of libraries wholeheartedly adopting Tor (or, perhaps, VPN or SSH tunneling), which would require two complementary initiatives: making Tor faster by installing relays on library servers, and spreading the word on what it does and how to use it—which may have the salutary effect of educating people about the relevance of libraries’ longstanding commitment to privacy.


Five years ago, before I had started researching library schools I might want to attend, I didn’t know much about librarianship. I think I would have been surprised by the phrase “Library and Information Science.” What did one have to do with the other?

Like many technologists, I may have had some vague notion that librarians had something to contribute to discussions about information and metadata and standards and access, but my concept of what librarians did and what they knew probably had more to do with stereotypes and anecdote than on an understanding of reality. Which is a shame. Although in the last few years I think we’ve done a really good job of making clearer connections between libraries and technology, I don’t think anyone is surprised when librarians are omitted from discussions about and between prominent technologists, such as the one facilitated by the Setup. (Note: by “librarians” I mean anyone who works in, with, or for libraries. Hat tip to Eli Neiburger for saying what I’d been thinking, only less clearly, for some time before he said those words out loud.)

I love the Setup. It’s a great publication, it’s beautifully designed, the questions are perfect, and the interview roll includes many of the techies I most admire, along with many others who I hadn’t heard of by name before they appeared but whose answers were fun and instructive. Although I’m not surprised that no librarians have been included in the Setup, I thought it would be useful to see if librarians would be as interesting to interview as people who work in professions that are more generally perceived as IT. That’s for you to decide, but I think the answer is yes. I started this project with high expectations, and every one of the librarians I interviewed exceeded them.

Thanks to all participants for their answers and great photos, and thanks to Daniel Bogan for starting and running the Setup, for giving it a Creative Commons license, and for agreeing to serve as a reader for this piece. Thanks also to Chris Boetticher for his photo-editing wizardry, to my Lead Pipe colleague, Eric Frierson, for reading and commenting on this post in draft form, and to Derik Badman, Laurel Bliss, Ellie Collier, Hilary Davis, Allie Flannery, Emily Ford, AJ Johnson, Cindy Phillips, Jean Rainwater, and Marcellus Turner for suggesting people for me to interview. Finally, thanks to Derik Badman for last-minute troubleshooting—either WordPress or our host choked on this post and I had to go directly into MySQL to take it live, a task made much easier by my new friend, Sequel Pro.

6 Responses

  1. Micah Vandegrift

    This is an amazing post. I always love seeing how other people are using tech as tools to manage work/life, and I have taken quite a few notes from thus post. Allison- I’d suggest you look into Dapper for scraping RSS from sites that don’t have a feed. Pretty cool tool. Also, I’m working on a massive, yahoo-piped, Post Ranked, library/museum blog RSS aggregator function OPML thingy that I think could be insanely useful to many if us in the field who want to keep an ear to the ground without investing hours per day playing catch up. Stay in touch and i’ll share when it’s up and running.

  2. I am also a Evoluent Vertical Mouse user at work and at home, like Bohyun. I’ve also made good use of the Logitech USB headsets in the past, for narrating Camtasia videos.

    The other thing that has been a lifesaver, since I’ve been playing musical cubicles at work, is my set of Shure Sound Isolating Ear Phones. It’s the only way I get anything done in my work environment.

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