411 Toolbox: Mental Floss on YouTube

YouTube is an Info Junkie’s best friend. Seriously. there’s so much you search for on YouTube these days that if you’re not checking it out, at all, you’re missing the fun. A few months ago I spotlighted a few of the YouTube Channels I watch regularly … Spotlight 411: InfoJunkie’s Top 5 YouTube Channels. In that post I mention Mental Floss, which I am now going get into more detail about.

Joining the YouTube mania in 2011, Mental Floss’ YouTube channel now has over 1 million viewers, which is awesome!

When I first reconnected with the Mental Floss world, it was because of “The List Show.” The List Show, usually hosted by John and he does such a good job. The most recent video uploaded is “25 Towns That Changed Names,” featured below, but other videos include “30 Facts About Chocolate,” “80 Facts About the 80’s,” and so much more. I started watching these because they were fun to watch, but after watching a handful of these, I realized just how useful (though sometimes useless) the information was. I work in a library, if you haven’t been reading every one of my posts. You have no idea how valuable some of this trivia is. I think, in one video, he does something about famous authors and I was able to use one of his factoids as a point of interest for a patron who was inquiring about a good read.

At the end of the List Show, they used to answer a question that one of their subscribers asked. I found those interesting as well. Well, that evolved into their other segment, “Big Questions.” In these videos they can get a little more detailed with their answers and I love it. This, too, is random information but comes in handy when working in the information field. I mean, tell me the answer to “Why are butterflies called ‘butterflies?'” or “Where Does the $ Sign Come From?” isn’t interesting? I find these videos brilliant. I mean, it’s so simple. And I don’t know who’s their fact-checker, but even if their answers aren’t 100% accurate, they give us a starting point. It’s kind of like Wikipedia. If you want background information on your researching topic, you have to start somewhere and this show is a great launching point.

Which leads me to one of my favorite segments on this channel: Misconceptions.

Misconceptions is about five minute video clip on misconceptions we have about certain things. One of my favorites is “Misconceptions From the Movies” (uploaded below), followed closely by “Misconceptions You Learned In School.” And again, even if they aren’t 100% accurate, it’s a start. I really good start.

With the tons of information you can get in small doses, is it even a question why this is YouTube channel is on an Information Junkie’s favorite list? I mean, certain educational videos you can find on YouTube are more in-depth than Mental Floss’ but I love that they keep things simple and in bite-size clips.

And even if you don’t work in the information field, these segments are great conversational topics. It can make you interesting, even sound smart! In a world where people are checking their phones at the dinner table more than they are actually talking to each other, conversational topics are great to have.

So, if you haven’t checked out the Mental Floss YouTube Channel, go do it now and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

411 Toolbox: The toolbox

A few months back I decided to write about tools of the trade or, well, tools that I use to keep my brain occupied and help me to be the information junkie that I am. I kicked it off by reviewing Evernote–a pretty darned cool app that … well, you can read all about it here. And two years ago, I reviewed GoodReads here.

It didn’t dawn on me to turn it into a spotlight until recently. I decided that I like showcasing the resources I use to feed my brain and they deserve some loving, so I’ve decided to make it a feature post. And just like my book reviews and movie review, I’m trying to figure out how to showcase this spotlight post.

  • Do I make a list of five? Ten?
  • Should I make it a weekly post? Monthly post?
  • Do I make it series?

Decisions, decisions. But then again, that’s the beauty of writing. You can dive in and eventually you’ll find something you like, something you start to work with, and then it takes care of itself.

While planning and analyzing is a good thing, the even better thing to do is just go with it. And since I love writing and blogging I know this will work itself out like the others.

So, not only have I decided t start a Facebook page for my blog, I’m also starting a new category. My has my muse been busy.

To a new month full of possibilities.

411 Junkie’s Toolbox: Evernote

Apps are all the rage when it comes to your online life. It’s amazing to see just how dependent we’ve become on these mini programs. We have them on our phones, on our computers, on our mobile devices. But they are convenient, no?

As an information junkie, I can’t tell you how much I rely on these apps.

And as an information junkie, I heavily rely on Evernote.

Evernote is a note-taker’s dream. I use it for just about everything: school, blogging, book notes, research. You name it.
Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.07.15 PM
With Evernote, you can create different Notebooks and within that notebook you can create notes. This allows me to organize my blog posts, my study notes, my casual reading notes, and whatever else you can think of. I can add things like pictures, links, voice memos, and attachments to these notes. I can share these notes by email these notes and tag them for easier search. It’s amazing. It really is.

I can also access Evernote easily from all my devices. I have a MacBook, an iPhone, and a Kindle and I can use Evernote on all three devices with no problems.

If there is any complaint, the one minor thing I’d have to complain about is a formatting issue. If I copy and paste to a program like Pages or Word, it could loose it’s format. For me, this is really minor because you have that risk whenever you cross-platform something.

And the best part of it all? FREE! I used the free version for a while and was happy with it. I decided to upgrade to the Premium because I wanted to see the difference between the two. I can’t remember the difference between the two platforms exactly, but I remember thinking that $5/mo is a small price to pay monthly consider the benefits. I think it was because the layout is more mainstream as well as your notebooks are better organized. But, again, I was happy working with the free version and if you can’t spare the $5 per month, I think the free version works just fine.

[411 Toolbox:] GoodReads, A Booklovers Best Friend

“Can you print out a log of everything I borrowed in the past month?,” is a question that I am asked at least once a day by library patrons.  I am a booklover–plain and simple. As a booklover, I love to keep track of what I’ve read or what I’d like to read so I can reference it in the future. I’ve always done this, more or less, but I never realized the value of this until I started working at the library. Regrettably, our system doesn’t keep a running log of everything a patron has read, which makes me grateful for my membership at GoodReads. GoodReads is a must-have membership for all booklovers and I highly recommend getting it if you don’t already have it.

GoodReads is basically a all-in-one for all booklovers. Membership is free and at no cost you can look up books, look up authors, keep track of books you’ve read, keep track of books you’d like to read, and so much more! I mean, it’s everything a booklover could hope for!

Here are a few reasons I use GoodReads:

1) It helps me keep a reading log.
There are two shelves I use often: Currently Reading and To-Read
With the “currently reading” shelf, I can keep track of books that I’m reading as well as my progress. Yes, you can update your progress on the book by page or location or percentage for Kindle users. You can comment on your progress and share it through Twitter or Facebook. I really love this feature and use it often to share my progress with friends on Facebook and Twitter. It’s helped me meet many new people.
With the To-Read shelf, it does exactly as it says: keeps a log of books I want to read. And what’s really neat is I use this feature with the scanning feature–more on this later.
GoodReads does have a “Read” shelf that keeps a  log of all the books you’ve read and it does track dates. So when you’re finished with a book, from your “Currently Reading” shelf you can update it’s status to “Finish reading” and it will automatically move your book from Currently Reading to Read and tag it with the date you finished.

2) It helps me meet new people.
Social Media is the biggest thing on the internet today and GoodReads fits right into this community. It has a Facebook feel where you can meet other people and “friend” them on GoodReads. This allows me to view other people’s profiles, bookshelves, and updates. I find this very beneficial. The fact that you can meet cool people, and many authors, appeals to me. I’ve made some really cool friends through this community of booklovers–including authors.

3) It’s an app!
Because apps are a big things with smartphones, I am happy to report that GoodReads has an app. From my iPhone I can use all the features of GoodReads as well as a few more things. The app has a feature that I’ve found so useful, especially since I work in a library, and has made my membership with GoodReads even more valuable. It allows me to scan books. With my iPhone app, I can tap on “Scan” and scan the barcode on the back of the book to search for it on GoodReads. When found, I can pull up the book summary, what my peers have rated it (5-star rating system), and even add it to any of my shelves instantly.

There are so many other features that GoodReads offers, but to list them all would make a rather lengthy blog entry. The reasons I mentioned are the main reasons I’ve used GoodReads for over a year and have not been disappointed at all. I can’t really think of any negatives about it, honestly. It exceeds all of my expectations and fits my needs perfectly. I’d recommend this free service to all booklovers and fellow fans of reading.

Edited: 03 April 2015