Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SL Adventures: James Madison University’s Cultural Arts Museum

Earlier this week, I had the fortune to visit James Madison University’s Cultural Arts Museum in Second Life: SLURL here. This site is a lot of fun! It has a little bit of everything: a Roman Grotto, a Roman Villa, a Greek Temple, an Egyptian Tomb, a Russian Orthodox Church, and the Starkweather Art Pavilion. Plus, the entrance has an introduction and art exhibits of its own.

Since I couldn’t hope to do it justice with words, here is a slideshow of some pictures I took:

To see the photos, one at a time, go to my Picasa page. Or just scroll down to the very bottom of this blog to see my photo albums.

Bunny Burnstein

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Second Life Seminar: Web 2.0 for Lawyers

Yesterday afternoon, I attended a CLE (Continuing Legal Education) seminar in Second Life called "Web 2.0 for Lawyers." This seminar was part of the Speaker Series held in world by the Second Life Bar Association and taught by Cat Galileo (known in the real world as Kate Fitz). These seminars are free and open to anyone interested (and cost $25 for anyone interested in receiving CLE credit). I have attended quite a few of the SLBA seminars, and I must admit that each one has been informative and interesting. This particular seminar was no different.

In this seminar, Cat covered a wide variety of topics, including blogs, wikis, and social networking sites. She discussed how these new 2.0 technologies are being used in the legal world. She explained these various technologies - what they are, how they work - and then she explained how these technologies are becoming legitimate professional tools in the legal world...which, in turn, means they can be legitimate tools for a multitude of professions.

I, personally, appreciated that last part. As a librarian, I have always believed in the importance of exploring new technologies. We are the gatekeepers of information. The more we know...the more we can teach others. Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way. A lot of people believe that these new technologies are "toys," and that librarians are "playing" when we use them. To hear Cat discuss the use of these tools in a legal environment validated my own feelings about exploring applications like Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, and, yes, even Second Life.

Anyway, long post short...I really enjoyed the seminar and highly recommend any future seminars by SBLA or Cat Galileo. For anyone interested in the information provided during this seminar, here is a link to the handout. Enjoy!

Bunny Burnstein

Friday, November 21, 2008

Web Design on a Dime

Since I’ve been playing with Blogger, Twitter, and other web applications a lot this week, I thought that it was time to post some free web design tutorials/resources!

W3 Schools

This is a great resource for learning HTML, XML, and other scripts, such as JavaScript. All of the tutorials are free and include examples, quizzes, and other resources. You can also choose to get certification in a particular web language, though that does cost money.

My favorite part of this site (and the part I use most) is the Tryit Editor. This program allows you to type in your script and preview it. This is a lot easier than altering the text in your htm/html document, saving the document, and then viewing it again. It saves a lot of time. Many times, my web project will have an error that I just can’t shake…the Tryit Editor allows me to manipulate the text a little at a time to fix it.

HTML, XHTML, & CSS by Elizabeth Castro

This web site is actually supplemental material for Elizabeth Castro’s book HTML, XHTML, & CSS, 6th Edition. I highly recommend this site, as well as the book…which can be purchased from Amazon for under $25. It is a great beginner’s guide, but it also teaches some more advanced skills, making this a wonderful reference book that can guide you in years to come. The site itself has a lot to offer—examples, basic scripts, etc. One of the best ways to understand the examples, though, requires a little work. Click on the example, which will open up in a new tab or browser. Then go to View on your browser and choose Page Source (Firefox) or Source (IE). Then the code is there for you to explore. You can also find examples from the previous two editions online.

Basic HTML Tag Tutorial

This site doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the other two, but it does give straightforward instructions (along with examples). It is also indexed according to what the user wants to know. It is designed more with beginner’s in mind, so it may not be as useful to advanced users. But it is a good, simple resource.

Some cool sites…

HTML Color Codes: Can’t remember the code for blue? Not sure which shade you want in your site? This resource is for you! This site shares the codes for the different colors that can be used in web design. Simply select the color you want, and the code pops up. Have a code, but you aren’t sure what color it is? This site also has a section where the user can type in the code and view the color that corresponds!

E-Mail Icon Generator: Want one of those cool icons for e-mail? This site generates them, free of charge! Simply type in your email address and click generate. If you don’t like the design, click on the link Provider not available? Click here! to change it. You can even alter the font!

Check out mine!

FavIcons from Pics: This is one of my favorite resources! Take a look at the URL address bar…see the orange icon with a B? Want one of those on your site? With a picture of YOUR choosing? This is the site for making one. Simply upload the picture you want and click generate FavIcon.ico. You can choose a stationary icon or an animated one! Simply download the icon, and it is ready to be inserted into the coding for your page (with the proper coding, of course).

Bunny Burnstein

Monday, November 17, 2008

“Language is the blood of the soul...

…into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Being a lover of languages myself, I thought this would be a wonderful time to introduce you to some great sites that offer FREE language tutorials.

BBC Languages

The BBC web site offers lessons in several different languages, including French, German, Spanish, and Italian. It also offers lessons in Portuguese, Greek, and Chinese. You can also learn little snippets of other languages, such as Urdu, Japanese, and Polish. The site also offers a page that teaches various phrases in 36 different languages. The site offers audio and video to accompany your studies, which can be great for learning pronunciation. This is a great site if you need to brush up on a language…or if you are just starting your studies.

101 Languages

This site offers instruction in many different languages. It does not offer audio, so pronunciation might be a little more difficult to nail. But it does offer a variety of other resources, including information about the region that speaks that language. This includes news, geography, and history. It’s a great place to learn about the culture behind the language while learning the language itself.

Free Online Language Courses

This site is not an actual learning site. It is, instead, a resource that offers users a list of FREE online learning sites for various languages. This is a great place for polyglots who are interested in learning multiple languages online. The languages are arranged alphabetically, and the list is quite extensive. It includes popular languages, as well as rarer ones. I highly recommend this site.


This site isn’t a learning site, either. It’s something better. It is a free pen-pal site, allowing people from different countries to connect and communicate. It’s a great way to practice a particular language…or to help someone else practice English. Users also get the chance to learn about other cultures through their pen-pals.

Bunny Burnstein

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Knowing Your History

One of my favorite classes in library school was my genealogy class. There is something wonderful about discovering your heritage. If you are interested in learning about your family history, here are free some sites to help you along your way…

Ellis Island Foundation

The Ellis Island Foundation provides this free resource for the public. It allows the user to search the Ellis Island/Port of New York records for a particular passenger. You can also browse the list of passengers by ship. The site also offers free genealogy forms (click on Genealogy, then click on Free Charts and Forms). The site also offers personal stories from immigrants who came through Ellis Island, as well as a timeline of immigration history.

Even if you don’t have family who came through Ellis Island, it’s still a fun site to explore.

Family Search

Family Search is a free resource provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This site is not only useful for searching through records; it also doubles as a kind of Genealogy 101. Several links offer information to the novice researcher, including how to get started, research guidance by location, and forms and maps! It even offers a list of free resources. Though, honestly, not all of these resources are free. Some are subscribed to (i.e. paid for) by libraries, but any user can access them from those particular libraries.

My Heritage

My Heritage is a new site for me, but I’m intrigued by its promising future. This site allows you to create, free of charge, your own family tree. You can also use the site as a search engine, searching multiple resources at one time for a particular ancestor. It does require you to register, though. The results, however, are impressive. A list is generated of all the resources that have information on your particular ancestor. Each resource is marked with various icons. A dollar sign for sites that cost money, a gold star for popular sites, a blue I for indexed sites, etc. This is very useful if one is trying to find free resources. The only annoyance I have discovered (so far): some of the resources require you to register with them. I understand why this is necessary, but I quickly lost interest in those resources on a day when I didn’t feel like going through the hassle. Otherwise, I think this could be a wonderful resource!

National Archives and Records Administration

Now, one can’t actually use NARA online. Users can find a library with a NARA microfilm collection; they can also request specific documents through the mail. I’m mentioning NARA for a completely different reason: our national history. Look to the left of the page, under Explore & Interact. Click on America’s Historical Documents. Here you will find some truly amazing images: The Louisiana Purchase Treaty, the Articles of Confederation, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and more! Take some time to enjoy these historic documents.

Don’t forget to check out their American Originals Exhibit!

To me, genealogy is more than knowing who was born of whom. It's about stories. The story of my great aunt’s experiences on Wall Street on Black Thursday. The story of ancestors who died on the Cherokee Trail of Tears. The story of how parts of my family fought on different sides of the American Revolution. And, some day, my story.

Bunny Burnstein