Tag Archives: thing 21

Thing 21: Wiki on a stick

Many wikis are big. Wikipedia is enormous. The library has two Wikis: the library wiki, which runs on Mediawiki, the same software as Wikipedia, and the E-resource Wiki, which runs on Semantic Mediawiki, which allows you to set up forms to simplify entry and to query the data like a database. All of these need a server to run on.

You can also get tiny wikis: wikis meant for personal use or sharing with a small group, and which don’t need a server. They are sometimes called ‘wiki on a stick’, because you can carry one on a USB stick. Some people use them for simple note taking, some for presentations, some for collaborative work.

The best known one is TiddlyWiki.  It is easy to use, but takes a little setting up – recent browsers (especially Firefox) have problems allowing it to save until you configure them.  If you set one up on your Y drive you will be able to use it from your work computer too, but if using Internet Explorer you will need to make some changes to the security settings.

First, go into ‘Tools’ in the Explorer menu, select ‘Internet Options’,  then ‘Security’, then ‘Local Intranet’, and pull the slider bar down to ‘low’. Click ‘Apply’, then restart Explorer.

Next go to the TiddlyWiki site and download TiddlyWiki, using ‘Save As’ to put it on the Y drive. When its there, right click on the  zip file and select ‘Extract All’. Finally right click on the file called empty.html, select ‘Properties’, and set ‘Unblock’ followed by ‘Apply’.

That’s it. The wiki is the html file called empty.html. You can rename it if you like, copy it around, email it, or save it on other drives. To run it double click on it and your browser will open to show it.

TiddlyWiki works on small chunks called ‘tiddlers’, which can be anything from a sentence to a page long. Writing in a tiddler is very similar to writing in Mediawiki: mostly plain text, with links in double square brackets. TiddlyWiki comes with some built-in tiddlers (called ‘shadow tiddlers’ ) which control the look of the page: when you first start you are invited to edit these, and so change what you see when TiddlyWiki starts.

Suggestion: change the title, change or remove the subtitle, add a new tiddler called ‘Home’, and hide the StartingPage so you just see your new Home tiddler when you open the wiki.

If you liked TiddlyWiki, there are a lot of variations of it for different purposes, such as managing TODO lists or organizing notes for novels. http://giffmex.tiddlyspot.com/ has a list.

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Thing 23: Dropbox

We arrive at our final thing … Dropbox.

Dropbox is similar to Google Drive in that you can store and share files with it but it isn’t exactly the same.

It is a free desktop application which allows you to store your documents online so that you can access them from multiple computers, via the web and on mobile devices in a similar way to how Evernote allows you to access your notes anywhere.

As well as allowing easy access to files anywhere it also can sync with your photos from your phone so photos taken on your phone are available to you anywhere. This is especially useful, as I found out, when you lose your phone as all the photos are there!

Take the Dropbox tour here.

There is also a nice video here.

Like Google Docs, Dropbox can also be used when collaborating with others on a project as it enables easy file-sharing without the need for creating duplicates. For example, one person can drop documents and files into Dropbox and then invite other people to access and edit those files.

Sharing documents using Dropbox
Sharing with someone who already has a Dropbox account:
Create a new folder inside your Dropbox folder, select a file from your computer and paste it into this folder. Now go to the Dropbox website, log in if you aren’t already logged in, and click on the tab called ‘Sharing’.

Select the option to share an existing folder, click ‘next’ and then select your folder. Enter the email address of someone with whom you wish to share your folder and click ‘share folder’. This will send an email inviting the recipient to view your older via Dropbox. If the recipient is not yet a member of Dropbox, the email will direct them to page asking them to register.

Sharing with someone who does not have a Dropbox account
Dropbox will also allow you to share single files (but not folders) with people who do not have a Dropbox account. In order to do this, simply copy and paste a file into the folder called ‘Public’ which is already inside the Dropbox folder on your computer.

Next, navigate to your Public folder via your account on the Dropbox website, right-click on the file you want and select ‘Copy public link’. This will give you a URL which links to your file and you can then paste this, for example, into emails or blog posts in order to share it with others.

Thing 23

If you don’t already have a Dropbox account, go to the Dropbox website and create one. Once you have created an account, you will be directed to a page that explains how to download Dropbox. Only do this on your usual computer and / or at home – you can use the web version on shared PCs.

After you have downloaded and installed Dropbox, you will have a Dropbox folder on your computer where you can store any files that you want to share with others. You can access these files from any computer by logging into the Dropbox website with your username and password. From here, you can view, download and upload files securely using any web browser.

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