Tag Archives: fun

image of timeline ticker

TimelineJS, the Story of WIC, and Dogs of the Web

Hi everyone!  My name is Chava Spivak-Birndorf, and I’m a new graduate intern at the Weigle Information Commons.  In the short time I’ve been here so far, I’ve been impressed by everything WIC does to bring innovative uses of technology and digital media to the Penn community.  WIC just turned 10 on April 5th, and I’m excited to join in as we celebrate everything that we love about WIC!

If you’ve visited our website recently, you may have seen our new interactive timeline.  My coworker Lahari showed me TimelineJS, an open-source tool that allows users to create interactive timelines using a Google spreadsheet.  Last year, Lahari used TimelineJS to start working on a timeline of notable events at WIC.  With WIC coming up on double digits, it seemed like the perfect time to finish the timeline and share WIC’s story.

image of WIC timelineDid we leave out any of your favorite events from WIC’s history?

Continue reading TimelineJS, the Story of WIC, and Dogs of the Web

March 16th – Spring 2016 Majors Dinner

2011 Pre-Freshman Program dinner in the Weigle Information Commons.

We welcome undergraduate students to join our March 16th Majors Dinner (register now!) here at the Weigle Information Commons. Enjoy good food and learn about the great resources and programs available at WIC!  We’ll highlight two exciting opportunities for undergrads interested in exploring digital media and technology: the Hoesley Digital Literacy Fellows Program and the Seltzer Family Digital Media Awards.  We’ll also tell you more about our weekly workshops and some of our other student support and technology resources.

Whether you’re new to WIC or already a regular, we are excited to talk to you about everything we have to offer and get your feedback on what else we can do to help you get the most out of your time at Penn!

Celebrate Halloween with PicMonkey


Happy almost Halloween! Personally, I think Halloween is the best part of the season–costumes, candy, and decorations! For that last part, PicMonkey offers some free seasonal photo editing tools to make some fun DIY decor.


To get started, just open a photo in PicMonkey. You will see an icon of a cat–this is for the Halloween themes.



As you can see, there is a lot to choose from! Each theme allows you to change skin and eye color and add textures, effects, and some unpleasant facial features like decayed teeth and pockmarks.

For those of us less experienced with photo editing, this is a free and easy way to create some Halloween decorations–just casually replace some of the existing photos in your dorm or apartment with your new Halloween versions and see if anyone notices!

Most of the features are free to use, but some require an upgraded membership. However, you can do a lot with the free version! I experimented on some of our Intern photos:



First up is Tanya Johnson, resident vampire. Seek her out after sundown for help with Excel, but consider wearing a turtleneck.

Liz Crowder, Wicked Intern of WIC is a great resource for web design and blogging assistance. If you see her stirring a cauldron, though, you may want to reschedule your appointment.



Meaghan Moody, resident representative of the undead, is an expert on accessibility! Make sure to see her outside of mealtimes–she isn’t a picky eater.




Lahari Uppuluri is a Microsoft Office expert. You can find her haunting the booths at WIC during her Monday office hours.





As you can see, there are a lot of options for quick-and-easy photo editing with PicMonkey. I have little to no talent in this area and was able to play around until I achieved the desired spooky effect. And remember, we interns are all here and happy to help–don’t be scared to ask! Happy Halloween from the Weigle Information Commons staff!

Study Break: Ridiculous Fishing

image_4Now that Fling has flung, it’s time to get down to business and start studying. Of course, you learn best when you take a short break every hour, so you’re going to need something to do during those breaks. My latest time waster way to pass the time during a few down moments here and there during the day is the game Ridiculous Fishing.  It’s a simple but strangely addicting game, and a fun way to spend your time while you take a short break from studying.  It’s challenging but not difficult, and you’ll find yourself playing again and again. The controls and mechanics of the game are simple to master, and there’s lots of replay value as you go fishing again and again to catch every species of fish, purchase every upgrade, and try to beat your old high score.

There are three stages to playing the game:

image_31. Drop your line: You drop your line into the sea by tapping on the screen.  As your hook sinks, tilt your phone left and right to steer AROUND the fish (seems counter intuitive, but it’ll make sense in the next step) being sure not to touch them and trying to go as deep as you can.

2. Reel ‘em in: When your hook eventually does touch a fish, or if you run out of fishing line, or if you get all the way to the bottom of the sea, you’ll automatically start reeling your line in.   On the way up, tilt left and right to catch as many fish as possible—the same fish you avoided on the way down.  One nice little touch is the music that was playing on the way down plays in reverse on the way back up.

image_53. Shoot ‘em up: this stage seems the least traditional from a fishing purist’s point of view (and is possibly the main reason for the word ‘ridiculous’ in the name of the game).  When your line finally reaches the surface of the water, you fling the fish into the air (that part happens automatically), and you start shooting them by tapping on the fish.  You get money for each fish you shoot.  The ones that fall back into the water escape and you get no money from them.  Some fish (particularly those of the jellyfish variety) you’ll want to avoid, as they will actually subtract money from your wallet.

There are several different fishing locations on the map.  You’ll start in “Home Waters”–the shallowest area.  It’s filled with a variety of very cool fish, and many species are only located at particular depths, so you’ve got to get your line down pretty far to catch them all. When you’ve finally caught all the species of fish in Home Waters, you’ll unlock the next location on the map where you’ll encounter all new types of fish and plummet to deeper spots in the ocean as you listen to a different track of music.

image_1As you play more games, you’ll end up with quite a bit of money from all those fish you’ve caught.  The Shack Shoppe lets you purchase upgrades with that money to improve your fishing experience: Longer fishing lines to let you get to those fish even farther beneath the waves, better guns to let you shoot the fish faster before they fall back into the sea, items to fling the fish farther into the air so that you have more time to shoot them, a Fish-o-pedia which help you identify all those different fish you’ll encounter along with how much each is worth and whether it has any special abilities, and of course different outfits for your fisherman, most of which have no effect on game play as far as I can tell other than to turn your character into a snappy dresser.

The pixel art is colorful and beautiful (as you can tell from these screenshots), and the 8-bit music (by composer Eirik Suhrke) is whimsical and quite catchy (I’ve caught myself humming one of the tunes as I walk through Van Pelt Library on more than one occasion)

It’s $2.99 in the iTunes App store for iPhone and iPad, and $2.99 in the Google Play store for Android, but I’m glad to report there are no in-app purchases.  Once you’ve got the game, it’s just fun from here on out. 

Three (adorable) Beardos

Nick Salvatore (formerly of the Vitale Digital Media Lab, now with SAS Multi-Media Services), Eric Janec (formerly of the WIC, now running the Education Commons beneath Franklin Field, and I (still at the Vitale Digital Media Lab) recently realized we had something in common.  Tayarisha Poe–our newest part-time lab consultant, for those of you who haven’t met her yet–graciously documented our similarites.


Free iOS Apps

free-ios-apps-iconsThe Apps On Tap blog is reporting that Apple is making several of their top apps free today as part of a celebration of the 5th anniversary of their App Store.  The store opened in 2008 with only 500 apps, and now that number has risen to nearly a million.

The free apps include games like Infinity Blade II and more useful apps like How To Cook Everything and MapMyRide+.

We’re not sure how long the apps will remain free, so go check out the full list at http://appsontap.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/free-ios-apps-for-5th-anniversary-of-app-store/

PhillyDH@Penn Takeaways


Last Tuesday was the much-anticipated PhillyDH@Penn event, inspired by the recently formed PhillyDH group and held in the new Special Collections Center.  For me, the event was a wonderful way to round out my almost-one-year anniversary of starting my WIC internship. Last summer, I tried to articulate what DH is (or rather, how difficult this is to articulate) via my brief DH encounters in graduate school. From there, I’ve spent the year reading articles, attending events, writing blog posts, and playing with new tech tools, all of which has given me a much better sense of DH scholarship. So many takeaways emerged from Tuesday’s unconference sessions and workshops that I could create a laundry list (or, more appropriately, an interactive word map). Instead, I’ll share my favorite takeaways that helped me better understand my role in DH as a WIC intern and librarian-in-training.

1) Don’t force the DH. Undertaking new digital projects is by no means an easy task for anyone, let alone time-crunched college professors and students. Before you think about incorporating DH into your classroom, think about what your goals are for your students and what you would like students to do at the end of the course. Once you figure this out, find out whether there are any digital tools that would enable or enhance students’ learning experiences. From what educators discussed at this topic’s unconference session, this approach has proven more productive than building a class around a specific digital platform.

2) Use your libraries (and librarians)! Because people have little time to learn new technologies, the library can provide a significant training grounds to teach and learn digital tools. Today’s librarians have become more “blended” not only in teaching research skills but also instructional technologies; further, the library is a neutral space on campus or in the community where everyone can come to learn. It was refreshing to hear this message from librarians, educators, and information professionals alike. It also allowed me to realize how our WICshops and special WIC programs help to meet this digital teaching/learning need.

3) Metadata is your friend. I don’t know very much about metadata, but I do know that it has great potential to change the ways people search for and find various materials. Folks from the Penn Libraries spoke about the Penn Provenance Project on Flickr, which started out as a rare book cataloging endeavor and has now captured the attention of those all over the world as they recognize books’ signatures, titles, and authors. By tagging the Flickr photos, patrons help create the metadata that link these images to Penn’s library catalog, Library of Congress records, and even Wikipedia, making information more easily accessible and retrievable for all involved.

4) Social media can be overwhelming. But, making comparisons can help! We’re always looking for the newest social media tools to use here at WIC, but I haven’t really taken the time to see which ones are most effective for which tasks. Browsing lots of graphics, online materials, and “about” sections of social media websites helped me to create a social media comparison chart to sort out all of this. I hope this information will be helpful for both our WIC staff and for all those trying to make sense out of multiple social media accounts.

These are just a few ideas I took away from PhillyDH@Penn. The event initiated so many productive conversations among folks across the humanities in universities, libraries, museums, and archives (workshop materials and unconference notes are now online).  I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that I came out of the day with the challenge to not only think about new models of teaching and learning with digital tools, but also to keep up the conversation with colleagues in the Philly area and beyond, as collaboration in DH is key to getting successful projects off the ground.