Choose Privacy Week 2016

Camera_with_eyeALA's Choose Privacy Week is held annually May 1 - 7. For more information, see these previous TechBits posts for helpful links and resources:

In addition to all of the great resources mentioned in those posts (can we talk about how much I still love the video of an amazing mind reader revealing his gift?!), I have a new privacy-related resource to share. To help create confident online interactions, San José Public Library (SJPL) developed the Virtual Privacy Lab, a free, encrypted online learning tool for all libraries to share with patrons. The lab includes content that was also professionally translated in Spanish and Vietnamese and a page with information about how the library manages patrons' privacy.

SCLS-supported public PCs have many privacy measures in place to help keep patrons safe, some of which include:

  • anti-virus software
  • disk-locking software so any patron data (downloads, browser history, etc) saved to the PC is cleared with a reboot
  • Firefox and Chrome run in private browsing mode, which allows a person to browse the Web without storing local data that could be retrieved at a later date (this helps protect patrons who don't restart the PC after they're done)
  • automatic weekly software updates so programs are running at the most current version
  • network protections so a patron on one computer cannot access another user's computer
  • (subscribing libraries) an automatic reboot to clear a patron's data when a patron logs out of their MyPC session 

For maximum privacy, an SCLS-supported public PC should always be restarted after the patron has finished using it to remove any personal data and browsing history.

Hiding with Excel

Sometimes you may want to or need to be a digital pack rat in an Excel spreadsheet but not want the visual ‘noise’. There are three ways to hide data in Excel: hide a row, a column or hide select cells.










By way of example

Let’s say we’re working with a spreadsheet that looks like this before any changes are made.

B4-any changes


Hiding a column

Let’s say you have no need to see, but want to keep, the content in column ‘F’. To ‘hide’ column ‘F’, right click Excel’s ‘F’ cell and select ‘Hide’.  The content would then look like this.


Hiding a row

Let’s say you have no need to see, but want to keep, the content in row ‘3’. To ‘hide’ row ‘3’, right click Excel’s ‘3’ cell and select ‘Hide’.



Hiding select cells

1. Let’s say you have no need to see, but want to keep, the last three words in the sentence about frogs.
2. Highlight the cells that you want to hide.
3. Right click the mouse and select ‘Format Cells…'
4. Select ‘Custom’ on the ‘Number’ tab.
5. Type in three semicolons (;;;) in the ‘Type’ field


6. Click the ‘OK’ button.
7. The content is still retained in each cell, it’s just hidden.




Social media tips & tricks


Leave us a comment: Sum up your library's social media presence...

  1. Fun times with patrons
  2. Stressful situation
  3. Last thing on your list
  4. All of the above
  5. ??? (Other, please specify!)

Whatever your take on library social media, try out the tips and best practices in these guides, prepared by Abby Ward as a 2015 practicum project through the School of Library & Information Studies. All are provided in PDF format:

Mobile Hotspots for Libraries


One big part of community outreach is bringing library services to the people.  It might be a local event, farmers market, or a holiday parade.  On common theme that we hear over and over is that it would be awesome if there was a way to have internet access at these events. 

The good news is that soon it will be possible!  SCLS will soon introduce a pilot project for using mobile hotspots.  This project is funded by a grant and will last about a year.  If this is something you are interested in, please watch your email over the next week or so.  We plan on sending out information about the project and how to signup!

Mobile hotspots are about the size of a smartphone and use the cellular signal to connect to the internet.  Once the hotspot is online it sends out a wireless signal.  You can connect to this signal using any normal wireless device.  Just like that you have an internet connection wherever you are! This is a great opportunity to get out into the community and still stay connected.

Check the status of a website

QuestionMark3Have you ever had trouble connecting to a website and thought, "Is it just me or is everyone having this problem?"? Well there is this nifty website that will tell you exactly that. The website is This is an incredibly simple-to-use website where you just have to put the name of the website you are trying to reach into the search field and will query the site in question from a remote location. This is a great resource to find out if a particular website is down for maintenance or is just having some issues.

Short URL:

Using Interest Lists on Facebook

If you are like me, you may have found yourself "Liking" various Facebook Pages, but then not seeing all posts from the Pages in your regular News Feed. Or maybe there are too many things in your News Feed and you have to scroll through some not-so-useful stuff (sorry Minions) to get to the useful stuff. How can you get to the content that you want, at the time that you want it? One tool that I have used to organize and access content on Facebook are Interest Lists

With Interest Lists, you can create a list of Pages centered around a particular topic. For example, you could create an Interest List centered around food and cooking that includes Pages for Facebook-linkcat
grocery stories, recipes, etc. I have a list centered around kid-friendly activities in Madison, which I can check to see if there are upcoming weekend activities. I also have some Interest Lists related to libraries, that include Pages from ALA, WLA, OCLC, WiLS, etc. Using the Interest Lists means that I can see posts that do not always appear in my News Feed, and I can digest the information in smaller chunks, which is easier to handle when I don't have much time.

You can add Pages to Interest Lists even if you have not "Liked" the Pages, and you can add Friends to Interest Lists as well. To create Interest Lists:

  1. Go to your Facebook home page.
  2. Click Interests on the left side of the screen (you may have to scroll down to find it).
  3. This will take you to the Interests screen. Click the Add Interests button.
  4. Then click the Create Lists button to start your own list. You can also follow lists that others have created and made public. 
  5. Follow the prompts to add Pages or Friends, and to name your list.
  6. To keep your list private, be sure to select Only Me under the Who can see this list heading (note that Public is selected by default). 
  7. Then click the Done button.

To get to your Interest Lists, go back to the Interests page by clicking Interests from your home page. You can also add your Interest Lists to your Favorites so you can access them directly from your home page.

If you prefer video tutorials, go to YouTube for "how-to" videos on Facebook Interest Lists.

Slide Templates

I'm working on a few upcoming presentations and often use Google Slides or PowerPoint. I've used both of them often enough that I'm bored with their templates and backgrounds. I regularly use images in my slides but what about those times that a template would work best?

So, I went to one of my favorite sites for questions like this - Free Technology for Teachers. I've shared other tips, tricks, and ideas from this blog before and I highly recommend you bookmark the site, add the blog to your favorite reader, or follow Richard on Twitter or your favorite social media site.

SlideHunterAnd, after doing a quick search on his site, I came up with this blog post: Free PowerPoint Templates for Teachers and Students. I started browsing through Slide Hunter and found some fun new templates to try. I created a free account and downloaded my first template in under 15 minutes. Don't be surprised if you see something like this in an upcoming presentation from me. 

Know More about Video Connectors

I thought it'd be a good idea to take some time and go over all those different video connectors that are out there. Disclaimer: acronyms and tech jargon will be present in this post. However, this is useful information to have when talking to the help desk and/or you plan on adding an extra monitor. Lets dive in:



This is probably the most prevalent video connector in the library system. It kinda makes sense because VGA has been around since 1987. It is the only video connector used today that still uses an analog signal. Often described simply as the "blue plug", VGA is still a widely-supported interface; but that is changing. Already now new devices are coming to market that are no longer compatible with VGA, and we now have to rely on other video connections. Don't worry, there's plenty of alternatives...


DVI Port

Similar in design to VGA, DVI ("the white plug") primarily uses a digital signal, but can (sometimes) be backward-compatible with VGA and analog signals. DVI never really saw too much use around the library system. More likely you'll see it on the monitors than you would on the backs of computers. However, if you plan on adding a second monitor we can more easily offer help if the monitor has DVI.



Often confused with DVI, DMS-59 is exclusively used in dual-monitor situations and requires a special intermediary connector to go from this to either 2 VGA or 2 DVI interfaces. These used to be much more popular in the system than they are now, but we still sometimes come across them.



This is probably the next most popular video connector since it's on every TV sold over the last decade. HDMI is more commonly found on laptop computers (for use with projectors) than it is desktops, but soon desktops will begin shipping with HDMI as well. Something to know about HDMI, though, is that not only does HDMI transmit video, it also transmits audio. So if you start using HDMI and all-of-a-sudden your sound doesn't work it's probably because your computer is sending the sound over the HDMI cable instead of to your speakers. This is easily fixed, though.


DisplayPort Port

Easily confused with a USB or HDMI port, it is neither. So don't try plugging them into this port. DisplayPort has been shipping on Dell computers for the last 6 years. We normally haven't been using it in the system until recently because most monitors at the time did not have DisplayPort connectors on the back of them. Any monitor you buy from us now, though, will have DisplayPort.  Most likely, if you call and ask to install a second monitor, we will focus on trying to use this port. As mentioned earlier, we can easily adapt this connector to interface with a DVI monitor. Just like HDMI, DisplayPort will also transmit audio.

Restarting Firefox Trick

When Firefox starts running kind of sluggish, simply restarting it might help.  What if you have a several tabs open?  I stumbled upon this trick from AskVG that is pretty helpful as long as you Foxmart-300pxdon't have private browsing enabled.

  1. Press SHIFT+F2 and the developers toolbar will open at the bottom of the window 
  2. In the toolbar, type restart
  3. Press Enter
  4. Firefox will restart with all your tabs open

Excel - Remove duplicates

Imagine you have a list that contains duplicates, and you want to delete the duplicates. No need to do this manually --- let's use Excel's "Remove duplicates" feature!

Click on the image to see it full-size

This is one of my favorite TechBits pictures. I wish there were 3 of me to do my work!
Duplicate Craigs!

Note: Another option to get rid of the duplicates is to filter for unique values. Filtering temporarily hides duplicate values, where removing duplicate values permanently deletes the duplicate values. See this Microsoft help page for more information about both options.