What's my PC's name?

ID-100100046If you've ever called the Help Desk needing help on an SCLS-supported PC then you've been asked for the PC's name.  This can usually found on a white sticker with black letters that is placed on the PC.  If you can't find the sticker or the PC is in a place that makes it hard to see it then I have an easy solution for you.  Unfortunately, though these steps will only work on staff PCs.  The steps are as follows:

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Click on Run...
  3. Type in cmd
  4. Type in hostname
  5. Hit Enter
  6. Your PC's name will be displayed

Now wasn't that simple!  Of course if your PC won't turn on then you're going to need to find the sticker.

E-Waste Recycling Reminder

EarthIn honor of Earth Day I am going to recycle a Techbits article from a few years ago. As a reminder, one of the services SCLS offers its members is the opportunity to easily recycle your old electronic devices which you can no longer use. We continue to use File13 for our e-waste disposal. If you live or work in the Dane Co. area you may want to consider dropping off your old devices there since they have a large number of items that they don't charge for if you drop them off, including computers, printers and cables.

Socket to me!

With the rise of portable devices, everyone's looking for power outlets. A portable device is only helpful if it has a charge, after all. Along with friendly and helpful staff, good wireless, and comfortable furniture, available power can make or break a patron's library experience.

The @LibraryOutlets Twitter account recently came to my attention. Check out all those tweets from people across the country about... you guessed it... power outlets in libraries! And look at the replies from libraries that are working on improving their power situation.

How does your library fare when it comes to available outlets? Are your patrons able to find a place to plug in?

Hopefully this need for outlets won't last too long. Charging via countertops or furniture is on the horizon!

More about libraries and outlets:  https://appreciateyourself.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/power-to-the-people-public-spaces-and-the-availablity-of-power-outlets-and-surge-protectors/

StoryCorps App

I wrote about TED talks and listening to the TED Radio Hour podcast back in September of 2013. The 2015 TED Conference was recently held in Vancouver, Canada. As part of the conference, TED awards the TED Prize to "an extraordinary individual with a creative and bold vision to spark global change."

This year's winner is Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, and his Prize wish was to take StoryCorps global with a free StoryCorps app.

Storycorps_logo_10_yearsYou've probably heard of StoryCorps as it's been around since 2003. There's even a national program for StoryCorps to partner with libraries for patrons to share their stories. Having this program in your library required professional recording equipment and training for staff and volunteers. A great program but not feasible for all libraries.

The new StoryCorps app changes all that! Now, recording and sharing stories of your patrons, your family, and your friends is as easy as your smart phone or tablet. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices. StoryCorps even has questions to get the storytelling started.

How can you use this in your library? If your library has iOS or Android tablets available for either staff or patron use, download the app to them. Then, it would be easy to host an event for patrons to record and share their stories. Or, if you loan out tablets to your patrons, they could record stories of those who may not be able to come to the library. What a great way to collect local history and share it with the world.

Tiny computers: on a stick or implantable

Mr. Andes, my high school math teacher, drove a Camino and introduced me to computers.  Ages ago, he chaperoned a field trip to an Alcoa plant where a giant room housed a giant, room-sized computer.  Since then, computers have progressively become both more powerful and smaller.

In that vein, I’d like to introduce two cutting edge devices.  One’s just about to hit the consumer market (computer on a stick) and the other one is in various phases of R&D (including implantable computers).

At least two ‘computer on a stick’ products will be released this year: the Intel Compute Stick and the Asus Chrome Bit.  Each of these wireless devices is about this size of a ‘good-sized’ thumb drive and plugs into an HDMI port on a monitor. Peripherals connect via a USB port.

  I

If ‘computer on a stick’ is too big for you, the world’s smallest computer is now about one millimeter cubed.  Built by engineers at the University of Michigan, the Michigan Micro Mote (aka M3) has input, output and processing capabilities.  It can be powered by ambient light, body heat and other options are in the works.

“Michigan has been inundated with requests to use these devices in applications from monitoring concrete and oil wells to researching the behavior of snails.”  Other projected uses include the Internet of Things (IoT) and pressure tracking for brain trauma and glaucoma.

  Fly2

The potential uses for the M3 computer are just as exciting and unimaginable now as the giant computer that Mr. Andes introduced.

Library Beacons

Here's a scenario:

  • You install a special app on your mobile device
  • The next time you're in range of library beacons, you automatically receive targeted information right to your smartphone. For example -- when you walk in the front doors, you might get updates about your account; in the Children's Room, you receive notifications about upcoming children's programs; or when you near the library cafe, you get information about daily specials.
  • You can save the information, or forward it to a friend.

PhoneBeacons are devices that interact with a customer's smartphone and are designed to enhance the shopping experience. Some libraries are experimenting with the devices to bring new services to their patrons. Here are a few articles that tell more about their endeavors:

Some related videos:

I can definitely see the possibilities for museums, airports, and stores. What do you think about this new technology for libraries?

What's the status?

This post was first run in 2009. It is being re-run with minor updates to reflect services that have changed.
----------------

Technology doesn't always have to be super complicated. Sometimes the best technology projects are very simple. A great example of this is the SCLS status wiki. This web page allows you to see which SCLS technology services have known issues in almost real time.  You can view this page from any computer, that's right any computer!  (not just a PC on the SCLS network)Crutches

Here is a list of some of the SCLS technology services that might have updates on the SCLS status wiki:

  • Koha
  • Library Online
  • SCLS network
  • Web services
  • OverDrive and other online resources
Let's look at a real world example

The first one will be before you knew about the SCLS status wiki and the second after you started using the SCLS status wiki.

Background

You are sitting at your desk and a coworker says they can't access OverDrive. You spring into action...

Before the SCLS status page

...and in a panic you sprint towards the nearest computer, but on the way you trip and twist your ankle. Down but not out, you crawl to the computer and see that OverDrive is indeed not working. With tears in your eyes, you fumble for the phone and call the Help Desk. After all that, you get a busy signal because everyone else is calling at the same time. Battered and broken, you sit on the floor defeated.

After the SCLS status page

...and calmly open your Internet browser, navigate to the SCLS status wiki see that OverDrive is down.  You also see that SCLS staff are working quickly to resolve the problem. Relaxed and comfortable, you sip on your morning coffee and realize what a beautiful day it is.

Can you really afford not to check the SCLS status wiki?

Library Technology Conference 2015 Highlights

LibtechconfI was fortunate to attend the 2015 Library Technology Conference, March 18-19 at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, where I watched for innovations and ideas to share with you. Here are highlights from the sessions I attended:

Libraries reported successes and challenges publishing all kinds of digital content on different platforms such as bepress, CONTENTdm, Omeka, and ResCarta. Whether you have an army of student employees or just one staff member, you have to make choices about what you can do and how much to outsource.

The Hennepin County Library shared experiences from a year of teaching patrons how to use 3D modeling software (SketchUp) and operating 3D printers at the library. Example: They have no policy banning 3D prints of guns or other controversial objects, and their elementary school age patrons would be crushed if they were not allowed to design toy bombs and tanks. Even a functional gun design, printed on a consumer-grade printer, would probably just break. Best audience moment: everyone "ooh'ed" at the mention of a patron designing custom attachments for a knitting machine.

Behind any discovery tool or federated search box, librarians are poring over usage statistics and battling a constant influx of changes to links, database subscriptions, and journal coverage.

Google Analytics can track, not only clicks on outbound links on your homepage, but also anything typed into a search form there. (Assembly required; batteries not included).

Keynote speakers Courtney Greene McDonald and Bohyun Kim advocated for libraries to use technology in user-centered, socially responsible ways. (Keynotes were recorded for anyone to view.)

Session descriptions and presentation slides for 2015 and earlier are archived for the public to explore, or you can read backwards through the conference Twitter, @LibTechConf.

Who wrote it?

Ever wonder who wrote a particular TechBits post? Author comments
When a TechBits post goes out by email, it doesn't automatically include the author information.* BUT... if you click on the title of the post in the email, it will take you to the post on the TechBits blog where you can view the author information at the bottom of the post.

We ♥ comments
Comments/replies are also best directly through the TechBits blog. If you receive TechBits via email and want to comment on a post (we LOVE comments!), click on the title of the post in the email and it will take you to the blog itself. There you can leave a comment that will be viewable by everyone (and for which the writer of the post will receive an automatic email notification), and you will also be able to read any comments left by other readers.

* We currently use Feedburner for emailing posts and it doesn't offer an option to include author information in emailed posts. If you use an alternative to Feedburner that you'd like to recommend, we'd love to hear about it!

Vroom, vroom

When I was growing up, I was led to believe by the time I was an adult we’d all be driving Winding_road_clip_art_16800flying cars.  While that particular prediction has (sadly) remained out of reach so far, there are a number of new technologies in testing and being implemented. 

Google and Nokia have been experimenting with driverless cars and rumors are that Apple is as well.  Last year Audi revealed a driverless concept car that was able to reach 140 mph around a racetrack. California has issued approvals to let both Audi and Google start testing self-driving cars and a driverless “car” is now in use in London though it’s limited to 12 mph. 

While it’s not the fully self-driving car, Ford has released a new technology that uses a camera to read speed limit signs and reduce the speed of the car accordingly by reducing the gas intake.  When the speed limit rises, the driver can then accelerate but only to the new speed limit.  They have also developed a technology that is able to detect people in the road ahead and will automatically apply the brakes if the driver does not. 

They’re even looking at adding technology to the roads.  Anything from using the breeze created by passing cars to power LED lights in the roads to sensors to detect icy conditions to heating elements to deal with the ice. Not sure how you reboot a highway though.