Low-Tech Maker Fun

Monster-1297726_1920Want to make your own slime, lava bottle, ice sculpture painting, or bubble wand? Then you might want to check out Kiwi Crate’s DIY ideas at www.kiwicrate.com/diy. These and other low-tech projects are available with printable instructions that include a messiness rating, age range, estimated time, what you will need, and how to do it.

I first heard about Kiwi Crate Inc. from an engineering listserv. I had been looking for a unique “hand-on” present for my 3 year old grandson who lives in Texas and the Koala Crate (ages 3-4) subscription looked like the perfect gift. The subscription includes a crate (box) sent in the mail with everything needed for 2-3 creative theme based projects, plus additional materials to learn more. Luckily, I was visiting when his first box arrived. It was “Maker Fun”! I am embarrassed to admit that I now want the Tinker Crate (ages 9-16+) for myself.

Once we finished the activities in the crate, we wanted more. I was thrilled when I found the additional and free DIY ideas listed on the Kiwi Crate website. I wonder what our next project will be, maybe the Syrofoam stamps or the marshmallow launcher. Happy Tinkering!

Thinking mobile

PhoneappsThis afternoon I pulled up my feed reader and tried to catch up with various blogs I follow. This took me to 3 wonderful posts on the TechSoup for Libraries blog (have I mentioned how much I LOVE the TechSoup blog?) that all had me thinking about mobile devices:

If you're looking for program ideas for helping seniors (or even 45-year olds who need bifocals) make their devices easier to see and use, those first two might be a nice place to start.

The last post has all sorts of interesting links, one of which took me to this article that lists "30 Ed-Tech Apps to Inspire Creativity and Creation." There are some apps here that I've heard of (Aviary and Google Slides, for example) and others that I can't wait to look into (Adobe Capture, LEGO Movie Maker)! 

Email list solutions

Mailinglist-800pxThe December 2016 issue of Computers in Libraries included a very informative article on "Next-Level Emailing."  In it, Jessamyn West discussed why email lists are helpful and reviewed MailChimp, TinyLetter, and Medium--some lower-cost (or free) alternatives to Constant Contact.  If you've been wondering how to choose an email list solution and what options are out there, you might want to give it a read.

Permalink to the article (accessible by staff in libraries on the SCLS network)

If you're outside the library and have access to EBSCOhost (either through SCLS or through BadgerLink, for example), you can pretty easily find the article with a quick search for "Next Level Emailing."

Windows 10 Screen Resolution

I have had a few people ask how they can change their screen resolution in Windows 10.  This is the easiest way to do this.

  1. Right-click an open area of your Desktop.
  2. Select Display Settings.
  3. Scroll down and click Advanced display settings.
  4. Select your preferred resolution.  Windows will recommend the optimal screen resolution for your video adapter and monitor.
    Recommended Screen Res
  5. Click Apply.
  6. Windows will warn you if you did not select the optimal resolution.
    Optimal
  7. Click Keep changes if you are satisfied with your selection or click Revert to start over.

Thermal Technologies

Zebra Printer, it's a little larger than the Dymo printerFor centuries man has been printing spine labels, but not all spine labels have been created equal. No -- as a matter of fact, some spine labels fade when exposed to sunlight or heat. "Why is this?" you may be asking. Simply put, it’s a difference in the thermal printing technology used when making the label. Some printers use a direct thermal approach while others use a thermal transfer method. Labels that are prone to fading over time use the direct thermal method where the label is chemically treated to react to heat. You may notice if you get a receipt from the gas pump and leave it in your car on a hot summer day it’s almost unreadable within two or three days. That’s because the chemicals in the paper are reacting to the heat in your car. The thermal transfer method in my opinion is better because the labels are not chemically treated, instead the printer has a wax or resin ribbon that a heated print head touches to apply the print to the label. This is a lot like the old method of using a dot matrix printer with a ribbon that transferred ink to the label.

The advantage of using the thermal transfer method is that the labels don’t fade over time. The downside is you have to buy a printer that supports this type of printing along with new labels and ribbons.

We started testing the Zebra TLP2824 thermal transfer printer back in September and have had really good results with it. We are now offering this printer to the libraries at a cost of $294.00 per printer. We will also order the first roll of labels and ribbon to get you started. I will give you more information after you purchase the printer on where to get the labels and ribbons in the future.

DuraReady Labels (peeled and unpeeled)If you’re not ready to commit to purchasing a new printer and supplies but would like labels that don’t fade, you could try DuraReady labels that work with the current Dymo LabelWriter 450 printers. These labels are a little odd in that they have a ribbon attached to the label itself so you get the non-fading qualities of a thermal transfer printer without having to change printers. The downsides to this label are you can’t really see what you’re printing until you peel off the ribbon, and you have to peel off the ribbon which can sometimes leave a light smudge on the label.

I have one roll of the 1” x 1” DuraReady labels to give away to the first person to ask for them. I would like to get some feedback from you on how likely you are to use them in the future.

(BTW, I do find Emily to be a little annoying.) Sometimes more than a little:)

Converting Google Keep notes to Google Docs

I use Google Keep on my phone on a regular basis to jot down quick notes. I started exploring it a bit more recently and realized that you can convert a Google Keep note to a Google Doc.

This could be useful in situations where you don't have a computer but want to jot down some notes that will serve as a starting point to a larger document. Jot down the notes on your phone or tablet and then when you are back at your computer, you can do the conversion.

Googlekeep-to-googledocsTo convert a Google Keep note to a Google Doc, click on the menu in the lower right-hand corner of the note, and choose Copy to Google Doc. Then open up your Google Docs and there it is! 

Bitmoji - Turn yourself into an emoji

Intro:    Hello!  This is Emily; I'm the new kid at SCLS working as a computer technician along side Craig.  I graduated Madison College in December 2016 and started at SCLS shortly after.  When I'm not installing and imaging PCs I enjoy annoying Craig, reading, shopping, and spending time with my animals.  I have 2 dogs (Ellie and Luna) and 2 cats (Bud and Weiser, yes that is really their names).  I also just recently became engaged to my boyfriend of almost 4 years.  Okay, that's enough about me for now :)

    Are you looking for a fun way to represent yourself at the library and in your personal life?  Then you should download the Bitmoji app from the Google Play Store or App Store.  This fun app allows you to create a caricature (or emoji) of yourself that you can post to social media, send to friends and colleagues via text or email, or use theMeowm creatively in the library.

    The app itself is easy enough to use and walks you through every part of creating your face.  From choosing your jaw line to eye shape and color to hair style and ears, you can create a pretty accurate character with your features.  After choosing your facial features, you can choose an outfit that best represents your style.  Next you will see hundreds of different poses, phrases, and actions your bitmoji can do.  You can express different feelings, holidays, sports, or actions  They do not move and are more like a sticker you can paste places.

    You can create a bitmoji of yourself for your Twitter profile picture, Office 365 profile picture, or a Facebook post wishing everyone a good holiday.  Think of how fun it would be to have all staff at your library create their own character then print it out and place it on their name tag or desk plate.  You could also use it in your personal life in Snapchat, text, Facebook messenger or save as an image.  

    Bitmoji is a fun app and tool to represent yourself in a fun way without using a real photo.  Download it and try it out!

    I have created my own character below as well as another SCLS staff member.  Can you guess who?  

 

Meow MeowThumbs up for plaidGoals: Wear leopard print more oftenThe daily grind"I love my job!"


You may not know...

File000298225618That sometimes when we need to work on a PC we'll do it in the early morning.  So you may come into work and see a PC or your PC being actively used.  When you see this don't panic; you haven't been hacked, it's just us.  We will sometimes, but not always, talk to staff to make sure this is okay to do.  So if you are the person we talk to about this issue please leave a note for the morning staff so that they know as well.  We always try our hardest to be done with the PC before your library opens.  This doesn't always work out, but if we're not done in time then we'll call your library once it opens to let you know.  We always try our hardest to keep your PCs working smoothly for you!

Mystery of the disappearing data

I remember like it was yesterday. Snowflakes were falling out of a lead gray sky to the delight or annoyance of passersby when I got the call. A voice, you know the kind that had maybe seen one too many frustrations as of late, told me that, while they appreciated the spreadsheet, they really needed the details and not just the totals. I sat back in my chair, confused. My report into the murky depths of the thing men call Koha had all the details when I sent it. What had happened? Had something happened to the report between the time I sent it and when they received it and why? Was I going to have to redo the whole thing? Most importantly, when was this attempt to make the story like the start of an old detective story going to stop?


Ahem.


After some investigation, it turns out the problem wasn’t some two bit crook, hardened criminal or even someone in a rubber computer gremlin mask ala Scooby Doo. The details, in fact, had been there the whole time. The problem was, well, me. Or at least the fact that I’d forgotten to expand the subtotals on the spreadsheet.


In Excel, there are some visual cues to know if your spreadsheet is using the subtotal function. To the left of your spreadsheet Excelsubtotaldata, instead of being just the normal row count, there will be a gray area with a number of + or - signs in boxes down the middle and numbers in small boxes across the top. Usually it’s 1-3 at the top but there can be more. Another hint can be the fact that the row numbers skip, though that can also just indicate rows hidden with the “hide” command.

  • If you’re seeing + signs, the subtotals are collapsed so you’re only seeing the totals. If the – signs are displaying, the subtotals are expanded to show the details.
  • You can expand or collapse individual subtotals by clicking on the individual + or – signs. Clicking on a + sign expands the subtotal to show the details as well while the - sign hides the details and only shows the subtotal.
  • You can expand or collapse the all subtotals of that level by clicking on one of the numbers in the boxes at the top of the area. Clicking on the number 1 will show only the grand total, the right most number (in this case 3) will show all of the details. The number or numbers between will show the various levels of subtotals.

In this case, I’d left the spreadsheet on level 2 so the subtotals displayed but the full details were still hidden. Oops!

Emoji blitz

Emojis4 (2)While I was traveling to ALA Midwinter, I was browsing through the Delta Sky Magazine and came across an article on how emojis are born. Being the standards-loving librarian that I am, I was fascinated to learn that emojis are approved by the Unicode Consortium and each one is assigned a unique code. This is what makes all emojis appear the same on all the different devices. Fascinating! Now I know why I am able to send my friends the emojis I win in the Disney Emoji Blitz game that I play. 

Since emojis are so ubiquitous, the article got me thinking about emojis and libraries. There is not a lot out there, but I did find this article in Library Journal that talks about library emoji (or the lack thereof). What would your library look like as an emoj?