OverDrive Settings & Samples

OverDriveSettings2If you've logged into Wisconsin's Digital Library recently, you may have noticed two additional items in your Settings tab: Maturity Levels and Cover Images. As our collection continues to grow, you can decide what results you want to see. By using the drop down menus, you can change your settings to limit your results to what you want. In the image above, the limits are set to view everything from Juvenile to Adult.

The other setting you can now change relates to the cover images. The default setting is "No" so adult cover images are replaced with a basic cover. If you're not logged into Wisconsin's Digital Library, adult titles are displayed with the basic cover. 

If you change setting, be sure to click save before leaving the page!

OverDrive announced at this year's ALA Conference (and in a recent blog post) that librares can embed samples of ebook and audiobook titles into their websites. As an example, I embedded a sample of a book that I'll be reading & reviewing for this year's Notable Books Marathon at the WLA Conference. Happy Reading!

 

Office 365 Bookmarks Toolbar Shortcuts

The Office 365 rollout to the libraries has been going great so far and we are looking forward to other libraries coming aboard in the next couple months.  One topic that I’d like to address is the correct way to create an Office 365 login screen shortcut for your browser’s Bookmarks Toolbar.  We have had a few calls come in about this issue.

For most sites, the easiest way to make the shortcut is to open your browser, go to the website, then drag the icon (or lock) to left of the URL in the address bar to your bookmarks toolbar.   Unfortunately, if you do this with the mail.scls.info URL, your shortcut will end up only working temporarily.  After you go to mail.scls.info, your browser actually redirects you to a session-specific URL that only works for a short amount of time. Bookmark

Here is the correct way to make Bookmarks Toolbar shortcuts for each browser:

Firefox

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Right-click an empty area of your Bookmarks Toolbar
  3. Click New Bookmark…
  4. Name it something like Office 365 Login
  5. For the location, simply enter mail.scls.info
  6. Click Add

Chrome

  1. Open Chrome
  2. Right-click an empty area of your Bookmarks Toolbar
  3. Click Add Page…
  4. For the Name, delete what is already there and enter something like Office 365 Login
  5. For the URL, clear out what is there and enter mail.scls.info
  6. Click Save

Internet Explorer

  1. Open Internet Explorer
  2. Go to mail.scls.info
  3. Drag the icon to the left of the URL to your Bookmarks Toolbar
    Icon
  4. Right-click the new shortcut
  5. Select Properties
  6. Delete the URL that is listed and simply enter mail.scls.info
  7. Click OK

My favorite new Excel trick -- Text to Columns!

I have a new favorite Excel trick for splitting the contents of one Excel cell into separate columns. It is SO completely awesome! Here are examples of how I've used it in the past week:

  • A column containing "LastName, FirstName" was split into separate LastName and FirstName columns
  • A column containing "Username@librarydomain" was split into separate Username and librarydomain columns so I could easily sort my data by library

Here's how it works, using a LastName, Firstname example:

  1. Make sure there's a blank column to the right of the column you want to split (or more, if the data will split into more than 2 columns)
  2. Select the column of data
  3. Click on the Data tab and select Text to Columns
  4. Choose how you'd like to divide your data (I chose Delimited)
  5. Select the appropriate option  (I chose "comma" for my example)
  6. Click through the next screen
  7. Presto!  2 separate columns --  LastName  and   FirstName

A picture of the process:

TextToColumns

(click on the image to view it full-size)

Super slick!

Issues with version 30.0 of Firefox

We have had a couple of reports of issues with this latest update of Firefox to version 30.0.

The first issue is that the Print button "action", starting in Firefox version 29, differs from previous versions in that it now opens Print Preview rather than going directly to the "native print dialog" box.  Mozilla has this problem listed as a known bug, so they are aware of it.  This does not affect when you print from either the File menu or if you do a Ctrl+P.  It only happens if you have added the Print button to your toolbar.  So if you are using the Print button in the toolbar then you will have an extra step in order to print out the web page.

The second issue is with the PDF viewer that is built into Firefox.  It now opens PDFs with the built-in PDF viewer instead of the Adobe Reader plugin, and the built-in PDF viewer does not handle relative links properly. ("Relative links" meaning: the link URLs start with "somefolder/somefile.pdf" instead of "http://www..." which is common in an HTML page, but less so in a PDF.) This issue is considered a bug, but has not been fixed yet.

If you run across any other issues please call the Help Desk and report them.

Home Automation

GE-Bright-from-the-Start-BulbA simple quest to find out more information on “Smart light bulbs” has turned into a major discussion at my house. We wanted a light bulb that would automatically turn on in the morning to help us wake up.  Yes, I know lamps already exist that do that sort of thing, but that’s not the point, and it would make for a real snoozer of a post. Get it? I said "snoozer" when I was referring to a lamp that is supposed to help you wake up! Anyway, I thought it was funny, and I bet Tim will too.

Back on point, “Smart light bulbs” are bulbs that can be controlled with an app on a smartphone or tablet. This is part of a larger movement called home automation. Some major retailers are beginning to carry home automation kits. Staples has Connect, Lowe’s has Iris, Home Depot has Wink (release date set for July 7th), and Apple has HomeKit. Some of these are more advanced that others, but work using similar protocols like wifi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave Plus and ZigBee.

These home automation kits consist of a hub that connects to your broadband Internet connection, and sometimes a light bulb or two, depending on the kit. As long as you buy smart devices that are compatible with your hub you shouldn’t have any problem controlling them and you can connect hundreds of devices to a single hub.
 
As for the major discussion at my house, I don’t think I’m ready to commit to a home automation system yet. It seems like a quickly changing market with more and more devices coming out all the time. I do like what I’m seeing with Wink and might look into that more next week.

I can see where this technology will start creeping into the libraries as a way of controlling HVAC and security systems in the near future if it hasn’t already.

Checking out Wi-Fi and Roku

DevicesWe can check out a lot of different things at the library like books (of course!), DVDs, magazines, eReaders, laptops, bundt cake pans, tools, and even seeds. But, how about a Roku box or a Wi-fi hot spot?

The Indian Prairie Public Library (Darien, IL) started lending Roku to their patrons on January 2, 2014. They started with three devices and are now up to six with 82 titles on them. As someone who still watches "over the air" TV, and is hesitant to get a Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, or even Netflix, I think this is a great way to introduce the service to more people. And, OverDrive is partnering with Roku so there will be an OverDrive channel featuring library audiobooks and streaming videos. Even better!

New York and Chicago Public Libraries both received grants from the Knight Foundation to bring the Internet to more of their patrons by lending Wi-Fi hotspots. The hope is to help bridge the digital divide by providing Internet access where ever their patrons need it. Many people can't afford or don't have access to the Internet at home and having free Wi-Fi hotspots available for checkout will improve Internet access. How cool is that?

 

 

 

 

 

Spell Checkers vs. Jargon Explosion

ClipsterWhy eye halve two hate my pea seas spill chucker…

OK, that subtitle is a bit of an exaggeration. I generally do appreciate how well built-in dictionaries and style tools automatically assist with composition. But there are a few exceptions to the generally good behavior of these tools, and some of the exceptions are quite maddening.

For example, as a technology worker I am frequently exposed to new jargon. While spell checkers gracefully accept these new words when I tell them to add custom dictionary entries, there is a particular form that MS Office in particular is resistant to: words with INitial CAps.

The default behavior of Office is to assume I've made a fat-fingered typo. Admittedly, this assumption is often correct. Then it automatically converts the second capitalized letter to lower case. But where does that leave me when writing documentation for IPsec, VMware, or any of a number of new technologies that have legitimately this word form?

An easy but tiresome solution is to type Ctrl-Z (Undo) a lot, every time Office mistakenly corrects things. A better solution is to train Office how to correctly handle these words. The trick is that just making another custom dictionary entry is not enough. You need to go into the auto-correction options:

  1. In the File tab, select Options.
  2. In the left hand side of the Options window, choose Proofing.
  3. Click the button AutoCorrect Options…
  4. Click the Exceptions… button next to TWo INitial CApitals.
  5. Click the center tab, INitial CAps.
  6. Enter the technical jargon or company names that you want Office to please stop helping you with.
  7. Be sure to deselect the checkbox Automatically add words to list, or Office may start behaving as if every fat-fingered typo you make is a new valid word to be ignored.
  8. Click OK, OK, OK to close all the option windows you've drilled into.

A couple of Google search tips

GoogleInDepthArticles

 

Looking for quick, in-depth information about a subject?

Keep your eyes peeled for Google's "in-depth articles" section in the search results.

 


Need to quickly narrow down your search results by date/time, reading level, or location?

Click on "Search Tools" and choose your limiter. (I use the date limiter all the time to find recent information about a topic!)

Google Search Tools

 

 

Homepage weigh-in

ScaleA homepage's weight is just a number measuring size at one moment in time. It's just one piece of the mosaic of a website's total health, happiness, and success... but it does come up from time to time when member libraries redesign their websites. "Is my homepage normal? How does it compare to other libraries' homepages?" 

To find out, I did a weigh-in with 55* SCLS member library website homepages on June 11-12, 2014. I used the YSlow and Firebug add-ons in Firefox to measure how many kilobytes it takes to display each homepage. In other words, I measured the total (uncached) file size of all the HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and images that make up each one. Here's the weight chart:

SCLS Member Library Homepages' Total Weight in KB
High (100th percentile) 8187.00
80th percentile 1246.48
Median 638.20
20th percentile 268.56
Low (0 percentile) 74.10

Some context: 1000KB = 1MB. The body-weight cliches continue to apply:

  • "Too big" or "too small" for one person may be "just right" for someone else.
  • Weight doesn't take into account the value/function of each component (like muscle, fat, and bones). Proportions matter.
  • I won't post individual weights online, but will share them with library staff who want to know.

A finding that interested me: the 17 weightiest pages are all CMS-generated. Different CMS's are represented throughout the weight levels (Drupal, WordPress, CivicPlus, GovOffice.com, etc.). My assessment:

  • CMS workflow efficiencies can make it easy to add weight to a page without much effort or intention.
  • Making wise choices about a site's infrastructure (themes/templates, modules/plugins, etc.) and content (especially images) equates roughly to the diet and exercise choices that help maintain a healthy body weight.

* All 53 SCLS members, plus two additional project sites managed by member libraries.

Add/Remove Windows System Shortcuts from your Desktop

You know those Icons that you can faithfully rely on to allways appear on the desktop: Recycle Bin, My Computer, etc? Did you know that you can pick and choose which of those icons show up on your desktop? I'm going to show you how. (Directions are for Windows 7 users. They may or may not work on other Windows versions.)

First, right-click an empty space of the desktop, then click Personalize.

Desktop context

The Personalization Menu will then appear.  Next, click "Change desktop icons" in the left margin.

  Change desktop icons button

This will bring up the Desktop Icon Settings window.

  Desktop icons setting menu

From here, you can choose whether to display Computer, your profile folder (contains Documents and Downloads), Network, and the Recycle Bin. Additionally, you can change the picture for each of the shortcuts, but, personally, I wouldn't go there. Don't want to make it MORE confusing now.

So there you have it; how to add and remove Windows system shortcuts from your desktop.