Holiday Comment Contest!

Xbox KinectHere's an opportunity to win a gently used Xbox 360 Kinect with 3 games for your library! The game console comes with 4GB of memory, one Kinect sensor, two wireless controllers, all the connecting cables and is wifi capable. The games included are Kinect Sports (Boxing, Track & Field, Soccer, Table Tennis, Beach Volleyball and Championship Bowling), Dance Central 2, and Kinect Adventures (20 different heart-pounding adventures).

How can you enter? Simply leave us a comment and share one or more of the following:

  • your favorite post(s)
  • things you've learned about through TechBits that you're using at your library
  • topics you'd like us to cover
  • an area of technology you're interested in for your library

Official Rules: To enter, leave a comment on this post by Monday, January 1st. We will draw a winner at random. Provide your real e-mail address so we can get in touch with you later (it will not be posted on the Internet). Anyone can comment (we're very interested in the feedback!), but you must be an employee of a South Central Library System member library to win. The winner will be announced on the blog.

We'd like to make TechBits as interesting and relevant as we can, and every comment and bit of feedback helps! If you would like to comment, but not be entered to win, just say "comment only" in your comment.Xbox Kinect Games

Sneak Peek! New Technology Coming Soon!

Here at SCLS we have been testing some new and fun technology to lend out to our libraries.  The newest is Virtual Reality through Sony's PlayStation 4 gaming console.  If you are unfamiliar with virtual reality or VR, see Craig's post earlier this year for more about virtual reality v.s. augmented reality.  

VR with the PlayStation 4 is a great way to experience and test VR without the higher cost of an Oculus Rift. The system contains one PS4 console, a VR processing unit, the VR headset, camera, controllers and lots of cables.  We have downloaded a couple games to play and test out the VR world.  We also have made YouTube available to watch 360° videos.  Craig is hard at work "testing"

Here is a short description of the games available to play:

                 Discovery:  A simple version of Minecraft.  Use the controllers to build a world.

                Job Simulator:  A good game to get a feel for interacting with VR.  Simulating different places of occupation you can control the world around you with the controllers with no rules.

                VRog:  Become a frog and hop from lily pad to lily pad eating bugs.  This game is simple and only requires the headset to use.

                Tiny Trax: Using the controller you race tiny cars around different tracks.  Think of it as hot wheels with a birds-eye view.

                Carnival Games VR:  Play classic carnival games to earn tickets for prizes!

The VR kit is currently being tested at one of our system's libraries, but will be available for libraries to check out in the beginning of 2018!  This kit would be an awesome program to offer to teens or adults but not small children.  Check the SCLS equipment page early next year to see if the VR kit is available and to schedule a time to let your patrons experience VR. 

Easily combine text or csv files

I am totally nerding out. I admit it. I had a folder full of text files, and I wanted to dump them all into a single Excel worksheet. It turns out there is a super-easy way to do this, provided you're willing to open up a command line and type in a few DOS commands!!

Here's where I found the instructions:  https://www.rondebruin.nl/win/s3/win021.htm

In my case...

  1. I put the .log files (which are all really text files with a fancy extension) in a folder named "logs" on my desktop
  2. I clicked on the Windows Start button and typed cmd to open a command prompt
  3. My path showed that I was already in my user account. 
  4. I typed cd desktop/logs to navigate to the "logs" folder on my desktop
  5. I typed copy *.log all.txt  to copy ALL the .log files into a single text file titled "all.txt"
    Copy
  6. Then I opened Excel, chose File->Open and navigated to the all.txt file

I am ridiculously excited about this trick!

Library ebooks now shown in Google searches

Google's knowledge graph that shows up on the side of searches (or on top if you're on mobile) is good for quick information. Until recently, if someone searched for a book, it would just show options for purchasing an ebook, but this past September, Google started offering users the option to borrow ebooks from a nearby library. This pairs with Overdrive, so titles from the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium are shown.

Capture

The Google search screen doesn't show whether or not the item is available, but the link goes right to the item they searched for so they can find out. Maybe this will get new people to register for library cards now that WPLC's collection is visible on Google!

Printing a PDF form on your receipt printer

Let's say that you have a PDF form that you want to print out on your receipt printer. If you print using the settings we use as defaults the form doesn't print out well. If you change the default settings then you have to remember to change them back BEFORE you print a patron's receipt or it won't look good. There's got to be an easier way you say! Well, let me tell you the simple solution that requires no changing of default printer settings on your receipt printer.

The steps are as follows:
1. Open the PDF form in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
2. Select your receipt printer in the drop down printer list found in the upper left-hand corner

Step_02

3. Click the Page Setup... button found in the lower left-hand corner

Step_03

4. Click the drop down next to Size

Step_04

5. Choose 72mm x 200mm

Step_05

6. Click OK
7. The preview area of the screen should now show a better view of the PDF form

Step_07

8. Click the Print button found in the lower right-hand corner

I think this is a lot easier than changing the default printer settings of your receipt printer. At least that's what LAV and PDS said when they wanted to print a PDF form that they got from Sue Ann at REE. Thanks Sue Ann!

Tech Gratefulness

TurkeyWith the Thanksgiving holiday just past, I have been reflecting on what an amazing year this has been for SCLS and the various ways we use technology to help our members provide the best possible service to their public. The Technology Team, the ILS Team and the rest of the staff at SCLS this year have all had a hand in bringing forth new and/or improved services for our member libraries. Here are just a few for which I am grateful.

  • New Data dashboard featuring SCLS member library Fast Facts and Visits Per Capita Comparisons
  • New web site hosted in Drupal (I love the new information slides!)
  • Support for SCLS member libraries to create a digitization plan, digitize their collections and make them accessible in Recollection Wisconsin (4 libraries participating so far due to LSTA grant funds)
  • The Indus 9000 scanner purchased with LSTA funds which allows member libraries to digitize books and other larger items 
  • Nearly $25,000 in FCC E-rate grant funds received for participating libraries
  • Five new or newish staff who are bringing great ideas to SCLS
  • Top notch support staff who keep our systems safe and up-to-date (like with the recent Krack threat)
  • An upgrade from 1 Gig to 10 Gig for our SCLS core network to accommodate the future increased Internet capacity for participating member libraries
  • Updated wireless laptop labs (we update one out of three each year)
  • The updated and much easier to use Evanced calendaring software used to create the SCLS calendar
  • Support for increased Internet bandwidth for Badgernet libraries
  • Using Google forms to more easily collect comparative data for the ILS Evaluation
  • Mobile circulation kits including hot spots

Each of the above projects had multiple people involved, often from different SCLS departments. I am most grateful for the wonderful staff we have at SCLS! Not only do they come up with new and improved service ideas, they pitch in where needed to implement them. 

Instagram for libraries

InstagramInstagram is a popular smartphone app for sharing photos and videos. LifeWire describes it as being "like a simplified version of Facebook, with an emphasis on mobile use and visual sharing. Just like other social networks, you can interact with other users on Instagram by following them, being followed by them, commenting, liking, tagging and private messaging. You can even save the photos you see on Instagram."

Want to learn more about how to use it? Take a peek at the GCFlearnfree.org tutorial.

Considering Instagram for your library? Already on Instagram but curious what other libraries are doing? Here are some links to get you thinking!

Gratitude for Technology

PresentIf you've attended a workshop* with me presenting, you'll hear me ask you to put your device away and be present. In fact, this is one of my favorite images to use when talking about being present. This doesn't mean that I'm anti-technology, though. I think it's just the opposite. I use technology all the time and am working to be more mindful of how I use it.

With Thanksgiving next week, I want to take a few minutes to tell you about some of the technology that I'm grateful for this year.

  • My new iPhone 7 (we upgraded from an iPhone 5s that we've had for over 4 years). It has lots more space for photos, podcasts, and audiobooks.
  • Speaking of podcasts, I truly appreciate the Note to Self podcast with Manoush Zomorodi. This podcast reminds me to utilize technology as a tool. And Manoush recently came out with a book, Bored and Brilliant, based on a Note to Self project. It's a great read and I highly recommend it!
  • Speaking of books, I'm grateful for digital access to advance copies from Edelweiss and NetGalley. You can have access, too. 
  • Also speaking of books, I'm grateful for Wisconsin's Digital Library, Libby, and the OverDrive App to keep me supplied with audiobooks and my husband with ebooks.
  • Google Docs makes it easy to share spreadsheets, documents, forms, etc. with my personal book club, my work groups, colleagues, etc. I use it everyday and can't imagine doing without it. There are other Google products that I use regularly - Keep, Maps, email, etc. too.
  • I discovered two new cooking/food related sites that I'm still learning about and wanted to share with you:
    • Copy Me That is a recipe manager, shopping list, and meal planner. You can also create a custom cookbook from here (I'll let you know how that goes).
    • Eat Your Books is a place where you can make better use of your personal collection of cookbooks. I heard about this one from Julia Collin Davison from America's Test Kitchen at ALA this past summer. I'm still learning about it and will keep you posted.

What technology are you grateful for this year? I'd love to  hear!

*The exception to this is when I'm training on using various tablets, phones, and devices to  use Wisconsin's Digital Library. Then, using a device is mandatory!

Exploring Chrome Extensions, Week 2: Grammarly

I have to admit. My grammar is not the best. Luckily there is the Chrome extension Grammarly. In continuing with the Exploring Chrome Extensions series, we are going to check out a very useful one for those of us who are grammar-impaired.

Grammarly is a multi-featured Chrome extension that checks any inputted text in Chrome automatically as you type or finish typing. Not only does the extension check for grammatical errors but it also features a contextual spelling checker.

The application itself is fairly downplayed visually, adding squiggly error lines and context menus for corrections. You will notice when Grammarly is active when you see what looks to be an upside-down Refresh symbol that is bright teal in the lower right-hand corner of the field. I have found that it does not always catch the errors, especially in certain fields. Despite this, I have found this to be a pretty respectable tool in the Chrome extension arsenal.

You can get Grammarly here!

More on coding

Code-geek-2680204_640Back in July 2016, I wrote a TechBits post about the kickoff of DPI's "Coding Initiative in Wisconsin Public Libraries." Since then they've added lots of great information and resources to the Coding Initiative website that are worth a look, including a coding quiz, concrete guides for 8 coding topics, and large searchable list of coding resources!

And, in case you missed it (like I did!), the Wisconsin Libraries for Everyone blog has moved! (old location, new location)  Topics covered include Administration & Data, Resource Sharing, School Libraries, Services & Programs, and Technology, and there's an option to sign up to receive updates via email.