Parents - Stop Hovering and Start Monitoring in Google Chrome

Kids-Online

As a parent to a preteen, I have struggled with giving my daughter unsupervised access to the internet.  Even though schools provide a lot of information to children about internet safety and we’ve had many discussions about household internet rules, I still wanted a way to monitor her activities without “hovering.”

Google Chrome has an easy solution I find useful.  Chrome allows you to set up a separate profile for your child, which parents can monitor and control.

You will first need to create a new profile by going to Settings > People > Add person. Make sure to click the box next to "Control and view the websites this person visits from [your log-on account] and click Add. These supervised profiles will not be set up with their own Google identity/log-on account.  (This means they are not supposed to be tracked or targeted by Google's ad business.)

Within 15 minutes, you should receive an email link to access the supervised user's page. There you will have the ability to block certain sites, keep SafeSearch on lock, and view that user's Web activities. You can then log your kid into Chrome under their own profile by clicking the identity tag up in the top-right corner of the browser window. You also have the ability to set up and customize multiple profiles for multiple children.

This has been an easy way for me to have some peace of mind and also prompts communication between me and my daughter about what she is viewing online.   Of course these discussions aren't always easy, but are sometimes necessary given our increased use of the internet in every day life.   

 

Amazon for photos?

Are you like me and tend to take a lot of pictures of your cats and dogs with your cell phone?  My phone alerted me the other day that I was running out of space, so naturally I assumed I had a lot of pictures.  7 GBs of just pictures! (Most of them of my cats and dogs)  So I went looking for a backup solution.  I backup my pictures on a hard drive at home, but I wanted a second way to back up so that I can remove some from my actual phone but still view them if needed.  Cloud storage was the answer I was looking for. 

After doing a basic google search I found out that Amazon offers cloud storage similar to Dropbox and Google drive called Amazon Drive.  However, if you are an Amazon Prime member (which if you aren’t and order as much as I do, you’re missing out) you can get a sweet deal. 

Having a prime membership means you can store 10 GBs of videos and files with them and unlimited storage for photos.  That’s a lot of cat pictures.  That is a great deal for myself since I already have Amazon Prime anyways.  If 10 GB for videos and files isn’t enough space, you can purchase the unlimited storage plan for $59.99 a year.

That's a lot of cat pictures...
My Amazon Drive details

There are a couple apps to know about when beginning this process.  The first being Amazon Drive where you can see all videos, files and pictures you have stored in the cloud.  You can choose which files to upload or just have them all upload as soon as they are on your phone. 

The next app you will want is Amazon Photos which you can use to actually transfer photos from your phone to the cloud.  You can set up the transfer to auto-save after you take a picture too.  I set my phone up so that it will only backup on a Wi-Fi connection and when it is charging.  That way it will do it at night and not use battery power or mobile data during the day. The other nice thing about the Amazon Photos app is that is you can share the photo directly from the app through a text message, email, or post on social media.

The final app is one for your computer where you can additionally view and backup photos with Amazon Drive.  This is available for Macs and PCs and allows you to view and organize the photos with a computer rather than your phone.

One last cool thing about all of this is if you go Amazon.com on your computer and open photos that way you can actually order prints from Amazon.  They have just plain photo options or you can put all those cat pictures on coffee mugs, canvas, cards, or calendars.  The prices are good and free shipping if you’re a prime member! 

 

My cats Bud & Weiser
Example of a cat photo you can store on Amazon Drive

There is no such thing as too many cat photos.

Is that shortened URL safe or not?

Shortened URLs are very popular and are used quite frequently on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. They have been around for a while and we've even written about them in past TechBits articles.  (Shorter URLs and Sneaky little URLs)

Is that shortened URL safe?Just because shortened URLs been around a while doesn't mean they're always safe to click on though.  For example, if you saw a Facebook post that said that http://bit.ly/2pmmQqK was a video of two Olympic hopeful figure skaters, would you know if it was safe or not?  Where is the link really going to take you?  Well, now there is a website that will both tell you where it is really going and also let you know if it is a safe site or not.  The web site address is http://getlinkinfo.com.  This website works with all of the URL shortening services out there, shows you where the URL is really going and lets you know if the URL is safe or not.  Test it out with the shortened URL that I gave you earlier in the article.  Then once you know that it's safe and where it's going you can click on the link and enjoy the show.

(Photo by mensatic at Morguefile.com)

Yourbrowser.is

Have you ever been helping someone troubleshoot a technical problem over the phone and needed them to tell you what browser/operating system/IP/etc they were using?

There's an easy way to tackle this --- simply have them navigate to yourbrowser.is and tell you what they see (or email you the report)!

I can see this site having potential in troubleshooting OverDrive, LINKcat, webpage, or online database issues...

Yourbrowseris

Federal Library Funding is at Risk

PORI have recently spent some time in libraries, essentially using them as a temporary office space. It strikes me that libraries are very vital and vibrant places. They are downright busy. People are using the photocopier, PCs and printers; getting help from the library staff; using the meeting rooms, checking out materials; or like me, just sitting in comfy chairs and using the library’s wireless with their own laptops or mobile devices. Excellent Internet and wireless service help to make libraries such useful places. Federal LSTA funds, and in some cases Federal FCC E-rate funds, offset the cost of providing Internet and wireless service to just about all of the libraries in the South Central Library System. This funding is in danger. If you live in Wisconsin and you use libraries and appreciate the great Internet, wireless and other services they provide, there are two ways you SMBcan help preserve the Federal Funding. The first is to contact Congress. The American Library Association has made it very easy to do so, by providing a form and contact information. The second way is to help the Wisconsin library delegation going to National Library Legislative Day in May tell your personal library story. There is a form for that too!

Test your cybersecurity knowledge

CybersecurityLast summer, the folks at the Pew Research Center surveyed adult internet users living in the US about cybersecurity.

The results? "A majority of internet users can answer fewer than half the questions correctly on a difficult knowledge quiz about cybersecurity issues and concepts."

Want to see how you fare? Take the short 13-question quiz. When you finish, you'll be able to compare your scores with the average American and see explanations for the terms and topics in each question. The analysis of the findings from the poll can be found in the full report, "What the Public Knows About Cybersecurity."

How did you do?

Which cybersecurity topics would you like us to cover on the TechBits blog? (Please let us know in the comments!)

Overcoming Distractions

FocusThis year, I've been working on improving my focus at work (and at home). By that I mean, focusing on the tasks at hand, getting things done, and avoiding distractions. My main distraction at work is my iPhone. What I've discovered over the last few months is that I'm using my phone to avoid working on difficult or challenging projects.

It's hard, though, because I also use my iPhone as a tool. I use the timer, the calculator, the camera, the calendar, and more. Some of my colleagues even text me about work things. Full disclosure—I also used the camera on my phone to take the photos that are included in this post.

My phone will always be a tool that I'll use for a variety of things. My focus is on keeping it as a tool to help me succeed at work and avoiding using it as a means to procrastinate. My phone now lives on the other side of my office instead of right in front of me and I'm only using it at work when necessary. 

BulletJournalThe other tool that I'm using to improve my productivity and focus at work is Bullet Journaling which I learned about at the Wisconsin Library Association Conference last year. What I love about this way of tracking my projects and to do lists is that everything is in one place. Before Bullet Journaling, I was using a separate notebook for each big project—PLSR, WLA, iLEAD, and SCLS Continuing Education.

For a few months, I had one Bullet Journal (the smaller one in the photo) for both home and work projects. I recently realized that I needed to keep them separate and started the larger journal for work. I'm not giving up Remember the Milk for my online to do list or my Google Calendar for meetings and appointments, but I'm figuring out what technology works for me and when.

What tools do you use to help you focus on your work projects? Please share—I'm always on the lookout for new methods or tools to try.

Cleaning up your patron database - address verification tools.

Interested in cleaning up and verifying address information in your patron records?  Here are some free tools to help you out. 

Free address look-up tools:

  • SmartyStreets: 250 free lookups every month.
  • Experian data quality: verify up to 500 addresses for free against the USPS database (no mention if per month or total).
  • American Factfinder Address lookup: provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, this tool has been used by LINKcat libraries for years to determine the municipality of a patron's legal place of residence.  Provides geographical, municipal and political information about the address you submit.
  • USPS provides address verification and change of address (COA) tools, many through vendors that may allow a set number of free searches and require payment after that.
    • The Zip+4 Code Lookup tool can be used to confirm street address, City and zip code information.
    • Viewing the USPS change-of-address database (NCOA) requires end-user certification and licensing.  There are multiple vendors that are certified and licensed to provide this service; the amounts charged vary according to the number of addresses submitted. 

Bulk address mapping tool:

  • BatchGeo:  up to 250 addresses mapped for free each month.  Allows you to map out a set of addresses, from Excel format, so you can look at the set and see if any of the addresses you submitted lie outside of the range you are confirming.  For example, if you have a set of addresses that are marked as being in the "Town of X", use the BatchGeo mapping software to confirm that all of the addresses lie within that town.  If not, use the American FactFinder Address lookup tool to find the correct municipality for an address.

HINT: using the USPS standardized data entry formats may expedite searching, especially when using the  U.S. Census Bureau's American FactFinder Address lookup.

USPS Publication 28 - Postal Addressing Standards

  • Appendix B - Two-Letter State and Possession Abbreviations (p. 55)
  • Appendix C - Street Abbreviations (p. 59)
  • Appendix F - Address Standardization — County, State, Local Highways (p. 79)

 

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)!