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Backing up to a USB device

Backing up your data is very important. It is something you should do on a frequent basis because you never know when your hard drive might crash. It's also important for you to backup your own files as only you know which ones are important. With the advent of low cost USB Flash drives it's never been easier or cheaper to backup your data. I'll even outline the steps to do it so you'll be all set to do your backups.

1. Insert USB Flash Drive into one of the USB ports of your PC and wait for it to be installed.

2. Double-click the My Computer icon that is found on your Window's desktop.

3. In the My Computer window, right-click on the icon for your USB Flash Drive .

4. From the menu that appears, click Properties. The Properties window that opens will display the used space, free space, and the total capacity of the USB Flash drive.

5. Make note of the amount of free space on your USB Flash drive.

6. Create a new directory on your USB Flash drive with a name of "backup" and also include today's date in the name.

7. Navigate to where the files are that you want to back up, hopefully they are all in the same directory.

8. Right-click on the directory that you plan to back up and select "Properties" to determine how much space the files in the directory take up.

9. Compare this with the results you got in step 5.

10. If there is enough room on your USB Flash drive then right-click on the directory

11. Click the Copy option.

12. Go to the directory you created on your USB Flash drive in step 6.

13. Go into that directory and then right-click.

14. Click the Paste option and your files should start appearing in this directory.

If you're not sure what files to backup then take a look at our recommendations.

Thanks go out to Peggy and Mary from Sauk City for the suggestion to write on this topic.

Fix bad info about your library in Google Maps!

Fix this address

Have you looked for your library in Google Maps lately? Try it, right now. Look carefully at the results... Is all the library's information correct?

If you find something in Google Maps that needs to be fixed, you can correct it. All you need is a free Google Account.

How to fix an error on Google Maps

If it makes you nervous to know that anyone with a Google Account can randomly edit your library's Google Map data, library personnel may want to "claim" the library's map listing through the Google Local Business Center.

Getting started with Google Local Business Center

Claiming a listing with the Google Local Business Center gives you exclusive editing control over the information Google Maps shows for the library. Google will guide you through a process to verify your listing (either through a phone call or a postcard delivered to you).

Tip: Once you claim a listing, it cannot be transferred to a new Google Account (it has to be recreated from scratch), so it is best to sign up with the Local Business Center with an account created specifically for library use.

So don't confuse your patrons (or potential future patrons) with bad information in Google Maps. Take control of your library's map information and make sure it's accurate!

Thanks for taking the survey!


The results are in... 
  • Click on the image to the right to see full-size graphs and details.
  • Comments and full survey results can be found here.

The graphs on the right are from "Summary of Responses" view of the of the form responses. The full survey results are in a Google Docs spreadsheet.

This was my first time using Google Docs & Forms for a survey, and all-in-all it was a pretty slick way to gather feedback! I did run into a few snags (mainly because I really loved those graphs from the "summary" view), and they were:

  • test responses can be removed from the spreadsheet but will still appear in the "summary of responses" view
  • it isn't possible to link directly to a "summary of responses" view (hence my image on the right)
  • and "summary of responses" view is only available to folks with "edit" permission on the spreadsheet

Thanks to everyone who filled out a survey about TechBits! We appreciate the feedback and look forward to tackling the topics that were suggested.

Downloading Online Videos

Intro: Hi everyone, I'm Jon Mark Bolthouse, the new guy here at South Central.  My title is Technology Projects Manager, which means I'm lucky enough to spend my time learning about new and exciting library technologies each and every day.

When I'm not hanging out here at the Biltmore Lane headquarters, I can be found at my home in Fond du Lac, listening to and performing music, spending time with my family, and goofing off with electronic projects.  Recently, I built an HDTV antenna out of a piece of wood and four coat hangers.  We now receive 10 HD Digital TV channels, 9 more than before  (the plans to build one for yourself can be found here).

I don't have to tell you what an amazing phenomenon online videos have become.  From Associated Press news reports to a  20 year old Bob Seger performing on television in Windsor, Ontario--or just cats riding around on a Roomba, there are videos of practically anything you can imagine.

But quite often you'd like to save a video for viewing at a later date. 
Here are three tools to help you do just that:

Keep Vid  (http://keepvid.com/)

Keep Vid is an free online download and conversion site that will take the URL for a video and download it to your desktop, converting the video to either Flash Video or MP4 (for use on a mobile device like an iPod. One of the nice features of KeepVid is that it's not limited to YouTube.  It works with almost all of the popular online video sharing websites.

1-Click YouTube Video Download  (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/13990)

1-Click YouTube Video Download is a Firefox extension that, after installing, adds a special link to each YouTube Video page:
Clicking on the link will download a copy of the video to your desktop in one of three popular formats.

Orbit Downloader (http://www.orbitdownloader.com/)

Orbit Downloader is a standalone software application, making it a better application to use on your home computer rather than an SCLS PC.  I would recommend using the previous two applications before trying out Orbit.

Orbit can queue up multiple downloads from multiple sites, as well as perform batch conversions on your videos--very helpful if you get a new piece of equipment that doesn't support a certain format.

Turn the world on its ear

Well, OK, maybe that's too ambitious a topic for a TechBits article. But what if you could make your little piece of the world better just by turning your mouse on its ear?

Vertmouse A few months ago, I started using what's called a "vertical mouse". It's a surprisingly simple ergonomic adjustment; take your standard mouse buttons and reorient things so that the palm of your hand is perpendicular to the desk instead of parallel. Simple, but ingenious.

The result is a much more natural grip and considerable reduction of tension in the wrist, forearm and shoulder. Earlier this week, SCLS had an ergonomics consultant give a little presentation. He concurred that traditional mouse design is problematic and gave the vertical design a big thumbs up.

These kinds of mice first came into the market almost a decade ago. Now that I've got one I am surprised that they haven't caught on more and I am dismayed that I waited so long to try it. Issues that I had been having in recent years with soreness in the wrist, numbness in the fingers and seriously painful muscle knots in the forearm and shoulder are simply gone, gone, gone. My only problem now is that the buttons on the model I have (made by Evoluent) feel a bit too squishy to me, but I am getting used to it.

cloud computing

Once upon a time (don't all good stories begin this way?), all of a person's computer programs and data were kept on floppy disks or on the computer's hard drive. These days, there is a massive movement to "cloud computing", where a user's programs and data are stored on remote computers and accessed over the internet.

Craig's cats, computing in the cloud(s)A few examples:

  • online email like Hotmail, Yahoo! mail, or Gmail
  • online office applications and document storage like Google Docs or Zoho services
  • online games like Runescape and Webkinz
  • online photo-sharing services like Flickr and Snapfish

What does this mean for us?

There are both pros and cons to cloud computing. Among the pros: your data and applications are available from almost anywhere, users can easily collaborate, and many services are provided for cheap or even free. Some cons: you're trusting someone else to keep your data safe, and your applications and data are only as available and reliable as the online service and your internet connection.

What does this mean for libraries?

  • New service options. Where before you might have installed software to do a task, there now are many online services that allow you to complete the same task.
  • New data storage options. Where before you might have saved everything to a floppy or USB pen, there now are many online services that provide storage.
  • Mobile access. Because the processing and storage are out in the cloud, more and more users will be accessing web-based services from their smaller, lower-powered, mobile devices. Where before your users came to the library in person, called you on the phone, or accessed your website from their home PC, your users may now look for you on social networking sites, peruse your website, or send you text messages all from their phones.
  • Concerns about privacy. If library staff are using online services, what concerns might you have about the privacy of library/patron data being handled by a 3rd party?

If you're interested in reading more about the Cloud Computing trend, here are a few links to get you started.

Minimizing Online Training Challenges

As we move closer to the Koha rollout, there will be many things for all of us Dynix users to learn, share and ponder.  Online trainings such as GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar sessions will be instructional cogs in the training wheel.Paisley2

Online training has its opportunities and challenges.  There is no travel so both time and money are saved however it can be more difficult to foster a sense of community in a virtual classroom and you may need (or feel the obligation) to multitask with class work and library work simultaneously.  In other words, it can be easier to get distracted and feel less engaged with online trainings.

What is preferable about in-person training and are there ways to foster these same things in online trainings?

Classroom training generally offers:

  • Non-distracting learning environment
  • Common purpose: a sense of community with other participants
  • Real-time dialogue
  • Visual cues: interest, disinterest, tired, crazy paisley pants…

All of these pieces add richness to the learning puzzle.  So how can these same things be facilitated in an online learning environment?

  • Can your library be staffed such that when you are scheduled for an online training you are not also scheduled to wear your library hat?
  • If your library space has no quiet place from which to participate in an online training, can you take the class from home (this presumes that home is more quiet than work)?
  • Community occurs through everyone building a social presence.  The easiest way to be socially present is to have technology for real-time participation, e.g. a microphone.  It will make the experience more engaging for all involved.

Please share what you like about in-person training and how that can be fostered in an online environment.

Happy Birthday, TechBits!

Ribbons TechBits is one year old! Many thanks to everyone who already filled out a survey and left us feedback.

If you haven't filled out a survey yet, please let us know how we’ve been doing so far and what topics you’d like us to write about in the future – http://bit.ly/boO9CH

If you have coworkers who don’t follow TechBits, we’d also really appreciate hearing from them – http://bit.ly/bO9nu7

TechBits Survey poem
We hope you'll leave us some feedback
on all the things our blog may lack.
Or if, instead, you think it's great
Then let us know that's how we rate!
Both surveys are very short (<2 min).  We look forward to your feedback and comments!

Note about the surveys: they were created using Google Docs and Forms and turned out to be super-fast and super-easy. The first one has a nifty "Birthday Balloons" theme; the second uses the "Shades of Blue" theme!

Keeping an ear out...

KeepinAnEarOut Let's say you're interested in something and you want to keep an ear out for new mentions of it on the internet. How can you do that without searching for it every day? 

Google Alerts is one option--- you put in your search terms, and Google Alerts emails you when there are new hits with those terms. If you prefer RSS to email, alerts are also available as an RSS feed that you can add to your feed reader.

I set up two alerts last week with a library focus to see how it works: one for "Madison" + "public library", and one for "Sun Prairie Public Library." I opted for daily digests for the email alerts so I'm not overwhelmed by email.

Google Alerts 
Click on the image to enlarge

Most of the alerts haven't been too exciting so far, but there were two that caught my eye:

  • The Sun Prairie Star's website now links to the Sun Prairie Public Library under their "Local Links"  (in the "S" section)
  • Madison Public Library was mentioned on a blog where the writer discusses moving to the United States and spending time at the library learning English (she developed a love of libraries and went on to work at the library and earn her MLS!). 

I already know that I may need to tweak my alerts to catch the information I'd like, but I can definitely see some potential for Google Alerts.

Here are some good blog posts with more info:

Changing Your Default Web Browser

Today, when I clicked on a link in one of my emails, the link opened up in Internet Explorer.  I never use Internet Explorer unless the site requires ActiveX.  I changed my default web browser back to Firefox so that it wouldn't happen again.  You can also set Firefox as your default web browser by following these steps:

Firefox 2.x

  1. Launch Firefox
  2. Click ToolsJ0446463
  3. Click Options
  4. Click Main
  5. Beneath the System Defaults section, click Check Now
  6. Click Yes
  7. Click OK

Firefox 3.x

  1. Launch Firefox
  2. Click Tools
  3. Click Options
  4. Click Advanced
  5. Click the General tab
  6. Beneath the System Defaults section, click Check Now
  7. Click Yes
  8. Click OK

After you have changed your default browser to Firefox, all your links in email and on your desktop will open in Firefox.  I know some people still prefer Internet Explorer.  You can set Internet Explorer as your default browser by following these steps:

Internet Explorer 7 & 8

  1. Launch Internet Explorer
  2. Click Tools
  3. Click Internet Options
  4. Click Programs
  5. In the Default Web Browser section, click Make Default (grayed out if already the default)
  6. Click OK