LinkWISCONSIN Drive Test App

Do you ever wonder how you can be of use when driving around the backroads of Wisconsin?

Well, it is possible now with the LINKWisconsin Drive Test App.

What is it?

It is a smartphone app that measures mobile broadband connectivity on a regular basis.

How does it help improve broadband access?

Each test is grouped with thousands of other tests to help validate coverage throughout the state. Analasys of these tests helps find potential reasons for weak coverage. Local testing enhances their knowledge of underserved areas and may be considered while awarding the PSC's Broadband Expansion Grant.

How can you help?

  1. Install the App! Go to the web site first to read about the App. Then send an PSCStateBroadbandOffice@wisconsin.gov to request the App.
  2. Help LinkWisconsin find stakeholders in your community who can work with the LinkWISCONSIN Team to install the App for better testing!

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

Workflow Concept Mapping - CmapTools

I am writing up a LOT of documentation these days, and much of it is workflow-based. Microsoft Word and other tools aren't the best at layout for flowcharting, so I employ a nifty piece of open-source software called CmapTools. I can customize the concepts with color to indicate their position in a decision tree.The map is easily exported into a PDF or printed to a page. It's great to use when illustrating a multi-step process where the answers to different questions have different actions to take, but they all start from the same point.

Here's a sample map from CmapTools.

And my creation for our updated duplicate bib resolution process:

DuplicateBibResolutionWorkflow

Download CmapTools here. Happy mapmaking!

Real time malware map

Seems like not a week goes by anymore without hearing about some new virus, Trojan or Kasglobeother bit of malware attacking PCs.  But have you ever wondered what these attacks look like?

Kaspersky has released an interactive map of malware.  They’ve taken their data and plotted it out on globe so you can see the various threats and where they’re coming from in real time.  Leave the map alone and it will spin on it’s own and show you a country.  Using your mouse you can spin the globe and take a look at where the attacks are heaviest.  If you click on each country, you can get statistics on how many attacks have happened so far that day and a global ranking of each country.  

The map can be found at: http://cybermap.kaspersky.com/  (The map seems to work best in Chrome)

Getty Images Now Free to Use

I'm sure you've all heard of Getty Images, right? Until recently, anyone who wanted to use an image from Getty had to pay a licensing fee to remove the watermark before embedding or using the photo. That's all changing. Getty has made the decision to make the majority of their images freely available to users of Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, and other social media.

That's right, we can now embed Getty Images on our blogs, social media, and websites and Getty Images will add a footer to the picture with a credit and link to the licensing page.

Here's an image of spring that I embedded for you as an example. Very easy! Happy Spring!

How di-Vine!

What is Vine?
From the Vine FAQ: "Vine is a mobile service that lets you create and share short looping videos. Videos you post to Vine will appear on your Vine profile and the timelines of your Vine followers. Posts can also be shared to Twitter or Facebook."

What do you need to make a Vine?
Use the Vine apps available for Android or IOS devices. After installing Vine on your device, you can sign up using an email address or sign in with your Twitter account. Then find people to follow, post your own videos, and more.

How short are these "short" looping videos?
6 seconds, max.

What can you do with 6 seconds?
You'd be surprised! If you're looking for ideas about how to use Vine in your library, check out the April 2013 Computers In Libraries article, "Here's One to Adopt Early: Vine for Video."  (available full-text through BadgerLink to Wisconsin libraries and residents)

Interested in more fun Vine videos? Check out the amazing vines of Zach King! I could watch them all day...

Simple surveying about technology needs

If you want to ask your community about the technology services they use and need, Impact Survey could be the tool for you!

ImpactSurvey

  • asks patrons about how they use library technology services like public computers, wireless networks, online resources, and digital training
  • helps gather information about how to improve those services to enable better patron outcomes
  • analyzes the data from the patrons' survey responses and creates a variety of easy-to-read reports that present the results in text, charts, and graphs in a variety of documents and appropriate for a variety of audiences

What is Impact Survey?

"The Impact Survey is an online survey tool designed specifically for public libraries that want to better understand their communities and how people use their public technology resources and services. Written and validated by research staff at the University of Washington Information School, the Impact Survey is designed to quickly and easily provide busy librarians with useful data on how their patrons use library technology services. The program saves libraries the time and costs associated with writing, programming, analyzing, and reporting an in-house survey."

Impact Survey is currently in Beta Mode, but it looks like it could be pretty slick!

I first heard about Impact Survey through this TechSoup blog entry, and then was reminded about it by this post, which includes webinar recording about it.

Creating meme images

Nedstark-braceyourselvesDid you ever wonder how those "meme" images you see in your Facebook feed are created? The different types of Internet memes are too numerous to list here - there's Grumpy Cat, Ryan Gosling, lolcats and other various animals, Star Trek, etc. etc. It's difficult to track down the origin of popular meme images, although there is a database dedicated to documenting Internet memes, including photos, videos, catchprases, etc. 

Once an image has gone viral, anyone can create a customized meme using various websites. You go to the website, select an image, and enter your text. You can then download the captioned image and post it to Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Some meme captions are snarky, but they don't have to be snarky. Libraries could use memes as a fun way to communicate information via social media. Closed-jan1

Here are a few websites that you can use to create memes. Note: this is not an exhaustive list:

Online Organizing Tools

MessyDeskEvery January, "getting organized" is one of my New Year's resolutions. This year, I decided to look at a few different tools to help me organize some of my online information - bookmarks, articles, etc. - and thought I'd share them with you. 

Back during Project Play, I tried out del.icio.us (now Delicious.com) as a way to save or bookmark the articles and links I found on the web. Then, in 2010, the rumor was that Delicious was heading for a shutdown (see this TechBits post from 2011). While this turned out not to be true, I had already stopped using the service. One of the alternatives offered in this Lifehacker article was Diigo. Bookmarks I created an account back in 2010 and then never used it. Instead I bookmarked everything in Firefox.  Here's a partial snapshot of my current list. These are somewhat organized but rarely used.

Both Diigo and Delicious make it easy to add links to your account when you add the Diigolet and Delicious buttons to your bookmarks toolbar. When you are on a page that you want to save, click on the Diigo or Delicious button and add tags or a description and save the bookmark. So easy!

Bookmarklets

 

Both services are free, although Diigo does have Premium options. As these are both web based services, your bookmarks are available where ever you have an internet connection. Want to take your bookmarks with you on your mobile device? Both Diigo and Delicious offer apps for iOS and Android devices.

 I'll be playing with both of these during the next couple of months to decide which I like best. What do you use to organize your online bookmarks, articles, and links?

P.S. I also personally use Evernote to organize my recipes and other things at home. I'll save that for another TechBits post!

Messy Desk photo from MorgueFile.