Collaboration tool: Sharing links with Dropbox

Recently, I've been exchanging documents and links with others using Dropbox for the PLSR Project. (Dropbox is an online file storage service.) It's handy to be able to upload completed documents for fellow project members to read, but we're also frequently editing draft documents together in Google Docs, and it'd be mighty annoying to have to dig through both Dropbox and Google Docs to find all our project documents. To avoid that confusion and annoyance, Dropbox lets us upload URLs—so we put the links to our Google Docs files into Dropbox, to keep everything in the same place.

The steps to share a link in Dropbox are a nifty drag-and-drop maneuver. I made a video of my own (to show you, and to help cement the steps in my own memory). Not just for Google Docs—it works for saving links to your favorite websites, too!

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Previous TechBits coverage of Dropbox:

Disable Sound in Browser Tabs


Browser tab sound
How many times has this happened to you? You’re sitting in front of your computer, starring at the internet with several tabs open on your browser and all of a sudden out of nowhere a really loud ad or video starts playing. If you’re lucky you know which tab is playing the offending ad and can close it. If you don’t know which tab it is, instead of hunting it down or reaching to turn down your speakers you can simply scan your open tabs for a speaker icon and click the icon to mute the ad or video in that tab. The speaker icon should only appear on the tabs that are currently playing some sort of audio. This works by default in Firefox. If you’re using Chrome, follow these instructions to turn this feature on.


    chrome://flags/#enable-tab-audio-muting

  • Copy the line above into Chromes address bar and hit enter or select paste and go. Either way works.
  • Click enable below the “Tab audio muting UI control" flag.
  • Click the blue “Relaunch Now” button at the bottom of your screen to restart Chrome and that’s it, you can now disable sound on a tab by clicking the speaker icon.


Sadly, if you’re using IE you will have to hunt down that tab or turn down your speakers since it doesn’t have this awesome feature.

Browser tab no sound

 

Zoom In! How to Increase Text Size in your Browser

I am re-posting this Wicked Cool blog from 2008 because I find that, as I age, I need assistance with reading the "fine print".  You can test the instructions while reading the post.  Happy New Year. Heidi O.

Tired of squinting at websites with too-small text?  Use one of these easy techniques to make the text BIGGER, smaller or re-set the page to "normal size".  Works on most websites:

Ctrl and Mouse Scroll-Wheel

If you have a scroll-wheel mouse, hold down the Ctrl key and spin the mouse-wheel.

  • Works in both Firefox and Chrome.
  • Also works in Adobe Reader and the Adobe Reader browser plug-in.
  • Different browsers may vary in which direction you have to scroll for larger or smaller text.

Ctrl and +, Ctrl and -, Ctrl and 0

Hold down the Ctrl key and hit the + key at the same time.  More than once makes it bigger.  Use Ctrl and - for smaller text, or Ctrl and 0 to return to normal size.

  • Works in Firefox and Chrome.

 

If you don't want to use these options, there are per browser settings you can modify.

  • In the Firefox toolbar, select View then Zoom to see and set your options.
  • In Chrome, go to the upper right corner and click on the "hamburger" or the "three dots". The Zoom option is in this menu and you can set the percentage or choose Full Screen from here.

 

The A,B,Cs of It

Image001 (3)Like everyone, I struggle with staying on top of tasks and projects. I recently attended a seminar on managing multiple projects. The most useful concept I garnered from the workshop was the concept of "A,B,C" tasks. It goes like this:

"A" tasks are due today
"B" tasks are due in 30 days
"C" tasks are due in 90 days

If you are doing an "A" level activity when you should be doing a "B" level activity, you are doing the wrong thing. 

After the workshop, I asked myself how can I use technology to help with this? I have been using Remember the milk for years to manage my "to do" lists. This is a great free tool that works on PCs as well as mobile devices. I looked a little closer and discovered that you can assign one of 3 color-code priorities. 

I don't follow the "A,B,C" system exactly. I use Priority 1 (red) to flag projects or tasks on their due date. This is nice, because each week I can scan for those items to see what major deadlines I have coming up (like write my Tech Bits post). I use 2 (dark blue) for things I should get done that day--these are my true priority 1 tasks (like creating agendas). I use 3 (light blue) to flag more routine tasks that effect mostly me (checking my "waiting" email). So, on a given day I had better not be working on priority "light blue" items if I have "dark blue" items to do. If I miss a "red" item, I am really in trouble. 

What task management systems and techniques do you use?

By the way, the minute I started writing this blog, the song "Teach me tonight" was playing on AccuRadio. It includes in the lyrics the phrase "the A,B,C of it." 

 

Kahoot!

At the All Directors Meeting last month, Tessa Michaelson Schmidt from DPI used a cool game to end the Annual Report: Before, During, and After workshop. It was a really fun way to wrap up the presentation and reinforce some of the main takeaways it. As I watched, all the participants were really engaged in the game, laughing, and working together to figure out the answers. What an awesome tool to use for workshops - for your patrons or for your staff.

KahootIt's called Kahoot and it's free to use! Simply create an account to get started. Then play the intro quiz to get familiar with the game and then create one of your own.

I created a test Kahoot survey about TechBits. Try it out here! You'll need either two windows open on your computer or a computer and a mobile device. In this example, you're playing both the teacher and the student.

After you open the link, choose the Play button and then Start Now. Choose Classic  or Team mode (I used classic in my testing). If you are using a mobile device, there's a free Kahoot app you can use or go to Kahoot.it on the web browser. When the game PIN appears, enter that on your device or web browser to join. You'll play the game on one screen/device and you'll use the other screen/device to advance the questions - you get to see both sides of Kahoot this way.

Let me know if you create or use Kahoot in any of your workshops or training sessions. Have fun!

Image on my computer:                                                                             

KahootPIN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image on my phone:

 KahootPhone

 

ProProfs Quiz Maker

We'll have a new hire starting soon, and that had me thinking about all the delivery codes used by the system and wondering whether there was a tool out there to easily put together a quiz to help in learning all of these.

ProProfsQuestionTypesI took ProProfs quiz maker for a spin. They have a free option with no limits on how many questions I could include in my quiz. The interface was easy to use and offered many different question types and quiz settings. With the free account, all quizzes are public, security is removed, ads are added to the quiz, and any results are deleted. Paid accounts are a little on the pricey side, but might be well worth the money if you find yourself using lots of quizzes for training purposes and would like more options and flexibility.

Want to see the end result of my experiment?
Here's a link to my LINKcat Library Delivery Codes quiz. I'm sure you'll all score 58 out of 58*!

ProProfsNumberOfQuestions*There's a setting that lets users decide how many questions they want to answer. I've enabled this, so you can actually opt for a subset of the full 58. Just click on the little gear to select the number of questions before you begin!

What tools have you found for helping to train new hires? Please share them in the comments.

When you say "it seems slow", what does that mean?

155024495_203a230b7c_z

About five years ago, SCLS recommended that libraries use a timing tool for Firefox called Life of Request Information (LORI), to help assess response time for applications and network connections, especially for Koha.

Unfortunately, LORI hasn't been updated recently, and it is not 100% compatible with modern Firefox. You can still make LORI work, but technically it is obsolete and in some cases it may have serious conflict with websites or other add-ons.

Luckily, a pretty decent replacement is available for it; the Page Speed Monitor (PSM) extension. The free PSM widget is easy to install, easy to use, and available for both Firefox and Chrome. In each browser, it shows up as a small icon in the toolbar, typically in the upper right corner of the window though this may vary if you're using a custom theme. The appearance of the toolbar icon is slightly different for FF and Chrome, as shown here.

App.telemetry.toolbar.iconsEach time you load a page, the PSM toolbar icon is overlaid with the total load time in seconds, timed from when you first requested the page to when the browser finished rendering it. If you click the icon you'll see a detailed breakdown of the timing elements.

App.telemetry.details

From these elements you can estimate how much of the time is due to network or web server responsiveness (the DNS and TCP metrics), versus how much is from the weight or complexity of the page content (the Processing metric). Refer to the Page Speed Monitor download page for a technical description of each timing element.

TechSoup for Libraries

TechSoup for LibrariesDo you know about the TechSoup for Libraries blog? It's one of my favorites!

TechSoup for Libraries is a project of TechSoup, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit devoted to making technology and technology education available and affordable to nonprofits and libraries all over the world. TechSoup for Libraries continues to gather and share stories from the field so libraries can keep learning from each other.

I was just looking over the blog recently and was amazed all over again at what a helpful collection of topics it covers. Some recent examples:

And those are just some of the posts that I find most appealing given my interests! There are many, many more posts on a variety of library technology topics.

You can browse to the blog, sign up for their monthly newsletters, follow them via RSS, or follow them on Twitter.

Guest Post: Madison Public Library's Personal Archiving Lab

This Guest Post is from Samantha Abrams, a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Library and Information Studies. You can find her on Twitter as @sabramse.

Inspired by similar projects like the Memory Lab (in Washington) and the Inspiration Lab (in Vancouver), the Personal Archiving Lab at the Madison Public Library made its debut in June of this year. Funded through the Madison Public Library Foundation by a gift from Martin J. Levy, the Lab is a collection of equipment that can be used by Library patrons to digitize at-risk analog materials, like home movies, video tapes, audio cassettes, photographs, floppy disks, and paper-based documents (including photographs).

Personal Archiving LabThe Lab — as it stands — fits on a small cart (like this one), and is fully mobile. In addition to a Macbook Air, the Lab contains a flatbed scanner (which can handle poster-sized documents as well as slides and film negatives), a Sony HandyCam, a portable miniDV player, a tape deck, a combination VHS / DVD player, and a floppy disk drive. For video-based transfers, the Lab uses Elgato Video Capture. Some form of external storage (thumb drives are recommended) is required to use the lab, and the transfer of all tape-based media occurs in real time (60 min video = 60 min to complete the transfer).

The equipment we use to capture important memories today — smartphones, digital cameras, social media — makes the tangible feel less urgent. As a result, our tapes and our photographs are often stored out of sight, and out of mind. It isn’t until we run across that box in the attic, or garage, or relative’s basement, that we rediscover them. Since the debut of the Lab at the Madison Public Library, I have helped patrons access memories that are — seemingly — trapped on all kinds of outdated material: VHS and Hi8 tapes have been the most commonly digitized, but it has not been uncommon to work with patrons interested in digitizing cassette tapes, too.

Of course, not all obsolete media can be saved. Often, old tapes become demagnetized, or unintentionally damaged as time passes. But what the Lab can do — at the very least — is provide the equipment needed to access old media and the instruction required to begin the digitization process. And, based on the fact that the Lab’s appointments are often booked weeks in advance, this seems to be a much-needed service, met with great enthusiasm.

What makes the Lab truly great is not its equipment, but its ability to foster connections: not only does it allow Library staff to interact one-on-one with interested parties, but it allows patrons the ability to interact with the past. Earlier in the year, at Madison Public Library’s Pinney Branch, I sat down with a patron interested in digitizing a single cassette tape. As I prepared the computer and tape deck for our work, I made conversation with them: how did they hear about the Lab? What was it about the Lab that made them stop in? Eventually, we landed on the subject of her cassette: a conversation, recorded long ago, between the patron and their father. As they explained further, their father had passed away years before and the cassette — which was over twenty years old — was the only remaining recording of his voice. And what the Lab was able to provide the patron with was this connection: a memory from long ago, brought back to life.
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More about Samantha's personal experiences with the lab can be found here.

DPLA + Recollection Wisconsin

Since TechBits last featured the Digital Public Library of America, DPLA has continued to grow in exciting ways. DPLA is a portal for finding digital resources, a platform enabling use of those resources, and an advocate for public access to digital materials. And now that Recollection Wisconsin is the latest DPLA service hub, the riches of Wisconsin's digital resources are a part of it too.

Wisconsin map image in DPLA results
Example of a Wisconsin resource found via DPLA

As libraries and other organizations build local digital collections, service hubs (like Recollection Wisconsin) harvest metadata about items in the collections and share it with DPLA. Using that metadata, DPLA provides a centralized portal website with many ways to discover digital resources across the country: search, curated exhibitions, a map for browsing by location, and a timeline for exploring throughout history. Now that Wisconsin resources are included in DPLA, it's a great resource for finding local materials and also getting a nationwide context. (Fans of libraries might enjoy the DPLA exhibition "A History of US Public Libraries.")

Using DPLA as a platform, developers can mash up digital resource metadata with DPLA's API to "create novel environments for learning, tools for discovery, and engaging apps." Wonder what that looks like? For starters, there is a Twitter bot app that tweets cat pictures found through DPLA. Other apps provide combined searching of DPLA and collections beyond US borders, find digital books by language, and other specialized tools for using DPLA.

DPLA's advocacy extends throughout projects that further their mission as well as community activities that build engagement with digital collections in fun and educational ways.

Inspired? DPLA also offers a free self-guided curriculum for public libraries to get started on digitization projects (more info & archived webinar).