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:


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:  (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!


  • 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 (now 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!



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.


Fun with Photos

Way back in 2009, Rose wrote a post about Finding and Using "Free" Clip Art and Stock Photos. I thought I'd add a couple of sites where you can easily find free stock photos to use in your next presentation, brochure, or blog post.

ChairsI first discovered MorgueFile when preparing for a presentation earlier this year. I was looking for images that conveyed a message like "Be Negative" and "Keep Your Distance" - not easy concepts to imagine. The site is really easy to use. Browse AngryKittenthrough the photos or try searching for a keyword or color. Then download the photo to your computer and use how you'd like. Beware, though, this site can be dangerous - you can spend hours and hours looking at photos! 

Another site I've heard of and explored briefly is Photo Pin. This site searches Flickr (they're not associated with Flickr) for creative commons photos that you can use for your blog or other creative uses. When you find a photo to download and click on it, you get all Poppiesthe size options as well as the HTML to use for attribution. I downloaded this pretty summery photo to help get you through this cold weather. 

What's your favorite spot to find free photos or images? Please share!

P.S. I apologize in advance for anyone who gets lost in MorgueFile - happy browsing!



photo credit: Vainsang via photopin cc

Can I get a piece of that Raspberry Pi?

I'm a big fan of Pi(e): I like making it, eating it and I think Pi(e) day (March 14) should be a National Holiday.  So I HAD to attend Joshua Cowles' WLA session "Have some Pi: why your library needs cheap, tiny computers."  The session blurb mentioned using the Raspberry Pi for an OPAC kiosk and I thought "Great, inexpensive OPACs that libraries can put all over the building. How cool is that?"

Well, I learned quite a bit during that session, including the fact that some testers were unable to optimize the Raspberry Pi for an OPAC kiosk and ended up having to power their prototype with a larger board that that would render web pages faster. 

I contacted Joshua to confirm my notes and he stated that "The Raspberry Pi does suffer from some slowness and the lack of a ready-made set of scripts or instructions to set up an OPAC kiosk like libraries would want to have.  However, after the session I learned that the tech folks at Winnefox are further along with their version of RPi kiosks than I thought, and they actually have them successfully deployed. I haven't been able to speak with them yet about the choices they made or how it's been working out."

But the Raspberry Pi project is more than just OPAC kiosks!  One major component of the project is to teach people, especially kids, about computers from the components up.  Kind of like making a (pastry) pie from scratch. 

From the Raspberry Pi website: "The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming." 

Check out these links for more information and fun projects:

Raspberry Pi

10 coolest uses for the Raspberry Pi

Ten more awesome projects for your Raspberry Pi

25 fun things to do with a Raspberry Pi


--Heidi Oliversen