Calling all Techies!

TechDayDo you have a tech tool you use that can help make library work easier, a technology program or service that draws adults, teens or children into your doors, or a cool application you found or created for library use?  If so, think about sharing with your library colleagues at Tech Days in September!  We are looking for presenters who can share gadgets, emerging trends, apps, innovative tools, social media, coding, e-content, privacy, makerspaces, Google services, and how to teach tech to patrons. 

Each afternoon breakout session at Tech Days will last one (1) hour: 45 minutes of presentation + 15 minutes for attendees' questions.  Alternately, your presentation can be 15 minutes in length, and we will group your session with 2 other 15-minute presentations.  You can do one all by yourself or bring together a team.

You can pick any or all dates and locations for your presentation:

  • Tuesday, September 12th at Fitchburg Public Library (Dane County)
  • Wednesday, September 13th at Mosquito Hill Nature Center just outside of New London (Outagamie County), or
  • Thursday, September 14th at Franklin Public Library (Milwaukee County)

Presenters will receive mileage reimbursement and a complimentary lunch.

Click on the link below and tell us what you'd like to show and share:

Tech Days presentation submission form:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XSQL7ZL

Tech Days is sponsored and coordinated by Winnefox Library System, Outagamie-Waupaca Library System, Manitowoc-Calumet Library System, Nicolet Federated Library System, South Central Library System, and the Southeastern Wisconsin (SEWI) library systems – Arrowhead Library System, Bridges Library System, Kenosha County Library System, Lakeshores Library System, Milwaukee County Federated Library System, Monarch Library System – and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Questions?  Contact Jean Anderson at SCLS or Joy Schwarz, Winnefox Library System (email: schwarz@winnefox.org or phone: 920-236-5218)

 

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)

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)

 

Email list solutions

Mailinglist-800pxThe December 2016 issue of Computers in Libraries included a very informative article on "Next-Level Emailing."  In it, Jessamyn West discussed why email lists are helpful and reviewed MailChimp, TinyLetter, and Medium--some lower-cost (or free) alternatives to Constant Contact.  If you've been wondering how to choose an email list solution and what options are out there, you might want to give it a read.

Permalink to the article (accessible by staff in libraries on the SCLS network)

If you're outside the library and have access to EBSCOhost (either through SCLS or through BadgerLink, for example), you can pretty easily find the article with a quick search for "Next Level Emailing."

Thermal Technologies

Zebra Printer, it's a little larger than the Dymo printerFor centuries man has been printing spine labels, but not all spine labels have been created equal. No -- as a matter of fact, some spine labels fade when exposed to sunlight or heat. "Why is this?" you may be asking. Simply put, it’s a difference in the thermal printing technology used when making the label. Some printers use a direct thermal approach while others use a thermal transfer method. Labels that are prone to fading over time use the direct thermal method where the label is chemically treated to react to heat. You may notice if you get a receipt from the gas pump and leave it in your car on a hot summer day it’s almost unreadable within two or three days. That’s because the chemicals in the paper are reacting to the heat in your car. The thermal transfer method in my opinion is better because the labels are not chemically treated, instead the printer has a wax or resin ribbon that a heated print head touches to apply the print to the label. This is a lot like the old method of using a dot matrix printer with a ribbon that transferred ink to the label.

The advantage of using the thermal transfer method is that the labels don’t fade over time. The downside is you have to buy a printer that supports this type of printing along with new labels and ribbons.

We started testing the Zebra TLP2824 thermal transfer printer back in September and have had really good results with it. We are now offering this printer to the libraries at a cost of $294.00 per printer. We will also order the first roll of labels and ribbon to get you started. I will give you more information after you purchase the printer on where to get the labels and ribbons in the future.

DuraReady Labels (peeled and unpeeled)If you’re not ready to commit to purchasing a new printer and supplies but would like labels that don’t fade, you could try DuraReady labels that work with the current Dymo LabelWriter 450 printers. These labels are a little odd in that they have a ribbon attached to the label itself so you get the non-fading qualities of a thermal transfer printer without having to change printers. The downsides to this label are you can’t really see what you’re printing until you peel off the ribbon, and you have to peel off the ribbon which can sometimes leave a light smudge on the label.

I have one roll of the 1” x 1” DuraReady labels to give away to the first person to ask for them. I would like to get some feedback from you on how likely you are to use them in the future.

(BTW, I do find Emily to be a little annoying.) Sometimes more than a little:)

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!

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

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