Browser-Based Audiobooks - Coming Soon!

First there was OverDrive READ - browser-based books and then streaming video in Wisconsin's Digital Library. Now, there's browser-based audiobooks!

What does that mean for you or your patrons? They no longer have to download the OverDrive app for audiobooks, they can listen instantly in their browser. Check out their blog post for a movie-like trailer about this coming feature. This is the first I've heard of this new feature so after I try it out, I'll let you know more.

And, here's a special treat for you. Jane Henze from DeForest Area Public Library sent me this fun, slightly dizzying, video of the New York Public Library sorting center as filmed by Nate Bolt with a Drone. Thanks Jane!

 

Enjoy and have a great holiday season!

 

More library tech blogs

CircuitheartA few years ago, I shared 6 Library Tech Blogs I Love. There are so many good ones, I'd like to share a few more blogs and sites I read regularly:

Wisconsin library system blogs

  1. Library Sparks (Winnefox) - Where The Ides has a tech focus (and a recipe archive!), Library Sparks includes ideas from around the system & around the country, on programming, fundraising, grants, free stuff, and more.
  2. NicBits (NFLS) - All sorts of information from NFLS ranging from programming, notes from library tech conference sessions, news around the system, and more (This recent session summary from ARSL2014 on "Tablet Slinging Librarians" got me thinkin'!)
  3. Digital Lites (WVLS) - WVLS updates, news from libraries in our area, training opportunities, helpful tips and resources, national library news and more. (Check out their "New e-reader 'cheat sheet'!" post)
  4. WPLC (WiLS) - all the news about the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium and Wisconsin's Digital Library (OverDrive)!

Other library tech blogs

  1. David Lee King - social web, emerging trends, and libraries
  2. Digital Shift (Library Journal and School Library Journal) - all sorts of info, but my favorite section is for Library Journal Technology articles 
  3. LibraryTechTalk - A blog from librarians at Towson University which focuses on practical applications of technology in many different library areas and settings
  4. Makerspaces + Libraries - a Scoop.it (remember my post about Scoop.it?) topic all about library makerspaces

And finally... 

The Division for Libraries and Technology has introduced the Wisconsin Libraries Blog to replace Channel Weekly for communicating news pertaining to Wisconsin's libraries. You can sign up for email updates, or follow it using your favorite RSS reader.

Who did I miss? What should I be reading? Do you have a recommendation for a good library tech site? Please share it in the comments!

Build With Chrome

How often at your library do you see a pile of LEGO blocks poured out onto a play surface and think about what a chore it will be if you have to do clean up, or if you are the one who has to replace lost parts. Those days could be a thing of the past!


While doing some LEGO “research” I came across a site called Build with Chrome. This is a site where LEGO and Google Chrome teamed up to bring you an online environment where you can build with virtual LEGO blocks.


You don’t have to sign up for an account, but if you do you can pick out a chunk of land on Google Maps and build your own piece of paradise and have it published for the whole world to see.

 

Robots at the library

RobotThe Westport Library has robots! Library patrons will be able to use the programming language Python to program the robots to all kinds of things and may even have robot poetry slams in the future. This excellent 3-minute audio clip tells more about the robots and includes clips of interviews with the library staff.

Read more about the robots and watch videos of them in action here:

SCLS has plans for our own robots in the form of the LEGO Mindstorms kits that will debut in 2015. The LEGO Mindstorms kits arrived a couple of weeks ago, and so far staff have sorted out all the many, many pieces (there were a ton!) and spent a little time becoming familiar with the kits. They've built some simple robots and experimented with programming them to do tasks using their light, touch, gyro, and other sensors.

The kits will be part of a new traveling “makerspace kit” for SCLS member libraries to borrow and were purchased using funds contributed by the SCLS Foundation. Read more about the Foundation and LEGO Mindstorms kits in the Fall 2014 SCLS Foundation newsletter.

All About the Books

If you've heard Meghan Trainor's "All About that Bass" (I seem to hear it everywhere now!), you may appreciate the Nashville Public Library team's video celebrating library cards, "All About the Books, No Trouble."

Virtual Reality for Everyone

We all know that Google is always coming out with cool new technology, like Google Glasses.  Well, they have done it again and came out with a virtual reality visor that you can make yourself.  All you need is some cardboard, two lenses, a magnet, velcro, a rubberband and a smart phone.  MacGyver has nothing on the folks that came up with this idea.  You can read the CBS article entitled Google Cardboard puts virtual reality in everyone's reach to find out more about it.  If you're interested in how it works then take a look at the below YouTube video that is found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxAj2lyX4oU.

 

If you want to build it yourself you can download the plans from this website.  If you need help building it then take a look at the below YouTube video, found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPHVjHxEqAo, that walks you through the making of your own Google Cardboard.

 

I think that this would make an awesome MakerSpace project.

Your library is a portal

Ingress_LogoYour library is very likely a portal. Resistance and Enlightened team members are hacking it, deploying resonators and mods, and linking it to other portals to create fields. And they're doing it from inside or just outside of your building using an app and their GPS-enabled device.

Intrigued? The game is Ingress, an "augmented reality massively multiplayer online GPS-dependent game" from Niantic Labs, a startup within Google. Whew! That's a mouthful. 

People all around the world are participating one giant game using their mobile devices. They download an app, create an account, pick a team, and join the fun. There's a back story for the game that gets quite complicated, but it all boils down to some basic tasks: capture and control portals, link them up to make fields and control territory, earn points and badges, and increase your level and score both individually and for your team. Players can also submit new portals as long as they meet the criteria. As stated in this article, Ingress "is like a combination of geocaching and capture the flag," and it's incredibly addictive.

Baraboo Public Library in IngressWhere does your library come in?

You're probably a portal. From Wikipedia: "Portals are typically associated with buildings and landmarks of historic and/or architectural significance such as sculptures and other public art, libraries, post offices, memorials, places of worship, public transit hubs, parks and other recreational or tourist spaces."

You may see some unusual traffic. You may see cars outside your building at odd hours with the drivers' faces lit up by their cell phone screens or see people with their cellphones furiously hitting a "fire" button to blow up the other team's resonators so they can take over the library for their team. In any case, there are folks who may be non-library users who are now very aware of where the library is.

There may be some programming possibilities. I found one library that even held an Ingress-themed program for Teen Tech Week.

Personally, I've found Ingress to be a great way to easily find points of interest when I venture to a new town. Public libraries, historic landmarks, interesting public art, and sometimes even unique local businesses --- it's great to hack and explore at the same time! (and a very clever way for Google to get the low-down on all of the cultural points of interest in a city!)

What's this button called?

Want to know something kind of silly?* On a website or app, those three lines you click to open the main navigation or get more options has a name.

The Hamburger in Firefox

The technical jargon for that is "The Hamburger."

Hamburger

* That's not why you read TechBits? If you want a side of info to go with your hamburger, you might be interested in usability practices for when hamburgers are and aren't appropriate, or the backlash against hamburgers. For most websites, visible navigation links for the most important areas of the site are still recommended.

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)

What are these holes for?

I made an arrow pointing at the holeWhile sitting in our office on a freezing cold day last month a question was asked, “What are these holes for?” The holes in question are at the end of every modern day power plug. The two flat prongs have a little hole at the end. Why? After a little research it turns out those little holes serve several purposes.


Reason #1: When you punch out a hole it saves money on material. This seems reasonable.


Reason #2: When you insert the plug into an outlet, it slides along the contacts which have little bumps that fit into the holes to help secure it into the outlet. I haven’t taken apart any outlets lately so I’m going to take their word for it.


Reason #3: You can put a zip tie or small lock through the holes to prevent someone from plugging it into an outlet. I could see losing my temper if someone pulled that crap on me.


Trust me, you’re a better person now that you know this.