Quickly launch your camera app on a your phone (Never miss that cute picture again)


Samsung released the Galaxy S9 series last month.  This reminded me of a feature I use all the time on my Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: Camera quick-launch.  All you need to do is tap the power button twice and BOOM, the camera launches. (This works on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and newer phones.) 

No more unlocking, searching for the camera app, and missing that once in a lifetime moment between your new newborn twins and 7 week old yellow lab puppy.  (PS If you have newborn twins and a 7 week old lab puppy you are amazing.)

Windows Trick

This seemed like a good idea for a TechBits article when I thought of it in the middle of the night.  Now that I am rested and my brain is functioning, not so much.  Let's go with it anyway.  If you're like me, you may get to a point in which you have too many windows open on your screen.  You don't necessarily want to close them, but you would like to minimize all of them except the one you're currently working on.  The easiest way to do this is to click-and-hold the title bar of the window you want to keep on your screen and shake it vigorously.  After a few shakes, the other windows will minimize.  This works with Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10.

I used free software called "Ezvid" to create this short video demonstrating the procedure.

Download Minimize Windows Tip

Some Google Image search tips

Do you use Google's image search? If so, here are some excellent posts with tips from the SearchReSearch blog:


Happy image searching!

2D barcode scanner available

Xenon Barcode ScannerWe are now offering the Honeywell Xenon 1900 a 2D barcode scanner for sale on our website. The advantage of a 2D barcode scanner over a traditional barcode scanner is that it can scan a barcode on a screen. If a patron comes into your library with a photo of their barcode on their phone, this scanner will read it. This scanner also comes with a built-in stand. It only costs $230.00 which is about $100.00 more than the standard barcode scanner. I'm starting to feel like I'm starring in my own infomercial trying to sell you something, but I'm not, because we can't break this up into three easy payments. I just wanted to give you a little bit of information about a new product that we're offering now.

The new 2D barcode scanner is perfect for check-out stations but is probably not ideal for the other areas that use barcode scanners throughout the library. We will still continue to offer the less expensive Voyager 9540 model as well.

Like the other Honeywell Voyager series barcode scanner we purchase, this scanner comes with a 5-year warranty. As a side note, the spec sheet for the Xenon 1900 series scanner says it can withstand up to 50 drops to concrete from a distance of 6 feet. I wonder if that would be equal to one drop from 300 feet and if that would be covered under warranty?

Polling your Patrons or Staff

I have come across a tool lately that is not new but often forgotten on the internet.  Polls are a quick and easy way to get input from users about a variety of things.  Next time you are trying to plan a staff outing or a party, try polling them to find a date and time that works for all.  Or you could ask patrons what upcoming programs they would like to see.

There are a ton of websites out there that help you create polls.  One that I really like is Doodle.com because it's easy to use and looks nice.  To get started you enter a title, location (optional), and a note about the poll if you want.  Then you can choose any dates and times you want opinions on.  You can also add text options if you just want the participants to choose that instead.  



After creating the options, you can choose different settings such as limiting participants to a single vote, hiding the participants names and votes, or allowing the participants to say that none of the options work for them.  Lastly, enter your name or library's name and email where the results will get sent.  Ta-da!  You made a poll.  There will be a link that you can copy and paste on to social media, email, or post on your web page to reach the participants you want.  They will not need to create an account to vote either.

Once you get responses, you can export the data to print, PDF, or Excel to view or share with others and make a final decision.  I think this is a great tool because it's easy to make and easy for people to respond quickly.  Check out the test poll I made here to help me choose a baby name and practice voting!  

Viewing Images on Google search

In an attempt to make it more difficult to steal copyrighted images, Google removed the ability to “View Image” in its search last month. Instead “Visit” remains an option which takes you to the website that contains that image. Once you’re on the website, it’s more likely that you will see the copyright information for that image if you plan on using it elsewhere. But for a lot of Google users, including me, that aren’t planning on using the images they find, it is just another step to look at an image. Not to mention having to navigate through websites that may be sketchy, filled with ads, or may not even host that image on that particular web page anymore

There are a couple workarounds to view an image on Google.

You can right click on the image preview and choose “Open image in new tab”, “View image”, or something similar depending on your browser. This will open up the original image just as it did before.

An alternative is using a browser extension. There are a couple extensions already made that adds the “View Image” button back to your search results. Here is the one that I use for Chrome and its Firefox counterpart.

If you do plan on using the image elsewhere, do pay attention to the copyrights associated with the image, but if you just want to look at images the way you did before, these will work.

Converting Old into New

New_year_father_timeIf you've been using computers as long as I have you're bound to have some old files laying around. The problem with these old files is that unless you still have the software you used to create them with you can no longer open or edit them. How sad! Well cheer up! I'm here to tell you how to convert those old files into new files. Back in 2009 Craig wrote a TechBits article about this and I thought it might be time to talk about it again. Just in case you or a patron has an old file that they really need to work with.

There is a website called Zamzar that offers a free online file conversion service. They can convert lots of old file formats into newer file formats so that they can be worked on using currently available software. Once you go to their website the conversion steps are as follows:

  1. Select the files you need to convert
  2. Select the file format you wish to convert to
  3. Enter the email address at which you wish receive the converted files
  4. Click the convert button on the screen

The files you chose are then uploaded to their server, converted, and then emailed to you. Simple as can be and it only takes a few minutes.

Add-ons and Plug-ins

We've talked about finding and using public domain images quite a bit here on TechBits - as far back as 2009! More recently, I've been finding add-ons and plug-ins that make it even easier to use public domain images in your documents and presentations thanks to Richard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers*.

We've talked about Pixabay before, I think, as another place to find public domain images. It's one of my go-to sources for images for presentations. It's even easier now to find and use photos in Word or PowerPoint by using the Pixabay Images plug-in for Office. If you need help finding and installing PowerPoint plug-ins, Richard has you covered with his video here.

For Google Docs, Richard has a post showing how to use the Pixabay and Full Deck add-ons. The Full Deck add-on is new to me and uses Unsplash that Kerri talked about last December.

WordCloudMost recently, I used the Word Cloud Generator add-on for Google Docs. I had forgotten how much I like the visual representation of the important words in a discussion or exercise. Here's an example from a recent discussion about purpose. 

While I haven't used this add-on yet, It's something to keep in mind when I need to use icons in my presentations. The Noun Project has "over a million curated icons" and they're now available through an add-on for Google Docs and Slides.

Google Slides doesn't have a large number of add-ons available yet. Luckily, one of them is Unsplash for Google Slides. It's very easy to use and makes adding images to your presentations a breeze.

*If you haven't followed Richard yet, you really should! And, if you missed him in January when he presented for the 2018 Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference, you can watch the recording here.

Digital Bytes

WVLS-DigitalBytesWisconsin Valley Library System (WVLS) has launched a new training series called Digital Bytes, whose purpose is to provide short, consistent training in a recorded, digital format. Topics will include some tech topics topics like email etiquette, social media highlights, what's new in Facebook, and more.

The first episode launched last week -- "Customer Service, the Role of Positive Language" and can be found on the Digital Bytes page of the WVLS website.

If you like short video trainings, keep an eye out for these!

Display formulas in Excel

Ever need to look through the formulas on a spreadsheet?  Maybe you need to update them, maybe you're trying to fix a problem or maybe you just want to know what's going on.  Sure you can go through and click on each cell to show the formula but did you know you can set Excel to show the formulas instead of the values in the regular display?

Select the Formulas tab and click on the Show Formulas option.  Now, instead of showing the results, Excel will display the formulas themselves for the entire spreadsheet.  Since the formulas are often longer than the results, the columns may also automatically resize to be able to display the formulas. 


When you're done, just click on Show Formulas again and the spreadsheet will go back to showing the results.  It will also automatically resize the columns back to their original settings.