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!)

Managing spam

NigerianPrinceYou probably get a lot of spam -- confidential business propositions, special deals on "blue pills", a member of the Nigerian royal family asking for help transferring a large sum of money, and other fantastic offers. Most email programs have junk filters to help filter out the spam. If you're not-so-lucky, you may have to manually mark messages like these as Junk to help train your junk filter. If you're lucky, your junk filter is already pretty smart and will automatically dump the spam into your Junk mail folder.

So what's the catch with Junk filters?

Sometimes legitimate messages are mistakenly marked as Junk, so it's important to periodically review your Junk folder to make sure nothing slipped through the cracks. Most programs have a way to mark the legitimate mail as "not junk." If legit email continues to be marked as Junk, most programs allow you to change your settings to specify that certain senders are always handled as "not junk."

If you use Office 365 for email, you can use this info to help you manage your Junk email:

For other programs, consult the program's Help resources to learn more about handling Junk mail.

Suspend Holds Now Available

One of the most common complaints that I hear about Wisconsin's Digital Library is that patrons can't suspend their holds. And, it never fails that all their holds become available at the same time or while they're on vacation. The wait is over - patrons can now suspend their holds!

SuspendHoldsWhen a patron clicks on the drop-down menu next to Options, they'll see four options: Edit email address; Suspend hold; Auto checkout; and Remove hold.

HoldOptions

Patrons can suspend their holds for 7, 14, 21, 28, 60 or 90 days. During the suspension, the patron's position in the hold queue will continue to advance.

Another cool feature is Auto Checkout. If a patron uses this feature, when a title on hold becomes available it will automatically be checked out to them. No more missing the 72 hour window for checking out your holds! When a patron places a hold, the option to auto-checkout the title can be set. Patrons can also change this setting by accessing their holds list.

You can read more about these and other features released this past Monday on the WPLC blog.

Have an hour to kill? Write your first computer program!

Code

I've been in the technology field for 17 years and there is still so much to learn!  I have a lot of experience with desktops/laptops, servers, wireless, and networking.  I've focused on making sure that the computer you get allows you to do what you need to do.

I have very little experience in computer programming (coding).  To me it's like magic!  How do they make the apps for our tablets and smartphones?  I just open Angry Birds and it works but what is the underlying technology and how do I learn it?  Well you are in luck.  There is an easy way to begin your journey towards learing coding.  Remember it only takes one hour to get started.

http://code.org/learn

 

Updating blog and newsletter subscriptions

Old emailIf you work at a library in the South Central Library System, chances are very good that your email address has changed recently. Keep an eye on your "@scls.lib.wi.us" folder for email being sent to your old @scls.lib.wi.us address -- you'll need to take action to keep receiving messages from these senders!

For newsletters and blogs that you subscribe to by email (like TechBits!) that arrive at your old address, you'll likely need to do one of two things:

Update your existing subscription information UpdatePreferences
Some email newsletters and blog subscriptions allow you to update your information. Look for links like "Update subscription preferences" at the bottom of the emails you receive for more information.

Unsubscribe with the old address and re-subscribe with your new email address Unsubscribe (then re-subscribe)
Some email subscriptions cannot easily be modified. Instead you may need to unsubscribe the old email address and re-subscribe with your new address. This is the case for TechBits emails. To unsubscribe, click the link at the bottom of your TechBits email, then re-subscribe using your new address. You'll receive an email to the new address asking you to confirm the subscription -- don't forget the confirmation step!

Printing a Select Number of Pages from a Website

Don't you hate it when, say, you're reading a forum or blog and find an entry that you really like so much that you want a physical copy of it; and so you hit print and you end up printing out all 100+ pages of the forum tread or blog when all you wanted was just the one article? I know I do. I'm going to show you how to avoid such occurrances from happening using Print Preview and Print Ranges with Firefox. Though I use Firefox for this demonstration, the same functionality also exists in Internet Explorer and Chrome.

First, lets go over Print Preview. It's always a good idea to use Print Preview to see what's about to be printed if you're printing something that you don't often or regularily have to print. The first way to get to Print Preview is to click the "File" menu, then "Print Preview". If you have a newer version of Firefox and the File menu no longer appears, you can turn it on by right-clicking the empty space in the Tabs area and selecting "Menu Bar"

MenuBar

PrintPreviewButton

The second way is to click the "Hamburger" icon (in the previous Techbits article), then click "Print". It says Print, but it will really open Print Preview.

NewPrintButton

Print Preview will show you exactly what the printed pages will look like, how many total pages exist, and, by way of navigating, the number for each page. All this information is needed in order to print a chosen range of pages. Here's what Print Preview looks like. As you can see, there are many other options also available with Print Preview.

PrintPreview

Use the blue arrow buttons to navigate to the content you'd like to print; remember which page it starts on. Then navigate to the last page containing the content and mark that page number. These two numbers are your print range.

Print Preview handily has a Print shortcut in its menu bar, in the upper-left corner. Click it to take you to the Print menu. Inside the Print menu, in the lower-left corner, is the Print range box. By default, Firefox is set to print all pages. We will instead use the next option down, the Pages option. Simply type in the start and end page numbers into the "from" and "to" boxes and when you hit OK only those select pages will be printed out.

PrintBox

And there you have it; no more wasted reams (hopefully) on excessive print jobs. This is also a handy tip to share with patrons having this sort of trouble as well.

 

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.

LinkWISCONSIN Drive Test App

Do you ever wonder how you can be of use when driving around the backroads of Wisconsin?

Well, it is possible now with the LINKWisconsin Drive Test App.

What is it?

It is a smartphone app that measures mobile broadband connectivity on a regular basis.

How does it help improve broadband access?

Each test is grouped with thousands of other tests to help validate coverage throughout the state. Analasys of these tests helps find potential reasons for weak coverage. Local testing enhances their knowledge of underserved areas and may be considered while awarding the PSC's Broadband Expansion Grant.

How can you help?

  1. Install the App! Go to the web site first to read about the App. Then send an PSCStateBroadbandOffice@wisconsin.gov to request the App.
  2. Help LinkWisconsin find stakeholders in your community who can work with the LinkWISCONSIN Team to install the App for better testing!

 

OverDrive Settings & Samples

OverDriveSettings2If you've logged into Wisconsin's Digital Library recently, you may have noticed two additional items in your Settings tab: Maturity Levels and Cover Images. As our collection continues to grow, you can decide what results you want to see. By using the drop down menus, you can change your settings to limit your results to what you want. In the image above, the limits are set to view everything from Juvenile to Adult.

The other setting you can now change relates to the cover images. The default setting is "No" so adult cover images are replaced with a basic cover. If you're not logged into Wisconsin's Digital Library, adult titles are displayed with the basic cover. 

If you change setting, be sure to click save before leaving the page!

OverDrive announced at this year's ALA Conference (and in a recent blog post) that librares can embed samples of ebook and audiobook titles into their websites. As an example, I embedded a sample of a book that I'll be reading & reviewing for this year's Notable Books Marathon at the WLA Conference. Happy Reading!