Dots and Pluses = infinite gmail possibilities



Let's say you have the Gmail address [email protected]...


Gmail "dot blindness"
Did you know that email addressed to [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] will all deliver to your address? Gmail ignores the periods! (Unfortunately, this is only true for regular Gmail accounts -- Google Apps addresses do not ignore the dots)

What's the advantage to doing this? You can set up Gmail filters to handle mail to different addresses in different ways. Let's say your family emails you at [email protected] -- those could be filtered and flagged as Important. Let's say that [email protected] is tied to online accounts -- a filter could label those messages as account-related. It's a helpful way to tell who's selling your address to other parties, too. If you signed a petition with [email protected] and suddenly your inbox is filled with garbage to that variation of your address, you'll know who's responsible.

Using a "+" for infinite addresses
If you append a "+" with additional characters to your gmail address, Gmail will also deliver this to you. For example, if you sign up for promotions from a particular vendor, you might give them the address [email protected] You could set up filters for this variation of your address the same way as you did above.

The "+" aliases also work for Outlook accounts. Yahoo's "Address Guard" service works in a similar way, but with dashes, in a [email protected] construction.

Imagine the Moon is the Size of a Pixel...

Here's this really cool scale representation of our solar system, with the diameter of the moon equalling the height and width of a pixel on you monitor.  It starts with the sun at kilometer marker 0 with all the planets spaced accordingly to the right. Thankfully, the monotony of empty space is broken up with some commentary along the way.  (Warning: Be prepared to hold down the right arrow key for long periods of time.)

Facebook tip: customize text for shared links

On Facebook you can click the title or description of a shared link to customize it

Thanks to Mary at ORE for helping me stumble on this tip!

ALA Connect

When I attend the American Library Association conference, I typically gravitate toward the Library Information and Technology Association (LITA).  LITA is a great oppotunity to talk to other library staff about the technology trends that public libraries face (both challenges and opportunities).

Fortunately, you do not need to attend the ALA conferences or even be an ALA member to participate in the LITA (or ALA) community.  ALA offers a service called ALA Connect which is available to anyone.  ALA Connect provides online forums to discuss various issues. At the conference, my favorite interest group is the Public Library Techology Interest Group.  There is a place in ALA Connect for this group, but so far it is not very active. Once you get into ALA Connect, you can look around and see what interests you.  ALA Connect is a little daunting to navigate at first, so here some steps to help you get started and for joining the Public Library Technology Interest Group:

Log in with your ALA login if you are a member, or create a login (membership not required; ALA requires you to have your login as your first name and last name, with a space in-between each name and the first letter had to be capitalized. Then your login has to be approved, but that doesn't take long. After it's approved, you can log in and create a password.)
Browse Groups>Communities
Search "public libraries technology"
Click link for Public Libraries Technology Interest Group. 
Click Join button.
Once you join, you will see a "My Communities" section on the left side.  As you join other forums, thy will be added to your communities. 

Microsoft: Office Online is now FREE!

Microsoft recently introduced (re-branded) a FREE version of Office Online.  So what does that really mean?  Most of us have Microsoft Office installed on our computer.  Microsoft also offers a cloud version of Microsoft Office.  The cloud version allows you to login to you Microsoft portal and use Microsoft Office from any device (depending on your plan). 

So what's the catch?  The free version of Office Online does have some restrictions.  The only programs available for free are: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.  The other thing is that you can't save the documents to your computer, they live in the cloud and you have 7GB of storage.  There are paid versions and give you much more capability.  Here is the comparison.

Want to learn more?


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...

Windows Tip - Show All Notification Area Icons

The icons in your notification area my be partially hidden like this:


The Kaspersky Antivirus icon or a printer icon may be trying to get your attention, but you can't see it.  You can view the hidden icons by clicking the little up arrow at the left, but this isn't a permanent solution.  Follow these instructions to always show all your notification area icons:

  1. Right-click taskbar
  2. Click Properties
  3. In the Notification area section, click Customize...
  4. At the bottom, check the box for Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar
  5. Click OK
  6. Click OK again

Your icons will look more like this now:


Choosing the Right Power Strip

A small selection of what we use at SCLSI want to cover a few features to look for when purchasing your next power strip.

Today you have many choices when shopping for a power strip. The market is filled with many different brands and types. Some are ordinary power strips that offer nothing more than splitting power among multiple outlets. These I will simply call power strips and they are the least expensive type; price is based on how long the power cord is and how many outlets it has. Others offer surge suppression which I call surge protectors and are designed to protect the electronic devices that are plugged into them from electrical surges and noise on the line. Some more advanced forms of surge protectors offer protection for your cable, phone and data lines as well. These are priced a little higher than the basic surge protector, but well worth it when a massive surge occurs. Portable surge protectors also exist that fit in your laptop carrying case so you can take one with you on the go.

The most advanced consumer grade surge protectors come with a built in battery back-up called a Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). This allows you to continue using the device connected to the battery in the event of a power outage. A typical UPS has a few ports reserved for the battery and the rest are protected by a surge suppressor. In the event of a power outage a basic UPS will allow you to continue using your PC for 2 to 5 minutes, just enough time to save everything you’re working on and do a proper shutdown.

The performance of a surge protector can be measured in many ways. The most common measurement you will see is the Joule rating. The Joule rating defines how much energy a surge protector can absorb in a single event like a lightning strike or a transformer blowing up in your neighborhood. This happened at my house last year, a transformer a few blocks away just blew up and left my house without power for a few hours. When the power was restored I had to reset a breaker but my TV and PCs were not powering up, but everything else worked. It turned out the surge protectors did their job and saved my electronics from damage at the cost of replacing a couple of $25.00 surge protectors. My next door neighbor wasn’t so lucky. They didn’t have their TV protected and it was zapped and scrapped. Generally speaking the higher the Joule rating the more energy a surge protector can absorb, but that isn’t always the case depending on how the suppressor was designed.

If you’re wondering how often you should replace a surge protector the answer is simple. Surge protectors are designed to handle a surge of electricity. Almost all surge protectors have built in lights that indicate if they are still working. Some are designed to continue functioning as a power strip,unprotected, after a surge. Others are designed stop functioning all together after the surge protector is blown; I find this feature more desirable.

Consider the devices you’re going to plug into the surge protector and get one appropriate for the equipment you’ll attach to it. PCs, TVs and home entertainment equipment will require a more robust surge protector than a desk fan, lamps, or mobile device chargers.

Please don’t daisy chain power strips together. They’re not designed to handle more energy than they are rated for. If you need more outlets, purchase a larger power strip. You risk starting an electrical fire if you put too much of a load on one circuit.

The Office Quick Access Toolbar

ToolI used to hate the Microsoft Office "Ribbon" user interface. I still do, I suppose, but after six or seven years I've just gotten used to the fact that some of my favorite features from earlier versions have gotten separated from one another and kind of buried under different tabs.

Enter the Quick Access Toolbar. Located at the uppermost left corner of your Office application windows are some tiny icons, off by themselves and easily overlooked.

Excel-QAT01Not only are these icons small but they are (by default anyway) extremely boring: Save, Undo, Redo.

Many of us already have these functions locked into muscle memory as keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl-S, Ctrl-Z, Ctrl-Y), so we can just ignore that part of the window completely, right? Wrong!

This section of the user interface is totally customizable. If you don't like that Excel's Insert Chart function is buried deep in the Ribbon, unbury it! Ditto for Sort Data or any other function that you need 10-100 times per day in your workflow.

To customize this Toolbar, click the small black triangle to the right of its icons to expose the customization menu. Some of the most common (most boring) functions are included right in the menu so you can just turn their shortcuts off or on right there. To get to the good stuff, choose More Commands... to open a window that lets you add shortcuts for just about any part of the user interface. You can also open this window by choosing File => Options => Quick Access Toolbar.

OverDrive Audio Updates & Changes

If you're a regular audiobook listener through Wisconsin's Digital Library like me, there are some changes you should Listeningknow about.

There have always been two audio formats available: WMA (Windows Media Audio) and MP3. There are more WMA titles than MP3 (over 12,400 and 8,500 respectively). OverDrive recently announced they will be discontinuing the sale of WMA titles and at some point in the future, the only audio format will be MP3. For people like me, who regulary use the OverDrive Media Console on my home computer to transfer and convert WMA titles onto my iPhone, the transfer process should be easier.

Speaking of OverDrive Media Console, OverDrive recently released Version 3.3 for Windows. It includes a few design changes, but no major changes for us regular users.

Also updated was OMC 3 for Windows 8. This is available in the Windows Store. OverDrive created a training module to help library staff with the changes in OMC for Windows 8. You can view it here on the Learning Center. You'll find it under Products and Services.

Image from MorgueFile.