Office 365 Email Clutter Feature Going Away

With my last Techbit in June, I was excited to talk about the Clutter feature in Office 365 Email.  I have just read an article announcing that the Clutter feature is being deprecated in favor of Emotion_focused-300px
the Focused Inbox.  Microsoft is discontinuing the feature because it interferes with users who have complex inbox filtering rules and business users are often seeking the help of their Email Admins to locate missing emails.  The Focused Inbox won't redirect email to a different folder like the Clutter feature.  Instead, it will offer a different view of your Inbox by showing you what Microsoft's algorithms believe are the emails most important to you.  The Focused Inbox could start appearing in your email as soon as September.

PumpAlarm can send you text messages about power outages, water on the floor, etc


Here at SCLS we are constantly looking for a simple solution that makes life a little bit easier and we found that with PumpAlarm.  The device is about $220 and the cellular service per year is $49.  Here is a video (no sound) that explains what it can do.


We use PumpAlarm in our server room to monitor power outages and if there is water detected on the floor.  It's a great tool for knowing exactly what is happening.  Could this be useful in your building or maybe even at home?

Tips and Tools for Teaching Older Adults Technology

TechSoup for Libraries hosted a webinar in May on teaching older adults technology at the library. The webinar featured two guest speakers: Steve Black, the founder of TechBoomers, who shared information about this free resource for technology training, and Kathy Faubion, a computer class instructor from the St. Mary's County Library in Maryland who shared how she teaches technology to the older adults in her community.

I hadn't heard of TechBoomers prior to the webinar, so it was a nice introduction to another resource for basic technology and internet tutorials and documentation. TechBoomers was launched with the mission to "improve the quality of lives of older adults by empowering them to learn how to use technology," and offers over 80 free courses, 1,000+ videos, and article tutorials, with plans to add more in the future. Steve suggested many ways libraries can incorporate the free TechBoomers materials to teach digital literacy.

Kathy had lots of tips and suggestions to improve attendance, make lesson planning easier, and tailor training for older adults.

Watch the webinar, or read about the highlights in this TechSoup for Libraries blog post. Lots of good ideas!

Litsy - Part 2

As I promised in my Litsy post of June 27, here's my update on using Litsy. I was a little hesitant about joining another social Litsy4network - even one that focused on books. As I've mentioned before, I started a LibraryThing account 10 years ago and have used it consistently since then (and plan on continuing) to keep track of my books. I also have a Goodreads account but that platform never really grabbed me - it's almost too social for me.

Litsy is in the middle. I like the community aspect of Litsy - focused around the book and reading (or listening) experience. Anything you post is tied to a book whether it's a review, a blurb, or a quote. You have limited options when rating the book: Pick, So-so, Pan, or Bail. I appreciate having the Bail option - I recently added a collection on LibraryThing called Started and Abandoned to keep track of those books I started but didn't finish. And, I like not trying to figure out whether a book is 3, 4 or 4.5 stars. The books I finish, I tend to like so they all end up in the same range. Litsy's options fit me.

Over this past weekend, Litsy participated in the 24 in 48 Readathon - another new thing to me. I followed along on Litsy but didn't formally participate. There were giveaways and prizes and it sounded like a lot of fun. Maybe next year...

Here's are my stats for my first month on Litsy:

  • 13 books read 
  • 11 posts
  • Followed 18 people
  • Followed by 25 people
  • Litfluence increased from 42 to 73

Litsy3                 Litsy7


Litsy recently did an update to the app and I highly encourage you to read the "What's New in Version 1.4.1" as it's quite entertaining. I haven't found the Litsy Librarians yet and I want to join them! I'll let you know when I figure that out.

Want to know more? Litsy is on Facebook and Twitter. There have been a number of articles about Litsy recently including this one from Publishers Weekly. Connect with me, pandalibrarian, on Litsy and let's talk about books! Happy reading!

Coding in Libraries

Have you ever found yourself thinking about coding in libraries and wondering,

  • "What role does the public library have in learning and use of computational thinking?"
  • "What resources are available to libraries?"
  • "Are there nearby community organizations and/or schools that are doing similar projects or have resources libraries can use through partnerships?"

If so, take a peek at this post from WI Libraries: "Coding Initiative in Wisconsin Public Libraries - Update."

The official roll out of the Coding Initiative in Wisconsin Public Libraries will begin fall 2016, and will kick off with a screening of the documentary film CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap at 20 public libraries around the state.

The initiative is a DPI-managed project using LSTA funds. You can find out more about it in the blog post and on the webpage where they will be posting updates and information in the next couple of months.

Hands On with Virtual Reality


The Oculus Rift has finally reached the market and I had the luck of getting my hands on a set and showing it to the office. Getting to wear one is truly an amazing experience. Imagine being able to stand toe-to-toe with an alien, face-to-face with a T-Rex, or towering over a miniature cityscape, in each case feeling like you'd be able to just reach out your hand and touch them.

This is what it takes to get one:

  • The Oculus Rift, itself, is $599
  • A computer that's able to support it is $999.99

I understand that that's a pretty steep cost for most people and most libraries, but if you could swing it I bet you'd be able to garner the attention of quite a few teens and young adults.

There are cheaper, less robust, options out there as well; namely Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard is most simply a mount with lenses that can turn most any smartphone into a pair of VR goggles. The base "cardboard" set is only $15, and there's many other more structural options as well for various prices. Phones are not included, however.

There are some libraries already using Google Cardboard in some programming events. Some articles can be found here, here, here, and here.

Very similar to Cardboard, but a little more cleaned up and more expensive, is the Samsung Gear VR. The headset is $99 and requires a Samsung Galaxy S6, S7, or Note 5 to use it.

Pokémon GO: Rising to the Challenge

Aspen Report

IMG_2913As I have been playing Pokémon GO with my family, I have continued to think about how it makes sense for libraries to reach out to patrons playing the game. I think this is because for the past year, we have been talking about the Aspen Institute Report "Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries (AKA Aspen Report)." In discussions lead by Jean Anderson and Shawn Brommer (summary), SCLS member library directors have identified what libraries are already doing with "Library as People, Place, and Platform" and they have generated a list of "Strategies for Success." I encourage you to re-read the reports and lists and identify how you think reaching out to patrons through Pokémon GO might help your library rise to the challenge. Below are some of the things I have been thinking about for libraries this past week in relation to the "Aspen Report" and some resources that might be helpful to you.

Rising to the Challenge

IMG_2889As I mentioned in my blog post last week, if your library is a PokéStop you have a unique opportunity to be of use to patrons. PokéStops are used by players to collect some of the tools required to play the game. PokéStops are also used to set up lures for 30 minute periods. Lures attract Pokémon and they will attract players. You WILL have people hanging around the library at all hours of the day when they know a lure has been set or to replenish their supplies. Some libraries are placing signs in a window or on their lawn to welcome Pokémon players. Really cool libraries will schedule "Lure Launches" and announce them via social media. Aspen Report: Libraries are seen as trusted and neutral spaces--great for playing Pokémon GO. Welcoming gamers may reach new library patrons and will show that you are paying attention and anticipating needs.

IMG_2909While Pokémon does not use a huge amount of data, any time a player can use Wi-Fi they benefit. In some communities, cellular data may not be very good and this makes it difficult for people to play the game. Players may be able to use the library Wi-Fi to catch Pokémon by using Incense and also to do some of the maintenance required with the game. If your library is a Gym, players will be able to battle each other at the library. You can also reach out to rural patrons who may have little, if any, opportunity for playing the game. Aspen Report: Wi-Fi is an element of "Place."

Other needs
PokémonGO is a huge drain on device batteries. Perhaps your library could provide places for players to charge their phones--this could be as simple as a power strip. Libraries also provide air-conditioned spaces and water (important on hot days) and bathrooms. Aspen Report: providing a comfortable space and even bathrooms are elements of "Place."

Multi-generational opportunities
The majority of players are Millenials, but IMG_2887people of all ages are playing the game. I have found this to be true as I wander around searching for Pokémon. The best thing is that strangers talk to each other and learn from each other. I have learned everything I know by talking to other players. Libraries are providing Meetups and other activities which will naturally encourage multi-generational attendance. People will be eager to share tips and experiences with each other. Aspen Report: Encouraging multi-generational activity is an element of "People."

I have heard that some libraries in SCLS are using the new mobile hot spots to go on Pokémon hunts! If you don't have one at your library, you can borrow one of the mobile circulation kits which include a hot spot. Aspen Report: Outreach outside the building is one of the "Strategies for Success." 

More help and ideas

Helpful library guide and philosophy on the library role

There is a FaceBook page for Pokémon in libraries! It has tons of ideas and includes a survey to share what you are doing

Techbits article on Ingress, the foundation for Pokémon GO

Spheros are here!

Several Spheros Silently Sitting StillThe YA iPad kit will be getting a new addition in two weeks. We’ve purchased seven Sphero 2.0 robots to join the seven iPads. If you are not familiar with Sphero (like me) they are simply robotic balls. However, the more I learn about them the more it’s clear they are not all that simple. Sphero’s make a nice toy and even better learning device. All the iPads in the YA iPad kit will have the SPRK Lightning Lab app installed to allow block based programming, very similar to the Lego MindStorms kits we offer. I loaded this app on my smart phone and played around with it a bit the other day and found it very intuitive. In only a matter of minutes I had created a program and modified it to complete a task of moving the Sphero in a square around my office and back to its original starting point and change colors at every turn. I know it sounds simple, that’s because it is! If you’re not into the whole programming thing you can also use the app to treat the iPad like a remote control for the Sphero and roam around your library with it, that’s fun too!

Is your library a PokéStop in Pokémon GO?


What is Pokémon GO?

Pokemon_GoJust in case you made it through the weekend without hearing about it, Pokémon GO was all the craze. The Wikipedia article provides a pretty good explanation of what it is. If you saw people wandering around pointing their IOS or Android Smartphones at things, there is a good chance they were playing the game.


Is your library a PokéStop or does it have a Gym?

PokéStops and Gyms are two of the things that people are looking for when playing as they help progress the game. The game integrates with the phone's GPS and you have to physically walk around so your avatar can locate them, and also Pokemon to capture. PokéStops and Gyms are often located near churches, bus stops, public monuments and LIBRARIES! The foundation for this game is Ingress which you can read about in the Tech Bits post "Your Library Is a Portal." Libraries are already capitalizing on this.

  • It is a topic on reddit Wla
  • Someone at the New York Public Library has blogged about playing the game there
  • Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Facebook post
  • American Libraries post

Some suggestions for libraries are:

  • Find out if your library is a PokéStop or has a Gym (by downloading and playing the game)
  • Post on social media and your web site if your library is a PokéStop or Gym
  • Create a Pokémon book and media display
  • Organize Pokémon GO hunting expeditions (it's more fun to play in groups)

At the South Central Library System office, we don't have a PokéStop, but the Wisconsin Library Association does (image above)!

What's great about it?

WarningNot only is this game a great opportunity to promote your library, but it is an oppoKidsrtunity for socializing and bridging generation gaps. I played the game along with some of my young adult children this weekend. I don't know much about Pokémon but they grew up with it. Still, I had a lot of fun playing with them and having them explain it to me. The best thing is that it gets you outside and walking around. Here is a link to the Pokémon GO YouTube video that illustrates this. But make sure you don't follow the example of my stepson and me this weekend--this is what it looks like in real life.


Avatar  Gameboard Game




How to view multiple worksheets from the same workbook

I recently attended a class entitled "Advanced Microsoft Excel Techniques".  In this class I learned a lot of things that Excel can do that I never knew it could.  One of these things is the ability to view multiple worksheets, side-by-side, from the same workbook in the same Excel window.  Here's how you do it:

  1. Open the desired workbook
  2. Click the View tab
  3. Click New Window
  4. Click Arrange All on the View tab
  5. Click Vertical or Horizontal
  6. Check the checkbox in front of "Windows of active workbook
  7. Click OK

Voila!  You now have two worksheets open side-by-side.