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.

Ergo-what now? (recap)

In my last post to TechBits I indicated having little luck in finding good, affordable options for a new ergonomic keyboard. Someone's ears must have been burning, because a few weeks later came updates to this article from The Wirecutter.

In it they review a variety of options, some quite affordable. They also summarize many of the criteria to look for when selecting an ergonomic keyboard and why those options are important for different physical needs you may have. Finally, they link to a number of other keyboard review sites and even to the scientific research behind the ergonomics.

Whether you're looking for a little more information or a lot, this is a good place to start.

 

Report from ALA: Tech in the Streets

AC16Pod-LookBackAt the ALA conference earlier this week, I had the privilege of hearing how two librarians enhance outreach by using new technologies outside the library. The presenters were Erin Berman, a recent Library Journal Mover and Shaker, and her colleague Amelia Vander Heide, both from the San Jose Public Library. The program was called Tech in the Streets. This program was very timely due to the recently deployed SCLS mobile hot spots and the soon-to-be deployed mobile circulation kits. Having live access to the ILS can be very beneficial to mobile outreach projects. Below are my "takeaways" from the presentation.

The presenters provided a common-sense approach to identifying and planning programs using technology that you can do outside of the library.

  • First, ask Why. One of their "whys" was to reach patrons where they are, especially in under-served areas.
  • Second, ask How. They suggest doing a community assessment. What do people want? Then do an internal assessment. Do you have the hardware, staff, time and resources to do the program. Are there grant or sponsorship opportunities? Do you need anything special, like permits to use the location? SCLS provides maker kits and other equipment that could help you meet some of your internal needs.
  • Finally, identify the Where. You can pick more traditional places, like farmer's markets or street fairs. But they point out that un-traditional spaces equal new opportunities (for example a skate park). Fs-cat-ereader._CB325814377_

Their projects have ranged from very simple like taking a tablet to show people e-content or very complex like their new "Makerspaceship" which is a $400,000 plus bus. On the simple side, they described their experience with going to a senior center to show people how to download e-books on various devices. One of the things they had to do was to help people re-set their passwords. SCLS has two e-reader kits that can be reserved for a program like this.

Europe!!1 241A more complex event involved taking GoPros and a mobile maker kit with laptops and movie editing software to a skate park. They provided harnesses for the GoPros. Quite a few kids tried out the GoPros. I thought this was pretty nifty as they reached out to a group of kids who may not otherwise experience library services even if in the end, only a few kids tried the video-editing software. SCLS has a stop motion animation kit that includes video editing software which could assist with a program like this.

I hope that my summary of this awesome presentation inspires you to "take tech to the streets."

 

Litsy

BookRiotLast summer, I told you about book podcasts that I listen to and one of them is All the Books by Bookriot. The podcast is just over a year old and still going strong and I'm still listening to it every week. One of the hosts, Liberty Hardy, has been talking about Litsy for a while and I've resisted checking it out.

Then, I came across this tweet from Bookriot today and clicked on the link to get the coloring sheet (yes, I've joined the adult coloring book phenomenon) and saw a reference to Litsy and decided to check it out. That tweet and post led me to this one: 10 Wonderful People to Follow on Litsy by Liberty and decided to give it a try.

For all the details on how Litsy works, read this post by Brenna - another Bookriot writer. While signing up for an account was easy, I wasn't sure of how Litsy worked exactly or why I'd be interested and this article helped immensely.

LitsyI signed up today and set up my profile and am starting it from where I am right now in my reading life. My next TechBits post will be at the end of July so here's the plan. I'll play around with and use Litsy to capture all the books I read in the next few weeks and report back to you.

If you're already using Litsy, let me know in the comments or find me on Litsy and share your experiences.

P.S. I'll still keep up my LibraryThing account - I've had that account for almost 10 years!

 

 

 

Create a shortcut to a website

I recently helped someone who wasn't very comfortable with computers. One of the things she wanted to do was have an easy way to navigate to her 2 or 3 favorite websites.

As with many things in Windows, there a couple ways to solve this.
(Click on images to view them full-size)

Make a desktop shortcut DesktopShortcut

  1. Open your browser and navigate to the desired website
  2. Resize your browser window so it isn't full screen (you need to be able to see a portion of your desktop)
  3. Click and drag the icon next to the URL in the address bar to your desktop

The next time you want to visit the website, you'll just need to double-click on your desktop shortcut!

Create a bookmark Bookmark

  1. Open your browser and navigate to the desired website
  2. Press Ctrl-D to bookmark the page  (did you know this keyboard shortcut?  It works in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer!)
  3. Edit the information about the bookmark as needed and save it to your desired bookmarks folder

The next time you want to visit the website, you'll just need to select it from your list of bookmarks. 

I use some of each -- bookmarks for things I'll come back to again and again, and desktop shortcuts for interesting articles I want to read later but really only need once (then it's easy to delete the shortcut). For the person I was helping, desktop shortcuts proved to be the perfect solution for her small list of favorite sites.

What's your favorite way to navigate to your favorite sites? 

Office 365 Mail Clutter Feature

I had a few people ask me about the Clutter feature in Office 365 mail recently.  Clutter automatically filters out email that you normally ignore and stores it in the Clutter folder instead of the Inbox.  According to the Microsoft documentation, Clutter studies the following to learn your email reading behavior: 

  • The sender Messydesk-300px

  • Whether you participated in the conversation

  • If you’re the only recipient

  • Its importance

You can fine-tune the Clutter feature by right-clicking low-priority mail in your Inbox and selecting Move to Clutter.  You might notice mail in your Clutter folder that you would prefer to appear in your Inbox.  You can right-click this mail and select Move to Inbox.  Within my email, Office 365 has learned that I rarely read Announce emails dealing with Job Announcements and Giveaways.  Those emails automatically get moved to my Clutter folder.  On Sunday evenings I receive an email summarizing what the Clutter feature has been doing for me the past week.

To disable Clutter:

  1. Log into your Office 365 Email
  2. Click the Settings icon (the little gear at the upper-right)
  3. Click Mail at the bottom beneath My app settings
  4. Click Clutter at the left
  5. Uncheck Separate items identified as Clutter
  6. Click Save

Working with Excel’s tabs

Excel-2010-logo

 Until recently, I had a pretty limited understanding of some of the options that are available with Excel’s tabs: add, remove and rename. Here are some new tab ‘tools’: color coding, quick pick list and making alltabs go away.

In the past, a typical set of tabs might look like what's below. The tabs had basic labeling. 

T0

 

What if you could color code your tabs? You can.

  • In Excel, select Format from the Home tab.
  • Select Tab color from the Organize Sheets section.
  • Select a color from the Theme Colors matrix
  • Note: You’ll only be able to see the results of your work after you make another tab the ‘active’ tab.

T1


What if you had a tab pop up list and you could just jump to a specific tab? You can.

  • Excel has a series of arrows in the lower left hand corner.
  • Right click any one of them and a tab pick list will pop up.
  • Select the tab of interest in the list and Excel will take you there.

T2


But wait, there’s more!

What if you wanted more Excel real estate and wanted your tabs to ‘go away’ completely. You can.

Select File, Options, Advanced and then remove the check from Show sheet tabs in the Display options for this workbook section.

T5

Website editing tips: Shift+Enter and Paste as Plain Text

These two website editing tips got such a positive reaction at the latest Drupal Basics website training session that I want to shout them from the rooftops:

Shift+Enter is the keyboard shortcut for "Make a line break without starting a new paragraph and adding a margin of space between lines," like so:

Shift-enter

This tip does double-duty: it works in the editor SCLS provides for Drupal websites, and it works in Microsoft Word. This and more keyboard shortcuts are in the Glorious Guide to Keyboard Shortcuts (which was written for Drupal sites hosted by SCLS, but most of the shortcuts are standard across many apps).

Paste as Plain Text (Paste-as-plain-text) is the editing toolbar button to use when you copy a chunk of text and want to paste it into your SCLS-hosted Drupal website without dubious font/size/color formatting. The button opens a popup dialog, and you just hit Ctrl+V to paste your text in. Once pasted, the text will lose all its formatting and you'll be able to reformat it using the toolbar options. It's not just for brand new pages, either—you can also copy existing website content where you have been fighting with troublesome formatting, and paste it in as plain text to start fresh. Also good to know: Remove Format and Source buttons and Ctrl+Shift+V.