Credit Card Skimmers

Last weekend my bank called to say that they detected some fraudulent charges on my debit card.  The most frustrating part about this is that it's impossible to know how the crooks got a hold of my card number. 

Today I read an article on about credit card skimmers and it got me thinking that maybe this could be the method used to get my card information.  I've heard about skimmers but never really looked into them until today. I just assumed that a skimmer is something that someone puts inside a gas pump....I was wrong. It turns out that skimmers could be anywhere and we need to be vigilant before swiping our cards.  Skimmers have been found on gas pumps, self-checkout lanes at Walmart, many ATM's (in many forms), and even ATM enclosed vestibules that require a card swipe at the door.  Most skimmers use Bluetooth technology to wirelessly transmit the data to the thieves.  Here is a great article that will make you think twice before you swipe:

Here is an example of a skimmer that was placed over the ATM to look like it was part of the device.

On the left you'll see the skimmer in place and on the right you see the skimmer removed.

Image cred:

Downloading your Facebook account data

Note: Pat first wrote about this topic in 2010. Some things have changed since then, so I'm writing an updated post. 

I'm thinking about cleaning up some of my Facebook data (remove old photos, posts, etc.). Although I'm pretty sure that any photos I have posted on Facebook are also backed up somewhere else, I want to be sure that I don't lose anything. After some Googling, I discovered that you can download the data from your Facebook account.

To get started, click on the arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and choose Settings.


From your General Account Settings page, click General on the left side of the screen.


At the bottom of the General Account Settings, click on the Download a copy of your Facebook data link.


A new screen will appear. Click the green Start my Archive button. You will get a pop-up noting that it will take a little while to gather the archive data. Follow the prompts to continue - clicking another Start my Archive button and entering your password. You will get a confirmation message pop-up when this is complete.


Check the email account for the email address associated with your Facebook account. You will receive an email from Facebook stating that a download has been requested. You will get a second email when the download is ready. For me, the second email came one minute after the first email, but my Facebook account is not that large (not that many photos and no videos).

To download the data, click on the link from the second email stating that your download is ready. (Note that you can also go back into your account and click the Download a copy of your Facebook data link.) A new screen will appear. Click the green Download Archive button. You will get a pop-up asking you to re-enter your password. 


After you have re-entered your password, the archive will download as a .zip file. Save the file on your computer and unzip the file to access the contents. Keep in mind that your Facebook data is private information. For more information on what information is included in your Facebook archive, see the Accessing your Facebook data help page

You will be able to download your archive for a few days after you receive the email with the archive link. I was able to download my archive three days later but Facebook does not state exactly how long it keeps the archive available. If your download link has expired, you can start the process over to generate a new archive.

The downloaded archive can be challenging to navigate. The index.htm file is a good place to start (you can open this file with a web browser). For some additional information on navigating the archive files, see

Note to Self

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to listen to the final keynote session of The Digital Shift 2016 online conference* which featured Manoush Zomorodi. I hadn't heard of her or her podcast, Note to Self, and after her presentation, I immediately signed up and started listening.

What I found fascinating about her talk and her podcast is the focus on the human side of technology. A quote early in her talk captured my interest: "If we understand more about how we use our technology, we can understand ourselves better..." I like the focus on us as humans and how we can utilize technology to live better lives and not letting technology rule our lives.

BoredBrilliantAs part of her podcast, Manoush has done two projects - Bored & Brilliant and Infomagical - about the effect technology is having on our brains and our lives. For each project, she enlisted the help of her listeners and they really helped! 20,000 for Bored and Brilliant and 30,000 for Infomagical. Next fall, a book titled Bored and Brilliant: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Spacing Out will be released.

When I talk about building relationships as part of leadership or customer service, I often share an example of how we use our phone. Many of us use our phone as a watch and have it in our pocket or in our hands all the time. However, the perception of others when we get out our phone is that we're not engaged or present in the conversation. Listening to this keynote and reading about Manoush's book and projects reinforced this idea. It's a good reminder that our technology is a tool to help us and it's up to us to be purposeful in the use of it.

I love my phone and use it a lot and it's scary to think about changing how I use it on a daily basis. I'll be trying out the Infomagical challenges to see if I can get a handle on my information overload. Join me!

*If you missed the live broadcast of the 2016 Digital Shift conference, you can view the archives by selecting View Archive and registering. There's no cost to register and you can watch the archives at your convenience.


SnapchatHave you used Snapchat? Pictures, short videos, captions, and filters for fun/silly pictures make it great for keeping in touch with friends and family.  It's especially helpful for keeping up with a teenager I know who isn't so keen on TALKING, but who is very willing to send me quick snaps of her pets and recent activities. 

As a slightly-older-than-teenager adult, Snapchat was not intuitive to me. I had to have a lesson from the silent teenager's older sister, but how glad am I that I did -- it's a fun little program!

In August, I told you about, a free educational website that teaches people how to use popular websites and apps. This recent TechSoup for Libraries post discusses using TechBoomers as resource for library staff and patrons to quickly learn how to use things like Snapchat, Vine*, Pinterest, and Instagram. The full list of TechBoomers' social media courses can be found here. All of the TechBoomers content is Creative Commons licensed, and you are free to reuse it in your own technology training for patrons or staff.
*Did you hear the news? Twitter has announced it will be shutting down Vine in upcoming months.

Build a Font Using Your Own Handwriting

I stumbled upon a fun website last week.  It is called  The site allows you to build a font using your own handwriting.  It is pretty simple and quick.

  1. Go to using your favorite web browser.
  2. Print off the pdf or png template.
  3. Use a medium-thick, black marker to fill out the template
  4. Scan the template.  You can save it as a jpg, png, pdf, jpeg or tiff file, but make sure the scan is less than 6,500 x 6,500 pixels.
  5. Upload the file.
  6. Name the font.
  7. Select TTF for the output format.
  8. Click Start.
  9. After the font is generated, click it and you will be able to save it to your PC.
  10. Install the font by double-clicking the font you just downloaded then click Install (Note: On SCLS PCs, you would need to call the Help Desk to have the font installed.)
  11. The next time you open Word or other supported product, you should see your font in the fonts drop-down box.

Here is how my font turned out.  Click to enlarge.

Andrew Font







My former co-worker, Michael, also created a font.

Michael Font




What is USB type C?

USB-C_Reversible_ picture came from BelkinA small 24-pin connector called USB type C will soon be replacing most if not all the connectors on your personal devices and laptops. Apple has already made the switch to USB C, they call it the lightning plug (remember the uproar recently when they got rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. Don’t worry; you can purchase an adapter for your headphones if I caught you by surprise there.)  What I like about this new cable is that it’s reversible and both ends are the same, so no more guessing which end goes where and which end is up.  The USB C port will be able to transfer audio, video, data and power.

This is just a quick post to let you know this is coming. I will have more information on it and how it will affect us coming up in January or February 2017.

Office 365 Contact Lists and Groups Explained

Within Office 365 there are two items found within the People section that I'd like to explain as they are a little confusing. The two items I'm talking about are "Contact lists" and "Groups".  The part that I've found confusing is knowing which one to use when you want to send an email out to a lot of people.  Both of these differ from a patron email list in the fact that an email from it shows that it came from the name of the patron email list and only the list administrators can send out emails to the list.  Whereas email from a "Contact list" or "Group" shows that it came from your personal email address and anyone can send out emails to the list by using Reply All.  So when you're emailing patrons it is best to use an email list.

So what is a "Contact list?"  
A "Contact list" (formerly called a distribution list) allows you to send an email message to all the email addresses in the list at once.  That way you don't need to enter every email address every time you need to send an email to the same group of people. The really important thing about a contact list is that it allows you to send emails to people that are not within your organization's Office 365.

So what is a "Group?"
A "Group" has the same features as a "Contact list" but the key difference is that it only allows you to send emails to people that are within your organization's Office 365.  The reason for this is that it was designed by Microsoft to be used for team collaboration within an organization.

I hope this clears up any confusion, but if not you can feel free to give me a call at the Help Desk.

When you say "it seems slow", what does that mean?


About five years ago, SCLS recommended that libraries use a timing tool for Firefox called Life of Request Information (LORI), to help assess response time for applications and network connections, especially for Koha.

Unfortunately, LORI hasn't been updated recently, and it is not 100% compatible with modern Firefox. You can still make LORI work, but technically it is obsolete and in some cases it may have serious conflict with websites or other add-ons.

Luckily, a pretty decent replacement is available for it; the Page Speed Monitor (PSM) extension. The free PSM widget is easy to install, easy to use, and available for both Firefox and Chrome. In each browser, it shows up as a small icon in the toolbar, typically in the upper right corner of the window though this may vary if you're using a custom theme. The appearance of the toolbar icon is slightly different for FF and Chrome, as shown here.

App.telemetry.toolbar.iconsEach time you load a page, the PSM toolbar icon is overlaid with the total load time in seconds, timed from when you first requested the page to when the browser finished rendering it. If you click the icon you'll see a detailed breakdown of the timing elements.


From these elements you can estimate how much of the time is due to network or web server responsiveness (the DNS and TCP metrics), versus how much is from the weight or complexity of the page content (the Processing metric). Refer to the Page Speed Monitor download page for a technical description of each timing element.

Space Invaders?

Lake Park, October 8 2016

PopularEarlier this year, I blogged about Pokemon Go and its significance to libraries. While, the Pokemon Go craze has died down, there has been some controversy around the game. In Milwaukee County's Lake Park, the game is still very popular and draws large crowds. The crowds have caused an increase in litter and are a disturbance to the nearby neighborhood. In August, the county sent a letter to Niantic, the game's parent company, asking that they obtain a Geocaching permit. Recently I heard that some stops have been removed.

As a librarian, I find this a fascinating concept. Does anyone have the right to use virtual space however they want? What about when safety is a concern? When traveling recently, I noticed that there were no Pokemon to catch in airports. While, I couldn't find anything official, there is some indication that this may be a safety issue. Niantic has removed Pokestops from the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC

While I can see that safety has priority over a game, and there are places where it is just plain disrespectful to have virtual space interfere with real space, there can be positives as well. I discovered Lake Park before I knew about the controversy. While crowded, I was amazed at the camaraderie as virtual strangers helped each other out with the game. Entire families played together. I can see however, that there are some areas of the park (such as the waterfall) that can be harmed when overrun by players. 

How has Pokemon Go been received in libraries? Has anyone experienced problems? 

LighthouseReal world meets virtual world at Lake Park--the PokeStop at the WaterfallLighthouse (left) and sensitive waterfall area (right)

Custom Sorts in Excel

In a report that I was working on, I ran into a problem with the way Excel was sorting the pivot table.  While Excel usually sorts the 3-letter library codes without a problem, this time it pulled the listings for two libraries out of order at the very top of the list.  I couldn’t figure out why Excel suddenly forgot the alphabet for those two locations until I realized that their 3-letter codes were the abbreviations for a day of the week and a month of the year.  Excel was trying to be “helpful” by putting those two codes at the top.  

There wasn’t a convenient “don’t do that” button to force it to go back to a straight alphabetical sort and I was wondering if I’d have to manually edit the spreadsheet to put the rows for those libraries back where they belonged when Greg told me about custom lists.  They’re a way you can set up a new sorting order for Excel.  You can then choose your custom list and Excel will use that as the sort criteria.  

To create a custom sort list:

  1. Open Excel and type the values you want to sort by in the order you want them, from top to bottom, in a single column in a spreadsheet.
  2. Select the cells in the column that contain your new sort criteria. Don’t select the entire column, just the cells that have entries.
  3. In the Menu bar, click on File and then choose Options from the list. 
  4. This will open the Excel Options window.  Click on Advanced from the list on the left of the window.
  5. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the window and, just above the colored bar for “Lotus compatibility” there should be an Edit Custom Lists button.  Click on it.
  6. A Custom Lists window should now be showing.  The range you had selected earlier should be showing in the “Import list from cells” box towards the bottom of the window.  Click on Import.
  7. The list should now show in the Custom lists with the full list of the contents in the List entries box.  Click on OK.

  8. The next time you need to sort based off of this list, under Order where you’d normally choose ascending or descending, choose Custom List and then just click on the list you created.