Homepage weigh-in

ScaleA homepage's weight is just a number measuring size at one moment in time. It's just one piece of the mosaic of a website's total health, happiness, and success... but it does come up from time to time when member libraries redesign their websites. "Is my homepage normal? How does it compare to other libraries' homepages?" 

To find out, I did a weigh-in with 55* SCLS member library website homepages on June 11-12, 2014. I used the YSlow and Firebug add-ons in Firefox to measure how many kilobytes it takes to display each homepage. In other words, I measured the total (uncached) file size of all the HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and images that make up each one. Here's the weight chart:

SCLS Member Library Homepages' Total Weight in KB
High (100th percentile) 8187.00
80th percentile 1246.48
Median 638.20
20th percentile 268.56
Low (0 percentile) 74.10

Some context: 1000KB = 1MB. The body-weight cliches continue to apply:

  • "Too big" or "too small" for one person may be "just right" for someone else.
  • Weight doesn't take into account the value/function of each component (like muscle, fat, and bones). Proportions matter.
  • I won't post individual weights online, but will share them with library staff who want to know.

A finding that interested me: the 17 weightiest pages are all CMS-generated. Different CMS's are represented throughout the weight levels (Drupal, WordPress, CivicPlus, GovOffice.com, etc.). My assessment:

  • CMS workflow efficiencies can make it easy to add weight to a page without much effort or intention.
  • Making wise choices about a site's infrastructure (themes/templates, modules/plugins, etc.) and content (especially images) equates roughly to the diet and exercise choices that help maintain a healthy body weight.

* All 53 SCLS members, plus two additional project sites managed by member libraries.

Add/Remove Windows System Shortcuts from your Desktop

You know those Icons that you can faithfully rely on to allways appear on the desktop: Recycle Bin, My Computer, etc? Did you know that you can pick and choose which of those icons show up on your desktop? I'm going to show you how. (Directions are for Windows 7 users. They may or may not work on other Windows versions.)

First, right-click an empty space of the desktop, then click Personalize.

Desktop context

The Personalization Menu will then appear.  Next, click "Change desktop icons" in the left margin.

  Change desktop icons button

This will bring up the Desktop Icon Settings window.

  Desktop icons setting menu

From here, you can choose whether to display Computer, your profile folder (contains Documents and Downloads), Network, and the Recycle Bin. Additionally, you can change the picture for each of the shortcuts, but, personally, I wouldn't go there. Don't want to make it MORE confusing now.

So there you have it; how to add and remove Windows system shortcuts from your desktop.

Office 365 Tips & Tricks

Office365logoBlack_PageMoving to Office 365? Join us for a webinar on Tuesday, June 17th at 10am to learn some O365 tips & tricks!

Our first webinar gave an overview of the move to Office 365 and offered a peek at basic tasks in the Office 365 interface (the O365 demo starts around the 11:20 mark).

The Office 365 Tips & Tricks webinar will go beyond the basics of sending and receiving email and cover topics like attachments, contacts, autocomplete, printing, creating shortcuts to O365, and other assorted goodies! Register here for the webinar.

Workflow Concept Mapping - CmapTools

I am writing up a LOT of documentation these days, and much of it is workflow-based. Microsoft Word and other tools aren't the best at layout for flowcharting, so I employ a nifty piece of open-source software called CmapTools. I can customize the concepts with color to indicate their position in a decision tree.The map is easily exported into a PDF or printed to a page. It's great to use when illustrating a multi-step process where the answers to different questions have different actions to take, but they all start from the same point.

Here's a sample map from CmapTools.

And my creation for our updated duplicate bib resolution process:

DuplicateBibResolutionWorkflow

Download CmapTools here. Happy mapmaking!

More Tech Learning Resources

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I was catching up on my blog reading yesterday and ended up spending quite a bit of time at Jessamyn West's site, librarian.net. What caught my eye was her latest post "Free tech learning resources - short list"

I've written about digital literacy sites before here and here. Jessamyn's post caught my eye because of the graphic - parts of the handout are in Chinese! Turns out the New York Public Library put all of their tech handouts online and they're out there for everyone to use. And, in case you need them, they're available in Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish, and of course, English.

The other thing I learned in this post is that there's a Facebook group called Technology Training & Libraries. Request to join has been submitted - and accepted! Thanks, Jessamyn!

Firefox Redesign

You may have already noticed on the patron PCs that Firefox has had a redesign starting with Firefox 29.  The staff computers are updated less agressively as extensive testing with Koha needs to happen first.  Expect to see staff computers updated around the end of June or beginning of July.

In this video, Johnathan Nightingale, VP of Firefox, shows what's new in Firefox starting with version 29.

 

Trusted Reviews has more information about the changes.

Email shortcuts

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Many of us will soon be moving to Office 365 for email, and some of us will be staying in Gmail. Here are some handy keyboard shortcuts to make all of our webmail experiences more efficient!

Firefox and PDFs printing out blank

Has your library recently experienced patrons complaining that when they print out PDF files they come out blank?  Well, we know that the problem is being caused by a recent release of Firefox, specifically version 29.0 that was released on Tuesday, April 29, 2014.  By chance Tuesday night is the same night that we automatically update patron PCs with any new applications, so all patron PCs got this version of Firefox the day it was released.  After we received numerous reports about this we started investigating and saw that lots of Firefox users were experiencing the same problem.  People were saying that when you did a print preview of the PDF file it looked just fine, but then when it was printed out all you got was a blank page.

Thankfully, Mozilla got right to work on this problem and released Firefox 29.0.1 on Friday, May 9, 2014.  So the next Tuesday evening all patron PCs got this update, which fixes the PDF printing problem.  If you are still getting reports of PDFs printing out blank then find out which patron PC it was printed from and verify the Firefox version on that PC.  This is done with the following steps:

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Click on the Help menu item
  3. Click About Firefox in the dropdown menu
  4. The version will be listed in the window that opens

If you see 29.0.1 then you are ok, but if you don't then please call the Help Desk to get the update installed.  Please note: this is only for patron PCs as staff PCs have their Firefox updated by us because we use it for Koha.

New Folders Shortcut

This is what taking a shortcut looks likeI discovered after creating several folders for a project I’m working on a faster way of doing this task. Before I used to right click with the mouse and choose New and Folder. That seemed extremely repetitive and very boring. Now, it’s just ordinary repetitive and ordinary boring. By using the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl + Shift + N, I cut the amount of time I spent on my project by seconds.

New OverDrive Account

OverDriveAccountIn late April, OverDrive released the latest version of the OverDrive App which includes a new feature - the OverDrive Account.

Why, you may ask, would I want another account? If your patrons want to sync their progress and bookmarks across multiple devices, this is the way to do it in OverDrive. I tested this out last week and here's what I found out.

In order for this to work, the title needs to be downloaded onto all devices and you need to be signed into your account. In my example, I used my iPhone and iPad mini. I downloaded and started reading on my iPad. Then, I opened the OverDrive app on my phone, signed into my account, downloaded the title and this is the message I received. When I tapped Yes, I was taken to the page I left off at on my iPad.

In addition to syncing, having an account will save you time in a few ways. Patrons are continually getting a new device or phone. If they have an OverDrive account, all they need to do after they download the OverDrive App is to sign in and any libraries and saved searches will be there. In addition, OverDrive will automatically activate your new device with Adobe Digital Editions. That, in itself, is quite the timesaver. Patrons can have up to six devices synced with their account and activated with the same Adobe ID.

You can find more information about this new feature on the OverDrive Help page. And, this account doesn't replace the need for a library card to check out titles from Wisconsin's Digital Library.