Can I use that picture of a cute kitten?

cute kitten
This one lives at my house and gave me permission to share her cuteness!

It seems like lots of people have questions about using images on their website, blog, or newsletter (I know I do!).

Where can I find images?
How do I determine what images can be used?
How do I properly credit images?

TechSoup for Libraries has some great posts to help answer these questions and many others!

Open another instance


Easily open a new instance of a program by holding the shift key and clicking the program icon on the taskbar. Great for comparing or copying data between documents!

Design ideas for web images

Unity/Harmony, Composition, Message

As you're staring at a blank canvas in your graphics program of choice, getting ready to design an image for your library's website, do you ever stop and think, "Wow, this is not what I went to school for!"?* Even if your main business is libraries, employing a few design principles will give patrons a better website experience and help "sell" library programs, online resources and collections, and digital services.

Effective visual communication is more than just following a checklist, of course, but you don't have to be an expert to use these design ideas:

Unity/Harmony: Develop a style for the website that includes a limited color palette and a selection of 2-3 versatile, easy-to-read fonts. They will be a foundation for your composition and message rather than a competing distraction from it. (They'll also be a jump start if you're uninspired or in a hurry—some of the decisions are already made.) Examples: Fayetteville Public Library, Salt Lake City Public Library.

Composition: Will you use photos, clip art, or other illustration? Use careful judgment with clip art. If the piece would work nicely in an elementary-school book report, it doesn't belong on your website. When building text into your images, look for pictures with a little space built in, or leave room in a collage of images for adding words. Blank space gives an uncluttered feeling and focuses attention on the details that matter. Examples: Brantford Public Library, Mid-Continent Public Library.

Message: Keep it short—not too many words—especially if they will appear on a small button or a slideshow image rotating every few seconds. In all writing for the web, use a tone that is fun, friendly, and professional, and be sparing in your use of all-caps and exclamation points. Examples: Multnomah County Library, New York Public Library.

Also recommended:

* If you actually did go to art school, I hope you'll weigh in with your thoughts on design for library websites.

Arduino Kit in a Briefcase (with Harder to Lose Pieces)

The Arduino micro-controller has been around for a while now and has become the default go-to for electronics and programming education and Maker projects.  One of the big downsides of Arduino kits has been how easy it is to lose the many little components that come with the kits.

Thanks to Dan Alich, a high school math teacher from North Carolina, that problem is solved with DuinoKit:


With DuinoKit, the majority of the components are soldered directly to a board, reminiscent of the Radio Shack electronic kits from the '80s, making it nearly impossible to lose all those buttons, lights, and resistors. The whole kit comes inside of a fancy aluminum briefcase and also contains documentation for a number of projects to help you get started.

Computer for programming the Arduino sold seperately.


Sort by color in Excel

Sort by colorI sort Excel data by value all the time - alphabetically, numerically, and in ascending and descending order.

I also love to to color code cells for a quick visual cue--- so, how did I not know that sorting by cell color is also an option?  (Thanks, Cindy, for cluing me in!)

Here's how:

  1. Select the range of cells you'd like to sort
  2. On the Home tab, select Sort & Filter -> Custom Sort...
  3. For "Sort On", select Cell Color


SHARKK Mouse Review

Vertical mice reduce the stress felt in the forearm because they allow you to maintain a natural hand and arm position.  A co-worker has already discussed the Evoluent product and its benefits in a previous TechBit.  Evoluent is appropriately regarded as the leading manufacturer of ergonomically-friendly, vertical mice.  They have the reviews to back it up. DSCN1592

There are a few more economical options on the market.  I ended up buying the SHARKK® product on for $18.99.

The first thing you notice when using this mouse is that it isn’t completely vertical like the Evoluent mouse.  Still, my arm and hand placement feels natural, as if I am reaching out to shake someone’s hand.  It's easy to setup as well.  Just plug in the USB receiver, install the included batteries, turn it on and you’re ready to go.  I found the mouse to have great tracking and scrolling ability.  The forward and backwards buttons are helpful in a web browser when I remember to use them.

I am not recommending the SHARKK® mouse over the Evoluent, but it is a nice mouse for home use if you want to save a little money.  I am glad took a chance on it.

The image above shows (from L-to-R) a standard Dell mouse, a SHARKK® mouse and the Evoluent.

Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference 2015

The third annual WWWWC was held last Wednesday and Thursday, January 21 and 22. I hope you had a chance to attend one or more of the excellent sessions that were offered. If you missed a session or want to revisit the content, you're in luck. All the recordings, slides, and handouts are available here. To get the full experience, check out the Twitter feeds for #wwwc15. Several librarians (including me, @pandalibrarian) from around the state live-tweeted each session.  WWWC15

While I attended all of the sessions and learned something from each one, I want to draw your attention to the tech related ones (this is Tech Bits after all!) First up was Tablet Slinging Librarians: Using Tablets to Improve Customer Service with Leah Kulikowski. My favorite idea was using the tablet along with Google forms to take program registration on the road.

Next up was Roy Tennant talking about What You Need to Know About Library Technology. This was an enlightening talk about possibilities of future technologies - and what we need to do keep up. I especially liked the photos of "old" technology. (I put old in quotations because I remember most of them and I don't feel old!)

Last, but not least, was Crystal Schimpf teaching us Six Essential Skills for One-on-One Tech Instruction. Crystal offered great reminders and encouragement for those of us who teach patrons (or library staff) technology. My biggest take-away from this session was the reminder to give up control and let the learner "drive" the session.

Bonus - I highly recommend watching the Trigger Talks. Our very own Ben Miller was crowned the Trigger Talk Champion. It was so much fun being a part of this awesome program. Enjoy!

Pin items in Office 365

PinItIf you're in Office 365 and you want to always see your full folder list in the left-hand pane (instead of the partial folders list + People + Groups), you can PIN it!

  1. At the bottom of the list of folders, click on More to get to the full folder list
  2. Click on the pinPinicon

 Thanks to Cindy W. for this tip!


Firefox Changes Default Search Provider

Last month in the evening of December 16 SCLS sent out version 34.0.5 of Firefox to all SCLS-supported staff PCs and afterwards you may have noticed a change.  Mozilla announced that with this version they were ending a 10-year partnership with Google as Firefox's default search provider. They instead switched to use Yahoo, which from what I read was based on "money because the bulk of Mozilla's revenue comes from the search deals it negotiates -- while others said that ideology also played a part."

Some more information I read about it said that "only users who had left Firefox's default search engine untouched were to be switched to Yahoo. Those who had already ditched Google for another provider, Bing or DuckDuckGo, for instance, would continue to see that engine as the default."  Unfortunately for me and possibly for you too, I did not change the default search provider as I liked Google.  So now you're asking: "Is there anything I can do to change it back?"  Well, I'm glad you asked as there is something that you can do.  But, instead of me telling you how to do it I am going to refer you to the Wisconsin State Law Library's January 2015 newsletter where Heidi Yelk wrote an awesome "Tech Tip in Brief" about how to do that.

Updated PC order form

The SCLS PC order form has been updated to include two current Dell PC models and two laptops models at a reduced price.

We are offering and recommending the Optiplex 7020 for staff PCs with a starting price of $633.00. This is about $85.00 less than the previous model. We are also offering and recommending the Optiplex 3020 for patron PCs with a starting price of $569.00. The biggest difference between the two models is that the Optiplex 7020 has 10 USB ports and the Optiplex 3020 has 8 USB ports. The Optiplex 7020 also has some legacy ports that the Optiplex 3020 doesn’t have.

We are also offering a 14 inch and 15 inch laptop. Both models cost $791.00. The 15 inch laptop offers the number pad on the keyboard whereas the 14 inch doesn’t.

If you are planning on ordering a laptop for staff use you may want to consider asking me about purchasing a wireless mouse, carrying case or a docking station if you want one. I intentionally left them off the order form because there are so many options available.