Robots, AI, VR, IoT, and more!

Jason2Earlier this week, SCLS along with 10 other library systems,co-sponsored our annual Tech Days workshops in Fitchburg, Appleton, and Franklin. Financial support was also provided by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Public Library Development Team with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Jason Griffey was the keynote speaker for this year's event and he spoke on Preparing for the Future: Technology to Watch. We learned about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how ubiquitous some of these products have become. For example, you can get "smart" light bulbs, thermostats, outlets, door locks, security cameras, and even stickers! Jason also talked about all of the "voice assistants" like Google Home, Amazon's Alexa, and others. You can now get Alexa for your car with Amazon's Echo Auto and also for your microwave - who knew? Jason talked about the application of these technologies for libraries and some of the problems they present.

Jason shared lots of ideas and information about Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, and robots. There are some really cool VR applications (and we have a VR kit that SCLS libraries can borrow). Jason explained the blockchain and talked about cryptocurrency. I understand it a little better but am still learning about the implications of this emerging technology.

The AI and machine learning part of the presentation was probably the most interesting and the most scary to contemplate.For example, you've all heard about the driver-less cars and trucks that are coming soon. There are also robots that are providing security services, helper robots in the hospitality industry, and even a robot barista in San Francisco.

There were afternoon breakout sessions at each workshop and you can find the handouts and slides for all the presentations here. Hope to see you at Tech Days next year!

What are you talking about?

Being one of two millennials working in this office, I find myself in conversations frequently about differences between the generations.  Someone will make a reference about licking a postage stamp and I reply with "That's cray".  This has led a co-worker to show me The Mindset List.  Created at Beloit College in 1998 as a way for college professors to understand the "mindset" of incoming students, it has been eye-opening for myself. 

A list has been created each year since 2002 and features 50+ items that young adults entering college that year know or don't know.  The lists can be used with adults today to better understand the differences in generations.  I think they would especially be helpful for libraries to not only understand their patrons but also potential job candidates.  The authors have also written two https://www.classy.org/blog/infographic-generational-giving/
books (both of which are available in LINKcat) and frequently present the information as well.  

The most recent list has some new slang, and I'll be honest that even I don't know what most of it means.  Take a look at the lists and I think you will find them interesting as well.

Implementing a PC Replacement Plan

Over the last several months at SCLS we’ve generated reports on how many PCs in our system are currently on Windows 7 and the number was surprisingly high. The reason this came up is because Microsoft will be ending its extended support of Windows 7 on January 14th, 2020. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind staff about the importance of implementing and maintaining a PC rotation plan.

SCLS recommends replacing 20% of your PCs every year (you don’t have to replace monitors that frequently). Let’s say you have 15 PCs at your library, then you should be planning on replacing 3 systems every year. This ensures all of your PCs will have a modern operating system and software. This is noteworthy because as we upgrade the software of our systems on a weekly basis the chances of those upgrades running into an incompatibility issue with the older operating system increases. An added benefit of having modern operating systems is that we don’t have to maintain the older servers and software licenses used to keep the older PCs on our network, which helps reduce costs.


Since it’s budget time for a lot of libraries, I’d like you to think of a rotation plan as a budgetary tool that helps spread the cost of buying new PCs over a five year period. If you know you have to replace 3 computers a year and the average cost of a new PC is around $500.00, then budgeting $1,500.00 per year for new PCs makes filling out your budget a little simpler.


We maintain an inventory of all the systems on our network and release a monthly Status Report available so libraries can see what the status their PCs are. Please take a look to see where your library is in the PC rotation cycle. If you see that you need to order some computers this year you can request a quote from our order form.

Browsers and Insecure Websites

You've no doubt read all of our recent blog postings lately about HTTPS, like SCLS and https and More on HTTPS, where we've talked about the big push on the Internet to make ALL websites secure. So we worked to secure our website along with all of your websites as well (thanks, Rose!).

This big push to make all websites secure was coming from the browser companies who were starting to display messages saying if a site was secure or not.

Like Firefox that pops up a message box telling you if a site is insecure when you log in.

Firefox_Message

Chrome is also going to be displaying a message starting with version 68 which comes out July 24, 2018.

Chrome_Message
I think these browser messages may over time become more of a warning than a recommendation because Internet security is becoming so important to users, especially with all the data breaches that have been happening. If you have any vendor websites that you log into that are not secure ask them how soon they will be secure. Be safe when surfing!

Google My Business

GoogleMyBusinessHow do people find information about your library? I bet you think a lot about what you put on your website, but have you thought about the accuracy of information when people try to look up your library from a mobile device and Google steps in with results?

I find that I often rely on the Google listing for a business, rather than navigating to the business' website and trying to find information there (especially for hours, address, directions, phone number, and reviews).

Google My Business is a free listing service created by Google in 2014, and your library most likely already has a GMB page. It's an excellent idea to 1) claim it if you haven't already, and 2) verify/update the information on it. Information that administrators can add/edit includes library hours, description of your library, map pin/location, URL, phone number, organization type, and photographs. The built-in analytics can give you a good idea of how patrons found the listing, and what actions they took (did they call you? did they click over to your website?).

This Computers In Libraries article, "How to Create a Google My Business Page" covers why and how to take control of your Google My Business page and is definitely worth a read! 

People Counter Kits are available


I don't see anyone to count!
SCLS has two people counter kits available for any member library to use. These kits can be kept for 14 days are intended for in-library use only.

Kit 1 is a Bi-directional people counter kit – this is an easy to use basic people counter kit that will provide a count of how many people entered and exited your library. Two counters are included with this kit that also contains.

2 Transmitters
2 Receivers with displays
1 Magnet for resetting the counter
1 Instruction guide
Extra Command Strips

Kit 2 is a USB people counter kit – this is a more advanced people counter. Rather than a display to see how many people entered and exited the library it downloads data to a flash drive that connects to a laptop where you can see how many people passed by the counter every hour. This would be beneficial if you are interested in seeing trends as to what day of the week and during what time of the day the library gets the most traffic. This counter doesn’t indicate which direction people traveled so you will have to divide the total by two to get an accurate count. Two counters are included with this kit that also contains.


2 Transmitters
2 Receivers
1 laptop with people counter software and a power cable
1 Magnet for turning on the counter
1 USB cable
1 Instruction guide

 

General Data Protection Regulation law - what?

Europe's General Data Protection Regulation law goes into effect May 25, 2018.  The definition from Wikipedia is "The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU and EEA.

This law has been seven years in the making and, in light of other recent news about data privacy infringement, seems to be very timely.  If companies and websites that you may use have a global presence (like Google), you are probably seeing an increase in "required" information bits about how that company or website is protecting your privacy and/or changes you should make to your account to increase the protection of your personal data.  

Here's a link to an article in The Guardian (UK) that I was reading in my last copy of American Libraries Direct.

And an article from The New York Times May 6, 2018 

Enjoy! Heidi O.

CAN Opportunities

I occasionally post about Community Area Networks (CANs) in this blog. If you are curious about what a CAN might do for your institution and your community there are two upcoming opportunities to learn more in Wisconsin.

The first is at the WiscNet Connections Conference in Madison next Monday and Tuesday (May 14 & 15). Advance registration is closed, but you may register at the event. CANs are a thread throughout the conference. 

The second is also sponsored by WiscNet and it is WiscNet's Community Conversation: CANs in Stevens Point on June 12. "Invite your stakeholders to learn the “What, Why, and How” of CANs; connect with others to glean ideas for the next steps to help your organization and community move forward with your own aspirations of connecting and sharing resources and applications for the common good."

 

 

Chrome blocking autoplay videos on PCs

ChromeiconYou've opened a web page and just started reading when suddenly you're spending the next few seconds trying to hunt down that annoying autoplay video that's blaring out of your speakers. Sounds familiar, right?  Annoying, right? As time has gone on, browsers have started coming up with ways to fight the problem but  most have required you to fiddle with settings or possibly install an add-on.

Starting with version 66, Chrome is going to be muting autoplay videos. There's a default list of over 1,000 popular sites that will be allowed to autoplay videos and Chrome will learn from your browsing behavior to know which sites to mute or unmute. Once you've "trained" Chrome, they say it will block about half of your unwanted auto-plays though it will still allow those videos that are muted when they autoplay to run. At least it'll save your ears.

More on HTTPS

Chrome-SecureDo you remember this TechBits post about https and https? If you have time, read it over again and be sure to watch the 3-minute CommonCraft video because you're going to be hearing a lot more about https in upcoming months.

What are the advantages of https?

  • Confidentiality - information is passed securely between websites and browsers
  • Authenticity - when you see that little lock, you know you're really talking to the website that belongs to that name
  • Integrity - that lock indicates that the content of the site hasn't been changed by a 3rd party on its way to your browser

Chrome and Firefox are the browsers at the forefront of the push to move all sites to https. They already warn you that a page is "not secure" if it is https and prompting you to put in a username and password.  Very soon (July 2018 for Chrome), they will be alerting users that ALL https pages are "not secure."

The winds of change are blowing
As websites move to https, a couple of things will happen:

  • Everyone with a website will be scrambling to configure their sites to be https
  • Very old browsers may not be able to use https sites

SCLS has a team of folks looking at what needs to happen to move SCLS websites and SCLS-hosted library websites to https, and we and will be sharing more information on the SCLS Technology News blog and in Top 5 emails as we have more details. If your library has a website that isn't hosted with SCLS, you may need to look into what steps to take to enable https for your website.

In the meantime, if you're looking for some more in-depth information, try these posts: