2018 Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference

Wisconsin-2018-01_3Mark your calendar for the Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference, January 23-25, but draw a big red circle around January 24, because that's when the Tech Trends Track programs are scheduled! The Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference is a state-wide virtual conference developed by the Nicolet Federated Library System and supported by 15 other library systems in Wisconsin. The program lineup includes practical and inspiring web-only sessions that you can attend whether it's 40 degrees or 40 below. This year we're looking forward to these technology-oriented programs (30 minutes each):

  • Best of the Web 2018 (register)
  • Sharpening the Bleeding Edge: Four Technologies that Librarians Should Watch (register)
  • Tech Notes from the Field (featuring TechBits author Craig, so don't miss this one) (register)

To attend, simply register for as many programs as you want. There are no registration fees and anyone is welcome to participate. Sessions will be recorded for those who can't attend online.

Community Data - How do we compare?

Want to understand the industries, occupations, poverty, education, cost of living, and more in your community? 

Want to go further and see how you compare to other communities, the state, or the nation?  

Want to know how your community has changed over time? 

If so, here are a few resources to help make the analysis easier: 


DataUSA: https://datausa.io/

Combines multiple public U.S. Government data sources into one visualization tool. The data sources are cited so you can check for more current data or actually get the underlying data so you can generate your own charts. Don’t miss the ADD COMPARISON option which allows you to compare to another community.



Applied Population Lab: https://apl.wisc.edu/

The Applied Population Lab, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison publishes research on Wisconsin trends. The reports and chartbooks tend to be at the county level, but many of the websites can be searched by village or town. Be sure to check-out their Wisconsin Food Security Project: http://foodsecurity.wisc.edu/ and the GetFacts: https://getfacts.wisc.edu/ websites.



American FactFinder: https://factfinder.census.gov

The primary source of data used by many websites. The advanced search allows you to get the details by geographic areas including summary data for a neighboring community, the state of Wisconsin, or the entire United States. Explore the various topics including Product Type-Comparative Profiles that looks at trends over time of demographic, economic, housing, and social characteristics for populations of 5,000 or more. For details on what data can be compared, go to Comparing American Community Survey (ACS) Data: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/guidance/comparing-acs-data.html

More on coding

Code-geek-2680204_640Back in July 2016, I wrote a TechBits post about the kickoff of DPI's "Coding Initiative in Wisconsin Public Libraries." Since then they've added lots of great information and resources to the Coding Initiative website that are worth a look, including a coding quiz, concrete guides for 8 coding topics, and large searchable list of coding resources!

And, in case you missed it (like I did!), the Wisconsin Libraries for Everyone blog has moved! (old location, new location)  Topics covered include Administration & Data, Resource Sharing, School Libraries, Services & Programs, and Technology, and there's an option to sign up to receive updates via email.

Office 365 login change

MessageYou may have noticed recently when you log into Office 365 for email that a prompt with the message “We have a new sign-in experience! Try it now” appears. Sometime late last month Microsoft added this “update”. From what I can see nothing changes other than the login screen, rather than having your user name and password on the same screen you select your user name then another window appears to type in your password. If you don’t like the new look you can revert back…for now. At the login screen click “Go back to the old one” in the bottom right corner. I have a feeling that eventually everyone will be migrated over and you won’t have a choice to go back any longer.

I switched to the updated login on one of the accounts I check on a regular basis that is programed to auto log in a couple weeks ago and I didn’t have to do anything different. I switched this morning on my regular account and I don’t really notice any difference other than the picture that looks like sunny California is gone. I also feel like I’m a better person than I was yesterday too, but that could just be a coincidence.

New login with option to go back    Password


Non-secure HTTP

In recent months, you may have noticed browser icons and messages like these...


What's going on?

Earlier this year, certain browsers began to warn users when they visit a login page that doesn't use https. Https is a secure version of the http protocol used to pass information between websites and browsers and is commonly used by websites passing usernames/passwords, credit card information, and other sensitive information.

There is a big push to implement https on all websites to help keep users' browsing and personal data secure. Not all websites currently use https, and it will take time to convert them. You may have already noticed some websites managed by SCLS have not yet made the jump, but some like LINKcat and the ecommerce payment website DO provide secure connections. In upcoming months, we will be working on converting more of the SCLS-managed sites.

In the meantime, remember: never (NEVER!) enter your credit card, social security number, bank information, or other super-sensitive information on a website that is NOT https.  ALL banking, tax, financial, and retail sites should provide https for security.

Want to know a little more about https and secure websites? Take a look at this short but informative 3-minute CommonCraft video!

Additional reading
A short tutorial on your browser's security features: http://www.gcflearnfree.org/internetsafety/your-browsers-security-features/1/
Mozilla's and Google's blog posts about https:

Thermal Technologies

Zebra Printer, it's a little larger than the Dymo printerFor centuries man has been printing spine labels, but not all spine labels have been created equal. No -- as a matter of fact, some spine labels fade when exposed to sunlight or heat. "Why is this?" you may be asking. Simply put, it’s a difference in the thermal printing technology used when making the label. Some printers use a direct thermal approach while others use a thermal transfer method. Labels that are prone to fading over time use the direct thermal method where the label is chemically treated to react to heat. You may notice if you get a receipt from the gas pump and leave it in your car on a hot summer day it’s almost unreadable within two or three days. That’s because the chemicals in the paper are reacting to the heat in your car. The thermal transfer method in my opinion is better because the labels are not chemically treated, instead the printer has a wax or resin ribbon that a heated print head touches to apply the print to the label. This is a lot like the old method of using a dot matrix printer with a ribbon that transferred ink to the label.

The advantage of using the thermal transfer method is that the labels don’t fade over time. The downside is you have to buy a printer that supports this type of printing along with new labels and ribbons.

We started testing the Zebra TLP2824 thermal transfer printer back in September and have had really good results with it. We are now offering this printer to the libraries at a cost of $294.00 per printer. We will also order the first roll of labels and ribbon to get you started. I will give you more information after you purchase the printer on where to get the labels and ribbons in the future.

DuraReady Labels (peeled and unpeeled)If you’re not ready to commit to purchasing a new printer and supplies but would like labels that don’t fade, you could try DuraReady labels that work with the current Dymo LabelWriter 450 printers. These labels are a little odd in that they have a ribbon attached to the label itself so you get the non-fading qualities of a thermal transfer printer without having to change printers. The downsides to this label are you can’t really see what you’re printing until you peel off the ribbon, and you have to peel off the ribbon which can sometimes leave a light smudge on the label.

I have one roll of the 1” x 1” DuraReady labels to give away to the first person to ask for them. I would like to get some feedback from you on how likely you are to use them in the future.

(BTW, I do find Emily to be a little annoying.) Sometimes more than a little:)

Watch out for spam traffic in Google Analytics

Library folks who are responsible for the library's web presence: let's talk about spam traffic in Google Analytics reports. If you've looked at a Google Analytics report lately, you've probably seen it: fake visits generated by a web bot or spammer.

You may have raised an eyebrow at a surprising number of visitors coming to your U.S.-based website from a far-away country in an Audience report. (Those are spam visits.)

Watch for suspicious audience demographics in the Audience Overview report

You may have wondered why so many strange websites are linking to your website and generating referral traffic, in the Referrals report. (Those are spam referrals, and they're not really linking to your site.)

Watch for suspicious websites in the Acquisition, All Traffic, Referrals report

"But I thought Google Analytics only captured real traffic. You have to be a real visitor to trigger the tracking code JavaScript." That's what I thought! But spammers constantly adapt technology, and can use randomly-generated tracking code ID numbers to send data directly to Google Analytics (aka "ghost" traffic") without ever visiting the websites that use those tracking codes. Or send web bots to crawl a site without following the rules that prohibit this. What can we do?

DO: If you use Google Analytics reports, take a closer look at what's in them. Higher-than-normal traffic may be fake. Keep your common sense hat on.

DON'T: Visit the weird URLs you see in your reports. The purpose of Google Analytics spam traffic (if there is a point, besides wasting our time) is the same as email or blog comment spam: to cheat our curiosity, to get us to click or visit a site, and then lure us into buying something, or trick us into giving up personal information or passwords. Don't fall for it!

DO: Set up some filters in Google Analytics. For all the websites I help maintain, I'll be doing this to help ensure that the data we're collecting is real and useful.

DON'T: Worry about seeing your website traffic numbers go down over time after those filters are in place. 8 visits from people who care about the local library matter WAY more than 97 from a spammer on the other side of the world!

Further reading:

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.

Solid State Drives vs Hard Disk Drives

Photo curtesy of pcmagIf you have seen the SCLS PC order form recently you may have noticed the addition of Solid State Drives (SSD) to the list of options available for you to choose. Previously we’ve only offered traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDD), but now you have the option to get either one.

What is a Solid State Drive and what’s the difference between the old and new technologies?  I’m glad you asked! A SSD and HDD perform the exact same function in a PC or laptop; they store system files and your data. A HDD uses spinning metal platters to perform this function while the SSD utilizes flash memory chips to store data.

The advantage of using a SSD is that it accesses the data much faster than a HDD. A typical patron PC using a HDD with MyPC and DeepFreeze installed on it takes roughly 2 minutes from when a patron logs out to when the next patron can log in. The same PC with a SSD takes about 30 to 40 seconds before the next patron can sign in, from what I’ve seen it’s closer to the 30 seconds, I’m just hedging my bet.

The disadvantage of the SSD is that it costs more than the HDD per gigabyte. Since SSDs cost more the typical size of a SSD is between 128 and 256GB whereas the HDD is between 256 and 500GB. These sizes are based on the systems we currently purchase. If you look in the consumer market you will see HDDs in the 500 GB to 2 TB range for the same price as the 128 to 256 GB SSDs.

To learn more about SSDs check out this informative article in PC Mag.

Photo from pcmag.com

TechSoup for Libraries

TechSoup for LibrariesDo you know about the TechSoup for Libraries blog? It's one of my favorites!

TechSoup for Libraries is a project of TechSoup, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit devoted to making technology and technology education available and affordable to nonprofits and libraries all over the world. TechSoup for Libraries continues to gather and share stories from the field so libraries can keep learning from each other.

I was just looking over the blog recently and was amazed all over again at what a helpful collection of topics it covers. Some recent examples:

And those are just some of the posts that I find most appealing given my interests! There are many, many more posts on a variety of library technology topics.

You can browse to the blog, sign up for their monthly newsletters, follow them via RSS, or follow them on Twitter.