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...

Notsecure--mypc

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.

Guest Post: Madison Public Library's Personal Archiving Lab

This Guest Post is from Samantha Abrams, a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Library and Information Studies. You can find her on Twitter as @sabramse.

Inspired by similar projects like the Memory Lab (in Washington) and the Inspiration Lab (in Vancouver), the Personal Archiving Lab at the Madison Public Library made its debut in June of this year. Funded through the Madison Public Library Foundation by a gift from Martin J. Levy, the Lab is a collection of equipment that can be used by Library patrons to digitize at-risk analog materials, like home movies, video tapes, audio cassettes, photographs, floppy disks, and paper-based documents (including photographs).

Personal Archiving LabThe Lab — as it stands — fits on a small cart (like this one), and is fully mobile. In addition to a Macbook Air, the Lab contains a flatbed scanner (which can handle poster-sized documents as well as slides and film negatives), a Sony HandyCam, a portable miniDV player, a tape deck, a combination VHS / DVD player, and a floppy disk drive. For video-based transfers, the Lab uses Elgato Video Capture. Some form of external storage (thumb drives are recommended) is required to use the lab, and the transfer of all tape-based media occurs in real time (60 min video = 60 min to complete the transfer).

The equipment we use to capture important memories today — smartphones, digital cameras, social media — makes the tangible feel less urgent. As a result, our tapes and our photographs are often stored out of sight, and out of mind. It isn’t until we run across that box in the attic, or garage, or relative’s basement, that we rediscover them. Since the debut of the Lab at the Madison Public Library, I have helped patrons access memories that are — seemingly — trapped on all kinds of outdated material: VHS and Hi8 tapes have been the most commonly digitized, but it has not been uncommon to work with patrons interested in digitizing cassette tapes, too.

Of course, not all obsolete media can be saved. Often, old tapes become demagnetized, or unintentionally damaged as time passes. But what the Lab can do — at the very least — is provide the equipment needed to access old media and the instruction required to begin the digitization process. And, based on the fact that the Lab’s appointments are often booked weeks in advance, this seems to be a much-needed service, met with great enthusiasm.

What makes the Lab truly great is not its equipment, but its ability to foster connections: not only does it allow Library staff to interact one-on-one with interested parties, but it allows patrons the ability to interact with the past. Earlier in the year, at Madison Public Library’s Pinney Branch, I sat down with a patron interested in digitizing a single cassette tape. As I prepared the computer and tape deck for our work, I made conversation with them: how did they hear about the Lab? What was it about the Lab that made them stop in? Eventually, we landed on the subject of her cassette: a conversation, recorded long ago, between the patron and their father. As they explained further, their father had passed away years before and the cassette — which was over twenty years old — was the only remaining recording of his voice. And what the Lab was able to provide the patron with was this connection: a memory from long ago, brought back to life.
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More about Samantha's personal experiences with the lab can be found here.

Coding in Libraries

Have you ever found yourself thinking about coding in libraries and wondering,

  • "What role does the public library have in learning and use of computational thinking?"
  • "What resources are available to libraries?"
  • "Are there nearby community organizations and/or schools that are doing similar projects or have resources libraries can use through partnerships?"

If so, take a peek at this post from WI Libraries: "Coding Initiative in Wisconsin Public Libraries - Update."

The official roll out of the Coding Initiative in Wisconsin Public Libraries will begin fall 2016, and will kick off with a screening of the documentary film CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap at 20 public libraries around the state.

The initiative is a DPI-managed project using LSTA funds. You can find out more about it in the blog post and on the webpage where they will be posting updates and information in the next couple of months.

Hands On with Virtual Reality

IMG_20160621_133617865

The Oculus Rift has finally reached the market and I had the luck of getting my hands on a set and showing it to the office. Getting to wear one is truly an amazing experience. Imagine being able to stand toe-to-toe with an alien, face-to-face with a T-Rex, or towering over a miniature cityscape, in each case feeling like you'd be able to just reach out your hand and touch them.

This is what it takes to get one:

  • The Oculus Rift, itself, is $599
  • A computer that's able to support it is $999.99

I understand that that's a pretty steep cost for most people and most libraries, but if you could swing it I bet you'd be able to garner the attention of quite a few teens and young adults.

There are cheaper, less robust, options out there as well; namely Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard is most simply a mount with lenses that can turn most any smartphone into a pair of VR goggles. The base "cardboard" set is only $15, and there's many other more structural options as well for various prices. Phones are not included, however.

There are some libraries already using Google Cardboard in some programming events. Some articles can be found here, here, here, and here.

Very similar to Cardboard, but a little more cleaned up and more expensive, is the Samsung Gear VR. The headset is $99 and requires a Samsung Galaxy S6, S7, or Note 5 to use it.