Patent FUN!

I think inventions and patents are cool, so I am sharing a couple fun ways to explore them:

US256265-Device for waking persons from sleep

Reading Journey in Libby

ReadingHistory2If you're a Libby user like me, you may have noticed some new information on your reading history in Libby. It's called your Reading Journey and it works like this.

From your Shelf in Libby, tap on the "due in X days" to see your reading journey for individual titles. I recently finished Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly and you can see that I listened to this book for 13 hours and 58 minutes and picked up the audiobook 28 times. Libby also told me when I checked out the book, returned it, placed another hold, and checked it out again (yes, I didn't finish it the first time). For Educated by Tara Westover, Libby tells me that I'm on track to finish listening to the audiobook in 8 hours and 13 minutes. Not only for audiobooks, similar information is available for ebook checkouts. 

Timeline2While this can be interesting information to have, if you or your patrons are at all concerned about this information, you can turn this feature off. I also want to share OverDrive's Privacy Policy to reassure you and your patrons that the timeline information is not shared with publishers or stored by OverDrive. Here's how to turn off your timeline. **Updated 10/30/2020: Once you turn off your timeline, you can't turn it back on without resetting the app so only turn off the timeline if you really, really want to. 

On a related note, the next session of the OverDrive Support Course (for SCLS member library staff only) starts next Monday, November 2. In this 5-week course, you'll learn about providing support for Wisconsin's Digital Library including answering Libby questions like this one. Register here!

Spotting a dark pattern on the web

A few days ago I was present for an excellent discussion that was briefly side-tracked by confusion about the pricing of a newsletter service which is widely used by libraries. Here's roughly what the fly on the wall (me) heard:

Librarian A: "We have 20,000 subscribers, so we're paying over $1000 for Service X."

Librarian B: "What?! Service X says they only charge $15/month for 100,000 subscribers!"

Frustratingly, the company's own pricing page was the source of the confusion because it's an example of a dark pattern: "a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying overpriced insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills" (Wikipedia).

Because recognizing dark patterns is key to avoiding their tricks, let's take a quick look at what that pricing page says about their Standard Plan, near the top of the page:

Screenshot 2020-10-16 170927Did you notice that small-print "Starting at $14.99" language? I didn't, at first, but it matters in a big way. (If you click the big "Select" button, you're asked to sign up for an account, gradually making you more invested in the service without being entirely clear about the price you'll pay—and you have to actively check a box to OPT OUT of receiving their marketing spam.) When we scroll further on the pricing page and interact with the price chart, by choosing the specific range of contacts, THEN we see that 20,000 subscribers is, indeed, a great deal more than $15/month!

Screenshot 2020-10-16 171930

Irksome, isn't it? They haven't tricked us into doing anything (yet), but they're chipping away at our resistance to signing up by featuring a price that seems like a better value than it really is. That's a dark pattern!

Next time you're shopping online or signing up for a new service, keep a lookout for anything misleading or deceptive about the process—you may be interacting with a dark pattern. (And if you, like me, need to see some dark patterns analyzed and cataloged, there is website and a hashtag to shame the offenders and air our collective grievance.)

Good Calculators, Google Forms, and more

WVLS has shared some short (3-15 min) "Digital Bytes" training videos recently that may be of interest to you or your library patrons:

Good CalculatorsGood Calculators
Time: 5:01
Jamie talks about an educational and fun tool that can help library patrons of all ages.
Watch

Google Forms
Time: 15:11
Anne talks about creating a Google Form and how to share it.  Watch

Social Media Message Optimizer
Time: 5:26
Jamie talks about using CoSchedule’s Social Media Message Optimizer to see if you’re getting the most out of your library’s social media posts, based on several factors. 
Watch

JCW Resume Builder
Time: 10:29
Anne talks about using the Job Center of Wisconsin online resume builder. Watch

WVLS Digital BytesUsing Bluejeans
Time: 10:46
Jamie demonstrates how to use Bluejeans as a moderator.  Watch

Scanning Documents On Your iPhone
Time: 3:24
Don’t have access to a scanner? Jamie talks about using your iPhone to scan documents as a PDF file.  Watch

You can find more of these "Digital Bytes" here on the WVLS website: https://wvls.org/digital-bytes/

Looking at those birds

Photo of birds at birdfeeder
Hungry birds in Madison

Recently we added a bird feeder to our backyard and it's provided some enjoyable bird watching of the very hungry birds. So far, we haven't had much bird variety but luckily the Internet has videos of birds!

One fun web site is the Bird Library. The Bird Library has a fancier bird feeder than my backyard bird feeder, and attracts a wider variety of birds. There is a YouTube channel in addition to the web site, which has archival videos as well as information on the library's patrons.

Another great resource is All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They have a number of live feeds and tons of information about birds. If you have a spare moment, take a look!

Practice touch typing with classic novels

I know I could always use a little more practice when it comes to touch typing (no, I don't hunt and peck!). I recently stumbled across a website that not only gives you the opportunity to practice touch typing but also read a classic novel while you're doing it. 

The website is typelit.io

Here we have a neat website that currently contains 32 classic novels ranging in length and style that you can interactively read by typing the text. It appears that the creator is actively developing the site with more content and features.

Check it out!

Typeio

Canva

I made this using CanvaWisconsin Valley Library Service (WVLS) recently provided a very helpful training video on Canva, an online drag-and-drop design tool that lets you create visual content with ease. In the 50-min video, Anne walks you through some of the many features of Canva including including tools for font combination suggestions, color pallette generator, and the design size guide for tailoring your designs to specific social media platforms. She also points out tools within Canva for learning more about how to use Canva and runs through one of the tutorials to demonstrate some basic tasks.

LaborDay

 

Canva is free for basic use, and Pro accounts are pretty affordable. Non-profit organizations with a 501c3 designation can get access to a Pro account for free.

 


LibraryFlyers

 

If you haven't already discovered Canva and are looking for an easy way to generate flyers, posters, and images for use on your websites and social media posts, check out Canva and the WVLS video tour of Canva.

 

Finding Attachments in OWA

I had some difficulty locating a document that was emailed to me a few years ago.  I didn't even remember who sent it to me.  I found a neat way to browse through all the attachments I have sent and received by email. 

  1. Click the Files button (the paper clip) beneath all your mailboxes.
    Files
  2. Depending on what you are searching for, click Photos or Files.
    Files or Photos
  3. At this point, you will see all the Photo or File attachments in your email.  If you know what mailbox you need to look in, you can click it at the left to narrow down your search even further.
    Mailboxes
  4. You will see a list of the files/photos at the right.  Some of them may have names that are not too meaningful.  You can click the file and then click Preview to get a better idea of what the file contains.  You also have the option of downloading or printing the attachment from this screen.
    Search Results

Google Meet is Neat

Video-conference-5167472_1920 from PixbayWe use several applications for virtual meetings within our organization but sometimes they are in use at the same time and it’s nice to have an option that I can rely on if I want to have an impromptu meeting. Most of us already have a Google account of some sort whether it’s Gmail, G-Suite, or YouTube and that’s all you need to use a free application for virtual meeting called Google Meet. If you’re familiar with other video conferencing applications then you will be able to easily pick up how to use Google Meet.


To start a Google Meet session;

• Log into your Google account.
• Locate “Google Meet” and click on it
• Click “Join or Start Meeting”
• Enter a meeting name, click “Continue”
• Allow the mic and camera settings (if you so desire)
• Send an invite to whoever you would like to join your meeting. I usually miss that step and copy the link in the URL to send to attendees.


Google Meet can accommodate up to 100 people for up to an hour per meeting with unlimited meetings. If you would like more than that you can sign up for advanced options.

 

Image by Alexandra Koch from Pixabay.com

Tech & Happiness Hacks

Many of you know that I admire Gretchen Rubin and have read many of her books and listen to her podcast. I've picked up many tips on how to make my life happier simply by listening and trying out some of her happiness hacks. On a recent podcast, Gretchen reminded listeners that September is the "other" January and to use the start of the new school year as a time to set new goals and try new things*.

NerdforaYearThis reminded me that I never shared a resource from Your Nerdy Best Friend from January of this year. In this post, Beth shares an updated handout called "Be a Nerd for a Year" with small fun tech activities that you can try out monthly. For September, some of the options are:

  • Trying out Zamzar to convert a JPG to a PDF (see Tech Bits posts here, here, and here for more)
  • Using Photomath to help your kids (or yourself) with math homework
  • September 24 is National Punctuation Day and you celebrate by using Grammarly to check your punctuation, tone, and more! (See Tech Bits posts here, here, and here for more)

It's a fun resource to look at and learn from all year round. Next year, I'll start in January!

*And buy new office supplies!