Some recent Digital Bytes

WVLSWisconsin Valley Library Service has some new (short!) Digital Bytes training videos ---

Dropbox
Time: 6:23
Description: Jamie talks about Dropbox, and how she uses it for library collaboration.
Watch    Training Guide

Password Protecting a Document
Time: 3:30
Description: Jamie shares how you can protect a document with a password.
Watch

Boomerang for Gmail
Time: 6:30
Description: Jamie talks about how she uses Boomerang to help keep her email organized.
Watch

The complete collection of Digital Bytes can be found here and includes a wide range of topics from technology to continuing education, reference resources, customer service and more : https://wvls.org/digital-bytes/

Remove background

Rose recently covered how to add a background color to an image that has none. What if you want to remove a background from an image?

Have I got a cool site for you! I just read about it on the Cool Tools blog, and I think it will become one of my favorites.

https://www.remove.bg/

Simply upload a photo (or enter a URL), and the background will be removed, leaving you with background-less image that you can download. I tested on a few different photos and had pretty good success. It's not perfect of course and currently it only works on photos with people, but it's way, way, WAY better than trying to select and remove the background manually! 

From my testing, I had the best luck when the photo was nice and crisp and the subject wasn't in shadows. Here are some examples:

2Craigs

Moustache

Wow

Wisconsin's Digital Library Updates

LibbyUpdate0219croppedRegular users of Wisconsin's Digital Library through the Libby App noticed some recent updates. One of my personal favorites is the improved wait time display. Now it's easier to see the approximate wait time for my holds by tapping on the little calendar icon. I also love seeing my place in line go up and all the other data about the holds that I've placed.

Another big update was adding new Shelf tips - including one that encourages readers to return books when they're done rather than waiting for the loan to expire. The prompt appears based on the reader's progress and the number of others waiting for the title. This means the next patron will get the book earlier and, hopefully, cut down on some of the long wait times in our collection.

Shelf2OverDrive updated the Loans display on Shelf page. It's easy to see how much of a book you've read or listened to with the progress bar. OverDrive also lets you know if there are others waiting for the book and prompts you to place a hold or renew a title when your expiration date is getting close. (I better get going on The Breakers!)

To see other updates to Libby, visit the Libby menu on the app (Menu>Libby>What's New in Libby?).

On another OverDrive note, the next SCLS OverDrive Support Course is scheduled for March 11 - April 12 and SCLS member library staff can register here!

 

 

Microsoft Photos: Zoom with mouse wheel

On a day to day basis, I have to zoom in on small details of library site pictures. In Windows past I could simply zoom by scrolling the center mouse wheel. Since upgrading to Windows 10 the default image viewer, Microsoft Photos, had seemingly removed this basic, handy feature. Or did they?

Now when using the mouse wheel Microsoft Photos will just page through the different images in the same folder. I also dislike having to hit the Zoom on the GUI especially when I am trying to zoom on the fly or have to do it a lot. I miss the granularity that the mouse wheel gave me.

Apparently you are still able to zoom with the mouse wheel in Microsoft Photos but it requires a keyboard key now. If you hold Control (Ctrl) and then use the mouse wheel, you will be able to zoom in like you used to.

If you are interested in other Photos keyboard commands and a plethora of other Win10 app commands, check out the following link.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/13805/windows-keyboard-shortcuts-in-apps

 

 

Alexa, friend or waste of time?

Alexa

I was gifted an Amazon Echo this Christmas.  When I opened it, I wasn’t that excited.  My first thought was another device I have to learn how to use and maintain.  New devices can become time consuming when you’re learning to use them and can prove to be more trouble then they’re worth.  I was skeptical I would find Alexa useful, but here are my honest first impressions. 

Madison has been nearly shut down this week thanks to the polar vortex weather.  With cabin fever in full effect, my daughter and I decided to spend some time learning about our new friend, Alexa.  The first feature we seemed to gravitate toward is getting the morning weather report simply by asking “Alexa, what is the weather forecast?”  All you have to do is set up your location in the Alexa App.  You can ask for a current forecast or a 7 day forecast.

As an amazon prime member and an avid online shopper, I was happy to learn it will automatically connect to my amazon account, allow me to verbally create lists of what I need, order it, update me on the tracking of the packages and notify me when they are delivered.  These are definitely features I will use regularly.

The main feature we had to try out in our boredom was the music feature.  At first, I was disappointed that they seem to push you to purchase Amazon Music by offering a 3 month free trial.  After a little research online, I learned that it does work with Spotify.  In December, there was an update to include Apple Music, which I currently subscribe to and is my preferred choice.  The best way to play your iTunes music is by connecting your device via Bluetooth. You can turn on your Bluetooth settings and ask Alexa to pair your device.  So far, I am able to play music I have downloaded to my phone with ease.  Searching Apple Music for new music does not appear to work.      

I am excited to see what else Alexa has to offer me in terms of to do lists and other organizational tools.  As a working mom, I’m always looking for help in that area.  There are so many features to discover and so many articles on how to best use them.  I am now much more excited to explore Alexa further.  Are there any features you have found useful?  Please share them in the comments.    

Say NO to Pie (Charts)

I couldn’t say no to my colleague’s Kentucky bourbon pecan pie that he made for our annual potluck. (It is delicious!) I do, however, say no to using pie charts after learning there are better chart types to visualize your data.

Although pie charts have the ability to show a part-to-whole relationship, data visualization experts are not fans of them. Here are a few articles highlighting the problems with pie charts:

The takeaways from these articles are:

1. Pie charts are more difficult for our brains to process based on visual perception science (Gestalt Principles). Comparing areas and angles takes time and is something we do not do accurately.

2. There are better chart types to tell a story. Experts recommend horizontal ranked bar charts, stacked bar charts, and other chart types that are easier to interpret. Here are resources to help you pick the right chart:

There is good news for those who cannot leave their pie charts. Authors of the Big Book of Dashboard, have found that bar charts can live in harmony with pie charts. Here is a recent post:  

If you still love pie charts, you may also like this cookie pie chart https://flowingdata.com/2011/09/09/girl-scout-cookie-pie-chart/, but be sure to pair it with a quality bar chart (and a glass of milk).

Password, password, who might have your password?

A little over a week ago the site “have I been pwned?” website reported a large collection of leaked user information, the biggest single collection they'd seen, had been posted to a popular hacking site. While it turns out that most of that data was a compilation of previous data breaches, the data was now available in a single collection of over 770 million unique email addresses and 21 million unique unencrypted passwords.

To check if your email account was one of the ones leaked, you can go to https://haveibeenpwned.com/ (yes, it's pwned not owned) and enter your email account. If your email was one of the ones they've found in leaked data, the site will tell you and, if you scroll down, it will give you details on where and when the leak occurred. You can then use this information to determine whether you should go and change your passwords on the affected sites or if you've already done so since the breach occurred.

Let's go phishing

Can you spot a scam? Here are a couple of short phishing quizzes to test your skills:

Phishing

 

How did you do?

Looking for tips to improve your skills?  These webpages have some helpful suggestions about what to look for!

 

 

Upcoming Snipping Tool Change

Microsoft is changing the name and functionality of the Snipping Tool for Windows 10 in an upcoming update.  I use the Snipping Tool regularly to include screenshots in documentation.  After the 1809 Feature Update was installed on my laptop, I noticed a warning the first time I opened the Snipping Tool.  The warning basically states that the tool is moving, it will have improved features, and it will be called "Snip & Sketch." 

Snipping Tool Change

Microsoft hasn't announced when the new version will be forced or what update will make the change permanent.  After you get the 1809 Feature Update, you can still use the tool in its basic form.  You can also click "Try Snip & Sketch" to start using the new features.

  • The first thing I notice with the new version is that the toolbar has the modern Windows Store app design.
    Toolbar
  • When saving a snip, the default name of the file will include the date and time stamp.
  • You may configure the Print Screen button on your keyboard to open Snip & Sketch directly.
  • A ruler allows you to draw straight lines on your snip.  The angle of the ruler can be adjusted with your mouse's scroll wheel.
    Ruler
  • A protractor is available for help drawing circles.
  • Drawing and markup tools are improved.

More information about this change.

More information about all changes with the 1809 Feature Update.

 

Favorites Toolbar

Bookmark toolbarLast fall I was working with a very smiley colleague on a large order when she noticed that I use folders on my web browsers favorites’ toolbar to group similar links. After I showed her how I created the folders we talked about how this might be something worth sharing with our readers.

For those that didn’t know Favorites Toolbars existed, I have to tell you, it’s incredibly convenient to have a few of my go-to favorites at the top of my browser where I can quickly go without having to click on dropdown menus. I found it frustrating when I had so many bookmarks in my toolbar that it became cluttered, which is where using folders to combine similar links can come in to help organize your toolbar.  For instance, I drive a lot, so I have a folder with my favorite travel advisory links so that I can quickly see if I should expect any travel delays. I also have a folder with a lot of Google doc links.

I mostly use Google Chrome and Firefox browsers, but you can also do this with Edge.

In Google Chrome, click the Customize and Control button (3 vertical dots) in the upper right hand corner. Hover your cursor over Bookmarks and select Show bookmarks bar. This will add the bookmarks bar if you don’t already have it. If you right-click in the bookmarks bar you will have an option to add a folder. Once you add and name a folder you can drag links into it.

In Firefox, click the menu button (Cheeseburger or 3 vertical lines) in the upper right-hand corner and choose Customize, click the Toolbars button at the bottom of the screen and select Bookmarks Toolbar. Just like with Chrome you can right-click in the bookmarks bar you will have an option to add a folder. Once you add and name a folder you can drag links into it.

I’ve also found that by having a visual of my favorite websites on my bookmarks toolbar I use them way more than I used my bookmarks menu at the top of my browser.