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Library Online 3.7 - changes (part 4)

Here's the last post about changes that will occur when the Library Online servers are replaced and upgraded at the end of May. After the servers are upgraded, we'll start planning the upgrade for the client PCs so they are at version 3.7 also. Upgrading the clients this summer will add some additional features which I'll be discussing in a future post.

Patron Information Consolidation report
This new report is intended to simplify the job of Library staff by giving them easier access to consolidated information on why a patron may not be able to book a PC at this time. The report contains the following:

• Patron information such as birth date, Name and PIN
• Booking Usage
• Printing Usage
• Suspension Information (if currently suspended)

Here is an example.

What this means: Library Online programmers were trying very hard to provide a helpful report with information about a patron and the patron's booking and printing usage. It's a good attempt, but you may find it could still use some work...

Workstation application administration
The workstation application administration process has been changed to simplify the process of adding and modifying applications. Now you create one application and add it to multiple branches, all from the Application Information page. There is also a new option to set the application path for all workstations at a specific branch and a specific default workstation type with a single function.

For instance, you no longer need to add same application 5 times if you have 5 branches. Now you can create one application and attach it to 5 different branches with unique settings for each branch.

What this means:  The interface for managing applications has changed significantly.  Now to generate a list of which PCs have which applications, you must run a separate report
(Reports->Bookings->Workstation Application Report).

Details for managing applications will be available in “Help” in the Library Online administrative interface after we upgrade to 3.7.

Timeout Client Settings
An administrator can now overwrite the Timeout Client and Timeout Client Message Settings for an individual workstation, rather than for all workstations.

What this means:  Previously, Timeout Client and Timeout Client Message settings could only be set at the system level and would apply to all clients.  In 3.7, these settings can be set for individual workstations, workstation types, or all workstations at a library.  Examples of possible settings of interest:  Text of messages and buttons, follow-up bookings (we'll be hearing more about this when we talk about changes that come with the 3.7 client), and a setting to minimize the Available Applications window. SCLS will recommend that some settings not be changed for update reasons.Question

As you've read through these first 4 posts, have you thought about which settings might make a difference for your library? Where have you run into problems and frustrations previously? 

With these upcoming changes, we may be able to eliminate some of the hassle and frustration that you have experienced with Library Online in the past. Keep track of your questions and ideas, and let's talk about what we can do for your library!

Defensive Computing

If someone comes to your door and asks to come in and watch your TV (and they weren’t your friend), you wouldn’t let them do it.  At the same time, if someone contacts you online and ask you to click on a link or download something, you might be more trusting.  But should you?

 Image2Every day, we casually make hundreds of decisions ranging from mundane to life-changing.  When we're browsing on the Internet, we may never ask ourselves two important questions:

What can go wrong?
What can I do to manage the risk?

Yesterday, the Help Desk received a call from a library.  There was an odd pop-up coming from the system tray after the staff person had visited Facebook from a staff PC.  The staff person hadn’t clicked on anything, yet the PC was clearly infected with malware.  Automation staff eventually had to re-image the PC.  This is the third infected PC in as many weeks.  What’s going on and what can you do to reduce the chances of this happening in the future - other than to stop browsing the Internet?

Malware, software designed to interfere with a computer's normal functioning (read steal data or turn your PC into a “zombie”), has become big business for cybercriminal involvement in general and Web 2.0 sites (e.g. Facebook and MySpace) in particular.  Internet browsers have become prime targets to inject malware into PCs from third-party ads that are posted on both legitimate and illegitimate web sites.

Why didn’t the PC's antivirus software catch the malware?  Often, the malware is so new that the antivirus vendor hasn’t had time to identify it as a problem and design and release a “fix”.  Symantec, an antivirus vendor, reported a 265% increase in new malicious code last year.


Obviously, you can’t know if a particular website (dodgy or not) or its associated ads contain malware but there are two things that you can do to decrease your risks while browsing:

1) Practice safe browsing (First page only)

2) Browse with Firefox and security addons instead of Internet Explorer (when possible)

No browser can offer 100% protection but Firefox with addons can prevent unauthorized web sites (like third party ad sites) from running JavaScript, Java, Flash or other plug-ins to keep your browsing sessions more safe.

A Play Date to “Get More Out of Firefox” is being offered on Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stay tuned next week for specifics on Firefox and security addons.

Library Online 3.7 - changes (part 3)

Another post about new features and changes coming with Library Online 3.7 in May. (I think we'll probably have one more post after this one, and then a final post about changes that will come when the clients are also updated to version 3.7...)

Allow librarian to view banned patron across all branches
The infraction tracking system has been enhanced so that a librarian can view which branch a patron has been banned from, including those branches which the librarian has no access to.

What this means: This allows VIEWING of suspensions from other libraries. Library staff can still only suspend patrons from their own library.

Non-bookable Workstation Types
This addition gives library staff the ability to make all workstations under a specified type non-bookable, without having to go to each workstation to set the bookable flag to ‘No’. When used in conjunction with the workstation type schedule, staff now has the ability to close a branch in the middle of the day without having to do a special workstation booking for all workstations in that branch.

What this means: This will be especially helpful to libraries like BER, BLV, and MAZ that close during the middle of the day and could eliminate the need for the special workstation bookings.

Patron Time Limit ExtensionExtendTimeBookings
A librarian can now extend time to specific workstation types instead of extending time for the entire branch. A librarian can also now extend bookings for a patron.

What this means: In 3.7, you can extend time and/or bookings for specific workstation types for the current day. 

Workstation types display on Public Site
Order of workstation types in the drop-down box on ‘Search By Workstation Type’ screen and ‘Display Search Results by PC Type’ screen are displayed in alphabetical order. The system now also has the ability now to set the ranking of workstation types to be displayed according to priority. This will enhance the flexibility and usability of the LibOnline public site.

What this means: Library Online displays the workstation types in the workstation type drop-down and also in the “sort by workstation type” results alphabetically by default. If the library wishes to have them displayed in a non-alphabetical manner (ex. "Word Processing PC" before "Internet PC"), this can be done through the Public Ranking setting in the workstation types.

Today is Earth Day.

I thought today would be a good day to remind everyone to recycle your old computersEarth and printers.  SCLS makes it very convenient for you to do that by sending us old equipment to recycle.  Please see the E-Waste post from Febuary for more information.

Here is another article in Wired about recycling old electronic equipment.

Spell with Flickr


As a former graphic design major (crazy, huh?), I love fun type. Spell with Flickr is a site where you can enter your text and have it return that text spelled out in letters from the photo-sharing site Flickr. Great if you need some snazzy text for your next poster, webpage, or blog entry.

Not happy with a particular letter? Click on it and it is changed out for another. There's code to embed the result in a webpage, or you could use your fantastic Print Screen skills to capture it and paste it into another program (that's what I did - Print Screen, paste into MS Paint, and crop & manipulate). Slick!

OpenOffice.org 3

OpenOffice-Icon Microsoft Office software can be fairly expensive.  If you don't use it often, it may not be a wise investment.  Home versions of Microsoft Office sell for $150 while the professional versions can cost up to $500.  For those who need an office software suite, but don't use it regularly, OpenOffice.org 3 is a viable alternative.

OpenOffice.org 3 is a free, open-source, office software suite that includes many of the same features as Microsoft Office.  The Writer program is similar to MS Word.  Writer will save your documents with a .odt file extension by default; however, you can easily save all your files with the .doc file extension used by MS Word.  The Calc program is similar to MS Excel.  You can save your spreadsheets with the default .ods extension or use the .xls extension used by Excel.  Writer and Calc are probably the two most popular features included in OpenOffice, but you will also find programs for slideshow presentations, databases and graphics.

If you're worried about opening your old Microsoft Office documents with OpenOffice, you have nothing to fear.  OpenOffice.org 3 will open most your MS Office documents with little or no loss in formatting.  Like I pointed out earlier, you can also save your OpenOffice files with the Microsoft Office file extensions.  This will allow MS Office users to open your documents at their PCs.

The licensing agreement allows for anyone to use the software.  It doesn't matter if it is for home, business, educational or government use.  You may want to try it out at home to see if it works for you.  More information on the software can be found at http://www.openoffice.org/

Liar, Liar

You are looking something up online when you suddenly receive a pop-up window on your PC saying that your PC is infected with viruses.  Ack!  Panic time!  Or is it?Liar-liar

While a virus infected PC is a very serious matter, not all "Your PC is infected" pop up messages are legitimate.  Phony antivirus ads are increasing in number and even major legitimate websites have been know to suffer from these pesky pop-ups.  A recent search returned nearly 62 million hits on Google, and that's just for one of the versions.

There are a number of variants of the scam software by different names but they all claim to do the same thing: clean viruses/trojans/spyware infections off of your PC.  So what do these malign malware in sheep's clothing actually do?  The most benign just constantly bother you with fake "we found viruses!!" messages asking you to register and pay for the sham software.  On the other end of the scale, they can install viruses, spyware and/or keylogging software that attempts to steal your passwords and turn your PC into a "zombie" they can use for their own nefarious purposes.

So what do you do if you get a virus warning?  Well, you can't just assume it's a deception and ignore it.  It could actually be a legitimate warning from your antivirus software and not a fraudulent browser pop-up window.  How do you tell?  The most basic check is if the virus warning window does not say it's from the antivirus software you already have installed on your PC, it's most likely a fraud.  If the window says Internet Explorer or Firefox at the top, it's almost certainly a fraud.

How do you get rid of these pop-ups?  First off, never click on anything in those ads.  The Cancel button and the X button in the upper right hand corner are usually fakes so clicking on those buttons, or anywhere else in the pop-up window for that matter, will cause the software to start to install.  The best way to get rid of a poisonous pop-up is to close out of your browser window by either doing Alt-F4, right clicking  on the browser box(es) on the taskbar and choosing Close or by doing Ctrl-Alt-Delete, clicking on Task Manager, finding the browser in the Applications tab, highlighting it and clicking on End Task.

What if it's too late?  If you or someone else did install the fake antivirus, please contact the appropriate staff immediately.  If you are trying to download a removal tool for any of these fake antivirus products, make sure you get it from a reputable source, one of the major antivirus firms would be a good choice.  Some of the "removal" tools you can find online are actually more counterfeit tools by the same people who made the original.

Stay tuned for more tips on safer browsing!

300 Popular Online Services, by Category


It's hard to "shop" for online services if you're having trouble identifying the products.  Bloggers will often come up with Top-10 lists around a theme (like the perennial "best image editor" lists), but if you just want a quick overview of what's out there, check out this year's WebWare 100 -- 300 finalists in 10 categories, with 110 winners announced next month.  I'm seeing a lot of things I want to test-drive in the "Search and Reference" category! 

Library Online 3.7 - Changes (part 2)

Here are a few more changes and new features that will be arriving with version 3.7 in late May...

Temporary Patron ChangesMidnight
Currently, a temporary patron card is valid for 24 hours from the time created. In version 3.7, temporary patron cards could instead be set to be valid for the day up until 12:00AM. 

What this means: If libraries wish, this system setting could be changed to “expires at midnight”.  (what do you think? expire at midnight that day? or 24 hours from creation? Please weigh in below in the comments!)

Admin site: User consistently be taken back to the same level or place
Within the Administration site, the user is now consistently taken back to the same level or same place after Search activities for flow consistency.

What this means: If you search for workstations for a library, modify the settings for them, Save, and then click “Done”, you are now taken back to the (updated) search results instead of to the original search screen. This behavior occurs on other screens as well. It should save some time and prevent staff from having to repeat actions when changing settings after a search.

No Show Bookings

A librarian can now remove no-show bookings from the database.

What this means: If library issues caused a no-show or a patron contests a no-show and library staff wishes to “forgive” the no-show, library staff is now able to delete a patron's no-show. Hip-Hip-Hooray!

Redesign of Booking reassignments
A librarian now has the ability to reassign any bookings (previously, librarians could only reassign bookings when creating a special workstation booking). With the "Reassign Workstation Booking" option, all the compatible PCs are listed that a booking can be reassigned to so that the librarian can choose a specific PC instead of letting the system randomly pick one.

What this means: This will allow library staff to reassign a booking to a different PC, instead of canceling the booking and recreating it.

In 3.7, you can also reassign bookings through Time Slot Manager. So many options!

Library Online 3.7 - Changes (part 1)

The new version of Library Online will be 3.7, and it is tentatively scheduled to debut in late May. Here's a glimpse of a few of the changes we'll see when the servers are upgraded:

Admin site look
In version 3.7, the entire Admin portion of Library Online has been upgraded to .net development platform. The biggest impact of this change is that you will notice an updated look & feel to some of the screens. You will also find a calendar instead of drop-down menus for selecting dates.

Ignore System or Branch settings
Version 3.7 allows settings for the branch(library) to ignore system settings. It also allows settings for the workstation types to ignore branch and system settings.

What this means: If you want to increase some settings (booking length, booking limits, time limits) for a certain type of PC, you can do so without changing your library's overall limits. You will be able to have a workstation type that isn't subject to branch limits (or system limits).

Field Length Expansion
Field length for Machine Types description expanded to 100 characters from 50. Provides more flexibility for libraries that have a large number of machines to display more accurate descriptions.

What this means: A Workstation Type description could be very long now. Full length will display on Public Booking site when searching by PC Type. A very long description will still be cut off when displayed on Timeout clients. 

Time Slot Manager
A librarian can now view, create, and cancel bookings directly from the Admin site.

The Time Slot Manager is found in the Admin site and gives library staff a visual representation of the workstations' statuses and allows staff to make a reservation for a patron using the patron's card number. It permits custom start times, stop times, and length of bookings and allows staff to easily override normal booking restrictions (booking length, booking limit, time limit). 

What this means: Staff can *easily* make custom bookings for patrons. Here is the Time Slot Manager documentation which includes some screen shots.

Questions or comments on any of these features? Please leave a comment.