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Web-Based Calendar Services

Aztec calendar
Feel like your library's calendar system
is from the stone age?

If you've been wanting to explore online calendars for your library, here are some web-based calendar services worth considering.

Is EngagedPatrons.org the gold mine that it seems to be?  They'll host your events calendar, brand it to look like your library's website, and include online event registration -- for our favorite price (free) if your library qualifies (and it probably does).  I'm looking for the downside here, because it seems too good to be true.  If you have experience with this organization, let us know in the comments. 

Google Calendar
Google Calendar is free with any Google Account, with features like multiple views and per-event privacy settings (but not event registration).  It's popular because it offers the option to "embed" the calendar in your library's website.  (Translation:  You log into Google Calendar to add events, and they get automatically copied to a smaller version of the calendar that appears on your library's website.) 

Localendar has a free (ad-supported) version that also allows you to embed the calendar in your library's website.  Several libraries are using it, so chime in if you have a success story (or a warning) about your experience with it!

Another free calendar service with the option to embed the calendar in your library's website.  It's not frequently used for library calendars, but it's gotten favorable reviews from the tech media.

If you've tried several free services without finding what you need, this is the fee-based online calendar service of choice for libraries.  Unfortunately, Evanced doesn't list its prices online, but their calendars have lots of features, including event registration.  (Real-world example: the SCLS Calendar.)

Facebook is not your Friend

Hi, my name is Greg Barniskis. I've worked for SCLS for almost two decades now in various roles. My current title is Computer Systems Integrator, a job that involves making sure that all the different parts that make up LINK and SCLS network services can connect and play nice together.

The topic for today is not so much Facebook, or even social networking. It's about playing nice together, or rather it's about sites that don't play nice. Recent incidents specific to Facebook can highlight a problem that is deep and wide and spreading: rotten scripting in a web of trust.

Did you know that when you visit a site like Facebook, it is often presenting you with much more than just pictures, text, sound or video? Almost every major Web site today makes some use of browser scripting to tie those other elements together in a dynamic way. The real problem: not all scripts are safe for you to run.

Take the Facebook problem for example. Recently, scripts delivered via Facebook pages have been implicated in injecting malware onto LINK staff computers. Malware that was so new that it was not instantly clobbered by antivirus software. Malware that was able to sink its teeth into the hard disk and start doing who knows what. This degree of infection requires SCLS to take the stricken PCs off the network and wipe their disks completely clean, greatly inconveniencing the library staff.

At the heart of the problem is an implicit web of trust. Facebook trusts its users. Facebook trusts its affiliates. Facebook trusts its advertising sponsors. In turn, the users and affiliates and sponsors may trust others, and so on. And if you like Facebook, you will in turn just have to blindly trust all of these parties too... Or will you?

Firefox is your Friend

The Firefox browser can help you examine the web of trust that dominates much of the modern Internet. Using a Firefox extension called NoScript, you can declare that you will not blindly trust third parties to program your Web browser. The great benefit of this stance is that malware scripts will be stopped cold. The great cost is that most Web sites (including our very own LINKcat Web) will completely stop working because you don't trust their scripts.

Doh! You just can't win, can you? Sure you can! Whenever NoScript suppresses the script elements of a Web page, it tells you so. If that scripting is essential for the site to operate, and you really need the site to work, you can tell NoScript that you do want to allow this site's scripts. NoScript will remember your selections so that everything "just works" the next time you browse that site.

As with most security measures, NoScript makes things a bit less convenient as a side effect of making you safer. But because it learns as you go along, it becomes less and less inconvenient every day until it eventually sort of fades into the background. I recommend NoScript, and personally I won't surf without it.

To learn more about script security and try it out for yourself, start by reading more about the features of NoScript.

A just-about-five-minute intro to the Kindle and Sony PRS-700

I've heard that people would like more information about the Kindle, so I decided to make a quick podcast describing the similarities/differences and how libraries can use these devices:

(If you can't see the player, you can go to the podcast.
(If you prefer to read it, you can get the PDF Transcript.)

Here are some links for more information:

Comparison chart:  document that lists features of both devices

Kindle information from Amazon:  includes lots of pictures and an introductory video

PRS-700 information from Sony:  also include pictures and other information