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Guest post: aviary.com

Today's Tech Bits post is our very first guest post, written by Linda Stuckey from the E.D. Locke Public Library in McFarland:

Intro: I have worked in McFarland Library technical services for the last eight years. I am a regular reader of lifehacker.com, google tip of the day, and slashdot.org among many others that I have organized by iGoogle tabs and RSS feeds. I fervently believe that we need to stay informed on technology in order to speak the “language,” to evolve and stay relevant, to take advantage of new options and time savers that appear daily, and to solve staff and patron technology issues. Free web-based software is incredibly helpful. Aviary.com is one prime example.

Aviary.com is a web based photo-editing site that is free and does not require a login or sign up. It has several different editors including: Image editor (Phoenix), effects (Peacock), color/swatch (Toucan), vector (Raven), and my favorite, Image markup (Falcon), which allows you to capture any web page or image and add arrows, circles, and text boxes to it. There are at last count 72 tutorials under the “learn more tab.”

Under the Aviary Tools tab, dropdown menu for Image Markup (Falcon), there is a Firefox add-on called Talon. It installs an icon in the toolbar called "capture image of web page". With a click you can select any or all of the web page you are on, and then edit, save or copy it, including all the image markups (arrows, circles, etc.). It is amazingly easy and straightforward.

Some screen shots from Aviary (all made with the product!):

The home page:


The toolbars and tools (with Talon's button circled):


Talon, Aviary's Firefox extension:


Solve Problems Before They're Problems!

Today is a great day! Today I got an email from a director who remembered something she heard and thought about how it might impact technology at the library.

I won't name names because that's not how I roll....Sauk City is looking at getting a new cordless phone for the library. They remembered that cordless phones can cause problems with wireless networks and wanted to know how to avoid this problem. The answer is very simple and it will save alot of time and frustration.

Our current wifi networks use the 2.4Ghz radio channel. Most cordless phones use the same channel. That can cause the wifi signal to randomly drop which frustrates everyone. The solution is to buy a cordless phone that uses the 5.8Ghz radio channel to avoid this whole mess. (Some of the new wireless devices use the 5.8Ghz channel but so far interference isn't a problem.)

Here is a list of the most common things that I've seen interfere with wireless networks.

  • Cordless Phones (when in use)Wifi
  • Microwave Ovens (when turned on)
  • Other wireless signals
  • Thick walls made of concrete or metal
  • Fluorescent lights
  • Bluetooth devices (wireless cell phone headsets)
  • Wireless game controllers (Wii, Xbox, PS3)

Help on Moving from Office 2003 to Office 2007

I recently went to a class on "Moving from Office 2003 to 2007" because I know a lot of you out there are transitioning to Office 2007 and I wanted to be prepared for any questions.  The biggest thing I discovered was that Microsoft totally changed the look of its Office products in its 2007 version.  So if you used Office 2003 for years, like I have and still do, and you got very comfortable knowing where everything was you now get to learn where everything is all over again.  This can especially be a daunting task as there are no longer dropdown menus that you can search through to find what you want.  There is now something called the Microsoft Office Button Microsoft Office Buttonin the upper left-hand corner of the screen. This button replaces what used to be the File menu.

There is also something called a Ribbon and this replaces the rest of the menus and toolbars.

Ribbon (If you want to see a larger view of this just click on it.)

This Ribbon is now featured in the following 2007 Microsoft Office system programs: Access 2007, Excel 2007, PowerPoint 2007 and Word 2007.  So what's a person to do to find out where a specific command is for a specific Office 2007 program?  Well, one way to do it is to go through the Help section of that Office program or an easier, less time-consuming way is to go to Microsoft's Interactive Command Reference Guide for that program.  They can be found at:

  1. Interactive: Word 2003 to Word 2007 command reference guide

  2. Interactive: Excel 2003 to Excel 2007 command reference guide

  3. Interactive: PowerPoint 2003 to PowerPoint 2007 command reference guide

  4. Interactive: Access 2003 to Access 2007 command reference guide

If you want more specific help or you want to know how to complete a certain task, then you'll want to visit the Help and How-to Home Page for each of the Office programs.  They can be found at:

  1. Word 2007 Help and How-to Home Page

  2. Excel 2007 Help and How-to Home Page

  3. PowerPoint 2007 Help and How-to Home Page

  4. Access 2007 Help and How-to Home Page

Hopefully, all of these links will help save you time when you're trying to get some work done in an Office 2007 program.  If you use these links enough maybe you'll even become the in-library guru on that Office 2007 program.

BadgerLink Database Changes

[ BadgerLink logo ]

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Department of Administration (DOA) have announced upcoming changes in the databases available through BadgerLink. These changes are scheduled to take place on or around July 1.

What does this mean for users?

The big changes are that ProQuest will no longer be available and that EBSCO content is being expanded to nearly double what is currently available. More information about the changes and the EBSCO content is available here.

SCLS "by subject" and "by name" database pages will be updated on July 1 to reflect these changes. If you have a link on your website specifically for ProQuest, you should plan on removing it on or after July 1.

Out with the old...

Kodak's kodachrome, the first color film ever used, is being discontinued. The iconic film brand has fallen to the wayside in favor of digital cameras.  I made the switch eleven years ago from Kodak film to digital because of the cost savings in processing. That and I wanted to put pictures online.Kodachrome_Old

I talk to quite a few people who haven't made the switch yet or would like to buy a new inexpensive digital camera. I would like to let you know about a nice little camera on the market. The Nikon L20, is an easy to use entry level digital camera. I have the older model, the L18 which I purchased at Christmas for my wife, and she loves how easy it is to use. The camera costs around $130.00 and you will need to purchase a SD card with it. which start around $10.00 and go up from there. The only difference between the L18 and the new L20 is the higher resolution of the L20 (10 megapixels).

The Nikon can be purchased at about any electronics retailer like Staples.

Office Depot - free resume copies

Resume This one isn't exactly a "tech tip", but perhaps it's helpful all the same...?

From Office Depot's press release:

"Originally set to expire on May 30, customers can now take advantage of this special offer for the remainder of the year by visiting the Design, Print, & Ship Depot center in any one of the more than 1,100 Office Depot retail store locations nationwide. Office Depot is providing free copies of resumes, up to 25 single-sided pages, as well as free faxing to five different domestic numbers, up to 25 pages in total."

Both Madison stores are participating in this offer.

Making a website link to an item in LINKcat? Use the LINKcat Web URL Scrubber!

Task lighting on a bookshelf
Make it easier to find books
in LINKcat

Let's say you're adding a list of upcoming book club reads to your library's website.  Wouldn't it be great to add a link for each title to take your book clubbers directly into LINKcat to place holds on the upcoming titles?  You betcha! 

First you find the page in LINKcat that shows the first title and the list of available copies, and copy the URL from the address bar.  What you do next could mean the difference between making life simple and convenient for your patrons, or giving them a frustrating experience that results in complaints to the library.  Do you...

  • Make the link on your website with the same URL copied directly from the address bar?
  • Paste the URL into the LINKcat Web URL Scrubber to generate a "clean" URL to use for your link?  (Hint:  remember the title of this post!)

If you answered "Make the link with the same URL copied directly from the address bar," you might be setting your patrons up for failure.  The URL for the item, copied directly from the address bar, contains session information identifying the library where you did the original search.  Most of the time, this doesn't make a difference -- until you're linking to an item that your library owns.  Remember how patrons can't place holds on items owned by the library, when they're at the library?  That session information in the URL makes LINKcat think that the patron is still inside the library, even if they're looking at it from home.  If your patrons want to place a hold on an item that your library owns, using the wrong link into LINKcat will prevent them from placing a hold from home.

Here's an example so you can see the difference (using an old favorite!):

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice, linked with an unscrubbed URL (Look at the top-left corner of the page -- LINKcat will think you are on a LINK computer at Madison Public Library, even if you're not)

Pride and Prejudice, linked with a scrubbed URL (For scrubbed links, LINKcat identifies whether you're on a library computer on the LINK network or not—if you're not, you'll see the LINKcat logo in the top-left corner)

We want links to items and searches in LINKcat to work for patrons no matter where the are.  Using the LINKcat Web URL Scrubber removes the problem-causing session information from a LINKcat URL so that patrons can always place holds from home!

Slaying my numbers demon

I had a great typing teacher in high school.  Ms. Johnson taught us proper hand position by taping strips of thumbtacks below the space bar.  You learned quickly to keep those wrists UP!   I thank her for my typing speed today.  Unfortunately, Ms. Johnson got sick the day we were doing numbers, so I never learned to do them properly.  I have to hunt-and-peck numbers to this day.

But not for much longer!  I'm going to be a numbers whiz in no time with TypingWeb, an online typing  tutor.  The best part?  It's free and doesn't even require registration if you don't want to track your progress.  The lessons are divided into different levels, and there are clear diagrams of where to put your hands and what fingers you should be using to type each letter.  Typewriter

This site seems like it would be helpful for those job seekers and others who are just starting out with a computer and need basic lessons, along with people (like me!) who have a certain skill they would like to improve.

If you check it out, let me know what you think!  Do you have other sites you use with new typists?

Meanwhile, I'll be typing away:  23 70 59 94 85 79 35 89.......

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beta500/97819986/)

Firefox is your Friend

In my previous TechBits post, I described how Firefox can be your friend against the rising threat of Web-based scripting attacks, using the NoScript extension. But there are a lot of other reasons that you may--nay, will!--come to love Firefox if you don't already:

Firefox is the preferred browser for using the Koha staff interface.

Because of its open source nature and commitment to the support of proven international Web technology standards, Firefox is a natural fit for accessing Koha. Some parts of Koha currently don't work properly with Internet Explorer, much less look good on screen. While this is slated to be fixed in future Koha versions, the closed nature of IE means that its support may always lag in Koha development.

Firefox has universal cross-platform support.

Whether you are using a Windows PC, an Apple Mac, a Linux netbook, a FreeBSD server, a Google Android phone or a Starfleet Tricorder, Firefox is available for your platform of choice.

Firefox is the companion product to Thunderbird.Ffox_tbird_companion

Both Firefox and Thunderbird are sponsored by the Mozilla Foundation, and as such they share many design elements and some functionality. Thunderbird is replacing Eudora as the preferred SCLS email client this summer. All SCLS support for Eudora will end on September 30th.

Firefox has hundreds of Add-Ons that enhance its functionality.

Sure, the latest version of IE8 supports some add-ons, and IE7 supports tabbed browsing. But Firefox had these features a long time before IE did. Microsoft is clearly playing catch up to a more innovative design team.

Firefox has a built-in spell checker.

This can be very useful if you are filling out forms online, writing messages in a Webmail interface, etc. I'm using it to check this very blog posting.

Firefox has a built-in RSS Feed reader called Live Bookmarks.

You are using RSS to follow all these fun and useful SCLS blog posts, right?

Firefox security is generally much better than Internet Explorer.

No network software is bulletproof. There are even malware attacks out there that are specific to Firefox. However, in terms of the severity and frequency of vulnerabilities, Firefox has a pretty good track record. IE... not so much, really.

Firefox does not support ActiveX plugins.

OK, this one is kind of a double-edged sword. ActiveX is a closed, proprietary Microsoft technology that only IE fully supports, although some alternative browsers also do support it to some extent. Firefox does not even try, as a matter of principle.

ActiveX-based plugins are required to use some Web site interfaces, including the LibraryOnline reports module (via the Crystal Reports ActiveX plugin) and parts of AncestryPlus (via the Enhanced Image Viewer). So you might easily see non-support of ActiveX as a big negative for Firefox if you rely on those features or other ActiveX-dependent sites.

I view it as a big plus. The Internet was designed to have many heterogeneous pieces snap together seamlessly using open standards. It should be a place where anyone can play if they just follow the rules. Requiring a closed, proprietary piece for some Web application to work (especially a piece that is only available for some kinds of platforms), is considered by many to be a serious design flaw.

So I applaud Mozilla for their "just say no to closed systems" stance, even if it means Firefox cannot fully access some Web sites. Besides, I can still open ActiveX-dependent sites quite easily from within Firefox. I just right click and choose Open link target in IE from the context menu, a feature provided by the IE View extension.

Update on the LINK Thunderbird Migration Project & Some FAQs

In June, Automation will be moving out of Thunderbird email pilot testing and into the first round of LINK library Eudora email migrations.  We wanted to share with you some background information as well as some things that you can expect when your library migrates to Thunderbird.  More complete information will be shared with you when your library gets closer to migrating to Thunderbird.


Each library will have one to two “migration mentors” (MnMs).  The MnMs will be the first to migrate to Thunderbird at your library.  When the rest of the library’s staff migrates to Thunderbird, your MnMs will be the first “go to” people if/when you have migration and Thunderbird questions.  The MnMs will be responsible for ensuring that all staff have completed their migrations within 4 weeks from when your library starts the migration process.  Please make their jobs easier by trying to migrate sooner into the 4 week stretch than later.  The MnMs will also be responsible for ensuring that your Business email accounts are migrated to Thunderbird, e.g. “Bounced” or “Ill” email accounts.

Are you a “roaming” Eudora email user? A roaming Eudora email user is someone who has a personal Eudora email account on more than one LINK PC.  If you are a roaming email user, you’ll have to make a decision before you begin the migration process to Thunderbird:

a. Is the mail on each PC so unique that you will want to preserve its uniqueness during the Thunderbird migration? or

b. Does one PC have a Eudora account that has everything you need (like a “primary” Eudora account PC) and that installation of Eudora can be replicated to all other PCs with your email account ("secondary" Eudora accounts) without risk of loosing anything important?

If you answered "a", "Each PC has ‘unique’ email”:
At the time of your migration, you will be responsible for migrating each of your Eudora accounts.  You’ll perform the same Thunderbird migration and configuration procedure on each PC that has a Eudora email account of yours.

If you answered "b", "I have one ‘Primary’ email PC and other ‘Secondary’ ones”:
Prior to migrating to Thunderbird and as soon as possible once your library has been given the “green light” to start migrating to Thunderbird, contact the Help Desk to schedule a date and time to migrate your “secondary” email accounts for you immediately after you’ve migrated your “primary” email account.  Note: There are approximately 600 email accounts that will be migrated this summer so the sooner you schedule with the Help Desk to assist you in your migration, the better.

Why is each library being given 4 weeks to migrate to Thunderbird and will it really take that long?  Each library will have 4 weeks to complete their Thunderbird migrations.  It will take 1 – 1.5 hours to migrate one email account so smaller libraries may be able to complete the migrations within one or two days.  Having a finite window to complete the migration will enhance Help Desk support services to you, especially when 52 sites will be doing the same thing as you.

What happens once the Thunderbird migration project is completed?

  • Once the Thunderbird migration project is completed (September 18, 2009), all Help Desk support for Eudora will cease.  That is why it is important to attend to all email accounts by migrating, archiving or deleting them before then.
  • As LINK PCs are replaced, Automation staff will not copy Eudora files to new PCs unless you followed the archive instructions. 
  • New email services will start to become available (such as web mail).