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Printing out in Anzio

First off let me explain what Anzio is as I know a lot of you call it by different names.  The ILS system that we use is called Dynix and in order to use it you need a program that allows you to get into it.  This program is called AnzioWin or just Anzio for short.  Anzio is the connection between your PC and the Dynix server.  Anzio like most other Windows software packages has a menu bar across the top that gives you a lot of features.  The ones I would like to discuss today is the print options that allow you to print to a wide variety of printers.

Before I get into printer settings within Anzio I want to talk about your PC's default printer.  The default printer for your PC should be set to the printer that you print to most and is set within Windows.  You can check to see what your default printer is by doing the following:

1. Click on the Start button in the lower left corner of your screen
2. Click on Settings
3. Click on Printers and Faxes
4. Look for the printer that has a black circle with a white check mark in it by it  Default_Printer

This is the printer that is set as your default printer.  If you want to change your default printer you can find the instructions to change it here.

Now on to printing within Anzio.  Your PC's default printer is the printer that Anzio is going to print to by default; big surprise.  Anzio allows you to print to a receipt printer, spine label printer or a regular printer, like a LaserJet or DeskJet printer.  The unfortunate part of this is that you need to change some Anzio settings when printing back and forth between the first two printers and the regular printer.  The way to change the Anzio settings for any of these printers is as follows:

  1. In the Anzio window click the File menu item


  2. Select Printer Setup


  3. Choose the printer you want to print to
    1. For a receipt printer or a spine label printer you would choose Generic / Text Only
    2. For a regular printer choose the printer by its name
  4. Click Print button (doesn't actually print anything; really just like an OK button)
  5. In the Anzio window click the File menu item
  6. Make sure Print Wizard is off


    1. If it's on it will have a check mark in front of it
    2. Clicking it will toggle it between on and off

  7. In the Anzio window click the File menu item
  8. Select Print Level


    Note: If all of these are grayed out then you still have Print Wizard on
    1. For a receipt printer or a spine label printer choose Raw
    2. For a regular printer choose High
  9. You are now ready to print

That's it, easy right?  Well, if you do have some problems with these steps you can feel free to call the Help Desk and we'll be glad to assist you.

Delightfully Easy Diagrams

I feel so silly!  For the last umpteen years, I've been making organizational and flow charts and other diagrams in Word the old fashioned way:   by drawing individual shapes and connecting them with lines.   I just discovered today that there is a much easier way to create much better diagrams in Word, and how you do it depends on your version.

If you're using Word 2003, you can add a diagram by going to the "Insert" menu and choosing "Diagram".  You then choose the type of diagram you want to make, click "OK", and add text to the diagram word creates for you.  It's pretty slick.

But Word 2007 makes it even slicker!  There is a new feature called "Smart Art" found on the Insert Tab.  If you click the button, you'll find all of the same diagram types that were in Word 2003 and then some.  You can format the diagrams in many ways, and there are cool diagrams to choose from, like gears and funnels!

The coolest part, though, is that some of the diagrams use an outline for you to finish the diagram. It looks like this:


As you type in the outline, the diagram adjusts, changing the text, making the appropriate levels, changing the text size on all of the boxes if you type too much text to fit in any one box, and makes coffee (just kidding about the coffee part....).  You can easily change colors and formatting with one click in the ribbon.  It is AWESOME.  I can't wait to play around with it some more.

Giving Thunderbird New Wings

Some folks are a little disappointed when they figure out that Thunderbird actually looks and behaves a whole lot like Eudora. For many users, the difference seems little more than cosmetic. So, what's the big deal?

Most fundamentally, the big deal is that Eudora is obsolete and Thunderbird isn't, which ultimately affects the cost of support. And we always want to lower costs, especially in today's economy.

But the big deal is more than that. Thunderbird has features that open up new possibilities for email services. The migration to Thunderbird is only the first of several stages towards improving and diversifying the email services that SCLS provides. You'll be hearing much more about that soon.

In the meantime, you yourself can enhance Thunderbird with just a few clicks. Just like Firefox, Thunderbird supports Add-Ons that give it additional capabilities. Below is a quick overview of a few Thunderbird add-ons that I find priceless.

Lightning and Provider

The Lightning extension for Thunderbird adds a calendar and To-Do list minder to your email client. It lets you easily store private calendar data locally, or access iCal-compatible systems on the Web. When Lightning is combined with Provider for Google Calendar, it lets you integrate both public and password-protected calendars hosted by Google.

This convergence of email and time management exists in other products like Outlook/Exchange and Google Apps, but I personally find the Thunderbird/Lightning/Provider combination to be superior. I use these tools every day and don't know how I managed without them.

Allow HTML Temp

Call me old school. Call me a curmudgeonly luddite. I don't care, I truly believe that the combination of email and HTML is a blight upon the earth, an abomination.

HTML inside email is totally inefficient, highly unsafe and often rather unsightly. So as both a PC safety measure (strong protection against spam, phishing and malware) and for my own sanity, I always read my email with Thunderbird configured not to render HTML. If you're interested, this is done with View > Message Body As... > Plain Text

Well sooner or later, along comes a message from the opposing camp, from someone (typically from a commercial vendor's marketing department) who thinks that HTML in email is the bee's knees and the one true way. Their message to me is all HTML and hardly any plain text or even none at all; "Click here if you can't read this"? Doh!

So I can't read this message without changing my settings. Then later, I have to remember to change them back. Or, I can just click the "Show HTML" button provided in the Thunderbird toolbar by the Allow HTML Temp extension. This causes the HTML in the message I'm currently reading to be rendered, but it lets me keep my preferred View configuration set to Plain Text. Only this message gets rendered, and only once.

I hardly ever actually use this add-on, but when it's needed I really enjoy its ease of use.

Quick Access to the SCLS Status Page

The  SCLS Status Page page allows you to see which SCLS technology services are unavailable or have “issues” in almost real time.  When “something” doesn’t appear to be functioning normally (in a BIG way like all staff PCs have no Dynix access, there is no Internet access, there is no email access or a database is unavailable), please check the status page first.  Also if there is a known issue and you want up-to-date information, go there first. 


Because the status page is such a handy tool (when needed), consider making it a Favorite in your browser or dragging a shortcut from the browser’s address bar and dropping it on your desktop.  If you chose the “drag the shortcut” option, just click on the icon to the left of the address in the address bar and drag the icon to your desktop.  Voila! You now have an SCLS status page shortcut on your desktop.

Library Online training sessions

There are two online training sessions on Library Online scheduled for August:

Wed, 8/12 at 9am - Library Online Basics. An overview of Library Online for staff that may not have gone through training when your library originally went to Library Online. We'll cover why we use Library Online, where to find information and help, how to make reservations, and how to accomplish various tasks in the admin site.

Wed, 8/19 at 9am - Library Online 3.7. This session will run through some of the changes that happened when we upgraded the Library Online servers to version 3.7. Topics will include Time Slot Manager, Patron Status Report, Deleting No-Shows, and more. This will also be an opportunity for staff to ask questions about the new features and changes in interface. 

We'll be recording both sessions and will make the recordings available for anyone that couldn't attend. If you have questions you already know you'd like to ask at the 3.7 session, please send them to Kerri ahead of time or leave them in the comments (then we'll be sure to have the right answer for the session)!

Then, depending on how the online sessions go... we may have a Users' Group meeting sometime in September to discuss the upcoming 3.7 client changes and how libraries might use the 3.7 changes and features at their libraries.

Just Drop It

I have a collection of pictures (or files or videos or songs or notes). I want you to see them. They will *totally* clog up your inbox. What can I do?Drop

This was the situation I was faced with a few weeks ago. To the rescue....semi-permanent storage and sharing with Drop.io!

No need to sign up for an account and provide all sorts of personal info. Just...

  • go to http://drop.io/
  • customize the "drop" url
  • select the photos (or files) to upload
  • decide how long to keep it active and whether guests can add, comment or delete (optional)
  • click "drop it"
  • add an admin password (for future modifications)

and Whammo! Instant storage that can be shared as you like.

Here is a 3-minute video that highlights some of the many things you can do with Drop.io (pictures, music, links, comments, email alerts, RSS feeds, and phone access just to name a few...) and their FAQ.

Possible use - allowing multiple people that normally might not all share an account to all contribute content.  Example - my friend went on a vacation with several other friends. They set up a drop, gave the password to each of the vacationers, and everyone uploaded their pictures to a single place where they could share them with each other but not with the world.

Want to see the end result of a simple Drop.io?
Here's a drop just for Techbits readers.  Password: techbits.

Backing Up Your Files

If you save business-critical files on your PC, it is highly recommended that you back up your data regularly.  Data can be lost from your PC for various reasons ranging from hardware failure to a power outage.  In some cases, Automation staff may be able to recover data from a failing PC.  In more severe cases, your data could be irrecoverable without the assistance of an expensive data recovery service.1569708

You have some options when it comes to choosing a backup device.  The 3.5" floppy disk is no longer practical for most users.  They generally have a storage capacity of only 1.44MB and they are not very reliable.  Automation doesn't even require a floppy disk drive now for new PC purchases.  Here are some more practical backup options:

  1. Writable CD/DVD:  Many LINK staff stations have a CD or DVD burner.  Blank CDs and DVDs are fairly inexpensive and can hold up to 700MB and 4.7GB of data respectively.  This is probably the cheapest option if you want to make several backups of the same data.  Microsoft has some simple instructions for copying files to a CD.
  2. USB Thumb Drive:  These are fast, cheap, portable and usually don't require any extra software to be loaded on the PC.  4GB thumb drives cost less than $20 these days.  The biggest problems with thumb drives are that they break easily and they are easy to misplace.  This is probably not the best option for backing up important/confidential data.
  3. USB Hard Drive:  They have a much greater storage capacity than the thumb drive.  The Western Digital Passport holds 250GB and costs $80.  Many USB hard drives, like this one, are portable because they do not require an external power supply.
  4. File Share:  A file share should be hosted by a newer PC that is almost always powered on.  They can only be set up by Automation staff.  One PC hosts the share and desktop shortcuts to the share are created on the PCs that need access.  It is important that someone backs up the file share regularly.

Backup Suggestions on the Automation site lists some of the common files and folders that you should consider backing up regularly.

Not going to ALA this year?

Photo of the ALA conference image on a computer screen If you're feeling blue about missing ALA's annual conference this year (or any other conference), take heart. You don't always have to go to the conference to find out what went on:

  • Check whether there is a "virtual" conference that you could attend from your desk. ALA is offering a virtual conference option—still pricey, and it doesn't include all the sessions, but at least it cuts out travel expenses.
  • Look for people blogging about the sessions. A few library bloggers have noted their intent to blog the conference on the ALA conference wiki, and I'll be watching the LITA blog for summaries of the some of the tech sessions. (If you know of a great blogger who plans to liveblog the conference, let us know in the comments.)
  • Follow the conference on Twitter. You can see people posting about ALA by searching Twitter for "ala2009."
  • Look for presenters who post their slides or handouts online before or after the fact—start with the ALA Conference Materials Archive. (Note that links in the archive for some of the days may not be working.  As far as I can tell this is because materials haven't been posted yet for that day.)

If you have other tips for keeping up on conferences from afar, let us know in the comments!

Managing Spaghetti

If you’ve ever felt like one good bump to your desk and they’ll need Indiana Jones to find you, I can definitely relate.  I remember some of my teachers gushing how computers were going to give rise to the “paperless office” and that everyone’s clutter problems would somehow be solved.  Maybe we’ll get there some day but right now there are days I swear the only thing computers did was to make it easier to print documents and give me even more stuff to stick on/under my desk as well. 

Now, as my desk can attest to, I’m not really qualified to give people advice on dealing with lots of paper clutter.  I can, however, give advice on dealing with some of the clutter associated with the PC.

Cable ties are your friend                                                    Spoon

This is one of the simple, inexpensive* changes you can make though it might require getting a bit dusty  to get it done.  PCs and all the other equipment that’s often attached to them spawn a horde of cables of all different lengths.  Sometimes you’ve got just enough cable to get the device plugged in, other times you’ve got a couple spare feet of cable bunched up on the desk, behind the desk or under the desk waiting for you to catch your foot on it or roll the book cart over it.  Using cable ties to coil up any excess cable and to attach the cables to furniture or even just to each other can clean up a lot of the spaghetti.  Cable ties can be as simple as twist ties to color coded Velcro ones. 

Twist ties are often the cheapest of the lot, they're slim and they can be removed and reused.  They’re not the strongest though, the most common size is kind of short for binding multiple cables and they will wear out after a while.  Zip ties are strong, slim and quick and easy to install.  They’re one use only though and taking them off can be a problem.  You’ll need to be careful if you have to cut off the zip tie to make sure you don’t accidentally get the cables or, if you used the tie to attach cables to something, whatever is underneath.  Velcro ties are more expensive than the other two and can be a bit bulkier, especially if you had to wrap them around a couple of times, but they are the easiest to remove and reuse.  

No matter what you use, you’re going to want to use as few of them as possible.  While “how to organize” picture will often show really tidy cable photos where everything is neatly bound on top of the desk, to the desk every few inches and then again before it gets to the PC, I’ve found that’s only a good idea if you know you’re not going to need to take it apart anytime soon.  Remember that anything you bound together sooner or later will need to be taken apart.  Oh, and from personal experience, make sure you leave enough cord out so you can move your mouse freely. 

Label those cables

If you’ve ever tried to do the “you tug on this end and I’ll crawl under the desk and see what moves” maneuver to try and figure out just which one of that mess of cables is the one you’re looking for, you know how frustrating it can be to find the right cable to unplug.  One suggestion is to try sticking a label on the end of the cable.  If you’ve ever taken a look at the plug end of the power cords for LINK telecom equipment, you’ll notice there are tags attached to the cables to tell you which cord is which. 

The labels can be anything from short color or number coded Velcro strips wrapped around the end, a label printed from a label printer if you’ve got one or simple as a small piece of paper with a number or color dot on it taped to the end of the cord.  You don’t have to stick the label entirely on the cord either.  It may be easier to create a small “flag” and just attach one edge to the cord. 

While you may still have to crawl under the desk to get close enough to read the label, at least you won’t have to try the tug and see game.  If you do go the number/color route, you should either have a standard that everyone knows or have a way to look up which one is which.  It doesn't help you much if you crawl under the desk and then don't know which of the labels is the cable you want either.

These are a couple of simple, inexpensive projects you can do to help make your life a little easier and keep cords from where they can cause you problems as well.

*While you can buy twist ties in bulk, I was thinking more of the ones that are free off of bread, toys, etc.  Zip ties run about $4-$5 for 50, depending on whether you want a single or multi-colored ones. Velcro ties are a little more expensive.  Eight colored ones will cost around $5 but 50 black ones are only around $6.

Just for fun:  While this is a bit extreme, here are a few people who took the idea of getting their PC related clutter off their desks very seriously.  I especially like “Van Mardian’s Decluttered Computer Desk”

We're in the Tip Jar!

I just read a Wall Street Journal article about the new "Tip Jar" site that Google rolled out. Users may submit money-saving tips in a variety of categories. Users can vote on the tips they like and over time the popular ones float to the top.

Could be cool. Library

What's *definitely* cool is that at the top of the "At Home" category, the most popular tip is about using your public library! (click on image to see full-size)

Could libraries use this to let people know about other good deals they provide? DVDs, audiobooks, access to online databases and other services, free programs, public computers... the list of ways to save money at the library goes on and on!