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Bye, bye Eudora

Thanks to all of your efforts, the Thunderbird migration project is nearly complete.  Please keep in mind that Automation will stop offering support for Eudora after Friday, September 18.  That is why it is important to attend to all email accounts by migrating, archiving or deleting them before then.  As LINK Astro2 PCs are replaced, Automation staff will not copy Eudora files to new PCs unless you followed the archive instructions.

As far as "What's next?", new email services will start to become available (such as web mail) later this fall.  We’ll continue to keep you posted!

Lazarus - Restore Lost Forms with a Single Click (A Firefox Add-on)

In his Firefox is your Friend post, Greg mentioned that there are hundreds of FREE Add-ons that enhance the functionality of Firefox.  One of the coolest is Lazarus.  The current version doesn't bring people back from the dead. (Although maybe they are working on a paid version that does...)

What does Lazarus Do? (Directly from the people who make it)

Ever had one of those "oh $*#@" moments when you realize you've just lost half an hour of your life because something went wrong while you were entering stuff into a web form and there doesn't seem to be any way to recover it? If so, you need Lazarus. If not, install it anyway, before disaster strikes!

Lazarus securely saves forms as you type, allowing you to safely recover your lost work after server timeouts, network issues, browser crashes, power failures, and all the other things that can go wrong while you're entering forms, editing content, writing webmail, etc, etc, etc..

How to get Lazarus (Firefox Only)

  1. Click Here
  2. Click the green "Add to Firefox button"
  3. Click the "Allow" button in the upper right of the screen
  4. Click "Install Now"
  5. Restart Firefox

You can now use Lazarus by right clicking a web form and choose recover text or recover form!

For info on how to use Lazarus or if the "Click Here" link in step #1 doesn't work go to http://lazarus.interclue.com/

One Minute Critic

What can you tell your patrons in 60 seconds? Can you give them a quick book review? Highlight some of the items in your collection?

Both! (and probably many, many other things)

Check out the One Minute Critic, courtesy of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. So far there have been 2 "One Minute Critic" events at Vancouver Community library where people from the community are invited to participate and record their own reviews.

For a complete collection of past postings, see the One Minute Critic blog (vlog?) where you will also find a page with tips about making your own video.

How could short videos be used by your library?

2009 LINK PC Ordering Moratorium

Because of an upcoming move to a new building in November, the LINK PC ordering moratorium for 2009 will come earlier than usual.  All orders for new PCs should be placed by the end of the day on Friday, October 16th.  Any orders received by Automation after the October 16th deadline may not be placed, installed or invoiced to the library until 2010.  If you know that you will be pOptiplex 760urchasing PCs in 2009, please consider placing your order sooner rather than later.  There are 700+ LINK PCs and 2 people for field work in 6 counties.  We would welcome the opportunity to pace the PC orders, preparations and installations over the next four months.

Automation recommends replacing 20% of your PCs each year.  Following a 5-year rotation plan ensures that your library will not be replacing a large number of PCs in one budget period.  Please see your library's Workstation Status Report to help guide you in placing your orders.

PCs with a red birth date are at least 5 years old and obsolete.  These PCs should be replaced.  PCs with an orange birth date are at least 3 years old and may be nearing obsolescence.  The PCs closing in on the 5-year obsolescence mark are also strong candidates for replacement.

Please submit your orders from the PC Order Form or call the Help Desk if you have questions about the ordering process.

How are we doing? Comment by August 28 for a chance to win!

Comment How-Are-We-Doing Comment Contest

We started TechBits 6 months ago as a resource for learning and sharing emerging tech trends, tips & tricks, how-tos, and technology projects happening within SCLS. Now we'd like you to review our performance—and to make it worth your while, we have a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate for one lucky winner! 

Let us know how we're doing by leaving a comment telling us:

  • which TechBits tips you've put to good use in your library or life
  • any technologies you still struggle with
  • topics you'd like us to cover in the future

Official Rules: To enter, leave a comment on this post by August 28 and tell us how we're doing. (Email subscribers—don't forget to visit the TechBits website to post a comment). Provide your real e-mail address so we can get in touch with you later (it will not be posted on the Internet). And you must be an employee of a South Central Library System member library to win.  The winner will be announced on this blog.

We look forward to your comments!

"I can see clearly now..."

"...the rain has gone." "Bright Sunshiny Day" from the movie Cool Runnings

It used to be when your monitor got to the point where you couldn’t stand the dust and smudges you could just grab the Windex bottle and a couple of paper towels and you were good to go.  Something being stubborn?  Little bit of elbow grease and maybe a bit more Windex.  But that was back when a bulky old monitor took up a couple square feet on your desk.

Unlike the bulky old CRT monitors, you can’t just grab whatever cleaner and a paper towel to clean your LCD “flat panel” monitor.  The screen on an LCD isn’t glass like the old CRTs but softer plastic instead so you’ve got to be more careful with them.  So how do you go about cleaning the screen of the dust and fingerprints that accumulate?

What do you need?:

  • A soft, lint free cloth
  • Water (distilled is better)
  • LCD screen "wiper" or "brush" (optional)
  • LCD screen cleaner (optional, if using LCD cleaning wipes, you don't need the cloth)

Clean your LCD monitor screen:

  1. To wipe dust off of the monitor you can use one of the fuzzy “screen wipers” or “screen brushes” or just a soft, dry cloth to lightly brush off the screen.
  2. If there are fingerprints or other marks that don’t come off with just a brushing, you can use a slightly moistened cloth to wipe the monitor.
  3. Never use glass cleaner or any cleaner with ammonia on LCD monitors.  You need to use a cleaner that’s specially made for LCD monitors or just stick with water (distilled works better than tap). 
  4. Never use paper towels.  Use a clean, soft cloth.  Microfiber or eyeglass cleaning cloths work well but so will almost any soft cotton cloth.  You’ll want it as close to lint free as possible.
  5. If you are using a spray, do not spray the monitor directly.  Spray the cloth instead.  The cloth should only be lightly damp to make sure you don't get cleaning solution/water into the monitor.
  6. Lightly wipe, do not press or rub hard.  LCD monitors can be damaged by pressing too hard.

Some people also say that you can use a 50/50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and water or 50/50 white vinegar and water to clean your monitors but there were claims that either of these can damage some monitor coatings.  Since there is conflicting information on whether or not these will damage the screen, it’s probably best to stick with either plain water or a screen cleaner specifically made for LCD monitors.  

Who ya gonna call?

"If there's something strange in your neighborhood... if there's something weird and it don't look good..."

If you need help with spooks, the answer is clearly "Ghostbusters!" (Ack! Just by typing that, I can tell I've doomed myself to a day of Ray Parker Jr. singing in my head)

For non-spook, SCLS help, we have contact information by name:

But did you know that we also have Topical Directories for when you don't know exactly who you should call?

Now... who ya gonna call (or email or IM)?

Resume templates and Google Docs

I just learned (thanks to the Winnefox Library System's "Library Sparks" blog) that Google Docs has resume and cover letter templates. There are a handful of different templates (with descriptions, preview option and ratings by users) and it seems like a promising option for internet PCs that don't have Microsoft Word...


Using Google Docs Resume Templates (courtesy of Bright Hub)

Have you tried Google Docs resume and cover letter templates? Have your patrons tried them? Any feedback? Are there other sites you'd recommend for online resume and/or cover letter creation?

Do you want to learn a magic trick?

Magician_rabbit_hat In less than a minute you can convert word or PDF documents to another format that is more usable to you. Let's say you received an email with a .docx extension but you don't have the Microsoft Office 2007 compatibility pack installed on your PC and you'reusing an older version of Microsoft Office, or you have a word document you want to convert to a PDF file but don't have a PDF creator installed on your PC. What can you do that doesn't require you to figure out what software you need to download and install? You can use Zamzar! It's a website that takes your files, converts them to the format you desire, and emails it back to you in under a minute for free. It's not just for document conversions either: you can convert image and music files too.

Zamzar is easy to use.

  • Select the file or files you wish to convert.
  • Select the format you want it converted to.
  • Enter your email address.
  • Click convert.
  • Check your email to retrieve your converted file.

Thanks to Marilyn at STO for telling me about this site.

Toggle to desktop

You know that little icon in the Quick Launch menu that toggles you to the Desktop? I somehow accidentally deleted mine (don't ask me how... I seem to have a knack). I use it all the time, and I want it back!

Here's how to re-create it:

Type Notepad in the box and hit Enter
In Notepad, type (or copy and paste) this text:


File->Save As...

Save the file to the desktop as Show Desktop.scf

There should now be a "Show Desktop" icon on the desktop. I can drag it to the Quick Launch, and I'm back in business!

Alternatives to the Show Desktop icon include:

  • Press the Windows logo key+D on your keyboard
  • Right-click the Windows taskbar, and then click Show the Desktop