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Upcoming Database Training: BadgerLunch Webinar Series

Photo of a badger holding a lunch bag

Did you panic when BadgerLink announced the list of databases that would be included in its 2009-2010 offerings? There are a lot of new databases, which means more options to know about.  Get ready to use them with the BadgerLunch Webinar Series, covering databases for Newspapers & History, Science & Technology, and Money & Business.

Each hour-long session will be held online at noon each Thursday, starting in October and running through December. BadgerLink provides the training... you provide the lunch!

Registration is required, so sign up for the sessions to improve your knowledge of key databases.

Did you know?

A great video (<5min) that highlights some of the changes in how we communicate and use media.

What do these changes mean for libraries and the way we connect with and help our patrons?

Keyboard Ickyness

Dirty Keyboard

Did you know that a study from the University of Arizona found more germs per inch on a keyboard or a mouse than on a toilet seat?  And not just a few more but many times more.  Yuck! 

Unfortunately most keyboards just don’t react well to a bath.  Nor do they really react well to bleaching.  And washing your hands after each and every time you touch your keyboard or mouse just isn’t practical.  So what can you do?  One recommendation is to wipe down your keyboard and mouse with commercial anti-bacterial computer spray or wipes.  Instead of a commercial cleaner, you could even use something as simple as isopropyl alcohol or a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water.  (That’s a major part of what’s in a lot of the commercial cleaners anyway and it’s cheaper.)

Tips for wiping down your keyboard or mouse:

  1. It easier to wipe down the keyboard and mouse while the computer is turned off so you don’t have random keystrokes and mouse clicks doing strange things to your PC. 
  2. Make sure that whatever you’re using isn’t too wet since both keyboards and mice don’t like when liquid gets down into their insides . 
  3. If you’re using a spray, make sure to spray the cloth and not spray the keyboard or mouse directly. 
  4. Don't use any anti-bacterial computer wipes or sprays on LCD monitors unless it specifically says it’s safe. 

So how often should you wipe down your keyboard and mouse?  I looked online and opinions on that differ.  Most recommendations were for around once a week, though some recommended daily if there was a nasty illness going around the office.  Just make sure you're not doing this so often you wipe the letters off of your keyboard.

Your keyboard has 60 times more bacteria than a toilet seat!

I got this info from Charles Gerba, a microbiologist from the University of Arizona. According to Gerba an office toilet seat has 49 bacteria per square inch. Computer keyboards average about 3,295 bacteria per square inch. (Read the full article)

I know this isn't pleasant to think about but we've got to. How often do you clean the mice and keyboards in your library? I'm not talking just staff or just patron but both. It's important to clean them regularly to lower the risk of spreading all the gunk that's out there.


What is the best way to clean keyboards and mice?

  1. Disconnect the device from the computer
  2. Use an antibacterial and disinfecting wipe
  3. Plug the device back into the computer (in the same place)

How many of you take the time to clean your keyboards and mice? 

Cheating in a good way

I would love to "cheat" when using software and do *everything* with keyboard shortcuts and handy tips, but I have a hard time remembering them long enough for them to become part of my repertoire. That's why I was very excited when MakeUseOf.com recently had a post highlighting cheat sheets for common applications including:


Here are a few others not mentioned in the post that may also prove helpful:

Now I have some quick references to help me work those shortcuts into my brain!

One last thing about Digital Audiobooks -- formats and iPod compatibility.

Click to watch MP3 vs. WMA for OverDrive Audiobooks For a long time there weren't any OverDrive digital audiobook formats available for iPod users, but fortunately this is no longer the case. The Digital Download Center collection now includes iPod-compatible WMA and MP3 Audiobooks. I could write out all the differences between the MP3 and WMA formats and how to tell which formats work with which type of player, but (lucky for you) Middleton Public Library's online video tutorial "MP3 vs. WMA for OverDrive Audiobooks" does a great job explaining it. At just under 4 minutes, it's a clear, concise demo. And it's part of a collection of online video tutorials covering other OverDrive media topics, in addition to genealogy database tips. (Kudos to Middleton Public Library for providing these a great resources, and thanks to Sarah H. for reminding me they were there!)

One caveat about using iPods with downloadable media: encourage your patrons to use their home computers to transfer audiobooks to their iPods or other Apple devices. Transferring OverDrive media to Apple devices requires iTunes (in addition to the usual software required for OverDrive media), but for security reasons iTunes is not offered on LINK or SCLS-supported patron computers in libraries.

Now go on, watch the video!

Online Measurement Conversion

Millennium falcon I recently came across an awesome online converter. If you have to convert things like time, weight, volume, speed, distance, or energy you may want to take a look at this site. It's easy to use, enter in the number you want to convert in the appropriate field and hit convert. All the possible conversions for that categorey are displayed. It has many more units to convert than what I have mentioned here; it also translates Morse Code. Also Andrew likes it because it converts "parsec". I don't have any idea what that is but he quoted me some lines from Star Wars off the top of his head. He also knew in Star Wars "parsec" was used for the wrong unit of measurement.


Here is a link to the quote from "Star Wars", it is quote number 7.


Tweetin' for the library

1252427182_twitter_26There's a lot of buzz about Twitter. Even Oprah is tweeting.

But what exactly is Twitter and what are libraries doing with the service?

I ran across a wonderful article which answers those questions and even includes a section on "Twittiquette for Institutions". It's a great place to start if you are considering Twitter for your library (or if you're already tweeting and you're interested in how other libraries are using Twitter).

Twitter for Libraries (Computers in Libraries, May 2009)

Thunderbird Email Filters



Now that we’ve moved to Thunderbird I’m sure there are areas that we’d all like to know more about.  I thought that creating and using filters would be a great topic to write about.  Our old email software, Eudora, had filtering capabilities and if you were like me I had a lot of filters set up that didn’t migrate to Thunderbird.  So I had to learn how to create all 30 plus filters in Thunderbird.  What I learned I’m passing on to you in this article.

(Note: If you're using IE to view this post the pictures below will be slightly unreadable so either use Firefox or click on the picture to open a full size version of it.)


The first step is to open Thunderbird and go to Tools > Message Filters.




The screen you'll see is the Message Filters screen.  This is a view of all of the message filters that you have.  Since all new incoming email comes into the Inbox that is found under SCLS POP this what you'll want to choose in the dropdown entitled "Filters for:"., if it's not already chosen.


To make a new filter press "New".




When making a new filter the first thing you'll want to do is to give the filter a name.  So fill in whatever you want to call it in the Filter Name textbox.  Then you'll want to determine the filter criteria for the incoming messages and what action you want to take if that criteria is met.




This is what the filter rule screen should look like for your SpamAssassin filter.  When you have completed creating your filter you'll want to click on the OK button and then you'll be taken back to the Message Filters window.




You will now see your newly created SpamAssassin filter listed.  Make sure that the Enabled checkbox is checked.  If you are done creating filters you can click on the X in the upper right-hand corner of the window.  If you want to create another filter then you can start again by clicking on the New button.




You can also create a new filter from any message by right-clicking on the hyperlinked email address of the sender that appears at the top of the email between Subject and Date.  Once you do that then choose the "Create Filter From Message...." selection from the dropdown menu.  When creating a filter this way the name of the filter and the criteria is already filled in for you.  All you have to do is tell Thunderbird what action to take when this criteria is met.




Filters that are enabled will be run automatically, in the order in which they are listed in the "Message Filters" dialog ("Tools -> Message Filters..."). Note that if you set up a filter to move an incoming message to a specified folder, subsequent filters will not be automatically applied to that message once it has been moved from the Inbox. There is currently no option to have filters be applied automatically to outgoing mail.


To run filters manually on the currently opened folder, select "Tools -> Run Filters on Folder". To manually run only some of your filters rather than all of them, go to "Tools -> Message Filters...", select the filters you want to run, and click the "Run Now" button.


That’s all for filters in Thunderbird; hopefully, I answered all of your questions.  I’ll probably do another article next time about another aspect of Thunderbird.  If you have one you’re interested in knowing more about write me a comment.

Where to Find Help for Downloadable Audiobooks

Download Digital Media Last week we mentioned the Wisconsin Digital Download Center (aka OverDrive) as a service available to SCLS patrons which allows them to download audiobooks, videos, and music for use on a computer or portable device. Neat! But where can patrons get help if they get stuck?

  1. The Digital Download Center site. Its Help section is jam-packed with information about the basics, the software, and troubleshooting.
  2. The WPLC wiki. The wiki is a collection of frequently-asked questions which includes information specific to Wisconsin's OverDrive configuration and limits.
  3. The library! If a patron is unable to find a solution to their problem using either of the resources already mentioned, they can seek assistance at their local library.
  4. SCLS consultants. If you, as library staff, are unable to answer a patron's question or find the answer using these resources, the question may be referred to Rose (or Kerri, in Rose's absence). It is important to first gather as much information about the problem as possible. Please see the WPLC wiki support page for details about what information to collect.

Bonus!  OverDrive staff are pouring their love for downloadable audiobooks into the Digital Library Blog.  Check it out for a peek at their favorite books, promotional ideas, training opportunities and more.  You can also keep up with OverDrive's new developments through their Digital Dispatch newsletter.