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Thunderbird’s carousel feature with an emphasis on Favorite Folders

Have you ever noticed that set of arrows, < >, above your folder pane to the right of the “All Folders” text in Thunderbird?  Even if you have, did you know that it’s more than ‘just show’?   Serially clicking on an arrow gives you a carousel of options:

  • All Folders SmCarrousel
  • Recent Folders
  • Favorite Folders
  • Unread Folders

“Favorite Folders” can be a real time saver especially if you have more than one screen’s length of folders to regularly navigate and some of your favs are near the bottom.

Viewing “Favorite” Folders:
In order to view your Favorite Folders, you must first designate them.  To designate a Favorite Folder, right click on a folder of interest and select “Favorite Folder”.  (This doesn’t move the folder, it just adds it to a “virtual list” so to speak).  Now, click a “carousel arrow” until you get to the Favorite Folders zone.  Voila!

Removing a “Favorite” Folder from the list:
The easiest way to remove a favorite folder is to be in the Favorite Folders zone.  Then, right click the folder that’s gotta go and select “Favorite Folder”.  The folder entry won’t “disappear’ from the list until you leave and return to Favorite Folders.

Cautionary notes:

  1. If you’re in the habit of using nested folders, creating a Favorite folder will only make the selected folder a “Favorite”.  Subfolders will not appear in “Favorites” unless you specifically make them Favorites too.  
  2. Even if you do make subfolders Favorites as well, please be aware that the nested relationship is lost when in Favorite view.
  3. Remember to move the carousel back to “All Folders” view once you’re done working in the “Favorite Folders” zone.TBa

Wolfram|Alpha Computational Knowledge Engine

Wolfram|Alpha was recently voted the top new innovation in the world of computing for 2009 by Popular Science.  It's different than a search engine because it generates answers instead of a list of sites that may have the answer.  You enter a question or calculation and Wolfram|Alpha uses over 50,000 types of algorithms to present information using text, graphs, tables, charts and maps.

By entering "sodium Diet Coke," Wolfram|Alpha was able to tell me there are 35mg of sodium in a 12-oz can of Diet Coke.  I was able to confirm this by looking at the can on my desk.

By entering "GDP Liberia," I was given the GDP of Liberia and historical data of its GDP.

Wolfram|Alpha can handle some more complicated questions as well.  For instance, when I entered "weather Honolulu when Barack Obama was born," I was told the average temperature, humidity and wind speed in Honolulu on August 4th, 1961.

The site will get confused on some of the questions and calculations you enter.  It is a work in progress that will only get smarter as time passes.  I recommend watching the instructional screencast for tips on how to use the site.

Get your name on the list

No clipboard needed for email lists! SCLS has a lot of email lists! If you're wondering how to get your name on some of them, here's how:

  1. Go to the master list of all SCLS email lists
  2. Click the link for a list you want to join (example:  scls-announce)
  3. Fill out the subscription form for the list and submit your info
  4. Watch for an email from the list—some lists will subscribe you automatically, while others will ask you to confirm that you really, truly want to subscribe before putting you on the list

Don't let "closed list" scare you off if there is one you want to join! If a list says it's "closed," it just means that your subscription request has to get ok'd by the person who manages the list. We especially recommend:

link-announce (for LINK libraries)
link-discuss (for LINK libraries)

spell check

Spellcheck Did you know that Firefox has a handy-dandy built-in spell checker? It's great for catching spelling mistakes when writing emails online or composing blog posts.

From the Firefox help:

"Firefox automatically checks the spelling of words that you enter in text boxes containing more than one line. As soon as you finish typing a word, it is checked against the words in the installed dictionary. If the word is not found in the dictionary, it will be underlined in red..."

If only Firefox's spell checker could be used on EVERYTHING...

Picasa (by Google) - A great way to organize and share pictures

My wife and I are expecting our first child in March. Let me clarify, this will be the first grandchild for both sides of our families. Another twist is that her parents live in California. The final issue is that her family is picture crazy. Do you see where I'm going with this? I need a fast, easy, and free way to organize all of our pictures and then share across the country. After searching the web I found my solution: Picasa.

Picasa is a free download from Google. I could talk for hours about it but I'll keep this short. Here's a list of my favorite features:

  • Find and organize all the pictures on your pc! No more looking through folder after folder.
  • Easily share pictures online with specific people, groups of people or the entire world, it's up to you!
  • Viewing pics online using the full-screen slideshow option is awesome!
  • Upload original size pics to Picasa Web Albums! Makes printing quality MUCH better.
  • People you share pics with can send them to Walgreens, etc for prints! Essential for Grandparents.

I can't cover all the awesome features in this post but make sure to watch this video introduction (it's for an older version but you'll get the idea) Here are some really good Picasa how to videos for more info. Oh, before I forget, there is a 1GB limit for pictures stored online but for $5/year you can make that 20GB (Enough for 10,000 pics)

P.S. While this will be our first human child we do have two yellow labs...do they count as kids? You decide...

Our baby for now - Sandy

Online Manuals

Mower001 I recently acquired a second-hand lawn mower for which I didn’t have an owners manual to see how to operate the thing properly without damaging the mower.  I turned to Google to find the manual but in the course of searching I came across a couple of useful sites that I have since used then to find owners manuals for other things.

Manualsonline and SafeManuals both offer hundreds of thousands of manuals for almost any gadget, except my 1977 Lawn-Boy walk behind.  I began searching for manuals for other devices I own, and I was able to find them for all of my computers hardware, cell phones, and digital cameras on one or both of these sites. What I like about searching on these sites versus searching Google is I don’t have to sort through all the links that turn out to be duds or require some sort of sign-up.

A delicious way to keep things

As some of you may know, I have a hard time keeping track of things. funny-pictures-cat-searches-for-a-fileMy desk is often buried under paperwork because I just can't decide how to file it (under "X"? or "Y"? or "Z"?). I used to have the same problem filing websites I wanted to bookmark, but now I use Delicious.com.

Delicious.com is a social bookmarking site which allows Internet users to save bookmarks to a public website and describe them with tags.

Here are some links to very good explanations of social bookmarking:

How I use it: I added a bookmarklet to my browser that lets me click on a button to bookmark a website. A window pops up that allows me to add notes about the site, add tags (keywords), and save it to my Delicious account. Later, I can use these tags to easily find these bookmarks again.

Why I like it:

  • A single bookmark can have multiple tags, allowing me to find it many ways.
  • There's a simple way to share bookmarks with other Delicious users.
  • I have access to all my bookmarks from any PC that can access delicious.com.
  • Bookmarks can be private or public.

If you use Delicious, I would recommend periodically backing up your Delicious bookmarks to make sure you have a copy if anything should happen to the service. Although Delicious is probably *the* leading social bookmarking service (and was purchased by Yahoo), unexpected things happen and it never hurts to have a backup!

If you're already using Delicious and are interested in doing more with it, check out the Project Play "Do More with Delicious" post.  If you're interested in how libraries are using Delicious, check out this post from the Delaware Division of Libraries.

How to define a function key in Anzio

If you find yourself entering the same keystrokes over and over in Dynix, you may want to define some function keys. A single function key can replace a long, complicated series of keystrokes for you.

A lot of libraries use a function key to log in to Dynix. This can save a lot of time and headaches, but this can cause a problem if the function keys definition file gets corrupted or your password changes. If new employees only know how to log into Dynix with a function key, they will have trouble logging in without it. Also, if you define a function key wrong it could cause havoc to your Dynix session. I’ve had some calls where people have somehow redefined a normal key to be something else and now they can’t get their work done in Anzio. You also have to be careful when choosing a key to define. Make sure you do not define Alt-F4 as this key combination closes whatever program you are currently in. The F1-F4, F7-F9 keys should not be defined on PCs that use Acquisitions. These keys all correspond to certain functions in the Acquisitions module.

For the complete instructions, please see the Automation Troubleshooting page. Please feel free to share some of the other key sequences you define at your library to help save time.  Please don't share your login information though.

Get a taste of the mobile web, without the mobile phone

Cellphonegirl Right now the vast majority of library website traffic comes from regular computers using Internet Explorer,  Firefox, Safari or Chrome. That's not likely to change, but cell phones are beginning to show up in the traffic to SCLS member library websites too. (Who knew?)

Don't panic!
It's not time to launch a mobile version of your library's website. If your library's website is getting any cell phone traffic at all, the numbers are still very, very small. (Want to know more about statistics for your library's website?  Let me know!)

If you want to see what cell phone visitors see...
Luckily, you don't need a fancy new phone to see how your library website (or any other website) looks on an itty, bitty phone browser. Take a peek with "simulator" versions of two popular phone browsers: the TestiPhone.com iPhone Simulator or the Opera Mini Simulator

(Of course, simulators are no substitute for testing with real phones, but they're quite a bit cheaper!)