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The Human Library: an Un-Web 2.0 Post

This post is sort of off-topic (tech-wise) but I was filled with excitement after learning about the Human Library Project this week.

What’s it like to be an immigrant, a playwright or a devout Muslim?


We tend to surround ourselves with people who act like we do, talk like we do, and share our viewpoints rather than challenge them.  Social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace make it very easy for like minded people to find each other and share common interests.  Themed websites can have a similar purpose.  Interested in hamsters?  Go here to meet Belle and her ilk.  Belle has a mini-bio and her favorite activity is running in her wheel.

But where can people have a candid chat with people they’d normally never meet?  Enter the Human Library Project.  In the Human Library, people are on loan as living books.  “Readers” can browse a list of available "books," and then sign up for their "book” for 30 – 45 minutes.  It’s an interactive way to learn about diversity and issues within our community by “checking out” people with different life experiences in an effort to understand those experiences better.

If this kind of thing catches your fancy, here are some links that delve into this more deeply:

  • Distribution: A Human Library Google map is being developed to depict its distribution throughout the world.

  • Interviews with library staff: This MP3 (18 min) is a series of 3 brief interviews with library staff throughout the world whose libraries have offered human “books”.

  • Video: Here is a video of some Human Library encounters.

  • Soliciting human “books”: A London library solicits human “books”

  • Reserve your human “book” online: A Toronto library takes online human “book” reservations.

How would a human library go over in your community?

What's cookin' in the lab?

Testtubes Google Labs is a testing ground for experimental features that Google thinks aren't quite ready for primetime. Google engineers and researches can show off their pet projects, and users can weigh in on how helpful these features are. If projects are well-received, they may eventually graduate to be included in Google's regular offerings.

Labs features are available for many Google services including Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Search, Toolbar, and YouTube. You can peruse them at http://www.googlelabs.com/, or you can see what Lab features are available for a service while you are logged in and using it. Just look for the little green beaker in the upper right corner (in Gmail, the beaker may not appear until you've already enabled a Labs feature in Settings->Labs). 


Here are just a few of the many, many Google Labs offerings...

  • Google Image Swirl - new interface for displaying image search results 
  • Google Goggles - lets you search Google using pictures taken by your Android camera phone
  • Google Fast Flip -fast overviews of headline pages of top newspapers (probably best appreciated from a device with a touch screen)
  • Gmail's Mail Goggles (hopefully we're all awake and sober enough that no one will need this one at the library!)

Fun with Firefox tabs

Firefox How many times have you accidentally closed a tab in Firefox? (I do this all the time, but maybe I'm the only one with click-happy fingers...)

Today I learned an easy way to bring back that accidentally-closed tab. Just hit Ctrl-Shift-T!

Some other handy keyboard shortcuts when working with Firefox tabs:

  • Ctrl+Tab (rotate forward among tabs)
  • Ctrl+Shft+Tab (rotate backward among tabs)
  • Ctrl + T (new tab)
  • Ctrl + [1-8] (select Tab (1 to 8))
  • Ctrl + 9 (select last Tab)
  • Ctrl + W (close the current tab. If there is only one tab left, it will close the window, exiting Firefox)

Did you know that Firefox will also let you set more than one site as your home page? Each page will open in its own tab when you start Firefox.  Instructions for how to do this can be found here on the Mozilla site.

And did you know that you can drag Firefox tabs from one Firefox window to another? Very handy if you're lucky enough to be working with multiple monitors!

How to Backup Your Thunderbird Profile

If you do not do your own data backups, there is a very good chance that you don't have a backup of your Thunderbird mail profile.  The profile contains your mail and your personalized settings.  If your PC experiences hard disk failure, you will probably lose all the important emails you have accumulated over the years.  Backing up your mail profile isn't quite as easy as it was for Eudora, but it can be done in a few steps.  Finding where your profile is stored on a PC is probably the hardest part.

Backing up Your Thunderbird ProfileToasted_PC
  1. Make sure Thunderbird is closed
  2. Click Start
  3. Click Run
  4. Type %APPDATA%
  5. Click OK
  6. In the folder that appears, double-click Thunderbird 
  7. Double-click Profiles
  8. This folder should contain one or more profile folders.  Hopefully, yours will be easy to identify by looking at what comes after the period of each of the folder names.  In most cases, you will see your name, initials, department or job title.  If your profile is not distinguishable, go onto step 9.  If you did find your profile go on to step 13.
  9. Locate your Thunderbird desktop icon
  10. Right-click the icon and select Properties
  11. Click on the Target field
  12. The path to your Thunderbird profile is shown after the text that reads -profile.  The folder name is the last part of that path.
  13. Now that you've located your profile, you can save your profile to a USB storage device or copy to a writable CD/DVD

It's a boy!

MattyI know you've all been anxiously awaiting the baby news.

We are happy to welcome the newest member of the SCLS family--- Matthew Anthony Jacobson!  He was born at 4:38pm on Friday, March 12, and was 7.7lbs and 19.5 inches long.

Dan writes,

"Both baby and momma are totally healthy. So we call him Matty now, and Matt when he's older. I think we'll reserve Matthew for when he's in big trouble! He's our bundle of joy and we both love him so very much."

Contribute Tip: Shift + Enter = Line Break with No Extra Space

This tip works in many programs, including Contribute, Microsoft Word, and TypePad. 

Image comparing effects of Enter versus Shift+Enter  

When you are typing paragraphs of text, in most situations hitting the Enter key creates a new paragraph, with an extra blank space between it and the previous paragraph.  Most of the time this is a good thing, because paragraphs of text are easier to read when there is a margin of space between them.

But what if you want two lines of text with no margin of space between them? This is when you should hold down the Shift key and hit Enter at the same time (Shift+Enter). It drops the text down one line (single-spaced). No gap of blank space!

Poisonous Popups Redux

I know I wrote about this back in April of last year, but we’re seeing another surge of fake anti-virusPoison  popups again so it’s worth another mention. 

If you get a popup window saying your PC is infected, it could be a fake.  These popups usually look like the real thing, often have names that are very close to the names of legitimate antivirus software and can even come from legitimate websites and not just "dodgy" ones.   

So how do you tell if you’ve got a fake?  A quick way is to check for the name of the software.  While the fakes use a multitude of different names, if the name’s not the same as your anti-virus software, it’s a fake.  Be careful though since the name used might be really close to your antivirus software’s name.  (See the Wikipedia entry for a partial list of the fake software names.)

If you get a suspicious popup, do not click on anything in it.  The Cancel button is a lie.  The X in the upper corner is too.  The entire popup window should just be considered poisonous. 

So how do you kill the window without touching it?  The easiest way is to do Ctrl-Alt-Del (hold down the Ctrl and Alt buttons and hit the Delete key) and choose Task Manager.  In Task Manager, make sure the Applications tab is selected then find your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) in the list.  Highlight your browser in the list and click on End Task.  Repeat if necessary until the popup disappears. 

If someone has already clicked on the popup, please call the appropriate support staff immediately.  While running an antivirus scan of your PC is a good start, it may not remove all of the fake software and undo all of the damages.  If you need to try and remove the software yourself, make sure that any removal tools you download are from legitimate sites like major antivirus vendors. 

Here Comes Office 2010 including an online version!

When it comMicrosoftoffice2010es to technology, things are always changing. In case you haven't heard, Office 2010 will be released in May/June of this year. I know what some of you are thinking..."Another Office version? I'm barely used to Office 2007!" As most of you know Office 2007 changed a lot of things. It added the "ribbon" interface, it introduced the .docx format which made opening documents a pain, and it added the Office button.

Office 2010 is a little different than 2007 but it will be easier to learn...if you are comfortable with the ribbon interface. The one good thing is that they did bring back the "File" menu and got rid of the Office button! There is an online feature called Microsoft Web Apps that might make moving documents back and forth much easier. Here Microsoft's top 10 benefits of Office 2010. A free beta version is available for download. It will allow you to play with the new features and enhancements. To get the beta version go here.

Ready or not your patrons will be coming in with 2010 documents and for the most part they will work on your current computers. Just be ready for some questions!! When Office 2010 is released you can find plenty of online help all over the web. Just Google it!

Guest Post: Delivery problem info on the status page


Intro: Hi, I'm Tim Drexler, Operations Supervisor at SCLS Delivery, where I have been working since 2001.

As a follow-up to Dan's post, SCLS Delivery will now be modifying our status on the SCLS Status PageWhen problems arise (van breakdowns, significant snow events, locusts) to cause delays to SCLS Delivery routes, delivery staff will update our status indicating which routes and libraries will be impacted along with estimated resolution times.  Status updates will occur in addition to our regular e-mail blasts to the SCLS libraries concerned.

Delivery Delays? Check the SCLS Status Page!As always, if you have any questions, please call SCLS Delivery at (608) 266-6039 or e-mail us.

Don't forget to play!

I keep running across mentions of how important play is to learning, work, and the creative process. Two recent ones are the book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, and the article "How Twitter and Facebook Make Us More Productive" from Wired magazine.

Here's a video (masterminded by Craig, with skating assistance from Dan) that made me think about tech skills and play all at the same time. Isn't it fantastic when we can combine the two?

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Tech skills needed to create a JibJab video include the ability to:

  • take a digital picture
  • save picture to a PC (or access the picture on the memory card from the PC)
  • browse to the JibJab website
  • upload a picture
  • navigate the Windows file system to the saved picture
  • interact with Windows dialog boxes
  • click and drag-and-drop (to crop and adjust the photo(s))
  • use an online video viewer
How do you combine play, learning, and technology at your library?