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PC Screen Resolution

Just what exactly is PC screen resolution?  Well, essentially it is the number of distinct pixels in each dimension that can be displayed on your monitor. A pixel is the smallest element of a video image, but not the smallest element of a monitor's screen.  Since each pixel must be made up of three separate colors, there are smaller red, green, and blue dots on the screen that make up the image.  Pixel, by the way, is short for "picture element".

In the past when we all had those big, bulky CRT monitors the best those could do for screen resolution was 800x600.  Now with the flat panel monitors that we all have we can get a better screen resolution, like say 1024x768.  When you change screen resolution from 800x600 to 1024x768 things look smaller on your screen.  This is because the pixels on your screen are smaller, so more of them fit into the same space.  This change will allow you to be able to have more desktop icons and see more of a web page without having to scroll down.  According to some Internet sites the screen resolution of 1024x768 is the most widely used.

Now you're saying to yourself, "I want that screen resolution."  Well, there are some things to be aware of on staff and patron PCs.  For staff PCs changing from 800x600 to 1024x768 will cause your Anzio to look funny unless you change the font.  For patron PCs the change has to be made by someone at the Help Desk due the the lock down software we have on them.  Also, the new Koha software that's coming will require all PCs, both staff and patron, to be at 1024x768.

So if you're interested in this, please call the Help Desk and set up a time to make this change.  Keep in mind that we'll have to remote into each PC to be changed, so the PC will have to be available.  Once the change is made on a staff PC then we'll have to change your font within Anzio so that it looks okay.  On patron PCs it will take a little longer to change because of our lock down software and again it will have to be available so we can remote into it.

Checkout Periods for Downloadable Media

Photo of hourglass with book in background As the SCLS support person for the Digital Download Center, I help patrons with problems and questions related to OverDrive audiobooks and eBooks. Checkout periods are an area of frequent confusion, especially since eBooks have been added to the collection. Here are some tips:

  • The checkout period is 7 days. It begins when you check out the book and ends at that exact time, 7 days later.
  • If you get a hold notification email saying that a title is available for checkout, you have 3 days from the time the email is sent to check out the book. These 3 days are not part of the 7-day checkout period.
  • Downloaded titles expire at the end of the checkout period. The files stay on on your computer and any devices you have transferred the title to, until you delete them.
  • Expired titles are unusable on computers and other devices that enforce Digital Rights Management (DRM). The Sony Reader and Barnes & Noble Nook enforce DRM restrictions, so they do not allow use of expired eBooks.
  • Checkout periods cannot be extended. The title must be checked out and downloaded again to continue using it. If the expired files are still on the computer, the download will only include an updated DRM license—typically a very short download.
Just getting started with the Digital Download Center? Try this Quick Tips handout (PDF), watch the recording from the OverDrive Brain Snack session, and use the Quick Start Guide and Digital Media FAQ.

New Lab Features in Google Maps

2010-03-30_1321 Fifteen years ago, I worked at the Rand McNally store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  There was a lot of cool stuff for sale but our "wow" product at the time was a CD-ROM that contained street maps of the entire United States.  It was $250, had very few features, and barely let you search the maps.

It's amazing how far computer mapping software has come in such a short time.

Last week, Kerri pointed out some of the various new features available to you via the Google Labs applications.  This week, I'm going to focus on two of my favorite lab apps within Google Maps.

What's Around Here?

Though Google Maps has a limited set of attractions displayed by default, this new app overlays a much richer set of data, including restaurants and corresponding reviews, hotel information, attractions, and user photos.

After installing the app, you'll see a new button near the Search Maps button:

What_button
Clicking on the What's Around Here? button makes your map goes from this:

Before
To this:

After

Drag 'n' Zoom

The Drag 'n' Zoom feature adds a new button to your Google Maps interface right below the zoom in  / zoom out slider bar:

Drag
Click on the button and now you can highlight a portion of your map for magnification:

Drag2


(FYI, the Make Use of Blog actually covered this topic as well a couple of weeks ago:

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/4-cool-google-maps-labs-features/

Read their post to discover two more neat Google Maps features)

Koha Macros: Got Bots?

As mentioned in Killer Robots from Mars, SCLS tech support involves lots of process automation. One twist we found recently was the need to script not just system processes, but to simulate real user interaction with a PC as if someone were typing on the keyboard and clicking the mouse.

I was reminded then how library staff use of Dynix can be partially scripted using the keyboard macro tool in Anzio. No matter what you do with Dynix, you probably have some hotkeys programmed, and if you're like me and have a lot of repetitive tasks to perform, you couldn't live without your macros.

Well, when we make the move to Koha, we won't have Anzio to kick around anymore. What then? The good news is that there are products we could use to automate tasks in a Web browser. The bad news is they're all a bit more complicated than Anzio, and in their diversity they have a range of strengths and weaknesses. SCLS and library staff will need to go through a period of trial and error together as we try to adapt tools like these to changing work flow.

Two leading possibilities for Koha macros are AutoHotkey and iMacro. AutoHotkey has the advantage of going beyond the Web browser with the ability to automate almost any Windows application, but it may not be the easiest tool to learn. The iMacros extension adapts the Web browser in a more integrated way and may be easier to learn, but it suffers from dependencies and might be subject to more frequent breakage during browser updates.

It's still a bit too early for us to fully dive into testing these products with Koha, but it is time to start raising your awareness and get you thinking about the future of macros. What would you desire most for Koha task automation: ease of use? reliability? portability between PCs? extensibility outside the browser? You can comment here or contact me directly to share your thoughts.