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Twitter as a resource (for questions about QR codes)

TechBits QR code Today I was reading more about QR codes, lamenting the fact that my phone is just a phone and can't take advantage of all these new barcode-scanning technologies, and wondering:

1)  Do people actually use QR codes?
2)  Are libraries using QR codes?

I logged on to Twitter and tweeted about this:


I received a speedy response from a librarian at a University library in Ohio, complete with a link to a page on their website with details about how they're using QR codes. The webpage includes a video they created showing users how to use QR codes and which shows one of the QR code posters found in the library. She also gave me contact info for the person who implemented them for my questions about whether their customers are actually using the QR codes and how much people were asking about them.

Awesome Twitter experience!

For those interested in how other libraries are using QR codes, here are a few links:

How to fix Thunderbird when it opens the wrong account


Have you ever run into this problem?  You go to a staff PC that has multiple Thunderbird email accounts on it and you try to open your email, but someone else's email opens instead of yours!  You try other email accounts and it always opens the same person's email.

Well, I've had calls about this problem from a lot of people, so I thought it would be a good TechBits topic.  The cause of this problem, I'm guessing, is an improperly closed out email account.  To fix this problem open up the email account that always opens.  Then click on the File menu and then click on Exit.  Now when you try to open your email account it should open like it normally does.

How to reduce the cost of printing

Are you looking to save a buck or two on your printing? You may have heard of a recent study that says you can reduce the cost of printing up to 31% just by choosing a different font. Two fonts were listed as saving you the most money, Century Gothic and Times New Roman, with Century Gothic saving the most.

Another way I like to save on ink and toner is to use the Econo or Draft mode, you can check this option in printer properties just before you print. It makes your printed page lighter, so if you don't need a professional finish try this method. Different sources online state you can save as much as 50% by printing this way.

P. S. I used Times New Roman for this post.

Google wave

What is Google Wave?

The short video below (1:39) is Google's overview of Google Wave (and who can explain it better than the people who created it?)

Those with more time might want to check out this slightly longer video from the Google Wave team which includes demos of creating and contributing to a wave, adding gadgets, embedding a wave on a blog, the playback feature for waves, and adding "robots" (which allow interaction with services like Twitter and translation capabilities). And if you really want to dive in, here are ALL of Google's videos related to Google Wave.

What do you need to get started?

Previously, Google Wave was available by invitation only.  Well--- good news!  It's now open to anyone with a Google (Gmail, Google Apps, etc) account at http://wave.google.com/.

Experience with Google Wave

Personally, I thought it was a neat idea, but most of the folks I know weren't on Google Wave so my experimenting involved a conversation with only one other person (not really giving a true picture of the "collaboration" possibilities). Now that Google Wave is open to everyone, it should be much easier to scare up collaborators to put it through its paces.

Have you tried Google Wave already? What did you think? How might libraries use Google Wave?

Skateboarding dogs and budget woes

Like many libraries across the country, New York Public Library is threatened with budget cuts. In response, they've launched a campaign to call attention to their plight...which has resulted in some very creative videos. I've already run across two this week which caught my attention and sucked me in to see what they were all about.

Videos are posted below (readers who receive this in email may have to click through to view the videos) for anyone who may be interested.

Each video contains a link to a special website which has a call for action:

  • write your elected officials (with map showing locations from which letters were written)
  • donate
  • tell your friends! (with email, Facebook, and Twitter links)
It left me thinking, "what a great use of social media to get the word out!"

Identifying Firefox and Internet Explorer in the Wild

Each web browser has a few distinctive markers that help identify it at a glance while you're using it (in addition to the functional differences*). Here are some visual clues to tell which is which:

Logos: You'll see the logos for Firefox and Internet Explorer in many places. Firefox uses a fox in its logo; Internet Explorer uses the letter "e."

Firefox logo icon   Internet Explorer icon

Top of the browser window: Each browser's logo and name appear in the blue bar at the top of the window:

Screenshot of blue bar showing Firefox logo and name

Screenshot of blue bar showing Internet Explorer logo and name

Bottom of the screen, in the Taskbar: Each browser's logo will be visible in the Taskbar, too:

Screenshot of Firefox and Internet Explorer in the Taskbar

Browser Help menu: If there is any doubt, check the browser's Help menu. Choosing the "About" option in each browser will tell you its version number as well.

Screenshot of the Firefox Help menu

Screenshot of the Internet Explorer Help menu

* If Firefox and Internet Explorer were cars, this visual guide would compare hood ornaments and headlight shapes. To learn about "under the hood" differences, it's best to learn about some of the functional differences and take a test drive!

5 Quick Tips for new Firefox Users

Mention Firefox to someone and you're likely to get back one of three responses:

  1. It's my browser of choice!
  2. It's on my computer but I use Internet Explorer (or another browser)
  3. I loved those books!  I learned to clean my flintlock, butcher a hog, and make dandelion wine after reading the Firefox series (see http://www.foxfire.org/ if you don’t get this joke)

If you answered #2 or #3 above, then this TechBits article is for you.  I’m going to share with you five quick tips that will make your transition to Firefox virtually painless!

1) Tabbed browsing makes web browsing faster and easier

Once you start using tabs to navigate the Web, you’ll never go back to multi-window browsing again (less of an issue these days now that IE supports tabbed browsing).  Here are three keyboard shortcuts that will improve your tabbed browsing experience:

Ctrl T opens a new tab

Ctrl TAB navigates from one tab to the next; Ctrl + Shift + Tab goes back the opposite way

Ctrl W closes an open tab

2) Multiple tabs can open when you launch Firefox

Want more than one webpage to open when you launch Firefox first thing in the morning?  No problem:  First,  open all your desired tabs within the browser.  Then, go to “Tools > Options” and choose the “Main” section. 


There, you’ll see a button labeled “Use Current Pages.” Click the button, click “OK” and the next time you launch Firefox, all of your tabs will automatically open.

3) / is a quick way to search for text on a page

If you need to quickly search for a word or phrase on a webpage, click the "/" key. A quick search box will open in the lower-left corner of your browser:

and any text inserted in the box is highlighted on the page above.

4) Dragging the icon in the address bar to your desktop makes a shortcut

Need a shortcut on your desktop to a specific webpage?  Simply drag the icon to the left of the URL address to your desktop:

and you've created a shortcut to that webpage.

5) Ctrl +- changes the font size on a page

If you ever encounter a webpage where the typeface is too small to read, Ctrl and the + (plus) key will increase the size of the type.  Ctrl - (minus) will decrease the size.

Library Staff, Koha and Firefox

Kohalogo-g It's been said before but bears repeating: Firefox will be the preferred Web browser for library staff access to Koha.

Firefox If you are not already using Firefox, SCLS would like to encourage you to start trying it now so that its learning curve isn't hitting you at the same time as Koha's learning curve.

Why is Firefox the preferred browser for Koha?

Koha simply works better with Firefox today, and likely always will. Mostly this is because developers of open source software (like Koha) prefer to use open source tools (like Firefox). A lot of Koha development work occurs on the Linux platform, which doesn't even have Internet Explorer. For these and other reasons, Firefox is much better tested and supported in the Koha community.

So what does that really mean, "preferred browser"?

In short, it means that SCLS staff will assume that library staff are using Firefox when accessing Koha. All of our Koha procedures, testing, documentation and training will build on that assumption. If you call the help desk with a Koha problem and are not using Firefox, our first question may be does it work better if you do that procedure in Firefox? To the degree that it minimizes problems and streamlines support, Firefox will be preferred and you will be asked to use it.

What about patron access, will they need to use Firefox?

No. For Koha's public catalog interface, all mainstream browsers should work all the time. The problems are in Koha's staff modules, where some of the JavaScript code and CSS structure is considerably more complex than it is for the public catalog. Koha staff module bugs that affect other browsers will likely be fixed over time, but we will all just be happier sooner if using Firefox.

I can't switch browsers, [insert perfectly good reason]!

On the one hand, you don't have to totally switch if you don't want to; you'll only have to use Firefox for accessing Koha staff functions. On the other hand, switching isn't all that difficult and could make your life a lot easier in the long run. For instance, Firefox can import your IE bookmarks collection, and the IE View add-on can automatically switch you from Firefox to IE for those few applications that require IE (such as Library Online reports).

Can SCLS help me make this transition?

Sure we can! Please feel free to contact SCLS with questions or concerns about switching Web browsers. Most of us have been there and done that, and we promise: the hurdles are few and low.

New NoveList Interface This Summer

NoveList Plus Logo A new version of NoveList will be released late this summer, with major changes to the user interface. EBSCO is offering three ways for you to get ready for the changes:
  1. Play in the Beta version. In the center of the NoveList homepage, you'll find a link to the Beta version. By clicking on the preview link, you'll have access to the new features coming this summer. (Some features, such as NoveList folders, personalization settings, and catalog links are not be available in the Beta version.)
  2. Check out the NoveList Support Center. It has information about the new version and its release, including a timeline, screenshots, and information on reading recommendations and the addition of appeal factors like writing style and pace. Training and promotional materials will be added up until the release date.
  3. Sign up for a webinar. EBSCO will begin offering webinars on the new version of NoveList to walk you through the new interface and demonstrate the new features. They are offering free 45-minute sessions on May 13 (9:00 a.m. CST), May 18 (9:00 a.m. CST), May 25 (9:00 a.m. CST) and May 27 (1:00 p.m. CST). Visit the EBSCO Training Site to sign up—look for the course name "New NoveList Training" and don't forget the EST to CST time change.

Office help

Office Where can you (and your library's patrons) learn more about Microsoft Office products?

Microsoft's training site.  Microsoft offers a variety of online training options including:

LearningExpress Computer Tutorials  Many SCLS libraries subscribe to LearningExpress. The LearningExpress Computer Tutorials come in basic, intermediate, and advanced levels, and you can learn at your own pace as they walk you through the software with Flash animations.  They are best viewed at a screen resolution of 1024x768 or higher.

CustomGuide's quick references.  2-page reference cards with screenshots, shortcuts, and how-tos for common tasks. Free and available in .pdf format for many versions of Office programs. (Can you picture these printed double-sided, laminated, and available for patrons that need them? I can!)Help menu for 2003 and earlier

Microsoft Office Help.  In versions 2003 and earlier, Help is available from the "Help" menu.  In 2007, Help is available by clicking on the question mark in the upper right. Help for 2007