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More Free Online Photo Editing

A while back I wrote about photoshop.com a free online photo editing site. It is still a good site, but I have found a few that I think are better and certainly easier to use. I will start with my favorite.

Foto Flexer
is very easy to use, no sign-up required and has a lot of tools. Most of the common ed Foto Flexer, I used the GeeK tab and Smart Scissors on this image. its people want are pre-programmed and with the click of a button the effect has been added. 

Phixr photo Phixr is also very easy to use, no sign-up required and it too has a lot of tools. It has mostly the same effects Foto Flexer does plus some different ones.

Pixer.us is easy to use, no sign-up required and has some neat tools. It also has a nifty resize tool. Not as easy as the way Kerri mentioned in her post about resizing photos with Paint.

All three of these sites have a lot in common as far as the basic photo editing is concerned, but they also offer some fun effects that differ from one another, you can easily add to your photos to make them pop.

If you’re looking for a higher powered Photoshop-like experience then you might want to check out Aviary. We had a guest post on this last year. Aviary also doesn't require you sign-up but it is geared for more advanced users, so if you’re a novice at photo editing you may want to start with one of the first three sites I mentioned.

Results are in! (Public PC survey)

Survey A big THANK YOU to everyone who weighed in on the Public PC survey!  We know you are probably "survey weary"  (cluster elections, Koha training evals, etc), and we really appreciate all of your feedback. 

The tech team is now meeting to review the results and begin planning for the next generation of public PCs. Although we don't have a crystal clear picture yet, some trends and suggestions that came out of the survey have definitely given us a better idea of what we should include and improve.

Results from the survey about SCLS Public PCs can be viewed here with a few hightlights below.

Uses for Public PCs
Results indicate patron PCs are used pretty heavily for Internet browsing, social media, email, games, Office applications, and filling out job applications. Some of the uses we didn't list but which were mentioned by respondents include: watching movies, burning CDs, instant messaging, Skype, and getting credit reports.  Some staff noted that patrons don't scan because their library does not have scanning capabilities.

Gadgets that patrons bring in to interact with public PCs
The 3 "biggies" in this category were iPods, other MP3 players, and digital cameras.

Privacy and security
Responses for this question indicated both physical and technological concerns about privacy and security.  Some patrons are concerned about others being able to see what they are doing and where they are going while they are using the PC.  Some patrons are concerned about others having access to their private information, browsing history, credit card or bank information on the PC after they are done using it.

Unmet needs and desired features
The "patron needs that are currently unmet" and "desired features, applications, and services for public PCs" overlapped quite a bit (which makes perfect sense!).  Some of the needs/features identified include:  scanners, photo and video editing software, downloading ebooks and music, right-clicking, better support for cameras & USB drives, and consistency in programs, shortcuts and versions of software among PCs.

Next Steps: A plan for SCLS-supported public PCs will go before the Tech Committee on 10/13. Stay tuned for more details!

Bloglines is dead, but RSS lives

Clipart - RSS symbol on a coffin
Image courtesy of DaPino

Bloglines recently announced that it will be ending its web-based RSS reader service on Oct. 1. Update: Bloglines is extending its service to officially end on November 1.  Update: Bloglines isn't going away after all.

Luckily, several alternatives are available if you depend on an RSS reader for news and current awareness (recommendations available from Swiss Army Librarian, The Ides, librarian.net). I say "if you depend on an RSS reader" because the demise of Bloglines is one more signal of a change in the way we consume information. RSS readers are still a valuable tool for monitoring information from many sources, but they have competition from other channels.

Those "other channels" now include social media. One rationale offered for shuttering Bloglines is that many people find their news through Twitter and Facebook. They may get links to important articles from other people in their social network, or they may follow news providers to get an up-to-the-minute stream of headlines and links.

The movement toward social tools (and away from RSS readers), and now the imminent death of Bloglines, has prompted some to argue that RSS is dead (or dying, and RSS readers along with it). Others argue that RSS technology powers most social tools, and that plenty of people still depend on RSS readers to organize and keep up on all the news from a vast number of sources. To me it seems like RSS readers are power tools for the people who sift through all the headlines to find the few that are worth posting on Facebook or Twitter.

Could you live without your RSS reader, or is RSS dead to you? Do you get all the news that matters from Facebook or other social networks? Tell us how you manage your day-to-day information consumption in the comments!

How about a Twitter Makeover (in preparation for #Followalibrary day)?

October 1st is #followalibrary day on Twitter (thanks, Stef!).  In preparation, you might want to take a look at your library's Twitter profile and make sure you've got the right information to:

  1. help people find you 
  2. link back to your website Twitter_us
  3. let people know it's really you (using your logo or a picture of your library)

Wonder which SCLS libraries are on Twitter?

Here are the ones I've run across so far: http://twitter.com/librarykerri/scls-libraries/members

How are they using Twitter? SomeTweets

Almost all are tweeting about upcoming programs, library news and services, and closures for holidays or inservices. Some are responding to folks in their community who have tweeted about the library. Some link to interesting things they heard or read about, or to things that might be of interest to their patrons. Some mention new book displays or link to photos they have posted. At least one is tweeting about historical and news events and tying them to materials available at the library. And there's the occasional tweet to let folks know about unexpected power, phone, and internet outages.

A simple photo resize in Paint

Stretch-skew I have a confession to make:  I use Microsoft Paint to do simple photo manipulation (resize pictures, add circles & text, and save pictures as a different format).

I use the "resize" feature most frequently.  Here's how (click on the photos at the right for larger versions):

  • Percent Open a photo in Paint
  • Image -> Stretch/Skew
  • Enter the percent you'd like to shrink (or grow) the picture
  • Click OK


Smaller I know there are lots of different programs out there for resizing photos (some can even do big batches at a time).   I find myself using Paint most of the time because it's available on any Windows PC.  (And here's something to look forward to---the version of Paint that comes with Windows 7 has some additional features like shapes, arrows, and word & thought bubbles!)

So You Wanna be a Rock 'n' Roll Star?

Nick_lounge Along with everything else the Internet has to offer, there is an amazing amount of music related content out there, especially for popular music.  Here are a some sites that can help you release your inner rock star!


Want to sing some Karaoke but are snowed in this winter?  Cantanding to the rescue!  A searchable database of You Tube videos, Cantanding has thousands of popular songs, along with the lyrics scrolling by on your monitor.  (Me, I'm partial to Total Eclipse of the Heart when no one's around).


Is that old six string you bought at the Five and Dime collecting dust in the corner?  Log on to Vanderbilly and breathe life into your pickin' and grinnin'!  This is a very comprehensive video database of many popular guitar songs, along with other instructional materials.

Guitar Geek Rig Database

Ever wonder how Jimi Hendrix got that amazing sound?  The Rig Database over at Guitar Geek has indexed hundreds of guitar setups.  For fun, compare Adrian Belew's rig with the setup used by Angus Young of AC/DC.

Build Your Own Clone

Now that you know what sorts of pedals your Guitar Hero used, it's time to start soldering.  BYOC offers both schematics and complete electronics kits for the budding Tom Sholz.

CD Baby

Now that you've recorded your masterpiece, it's time to start selling.  CD Baby offers an almost turnkey solution for anyone looking to sell CDs online.

Turning paper files into electronic files

Here's an interesting question that arrived in my inbox this week:  I'm trying to move my paper files onto the computer.  Currently I scan a document and a .tif document is created.  I can open it on my desktop file but if I go into Word and try to open it is becomes a bunch of junk/odd symbols. Scan

Do you know of any easier way to scan in documents and store them on the computer that I'm missing?  One of my concerns is that I will lose the documents I scan into the computer. Do I need special software?

The answer:  How you scan and save depends on what you want to do with the scanned file.

Viewing and printing only.  A .TIF file is a picture which can be viewed using image software. If you want only to view it or print it, you could open it in a program that handles images (MS Paint, Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, MS Office Picture Manager, Photoshop, GIMP, etc).

Editing it in MS Word.  Word isn't able to open and edit image files, so if you want to work with it in Word, you'll need some Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software that will recognize the characters in the picture and convert them into text. 

Here's a link to some simple instructions to do this, using Microsoft Office Document Imaging as the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software:  http://www.ehow.com/how_4620364_scan-document-word.html

PDFs.  Some copiers are able to scan to PDF files. The same things hold true with PDFs-- if you only need to view and print, you can just open the PDF with Adobe Reader (or other PDF-reading software).  If you need to be able to edit the document, then you'll need to use a full version of Adobe Acrobat to edit the PDF, or you'll need some OCR software to the read the text of the PDF and convert it into a text document (which is then editable in your word processing software).

How many of you have gone paperless? (I haven't attempted it yet)  How do you tackle converting paper documents into electronic ones?  What file format are you storing them in?  If you have a tip or recommendation, please leave a comment!

A little library humor

  • Foolproof Porn Filter (via the Swiss Army Librarian's blog)
  • Why it's important to log off on public PCs (via the Swiss Army Librarian)
  • People sleeping in libraries (a flickr album)
  • Brian Williams lampooning digital media hype (via the NEKLS Tech Blog)
  • Library MadLibs  (remember MadLibs?)
  • What does Google Suggest suggest about the state of humanity?
  • Your 2 cents worth about SCLS-supported patron PCs (Survey)

    Pennies In 2011, the SCLS Technology Team will be rolling out several new technology services for member libraries. Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be asking you to fill out several surveys, each highlighting a specific service we hope to improve. 

    The first survey, listed below, deals with a new vision for SCLS Patron PCs:


    If you interact with patrons at your library, please take the time and answer this brief survey about SCLS-supported public computers. We are looking forward to your input! 

    Default Save Location in Word 2007

    On the SCLS network staff computers, Word saves your documents to My Documents by default.  Some users might prefer to save their Word documents to file shares or other folders on their hard drive.  If you would like to change your default save location for Word, follow these instructions.MH900089566
    1. Click the Office button.  This is the round Office logo button at the upper-left.
    2. Click Word Options.
    3. Click Save.
    4. Beneath the Save documents heading, change the Default file location to the location you desire by using the Browse button.
    5. After you've browsed to your new location, click OK.
    6. Click OK to exit the Word Options menu.

    You can do the same for Excel and Powerpoint; however, you will not be presented with a Browse button when selecting your default save location.  You will have to manually enter the path to your desired save location.

    Enjoy your Labor Day weekend!  I know I will.