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Quit Mousing Around

Mouse"To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint." -- Carl Spackler, Caddyshack 

A while back, I wrote about how much I appreciate my vertical mouse. Well, I continue to have repetitive stress issues with my shoulders and hands, so more and more I'm trying to avoid reaching for the mouse at all. It's a pest and a varmint, I say. Keyboard shortcuts to the rescue!

We've had a few other SCLS blog entries on nifty keyboard shortcuts, including some general cheats and how to "right-click" without clicking.

But wait, there's more! In fact, a whole lot more than I can summarize in a single blog posting. That's OK, others have gone before me on this front. Peruse some of these articles for plenty of great tips:

Best Keyboard Shortcuts

Favorite Windows Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts for Windows Shortcuts (cool!)

More Best Shortcuts (including the nerdy kind I need so much!)

Internet Explorer Shortcuts

Windows XP Shortcuts (most also work in Vista and Windows 7)


Image credit: Nina Matthews, under Creative Commons licensing.

5 Reasons you should be using Dropbox.


There are several online storage and synchronization tools out there but I find Dropbox to be the simplest to understand and the one with the most useful features.  Here are 5 reasons you should check out Dropbox:

1) Dropbox easily syncs with all your computers:  Mac, PC and/or Linux

One of the nicest features of Dropbox is its ability to connect you to your files--regardless of operating system.  For example, you could be a PC user at work and a Mac user at home but still use Dropbox on each machine.

2) There's an app for that!

If you're an iPhone or Droid smart phone user, you know that neither one handles Google Documents well, but can pretty much open any Microsoft Office files like Word Docs and Excel spreadsheets.  I keep a lot of reference files in Google docs but can't really access them from my phone.  With Dropbox, however, it's easy.  There is an app both for the iPhone/iPad and the Android OS.  Once your phone is connected to your Dropbox account, you can easily access your files anywhere.

3) Public URLs are a snap to create

 Within Dropbox, there's a folder called "Public" and anything dropped into this folder automatically has a public URL attached--meaning anyone (even your friends who don't use Dropbox) can access the file.

4) Photo sharing is super simple

If you're like me, you have friends and family with whom you swap photos.  Dropbox makes it easy to share photos by automatically creating a gallery URL for any folder of photos you put in the "Photos" folder.  Again, sharing is simple with everyone, Dropbox user or not!

5) You can share big, big files!

Occasionally, I have the need to share a file too large to e-mail, and since I don't have an online presence (like a web site) it becomes difficult to distribute the file.  With Dropbox, that's no problem.  Simply move the file to a shared or public folder and then choose the folks with whom you're sharing.


If you're a Dropbox fan, let us know (in the comments below) of any interesting ways you're using Dropbox!

Excel 2007: Three of my favorite things

After converting to Office 2007, I needed to relearn how to do three of my favorite Excel tweaks:

  1. Include lines in print outs
  2. Include column headers on all pages
  3. Shrink the view size of the worksheet so that more can be viewed


If any of these catch your fancy, here’s how to make ‘em happen.

1. Include lines in print outs:

  • Click on the Page Layout tab
  • In the Gridlines section, place a check in the Print box.
  • You can verify that the lines are now there by doing a Print Preview.

2. Include column headers on all pages:

It can be useful to have column headers on all pages of a spreadsheet but Excel doesn’t do this by default.    Before going into the actual process, let’s pretend that you have a really long spreadsheet and you want the column headers that are defined in row 4 (columns ‘a’ through ‘g’) to be repeated on each page. 


  • Click on the Page Layout tab
  • Click the Print Titles icon in the Page Setup section
  • Click on the Sheet tab
  • Type in the range of column headers that you want repeated on each page in the Rows to repeat at top: field.  In this example, you’d type in “a4:g4” (omitting the quotes).
  • Click the OK button
  • You can verify your work by doing a Print Preview and pressing the Page Down key on your keyboard.  Each page of the spreadsheet should now have column headers.

3. Shrink the view size of the worksheet so that more can be viewed:

Sometimes it’s easier to think about data if you can see all or more of it at once.  One way to do this is to shrink the view size of the worksheet. 

  • Click on the View tab
  • In the Zoom section, click on the Zoom icon
  • Click the radio button of the percentage that you want or you can type in a custom number in the Custom field.
  • Click OK

What’s one of your favorite Excel tweaks?

USB Stick Testing

USB sticks.  They’re small, hold lots of data, last a good long time, come in a Bacon Usb Sticknumber of different
sizes and shapes (including bacon) and are relatively cheap unless you’re going for one of the really high capacity ones.  And, if you’re anything like me, they’ve seen a bit of unintentional abuse.  I’ve dropped mine repeatedly, had my cat use them for a toy,  lost one down the back of a bookcase for 6 months, accidently stepped on one and sent more than one through the washing machine.  And yet they continued to work.  (After drying out first.)  Unlike the floppy disks, CDs or DVDs, USB sticks put up with a lot more of the knocks of life and keep working. 

I’d seen USB sticks in sad shape that still worked and wondered just what it took to ruin one of them. Not wanting to actual ruin one of my own though, I’d left that as idle speculation.  So when I saw an article where they were going to torture test one of the “unbreakable” USB sticks I had to take a look.  And when they said torture test, they meant it.  While the “unbreakable” one is indeed impressive, I was rather impressed by just what their regular sticks put up with and still functioned.  All in all, they did a lot of far, far nastier things to a USB key than most people ever have happen to theirs and even the regular ones held up rather well.

To see the tests and just what it took to kill the USB drives, check out the original story at Tom’s Hardware.  Oh, and don’t try these at home, especially if you need that USB stick. 

How's your e-presence?

EPresence When people need to find your library, do they still look it up in the phone book? Or do they turn to search engines and social media to find you online?

The Librarian in Black recently posted slides for a presentation she gave about online marketing for libraries. These slides include many tips for increasing your library's "e-presence".

We've covered some of the topics before in TechBits and Wicked Cool (ex. finding out who's linking to your library website, claiming your library's listing in Google Maps, giving your Facebook page a user-friendly URL, using Google Alerts to find out who's talking about you, and wi-fi directories) and are planning some posts about others (like monitoring your online reviews).

This slideshow is all that info and more packed into 44 slides.  Take a quick peek and see which things you're already doing and which might be quick-and-easy additions for your library!

Thanks to Trish at the Lodi Woman's Club Public Library for suggesting the slideshow and topic.

Thermal Receipt Printers

TSP100 Once we have switched from Dynix to Koha, we will be able to support thermal, USB receipt printers.  The thermal printers will be much quieter, quicker and have a cleaner printout than the current Epson impact printers we use now.  The Epson printers will still be supported, so there is no need to replace them right away. 

Preliminary tests show that the Star TSP100 futurePRINT receipt printer works great with Koha.  The ITG self checks use the same model, so there won't be a need to order different supplies for different models.  Once it is finalized that this is the thermal model we are supporting, I will send out more information and update the order form.  If you're wondering about pricing, the test model I purchased was $268.  I'm really hoping the price stays pretty consistent.  Let me know if you have any questions.

TypePad Rolls Out New Editor

If your blog or website is powered by TypePad, you'll see a new editor the next time you log in to write a new post. TypePad is asking for feedback from the user community, so try it out and then let them know how you feel about the changes.

Sharing the TechBits love

Heart Keeping up with technology is tough. Everything changes incredibly quickly! (Remember when you couldn't fit a cell phone in your pocket? and library holdings were typewritten on index cards in your card catalog?)

If you've found the topics covered in TechBits to be interesting or helpful, please share TechBits with a coworker who isn't already subscribed. TechBits can be subscribed to:

  • using an RSS reader (like Google Reader, for example). Jean held a "Brain Snack" about blogs and RSS readers back in 2009-- the recording is archived here.
  • by signing up to receive TechBits via email.  If you opt for email, please keep in mind that
    • you may need to click through to the actual post to view some content (like the embedded video Dan used in his post about changing screen resolution in preparation for Koha)
    • if you want to leave a comment, you must click through to the actual blog post (replying to the email you received sends a response to an administrative account, not out to the other TechBits subscribers)

We've set up a handy-dandy shorter (and easier-to-remember) URL, too:  http://www.scls.info/techbits.

We love hearing your comments, feedback, and suggestions for topics.  Please keep 'em coming, and many thanks for joining us here on TechBits!!

Which wireless network should I connect to? Not "Free Public Wifi"...

1254100844519065874wireless-wifi-hotspot.svg.med NPR recently reported that if you see a wireless network named "Free Public Wifi" in your list of available wireless networks, you should never connect to it because it could potentially expose your computer to hackers and other security risks. This threat has been around for a long time, but it was news to me!

To brush up on your wireless security knowledge, here are some tips from Dan for deciding if a wireless network is safe to use:

  • Don't connect to a public wireless network unless you know who the provider is. Be especially suspicious of "ad hoc" networks (this type may also be labeled as an "Unsecured computer-to-computer network").
  • When in doubt, ask someone what the name of the network is before connecting (especially if you see networks with names like "linksys," "hpsetup," "netgear," "tmobile," "default," etc.).
  • A wireless network is more secure if it uses encryption, preferably WPA or WPA2 encryption. (To use a "secure" network you will have to enter an encryption key the first time you connect to it.)
  • By their very nature, public wireless networks are not secure. There are security risks even if you are using a "security enabled" network that uses encryption.
  • Your information is not protected while using wireless networks. Don't use public wireless for business or financial transactions.

Prepare your staff computers for Koha - Change your screen resolution & Dynix font

Here are the instructions on how to change your screen resolution on staff computers. It will also show you how to change the font in Anzio so it looks better at the new resolution.


This video is best viewed in full screen mode and in 720p. To view it in full screen mode click on the four arrow icons on the bottom right of the video. To change it to 720p, play the video in full screen mode, then click where you see 360 and choose 720p.  To exit full screen mode, hit the Esc key.