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My brother says Twitter is dumb

I think he's wrong.  I'd say it has the *potential* to be a very powerful tool.  It just depends on how you use it.

  • How do libraries use it?   If you already use Twitter or are thinking about using Twitter at your library, check out the blog post, "How Libraries Can Leverage Twitter."
  • How does Dan use it?   He has an iPad and has fallen in love with the app Flipboard, which has a tie-in to Twitter and Facebook.  When people Dan follows share links on Twitter, these sites appear in Dan's Flipboard, formatted like a magazine.  Let's say I post a link to a great article about Kindles in my Twitter stream, and Dan follows me.  Dan opens Flipboard and there's the Kindle article, plus other articles and information posted by folks he follows on Twitter.  It's like a customized magazine, made up of the content that people he follows think is interesting or worthwhile.  Nifty!
  • How do I use it?  The folks that I follow help me keep tabs on what's going on at our member libraries and what's news in the library world.  I also have saved searches that let me see if anyone is mentioning South Central Library System or LINKcat.  Sometimes when I tweet about what I'm working on or something that I've run across that's interesting, it turns into a conversation with folks I may or may not know in person.  And occasionally, I ask the folks who follow me for help or input.
  • What SCLS libraries are on Twitter?  Here's a list of the ones I've run across so far: http://twitter.com/#!/librarykerri/scls-libraries/members.

Yes. If you follow folks who tweet about what they had for breakfast, Twitter might be dumb  (unless you're really interested in what everyone's eating for breakfast).  If you follow people who post links to interesting information, make insightful comments, and/or are engaged in their community, Twitter has the potential to be pretty cool.

Koha Personas for Firefox

Koha Labels Persona Here are a couple of customized personas (Skins) for Firefox that you can use to help differentiate between Koha Receipts, Koha Labels and regular Firefox profiles.

To use the Koha Receipts persona:
1. Launch the Koha Receipts profile using the desktop shortcut.
2. Browse to https://www.getpersonas.com/en-US/persona/399833
3. Click Wear this Persona.

To use the Koha Labels persona:
1. Launch the Koha Labels profile using the desktop shortcut.
2. Browse to https://www.getpersonas.com/en-US/persona/399851
3. Click Wear this Persona.

See Andrews Techbits post for more detailed information on Firefox Personas.

Retiring Station Numbers

In Dynix, every PC was assigned at least one 4-digit station number.  In Koha, there are no station numbers!

Ahhh---- My PC's name is MADSLAL24! What does this mean?

  • If you accidentally "X-out" of your Koha session, you don't need to call the HelpDesk.  Hip-hip-HOORAY!  Just open your browser and log back in.
  • If you do call the HelpDesk, we'll ask for your PC Name.  Not the station number.

If you have stickers listing the PCs' station numbers (ex.  "station # 4442"), you can get rid of them.  The identifiers we'll focus on from here on out are the PC names.  The PC name is normally on the PC's case on a white sticker and begins with your library's 3-letter agency code.  (Ex.  MADSLAL24)

Eliminate Firefox and Koha Confusion

If you have the Koha Receipts or Koha Labels Firefox profile set up on your PC, you may have trouble distinguishing which instance of Firefox you are viewing.  It's important not to be confused so that you don't accidentally send a full page printout to the receipt printer or spine label printer.  One way to distinguish one profile from another is to change the Firefox persona, or skin, of one of the profiles.  Another option is to change the text in the Firefox title bar.

Changing the Firefox Persona (for versions 3.6.x.x.)

  1. Launch the Koha Receipts or Koha Labels profile using the corresponding desktop shortcut
  2. Browse to http://www.getpersonas.com/en-US/gallery/All/Popular
  3. Choose a persona.  You can preview them by hovering your mouse cursor over each option.  In my opinion, the personas in the Solid category are the most simplistic.
  4. If you like a persona, click Wear it

Once you have some personas downloaded, you can change them at any time within the browser.

  1. Click Tools
  2. Click Add-ons
  3. Click Themes
  4. Click one of the choices
  5. Click Use Theme

See Using Themes with Firefox for more information about using personas in older versions of Firefox.

Changing the Text in the Firefox Title Bar

  1. Launch the Koha Receipts or Koha Labels profile using the corresponding desktop shorcut
  2. Browse to https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/mr-tech-toolkit/
  3. Click Add to Firefox
  4. Click Install
  5. After the install, click Restart Firefox
  6. If the add-ons window appears, just close it
  7. Click Tools
  8. Click MR Tech Toolkit Options
  9. Click General
  10. Click Window Title Options
  11. Check the box next to Use custom window title below
  12. Next to Custom title template, delete everything in the box and enter the text you'd like to appear in the title bar.  Suggestion: Koha Receipt Printing Support Only
  13. Click OK
  14. Now the title bar should include the text you chose in step 11

Thanks Pat and Greg for the suggestions.

Select text vertically in Word

Back in March I showed you how to only select the text that you wanted.  That selection process was a horizontal selection.  Today I'm going to show you how to select text vertically.  These steps will work in both Word 2003 and Word 2007.

  1. Hold down the Alt key
  2. Hold down the left mouse button
  3. Drag the mouse down to highlight

As you drag the mouse down you see that the highlighting is a narrow column.  If you don't use the Alt key when you drag the mouse down it will highlight the entire line.  Once you've selected the characters or text that you want the only option available is to delete this text.


Amazon and OverDrive Announce Kindle Library Lending Program

It's not a hoax, and you're not suffering from Koha-induced delirium (well, maybe you are, but this news is real). Today Amazon and OverDrive announced the Kindle Library Lending program, which will enable Kindle customers to borrow and enjoy eBooks from library OverDrive collections in the United States. The program is scheduled for launch later this year.

Some details are available from the OverDrive Digital Library Blog, and library bloggers are already weighing in with praise, skepticism, and worries ("Librarian by Day" Bobbie Newman has helpfully begun compiling a list for further reading).

National Poetry Month + National Library Week x New ILS = Koha Poetry Contest


As we get ready to pass the last milestone and finally go live with our Koha implementation, you'd think that stress levels here at South Central HQ might be getting kind of high.  Actually, we're doing great--so great that we're finding relief in all sorts of ways including poetry writing!

Maybe you're feeling anxious as we get close to going live.  If so, I challenge you to take some time and enter our First Annual Koha Poetry contest!

Your entry could take the form of a haiku:

When Koha goes live

it's sweet, new technology 

 for all South Central.

Or maybe your talents run more along the lines of a limerick:

South Central's run-down ILS,

Caused library patrons much stress;

So the staff contacted LibLime,

and they had in no time

an ILS made to impress!

or really wow the judges with some fancy iambic pentameter:

 The Spring: brings forth a brand new catalog;

Here in these hallowed halls, a patron goes.

She'll find a book for tending of the rose,

Whilst Koha churns out circulation logs.

and that's just the beginning!  Odes, elegies, sonnets, free-verse, quatrains, the Harrisham Rhyme, cinquains, the Trois-par-Huit---All are welcome!

Though we're not offering gift certificates or dinners with Tech Team members, the winner of the contest will be known for the rest of the year as SCLS Koha Poet Laureate!

So go dust off that Roget's Thesaurus and have at it!


Genus: Vulpes

Vulpes_vulpes_sitting Outside my office window are some corn fields, and between the window and the fields is a drainage ditch that usually has at least some standing water in it. The area is no wildlife preserve, but the water and corn do attract a lot of wild things. We've seen deer, frogs, woodchuck, muskrat, ducks, geese, hawks, and maybe a dozen species of smaller birds. Lately, we've seen a Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) making his or her rounds on a fairly regular basis. 

The fox started showing up right around the time that Mozilla Firefox 4 entered public beta testing. If you think that's just coincidence then you're probably not as excited as I am that Firefox 4 is now in general release. What's to be excited about? Well, in addition to being faster, simpler to use and more secure than ever, the new Firefox is evolving toward new Web technologies that are ultimately going to change just about everything on the Internet.

The big changes start with support for HTML5, which will build on and ultimately replace HTML4 as the language for designing a Web page. HTML5 adds features that make it easier for Web site designers to create interactive applications, to embed video clips (without requiring proprietary add-ons like Flash Player or Silverlight), and much more. Another big feature is support for WebGL graphics, allowing 3D images to be rendered in real time within the browser window (also using open standards rather than proprietary plugins).

HTML5 is not yet an official international standard. However, by the time it is, many Web sites will already be taking advantage of HTML5 markup to provide new features and services. You'll need a new browser to take advantage of their offerings.

However, there is a downside (isn't there always?). Namely, some testers have already identified minor problems that Firefox 4 has when mixed with the current Koha staff interface. We can't really embrace those problems when our Koha migration is imminent, so it may be awhile before SCLS is able to widely deploy FF4 for your use in the library.

We will let you know when mass deployment of FF4 seems more timely for the SCLS Network. Meanwhile, you can read more about FF features on the Mozilla web site. If you do already have a machine with FF4, you can play with some of the new features too.

Wisconsin Politics and Twitter

Twitter has never had much appeal.  “What’s so remarkable about communicating with up to 140 characters?” Couldn’t really find something about it that really drew me in.   Until now.


In January, Wisconsin got a new governor and Wisconsin politics became riveting.  “What’s going on in Capitol right now?”  “What’s going on in the hearing right now?”  “What’s going on at one of the secret tunnels?”  With Twitter, you have access to information in real time.  You don’t have to wait to hear it on the radio, TV or read it in the newspaper.  I got hooked!

While learning about Twitter, I needed to learn some formatting peculiarities.  Let’s look at a Wisconsin politics-related tweet and dissect it.




  • JLownLaw: This is the name of the Twitter account posting the tweet.
  • #Wisconsin:  This is an example of a hashtag.  Hashtags are a way to organize and filter an area of interest.  There tends to be a theme associated with a hashtag.  In this case the theme is broad: Wisconsin.  Tweets will be published to the Twitter account that’s doing the posting as well whatever hashtags are included in the post.
  • “watchdog agency…are certified”: This is information that the tweet wants to relay.
  • http://t.co/7MOrsse: Because Twitter is limited to 140 characters, hyperlinks tend to be shortened.
  • via: Is usually reserved for the end of a tweet and precedes the name of an information source.
    @retuers: Is the name of the Twitter account that is serving as the source of information.
  • #wiunion:  This tweet will also be published to this group.

Finally, there are two other commonly used symbols in tweets:

  • RT:  Means “Retweet”.  It’s a reposting of someone else’s tweet.  RT preceeds the account that’s being retweeted.
  • HT: Means “Heard Though”.  You hear something from a Twitter user but you heard it in real live, not from Twitter.

If you want to look at the example post live, click here .  If you’d like to learn more about all things Twitter, here’s a very helpful website .

What Twitter hashtags do you follow, find interesting or informative?

Guest Post: Email Overload

This Guest Post is by Jean Anderson, Continuing Education Coordinator for SCLS and panda enthusiast!

At 4 am this morning I was pondering a technology question, “how do I manage my document files, and all those emails that I’ve saved from past discussion lists, and all those favorites,” especially the ones that no longer exist or I no longer need.  What a chunk of time I would have to invest to clean up my computer files.  Is there an easier way?

Email-Eeek While preparing for a Googlicious Training program for Reedsburg earlier this year, Kerri brought this question to me. Many of the tools that I use can help with this question. I’ll try and help you with these issues in a series of posts over the next couple of months.

First I’ll deal with email. Back in 2009, I did a Brain Snack on email and presented some ideas for dealing with email overload. In addition to the recording, there are some links to articles and books that I still refer to.

I use Gmail and the tools that I’ll talk about focus on Gmail. Your email program may have similar options and tools. Making the best use of the tools we already use can do a lot towards improving  your productivity and efficiency.

I utilize labels (or folders) and filters to organize my email inbox. Filters
If you subscribe to many email lists, filtering these into a separate folder or label so you can read them when you have time helps you be more efficient. Here’s an example of a filter that I use. I subscribe to publib but I don’t want those message to appear in my inbox (publib is a very active list!). I created a filter that looks for a subject heading of publib, applies the label publib, and skips the inbox. ILabels   also use a Gmail feature called Show All if Unread (in Settings in the Labels tab). This feature will hide labels when there are no unread messages. This means that when there are new items in LearnRT, the label shows up in my sidebar indicating I should read them. After reading them, the label disappears from my sidebar.

With Gmail, I don’t worry about the size of my mailbox. I archive messages that I think I may need to reference in the future. With Gmail, I can easily search and retrieve any needed messages.

If you need to clean out your mailbox periodically, here’s what I did before I moved from Eudora to Thunderbird (and Gmail). I set aside 20-30 minutes a day and worked through all my folders. As I went through them, I saved some messages, deleted others, and also thought about my organizational scheme for my new email program. This is also a good year end or new year project.

For more info about filters in Thunderbird, check out Brian's post: "Thunderbird Email Filters."
For general tips on dealing with "email overload", try Jean's Brain Snack on email and/or this "11 Tips for Dealing with Email Overload" blog post.