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Too good to be true?

Free Starbucks coffee!  Just click here to Like their page on Facebook and you’ll get a $10 gift certificate for a free coffee.  Nope, sorry, not true.  And Facebook isn’t going to start charging $15/month on January 1st either. 

There are all sorts of offers on Facebook and all sorts of stories but a number of these aren’t true.  Some of these are old chestnuts that even pre-date the internet, dusted off and given new life online. 

  • Check to see if it’s a scam/hoax. There are a number of sites that list hoax and urban legend information.  Snopes is one well known example (http://www.snopes.com).  Another is the Urban Legend pages at About.com (http://www.urbanlegends.about.com)  If it’s an offer from a company, try going directly to that company’s website to see if the offer is mentioned or if there’s a note saying it’s a hoax.
  • Be careful what you click on.  It’s a good rule of thumb for the internet in general.  Posting “show support for xyz” as your Facebook status isn’t more than a little embarrassing if it turns out to be fake.  Sharing a story or clicking on a link, even if it’s to something in Facebook, can have more repercussions.  
    • Remember URL shortening services like tinyurl.com or bit.ly can be abused to hide the true destination.  See the Techbits post Sneaky little URL’s for more information.
    • If clicking on a link brings up one of Facebook’s “Request for permission” popups, make sure the company asking for permission is the one you expect.  Take a good look because they will sometimes try to use misspellings or letter replacement (Farmville vs FarmviIIe) to make it look like it’s coming from the legitimate company and you might not notice unless you’re paying attention.
    • Check to see what permissions they’re asking for before you click on Allow.  Is it worth handing over pretty much everything in your profile, your list of friends, permission to email you and permission to post as you on Facebook, to someone else in the hopes of possibly getting a free cup of coffee ?
  • As always, make sure you have up-to-date antivirus.  While this isn’t a license to click on any and everything, it might be able to save you if it turns out it was a bad idea.


Increase Battery Life of Android Devices

Android phones are highly popular and have unlimited uses.  Calendars, Email, web browsing and GPS are some of the most popular functions.  Beyond these functions, there are countless apps that can be downloaded and installed.  With all of this functionality, users can drain their device's battery quickly.

You can make use of some of the suggestions made by How-To Geek for conserving battery power.  A couple of the most useful suggestions include shutting off WiFi and GPS when they are not required and decreasing the brightness of the screen.  The article has several other suggestions.MP900443121

If you don't like the idea of constantly turning features on and off yourself, there is an app that can handle most of the work for you.  The JuiceDefender app has three preset profiles for conserving battery life.  The choices are balanced, aggressive and extreme.  You can customize your own profile if you want to make sure some functions are never turned off.  The app was reviewed last March by CNET and the author claims noticeable improvement in battery life.  You can download the basic version for free from the Android Market.  It's definitely worth trying if you find yourself charging your device often.

Enterprise Wireless is BOOMING

6a00d8341d32e053ef015391c11aef970bIt's been about a month since the Enterprise Wireless system became available to all of our members.  Since then we have had 20 libraries move to the new system and at least 10 more express interest. So far we haven't had any outages, server reboots or server side issues!  Right out of the gate the Enterprise Wireless system is exceeding expectations.

For those of you who are not using Enterprise Wireless we have coined the term "Legacy Wireless."  The fixes we did last week to get you up and running after Public IP folded are meant to be a band-aid until you are able to move to Enterprise Wireless.

Remember if you have wireless related questions for either Enterprise or Legacy call the help desk first and we will do our best to help you.  It's really easy and fast to look into any problems with Enterprise Wireless.  As for Legacy Wireless, that might require more time on your end.

Click Here for more info on Enterprise Wireless

Firefox Tips and Tricks

FirefoxI stumbled across a Firefox Tips and Tricks page that I found useful. It has tips for users who are beginning to use Firefox as well as tips for advanced users who might be designing web pages. My favorite tip is about adding a bookmark with a single click. It’s in the Beginners section, “Add Bookmarks with a Single Click”.  For as long as I have been using Firefox I didn’t realize it was that simple to add a bookmark. Click the star in the address bar to add the page you are on as a bookmark, click it again after it turns yellow and you can move it to a new location.

Optimal placement for links in a Tweet

According to social media scientist Dan Zarrella, there is a "sweet spot" for links within a Tweet to get the most clicks. (And if you're posting links on Twitter, I assume you want people to click on them...) To maximize clicks, the best area to place your link is about 25% of the way through the Tweet, rather than always at the very end. Who knew?!Heatmap(CTR = Click Through Rate) Read the full article.

Learn Free

Logo[3] GCFLearnFree.org is supported by the Goodwill Community Foundation.  According to their website, they "create and provide quality, innovative online learning opportunities for anyone who wants to improve the technology, literacy, and math skills necessary for them to be successful in both work and life."

What will you find there?  Tutorials.  Lots and lots of tutorials, some videos, and even online classes!

Here's a peek at the main technology topics (click on the image to enlarge it)...


There are tutorials for multiple versions of the Office products -- 2000 all the way up through 2010.  Social Media offerings include Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and Google.

I haven't run through any of the tutorials yet, but I thought they might be a nice possibility for patron training.  Each of the many lessons also offers a printable version.  As an example, here are links to the lesson and the printable version of the lesson on Mail Merge for Word 2007.

Opening Two Excel Files Side-by-Side

Did you ever need to look at two Excel documents at the same time? By default Excel opens both documents in the same window. This makes it impossible to see both documents at the same time.

The secret to getting this to work is to open another instance of Excel before you open the second Excel document.  In order to do this you need to:

  1. Open first Excel document by double-clicking on it
  2. Open another instance of Excel:
    1. Use the mouse to
      1. Click Start -> Programs -> Microsoft Office -> Excel
    2. Use the keyboard shortcut of
      1. Hit WIN+R
      2. Type Excel
      3. Hit Enter
  3. Then double-click on your second Excel document

You will now have two instances of Excel open and each will contain a different Excel document.  You can now resize each Excel window in order to have them side-by-side for comparison.

Thanks Cindy for showing me this trick!


More on Finding and Using "Free" Images

From the online suggestion form: "It would be nice to hear a discussion about downloading images (from the web) to be used on library websites, etc. Only some of them may be copyright free." I agree—it would be nice to discuss that, because we keep finding new sources to share.

letters in stone
letters in stone by myfear,
on Flickr © 2004
Kerri and I tend to be creatures of habit. She loves finding free images with Wylio, and I keep going back to MorgueFile and Stock.xchng. Here are a few other sources that we've heard of recently and have been meaning to try (YMMV):

As you're searching, be aware that many free image sites are supported by ads—for images you have to pay for. All images are protected by copyright (unless enough time has passed for the image to have entered the public domain), and even "free" images may have strings attached.

If an image is intended for re-use, it's common for a copyright license to be associated with it specifying how it can be used. Many creators of free images use Creative Commons licenses. Creative Commons is a nonprofit that provides 6 different types of copyright licenses. All Creative Commons copyright-licensed images require attribution, and some may place additional limitations on use. (There is another type of Creative Commons tool called CC0, which allows creators to waive their copyright, but it is used less than Creative Commons copyright licenses.)

If you're having trouble finding a copyright license, sometimes image-search sites hide blanket licenses under labels like "Terms of Use," "About," or "FAQ." When in doubt, getting permission directly from the creator for your use of an image will always keep you on the right side of copyright law.

Thanks to Carol at Spring Green for suggesting this topic!

The importance of logging out

funny pictures of cats with captions

As our Lolcat has reminded us in the photo, you probably don't want to leave your accounts open to access by others.  If you use a PC that is accessible by other people (especially a public PC), it is good practice to log yourself out of any services you are using and close the browser when you are done.

On SCLS-supported public PCs, patrons can also reboot the PC to erase their private information (a reboot restores the PC to its original configuration).  See "Public Computers and Patron Privacy" for more information.