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Makerspaces and 3D printing

What have you read about 3D printers? I often see them mentioned in conjunction with libraries and makerspaces (and Jay Leno's garage).

Libraries have long served as community gathering centers and learning spaces, and have helped patrons to create through programming and the loaning of equipment, gadgets, gadgets, and tools.

There's been some buzz in the past year or two about how libraries could become places for digital content creation and makerspaces (locations where people with common interests can share resources and knowledge to create and build things). In the future, they could even be people's first exposure and access to new technologies like 3D printing! One library that has put this idea into action is Fayetteville Public Library. Check out this 10 1/2 minute video describing 3D printing and the proposal to create Fayetteville Public Library's "FabLab."

Here are a few other libraries who have added makerspaces or digital labs:

Interested in more about libraries as makerspaces? Try these:

Want more info on 3D printing? (I do... I'm fascinated by the idea of printing my own creations!) Try Gadgets and gizmos : libraries and the post-PC era. It's a fanstastic overview of tablets, ereaders, 3D printers, and health gadgets (like the fitbit), and it's only 31 pages! I'd highly recommend it!

This 3D printer prints in chocolate. How do we get some of these into libraries?  :)

What do you think about libraries as makerspaces? How psyched would you be about a printer that could potentially print its own replacement parts? 

Silencing the Thunderbird Update Reminder

ReminderAs many of you have discovered, Thunderbird now sends you an update reminder screen when there’s a  new version released.  We researched disabling the update screen however it appears there’s no good “off switch” to automatically turn this off for everyone.  The best way to turn off the reminder appears to be disabling the “Check for Update” setting in each individual Thunderbird profile.

If you're tired of the update "nag" screen, we’ve created “How to” documentation for turning off  update checking and posted it on the SCLS Technology page in the Email section:  http://www.scls.info/technology/email/tb_noupdate.html

Digital Creation Space grant opportunity

What if your library could get funding to create a digital creation space with state-of-the-art software and equipment for patrons to use? A place where the community could make movies, music, books and more—not just check them out? Powerful stuff.

What if all you had to do is contact Terrie Howe to register for and attend the June 28 grant information webinar, spec out your project, and then apply for an LSTA grant? Because "Digital Creations in Public Libraries" is a competitive grant category for the 2013 LSTA cycle, with a grant range of $2,000 - $20,000 that public libraries are eligible to apply for. And some libraries are going to get it.

So... what if it was your library?

More inspiration:

Cleaning your Dymo LabelWriter

Dymo LabelWriterIf you've noticed a build-up of adhesive or had problems with labels wrapping around the print roller on your Dymo LabelWriter it maybe time to clean the print head. Here's a quick and easy way to clean the feed mechanism and print head of your Dymo LabelWriter. Every LabelWriter comes with a cleaning card. If you kept all of your paper work you should still have it. Remove the labels from the LabelWriter and tear open the package the cleaning card is in. Run the card through the printer like you would the labels. When I spoke with the Dymo tech staff they recommended running it through about a dozen times. Here is a quick video to show the process. Dymo suggests doing this once a month to maintain a clean feed mechanism. By keeping the print head clean you can improve your print quality and extend the life of the print head.

If you don’t have your cleaning card you can find them at just about any office supply store, or I would be happy to order some for your library. They cost between $8.00 and $17.00 for a pack of 10 cards depending on where you get them.

The scoop on Scoop.it

Scoop.itWhat is Scoop.it?
Scoop.it is a curation tool that allows you to pull together content from other sources in a visually appealing way. For those of you on Pinterest, you might think of it as Pinterest with better tagging, more text, and an RSS feed. After you sign up for an account, you can add sources for content and/or follow other topics. As content comes your way, you can recycle it to your topic.  Or, you can create new posts by adding a link, picking a picture, and adding some text  (sound familiar, Pinterest users?). You can also tag posts for easy reference later, and users browsing your content can easily share it to Facebook, Twitter, or via a link. The Huffington Post wrote about it last week in the article, "How Long Before You Will Scoop.it Instead of Google It? A Year, Two, a Decade?"

Why would you use Scoop.it?Scoop.it tags and RSS
I've been using Scoop.it for a while now as a place to stash things that I run across that I more actively want to share with others (and keep for myself) on the topic of "technology for libraries". It's kind of a way to share the good stuff I find without writing much. You can see my Scoop.it topic here: http://www.scoop.it/t/more-techbits.

I don't really want to review Scoop.it in great detail as much as I'd like to point it out as a possible place to find some interesting folks curating some interesting topics. One of my favorite library-related topics so far is "Cha-Ching" -- a topic all about fundraising ideas for libraries (and well worth a look)!

If you are interested in more of the nitty-gritty about how Scoop.it works, take a look at their Guided Tour and FAQ.

Future features from OverDrive

OverDrive logoEvery year, around ALA's Annual Conference, vendors announce new products and services they plan to demo at the conference and offer in the coming year. This year, OverDrive is promoting features to streamline the process for accessing ebooks and audiobooks. Watch for these features "later this year":

In case you missed it, here's a new feature that's available today: MP3 audiobooks can now be returned early using the latest version of any of the OverDrive Media Console apps.

What is this winmail.dat attachment??

Have you ever gotten an email that says an important document is attached only to find that the only attachment is something called winmail.dat?  This is an attachment sent from someone who is using
Microsoft Outlook as their email program and unfortunately, it is only relevant and used by Microsoft Outlook.  The technical reason for this is because the original sender is sending emails in Microsoft Outlook Rich Text Format instead of Plain Text format. 

So now that you know the technical aspect of it the question on everyone's mind is: "How do I read it?"  The answer to that question is a Thunderbird add-on called Lookout.  This add-on will "decode" the winmail.dat file into the attachments that you can read.  If you have a need for this add-on here are the steps to install it:

  1. Open Thunderbird
  2. Click on Tools
  3. Click on Add-ons
  4. Click on Get Add-ons
  5. In the "Search for add-ons" box enter lookout
  6. Click on the "Install" button
  7. Click on the "Accept and Install" button
  8. Click the "Restart Now" link
  9. Close the Add-ons Manager tab

Since this is an add-on within Thunderbird you will NOT need administrator rights to install it.


Buh-bye, Meebo!

Meebo MessengerSurprise! Meebo has been acquired by Google and will be shutting down Meebo Messenger (and assorted other Meebo projects) on July 11, 2012.

At SCLS HQ, we use Meebo Messenger for a number of things:

  • easy communication between staff around the office
  • communication with HQ staff when we're out of the office
  • for visitors to our staff contact pages to contact us via instant message (did you know that you could message us?)

If you or your library use Meebo like we do, you're probably wondering what you can use instead. Well, the nice folks at ghacks.net have put together a list with short reviews of some Meebo alternatives.

Do you or your library use instant messaging? What program do you use?

Change that Password!

Last week, after news broke out that three major web service sites had passwords linked on-line (LinkedIn, E-harmony, and Last FM)

it seems like a good time to remind everyone once again that regularly changing your passwords is a very good idea! 

If you subscribe to any of three services listed above, I would recommend that you change your password immediately. To help you develop strong and secure passwords, the following document does a good job describing what constitutes a good password: http://hitachi-id.com/password-manager/docs/choosing-good-passwords.html.

Also, there have been several Techbits articles posted previously that cover password issues:




I guess we can't stress this enough!  Change those passwords and change them to something secure.


Styling Thunderbird

SCLS is currently updating SCLS Network computers with the latest stable version of Mozilla Thunderbird (read more). The new version doesn't radically change many features so much as it brings the HTML rendering piece into line with emerging HTML5 techniques. As a side effect, the visual style of Thunderbird windows, menus and so forth is changing even though the features are much the same.

If you're like me, you may not like the new default display theme. The good news is that you can easily change it, just like you can change a Firefox persona or theme. The bad news is that a lot of themes that do work with Firefox are not compatible with Thunderbird, meaning there are not nearly as many choices.

The best options are listed here on the mozilla.org web site: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/themes/. My current favorite is Office Black; it's simple, effective, and seems to be well-maintained. Silvermel is also very nice but sometimes lags behind new TB versions.

To install a Thunderbird display theme:

 1. Find a theme you like on the addons.mozilla.org website.

 2. Download and save the theme as a file on your disk.

 3. Open Thunderbird and choose Add-ons from the Tools menu.

 4. Locate the Options button (looks like a cogwheel). It's next to the Add-ons search field.

 5. Click the Options button and choose "Install Add-on From File".

 6. Select the theme file you saved in step 2.

 7. Restart Thunderbird.