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15 second search tips

Want to learn some Google search tips, but don't want to spend a lot of time doing it?

Try Google's "15 second search tips" videos on YouTube. There are 17 videos in the course, so even if you watch them ALL, you'll only be committing 4 minutes, 32 seconds.

15 second search tip: Weather

Still itchin' for more tips? Take a peek at Google's complete list of "Search Tips & Tricks", or browse GoogleHelp's YouTube playlists

Google Search Tip: Wishin' for a Definition  (ha! the narrator raps this 35 second Google tip!)

OverDrive: The Next Generation

Guest post by Jean Anderson

With apologies to Star Trek: The Next Generation

Anyone visiting Wisconsin’s Digital Library since yesterday (February 21) morning noticed some pretty big changes in the appearance of our site along with some new options when downloading titles.

Some of the cool changes include a much easier check out process.
Borrow Button 
Patrons can choose their desired format after checking out the title or can read the books immediately via their web browser. Patrons can still download the title to their ereader using the App, Adobe Digital Editions, or Amazon (for Kindle books). Reading in your browser is simply another option for reading ebooks.

One benefit of Reading in Your Browser is patrons can read the same book on multiple devices. Check out and start reading a title on your laptop then pick up where you left on on your iPad or other tablet. Log into Wisconsin’s Digital Library using the web browser on your device (not the OverDrive app if you have it installed) and go to your Bookshelf and then Read. The book will load - exactly where you left off - in another tab. Save the title as a bookmark or favorite to read the book without being online. I’ve been testing this out and it’s pretty cool!

OverDrive has updated their help pages to cover all the changes and new features. One tip for iPad/iPhone users - turn Private Browsing off in order for the title to load in Safari. I haven’t played with this on an Android tablet or phone. If anyone has tips to share, please leave a comment.

Thunderbird Information

TbirdThe email client that we use, Thunderbird, has some issues when there are multiple email accounts on the same PC.  I'm sure you've all run into the issue with trying to open more than one email account on a PC.  It will just go to the open email account and not open the one you wanted.  The other issue which I know some people are aware of, as I've fixed it for them, is that when you click on an email link it may or may not open the email account that you want.  This is a factor of the order in which the email accounts were created on the PC.  The first one created is used by Thunderbird as what they call the "default" email account.  This can be be changed to another email account, but only one email account.  You can't have multiple email accounts for a default.  So if this issue has been causing you some trouble give me a call at the Help Desk and I can help you correct it.

I Found a Multi-tool in my Laptop

So I was just messing around with an office laptop when I discovered something interesting about the spacer Dell installed to fill in the expansion slot...


The spacer is, in fact, a multi-function tool!


It includes a mini ruler (English and Metric), holes to estimate diameter,


a temperature conversion table on the underside,


and a letter opener.

Good job, Dell, to bring functionality to what otherwise would be just a mundane piece of plastic!

(Caution: results my vary)

One more call for birthday feedback!

If you haven't already filled out a quick survey, it's not too late. Check out our "Happy 4th Birthday, TechBits!" post and let us know how we're doing and what topics you might like us to cover in the future.

Many thanks to everyone who responded!!

Excel reports and library barcodes

Excel-exponentialHave you ever opened an ILS report file and seen some data like the mess shown here? I think we all know that valid item and patron barcodes are longer than these, and that they don't have "E+13" in them.

Of course you may not have ever seen that, because SCLS staff do try to clean up such things for you. But sooner or later we may miss a spot. More likely, you'll get this kind of result on your own while playing in whatever kind of do-it-yourself reports tools get added onto ILS services over time.

No worries, it's just Excel being Excel. It sees a number with lots of digits (twelve or more), and it decides to show some initiative and help you out. It automatically converts those long numbers into a "scientfic notation" format. Because that's better, right?

Yeah... not so much, really. Luckily this is easy to correct:

 1. Select the columns or range of cells you want to fix.
 2. Right click inside that area and choose "Format Cells..."
 3. Choose the "Number" format category.
 4. Reduce the value of the "Decimal places:" field to zero.
 5. Click OK.

Wallah! There's your barcodes, all shiny and new like Excel never made hamburger out of them at all.

Happy 4th Birthday, TechBits!

CupcakeWe'd love your feedback!
TechBits is 4 years old, and it seems like a perfect time for a quick assessment of where we've been and where we're going.

SCLS readers-- please, please, pretty please hop over to our short survey (4 multiple-choice questions and 3 open-ended questions) and let us know what you think of the blog.

We look forward to your feedback about how we've done and your suggestions about what topics to cover and how we can improve (more videos of Craig and Dan skating, right?)!

Are you a reader from outside of the South Central Library System? We'd love to hear from you, too! Tell us where you're from and leave us a comment here.


Pinning Files and Folders in Office

The Recent Items or My Recent Documents feature in Windows is a handy way to quickly pull up documents you've been working on recently.  The same goes for the Recent document list in Word.  But what if you're working with a lot of files?  The "recent" lists are ever-changing and the file you're looking for might not be on the list for very long.

Micrsoft Office has a feature that allows you to "pin" files and locations to the Recent lists to make sure they are always available on the list.  Office 2007 allows you to pin files and Office 2010 allows you to pin both files and places, aka recently used folders. 

Click on File from the menu bar and then click on Recent.  Your current "recent" files and locations will now appear.  After each file or folder name is a grey sideways pushpin icon.  Click on the pushpin icon once to pin the file or folder to the list.  If you no longer need that file or folder pinned, just click on the now blue "pushed in" pushpin icon and the file or folder will be unpinned.

Just remember that each file or folder you pin means one less unpinned file or folder that will show up in your Recent list in Office. 


20,000 Pounds of Spuds on a Plane

Why would engineers place 20,000 pounds of spuds on a plane? What could they possibly be testing? Radio frequency waves (i.e. wifi, cell phones…) interact with sacks of potatoes pretty much the same way as with you and me. And, potatoes don’t object to working odd hours or belong to unions.



But what were those engineers doing? As with any new or improved technology, significant research and development must occur before it ever goes into production. In the case of plane wifi testing, engineers need to balance safety and useability. The wifi signal needs to be strong enough throughout the contours of the plan to be user-friendly: yet, weak enough to not interfere with the plane’s communication system. So the next time you’re flying and texting in the friendly skies, thank a potato.

Enable Quick Launch Bar in Windows 7

MH900389452By default, the Quick Launch toolbar is not enabled in Windows 7.  If this is something you miss from Windows XP, you can enable Quick Launch by following the instructions in Microsoft Article 975784.