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iGoogle Being Retired - Tomorrow!

RIP_iGoogleFor those of you who don't know iGoogle was a homepage that you could personalize with your choice of any number of gadgets. These gadgets came in lots of different forms and provided access to activities and information from all across the web. The ones that I used the most was the one that let me view my gmail and my Google calendar, without ever having to leave the iGoogle page.

According to Google's website this latest round of, what they call "Spring Cleaning", brings the total number of features or services closed since they began in 2011 to 70.  If you wish to see the other things being retired with iGoogle you can go to their "Spring cleaning in summer" blog posting.  This is the second Google service that I loved and used quite a bit that was retired.  The other being Google Reader, which I wrote about in the Techbits post entitled "Google Reader Being Retired - SOON!"

Google reported that the reason they were retiring it was because "the need for iGoogle has eroded over time."  Yet when I looked on the web there were alot of people using it who were sad to see it go away.  I converted over to Protopage yesterday and it seems to be filling my needs just fine.

If any of you use a start page please leave a comment letting me know what you use and how you like it.

Visualizing a web site's HTML code

GogglesThis article is for all of the web site maintainers out there, as well as those just trying to learn something about HTML. Check out the tools and tutorials over at webmaker.org, especially my new favorite coding toy, the X-Ray Goggles.

Any time I come across a really nice web page design, or a page with a unique feature, I jump to the obvious question: How did they do that?. The webmaker goggles can make that question really easy to answer, and they in turn are really very easy to use.

Just follow the simple instructions they provide, and you'll have the ability to check out all kinds of data just by passing your mouse over the elements of what's on your screen. It's all color coded, and structured and clean.

Click on a highlighted element to open an editing screen where you can play around with the HTML and data. In the editor view you can mock up design and content changes to the page, or check out what your own data might look like if it were put into the same HTML and CSS context.

Note: the Preview function of the editor mock up doesn't always seem to work, especially for rather small elements, but if you Save what you've done you can see even your smallest changes in the context of the full page.

Windows 8 resources

Windows8tutorialI bet you've had questions from patrons visiting your library about how to do things in Windows 8. (How flattering that they think we might know!) Have you had the answers? Do you know where to steer them?

Here are a few resources for learning about Windows 8:

GCFLearnFree.org has some Windows 8 tutorials. These tutorials are broken out into multiple lessons that include both text, screenshots, and short videos.

Microsoft has put together the downloadable "Windows 8 End User Training Brochure", a 36-page PDF introduction to Windows 8's interface and operation. The title might not sound that friendly, but it's filled with colorful screenshots and how-tos (short PCWorld review of the manual is here)

Like videos? The Windows 8 & Windows RT tutorial has tons of them, and it looks like most are under a minute long!, There are 8 sections covering everything from learning to get around using a touch screen or mouse, to installing apps and shutting down . 

What resources would you recommend?

Phone Scam Alert: (288) 918-6555 "This is Mike from Microsoft and your computer is infected"


Last week I was working in my office when I got a call from 288-918-6555.  I didn't recognize the number but I get a lot of vendor calls so I answered it.  The person on the other end had a thick foreign accent and said that his name was Mike from Microsoft and that my computer was infected and I need to go to it right now so he could help me.  "Mike" was very hard to understand but he did have sense of urgency. 

I've been watching the show ABC's The Lookout.  It's about the scams, fraud and exaggerated lengths that companies will go to get your money. Locksmith scams, cars that were flooded with water scams, and even big scams like what Kevin Trudeau has done.  My favorite one is beware of the all-inclusive resort

TIP: Check out oyster.com for real pictures of your vacation destination before you book it!

Ok, back to this call from Mike.  From the point where Mike told me that my computer was infected I was on to him.  There is no way he even knew what kind of computer I had or what operating system I was using.  Mike instructed me to do a few things until I got fed up and I told him that he should be ashamed of himself.  I told him that I wanted to talk to his supervisor.  He told me that he was the supervisor, boss, and manager.  So I asked for the CEO.  Mike then hung up on me.

I did a little digging and found that his is a scam that has been going on for a long time and people fall for it.  In the end they have you purchase software to fix your computer.

I guess the lesson for all of us is to stop and think about what is being requested of us.  Even if the other person has a sense of urgency or is very charismatic.  Don't part with your money easily and be alert.  If you get that suspicions feeling, listen to it!

Google Analytics training opportunity

View-lessons-from-expertsGoogle Analytics is a tool for tracking website statistics, like how many people visit your website, which pages they access, which browser/device they use, and much more. To help you squeeze meaning out of all that data, Google is offering Digital Analytics Fundamentals, a free online course that begins October 8, 2013. During this 3-week course, you'll:

  • view lessons from experts at your own pace
  • test your knowledge
  • engage with experts and other participants to ask questions and enhance your learning

After completing the course you'll understand:

  • why analytics is important for growing your business (As a TechBits reader, think of this in terms of circulation, program attendance, or other library "business"... I realize you are not selling widgets!)
  • definitions of key concepts and terminology
  • how to plan ahead to capture the insights you need
  • how to navigate common Google Analytics reports
Interested in participating? Register now or see the course FAQs for more details.

Not so neat after all

Last week I saw a story posted about “The Faces of Facebook”, a site where you can see a picture of what looks like nothing more than a screen of static with a counter.  Each one of those dots of “static” actually represents one of the accounts on Facebook.  Kind of neat, right?

If you zoom in on the static, it actually loads the individual profile pictures.  As a Facebook user I know my profile picture isn’t private.  At least it's not embarrassing or anything, unlike some of them. 

If you hover the mouse over their profile picture it shows which member number they are and the person’s name.  And if you click on the picture the article says it takes you to their public profile on Facebook.  Should you do actually click on a picture and log into Facebook, it asks you to give tfof (The Faces of Facebook I assume) access to your public profile and friends list so it can show you where you and your friends are in the static.

This got me to thinking.  That's a lot of information, especially for people who haven't restricted what's in their public profile.  Now in the article I read, the person behind "The Faces of Facebook"site says it doesn’t store anyone’s private information, pictures or names.  But what if someone else does something like this and keeps the data?  If you'll excuse me, I think I'll go double check my Facebook settings.

Prezi - Interactive Web-Based Presentations

Hi all! I'm Joanna, the Cataloging/Serials Technology Specialist at SCLS, a member of the group that supports LINKcat services. The ILS (Integrated Library System) Team will begin adding posts to TechBits on a rotating basis.

In an instructional literacy course I took as part of my MLIS program, I explored Web-based instructional literacy tools that could be applied to library services. My favorite is Prezi, an interactive software program that mimics PowerPoint, but with smooth animation between "slides". It inhibits the frequent wordiness you'll find in most PowerPoint presentations. (We just can't help ourselves.)

Building a Prezi is easy: you can choose from many different templates that are ready-made. They're also simple to customize, and adding your own images is a snap. While there is a bit of a learning curve in making your first Prezi, the program is forgiving. You can easily start over or scrap pieces that you don't like. It's also easy to import an existing PowerPoint into a Prezi template.

One advantage to Prezi over PowerPoint is the simplicity in displaying visual hierarchies. It's also highly collaborative. Users can share editing privileges with a small group of people or with all Prezi users if they choose. Prezi is mobile-enabled, with iPhone and iPad apps available.

While you can have a limited amount of free storage on an unpaid account, if you upgrade to a higher level of service, you can have Prezi Desktop to work offline on Prezi documents.

Some great library-related Prezis are linked here:

Technology in the Library

Library 101 by Chris Kerndt - an interesting way to do a public library orientation!

Glendale Library Arts & Culture by Suzanna Tadevossian - a colorful overview of library and community services