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Tips for setting up iPads for public areas

WebJunction: I Fought the iPads (and iWon)Thinking about setting up iPads for use in your library? In the recent WebJunction post, "I fought the iPads (and iWon)," Sally-Adrina Taylor discusses her experiences deploying iPad displays for children at the Rapid City Public Libraries.

I was particularly interested to read her recommendations for stands and cables and her tips for volume settings and apps. Sally-Adrina also includes some links to other resources, like this excellent ALATechSource slideshare presentation about integrating iPads and tablets into library services. There are definitely lots of factors to take into consideration when planning and preparing to provide these devices to the public!

Are you using iPads in your library, and if so, how?  (for staff or patrons? if for patrons --- for adults or children? tethered or loaned out?)
Thanks to Cheryl Becker for bringing this WebJunction article to my attention!

What are these holes for?

I made an arrow pointing at the holeWhile sitting in our office on a freezing cold day last month a question was asked, “What are these holes for?” The holes in question are at the end of every modern day power plug. The two flat prongs have a little hole at the end. Why? After a little research it turns out those little holes serve several purposes.

Reason #1: When you punch out a hole it saves money on material. This seems reasonable.

Reason #2: When you insert the plug into an outlet, it slides along the contacts which have little bumps that fit into the holes to help secure it into the outlet. I haven’t taken apart any outlets lately so I’m going to take their word for it.

Reason #3: You can put a zip tie or small lock through the holes to prevent someone from plugging it into an outlet. I could see losing my temper if someone pulled that crap on me.

Trust me, you’re a better person now that you know this.

Pin a folder to the taskbar

File0001543882867We all know that you can easily pin a program to the Windows taskbar by simply right-clicking on it and then choosing the "Pin to Taskbar" option.  But for folders, this option is not available.  You can however drag a folder to the taskbar and you will see an option called "Pin to Windows Explorer."  If you do this then you need to right-click on it and then look under the heading "Pinned" to find the folder because there are three sections to this window.  If you left-click on it then you will just open Windows Explorer.  I personally don't like this way as the icon on the task bar gives you no indication of what folder it is.  One good thing is that if you want to pin more than one folder to the taskbar they will all be found under the "Pinned" heading.

I went looking for a different way to pin a folder to the taskbar and I found that there are a few different ways to do it.  My favorite way involves creating a new toolbar.  The steps are as follows:

  1. Right-click on a blank area of your desktop
  2. Choose New and then choose Folder
  3. Give the folder a descriptive name
  4. Put any folders, shortcuts or applications that you want into this folder
  5. Put this folder where you want it to live permanently, because if you ever move it or delete it then you'll break the toolbar you're creating
  6. Right-click on the taskbar found at the bottom of your desktop (where the time & date are)
  7. Choose Toolbars and then choose New toolbar...
  8. In the Explorer window that opens, navigate to where you put the folder
  9. Click on it to highlight it
  10. Click the Select Folder button
  11. You now have a folder pinned to the taskbar
  12. To open it, click on the two greater than symbols to the right of the folder name

Now you have a folder on the taskbar and you can see the name of the folder.  One bad thing is that if you want to pin more than one folder to the taskbar they each take up a section of the taskbar.

Leave me a comment if you do this and let me know how you pin your folders to the taskbar.

Getty Images Now Free to Use

I'm sure you've all heard of Getty Images, right? Until recently, anyone who wanted to use an image from Getty had to pay a licensing fee to remove the watermark before embedding or using the photo. That's all changing. Getty has made the decision to make the majority of their images freely available to users of Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, and other social media.

That's right, we can now embed Getty Images on our blogs, social media, and websites and Getty Images will add a footer to the picture with a credit and link to the licensing page.

Here's an image of spring that I embedded for you as an example. Very easy! Happy Spring!

Automatically backup photos and videos from your smartphone to the cloud

Xp0ou_sFn7aR-defe77bc4ec24b5cbd764845ee86b1baAlmost everyone who has a smartphone uses it to take photos and video.  As a parent that stuff is priceless to me.  It's so easy to grab my phone and take a pic of the kids being silly in the bathtub.  I also can't resist recording those precious moments when they snuggle up to our dogs (two yellow labs) and then get doggie kisses until they squeal with delight.  I don't know what I would do if I lost all those memories!

Luckily there is an easy and free way to backup your Android or iOS (Apple) pictures and videos to the cloud.  The best free and unlimited option that I've found is to use Google+.  Here is what you need to know: Google Auto Backup.  This page has the options for all supported devices.  If you have and iPhone or iPad you'll need the Google+ app before you do this.  To change the settings of how your cloud backup works go here: Change how and when to backup.

Now you'll never lose those precious memories!

Dots and Pluses = infinite gmail possibilities



Let's say you have the Gmail address myname@gmail.com...


Gmail "dot blindness"
Did you know that email addressed to m.yname@gmail.com, my.name@gmail.com, and m.y.name@gmail.com will all deliver to your address? Gmail ignores the periods! (Unfortunately, this is only true for regular Gmail accounts -- Google Apps addresses do not ignore the dots)

What's the advantage to doing this? You can set up Gmail filters to handle mail to different addresses in different ways. Let's say your family emails you at my.name@gmail.com -- those could be filtered and flagged as Important. Let's say that m.y.name@gmail.com is tied to online accounts -- a filter could label those messages as account-related. It's a helpful way to tell who's selling your address to other parties, too. If you signed a petition with myn.ame@gmail.com and suddenly your inbox is filled with garbage to that variation of your address, you'll know who's responsible.

Using a "+" for infinite addresses
If you append a "+" with additional characters to your gmail address, Gmail will also deliver this to you. For example, if you sign up for promotions from a particular vendor, you might give them the address myname+vendor@gmail.com. You could set up filters for this variation of your address the same way as you did above.

The "+" aliases also work for Outlook accounts. Yahoo's "Address Guard" service works in a similar way, but with dashes, in a basename-keyword@yahoo.com construction.

Imagine the Moon is the Size of a Pixel...

Here's this really cool scale representation of our solar system, with the diameter of the moon equalling the height and width of a pixel on you monitor.  It starts with the sun at kilometer marker 0 with all the planets spaced accordingly to the right. Thankfully, the monotony of empty space is broken up with some commentary along the way.  (Warning: Be prepared to hold down the right arrow key for long periods of time.)

Facebook tip: customize text for shared links

On Facebook you can click the title or description of a shared link to customize it

Thanks to Mary at ORE for helping me stumble on this tip!

ALA Connect

When I attend the American Library Association conference, I typically gravitate toward the Library Information and Technology Association (LITA).  LITA is a great oppotunity to talk to other library staff about the technology trends that public libraries face (both challenges and opportunities).

Fortunately, you do not need to attend the ALA conferences or even be an ALA member to participate in the LITA (or ALA) community.  ALA offers a service called ALA Connect which is available to anyone.  ALA Connect provides online forums to discuss various issues. At the conference, my favorite interest group is the Public Library Techology Interest Group.  There is a place in ALA Connect for this group, but so far it is not very active. Once you get into ALA Connect, you can look around and see what interests you.  ALA Connect is a little daunting to navigate at first, so here some steps to help you get started and for joining the Public Library Technology Interest Group:

Log in with your ALA login if you are a member, or create a login (membership not required; ALA requires you to have your login as your first name and last name, with a space in-between each name and the first letter had to be capitalized. Then your login has to be approved, but that doesn't take long. After it's approved, you can log in and create a password.)
Browse Groups>Communities
Search "public libraries technology"
Click link for Public Libraries Technology Interest Group. 
Click Join button.
Once you join, you will see a "My Communities" section on the left side.  As you join other forums, thy will be added to your communities.