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Checking out Wi-Fi and Roku

DevicesWe can check out a lot of different things at the library like books (of course!), DVDs, magazines, eReaders, laptops, bundt cake pans, tools, and even seeds. But, how about a Roku box or a Wi-fi hot spot?

The Indian Prairie Public Library (Darien, IL) started lending Roku to their patrons on January 2, 2014. They started with three devices and are now up to six with 82 titles on them. As someone who still watches "over the air" TV, and is hesitant to get a Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, or even Netflix, I think this is a great way to introduce the service to more people. And, OverDrive is partnering with Roku so there will be an OverDrive channel featuring library audiobooks and streaming videos. Even better!

New York and Chicago Public Libraries both received grants from the Knight Foundation to bring the Internet to more of their patrons by lending Wi-Fi hotspots. The hope is to help bridge the digital divide by providing Internet access where ever their patrons need it. Many people can't afford or don't have access to the Internet at home and having free Wi-Fi hotspots available for checkout will improve Internet access. How cool is that?






Spell Checkers vs. Jargon Explosion

ClipsterWhy eye halve two hate my pea seas spill chucker…

OK, that subtitle is a bit of an exaggeration. I generally do appreciate how well built-in dictionaries and style tools automatically assist with composition. But there are a few exceptions to the generally good behavior of these tools, and some of the exceptions are quite maddening.

For example, as a technology worker I am frequently exposed to new jargon. While spell checkers gracefully accept these new words when I tell them to add custom dictionary entries, there is a particular form that MS Office in particular is resistant to: words with INitial CAps.

The default behavior of Office is to assume I've made a fat-fingered typo. Admittedly, this assumption is often correct. Then it automatically converts the second capitalized letter to lower case. But where does that leave me when writing documentation for IPsec, VMware, or any of a number of new technologies that have legitimately this word form?

An easy but tiresome solution is to type Ctrl-Z (Undo) a lot, every time Office mistakenly corrects things. A better solution is to train Office how to correctly handle these words. The trick is that just making another custom dictionary entry is not enough. You need to go into the auto-correction options:

  1. In the File tab, select Options.
  2. In the left hand side of the Options window, choose Proofing.
  3. Click the button AutoCorrect Options…
  4. Click the Exceptions… button next to TWo INitial CApitals.
  5. Click the center tab, INitial CAps.
  6. Enter the technical jargon or company names that you want Office to please stop helping you with.
  7. Be sure to deselect the checkbox Automatically add words to list, or Office may start behaving as if every fat-fingered typo you make is a new valid word to be ignored.
  8. Click OK, OK, OK to close all the option windows you've drilled into.

A couple of Google search tips



Looking for quick, in-depth information about a subject?

Keep your eyes peeled for Google's "in-depth articles" section in the search results.


Need to quickly narrow down your search results by date/time, reading level, or location?

Click on "Search Tools" and choose your limiter. (I use the date limiter all the time to find recent information about a topic!)

Google Search Tools



Homepage weigh-in

ScaleA homepage's weight is just a number measuring size at one moment in time. It's just one piece of the mosaic of a website's total health, happiness, and success... but it does come up from time to time when member libraries redesign their websites. "Is my homepage normal? How does it compare to other libraries' homepages?" 

To find out, I did a weigh-in with 55* SCLS member library website homepages on June 11-12, 2014. I used the YSlow and Firebug add-ons in Firefox to measure how many kilobytes it takes to display each homepage. In other words, I measured the total (uncached) file size of all the HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and images that make up each one. Here's the weight chart:

SCLS Member Library Homepages' Total Weight in KB
High (100th percentile) 8187.00
80th percentile 1246.48
Median 638.20
20th percentile 268.56
Low (0 percentile) 74.10

Some context: 1000KB = 1MB. The body-weight cliches continue to apply:

  • "Too big" or "too small" for one person may be "just right" for someone else.
  • Weight doesn't take into account the value/function of each component (like muscle, fat, and bones). Proportions matter.
  • I won't post individual weights online, but will share them with library staff who want to know.

A finding that interested me: the 17 weightiest pages are all CMS-generated. Different CMS's are represented throughout the weight levels (Drupal, WordPress, CivicPlus, GovOffice.com, etc.). My assessment:

  • CMS workflow efficiencies can make it easy to add weight to a page without much effort or intention.
  • Making wise choices about a site's infrastructure (themes/templates, modules/plugins, etc.) and content (especially images) equates roughly to the diet and exercise choices that help maintain a healthy body weight.

* All 53 SCLS members, plus two additional project sites managed by member libraries.

Add/Remove Windows System Shortcuts from your Desktop

You know those Icons that you can faithfully rely on to allways appear on the desktop: Recycle Bin, My Computer, etc? Did you know that you can pick and choose which of those icons show up on your desktop? I'm going to show you how. (Directions are for Windows 7 users. They may or may not work on other Windows versions.)

First, right-click an empty space of the desktop, then click Personalize.

Desktop context

The Personalization Menu will then appear.  Next, click "Change desktop icons" in the left margin.

  Change desktop icons button

This will bring up the Desktop Icon Settings window.

  Desktop icons setting menu

From here, you can choose whether to display Computer, your profile folder (contains Documents and Downloads), Network, and the Recycle Bin. Additionally, you can change the picture for each of the shortcuts, but, personally, I wouldn't go there. Don't want to make it MORE confusing now.

So there you have it; how to add and remove Windows system shortcuts from your desktop.

Office 365 Tips & Tricks

Office365logoBlack_PageMoving to Office 365? Join us for a webinar on Tuesday, June 17th at 10am to learn some O365 tips & tricks!

Our first webinar gave an overview of the move to Office 365 and offered a peek at basic tasks in the Office 365 interface (the O365 demo starts around the 11:20 mark).

The Office 365 Tips & Tricks webinar will go beyond the basics of sending and receiving email and cover topics like attachments, contacts, autocomplete, printing, creating shortcuts to O365, and other assorted goodies! Register here for the webinar.

Workflow Concept Mapping - CmapTools

I am writing up a LOT of documentation these days, and much of it is workflow-based. Microsoft Word and other tools aren't the best at layout for flowcharting, so I employ a nifty piece of open-source software called CmapTools. I can customize the concepts with color to indicate their position in a decision tree.The map is easily exported into a PDF or printed to a page. It's great to use when illustrating a multi-step process where the answers to different questions have different actions to take, but they all start from the same point.

Here's a sample map from CmapTools.

And my creation for our updated duplicate bib resolution process:


Download CmapTools here. Happy mapmaking!