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Have an hour to kill? Write your first computer program!


I've been in the technology field for 17 years and there is still so much to learn!  I have a lot of experience with desktops/laptops, servers, wireless, and networking.  I've focused on making sure that the computer you get allows you to do what you need to do.

I have very little experience in computer programming (coding).  To me it's like magic!  How do they make the apps for our tablets and smartphones?  I just open Angry Birds and it works but what is the underlying technology and how do I learn it?  Well you are in luck.  There is an easy way to begin your journey towards learing coding.  Remember it only takes one hour to get started.



Updating blog and newsletter subscriptions

Old emailIf you work at a library in the South Central Library System, chances are very good that your email address has changed recently. Keep an eye on your "@scls.lib.wi.us" folder for email being sent to your old @scls.lib.wi.us address -- you'll need to take action to keep receiving messages from these senders!

For newsletters and blogs that you subscribe to by email (like TechBits!) that arrive at your old address, you'll likely need to do one of two things:

Update your existing subscription information UpdatePreferences
Some email newsletters and blog subscriptions allow you to update your information. Look for links like "Update subscription preferences" at the bottom of the emails you receive for more information.

Unsubscribe with the old address and re-subscribe with your new email address Unsubscribe (then re-subscribe)
Some email subscriptions cannot easily be modified. Instead you may need to unsubscribe the old email address and re-subscribe with your new address. This is the case for TechBits emails. To unsubscribe, click the link at the bottom of your TechBits email, then re-subscribe using your new address. You'll receive an email to the new address asking you to confirm the subscription -- don't forget the confirmation step!

Printing a Select Number of Pages from a Website

Don't you hate it when, say, you're reading a forum or blog and find an entry that you really like so much that you want a physical copy of it; and so you hit print and you end up printing out all 100+ pages of the forum tread or blog when all you wanted was just the one article? I know I do. I'm going to show you how to avoid such occurrances from happening using Print Preview and Print Ranges with Firefox. Though I use Firefox for this demonstration, the same functionality also exists in Internet Explorer and Chrome.

First, lets go over Print Preview. It's always a good idea to use Print Preview to see what's about to be printed if you're printing something that you don't often or regularily have to print. The first way to get to Print Preview is to click the "File" menu, then "Print Preview". If you have a newer version of Firefox and the File menu no longer appears, you can turn it on by right-clicking the empty space in the Tabs area and selecting "Menu Bar"



The second way is to click the "Hamburger" icon (in the previous Techbits article), then click "Print". It says Print, but it will really open Print Preview.


Print Preview will show you exactly what the printed pages will look like, how many total pages exist, and, by way of navigating, the number for each page. All this information is needed in order to print a chosen range of pages. Here's what Print Preview looks like. As you can see, there are many other options also available with Print Preview.


Use the blue arrow buttons to navigate to the content you'd like to print; remember which page it starts on. Then navigate to the last page containing the content and mark that page number. These two numbers are your print range.

Print Preview handily has a Print shortcut in its menu bar, in the upper-left corner. Click it to take you to the Print menu. Inside the Print menu, in the lower-left corner, is the Print range box. By default, Firefox is set to print all pages. We will instead use the next option down, the Pages option. Simply type in the start and end page numbers into the "from" and "to" boxes and when you hit OK only those select pages will be printed out.


And there you have it; no more wasted reams (hopefully) on excessive print jobs. This is also a handy tip to share with patrons having this sort of trouble as well.


What's this button called?

Want to know something kind of silly?* On a website or app, those three lines you click to open the main navigation or get more options has a name.

The Hamburger in Firefox

The technical jargon for that is "The Hamburger."


* That's not why you read TechBits? If you want a side of info to go with your hamburger, you might be interested in usability practices for when hamburgers are and aren't appropriate, or the backlash against hamburgers. For most websites, visible navigation links for the most important areas of the site are still recommended.

LinkWISCONSIN Drive Test App

Do you ever wonder how you can be of use when driving around the backroads of Wisconsin?

Well, it is possible now with the LINKWisconsin Drive Test App.

What is it?

It is a smartphone app that measures mobile broadband connectivity on a regular basis.

How does it help improve broadband access?

Each test is grouped with thousands of other tests to help validate coverage throughout the state. Analasys of these tests helps find potential reasons for weak coverage. Local testing enhances their knowledge of underserved areas and may be considered while awarding the PSC's Broadband Expansion Grant.

How can you help?

  1. Install the App! Go to the web site first to read about the App. Then send an [email protected] to request the App.
  2. Help LinkWisconsin find stakeholders in your community who can work with the LinkWISCONSIN Team to install the App for better testing!


OverDrive Settings & Samples

OverDriveSettings2If you've logged into Wisconsin's Digital Library recently, you may have noticed two additional items in your Settings tab: Maturity Levels and Cover Images. As our collection continues to grow, you can decide what results you want to see. By using the drop down menus, you can change your settings to limit your results to what you want. In the image above, the limits are set to view everything from Juvenile to Adult.

The other setting you can now change relates to the cover images. The default setting is "No" so adult cover images are replaced with a basic cover. If you're not logged into Wisconsin's Digital Library, adult titles are displayed with the basic cover. 

If you change setting, be sure to click save before leaving the page!

OverDrive announced at this year's ALA Conference (and in a recent blog post) that librares can embed samples of ebook and audiobook titles into their websites. As an example, I embedded a sample of a book that I'll be reading & reviewing for this year's Notable Books Marathon at the WLA Conference. Happy Reading!


Office 365 Bookmarks Toolbar Shortcuts

The Office 365 rollout to the libraries has been going great so far and we are looking forward to other libraries coming aboard in the next couple months.  One topic that I’d like to address is the correct way to create an Office 365 login screen shortcut for your browser’s Bookmarks Toolbar.  We have had a few calls come in about this issue.

For most sites, the easiest way to make the shortcut is to open your browser, go to the website, then drag the icon (or lock) to left of the URL in the address bar to your bookmarks toolbar.   Unfortunately, if you do this with the mail.scls.info URL, your shortcut will end up only working temporarily.  After you go to mail.scls.info, your browser actually redirects you to a session-specific URL that only works for a short amount of time. Bookmark

Here is the correct way to make Bookmarks Toolbar shortcuts for each browser:


  1. Open Firefox
  2. Right-click an empty area of your Bookmarks Toolbar
  3. Click New Bookmark…
  4. Name it something like Office 365 Login
  5. For the location, simply enter mail.scls.info
  6. Click Add


  1. Open Chrome
  2. Right-click an empty area of your Bookmarks Toolbar
  3. Click Add Page…
  4. For the Name, delete what is already there and enter something like Office 365 Login
  5. For the URL, clear out what is there and enter mail.scls.info
  6. Click Save

Internet Explorer

  1. Open Internet Explorer
  2. Go to mail.scls.info
  3. Drag the icon to the left of the URL to your Bookmarks Toolbar
  4. Right-click the new shortcut
  5. Select Properties
  6. Delete the URL that is listed and simply enter mail.scls.info
  7. Click OK

My favorite new Excel trick -- Text to Columns!

I have a new favorite Excel trick for splitting the contents of one Excel cell into separate columns. It is SO completely awesome! Here are examples of how I've used it in the past week:

  • A column containing "LastName, FirstName" was split into separate LastName and FirstName columns
  • A column containing "Username@librarydomain" was split into separate Username and librarydomain columns so I could easily sort my data by library

Here's how it works, using a LastName, Firstname example:

  1. Make sure there's a blank column to the right of the column you want to split (or more, if the data will split into more than 2 columns)
  2. Select the column of data
  3. Click on the Data tab and select Text to Columns
  4. Choose how you'd like to divide your data (I chose Delimited)
  5. Select the appropriate option  (I chose "comma" for my example)
  6. Click through the next screen
  7. Presto!  2 separate columns --  LastName  and   FirstName

A picture of the process:


(click on the image to view it full-size)

Super slick!

Issues with version 30.0 of Firefox

We have had a couple of reports of issues with this latest update of Firefox to version 30.0.

The first issue is that the Print button "action", starting in Firefox version 29, differs from previous versions in that it now opens Print Preview rather than going directly to the "native print dialog" box.  Mozilla has this problem listed as a known bug, so they are aware of it.  This does not affect when you print from either the File menu or if you do a Ctrl+P.  It only happens if you have added the Print button to your toolbar.  So if you are using the Print button in the toolbar then you will have an extra step in order to print out the web page.

The second issue is with the PDF viewer that is built into Firefox.  It now opens PDFs with the built-in PDF viewer instead of the Adobe Reader plugin, and the built-in PDF viewer does not handle relative links properly. ("Relative links" meaning: the link URLs start with "somefolder/somefile.pdf" instead of "http://www..." which is common in an HTML page, but less so in a PDF.) This issue is considered a bug, but has not been fixed yet.

If you run across any other issues please call the Help Desk and report them.

Home Automation

GE-Bright-from-the-Start-BulbA simple quest to find out more information on “Smart light bulbs” has turned into a major discussion at my house. We wanted a light bulb that would automatically turn on in the morning to help us wake up.  Yes, I know lamps already exist that do that sort of thing, but that’s not the point, and it would make for a real snoozer of a post. Get it? I said "snoozer" when I was referring to a lamp that is supposed to help you wake up! Anyway, I thought it was funny, and I bet Tim will too.

Back on point, “Smart light bulbs” are bulbs that can be controlled with an app on a smartphone or tablet. This is part of a larger movement called home automation. Some major retailers are beginning to carry home automation kits. Staples has Connect, Lowe’s has Iris, Home Depot has Wink (release date set for July 7th), and Apple has HomeKit. Some of these are more advanced that others, but work using similar protocols like wifi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave Plus and ZigBee.

These home automation kits consist of a hub that connects to your broadband Internet connection, and sometimes a light bulb or two, depending on the kit. As long as you buy smart devices that are compatible with your hub you shouldn’t have any problem controlling them and you can connect hundreds of devices to a single hub.
As for the major discussion at my house, I don’t think I’m ready to commit to a home automation system yet. It seems like a quickly changing market with more and more devices coming out all the time. I do like what I’m seeing with Wink and might look into that more next week.

I can see where this technology will start creeping into the libraries as a way of controlling HVAC and security systems in the near future if it hasn’t already.