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SCLS Status Wiki

The SCLS Status Wiki has been the topic of a couple previous posts.  The most recent appeared last April.  I know this is not an interesting topic, but I would like to make one quick point about accessing the wiki.

During a recent service outage, several callers stated that they would not have called if they could access the Status Wiki.  They were using a smartphone or PC connected to an alternate network and couldn't access it.  The Status Wiki is not hosted by SCLS, so it should have been accessible.  What we found out was the callers were trying to access the SCLS homepage (which was down) first so that they could click our link to the wiki.

During an SCLS network outage, you can access the SCLS Status Wiki from an alternate network by browsing directly to http://sclsstatus.pbworks.com

Cranky, kinky cables, oh no!

Kinky-cableAt one time or another, most of us have had to deal with a cable like the one pictured here; snarled, twisted, knotted, kinky.

A cable so messed up that it actually fights back when you try to untangle it. Let's look at why this happens, and how to stop it.

This happens when a cable is wound up tightly around an object, whether a device it connects to, one's hand, or for longer cables one's hand and elbow. We've all done this at one time or another, because it's fast, effective and intuitive. But also... wrong. Don't do that.

What happens is that we grip the cable while turning our winding hand around and around, like turning a crank. Every time this crank goes around, a twist is imparted to the cable.

This might be fine if the twist were undone when unwinding it. But the copper in a wire can hold onto the twist, imprinted like a traumatic memory. One might as well try to uncrumple a sheet of foil after it's been balled up. It can be smoothed out, but those wrinkles persist.

Instead of winding tightly with a cranking motion, try gently coiling. For this method, hold one hand with the palm up, to use as a tray, and put one loose end of the cable under your thumb. With the other hand, scoop the dangling cable, lifting it up and over the tray hand and dropping it under the tray thumb to form a loop. Repeat, repeat, repeat, trying to make each loop the same size.

The key here is dropping the cable. After each new loop is trayed, the scooping hand lets go before the next scoop. Because you're not holding the cable, wrist rotation is not transferred to it. Overall, instead of a circular cranking motion, the scoop hand moves more like an orchestra conductor, gently waving back and forth, up and down.

When finishing up, do not tie up the cable coil using its own loose end, again because you'll tend to impart a twist to it. Seal your tidy coil with a nice Velcro strip or a separate wire twist tie.

There is also an alternate alternate method. Like the coiling method, use one hand as a tray, but instead of scoop/drop, scoop/drop, move the gathering hand back and forth over the tray, imparting a U-turn to the cable every time you reverse direction.

The cable takes on a "ZZZ" shape overall, like an accordion or snake in motion. Tie it off in the middle to make a bow tie shape. This method has the advantage of being pretty fast, but the cable bow may be somewhat unwieldly. Also, you should be careful not to pack it up in any way which might crease the folds.

No more kinky cables, no more cranky users.

How to save as a PDF on patron PCs

Do patrons ever come to you and say that they want to save something as a PDF, but they don't know how?  Well, let me tell you about a couple of ways that they can do this.  If they have a webpage or web-based email that they want to save as a PDF you can have them use the Chrome browser.  Once you have the item up in a Chrome browser press Ctrl+P to open the Print dialog.  Then click the "Change..." button found to the right of "Destination".  Then under the "Local Destinations" section choose the "Save as PDF" option. Then back in the Print dialog click the "Save" button.

If they have a picture they can paste it into a Word document.  Then click File and then Save As.  Then click the drop down box to the right of "Save as Type" and select the PDF option.  Then click the "Save" button.

These two methods should handle almost all requests to save something as a PDF file.

Growing Wisconsin Readers

Toy sleepoverAt the recent Wisconsin Library Association Conference, I attended a session on using tablets in children's programs. I was so impressed, by some of the ideas that I wanted to find out more about it. It turns out this is a DPI program called "Growing Wisconsin Readers" and you can find out all about the program in their blog: http://blog.growingwisconsinreaders.org/

One of my favorite ideas was a toy sleepover that was recorded with a tablet (pictured here). The slide presentation from the WLA program is posted online. You can scan through it and see all of the creative uses of tablets in children's programming. Participants included several libraries in the South Central Library System. 

Picture credit: Elizabeth Timmins / Muehl public Library


Excel Find Options

Recently I was looking through a spreadsheet to find the numbers that were in red text.  Now, while that was rather visible, the spreadsheet was huge and there was a large number of rows between each red entry.  While an earlier TechBits article showed how to sort by text color, that wasn't an option in this case since there were subtotals that would have been messed up by resorting the page. 

Because I knew you could sort by color, I figured I could probably search by color too and I was right.  There are a lot of extra Find options actually, you just don't see a number of them because they hide behind the Options button. 


If you open the Find window in Excel and click on the Options button on the right hand side just above the Close button, you'll see a number of the Find options.  The ones I've used most often have been:

  • Match Case checkbox:  Check this box and Find will only pick those entries that are entered in the same case as what you are searching.  Normally searching for "Monroe" would get you "Monroe", "monroe" and "MONROE".  If you check this box it will only get you "Monroe".
  • Match entire cell contents checkbox:  If you want just those entries that match what you're searching for and not match when what you're searching for is part of a larger entry.  For example, if you're searching a list of titles to find the ones with a status of "Lost", a normal search would also match the titles like "The Lost Treasure" or "Lost in Space".  Checking this box would only get items where "Lost" was the entire contents of the cell. 

This time though I needed to search for a specific format.  When you click on the Options button, the "Find what" box gets a couple of additions.  The first is a format box.  By default it will have "No Format Set".  If you want it to search for a specific format, you need to use the Format button at the end of that line.  There are two ways to choose a format to search. 

  1. If you just click on the "Format" button it takes you to what looks like the regular format window.  From here you can choose the format from the various tabs.
  2. There's an easier way if you already have a cell with the format you want to search for handy.  Instead of having to find and select the format from the various tabs, you can click on the "Choose Format From Cell" button if you use the drop down arrow at the right of the "Format" button. This will change your cursor to a big plus sign with an eyedropper.  Click on the cell with the format you wish to search for and that format gets automatically copied into the format box.

After that, just click Find All or Find Next to start your search.

Ultraviolet & VUDU

DVDwithBlueTwo words, one I thought I knew and one new to me. Can you guess which is which? And, how they go together?

First, did you know that ultraviolet is more than light and that it has to do with DVDs? I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Swiss Army Librarian, and came across this post: Circulating a Roku for Streaming Videos*. In it, I learned that "ultraviolet" referred to a digital copy of a DVD and that many DVDs come with a code for the ultraviolet version. As you can tell, it's been a while since I've ordered any DVDs.

I continued reading, and came across the phrase "Vudu library." Hmm...while this sounds like voodoo, it isn't, honest! From the Terms of Service documentation, VUDU is "an Internet-based home entertainment service that provides access to a library of movies, images, television shows, artwork and/or other episodic content through your computer or mobile device..."

So, how do ultraviolet and VUDU come together? Swiss Army Librarian's library (and others) are using Rokus to circulate the ultraviolet movies they have licenses to and they use VUDU to connect them. Cool, huh? I thought so. Read the blog for all the details - and be sure to check out the comments as they were quite entertaining.

*I wrote about Checking out Wi-Fi and Roku on TechBits last year.

Link preview in OWA

In Office 365's Outlook Web App, when you type an email and add a URL, OWA adds a preview that includes a link title, thumbnail, and description of the link. This is called Link Preview, and this feature is enabled by default.

Link Preview

I find myself almost always deleting this preview as soon as it's added, and realized I could probably save myself some unnecessary clicking by just turning the Link Preview feature off.

Turn off Link Preview

  1. On the Navigation bar, in the upper right corner, click Settings.
  2. In the Options pane, under Mail > Layout, click Link preview.
  3. Under Link preview, uncheck the Preview links in email box to turn it off.

If you later decide you made a mistake, just repeat the steps but check the box in step 3 instead.

Spotted in a library: Just the right amount of tech

I noticed a gadget advertising upcoming programs and fun facts at Poynette Public Library after a recent visit. Is that a tablet? Is it hard to manage? What apps did they use to make that slideshow?


Nope and nope and none. That is an inexpensive photo frame with a USB drive loaded with images, made in Microsoft Paint, plugged into the back. Quick and easy for the staff to manage.


I love trendy, cutting edge devices just as much as the next person, but it sure makes me smile to see all kinds of technology adapted to meet libraries' needs!

Thanks to Lindsey at Poynette for letting me snap pics!

Old, BYOD, wireless devices may have connectivity ‘issues’

Wonder why some patron wireless devise have trouble connecting to, staying connected to or experience slow throughput when connected to the SCLS wireless network? This article will focus on one reason (of a host of possible reasons); the patron may be using an old, BYOD device (aka "Bring Your Own Device").

A wireless device’s ability to connect to a particular wireless signal depends upon a variety of things including when the device was manufactured. Devices manufactured before October 2009 may experience a variety of connectivity issues such as:

  • can’t ‘see’ a more modern, faster signal
  • potentially sporadic connectivity

You can get a sense of the quantity of older, BYOD devices connecting to your library’s network by looking at your library’s monthly wireless report. The report has a section titled “Client Summary by Protocol”. It may look something like this:




You’ll notice that each of the entries begin with ‘802.11’ and that is followed by a letter suffix: ‘g’, ‘b’, ‘a’ or ‘n’. You can think of the technology associated with the letter ‘n’ as modern and all the other letters as ‘dated’. Dated, BYOD wireless devices are more likely to experience:

Interference: Older wireless devices have a greater susceptibility to what’s referred to as ‘interference’. All that means is that signals from some devices can interfere with the ‘g’, ‘b’ or ‘a’ signals so receiving devices may get ‘confused’. Interference can be caused by wireless keyboards, microwave ovens, cordless telephones, some amateur radio equipment and Bluetooth devices.

Sporadic connectivity: Older wireless devices can’t ‘hear’ a signal as far away as a newer device and the signal that they do hear is more likely to be absorbed by walls and other solid objects.

As you can tell from the graphic, the majority of the devices that connect to the wireless network are modern. But in those instances where a patron is having connectivity issues, try having them move closer to the wireless access point (WAP). All BYOD users will benefit from WAP proximity and especially those that use older devices.