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Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality

Oculus rift at SCLSI wanted to clear up (I hope) some confusion about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Most of you have probably heard both of these terms by now and may be wondering what they mean. Do they mean the same thing? The answer is no, not really, although sometime in the future the technologies are more than likely going to merge into a new reality called mixed reality (MR).

Virtual reality is currently a visual stereoscopic 3D image that you look at using a lens. If you have a smartphone you can use Google Cardboard to experience this on the cheap. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive make more high end products that use headsets that provide both audio and visual elements for a more realistic experience. While wearing a VR headset, if you move your head upwards you look up in your virtual world, same goes for looking down, left to right and behind you.

Augmented reality is a visual overlay onto a surface, like your smartphone again. If you’ve used Snapchat filters that put little bunny ears and whiskers on your face or played Pokémon Go then you’ve experienced a form of AR. Some online stores have apps that allow you use augmented reality to try their products before you buy it, Converse, LEGO and IKEA to name a few. Some of you may remember Google Glass, this was also a form of AR.

Since I’m on the subject, the next step is to merge VR and AR into MR, were both technologies meld into one. Microsoft is working on this already with Hololens.

Non-secure HTTP

In recent months, you may have noticed browser icons and messages like these...


What's going on?

Earlier this year, certain browsers began to warn users when they visit a login page that doesn't use https. Https is a secure version of the http protocol used to pass information between websites and browsers and is commonly used by websites passing usernames/passwords, credit card information, and other sensitive information.

There is a big push to implement https on all websites to help keep users' browsing and personal data secure. Not all websites currently use https, and it will take time to convert them. You may have already noticed some websites managed by SCLS have not yet made the jump, but some like LINKcat and the ecommerce payment website DO provide secure connections. In upcoming months, we will be working on converting more of the SCLS-managed sites.

In the meantime, remember: never (NEVER!) enter your credit card, social security number, bank information, or other super-sensitive information on a website that is NOT https.  ALL banking, tax, financial, and retail sites should provide https for security.

Want to know a little more about https and secure websites? Take a look at this short but informative 3-minute CommonCraft video!

Additional reading
A short tutorial on your browser's security features: http://www.gcflearnfree.org/internetsafety/your-browsers-security-features/1/
Mozilla's and Google's blog posts about https:

Wireless Laptop Labs

I’m sure everyone knows SCLS has wireless laptop kits for libraries to borrow for in library training and programs.  We currently have 3 kits available and you can reserve up to 2 at a time.  For those that need a refresher here is everything the kits come with:


7 Laptops

A wireless access point Laptop, Projector, Surge protector, and access point included in Labs.

Multimedia projector with RGB cable

A surge protector

Extension cords

Documentation Binder


As of June 2017, all the laptops have been updated with the latest versions of software and browsers! All laptops now have Microsoft Office 2013 instead of 2010 too.  It keeps getting better because Lab 3 has brand new laptops with Windows 10!  Labs 1 and 2 have Windows 7.  Note: Labs 2 and 3 do not have CD/DVD drives

These kits are great for staff or patron training and programs and includes different software and browsers.  Each laptop comes in a carrying case and includes the power adapter and a wired mouse. 

If your library has Enterprise Wireless the laptops will automatically connect to the signal.  If you don’t have Enterprise Wireless, it comes with a wireless access point that is super simple to setup and laptops will connect automatically. 

These kits can book up fast for programs and you can reserve them for 2 weeks.  To check the availability for Lab 1, Lab 2, and Lab 3 click the appropriate lab to check the calendar.  Or to reserve the lab use this handy form here

Create strong passwords with a roll of the dice

From the American Libraries Magazine; 5/1/2017.
Meredith Powers, young adult librarian at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library (BPL) teaches workshops on digital literacy and data privacy as part of the Data Privacy Project, which is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund. Password security is always a hot topic.
She says that Diceware is an easy way to teach patrons how to create better passwords for their library, service, and email accounts. By rolling an ordinary die, users create a five-digit number that dicecorresponds to a word in a Diceware word list. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) maintains multiple Diceware word lists.
“Even though the list of words is publicly available, the security of a Diceware password comes from the number of words selected and the number of available words on a Diceware list,” Powers says. “By rolling dice to create several words in a sequence, you can create a strong, memorable passphrase. The creator of Diceware, Arnold Reinhold, currently recommends a six-word sequence to protect against a brute-force hack attempt.”

The Many Faces of USB

First, let me start with a little explanation of USB. USB or Universal Serial Bus is an industry standard that was developed in the mid-1990s that helped standardize the connection of computer peripherals to computers. It allowed the two devices to communicate and also gave the peripheral power. Since its development it has changed and evolved over the years and that is what I'd like to tell you about in this post.

In the beginning there was USB 1.x and the cable had a Type-A connector on one end. This connector type is used on most keyboards and mice, PCs usually have multiple ports of this type, and many other devices and power adapters use this type of port for data transfers and/or charging.

Then came USB 2.0 and the cable had many different connectors on one end. The end that plugged into the PC still used a Type-A connector, but the end that connected to the peripheral is one of the following types of connectors:

  • Mini - This is the standard connector type for mobile device and is still used in some cameras that have non-standard connectors.
  • Micro - This is the current standard for all mobile and portable devices, except Apple devices.
  • Type-B - This is an almost square connector that is used mostly for printers and other powered devices that connect to a computer. They’re much less common than type-A.

Next came USB 3.0 and the cable was just like USB 2.0 except that it was much faster and used a SuperSpeed mode. This type was signified on PCs by an "SS" next to the USB port and sometimes the center of the port was blue, but not always. The speed for USB 3.0 was improved to give us USB 3.1 Gen 1. That wasn't fast enough for some so they improved the speed even more to give use USB 3.1 Gen 2.

Finally there is USB-C and the cable is nothing like any of the past USB connectors. It is smaller, reversible, fast and it can both receive and provide a lot more power than previous versions of USB. Apple shocked the world last year when they unveiled a new MacBook with a single USB-C port and nothing else. Take a look at Craig's previous TechBits post entitled "What is USB type C?" for more information on USB-C.

One quick side note: Do you ever have a problem plugging a USB cable in? I know I have. Well I found the answer in an article from David Pogue at Yahoo that's entitled "How to Tell if the USB Plug Is Right-Side Up".  He says: "Only one side of the metal USB connector itself has a seam, a line, going down the middle. That’s the bottom." Take a look at Craig's previous TechBits post entitled "The proper way to plug in a USB cable" for another way to tell.

Here's one picture of the different USB connector types.  If you want to see more then do an image search in Google and you'll finds loads of pictures.


Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Usb_connectors.JPG

Can you delete old events off your library's website? Yes, probably!

Deleting old events can be good customer service.

Have you received inquiries from patrons wanting to attend an event that happened last summer because they stumbled across its page on your website and didn't notice it was dated 2016? It's annoying to click an event link in Google search results and see a "page not found" error when that event has been deleted, but is that worse than a patron mistakenly planning to attend a long-past event?

Deleting old events can be good website maintenance.

Are events from previous years stacking up by the hundreds in the content admin screens of your website? They weren't hurting anyone 1 year after your website migrated to Drupal... but now their vast numbers make it hard to find and maintain permanent pages.


Deleting old events may have no consequences whatsoever.

Are there lots of links to the event on the library's site other than the calendar? That sounds labor intensive and unlikely, right?

Are there lots of links to the event from other sites? (My go-to tool for finding these backlinks is the Moz Open Site Explorer.) It's more likely that other sites link to the library's homepage or calendar than individual event pages.

Did you share website links to events on Facebook a long time ago? My highly un-scientific survey says: no one looks at stuff shared on Facebook from a year ago.

Does Google Analytics show any traffic to the events in the past 6 months? It's worth checking to get a sense of how it compares to overall traffic.

Will there be lots of "Page not found" errors in the website log and Google Search Console? Yes, there will be, until search engines stop re-indexing those pages. Luckily, these errors don't really hurt the library's website.

Any cases where deleting old events may not be a good choice?

Events with repeating dates. You may have some long-running events that were created over a year ago and are still ongoing with upcoming dates. Don't delete those... yet.

Bottom line:

You can keep past events on the library's website. Maybe there's no time for this kind of cleanup. But if those old events cause problems for patrons and make maintenance difficult—just like weeding a book collection—don't sweat getting rid of them!

What's Social Media Got To Do With It?

LINKcat member libraries are considering the Novelist Linked Library Service to enhance visibility of library materials on the Web. Amy Gannaway previously wrote about "linked data" and you will be hearing more about the Novelist service in the near future. 

Scarlett (2)So, I can hear you asking "What's Social Media Got To Do With It?" Well, at the recent WiLS Peer Council, Karla Smith from Winnefox spoke about their experience with the Linked Library Service in her talk called "Let's Get Visible" (scroll down on the page to see her slides). We were reminded that it is important for libraries to maintain their social media presence as exposing the library catalog data will naturally draw attention to the information in participating library's social media profiles. The image to the left is a screen capture of the profile for a "linked data" title found by searching "scarlett denver public library". If you click on the photo, you will see all of the social media links.  

If you haven't done much to make sure your web information is up-to-date, never fear as there was a Tech Bits post about that too. Rose Ziech pulled together some information on Social Media Tips and Tricks that was originally prepared by Abby Ward as a 2015 practicum project through the UW Madison School of Library & Information Studies. Whether or not we moved forward with the linked data project, it makes sense to make sure that your library's social media presence is as strong as it can be.

Be Skeptical

SkepticalThere were some events in April and May (the Google Docs phishing emails, the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons) that had me thinking a lot of about privacy, phishing, and how being skeptical is one of many things we can do to help keep our information private and secure.

Last week, I caught a bit of a show on NPR where a caller shared how her 95-year old mother was targeted by phone scammers who convinced her mother to share bank account information.

One of the resources mentioned with which I was unfamiliar was The Wisconsin Senior Guide, from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. It is "a summary of common consumer protection issues facing Wisconsin's senior citizens" and covers topics too numerous to list here. It's 48 pages of great advice to help keep you and your patrons safe, and a good resource to share if you offer any privacy or internet-safety related programming. You may also find this shortened fact sheet, "Ten Tips to Avoid Fraud" to be a helpful reminder, too! 

Calling all Techies!

TechDayDo you have a tech tool you use that can help make library work easier, a technology program or service that draws adults, teens or children into your doors, or a cool application you found or created for library use?  If so, think about sharing with your library colleagues at Tech Days in September!  We are looking for presenters who can share gadgets, emerging trends, apps, innovative tools, social media, coding, e-content, privacy, makerspaces, Google services, and how to teach tech to patrons. 

Each afternoon breakout session at Tech Days will last one (1) hour: 45 minutes of presentation + 15 minutes for attendees' questions.  Alternately, your presentation can be 15 minutes in length, and we will group your session with 2 other 15-minute presentations.  You can do one all by yourself or bring together a team.

You can pick any or all dates and locations for your presentation:

  • Tuesday, September 12th at Fitchburg Public Library (Dane County)
  • Wednesday, September 13th at Mosquito Hill Nature Center just outside of New London (Outagamie County), or
  • Thursday, September 14th at Franklin Public Library (Milwaukee County)

Presenters will receive mileage reimbursement and a complimentary lunch.

Click on the link below and tell us what you'd like to show and share:

Tech Days presentation submission form:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XSQL7ZL

Tech Days is sponsored and coordinated by Winnefox Library System, Outagamie-Waupaca Library System, Manitowoc-Calumet Library System, Nicolet Federated Library System, South Central Library System, and the Southeastern Wisconsin (SEWI) library systems – Arrowhead Library System, Bridges Library System, Kenosha County Library System, Lakeshores Library System, Milwaukee County Federated Library System, Monarch Library System – and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Questions?  Contact Jean Anderson at SCLS or Joy Schwarz, Winnefox Library System (email: schwarz@winnefox.org or phone: 920-236-5218)


Removing duplicates in Excel, again

We've covered a couple of ways to remove duplicates from Excel before, but those methods destroyed the original data.  If you wanted to keep the original data, you needed to save a copy of it somewhere first.  There's a way to filter out the duplicates which leaves the original data in place and has you save the de-duplicated information in another location instead. 

  1. Open the file in Excel and elect the information you'd like de-duplicated.  Note: If you don't have a header on your column, Excel will complain about the missing column header.

  2. Click on the Data tab (1) at the top of page and, in the Sort and Filter section, click on Advanced (2).

  3. An Advanced Filter window will appear.  Since we're wanting to keep the original list, click on "Copy to another location" and click on the button at the right hand side of the "Copy to:" field.

  4. This brings up a small "Advanced Filter - Copy..." window.  Chose the column you wish to have the new list copied to and then click on the icon at the end of the field. 

  5. You'll be back at the "Advanced Filter" window.  Check the "Unique records only" box and click on OK.
  6. You now have a new list with the duplicates removed but your original list is still intact.