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Gone in a Flash


This week, Adobe announced it plans to stop updating and distributing Flash at the end of 2020. While this will come as a bit of a relief to some due to the seemingly never ending circle of vulnerabilities, warnings that your Flash player was out of date and updates, it does mean that any site that relies on Flash will need to transition to a different format such as HTML5, WebGL or WebAssembly.  (Flash updates are one of the reason we love Ninite.)

A number of browsers have already switched to asking to run Flash by default and, as it gets closer to the deadline, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge and Firefox will start disabling Flash by default. It will still be possible to enable it for a website until Adobe ceases support in 2020. Facebook has also said that they will shut off Flash games by the end of 2020.

So if your website still relies on Flash, you’ll need to start looking at the alternatives.  (And if there's a game you haven't finished yet that may not get updated, you might want to finish it too.)

Upcoming Tech Continuing Education

LauraSolomon-captionLaura Solomon, the Library Services Manager for the Ohio Public Library Information Network, is the morning speaker for this year's Tech Days. The workshop will be held on September 12 from 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at the Fitchburg Public Library and registration is now open. Choose from six different breakout sessions for the afternoon including STEM Programming with No Budget, #Hashtag: Promoting Your Library through Social Media, and our own Craig Ellefson and Tamara Ramski talking about the Digitization Kits.

If you're not attending the Wisconsin Library Association Conference, check out this opportunity. On October 18, Library Journal and School Library Journal are hosting their 8th annual FREE TechKnowledge (formerly the Digital Shift) Virtual Conference. This year's theme is Creating Equity Through Technology. Among this year's presenters are Jim Neal, the President of the American Library Association.

If you are attending the Wisconsin Library Association Conference* (and I really hope you do!), we are pleased to have some great technology programs for you including a keynote from Linda Liukas, a Finnish computer programmer and children's author, and Jessamyn West, library technologist, will be the WLTF luncheon speaker on Thursday. Registration will be open soon!

Also in October, the iSchool at UW Madison has a new course called 25 Free Tools for Librarians* that sounds awesome. Among the tools that will be covered are Wunderlist, Todo, Notability, Dragon, Convertible, Instapaper, and Kahoot. If I weren't otherwise occupied in October, I'd be signing up for this one!

Happy Learning!

** SCLS Member public libraries may use CE Grant funds to attend.


Search websites directly using Chrome’s Omnibox

I just learned a really cool feature using Chrome’s Omnibox (Chrome’s url address bar). You can use the Omnibox to directly search a specific website instead of having to go to that website’s home page. This will allow the user reach the desired content directly. The search feature could be really useful for someone who searches a website a lot like Wikipedia. The only caveat to using this feature is that you must have searched the website prior to attempting this.

Check to see if you can use this feature:

In Chrome > Go to Settings > Scroll down to the Search engine header > Click Manage search engines > Make sure the site you intend to search is listed in Other search engines, if it is you are good to go, if not then you will have to go to the website and do a quick search. After this it will automatically be added to the Other search engines location in Settings.

Search sites directly using Omnibox:

*We will be using Wikipedia.org as an example but this will work for any website

In Chrome > Start by clicking in the Omnibox (address bar) > Begin typing Wikipedia.org > You should notice on the right the Omnibox will display a message, “Press TAB to search Wikipedia” > Once we hit TAB the Omnibox will change slightly, showing “Search Wikipedia | “ in light blue > We can now type anything we would like to search for and click ENTER > You will now do a direct search of Wikipedia for whatever term you used.

Do your ads on Facebook ever seem a little off?


Have you ever asked yourself why is there an ad in my newsfeed suggesting a product that I would never buy?  I started getting ads for things I really wasn't interested in without knowing the cause.  You may not know this, but liking certain things on Facebook can cause the ads that display in your news feed to change. 

What would be ideal is an option to turn off ads altogether.  However, Facebook's business is based on providing marketers with detailed information on its users' interests.  Facebook primarily bases this information on what users’ follow. However, if you "like" something on Facebook that's a little out of your normal interests, you may start seeing unwanted ads. 

You do have the ability to alter your ad experience by following several steps.  First, go to Settings > Ads > click "Your Interests." You can delete an interest by hitting delete on the right of each interest. Also, under the "Advertisers you've interacted with" tab, you'll see all the advertisers whose ads you've clicked on and/or provided your information.  Here you'll also have the ability to delete entries from your ad-interaction information. Under the "whose ads you've clicked" sub-tab, you can even choose to stop seeing ads from a particular advertiser altogether. Hope this helps to make your Facebook ad experience more pleasant.

Tableau Public - Say Yes!

Cropped Tableau
I am listening to Tina Fey narrate her best-selling book “Bossypantsand find her story to be hilarious and inspiring. I especially like quotes she uses, with one of my favorites being:

“Say yes, and you’ll figure it out afterwards”

This quote hits home with me because it describes my approach to many things in life, including how I am learning Tableau. In February (5 months ago), I said yes to Tableau and now wish I had tried it years ago. Tableau Public is a FREE data visualization tool for creating stunning visualizations (dashboards and stories). Here is the South Central Library System (SCLS) Tableau Public site https://public.tableau.com/profile/scls#!/ that I am using to develop and test dashboard ideas.

In this post, I will share how to get started with Tableau Public and how I am "figuring it out". Hopefully, this will encourage you to say yes and start your own Tableau journey! Tina Fey also says; "The fun is always on the other side of a yes", so HAVE FUN!

Getting Started

  1. Download Tableau Public Desktop: https://public.tableau.com/en-us/s/download. Did I mention this is FREE!
  1. Locate a Dataset. For starters, use a report in Excel, CSV, or Google Sheets. Tableau lets you combine datasets, but I’ll save that is for a later post.
  1. Create a Tableau Public Profile: https://public.tableau.com/auth/signup. This is where you will save and share your work. When I first started, I didn’t want anyone to see my hacking so I didn’t save anything. I later found out that Tableau Public has the ability to hide workbooks until you are ready to share. (Phew!)

Figuring it Out

You’re off! If you are a bit anxious about "figuring it out", here is another Tina Fey quote; “THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities.”  To help you navigate these opportunities, here are a few of my favorite Tableau Tips and Resources:

Learn from the Experts

In Tableau Public you can follow authors, download (and save) their workbooks, and use them to re-engineer something similar. Deconstructing other author's workbooks has been the best way for me to learn! The South Central Library System (SCLS) profile currently follows some: 

 Tableau Training Materials

 2016 Tableau Conference Videos: http://tclive.tableau.com/SignUp

After signing up for free access, here are beginner videos I recommend:

YouTube Channels and Blog Posts (There are many more out there.)

Books I’ve Bought (I’ve checked out many more!)

  1. Few, S. (2013). Information dashboard design: Displaying data for at-a-glance monitoring. Burlingame, CA: Analytics Press.
  2. Sleeper, Ryan. (2017). Practical Tableau: 100 Tips, Tutorials, and Strategies from a Tableau Zen Master. Oreilly & Associates Inc.
  3. Tufte, E. R. (2015). The visual display of quantitative information. Graphic Press: Cheshire, Connecticut.
  4. Wexler, S., Shaffer, J., & Cotgreave, A. (2017). The big book of dashboards: Visualizing your data using real-world business scenarios.
  5. Wong, D. M. (2014). The Wall Street journal guide to information graphics. New York [u.a.: Norton.

Voice to text - where the technology is (or isn't)

SCLS offers an after hours, on call phone number for urgent problems related to network down-time and serious response time issues.  All calls that go to voice mail are automatically converted to text.   As a recent example, one of the texts read as: V2t

"So when you say router it's not about the Spa. so it's United Now I know you want me to pick up. I thought you said this. chocolate sauce to turn in alright."

How would you fix this problem?


Windows 10 Feature Updates

SCLS schedules Windows updates so that they run in the middle of the night when the computers are not in use.  For that reason, you probably don't even notice updates are being installed.  Microsoft has introduced a new classification of updates, called "Feature Updates" for Windows 10.  These feature updates are different than simple security patches.  The feature updates have the potential of making changes you will notice.  The latest feature update is called the 1703 Creator Update and we are in the process of deploying it to Windows 10 computers.  SCLS supports approximately 1,400 PCs and a little more than 100 of those have Windows 10 installed.  That number will increase as older PCs are replaced.

This Creator Update does result in a few changes.  We use centralized Group Policy and deploy scripts that make most of these changes invisible to users.  The one change you may see is that the Creator Update pins a Mail app shortcut to the taskbar.  The shortcut can stay there, but just keep in mind that SCLS is not recommending or supporting its use.  Office 365 web access is still our supported email solution.  If you would like to remove the Mail app shortcut, just right-click it and select "Unpin from taskbar."


Windows 10 Start Menu - Right Click Options

A few months ago Andrew wrote about the Windows 10 Start Menu.  Another feature of the Windows 10 Start Menu is that you can right click it to get this menu:


Most of this stuff is geared towards changing computer settings but I have found a few useful options

  • Shut down or sign out - Quickly logoff the computer
  • File Explorer - Launch the "My Computer" view
  • Desktop - Minimize all open windows to show the desktop

Right click the Windows 10 Start Menu to see if any of these options fit into your workflow!