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Polling your Patrons or Staff

I have come across a tool lately that is not new but often forgotten on the internet.  Polls are a quick and easy way to get input from users about a variety of things.  Next time you are trying to plan a staff outing or a party, try polling them to find a date and time that works for all.  Or you could ask patrons what upcoming programs they would like to see.

There are a ton of websites out there that help you create polls.  One that I really like is Doodle.com because it's easy to use and looks nice.  To get started you enter a title, location (optional), and a note about the poll if you want.  Then you can choose any dates and times you want opinions on.  You can also add text options if you just want the participants to choose that instead.  



After creating the options, you can choose different settings such as limiting participants to a single vote, hiding the participants names and votes, or allowing the participants to say that none of the options work for them.  Lastly, enter your name or library's name and email where the results will get sent.  Ta-da!  You made a poll.  There will be a link that you can copy and paste on to social media, email, or post on your web page to reach the participants you want.  They will not need to create an account to vote either.

Once you get responses, you can export the data to print, PDF, or Excel to view or share with others and make a final decision.  I think this is a great tool because it's easy to make and easy for people to respond quickly.  Check out the test poll I made here to help me choose a baby name and practice voting!  

Viewing Images on Google search

In an attempt to make it more difficult to steal copyrighted images, Google removed the ability to “View Image” in its search last month. Instead “Visit” remains an option which takes you to the website that contains that image. Once you’re on the website, it’s more likely that you will see the copyright information for that image if you plan on using it elsewhere. But for a lot of Google users, including me, that aren’t planning on using the images they find, it is just another step to look at an image. Not to mention having to navigate through websites that may be sketchy, filled with ads, or may not even host that image on that particular web page anymore

There are a couple workarounds to view an image on Google.

You can right click on the image preview and choose “Open image in new tab”, “View image”, or something similar depending on your browser. This will open up the original image just as it did before.

An alternative is using a browser extension. There are a couple extensions already made that adds the “View Image” button back to your search results. Here is the one that I use for Chrome and its Firefox counterpart.

If you do plan on using the image elsewhere, do pay attention to the copyrights associated with the image, but if you just want to look at images the way you did before, these will work.

Converting Old into New

New_year_father_timeIf you've been using computers as long as I have you're bound to have some old files laying around. The problem with these old files is that unless you still have the software you used to create them with you can no longer open or edit them. How sad! Well cheer up! I'm here to tell you how to convert those old files into new files. Back in 2009 Craig wrote a TechBits article about this and I thought it might be time to talk about it again. Just in case you or a patron has an old file that they really need to work with.

There is a website called Zamzar that offers a free online file conversion service. They can convert lots of old file formats into newer file formats so that they can be worked on using currently available software. Once you go to their website the conversion steps are as follows:

  1. Select the files you need to convert
  2. Select the file format you wish to convert to
  3. Enter the email address at which you wish receive the converted files
  4. Click the convert button on the screen

The files you chose are then uploaded to their server, converted, and then emailed to you. Simple as can be and it only takes a few minutes.

Add-ons and Plug-ins

We've talked about finding and using public domain images quite a bit here on TechBits - as far back as 2009! More recently, I've been finding add-ons and plug-ins that make it even easier to use public domain images in your documents and presentations thanks to Richard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers*.

We've talked about Pixabay before, I think, as another place to find public domain images. It's one of my go-to sources for images for presentations. It's even easier now to find and use photos in Word or PowerPoint by using the Pixabay Images plug-in for Office. If you need help finding and installing PowerPoint plug-ins, Richard has you covered with his video here.

For Google Docs, Richard has a post showing how to use the Pixabay and Full Deck add-ons. The Full Deck add-on is new to me and uses Unsplash that Kerri talked about last December.

WordCloudMost recently, I used the Word Cloud Generator add-on for Google Docs. I had forgotten how much I like the visual representation of the important words in a discussion or exercise. Here's an example from a recent discussion about purpose. 

While I haven't used this add-on yet, It's something to keep in mind when I need to use icons in my presentations. The Noun Project has "over a million curated icons" and they're now available through an add-on for Google Docs and Slides.

Google Slides doesn't have a large number of add-ons available yet. Luckily, one of them is Unsplash for Google Slides. It's very easy to use and makes adding images to your presentations a breeze.

*If you haven't followed Richard yet, you really should! And, if you missed him in January when he presented for the 2018 Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference, you can watch the recording here.

Digital Bytes

WVLS-DigitalBytesWisconsin Valley Library System (WVLS) has launched a new training series called Digital Bytes, whose purpose is to provide short, consistent training in a recorded, digital format. Topics will include some tech topics topics like email etiquette, social media highlights, what's new in Facebook, and more.

The first episode launched last week -- "Customer Service, the Role of Positive Language" and can be found on the Digital Bytes page of the WVLS website.

If you like short video trainings, keep an eye out for these!

Display formulas in Excel

Ever need to look through the formulas on a spreadsheet?  Maybe you need to update them, maybe you're trying to fix a problem or maybe you just want to know what's going on.  Sure you can go through and click on each cell to show the formula but did you know you can set Excel to show the formulas instead of the values in the regular display?

Select the Formulas tab and click on the Show Formulas option.  Now, instead of showing the results, Excel will display the formulas themselves for the entire spreadsheet.  Since the formulas are often longer than the results, the columns may also automatically resize to be able to display the formulas. 


When you're done, just click on Show Formulas again and the spreadsheet will go back to showing the results.  It will also automatically resize the columns back to their original settings. 

Books, Books, and More Books - 2018 Edition

Litsy2018It's been a while since I've written about books which means I have lots to tell you about, so let's dive in.

Back in June of 2016, I started using Litsy and wanted to give you an update as I recently reached a milestone. I've read 171 books and 57,255 pages! And, I finally cracked 1000 in Litfluence and am at 1,017. You can see my earlier Litsy posts here and here.

Today on Twitter, a few of the mystery authors that I follow were talking about this new website called CrimeReads and, of course, I had to check it out. The site features essays, interviews, reading lists, and some nonfiction as well. You can sign up for an email list or add it to your Feedly account. Even if you're not a mystery reader like me, this site will be great for providing readers advisory in the many genres covered here: mystery, noir/hardboiled, suspense, espionage/thriller, and legal/procedural. Add this one to your list!

If you haven't heard, the awesome website EarlyWord no longer provides daily book coverage. To help fill the gap, Library Journal has started Book Pulse. According to LJ, Book Pulse is "a daily update designed to help collection development and readers' advisory librarians navigate the never-ending wave of new books and book news." You can subscribe to the daily emails or bookmark the site to visit regularly.

I've mentioned BookRiot in the past when I've shared some of my favorite book podcasts. BookRiot recently announced a new newsletter called Check Your Shelf and its tag line is "The Librarian's One-Stop Shop for News, Book Lists, and More." BookRiot won't overwhelm you with email as this newsletter comes out every two weeks. Between these two newsletters, you should be covered in the new book realm!

And, thanks to Becky Spratford of RA for All, I was reminded of the annual "The Morning News Tournament of Books" which started today. In addition to the 2018 brackets, you can also go back to see the books in past tournaments going back to 2005. This is a great RA resource and is also great fun. How many of this year's books have you read*?

*I've only read one - Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders but a couple of them are on my list for this year.




Using Instagram Photo Editing and Filters without posting the photo online


I have tried a lot of apps for editing photos.  I found Instagram very easy to use and liked the variety in filtering options.  I wanted a way to save the edited photos without having to post all of them to my account.  After some research, I found a clever way to do this.

Here’s How:

  1. Open Instagram and visit your profile
  2. Tap the gear icon on iOS (or the three dots on Android) to go to Options
  3. Scroll down and toggle on Save Original Photos
  4. Turn on Airplane Mode on your device
  5. Open the photo in Instagram and edit as usual
  6. Once you’ve finished, skip adding a caption or other info and tap Share
  7. The post will fail (because you have turned on airplane mode)
  8. You will get a failed notification that you may close out of
  9. The photo will now be saved to your camera roll
  10. Turn off Airplane Mode and use the photo however you like