« March 2018 | Main | May 2018 »

More on HTTPS

Chrome-SecureDo you remember this TechBits post about http and https? If you have time, read it over again and be sure to watch the 3-minute CommonCraft video because you're going to be hearing a lot more about https in upcoming months.

What are the advantages of https?

  • Confidentiality - information is passed securely between websites and browsers
  • Authenticity - when you see that little lock, you know you're really talking to the website that belongs to that name
  • Integrity - that lock indicates that the content of the site hasn't been changed by a 3rd party on its way to your browser

Chrome and Firefox are the browsers at the forefront of the push to move all sites to https. They already warn you that a page is "not secure" if it is http and prompting you to put in a username and password.  Very soon (July 2018 for Chrome), they will be alerting users that ALL http pages are "not secure."

The winds of change are blowing
As websites move to https, a couple of things will happen:

  • Everyone with a website will be scrambling to configure their sites to be https
  • Very old browsers may not be able to use https sites

SCLS has a team of folks looking at what needs to happen to move SCLS websites and SCLS-hosted library websites to https, and we and will be sharing more information on the SCLS Technology News blog and in Top 5 emails as we have more details. If your library has a website that isn't hosted with SCLS, you may need to look into what steps to take to enable https for your website.

In the meantime, if you're looking for some more in-depth information, try these posts:

Using DuckDuckGo for Internet searching

Over the years, Google has become synonymous with Internet searching for many people, including myself. While Google is certainly convenient, I think it's a good idea to use alternative search engines as well. 

Years ago, I used DuckDuckGo and recently I was surprised to learn that it's still around. In addition to navigating directly to https://duckduckgo.com/ to execute your search, you can set it as a default search engine in your browser settings, or install the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials browser extension. You can also download the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser as an app on your phone or tablet.

Duckduckgo-privacyOne feature on the app that I like is the "privacy grade" that assigns a letter grade to each web site that you visit. You can click on the grade and get information about how well the web site protects your privacy.

Next time you have to do some Internet searching, try out DuckDuckGo as an alternative to Google and see if it works for you!


Exploring Chrome Extensions Volume 5: Unshorten.link

Welcome back to another monthly installment of Exploring Chrome Extensions.

Shortened links are pretty popular and often used these days. They are great at reducing characters in incredibly long URLs making it easier for users to view and it looks less like spam. The problem with these shortened links is that they could potentially be sending you somewhere you don’t want to go.

This is where Unshorten.link comes into play. Unshorten.link is a Google Chrome extension that works whenever the user clicks a shortened link. The extension will take you to a buffer page where it will show the user the full URL that has been shortened and will let you know if the site is safe or not.  Keep in mind it is hard to say whether or not the extension saying if the site is safe is truly accurate though.

Check out the extension here

Visualizing Funding for Libraries













Finding funding sources for a library capital campaign, equipment, or programming is easier using the free Foundation Center’s data tool:



Sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Visualizing Funding for Libraries' provides access to who is funding (U.S. foundations) and where funding is going (U.S. libraries) using interactive maps, charts, and relationship diagrams.

I’m on a grants team looking for capital campaign funding for a rural Wisconsin library in Green County. To get started, I watched this webinar which offered great tips on how to use the tool:

Visualizing Funding for Libraries: You’ve Gathered the Data, Now What


Here are a few search strategies I am using:

  • Look at funders and recipients in Congressional District 1, 2, and 3 (i.e. Southern WI)
  • Use the “MORE” or advanced search options to look at support for “capital and infrastructure”
  • Sort all WI funders by number of grants given, look at the dollar values and funder profiles.
  • Sort grants by dollar value, look at year and details about the grant.

I also added map layers by selecting the U.S. Demographics icon in the bottom right hand corner of the map.

To understand the underlying data, I checked the FAQ:

“The data set includes foundation funding from 2006-present in support of five subject category areas: 1) academic, 2) government, and 3) public libraries; 4) archives and special collections; and 5) school libraries and media centers. The grants were coded to one or more of these categories by Foundation Center. Federal grants include only 2016 data at this time.” “The data set will be updated weekly as new data becomes available.”

This means that it may be worth my time to go beyond grants that just went to libraries. For additional research, I plan to visit my local Funding Information Network to use their resources, including the Foundation Directory Online (Professional), which they make available for free. I found six locations in Wisconsin, using the Foundation Center map lookup:

Funding Information Network


The closest location for me is the UW-Madison Memorial Library Grants information Collection: https://www.library.wisc.edu/memorial/collections/grants-information-collection/

There, I will continue to look for local funders and grants that align with our other programs/initiatives, i.e. technology, early literacy, workforce development, STEM, etc.   

Quickly launch your camera app on a your phone (Never miss that cute picture again)


Samsung released the Galaxy S9 series last month.  This reminded me of a feature I use all the time on my Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: Camera quick-launch.  All you need to do is tap the power button twice and BOOM, the camera launches. (This works on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and newer phones.) 

No more unlocking, searching for the camera app, and missing that once in a lifetime moment between your new newborn twins and 7 week old yellow lab puppy.  (PS If you have newborn twins and a 7 week old lab puppy you are amazing.)

Windows Trick

This seemed like a good idea for a TechBits article when I thought of it in the middle of the night.  Now that I am rested and my brain is functioning, not so much.  Let's go with it anyway.  If you're like me, you may get to a point in which you have too many windows open on your screen.  You don't necessarily want to close them, but you would like to minimize all of them except the one you're currently working on.  The easiest way to do this is to click-and-hold the title bar of the window you want to keep on your screen and shake it vigorously.  After a few shakes, the other windows will minimize.  This works with Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10.

I used free software called "Ezvid" to create this short video demonstrating the procedure.

Download Minimize Windows Tip

Some Google Image search tips

Do you use Google's image search? If so, here are some excellent posts with tips from the SearchReSearch blog:


Happy image searching!

2D barcode scanner available

Xenon Barcode ScannerWe are now offering the Honeywell Xenon 1900 a 2D barcode scanner for sale on our website. The advantage of a 2D barcode scanner over a traditional barcode scanner is that it can scan a barcode on a screen. If a patron comes into your library with a photo of their barcode on their phone, this scanner will read it. This scanner also comes with a built-in stand. It only costs $230.00 which is about $100.00 more than the standard barcode scanner. I'm starting to feel like I'm starring in my own infomercial trying to sell you something, but I'm not, because we can't break this up into three easy payments. I just wanted to give you a little bit of information about a new product that we're offering now.

The new 2D barcode scanner is perfect for check-out stations but is probably not ideal for the other areas that use barcode scanners throughout the library. We will still continue to offer the less expensive Voyager 9540 model as well.

Like the other Honeywell Voyager series barcode scanner we purchase, this scanner comes with a 5-year warranty. As a side note, the spec sheet for the Xenon 1900 series scanner says it can withstand up to 50 drops to concrete from a distance of 6 feet. I wonder if that would be equal to one drop from 300 feet and if that would be covered under warranty?