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Consumer Reports Buying Guide - via Badgerlink

With the holiday season upon us, I was not thrilled when I had to change my focus from buying tech toys to researching washing machines. My very old washing machine died right before Thanksgiving. The dryer has also been making gremlin noises for months, so replacing them both made the most sense. 

I wanted to make a decision quickly to take advantage of Black Friday sales (and get back to baking cookies), but I also wanted a good value product that meets our family’s needs. After spending way too much time reading online – often biased - reviews, I turned to the Consumer Report Buying Guide which is freely available to all Wisconsin residents via Badgerlink databases. 

Here is the search technique I used to access it:

1. Go to https://badgerlink.dpi.wi.gov and select All Resources. If needed, LoginThe site looks at your internet connection to see if you are in Wisconsin, but you can always login with your library card if it doesn’t recognize you.


2. Select Academic Search Premier. Consumer Reports Buying Guide is indexed in Academic Search Premier, but is also indexed in other Badgerlink databases including MasterFILE complete.  I picked Academic Search Premier only because it is listed first.



3. Select Publications. This shows you all the publications included in this database along with what years are included.



4. Enter “consumer reports buying guide” in the browsing publications section, select browse, and click on the title



5. Select 2019 to limit to the most current buying guide.



6. Scroll down or add a product name to the search terms.  In my case, I added AND wash* so that it looked for washer or washing. I took note, however, to look at the Fitness Trackers buying guide before I go shopping for my Dad's gift.



7. Select the PDF's of interest. The quick guide ranks models by overall performance, includes test results for key features, and recommends models.  


I used this information to find deals for some of the highly rated washers & dryers and ordered online to avoid the Black Friday fury. 

Some libraries have paid subscriptions to the Consumer Reports database, which has similar information.  I still like the compact and easy to print Consumer Reports Buying Guide, and you can’t beat the price – free from Badgerlink.

Happy Shopping!

Instagram Shopping Collection Feature…just in time for the holidays!

You’ve probably noticed a lot more advertisements appearing on your Instagram feed as the holiday season is rapidly approaching.  In November, Instagram released some new features for users to interact with these posts.  The most notable of these features is the ability to “save” products to a personal “Shopping Collection.”

When users click on a product tag in stories or on their feed, they will now see an option to save the product to a separate list.  Users can now create a wishlist on Instagram that takes them right to a product when they are ready to purchase it. 

You can add an item to your Shopping Collection by clicking on the icon:


You can access your Shopping Collection by going to your profile and selecting it from the Saved Collections on your profile.


Unfortunately, there is currently no way to share your Shopping Collection with another IG User or export the information.  After doing some research, it seems users are asking for this ability already.  Hopefully, IG will work on making this feature even better!   

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!

Who's listening? Who has access?

IoTThe shopping season is underway! The ACLU's article "The Privacy Threat From Always-On Microphones Like the Amazon Echo" about the privacy implications of “always-on” recording devices came across my path yesterday, and it got me thinking and looking for a good video or two that would highlight some of the current concerns about "smart," internet-connected devices. I found these two, which I think are definitely worth a view.

(9 min) "What your smart devices know (and share) about you"Once your smart devices can talk to you, who else are they talking to? Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu wanted to find out -- so they outfitted Hill's apartment with 18 different internet-connected devices and built a special router to track how often they contacted their servers and see what they were reporting back. The results were surprising -- and more than a little bit creepy. Learn more about what the data from your smart devices reveals about your sleep schedule, TV binges and even your tooth-brushing habits -- and how tech companies could use it to target and profile you. (This talk contains mature language.)

(17 min) "Internet of Things Security"Ken Munro shows us how insecure Internet of Things products are and how easy it is to hack them. The big question is: how can we use these products in a safe way?

The takeaway for me from the videos was not that IoT devices = BAD, but that users of these devices should be aware of the privacy and security implications. If you are considering purchasing devices that connect to the internet (and there are a lot of them these days!), make sure you know what you're getting into and weigh the potential loss of privacy (and security risks) with the benefit these devices will bring to your home.

And if you opt for smart devices, here are some of the security recommendations from the second video:

  • use long, STRONG passwords
  • use PINs that are longer than 4 digits on smart phones 
  • apply patches and updates to your devices
  • don't buy products for which you're not sure about the privacy or security

I'm still looking for some good articles about IoT devices and their uses in libraries. So far I've found a couple that talk about the potential (people counting, program attendance, etc), but none that really weigh in on what patron privacy concerns there may be. (If you have any recommendations, please let me know!)

What internet-connected smart devices have you added to your home? Your library? What do you love or hate about them?

Handling PDFs on Public Computers

The Help Desk has been asked a few times about opening PDF files on public computers.  If you click on a PDF file while browsing, the PDF will open within the browser by default.  If you want to open the PDF with Acrobat Reader and have a few extra features, follow these instructions.


  1. After the PDF displays within the browser, click the Download button at upper-right
    Chrome - Download

  2. Save to (My) Documents or your USB flash drive if you have one
  3. At the bottom left of the Chrome Browser, click the up arrow next to the file you just downloaded
    Chrome - Downloaded
  4. Click Always Open in Adobe Reader

Internet Explorer

  1. After the PDF loads within the browser, click the Save button at the upper-left
    IE - Save

  2. Save to (My) Documents or your USB flash drive if you have one
  3. Minimize the browser
  4. From the Desktop, open the (My) Documents folder or Computer >>> then double-click your flash drive
  5. Double-click the PDF file you downloaded
  6. It should Open in Acrobat Reader

A Grammarly Update

GrammarlyLast year I posted an article about using Grammarly with your internet browser and Windows. Will liked it so much he wrote about it too! So far, I’ve been pretty happy with the free version and have no plans of upgrading to the premium package. However, right about the one year mark from installing Grammarly it stopped working and gave me a message that it needed to be updated. I still don’t know what caused the error, could it be my browser was updated and wasn’t compatible with Grammarly anymore or was it a timeout feature on Grammarly’s part? Anyway, I followed the instructions to update Grammarly in my web browser of choice and it still wouldn’t work, I kept getting the same message. After some trial and error, I discovered I needed to completely uninstall Grammarly from my browser add-ons and re-install it in order for it to start working again. You could also upgrade to the premium version since we wrote about it last year they have added a plagiarism detection feature, which sounds cool, right Will?


According to the free Grammarly, this article is near perfect, only two mistakes that need to be corrected. I'll consider this a win.

Screen Time

As part of the newest IOS update for my iPhone, Apple has included a new feature called 'Screen Time'.  This feature allows you to track how much you use your phone, pick it up, and how many notifications you receive.  This is a great, and also scary, way to see how much you are actually on your phone.

The feature even breaks it down so you can see exactly how much time and when you spend it on certain apps throughout the day.  If this data scares you afterwords, they have some cool IMG_E4120 IMG_E4120settings to help.  You can pick and choose a schedule to use your phone or time limits for certain apps per day.

The pick ups data is interesting because you don't realize how much you check your phone throughout the day.  The same goes for notifications.  You can check out my weekly stats in the pictures provided.

This feature was also rolled out to iPads, so if you don't have an iPhone you can still use this with those too.  Check it out sometime, the results will shock you.  

Using Macros on Google Sheets

Using keyboard shortcuts for certain things comes naturally to me. Most popular functions have them -- ctrl+c and ctrl+v for copy and paste, ctrl+tab to go to the next tab in your browser, and ctrl+tab+shift to go back a tab. Not everything that could have a shortcut does. I stumbled across Macros while I was trying to find how to add a new row to my spreadsheet on Google Sheets. There is no shortcut. I was about to enter 10 more rows, and although I could have done it manually, it just felt like there should be a way to do it faster. And that way was through Macros.

How to set up a keyboard shortcut through Macros on Google Sheets

1. Navigate to the Macros option through the Tools option on the toolbar.


2. Once you click Record macro, a popup will show up at the bottom of the screen.

I suggest changing the box from absolute references to relative references, otherwise your changes will only affect the cells that are being changed during the recording. For example, when I was creating a macro for entering a row, I had absolute references selected. This meant, no matter where I was on the sheet when I did the keyboard shortcut, it would go back to the place where I originally recorded the macro and insert a row there. I had to change it to relative so that it would do the action where ever I was located on the sheet.


3. Do the action. It will record that action in the macro.



4. Save the macro, and add a name. One bad thing about these macros is that you are limited to Ctrl+Alt+Shift+a number between 0 and 9, so you can only have 10 macros.


5. Your macro has been saved and is available to use. You can access it through the toolbar or through its shortcut you created.


Please note that the first time you try to use a macro, it will ask you for permission to run. Give it permission to run, then you're ready to use it!


You can use this for various tasks, such as coloring a cell/entire row or column, changing a font, and anything else you can do through regular commands can be put into a macro. I just created one that changed a font to bright green and bolded Comic Sans.

Windows 10 - logging out and restarting

Since we started rolling out staff PCs with Windows 10 on them I been receiving Help Desk calls about how to restart or log out. I will admit that when I first got Windows 10 it took me a while to figure out how to log out. So I thought that I would write this blog posting to show you how to do it.

Here are the steps to log out of Windows 10:

1. Click on your start button


2. Click the icon with the person shape in it

3. Click Sign out
4. You are now logged out of Windows 10, good job!


If instead you want to restart your Windows 10 PC, here are the steps to do that:

1. Click on your start button 


2. Click the icon with the power symbol in it 


3. Click Restart
4. Your Windows 10 PC will now restart

I hope this helps you figure out some of the new Windows 10 start menu options. 

Library of Congress Crowdsourcing Transcription Project

LOCCrowdThe Library of Congress (LOC) recently launched a new transcription initiative and they are looking for help - from you and your community. The project is called Crowd and the LOC is using the power of crowdsourcing to improve access to their digitized collection of primary sources.

The five collections or campaigns that volunteers can help with are Clara Barton: "Angel of the Battlefield," Letters to Lincoln, Civil War Soldiers: Disabled but not disheartened," Branch Rickey: Changing the Game, and Mary Church Terrell: Advocate for African Americans and Women.

When I looked today (November 1), the Diaries and Journals, 1849 for Clara Barton are almost complete and the project is only a week old! The transcriptions are all made and reviewed by volunteers before being returned to the Library's catalog.

While I didn't try my hand at transcription, I did capture an image of what the transcription page looks like. If you're good at LOCCrowd2jpgdeciphering handwriting and want to help make these important resources more accessible to everyone, I encourage you to join in. Volunteers can register for an account that allows you to tag items and review transcriptions. An account is not needed to transcribe documents.

The LOC is very encouraging, too. In the transcription window, it says "Go ahead, start typing. You got this!" Now to find the time to help...

I first saw this project in the October 19 issue of AL Direct and forgot about it until today. Thanks to Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers for reminding me of this project (and giving me a topic to write about!)