Good Calculators, Google Forms, and more

WVLS has shared some short (3-15 min) "Digital Bytes" training videos recently that may be of interest to you or your library patrons:

Good CalculatorsGood Calculators
Time: 5:01
Jamie talks about an educational and fun tool that can help library patrons of all ages.
Watch

Google Forms
Time: 15:11
Anne talks about creating a Google Form and how to share it.  Watch

Social Media Message Optimizer
Time: 5:26
Jamie talks about using CoSchedule’s Social Media Message Optimizer to see if you’re getting the most out of your library’s social media posts, based on several factors. 
Watch

JCW Resume Builder
Time: 10:29
Anne talks about using the Job Center of Wisconsin online resume builder. Watch

WVLS Digital BytesUsing Bluejeans
Time: 10:46
Jamie demonstrates how to use Bluejeans as a moderator.  Watch

Scanning Documents On Your iPhone
Time: 3:24
Don’t have access to a scanner? Jamie talks about using your iPhone to scan documents as a PDF file.  Watch

You can find more of these "Digital Bytes" here on the WVLS website: https://wvls.org/digital-bytes/

Google Meet is Neat

Video-conference-5167472_1920 from PixbayWe use several applications for virtual meetings within our organization but sometimes they are in use at the same time and it’s nice to have an option that I can rely on if I want to have an impromptu meeting. Most of us already have a Google account of some sort whether it’s Gmail, G-Suite, or YouTube and that’s all you need to use a free application for virtual meeting called Google Meet. If you’re familiar with other video conferencing applications then you will be able to easily pick up how to use Google Meet.


To start a Google Meet session;

• Log into your Google account.
• Locate “Google Meet” and click on it
• Click “Join or Start Meeting”
• Enter a meeting name, click “Continue”
• Allow the mic and camera settings (if you so desire)
• Send an invite to whoever you would like to join your meeting. I usually miss that step and copy the link in the URL to send to attendees.


Google Meet can accommodate up to 100 people for up to an hour per meeting with unlimited meetings. If you would like more than that you can sign up for advanced options.

 

Image by Alexandra Koch from Pixabay.com

How to mix up your working from home routine

As working from home is lasting longer than expected, I find myself looking for ways to improve my productivity and experience.  I never realized how much being in the presence of others generates my creativity and improves my mood.  I have found some useful suggestions in the article “Getting Antsy? 9 Ways to Shake Up Working From Home.”

I wanted to share a few tips from this article that have helped me.  Of course, everyone is different so it’s important to find what works for you.  For instance, I get up early, enjoy my coffee, and work on my list of tasks for the day.  After that, I try to get out for a short walk with my dogs before my workday is set to begin.  This time allows me to wake up, clear my head, and time to revise my task list as needed.

Another suggestion I find useful is taking breaks.  During quarantine, I don’t have to commute so I have extra time to get up early and/or work later if I need to.  This is especially helpful because I have a teenage daughter that will be attending school virtually again starting in September.  Even though my breaks will be mostly devoted to checking in with her, I think it’s important for both of us that she has a time when she can interrupt me during the day to help her if she needs it. 

I spent time setting up a designated workspace over the summer.  I have turned our spare bedroom into an office space that we can both use when we need to.  Of course, having a laptop is nice because sometimes I enjoy moving to another room to change things up or even outside if the weather permits.  I found this has helped my overall mood and productivity during the pandemic. 

The final point in the article I think can help anyone working from home.  Taking time to stretch, play music, read, or anything else that can help you take an actual break from your work and computer is so important.  We can’t do our work well if we feel like we’re “living at work” instead of “working from home.”  Wishing everyone health and happiness during this challenging time.    

Spotting Neowise

A lot of people have been talking about the comet “Neowise” lately.  The comet is 3 miles wide and is made of ice and dust.  My family has been using the SkySafari phone app on an Android phone to spot the comet the last few nights.  The app is great at helping amateurs find objects in the sky.  You can download the free version of SkySafari to your phone through the Google  Thumbnail_Screenshot_20200723-134128_SkySafari Play Store.  There is no need to download the paid Pro or Plus versions.

The Neowise comet is supposed to be closest to Earth Thursday night.  If you want to use SkySafari to locate the comet, follow these steps:

  1. Download SkySafari from Google Play Store.
  2. After it downloads open it.
  3. The first time you open SkySafari, you will need to allow permission to access photos, media and files for the app to work.
  4. Next, you will need to allow SkySafari to access the device’s location.  I set it to allow only while using the app.
  5. The app should be open now, press Search at the bottom.
  6. Select Brightest Comets in the list.
  7. Select NEOWISE.  For now, it is located at the top of the list.
  8. At the bottom, click Center.  This will show the current location of Neowise.
  9. At night, take your phone outside and point up towards the sky in a Northwesterly fashion.  Move the phone around until Neowise shows up on the screen.

How to right-click with no mouse

Computer-mouse-outline-no-mouseRight-clicking the mouse button often gives you a pop-up menu with more options. This menu is contextual and the options given are based upon where you right-clicked. So what happens if your mouse breaks and you can't right-click. Thankfully Windows has a universal keyboard shortcut that does a right-click wherever your cursor is located. The key combination for this shortcut is Shift + F10.

There are other keyboard shortcuts available, so if anyone is interested in these just leave me a comment. If there is enough interest I will write more about these in my next post.

Image from ClipartPanda.com

Sanitizing Staff and Patron Electronic Devices

General Guidelines

Operating-system-1995434_1280SCLS recommends these general guidelines regarding sanitizing electronic devices in between staff and patron use:

  • Work with local public health officials and follow their guidelines, especially to establish frequency of cleaning, etc.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instruction for cleaning and disinfecting (see section below).

SCLS Tips (incorporates guidelines from CDC)

  • Wash or sanitize hands before sanitizing equipment.
  • Unplug the devices (mice, keyboard, touch screen monitors, etc.) from the PC. It is not necessary to unplug the power or turn off the PC.
  • If no guidance from manufacturer, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% isopropyl alcohol.
  • Do not spray directly onto the device. Always spray onto a cloth. Do not use paper towels. Microfiber or white/light cotton cloths (including old dish towels or t-shirts) are preferred.
  • Make sure wipes are damp, but not dripping. Dry surface thoroughly.
  • Do not get moisture into any openings, gaps, ports, keyboards, etc.
  • There is a concern that repeated and frequent cleaning of any electronic devices of a long period of time may cause problems. We do not know what the effect will be. These tips are based on manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Wash or sanitize hands after sanitizing equipment.

If all else fails, encourage patrons and staff to wash hands before and after use. Cleaning-service-3591146_1920

Ways to Reduce “Touch” on Touch Screens

  • Provide a stylus per patron that can be cleaned in between use (SCLS is researching these)
  • Reconfigure settings for self-check settings to reduce touch (for example, disable PIN)

Manufacturer’s Instructions

The following are known manufacturer’s instructions:

Encourage Washing Hands Hands-311366_1280

Based on access to cleaning supplies, it may not be feasible to perform frequent, if any, regular cleanings. Encouraging staff and
patrons to wash hands may be your only option. You may post signs regarding proper hand hygiene before and after using the computers to minimize disease transmission. 

Scan documents with iPhone

Our son is finishing up his first year of college from our kitchen instead of his dorm room due to COVID 19 stay-at-home orders. This week, I saw him taking pictures of his homework laid out on the kitchen counter. He said he uses Notes on his iPhone to scan his homework/tests to a pdf for submitting online, and that it was a useful tool I should try. Here is how I got started:

Apple_Notes_(iOS)

  1. Open Notes and create a new note.
  2. Select the Camera icon and select “Scan Documents”. If you do not see the Camera icon, check Settings to make sure Notes is connected to iCloud or the local notes folder on the device.
  3. Take a picture of the document and adjust the scan to fit the page. Select “Keep Scan”. Continue scanning pages to the document and then select "Save". All the pages will be combined into one pdf.
  4. Select the Upload icon to send or share.
  5. Optional: Select the Upload icon and then the Markup icon to add text or a signature. 

Begin Where you Left Off in Acrobat Reader

I recently had to read a lengthy document in PDF form.  It was over 30 pages long and I read it over the course of three days.  What I found really frustrating was that Acrobat Reader would always open the document at Page 1 the next day when I’d resume reading.  Microsoft Word has a feature built-in that let’s you resume where you left off the last time.  When you reopen a Word document, a Welcome back message appears at the right-hand side of the window.  Just click the Welcome back message and Word automatically takes you back to where you left off. 

WelcomeBack
Welcome Back message in Word

If Word has this feature, you would think Acrobat Reader has something similar.  A quick Google search pointed me to instructions for enabling a similar feature in Acrobat Reader.  To configure Acrobat Reader to open a document where you left off, please follow these instructions:

  1. Open Acrobat Reader DC
  2. Click Edit
  3. Click Preferences...
  4. Click Documents
  5. Check the box for Restore last view settings when reopening documents
    Restore

Now your Acrobat Reader will open PDF files where you left off and at your previous Zoom Level.

Searching for Census Tracts? - replacements for American Fact Finder.

For many years LINKcat libraries in SCLS have used the U.S. Census Bureau's "American Fact Finder" address search tool to determine the Census tract and/or the legal  municipality of patron addresses.  The U.S. Census Bureau has discontinued access to the American Fact Finder tool as of 3/31/2020.  Here are some options for library staff to use to help determine the Census tract or municipality for patron records.

The U.S. Census Bureau is now providing an updated digital Census Tract map that can be found here: https://tigerweb.geo.census.gov/tigerweb/ You have to enable these options in the left sidebar - Census Tracts, Blocks layer and the Places and County Subdivisions layer - to indicate the type of information you are searching for. Enter the address in the Address Search bar along the top to find where a particular residence falls within these areas.

Another resource is My Vote WI - this works well to determine smaller incorporated places and townships. The exception to this is places like Village of Brooklyn which is in multiple counties, because the My Vote site doesn't distinguish which county an address is in.

AccessDane provides county subdivision-level info via address searches for Dane County addresses only.

Wisconsin Hometown Locator:  https://wisconsin.hometownlocator.com/maps/  Address Based Research & Map Tools.
 
Wisconsin Statewide Parcel Map:  https://maps.sco.wisc.edu/Parcels/   After you enter the address you need to right click the map to get the info.

Big thanks to Alicia, Joe and Rachel for compiling these resources!

 

The Big Sweep

Gothic CraigMy favorite job in high school was working at a fast-food restaurant one town over from where I lived. During my first week on the job, the manager handed me a broom and told me to sweep the lobby, which he considered to be everything in front of the counter. I really didn’t want to sweep up the whole restaurant so I handed the broom back to my manager and explained that I hadn’t been trained to sweep yet, which is not at all true, but it worked, I got out of sweeping the floor…once.


I noticed Office 365 now has a sweep feature and I wondered what it might be used for, here's what I found out. The sweep feature is part of a suite of tools Outlook implemented to help organize your inbox, which I could really use some help with so I tried it and thought this is the kind of sweeping I could get behind.


Sweeping your inbox is really easy too. Highlight a message in your inbox and click the sweep tab above in the toolbar. A window will appear giving you several options of what to do with the message. I’ve been mostly using the first option of “Move all messages from the Inbox folder”, this moves all the messages only from that particular sender, then choose where you want that message and all previous messages from that sender put. You can also choose to have all future messages from that sender put in a folder automatically.

 

Update: These days I enjoy sweeping my floors. As a matter of fact, I have a different broom for almost every room in my house and two just for the garage.