Trello: Project Management Tool

I've used a handful of tools in order to keep track of projects and things I should be working on, but so far Trello has been my favorite. Its interface is simple and modern.

In it, you are given a board on which you put categories, then in those categories you put cards (or tasks). You can move your cards around as you progress on your projects and give them color-coded labels. It doesn't just have to be for personal tasks and can be collaborative for group projects. Integrations such as Google Drive are available.

It's easier to understand Trello through visuals than text, so here is a screenshot from an example involving a team creating an app for dogs.

Trello

You can view the rest of this board and check out Trello here: https://trello.com/b/R6DSCtsw/building-an-mvp-barker

Keep Talking...About Libraries!

One of the side-effects of being a librarian is that I love to talk about libraries and all they offer to anyone and everyone. I've been known to talk about placing holds at the library, using Libby and OverDrive, and online databases with people I've just met. It's an occupational hazard. I recently read an article in Public Libraries Online called "Never Shut Up About the Awesome Programs at the Library!" which indicates I'm not alone in talking up the library at every opportunity.

When I read this article, SCLS was in the midst of updating all the online resource information as subscriptions change and update at the beginning of the year. It reminded me that getting patrons to use our online resources is an ongoing challenge. Back in 2015, WiLS devoted their Regional Community Meetings to the topic of "how to promote, teach others about, and evaluate your electronic resources" (you can see the slides and notes here).

DatabasesAs you're looking at your online resource statistics from 2018 or collecting the numbers for your annual report, you might be asking yourself similar questions - how do we get our patrons to use this particular resource, attend programs, or check out more books? I have a couple of suggestions for you. As the Continuing Education Consultant, staff training is high on my list! All library staff -  even those who don't work directly with the public - can be the biggest champions of the library. Take a few minutes at each staff meeting to highlight an upcoming program, online resource, or collection. Encourage staff to explore the online resources as part of their daily duties and share what they learn with each other.

Other training resources:

Most importantly - talk about the library and all that you offer. The last paragraph of the article I referenced above is all about this. Talk about the statistics compiled for the annual report, the programs coming up, the online resources you have, and more. Keep talking up the library!

Deleting old or bad email addresses from Outlook's Auto-Complete list

Even though Andrew covered this topic back in Dec. 2014 I thought it might be good to cover it again.

You've all encountered Outlook's Auto-Complete feature when you start typing in the To, Cc, or Bcc fields in Outlook and you get a list of suggested email accounts based on the first few letters you've already entered. These suggestions are coming from that feature and is trying to save you time in entering someone's full email address.

This time saving list is sometimes your friend and other times it is not. If you have ever mistyped an email address and sent it, then that incorrect email address is now stored in your Auto-Complete list. This also goes for an employee that you emailed frequently and now that employee has moved on to other ventures. Their email address will still come up if you type the first few letters of their email account.

In order to delete theses bad and old email addresses from your Auto-Complete list you must do the following steps:

  1. Open a new email message.
  2. Type the first few characters of the email address that you want to delete.
  3. Use your mouse and click the 'X' next to that email address or you can use the down arrow key to highlight that email address and then press the Delete key.

Now you know how to keep your Auto-Complete list current and up-to-date.

 

Talk To Books - AI learning and human conversation

If you talked to books, how would they answer?

Google's new project, Talk to Books, is all about learning more about how a computer understands you when you talk to it using everyday language. 

In Talk to Books, when you type in a question or a statement, the model looks at every sentence in over 100,000 books to find the responses that would most likely come next in a conversation. The response sentence is shown in bold, along with some of the text that appeared next to the sentence for context.

You can read more about the project here and you can can try it out here: https://books.google.com/talktobooks/

Craig and I took it for a few spins. Our favorite query was "Why is Craig awesome?" Here are couple of the results that made us giggle (paying attention to the response in bold):

AwesomeCraig
Click on image to view full-size


Interested in more AI-related projects from Google?  Try Semantris.

From Google: "Semantris is a set of word association games powered by machine learning. By training on billions of conversations from the internet, the AI has learned how to predict which words, phrases and even sentences might come next in a conversation." Semantris

There are 2 versions -- Arcade (which is timed) and Blocks (which has a Tetris-y look).

Looks like computers are on well on their way to communicating effectively with us when they take over the world!

Some recent Digital Bytes

WVLSWisconsin Valley Library Service has some new (short!) Digital Bytes training videos ---

Dropbox
Time: 6:23
Description: Jamie talks about Dropbox, and how she uses it for library collaboration.
Watch    Training Guide

Password Protecting a Document
Time: 3:30
Description: Jamie shares how you can protect a document with a password.
Watch

Boomerang for Gmail
Time: 6:30
Description: Jamie talks about how she uses Boomerang to help keep her email organized.
Watch

The complete collection of Digital Bytes can be found here and includes a wide range of topics from technology to continuing education, reference resources, customer service and more : https://wvls.org/digital-bytes/

Remove background

Rose recently covered how to add a background color to an image that has none. What if you want to remove a background from an image?

Have I got a cool site for you! I just read about it on the Cool Tools blog, and I think it will become one of my favorites.

https://www.remove.bg/

Simply upload a photo (or enter a URL), and the background will be removed, leaving you with background-less image that you can download. I tested on a few different photos and had pretty good success. It's not perfect of course and currently it only works on photos with people, but it's way, way, WAY better than trying to select and remove the background manually! 

From my testing, I had the best luck when the photo was nice and crisp and the subject wasn't in shadows. Here are some examples:

2Craigs

Moustache

Wow

Wisconsin's Digital Library Updates

LibbyUpdate0219croppedRegular users of Wisconsin's Digital Library through the Libby App noticed some recent updates. One of my personal favorites is the improved wait time display. Now it's easier to see the approximate wait time for my holds by tapping on the little calendar icon. I also love seeing my place in line go up and all the other data about the holds that I've placed.

Another big update was adding new Shelf tips - including one that encourages readers to return books when they're done rather than waiting for the loan to expire. The prompt appears based on the reader's progress and the number of others waiting for the title. This means the next patron will get the book earlier and, hopefully, cut down on some of the long wait times in our collection.

Shelf2OverDrive updated the Loans display on Shelf page. It's easy to see how much of a book you've read or listened to with the progress bar. OverDrive also lets you know if there are others waiting for the book and prompts you to place a hold or renew a title when your expiration date is getting close. (I better get going on The Breakers!)

To see other updates to Libby, visit the Libby menu on the app (Menu>Libby>What's New in Libby?).

On another OverDrive note, the next SCLS OverDrive Support Course is scheduled for March 11 - April 12 and SCLS member library staff can register here!

 

 

Microsoft Photos: Zoom with mouse wheel

On a day to day basis, I have to zoom in on small details of library site pictures. In Windows past I could simply zoom by scrolling the center mouse wheel. Since upgrading to Windows 10 the default image viewer, Microsoft Photos, had seemingly removed this basic, handy feature. Or did they?

Now when using the mouse wheel Microsoft Photos will just page through the different images in the same folder. I also dislike having to hit the Zoom on the GUI especially when I am trying to zoom on the fly or have to do it a lot. I miss the granularity that the mouse wheel gave me.

Apparently you are still able to zoom with the mouse wheel in Microsoft Photos but it requires a keyboard key now. If you hold Control (Ctrl) and then use the mouse wheel, you will be able to zoom in like you used to.

If you are interested in other Photos keyboard commands and a plethora of other Win10 app commands, check out the following link.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/13805/windows-keyboard-shortcuts-in-apps

 

 

Alexa, friend or waste of time?

Alexa

I was gifted an Amazon Echo this Christmas.  When I opened it, I wasn’t that excited.  My first thought was another device I have to learn how to use and maintain.  New devices can become time consuming when you’re learning to use them and can prove to be more trouble then they’re worth.  I was skeptical I would find Alexa useful, but here are my honest first impressions. 

Madison has been nearly shut down this week thanks to the polar vortex weather.  With cabin fever in full effect, my daughter and I decided to spend some time learning about our new friend, Alexa.  The first feature we seemed to gravitate toward is getting the morning weather report simply by asking “Alexa, what is the weather forecast?”  All you have to do is set up your location in the Alexa App.  You can ask for a current forecast or a 7 day forecast.

As an amazon prime member and an avid online shopper, I was happy to learn it will automatically connect to my amazon account, allow me to verbally create lists of what I need, order it, update me on the tracking of the packages and notify me when they are delivered.  These are definitely features I will use regularly.

The main feature we had to try out in our boredom was the music feature.  At first, I was disappointed that they seem to push you to purchase Amazon Music by offering a 3 month free trial.  After a little research online, I learned that it does work with Spotify.  In December, there was an update to include Apple Music, which I currently subscribe to and is my preferred choice.  The best way to play your iTunes music is by connecting your device via Bluetooth. You can turn on your Bluetooth settings and ask Alexa to pair your device.  So far, I am able to play music I have downloaded to my phone with ease.  Searching Apple Music for new music does not appear to work.      

I am excited to see what else Alexa has to offer me in terms of to do lists and other organizational tools.  As a working mom, I’m always looking for help in that area.  There are so many features to discover and so many articles on how to best use them.  I am now much more excited to explore Alexa further.  Are there any features you have found useful?  Please share them in the comments.    

Say NO to Pie (Charts)

I couldn’t say no to my colleague’s Kentucky bourbon pecan pie that he made for our annual potluck. (It is delicious!) I do, however, say no to using pie charts after learning there are better chart types to visualize your data.

Although pie charts have the ability to show a part-to-whole relationship, data visualization experts are not fans of them. Here are a few articles highlighting the problems with pie charts:

The takeaways from these articles are:

1. Pie charts are more difficult for our brains to process based on visual perception science (Gestalt Principles). Comparing areas and angles takes time and is something we do not do accurately.

2. There are better chart types to tell a story. Experts recommend horizontal ranked bar charts, stacked bar charts, and other chart types that are easier to interpret. Here are resources to help you pick the right chart:

There is good news for those who cannot leave their pie charts. Authors of the Big Book of Dashboard, have found that bar charts can live in harmony with pie charts. Here is a recent post:  

If you still love pie charts, you may also like this cookie pie chart https://flowingdata.com/2011/09/09/girl-scout-cookie-pie-chart/, but be sure to pair it with a quality bar chart (and a glass of milk).