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

Tech & Happiness Hacks

Many of you know that I admire Gretchen Rubin and have read many of her books and listen to her podcast. I've picked up many tips on how to make my life happier simply by listening and trying out some of her happiness hacks. On a recent podcast, Gretchen reminded listeners that September is the "other" January and to use the start of the new school year as a time to set new goals and try new things*.

NerdforaYearThis reminded me that I never shared a resource from Your Nerdy Best Friend from January of this year. In this post, Beth shares an updated handout called "Be a Nerd for a Year" with small fun tech activities that you can try out monthly. For September, some of the options are:

  • Trying out Zamzar to convert a JPG to a PDF (see Tech Bits posts here, here, and here for more)
  • Using Photomath to help your kids (or yourself) with math homework
  • September 24 is National Punctuation Day and you celebrate by using Grammarly to check your punctuation, tone, and more! (See Tech Bits posts here, here, and here for more)

It's a fun resource to look at and learn from all year round. Next year, I'll start in January!

*And buy new office supplies!

Worldly Windows

03ce5f21c99bf7e9149992e5791914feFor some, traveling to different locations is fun and relaxing. We love to look out the window and take in the beautiful, new scenery. Unfortunately, all of that has been stopped by COVID-19 and we're all stuck at home. We're looking out the same window day after day. Well, what if I told you that there was a way to look out someone else's window and that window could be anywhere in the world. I found this wonderful website thanks to Nancy McClements, who posted it in one of her First Thursday emails. It's called WindowSwap and it gives you a ten minute video of what it looks like out someone's window. That someone could be anywhere in the world. You can also take your own video out your window and submit it.  Enjoy seeing the world, one window at a time.

Photo by lauramusikanski at

Emergency internet resources

Just a quick reminder that the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin has a webpage to help consumers find internet resources during the pandemic. It includes a map of public wifi locations, special internet deals from commercial providers, and a few other options.

MCF_wifi_detailsMost of the SCLS libraries filled out a survey in April to provide information about their wireless signal and coverage, and this information should be reflected on the map. If you've had changes to your library's wireless availability (added an outdoor AP, maybe?), a link to contact the PSC about changes to your wireless info can be found on this SCLS webpage (password required).

If you have patrons, friends, or community members who may need help finding internet resources, consider directing them to the PSC page in addition to mentioning your own library's offerings!

Trivia & Streaming

Over the last few months, I've been hosting Zoom meetings for Adult Services/Programming Librarians and I've learned a lot! I wanted to share a couple of the tools that have come up in our discussions recently.

CatsFirst up is Crowdpurr. From the cool name, you may think it's a crowd of purring kittens. In reality, this is an "Audience Engagement Platform that helps you create amazing interactive mobile-driven experiences for your live or virtual events." The E.D. Locke Public library used Crowdpurr to host trivia game recently. You can use this with Zoom, your YouTube channel, or your Twitch livestream (see previous TechBits post).

SUNBookBuzzSpeaking of livestreaming, have you heard of StreamYard? Sun Prairie is using this to stream their weekly Book Buzz interviews with Sun Prairie staff. Check out this recent episode featuring librarians Erin and Emily. Streamyard can stream to multiple platforms at the same time - Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Periscope, and more. One of the cool things that you can do is add a caption during the broadcast. Erin and Emily add the titles of the books they're discussing to the screen.

What tools are you using to connect and engage with your patrons and community?



Image by Kiều Trường from Pixabay

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.    

The Pandemic Keychain

With the growing awareness of how germs and bacteria spread, It become increasingly important to avoid possibly virus laden surfaces. When you stop and think about it, what surfaces receive the most contact, from the largest number of people? Some of the big answers are keypads, and computer touch screens. 

With the current pandemic, it becomes ever more important that we personally touch as few surfaces as possible. The main problem with that, is that life still goes on. In today's technology prevalent society, it is near impossible to avoid a keypad. They are everywhere, from grocery stores to call buttons. 

One way to avoid germs is to wear gloves.....everywhere. Like most people, I find that concept to be a little hard to bear.  I was recently introduced to a Stylus tipped multi-tool that a lot of people have started using to address these very issues.  There are a number of different brands and types that have been created recently, and most of them are similar to the one pictured below. The thicker stylus can be used on both keypads and touch screen, the open area was designed to help open doors, and some of them even include a bottle opener. 

This low tech solution can help keep ourselves, and our computer screens, safe and clean. Personally, I am glad it attaches to keys, or I would never be able to find it!



Viz of the Day

It is always a delight to receive my Viz of the Day (VOTD) emails. These visualizations are created with Tableau and nominated for the Tableau Public Gallery. The topics are timely and the Vizzes are visibly stunning. Here are a few of my favorites (click on any to explore):

Dashboard 1

Harry Potter Spells

History of Bruce Springsteen

Gender&Ethnic disparities in Tech Companies

Gaming Revenue

Coffee Calculator

Here is the link to subscribe to the Viz of the Day:

For even more inspiration, check out the Iron Viz Gallery:

Critter problems in the garden

I think I have a critter problem in my garden...

(link to video)



Pretty nifty, huh? When you search Google, you can now view some search results in 3D and augmented reality

I searched a T-rex and chose to view in 3D and then view it in my (garden) space.

I'm not sure if this has a practical library application (is there a way to work it into programming? fun video for the library's Facebook page?), but I'm sure we'll be seeing more and more of this sort of VR/AR available.

To embed the video in the post on the TechBits blog, I uploaded it to my Google Drive account, shared it, and used select bits of this webpage to find the embed code.


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.