The Honey Browser Extension

Honey
Online shopping seems to be a time saver and money saver.  But can it truly be both?  I tend to search the site I'm ordering from and then search google to see if any coupon codes would apply to my order.  You can also try searching for codes at places like Coupons.com.  This can take away the ease and time-saving aspect of online shopping.

The Honey browser extension is FREE and makes online shopping both time and money-saving with a button called “Apply Coupons”.  A screen will pop-up automatically when you’re in the web sites checkout screen.  This button streamlines the process by searching for all working coupon codes for the site you’re on.

Apply_coupons Savings

In addition to applying the best coupon codes to your online orders, there is another feature I find useful called “Droplist”.  This allows you to select certain items and Honey will alert you via email when this item drops its price. 

Droplist

The Honey browser extension also includes a “Best Price” feature.  Amazon has this feature, but it isn’t always accurate.  Sometimes there are better deals from third-party sellers that are hidden in the “New and Used from” section.  Honey will take prime status, shipping cost, and the seller’s reputation into consideration to give you the best deal.

One feature I have heard about but have seen no return from is “Honey Gold”.  It's a program where you earn a very small amount of cashback on purchases that eventually will turn into money.  As far as I can tell you would need to use a separate cashback service like Ebate to get this to work.  For myself, it’s not yet worth it for me to try to redeem the Honey Gold I have earned. 

Unfortunately, there is not a mobile app yet.  I imagine this would be a difficult thing to create, but it is something I hope they work on in the future because I do like to use my phone apps for online shopping.  I’ll be keeping my eye out for that.  Happy shopping and happy saving!     

Spanish Proofing Language in Word

We had a recent request to make it easier for patrons to switch the proofing language in Microsoft Word to Spanish on public computers.  The easiest way for us to make this happen was to configure a few Group Policy settings.

Patrons can follow these instructions to begin proofing their Spanish text documents.

  1. Open Microsoft Word
  2. Towards the bottom-left, click English (United States)
    English (US)
  3. In the Language box, select Spanish (Mexico)
    Spanish (Mexico)
  4. Click OK

Word will now proof the document against the Spanish language.  Since English is still the default, Word will switch back to English after Word is closed.

Save money printing

I’ve been asked about printing options more lately than in the past. One theme that has come up is “how can I save money printing?” and the easy answer to that is to switch from desktop printers to a copier.


I know what you’re thinking --- a copier is really expensive compared to a printer, and you’re right, it is. That is until you look at the bigger picture. The chances are good that you already have a copier in your library so you could use that, and the only other investment perhaps would be a data connection to the copier so you can print to it over the network. A typical low-end color laser printer’s average cost per page is around 8 to 15 cents per page; compare that to a copier which can achieve costs of about a quarter to half a cent per page and you can see where you would quickly begin to save money.


You may also want to consider having a service agreement for your copier, I know it may seem like a lot of money, but they typically include routine maintenance, toner, repairs, and trip charges. Knowing what you’re going to pay upfront every year for printing makes budgeting easier.


Not only is a copier a money saver it’s also a space saver, because remember, I’m assuming you already have one and by removing your desktop printers you can reclaim that space.


If you have made the change to printing from a copier and would like to share your thoughts, please leave a comment.

You want me to unplug what?

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the advances made in certain technologies over the last several years.  It makes my life so much easier (Cut and Paste!!!) and the work lives of library staff much much easier and more efficient.  However, with ease and efficiency also comes the demand for more productivity, right?  

The last time I went camping in Canada I took advantage of the situation and did NOT get international cell phone coverage.  I took along my Kindle for reading (of course) and was able to use the WiFi at the ranger station to check emails (for emergencies) but I was mostly unplugged.

Image result for mary louise lake sleeping giant images

It was hard the first few days ... but then I realized how much I needed a break from the beck and call of technology.  Run to grab the phone, answer the emails asap, read this info bit, schedule this appointment.  By the time my vacation was over I almost dreaded crossing the border and having to reconnect.

Research indicates that we need to unplug/disconnect in order to maintain a healthy balance in our lives.  And as more and more technology becomes readily available, we tend to spend more time than ever on screens: phone, tablet, laptop, PC, television, etc.

There are many articles and websites out there that can provide you with a wealth of information on the benefits of unplugging (and isn't that ironic?) so I'll let you do your own research <grin>.  But this article written for the 2018 Screen-Free Week was one of my favorites.  Here are Five Reasons to take a Break from Screens:

  1. Present-moment awareness
  2. Improved sleep
  3. Deepened connections
  4. Productivity and learning
  5. Breaking habit

And my own, personal reason is to get in more paddling time!

 

Using Google My Maps to plan trips

Rural road
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Recently I took an out of state road trip, and during the trip I used Google Maps to look up routes and restaurants on the fly (which can be very useful), but at times it would have been better if I had saved some routes, restaurants, and other points of interest ahead of time. I started wondering about available options to create and save maps with locations for restaurants, hotels, tourist destinations, etc. so when I got home I started looking into how to save maps in Google for later use.

Google has a companion product called My Maps that allows you to create a custom map with various routes and points of interest and save them to your Google Drive. To use My Maps, first open Google Drive, and go to New>More>Google My Maps. Googlemymaps My Maps will open in a new tab, with a new map ready to go. Then click Untitled Map to add a Title and Description for your map. 

My Maps uses "layers" for different elements on the map, such as driving directions, walking directions, restaurants, etc. The first layer is created by default and is called Untitled layer - to change the layer name, click Untitled layer and then add the name of your layer. You can then add your routes, restaurants, campsites, hotels, tourist destinations, etc. to different "layers" and put them all together to view on one map. 

Canoe

There are travel bloggers out there who are using Google Maps and My Maps to plan trips, so you can find more information and step-by-step instructions on how you can use Google My Maps for travel. Here are a few that I found:

If you have an Android phone, you can open your saved maps on your phone by using the Google My Maps app (this is a separate app from the Google Maps app). For both Android and iPhone, you can open your saved maps in the Google Maps app (go to Your places>Maps).

Disable Startup Programs

In the past few weeks I have been asked how to disable an annoying program that was starting up after logon.  A few programs that commonly startup by default are Skype and GoToMeeting.  If you have Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, this is the easiest way to prevent most programs from starting up after you log into Windows.

  1. Right-click the Taskbar
  2. Select Task Manager
  3. At the bottom, click More details (This may have already been done)
  4. Click the Startup tab
    Startup tab

  5. Right-click the program you would like to disable and select Disable
    G2M

Please make sure not to disable any programs that are critical to the normal operation of your PC.  If you accidentally disable a program, you can use the same process to enable the program again.  You can also call the Help Desk if you are having trouble with a program starting up at logon.

Easily Picking Colors with Pixie

I often find myself trying to select hex codes for colors to put on webpages, spreadsheets, etc. I do have an extension installed on Chrome that will help me select colors, but only those that appear on an existing site. I found another lightweight program that will help you select colors that appear anywhere on a screen with Pixie. Its interface is pretty dated, but it is very simple to use. Upon opening, this is what pops up:

Pixie1

It lists the three commands that can be used with it. When hovering over a part of your screen that is colored, it will change to this:

 

Pixie2

Now that the cursor is placed over a color, ctrl+alt+c will copy its HTML code (#B1005D).

If you want to zoom in on a part of your screen to narrow in on a more specific color, ctrl+alt+z will bring up the magnifier. From there, you can hover over the popup that comes up to choose a color.

Pixie3

The third command is ctrl+alt+x which just brings up the typical color chooser window.

Pixie4

Pixie can be downloaded for free here.

Rediscovering Excel Macros

What is a macro?  Macros are Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) codes that are saved inside a document.  They can be applied in several Microsoft Office Applications.  An analogy is to think of a document as HTML and the macro as Javascript.  A macro can manipulate a document similarly to the way Javascript can manipulate a web page.  Macros are powerful and can do many things including; apply style and formatting, manipulate data and text, communicate with data sources, create entirely new documents, and any combination of these. 

You must be asking, how can a macro help me?  They allow you to save time on predictable, repetitive tasks as well as standardizing document formats.  Now without having to write a single line of code!  I found myself having to run the same data sets for different libraries in our system regularly and exporting them into Excel spreadsheets.  I grew tired of all the customization and formatting within Excel I had to do each time.  Excel Macros were the answer for me!  Not only have they saved me time, but they have also helped improve consistency and accuracy. 

To create an Excel macro simply import your spreadsheet into Microsoft Excel.

  1. Select the View tab
  2. From there, select the Macros button and highlight the down arrow and select Record Macro.

1st pic

  1. From this point, go ahead and make your desired changes to the spreadsheet as you would normally do.
  2. When you are finished with your changes, go back to the Macro button down arrow and you will now select the option to Stop Recording.
  3. Close out of Excel and save your Macro.
  4. Once completed, the macro will be available anytime you open Excel under the Macro menu.
  5. Simply select View Macro and select which macro to use (if you have more than one saved).
  6. Then hit the Run button.

2nd pic

 

3rd pic

  1. The macro I created for the Library Weeding Reports completes the following tasks in Excel with just one click;
    1. Bolds and freezes the top row
    2. Converts barcodes to a number without decimal places
    3. Changes the print orientation to landscape
    4. Sets the correct margins
    5. Wraps the text
      (See my spreadsheet changes below.)

4th


I have gone on to create many Excel macros for the different data sets I run.  It’s amazing how intuitive macros have become in the last several versions of Microsoft Excel.  Please share with us how you use macros in the comments.

Zamzar for converting files

WVLS has a new Digital Byte video that walks you through Zamzar, a free online file converting tool (also covered in these 2009 and 2018 TechBits posts).

Like the video format? Check out other Digital Bytes here.

Enabling High Contrast Themes

Enabling high contrast settings may be a good idea If you or somebody you know has difficulty reading text on a PC screen.  This is a common problem when a lighter-colored font, like gray, is on top of a white background.  High contrast settings can be enabled for the Windows operating system and there is an extension that can be installed for the Google Chrome browser.

The easiest way to enable High Contrast for your PC is to press Left Alt + Left Shift + Print Screen then click Yes.  Use the same key combination to turn it off.

Google Accessibility offers an extension for the Chrome browser simply called High Contrast.  After you add it to Chrome, you can enable and customize the extension by clicking its button to the right of the Address bar.

High Contrast Extension

HC Menu