Tip: How to add background color to an image

Screen shot of database icons showing LINKcat, OverDrive, and Tutor.com with white backgrounds, but no white background on Ancestry.comA library director and I agreed the Ancestry.com logo would look better in a group of database links (pictured at right) if the background colors matched... but the Ancestry.com image didn't come with a white background. How can we add background color to an image that has none?

The Ancestry.com image in this example is in .png format, which can have transparent areas that allow the color of a web page to peek through (light gray, in the screen shot). To make the Ancestry.com image "match" the others, the transparent areas need to be filled in white.

For images that only need a white background, the trick is to open and re-save them in Microsoft Paint. Paint auto-fills transparent pixels with white when it saves an image.

Screen shot of saving ancestry-library.png to add a white background

For a different background color, Paint has a "Fill with color" (bucket) tool. In this image, a different color reveals some shadowed areas that look jagged, and it would take some effort to paint or fill in the jagged edges. More fully-featured graphic programs like Photoshop Elements, GIMP, or Paint.net provide layers and a "magic wand" tool to make that kind of cleanup easier.

Screen shot of jagged edges around the Ancestry.com image when a dark background is added.

Good thing we just wanted it to have a white background! Screen shot of the database icons all using matching white backgrounds

Browse and search historic newspapers via the Library of Congress

Wood County Reporter, December 23, 1920Recently I heard about a resource for historic newspapers, called Chronicling America. Chronicling America is part of a Library of Congress/National Endowment for the Humanities program to digitize historic newspapers, called the National Digital Newspaper Program. Newspapers dating from 1789-1963 have been digitized and made available at the Chronicling America web site.

The program has been around for quite some time and there are 14 million+ pages (from 2,600+ newspapers) that are available on the web site, from most of the states, including Wisconsin (via the Wisconsin Historical Society). In addition to searching and viewing digitized pages, you can search the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information on American newspapers from 1690 to the present. 

One interesting aspect of the Chronicling America web site is the slide show featuring newspaper pages from 100 years ago today. While most of the newspapers are English language, there are newspapers in Polish, Romanian, German, Lithuanian, as well as other languages.

If you are interested in historic newspapers, Chronicling America is an interesting resource. Also, don't forget we have access to the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers, which not only provides access to digitized Wisconsin newspapers from the 19th and early 20th centuries, but is also a searchable database of Wisconsin newspapers from 2005 to 90 days ago.

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

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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:

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

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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!

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.



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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

Is it down?

This past week all of YouTube went down.  The site was only down for about an hour but, by the sounds of the news the next Monitor-1350918_960_720morning, some people called the cops over the outage. 

While I don’t think any of you think 911 is the correct place to check to see if a website is down, if you have general internet connectivity but just can’t seem to get to a specific site, there are a number of ways you can check to see if the site is having issues. 

Larger sites may have a status webpage and some use Twitter, Facebook or another social media site to post site issues.  A number of larger sites will use all of the above to report if there are issues.  One method of checking on a site is to try searching for the name of the site/service and “status” to see if it will bring up a status web page or point you to their social media account(s). 

There are also a number of websites where you can check that status of a specific webpage.  I’m mentioning more than one since, during the YouTube outage, at least one of the sites used to check to see if a site is down had issues due to the sheer volume of people checking to see if YouTube was down.

Down for everyone or just me: https://downforeveryoneorjustme.com/  Enter in the URL for a website and it will tell you if the site is down, up or might be experiencing troubles.

Is it Down Right Now:  https://www.isitdownrightnow.com/  This site has the same “check” ability but also lists the current status of a number of major sites.   

Downdetector.com  https://downdetector.com/ There are buttons on the page for many, many web pages.  On each of the buttons is a graph showing the recent problem history and, if you click on the button, you’ll go to a specific page for that site with more information.  Instead of entering in the URL, use the company name in the search box to see if that site status is being tracked.

Mapping your data - the U.S. Census Bureau

If you work in a  LINKcat library you are probably very familiar with the U.S. Census Bureau American FactFinder tool. We use the Geographies/Address option to identify the "legal place of residence" for our patron records; from city, town, village, census tract and municipal wards.  This information is critical for the annual reports we provide the State of Wisconsin and also helps our communities provide accurate information about the density of their patron population and geographic use locations for their community reports.

But the U.S. Census Bureau has so much more.  One of my sidetracks is also located in the Geography area - Maps & Data.   You can map all kinds of data from this point using a variety of data points to produce a multiplicity of results.  Learning how to use this will take some time but if you are a map nerd like me you can get very very lost.  But there are maps!

Using the Places Tab Search in Instagram

Places_tab

The Places tab is an often underutilized part of Instagram’s Search and Explore page. When you search for places, Instagram will feature the nine highest ranking posts in that location, followed by the most recent posts in chronological order.  This is a great way to engage with what’s happening in your local area. I found this very useful when we had local flooding recently.  It helped us find out what resources were available in our community to help with cleanup and local volunteer opportunities.

How to search Places:

  • Go to the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of your profile.
  • Search for the Places Tab (to the right).
  • Select your desired location from the list.

From a posting perspective, remember to use the Places tag feature on your posts.  You may find you engage your local audience more and potentially gain new followers.

 

OverDrive's new status page

Did you see the news? As of September 4th, OverDrive has a new status page to communicate service issues at https://status.overdrive.com/.

OverDrive’s new status page is available to all staff and end users. You can visit the page at any time to view the status of browsing and searching, signing in, downloading, and reading and/or listening to a book. If services on the OverDrive side are running smoothly, their status will be listed as Operational. If a service is degraded or experiencing an outage, the status will be updated accordingly.

To be notified when issues are posted, you can follow the @OverDriveStatus Twitter account which will be automatically updated, or sign up for alerts via subscription options in the lower right corner of the page.

Please take a few minutes to visit the status page and feel free to share this with your staff. WPLC project managers will continue to send service alerts to the WPLC Announcements list and to the Google WPLC Support Community.

Brief guide to buttons that clear formatting

Noticing unwanted formatting differences in the text on your website, email, Excel, or Word document (where one line looks good, but another is a hair bigger or smaller)? Many times there is a little button intended to fix it! Just highlight/select the text in edit mode, click the button—voila, wonky formatting gone. Here's a guide to what to look for in some common tools:

Microsoft Word & Office 365 (same icon!)

Microsoft Word & Office 365 use an icon with a pink eraser scrubbing out an uppercase A

Excel (specialized format clearing options in a drop-down)

Excel's icon shows a pink eraser next to the word Clear, with a drop down menu

Gmail

Gmail's button looks like an italicized uppercase T with a small subscript x

Drupal websites - CKEditor toolbar

The CKEditor toolbar button used on many Drupal websites has a button with an italicized uppercase T with a small subscript x