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.


Twitch and Discord

Twitch-3372590_1280What do you think of when you see those two words? Did you think of public libraries and programming? I didn't! I recently attended the ALA Virtual Conference and as I was browsing through the program options, I came across this one: Twitch & Discord in Public Libraries: New Opportunities for Adult Services.

Until I read the description of the program, I didn't know that Twitch is a streaming platform and that Discord is an online platform for communication and collaboration. The speakers, Lorin Flores and Michael Dunbar-Rodney, are from San Antonio Public Library and shared how they and other libraries are using Twitch and Discord in their libraries for adult programming including online workshops, book clubs, gaming, and more. Their presentation included some emerging best practices as this is a really new space for libraries.

You can find out more about Twitch and Discord in libraries by visiting the Libguide that Lorin and Michael created and are continuing to update. In addition to their presentation slides, there is a large list of references for you to visit. American Libraries blog posted an article recapping their presentation, too.

Have you used Twitch or Discord in your libraries? We'd love to hear about your experiences. Please share in the comments.

*Image from Pixabay

Every movie could star Nicolas Cage

Have you heard about deepfakes?  Deepfakes (a combination of the “deep learning” and “fakes”) are "realistic photo, audio, video, and other forgeries generated with artificial intelligence (AI) technologies." You may have seen the PSA Jordan Peele made with BuzzFeed using this technology which appears to be Barack Obama weighing in on a variety of topics and saying things he never said (but which Jordan Peele did say):

Jordan Peele / Obama video:

The technology to create these sorts of videos is becoming cheaper and more mainstream, giving us treats (nightmares?) like these where users have put Nicolas Cage into all sorts of movies and situations:

Nic Cage deepfakes mini compilation:

Don't get fooled by deepfakes

The Nic Cage deepfakes above are clearly done with fun in mind, but the technology can also be used for more nefarious purposes. If you see a video of someone doing something shocking or completely out of character, how can you tell if it's true or it's a deepfake?

This BuzzFeed article by Craig Silverman includes some basic tips you can follow to ensure you don’t get fooled easily by deepfakes (read the article for explanations of each item):

  1. Don't jump to conclusions
  2. Consider the source
  3. Check where else it is (and isn't) online
  4. Inspect the mouth
  5. Slow it down

Can you spot the deepfakes?

CNN's page about deepfakes includes a 4-question quiz:

The MIT Media Lab has an extensive quiz which will let you know after each response if you got it right, and after 10 responses will let you how you rank against other users: 

More than just deepfakes

Misleading videos include more than just AI-generated deepfakes. The Washington Post's "The Fact Checker's guide to manipulated video" spells out many of the ways video can be manipulated to be false or misleading. Good information to know!

Your face as big data

Facial_recognitionI wrote this back in early March, just before the world went all topsy-turvy. I'm curious whether anyone feels differently now about facial recognition use by governments than they might have before the pandemic and recent protests.

How would you feel if...

Welcome to the wonderful world of facial recognition. Hello convenience... goodbye privacy!

The New York Times ran an article back in March about a company in the facial recognition software business, and after reading more about this technology I am both fascinated and terrified by the possibilities for its use! This is one of those topics that can't be easily summarized in a short TechBits post but absolutely should be something on public libraries' (and private citizens') radar. If you have a couple of minutes, this Center for the Future of Libraries webpage about facial recognition is a nice overview.  

According to a Pew Research Center study, a majority of Americans (56%) trust law enforcement agencies to use facial recognition technologies responsibly and (59%) think it is acceptable for them to use these tools to assess security threats in public spaces. However, Americans have much less confidence in technology companies or advertisers to use the technology responsibly. Currently, laws governing how this new technology is used are all over the map. A couple of the big concerns with facial recognition are privacy (can a user "opt out"?) and accuracy (facial recognition has been less accurate for anyone not male or white).

Some additional library-focused articles about facial recognition:

What questions do you have about facial recognition software and libraries?
The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee’s has formed a Facial Recognition Working Group and is compiling a Q&A on the use of facial recognition software in libraries. It should be interesting to read more about this topic when their best practices and guidelines are published.


* shaming you for, say, wearing your pajamas outside ----  or, on the more sinister side, blocking your ability to travel or putting you in a reeducation camp.

Relax and Color

File0001265772805With all the stress going on in the world today I thought it might be nice to talk about something that is relaxing and possibly therapeutic. This is something that you may have done as a child. I'm talking about coloring. Yes, the act of taking a coloring utensil and filling in a design outline. It's not just for children anymore. Adults are trying it and loving it, saying that it helps them relax and reduces their stress. This is why over the last decade or so adult coloring books have surged in popularity. When I searched I found that they had over 40,000 of them for sale. For those of you who don't want to wait for an Amazon shipment can search online and find lots of sites that offer free downloads of coloring sheets. One of the best sites I've found is called Just Color. So remember the next time you get stressed out about the Coronavirus just print off a coloring sheet and "Keep Calm and Just Color!"

Keeping an eye on trends

LibraryTrendsWhile doing a little research for an upcoming TechBits post, I was introduced to the "Center for the Future of Libraries." This organization works to:

  • Identify emerging trends relevant to libraries and the communities they serve.
  • Promote futuring and innovation techniques to help librarians and library professionals shape their future.
  • Build connections with experts and innovative thinkers to help libraries address emerging issues.

They put out a newsletter, "Read for Later," which provides a weekly wrap-up of news and articles that indicate possible trends and changes that could affect libraries and the communities we serve. You can sign up and have the newsletter delivered via email or view past issues in a browser or with an RSS feed reader.

They also maintain a webpage of trends relevant to libraries and librarianship. From their webpage:

"This collection is available to help libraries and librarians understand how trends are developing and why they matter. Each trend is updated as new reports and articles are made available. New trends will be added as they are developed."

Best of CES 2020: Emerging Technology for Libraries

If you have an hour to spare and an interest in how emerging new technologies might be used in libraries, I'd highly recommend this recorded webinar from Florida Library Webinars:

In the recorded webinar, librarian Diana Silveira reviews the newest trends, devices and innovations with a focus on which technologies can benefit libraries today and tomorrow, and what users may be asking about in the upcoming year.

Holograms, interactive screens, vein authentication, AR, VR, foldable and bendable screens, robots, drones, smart translators, and so much more!

Here come the robots!

Last November, I learned that robotic food delivery had already arrived at UW-Madison. Neat idea -- how does it work? Here's an article and also a short video that explains:

2:13 video

I had heard about companies looking into drones and self-driving cars for delivery, but I hadn't realized that these little sidewalk delivery robots existed.  This got me to wondering... could libraries use this technology?

A little bit of searching led me to a couple of pilot projects where libraries are using these small delivery robots to deliver books,

one where a robot isn't delivering books to people but is instead is delivering the people to the books,  

...and a library that is planning a robotic/automated book retrieval system:

It will be a while, I think, before these sorts of technologies become widely used. Pros for the small sidewalk delivery robots include less pollution and less congestion on the roadways, and cons include potential pedestrian safety issues and sidewalk congestion. Food delivery robots in a college town or big city are not welcomed everywhere or without certain restrictions right now. The Madison Transportation Policy and Planning Board has recommended a proposed ordinance that would prohibit the use of delivery robots everywhere in the city except for UW-Madison’s campus in an effort "to prevent other companies from bringing new robots to Madison and clogging up city sidewalks." San Francisco established an Office of Emerging Technology to oversee new technologies that operate in public spaces like sidewalks and had already put strict guidelines in place to cover things like insurance, headlights, warning noises, and more.

What do you think about delivery robots? Looking forward to the day where your books/food/groceries can be delivered to you by robot, drone, or self-driving car --- or do you worry about safety, congestion, or other issues?

The Honey Browser Extension

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  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. 


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!     

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.