Focus Assist

This is the only Focus Assist I needSince I started working remotely, one of my favorite tools for keeping in contact with my co-workers has been Slack. This isn’t a post about how nice Slack is to use, but rather how Windows kept me from hearing notifications when someone would send me a message. By default, Windows 10 will notify me when someone sends a message either directly to me or to a group channel I belong to by producing a sound like someone is knocking on a door. This is different than other notifications for emails and other instant messaging tools, so I know when I hear the “knock” it’s from Slack.

While I’m working from home I may move around from room to room looking for a comfortable spot to park for a while. I have a main office with a desk, wide screen monitor, docking station, and keyboard, but when I move to another room I undock my laptop to take it with me. This action somehow enables Focus Assist, which turns off my notifications. Focus Assist is designed to allow you to work without interruptions, but I like being interrupted...sometimes.

If this is something you’ve experienced and would like to turn your notifications back on, click...

  • Start
  • Settings
  • System
  • Focus assist
  • Off

On the other hand, if you are tired of notifications bothering you while you’re trying to focus you may want to turn Focus Assist on. In this case, you can click...

  • Start
  • Settings
  • System
  • Focus assist
  • Priority Only or Alarm Only

It is a hassle to check this settings every time I go from docked to undocked, since I do it so frequently. To permanently change Focus Assist so that it doesn’t change when I move around I set all the Automatic rules farther down the page to “Off”. Now whenever I wander around my house I hear notifications whenever someone sends me a message.

To see a list of programs where you can change your notification settings, click...

  • Start
  • Settings
  • System
  • Notifications and Actions

Filling in PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Reader

ApplicationRecently our libraries have been discussing their patrons' need to be able to fill information into PDFs without printing them, writing on them with a pen, and re-scanning them.

Did you know you can use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader program to add text and signatures to PDFs?

Usually when I'm working with PDFs, I click on a link on a webpage and the PDF opens in the browser itself. This provides a limited set of options and works great if I just need to read the PDF. Downloading the PDF and opening it within Adobe Acrobat Reader instead (the current version on my Windows 10 PC is "Acrobat Reader DC") gives have additional options to add text and signatures. Nifty!

I downloaded the SCLS Library Card application and tried it out. Worked great!

Interested in more details? This article from PC Magazine has info and screenshots:

OverDrive Digipalooza 2021

DigipaloozaSmallerEvery two years, OverDrive hosts Digipalooza in Cleveland, Ohio. I've attended a number of times and I always learned lots of information to bring back to you. It's also a lot of fun and I really miss in-person conferences! I captured this image from the 2017 video and you can see Sara Gold from WiLS and Molly Warren from Madison in the image as well.

The 2021 Digipalooza is going completely online! And, the cost to register is only $39* for three half-days of content. Digipalooza runs from Tuesday, August 3 through Thursday, August 5 with programs starting at noon Central Time (1 p.m. Eastern Time) each day.

The conference schedule is packed with programs geared towards Public, School, and Academic & Corporate libraries. This is a great way to learn more about OverDrive and Libby including a keynote address featuring Dr. Carla D. Hayden, Librarian of Congress, networking and social opportunities, and many more. One of the highlights for me is a session called OverDrive Technology & App Updates where OverDrive developers share what they're working on next.

I hope you take advantage of this unique opportunity to attend Digipalooza virtually in 2021! I'm sure that OverDrive will make it a memorable experience.

*SCLS libraries can use CE Grant funds to offset the registration cost.


Libby Updates

OverDrive recently released a significant update to the Libby app and there are a few changes I want to highlight.

LibbyUpdate2021Let's look at the changes by exploring the Shelf and the Timeline.

  • Patrons can see the number of items they have checked out and on hold at a glance. Also, there are some new tags to checkout. The one next to Holds is a Smart tag. This one contains titles I've borrowed in Libby and it's automatically populated by my activity. I created this wish list tag I created to keep track of books I'm interested in. (side note: patrons can now sync their Wish Lists from the OverDrive App or website to the Libby app)
  • As an audiobook listener, I am always curious about the length of the book. Now, instead of having to look at the details of the book or open it up, I can see the length of the book from my Shelf. A small change that made me very happy.
  • The highlighted bar at the bottom of the app is an easy way to get back to the title I'm currently listening to (or reading). If you happen to click on the X, it removes this bar from the screen and all you need to do to reopen the book is to tap on "Open in Libby."

LibbyUpdateNext, let's explore the Timeline screen.

  • At the top of the screen is the total number of items I've checked out, renewed, and returned along with the holds I've placed. Kind of fun information to know!

  • Next up is the timeline. In this case, it's showing my April activity. If you tap on the double arrow icon, you can change the month and see your activity for previous months.
  • At the bottom of the app is the Navigation footer. There are some new icons here. From left to right we have:

There are a few other updates and you can watch a short tutorial for a tour of the updates. For more information, visit Libby Help. Questions or comments? What do you think of the changes? Let me know!







March Madness for Windows key combos

If you love March Madness and you love Windows keyboard commands, have I got the Twitter feed for you----

Vote for your favorites or just learn new keyboard commands to make your Windows computing life easier!


Internet speed test campaign extended through April 15

DPI is continuing the campaign to collect information on Wisconsin’s internet connection speeds until April 15 to gather as many statewide results as possible by that time. The speed test initiative will continue as an ongoing collection after April 15. To date, Wisconsin residents have taken over 240,000 speed tests, with an average of 3,383 tests per day.

This data will give the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Access and other broadband task force groups the information they need to target improvements where internet performance is poor. 

See Internet Speeds in Your District

What is the average speed in your district broken down by ISP? You can use this dashboard to see speed test data for your district over a 30-,60-, and 90-day period. To filter the data, select today’s date in the Select a Date menu, then select your district in the District menu. For more information on how to use the report please reference the how to view this data link on the DPI Broadband website.

Internet connection quality is a priority to make sure Wisconsin students can equitably participate in online and blended learning. How does your district’s average speed align to the FCC household broadband guidelines?

How to Participate

Help make sure your community is included in this collection by spreading the word and encouraging residents in your community to test their home internet speeds using M-Lab’s speed test.

To help get the word out, DPI has created a communication toolkit that features email templates, social media post templates, and images to include on web pages and social media. You're invited to use that template to put together or spruce up your own communication campaign to let people know about this ongoing speed testing.

Thank you for your help in improving internet speeds in our communities!

Wisconsin's Digital Library Dashboard

Wisconsin library patrons love Wisconsin's Digital Library! In fact, in 2020, Wisconsin patrons checked out almost 7 million ebook and digital audiobooks (6,999,763 to be exact!). How many of those checkouts were yours in 2020?

OverDriveDashboardAs of right now, on February 18 at 3:58 p.m., 996,458 items have been checked out and 519,949 items have been placed on hold. How do I know that you ask? Today, a new Digital Library Dashboard was launched. You'll find this link at the bottom of Wisconsin's Digital Library homepage.

In addition to seeing the numbers change every second or so, you'll also see what items are being checked out or placed on hold. If you're quick enough, you can click on the cover image for more information about the title and place your own hold or check it out. It's a great way to fill up your hold list.

I made a video* so you can see an example of how fast these numbers are changing. I find the dashboard mesmerizing and I've had it open on my computer all day. I'm finishing this post up at 4:14 p.m. on February 18 and the numbers are now:

  • loans = 996,783
  • holds = 520,106

Happy reading and listening!

*There is no sound on the video and you can see how the number grew in just a few hours!


Help measure residential internet speeds in your community

This post is adapted from the DPI Broadband Speed Test Tookit prepared by IFLS Library System.

DPI is committed to improving digital equity in the state of Wisconsin. This year, they’re collecting data about internet speeds across the state. They need your help!

What they’re doing

DPI is collaborating with Measurement Lab (M-Lab) to collect data on internet connection speeds across Wisconsin. DPI will use M-Lab’s internet speed test data to create detailed reports and to provide maps of internet speeds across the state.

Why they’re doing it

The data will give the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Access (and other broadband task groups) the information they need to target improvements where internet speeds and performance are poor. 

Your input is critical

In order to get an accurate picture of the state, we need a lot of accurate data. That’s where you come in. The more data M-Lab can collect, the better we can model internet connection speeds across the state.

How you can help

  • Include a link to the M-Lab Speed Test on your library websites, Facebook pages, and any other communication platforms your library uses. The URL to link to the speed test is

  • Encourage community members to test their internet connection speeds at home, several times if possible! Include this in e-mails and newsletters, tuck into pick-up bags, encourage your trustees and volunteers to participate and share.

  • Share the URLs of pages where you have posted the link, so DPI can get an idea of how the speed test is being promoted around the state. (They’re looking for your social media posts as well as your website.)

Suggested language



Kudos to IFLS Library System for sharing a toolkit with graphics to use for websites, social media posts, Facebook headers, newsletters, and bag-stuffers.

Cameras for virtual programing

Canon M50 III think virtual programs are going to be part of everyday life in libraries going forward, at least in some small part. So, I thought I would share with you some research I’ve been doing on tech gear you might want to use for your programs. I was going to write one complete post about all the gear I’ve come across over the last several months, but that would make for a long and boring post. Instead, I thought I would start with a short and boring post about cameras.

You’ve probably already been doing some form of virtual programming with a webcam or your phone which has probably worked alright for you so far. But, if you want to make your programs look better, you could upgrade to a digital camera designed with vlogging in mind.

When purchasing a camera to record programs or for live streams, I have 5 criteria to consider:

  • Articulating screen; so you can flip it around and see if you are in the frame
  • External mic jack; so you can connect a shotgun or lavaliere mic to the camera
  • Full HD recording; If the camera says HD 720 P, it’s not full HD
  • Good auto-focusing and tracking; this means the camera can quickly and quietly focus on a subject while moving around
  • HDMI output; for live streaming

If you find a camera that meets the first 4 criteria, you are well on your way to making your virtual programming better quality and easier on yourself.

Two cameras that came out in 2020 that I’m excited about are the Sony ZV-1 which was released in April and the Canon M50 mark II released in October. Both cameras meet all 5 criteria listed above and both go beyond by also offering 4K video. The biggest difference between these two cameras is the Sony ZV-1 is a Point and Shoot, meaning it has a fixed lens. The Canon camera is mirrorless which accommodates interchangeable lenses.

I struggled to find anything negative about either of these cameras. If I had to pick one thing, it would be that they both have a short battery life when recording video. Both cameras can overcome that, though. The Sony camera comes with a USB cable you can connect to a USB power source to keep the camera powered up while recording, and you can purchase a dummy battery with a power cable for the Canon camera.

These cameras cost anywhere between $700.00 - $800.00. If you would like to spend a little less and you’re not too concerned about the quality of live streaming the original Canon M50 can still be picked up new for around $650.00. If that’s still out of your price range you might be able to find a used Canon Rebel T5i or T6i that would give you the first 4 criteria and a USB port out for even less.

My intention here isn’t to go into great detail about either camera, you can find quite a lot of information online about both cameras, I just wanted to let you know these are available.
In a future post, I’ll write about microphones, lighting equipment, and stands.

Check out these videos for more information about each camera.


More Tools for Online Programming

My last TechBits post was about Interactive Tools for Virtual Meetings and Workshops. This time, I want to share a few physical tools that will help you host great online programs.

CookingClassThe inspiration for this topic came from a recent online cooking class I took. It was over Zoom and the presenter, Elyse Kopecky, wanted to be able to see all the participants cooking along with her. I was using my iPad Mini to attend and trying to find a place to put it so I could see Elyse, be seen, and cook was a challenge. As you can see in these photos, my first try was to use my cupboard and my second used a combination of books and storage containers.

If you are regularly presenting or hosting meetings, you may want to invest in a Ring light and a stand or tripod for your phone or camera. My colleague, Jamie Matczak from the Wisconsin Valley Library Service, recently added this Ring light and tripod to her equipment toolkit. There are lots of options out there so find one that works best for your needs. SCLS member libraries: if you need some advice, reach out to Craig Ellefson as he's helped many libraries with equipment needs this year.

Next, let's talk about sound. David Lee King recently tested a mobile friendly lavalier microphone. I like that this one is small and you don't have to wear a headset with a microphone to get good sound quality. On a similar topic, Richard Byrne from Practical Ed Tech recently covered Easy Ways to Sound Better in Virtual Meetings. He mentions a couple of microphones along with some tweaks you can make to Zoom to improve the audio quality. Again, there are lots of options for microphones so look for one that will work for you.

Lastly, attending this cooking class was a lot of fun! SCLS recently added a baking and cooking kit so you can host your own cooking show! Need some inspiration? Madison Public Library has a program called Cooking with Chef Lily and you can see the recordings here. Sun Prairie Public Library's program, Books and Cooks, features library director Svetha Hetzler cooking from a variety of cookbooks. And,I recently attended an event from Penguin Random House which featured a cooking demo with America's Test Kitchen Kids Editor in Chief, Molly Birnbaum.

SweetPotatoBiscuitsBy the way, I made Sweet Potato Biscuits and they were yummy! Happy Cooking!