What You Need to Know about the Heartbleed Bug

heartbleedIn case you haven’t heard, a vulnerability dubbed “Heartbleed” has been discovered in the encryption protocol that many secure websites use.  If you’d like a basic explanation of Heartbleed, The New Yorker did a great job of boiling it down.  Early speculation on which sites were affected and how users can best protect themselves varied widely.  Since the IT teams of individual organizations have had time to address the issue, we now have a clearer idea how to proceed.

The first step is to find out which sites you use that may be compromised and change your passwords at those sites.  Mashable create a fantastic chart to help you with this.  Keep in mind, this is by no means a complete list.  If you login to sites that aren’t on this list, check with each site to see if it is vulnerable and/or has addressed the problem.  For instance, Key Bank was not on Mashable’s list, but a quick visit to their website revealed that they do not use the vulnerable encryption software.

Of course, if you change your password but use that same new password at every site, you will remain vulnerable for other reasons.  If you have trouble keeping track of passwords, you may want to consider using a password manager.  For a guide to creating passwords, check out this guide from MakeUseOf.

Got questions?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll find answers.

 

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Library Technology Update

refreshHi folks!  It has been a very long time since I posted to this blog.  I apologize for the neglect, but the good news is that I have been hard at work upgrading and improving the technology in the library.  Here is a list of the latest improvements:

  • The new public computers have been rolled out and we have been tweaking them for a few months.  Most of the bugs are worked out, but we are still experiencing some minor issues with video optimization.  Hopefully, we can correct that soon.
  • All of the staff computers have been upgraded.
  • I am in the process of upgrading the catalog computers and a few other service computers.
  • Our website security was compromised…twice!  (No worries – patron information does not live on that server, so only our webpages were affected.)  Fortunately, the Library was already deep in a website upgrade process.  Originally, the reason for the update was twofold – platform security and responsive design.  More on responsive design in the next bullet.
  • Currently, the Library maintains separate websites for desktops and mobile devices.  In order to design a single website that will look good and perform well on a variety of devices, we decided to create a responsive website.  This means the site layout will be modified based on the screen size of the device viewing it.  The plan was to release the new site this month, but we want to ensure its security first.
  • A large screen monitor will be installed near the library entrance which will scroll announcements and events.
  • This year, our public copier will be upgraded in response to feedback about the current copier.
  • The Library acquired a new, more portable large print reader for patrons to use within the library.  Visit the Reference Desk for more information.
  • Thanks to a generous grant from the Friends of the Library, two new tablets will be ordered to facilitate training our staff to assist patrons with the latest portable devices.
  • After six months of use, an evaluation of the Ask Us 24/7 chat system led to the conclusion that not enough patrons participated in the service to justify continuing the subscription.

Those are the highlights from the last few months. My Evernote account has become stuffed with things to blog about since I have been away.  I plan to start publishing regular posts again to get that info out to you.  In the meantime, let me know in the comments area if you have any questions or technology subjects you would like me to write about in the future.

 

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iOS 7 Upgrade Causes Issues with OverDrive Media Console

ios-7-wallpaper

If you have an iOS device, chances are good that you have already or will soon be upgrading to iOS 7.  Unfortunately for OverDrive users, the upgrade caused a hiccup that kept users from accessing their books in the OverDrive Media Console app.  The good news is, OverDrive released a simple fix almost immediately.  They suggest uninstalling and reinstalling the OverDrive app and re-authorizing it with your Adobe ID.  It is important to note that uninstalling will clear your bookshelf, settings and history.  Any items checked out to you can be downloaded again by logging into your OverDrive account’s bookshelf.  To login, open the app and select “Get Books.” Click on the account icon and enter you library card number: account

For more information about this issue, please see OverDrive’s blog post on the subject.

 

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OverDrive Digital Bookmobile Returns!

DigitalBookMobile.LogoLast year’s digital bookmobile event was such a success that we’ve asked them to roll through again this year!  On August 19th from 10am to 4pm, the OverDrive Digital Bookmobile will be in our parking lot to educate patrons about our downloadable collections.  First, venture inside the air-conditioned bookmobile and check out their exhibits.  We’ll have staff outside the bookmobile to answer your questions and help you get started using our downloadable e-books and audiobooks.

Are you already a user of our OverDrive collections?  Stop by and let us know what you think!  Your opinions are important to us.  We can also chat about what’s next for OverDrive.  On April 20th, OverDrive is releasing a new and improved mobile app, and we’ll be happy to show you what’s new.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Google Tricks

googleGoogle’s search box is so much more than it appears to be.  You may be familiar with Google Doodles, where Google modifies its logo to commemorate holidays or events.  You may also know that you can use the “Search Tools” button to refine a Google search by time, location, or other limits (found under “All results”).advancedIn fact, there are a whole host of tricks and tools (infographic) out there to make the most of your Google search.  Beyond search terms and language that can refine a search, Google has built in some other neat features that are outlined nicely in this Mashable article.  Some of my favorite tools are:

  • Hidden “Easter Eggs” – the Chuck Norris bit is great!
  • Easy unit conversions – a must for recipes.
  • Package tracking
  • Local movie times

What are your favorite Google tricks?

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Sharing OverDrive Titles

OverDrive LogoThe other day, I spotted a neat feature in the OverDrive Media Console app that I had previously overlooked.  After clicking the “+” next to a title on my bookshelf to view its details page, I saw a “Share” button.  Ever curious, I clicked it and was surprised to be presented with options to share this title via email, Facebook, Goodreads, or any other social app installed on my (Android) phone.  This is not a feature for lending a title to a friend, but it allowed me to send links and mention it to a targeted audience.  If you like to recommend books to your friends, this could be a handy feature.

After a little research, I learned that the share feature differs by device.  While Android users are given every possible sharing option, iOS (Apple) users can only share via Facebook, Twitter and email.  If you’re using a Windows phone, you will be limited to sharing on Facebook.  Sadly, Blackberry users were not mentioned in the press release.  If you are a Blackberry user, I’d be interested to hear whether the share option is available to you.

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Looking for App or Software Recommendations?

makeuseofIn my constant search for helpful tech information to share with patrons and readers, I keep coming across one site that is extremely useful no matter what I’m looking for. I just can’t say enough about MakeUseOf.com.  We use some of their cheat sheets and guides in our library, and I subscribe to their joke blog for techies as well as their informative newsletter (subscribe on right side).  I even purchased a tablet based on one of their reviews!

I am often asked if I have any recommendations for apps and software.  And yes, if you are interested in Android or PC software within my range of interests, I can help.  Unfortunately, I haven’t owned a Mac since college, I’ve never had a chance to play with iPhones or Windows phones, and to my knowledge, I have never even tried a computer running Linux.  Enter MakeUseOf to save my sorry self and provide great recommendations for nearly every platform in their Best Of… series.  They even include recommendations for plugins in Firefox, Chrome, and WordPress!  While you’re there, you may want to browse their guides and tech help forums.  They really do have something for everyone.

Another great site for tech information is TechCrunch.  If you would like to see their app recommendations for Android and iOS, check out their article, The 20 Best iOS and Android Apps of 2012.

What are your go-to sites for tech information?

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OverDrive Media Console Update – Important Changes

OverDrive LogoIf you use our OverDrive service to download e-books and/or audiobooks to an Android or iOS (Apple) device, there is a new update on the way that may not be as seamless as the updates have been in the past.  OverDrive emailed the release notes for the new version to partner libraries indicating the new update, version 2.6.5, will be made available on May 29th 28th via Google Play, the App Store, and the OverDrive website.

For Android users, the update includes some bug fixes and should go as smoothly as previous updates.  However, iOS users may have a bit more difficulty due to a change in Apple’s privacy policies.  The update will require all iOS users to reauthorize the device by re-entering Adobe ID information into the app.  If you have forgotten your Adobe password, there will be a “forgot password” link within the app, or you can head to Adobe’s sign-in page and click the “Trouble signing in?” link to reset your password.   Any audiobooks that have been partially downloaded will need to be re-downloaded from your OverDrive account’s bookshelf to get the missing parts.

As always, if you run into any trouble with the updates or the OverDrive service in general, please to not hesitate to email, call the Reference Desk (518-477-7476, option 5), or stop by to get assistance with your issue.

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OverDrive Read

OverDrive LogoIf you enjoy reading library e-books on your device, but find downloading titles to be a painful process, we have good news!  OverDrive has a new option for users called “OverDrive Read.”  This allows e-books to be read in any modern web browser (such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) without the need to download.  As an added bonus, the e-books are stored “in the cloud”, which means your place will be saved no matter which device or browser you use to access the e-books.

Limitations
As with anything that seems too good to be true, there are some limitations.  For instance, if you are using a Nook or a Kindle, the e-books may not work in your browser, but OverDrive claims to be working on this.  For more on browser details, see OverDrive’s compatibility page.  Also, if you use a version of Internet Explorer prior to 10, the first time you try to access a Read title you may be asked to download and install a plug-in called, “Google Chrome Frame.”  This is necessary to view the books properly, but will only need to be done once.  Finally, and most importantly, not all e-books are available in Read format.  In fact, due to publisher restrictions, only about 60% of OverDrive e-books can be read in a browser.

Features
One nice thing is that Read titles can be accessed offline.  When you open a title, it is cached (saved) for offline access.  You can save the title to your bookmarks/favorites or save them as links on your mobile device’s home screen.  As long as you don’t clear out your cache, the e-book will be available to you for the entire lending period whether you are online or not.  Unfortunately, if you needed to install the Chrome Frame plug-in to view your book in Internet Explorer, offline reading is not supported.  We recommend upgrading to IE10 or installing an alternate browser.  Another handy feature of Read e-books is that they can be returned early from within your OverDrive account’s bookshelf.

For a step-by-step picture guide to finding and downloading Read titles, download the library’s PDF brochure.  Still have questions?  Let us know in the comments below, stop by the Reference Desk , or contact us via email or phone (518-477-7476, option 5).

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Looking for Help with Windows 8?

w8If you recently purchased a new Windows computer or tablet, chances are it uses the Windows 8 operating system (OS) or Windows RT (a simplified version of Windows 8 for some tablets).  The latest OS marks a major change in the appearance of Windows, which has thrown many users for a loop.  Here is a collection of resources to help answer your questions:

Videos

Websites – Step by Step Tutorials

Books (links lead to Upper Hudson Library System catalog)

I hope this helps some of you to navigate and troubleshoot your new operating system.  What do you think of Windows 8?

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