Category Archives: Tools

Tagging the Library Catalog

tag

Our latest public catalog has some new features that we are excited to see patrons using. One of these features allows patrons to “tag” items in our catalog. The purpose of adding a tag would be to make an item easier to find. For example, if I ran a book club at the library, I might want to add the tag “EG Book Club” to every title we discuss. That way, any patron searching the catalog for “EG Book Club” would find all of those books grouped together in the results.

The Issue

Recently, we have discovered that there may be some confusion about the nature of tags in our catalog. Given some of the community tags we’ve seen, it appears that patrons believe them to be private. Consider the following example:
Tag example 1. If they get it in large print or the e-book version

Clearly, this is a patron’s note to self and not meant for public consumption. Unfortunately, there is no way we can let the patron who added it know that a more effective way to accomplish this privately would be to use the My List feature of the catalog, which we will outline in a moment.

Other patrons may think tagging an item is a way to communicate with library staff:

Tag example 2. Renew e-book

I assure you that no staff member will see this unless they find it by accident.  If you have created your own tags assuming they were private, please help us clean up the catalog and protect your privacy by deleting them.

My List

If you would like to make personal notes to yourself on items in the catalog, there is a more elegant way to do this. It involves an additional click or two, but there are many more options available to you when you use this method. For example, when you add items to a list, you can request them all at once or one at a time. You can also create multiple lists and organize them as you wish.

You can use “My Lists” to save lists of items that you wish to revisit for later use. The content in these lists is stored until you remove it. In “My Lists”, you can create folders to group your stored titles in ways that help you to organize your content. Titles stored in “My Lists” can be viewed and retrieved by logging into your My Account and using the “My Lists” link.  Login to My Account and the search for an item you wish to add to your list.  Click on the icon to “Add to cart.”

Add to cart icon

When you have gathered all of the items for your list in the cart, click on “My Cart” next to your name in the upper right of the screen.

My Cart link screenshot

Click “save to list” and either create a new list or save to a list already created and confirm.  To see your lists, return to your account details by clicking on your name when logged into the catalog. Select the “My Lists” link to view the lists created.  Click on a list name export it or request/delete items on the list.

My Lists link

How would you use the tagging feature in our catalog? Let us know in the comments.

Tech Tricks to Improve Your Technological Experience

checkthisout

There is a wealth of information available on the internet. Luckily, there are lots of neat technological tips and tricks that can help with how you use technology and its components.

Vine is an app people use to post very short (eight seconds or less) video clips that will automatically replay once the clip has finished. The clips are referred to as Vines. GCF LearnFree has posted a neat list of Vines that can help with some common tech-related problems such as how to organize and label various wires, how to protect power cords, and how to clean a keyboard with a sticky note.

If you are a Chrome user and have been frustrated with the slowness of your browser, makeuseof has written an article that has some suggestions on how you can improve the speed of your Chrome browsing experience.

If you are a user of Creative Commons (content that is free to legally use and share), makeuseof has put together a helpful post that gives tips on how to find Creative Commons content.

Have you ever accidentally installed bundled software without meaning to? When installing free software, often times there will be a message box that appears before the installation asking if you want to install another program, reset your browser homepage, or change your search settings. Luckily, there is a program called Unchecky. This application searches for commonly bundled unwanted applications and removes them. It also prevents unwanted applications from being installed in the future by automatically unchecking the unwanted offers box when a user is installing a new application, as well as warning the user if they try to accept a potentially unwanted offer.

These are just a few of the many neat tricks to help you improve how you use technology and its components. Do you have any neat tricks you’ve discovered? Share them in the comments.

Pop Away from Popups and Other Unwanted Ads

securitykey

It’s happened to most people:  you’re browsing the internet, and suddenly a window pops up informing you that you need to update your software or maybe that you have a virus or perhaps one saying you’ve won a free iPad. Even to advanced computer users, some of these popup advertisements can look legitimate. How can the average computer user avoid bothersome popups?

Luckily, makeuseof has written a helpful article with some helpful tips on how to avoid malicious popups and how to tell if they are legitimate.

The author advises computer users to always check the URL in the address bar. Most software websites have URLs that are pretty straightforward. For example, if you are attempting to download Adobe Reader, the URL will be www.adobe.com. Try to avoid websites with super long web addresses. If you want to view the URL for a website, move your mouse over the link before clicking on it and the full URL will be displayed in the status bar near the bottom of the screen. Google will display the full URL of the search result in green below the link name. In the example below, the mouse cursor is on the link for the East Greenbush Library’s Wikipedia entry. Note the highlighted area near the bottom of the screen that displays the full link.

linkhighlight

 

Try to avoid pages that are full of text and advertisements. If you are still unsure if a download link is safe, check out a site like File Hippo, which is an aggregate site that contains mirror downloads of many popular programs like Adobe Reader and Java. On a related note, try to avoid the Google-ad results, which are usually the first few results that appear in a Google search and are marked with a little yellow ad banner.

If you are mindful about looking at a link before you click on it, you may notice a common trend of link shortening, for example, tiny.url or bit.ly links. How are you supposed to know if those links are legit? There is a great tool called Unshorten.It. You can copy and paste the shortened link and the site will display the full link as well as a small screenshot of the site. There are also various other sites that preform a similar function.

Some other helpful tips mentioned in the article:

  • Install a good anti-virus program. Many have an internet security feature that will highlight suspicious links and block popups.
  • Avoid searching for things like free video games and free screensavers. These are a common source of malware and shady links.
  • There are various browser-specific tips, such as changing your homepage to one you recognize and blocking popups directly with your browser (these options are found in the browser settings).
  • If you are a more advanced computer user, you may want to use a browser extension such as AdBlock Plus that will block ads from appearing on a webpage.
  • The article gives you instructions on what do if you accidentally click on a popup or ad and seem to be stuck.

If you are still getting unwanted popups after trying the tips discussed in the article, you may have malware installed on your computer. If this happens, there are steps you can take to remove it. Check out makeuseof’s malware removal guide for more information.

 

Back By Popular Demand: New Items Lists!

newitemsWhen we moved to our new library software earlier this year, we lost the ability to provide real-time lists of new items ordered by the libraries. If you have been missing this feature, we have great news – it has been restored! Check all libraries here: http://reports.uhls.org/newitems/. See only our library here: http://reports.uhls.org/newitems/EGRN/index.html.

How Does It Work?

The first link will take you to a listing of all Upper Hudson Library System libraries.  Select a library, and you will be presented with a list of item types.  Only item types with newly items will be displayed, so some categories you might expect may not be present.  Click on an item type to see a list of titles that are linked to the catalog for easy requesting.  Check back often, as we are adding new items all the time and the lists are updated overnight.

Each library has a different time frame for “new”, which will be stated at the top of the title list.  The East Greenbush Community Library has chosen 14 days, while some other libraries chose 30 or 90 days.  Keep in mind that donated items, items ordered as replacements, and duplicate copies show up on these lists, as well.  That would account for “new” items with older publication dates.  The category that will most likely show newly released items is the “On Order” category.  While this group is not limited on a single item type or genre, it is often populated by items ordered ahead of publication date.  As soon as the record is created in the catalog, patrons can place requests.

Questions?  Please ask in the comments below or call the library for more information.

 

Is This Real?

Sign reading warning internet hoaxChances are that while browsing on Facebook, Twitter or various other websites, you have come across an article or piece of information that caused you to question its validity. Luckily, IFL Science has put together a list can that help you determine whether or not an article is a hoax. The article lists ways to tell if what you are reading has any credibility. Their suggestions include doing a reverse Google image search, using a tool called FotoForensics to determine if a picture has been Photoshopped, and using the details embedded in the picture itself to determine its validity.

Facebook has become one of the most popular ways in which people get their news. WeLiveSecurity has put together a list of helpful ways to tell if a story you see on Facebook may not be real. Their tips include not trusting a story that forces you to share it before you can even read it and any story that features an overly violent news report.

Another good resource for determining not only whether something you saw online is valid is Snopes. The website has a searchable database that you can use to verify questionable information you find online, in an email or if your everyday life.

Do you have any tips for determining whether an article is a hoax? Let us know in the comments.

MakeUseOf Has the Answers to Questions You Didn’t Know You Had

makeuseofStaying current with IT news, trends, and tips is a fundamental part of my job in the library.  While I get this information from a variety of resources, there is one website that keeps surprising me with helpful information on a variety of subjects of interest to me and the patrons I assist.  I’d like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to MakeUseOf, a free online resource with timely articles, reviews, and help guides for all things tech.  What really makes this resource shine is its ability to speak to both new and veteran users at the same time without confusing or boring either!

The home page at MakeUseOf displays headlines and teaser text for their most recent articles.  I find this layout somewhat chaotic, so I prefer to sort the articles by category before browsing.  Selecting “Topics” in the header menu will display the articles by category.  The “Answers” section leads to a user forum where registered members can ask and answer questions from the MakeUseOf community.  Check out the “Top List” section for “best of” lists for a variety of software and services on multiple platforms.  For in-depth technology guides, have a look at their “E-books” area.

As a registered user of MakeUseOf, you can earn points for sharing their content on social media, as well as participating in the forum, polls, and other activities.  Those points can be redeemed for rewards, such as entries in drawings for free hardware and software.  My favorite benefit of membership has been receiving the newsletter.  Each email has a few headlines with teaser text that can be easily scanned, with more information just a click away.  I have happened upon lots of very useful information in these newsletters that I didn’t even know I needed!  You can opt-in to the newsletter by selecting the social media icons at the top of any MakeUseOf page, and then selecting the blue “Email” button.

subscribeWhat do you think of MakeUseOf?  If you have another tech info source you love, please share it in the comments.

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?

Apps to Help Identify a Tablet/Smartphone/Laptop Thief

11719567_sImage credit: seewhatmitchsee / 123RF Stock Photo

We all know tablets, smartphones, and laptops are attractive targets for thieves.  Not only is the equipment inherently valuable, but think of all the data, pictures, and account information you have saved on your phone!  The time to protect yourself is before your device is stolen.

MakeUseOf.com has written some helpful posts on how to prepare your devices for the worst case scenario.  I would recommend reading two short articles: Don’t Be a Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft and Identify the Guy Who Stole Your Phone, Tablet, or Laptop.

If thieves make you angry, and you would like to gloat at their humiliation and capture, try Revenge of the geek: MacBook thief made a fool of on YouTube. The end of the article contains links to more stories of foiled electronics thieves.

Do you use a recovery tool not mentioned in the articles above?  Please share it the comments section below.

Life After iGoogle

google-icon

Have you come to depend on iGoogle as a convenient home page with all of your favorite Google (and other) stuff in one place?  Me too.  Despite the popularity of iGoogle, Google has decided to discontinue the service after November 1, 2013.  This leaves many users scrambling for a new solution.  Whether you are an iGoogle user or not, you may find the suggestions below useful.

1.  Google Shortcuts
If you are looking for is quick access to Google products, and you use Firefox or Chrome for your browser, this add-on may help.  It does exactly what it sounds like – it adds shortcuts for Google services to the top of your browser.  You can choose which shortcuts you use by clicking the gear icon.  Here’s a clip of what the shortcuts look like on my browser (Firefox):

googleshortcuts

Warning:  the download page is in German, but the settings and operations are in English.

2. Myfav.es
If you don’t need previews of content, just quick links to your favorite sites, this may be the service for you.  There are shortcuts for many, many websites available.  No account necessary.  Here is what the homepage I created looks like:
faves

Chances are, though, that you are looking for a page with gadgets that offers previews of your email, RSS feeds, calendar, etc.  Read on for other services that offer a similar experience to iGoogle.

3.  igHome
This one is my current favorite.  The setup was easy, and in no time I had a functioning page nearly identical to my iGoogle page.  As a bonus, shortcuts to Google services are included in a toolbar at the top of the page.  If you are using the Gmail gadget, be sure to turn on IMAP in your Gmail settings and approve the igHome application to access it.

4. Netvibes
This one is a bit more complicated than igHome to set up, but more customization is available.  Also, more widgets are available than with some other customized home pages.

5. uStart.org
This solution is similar to Netvibes.  You may want to experiment with both and see which you like better.

6. MyMSN and MyYahoo
These are personalized homepages provided by their respective companies.  If you don’t need any gadgets related to Google (Gmail, Google Calendar, etc.), one of these may work well for you.

7. Skim.Me
This one looks promising, but I’m still waiting for an invitation to get in on the beta.

Have you found another solution?  If so, let me know about it in the comments.

Happy computing!

More About Dropbox

dropbox

After I wrote my previous post about uses for Dropbox, I found a great article by the folks at MakeUseOf that explains how to host a website using Dropbox.  It is titled, appropriately, How to Host a Simple Website Using Dropbox.  Here at the library, I often get asked how to setup a basic website.  It’s great to have another tool to share with patrons.  I haven’t tried this method myself, so I’d be interested to hear about your experience if you have used Dropbox to host your website.