What’s Up with Windows 10?

windows-10-logoWindows 10 was released at the end of July, though you have probably been hearing about it for much longer than that.  Even if you haven’t been keeping up on tech news, Windows 7 and 8 users will have noticed an icon on their desktops urging them to reserve their free upgrade.  Microsoft states that this will be the last operating system they release.  Going forward, Windows will provide all updates free of charge and do away with supporting multiple operating systems.  In fact, some users will be forced to install updates whether they want to or not.  While this will be helpful from a security and support standpoint, it could spell trouble if any of those updates go awry.  If you have a genuine copy of Windows 7 or later, upgrading to Windows 10 will be free for a year.  After that, you may need to pay for the upgrade.  However, to clarify, there will be no charges after upgrading to Windows 10.  Some readers have seen “free for a year” and assumed that Microsoft would start charging Windows 10 users after a year.  That is not the case.

There is a lot of information about Windows 10 out there, and I have done my best to sort through it and provide links to some of the more helpful resources available.

Because of third-party software concerns, the library will not be upgrading its public computers to Windows 10 for some time yet.  However, I am planning to upgrade one of our staff computers in order to test the new operating system and help me answer questions patrons might have about their computers and other devices.  If you have any questions or comments regarding Windows 10, we’d love to hear about them in the comments!

New Tech in the Library

upgrade

Thanks to a generous grant from the Friends of the East Greenbush Community Library, we have been able to replace some of the outdated technology in the library.

Monitors

If you have used any of our public computers in the last several years, you know that the square, analog monitors were not keeping pace with the way modern video and web content is displayed.  Some patrons also complained that the refresh rate was causing visible flickering on the screen.  We were able to replace all of the monitors at the public computers with digital, widescreen LED monitors.  In addition to improved display, these models are much more energy efficient than their predecessors.  This should save the library money in the long run.

Tech Cart in Meeting Rooms A and B

If you have recently attended a program in meeting rooms A and/or B that required A/V equipment, you may have noticed that the tech cart boasted an ancient LCD projector (for which they no longer make replacement bulbs) and a DVD/VCR combo.  The Friends helped us to purchase a new, more energy efficient DLP projector which projects a very clear image that can be seen on the wall at any lighting level.  We took this opportunity to replace the DVD/VCR with a Blu-ray player, which still supports DVDs.  Because the projector supports HDMI inputs, watching a Blu-ray using the projector is a much higher quality visual experience than watching a VHS tape with the old projector.  This should make the next movie festival much more enjoyable!

We hope you enjoy these improvements to the library.  What would you like to see next?  Let us know in the comments.

Android Security Gets Stagefright

androidA new and nasty vulnerability in the Android operating system, dubbed “Stagefright”, has recently come to light.  Initially, it was reported that this bug would allow a hacker to gain control of an Android device with only a text message.  Once in your phone, a hacker could steal or take over anything on your device and then infect everyone in your contacts.  Until device manufacturers and wireless carriers can issue a fix, Android users were advised to disable the setting to “automatically retrieve” MMS messages in their texting app and Google Hangouts.

A week later, it was reported that the infection could not only arrive via text, but could also be embedded in any number of apps or websites just lying in wait.  Because the bug is surrounded by “safe coding”, security software will not necessarily catch it.

The good news is, lots of people are working on fixing this.  In fact, Samsung and Sprint have already worked together to release a fix for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.  Unfortunately, their fix only works on that device.  Many more fixes will need to be generated and pushed out to patch up the nearly 950 million vulnerable Android devices out there.  If you are an Android user, be on the lookout for available updates for your device.

For more information about Stagefright, Fortune.com has an excellent article and Q&A on the subject.

Has your device been infected?  Tell us about it in the comments.

 

Library Software Upgrade Report

SierraencoreWelcome to my long overdue update on the software situation in the library.  Since our library system (UHLS) moved to a new library management software at the end of March, the system’s techies have been working hard to get the kinks out of the new system.  Believe it or not, there are still several modules and functions that are still being configured.  The purpose of this post is to let you know which issues are still outstanding and where to get help if you need it.

1.  Notifications

Some people are still experiencing minor issues receiving their notifications.  Most commonly, emails are not received.  Make sure to check your spam folder.  Even if you have already “rescued” a library email from your spam folder and marked the sender safe, emails can come from different library email addresses.  You may need to add several addresses to your email whitelist before the emails will stop going to junk mail.  If you are not receiving notifications and you have already checked your spam folder, please contact the library and let us know.

Some patrons have pointed out that phone notifications do not mention the library where their items are being held.  This can be an issue for power users who pick up items at multiple locations.  At this time, there is no fix for this issue.  We suggest that patrons who are unsure where their items are being held login to the online catalog and click their name in the upper right corner of the screen.  On the left menu of the next screen, select “holds.”  Any items showing “ready for pickup” under status will also list a pickup location.

2. Prompts to request specific items

In some cases, when requesting an item, a patron is prompted to request a specific copy of an item, even though all of the copies are the same.  This is a cataloging issue that all of the libraries are working to fix.  Reports of this issue are few and far between, but it still happens.

3. Blocked from placing a hold

On our previous system, patrons with outstanding charges on their library cards could place holds on items and would be prompted to pay down their fees when checking out an item.  The new system no longer allows holds for any card not in good standing.  Unfortunately, we cannot control this.  If you are blocked from placing a hold, call the Reference Desk (477-7476, option 4) and we can override this restriction and place the hold for you.

4.  Checking out an OverDrive item through the library catalog

Previously, we had two separate catalogs for our physical items (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.) and digital items (OverDrive).  While the two separate catalogs still exist, our new library catalog contains our digital items as well as physical.  You can even check out and download most digital titles without leaving the catalog!  To test this, search the catalog for a title.  In the left menu, look under “format.”  If the item is available as a downloadable audiobook or e-book, there will be options for “downloadable e-book” or “downloadable audiobook.”  You may need to click “more” to see all available formats.  format

If you are looking for a magazine or streaming video, the format categories are less helpful.  Downloadable magazines show up as “downloadable e-books” and streaming videos show up as “DVDs.”  Check the individual record for more clarification:

checkoutvideoIf you click on “Check out with OverDrive”, you will be prompted to sign in if you haven’t already.  Then a window will pop up confirming checkout:

odcheckoutAfter you select “check out”, you can immediately download the title by selecting “Get eBook” if you are using the device you would like to read/watch on.

downloadOtherwise, you can download it later by logging into your account in the OverDrive catalog.  Occasionally, an error message will display, and you will need to go to the OverDrive catalog and sign in to download, anyway.  We’re working on that, too.

error5.  New item notification

We had more direct control over our last system, which allowed UHLS to create add-ons that would use the power of our library catalog to provide extra features for patrons.  One of these add-ons was the ability to subscribe to a “New Items” feed.  This feed would notify subscribers when a new item was added to the catalog.  The popularity of this feature was made clear to us by patrons who were very frustrated when it disappeared.  UHLS knows how much patrons want this feature, and they are working to bring it back.  Because there are still some higher priority bugs to work out with the everyday functioning of the catalog, this feature may need to be on the back burner for a while.  However, it is definitely on the to-do list.

6.  Getting help

We have created several types of training resources to help you navigate our new catalog. Our Online Catalog Help page includes short videos and text instructions for common tasks, as well as a print-friendly (PDF) guide to using your library account online.  Of course, if you’d rather get assistance from a live person, our reference librarians are always happy to help.  Give us a call (518-477-7476, option 4) or stop by at your convenience.

Again, we’d like to thank all of our patrons for their patience and understanding during this time of transition.  What are your thoughts on the new catalog?  Have you discovered a bug not discussed here?  Let us know in the comments.