Friday, June 23, 2006

Internet Error Messages

Just found an interesting site on Webopedia, the online dictionary of web terms. They have a Quick Reference page, and one of those quick references is called Web Server Error Messages . This could be very useful for the customer who thinks our computer is broken because a website is not coming up.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Using the Mouse to Move Text with Word

You can use your mouse to move text in Word. This is an alternative to copy/cut and paste. This is a good thing but mostly a bad thing. I will explain.

  • To move text with your mouse, first highlight the text you want to move.
  • Then click and drag the text to the location you want to move it to. The text will relocate.
  • Or, click and drag while holding the CTRL key and the text will be copied to the new location (instead of cut).

The benefit of this is that if you have a need to cut/copy and paste quite a bit, it could save you a lot of time. The downside of this is the fact that many of our customers (and staff) will accidentally move text without realizing what they are doing. Next thing they know, their document is completely clustered.

Usually by the time a customer will ask us for help, they have attempted to fix their document numerous times, each time making their document worse. So, what do we do to solve this problem? Why is this useful for you to know? Here are some possible scenarios that would follow a customer explaining to library staff that their text just "magically" moved across the page.

A) Throw our hands in the air and commiserate with the customer about "those darn crazy computers".

B) Say that you are not a computer expert and that you will go find the library staff member that can maybe help them.

C) Explain that Word has a built-in editing feature that allows you to move highlighted text around the document if you click and drag; however, it mainly causes problems because of situations exactly like this. Show them the Undo button, fix their problem, and say that if it happens again, just click the Undo button.

Which one of these scenarios would give the customer their best experience at the library?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Removing Old Addresses from Outlook 2003 Autocomplete

Outlook 2003 users know about the Autocomplete function that makes certain e-mail addresses or nicknames automatically appear as you are typing e-mail addresses in the To, CC, or BCC text boxes.

What happens when someone's address changes? They likely change it to something similar to what it used to be. So now, when you are adding an e-mail address, both the old and the new address appear and you have to be certain that you are using the correct address. But how do you stop that annoying, old e-mail address from appearing again?

The next time you are typing an e-mail address and the list of e-mails automatically appears, use the down arrow on the keyboard to move your highlight to the old address and press Delete on your keyboard.

There you go. There are some rare instances when that address could reappear in the future. For example, if you receive a message from someone who included the old e-mail address on accident, it could reappear.

If you would rather just turn the whole thing off, follow these instructions:

Click on Tools on the Menu Bar
Click on Options
Click E-mail Options
Click Advanced E-mail Options
Under When sending a message, clear the Suggest names while completing To, Cc, and Bcc fields check box.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Use SHIFT to Select Multiple, Sequential Items in Lists

Earlier, I wrote about using the CTRL button to select multiple items in lists.

Now, it is time to explain a similar trick. You can use the SHIFT key on the keyboard to select sequential items in lists. It works like this:

  • Select the first item
  • Press and hold the SHIFT key on the keyboard
  • Select the last item, and all items in between will automatically be selected.

For example, let us say that you have come back to work after a long weekend. You open your e-mail account and you have received 25 spam e-mail messages and no work e-mail messages. You would NOT have to click on each item to delete them. Simply click on the first spam, press and hold the SHIFT key, then click and the last spam. The entire list is highlighted. You can then click the delete button and they are gone.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ask the Tech Trainer

If you have an MPLIC Tech Train topic suggestion or question, then add a comment to this post and I will give it a shot! Topics could be:

  • Odd computer-related customer experiences
  • Thoughts or questions on future tech trends in libraries
  • General computer-related questions regarding MS Office or internet searching

If you need help commenting, see this previous post (no, you don't have to log in).

A link to this post will be added to the Sidebar, so in the future, look there to bring up this post. Then add a comment.

USB Security Risks?

In other libraries, there has been some discussion about the security risks of allowing USB flash drives on library public computers.

Now there is a new twist to this scenario as customers can also attach external hard drives to our computers via the USB ports.

You can be assured that an external hard drive poses no greater risk than a USB flash drive.

Here is the updated Flash Drive document which can be found on the Technical Trainer wiki.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Can I Add Text to a PDF?

Someone recently asked if they could change a PDF into a Word document so that they could add text.

PDFs are wonderful in that the documents remain the same no matter what computer you are on, hence the name Portable Document Format. For example, if the IRS did not use PDFs for their tax forms, different computers would arrange the text in different ways. Not what the IRS wants. So whenever people want to place their documents online and they also want to ensure that the format of those documents is not changed, they will place them online as PDFs.

However, what if you, or a customer, wanted to add text to a PDF? For example, here is a link to a PDF of a 6 generation genealogy fan chart. PDFs use a combination of text and graphic elements and as we see in this PDF, it includes text and graphics (the fan).

Using the Select Tool on Adobe Reader (the program on the computer that opens PDFs), you would only be capable of copying and pasting the text elements of this chart into Word. You would not be able to capture the "fan".

Using the Snapshot Tool in Adobe Reader, we can copy and paste the entire fan and text into Word, but it is only capable of displaying the fan as an image and NOT as an interactive-type document. Again, not the desired result.

Even using a free trial of a product that converts PDF to Word, it still sent the fan as an image.

However, some PDFs DO ALLOW you to add text if you have an updated Adobe Reader. Here is a link to a 1040 form from the IRS. You should be able to add text to this form and even select checkboxes. So interactive PDFs do exist in this world (not many but just enough to add confusion).

We all know that certain customers that come across a NON-interactive PDF will be a bit confused (rightfully so) if they have added text to an interactive PDF before. Without a knowledgeable explanation from library staff, they may think that it is our fault that they could not add text and their library experience could be sabotaged. Given a knowledgeable explanation, the customer will leave satisfied, even though they could not get what they wanted (which was impossible to get anyway).

Monday, June 12, 2006

Blog Difficulties

I am having difficulties with the blog so bear with me as I tinker with the template.


OK, I think I have fixed everything. The old template started acting funny a few weeks ago and it got worse to the point of being unacceptable.

Restart Numbering in MS Word

I often utilize the numbering tool in MS Word. This is the tool found on the Formatting toolbar that automatically creates a numbered list for you. Every time you hit the Enter key, a new number is created.

One quirk of this tool is the habit MS Word has of continuing a numbered list. In other words, if you are creating two numbered lists, Word may begin the second numbered list where the first one left off: (follow me here)

1. For example, . . .
2. If I am creating a numbered list, . . .
3. and then I end a numbered list. . .

. . .to continue typing, the next time a create a numbered list, the first number may be a 4, not a 1.

If that ever happens to you, no fear:

  • Make sure your cursor is somewhere in the numbered list you need to fix.
  • Click on Format on the menu bar.
  • Click on Bullets and Numbering.
  • The dialog box below will appear. Towards the bottom, you will see two radio buttons. One says Continue previous list. The other says Restart numbering.
  • Click on Restart numbering and click on OK. You should be set!

See video description.

Bullets and Numbering

PowerSearch is Coming

The new ILS will utilize federated search. Read this blog post from the ILS blog for more information. Basically, you have the ability to search multiple databases with one interface.

On a similar note, the interface for many of our Library Databases will soon change. Thomson Gale, the source of many of our databases, will begin utilizing a federated search interface.

A rough estimate for MPLIC to make this switch-over is some time in August; however, you can give it a test drive now. Click here for a sneak-peak. Or click here for a 10 minute guided tour.

This will not affect non-ThomsonGale databases such as Newsbank, Rosetta Stone, LearnaTest. Also, not all ThomsonGale databases are making the transfer.

Information on training will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"Access My Library" Reminder

Today, I attended a TEL training at Rhodes Library. In that training, they mentioned the "Access My Library" service. I recalled a StaffWise tip from July last year about this service and realized this tip never transferred to the blog. So, here it is with a few updated changes:

Thomson Gale, provider of numerous databases that we subscribe to (including InfoTrac OneFile), announced about a year ago that it is permitting the Internet's most popular search engines to include their material in search results.

While the information has previously proved useful for library customers who knew about these databases, until now, millions of people who use search engines as their first and sometimes only stop for research were not being helped by the valuable information stored in these databases.

To read the full text articles, users will be asked to enter their zip code or city in order to identify their local library. Users who are guided to the Memphis Public Library & Information Center will be asked to enter their username and/or password, which we all know. Those who do not know are prompted to call (901) 415-2700 for username/password information.

Click here for more information on this service.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Use CTRL to Select Multiple Items in Lists

Have you ever helped a customer who sent multiple print jobs? The scenario may go like this: They send 6 print jobs but they only want this one and that one and that one, etc. Then, they need to know how much it will cost because they need to add some money to their card. Meanwhile the line at the desk is getting longer and the line of people wanting to use the print station is getting impatient.

The CTRL key is your calvary in these situations. If you press and hold the CTRL key while mouse-clicking on the various print jobs, the Pharos system will automatically calculate the price of all print jobs. Likewise, when you click on Print, Pharos will print all print jobs you clicked on.

If you want to remove a print job from your selection, just click on it again while still holding the CTRL key.

This concept works with many applications. For example, if you want to delete several e-mail messages, you can press and hold the CTRL key while mouse-clicking the various e-mail messages. Then, click the delete button and they will all go away.