Tuesday, August 29, 2006

You Mean I Have to Learn How to Use Another Word Processing Tool

Some day soon, a customer may ask for some word processing assistance. You had taken the various Word trainings that I have offered so you approach the customer's computer with confidence. But when you arrive, you see something quite different than Word. Did we change word processing software and not notify anybody? No, we would never do that.

Chances are, the customer is using www.writely.com. This is an online word processor that Google now owns and it is free with registration. Click here to take a tour.

You can also use this if you ever need to collaborate with several staff in various branches. Instead of sending attachments back and forth, just create the document on Writely and anyone can update the document from anywhere. You can assign who can see and edit the document, or you can make it available to the whole world. Once the document is complete, you can transfer it to Word easily, or just print it directly from Writely.

If you want to give it a shot, I have created a document that anyone can edit. Just click here and type away! You will need to Sign Up, which is super quick.

NOTE: Make sure you are using the right browser (click here to see a list of supported browsers).

Friday, August 25, 2006

Search with Google (or other search engines) in the Address Bar

Many of you know that you can search the Web by typing words in the Address Bar. The browser will understand that you did not type a web address and will perform a search with a search engine.

You may not have known that you can select the type of search engine the browser will use. To do this, click on Search on the Internet Explorer toolbar (same toolbar with the Back and Home buttons). A search pane should appear on the left side of your screen. Click on the Customize button on the top of that pane.

A dialog box will appear and you will see an option to "Choose a search provider for address bar searches". Select the search engine of your choice and click OK. Now, your random words you type in the address bar with use the search engine of your choice.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Toggling Between Open Programs

I was recently conducting a presentation in which I was toggling between Internet Explorer and PowerPoint. Someone asked after the presentation how I did that.

To toggle between open programs, press and hold the Alt key and then hit the Tab key. In the middle of the screen, you will see icons of all open programs. Each time you hit the Tab key (while still holding down the Alt key), you move to a separate program. To go to the selected program, let go of the Alt and Tab keys.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Free E-Books Abound (In Other Languages, Too)

The amount of material available on the web is ever-increasing, as we all know. One area of expansion that should be of interest to librarians is the collection of free e-books.

First, we have Project Gutenberg,"... the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, or eBooks. Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, invented eBooks in 1971 and continues to inspire the creation of eBooks and related technologies today." Click here for further information about this project.

You can search the Project Gutenberg catalog here. Notice that they have many titles in other languages. They have over 50 titles in Chinese, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Tagalog.

And, if you have an aggregator, you can subscribe to their RSS feed and be notified of the new books they receive (http://www.gutenberg.org/feeds/today.rss).

Adobe has many classics in PDF form (of course). See their listings here (scroll down to see the classics).

The ALA Techsource Blog recently mentioned the new service, Wowio. Read about that here.

You also have Google Books in which you can perform and advanced search by Author, Title, Year, or even ISBN.

Friday, August 18, 2006

What are AOL Users Searching For?

Here is an article by Lee Gomes at the Washington Post about the AOL Web-search data. This is a great synopsis of what people use the web for.

Upcoming Technical Training and Presentations

UPDATE: This is being replaced with the new calendar found on the sidebar. Just scroll down and you will see it.

MPLIC is contantly offering trainings and presentations to assist staff adapt to technological changes in the workplace. Below is a constantly updated list of upcoming events in technical training and Technical Trainer activities.

September 26: PowerSearch Demonstration at the Children's Services Meeting / closed meeting
September 27: How Do I Format My Document? 9-10am / contact Cynthia to register
September 28: Search Something (trainer: Kevin) 9am-12pm / contact Cynthia to register
October 11: The Spider Catches the Fly (Aggregator Workshop) 9-10:30am / contact Cynthia to register
October 25: Library Databases (trainer: Debbie) 9am-12pm / contact Cynthia to register
November 1: What's Wrong with my Document? 9-10am / contact Cynthia to register
November 8: What's Up with Bullets, Numbers, and Tabs? 9-10am / contact Cynthia to register
November 14: The Spider Catches the Fly (Aggregator Workshop) 2-3:30pm / contact Cynthia to register
November 15: How Do I Customize a Resume Template? 9-10am / contact Cynthia to register
November 29: Search Something (trainer: Laura) 9am-12pm / contact Cynthia to register
December 13: How Do I Create a Brochure and How Do I Add Pictures? 9-10am / contact Cynthia to register
December 14: Library Databases (trainer: Chris) 9am-12pm / contact Cynthia to register

International Keyboard Shortcuts

I was using a computer a few weeks ago to send an e-mail message. There was a slight problem. The keyboard was slightly different than the keyboards I was used to. Well, I was in another country at the time and the computer was coin operated. My time was ticking down so rather than trying to find the right keys, I just typed away. Sure, every word had a letter or two that were blatantly wrong, but I knew the receiver of the message could figure it out.

Now, imagine a customer from a far-away land attempting to use our keyboards. They will be slightly different that the ones they are used to. And not everyone is like me in that they will probably want to know how to duplicate letters and symbols that are in their language. Even an experienced typist may have difficulty using our keyboards.

You can use this document from Microsoft to help customers in these situations. Since this situation is few and far between, the couple of times that a customer did need this type of assistance, I just printed this document out and gave it to them.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

All About PowerPoint Training and Tutorials

Over the past couple of years as the Technical Trainer, I have had a few requests for PowerPoint training. If you will be giving a work-related presentation and would like to implement a PowerPoint slide show, then you can contact either me or Damone and we can assist you in the development of that presentation.

If you prefer a classroom setting, the City of Memphis Quality and Professional Development offers a full-day training on PowerPoint. The next scheduled session is October 24, 8:00am - 4:30pm. The registration form for all QPD classes can be found on the Staff Development site under Helpful Handouts.

Finally, if you would like to give it a go on your own (as Cynthia proved is possible by winning a prize in the Display Contest on her first attempt at PowerPoint), then you may want to take advantage of some of these online tutorials. Some of these may be for older versions:

Learning Electric
Electric Teacher
List of Sites from Kent State

You see, there are plenty of opportunities. You could just do a web search.

I also have a tip sheet on the finer details of PowerPointing available on the Staff Development Helpful Handouts section. Or you can just click here to get it.

Finally, if you want to learn more about presentation design, check out Garr Reynold's blog, Presentation Zen.

Mouserobics in Other Languages

The Central Kansas Library System has the familiar Mouserobics or Mousercise program that I am sure you all have seen before (the one with the dancing mouse).

The great thing is that on top of this, they have this tool in several languages:


MPLIC Public Computer Availability Above Average

Below is a message that Betty Anne recently sent:

There was a story in yesterday’s CA on page A2 entitled “Schools refocusing on Math, Science”. One of the sections of the article “Net available – not” talked about the availability of public-use Internet terminals in pubic libraries. It pointed out that TN had the sixth-worst number at 2.2 per 5,000 population.

Given the commitment Memphis Public has had to increasing the number of computers to the public, I did a little research on where Memphis Public stood.

Our population based upon what the State Library says we are responsible for: basically, Memphis, Bartlett and unincorporated Shelby County, has the population figure of 820,151. The article based their info on per 5,000 population, so we would have 164.03 units of 5,000.

From the computer angle, Memphis Public has 516 computers for public use.

I am happy to report that means we have 3.15 computers per 5,000 population. That ranks well above the TN figure of 2.5 and puts us ahead of the national average of 3!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Index

OK, I have a new index... again. This will be the third and hopefully final change to the ever-changing index system.

Blogger, the tool I use to run this blog, finally added the capability to add "labels" or "tags" to your blog posts.

Also, I have been reading how people like to have their bloggers include their opinions in order to seem more human. Well, I don't know about opinions, but I have been playing with another new feature of blogger that allows you to easily add pictures to your sidebar.

So if you scroll down a bit, you will see some various pictures of me. Hopefully I seem more human now.

Monday, August 14, 2006

"Handout" for The Spider Catches the Fly

For those of you interested in attending this workshop or want to find out more before you register, feel free to visit the "handout" for the class by clicking here.

What is LibraryThing?

Someone recently asked me this question, "What is LibraryThing?"

LibraryThing is a web 2.0 tool that people can use to catalog their own books. You create a username, add your books, and give them tags.

The fun is only beginning, though. As I have mentioned before, the process of creating a username and tagging creates this social aspect that adds an additional layer of fun.

You can search for books, if you find a book you like, you can find the usernames of folks who own the book. You can follow that string to find out what other books these people own. People can add reviews to books. You can add your comments to their comments. You can even join a Group (click here to find out more about their groups).

Why don't you take a tour of LibraryThing and find out more.

Learning 2.0 with the Help of PLCMC

Staff members at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) have created an online learning tool that you can use to introduce yourself to many Web 2.0 products such as blogger, flickr, youtube, pbwiki, and more.

Just go to http://plcmclearning.blogspot.com/. This is a blog and blogs have the newest material on top, so to start from the beginning, you need to scroll to the bottom. Click on About this project on the right to learn more about this learning experience.

This looks like a great way to learn about these new tools.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Search Strategies Refresher Schedule Extended

We have extended the Search Strategies Refresher trainings through December. Here are the new training dates:

Search Something
September 28 Thursday 9am-12pm Sarah Frierson
November 29 Wednesday 9am-12pm Laura Salehi

Library Databases
October 25 Wednesday 9am-12pm Debbie Stevens
December 14 Thursday 9am-12pm Chris Marszalek

To register, please contact Cynthia White at 415-2722 or whitec@memphislibrary.org.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Spider Catches the Fly: web feeds as a tool for professional development

Web Feeds provide us with a wonderful way to receive professional development reading material. If you are interested in attending a new Professional Growth Opportunity, please register for "The Spider Catches the Fly: web feeds as a tool for professional development", scheduled for Thursday September 21, 9:00 - 10:30am, by calling Cynthia White at 415-2722.

At this workshop I will show you how to identify a site as being a web feed or not. I will demonstrate both bloglines and feedblitz. In the process, you will see the various types of blogs and web feeds that you can subscribe to. Then, I will help you set up your own account and subscriptions.

Receive Web Feeds in Your Email

Lately, I have been advertising the web feed reader/aggregator as a way to receive updates from various web feeds (click here for links to past articles). The only problem with this is that some folks have a hard enough time remembering to check their e-mail that they could never remember to check ANOTHER website.

Welcome to www.feedblitz.com. If you register for feedblitz, you can subscribe to various feeds and you will receive a daily email with any new posts that were added the previous day. While this does take a bit a work upfront, once it is set up, you can receive all of your updates through your familiar email interface.

For an extensive list of aggregators, visit this site. The first category is Web-Based Aggregators like bloglines. Scroll down to E-mail Based Aggregators to see a list of sites like feedblitz.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Staff Development Contact Information

Kevin Dixon, Technical Trainer
phone: 2724
email: dixonk

Damone Virgilio, Staff Development Manager
phone: 2723
email: virgiliod

Cynthia White, Staff Assistant
phone: 2722
email: whitec

Thursday, August 03, 2006

No More HTML to PDF tool

So, I wrote about the HTML to PDF tool in this post. I worked this past Sunday and a customer's internet page they wanted to print was cutting off the text. I quickly found this tool and converted the page. All the text was now viewable; however, so was this huge advertisement slapped across the page.

It turns out that this WAS free but now you have to pay for it, so no more HTML to PDF tool. So how did I help this customer?

I recalled the Technical Tip that Damone provided to StaffWise while I was on leave. That tip involves changing the Page Setup from Portrait to Landscape. It worked like a charm!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Benefit of Aggregators

Doris makes an excellent point in a comment on my DOPA post.

I am relying heavily on other bloggers to make me aware of issues such as this one (with DOPA, institutions who take advantage of e-rate subscriptions to the Internet would have to filter social networking sites like myspace.com) and net neutrality. As Kevin, has written before, using an aggregator like bloglines seems a more efficient way to *try* to stay informed than wading through e-mail listservs messages and action alerts. I guess one could use all of these methods in concert.

E-mail is an entrenched part of MPLIC work culture. I look forward to the day when scanning blogs becomes second nature to us.

Without my bloglines subscriptions, my knowledge of current tech trends in the library world would be extremely limited or much harder to maintain.

Thank you to Doris for making that connection!