Thursday, March 29, 2007

ANSWER: What Would You Do? (Broken A: Drive)

OK, I got two answers regarding the last What Would You Do?. Both of these answers are different from what I did, but they both would have worked (sort of). Nonetheless, Mary from Children's and Laura from Bartlett are winners of booklights, which they will be receiving shortly.

Basically, our dilemma involved moving a document from one computer to another without the capability to save the file to anything (something that is necessary to send an attachment or upload to a website).

Mary suggested just copying and pasting the document into an email text box (rather than worrying about attachments). The customer could then send the message to themselves and open the document on another computer. Then they could copy and paste that into Word.

This does work, but doing so would probably strip the document of any special formatting features. However, it works. Mary gets a booklight.

And, yes Mary, having Flash Drives at all public service desks would be sweet.

Laura from Bartlett suggested just saving the document to the My Documents folder on the computer. You would not even need to move the file to another computer because then, the customer would have been able to upload the document.

Well, this does work if you are on a computer that happens to allow you to save to the My Documents folder. Also, as Laura points out, finding the My Documents folder can be quite a task. That is why I have pretty much ruled out the possibility of using the My Documents folder. However, if you know how to do it and it works, then awesome. Laura gets a booklight. Laura also suggested the Mary-technique of copying and pasting into an email message.

What I did in this situation now seems like technology overkill, but I was able to move the customer's document from one computer to another without losing any special formatting.

First, we created a Google Docs and Spreadsheets account. If a customer has an existing email, this takes about 2 minutes. We then pasted the Word document into Google Docs. Then we accessed the customers new Google Docs account from another computer. Then, Google Docs has the option to Save as a Word document (again, we do not lose any special formatting). We were then able to upload the document. We did it in a flash.

Of course, this was a fairly savvy teen who was able to go through this process easily. I may not take all customers on this journey. Of course, what is easier, pushing a customer through Google Docs or having them re-format their document?

This brings up another idea, but I'll save it for the next blog post. This one is too long as it is.

Monday, March 26, 2007

What Would You Do? (Broken A: Drive)

Here is the current installment of What Would You Do?. The first installment garnered two responses. Let's see if we can get a larger response this go around. This is a good one. One that will force you to use your Sherlock Holmes skills.

This situation occurred yesterday when I was working my Sunday Service. A student had typed a lengthy report on one of our computers. She needed to upload the report to her school's website.

Much like sending an attachment, in order to upload the report, the document has to be saved somewhere (My Documents, Floppy Disk, Flash Drive, etc.). (See this past post for more information on saving/uploading documents).

However, customers cannot save documents to our computers due to security settings. And this particular computer's A:Drive was busted. And we did not have a flash drive.

How would we upload this document? Or, how would we move this document to another computer with a working A:Drive?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Subscribing to Search Results with the New EPS

Go Live 2Customers will be able to "subscribe" to a search with the new EPS public catalog. How would they be able to do this? More and more people are utilizing web feed subscriptions as a way to handle information. You use an aggregator to subscribe to a web feed and you would then be notified whenever new content is added.

So basically, whenever you perform a search with our catalog, you can subscribe to the results. You would then be notified whenever a new item was added the the catalog that now appears in that search.

For example, a Civil War buff would subscribe to a search for "Civil War". Whenever a new item was added to the collection that included the phrase "civil war", the customer would be notified via their aggregator.

For more information on web feeds, see the previous articles I have written on that subject.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Monday, March 19, 2007

What Would You Do? Answer

When confronted with a pop-up window of unknown origins, it is best to close the window by pressing the Alt key on the keyboard in conjunction with the F4 key on the keyboard. Alt-F4 will close the current window.

Clicking on Cancel or even the X button would install the product that would introduce all sorts of problems to your computer.

Wikipedia has a nice article with links to other reviews of this type of "product".

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What Would You Do?

If you saw this message appear on your computer screen, what would you do? Place a comment with your answer.

What to do if you don't want to register for a certain website

Have you ever needed to read an article on a website (say a newspaper website) only to find out that you have to register? This registration is usually free but time consuming. And when you need to access the article to answer a customer's question, time is of the essence!

Well, a website called Bug Me Not: Bypass Compulsory Registration allows you to enter a web address of a site that is requiring registration, and it gives you a list of usernames and passwords that people have created, along with a success rate. Warning, some of these usernames and passwords are not very nice, but it gets the job done in a pinch.

Now, another option is this. We could bypass this site and create our own log ins for the sites we visit most (nytimes, commercialappeal, etc.). In fact, I am sure some of us have already created usernames and passwords for these sites. If so, send me an email and I will compile a list that we can all use.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Customer Account Capabilities with new EPS

Go Live 2Customer will be able to manage their accounts in various ways with the new EPS. They will be able to:

  • View their items they have checked out.
  • Renew those items, if they can.
  • View the items they have on hold.
  • View their position in the hold queue for each item.
  • Cancel any holds.
  • Suspend any holds.
  • View fees (and on down the line, possibly pay fees)
If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

EPS/Rooms Revisited

Go Live 2Our EPS will also utlitize a product called Rooms. The ILS blog had a good post explaining the Rooms concept. Here are some excerpts:

...Each of these Rooms features content selected and organized by library and content professionals at SirsiDynix...

EPS Rooms
...Even more significantly for MPLIC, however, we are acquiring the Rooms Builder, a Web-based tool that will allow our library staff to edit the "starter" Rooms, adding and subtracting sites and other content, as well as to create new Rooms, all without requiring knowledge of HTML.

So this will give the customer a portal to content on the Web that has been categorized and evaluated by MPLIC and SirsiDynix staff. We have certainly done that already, but this is taking it to another level. It is making it easier for the customer to find the information they need.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Teen Tech Camp Movie Maker Training

I have been busy lately working on a Movie Maker training for the Teen Tech Camp Team. This year, just like last, the teens will be tasked with creating a small movie about the library. They will be armed with a laptop, a Labtec Webcam, and Movie Maker software (a free Microsoft program).

Each member of the Teen Tech Camp Team will participate in a Movie Maker training so that they can assist the teens throughout the week. I have spent some time with the software so that I can conduct this training, but if you have experience with Movie Maker software and know of any tricks, please pass them on.

Here is a link to the training document I have created.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Librarians vs. The Terminator

The embedded movie below started out as a project of a Director of Technology for a High School.

Here is a list of sources.

So, does this make you want to hang it up and buy a ranch in Wyoming? Or perhaps The Terminator or The Matrix were not too far off?

But what role do libraries (and librarians) play in this current and future scenario?

Jakob Nielsen, the "king of web usability", recently wrote about lifelong computer skills. Basically, he says that schools should move away from teaching applications [ex. Word, Excel] directly and move towards teaching broader concepts, because today's applications will be completely different than tomorrow's.

I disagree and think Mr. Nielsen was trying to prove a point, but, as Techdirt states, the way to learn a concept is to see it in action. The only way to see it in action is to know the applications.

Nielsen then moves on to the part I agree with. He lists a number of concepts that should be taught, the first three of which librarians can have great impact.

  • Search Strategies
  • Information Credibility
  • Information Overload
So what role do libraries (and librarians) play in this current and future scenario?

We can continue providing access to the computer applications (Web, Word, Excel, etc.). We can help them with common stumbling blocks that occur with these applications. We can steer customers to better search queries and more reliable sources. And we can help make sense of all this information.

If librarians cannot do this, the world will certainly be taken over by computers. We don't want that, do we?


Thursday, March 01, 2007

E-mail Overload?

In a recent meeting, someone stated that they had a hard time navigating and locating specific messages that were sent to the entire system. This got me thinking, so I took a look at the number of messages that were sent to three major distribution lists that I am a member of. Those are Everyone Staff List, All Reference Staff List, and Central All List.

In the past month:

  • 70 messages were sent to the All Reference Staff List.
  • 45 messages were sent to the Everyone Staff List.
  • 20 messages were sent to the Central All List.
That is a total of 135 messages in one month. Most, if not all, were sent Monday through Saturday, so that ends up being about 5 to 6 messages a day.

Of those 135 messages (numbers approximate):
  • 50 included tax help information (closings, form requests, etc.)
  • 13 included equipment/facilities information (early branch closings, broken copiers, etc.)
  • 13 included information on library programs.
  • 12 included information on personnel issues (correct holiday abbreviations, staff vacations, etc.)
  • 7 included First Responder ideas.
  • 5 involved Bowling.
  • 5 involved In-Charge announcements.
  • The rest included random information about branch deliveries, item searches, statistics, weather, etc.
So what does this all mean? Why is the useful information? To me this means that we are not facing an impossible task, but we need to spend time each day making sure our e-mail Inbox is organized. A good way to do that is to follow the Four D's of E-mail Decision Making.
  • Delete It (if it has nothing to do with you or can be found easily some place else)
  • Do It (if it takes less than two minutes to do it, just do it then return to your email)
  • Delegate It (if someone else should do it, then let them know)
  • Defer It (if it takes longer than two minutes to do it, save it till you have completed reading and organizing your email)
Also, create folders. If you have trouble finding information about special branch closings, create a folder titled Branches. Then, just click and drag those messages into that folder as soon as they appear.

Or, create a folder titled To Do. Then for each message that requires you to perform an action, just click and drag it into that To Do folder.

Create a folder titled Personnel. Then click and drag messages pertaining to Holidays or Insurance into that folder.

And most importantly, once you are done with a message, or you have no need for a message, then delete it. If you find yourself thinking, "hmmm, this could maybe, possibly be useful in a certain circumstance..." DELETE it! Or, "well, I know this can be found on the intranet-" DELETE it!

See our Outlook Help page for help in creating folders and more.