Ch-Ch-Changes

street sign labeled change aheadThough this blog has been quiet for a while, big changes are happening behind the scenes in the Upper Hudson Library System.  UHLS includes all of the public libraries in Albany and Rensselaer Counties, and we are all working together toward a giant change in how our system is managed.

Currently, the libraries use a software named Horizon to manage all of our patron and item data.  This software is at the core of all of our online functions and sharing capabilities.  We are excited to announce that last year, the system voted to move to a new library management software – Sierra and its public-facing catalog Encore. Sierra/Encore is a newer system with a much more robust set of features for both staff and patrons.  The change is currently set to happen at the end of March, though that may change as the deadline gets closer.

While migration from one software to another happens fairly regularly in libraries, it is still an enormous undertaking.  Because terminology and functionality differ between the two programs, you would not believe how many things need to be considered, planned for, tested, and checked over and over!  We are doing our best to think of everything, but there are bound to be some glitches along the way.  Even if the transition is completely smooth, the new software will probably need to be tweaked for a few weeks while we get it customized just right.  Whenever possible, we will alert patrons of outages and issues as soon as possible on our website, Facebook and Twitter locations.  Your patience is very much appreciated.  As always, we welcome your feedback on the new system once we get it in place.

Here are some new features that will come with Sierra:

  • OverDrive integration – checkout and download our online materials right from the catalog
  • Option to email receipts/date due slips instead of printing
  • Option for SMS (text) notifications [edit 3/5: This feature will not be available when we go live on 3/31, but will be implemented soon thereafter.]
  • More reliable electronic notifications
  • Option to save your checkout history
  • Option to tag catalog items and search by tag
  • Better mobile interface
  • Enhanced account security – this will likely require a new PIN, but we are not 100% sure.

Please note: patrons who use the My List feature in our current catalog will need to print their list(s) or email to themselves before the software change happens.  My List items will not be transferred to Sierra.

If you have questions about the new system, please post them in the comments below.

Device Chargers Have Arrived!

These days, we depend on our portable devices for just about everything.  When they get low on juice, panic sets in.  Even if you can find an outlet, do you have your charging cord?  You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this often happens to people at the library.  Now we have a solution!

Thanks to a generous grant from the Friends of the East Greenbush Community Library, we were able to purchase two device charging stations for the library that include charging cords that will fit most mainstream devices (Apple Lightning, Apple 30-pin, and MicroUSB).  If you have your own cord, you can also plug into a USB port or one of the additional electrical ports on the box.

If you would like to try out one of the device chargers, here is where you can find them…

Youth Services:

Charger on counter
Playroom in Youth Services

Adult Services (main area):

Device charger on laptop cart
Current location: laptop cart behind reference
ASfuture
Future location: seating area near music

In the main area of the library, we were hoping to put the charger near the music area.  Unfortunately, we discovered that the outlet is dead.  Until we can get that fixed,  the charger temporarily lives on the laptop cart behind the reference desk.  [Update:  The charger is now located in the music area.]  As a reminder, please do not leave your device unattended while charging.  The library is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

We hope you find the new service useful.  Let us know what you think in the comments!

Service Alert

upgrade

On Tuesday, October 28th, the library’s public computers and printing system will be out of service from 9am until approximately 3pm for a planned software upgrade.  Wi-Fi will still be available, and laptops are available for checkout from the Reference Desk with a signed agreement for use within the library.  Thank you for your patience as we continue to improve our public computing system.

iOS Mess

8iOS 8, the latest operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch released on September 17th, has had a less than impressive debut.  At first, it appeared to be unstable, causing crashes.  Apple hurried to release the 8.0.1 patch, and the new software seemed to cause more problems than it fixed.  Despite the fact that Apple quickly made the 8.0.1 patch unavailable, several people were stuck with updated (read: broken) iDevices.  Apple states that iOS 8.0.2 is on the way, but if you are one of the unlucky folks looking for a way to downgrade back to iOS 8, follow these simple instructions from ReadWrite.  If you feel that upgrading to iOS 8 was a mistake altogether, hurry and check out ReadWrite’s instructions for downgrading back to iOS7, which may only work for a limited time.

Are you waiting to upgrade your Apple device?  Let us know in the comments.

 

Time to Change All of Your Passwords. Seriously.

thiefYesterday, news broke that a Russian crime ring known as CyberVor has stolen over a billion username/password combinations, as well as a half billion email addresses from popular sites all over the web.  While there is currently no way to confirm whether your information has been compromised, or even which websites have been hit, it would be prudent to assume that at least one of your online accounts has been jeopardized, and take action to ensure the security of all of your online accounts.

When creating new passwords for your accounts, do not reuse passwords for multiple accounts.  That way, if one of your accounts gets hacked, criminals won’t automatically have access to more of your accounts.  There are several strategies for making sure the new passwords you create are secure.  See this list for ideas.

Two-factor authentication (a.k.a. two-step verification) is another option provided by some websites that offer can offer an additional layer of account protection.  For example, after entering my username and password at my bank site, I am always prompted to answer at least one of my pre-defined security questions.  Another site that offers two-step verification is Gmail (more info).  For more sites that offer two-factor authentication, check out this article by Lifehacker.

A couple of additional security tips:

  • Do not set your computer/device to remember passwords.
  • Make sure your computer/device is set to lock when it “sleeps” or you walk away from it.  It may be inconvenient to keep logging in, but it will be even more inconvenient if your information gets stolen.
  • Avoid logging into sensitive sites on public Wi-Fi if at all possible.  Other users on the same network with the right software may be able to see your information as it is being transmitted.

While no online account is completely safe from hacking attempts, creating strong, unique passwords, using two-factor authentication, and only accessing accounts on secure network connections go a long way toward keeping your digital information out of the hands of criminals.

Do you have any additional security tips to share?  If so, please share them with our readers in the comments section below.

 

Print from any device, anywhere, to the library’s printer!

printThis week, the library upgraded its wireless printing system. The old system limited which devices could print, and the process of installing the software was fraught with annoyances. With the upgrade, sending a print job from anywhere is as easy as sending an email attachment!

How to Print

To print your document, photo or web page, go directly to our printing portal page:
http://printeron.net/egcl/mainbranch

Follow the on-screen instructions and press the green button to print your document.

  • The email address you used when submitting your print job will be your login at the print release station.
  • Enter your email address and remit payment using the print release station at the reference desk.
  • All print jobs will be rendered on letter (8.5” x 11”) sized paper. If the print job is set for larger paper, content will be resized to fit the smaller paper.
  • To see a full list of file types that can be printed, visit: http://bit.ly/1ptF3di

Items on Secure Pages

Any items that require a login, such as boarding passes, Facebook pages, encrypted pages, Google Docs, etc., will need to be downloaded or converted to an image or PDF file before sending. Please see a librarian if you need assistance.

How to Print from a Mobile Device

Mobile devices can use the same procedure as other devices. Alternatively, Android and iOS users can download the PrinterOn app from Google Play or the App store.

You can print most types of files, including photos, web pages, PDFs and Microsoft file types. Web pages and photos can be printed directly from the app.

To use print preview, tap this icon:  print preview icon

To adjust print settings, tap this icon: print settings icon

Android devices

Other files can be printed directly from within the “My Files” or “Gallery” locations using the “Share Via” function and selecting the PrinterOn app.

iOS devices

To print an email attachment, launch the native Mail app. Navigate to the email which contains the attachment. Tap and hold the attachment and select “Open in PrinterOn” from the next menu.

Printing from a Cloud Storage App

  • Launch Box/Dropbox app
  • Navigate to the item you wish to print
  • (Box only—expand options using the icon in the top right corner)
  • Tap the “open in” icon.
  • Select “open in PrinterOn” and a preview will open.
  • If necessary, select your printer by scanning a QR code, selecting a saved printer or searching for a new printer.
  • To select copies and page range where applicable, tap the option icon in the top right corner.
  • Tap print to submit.

Privacy and Security

This portal uses SSL to ensure the security of your transaction. The printer for this portal uses a privacy system. Your documents are held in a privacy print queue until you are present at the printer to authorize their release.

  • Documents are not printed until you enter your email and remit payment at the print release station next to the printer located at the reference desk.
  • The document is permanently deleted upon processing.
  • Documents left unprinted for more than 24 hours are automatically deleted.
  • Once printed, documents cannot be re-printed.

Questions?

If you have questions or comments about the new service, please share them below or contact a librarian.

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.

Our Library Catalogs Just Got More Accessible

catalog computer
New catalog computer stand

As part of our recent library renovation, we made some improvements to the catalog search/event signup computers based on feedback from our patrons.

In addition to upgrading the machines to Windows 7, we broke up the centrally located circle of catalog search/event signup computers in order to distribute them throughout the library.  Now, two catalog search/event signup computers remain centrally located, and the others can be found on either end of the main room of the library (by the Teen Area and the Periodicals area).  As always, there is a separate catalog search computer in the Children’s Room.  Please note that a library card is not needed to access these computers.

The catalog search/event signup computer stands located at either end of the library are mounted to the wall.  By default, they are set to be standing stations, but the height of the unit can be adjusted to wheelchair or child height using the buttons on the front right of the keyboard tray:

height adjustment button

Two catalog search computers are still located in the center of the library.  One is a standard walk-up station, and one is optimized for patrons who prefer to sit and/or view a screen in large print.  We hope to add a second seated catalog station in the future.

seated catalogIf you are interested in increasing the text size on this computer, click one of the icons to open a catalog or event page.  At the top of the screen, you should see a button labeled “Text Size”:

text size buttonClick on the arrow to select a size, or click on the button itself to toggle between preset sizes.

Please let us know what you think about the changes (or suggest more improvements) in the comments below.  Your feedback helps us become a better library!

Internet Explorer Found to Be Vulnerable

This past Saturday, Microsoft announced that a major vulnerability was found in all supported versions of its internet browser, Internet Explorer.  Even if you know and follow the rules for surfing safely, you are still vulnerable.  Microsoft has not yet released an update or “fix-it” to address the issue.  The best (and easiest) way to protect yourself is to switch to a different internet browser, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Opera. There are some software settings and downloads that can help increase the security of IE, but these may require more tech savvy than some people care to muster.

For more details about the vulnerability, along with suggestions for increasing the security of your Internet Explorer installation, check out this article at the blog “Krebs on Security.”

What You Need to Know about the Heartbleed Bug

heartbleedIn case you haven’t heard, a vulnerability dubbed “Heartbleed” has been discovered in the encryption protocol that many secure websites use.  If you’d like a basic explanation of Heartbleed, The New Yorker did a great job of boiling it down.  Early speculation on which sites were affected and how users can best protect themselves varied widely.  Since the IT teams of individual organizations have had time to address the issue, we now have a clearer idea how to proceed.

The first step is to find out which sites you use that may be compromised and change your passwords at those sites.  Mashable create a fantastic chart to help you with this.  Keep in mind, this is by no means a complete list.  If you login to sites that aren’t on this list, check with each site to see if it is vulnerable and/or has addressed the problem.  For instance, Key Bank was not on Mashable’s list, but a quick visit to their website revealed that they do not use the vulnerable encryption software.

Of course, if you change your password but use that same new password at every site, you will remain vulnerable for other reasons.  If you have trouble keeping track of passwords, you may want to consider using a password manager.  For a guide to creating passwords, check out this guide from MakeUseOf.

Got questions?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll find answers.

 

Library Technology Update

refreshHi folks!  It has been a very long time since I posted to this blog.  I apologize for the neglect, but the good news is that I have been hard at work upgrading and improving the technology in the library.  Here is a list of the latest improvements:

  • The new public computers have been rolled out and we have been tweaking them for a few months.  Most of the bugs are worked out, but we are still experiencing some minor issues with video optimization.  Hopefully, we can correct that soon.
  • All of the staff computers have been upgraded.
  • I am in the process of upgrading the catalog computers and a few other service computers.
  • Our website security was compromised…twice!  (No worries – patron information does not live on that server, so only our webpages were affected.)  Fortunately, the Library was already deep in a website upgrade process.  Originally, the reason for the update was twofold – platform security and responsive design.  More on responsive design in the next bullet.
  • Currently, the Library maintains separate websites for desktops and mobile devices.  In order to design a single website that will look good and perform well on a variety of devices, we decided to create a responsive website.  This means the site layout will be modified based on the screen size of the device viewing it.  The plan was to release the new site this month, but we want to ensure its security first.
  • A large screen monitor will be installed near the library entrance which will scroll announcements and events.
  • This year, our public copier will be upgraded in response to feedback about the current copier.
  • The Library acquired a new, more portable large print reader for patrons to use within the library.  Visit the Reference Desk for more information.
  • Thanks to a generous grant from the Friends of the Library, two new tablets will be ordered to facilitate training our staff to assist patrons with the latest portable devices.
  • After six months of use, an evaluation of the Ask Us 24/7 chat system led to the conclusion that not enough patrons participated in the service to justify continuing the subscription.

Those are the highlights from the last few months. My Evernote account has become stuffed with things to blog about since I have been away.  I plan to start publishing regular posts again to get that info out to you.  In the meantime, let me know in the comments area if you have any questions or technology subjects you would like me to write about in the future.

 

iOS 7 Upgrade Causes Issues with OverDrive Media Console

ios-7-wallpaper

If you have an iOS device, chances are good that you have already or will soon be upgrading to iOS 7.  Unfortunately for OverDrive users, the upgrade caused a hiccup that kept users from accessing their books in the OverDrive Media Console app.  The good news is, OverDrive released a simple fix almost immediately.  They suggest uninstalling and reinstalling the OverDrive app and re-authorizing it with your Adobe ID.  It is important to note that uninstalling will clear your bookshelf, settings and history.  Any items checked out to you can be downloaded again by logging into your OverDrive account’s bookshelf.  To login, open the app and select “Get Books.” Click on the account icon and enter you library card number: account

For more information about this issue, please see OverDrive’s blog post on the subject.

 

OverDrive Digital Bookmobile Returns!

DigitalBookMobile.LogoLast year’s digital bookmobile event was such a success that we’ve asked them to roll through again this year!  On August 19th from 10am to 4pm, the OverDrive Digital Bookmobile will be in our parking lot to educate patrons about our downloadable collections.  First, venture inside the air-conditioned bookmobile and check out their exhibits.  We’ll have staff outside the bookmobile to answer your questions and help you get started using our downloadable e-books and audiobooks.

Are you already a user of our OverDrive collections?  Stop by and let us know what you think!  Your opinions are important to us.  We can also chat about what’s next for OverDrive.  On April 20th, OverDrive is releasing a new and improved mobile app, and we’ll be happy to show you what’s new.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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?

Sharing OverDrive Titles

OverDrive LogoThe other day, I spotted a neat feature in the OverDrive Media Console app that I had previously overlooked.  After clicking the “+” next to a title on my bookshelf to view its details page, I saw a “Share” button.  Ever curious, I clicked it and was surprised to be presented with options to share this title via email, Facebook, Goodreads, or any other social app installed on my (Android) phone.  This is not a feature for lending a title to a friend, but it allowed me to send links and mention it to a targeted audience.  If you like to recommend books to your friends, this could be a handy feature.

After a little research, I learned that the share feature differs by device.  While Android users are given every possible sharing option, iOS (Apple) users can only share via Facebook, Twitter and email.  If you’re using a Windows phone, you will be limited to sharing on Facebook.  Sadly, Blackberry users were not mentioned in the press release.  If you are a Blackberry user, I’d be interested to hear whether the share option is available to you.