August 23rd, 2011 Brian Herzog
I was surprised when I read a recent article reporting that 90% of people don't know how to use CTRL+F.
I don't expect most patrons I work with to know keyboard and mouse shortcuts, but it's obviously more widespread than that. I use shortcuts a lot, and will sometimes get stopped during a meeting or presentation and asked what the heck I just did. Which might be the best way to teach shortcuts - in context and with a demonstration*.
But of course, my first impulse when reading the article was to make a list of common and helpful shortcuts to hand out to patrons - so I added that to my to-do list. There already are lists of available shortcuts, even a list of lists, but I like BoingBoing's approach - make a short-list limited to ten (or three) that can improve everyone's computer experience.
So here's what I've come up with so far (which are Windows-centric) - do you have any more to add to the list?
||Copy highlighted text
||Cut highlighted text
||Paste highlighted text
||Undo last action
||Redo last undo
||Open print window
||Find on page
||Find and replace
||With mouse; provides useful menu on just about anything
A little more advanced shortcuts...
||Go to next tab (in Firefox and other tab-based applications)
||Go to previous tab (in Firefox and other tab-based applications)
||Tab through open applications
||Tab through open applications backwards, but it's awkward (for me) to press these keys
||Open Windows Explorer File Manager (I wouldn't add this one to the list for patrons, but I didn't know about it so just wanted to share it here)
Again, these are primarily for Windows, since that's what we use in the library. I'll work on making up a handout for patrons and post it here in case anyone else would like to use it too.
It'll be handy for the library, but since most new devices don't use physical keyboards, we'll also have to learn a whole new crop of shortcuts and methods. For instance, a patron wanted to copy/paste something on her iPad, and we had to look it up on YouTube to figure it out.
*When helping patrons, I always point out the shortcut codes on the right of menus - almost everyone misses those. I tell them not to try to memorize all of them, but if they find they're going back to the same menu item often, see if using the shortcut is easier. Of course, Office 2007's ribbons don't display the shortcut codes, so that has changed things.
July 23rd, 2011 Brian Herzog
This questions wasn't at all difficult, but I thought it was interesting because it was something I thought I knew how to do, but it turns out I didn't.
A patron walks up to the desks and says,
I have some software at home I want to install on my computer. However, there are two install disks - one for computers with a 32 bit processor and one for computers with a 64 bit processor. How do I tell what processor my computer has?
The patron had an XP computer, which is also what I was on at the desk, so that made things easier.
My first instinct was to go to Device Manager, so we did, but no matter where we looked, nothing I could find gave the processor speed. I sure there are multiple ways to find this out, but in the interest of time I searched the internet for is my processor 64 bit or 32 bit xp. The first result was titled What operating system Do I have? A 32bit or a 64bit? | Computer Tips - perfect.
The site itself looked a little suspect, but as we read the page together, the information seemed okay. It gave instructions for both XP and Vista - and the XP instructions guided us to somewhere I never would have even thought of:
Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Information
When that window opens, look for the Processor line:
Here's how the site says to read it:
If it says x86 then you have a 32 bit operating system. If the processor area mentioned ia64 or AMD64 then this means you have a 64 bit processor. If it said Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Version then this means it is a 64 bit operating system. However as you can see from above, it says Microsoft Windows XP Professional and the processor starts with X86 so therefore this is a 32 bit processor with a 32 bit operating system.
This answered the patron's question, and since we both learned something, it was a good exchange. The funny part (to me) is that the patron said he was right in the middle of installing the software, and came to the library because it was the only place he could think of that would give him free computer information. He was happy I found the answer so quickly and he apologized for rushing out.
Free is questionable, but quite timely on people thinking of the library as genius bar - all the more reason reference staff need to also provide some degree of technical support.
March 15th, 2011 Brian Herzog
For the last few years at my library, our public computers all looked the same - Windows XP with a custom wallpaper displaying instructions on how to print. Our setup looked like this:
A month or so ago, we upgraded to Windows 7, and thought we'd also change the wallpaper.
Our goal in this was to improve patron privacy. The timer software we use is Time Limit Manager (TLM), by Fortress Grand (the little "Time Remaining" clock at the top of the screen above). I like this software because it is very customer service oriented, and patrons don't need to log in with a barcode to start their session - they can just sit down, click "I Agree" to our policies, and go. The timer is basically a courtesy reminder, and for the most part we can get away with using the honor system (TLM does offer additional features for when push comes to shove).
But the main problem we were seeing wasn't that people wouldn't leave the computer - it was that patrons weren't ending their session when they left the computer. This set up the scenario where a second patron could come along and just continuing using the session of the previous patron.
This never caused a real problem in my library, but the potential was there, so we thought the upgrade would be a good time to address it.
With the Windows 7 rollout, we designed new wallpaper, hoping to prompt people end their session when they were finished with the computer. The new wallpaper looks like this:
The result? Absolutely no change whatsoever.
I didn't do a scientific survey, but just from the number of times staff has to end the session at an abandoned computer, the privacy reminder didn't seem to affect anyone at all.
I can't believe people aren't seeing this message, so it's tough not to conclude that, at least in my library, most patrons don't care much about their privacy.
So, I wanted to ask the question here - what do other libraries do to get patrons to end their session?
Tags: computer, computers, data, desktop, desktops, information, libraries, Library, message, patron, Personal, privacy, public, reminder, timer, wallpaper, windows 7, winxp, workstation, workstations, xp
February 17th, 2011 Brian Herzog
Jessamyn's observation on this USB keylogger thing got me thinking - without the context of that article, if I saw one of those in my library, I wouldn't have known what it was.
I would have known it shouldn't have been there, and maybe being plugged into the keyboard would have given me a clue, but I don't know.
This reminded me of a Technology Skills Library Staff Should Have list Sarah posted at ALA Learning (via). I wouldn't expect any staff to recognize a keylogger, but staff do need to be familiar enough with library equipment to recognize when something gets out of whack - printer not working right, copier making funny noises, website down, a monitor cable unplugged, or a foreign device plugged into a computer.
I like her list a lot, and am going to spend some time merging it with the idea from the Wilmington (MA) Library to break tech knowledge up into different levels to form a tech skills matrix.
Tech competencies is a topic I keep revisiting, because it is something that continually evolves - identifying keyloggers are just the latest addition.
Tags: competencies, computer, know, knowledge, libraries, Library, public, skill, skills, tech, Technology
February 15th, 2011 Brian Herzog
Did you read the story about a library in England that found two devices, designed to steal patron information, plugged into their computers?
It almost sounds like an urban legend, but even if it were it's still a good remind to all of us that this could happen anywhere.
The devices are USB keyloggers - someone would unplug the keyboard from the computer, plug the keyboard into this device, and then plug it back into the keyboard's USB port. With this device between the keyboard and computer, it can record every keystroke made on the computer - including websites visited, username/password combinations, credit information, etc.
The best defense against this is for library staff to check for these, or anything attached to a library computer that shouldn't be there. The article also suggest plugging keyboards into the front of computers, to make spotting them easier.
To notice something like this, of course, library staff must be familiar with what should and what shouldn't be there. I don't mean to be all preachy, but this is a good opportunity to familiarize staff who may not be really tech-savvy with library equipment. And another thing: take a few minutes today and check all of the computers in your library.
Thanks Dale for sending this to me, and it was also on LISNews.
Tags: computer, computers, equipment, identity, keylogger, keyloggers, libraries, Library, public, security, theft, usb
June 19th, 2010 Brian Herzog
One of the complaints I have with my library are the questionable architectural decisions made when the building was designed - lots of glass, so even small sound echos a great deal, aisles that are blocked because fixtures stick out to far, not enough meeting space, etc.
Another quirk is our Quiet Study Room - it sits at the end of the Reference collection, next to one of our computer areas. Half the computers face it and half face away, and whoever is in the Quiet Study Room could look up and see a lot of computer screens (but so can anyone walking by).
One afternoon, the phone rings, and the patron says,
Hi, I'm in your study room right now. I can see the computer screen of the first guy right outside the room, and he's been looking at graphic porn for ten minutes.
Most of the time we get porn complaints, it's after the porn viewer has left, so there's not much we can do about it. When we're able to "catch someone in the act," I print our Computer Use Policy and hand it to them saying something like,
Another patron objected to something they saw on your screen. This is a public building, so please remember that anything appearing on your screen must be suitable for children who might accidentally see it walking by.
I did that in this case, and then went back to the Reference Desk. A few minutes later, the phone rang again:
Hi, this is me, in the study room. Thank you for talking to him - he stopped looking at porn.
Her calling back made me laugh, but I hope she wasn't continually monitoring what the guy was doing.
Lots of porn stuff recently - to read what other libraries do with porn offenders, check out Unshelved Answers (my answer is there, too), and of course the Foolproof Porn Filter from earlier this week. Also, check out the Blackbelt Librarian's tips for handling difficult patrons.
Hmm - maybe we should just install a hotline in the study room for people to report porn offenders.