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.
June 15th, 2010 Brian Herzog
Instead of privacy screens, patrons could use these on library computers:
I like that this approaches the problem from the opposite direction: instead of filters that keep offensive images off computer screens, this filter keeps offendable eyes off computer screens. Brilliant.
Incidentally, it cracks me up they thought to make a zippered window for seeing the keyboard. I wonder if it also comes with built-in headphones.
October 10th, 2009 Brian Herzog
I was asked these two questions back-to-back one day this week:
I want to sell my car on craigslist, and I want to be able to email people an info sheet. I've already created an Excel spreadsheet with mileage and other statistics, including a couple pictures pasted in. Can you show me how to put arrows and text on the pictures, and how to convert it to a pdf file?
I've been on Yahoo for a few months now. I know that I can get letters from people, and I can reply to letters people send me, but, can I send people letters too?
Of course, both of these are legitimate questions. I was just struck by such different technology experience levels from two patrons who walked up to the reference desk at about the same time.
And the answers are:
Excel's Drawing Toolbar (View > Toolbars > Drawing) allows both of these things. Click the icon that looks like an Arrow to draw an arrow on a picture, use the Line Style to make it thicker, and the Line Color icon to change the color. Then, click the Text Box icon to create a text box wherever you want words to appear. Use the Fill Color and Line Color to make sure it's legible against the picture.
To create a pdf version, we installed PDFcreator on our public computers. It shows up in the printer selection dropdown box, and creates a pdf file patron can then save to disk
Just click the "New" button in the upper left corner of the Inbox.
Tags: arrows, comfort levels, computer, excel, extremes, help, libraries, Library, new message, pdf, public, Reference Question, tech, text box, yahoo