October 10th, 2015 Brian Herzog
Here's an answer to a question that I haven't been able to use yet. It's a question I've gotten numerous times, but only just recently looked up the answer.
For whatever reason, it is not at all uncommon for patrons (or staff who is helping one of these patrons) to ask me,
Why can't I open my resume here? I need to make changes and email it to someone.
and when I look at their file, it is named something like "resume.pages" - bleh. One patron said they got it from the Career Center, so maybe that's why it always seems to be resumes saved this way.
"Pages" is (I think) the latest format for Mac word processing, which does not, naturally, open on our Windows computers with Microsoft Office. My go-to solution in these cases is to use Zamzar or some other online converter, which always works well enough (except for patrons having to wait for the email to get to their converted file).
In the back of my mind I kept meaning to search for some converter plugin that might let Word open these files directly. I finally had a chance this week to look for such a thing, and ended up finding a different solution entirely.
More than one website gave these steps:
- Save a copy of the .pages file to the Desktop (or somewhere easily accessible)
- Right-click on the .pages file and choose "Rename"
- Replace the ".pages" extension with ".zip"
- Open the newly renamed .zip file, and it will contain a file you'll be able to open with Microsoft Word or WordPad
That's a neat bit of a trickery that I'm sure will confuse many patrons, but I'm also sure they will be delighted to see their resume open on the screen at the end of it.
I haven't been able to try this trick myself yet, but now I am looking forward to the next time someone has a .pages file. Hopefully today!
January 21st, 2015 Brian Herzog
If you work on your library's website, this infographic on when to use different graphic formats might be useful. Tech things like this always interest me (if you're only a little interested, skip down to the What Should You Use section at the very bottom for the summary). (via)
And speaking of image stuff, Here's a List of More Than 30 Free Image Sites That Don't Look Stock-y. Nice-looking free images are always a good resource. (via)
Tags: file, format, gif, graphic, graphics, image, images, internet, jpeg, jpg, png, web, web design, Websites
October 15th, 2011 Brian Herzog
This was not a difficult question, and not the first time I've encountered it. But the patron was funny, and I was actually surprised how well this particular tool worked.
About eight minutes after we opened one morning, a woman comes to the desk and says,
You have to help me - I'm desperate.
And then she walked away. It didn't take my librarian-sense tingling to know she wanted me to follow her, back over to the computer where she was working.
She sat down and said (without looking to see if I had, in fact, followed her),
I can't print out this project. My son the poor kid wrote it at home and our printer is busted so I came here to print it for him but your computer won't let me open it and he needs it today so can you print it for me it's in my email do I need to save it to a disk it won't open...
You know, one of those situations when the patron won't let you get a word in edge-wise, even to answer their question. Obviously she was in crisis-mode, but was kind of humorously fatalistic about it, because apparently everything had been going wrong: their home printer broke, come to the library to print but can't open the file, etc.
She had emailed the file to herself (which was good), and I could see the attachment was a .odt file, which is the extension of a document created with Open Office. I thought Microsoft Work was able to open that file type, but when I downloaded her file and tried it (which I think is exactly how far she had gotten), it didn't work.
So first I explain to her why it doesn't work - because she created the file with Open Office (which she knew, and that was good), but that we don't have the right software to open that file type. Then I started to explain that she'd have to go back home and use Open Office to save the file in a format Word could open - .doc, .rtf, etc. She then started in (crisis-thinking again) on whether she should have saved it to a CD (which is never the answer), name the file something else, and all kinds of other options.
While she was talking, it occurred to me that we might just be able to use a file converting website, without her having to go home. So while explaining what a converter website is, I did a quick search for convert odt to doc and spotted a website called ConvertFiles.com.
It was perfect, and easier to use than any other converter website I've found (usually my go-to is Zamzar). You just upload your file by clicking the Browse button, choose the format you'd like to convert to, and then click convert. It took maybe twenty seconds, and then we could open the file in Word.
What I liked about this website was that it let you open the file right away, instead of them emailing it to your account as an attachment.
And boy, when her son's report popped up on the screen, she almost cried. She also tried to print it as quickly as possible, just in case it suddenly went away like some cruel trick.
In my library, printing costs $0.15 per page, and her son's report was two pages. She immediately pulled out a dollar bill, handed it to me and said, "keep the change." But she must have known we can't accept tips, because when I showed her how to use the pay-for-print machine, she took her change back - and then hugged the printed papers to her chest and kept saying, "oh, thank you thank thank you..." all the way back to her workstation.
From start to finish, this entire reference interaction took about three minutes - and in that time, this woman's emotions went from one extreme to the other. It was a very small part of my day, but I think it had a huge impact on her's (and her son's) - which is why I think a converter website like this should be in every reference librarian's toolbox.
Tags: conversion, convert, converter, doc, file, libraries, Library, odt, open office, pubic, Reference Question, word
May 1st, 2010 Brian Herzog
I know I'm late to the party on a lot of things. Sometimes I'll even know about the party, but it just doesn't occur to me to show up - until it suddenly does.
I don't mean to be cryptic - I'm just trying to be creative about to introducing you to my stupid side.
This week's reference question is one that I've been asked occasionally since the late 1990's (way before my library days). The question is this:
How do I get a list of the names of all of the file that are on my disk?
In Windows, I had never found a good way to do this, which meant either using a screenshot, or typing out all of the file names, or, on each file, Right-click > Rename then highlighted the text and Copy. I think other OS's, even DOS, do a better job of this, but or public workstations are limited to Windows.
But when a patron asked me this question this week, this very obvious workaround popped up out of nowhere: just browse to that disk using an internet browser.
When we plugged her flash drive into the computer, the contents of the drive popped up in a Windows Explorer window. I right-clicked on the Address bar and copied the directory path:
Then I pasted that path into Firefox's address bar and hit Enter (this will work for any directory, folder, floppy disk, CD, etc.). The contents of the flash drive were displayed, and I could highlight and copy the file names:
In this case, the patron wanted to paste the list into an email message, so I pasted them into Notepad to show them below:
She had to delete the "File:" that was tacked on to the beginning of each file name, and I think she deleted some of the file details. This was much better than having to retype all of the file names, so she was happy about it.
I have no idea why this never occurred to me before - I guess this question can be filed under "eureka" and crossed-referenced under "d'oh."
Tags: copy, file, file names, files, libraries, Library, name, names, paste, public, Reference Question, windows