or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Reference Question of the Week – 10/16/11

   October 22nd, 2011 Brian Herzog

Typing Tutorial mascotSometimes, it's not the difficult questions that are the most engaging - but then again, I can be entertained by very little (remember, I'm the kind of guy that is content reading the phone book).

A patron came to the desk and asked if we had any typing tutorial software she could check out. I knew we had books on learning to type, but no software, so I just did a quick search for "typing tutorial" online and the first result is exactly what the patron wanted.

She was happy, and I set her up on a computer to work on it. But then of course I was curious, and started playing with the website myself - and it turns out it is a very fun and addicting program. It gives a live words-per-minute speed indicator, so my game was to get that up as high as possible (also remember, I only use three fingers when I type).

This is also another example of "everything is on the internet, but it took asking a librarian to find it" - but then, I wouldn't expect someone learning to type to be good and online searching. And in this case, I was happy she asked, because not only could I show her how to do an internet search, but now I also have a fun new game that might actually improve my own typing.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Make Online Tutorials with Tildee

   October 20th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Tildee.com: You Explain. They Understand.I was flipping through the October issue of Computers in Libraries and found that Donna F. Ekart's Tech Tips for Every Librarian column certainly lived up to its name - not only was my library mentioned in the column, but she also profiled a tool I'd never heard of before (and can certainly use).

We were mentioned for the Library Use Value Calculator, and I was happy she included it as an easy-to-implement tool for libraries.

The tool that was new to me is Tildee.com, a very quick and easy way to make online step-by-step tutorials. Sure there are other ways to do the same thing, but this was really, really easy - type in your text for each step, upload an image/map/video if you want, and you're done. That's it.

In about two minutes I made one showing patrons how to log into their catalog account.

I think if I spent more than two minutes at it, it would look a little better, but still - two minutes. They also have a nice listing of other tutorials (how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, how to use Animoto) to give you some ideas. And it's got a bunch of social media tie-ins too, for easily promoting your tutorial.

I did have some trouble uploading images the first time, but it worked itself out. Something I'd love to see added is the ability to add circles and arrows or otherwise highlight portions of uploaded images - like being able to point to a "Login" link. You can always add that to the image before you upload it, but it'd still be a nice feature.

I think this tool is a great compliment to creating screencasts, because sometimes combining text and images (or videos, maps, whatever) is more suitable than just a video - and better than just emailing someone the steps.

See, even us techie people have a lot to learn (hence why I read Computers in Libraries).



Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



Back to the Future: Migrating to Office 2007

   May 20th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Office 2007 logoWe finally decided to bite the bullet at my library and upgrade from Office 2003 to Office 2007*.

Office 2007 is being installed on all the staff computers first, so that when it's rolled out to the public we'll be able to help them with the new Ribbons menus. And thanks to a heads-up from Dean Baumeister (Memorial Hall Library, Andover, MA), we're going to use some great interactive tutorial guides developed by Microsoft to help make the switch easier.

The neat thing about these guides is that you use a standard Office 2003 menus to do the task you want, and then it shows you exactly how to do that same task using the Office 2007 Ribbons. We're going to put shortcuts to all of these on the desktops, to have easy ready-reference for locating Office functions:

I've only played with Office 2007, so I've been poking around with these guides to see where all the tools and functions I use every day have ended up in the Ribbons. The trickiest thing to find so far has been Word's options. It used to be at Tools > Options, and now it's oddly hidden up in the big round button.

Ah, the joys of learning new software (and trying to make it work as much like the old software as possible).

 


*Yes, I know Office 2010 is due out this summer, but lets not get ahead of ourselves (read more, see more).



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,