Monthly Archives: October 2012

Widgets

I wanted to highlight a collection of our feature films for Halloween so I created a LibGuide for the occasion.  Like many libraries across America, my library has subscribed to LibGuides to deliver information to our patrons.  It is an amazingly easy way to get content online with a minimum of fuss.  There are many flexible building blocks that can be used to hold links, widgets, items from the catalog, even simply rich text.

I’d seen several nice looking widgets from sources such as Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing.    There’s even a widget that ties lists made in WorldCat to display on a webpage.  But there’s a problem.  Goodreads is solely a book environment.  The same goes for Shelfari and LibraryThing.  If I want to display media items in a widget I am out of luck.  No CDs, no DVDs.

The WorldCat option is larger than I was hoping for, and many of the titles I had did not have cover pictures in the catalog. Also, as I discovered, the OCLC widget will only show a fraction of the titles on your list.  This was a large disappointment, and left me two options.  One, scanning the covers myself, and posting the images to link to, which was not very feasible for this ‘quick’ project.

I settled on the Amazon widget.  I was hesitant for two reasons.  One – it was created by Amazon to promote sales on Amazon.  Two – I didn’t feel able to create an Amazon account with the library name, as we already purchase from there.  So the list I built was tied to my personal Amazon account.

Hesitations aside, I found the creation of the widget fairly easy.

First you must create a “Listmania” list.  To create a list, you must be logged into Amazon and find “Your Profile.” I found that the list needs a title that is fairly unique, because when you create the widget you need to search for your list.

AmazonShot

There is a field for comments within the list, and I began with a link to the item our catalog, hoping that it would allow patrons to check availability of the item.  Sadly, the field did not accept html, and the link only blocked the picture of the item, so I limited myself to adding only the call number of the items.

Also, be sure to do your list right the first time.  Changes to your list take a long time to travel to the widget, once it is made.  I removed the hyperlinks from my list on a Friday night and they were still present in the widget on Saturday.  By Monday when I checked, the changes had propagated, so it is possible to edit your list, but it takes some time.

Once you’ve created your list and checked it twice, it is time to create a widget.

Follow this link: https://widgets.amazon.com/Amazon-Slideshow-Widget/ and click “Search Listmania.”  If you have titled your list well, the next steps are easy.  Click the “Select” button and choose your layout, animation, and size for display. Beyond the four premade color themes, you have the opportunity to customize the colors used in the borders and background of the widget, which would be nice to match existing pages.

Finally, click “Add to my Web page,” agree to the Amazon terms of use, and copy the resulting code into an “Embedded Media & Widgets” box on your LibGuide page.

This widget, although not perfect, was a quick and flashy way to highlight a collection on our webpage.  It was very exciting to pull together.

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Changing many file names at once using Bulk Rename Utility

One of the many tasks I do with my privileges as the LMS person is to dip into each course to pull out the Syllabus for the archives.  This can’t be done by an automatic script, as some of our faculty simply load their syllabi into the content tab of the course.  (Some of our faculty don’t load a syllabus at all, but that’s an entirely different problem.)

We used to simply collect the syllabi on paper in the archives, but now we have this electronic collection on our shared network drive.  Our file naming convention, that I am mostly happy with is course number, dot section, space instructor last name.   There is some variety, such as two sections taught by a single instructor, with the same syllabus would have two sections.  Sometime a first initial needs to be thrown into the mix, but mostly this works. 

(EN101.A Jones.docx or CH111.B Smith.pdf for example)

Except. I noticed that there probably should be some sort of semester indicator in the file name, for the times when the files are sent out of the nice folder structure that indicates year and semester. 

How to do this?  I found a wonderful little program called Bulk Rename Utility.

It may look intimidating, but there is a lot of flexibility packed into that one window.

All you do is open the program and browse over to the folder that holds the files you need to rename.

BRU1

Then select the files that you wish to alter (Ctrl-click will allow you to select non-consecutive files). Next, in the bottom half of the program window, figure out what changes you’d like to have happen.   I was simply adding a prefix of a semester and year code, but you could do many different things such as a remove, a replace, add a date, or number your files.  And before you click the large “Rename” button, you can see exactly what your changes are going to look like in the “New Name” column.

BRU2

Just to be sure you’re serious about changing these file names, you have one more button to click.

BRU3

Then you’re done!  So easy!

I was happy to find this program.  Otherwise, I was looking a lot of right clicks in my future. So glad that didn’t happen.  (Also, just for your information, simply selecting all files and trying to change the name once only changes all the file names to a single file name.  Just so you know.)

Well that’s good to know!

We have almost a dozen SmartBoards on our campus.  The care and feeding of them are really in a limbo here.  The IT department installs them. Since they’re IT equipment, I don’t think our Facilities department touches them.   I was thinking of the approaching cold & flu season. (Winter is coming!) and wondered if it was possible to wipe them down with some antibacterial wipes, or if that would somehow break the board.

So I went searching on how to disinfect the SmartBoard.  Instead of sending off an e-mail to their support, I first checked their online help pages.  They were surprisingly helpful!   Of course this is a question that teachers of small children have asked before.  The answer resides here: Disinfecting Your SMART Board Interactive Whiteboard.

http://www.smarttech.com/us/Support/Browse+Support/Support+Documents/KB1/133351.aspx

“To disinfect your SMART Board

Wet a clean cloth with a solution of 10% bleach and 90% water (or with household cleaners such as Fantastik, Formula 409, Windex with Ammonia-D or Mr. Clean), and then wipe the display surface, pen tray and any other surfaces that you want to disinfect. Repeat as necessary.”

This is good to know!