...and other information to keep staff in the Technology Loop

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Look Out MS Office!

There's a new breed of office productivety applications out there that not only don't require software, they're free!

Web-based office applications are gaining in popularity today much like what web-based email services (Hotmail, Yahoo,etc.) did in the 90s. With portability, easy access, and ease of use to their credit, these new tools may offer just the solution that patrons need.

As Frank Blair (IT) points out, here are some advantages to web-based office applications:

This has the potential of resolving several word processing issues for us that we experience in supporting patrons

1) No media upon which to save a document and doesn't want to buy a floppy disk

2) media where document was saved is corrupt (could have been saved on the web)

3) floppy drive or other device can't read media that has document

4) no more lost or forgotten floppies left in hard drive

5) Compatible with both Word and Open Office

6) Allows a person to work on a document even when they don't have their media present - anyplace where there is an open Internet connection
Web-based Office applications worth taking a look at:

Writely - Online word processing application that functions with both OpenOffice & MS Word formats.
GOffice - offers online apps for word processing (in PDF or HTML ouput) and desktop publishing. Online apps for presentations & spreadsheets are available as beta release. Free.

Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Librarian Trading Cards

Just for fun ...

In case you haven't heard there's a new action figure out there called the Deluxe Librarian which features yet another minature clone of Nancy Pearl. Unlike the 1st edition of the Librarin action figure, the deluxe issue comes with a minature PC and a cart of reference books for lighting speed retrieval of information.

Of course, not every librarian is lucky enough like Nancy (BTW: She even has her own website) to get our own action figure, but you can create your very own Librarian Trading Card and join the gallery.

To participate:
  1. Create your own trading card here
  2. Then upload your card to your free Flickr account and add the keyword tag “librariantradingcards” to the image so that it can join the gallery

View the Librarian Trading Card Gallery.

Monday, December 19, 2005

PC Pop Quiz

Last week the Charlotte Observer ran a short 10 question quiz about PC knowledge geared toward average PC users (not experts). My favorite response was in question #2

2. Lately you hear a clatter from your computer, especially when you load a program or call up information. What's going on?

A. It's infested with reindeer.
B. Your hard disk may be headed for failure.
C. A loose wire is hitting the cooling fan.
D. A loud metallic clatter is perfectly normal.

Here's a hint - it's not A (although I've this time year I might be tempted to believe it )

Anyway, why try the quiz out yourself? You might be surprised at how much you really already know.

By Bill Husted, Charlotte Observer, Dec. 5th, 2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

Go Phish

Thanks to William Nation from MOR for sharing this news article with me, Can You Spot The Phish Attack? from internetnews.com.

According to the article only 4 percent of users can spot a phished e-mail 100% of the time.

Take the MailFrontier Phishing IQ Test and see if you are among the 96% of e-mail users who can NOT spot phishing 100% of the time. I took the test and am in the majority!


Do you ever flip between Goolge & Yahoo when searching for something to see which search engine will give you better results? Well.. meet Gahooyoogle -- Try and say that fast three times. :)

The site allows you to search both tools at the same time and splits your viewing screen in half so you can easily compare it. Take a look and try it. Which tool for you provides better results?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fighting Spam

These days when the word spam is mentioned, people tend to make a face. Not because of fond memories of the potted meat product, but because of the nuisance of unwanted email, which is the 21st century definition of spam.

Spam may come from someone you know in the form of
chain letters or forwarded urban legends, or it may come from complete strangers. Some spam has viruses attached. But mostly spam is just a time-waster. Not only does spam waste your time but it also wastes valuable resources such as network bandwidth, space on email servers, and productivity costs in the time it takes you to delete the unwanted messages.

So here are some tips to combat spam:

  • Never, ever give out your email address on a public Internet forum, such as a discussion group or a blog. There are billions of zombie-like computers that scour the Internet looking for email addresses to add to spam lists. I have a Yahoo account that I use specifically for Web sites that require an email address, so that I do not get as much spam to my work and personal email accounts.
  • Or disguise your email address, joe at yahoo dot com, will allow people to understand your email address, but will prevent automated searches from finding your address. Remember that computers are looking for a standard email format, name@place.com.
  • Block images from your email. In Outlook, do not use the Preview Pane or Auto Preview. Most free, web-based email services will allow you to block images via the Options settings. Images can contain hidden messages that when viewed are sent back to spammers to let them know they have found a valid email address, resulting in…more spam.
  • Do not click the link at the bottom of any email messages to Remove Me From List. This is an instant way to let spammers know they have found a valid email address. Remember spammers get big bucks for real or validated email addresses. Don't let them know you exist. Cyberspace is the one place where you want to be unpopular.
  • Delete, without opening, any messages that look suspicious. If it looks like spam, it probably is. If you do not know the sender, it is probably spam. If you receive email from the FBI or CIA it is probably spam.

See the October 2004 issue of InfoBytes for more details on reducing spam and instructions for using Outlook junk mail filters to reduce spam.

For more information on spam and efforts to combat it, check out the following sites: