Foresight

As I said in the previous entry on Monday, I realized that I would not get a lot done this week. Tuesday proved that loud and clear as it was announced within seconds of stepping into my office that I would have to watch the computer labs all day. I was thankful I had mentally prepared for this seemingly inevitable situation the day before or I would have felt stressed out at losing a productive day. My coworkers were blessing when they let me slip away for a little time to get some new panels up that my boss created (John, the compliments have been pouring in! I’ve been redirecting people to you, so I hope they’re really sending you their praise!).

Today I spent more time in my office, but I was doing prep work for tomorrow’s web writing class. I have an actual agenda! I thought about printing out note handouts then realized that we have an in-house staff wiki, I’ll have my coworkers use that for reference! There are five people scheduled for tomorrow’s class and then 17 for next week–the biggest in-person class that I have taught yet! Otherwise I answered emails, wrote lots of documentation, and checked out integrating Wufoo into our reservation system. I wish there was a steadfast Drupal-based system, but nothing seems fully workable yet. Perhaps after getting some more programming under my belt, I will be able to write my own customized module! As a side effect, I can’t wait till I can revamp the user interaction part of our website since it is fairly dead currently.

Questions have been less generic (how do I fax? print?) and more challenging as people want to have long discussions about their ereaders and their projects. I have also noticed that the regular patrons are sometimes stepping up to help new people with basic computer questions when I am clearly overwhelmed. I feel like a unique community is evolving in the computer lab.

Finally, I am getting braver and am starting to ask random patrons for their opinions/suggestions on how they would like to change things. I created a new Trello board for these ideas. Let’s see what I get done!

Less Production This Week?

Since it was a three day weekend with the in-laws to celebrate Christmas, I decided not to post last Thursday’s work. I assume this week will be less productive since (it feels like) half the staff are out of town. So at this point it’s about keeping the library running.

Thursday

  • Tried to install LimeSurvey on the database at work. I created a new database, a new user, assigned that user to the database with full-permissions and then got told that my username or password was wrong. I logged in and out of the phpmyadmin several times with that information. *sigh*
  • Set up a webcam on an extra laptop following the approval from my boss.
  • Investigated some more web registrations–still nothing.
  • Worked on another flyer.
  • Meeting to discuss what printed materials I will need to produce for our teen tech tutoring program.

Monday

  • Created three new digital signs.
  • Met the person who made the animated digital signs.
  • Helped out with the computer labs.
  • Assisted with the ereader thing. What this means is showing different patrons how to download OverDrive ebooks onto their Nooks, iPads, or Kindles. I was so thankful that I had already created those three videos!
  • Between patrons, I went to have a quick website design talk with my main contact in the Children’s Library. I got to hear some of her ideas and frustrations with the website. What they want done will be a big undertaking. I’m regretful that the person who was to manage the website content update left so I’m slow to respond to these needs when I have the whole structure/appearance redesign to work on as well.

Productive Day

I completed three Contactology templates today. The main goal behind these templates of course being to force a consistent look across our eblast communications. I am including screencaps of the design behind the cut, though now looking at the test emails I can see that some of the text is randomly centering itself within in Gmail. >_> Thomas also suggested that I change the default image to be obnoxious AND useful in order to encourage people to use the template correctly.
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Special Projects Roundup

Polly Farrington and I finished up writing the content for our WordPress class on Sunday. I formerly wanted to do video editing/consistency checking so I spent the last bit of my time going over the material to checking the headers, capitalization, and adding in cross-references between sections. At some point on Sunday, I wound up injuring my right arm to the point that by Monday morning, my torso muscles were so sore that breathing was painful! Therefore I have been a little preoccupied so my entries are behind.

So, I am going to focus in on a few tasks that I achieved/worked on each day.

Friday
This day was broken up into weird pieces since I was leaving early for a doctor appointment and then going to an office holiday party. The mood was jovial. I put time into recording a screencast for downloading OverDrive eBooks on a Nook Color. I then did some website stuff on creating four new pages for our New York Times and NPR bestseller lists. Later, I had to return to work to attend a meeting for one of our upcoming projects.

Monday
I designed several new digital signs, finished editing our screencasting video (posted online on Tuesday), and helped setup the latest toy at the Library (a Bookeye scanner). On Wednesday, I will make the final checks to see if the final people are in place before making the big social media announcement on the Bookeye scanner.

Tuesday
Today was spent designing three new Contactology templates. These three are for single events and have three different formats: text only, mostly a large image, and single image + text. Thomas suggested that I trade out the default images (from old posts) with large ones with instructions to remind the librarians who will use the templates how to add images. Currently I am almost done with the second of the three templates. I just need to get an image to keep its padding when it floats right in a table (got any suggestions?). Then I went to a class on how to use the On Demand Books database (I’ll see if I can get permission to write about that), then to a meeting about setting up our tutoring program, and finally worked in the computer lab.

Steampunk Flyer

Each morning when I make my quick turn into the main part of the building, I glance towards the digital signs to see how they’re doing. Every few weeks I’ll see that one of them is down. Today was one of those days, so I sat my lunch box and purse on the counter so I could climb up to turn the panel off. It was a quick fix downstairs to get it back again. I have also found that every time I am standing on the step ladder behind the Welcome Desk, working on the panels, someone always comes up and asks the counter person a computer lab/tech question.

Aside from my usual duties, I also got to have a meeting with my boss, Polly came to see me about the WordPress class (it was so good to see her!), and then worked on a flyer for the upcoming teen writing competition. I struggled with this flyer since I was unsure of how to appeal to teens. Do I do something minimalistic but with lots of interestingly sized text? Do I add images of writing objects? I eventually settled on steampunk and had a vision of a 1910 plane, a beach, and a woman with an umbrella. I watched a tutorial on how to make a faded newspaper like effect which fell flat. Then I decided to grab a texture and split up a 1909 picture of a zeppelin. The poster looked okay but when I added the background texture: WHAM! A few more minutes and then I added some rectangles to put the important bits of text in. Super!

When I asked one of our teen workers what his thoughts were, he asked what the flying object was. >_> However, I’m so proud of my effort that I brought home the version that did not print correctly the first time.

Monkey Wrenches and Meetings

I came to work a little bit later than usual since I needed to stay to watch the computer labs. Then I discovered the person scheduled for the lab this morning was out, so away I went for an extra 90+ minutes today. So, the framing of my day was spending time in the computer lab. I managed to help several people, got overwhelmed when too many wanted help at the same time, and also started studying how to construct new pathauto structures on the test website. If it works out, I will then fix the URL aliases on the main website!

Otherwise, I was involved in three hours worth of meetings. The best part was the second one where I was able to then send out a notice with confidence that I am teaching two web writing classes.

Eye Strain

I’m a bit behind as I’m still working on getting the WordPress class written. Plus I’ve developed eye strain/eye fatigue. Yesterday my glasses fell off my face so I discovered that the frames are near their breaking point! That will certainly mean I have to reschedule one day this week to get them replaced.

Friday

  • Worked on the Espresso website
  • Social Media — promoting the Children’s Library
  • Emails
  • Website!
  • Computer Lab
  • Website!

Monday

  • Made several digital signs
  • Social media — which prompted a talk with the teen librarian about Tumblr and how there is no post about the teen iPad
  • Emails — discussing OverDrive and the latest uproar about their different catalogs for different libraries stuff that was exposed on Friday. Fortunately I had the emails from my exchange with OD about some issues so I was able to answer some in-house questions easily
  • Computer lab — I walked in to leave a paper for the little UX test we’re running and got caught by a patron for nearly half an hour
  • Website — the test site is now 960 px! I’m a little apprehensive about having such a narrow size. I also worked a bit on getting menu items to highlight. It partially works but not all the way across the board. I still have to root out the tables in all the other pages but the main website is now in pure CSS.

Seven Google App Flaws

I have been a devotee to Google products since the first time I logged in and used their search engine over Ask Jeeves. This would be back in 2000. Google manages many of my daily activities, keeps records for me, and occasionally I have a tug of war to get my chat message records out. Overall I am satisfied with their services as a personal user. However, as a professional I keep running into little nuances that go undetected as an individual user but which are frustrating as a business user.

In Google Forms, I want to create a quick sign up sheet which has a limit of how many responses to accept. Once that limit is hit, the form automatically closes. This is a no go. Second, I can use some URL hacks to remove the name of the embeddable form, but I can’t alter the confirmation message screen much. I don’t mind that a user will see that the form was created by Google, but I don’t want the line coaxing the user to create their own form! That is confusing. Nor can I add a URL text link which says something to the effect of “Click to return to our site.” Instead, I have to just paste in the URL.

Google Calendar is fairly great as a way to list events. We can even pull out information and display it in our own customized codes. However, there are two nagging issues that I have run into: When a user clicks the +Google Calendar button on the bottom of an embedded calendar, the confirmation box is just a long random line of text proceeded by “Would you like to add…” My calendar has a name! Show that instead of a bunch of gibberish! Second, one of our calendars is very active with a minimum of 25 activities a week. A request came in to have the embedded calendar default to Agenda view. When I tried, the calendar refused to list any of the 8 events for today or tomorrow or next week. The calendar was blank. If I click on week or month, everything is fine. If I set another lesser used calendar to Agenda view as default, there is no problem.

I love Google Plus. I think it’s great! However, when I upload a single photo and then want to link to the page which has just that photo, I cannot do so. Instead I have to link to the library’s profile. This is not targeted and anyone who stumbles across the link later may not know what on the feed I was specifically trying to link to! Second, I uploaded a bunch of photos to an album. I gave each image a caption. When I checked the stream, each individual image showed up therefore making the library’s page look like it was spamming! The expected and desired behavior is that the main/first image would show and a select number of other photos in the album would show as thumbnails underneath the larger image.

I have posted on the official Google forums after having done an exhaustive keyword and Boolean search. There have been no responses for my Calendar and Forms issue. What I usually find are numerous people reporting the same bugs or make the same feature requests. It seems that things like automatically limiting form responses would be a no-brainer.

So as professional user of Google products I am becoming disenchanted with the service. If you have any answers to how I can work around Google’s limitations on these issues, please drop me a line!

Cold Days are Back

I’ve been feeling pretty poorly for the last few days so I took last night off from writing here or on the WordPress class. Several of my coworkers have been ill so I may have caught something that way. Either way, I’m back to bullet points since I’m trying to recover:

Wednesday

  • Clean up work (SD card, word correction on a sign)
  • Social media
  • Internal administrative work for finances
  • Look up finer details for web writing class I’ll be holding
  • Set up video camera, take photos, promote an event (the video footage was all useless since they didn’t use the mics!)
  • Added an automatic spam checker to the website
  • Hour workshop on Evernote
  • Started converting the test website from tables to CSS. Slow going but exciting work.

Thursday

  • Thanks to the website stuff yesterday, I was able to use it to justify that I could not make some web changes since the website won’t be wide enough in the future.
  • Had to settle at least seven issues for the computer labs because my coworker kept needing help.
  • Also learned that Mac browsers adds/doesn’t honor specific pixel widths. What looks fine in three browsers on Windows looks bad on a Mac
  • Emails
  • Watched a webinar on mobile apps and realized I was not learning anything from it.
  • Meeting to plan the winter session of adult tech classes. I’ll be teaching Trello! I’m going to see about setting up a class to transfer Yahoo emails over to Gmail since so many patrons have awful, awful Yahoo accounts which are full of spam!
  • Looked at Google Calendar and realized that my boss’ request is probably impossible due to internal changes at Google.

Pulling Ends Together

Today my coworker received an ALA Editions email about the WordPress class and forwarded it to me. Then I received a tweet and an email from another library. So it looks like the word is out! Polly and I are about halfway through writing the course content. Google’s servers were acting up a bit last night which we discovered when neither one of us could upload images.

Today a coworker was out sick so that immediately tilted the whole day. I only had to add one extra hour of computer lab time when all was said in done, but I was already scheduled for 2.5 hours. The oddest thing I had to do was help a patron photograph, measure, and then annotate the photos. Otherwise I was busy writing emails to vendors, looking into charges, and designing a flyer for a teen writing contest.

Next major website job is going ahead and converting the test site from liquid to fixed layout. I would really like to go ahead and make it responsive, but there is a rush order on this and the current site’s look will change anyways. Hopefully I will have the conversion done before the weekend! If it is looking promising, I think I will come in late and then make the change after closing on Friday…