Home Away From Home – Day 2

Ah, day two and it should have started off better.  Knew I had to leave a bit early from home to drop my son off at his Dad’s new house.  Still trying to figure out best routes to and from his house.  This morning with the hazy fog it didn’t help and I was a few minutes late getting to work.

EntranceFirst one in the office this morning.  Dropped my stuff at my work space and scurried to get to the morning duties (I had switched days with a co-worker).  Unforwarded the helpdesk phone and then proceeded to swap the tapes on both the Horizon and Authority Works servers.

This was to be my IT @ Admin day so I needed to focus on the morning duties and get them out of the way.  Once logged into my Ubuntu and Windows machines I did a quick cursory check of email (no dire messages).  I then proceeded to do the morning duties (just like yesterday).

Once they were out of the way I checked the helpdesk tickets and assigned them accordingly to my co-workers (seems some days I get a lot and others I don’t – it all evens out in the end).  Opened Twirl so I can peruse Twitter (both my personal account – @mlibrarianus and the library’s official account @HoCo_Library).  Then I queued up a Tweet for the library’s account using TweetFunnel.

Our Network Administrator came into the office and had mentioned that we had a power outage (clock in the workroom before ours was behind).   PACs were showing red on PACMON (our own montioring system that our web programmer wrote) but luckily the Day End computer finished running Day End before the power outage (having to run day end in the morning before people start logging into Horizon is not a fun thing to coordinate).

I proceeded to work on the email bouncebacks.  I’m still amazed at how many we get.  Are that many people really changing their email addresses and not updating them with us or what?  Still trying to figure out the best way to ensure our customers get notified without this having to deal with bouncebacks.  It is a labor intensive process that should not be handled by IT.  Haven’t come up with the answer as I know that there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a tweet that made me chuckle.  I don’t normally follow the trends on Twitter but this one caught my eye #verydullbands.  Some were pretty good.  tumour seemed to be on a roll.  Time to head to our Administrative office in the East Columbia Branch and be the IT guru of the day (each of us takes turns spending a day at Admin helping with computer/software related issues that arise).

Home away from homeAfter getting my lunch in the fridge and things settled into the IT cubicle, I logged into the Ubuntu machine we have set aside for us.  Last time I was there I used Good OS – as if Google and Mac had a love child this would be it.  I really liked the operating system and having the Google gadgets.  Alas I was back to our staff desktop version of Ubuntu which is nice too.

Queued up another tweet for the library’s official account (which is approved by our Public Relations dept. and released to the Twitterverse).   Talked to a colleague who had heard I’d been recently to Spain recently and was thinking of going.  So I sent her a link to my photos from Espana on Flickr.

Consulted with fellow IT co-worker about iTouch and our collaborative software, DeskNow.  He had a Blackberry and wasn’t familiar with the iTouch.  Went around the Admin office asking staff if they had an iPhone or iTouch.  Found someone in Public Relations that had an iTouch who was able to help with the question another staff member had asked me.  I won’t mention my extreme jealousy of those with the iPhone or Blackberry (I soooo miss my Blackberry).

Helped another colleague with a PrintNow problem.  Think the delay was due to her Java update message wanting attention.  Once I clicked on that PrintNow printed the screen shot she needed.  Stopped by the cubicle of our Training Coordinator to discuss a request that had come up in my visits to the branches regarding our Staff Intranet.  She was open to the suggestion that the less formal “Lunch and Learns” be part of the training calendar as well as a notice on the Staff Intranet.

ITBack to my cubicle.  Checked on the Merlin site since I was playing admin while Nini Beegan was on vacation.  Cleaned up a bunch of registered users that were clearly spammers.

Consulted with web programmer and network administrator about the best way to get a new image onto our PAC screensavers.  The library’s unofficial (yet very professional and wonderfully talented) photography, Fritzi Newton, had taken shots of each of our 6 branches along with iconic views of our county and mixed them with photos she was able to obtain from Enoch Pratt.  She put these altogether as a screensaver for our public computers.  There was wording on each saying where the photo was taken.  After 2 years of these being out there for the public someone had realized that one of the slides had Maryland misspelled.  Fritzi corrected this and gave us the new image (with correctly spelled state) to use.

Realized I hadn’t really talked to our staff at Admin about the revamping the Staff Intranet.  I had been to all the branches to get feedback so I wondered around the office and talked to different staff.  Along the way I helped with a couple browser settings.  The one feature that I love on our Intranet was one that I pointed out to several folks.  Our web programmer had created a staff directory – the staff search box searches that directory.  So if you don’t know what branch, the phone number, the exact spelling of their email, what title they have, etc you can search for a person (last name or first name or full name) and see all of that plus a picture.  I convinced several people that using the staff directory search was 100 times easier than scrolling through the phone list.  This made me realize that this well used by many but missed by some box needed a more prominent spot on our Intranet.  So I moved that up further on the left hand side along with moving the Quick Links further to the top as well.  These are just temporary stop gaps until we revamp the whole Intranet.

LUNCH!

Assigned to myself and closed helpdesk ticket regarding receiving spam from old email address.  *sigh* The only 100% sure fire way to not receive spam is to not use email.

Played telephone tag with the editor of our reader’s advisory blog, Highly Recommended, regarding a few tweaks and a new idea that had come up in a meeting.  Then I went about interviewing more of the Admin staff about our Intranet and what ideas they might have.

Dealt with calendar settings for two people in Public Relations.  They didn’t have a box checked so the calendar invites were not showing up on their calendars the way they should.

Debunked an Urban Legend that was sent via email to IT.  I love Snopes.com.  I used to hang out on their bulletin board and I do miss the folks from there.

Discussed ideas with the Events & Seminars Manager about the use of voice recorders regarding local authors.  Getting them to read excerpts from their books or interviews with them as part of a podcast.

Answered an email from staff about the spam filtering option setting in our email.  Explained that we use Barracuda, spam filter, on the main email server so there is no need to use the one provided by DeskNow (if you do it actually creates more work).

Decided to make another change to the current Staff Intranet (that was brought up by staff at the branch) and managed to not screw it up.  Deleted code and things still worked properly.  Then I got a little too confident and removed some more – this time I did screw it up.  THANKFULLY, our web programmer who has the patience of a saint with me was able to figure out what I did wrong and fix it.

Way past time for me to go, so I turned off my machine and headed home.  I had to pack and drive to PA that night since I going with my parents the next morning to the hospital.  My Mother was having a biopsy of her lung done.  Here’s hoping it all goes well and the results are good.

Advertisements

Comrades in Arms

Yesterday we had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with 7 of our colleagues from the Eastern Shore Regional Libraries.  As comrades in the Open Source it was great to hear what they have done (Zimbra, Evergreen) and share our stories as well (DeskNow, Koha, Groovix).  We also had a conference call with Michael Pardee, creator of Open-Sense Solutions, so they could speak with him about our PAC desktop and staff desktop.  It was really great to see what we had in common besides our interest in open source.  Libraries no matter what the size or demographic of their customers still experience some basic commonality.

My boss, Amy De Groff, suggested a wonderful idea – that our two groups meet quarterly.  Let’s interact, let’s collaborate, let’s exchange ideas and help each other.  Very much what open source is based on.  Kismet that 2 ladies from ESRL as well as my boss and our web programmer will be presenting at Computers in Libraries 2009 (back to back presentations).  We look forward to forging this new partnership with our fellow open sourcers on the Eastern Shore (whether or not we can come over during crab season or not).

Windows? I Ain’t Got No Windows!

I don’t need no windows! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ windows!” to continue to parody what I learned is the one of the most misquoted movie lines from the movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Over the last 3 months or so I’ve been a dual operating system kind of gal.  Not a dual boot but 2 CPU’s with 2 different OS on them.  Considering that we are an open source shop you’d be surprised to learn that I used Windows OS at all.  Because I had to use a client based ILS that only ran on Windows I was stuck.  But with our upcoming migration to Koha, an open source web-based ILS, I’ve been able to switch over to using Ubuntu (like the rest of my co-workers).

At first I found myself swiveling my chair between the Windows PC on my right and the Ubuntu machine in front of me.  Then I realized more and more I wasn’t moving from the machine in front of me.  Other than the times I need to look something up in the ILS client (e.g. customer account) or if I have to use PhotoShop (sorry, haven’t taken time to learn GIMP yet) most of the day my Windows machine stays unused.

I have my beloved Firefox, Thunderbird, Flock, and OpenOffice on the Ubuntu machine.  I have Meebo, Staff Intranet (using Joomla), DeskNow (collaborative email/file sharing/calendar software), FriendFeed, Facebook, Flickr, other Web 2.0 sites and our soon to be new ILS all in the browser of my choice.  I have TwitterFox, web developer toolbar, Stumbleupon toolbar and colorful tabs as some of my Firefox addons.  I’m in heaven on my Ubuntu machine.  Only thing I miss about my Windows machine is I had dual monitors hooked up to it.  Just need to find another monitor and I’ll be set.

What is really amazing is how quickly one can adapt if one has to or wants to.  I honestly could not help someone with an Word/PowerPoint/Excel question if I tried.  I can’t remember the last time I used them.  Ask me how to do it OpenOffice and I can pretty much answer them or at least find out how by going to Solveig Haugland’s great blog, OpenOffice.org Training, Tips and Ideas.  I had a staff member ask me about her home pc which is running on Windows XP and she uses Internet Explorer as her browser.  I haven’t used IE in years!  I was struggling to remember just where something was located on the menu bar.  I could easily tell her how to do it on Firefox.  It is amazing – you get used to what you use.  If I had remained on Windows I would have seen Linux as being a hard thing to convert to – now that I’ve been converted it wasn’t that hard at all to switch.

Do I miss Windows?  No, because the operating system shouldn’t be what’s important.  With more and more being about web-based solutions to issues the concern should be with the browser.  Do I miss Internet Explorer?  Heck No!  Matter of fact I think you do yourself and your customers/users a huge disservice to tie yourself with one operarting system, one browser.  People love choice.  If you are writing for the web you need to adhere to web standards so that your site can work in the browser of my choice (or anyone’s choice).

I can’t wait for the day that I can cut the cord to my Windows machine completely.