Yet Another Digital Signage Solution on the Cheap

The first-generation Google Chromecast dongle was made available in 2013 for around $35 dollars. I acquired one of these devices for our library so that I could wirelessly cast our Samsung Galaxy Tab’s screen to our AV system during classes and training sessions, and thus handily avoid the need for wired tethering along with the necessary adaptors to effect this. The device has served us well, but with the advance of screen resolution technologies in mobile devices as well as the demands of mirroring the same, it makes sense to upgrade to Google’s latest model refresh, the Chromecast Ultra model, which promises better overall performance, less wireless lag, and support for 4K resolution and high dynamic range, among other things. [Read More]

Scripting for the rest of us

I have heard people say that everyone should know how to code. This struck me as wildly unlikely. People are just to busy and have too much on their plates to all become software developers. However, I also thought that their reasoning was correct. Learning to code lets you use your computer for what it is really good at. Doing repetitive tasks over and over again, the same way each time. [Read More]

How large is your attack surface?

Attack surface is a term used in computer security to describe your vulnerabilities. It is simply the ways that you can be attacked. A larger attack surface means more ways to attack you. A smaller attack surface means less ways to attack you. One of the most effective ways we have of increasing our security is to shrink our attack surface. There are other important things we need to do, such as doing security updates and selecting trustworthy software, but that largely depends on things that are out of our control. [Read More]

haveibeenpwned now checks passwords too

There is a great tool called haveibeenpwned put out by Troy Hunt. You can enter an email address or username into this website, and it will tell you if it has been involved in a data breach. This is great so that you can quickly change your password for a compromised account. Troy now has a service that will check passwords against data breaches as well. If you don’t want to put your password into a random third-party website, you can put in a sha1 hash of your password instead or you can download the entire 5. [Read More]

DNS on my mind

A recent email thread on the Tor relay operators email list has me thinking about DNS. DNS is like the phonebook of the internet. For example, when you go to, you don’t actually go there. You go to (IPv4) or 2604:a880:400:d0::14ab:4002 (IPv6). Obviously, it is far easier to remember than a whole string of numbers. That is why we have DNS. DNS is simple in concept, but can provide some complications in practice. [Read More]

Open source software and the values of librarianship

The Lebanon Public Libraries in Lebanon, NH run on free and open source software. This software accounts for about 95% of all the software that we use. This is not the norm for a library, but it should be. This is software that is in agreement with the values of librarianship. It allows us as librarians to serve our patron’s without the compromises that come from proprietary software. There are many benefits tofree and open source software. [Read More]

Loaning out laptops

We have an exciting new program at our library. We are going to start loaning out laptops for patrons to take home. We will have two pools, one for long term loan, and one for short term loan. The short term loans will be for three weeks. That program will start in 2018. I will write more about that program when we get closer to launching it. However, the long term loan laptops will be available in the very near future. [Read More]

Filing bug reports

We have all had the frustration of software not working the way we want it to. Maybe it is an annoying feature, or something not working the way it is supposed to. We all complain about software because it sometimes makes our jobs more difficult. Nothing wrong with a little venting. However, we should also be letting the software makers know about these problems. Just about any software product out there should have some kind of bug report option. [Read More]

Buying computers for your library

This topic seems to come up a lot so I thought that I would write a quick post on things to look for when you buy computers for your library. I will address some of the things that I take into consideration when buying items. However, I can’t tell you how to weight these considerations. You know your library and patrons best. New, refurbished, or used Obviously we all like getting new gear, and as I have argued before, computers are as important to libraries as books these days. [Read More]

OPAC Deployments on the Cheap

On this Blog we’ve featured digital signage resources using free or low-cost software and hardware, including Porteus-Kiosk running on flash drives and Chrome on ChromeBits.I’ve been using Porteus-Kiosk for a couple of OPAC deployments in my library, but the initial setup and sluggish performance when running on a flash drive are less than optimal.Thanks to a recent tip from Darrell Eifert from the Lane Memorial Library, I’ve found an impressive alternative, and it’s called OpenKiosk. [Read More]