Tag Archives: Tech Sharecase

Tech Sharecase, 8 December 2017

The theme for today’s Tech Sharecase was algorithms and the roles they play in our lives. We started off by watching a TED Talk video by MIT grad student, Joy Buolamwini, titled “How I’m Fighting Bias in Algorithms.”

The discussion among our twenty attendees touched on a number of topics:

If you’d like to learn more about algorithms, here is a list of references to articles, books, videos, and more.

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Technology Sharecase, 10 November 2017

At today’s Tech Sharecase, we had fifteen attendees to participate in a gadget show and tell that include demonstrations of:

  • inexpensive virtual reality goggles from ViewMaster
  • a sun dial with a compass
  • a Microsoft Surface laptop with a detachable touch screen
  • an Android watch with apps to measure exercise activity
  • a portable battery charger that can charge three devices at once
  • the pulse oximeter on a Samsung Galaxy S8 phone
  • a Wahoo heart rate monitor
  • a Logitech presentation remote

The next get together for the Tech Sharecase will be on Friday, December 8. The location and agenda will be announced soon.

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Tech Sharecase, 20 October 2017

We had 24 attendees at today’s event, which was held in the library’s conference room. Our discussion focused on data management and data visualization.

Generating Maps in Microsoft Excel

Ryan Phillips gave an overview of the mapping feature that is available as a plugin in older versions of Excel and as a standard feature in Excel 2016. Examples he shared:


With this example of a incomplete tracking map showing Hurricane Ophelia poised to strike Ireland, we talked about how mapping tools are sometimes not up to the tasks we have in mind.

R Shiny

Charlie Terng showed how you can use the Shiny package for R to create visualizations of data. He’s been using ggplot2 to put together a dashboard of information about circulation of library books and is looking at how he might use Shiny. He showed us three visualization examples on the Shiny website to give us a sense of what the system can do:


Ralph Englander showed some screenshots of the work he’s done in the iDashboards system to display various metrics from the library. One challenge of his project has been the task of having to manually load data into the system.


We looked at the dashboard of CUNY-wide data from library systems that the CUNY Office of Library Services has posted on its free Tableau account.

Monitoring Activity on the Campus Network

Mike Richichi and Phil Tejera spoke about how BCTC uses Cacti and MRTG to keep tabs on the levels of activity on the campus network.

Upcoming Tech Sharecase Events

  • November 10
  • December 8

The locations will be announced shortly. Please submit any suggestions for discussion topics on this editable Google Doc.

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Tech Sharecase, 8 September 2017

For our first meeting of the fall semester, we had 22 attendees in the 9th floor conference room sharing ideas about ways to create and manage passwords.

We started the discussion by referring to this recent Wall Street Journal article in which the person responsible for writing a set of long-standing best practices for password creation decided his guidelines needed a complete overhaul:

McMillan, Robert. “The Man Who Wrote those Password Rules has a New Tip: N3v$r M1^d! Bill Burr’s 2003 Report Recommended using Numbers, Obscure Characters and Capital Letters and Updating Regularly–He Regrets the Error.”Wall Street Journal (Online), Aug 07, 2017, ABI/INFORM Global, http://remote.baruch.cuny.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1926721443?accountid=8500.

During our discussion, a number of different options for password creation and management came up:

  • Password management software (most will store your username/password credentials and help you create very strong passwords)
  • Saving passwords in a local spreadsheet or text file (that may also be encrypted)
  • Using Diceware to create strong passphrases

Some institutions have set up LastPass at the enterprise level, enabling all employees to have their own accounts and to share passwords with trusted colleagues. It was noted that LastPass has struggled in the past year with a security problem that is worrisome for its users.

We talked generally about what makes a strong password and how a long passphrase can actually be as secure if not more so than shorter password with a bunch of random characters, something this xchd cartoon by Randall Munroe illustrates well:

Password strength

One amusing thing that came up in our discussion was a list of the most common passwords people use (“123456” is at the top of the list year after year).

We also talked about the way passwords get hacked by means of dictionary attacks (a brute force method in which a computer throws billions of words from dictionaries in every language at a login) and social engineering attacks in which users are tricked into giving away their login credentials.

It was noted that while two-factor authentication can offer an additional layer of security, it is not without weaknesses, too:

  • Can be hard to implement at the enterprise level, as it requires every person to do something additional to log in beyond simply typing in a user name and password
  • If the second layer of authentication involves sending a text message to the user’s phone with a unique PIN that has to be typed in after the password, the phone then becomes the weak point, as it is increasingly common for hackers to steal people’s cell phone numbers away from them and thus be able to hijack this additional security layer
  • You can use a security key for two-factor authentication like this one from Yubico but not all systems will accept it

For two-factor authentication, authentication apps (like Authy) were suggested as being more secure than getting text messages with login codes.

Next Meeting

We looked at the list of topics already suggested for upcoming meetings:

  1. Sharing screens among students and instructor in a classroom
  2. Data management and preservation
  3. Faculty and staff options for file storage and sharing
  4. Slack
  5. Integrating LibGuides into Blackboard
  6. Open educational resources (OERs)
  7. Online and Hybrid Tools (Screencast-O-Matic, VoiceThread)
  8. What is blockchain?
  9. Intro to encryption and what are options for encryption (personal and work)
  10. Technology fatigue
  11. Internet of things
  12. Cybersecurity
  13. Digital archiving

Our next meeting will be a Friday in October (look for an announcement soon).

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Tech Sharecase, 5 May 2017

Google Docs Phishing

We started off our meeting today with a discussion of the recent hack of Google Docs that saw millions of users getting email messages inviting them to view a fake Google Doc. We discussed how Google had taken the step of removing all the suspected phishing emails from people’s inboxes.

Guide on the Side for Library Tutorials

We returned to a topic that has come up in previous Tech Sharecases: the open source software, Guide on the Side, that libraries can use to design information literacy tutorials. Although the CUNY Office of Library Services set up the software on a server a few years ago at the recommendation of LILAC, Hunter College did the same on their own a few years earlier and has some tutorials online (not all of them seem to have been updated yet to match the new library website).

The larger context for the discussion of Guide on the Side are the Flash-based tutorials our library developed with Kognito a decade ago. Some of these continue to be used even though the content is a bit out of date (some of the databases have been canceled and some have been renamed or wholly redesigned). Some examples of our tutorials that could use some attention because they are still being used are the Beginner’s Guide to Business Research and Research for Oral Presentations.

Audio for Augmented Reality

We watched a video review of the Hear One wireless earbuds, which can automatically adjust sound levels in response to the environment you are in.

Next Meeting of the Tech Sharecase

Although we haven’t scheduled any meetings for the summer, it is likely we’ll try to meet up a few times (maybe on Thursdays once we get to the f0ur-day workweek). Stay tuned!


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Tech Sharecase, 21 April 2017

At today’s event, we focused on the ways that we discover things to read online, how and when we do that reading, and how we save items that we want to maybe re-use later on. Among the specialized services and apps we discussed were:

  • Feedly. An RSS reader that offers a free service for up to a certain number of feeds or a paid service for more feeds.
  • Pocket. An app and web service for saving items to be read later.
  • Instapaper. Another app and web service (that I use) for saving items and sharing them.
  • Evernote. App and web service for saving notes (also can save articles, blog posts, etc, that you want to read later)
  • Pinterest. Bookmarking app and service.
  • Pinboard. Another bookmarking app and service
  • JournalTOCs. Web service that lets you sign up for email notification of new content in journals you care about.
  • Zotero. Web service for saving citations and bookmarks and generating properly formatted bibliographies.
  • Nuzzel. Web service and app for seeing what your friends in Faceboook and/or Twitter are sharing.

I showed a video I made on my phone of how I use Feedly to scan through items in my RSS subscriptions, Instapaper to save things for reading later, and Instapaper to share to Twitter the items that I think others might want to know about.

A couple of us shared our experiences using Slack for communication with a team working on a project or for communication among professional social network. We noted that Microsoft and Facebook each recently released competing products called Teams (Microsoft) and Workplace (Facebook).

Finally, we watched a video from Facebook about a new virtual reality social network they’re working on.


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Tech Sharecase, 18 November 2016

Text Analysis Tools

Ryan introduced a  number of different text analysis tools that were the subject of a workshop he attended last week that was hosted by the LACUNY Emerging Technologies Committee:

  • Google Ngram Viewer. We discussed the problems that OCR runs into and the ABBYY FineReader software for OCR that Jessica and her team use.
  • Sentiment analysis. Example: The movie review aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes, uses automated text analysis to look for certain words in online movie reviews so the site can then assign a rating to each review.
  • Voyant Tools. We looked at the way that the free Voyant Tools website allows fast analysis of text files. Both Jessica and Linda mentioned the ways that they’ve used the service.

Converting Drawings and Symbols

We discussed a few apps and a web site experiment from Google that do interesting things converting images into text:

  • Pleco. This app converts into English the Chinese characters that you capture with your phone camera or that you draw in.
  • Photomath. This app uses your camera phone to capture a math problem and solve it for on your screen.
  • Quick, Draw! The experiment on the web by Google will take your doodle and identify it. Lots of fun!

New User Interfaces

We took a look at the new interfaces on YouTube and Uber.

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Tech Sharecase: 28 July 2016

Data Journalism

We watched a video featuring a presentation by Andrew Flowers about how he and his team at FiveThirtyEight use R for analyzing and visualizing data used for news stories. We also looked at some notable examples of data-driven journalism that featured great graphics:

Library Dashboards

We looked at the way a couple of libraries offer data about library services and collections in compact and detailed ways:

New Interfaces

We watched a bit of the video from Ex Libris showing some of the new features and design elements in beta interface for Primo (more details here). We also looked at the new e-journal portal interface from Serials Solutions that Molloy College has already set up.

Open Collections Librarian

We talked about the newly opened position for an open collections librarian here.

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Tech Sharecase on 10 May 2016

Phone Hacking

We started off by watching this 60 Minutes piece from April 17 about how easy it is for hackers to gain total access to your phone if all they have is your cell phone number (yikes!)

We looked at this funny series of images taken by a parent’s phone camera as their son tried unsuccessfully to log into the device (thereby triggering this security feature).

Ryan recommended this Lifehacker post about why smartphone security matters and what you can do to make your phone more secure and this chart in Statista showing the results of a survey in the UK about what people do and don’t do to keep their phones safe.

We also talked about the problem Android phones have in the erratic scheduling of updates and patches, which is due to the variety of manufacturers dealing with these upgrade issues in different ways. Ryan shared this related blog post about how the FCC and FTC are looking more closely into the way carriers are pushing out patches.

We also discussed password managers, like LastPass, and VPNs, as ways to keep your devices more secure.

Redesign of the library search bar

I offered a preview of what the new search bar will look like when it gets launched this summer. I summarized the work that’s taken place since last November:

  • Usability tests in November/December 2015 on the existing search bar (goal was to identify existing problems and look for design ideas from users)
  • Query log analyses and site analytics in January-March 2016 to identify usage trends
  • Usability tests in March of two different prototypes of a new search bar
  • Usability tests in April of a new course reserves page

Work that remains to be done includes:

  • Usability tests in May of new databases page
  • Launch of new course reserves page in May
  • Development of a fully functional prototype of the new search bar in June and usability testing of it
  • Launch in June or July of new search bar and databases page
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Tech Sharecase, 22 May 2015

Today was nearly an all-Google discussion.

Google Cardboard

Today we had two fully assembled virtual reality kits to use to try out various Google Cardboard apps. We found the images weren’t always in stereo and the kits themselves a bit flimsy. Some of the apps we tried out:

We also found some libraries that have purchased Google Cardboard headsets for various purposes:

Google Photospheres

The Google Camera app does a nice job of making photospheres:

Google+ Page for the Library

We took a look at the Google+ page for the library and the reviews that visitors have left.

Google Tone

We learned about a new experimental extension for the Google Chrome browser called Google Tone that lets you share a URL in your browser with nearby computers using an audible tone broadcast from your computer’s speaker.

Digital Measures

We talked about the strengths and weaknesses of Digital Measures.

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