Patrons' Frequently Asked Questions

 

Why can't a Macintosh user connect to the patron wireless network?

Do the public computers have CD or DVD writing capability?

Why would a patron have trouble reading data he or she recorded to a CD or DVD?

Why would a patron have trouble reading data he or she saved to a floppy disk?

Why would a patron have trouble reading data he or she saved to a USB flash drive?

What can a patron do if a USB flash drive does not fit in the USB port?

Can a patron access e-mail on the public computers?

Why won't some online games work on the public computers?

What can a patron do with a file not supported by Microsoft Office?

Can patrons install software on the public computers or request assistance from IT?

Why can't a patron print from an online game or activity website?

A public computer seems to have locked up. What can the patron do?


 

Q: Why can't a Macintosh user connect to the patron wireless network?

Scenario: A patron came in with a Macintosh laptop and said they can't connect to wireless.

The standard browser on Macintosh laptops is Safari. The Safari browser does not work with the wireless equipment implemented within the district. In order to use the wireless Macintosh users need to use an alternate browser like IE Firefox.

Scenario: What if the Macintosh user does not have a different browser loaded on their laptop?

At each of the Greeley branches a network port and cable have been provided in the reference areas. This cable can be provided temporarily to a Macintosh user to connect to the identified port and download a browser.

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Q: Do the public computers have CD or DVD writing capability?

A: No. The public computers do not have drives that can record data to CD or DVD disks. If a patron needs the ability to save information, he or she will need to use a floppy disk or USB flash drive.

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Q: Why would a patron have trouble reading data he or she recorded to a CD or DVD?

A: There could be a number of factors that would prevent a patron from reading data from a recordable or rewritable optical media. If the session is not closed, the data may not be readable on the public computers. The type of dye used in the disk may also be a factor, as some types of dyes are more compatible with some CD and DVD drives than with others. The patron is welcome to try custom disk he or she has recorded at home, but IT cannot guarantee it will work with the computers, nor can IT provide technical assistance in the event of difficulty.

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Q: Why would a patron have trouble reading data he or she saved to a floppy disk?

A: Floppy disks are convenient for transporting small files between computers, but are not recommended for long-term data storage. The read/write heads of the floppy drive make contact with the floppy disk surface, which over times causes wear on the magnetic coating. Eventually, the wear becomes serious enough that the information cannot be read. Other possible causes of floppy disk failure are manufacturing defects (even if the disk is brand new), heat, direct sunlight, physical damage such as being crushed or dropped, and exposure to magnetic fields. Sources of destructive magnetic fields include cell phones, TVs, PC monitors, speakers, and electric motors.

Once a sector has gone bad, the information may or may not be retrievable. Telltale signs of a failing floppy disk are a "swishing" or "swooshing" sound made by the drive as it attempts to read the disk, long delays in reading a file, and Windows errors indicating a file cannot be read or the disk is not formatted. Unfortunately, Microsoft Windows may have difficulty reading a disk long before a catastrophic failure. By the time a serious problem arises, it may already be too late.

IT recommends that patrons back up their data on a regular basis to a home computer. They may also consider keeping duplicate copies of their work on separate disks in case one should suddenly fail. In the event of a failure, a number of free and commercial disk recovery utilities are available. Microsoft Windows also has a very basic utility called ScanDisk for checking and recovering data from damaged disks.

USB flash drives are more reliable alternative to floppy disks, and certainly more convenient to carry.

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Q: Why would a patron have trouble reading data he or she saved to a USB flash drive?

A: Some USB flash drives have software for encrypting files so they cannot be easily accessed without a password. Some flash drives require drivers to be installed under Windows in order that the user can access the encrypted data. Installing such drivers requires administrative privileges. Since IT cannot guarantee the public computers will support every type of encryption software, IT recommends that the patron either disable the encryption or copy the needed files to an unencrypted partition on the USB flash drive. The flash drive should come with documentation on how to change the encryption settings.

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Q: What can a patron do if a USB flash drive does not fit in the USB port?

A: Some USB ports may be too close to the edge of the computer case to provide sufficient clearance to plug in certain makes and models of USB flash drives. All public computers have USB ports on the back, if not also the front panel. If one port does not work, the patron should try another. The patron may also consider purchasing a USB extension cable, which does not require as much clearance to plug into the USB port. An extension cable also allows for the USB drive to be set on the desktop where it is in plain view and less likely to be forgotten and left plugged into the back of the computer.

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Q: Can a patron access e-mail on the public computers?

A: Yes, provided the patron has a free e-mail account or an ISP that provides web-based access to e-mail. Free web-based e-mail services include Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail. Some ISPs also provide a means of accessing e-mail through a web browser. Patrons will not be able to use an e-mail client such as Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express to download, read, or send e-mail.

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Q: Why won't some online games work on the public computers?

A: Some online games may require certain plug-ins such as Java, Macromedia Flash, or Macromedia Player. Such plug-ins may be installed on the public computers, but IT cannot guarantee that they are up to date so that every online game will run properly. It is important that IT emphasize that playing online games is not the chief purpose for the public computers.

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Q: What can a patron do with a file not supported by Microsoft Office?

A: Not all file formats are supported on the public computers. For example, a Microsoft Works spreadsheet may not be readable with Microsoft Excel. The patron should try resaving an unsupported file to a format that is compatible with Microsoft Office. For example, most major brands of word processor and spreadsheet applications provide a means of saving a file to a format that is supported by some version of Microsoft Office. The patron should consult the application documentation for more information.

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Q: Can patrons install software on the public computers or request assistance from IT?

A: No. Patrons do not have privileges to install software on the public computers, nor can IT provide an assistance installing software for a particular patron's needs. This is for the public's security and safety as well as protecting the library district from possible legal action for installing unlicensed software.

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Q: Why can't a patron print from an online game or activity website?

A: LPT:One does not support printing for all graphics-intensive websites, so the patron may or may not be able to print a copy of the web page.

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Q: A public computer seems to have locked up. What can the patron do?

A: A computer that seems to have locked up may simply be slow in processing the user's keyboard or mouse input. Wait at least a few minutes to see whether the computer becomes responsive. If after several minutes the application or Windows itself is unresponsive, the patron may have no choice but to reboot the computer. Any unsaved data will be lost. Because of the security software installed on the public computers, any files saved to the hard drive will also be lost when the computer reboots.

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