WordPress Plugin: Enable Media Replace

This simple WordPress plugin created by Måns Jonasson is useful for almost anyone who maintains a WordPress site of any size, but it’s especially useful if you maintain documentation of any kind and have a frequent need to update screenshots. It does exactly what the name implies — it makes it easy for you to replace one image file (or any other type of file) with another. No more uploading a new file and deleting the old one, or confusion over versions or file names.

Once you install and activate this plugin, you’ll find a new button labelled Replace Media at the bottom of the Edit Media page. Click this and browse and select a file from your computer. You then have two choices — you can either retain the original file name (renaming the file you’re uploading if necessary) or you can replace the file and use the new file name, changing all existing links to the old file to point to the new one. For the first option, you need to be uploading a file of the same type, but for the second option you can replace your original file with one of a different file type, like a gif with a jpg or a Word document with a PDF. Nothing fancy, but a great timesaver!

Enable Media Replace — Read more or download this popular plugin here

[Enable Media Replace Screenshot]

Enable Media Replace Screenshot

Smithsonian’s Database of Outdoor Sculpture (and more…)

Nathaniel HawthorneThis is a photograph I took of a sculpture of Nathaniel Hawthorne in Salem. When I added it to Flickr, I wanted to credit the sculptor, but I didn’t know his name. I decided to try looking this up in SIRIS, a database that I had heard about but had never tried, and I was really impressed with what I found.

SIRIS: Smithsonian Institution Research Information System — The Smithsonian provides access to much more than information about its own collections. The Inventory of American Sculpture provides authoritative information on nearly 32,000 outdoor sculptures collected from a nationwide survey known as Save Outdoor Sculpture. The information and indexing for each work is extensive and impressive.

For example, see the record for the sculpture shown here: SIRIS: Nathanial Hawthorne. The information includes not only the name of the sculptor, but the names of the architect, founder and fabricator, a complete description and references. The indexing is extensive, and you can click on the links in the record to find other works by the sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt, other works administered by the City of Salem’s Public Works Department, or even other works featuring novelists, canes or hats!

These databases should be really useful to people working on Flickr, Wikipedia, blogs and other personal and collaborative projects. They are also useful to librarians for reference and also for local history projects.

Automate with “If This Then That”

IFTTT (pronounced pronounced like gift without the g) is a service that lets you connect different services using simple recipes in the form of If/Then statements — if this thing happens, do that thing. You set these up by using shared recipes or creating your own through the IFFT site’s beautifully simple interface, no code required. There’s a good, simple overview of the process on the About IFFFT page.

The site is built around Channels, most of which are various websites that provide access to their system through an API (Application Programming Interface, a way for computer systems to interact without users going through the interface. Some of the popular channels include Flickr, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google Calendar and Dropbox, while others are basic actions on your system like the date and time, sending texts, making phone calls and accessing iOS photos.

Each service has a set of triggers and/or actions that can be connected in different ways. For example, you can set up a recipe so that every time you upload a public picture to your library’s Flickr account, a copy of the original photo is saved to the library’s Dropbox account. (This could be handy if several different people upload to the Flickr account and you want to make sure you have backup copies of all the images.) You can do the same thing with other sites like Facebook or Instagram, and in addition to DropBox IFTTT supports Google Drive or other similar services. Most recipes can be set up on the website, but to access some some triggers, you’ll need to add the IFFT app to your mobile device. For example, I set up the IFFT app on my iPad to copy every new screenshot I make on the iPad to a special folder on in Dopbox so I can easily access them while working with PowerPoint on my laptop.

There are eighty different channels, most of which have multiple triggers and actions, so there are lots of different combinations to try. Right now the ESPN Winter Olympics is a channel, and you can set up all kinds of recipes, including one that posts a Tweet when a particular country wins a gold medal, and one that automatically updates a Google spreadsheet for a country’s medals.

IFTTT: ESPN Winter Olympics

As a librarian, my favorite recipe is one that sends me an e-mail message every time a title is added to one of the New York Times Bestsellers lists. I could just as easily set this up to send me a text, send the news out on Twitter, or add the book’s information to a spreadsheet.


This screencast shows how simple it is to set this up:

Using IFTTT makes me wish we could interact this easily with with our library system! NOBLE uses the Evergreen open source library system, which also uses triggers and actions to handle a lot of tasks, but they are certainly not as simple to set up, monitor and manage as the recipes on IFTTT. I wish we had a web-based interface similar to IFFT with triggers and actions for both staff and patrons. Staff could set up all sorts of alerts and have the system automatically create and add to spreadsheets. Instead of “When the U.S. wins a medal ad the information to a spreadsheet called Winter Olympics U.S. Medals” I want to be able to say “When my library has a copy with the location Biographies that is 60 days overdue, add it to a spreadsheet called Biography Replacements.” Or perhaps it could go ahead and create a purchase order for approval. Library users could set up all sorts of things “When a new book with a subject that contains “Origami” is added to my library’s collection, send me an e-mail message, place a hold for me, and add it to my bookbag called Japanese Arts.”

Embedding Internet Archive Books

Embedding content from sites like Google Maps, YouTube, and Slideshare is a popular way to give your readers direct access to recommended resources rather than just providing them with a link to follow. Now we can provide that kind of direct access to books from the Internet Archive, a site which has an amazing collection of public domain books on nearly any topic, scanned from participating library partners and other sources.

See the example below, the 1880 Visitors’ Guide to Salem. Readers can use the up and down arrows on the right to flip through the pages, click on the plus and minus signs to zoom in or out, click on the title to go to the book in the Internet Archive for more information and download options, or click on the Internet Archive logo to go to the main page of the Internet Archive site.

Embedding the book in your page is as easy as 1-2-3:

1. From the book’s page on the Internet Archive site, click on the link to Read Online.

2. Click on the Share icon on the top of the page. It looks like this: Internet Archive Share.

3. A box will pop-up with the code you need to copy and paste into your page.