Posts by Ebba

Finding pictures the legal way 3/3

26 June 2017

Welcome to the third in this series on searching for images the legal way. If you missed them, check out part one (using Google image search and Microsoft to find legal images), and part two (safe picture search engines).

Today we’re meeting (possibly) the best colour search engine in the world, also known as the Multicolr Search Engine from TinEye Labs. Use it to search for pictures by colour. This is a fantastic tool, especially if you’re trying to build a colour scheme for a visual piece of work. All the images have a creative commons licence, which means they are going to be fine to reuse in your academic and professional work.

  • Step 1: Select up to five colours
  • Step 2: Adjust the proportion of the colours, if you wish
  • Step 3: Add tags to refine your search. Here I’ve used ‘garden’
  • Enjoy the results. These pictures are OK for you to download and use.

But the TinEye Labs goodness doesn’t stop there. Its second tool to try is the colour extraction tool.

This allows you to take the colours from an image and use them in any way you choose – it would work well if you want to create a colour scheme for an academic poster from an existing picture.

Searching for pictures the legal way 2/3

23 June 2017

Welcome to part two of this series on searching for pictures the legal way. If you missed part one, it’s here. If you know how to do a Google search for an image that’s ‘licenced for reuse’ you’ve made a good start. But sometimes the results from Google alone can be disappointing.

Fortunately, there are many other search engines that are dedicated to finding free-to-use images that are licenced for reuse. My favourite is Pixabay – because it’s powerful and intuitive to use. But there are many others which are worth a try:





Creative Commons Search

Flickr Creative Commons


Next time: Meet (possibly) the best colour search engine of them all

Finding pictures the legal way (1/3)

21 June 2017

When you’re looking for pictures to illustrate or enhance your academic work, how do you search? Do you ‘copy and paste’ from the internet, as a student recently told me? Or simply type your search term in that old reliable, Google?

Unless you’re careful, searching like this can contravene copyright law and potentially get you into legal trouble. Whenever you find an image through a regular Google search, there’s a good chance that it either:

  • has a license which forbids you to use it, or
  • has no license at all

Assuming that you didn’t ask for prior permission to use the content, it’s illegal to use it if either of these two cases applies.

Fortunately, there are various ways to search for images that are OK to use in your academic work, for presentations and in your professional life. Here are the two simplest ones.

  1. If you want to use Google, here’s how to search for pictures on Google the legal way:
  • Go to Google and type in your search term.
  • Do an image search.
  • Click Tools
  • Click Usage Rights
  • Select ‘licenced for reuse’
  • All the pictures that display are fine for you to use.

2) Another option is to use the inbuilt creative commons image search within Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (in versions 2013 and 2016). From within your document, go to the ‘Insert’ menu on the ribbon and select ‘Online Pictures’.









This will take you to a Bing search engine which will return Creative Commons (ie safe to use) images for you.

Sometimes, the results from Google and Microsoft alone may be disappointing. Next time: some alternative safe search engines for pictures that will give you brilliant results.

Bring Your Own Device for Learning

13 January 2017


Want to get more out of your mobile technology? Perhaps you got a shiny new device for Christmas but aren’t sure how to use it? Or maybe you’d like to use it better in your studies or teaching?

Next week is national Bring Your Own Device for Learning Week and here at Salford we are offering a short online course to help you make the most of your mobile device. Starting on 16 January 2017, this short course looks at how you can make the most of your smart phone, tablet or laptop. The course, for all students and staff, runs for 5 consecutive days with opportunities to engage as much or as little as you are able to, both within the University and the wider community.  The topics for each day are:

Monday 16 : Connecting: check out online activities to help you use social media tools more effectively to connect with your learning community

Tuesday 17: Communicating: opportunities to stimulate discussion and encourage active engagement in your teaching/learning/research. Join us in Newton, room 240 from 1400 to 1500.

Wednesday 18: Curating: stay on top of the latest developments in your area, and to look at how you can organise your documents, ideas and notes. Drop in to Mary Seacole, room 187, between 1200 and 1300 to find out more

Thursday 19: Collaborating: how to work more effectively and crowdsource content using online collaborative tools. Come along to Maxwell, room 819, between 1300 and 1400 to find out more.

Friday 20: Creating: how to use quizzes and surveys in your teaching and learning. Pop along to Mary Seacole, room 136, between 1200 and 1300 to join in.

Every evening there will be a twitter chat focusing on the theme of the day. The chats are between 2000 and 2100 and everyone is welcome. If you are new to twitter this is an opportunity to see how twitter chats work, and to connect with a much wider network of people. Check out: #byod4lchat

Can’t join in but want to get your device set up for learning? Try our online guide

Need some human help? Turn up with your device at Clifford Whitworth library, first floor, between 12 and 2, Monday to Friday. No need to book, pop along with your device and we’ll help you get started.

Excel in the news

26 August 2016

If you’re working with gene names the last thing you want is for Excel to mess up your data. But the BBC recently reported that’s exactly what’s been happening to a significant number of researchers.

About one fifth of scientific papers on gene studies contain errors in the Excel spreadsheets where the data is stored, according to new research published in the journal Genome Biology.

There are 34 gene names which Excel will automatically, and irreversibly, turn into dates unless you instruct it not to – names such as DEC1, FEB1, and SEPT5.




But the good news is that it’s a simple problem to rectify:  just format the Excel cells as ‘Text’ before you import the gene name data.


To do this:
1) Go to the Home ribbon and look for the Number Formatting box within the number group.
The Number Formatting box defaults to ‘General’ (which will ruin your gene name data) but has several other options – such as formatting numbers as currency, as percentages or as text.
2) Select the cells where you want your gene name data to go. Then change the option in the Number Formatting Box to ‘text‘.
Formatting any numbers as text means Excel will display the content exactly as you type it, even if it is a number.
3) Now insert your gene name data.
(Incidentally, this also works for phone numbers).

This video shows you how:


Does this workaround work for you? We’d love to hear about any any solutions you’ve found.

Could you be a Digital Champion?

15 February 2016

Are you passionate about using technology? Can you communicate your passion to others? If so, you might have what it takes to become a Digital Champion for the University.

The Library is looking for students who use technology/apps to help them with their studies and who would like to share their skills with others.

We particularly want to hear from you if you have improved the way they study by using a piece of digital technology; or if you use technology/apps in an interesting way to boost your learning.

As a Digital Champion you might:

  • make a short video about your ‘aha’ moments with technology
  • teach a technology you know a lot about to your peers
  • explain to others how the tech you use relates to your programme/learning needs
  • help other students make better use of their phones/tablets/other devices

Students from all subject areas are encourage to apply – you don’t have to be studying science, maths or engineering – as long as you are an enthusiastic and proficient user of technologies to help with your learning.

We will give you the opportunity and support to make your idea a reality. This is a great opportunity to develop your skills and help other students with the practical support of staff from the University’s Skills for Learning team.

To apply: Email us! In your email, outline a short project that you would like to undertake if you were a student digital champion. Be specific about what skill/special knowledge you have and how you propose sharing it. Make sure your email includes your name and course (and say if you are postgraduate or undergraduate).


For more information, see: –

Stampy’s Christmas Cake Caper

15 December 2015

Is YouTubing a career? Ask 24-year old Joseph Garrett, better known as Stampy, whose digital and online gaming skills have led him to enormous success through his YouTube channel. Here’s his first ever public lecture in front of a live audience (this video is available throughout December 2015 via the BBC iplayer).




Banning the Bullet: improve your PowerPoint presentations

5 November 2015

Ever heard of death by PowerPoint? It’s what happens to your audience when your presentation slides are full of bullets. A teacher at the University of Glasgow recently sat through too many student presentations that used bullet points, and decided to show her students how they could improve their own slides with some simple visual ideas. Here are the slides that Maria Jackson came up with. Hope they inspire you to create some interesting and informative slides of  your own:

How to access your F:drive from home

10 October 2015

Know you get a gigabyte of free and secure storage when you’re a student at the University of Salford? It’s otherwise known as your F: drive. You can access it from any networked PC around the University, and also from home – from anywhere in the world in fact, as long as you have reasonable internet connection. Here’s how to access it from home, and how to save work to it from home:

Need more help? Check out this handy guide from ITS.

Two ways to top up your printer credit

8 October 2015

Oh no, you’ve run out of printer credit… Here’s how to get some more.
1) The old fashioned way: put some money into one of the Pay Station machines. In Clifford Whitworth Library, for example, there’s one on the ground floor and another on the first floor, in the PC suite near the printers:

Click for video

2) the virtual way: No cash either? Then top up using a credit card. Here’s how:

Click for video