December 31, 2009

Some End-of-the-Year Reading

As a public service alternative to football games, here are a few end-of-the-year items of interest:

The 100 Essential Websites from the Guardian of London

How Google Changed the Game in 2009 from Smartware

Newspapers and Technology: Network Effects from The Economist

What Does it Mean to be Literate in the 21st Century? a video from bibliosmartgirl

Happy new year to all!

Amazon: eBooks Outsell Print Books on Christmas Day recently reported that it sold more ebooks than physical books on Christmas, a first for the company. The online retail giant also announced that its Kindle ereader has become the most gifted item in the company's history, but didn't provide specific sales numbers.

Read more at Yahoo! News.

Technology in '10

What do the experts say we can we expect for technology in 2010?

According to Nuri Djavit and Paul Newnes, writing on the blog Digital Media Buzz, the coming year will be one where Facebook replaces email, mobile commerce becomes a reality, we will register only once for many different sites, and crowd sourcing becomes a common idea.

Meanwhile, the technology staff at the Guardian (of London) predicts a year of more Google, green technology, apps and Apple.

What do you think?

December 29, 2009

Share PowerPoint Presentations Easily Online with

Recently, I found myself needing to share a PowerPoint presentation with a large group of people. I was hoping to find a site like Youtube, but with the ability to upload PowerPoint presentations (.ppt and .pptx) instead of videos. I found Slideshare, a website dedicated to uploading and sharing PowerPoint presentations.

To upload your presentation, you must first create a free Slideshare account here. After confirming your account, you are able to start uploading.

What is especially nice about Slideshare is that, like Youtube, it allows you to embed your slideshow in any web page. You also have the ability to make the slideshow private, if you wish. Here is a slideshow by Francisco Grajales III on Social Media, that I embedded into this post as an example of the sharing capabilities of Slideshare.

Slideshare is free to use and is a great resource for those looking for an easier way to share PowerPoint presentations.

One caveat: When I originally tested a PowerPoint presentation, it cut off pieces of text near the top and bottom of the slides. So be sure to give your presentation a decent size margin before uploading.

December 28, 2009

First Round of Broadband Stimulus Grants Announced

The Federal government has announced the first recipients of some of the $7.2 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act broadband stimulus grants. The money is to increase broadband access across the United States, especially in underserved areas.

Depending on which survey you read, the U.S. is somewhere between 15th and 20th on the list of broadband penetration, behind such countries as South Korea, Singapore, Estonia, and Canada.

Three libraries are among the earliest grantees.

The Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records received a $1.3 million grant to enhance existing facilities in more than 80 public libraries throughout the state. More than 1,000 computers will be added.

The Boston Public Library will receive $455,000 (of $1.9 million granted to the City of Boston) to expand public computing capacity at its 25 locations. The Library expects to install 282 new computers in dedicated training rooms and mobile tech classrooms, and to offer technology training in English and Spanish.

The New Mexico State Library will receive a $1.5 million grant to increase broadband adoption and promote computer literacy and Internet use among vulnerable populations, including Latino and Native American users, small businesses, and entrepreneurs through training and outreach.

In addition, ION Hold Co., LLC, received a $39.7 million grant to build 10 new segments of fiber-optic, middle mile broadband infrastructure, serving more than 70 rural communities in New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. The 1,308-mile network will offer broadband speeds of one to 10 gigabytes per second, and connect more than 100 institutions, including libraries, state and community colleges, state and county agencies, and health clinics.

More broadband grants will be announced in the coming weeks, with more libraries likely to be named.


Seattle Tops List of Literate Cities

For the third time in five years, Seattle is the most literate large city in the United States (population 250,000 and above), according to Dr. John W. Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University.

Dr. Miller, working with the University’s Center for Public Policy and Social Research, looked at six key indicators of literacy – newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources (including number of libraries, volumes held, and circulation), periodical publishing, educational attainment, and Internet resources – to put together the ranking.

Rounding out the top ten are: Washington, DC; Minneapolis; Pittsburgh; Atlanta; Portland, OR; St. Paul; Boston; Cincinnati; and Denver. Detroit finished 51st of the 75 cities surveyed.

The top five cities in terms of libraries are Cleveland; St. Louis; Pittsburgh; Seattle; and Cincinnati.

Dr. Miller writes:

"For the 2009 edition, I also examined how well the most literate cities fared in other quality of life surveys. What I discovered is that quality tends to be associated with quality, and highly literate cities often rank high in other quality of life metrics.

Cities ranked in the top 10 most literate tend to offer the most active singles’ scenes (Boston, Seattle, Washington, and Atlanta), are safer (Minneapolis, Boston, Seattle, Portland, Denver, and Cincinnati), more walk-able (Seattle, Washington, DC, Portland, Boston, and Denver), and healthier (Washington, DC and Denver).

They are not, however, immune to financial hard times: only #2 Washington DC has even relatively low unemployment."

[via EarlyWord]

Stephen King's Top 10 Books of 2009

It’s that time again – time for the various top lists of 2009.

Here’s one from one of my favorite authors: Stephen King: My Top 10 Books of 2009.

[via EarlyWord]

OverDrive Releases Android Audiobook App

Downloadable audiobook vendor OverDrive has released an app available for mobile devices using the Android OS. OverDrive Media Console for Android follows the release of OverDrive Media Console for Windows Mobile and demonstrates the company's commitment to delivering content directly to mobile devices.

While it is still only a beta release, you can download the OverDrive app here. At this time the only format that can be downloaded with this app are MP3 audiobooks.

Did you purchase or receive a new Motorola Droid or an HTC Droid Eris this holiday season? If so, download OverDrive's Android app and let us know what you think.

Read more about the OverDrive Media Console for Android.

December 22, 2009

Recorded Books Cancels Downloadable Video Service

Audiobook vendor Recorded Books is discontinuing MyLibraryDV, the downloadable video service used by the Troy Library, on December 31, due to low demand. It will no longer be available after that date.

If you have installed the MyLibraryDV player on your computer, you can uninstall it, following the directions below:

For Windows XP:

  1. Click Start.

  2. Click Programs.

  3. Click PermissionTV.

  4. Click Uninstall Download Manager. Follow the prompts to uninstall the MyLibraryDV player.
For Windows Vista and Windows 7:
  1. Click the Start button

  2. Click All Programs

  3. Click PermissionTV

  4. Click Uninstall Download Manager. Follow the prompts to uninstall the MyLibraryDV player.

December 18, 2009

Troy Library Offers Titles for eBook Readers

Are you buying an ebook reader as a gift for someone? Or thinking of taking the plunge and purchasing one for yourself? Here at The Tech Desk, we have been following the skyrocketing use of portable electronic book readers.

The Troy Library offers many titles, free of charge, in the .epub format, which can be used with two popular readers: the Sony Reader and the Barnes and Noble Nook. (Sorry, not Amazon’s Kindle.)

Go to the Library's home page and click on the Downloadable Audiobooks, Video link under the Library Links. Then click on OverDrive. There, you will be able to browse and download (with a Troy Public Library card) ebooks to use on your new gadget.

For more information, contact the Library's Technology Department at or chat with us online from the Library's home page during open Library hours.

December 16, 2009

Tech Gifts Under $50

Live with Regis and Kelly featured the best Tech Gifts for under $50. For less than $50, you can get a T-shirt with an actual electric guitar on it or an underwater digital camera.

Read the list here and then hit the malls! Or avoid the crowds and shop online.

December 14, 2009

Books for Travelers

Buying a gift for a traveler this holiday season? There are a number of recently published books that cover everything from where to have the ultimate experience to learning more about great vineyards of the world. Read about books to inspire the traveler on your gift list.

December 9, 2009

Tips for Avoiding Online Scams

Online scams continue to be a big problem. With the recession, there has been a big increase in fraudulent job ads. Recently, Google has filed a lawsuit against spammers using the company's logo in conjunction with false job ads. It is important to make sure that you are dealing with reputable online vendors who will protect your information.

To help combat this growing problem, has published The Complete Guide to Avoiding Online Scams. This excellent article not only covers basic tips (such as making sure you have a strong password), but also excellent tips as related to Web 2.0 sites (never give out your email password to see what friends are using a particular Web 2.0 service).

The Internet is a great tool, but you do need to be careful. Remember, use common sense while on the Internet; if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

December 7, 2009

Early Look at Nook

The hype has been building since the October 20, news conference about the Nook, the new eBook reader available from Barnes and Noble. Now the first hands-on reviews have started to arrive. Is the Nook a better option than the Kindle or Sony Reader? Take a look the following and decide for yourself:

December 5, 2009

2009 Holiday Gift Guide

The New York Times has published their 2009 Holiday Gift Guide. The guide is broken into categories such as Books, DVDs & Video Games, and Electronics. Articles include "The 10 Best Books of 2009," "Holiday Music CDs," and my favorite, "Mildly Huge Televisions."

Check it out. It may help you find the perfect gift for that hard to buy for person on your list!

December 4, 2009

eBook Popularity Continues

Are you looking to purchase an eBook reader this holiday season? Now may be a good time. The popularity of eBooks is increasing. Cinthia Portugal, a spokeswoman for, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that, "for every 100 books we sell in physical, we sell 48 Kindle books."

Additionally, the variety of available eBook readers is also increasing. You are not just limited to a Kindle. Sony has introduced several new models, and Barnes and Noble has introduced its new reader called the Nook.

To help in making a purchasing decision, check out the following links:

December 3, 2009

Send Holiday Greetings with Gmail

Do you have friends and family who still are not on the Internet? This year, they, too, can experience the joy of Gmail.

Go to this site, type in your holiday message and the recipient's address, and Gmail will, on your behalf, send a holiday postcard via snail-mail to a person of your choice. Cards are available for only a limited amount of time, so act soon.

Stickers last year, cards this year. What will the Gmail team do for 2010?

December 2, 2009

Rebalance Your Portfolio Using Morningstar

Morningstar Investment Research Center, one of the popular business eResources to which the Troy Public Library subscribes, is offering a free training webinar Wednesday, December 16 at 4 pm on how to rebalance your portfolio for 2010.

To register, send an email to, and mention that you use Morningstar through the Troy Public Library. You will need an Internet connection and a phone to attend this webinar.

Even if you can't attend the webinar, Morningstar Investment Research Center has helpful training brochures available for download that cover a variety of topics, such as getting started in investing, retirement planning, and investing in options. Additionally, a series of 150 courses provide instruction in investing topics. These items are available anytime and can be found under the Help and Education tab within Morningstar.

Morningstar Investment Research Center is available through the
Troy Public Library website, by clicking on eResources, selecting Business & Economics, and then selecting Morningstar. You will need a valid Troy Library card to use this eResource.

December 1, 2009

PC Magazine's Favorite Blogs of 2009

Here at the Troy Public Library Technology Department, we have recently starting giving classes in Google Reader. Some people have asked about good blogs to subscribe to with Google Reader. Obviously, The Tech Desk is a great one, but what else is out there?

PC Magazine helps answer this question with a list of its 50 favorite blogs of 2009. The list not only features classics, such as Gizmodo, Engadget, and Boing Boing but also some that are true oddities, such as Scanwiches and Cake Wrecks. Also of note, Awful Library Books, a blog by southeast Michigan librarians Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly, made the list.

You can find PC Mag's list here. If you have any favorite blogs of 2009, let us know.

November 26, 2009

Detroit News' Caterpillar Reads on Laptop, Not Print, for Parade

Another sign that the times are changing:

The caterpillar in the Detroit News' float in America's Thanksgiving Parade (held in Detroit for the past 83 years) was reading on a laptop this year:

Happy Holiday!

November 24, 2009

Mango Basic Language Learning Program Now Available at Troy

If you use Mango Languages, an online language learning program offered through the Troy Public Library, you will notice something different when you login. Now, instead of a screen showing various languages, you have a choice: Mango Complete or Mango Basic.

Mango Complete is Mango's standard language learning program. It features courses in 9 foreign languages and ESL support for 3 languages. Each course contains 100 lessons.

Mango Basic is new product designed for people who need basic-level language skills in a short amount of time. It includes lessons for 22 foreign languages and ESL courses for 14. This includes languages that are in Mango Complete, such as French, German, and Japanese, as well as new languages like Arabic, Hindi, and Korean. It uses the same flash card style as Mango Complete.

Each language lesson in Mango Basic is divided into 2 sections. Section 1 teaches greetings, gratitude, and goodbyes, while section 2 discusses how to ask if someone speaks English. In addition to basic words and grammar, cultural information is also covered.

To access Mango Languages, you will need a Troy Public Library card. Go to our website and click eResources on the left under Library Links. Click on Language Learning, then Mango Languages.Try it out and let us know what you think.

For more information about Mango Basic, see this blog post.

November 20, 2009

Microsoft Office 2010 Beta Released

As we mentioned in January, Microsoft is developing its latest version of Office -- Microsoft Office 2010. While not commercially
available yet, the company has made the beta release of available for download.

Switching to this latest version of Office should be easy for people familiar with Office 2007. Office 2010 keeps the same "ribbon" navigation format. Many items have been upgraded, including more ways to edit photos, new themes, and the ability to add screenshots from the Insert tab. Additionally, Office 2010 will work with Microsoft Office Web Apps. For an early preview, see this article from

Download Microsoft Office 2010 here.

If you are running Office 2010, let us know what you think by leaving a comment. We are currently testing it now, and will share our thoughts in a later post.

November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that affects brain function. This disease typically starts with slight memory loss and slowly becomes more severe and debilitating. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and as many as 10 million family caregivers.

To raise awareness of this terrible disease, and to provide support and information to caregivers, the Michigan Department of Community Health has dedicated the November 2009 issue of its
Family History and Your Health newsletter to Alzheimer's information.

The Department encourages you to share this newsletter with friends, relatives, and patients, in an effort to reduce the effects of this chronic disease on Michigan residents and to promote a healthier lifestyle.

November 18, 2009

Top Words of the Decade

The Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor – which analyzes the latest trends in word use and word choices, and their impact on culture – has released the Top Words, Phrases, and Names of the Decade from 2000 – 2009.

The top ten words, along with the year they became popular, are:

1. Global Warming (2000)
2. 9/11 (2001)
3. Obama (2008)
4. Bailout (2008)
5. Evacuee/refugee (2005)
6. Derivative (2007)
7. Google (2007)
8. Surge (2007)
9. Chinglish (2005)
10. Tsunami (2004)

The lists were created by tracking words and phrases in the media and on the Internet (including blogs and social media, such as Twitter), in relation to frequency, contextual use and appearance in the global media.

November 17, 2009

Where to Read Free Books Online

Wonder where to find free books online? There are tons of online libraries that provide electronic fiction, nonfiction and reference books at no charge. Here, from EduChoices are 25 Places to Read Free Books Online.

November 16, 2009

Amazon Releases Kindle for PC Application

Competition for ebook readers has been heating up.

Sony has introduced new versions of its Reader. Barnes and Noble's new device, the Nook, will be shipping soon. Instead of a new device for the holidays, Amazon has launched a new, free, application that allows Kindle books to be more accessible. Kindle for PC joins the Kindle for iPhone app that allows Kindle books to be read on devices other than a Kindle, like on your home computer.

Still a beta release, Kindle for PC, like the Kindle for iPhone app, features Whispersync technology which keeps tracks of your place in a book when you switch between devices. It is currently only available for Windows, but a Mac version is promised.

For some reviews, check out this story at and this review from PC World.

November 12, 2009

Get A Glimpse Into the Future with Microsoft's Protoype Office Wall

Microsoft has recently released a video which shows a prototype of a futuristic Office Wall. The video itself is incredible, and tends to remind me of the movie Minority Report. Take a look!

If you're interested you can also check out the excellent photos that Microsoft has posted on Flickr.

November 11, 2009

Dell Steps into the Future with Wireless Charging Laptop

One of my favorite blogs, Gizmodo, recently reported that Dell has released a laptop that charges its battery through wireless technology. The laptop is called the Latitude Z, and it promises to end the lifelong hassle with laptop power cords. On top of providing wireless charging capabilities, the new Latitude also allows you to connect to other monitors through a wireless connection as well.

Take a look at the video below, from Gizmodo, to get a closer look at this cool new technology.

Panda Releases First Cloud Antivirus -- Absolutely Free

Panda has just released the final version of Panda Cloud Antivirus, the first antivirus software to be based on cloud technology. The virus scanning and updates are all done in the clouds and, therefore, provide the latest and most up-to-date virus protection instantly. Best of all, this offering from Panda is 100% free!

In an exchange with Downloadsquad , the Panda CEO had some interesting things to say about this latest entry into the anti-virus market. One statement in particular stood out:
"Panda Cloud Antivirus is a new protection model," said Santana. For starters, it's the "first antivirus without an update button."
The lack of an update button is where the cloud technology comes into play. The Cloud Antivirus connects to Panda's servers to be scanned; therefore virus definition updates are not needed as the security center is updated in real time.

What does this mean to the user?
  • No need for manually updating your virus definitions
  • Constantly having access to the latest updated virus, spyware and malware protection
  • Extremely low memory footprint (It will not slow down your computer)
I am now running Panda Cloud Antivirus on my computer. If you are interested, visit the company website to download the program. As a head's up: you will need to register with an email address to have the complete Cloud Antivirus experience.

The Future of Reading

Libraries are, of course, great places for readers. But do libraries really think about the future of reading? Or what a reader's bill of rights might look like in a digital era?

This article from Library Journal, The Future of Reading,
talks about how libraries build long-standing relationships with readers based on the needs and wants of the readers.

November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Firefox!

Where were you on November 9, 2004? If you were surfing the Internet, you most likely were using Microsoft Internet Explorer 6. On that day, Mozilla released its new web browser, called Firefox.

In the past five years Firefox has introduced many people to the concept of tabbed browsing, web browser extensions, and opensource software. Firefox's usage has increased steadily, now accounting for approximately 25% of web browser market share.

To help celebrate, here are some links that discuss Firefox:

After Five Years on the Net, Firefox Preps for Next Round (via Webmonkey)

Images: Firefox Through the Ages (via ZDNet)

Happy Birthday: A Look Back at Five Years of Firefox (via Lifehacker)

So break out the birthday cake, and if you haven't tried Firefox, download it here.

November 3, 2009

How to Be Polite on Facebook

Reader's Digest published an article in its August issue entitled How to Be Polite on Facebook, the popular Internet social networking website. The article covers topics such as how to politely ignore a friend request and how to delete a regrettable post.

If you are interested in learning more about Facebook, the Troy Public Library is offering Web 2.0: Finding Friends on Facebook on December 1, at 6:30 pm in the Library training room. You can register for the class beginning on November 11 here, or by calling 248.524.3542.

October 30, 2009

Fun Friday: Halloween Edition

According to CareerBuilder’s Halloween survey conducted among more than 4,000 workers, nearly one-in-five (18%) workers describe their workplace as scary.

Some workers think their workplace is scary because their bosses bear a strong resemblance to famous Halloween characters. When asked which popular characters best reflect their boss’s behavior, workers said the following:

Glenda the Good Witch, liked and respected by all - 20%

The Wolf Man, fine one minute, howling the next - 11%

The Invisible Man, never around - 10%

Casper the Friendly Ghost, eager to help, but often misunderstood - 9%

Dracula, constantly sucking the life right out of you - 6%

Wicked Witch of the West, conniving and sending out minions to do his/her dirty work - 5%

The Mummy, slow-moving and has an ancient thought process - 4%

Grim Reaper, constantly delivers bad news and inspires fear among workers - 3%

Frankenstein, green with envy - 1%

In addition to spooky bosses, when asked what the scariest part of their job was, workers reported the following fear-inducing activities:

Workload - 18%

Performance reviews - 9%

Tight deadlines - 9%

Hours worked - 8%

Their boss or supervisor - 7%

Sitting through meetings - 6%

Hm. I wonder how the Technology Department staff would describe me as a boss. I have my suspicions....

In any case, how about your workplace? Let us know.

And have a Happy Halloween.

October 29, 2009

Is Your Wi-Fi Connection Safe?

On October 29, the Today Show did a segment on the safety and security of using a wireless connection. The video features several scenarios where unsuspecting people were accessing the Internet using a wireless connection. A computer expert easily "hacked" into their computers, viewing their personal data. The video ends with suggestions for ensuring your security when going wireless. Watch it below.

October 27, 2009

See the Moons and Planets at the Troy Public Library

Interested in the moons and the planets?

Drop by the Troy Public Library after dark (about 6:30 pm) on Wednesday, October 28, and Thursday, October 29, and let members of the Ford Amateur Astronomy Club help put your head in the clouds.

Club members will set up telescopes to give you a great view of Earth's moon - now in its first quarter. Viewers should be able to see mountains and craters on the lunar surface. You should also be able to see the giant planet Jupiter -- 465 million miles away -- and a few of its moons.

The telescopes will be on the sidewalk on the east side of the Library, at the north end of the handicapped parking area, right in front of the current construction. There will be minimal interference with pedestrian traffic.

If you have an interest in seeing what else is out there, here's your chance. The early weather forecasts are clear and mild for both evenings -- perfect nights for sky gazing.

October 26, 2009

Be An Informed Voter this November

The League of Women Voters Troy Area has posted its Voter Guides for the November 3 election in Troy.

The Guide provides non-partisan information about candidates for the offices of Troy City Council and Troy School Board. Each candidate is given an opportunity to provide biographical information and to answer a number of questions on issues important to the office being sought. Responses are included as submitted and have not been edited, except for space.

If you live in a Michigan community other than Troy, check out the League's Voter Guide for your area.

October 22, 2009

Windows 7 is Here!

Windows 7, Microsoft's latest operating system, is now available. Reviews, such as those from and CNET have been positive, with some saying "Microsoft has an OS in Windows 7 that is simply better than anything Apple offers". Is Windows 7 a great product? Is it for you?

Below are some sites that discuss Windows 7 features and how to upgrade.
  • Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows
    Paul Thurrott is a major source for Windows information. Not only does he maintain the SuperSite for Windows, he is the co-host of the
    Windows Weekly podcast and also writes books about Windows. His site features a 12-part review of Windows 7, extensive articles about specific Windows 7 features, and detailed articles about how to upgrade.

    Another excellect source of Windows 7 information, seems to have unveiled their new website design along with the launch of Windows 7. In addition to reviews and hands-on tests, editor Lance Ulanoff describes his
    upgrade experience.

  • Microsoft
    This is obviously an excellent source of Windows 7 information. Not only can you buy Windows 7 here, you can also download the
    Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to see if your computer can run Windows 7.

If you want to know more, the Troy Public Library now has books about Windows 7. Many of them are on the shelves. But, if you see a title you want and its availability is On-Order or Out, you can place a request and we'll call or email you when you the item is here.

What do you think about Windows 7? Let us know by leaving a comment.

October 21, 2009

Learn About Polaris, The Library's New Catalog

Interested in learning how to better use Polaris, the Troy Public Library's new catalog?

The Library is now offering one-hour classes to teach you the basics, including how to: find items you want; request titles to be held; renew material; save your reading list; manage your account; use the children's catalog; and access MeLCat, the statewide library system.

The classes are free, open to the public, and held in the Library Training Room. Click on the date for which you want to register, and enter your name, phone, and email address. We'll send you a confirmation:

6:30 pm, Tuesday, October 27
10 am, Wednesday, October 28
3 pm, Thursday, October 29
6:30 pm, Monday, November 2
10 am, Wednesday, November 4
1 pm, Thursday, November 5

Questions? Email Phillip Kwik at, or phone 248.619.7577.

October 19, 2009

Celebrate National Save for Retirement Week

Congress has declared October 18 to October 24 as National Save for Retirement Week. With employer pension plans becoming a thing of the past and market downturns hurting 401(k)s, it is more important than ever not only to plan and save for retirement, but be aware of how your investments are doing. In addition to books and magazines about investing, several financial electronic resources (eResources) available through the Troy Public Library feature guides to help you make informed investing decisions.

Morning Investment Research Center contains comprehensive information on stocks, mutual funds, industry profiles, and more. It also has an excellent help and education section which features articles about beginning investing, saving for college, and retirement planning.

Standard and Poor's Net Advantage is another excellent resource for tracking investments. In addition to stock, mutual fund, and company information, Standard & Poor's features a financial education section. From here, you can browse articles about investing basics, how taxes affect investments, and saving for retirement.

Do you invest largely in stocks? Value Line is a popular source of stock ratings and recommendations. With our subscription to Value Line, you can get the latest copies of the Value Line Investment Survey electronically before the print publication is available. Value Line also has an education section called Value Line University which discusses investing basics, how to build a portfolio, and how to study a stock.

All of these databases are available in the Library or at home to Troy Library cardholders. To access these products, go to the
Go to the Library's website and click eResources on the left under Library Links. Click on the Business and Economics link and then choose which one you want to use.

October 13, 2009 Now Available at Home from the Troy Library

Are you considering buying a new car? Do you need to replace a home appliance? Or, perhaps you want to know the best value for your money when it comes to everyday products, from breakfast cereal to light bulbs.

In today's economy, it's more important than ever to make informed purchasing decisions. Consumer Reports, the magazine of nonprofit organization Consumer Union, has been independently testing, evaluating, and rating products for over 70 years.

Now you can get all the ratings from Consumer Reports at home through the Troy Public Library's subscription to Our subscription gives you access to all subscriber-level content, including ratings, product overviews, video, and more. You can also browse issues from the current calendar year.

To access, you will need a Troy Public Library card. Go to the Troy Public Library website and click eResources on the left under Library Links. From the Magazines, Journals, and Newspapers subject list click on

October 7, 2009

Managing Electronic Waste

More and more households may find themselves accumulating electronic waste, or "e-waste," as they purchase new electronic equipment or replace existing equipment with newer technologies. Electronic waste is any unwanted or discarded electronic equipment and consists of items such as TVs,VHS and DVD players, computer hardware, cell phones, and more. Many states, including Michigan, have passed legislation that regulates the recycle or disposal of electronic equipment because often they contain toxic pollutants such as mercury, chromium and lead.

Beginning October 2009, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will maintain a list of registered manufacturers and links to each manufacturer web page providing details on where covered electronic equipment can be recycled. The list is/will be available at under the link titled 'Electronic Waste Takeback Program.'

For more information on managing electronic waste in Michigan read What Do Generators Need to Know About Electronic Waste?

October 6, 2009

Microsoft Confirms Hotmail Phishing Attack

According to, several thousand Hotmail usernames and passwords were exposed over the weekend via a phishing attack, which Microsoft confirmed on October 5.

In a phishing scheme, users are tricked into divulging confidential information, often account password and usernames. In this case, users could have used Hotmail to communicate with banks and other institutions, storing confidential information in their accounts. Users who believe they have fallen prey to a phishing scheme should change their passwords immediately, Microsoft advises. reports that on October 6, Gmail, Google's email product, also fell prey to the phishing attack. As soon as Google learned of the attack, they forced password resets on the affected accounts. They will continue to force password resets on additional accounts when they become aware of them.

These attacks are a good reminder to exercise extreme caution when opening unsolicited email attachments and links from both known and unknown sources. All email users, regardless of what product they use, should install and regularly update their anti-virus software.

September 29, 2009

Another First for Twitter

Social network site and Internet darling Twitter achieved another milestone "first" when it broadcast the launch of the new Troy Public Library website -- -- just after midnight on September 29.

The tweet hear 'round the world, penned by Technology librarian John Robertson, is below:

Visit and let us know what you think.

To read more about our new site's features, take a Sneak Peek at the Library's New Website.

On Twitter? Follow John @jrr1234, or The Tech Desk @tpltechnology.

September 28, 2009

How to Use

Our new website goes live tomorrow, September 29. Check out some of the new features on our site tutorial video.

September 25, 2009

Save the Library! Now on Facebook

In case you missed the news from earlier this week, the City of Troy is facing a projected $22.6 million budget deficit over the next six years.

As a result, the Troy City Council is considering several options, among them to close the Troy Public Library.

In response, Zach Kilgore, a Troy High School student, started a Save the Library! Facebook group. There are already over 300 members. [Update: As of 10 am, September 28, there are over 1,090 members!]

If you are a Facebook user, take a look. The site contains great information about an upcoming City Council meeting, where this issue will be discussed.

Thanks for getting the word out, Zach!

September 20, 2009

FCC to Propose Internet Neutrality Rules

On September 21, Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, plans to propose Internet neutrality rules. The goal of these rules is to prevent Internet Service Providers from blocking or interfering with the transmission of free content that may compete with any of their paid services.

Proponents of the net neutrality rules argue that this will ensure consumers have uninhibited access to free legal content on the Internet. Service providers contend that the net neutrality rules would negatively impact their quality of service because some applications require a large amount of bandwidth, and this could slow down Internet access to its other users.

September 19, 2009

Find Locally-Grown Produce in Your Neighborhood on Veggie Trader

Gardeners, do you wish you could turn your excess tomatoes into apples, or maybe even a little cash? Or, if you are a non-gardener, are you looking for fresh, locally-grown food right in your neighborhood?

You might take a look at Veggie Trader. The site was started by neighborhood gardeners from Portland, Oregon, and New York, who believe eating locally is less expensive, more sustainable, and a better way to live. Veggie Trader is about community, finding local food, strengthening local economies, and getting to know your neighbors.

Veggie Trader is free, easy, and works like a classified advertisement. You post a listing describing the excess produce you have and what you'd like in return, and then you wait for a response. Or, if you're looking for local produce, just enter your zip code and see what your neighbors have available. You can also post specific produce for which you are looking in the Wanted section and see which of your neighbors answers your request.

Currently, Veggie Trader has over 7,000 members. Though biggest on the East and West Coasts, there were a few traders Michigan. But the creators hope that, in time, the site will grow and prove to be an important source for locally-grown produce and sustainable economics.

Make a Healthy Choice about Household Products Using

Concerned about whether your everyday household goods contain toxic chemicals? You can now visit to find out. contains test results on 900 common items, from toys to school supplies to women’s handbags. The testing – done by the nonprofit, Ann Arbor-based, environmental organization, the Ecology Center – analyzed products for lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and arsenic. These chemicals, which build up over time in the body, have been linked to liver toxicity, thyroid disorders, learning disabilities, cancer, developmental disabilities, reproductive disorders, and other health issues.

Among the findings was the presence of “chemicals of concern” in most of the more than 60 common back-to-school supplies (e.g., backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil cases, binders) tested. Nearly 90% contained one or more toxins, 22% contained detectable levels of lead, and “far too many” were made of polyvinyl chloride.

Among pet products – including chew toys, beds, leashes, and collars – which are not regulated by the government, 25% had detectable levels of lead. Of these, 7% had levels greater than 300 parts per million (ppm), the current standard for lead in children’s products set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

A surprising finding was the amount of lead in women’s handbags. Of the 100 handbags tested, 64% contained more than 300 ppm lead, and 50% topped 1,000 ppm lead.

The Ecology Center hopes that consumers use the information on this site to make healthy choices and purchases. The site so invites consumers to take action and urge government officials and manufacturers to phase out lead, arsenic, and other hazardous substances from consumer products.

September 17, 2009

2009 National Book Festival

Bibliophiles take note! The 2009 National Book Festival will be held on Saturday, September 26, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The festival is free and open to the public.

Best selling authors James Patterson, Judy Blume, John Grisham, John Irving, Jodi Picoult, Nicholas Sparks, Kate DiCamillo, and Shannon Hale will be among the writers and illustrators scheduled to attend the festival.

For more information about this year’s National Book Festival, visit

Blu-ray Comes to Troy Public Library

You asked for it. We listened:

The Troy Public Library is happy to announce that we now offer Blu-ray format movies available for check out.

Like our DVD offerings, the latest Blu-ray titles marked "Feature" will cost $2 for a week. Older titles are free for the same period of time. Some current titles available include
Batman Begins, Slumdog Millionaire, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Looking for reviews of Blu-rays? Look here.

Stop by the Library and take a look at the collection. And don't forget to put in a request if you don't see it on the shelves.

September 16, 2009

Danny Glover to Star in Movie about Struggle to Save Library

Actor Danny Glover will star in a movie, titled Highland Park, that could help revive the shuttered McGregor Library in that city. The story line will mirror the ongoing struggle to reopen the Library, which closed in March 2002 because the city could not afford to keep it open. Highland Park Mayor Hubert Yopp told the Detroit Free Press the library will undergo significant restoration and the movie will be a "steppingstone" to its reopening.

[via PositiveDetroit]

September 15, 2009

OverDrive Media Console Now Available for Windows Mobile

Do you like OverDrive audiobooks, available from the Troy Public Library, but wish that you could download them directly to your mobile device? Now you can, if you own a device using Windows Mobile.

OverDrive has released a version of its Media Console for Windows Mobile devices. Using this version of the Console, a user can download OverDrive audiobooks and video wirelessly directly to her or his device. In addition, according to the company press release, this application "sets the stage for future support on additional platforms including iPhone(TM) and BlackBerry®
." You can download the OverDrive Media Console for Windows Mobile here. Go here to view OverDrive items available from the Troy Library.

If you have a Windows Mobile device, give it a try and let us know what you think!

September 13, 2009

Michigan Makes It Easier to Search for State Jobs

Looking for a job in Michigan State government?

On September 14, the State will implement a new online employment application and selection system hosted by NEOGOV. Michigan government will become one of the more than 400 public sector clients, including several states, which are using NEOGOV for recruitment and hiring.

As the State implements NEOGOV, the existing job vacancy posting site will no longer be available. Applicants will find a link to the new site in the same location as the current posting site, on the Michigan Civil Service Commission website. Included on the site will be applicant resource materials including a First Time User Guide, Returning User Guide, and NEOGOV Applicant FAQs.

Among the many benefits of the new system, it allows applicants to save and store multiple applications and keep transcripts and other relevant documentation in one place. This eliminates the need for applicants to repeatedly upload and attach the same materials for each vacancy. Additionally, applicants will receive automated responses regarding their applications, reducing the need to contact the agencies to confirm receipt.

New Search Engine Geared toward Muslim Web Users

A new search engine called aims to "create a safe and clean environment for Muslims who search the Web" by filtering out content that is haraam or forbidden by faith. The site will warn people if they enter a search query which might result in explicit content. There is a three layer filter. Words like porn and rape are given a rating of three and are blocked completely. Terms such as beer and pork are given a rating of one so that the user can continue their search if they feel that the results will be appropriate.

Mainstream search engines have come in for criticism in many parts of the world for displaying content that is offensive to local culture, or even against local laws. This site, launched earlier in September, has received over 400,000 unique visitors so far, according the the creators.

Read the complete story from ABC News

September 8, 2009

Be Prepared for Your Job Interview

One of the hardest parts of job searching is the interview. You have only a few minutes to make a great impression, show you can handle the job, be knowledgeable about your prospective employer, and have a personable and pleasant attitude. For even the seasoned veteran, the job interview often causes sweaty palms, nervousness, and anxiety.

Here, from, are 20 Excellent Tips to Help You Crack That Dreaded Job Interview. Though this is geared toward new graduates with little experience, the tips -- among them, do research to get to know the employer, practice your answers, and be prepared to ask questions -- are good things to keep in mind no matter if this is your first or five-hundredth interview.

Search Colleges and Universities with

Know a high school student who is deciding where to attend college?

You might want to point him or her to This site has a section called College MatchMaker, which allows the student to search nearly 4,000 colleges and universities, based on various criteria, such as location, major, size, cost, sports programs, and several other categories.

Once the student has created a list a prospective schools matching the search criteria, he or she can see if he or she is on-track to be admitted to the school (based on high school classes), and how the student stacks up against other students at the school (based on standardized test scores, grades, and standing in high school.)

Just go to, and click on Find Your Match to get started.

September 4, 2009

Fun Friday: The Librarian Song

[Thanks to David Conklin, Shelby Township Library]

The Future, They Believe, is Digital

"There are rolling hills and ivy-covered brick buildings. There are small classrooms, high-tech labs, and well-manicured fields. There’s even a clock tower with a massive bell that rings for special events.

Cushing Academy has all the hallmarks of a New England prep school, with one exception.

This year, after having amassed a collection of more than 20,000 books, officials at the pristine campus about 90 minutes west of Boston have decided the 144-year-old school no longer needs a traditional library. The academy’s administrators have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks -- the classics, novels, poetry, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital."

Read the entire article Welcome to the library. Say goodbye to the books.


Libraries, With or Without Books

Libraries are no longer just quiet places to read and borrow books. In a world where information is more online and digitized, librarians are changing to meet the needs of their patrons. They are called on to give technical support as well as deal with reference questions and assist patrons with online catalogs and social networking.

Physical books and electronic books are here to stay, but the role of the library will continue to change and develop. Read more about it at

"Think of the changes as a Library 2.0 revolution--a mirror of what's happened on the Web."

September 1, 2009

Key Milestones in the Development of the Internet

Many of us may think that the concept of the Internet is relatively new, but actually its beginnings go as far back as 1969. Check out some fun and interesting facts about the origins and growth of the Internet in Key Milestones in the Development of the Internet. Some facts you may have already known, but some may surprise you.

August 30, 2009

Grooveshark: Easy To Use Music Search Engine

Frequently, I find myself trying to hunt down a particular song that I'm in the mood to listen to, only to find that I do not own the song. So my next step is to do a Google search, go through tons of results, and find the one song to which I want to listen. Thanks to Grooveshark, I won't have to do this anymore.

Grooveshark is a new website that makes finding and listening to songs simple and straightforward. Looking for "The Wonder of You" by Elvis? Go ahead and enter the title into the search box on Grooveshark's homepage, and you will quickly be presented with a list of all the results of your search.

The best part is that instead of giving you a straight list like you would get with Google, you are able to instead organize the list by artist, title, album, and genre. After you select the song you want to hear, you can instantly listen to the song through the iTunes-like, easy-to-use interface.

On top of just listening to songs, you are also able to create an account which allows you to create playlists, and to mark a track as a Favorite. Grooveshark will remember all your Favorites, and create a playlist, for you to listen to at your leisure.

I encourage all music fans to checkout Grooveshark. I have already found it to be an indispensable tool.

August 29, 2009

Setting a Password to Open an Excel Workbook

One of the students in my Intermediate Excel class this week asked me how to set an Excel workbook so a password is required to open or modify it. This is fairly easy.

When you have finished creating your Excel workbook, click on the Office Button in the upper left hand corner, then click on Save As. On the Save As dialog box, click on the Tools button on the bottom left side of the screen. Then click on General Options.

On the General Options box, you can set a password to open or modify the workbook. It is critical that you remember your password. If you forget your password, Microsoft cannot retrieve it. You can also set a recommendation that the file be opened as Read Only.

Top 10 Web Sites for Students

It is back to school time, and the Internet can be a great place to help your children succeed with their research projects and homework assignments. But, learning where to go and how to appropriately use information on the Internet can be challenging to both parents and students.

Marc Saltzman, a freelance journalist, author, and radio and TV host, has a great article, giving a list of the most comprehensive and reliable educational websites a student can use.

August 28, 2009

Woofer vs. Twitter

Recently Twitter, the popular microblogging site, has amassed a great deal of hype. After being promoted by celebrities and featured on numerous talk shows, including the Oprah Winfrey Show, Twitter has become a household name.

But in spite of the publicity, there are still many people who dislike Twitter both for its limitations and the connotation that all Twitter posts are as inane as what I had for breakfast this morning.

If you are a Twitter Doubter, or just prone to long-windedness, you might enjoy Woofer -- the macroblogging site that requires users to post a minimum of 1,400 characters.

So far nearly eight thousand people have joined Woofer and have made over nine thousand woofs. However, the woof content is not what you might expect of bloggers. Some of the more popular woofs are copied from works such as The Gettysburg Address, A Tale of Two Cities, and Moby Dick. Unfortunately from what I've seen so far the average woof is random words and characters akin to the dreaded spam email.

Clearly, Woofer is not a tool that will replace or even rival Twitter, but it should make for some interesting reading. And even I, a strong microblogging advocate, can enjoy this homage to Twitter.

You can follow The Tech Desk on Twitter @tpltechnology and follow the Troy Public Library @troylib.

And there you have it: 1,400 characters (punctuation and spaces included, of course).

Apple Releases Snow Leopard, Newest Operating System

Apple has just released its newest operating system, Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6).

According to this video review at, Snow Leopard is a “Web browsing speed demon…Hitting the streets with very little fanfare, [the] operating system is a refined, slimmer version of an already great computing system.”

And here is an equally positive review from The New York Times.

Snow Leopard is a $30 upgrade for Mac users running Leopard (10.5).

Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows 7, is due out in October.

Fun Friday: Do You Suffer from IOS?

Do you suffer from information overload?

August 27, 2009

Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon to Oppose Google Book Scanning Settlement

Not surprisingly, some of Google’s chief competitors – Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon – have joined the Open Book Alliance, opposing the October 2008 legal settlement which would allow Google to digitize and sell millions of books.

The Alliance, headed by the non-profit Internet Archive, has expressed concern about “serious legal, competitive, and policy issues” surrounding Google's book scanning project.

Google reached a settlement last year with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers over a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against the Internet search giant in 2005. Under the settlement, Google will pay publishers and authors $125 million. In exchange, the company will resume scanning copyrighted, out-of-print books, and provide up to 20% of the text on-line at no charge, under its Google Book Search program.

In addition, the settlement creates a method for how Google, publishers and authors will share the profits of digitized versions of printed books. The company will take 37% of the revenue, leaving 63% for publishers and authors.

In a statement, Google responded to the latest news saying: "This sounds like the Sour Grapes Alliance. The Google Books settlement is injecting more competition into the digital books space, so it’s understandable why our competitors might fight hard to prevent more competition."

Microsoft, which entered into a 10-year Web search partnership with Yahoo! last month that set the stage for a joint offensive against Google, also had a project to create a vast digital library but shut it down recently. Online retail giant Amazon is a major player in the electronic book sector through its popular e-reader, the Kindle.

The settlement still needs the approval of a US District Court judge, who is to hold a "fairness hearing" on the deal in New York on October 7.

For more background, read Learn More about the Google Book Search Settlement.

[via Yahoo! Tech]