June 30, 2009

The Whole World is Watching the Failure of Old Media

A brief and highly interesting article about the failure of old media and the rise of the Internet as a political/media tool, The Whole World is Watching aka #oldmediafail #iranelection.

The author, Johnee99 writes:
"The revolution is not being televised in Iran, nor is it being covered very well in any “old media” format. Old media in the West has failed. The Internet is now accelerating change in geopolitics, and has officially eclipsed old media as the first source for immediate and actionable information. As our Clinical Director, Dr. Jeff Rohde emailed me yesterday about Twitter: “It's more than a fancy microblog. It's the foundation of free speech in a country that normally denies it.” Powerful."

Quincy Jones Will Not Let Vibe Die

Earlier today we learned that Vibe Magazine was folding. Now Vibe founder Quincy Jones is distraught over the news and determined to save the magazine. How? "I'm'a take it online because print and all that stuff is over."

Jones created Vibe back in 1993 to showcase rap and R&B music in a voice that was younger and edgier than other publications existing at the time, hoping to appeal to young, urban music fans. In 2006 the magazine was purchased by the Wicks Media Group.

[via Gawker]

Job Search Logs May Help Your Job Search Be More Successful

When job searching, sometimes it is easy to lose track of all the places to which you sent a resume, as well as pertinent information, such as when you interviewed and to whom you spoke. Following up with contacts can be key to a successful job search.

To help you organize all your job search information, Microsoft has made available a Job Search Log template. This template allows you to easily reference many aspects of your job search, such as the date you submitted your resume, the status of your application, and even notes to yourself about that particular job.

To access this template:

  • Open Microsoft Excel 2007.

  • Click the Microsoft Office Button.

  • Click "New", and type "job search log" in the search box.

  • Double-click on the image to view the log.

You can also access this template as well as other job search log templates by going to Microsoft's website and typing in "Job Search Log" in the search box. If none of these templates quite suit your needs, you can always use Microsoft Excel 2007 spread sheets to create a customized job search log.

Keep Track of Honesty in Advertistements at Mouseprint.org

If you are buying a pint of Haagen-Daaz Ice Cream, you might be surprised to learn that it is no longer a pint, but now only 14 ounces. You would have to be an eagle-eyed consumer to notice the slight difference in the cartons. The price has not been reduced, just the size.

To keep track of the shrinking pint, visit Mouseprint.org. The site also tells about some of the advertisements that don't really tell the truth, and will explain the creative use of asterisks by some companies.

[via WTOP Radio Call for Action]

June 29, 2009

Twitter Guide Book

Mashable.com, a blog dedicated to covering Web 2.0 and social media, has created a page aggregating their articles about Twitter. Called The Twitter Guide Book, this page provides links to a wealth of information about Twitter, from basics (retweets, hashtags, changing backgrounds), to more advanced topics (Twitter for business, sharing items on Twitter). This is an excellent resource to help you get the most out of Twitter.

Microsoft to Release Free Antivirus Package: Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft is preparing to go head to head with some of the big names in antivirus and security by releasing its own free anti-virus solution entitled "Microsoft Security Essentials." The product aims to compete directly with paid antivirus solutions such as Norton Antivirus, McAffee, and Nod32.

From Microsoft: "With Microsoft Security Essentials Beta, you get high-quality protection against viruses and spyware, including Trojans, worms and other malicious software. And best of all, there are no costs or annoying subscriptions to keep track of."

I have recently been beta testing the program and have noticed several great features including:

- Free of charge
- Great Virus detection rates
- Low memory footprint
- Quick scanning
- Auto-updating
- Scheduled scans

For these reasons, Microsoft Security Essentials has already become my anti-virus solution of choice. I have particularly enjoyed the free cost, and low memory footprint which prevent the anti-virus from bogging down my computer.

While the beta program has closed, you can still find downloads for the Microsoft Security Essentials suite here (Softpedia). Also, you can read more about the anti-virus at Microsoft's official site.

June 28, 2009

50 Resources to Help You Write Better

Interested in becoming a better writer?

Check out these 50 useful and practical tools and resources that will help you to improve your writing skills, from Smashing Magazine. You will find copywriting blogs, dictionaries, references, teaching classes, articles, tools as well as related articles from other blogs.

Also, see how you can Write Better with Microsoft Word Readability Statistics, and how you can Write Better Emails.

Internet Smackdown: Google v. Facebook

Fascinating article about the battle between Google and Facebook for Web domination from Fred Vogelstein, in Wired. Vogelstein writes:
"Today, the Google-Facebook rivalry isn't just going strong, it has evolved into a full-blown battle over the future of the Internet — its structure, design, and utility. For the last decade or so, the Web has been defined by Google's algorithms — rigorous and efficient equations that parse practically every byte of online activity to build a dispassionate atlas of the online world. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg envisions a more personalized, humanized Web, where our network of friends, colleagues, peers, and family is our primary source of information, just as it is offline. In Zuckerberg's vision, users will query this "social graph" to find a doctor, the best camera, or someone to hire — rather than tapping the cold mathematics of a Google search. It is a complete rethinking of how we navigate the online world, one that places Facebook right at the center. In other words, right where Google is now."

Google is my search engine of choice. I also use Reader, Docs, and other services. From my limited use of Facebook, I cannot imagine it replacing Google for me anytime soon.

Read the full story, Great Wall of Facebook: The Social Network Network's Plan to Dominate the INternet -- And Keep Google Out.

June 26, 2009

Fun Friday: Twitter in 1935

"Robot Messenger Displays Person-to-Person Notes In Public

To aid persons who wish to make or cancel appointments or inform friends of their whereabouts, a robot message carrier has been introduced in London, England.

Known as the “notificator,” the new machine is installed in streets, stores, railroad stations or other public places where individuals may leave messages for friends.

The user walks up on a small platform in front of the machine, writes a brief message on a continuous strip of paper and drops a coin in the slot. The inscription moves up behind a glass panel where it remains in public view for at least two hours so that the person for whom it is intended may have sufficient time to observe the note at the appointed place. The machine is similar in appearance to a candy-vending device."

[via BoingBoing]

June 25, 2009

News of Jackson's Death First Spread Online; Traditional News Sources Lag

From Yahoo! News:

It was a where-were-you moment in a digital age. Michael Jackson's death was not learned from a fatherly TV news anchor. Instead, the news first spread online…

The celebrity website TMZ.com broke the news of Jackson's death at 5:20 p.m.

It was a huge scoop for the AOL-owned TMZ, though many did not believe TMZ's report until it was matched by more established news organizations…

Jackson dominated the discussion on Twitter, generating the most tweets per second since Barack Obama was elected president in November.

"We saw over twice the normal tweets per second the moment the story broke as people shared their grief and memories," Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said in an e-mail.

The tweeting tripped up Twitter briefly, but engineers quickly responded to keep the service running. At times, Jackson-related search topics were the most popular on the site.

Celebrity users on Twitter — including Lindsay Lohan, Ashton Kutcher, John Mayer, Ryan Seacrest and ?uestlove of the Roots — posted their remembrances…

So many people wanted to verify the early reports of Jackson's death that the computers running Google's news section interpreted the fusillade of "Michael Jackson" requests as an automated attack from about 5:40 p.m. through 6:15 p.m.

As a defense mechanism, Google's news section responded to requests for information about Michael Jackson with squiggly letters known as a "captcha." Just as online ticket buyers regularly do to complete their purchases, the Michael Jackson searchers had to enter the letters correctly to see Google's new results…

On YouTube, traffic flowed to music videos of Jackson, while thousands posted videos of themselves sharing their thoughts on Jackson.

Others were using Facebook to organize vigils and celebrations of Jackson. One in San Francisco with nearly 50 confirmed guests hoped to recreate the "Thriller" dance.

Within a few hours of the news of Jackson's death, his 1982 album "Thriller" was the No. 1 album on iTunes. Several of his discs were also in the top 10 of the digital store.

Michael Jackson: 1958-2009

From Wikipedia:

Michael Jackson's Thriller is a 13-minute music video for the song of the same name released on December 2, 1983 and directed by John Landis who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jackson. The mini-film music video was broadcast on MTV three weeks before Christmas 1983. It was the most expensive video of its time, costing $500,000, and Guinness World Records listed it in 2006 as the "most successful music video," selling over 9 million units.

Thriller was less a conventional video and more a full-fledged short subject or mini-film; a horror film spoof featuring choreographed zombies performing with Jackson. The music was re-edited to match the video, with the verses being sung one after the other followed by the ending rap, then the main dance sequence (filmed on the 3600 block of Union Pacific Avenue in East Los Angeles) to an instrumental loop, and finally the memorable finish: the choruses in a "big dance number" climactic scene.

During the video, Jackson transforms into both a zombie and a werecat (although makeup artist Rick Baker referred to it as a "cat monster" in the "Making of Thriller" documentary); familiar territory for Landis, who had directed An American Werewolf in London two years earlier. Co-starring with Jackson was former Playboy centerfold Ola Ray.

The video was choreographed by Michael Peters (who had worked with the singer on his prior hit "Beat It"), with Michael Jackson. The video also contains incidental music by film music composer Elmer Bernstein, who had previously also worked with Landis on An American Werewolf in London. The video (like the song) contains a spoken word performance by horror film veteran Vincent Price. Rick Baker assisted in prosthetics and makeup for the production.

Jackson, at the time one of Jehovah's Witnesses, added a disclaimer to the start of the video, saying: “Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.”

Libraries Using Twitter to Engage Readers

Today, I was glancing through the Guardian, and came across an interesting article about how libraries in the United Kingdom are using Twitter to spread information to readers. Here's a piece from the article:
"Libraries throughout the UK are testing the waters of Twitter as a way to both engage with their readers and dispel their image as fusty, silent enclaves staffed by old-fashioned introverts.

At the British Library (@britishlibrary), they're talking about riding on John Berger's motorbike; "about as good as it gets I think." Aberdeenshire's libraries (@onceuponashire) are recommending books – "Katherine by Anya Seton is a great romp through the 14th century, well worth a read" – while the John Rylands University of Manchester library (@jrul) informs us that it has just made a 14th century cookbook available online, complete with recipes for porpoise, pike and blancmange.

Librarians as a group are very spread out around the country, and they are really seizing on Twitter as a great way to network and spread information among themselves. They are also trying it out to give information about author events and closing times to their users," said Benedicte Page, libraries expert at the Bookseller. From Milton Keynes (@mklibraries) to Devon (@devonlibraries), Plymouth (@plymlibraries) to Newcastle (@toonlibraries), over 40 UK libraries are now using Twitter, and a "Twitter for librarians" course will be held by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) in September to encourage more to take it up.
The article notes later that the UK is behind the United States when it comes to Twittering. If you are interested, you can read the rest of the article here.

Speaking of Twittering, you can follow the Troy Public Library on Twitter @troylib or The Tech Desk at @tpltechnology.

Become a Gmail Ninja!

So, do you think you have what it takes to be a black belt in Gmail? How about a Gmail Master?

Google has released a Gmail tips website that uses different skill levels of "ninjas" to describe your mastery of the functions that Gmail offers. This site can be found here and is quite useful. It describes how to use video chat in Gmail, keyboard shortcuts, how to sign out of your account remotely, and more.

Judging by their rankings, it looks like I am moving into Gmail Black Belt territory. Let us know where you rate by leaving us a comment and also your favorite Gmail feature. For some inspiration on your electronic kung fu journey, go here.

June 24, 2009

Interested in Teleconferencing? Win $3,000!

Interested in teleconferencing?

You might want to check out the “Why I Want Cisco TelePresence” viral video contest.

The contest is designed to entice individuals to submit their ideas about why or how they would like to use Cisco Telepresence, a teleconference tool that the computer software and network company promises will provide “an immersive in-person experience.” Winners in two categories, Productivity and Shaping the Future, have a chance to win $3,000 each.

Just make a video about how teleconferencing would be useful to you and upload it to the Cisco site. You don’t have to be a Tim Burton or a Frank Capra. All you need is a home video camera, some passion and a tad of creativity. Most digital cameras can record short form videos, and the site is set up for easy uploading and includes a simple pass along feature.
You can also visit the site periodically to vote on your favorite videos and add commentary.

Good luck!

More Cycling Sites for Summer

Have you been using MapMyRide.com to track your bike ride routes? Here are several other sites to help find new bike routes, keep track of your training, join organized rides, and more.
  • The Detroit News has an interactive map of local Metro-Detroit bike trails.
  • Want to keep track of how many miles you've ridden? Bicycling Magazine has a free, online training log.
  • Take a look here for cycling events happening around Michigan, courtesy of the League of Michigan Bicyclists.
  • It's almost Tour de France time! This year's edition starts July 4 in Monaco. You can follow the media reports, but do you want to get closer to what the participants have to say about the race? Follow these Twitter feeds of some professional cyclists. (Lance Armstrong isn't on this list, but he can be found here.)
  • Speaking of the Tour, here is a preview of all 21 stages.
Have fun this summer riding and may you not experience any flat tires along the way!

Ray Bradbury Fights to Save Libraries

One of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, is fundraising to save his local libraries in Ventura Country, California. Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Dandelion Wine, and a bunch of others, says, “Libraries raised me… When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”

I am glad Bradbury has decided to give back.

Here is a great article about the subject from The New York Times: A Literary Legend Fights for a Local Library

[via mental_floss]

June 23, 2009

Troy Librarian John Robertson Wins Michigan Library Association Award

Congratulations to our Technology Librarian, John Robertson, who has won the Walter H. Kaiser Award presented by the Michigan Library Association!

John has been instrumental in helping the Library's Technology Department improve the electronic resources we offer to our Library users, In addition, John has greatly increased the number and scope of the computer classes we teach to the public, and has been part of the the team creating our new website.

Click here to read more about the MLA awards.

Dunkin' Run: Best Reason to Buy an iPhone

If you are the person responsible for supplying the office with Dunkin' Donuts products, prepare to have your mind blown. Dunkin' Donuts new "Dunkin' Run" iPhone app is going to change your life forever.

Dunkin' Run brings customers a completely new and unique social online group ordering experience and tools. To begin, "Runners" can initiate a group order on www.DunkinRun.com through their computer or mobile device, or via an iPhone application available for free download at the iTunes online store.

Immediately, interactive alerts are sent to the Runner's list of friends or co-workers, telling them when a trip to Dunkin' Donuts is planned along with a personal message inviting them to place an order online. Invitees can view the Dunkin' Donuts menu to place their order, and registered users can select from their own personal list of favorites and/or previous orders. All Dunkin' Donuts core foods and beverages are presented using interactive product images to make personalizing an order both simple and fun.

All of the orders are integrated onto a single page/screen which the Runner either prints or uses their iPhone or mobile device to bring to any Dunkin' Donuts store. Dunkin' Donuts crew members will use this checklist to fulfill orders quickly and ensure order accuracy. The Runner can also use this page as a checklist to ensure that everyone in the group gets what he or she ordered.

[via Gizmodo]

June 19, 2009

Fun Friday: "It's Something Called the Internet"

Watch a 1994 television news story where Tom Brokaw discuss the Internet with Google's Eric Schmidt (then at Sun) and Microsoft's Bill Gates. My favorite part is right at the end when Gates says, "It's a long ways away before you have a flat screen that's as small and light as that book is today." No wonder Amazon beat Microsoft to the Kindle. Interesting

[via BoingBoing]

June 18, 2009

AMC Features BMC: B-Movie Classics

How many times has this happened to you: You come home, and all you are able to find on TV is quality programs? You are disappointed because want you really wanted to watch is a B-movie from the 1950s. Have no fear: AMC has come to your rescue!

The American Movie Classics website now has a section called "BMC: B-Movie Classics." Here, you can watch several complete classic B-movies, including Invasion of the Neptune Men, Planet on the Prowl, Teenage Caveman, and The Crawling Eye. Those interested in B-movies may be familiar with some of these titles already; several of them were used in episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Time for me to get back to watching Shake, Rattle, & Rock. To access the rest of BMC, click here.

[via Pop Candy]

Useful Resource for Job Seekers

If you are currently in the process of job hunting, you may find this article from Lifehacker, Top 10 Tools For Landing a Better Job, valuable. It contains useful information to help you with your job search, such as tips for using Craigslist and RSS feeds to find jobs, and tells you which are the five best online job search sites. It also includes resume writing tips and information to help you prepare for your interview.

Twitter v. CNN: Round 2

Rick Sanchez of CNN responded to criticism from social media sites that the news organization failed to adequately cover the events after the Iranian election. The response – below via youtube – pieces together CNN reports to convince critics that the station's coverage was more extensive than users on social media sites claimed.

Not all youtube’s commenters seem convinced. However, others argue that CNN did a good job of covering the events in Iran.

An interesting debate, as social media muscles into journalism. Watch it:

[via Mashable]

June 17, 2009

Bing, Microsoft's New Search Engine

Microsoft's search engine, Live Search, has transitioned to a new product called Bing. While it may not be a Google killer anytime soon, it has been making its mark already by overtaking Yahoo's market share during its first week of release. Microsoft has spent considerable time and money developing this new search engine. Let's take a look at the some of the features.

The Look

Bing's layout is quite clean. The main search box is prominently displayed. A brief list of searchable categories is listed on the left side of the page. What is unique about the Bing homepage is the background image. This image, which changes everyday, features clickable hotspots that conduct searches related to the background image. For example, the above Bing screenshot, from June 6, is a picture of Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. The hotspots linked to searches, maps, images, and videos about the D-Day invasion.


Search results are displayed much like Google's, with some results linking directly to content, not just to the homepage. Additionally, many sites feature a preview option. By moving your mouse to the right of the result, content from the site will pop up in a window to give a preview of the site.

Depending on the topic, search results are often returned with an index of related search terms. For example, when searching "diabetes," a menu appears on the left side showing the search term, and beneath there are options for articles, symptoms, diet, prevention, and more. These results depend on your search term. Another interesting feature is that when you search for a medical condition, the first result listed is an article from an authoritative source such as MayoClinic.com or Medlineplus.gov.

Bing also keeps a history that logs all of your searches. While this is helpful for users who want to maintain privacy, this can easily be cleared or turned off.

Special Features

Bing has several other features. One of the most interesting is video preview. When you search for videos, you can hover your mouse over any search result and can watch a brief preview of that video with audio.

Another great feature is the image search. Images by default are displayed as thumbnails. To see the image source, just hover your mouse over the image. And, unlike Google's image search, you don't have to click to go to the next page to see more results. In Bing, just scroll down through the list to see more images. Images are refreshed as you scroll.

While Bing may not replace Google for your everyday web searching, it is an interesting product and it worth a try. For more information about Bing, go here.

June 16, 2009

Sneak Peek at the Library's New Website

We told you about it last summer, and we’ve been working on it since then.

Now, we are ready to launch our new website, troylibrary.info. The launch date is tentatively set for June 22. [Update: After a slight delay, we will be launching the new site on October 1.]

Last year, we evaluated our existing website. It served us well, but as a child of the 1990s, it was more static than interactive, and not compatible with recent changes to the Internet.

We decided to recreate completely the Library’s online presence: We would create a content-managed website, using the opensource software Drupal. This allows us to include more staff in writing for our website, and to deliver regularly updated content to our users. As a result, we would focus as much on moving our patrons through our site to the information you need, as on making our site a destination.

For several months, the Library’s website team – Lauren Henderson, John Robertson, Chris Hunsanger, and I – have been learning Drupal, studying other sites, investigating social networking trends and tools, and teaching Library staff to create content, to produce what we think is an exciting new service for Library users – troylibrary.info.

Here’s a sneak peek:

The centerpiece of our new site is, quite literally, the center of the site. Here, Library staff will post regularly updated content about new services, products, and events. Department-specific information will be on our new, department pages. You can find these links across the top. The most important Library-wide information will be “promoted” to the home page.

You will be able to comment on the content, or subscribe to it via RSS. If you subscribe, you can pick from Library-wide information, department information, new programs, or new book reviews.

In addition, the site is fully searchable. You won’t have to remember when and where we wrote that information you need now. Just search for it and you will find it, along with other useful ideas.

On the left side, you will notice that we kept something from our existing site: our most popular links, under Library Links. If you want to search our catalog, electronic resources, or downloadable audiobooks; view our programs calendar or book reviews; or find Library information (under our new FAQ page), you can look where you have always looked. Department pages will have their own department-specific links in addition to the Library Links.

While keeping something familiar, we have added many tools that will let you interact with staff in new ways.

I am especially excited about our new Virtual Reference service. Now, you’ll be able to chat via instant message with a Library staff member during our open hours from the "Have A Question?" box on the right side of the page. You will be able to use your favorite messenger service – Yahoo Messenger, Gmail, MSN Messenger or AOL – or chat directly from our home page. If you need help while online, you can receive an immediate answer.

Just above our Virtual Reference box, you will find our locations on social networks; and just below, you will find images from around the Library.

These are just a few of the changes on our new sites. In the coming months, we plan on rolling out new pages for young adults, more content for senior citizens, video and audiocasting, and many more ways for you to use troylibrary.info for all your needs.

If you would like more information, watch for our upcoming classes on using our new website and accessing all of our resources whenever you need them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Let us know what you think.

New OverDrive Media Console Now Available

As previously mentioned on The Tech Desk, OverDrive has released version 3.2 of their Media Console software for Windows. With this new upgrade, many audiobook titles in the WMA format that were previously not able to be transferred to iPods will now be iPod-compatible.

In the coming days, our OverDrive site will be updated to reflect these new changes. To access OverDrive and download the latest version of the Media Console, go to the Troy Library homepage and click "Downloadable eBooks, Audiobooks, and Videos" in the left side menu.

June 15, 2009

Library Use Has Skyrocketed with Recession

According to the Today Show, libraries are in more demand than ever. Sixty-eight percent of people in the United States have a library cards. That is the highest number in two decades. Not only do the libraries have computer and Internet resources for job seekers, but they also offer entertainment for the whole family.

Be Creative and Express Yourself with the Library's Summer Reading Programs

Summer is here! Time to shake out the beach towels, break out the sunscreen and dust off those books you've been meaning to read. Whether you have a road trip planned or just a day at the beach, you'll need some great books to take with you.

Troy Public Library's Summer Reading Programs will help you keep track of the books you read this summer, and reward you with prizes. Win gift certificates and other goodies just for logging books and reviews online. It's easy: register for a reading program, log in to the program website, enter each book you read, and write a review. Children can look forward to earning weekly prizes. Teens and Adults will have weekly and monthly drawings so keep logging those books all Summer long. This year's Summer Reading Program themes are Be Creative and Express Yourself @ Your Library.

To sign up for the Summer Reading Program, click on the links below:

Adult Year-Round Reading Program (ages 18 and up)
Teen Summer Reading Program (ages 13-18)
Youth Summer Reading Program (ages 3-12)

Looking for some book suggestions to get you started? Check out these book lists (updated monthly) for reading suggestions from our own Library staff:

Be Creative @ the Library: Help youth get into the spirit of this year's Summer Reading Program theme with these great craft books.

Arts, Crafts, Hobbies and More...: Arts and craft books for adults. With a variety of books on different hobbies (sewing, knitting, beading, woodworking, gardening and more) there's something here for everyone.

Looking for a great mystery or the newest video release? Check out the rest of our lists for book, audiobook and video suggestions here.

Happy Reading!

Twitter v. CNN: A New Media Watchdog

Twitter users blasted cable and Internet news organization CNN the past two days for a lack of coverage of the Tehran protests, which began after the election in Iran, reports Mashable:

“Twitter… has… taken on the role of media watchdog: thousands of Twitter users adopted the hashtag #CNNfail to highlight a lack of Iran coverage from the... organization.”

As a result, CNN quickly stepped up TV coverage of the Iranian election and the CNN.com homepage now lists the protests as its top story.

June 13, 2009

Read This Before You Ditch Your Old Computer

Last month, reports the Christian Science Monitor, researchers in Britain decided to find out if people left anything behind when they sold or donated their old computer. They bought 300 used machines in several countries and from a number of sources, including eBay.

What did they find? About one-third still contained personal data on the hard drives, data that was located with just a little digging. Among the items rooted out: the test-launch information for ground-to-air defense missiles; medical records from hospitals; Social Security numbers; and proprietary commercial documents, such as business plans.

The disturbing conclusion: Even large organizations, which have legal obligations to protect their data, are sometimes lax about removing them thoroughly from discarded computers.

Here are some ideas on how to protect yourself and your personal data when discarding an old computer.

San Francisco Uses Twitter for Residents' Complaints

According to TechChrunch, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone announced recently that San Francisco residents can now send direct messages via Twitter to the City @SF311, to complain about street cleanings, graffiti, potholes, abandoned vehicles, garbage issues, noise complaints and more. The useful part of the new service is the ability to send pictures or video of various offenses.

Once a resident submits a direct message to @SF311, he or she will receive a service request number. Apparently, there is a city staff member devoted to handling and responding to @SF311 Tweets.

Will Twitter helps make the city’s response more speedy? Mayor Newsom is a big fan of Twitter and even announced his bid for governor of California via the microblog site.

You can send your thoughts, questions and complaints via Twitter to the Library @troylib, or to the Technology Department @tpltechnology.

Is Your Auto Insurance Green?

How green is your auto insurance company? Here's a way to find out.

EcoSmartInsurance.com is the Internet’s first site dedicated to recognizing and promoting environmentally-friendly auto insurance companies. The site awards good, better and best recognition to insurance providers based on a number of factors including: environmental policy, giving back to the community, paperless billing, discounts for hybrids and pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) programs. Of the country’s many auto insurance companies only about 20 make the cut as “green” providers.

If your provider is not green enough for you, EcoSmart will help you choose a greener alternative.

And, thanks to a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, EcoSmartInsurance.com will preserve 250 square feet of rain forest for every completed green insurance quote through the organization’s Rain Forest Rescue program.

[via Got2BeGreen]

June 12, 2009

View Two Excel Workbooks in One Window

One of the students in my Beginning Excel class this week asked me how to look at two different Excel workbooks in the same window. It is fairly easy.

First, open one of the workbooks you want to view. Next, click on the Office Button in the upper left hand corner of the window and click on Open. Select the second workbook you want to view, and click on Open. Both workbooks are now open.

Under the View tab, in the Window group, click on Arrange All. You have the option to view the workbooks side by side (Tiled or Vertical), top and bottom (Horizontal) or one on top of the other (Cascade). Clicking in one workbook or the other allows you to edit that workbook.

June 11, 2009

VideoHound Offers Movie Lovers New Interactive Website

Do you like movies? If so, you are probably familiar with the VideoHound’s Gold Movie Retriever. This single volume reference book, a standard among movie lovers, has one paragraph reviews of tens of thousands of movies on VHS and DVD, along with a zero to four bones rating for each film.

Now, VideoHound has launched a social site, www.movieretriever.com, which allows you to create a free online account and interact with movie lovers around the world. You will be able to read one of 30,000 movie reviews; add your own ratings of movies and cast members; save movies to your Wag (most favorite) and Woof (least favorite) Lists; mark movies you want to watch; create and share custom lists, and respond to blog posts. You can even purchase movies directly from the site.

Plus, if you sign up for a free account by August 31, you could win a Sony Home Theater System with Blu-ray Disc Player and Bravia 40” Flat-Panel LCD HDTV.

Once you have logged on and found some movies you cannot wait to see, come by the Library and check them out. We have over 25,000 VHS and DVDs waiting for you to take home.

"Web 2.0" is One-Millionth Word in English Language

According to the Global Language Monitor, the English language this week crossed a threshold as the "one millionth word" entered the lexicon. That word? "Web 2.0."

Global Language Monitor has a methodology by which it measures "new" words entering into English. Though "Web 2.0" has been around for years, GLM's method of counting requires "a minimum of 25,000 citations with the necessary breadth of geographic distribution and depth of citations."

"Web 2.0" met that test this week, as did "n00b" (word 999,998). Both words passed into mainstream usage today, according to GLM. Also on the listed of official new words this week: slumdog, cloud computing, Octomom (seriously, Octomom), sexting, defriend, and recessionista.

[via Ars Technica]

June 10, 2009

Most Dangerous Search Terms on the Web

You are a smart computer user. You don't open suspicious email, you keep your firewall on, and you don't visit sites common knowledge says harbor viruses and spyware. Or do you?

According to a recent study by McAfee, Internet searches for such terms as "lyrics," "myspace," and "free music" often return sites that house malware that can infect your computer. Why do these sites so often house malware? Hackers realize that people consider these sites "safe," so it is more easy to place items that look safe, but in reality download malware to your computer.

You can read the complete study here.

June 8, 2009

Wither Blogging?

Is the thrill of blogging gone?

According to The New York Times, blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants, and the Internet is littered with orphaned sites, cast aside:
“According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95% of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.”

Read Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest.

Listen to These Award-Winning Audiobooks

Here, from AudioFile, are the winners of this year’s Audies. The Audies, sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association, are given for the best in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment. The site includes links to audio clips and reviews.

[via EarlyWord]

More People Follow than Lead on Twitter

According to a study from Purewire, reported by TechCrunch, most people on Twitter are followers, rather than leaders. A full 80% of Twitter accounts have fewer than 10 followers, according to the analysis of seven million Twitter accounts. What’s more, 30% have zero followers.

Writes TechCrunch: “People who bother to Tweet on a regular basis will attract more followers than people who prefer to sit back and read. Twitter is no different than any other form of participatory media. A small fraction of users produce the overwhelming amount of content, even if it is just 140 characters at a time.”

Read more at On Twitter, Most People Are Sheep.

Colorado Library Drops Dewey Decimal System

The six-branch Rangeview Library District, in Adams County, Colorado, will be the first library system in the country to drop the Dewey Decimal Classification, and change the way it shelves its material. In place of the 133-year old three-digit numeric system, the District will use a subject arrangement, adapted from the book industry.

From the Rangeview Library District blog:
"As part of Rangeview Library District’s “Customers First” philosophy, the district is replacing the 133-year-old Dewey Decimal Classification with its own WordThink system. This new method was generated from a retail-based standard for organizing materials. Similar to what you might see in a bookstore, materials are arranged by simple categories like history and science instead of the old numeric system. Customers are delighted at the ease of use of this new system, which is geared more towards browsing and helps customers find exactly what they need quickly and intuitively."

I like the idea, and have since I read about the Maricopa County Library District in Phoenix, Arizona, adopting a similar system two years ago. I think it makes more sense for our library users, which will help to increase library use.

What do you think?

[via MetaFilter]

Down for Everyone, Or Just You?

Having a problem accessing your favorite website? Wonder if the site is down for everyone, or if it is having a problem just on your computer?

Now you can find out by going to Downforeveryoneorjustme, and typing in the website you are trying to access. Downforeveryoneorjustme will tell you if the site is down for everyone -- or just you.

Park and Read in Michigan This Summer

The Troy Public Library has teamed up with the Library of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to make it easier for you to enjoy a day at one of Michigan’s beautiful State parks.

When you visit the Library between now and September 25, you can pick up a one-day vehicle permit good at any Michigan State Park and Recreation Area. Many of the parks will have a hammock available for you to borrow for the day. So grab your book, pick a park, and enjoy a relaxing—and FREE—day of reading outdoors.

The program is sponsored by Macy’s and The HammockCompany.com.

June 5, 2009

Early Release of Google Chrome for Macs Now Available

Google has issued an early preview release of its Chrome browser for Mac OS X and Linux, though the company warns that the download is "an incomplete, unpredictable, and potentially crashing software." Nevertheless, if you are a Mac user and you like to play with problematic software, you can download it here.

When Google launched Chrome last year, the browser was available only on Windows. It is used by about 1% of computer users, according to recent numbers.

If you are a Windows user and are interested in browsers other than Microsoft's Internet Explorer, here are some ideas. Or read our review of Google Chrome for Windows.

June 4, 2009

How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live

Time Magazine has published a feature article on How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live written by Steven Johnson.
“The one thing you can say for certain about Twitter is that it makes a terrible first impression. You hear about this new service that lets you send 140-character updates to your “followers,” and you think, Why does the world need this, exactly? It’s not as if we were all sitting around four years ago scratching our heads and saying, “If only there were a technology that would allow me to send a message to my 50 friends, alerting them in real time about my choice of breakfast cereal.”

[via iLibrarian]

A Book Lover's Summer

Here are The Wall Street Journal's best reads for this summer.

[via EarlyWord]

American's Watched 16.8 Billion Online Videos in April

I find this remarkable: U.S. Internet users viewed 16.8 billion online videos during April 2009, an increase of 16% versus March, according to comScore, a company which measures the digital world. That’s 56 downloads for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. in April.

YouTube was the top U.S. video site with 6.7 million viewers.

Google Wave, The Future of Email?

Google recently made a huge splash at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco when it announced Google Wave, a new take on email and online collaboration. When I first saw it, I thought it looked like a Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Gmail mashup with an Outlook style interface. Here's a screenshot to give you an idea:

As you see, there is a lot going on in this interface. As Google describes it:
"A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.

A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time."
For a complete rundown, I would recommend visiting the "About Google Wave" page. Also, if you have time, I would encourage checking out the video below in which Google Wave is demonstrated. The video is lengthy, but incredibly interesting.

This looks amazing to me, and seems to take a greater step toward faster, more manageable online collaboration. You can try to sign up to "know when Google Wave will be ready" at this page if you're interested.

June 3, 2009

Windows 7 Available October 22

Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 – the company’s new operating system and successor to the much-criticized Windows Vista – will go sale and be available on new computers on October 22, reports Yahoo! Tech.

Microsoft will offer upgrades to Windows 7 for those who buy a new computer running Windows Vista shortly before the new operating system arrives. Those upgrades should be available in August.

June 2, 2009

Harvard Business on Twitter

According to the Harvard Business, new Twitter research finds that men follow men and nobody tweets.

[thanks to Natalie Zebula (@nzebula) at Lawrence Tech for this link)

Find Current Information Using Our New Search Box

Notice something new on The Tech Desk?

To the right, near the top, there is now a "Search Technology" search box. This will make it easier to find technology information in our entire "neighborhood" -- on our site and all the other sites and blogs we read.

Here's how it works: You remember that we have written on a topic of interest to you, for example, Library electronic resources available to use on your iPod. So you search "iPod" in the search box. The results are displayed, with the first tab showing results from our blog; the second, results on the sites to which we are linked; and the third, results from the blogs we read:

So not only do you find a reference to our posts on the subject -- for instance, More Titles from OverDrive to be iPod Compatible -- but in the second and third tabs you find posts from several other sites we've referenced. This means that you will be able to use The Technology Desk as the starting point for your research on current technology issues.

Try it out and let us know what you think.

The Birth of the Digi-novel

Recently, USA Today reported that Anthony Zuiker, creator of the CSI television shows, has teamed up with Dutton Books to introduce the "digi-novel," a term coined by Zuiker because it incorporates digital and print media to tell a story.

Zuiker claims that the concept of the digi-novel is a "revolution in publishing for the YouTube generation." Readers will first read the novel in print and then go online to view video clips that further develop the storyline. Michelle Kerns, writing on examiner.com, says that while online, "Readers will also be able to participate in a community portal that features alternative storylines, different characters, and, according to Dutton, 'countless ancillary levels of story enrichment.'"

Zuiker's digi-novel, Level 26: Dark Origins, is the first book in a three book series about a government investigator who pursues serial killers. Level 26: Dark Origin is scheduled to be published in September

June 1, 2009

More Summer Reading Suggestions

Looking for more summer reading?

EarlyWord looks at two new summer books roundups: the first, from four regular National Public Radio commentators; and the second from the RealSimple blog.

When you are finished noting your picks, come into the Library and check them out!

Save Cash by Feeding the Children Cheaply

Traveling with young children this summer? Or just looking for an inexpensive dinner option for your family? Here are more than 50 restaurants where children can eat free or for very inexpensively (under $1), compiled by FrugalLivingTV.

Note that some of the restaurants have certain restrictions to receive the free food, such as restricting days or times, or requiring that a child be accompanied by an adult purchasing a meal. And it is always a good idea to call the restaurant location you plan on attending before arriving with a car full of hungry young people.

[via Lifehacker]