July 31, 2009

Would You Eat Library-Themed Ice Cream?

A Facebook group called "People for a library-themed Ben & Jerry's flavor" has attracted over 5,000 members, and is bent on petitioning the ice-cream company into submission. The group's suggestions for the new flavor include Gooey Decimal System, Chocolate Chip Bookie-Dough, and my favorite, Of Ice and M&M.

Read all about the cause in the
New Yorker, or join the Facebook group yourself.

One Book, One Community Highlights the Novels of Jane Austen

One Book, One Community programs bring communities together for stimulating discussions about a common reading experience. This year, the Troy Public Library, in cooperation with the Suburban Library Cooperative and its member libraries, is pleased to offer a series of discussions and programs about The Novels of Jane Austen.

Our Booked for Lunch program will feature Emma on September 9.

Enhance your reading experience even more by attending these great programs sponsored by the Friends of the Troy Public Library:

Jane Austen and her World, August 5, at 7 pm. Annick Hivert-Carthew will introduce you to Jane Austen through her letters, pictures and artifacts. Register here or by calling 248.524.3542.

Jane Austen Film Festival, September 12, from 12 noon to 5 pm. Emma and Bride and Prejudice, the Bollywood adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Join us for one or both films and enjoy tea and scones between showings (recommended for older teens and above). Register here (beginning August 10) or by calling 248.524.3542.

One Book, One Community Tea, October 14, at 1 pm. Elliot Engel, PhD will present The Brilliance of Jane Austen followed by a light tea at the Macomb Intermediate School District in Clinton Township. This free event requires advance registration beginning August 3.

For more information, please visit the One Book, One Community website beginning August 3, or pick up a reading or program guide at the Troy Library.

July 30, 2009

Traditional Library Services in the 21st Century: A Visit to the Digital Bookmobile

I dropped by the Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn today, to see the OverDrive Digital Bookmobile. OverDrive is one of our vendors of downloadable titles – those audiobooks, ebooks, and videos that you can download directly from our website to your computer, no matter where you are or what time it is, as long as you have an Internet connection and a Troy Library card.

The Digital Bookmobile is a 21st century take on a traditional library service. It is an 18-wheel tractor-trailer that houses interactive exhibits which explain what downloadabes are, and which show how to use them. The company is bringing its Digital Bookmobile to area libraries to promote this popular service.

The Dearborn Library organized a nice event, with a county fair feel. As I approached the area, I could see several tents: cookies and key chains distributed by the Library Friends; a drawing for two Sansa mp3 players held by the Library staff; information provided by OverDrive; and even a trio playing music.

But nothing was as impressive as the Bookmobile itself. It was huge. It is one thing to read about an 18-wheel tractor trailer outfitted with enough electronic equipment for a small library; it is another thing to see it close up, painted in the pastel company colors.

Upon entering, I first encountered a screen – several, in fact – explaining what downloadables are.

After viewing this well-done, introductory explanation, I moved into the next area of the bookmobile that housed about a dozen computers – both PCs and Apples. Here, visitors could sample a selection of audiobooks, ebooks, and video. I listened to a few minutes of The Cat in the Hat. The quality of the recording was sharp, and the presentation was pleasant and user-friendly.

I then moved to the next section of the mobile where there were several portable devices on display – from an Apple iPod to a Sony Reader.

The OverDrive staff helpfully explained to visitors the downloading process, and what the strengths and weaknesses of the various devices were.

After I left the Bookmobile, I spoke for a few minutes with Julie Schaefer, the Library’s Deputy Director. She was very enthusiastic about the public response to the Bookmobile, and to the Library’s downloadable service. Indeed, in the few minutes I was there, a steady stream of Dearborn Library users entered the Bookmobile.

Julie reminded me that several libraries were reporting increases of up to 100% in downloadable use after a visit by the bookmobile. As Dearborn and Troy have been in a friendly competition to see which library could generate the most use of this service, she was please that her library would certainly see a bump in activity. (From January through July, Troy was just edging out Dearborn in total OverDrive use.)

Congratulations to Julie and her staff for a great outreach and public relations event. It will certainly improve the recognition and use of downloadables throughout the area.

We are hoping to have the OverDrive Bookmobile come to Troy within the next several months. In the meantime, if you would like to try this service, go to the Troy OverDrive site, or drop by the Library’s Technology Desk, and we’ll show you why this service is so convenient and popular.

Genealogists: Do You Use Your Public Library?

Attention genealogists: Do you use a Michigan public library to help you in your family research? If so, the Lansing State Journal would like to know. The Journal is conducting a poll about the use of local libraries for such research.

The poll ends at 7 pm tonight. Go to the Journal and click on Your Take, about halfway down the page.

This is a good way to let elected officials in Lansing know how important libraries are to the people of the State.

July 29, 2009

Tenant Sued for Tweeting about Moldy Apartment

An apartment management company is suing a Chicago woman for tweeting that her apartment contained mold.

According to Mai Ling, writing on the MSN Real Estate blog, tenant Amanda Bonnen’s tweet – “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay." – is being challenged in court by the Horizon Group Management, which said Bonnen’s post "maliciously and wrongfully" criticized her apartment.

The company is seeking $50,000 in damages in one of the first libel lawsuits involving the social networking site Twitter.

Writes Ling:
"Unfortunately for Horizon, the damage that Bonnen's tweet to her 20 followers would have caused the company is probably much less than the effect of this lawsuit. Now the company will forever be linked to a tenant's comment about her alleged moldy apartment, regardless of whether Horizon can prove the statement was false."

July 27, 2009

Learn about the Google Book Search Settlement at The Public Index

In October 2008, Google announced that it had reached a settlement with major publishers that would end the publishers’ copyright lawsuit against Google Books. In the settlement, Google would pay publishers and authors $125 million. In exchange, the company would 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. A final approval was originally scheduled for May 2009.

Almost immediately, opposition arose from some publishers and academic institutions, who were concerned about Google receiving a monopoly over millions of orphaned books – those titles were a copyright holder cannot be found. A federal judge ordered a four-month delay to the settlement, to give time to the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the antitrust implications of the deal.

For those of you interested in this issue – including its impact on authors, booksellers, librarians, and copyright law – you might want to check out The Public Index. This site is dedicated to studying and discussing this proposed settlement. Here, you can browse and annotate the settlement, section-by-section. In addition, you can:
  • Study the reading room of lawsuit documents
  • Join the conversation in the forums
  • Draft an amicus brief to the court on the wiki
The Public Index is a project of the Public-Interest Book Search Initiative and the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School, a group of professors, students, and volunteers who believe that the Google Book Search lawsuit and settlement deserve a full, careful, and thoughtful public discussion.

The site’s creators write:
“This is a site for everyone, dedicated to no particular point of view other than the advancement of dialogue and understanding. We hope that the site will help the settlement’s fans and foes dispel misunderstandings and find common ground, and that those who have not made up their minds will find the facts and explanations they need to reach informed decisions for themselves”

Can the Kindle Really Improve on the Book?

Thinking about buying a Kindle 2? Nicholson Baker from the New Yorker bought one, but then again, how could he not?
"Everybody was saying that the new Kindle was terribly important—that it was an alpenhorn blast of post-Gutenbergian revalorization. In the Wall Street Journal, the cultural critic Steven Johnson wrote that he’d been alone one day in a restaurant in Austin, Texas, when he was seized by the urge to read a novel. Within minutes, thanks to Kindle’s free 3G hookup with Sprint wireless — they call it Whispernet — he was well into Chapter 1 of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty ($9.99 for the e-book, $10.20 for the paperback). Writing and publishing, he believed, would never be the same."

Baker gives a thorough review (seven pages online) of his Kindle 2, elaborating on his personal experience, as well as citing celebrities and "ordinary people" alike. With convincing arguments both for and against digital media, I do wonder if the Kindle or other similar devices will ever become mainstream and functional enough to truly replace ink on paper.

[via The New Yorker]

Digital Bookmobile Comes to the Dearborn Public Library

Remember old library bookmobile, that would drive around town delivering paper copies of books to you right in your neighborhood? Well, OverDrive, one of Troy Public Library's downloadable providers, has brought the bookmobile into the 21st century.

The new OverDrive Digital Bookmobile
doesn't deliver physical books to people. Instead, it is an 18-wheel tractor-trailer that houses interactive exhibits to show people how to download library items without having to leave home. Visitors will be able to sample downloadable ebooks, audiobooks, and video available from OverDrive. The Bookmobile features broadband connected PCs and an array of portable digital devices such as MP3 players and ebook readers.

The OverDrive Digital Bookmobile will be at the Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn on July 30 from 11 am to 5 pm. The Troy Library is in the same OverDrive group as Dearborn, so OverDrive items found in the catalog there can also be accessed through Troy's OverDrive site, as long as you have a valid Troy Library card.

If you go, let us know what you think!

Apple to Launch Kindle Competitor this Fall?

Apple is getting ready for a Fall launch of a tablet computer with a touch screen like the iPhone or iPod, reports the Financial Times. The new computer will not run the full Mac operating system, but a slimmed down version limited to running one application at a time.

Apple hopes that its new machine will increase the sale of its music downloads. The new tablet will have a larger screen than an iPod or iPhone, to give users the experience of looking at a 12" album sleeves from the recording industry's past, when music was recorded onto vinyl. The bigger display might include videos, photographs, sleeve notes and lyrics for a song or album.

The device is expected to have Wi-Fi capabilities and to be able to download and stream music and run applications. There are no indications about the price or screen size of the machine.

Some of the impetus for this new tablet is believed to have come from record companies which have seen their incomes plummet because far fewer now buy entire albums; Apple's iTunes Music Store, launched in 2003, allows people to download single tracks rather than buying the whole album at once – drastically cutting the income for the record company.

There is also speculation that the computer will contain ebook capabilities, making it an immediate rival to Amazon's Kindle. "It would be a color, flat-panel TV to the old-fashioned, black and white TV of the Kindle," one publishing executive told the Financial Times.

[via Guardian Online]

The World's Oldest Bible Goes Digital

Today, technology is helping libraries protect print material -- especially old and rare material -- from damage. See how you can read the world's oldest bible online, from Time magazine.

July 25, 2009

Office 2007 Training from Scratch

Are you looking to learn Office 2007 from scratch? The Microsoft Office website has an excellent resource for learning Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. Geared to the true beginner, this training walks you through Office 2007 programs step-by-step.

July 24, 2009

Libraries Throw a Lifeline During These Tough Times

Tough times can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn.

To help, the Troy Library has joined up with several other area libraries to create Tough Times: Recession Resources. This website has resources that can help you during today’s difficult economy. The site has information on
  • Filing an unemployment claim;
  • Finding affordable health insurance;
  • Finding a job;
  • Keeping your home;
  • Repairing and maintaining credit; and
  • Receiving assistance with utilities, food banks, and general assistance.
Take a look. There is some great information here that might help in these tough times.

Filter Your RSS Feeds With FeedRinse

Occasionally, I come across a RSS feed subscription from which I only want certain articles. For example, I frequently follow Engadget Mobile via RSS feed. The problem is, I only want to see posts related to Verizon mobile products (as I am a Verizon customer), but there is no feed that allows me to only receive Verizon posts.

This is where FeedRinse steps in. FeedRinse lets you filter feeds based on keywords, authors, tags, and body information. All you have to do is enter your feeds into FeedRinse, create filters based on your interests, and then export your feeds back into your reader..

So with regards to my previously mentioned example, I would simply enter in the feed address for Engadget Mobile, and then setup my feed to only allow posts that have "Verizon" as a keyword. I then would export the new feed and receive only posts that I want to read.

I highly recommend FeedRinse to heavy RSS users, and anyone looking to cut back on their massive RSS overflow.

Highway Agency Recommended Cell Phone Ban While Driving in 2002

Recently, many studies have suggested that using your cell phone – to chat or text – while driving might be as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol.

It turns out that the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration – the federal agency that oversees transportation – issued a report in 2002 calling for a total ban on all cell phone use by drivers because of the risks involved.

The report was suppressed until recently, when two public interest groups obtained the document under the Freedom of Information Act.

In the report, the NHTSA recommends that "drivers do not use [cell phone] devices when driving, except in an emergency." The NHTSA's data showed that cell phone use by drivers was responsible for 240,000 accidents and 955 deaths nationwide in 2002.

Why was the report never released?

According to The New York Times, the then-head of the NHTSA said he held back from releasing the recommendations because of "larger political considerations," saying that lawmakers might have felt the agency had "crossed the line into lobbying." As a result, The Times reports, the NHTSA feared billions of dollars of federal funding could have been jeopardized.

The Times has the entire NHTSA report for viewing.

[via Yahoo! Tech]

Hyperlink to Another Document in Microsoft Excel 2007

One of the greatest features in the Microsoft Office Suite of products is the ability to reference and link to any other document or file on your computer or network. I will run through a quick tutorial on how to link to another document from within Microsoft Excel.

To start, open your document. Select the cell to which you would like to hyperlink.

Then, click on the Insert tab followed by the "Hyperlink" button. You will see the following screen.

If there was text in the cell that you selected to hyperlink, then it will appear in the "Text to display" box. Otherwise, you can specify what you would like the hyperlink to say by adding text to the "Text to display" box. (eg., Click here to see the file)

Next, select the file that you would like to be hyperlinked. This can be done by browsing through the mini-Explorer window beneath the "Text to display" box. Once you select the file to which you would like to link, click the "Ok" button.

You should now be presented with a new blue link in the original cell you selected. If you hover over the selected cell you can see to where the cell is now linked. To go to the location, hold the Ctrl key and click on the link.

That's it! You have successfully created a hyperlink to a document in an Excel document.

Fun Friday: Kevin Spacey Teaches Dave Letterman about Twitter

Actor Kevin Spacey introduced Dave Letterman to Twitter on July 21. Letterman, in his usual way, dismissed Twitter as "a waste of time." Writes Twitter founder Biz Stone on the Twitter blog: "That's generally how Twitter was characterized in 2007 so Dave's only two years behind — we'll give him a little more time to catch up."

Watch it here:

July 23, 2009

Today in Detroit History: July 23, 1967 - Urban Rebellion Shakes the Country

[The excerpt below is from "Or Does It Explode?" by Howard Zinn, noted historian, political scientist, and social activist.]

In 1967, in the black ghettos of the country, came the greatest urban riots of American history. According to the report of the National Advisory Committee on Urban Disorders, they "involved Negroes acting against local symbols of white American society," symbols of authority and property in the black neighborhoods-rather than purely against white persons. The Commission reported eight major uprisings, thirty-three "serious but not major" outbreaks, and 123 "minor" disorders. Eighty-three died of gunfire, mostly in Newark and Detroit. "The overwhelming majority of the persons killed or injured in all the disorders were Negro civilians."

The "typical rioter," according to the Commission, was a young, high school dropout but "nevertheless, somewhat better educated than his non-rioting Negro neighbor" and "usually underemployed or employed in a menial job." He was "proud of his race, extremely hostile to both whites and middle-class Negroes and, although informed about politics, highly distrustful of the political system."

The report blamed "white racism" for the disorders, and identified the ingredients of the "explosive mixture which has been accumulating in our cities since the end of World War II":
Pervasive discrimination and segregation in employment, education, and housing .. . growing concentrations of impoverished Negroes in our major cities, creating a growing crisis of deteriorating facilities and services and unmet human needs. ...

A new mood has sprung up among Negroes, particularly the young, in which self-esteem and enhanced racial pride are replacing apathy and submission to the "system."

Book Review: Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music

Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music by Greg Kot, music critic for the Chicago Tribune and co-host of NPR show Sound Opinions, is an excellent study of how the music industry has changed during the past decade.

Kot begins by discussing the state of the industry before the Internet: payola exchanged to get radio airplay; the increasing tendency for labels to look for a "hit" to move product instead of allowing artists' careers to develop; and the overall dominance of the major music labels. This began to change when artists such as Prince abandoned the major label system and began making distributing music through their own label, and, more importantly, with the development of the Internet.

Kot recounts the major music stories of the late 1990s and 2000s, including the rise and fall of Napster, the RIAA's court battles with consumers accused of illegal downloading, and the development of iTunes. This is framed within studies of bands such as Bright Eyes, Radiohead, and Wilco who have used the Internet to tremendous advantage to market their music.

One of the more important discussions is the influence that music blog and review sites such as Pitchfork play in the role of shaping a band's fortunes. For some, such as Arcade Fire, this has led to tremendous success. For others, such as Black Kids, whose initial EP was lauded by Pitchfork but whose album was panned with a one word review, this flavor-of-the-month celebrity can come at the expense of a band not yet ready for playing sold out shows at 2,000 seat venues.

Ripped is a great read for anyone looking into the recent history of the music industry. Those interested in music from the 1990s and 2000s, especially those who like indie rock, will also find much to love. Additionally, this is an excellent book for people whose industries are being affected by the new content distribution model which the Internet has made possible. By learning from the pitfalls of the music industry, industries where change is happening rapidly can be better prepared for the future

A Diamond Ring in the Sky

No, not an actual diamond ring. But a total solar eclipse, formed as the moon covers the sun, appeared as a diamond ring in the sky all over Asia on July 22. Hundreds of millions of people watched the longest total solar eclipse of 21st century.

[via The Hindu]

Library Journal is Tweeting

Technology is bringing the world together. There is no doubt in it. Did you know that the Library Journal is using Twitter? If you want to know latest updates in the library world, follow Library Journal.

July 22, 2009

Help Us Make Our Book Review Lists Better

One year ago, Troy Public Library began offering online book review lists to our patrons through the BookLetters service. Since then we have developed over 35 online lists, updated monthly or biweekly, on a variety of topics to keep you up-to-date on the Library's offerings.

In late February, we celebrated having over 400 patrons subscribed to book lists by email. Today, nearly 900 people have subscribed. Clearly this is a well-loved resource for our Library patrons.

In order to make sure our book lists are serving all of your interests, we created this quick survey. Please take a moment to give us feedback on this service and explore some of our new offerings on our book list subscription page.

Library's Facebook Fan Base Grows

Two weeks ago, we asked all of you with Facebook accounts to become a fan of the Troy Public Library. We needed 100 fans in order to have our own Facebook organizational web address – facebook.com/troylib – which is easier to remember and promote, and a match for our other social network site usernames.

Well you responded, and we now have over 130 fans and our new address. Thanks to all of you!

Our Facebook page is gearing up and is quickly becoming a great source of reliable information about the Library. Want to see what it is all about? Just go to facebook.com/troylib and take a look. And if you have a Facebook account, become a fan.

Sing about Bing and Win $500

Microsoft has launched a contest that invites you to sing a jingle about Bing – the company’s new search engine which has launched to positive reviews. Just create a video of yourself singing (no more than 5 minutes long) and upload it on Bing’s YouTube channel by July 31. Then, have all your friends vote on it, and you could win $500. Voting has begun and will continue through August 5.

Read the contest rules.

[via TechChrunch]

July 21, 2009

How Blogging Can Help Boost Your Career

According to Anthony Balderrama of the Detroit Free Press, creating and maintaining a blog can help supplement a resume or find a new job. A blog can also show potential employers that you are tech-savvy and motivated. The article suggests that blogging and developing a following should start when you are employed, if possible. Adrienne Waldo, a freelance writer and blogger, recommends writing about something about which you are passionate, but don't pretend to be an expert on the subject if you're not.

The Troy Public Library offers a Blogging for Beginners class on July 28 and again on August 24. To register online, go to our website at troylibrary.info and click on Sign Up for Exciting Classes and Programs at TPL at the bottom of the page. You will be directed to our calendar.
Or you can call the Technology Department at 248.524.3542.

July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite Broadcasts the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

The Apollo 11 moon landing, as broadcast by Walter Cronkite, 40 years ago on July 20, 1969.

[Thanks, @jrr1234]

July 15, 2009

100 Geeky Places to Take Your Kids This Summer

There's still time this summer for a worthwhile vacation. Do you want to take your kids somewhere fun and educational? You might enjoy LEGOLand, Mammoth Caves or the National Cryptolic Museum. GeekDad lists 100 geeky places to take your kids this summer


[via Wired.com]

52% of Computer Users Look at Spam

According to a study released by the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), 52% of computer users said that they have clicked on a spam e-mail.

Why? Seventeen percent said that they made a mistake, 12% said that they were interested in the product or service being offered, 13% said they simply had no idea why they did it, and another 6% "wanted to see what would happen."

Even though only a small percentage of computer users actually click on spam to try and purchase something, it remains profitable, as over 94% of email is spam, according to The New York Times.

[via Ars Technica]

Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11

In July, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission fulfilled President John F. Kennedy's challenge to have a successful manned expedition to the moon before the end of the 1990s. Here are several sites that honor this tremendous human achievement.

This site from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum attempts to recreate the Apollo 11 mission in real-time. Visitors can follow the progress of the mission through three different Twitter feeds. A mission counter will displays on what stage the mission is currently. The site also features audio, video, and photos from the mission.

Google Moon features a map showcasing the landing sites of the Apollo Missions.

This site contains links to various NASA websites commemorating Apollo 11's 40th anniversary.

For current news about spaceflight around the moon, visit the website of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter or follow its Twitter feed.

July 14, 2009

Top Technology Trends Today

I just returned from one of my favorite cities, Chicago, where I attended the American Library Association's annual conference. Of the ten workshops I attended, my personal favorite was the Top Technology Trends panel put on by the Library & Information Technology Association (LITA).

The panel consisted of Library Technology experts: Eric Lease Morgan, Joan Frye Williams, Clifford Lynch, John Blyberg, Geert van den Boogaard and Roy Tennant. Their comments and predictions were presented to a packed ballroom, humming with the clicks of blogger's keyboards and tweeter's mobile phones. At the time of the event, the discussion was streaming live. The entire presentation can now be viewed on Ustream.

Mobile and Accessible

The panel confirmed many of the technological advances we have already written about here at The Tech Desk. Much of their discussion was devoted to the rise in mobile technology and the practical application of mobile devices in libraries. When asked to address the access gap, Williams stated: "More people have mobile phones than have ever had computers." Lynch added that "mobile devices are rented by the month. In some ways that makes them more accessible."

Panelists also spoke on the rise of cloud computing. While the concept of cloud computing is an exciting trend, some heeded caution. Said Lynch, "Bandwidth is a problem and it's getting bigger. The rise of the cloud is pure rhetoric if the bandwidth can’t support it."

Lynch also spoke on the disappearance of data: "How much are we willing to put into the cloud, and how much are we willing to trust it? ... Some things are just vanishing suddenly, but we aren’t dealing with the consequences. Corporate records, corporate history, public records."

Blyberg addressed end-user technology tools creating rapid trending. However when asked if Google, Twitter, and Facebook are encouraging group-think and making us dumber, he was quick to argue the contrary: The internet is a tool that has made us smarter than ever before.

The Flow, The Cloud, The Rain

In the end, it was Tennant's metaphor for technology trends as the Water Cycle that resonated the most with me. Tennant's comments were broken into three segments, The Flow, The Cloud and The Rain.

"The Flow" is information flowing on the internet as streams of data. A prime example of this is Twitter's constant stream of user comments. The downside to this flow is that after a significant period of time, the data is impossible to find: too far buried beneath new information.

"The Cloud" refers back to previously mentioned trends in cloud computing and their effects on servers and data storage.

"The Rain" symbolizes our state of economic recession, which seems to be affecting all libraries, large and small. Tennant's advice was, "Think carefully about how to cut wisely." He warns that in order for libraries to come out of the recession "on top" and continue to serve our communities in the best way possible, we need to be cautious and innovative with the ways in which we save money.

July 13, 2009

Microsoft Office 2010 in Technical Preview

According to Yahoo! Finance, Microsoft has just released the “technical preview” of Office 2010 (also called Office 14), giving a select group of technology-savvy testers an early peek the company’s latest office application software. Office 2010 is scheduled for general release early next year.

Microsoft is updating the software package to add more ways for people to work simultaneously on documents, organize their e-mail and edit videos and photos, among other changes. And for the first time, Microsoft is adding free companion versions that run in a web browser. The company is trying to defend against a long-developing trend in which software is moving from the desktop to the web.

[see also this article from the Guardian]

Tiger Fans: Free Arby's Roast Beef Sandwich

Today only, you can get a free regular roast beef sandwich from Arby's by bringing in a copy of the box score from yesterday's Detroit Tigers baseball game. The Tigers won 10 to 1 against the Cleveland Indians and recorded three home-runs.

Here is a link to the box score from the game. Just print it out and take it to your nearest Arby's to get your free sandwich.


July 12, 2009

Google's Microsoft Moment?

Has Google reached its "Microsoft Moment?" That is the point when the difference between the company's internal conception of itself starts to diverge just a bit too far from the public perception of the company, and even starts to diverge from reality.

Blogger Anil Dash argues that it has: "There are notable trends going on across Google today that could cause the company to compromise its stated values and that will certainly cause people to think Google is being evil, if not corrected."

Read Google's Microsoft Moment. Very interesting.

[via @zephoria on Twitter]

July 9, 2009

See Which Search Engine You Really Prefer With Blind Search

I have been playing around with Microsoft's new search engine, Bing. I wanted to give Bing a fair shot at being my go-to search engine, but I also wanted to make sure that I was getting the most accurate results.

This led me to a great site, Blind Search, which allows the user to do a simultaneous search of Bing, Google, and Yahoo. The results are displayed blindly (with no identifying label) in three columns. After you vote for the column that best matches your preferred results, the name of the search engine that you chose will appear. You can see which search engine most frequently presents your preferred results without the bias of knowing the site you are on.

Here is a screenshot of the search before you vote for the search engine of your choosing:

Here is a screenshot of the search after you vote.

After using Blind Search for awhile, I quickly noticed that Bing and Google produced the best results for me. The great results that Bing produced were quite surprising as I have always been a die-hard Google-r.

I definitely encourage everyone to check out "Blind Search," and see which search engine works best for you.

July 8, 2009

Google Announces Its Own Operating System

The blogging world has been abuzz with Google's announcement that it was launching an operating system -- Chrome OS -- to take on Microsoft's market-dominating Windows systems. From the official Google Blog:
"Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we're already talking to partners about the project, and we'll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve."

Google will be relying on help from the open-source community to develop this project.

Will it work and erode the Microsoft monolith? Or is just a slap by Google at its main computer competitor?

Here are some opinions from around the web:

All Roads Lead to Chrome OS

Google Plans a PC Operating System

Google's Operating System Escalates Microsoft Duel

Google Chrome: Redefining the Operating System

Five Questions About Google Chrome OS

Why We Need to Chill About ChromeOS

Why Google's Chrome OS Bomb Has Minimal Fallout on Apple

Become a Fan of the Troy Public Library

With a nod to the car talk guys, this one is from the Shameless Promotions Division of the Technology Department:

Facebook, the social networking site, is now allowing organization pages to use their usernames for their URLs.

What does this mean?

It means that the Library's Facebook page, instead of having some long, hard-to-remember URL (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Troy-MI/Troy-Public-Library/104777508661), will have
www.facebook.com/troylib -- easier to remember and a match for our other social network sites usernames.

The catch? We need 100 of you Facebook users to become a fan of the Library. And why not? What better place around than the Troy Public Library!

Our Facebook page isn't very active now, but as we launch our new website, and roll out some of our other Web 2.0 tools, I promise you that it will be a great source of reliable information.

Take a look. Then become our fan.

Read a Short Story This Summer

Looking to get in some summer reading, but don't want to read a novel? Or, do you just read novels and haven't read any short stories recently? Book publisher Harper Perennial has created Fifty-Two Stories, a blog that posts a complete short story each week. Most are new. However several classics will also be posted. Authors include Dennis Cooper, Alex Burrett, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and more.

If you haven't read a short story recently, it is worth a look.

[via Pop Candy]

July 7, 2009

Federal Websites Knocked Out by Cyber Attack

A widespread and unusually resilient computer attack that began July 4 knocked out the websites of several government agencies, including some that are responsible for fighting cyber crime, The Associated Press has reported.

The Treasury Department, Secret Service, Federal Trade Commission and Transportation Department sites were all down at varying points over the holiday weekend and into this week, according to officials inside and outside the government. Some of the sites were still experiencing problems on the evening of July 7.

Federal government officials refused to publicly discuss any details of the cyber attack, and would only generally acknowledge that it occurred. It was not clear whether other government sites also were attacked.

Others familiar with the outage, which is called a denial of service attack, said that the fact that the government sites were still being affected three days after it began signaled an unusually lengthy and sophisticated attack.

Read the entire article at Yahoo! Finance.

Do You Poken?

With all the social networking sites available these days (Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin - oh my!) it can be hard to keep track of all your user information -- and tricky to exchange information with new contacts.

What happens when you attend a conference and meet new people face-to-face? Gone are the days of giving out phone numbers or email addresses via tiny business cards that can only hold so much information. Time to start poken!

Poken ($19.95 from pokenzoo.com) is a small USB device that stores your personal profile containing links to your listings on all your social networking sites. When two pokens touch palm-to-palm the data is exchanged so that you can instantly share contact information with another poken user. Then, when you plug the poken USB into your computer, the data you have collected is downloaded to your machine. One poken can store up to 64 different contacts, so if you're a real social butterfly you might want to invest in a few.

If you're not quite ready to take the poken plunge, Moo Cards are a slightly less expensive option. Design your own business cards and Moo Cards will print them and send them to you.

Some companies, such as VistaPrint, offer free business cards (you pay for shipping) but they will include their logo on the back of the card. Remember, when designing your business cards, the info side of your business card does not have to be the "standard" name, position, company, etc. You can share any information you want, including your social networking sites and usernames.

July 6, 2009

Microsoft Hohm: Saving Energy and Money

Microsoft has unveiled a new website that tries to help people save energy and money. The website, Microsoft Hohm, is still in beta, but it already offers great tips for conserving energy and saving cash.

The site provides tips such as how to set up your thermostat, how to seal your home with weather-stripping, and how to replace the filter in your furnace.

From the Microsoft Hohm blog:
"Microsoft Hohm is a free online beta application that helps you save energy and money. With Microsoft Hohm you can better understand your home energy usage, get recommendations to conserve energy and start saving. As with any recommendation engine, Hohm will provide increasingly more accurate and relevant suggestions for energy conservation as its users contribute home energy input and feedback. One of the objectives during our beta period is to refine our tool and further increase the value our product can offer to you."

You can sign up or read more at Microsoft Hohm.

July 2, 2009

Happy Birthday to… Us!

A year ago, after discussing it for several months within the Library’s Technology Department, we started this blog. In our first post, Welcome to The Tech Desk, I wrote that we had two reasons for this project.

First, we wanted to continue the discussion we have with our public around technology issues. We wanted to share new websites and tools, improve our skills, and create a searchable body of knowledge useful for both Library staff and our users.

Second, we wanted to play with Web 2.0 technology. We had just begun a website redesign – a design of which we are in the final steps – and wanted to explore content management: allowing and encouraging all staff members to contribute to the content on our website. We believed, and still do, that such a site will be more user-friendly for our public and staff.

After a year, I would evaluate our progress as a success.

In terms of content, we have posted 556 stories, an average of nearly two per day. At the beginning, I set a goal of 20 stories a month: one per full-time staff per week, and one per part-time staff per month. But many staff members discovered that the more they wrote, the easier it was to write more. We have passed on new sites and tips from our computer classes, reviewed browsers and new products, commented on technology news, and publicized Library events.

In June 2009, our site was hit 2,200 times – not a bad number. We believe we have created a space for many of our technology-savvy Library users to keep in contact with the staff. We receive a slow, but steady stream of comments. And, as an added benefit, we have used The Tech Desk as a teaching tool for non-Technology Department staff, suggesting sites, resources, and computing tips.

In addition, the staff has used The Tech Desk to learn Web 2.0. We have learned how to write interesting, brief articles for the web that appeal to a broad range of computer user. We have learned to put sometimes complex processes into simple, step-by-step terms. And, though contributing to this blog has been voluntary, nearly 80% of the Department has chosen to do so.

And again, an unintended benefit is that by using this blog, staff has gained the confidence and interest to explore other social network sites, and expand the Library’s web presence on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and elsewhere.

So on our first birthday, I want to say thank you to all of you for reading us, making suggestions, sending ideas, and contributing to the success of The Tech Desk.

Library of Michigan Hosts Genealogists' Seminar, July 17-18, in Lansing

The Library of Michigan's 2009 Abrams Genealogy Seminar -- One Step, Many Solutions -- will take place July 17 and July 18 at the Michigan Library and Historical Center in Lansing.

Stephen Morse, a popular speaker well known for his outstanding One-Step Webpages, will present the keynote address on July 18 -- "One-Step Webpages: A Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools" -- co-sponsored by the Eaton County Genealogical Society. Morse will give a second program, "One-Step Webpages: A Hodgepodge of Lesser-Known Gems," that same day.

Participants will learn about cemetery research, Michigan death records, online research for the British Isles and New England, and the collections at the Library of Michigan and other regional research institutions. See the complete schedule of events and registration form. Registration is $40, which includes a boxed lunch on July 18.

If you have questions about the Seminar, contact Kris Rzepczynski, Michigan/Genealogy Coordinator, Library of Michigan, rzepczynskik@michigan.gov.

July 1, 2009

More Books to Add to Your Reading List

As if you don't have enough summer reading to do, Newsweek has published a new reading list. Instead of the traditional "summer reading" list, the magazine features "What to Read Now. And Why." These are not necessarily recently published books, but they do relate in some way to the current world issues.

From the article:
The fact is, no one needs another best-of list telling you how great The Great Gatsby is. What we do need, in a world with precious little time to read (and think), is to know which books — new or old, fiction or nonfiction — open a window on the times we live in, whether they deal directly with the issues of today or simply help us see ourselves in new and surprising ways.

Award Winning Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Announced

More summer reading:

Here, from
Locus, the magazine of the science fiction and industry field, are the 2009 best science fiction and fantasy books.

Interested in sci-fi and fantasy? Then check out Tech librarian John Robertson's Science and Fantasy BookLetter. Subscribe here.

[via EarlyWord]