November 26, 2009

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

Another sign that the times are changing:

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

Happy Holiday!

November 24, 2009

Mango Basic Language Learning Program Now Available at Troy

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 20, 2009

Microsoft Office 2010 Beta Released

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

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

Download Microsoft Office 2010 here.

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

November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month

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

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

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

November 18, 2009

Top Words of the Decade

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

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

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

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

November 17, 2009

Where to Read Free Books Online

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

November 16, 2009

Amazon Releases Kindle for PC Application

Competition for ebook readers has been heating up.

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

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

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

November 12, 2009

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

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

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

November 11, 2009

Dell Steps into the Future with Wireless Charging Laptop

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

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

Panda Releases First Cloud Antivirus -- Absolutely Free

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

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

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

The Future of Reading

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

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

November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Firefox!

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

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

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

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

Images: Firefox Through the Ages (via ZDNet)

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

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

November 3, 2009

How to Be Polite on Facebook

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

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