December 31, 2009

Some End-of-the-Year Reading

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

The 100 Essential Websites from the Guardian of London

How Google Changed the Game in 2009 from Smartware

Newspapers and Technology: Network Effects from The Economist

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

Happy new year to all!

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

Read more at Yahoo! News.

Technology in '10

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

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

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

What do you think?

December 29, 2009

Share PowerPoint Presentations Easily Online with

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

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

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

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

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

December 28, 2009

First Round of Broadband Stimulus Grants Announced

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

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

Three libraries are among the earliest grantees.

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

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

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

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

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


Seattle Tops List of Literate Cities

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

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

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

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

Dr. Miller writes:

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

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

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

[via EarlyWord]

Stephen King's Top 10 Books of 2009

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

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

[via EarlyWord]

OverDrive Releases Android Audiobook App

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

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

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

Read more about the OverDrive Media Console for Android.

December 22, 2009

Recorded Books Cancels Downloadable Video Service

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

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

For Windows XP:

  1. Click Start.

  2. Click Programs.

  3. Click PermissionTV.

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

  2. Click All Programs

  3. Click PermissionTV

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

December 18, 2009

Troy Library Offers Titles for eBook Readers

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

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

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

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

December 16, 2009

Tech Gifts Under $50

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

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

December 14, 2009

Books for Travelers

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

December 9, 2009

Tips for Avoiding Online Scams

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

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

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

December 7, 2009

Early Look at Nook

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

December 5, 2009

2009 Holiday Gift Guide

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

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

December 4, 2009

eBook Popularity Continues

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

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

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

December 3, 2009

Send Holiday Greetings with Gmail

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

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

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

December 2, 2009

Rebalance Your Portfolio Using Morningstar

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

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

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

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

December 1, 2009

PC Magazine's Favorite Blogs of 2009

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

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

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