August 19, 2010

A Quick Look at Novelist: The "Pandora" of Reading

Pandora is a service that many people use to listen to new music based on their tastes. You enter in a particular artist, and Pandora will play a constant stream of music based on the genre, sound, and user recommendations for the artist entered.

This is almost exactly how Novelist works, except instead of music, it is geared toward books. A user enters in information about a genre, author, subject, or year into the Novelist search box, and it will find books that Novelist thinks are related to your description. In addition, you can find similar novels to popular titles, such as the Best-Sellers, listed directly beneath the titles when you first access the Novelist homepage.

In its most basic form, Novelist is a book recommendation eResource. Let's say you have just finished the latest Lee Child novel and you wanted to find authors with a similar writing style. You could perform a search for "Lee Child" under the Author search, and you'll be taken to a page that not only lists every book he has written, but Novelist will also list similar genres that you can select to find additional titles and authors with a similar writing style. Novelist also features reviews, plot lines, and the option to create an account to keep track of books you are interested in, and have read.

Novelist provides you with some extensive tutorials to get the most out of this excellent eResource. You can find these tools here. Finally, here is a quick PowerPoint, that I found helpful for discovering the great features of Novelist.

The Troy Public Library currently subscribes to 3 different Novelist products. The main product, Novelist, features fiction titles. Novelist Plus features fiction titles and also readable non-fiction. Novelist K-8 Plus features fiction and nonfiction titles for younger readers.

To access any Novelist product, you will need a Troy Public Library card. Go to our website and click eResources on the left under Library Links. Click on Literature and Reading, then Novelist, Novelist Plus, or Novelist K-8 Plus.Try it out and let us know what you think.

Mobile Tagging

You may have recently noticed colorful, two-dimensional boxes appearing on the pages of your favorite magazines like Entertainment Weekly and Woman's Day. These graphics are used for mobile tagging. Mobile tagging is the process of providing data on mobile devices, through the use of information encoded in a two-dimensional barcode, meant to be read and inputted using a camera phone.

Microsoft Tags are an example of mobile tagging. Microsoft Tags are a machine readable web link. Users can download the free Microsoft Tag reader application to their Internet-capable mobile device with camera, launch the reader and read a tag using their phone's camera. The Tag reader then directs the user's mobile browser to the appropriate website. The Tags included in the issues of Woman's Day allow readers to gain instant access to sweepstakes, recipes, and coupons. The Tags in Entertainment Weekly allow readers to view movie trailers and music videos on their mobile devices.

qrcodeAnother mobile tagging option are QR codes. QR codes are two-dimensional codes also readable by mobile phones with cameras. The QR code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. QR codes were initially used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, but are now used for mobile tagging. Try scanning the QR at the left to see where it takes you.

There are currently about a dozen different types of two-dimensional barcodes worldwide. It is necessary to install the specific software for the reader on the mobile device.

For more on Microsoft Tags, visit their website here. For more about QR codes, go here.

August 16, 2010

Top 100 Web Sites of 2010 has published its list of the Top 100 Web Sites of 2010. The list is comprised of 50 classic sites and 50 undiscovered sites.

Classic sites listed include Microsoft's Bing search engine,
freeware and shareware hosting site, and the Troy Public Library's instant messaging client of choice, Meebo.

New, undiscovered sites include CeeVee
, an online resume creator; Clicker, a guide to streaming TV and movies on the Internet; and Critical Past, which houses a collection of over 7 million historic photographs and 57,000 historic videos.

Have you tried any of these out? What are some sites that you think should have been included? Let us know by leaving a comment.

August 13, 2010

Fun Friday: Galactic Inbox

Gmail is at it again. In the past, you could get stickers from them or have them send someone a holiday postcard. Now, they have a game based on Gmail. Galactic Inbox is an HTML5 game designed by Google Creative Technologist Paul Truong which allows you to control a Gmail envelope which shoots such hazards as trash, spam, and old email systems which only limited you to a 2 MB inbox. Galactic Inbox is perfect for a very brief afternoon diversion and also as an exploration of HTML5. To play the game, you will need to be using a browser that supports HTML5, such as Google Chrome.

August 4, 2010

RIP Google Wave: 2009-2010

When it was announced last year, all of us at The Tech Desk were pretty excited about the launch of Google Wave. Google Wave endeavoured to combine instant messaging, email, and sharing into a new real time collaboration tool.  However, Google Wave never achieved the audience that it hoped for. With this blog post on the Official Google Blog, Google is officially phasing out Wave at the end of the year.

Did you use Wave? What did you like or not like about it? Do you think it could have survived if it was not an invite only release for so long? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment.