Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You Watch, You Know

The library recently added WatchKnow to it's list of recommended Homework Help Web sites. WatchKnow, developed and launched by Dr. Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, gathers and organizes educational videos for students ages 3 to 18. Currently featuring more than 11,000 videos across 2,000 categories on subjects such as math, science and history, this site provides students a YouTube experience that focuses on quality educational content. Video content comes from National Geographic, YouTube and Google Videos, among others, and has been endorsed by educators from Harvard, Stanford, Brigham Young and more. The search tool allows you to type in keywords and apply an age filter (3-18 or 17-18, for example), or you can browse by a specific category/subject.

Be sure to check out all of our recommended Homework Help resources online and at the library on our Youth Services page of our Web site.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Plan on buying a laptop?

Asus, Toshiba Have Lowest Failure Rates, Says Study

Laptops from Asus and Toshiba, followed by Sony and Apple, had the lowest failure rates of the nine manufacturers included in a report from Square Trade, a provider of electronics warranties. Hewlett-Packard, which is the world’s largest producer of PCs, came in last.

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Handcrafted" Gifts

Holiday gifts from the heart (versus a big box store) are more personal and probably less expensive than anything you could buy, and are probably more appreciated, as well. Consider labeling your creations as artisanal or handcrafted, as these are words that are often used in advertising to describe creations (food, beverage or otherwise) that are made by hand, usually in small batches. Sounds a bit more posh than homemade, don't you think?

One of my favorite Web sites for craft ideas is Aside from making great gifts, these crafts will give something for kids to do before the holidays arrive. Consider outsourcing the table centerpiece or napkin rings to the children in your family. Check out their Christmas 2009, Chanukah and Kwanzaa pages.

Other good sites for holiday/Winter craft projects include:
Resources at the library to help get you started on a "handcrafted" holiday:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NASA Outsources Mars Exploration...

...just kidding (I think).

NASA and Microsoft recently launched a Web site where "Internet users can have fun while advancing their knowledge of Mars." The site, Be a Martian, allows you to participate as a citizen scientist and improve Martian maps, take part in research tasks (one task is counting craters) and assist Mars science teams studying data about the "Red Planet." One of the hoped-for outcomes is that the collaboration of thousands of "citizen scientists" would assist the real, NASA-employed scientists in producing better maps, for example. (Can I say that as a liberal arts major, with limited math/scientific skills, I might not be the citizen you want submitting data?) And of course, a Web site like this would inspire (hopefully current and future tax-payers) life-long learning and interest in the sciences, particularly space exploration.

To explore the Web site without actually signing up as a Martian, visit

P.S. Check out NASA's Mars Images and Videos and their All About Mars features

Store your resume, other documents online

Have you ever gone through the process of typing up a document (resume, etc.) here at the library and realize after the fact that you cannot save it to the library computer? If you don't happen to have a USB flash drive (or 3.5" floppy) with you, you'll be forced to either e-mail the contents of the document to yourself (and probably lose the formatting) or printing the document out and only having it as a hard copy.

If you don't want to deal with carrying a USB drive around with you, you may want to consider storing your documents online through a service like Google Documents, Zoho or ThinkFree (for a detailed comparison of these tools, see the July 16, 2008 article in ComputerWorld). These online office software tools allow you to create, manage, and collaborate on most types of office documents (traditional word processing, spreadsheets, presentations) — all on the Web. If you've created documents using Microsoft Office (available on all library public access computers), you can also upload those files (if you're using a library public computer, you'll need to save to a USB in order to upload) and make edits/store with few, if any changes to the formatting. Instead of installing software, these tools let you access and edit your files online. Bear in mind, however, that these free, online services do not include ALL the features/functionality that you'd find in the full Microsoft Office Suite (mail merge, for example), but for most folks using the library's public computers, these online office tools should be more than adequate.

Aside from being free and allowing you to access your files anytime, anywhere (as long as you have a Web connection), web-based applications provide a shared workspace, making it possible for you to allow other users access you files, edit and see changes in real-time. Of course, you're going to be dependent on the speed/reliability of your Internet connection and the vendor (Google, etc.) to keep these tools up and running -- things to think about if you are planning on chucking your Office software. However, for users (like our library patrons) who rely on using multiple or public computers to create/edit/access documents, these free tools are extremely useful.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Online Index to Ships in Books

If you're a historian, modelmaker, genealogist, fact-checker or anyone else who needs information about a particular ship/vessel, check out This free database includes over 100,000 entries, with the goal being over a million entries and eventually in non-English language resources. Along with entries on notables like the Titanic, you can use this database to find out about vessels that are mentioned in just one or two resources. The content indexed in the database includes books on whaling, warfare, fishing, immigration, trade, disasters, slavery, and much, much more. This database would be of particular interest to the professional or occasional genealogist trying to learn more about a specific vessel on which an individual traveled.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Use Clicker to Find Full-Length Video Content

Clicker is a new video directory service that, unlike Google or Bing, lists only full-length video content. The search (you can search by show, actor or topic) makes it easy to narrow in on what you're looking for, as it does NOT include related clips or mere snippets of videos, only the links to the full-length content. You can also browse shows by category (documentary, cooking, etc.) and by title. The site is constantly updated, meaning content is continually added and removed. The removal is key, as you know how frustrating it is to queue up a video and then get the message that the video is currently unavailable due to copyright restrictions, etc. If video to your favorite show is unavailable, Clicker will tell you that versus just not showing results. For example, I searched for videos of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the page that returned gave a description of the show and information that the distributor has not made any episodes available online yet. They also give a link to the distributor/source, HBO. When you bring up the content you want to view, Clicker provides the link to the source site (NBC or Hulu, for example) or displays the content in an embedded video player. You should be aware that not all the content is free - some content is only available through Netflix or another subscriber service.

Get Cyber Smart

After receiving a notification that the Federal Trade Commission recently introduced an online booklet, Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online (the library has ordered print copies which will be available at your local library), I thought I'd revisit, a joint Web site of the federal government and the tech industry that provides practical tips for avoiding Internet fraud, securing your computer and protecting your personal information.

The site's Topics section provides useful information on securing broadband service (what types of services are available, what to look for when contracting for services), what sort of scams are lurking out on the Internet, the ins and outs of online auctions, how to secure your computer and where to dispose of your PC once you are through with it.

Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of the interactive quizzes. Anyone considering doing business on eBay or a similar auction site should try their hand at AuctionAction first.

Whether you are new to the Web or have been online for years, be sure to check out -- you'll definitely learn new and useful information that will ensure safer "surfing" of the Internet.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More eAudiobooks Each Month

Starting in November, the library's subscription to eAudiobooks via NetLibrary, specifically premium titles from Recorded Books and One-Click Audio, will increase by 30 titles each month, and at least 5 of those titles will be iPod-compatible.

Full-Text Magazines Online

Google Books has a number of magazines available for viewing online, which you'll find if you use the Advanced Book Search. Up until recently, there was no way to browse a list of all of the magazines by title. Thankfully, that's no longer the case. You can limit your browse to see only magazines that allow for full viewing (versus just previews/excerpts). Be aware, however, that the years available for viewing may be limited. What you'll need to do is click on the title you're interested in, then click on the Browse all issues link. You'll then get a listing of what issues are available, broken down by decade tabs. So if I want to browse all the online issues of Vegetarian Times, and scroll down to the Browse all issues section, I'll see that they have issues spanning the 80s, 90s and 2000s, the latest being May 2000.

Visited Common Craft Lately?

Back in April, I posted about these great introductory videos on technology created by Common Craft. Since then, they've expanded their technology offerings to include videos on Twitter, Wikis, Social Networking and more. They also have some non-tech videos on topics like personal finance. To see all the Common Craft videos, click on the Browse Videos link/menu button that is located on the top left of their home page, under their logo.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Visit Colonial Williamsburg's eMuseum

Colonial Williamsburg has a LOT of antiques. We're talking over 60,000 decorative objects, only half of which are viewable by the public. Now you can browse several thousand of them (with more being added on a regular basis) at the eMuseum. You can do a Quick Search by typing in a general term that describes the type of object you want to view (i.e., "silver,") or use the Advanced Search to help you quickly find objects by a particular artist or works made in particular year. Be sure to also peruse the highlights from selected exhibitions (the Painted Furniture exhibition is a great way to get ideas for "tweaking" your own homegoods).

Aside from the antiques, you can also tour the town from your computer.

For an unofficial view of Colonial Williamsburg (objects, architecture, etc.), check out these photos on Flickr.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Best MP3 players for audio books

If you use or are interested in using the library's free eAudiobook service through NetLibrary, you'll want to note that recently posted their reviews for "Best MP3 players for audio books."

Click here for most posts on the library's eaudiobook services.

Monday, November 2, 2009

World Book Student Edition features thousands of articles

World Book Student

Tailored for students in elementary and middle schools, World Book Student includes all the articles from the print versions of the World Book Encyclopedia, plus thousands of additional articles, learning resources, and research tools. Key features include: more than 40,000 encyclopedia and reference articles; World Book Biography Center, with more than 10,000 biographies; thousands of links selected by World Book editors and expert contributors; rich multimedia; historical features; extensive dictionary and atlas; correlations to state and provincial curriculum and achievement standards; audios, videos, and animations; educator tools; and student activities.

To access this e-resource, visit your local library or log in from your home computer via the link on the library's Web site -- Find Information > Search for Articles & More > Encyclopedias and Reference> World Book Student.