Friday, December 31, 2010

Did Santa Bring You a Camera?

...or a fancy new phone with a built-in camera? Perhaps it's now time to check out the Vimeo Video School, which has both instructions on how to make better videos and a directory of video tutorials. You may want to start with Video 101, a fun, basic guide to making videos. If you have a Digital SLR camera, Vimeo has enlisted DSLR master Philip Bloom to run you through the ins and outs. Vimeo Featured Lessons give you in-depth information and tutorial videos that you can follow, or you can just browse thousands of tutorial videos organized into different categories and skill levels.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tax Forms Online vs. the Library

It's that time of the year again -- patrons are already asking the library about the 2010 tax forms (which haven't arrived as of Dec. 30). We are receiving more inquiries than usual due to the IRS's decision to no longer mail paper tax packages to individual and businesses. While the library receives some federal tax forms and instructions to hand out to patrons for free (while supplies last), we don't receive every federal form/instruction booklet. Also, as usual, we will not get any Virginia state tax forms or instructions. Any form not available at the library will cost you $0.15 per page (printing from Web site) or $0.15 per page if you opt to copy from Package X (the master booklet for forms/instructions), which doesn't usually arrive at the library until February. Thus, if you have a computer and a printer at home, save yourself a trip to the library and print them out (for free) at home.

Forms

  • Federal - See www.irs.gov - Click on Forms and Publications; includes a detailed summary of how to view and download tax forms from the IRS Web site, how to order online or via phone (1-800-829-3676). Be sure to check out the highlights of recent tax changes.
  • Virginia - See www.tax.virginia.gov - Click on Need a Form? under Services; download forms or have them mailed to you. You can also call the office at 804-440-2541. The Commissioner of the Revenue should receive some forms, so you can check with them, as well.
Tax Assistance
The IRS provides tax help for individuals. Just call 1-800-829-1040.

You can also make an appointment with the Foundation for Tax Assistance. Please note that some restrictions may apply. Contact the Literacy Volunteers of Fauquier County directly at 540-349-8142 to make an appointment. Appointments will take place at all library locations per the schedule below:
  • John Marshall Library: 4-7 p.m., Mondays (Feb. 7 - April 4)
  • John Marshall Library: Noon - 3 p.m.. Tuesdays (Feb. 8 - April 5)
  • Warrenton Library: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Wednesdays (Feb. 9 - April 6)
  • Bealeton Library: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Thursdays (Feb. 10 - April 7)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Google Search Results - Now See Reading Level

Google now allows you to see the reading level of your search results and even filter your search by reading level. Just go to the advanced search and under Need more tools? select "annotate results with reading levels" to see the reading level displayed or filter further by showing only results by a specific reading level (basic, intermediate or advanced).

How did Google come up with the reading levels, you ask? According to Google, "The feature is based primarily on statistical models we built with the help of teachers. We paid teachers to classify pages for different reading levels, and then took their classifications to build a statistical model. With this model, we can compare the words on any webpage with the words in the model to classify reading levels. We also use data from Google Scholar, since most of the articles in Scholar are advanced."

Perhaps at some point Google will allow users to actually rate the reading level (crowd-sourcing)?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Are You a Distracted Driver? Test Yourself.

According to a recent study by AAA and Seventeen Magazine, 86 percent of teenagers drive while talking on their cell phones, texting, eating, putting on makeup, fiddling with the radio/stereo, etc. If what I see during my daily commute is any indication, I think it's safe to say that adults are also guilty of distracted driving.

To teach teens about the dangers of distracted driving, there is a new website and digital curriculum out, Toyota Teen Driver, produced by Discovery Education and Toyota. Teachers and parents, of course, will want to check out the resources to help their students/offspring make wise choices while driving (parents can even create a mutual driving agreement). What I want the rest of you to check out, though, is the "Head's Up!" interactive road distraction challenge. It takes a few seconds to load, but once the site loads you can take practice driving challenges that are definitely test one's driving skills. I seemed to veer off the road quite a bit. There is also a Driving IQ test that drivers of any age should try.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

eResource of the Month - Health & Wellness Resource Center

Looking for a recipe for holiday cookies? Google it. But what if you're looking for authoritative information on a medical diagnosis you just received? The Health & Wellness Resource Center can help you find health and wellness information as quickly as a Google search, but with the accuracy of library-quality results.

Features and Benefits
Including the respected Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, the Health & Wellness Resource Center delivers up-to-date reference material as well as full-text magazines, journals, and pamphlets from a wide variety of authoritative medical sources. Additionally, consumers, students, and professionals are provided with descriptions of and links to many pertinent websites, selected for their usefulness and appropriateness.

Specifically, Health & Wellness Resource Center features:

  • Current health news headlines
  • Videos
  • Newspapers, newsletters and newsfeeds
  • Database of drugs and herbal remedies
  • Up-to-date contact information for various service agencies, offices, companies, people and health products
  • Links to numerous calculators and risk assessment tools
  • An alternative medicine module that looks at health care from a holistic lens

Quality and Quantity
Health & Wellness Resource Center
maintains an index of numerous health and medicine magazines and journals - many of which are peer-reviewed - and most of which are active full-text titles.

Multimedia Features
Health & Wellness Resource Center
has partnered with Healthology, an industry leader in providing health and medical video content and physician-authored articles. You can access the Healthology content from the Health Highlights area of the home page. And whenever you perform a search using the search box or using the Advanced Search page, your results may include video content from Healthology as listed on the Video tab of your results list.

Ivy League Credentials
Health & Wellness Resource Center
also brings you the latest health news from Harvard Health Publications, a division of the Harvard Medical School. You can view top headlines directly from the home page in a section called Breaking News, with a link browse additional headlines.

Access the Database Anytime
Fauquier County Public library card holders can access the database from home, 24X7, using the library's Web site. Under Find Information, click on Search for Articles & More. See the Health & Medicine section and select Health & Wellness Resource Center.

In addition, make sure to check out our Health & Wellness Resources page on our website for additional online health information, as well as lists of recommended books and videos to check out from our collection.