Thursday, December 29, 2011

more free Kindle books

Lynn one of our awesome MH's was kind to share this valuable little tid bit that we can share with patrons and check out ourselves!

LIST OF FREE PRIME ELIGIBLE KINDLE E-BOOKS: 'prime' meaning you are a prime member of Amazon.;contentHighlights

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Patron eReader Labs

Don't forget that there will be a total of 27 patron eReader labs offered in January and February.  Please try to steer patrons who need help with their new toys to the labs instead of the Book a Librarian form if possible.  If Kindle owners are unable to bring a laptop with them, please add a note to this effect in their registration (there is a "Notes" field for each registered patron on the list).  Nook owners MUST bring a laptop if they wish to attend a lab.

To see all the labs, from our homepage, choose Programs & Classes > All Programs & Classes > Search for the keywords "open lab".  Patrons are welcome to attend labs at any branch.

Publicity from Communications is in the works.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Accelerated Reading list

With School out for the holiday season I have been asked by several parents if we have an Accelerated Reading List or AR list for a book that their child wants to read. We have two options when helping parents with AR lists. The first suggestion is to go the the Children's page on our ALD website under Reading find online books. Click on Read the Books then find the child's school. My second suggestion is to go to AR BookFinder US This is a very helpful website when searching for the reading level, AR points and ratings. It has a quick search where you can put in the book title. When the book is found there is some valuable information about the book. Check it out.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

read alike resource

In doing a readalike search, I found a library website that looks like a good resource for readalike recommendations. Go to and in the column on the right, scroll down and select "Reading Room" then select "Matches" and you can search their readalike options. Also, in the search bar at the top, select "search library web sites" and type in "if you like" and readalike options come up that way, too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

geneology class

If you have not taken the database class on the two geneology sites you just gotta.  It is so good to know but also to get you excited to start searching your own family.  Thanks, Pamela for a great class.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Simple "Print Screen" Method

On the public Internet machines, if a patron wants to capture the current screen, all they need to do is press the F14 key on the keyboard.  They can then paste the screen capture they just took into Word.  Holding down the ALT key while pressing the F14 key will capture just the active window.

For more complicated screen capturing (patron only wants a small part of the screen), use the Snipping Tool (Start button, search for "snip").

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why Kids Can't Search

Reposting a very interesting article from Wired Magazine's Clive Thompson. The argument is that even digital natives struggle with search strategies. And it of course begs the question: are we much better?

Why Kids Can't Search

We’re often told that young people tend to be the most tech-savvy among us. But just how savvy are they? A group of researchers led by College of Charleston business professor Bing Pan tried to find out. Specifically, Pan wanted to know how skillful young folks are at online search. His team gathered a group of college students and asked them to look up the answers to a handful of questions. Perhaps not surprisingly, the students generally relied on the web pages at the top of Google’s results list.

But Pan pulled a trick: He changed the order of the results for some students. More often than not, those kids went for the bait and also used the (falsely) top-ranked pages. Pan grimly concluded that students aren’t assessing information sources on their own merit—they’re putting too much trust in the machine.

Other studies have found the same thing: High school and college students may be “digital natives,” but they’re wretched at searching. In a recent experiment at Northwestern, when 102 undergraduates were asked to do some research online, none went to the trouble of checking the authors’ credentials. In 1955, we wondered why Johnny can’t read. Today the question is, why can’t Johnny search?

Who’s to blame? Not the students. If they’re naive at Googling, it’s because the ability to judge information is almost never taught in school. Under 2001’s No Child Left Behind Act, elementary and high schools focus on prepping their pupils for reading and math exams. And by the time kids get to college, professors assume they already have this skill. The buck stops nowhere. This situation is surpassingly ironic, because not only is intelligent search a key to everyday problem-solving, it also offers a golden opportunity to train kids in critical thinking.

Consider the efforts of Frances Harris, librarian at the magnet University Laboratory High School in Urbana, Illinois. (Librarians are our national leaders in this fight; they’re the main ones trying to teach search skills to kids today.) Harris educates eighth and ninth graders in how to format nuanced queries using Boolean logic and advanced settings. She steers them away from raw Google searches and has them use academic and news databases, too.

But, crucially, she also trains students to assess the credibility of what they find online. For example, she teaches them to analyze the tone of a web page to judge whether it was created by an academic, an advocacy group, or a hobbyist. Students quickly gain the ability to detect if a top-ranked page about Martin Luther King Jr. was actually posted by white supremacists.

“I see them start to get really paranoid,” Harris says. “The big thing in assessing search results is authorship—who put it there and why have they put it there?” Or, as pioneering librarian Buffy Hamilton at Creekview High School near Atlanta says, “This is learning how to learn.”

One can imagine even more entertaining ways to help kids grok the intricacies of the search world. Why not let students start a class blog on a subject and see how long it takes for it to show up in search results?

Mind you, mastering “crap detection 101,” as digital guru Howard Rheingold dubs it, isn’t easy. One prerequisite is that you already know a lot about the world. For instance, Harris found that students had difficulty distinguishing a left-wing parody of the World Trade Organization’s website from the real WTO site. Why? Because you need to understand why someone would want to parody it in the first place—knowledge the average eighth grader does not yet possess.

In other words, Google makes broad-based knowledge more important, not less. A good education is the true key to effective search. But until our kids have that, let’s make sure they don’t always take PageRank at its word.

-Clive Thompson

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just a reminder to staff to be sure and LOGOUT of their personal e-mail account. There has been several times when I have gone onto google outside my remote to check my e-mail and someone else's account comes up open. This even happened on the staff computer we use when teaching a computer class, so be sure to log out of your e-mail every time rather than just closing it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mobile Devices and Overdrive

Just a reminder... If patrons have a mobile device (iPad, iPhone 4+, iPod Touch 4+, Android device, Blackberry, etc), they can download the Overdrive app to their device,then download ebooks and audiobooks directly, without having to go through transferring from a computer.  The exception to this is when a patron wants to put an audiobook in the wma format on their iDevice.  In this case, they would need to download the file to a PC and use the transfer wizard in Overdrive Media Console.  See for details on the app.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tech challenge 3

Patrons click to print directions and a map from mapquest. The print comes out with just the directions but not the map. There are several ways to print this properly. Any ideas?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

For printing on the Macs, when it asks for a password, just type in "staff" and it will show the amount window for the patron and send it to the print station. The print job still shows up at the print station under their card.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

TIP: After a patron and I had trouble saving a document to a CD - the CD wouldn't accept the document that way - Nick suggested right clicking on the document and selecting "send to" instead of trying to "save as" and send it to the CD and that worked.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tech Challenge 2: Header

Patron writing research paper APA style and wants the first page to have a different header than the rest of her paper.

C'est possible?

Tech Challenge 1: Vertical

Patron making a flyer upstairs on Word: wanted to add her information on to bottom of flyer as a tare-off (aka, vertical text).

C'est possible?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I had a patron ask if he could download his 3 Freegal songs onto his iTunes account - from a patron computer. Any ideas?

Saturday, July 16, 2011



A patron wanted to know if he could play his CD-ROM game on the patron computers. The specific game was "Mortal Combat". The patron could not get the game to load, the screen had a message on it that it 'cannot play disc'. Any ideas?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

PC Reservation Issue on Windows 7 Desktops

I recently submitted a ticket to Digital Services about the following issue:

Occasionally when a patron starts a PC Reservation session on the Windows 7 machines, the REFBW and REFCOLOR printers aren't showing up at all. It's as if they were never installed. When the patron goes to print something, their only option in the drop-down printer selection menu is the Microsoft XPS Document Writer.

As soon as you reboot the computer the printers will show up, but there's no way to print without ending the session and starting over.

If you encounter this problem, encourage the patrons to save their work to an external source (email, flash drive, etc.) and either switch computers or reboot their machine.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Patrons cannot enter PIN

People have told me they see this a lot and so do I: patrons cannot enter their PIN when signing on to the computer. When I encounter this problem, I try 1) hit the clear button, 2) check that the keyboard connection is good, 3) try a new USB port for the keyboard, and 4) reboot. May actually need to get a new keyboard. Usually, one of the first 4 options works.

PC Res

Recently while working upstairs I've had two people on different days complain that they got kicked off the computer. One person was mad because whoever was next to him was on longer and didn't get kicked off. The other person was confused why it kicked him off when it was not busy and there was no one waiting. Does anyone else have this happen to them? I just tell them it's all computer generated. Each person said that there was something wrong with the system for this to happen.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Spanish Language Accent Marks, Etc. in Word

If you need to type a Spanish accent mark, tilda, etc in Word, here's a link to all the secret codes:

For other languages, try searching for: languageneeded characters word

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Teach your parents (or patrons) some tech!

When I was at Southglenn for an open lab last week, someone mentioned this fabulous website: It's a fun way to send your parents (or anyone else who might need some help) a "tech care package." It features very basic information, but could be a great resource to direct patrons to, or to send to someone in your own life!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How to Eject a Disk from a Patron computer

We have discovered that the “Eject CD” icon on the Desktop computers that are running Windows software doesn’t work (this doesn’t apply to the computers running the Apple software.)

Following are instructions how to eject a CD or DVD from the D: drive on these computers.

Click on the Start button (lower left hand corner of the desktop)

Click on Computer

Click on Devices with Removable Storage

Right click on the disc icon that says—DVD RW Drive (D:) Audio CD

Click on the word Eject. Viola! out pops your disc.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Smoke Signals -- Tech Talk test

I can think of two possible reasons why you might have not been able to print the boarding passes.

The first being that a pop-up window was being blocked from opening. Quite often you have to click on the yellow bar that will appear under the menu bar and click on temporarily allow pop-ups, in order for the print command to work.

If the boarding pass was formatted as a pdf file you have to click on the print button inside the pdf window, very frequently you can't print using the "print button" under "File" when trying to print a pdf image. --- Karen H.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ins and Outs of Using Gadgetry

I'm reposting the link to an article Cynthia K. shared with the Tech Liaison group:

It's a great resource for basic tech info.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Last May Open Lab

Don't forget about the last Tech Open Lab in May on Tuesday, May 24, 2-3pm.  Only one person has signed up so far, so there's plenty of room.  Don't forget to check with bonnie to make sure there's sufficient floor coverage before you commit.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Word 2010 link

Hey, I found this web site when a patron asked how to set tabs when using Word 2010 It's a free site with explanations on the different features.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Things Heard in Open Lab

just a few fun things i heard while learning together

"This is what I call computer hell." Aesta

"That was the wildest night upstairs I've ever had." Janice

"Patience, patience." Amy

"You must do a victory lap!" Carrie

color printer upstairs

I find the color printer upstairs jams alot. I found that the paper tray has too much paper.  I pull out several sheets and then push the button on the right side of the printer to open the cartridge holders.  I push it firmly shut and guess what it unjams.  See me if this is confusing.

Don't Panic!

Gentle reader of the Smoky Blog,
I want to take this opportunity to assure you that the July 1st competencies deadline is not a reason for panic. You only need to have the curiosity and willingness! I suggest checking out DVDs on excel, word, power point and watching tutorials. It's really all about knowing where to go for help. Locate the help button on any program, such as excel and become familiar with the index so you know where to look for help. I know we are all busy but the buddy system is also a great way to learn. Ask one of the techs or staff who knows power point or whatever you want to brush up on and plan a time, even a half hour together to go over the basics. We are here for you and learn as much by your questions as anything else!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The iPad and the microwave

Here's a really interesting article comparing iPads to microwaves:

I thought it gave some really good arguments that explain the explosion of popularity in iPads.
Just wanted to tell you about the website - it has great info on things like cookies, malware & phishing, validating identities on line, etc. Check it out - I found it helpful.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Amazon to pilot lending Kindle eBooks through Overdrive

Given the superiority of the Kindle app to the OverDrive interface, this is wonderful news. I'm still eagerly awaiting the announcement that someone is going to compete directly with OverDrive in this space, though.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ejecting a CD from the Patron Computers

Hello Everyone, I just helped a patron who couldnot get her CD to eject from patron computer #11. After making sure everything was closed down, I right clicked on the eject CD icon on the desktop and then clicked on Open. Out popped the CD! I hope this helps the next time a CD is "stuck" Pamela Bagby

Is Giant Bomb the future of the internet?

When we talk about the future of the internet we often focus on social networks, and how entities like Facebook generate content simply by allowing user interactivity. As many victims of the web 2.0 explosion have learned, however, simply creating the opportunity for user participation very rarely actually leads to user participation.

This struck me a few weeks ago after some of the library’s teens recommended that I sign up for a website known as On the surface Giant Bomb is a fairly straightforward video game website, an outlet for news and reviews that’s been hybridized with a wiki structure. As with any wiki, most of the pages are available for users to contribute to and edit, and each page links to relevant discussion boards.

In other words, the site does a commendable job of allowing for user participation. But so does every other website. What sets Giant Bomb apart is its system for encouraging users to participate.

When you first create an account you are told that you are “level 1,” like a brand-new character in a role-playing video game. You are then given a slate of “Quests,” each of which is a different way of participating in the website. One quest asks you to link your Giant Bomb account to your Facebook page, another asks you to make a post on their forum.

Each time you complete a quest, you are given experience points, and your “character” comes a step closer to leveling up. There are hundreds of Quests available, and by the time you’ve completed even a small fraction of them and leveled your character up a bit, you have become (whether intentionally or not) an active participant in the website’s social structure.

For a bit of clarification, here’s the profile page of one of the site’s most active members: (You can see the "quests" listed here, although their descriptions might not work with the antiquated web browsers we use on our staff computers).

What’s particularly brilliant about this system is that it’s strictly Pavlovian. There are no actual rewards given to users, but every user feels rewarded for participating. It is a formula that game designers have used for years, and it’s very interesting to see it applied outside of games.

So what could we do with something like this? Well, it’s a bold and distant ambition, but I could see something like this being the structure of a Summer Reading Program. Or we could use such a system to encourage patrons to contribute reviews to the ALD website (“You reviewed three books! You’re a level 4 Library Patron!”). What are your thoughts?

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Gmail Feature

The next time you go to your Gmail acount, check out the video on Gmail Motion.  It looks intriguing and the actor demonstrating the motions is not to be missed.  Here's a direct link to the video:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

account access to credit unions

I have run across a problem on the patrons computers. Today a patron was trying to sign in to her credit union. A message popped up that said we had to enable the cookies. I enabled the cookies but then it said we had to install Java Script. This has happened several times in the past few weeks. Any ideas?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Read Only Flash Drive

If a patron tries to save to a flash drive (or delete from it) and sees a message that the drive is "read only", there is a simple solution.  Look on the drive for little pictures that looks like a locked and unlocked padlock.  There should be a little switch next to those pictures.  Make sure that the switch is slid to the unlocked position.  Some flash drives have the switch located unobtrusively in an area where it could easily be moved while plugging in or unplugging from the port.

Learning Resources for Tech Competencies

Technologically befuddled?
Be sure to check out the HR Page on StaffNet under ALD-U. The post is entitled "Learning Resources for the Technology Competencies for Librarians and PSS/PSLs". There is a complete list of competencies as well as links to the training resources available for mastery. There's an incredible amount of information included here. Great for independent study, working with a buddy, or allocating time before the library opens. How are you doing enhancing your tech skills? We have a little over 3 months to get up to speed before the July 1 date.

Super User setting

This setting will take the patron computer out of the reservation system with no time limit. It can be used for patrons taking tests, working on a lengthy project, or making a presentation in a meeting room. It is easier than extending the time on the print & time management system. This will work on the desktops, MAC's, and laptops.
1. Hold down the "Ctrl" (Control) button on the lower left of the keyboard and click on the "PCReservation" link in the lower left corner of the screen.
2. Look for the "Please enter the staff password." message in the bottom, center of the screen.
3. Enter "evan2009" in the box, and click "OK".
4. Click the "Log in as Super User" selection. The user is now in Super User mode.
5. The user will need to click the "Menu" box in the bottom right and select the "End Session" choice and then "End Now" to log out and allow the computer to shut down and restart.
6. Patrons will have to see a staff member to print. Use the override method on the printer to select the computer number and print the job.