Part of my job at the library is helping individuals with computers through our free Training on Demand program. I help patrons learn how to use their computers, how to surf the Web, how to use Microsoft Office, and even help them optimize their computers. In the six years I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of misinformation regarding computers floating around. Here are just a few of the misconceptions I’ve encountered:
My computer is running slowly; it must have a virus.
That is a possibility, especially if you’re not running any Internet security software or you haven’t updated it in a long time. If this is the case, you need to fix the situation as soon as possible! However, it is just as likely that you’ve got too many background programs running at once. Computer manufacturers and retailers like to treat new computers as advertising space for software that you don’t need; all that excess is probably clogging up your system.
Media ownership in the 21st century is a trickier concept than ever before. In light of the growing percentage of our books, music, movies, and software that is purely digital, that is to say, downloaded directly from the Internet, how is ownership defined? When music came on CDs and other physical formats, it was pretty easy to say, “This is my CD. I bought it. I do with it as I please.” Of course, the recording industry would disagree, to the extent that while you might have purchased the medium, you only licensed the media. Now that the medium is largely ephemeral, so too is ownership. Add onto that digital rights management (DRM) that locks down and controls what you do with your “licensed” goods and ownership becomes a ghost of its former self. But do we really care?
A public-service tech announcement to online CRRL patrons: both Microsoft and Mozilla have released updates to their web browsers, which I recommend you install if possible. These can be downloaded from the links below.
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/downloads/ie)
- Mozilla Firefox 4 (http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/fx/)
An observation worth noting: I have recently been approached by a growing number of people wanting to build a web site for their business. This would have been a much more daunting process even a few years ago. However the Web has evolved to meet these needs more easily. There now exist many online storefronts through which small businesses can be run. Though I am unable to recommend one service over another, either through direct experience or secondary knowledge, here are a few of the more popular selections that can help anyone get started.
Modern computers are many times more powerful than they need to be for most of the things we use them for. Simply writing papers, surfing the Web, watching videos, playing games, etc. . . such tasks don't take full advantage of these machines' potential and when they're not in use, well . . . they're not in use. They could be doing so much more.
If you love to try out new iPhone apps (and who doesn’t, when they’re free?), you’ll want to download two new apps that now include CRRL’s results. Called pic2shop and Book Bazaar, the apps are free and help you find library books when you’re out shopping. For example, if you’re at a bookstore and wondering if we have a title, scan the barcode with your phone and pic2shop will tell you if we have it. (Pic2shop is also great for comparison shopping for other items.) With Book Bazaar you can type in the title, author, keyword or ISBN. Either way, both apps are free and downloadable through Apple’s iTunes App Store.
This short video shows Pic2shop in action at a Border's book store.
If you've already purchased the RedLaser app ($0.99 in iTunes App Store) you can also get results from our library.
I shouldn't have to tell you the music CD is dead, as is every audio format that came before it, with the possible exception of vinyl, the fax machine of the music world. Music is digital, end of story. Digital music differs from any of its progenitors in its lack of physicality; there is no disc that you can put on your shelves, no album liner notes that you can flip through unless of course you create all of that yourself, but doesn't that defeat the point? If you have a digital music collection of over 6000 tracks, you're not going to take the time, spend the money, or use the space to create physical CDs for each of those albums. Still, we need to be able to keep track of our music and that's sometimes easier said than done.
A loving relative (or maybe it was you, yourself!) was good to you this holiday season and now you want to fill up your Kindle or Sony Reader with books. Or you are looking for even more to do with your iPod Touch. Try these sites for free eBooks:
If you're not on the Internet with your mobile phone, chance are you soon will be. With the adoption rate for smartphones and other cellular Internet devices skyrocketing, these devices are stealing the spotlight from laptop computers and vying for the position as our dominant mobile computing solutions. With this transition has come a plethora of mobile applications to meet our every need and then some (and some more). We want to be able to do everything our regular computers can do on our smartphones. For many of us, that includes using the library. We're in luck.
Looking for information in all the wrong places?