Science and Technology
I gave up my smartphone contract the other day and I'm only too glad I did. Wait, this is the library blog - what am I doing writing an opinion piece about cellphone carriers here? Library patrons come to me on a weekly, sometimes daily basis with questions about their smartphones. These little devices we carry around in our pockets and purses like so much loose change represent some of the greatest advancements in computing, telecommunications, and miniaturization technologies ever.
In Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Found, Jonah Skidmore feels like an ordinary thirteen-year-old boy. His family consists of a slightly annoying but smart younger sister named Katherine and a mom and dad who love him unconditionally. Jonah is adopted and has known this fact for a while but it’s never been a big deal for him because his parents have always been open about it to him. Life definitely feels normal for Jonah. That is, until the mysterious letter arrives--the letter that contains just six words: YOU ARE ONE OF THE MISSING. The letter does not contain a signature or a return address. Who sent it? Where did it come from? What does it mean?
The Internet is the largest repository of information ever conceived of. It is not, however, the best organized repository of quality information ever conceived of. For those of us who like to use the Internet as a source of continuing education, finding the quality chunks of information and learning can be daunting. Here are a few of the places I like to visit when I'm in the mood to learn something new.
Let me get this out of the way: if you're not a "computer person," someone with more than a vague knowledge of computer networking technology, Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner, is probably not the book for you. If, however, you ARE such a person, Brain Jack will start off as the kind of thriller that you think you will love, but its ending, like so many other cyber-thrillers, feels rushed and absurd. Don’t get me wrong--you'll enjoy reading it, but don't expect anything too deep from this book.
Sam is the generic hero of our story. He's 17; he's a computer prodigy; and he's going to save the country from itself. The world of Brain Jack is set only a few years into our future. Falkner does a good job of building a world that, initially, is entirely conceivable based on our present. Computer technology is even more prevalent, and its consequences all the more potent. Las Vegas has been the victim of a nuclear attack that has left it in ruins, and the rest of the country is decaying under strict martial conditions.
In the spirit of our Cultivating Community effort for this year, I thought I would share with you some of the computing resources that the library and the community both have to offer. There’s more help available to you than you think!
First off let me start by telling you about the Fredericksburg PC Users Group. Their website is http://fpcug.org/. They can also be found on Facebook and Meetup.com. The FPCUG provides a variety of meetings and speakers for beginners and veterans alike. If you want to learn more about your new PC or are having difficulties with it, there’s a good chance somebody at the FPCUG can help!
I know a lot of us are still getting used to Windows 7, having only recently upgraded or purchased a new computer with it preinstalled. But guess what? Windows “8” is right around the corner, and you can try it for yourself today by visiting http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/consumer-preview. Microsoft has released a free preview version of Windows 8 to the public that, on the whole, will be largely the same as the full release, minus some bugs that will be ironed out between
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.
Senior citizens, their families, and caregivers looking for accurate healthcare information on the Internet will probably tell you it’s a mess. There are a tangle of sites for the various federal, state, and local government healthcare agencies, not to mention sites for hospitals, private care facilities, medical information sites like WebMD, and a quagmire of others floating around out there. Each site has its own navigation scheme and design that will make even the savviest of the web-savvy shake a fist skyward in frustration when trying to figure them out. SeniorNavigator.org seeks to make the information gathering experience for senior citizens easy and anxiety-free. At the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, we want to help you use this tool to find the best information and advice to make your lives easier.
This interview airs beginning November 30.
Clayton Ray has the impressive title of Curator Emeritus in the Department of Paleobiology at the Smithsonian Institution. He also studies, collects, and writes about wagons. Debby Klein meets with this fascinating man to explore his many interests.
Find out more about CRRL Presents.
Great stars above!
From our place beneath the heavens, the stars seem to be tiny pinpoints of light. People have seen patterns in the stars for thousands of years. In the storytellers' imaginations, warriors and princesses, flying horses and laughing coyotes all found their way to the stars. Some soothsayers still tell fortunes based on the mysteries of astrology, or the alignment of the planets.
Astronomers know that the real mysteries of space are much greater than the accidental alignments of the stars. Stars, in all their blazing glories of red, blue, green, yellow, and more, are pulsing and moving, swirling around in their galaxies which, in turn, move around the Universe. The stars themselves may be ages old, but we continue to learn more about them all the time. Recently, scientists discovered ten new planets--one of which is orbiting a very young star.