Teen Blog

08/30/2014 - 10:13am
Quick Tech Tip: Disabling Gmail's Category Tabs

Are you a Gmail user? Did you wake up a week or two ago to find that your new messages were now being automatically organized by Gmail into tabs of different, pre-determined categories? And, did you think, like me, that they were really ugly, stupid, and unnecessary?  Here’s a quick tip on how to rid yourself of them!

Here's how Gmail looks now with its category tabs:

07/25/2013 - 10:37am
Customizing Your Android Launcher

The iPhone’s simplicity is one of the key reasons it has been such a success. Pick it up and use it, no muss, no fuss. Sadly, that simplicity comes at the expense of customizability. Aside from changing your wallpaper and creating folders, the iPhone doesn’t really offer much in the way of “pimpin’ it out.” Android to the rescue! If there’s one way that Android shines over iPhone, it’s that you can make it look pretty much however you’d like, thanks to its open platform nature. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using different launchers. A launcher is the “desktop” user interface of your Android phone. Changing and customizing launchers can help you be more productive and provide an aesthetic better suited to your tastes. The following are my favorite launchers.  

07/22/2013 - 2:01am
Axe Cop by Malachai and Ethan Nicolle

Axe Cop: the name says it all. One day a cop found a magical axe and used it to fight crime. Around the same time, five-year-old Malachai Nicolle teamed up with his professional artist brother Ethan to write a comic book. Ethan took Malachai's words—which usually involve explosions, aliens, and secret attacks—and gave them a visual flourish. And thus Axe Cop was born.

Contained in these pages is a frenzy of unchecked childhood imagination that has been given infinite space to roam free. Malachai invents adventures involving machine gun-toting dinosaurs on the Moon and magic babies with unicorn horns. Axe Cop's adventures are narrated in a plain-spoken manner which adds to their appeal. Axe Cop always says exactly what he is thinking.

07/15/2013 - 2:03am
Fitz by Mick Cochrane

Fitzgerald does not usually do rash things. He is not as cavalier as his friend Caleb. He is unable to share his feelings with that cute girl Nora, who likes his band. But he did just buy a gun and is holding his father, a man whom he has never met before, hostage. So much for not doing rash things.

Fitz is Mick Cochrane's new young adult novel. The title character, named after F. Scott Fitzgerald, is in desperate need of some father-son quality time. He tracks his dad down like a super sleuth, wanting all sorts of answers. How did his parents meet? Why did he leave? Is he sorry for abandoning his son?

07/12/2013 - 1:08pm

There is no higher praise for a book than an award from its target audience.  Each school year, seventh and eighth grade students from thirteen area middle schools, read from among twenty recently published young adult books and vote on those they feel merit a Café Book Top Teen Pick award.  Chosen titles are displayed at local libraries where they fly off the shelf even before summer fun officially begins.  

07/05/2013 - 1:50pm
Battle of the On-Demand Music Services

This is a fantastic time for music lovers. Music downloads no longer suffer from copy protection. Numerous sites and social tools have sprung up to help us discover and connect with talented artists. One of the most exciting developments has been the rise of subscription-based, on-demand music services. One low monthly or annual fee buys you access to a huge selection of music to listen to at any time. Heard a song from a new band you like and you want to hear more from them? Bam! Listen to all of their work right then and there without worrying about the recording industry suing you.  There are a number of these services to choose from, and in this post I'm going to help you decide which one to use.

07/02/2013 - 7:52am

This author has had enough wild, true-life experiences to fill an entire shelf of books. She grew up helping her parents run a hotel in a part of Yuma, Arizona where all kinds of shady characters hung out. As a kid, she was brilliant, brave, and very sure of herself. Nancy didn’t care for school much. Indeed, she was dyslexic (and undiagnosed) and failed two grades because of it. But as she got older, she did read all the classics in the hotel library. One day when ditching school, Nancy discovered the cool spaces and amazing stories at the public library. Reading took hold of her and never let go.

06/30/2013 - 9:24pm
Christopher Reeve as Superman

Superman is perhaps the longest lived of the classic Golden Age superhero characters to remain in the public imagination, and, in addition to a 75-year history of comic book publication, the character has also had a long career on the silver screen.  Unlike many other superheroes, Superman has an extensive history of being utilized as a film character, and his film appearances have influenced his portrayal in comic books in many fascinating ways.  

06/27/2013 - 8:10am
Using Your Computer on Your Mobile Device

As handy as our mobile phones and tablets are, there are times when they fall short and we wish we had our desktop or laptop computers in front of us. With this free software and the power of the Internet, you can access your home Windows PC or Mac from your iPhone/iPad or Android mobile device wherever you are.

06/27/2013 - 6:02pm
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Don't know what to read this summer? Let the 7th and 8th grade teens at Thornburg Middle give you a few exciting suggestions! After their Cafe Book meetings this spring, they voted on their Top Picks and Favorites. Check them out!

Top Picks:
 
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Thirteen-year-old Conor awakens one night to find a monster outside his bedroom window, but not the one from the recurring nightmare that began when his mother became ill--an ancient, wild creature that wants him to face truth and loss.
 
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
 

Everneath
 by Brodi Ashton
Regretting her decision to forfeit her life on Earth to become an immortal on Everneath, a world between Earth and Hell, teenaged Nikki is given the chance to return to the Surface for six months, in this story loosely based on the "Hades and Persephone" myth. 
 
 
 
 
Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Sweet Venom
 by Tera Lynn Childs
Three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates. Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it's also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster. 
 

 
 
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star
 by Maureen Johnson
Rory, of Boueuxlieu, Louisiana, is spending a year at a London boarding school when she witnesses a murder by a Jack the Ripper copycat and becomes involved with the very unusual investigation. 
 
 
 
 
 
Favorites:
 
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth OppelStarters by Lissa PriceUltraviolet by R.J. Anderson
 
Starters by Lissa Price
 
Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson