Teen Blog

Thu, 09/19/2013 - 10:47
My Time with Android "Hacking"

Tech Answers is back! Didja miss me? This time I've got something special for you. Now, I've sampled a veritable cavalcade of different smartphones over the years, from the Treo, to the Blackberry, to the iPhone, and, most lately, the Android. There I landed, and—for the foreseeable future—there I stay. The Treo is long dead (bye-bye!), Blackberry is a dead man walking (so sad), the iPhone's one-time supremacy in the smartphone market is faded (but not gone!), and Windows Phone? Please (no). Android is flourishing when other smartphone platforms are stagnating for one simple reason: it is free and open source. Developers and individuals can do whatever they please with it. You can go to the Android project's site and download the source code for the world's most powerful mobile OS right now for no charge. It is that openness and its benefits that I'm going to ramble about in this post.

Wed, 08/28/2013 - 09:31
The Fredericksburg Welsh Festival Poetry Contest, the Library, and Your Ancestor

Yes, there is a connection between the upcoming Fredericksburg Welsh Poetry Contest, the library, and your personal ancestors. Although it seems a tad far-fetched, it really is easy to see how the library can connect you to anything and anyone. Here’s how this connection works: since the library is a community center and encourages local groups to keep us informed as to their upcoming public events, we discovered that the Welsh Society of Fredericksburg is sponsoring a poetry contest as part of their upcoming annual festival this September 21. The deadline for entries is September 1.

Mon, 08/05/2013 - 03:01
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Jennifer Strange is The Last Dragonslayer, but just yesterday she was your ordinary foundling girl, helping to run a magical business in which wizards specialize in plumbing, speedy organ delivery, and getting cats down from trees. As you can see, magic is no longer held in as high regard as it used to be. Oh, and they just lost the organ delivery contract.

Sat, 08/30/2014 - 11:13
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:

Thu, 07/25/2013 - 11:37
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.  

Mon, 07/22/2013 - 03:01
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.

Mon, 07/15/2013 - 03:03
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?

Fri, 07/12/2013 - 14:08

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.  

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 14:50
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.

Tue, 07/02/2013 - 08:52

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.

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