National Read an E-Book Week

I know it seems like there are holidays celebrating everything under the sun, but, to me, that means there’s always an excuse for a party and cake!

March 4-10 is National Read an E-Book Week, and the Indiana Digital Download Center has everything you’re looking for and more! What better way to celebrate than by holing yourself up in the comfort of your own home and plowing through as many e-books as you can throughout the week?

Sometimes you don’t want to leave the house; you don’t want to make yourself look presentable, put on real pants, and drive to the library. I get it. All of the staff at the Aurora Public Library District get it. It doesn’t offend us at all! But sometimes you need a book to read, and you need it now.

If you have a smartphone, computer, e-Reader, or tablet (like an iPad, or something like it), you can download the free app OverDrive right to your device. While you’re downloading apps to your device, you might as well find the free Kindle reading app, too; many books available through OverDrive and the Indiana Digital Download Center are formatted for the Kindle, so having the reading app makes it easier for you to download books to your device without you having to continually read in your browser, which eats up your data or can deter you from reading at all, if you don’t have WiFi.

Once your app is downloaded, you’ll be able to find us under the Aurora Public Library District. It is important that you select this option. Next, you’ll type in your library card number located on the back of your library card, and your pin number. Your pin number is a four-digit number that you would have set up when you applied for a library card. If you’re unsure as to what your pin number is, or if you believe you never set one up, just give us a call or stop in. We can’t see what you set your pin number from our screens, but we can reset it for you.

Then, you’re ready to browse! Browse the collection by what’s available now, search for specific titles, and even browse specific reading levels, like teen, children, and mature adult. When you’ve made a selection, just click to borrow the title or put it on hold. You can download the title as a PDF to your computer to transfer to your other devices, read from your Internet browser, or download the title directly to your device with the Kindle reading app or as an ePub with iBooks. In your settings, you can customize your lending period for 7, 14, or 21 days. The best part about that? After your lending period is up, the title automatically disappears, which means no late fees!

Despite the convenience offered to you with OverDrive, this process can be a little confusing. If you get stuck, please feel free to give the library a call and we can walk you through the process. Or stop in and bring your device and we’ll go through each step together. We would love to help you!

Happy Reading!

Tech Tip Tuesday #11

TechTipTuesday

Free & Open Source Software For Creatives.

Open Source software refers to software that is free to use, change, or share. Open Source projects are usually made by many people and often help push the boundaries of software development. For example the Linux kernel.

Today I want to share with you some Open Source Software to help creatives. We have all heard of Adobe, Photoshop & Illustrator, the design industry standard but this software can be a little steep for those who are just starting out or who have an idea they would like to try. Here are some free alernatives to check out

1. Gimp is an alternative to Photoshop. It will allow you to edit images and put together graphics.

2. Inkscape is an alternative to Illustrator a vector based drawing software. This means you can create scalable graphics without loosing quality.

3. Audacity allows you to record and edit sounds making it really easy to get your podcast up and running.

 

 

Tech Tip Tuesday #9

TechTipTuesday

SXSW is a festival that occurs each year and one set of the festivals is all about interactive media and it just ended on March 20. Even though we didn’t get to go out ourselves this year there were some exciting new technologies that made their debut at SXSW. One that really caught my eye was Brain Power.

Brain Power is a set of applications that utilize wearable technology like Google Glass for assisting individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Unlike other assistive devices where children and adults are looking at a device screen Google Glass gets them looking up and at the world around them.

If you are unfamiliar with Google Glass you should really check it out. You wear them similar to a pair of glasses but but display shows you all kinds of notifications from your device as well as allows you to make calls and even utilize these apps in cases of Autism Spectrum Disorders to help decode emotion, make eye contact, and language.

It is an exciting time in the wearables industry with new technology being developed all the time that can help people who suffer from specific disorders or just to help keep track of the amount of activity you get in a day.

Tech Tip Tuesday #8

TechTipTuesday

Hello readers,

Today I have something very exciting to share with you! Chances are at some point you’ve thought it might be cool to have a robot companion like R2D2 or BB-8. You’ll be surprised to find how cheap and easy it is to get started building your own robot. If you obtain some basic components, a little bit of knowledge, and utilize your imagination you’ll be on your way.

Here is how to get started:

  1. Get your basic components. My recommendation is to either start with Arduino or Raspberry Pi.
  2. The parts in all these kits can be bought individually just keep in mind you’ll want the main board, wires, resistors, and some LEDs in your basic kit.
  3. There are two main differences between Arduinos and Raspberry Pis, with the Arduino Platform your going to be programming the robot with the C Programming Language it’s old and has quirks but the Arduino has analog pins, this means you can connect advanced types of sensors and motors to it. Another advantage of Arduino is Shields (which are easy to add components that give you more functionality).
  4. Raspberry Pis are a completely different beast. First of all no they don’t do analog connections. You can get add-ons to enable this later, but you’re going to need to know a bit before taking that step. The two biggest advantages to starting here is Wifi is easy right off the bat and you can use about any programming language imaginable.
  5. Goolge some tutorials, you wont have any trouble find these.
  6. Think of your own project. Maybe you have a garden, make it tweet when it needs water… you can do that. Perhaps you’re going on vacation and need an automated cat food dispenser, well guess what, you can do that too.

Eventually your imagination will be the only limitation, if you become good it at it it can become a career.

Some other tools you may find useful are:

  1. A variable DC power supply
  2. Multimeter
  3. Wire strippers

Tech Tip Tuesday #7

TechTipTuesday

Hello readers,

Today I’d like to bring to your attention TED Talks. “TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks”. This is a great website to visit if you feel like relaxing and also thinking about some intriguing issues. They typically cover anything from cancer research, killer robots, and space can be talked about. These stories often strike emotions in me, that can be personal, inspiring, and can provoke feelings foreboding when discussing topics like robots or the environment. The talks are always fresh and relevant to current events, I also find many new and interesting ideas to consider.

I recommend starting here, with humanity’s recent discovery of gravitational waves.

Some more of my favorite TED Talks are here

 

Tech Tip Tuesday #6

TechTipTuesday

Today I thought I would bring to you a list that details some of my all time favorite video games from growing up. Almost all are still purchasable and playable today. Some are even free. You can’t go wrong with any of these so give them a try, hopefully you’ll get as much out of this list as I did.

Morrowind – An awesome role-playing game (RPG). I still play this game today. It’s not free but it’s one of the few games that can be played on Windows, Mac, and Linux by utilizing an open source project called OpenMW. This game has a bit of a learning curve and many people will find it frustrating early on.

Battlezone – A first person tank shooter game, in space, with some real-time strategy components. It’s free! This game is simple but yet has so much depth because it’s not just a bunch of tanks in a death-match. You have to lead your army, build your base, and manage resources.

Total Annihilation – Incredible real-time strategy. In my opinion the best. The sheer number of units, community mods, and components to this game will keep you enjoying it for a long time to come.

Descent – A wonderful space flight sim / fighter game. This one will really raise your pulse when the clock is ticking. Unfortunately, I don’t know where you can obtain a copy.

Fantastic Contraption – This game really teaches you to think outside the box, and it’s a free browser based game. Honestly, this is a great game for kids or adults who like puzzles and building. People have come up with some really brilliant solutions to these problems, it’s amazing to see what can be built.

Tech Tip Tuesday #5

TechTipTuesday

Hello again! This week I want to talk with you about productivity keyboard shortcuts. Taking the time to use your mouse to navigate can be slow and sometimes clunky, I use keyboard shortcuts all the time to help speed up my workflow.

  1. Saving a File – I use this one all the time. If you are working on a document and something happens where you lose power or your program crashes and all your work is gone, it is the worst feeling. It might seem a little obsessive but every few minutes when I’m working I hit the keyboard shortcut for saving my file and hardly miss a beat because I’ve not taken my fingers from the keyboard.
    1. PC you hit Ctr + S
    2. Mac you hit Command + S
  2. Select All – This one is really great if you need to select all the content you are working on, I use this when I need to either copy and paste a large block of content or when I need to delete it all and start over. This is much quicker than using a mouse to click and drag.
    1. PC you hit Ctr + A
    2. Mac you hit Command + A
  3. Cycle Through Windows – This one is so important for quickly getting to different programs on your computer. This way I don’t have to hunt for the window I’m looking for I just cycle through all of them.
    1.  PC you hit Windows + TAB
    2. Mac you hit Command + TAB
  4. Cycle Through Browser Tabs – I’m working on learning this one right now, being able to quickly get to different browsers when you are referencing additional information is such a productivity booster.
    1. PC you hit Ctr + Left/Right Arrow
    2. Mac you hit Ctr + TAB
  5. Reopen Closed Browser Tabs – I accidentally close browser tabs all the time and this shortcut is a quick and easy way to get it reopened. You don’t even have to remember what it was, it just works.
    1. PC you hit Ctr + Shift + T
    2. Mac you hit Command + Shift + T

I hope these help you boost your productivity while working on your computers. The certainly have for me.

Tech Tip Tuesday #4

TechTipTuesday

Hello once more everyone. This week I have something for you I think you’ll find useful.

If you’re a smart phone user, Android or iPhone I suggest taking a look at the following applications. These are apps I’ve used for some time and provide lots of usefulness.

  1. Pandora, (Android & iOS) free internet radio. Make a station based on an artist of a type of music and it will provide similar content for you to listen to.
  2. Wunderlist,  a list management application. There are many list application out there but this is one of the best.
  3. iExit, (Android & iOS) a must have for travelers. Looking for a Starbucks or something else while road-tripping? This will allow you to see what is at the exit ahead of you.
  4. Cash, (Android & iOS) this is hands down the easiest way to digitally send money to your friends.
  5. Duolingo, (Android & iOS) if you feel like learning another language start here. It’s enjoyable and easy to get going.
  6. Dropbox, if you’re not already using Dropbox, you should be. It offers a great solution to put your files in the cloud. Do you have family pictures or important documents you can’t afford to lose? Of course, we all do. If you want to store it yourself buy a Drobo, otherwise sign up for a free Dropbox account.

Good luck app hunting and I hope you find these apps as useful as I did!

Tech Tip Tuesday #3

TechTipTuesday

Hello once again everyone!

Today I’d like to talk to you about something I know all of you are interested in… browsing. More specifically browsing in style.

First of all my two favorite browsers are Chrome and Firefox. Both of them do an excellent job, however just installing them is not enough. There are a couple extensions you should look into getting, and while you’re at it feel free to look for more that suit you.

For Chrome:

  1. Add Block Plus
  2. Google Dictionary

For Firefox:

  1. Add Block Plus
  2. Omnibar

As you can tell I don’t like ads. They drive me crazy, sometimes are responsible for malware, and the web is a much better place without them. Don’t care for Chrome or Firefox? Give Safari or Opera a try. The most modern versions of Internet Explorer 10+ do alright but they leave a lot to be desired.

Tech Tip Tuesday #2

TechTipTuesday

Hello once more fellow tech enthusiasts!

Today I wanted to bring to your attention some good resources I use daily to keep up with new technologies. Giving 10 minutes a day to read the headlines and scan a few articles will go a long way in exposing you to the plethora of things going on in the world.

  1. Ars Technica – http://arstechnica.com/
    • Is a good place to find everything from new products, which are often disruptively cheap and easy to acquire. Take for example the Amazon Fire Stick, why don’t you have one?
  2. Futurology Subreddit – https://www.reddit.com/r/futurology
    • Discussion of new & upcoming (not fully developed) technology. This gets you thinking of how new tech will change the world in the years to come.
  3. Think Geek – http://www.thinkgeek.com/
    • This is a place where you can express your inner geek / techie. You’ll find some amazing things on here good for hours of fun. One of my personal favorites is the Annoy-a-tron which has come along way from it’s humble beggining as a plain circuit board.