Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We have moved "home" the library!

The Tech Talk blog has been relocated and we are now being hosted on our own servers. Please join us at our new location for announcements about upcoming talks and other news.

Don't forget to update your RSS feeds when you follow us to our new home. Feeds for the new blog are located at the following link:

Friday, August 03, 2007

Upcoming Tech Talk to feature Nanch Blachman of "Google Guide" fame.

Google Shortcuts
Tuesday August 7th at 7 pm
1st Floor Community Room

Google is so easy to use, why attend this presentation? If you're like many people, you use only a small number of Google's services and features!

Nancy Blachman, who taught computer science at Stanford University, will show you how to go beyond Google's deceptively plain interface and take advantage of many shortcuts and underutilized capabilities.

Nancy has been using Google since the spring of 1999, when it was less than one year old. She has written more than a half dozen tutorial and reference books, including How to Do Everything with Google, and she also maintains the popular Google Guide web site.

Read more about the talk and Nancy in Get Your Google On, an article that The Princeton Packet published on 8/3 that features an interview with Nancy about her upcoming appearance at PPL.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Links from "Top Free Reference Resources Online" DataBytes sessions

DataBytes is a monthly series that occurs the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of most months at 1 pm in the Tech Center on the 2nd floor (exceptions are that we do not do a session in July and some months we only have one session due to holidays). DataBytes is a 45-50 minute tour of a library subscription database or covers other databases and sites found online that are useful for research and everyday life. Each session is taught by a reference librarian and includes time for Q&A at the end.

Our topic in May was
Top Free Reference Resources Online. Here is the introduction from class:
Each year since 1999 the Reference And User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association publishes a list of the Best Free Reference Websites via the MARS (Machine-Assisted Reference Section) committee. This list is a treasure trove of what is good reliable reference sources and freely available on the web.

Essentially, in this session of DataBytes we will be examining this list and I will be highlighting a dozen or so of these sites and. This list of reference sites by RUSA/MARS is a great place to find databases for all types of reference needs, and includes everything from comics to food to government statistics and more.

I will also include a few that are not on the list -- these are sites that I have found via serendipity, reviews and also by using the Librarians' Internet Index (http://lii.org ). I consider the Librarians' Internet Index to be a great reference tool in and of itself due to the fact that they catalog a lot of databases and only sites that have been reviewed by librarians are included.

So, without further ado, here is the list of what we ended up exploring at each session:

Sites Demonstrated:

Librarians' Internet Index http://lii.org

FoodSafety.gov http://www.foodsafety.gov/

Population Reference Bureau http://www.prb.org

Acronym Finder: The Acronym and Abbreviation Dictionary http://www.acronymfinder.com

Internet Movie Database http://imdb.com

The Big Cartoon Database http://www.bcdb.com

National Atlas http://www.nationalatlas.gov

Recalls.gov http://www.recalls.gov

Charity Navigator http://www.charitynavigator.org/

All-Music Guide http://www.allmusic.com

Lyric Wiki http://lyricwiki.org/

Get Human http://gethuman.com/

Hoaxbusters vs. Snopes



Polling Report Online http://www.pollingreport.com/index.html

Plants Database http://plants.usda.gov/

If you are interested in reading more about this session, US1 Newspaper did an interview with me called Scouring the Net for Free in which these sites are discussed (and you can also discover informative facts, such as the real truth behind my path to librarianship).

Friday, June 01, 2007

June 5th Tech Talk on Screencasting

Our next Tech Talk will be all about Screencasting and feature Steve Garwood -- a dynamic presenter who gave this presentation recently to rave reviews at the NJLA Annual Conference. Here is the official blurb:

Just Press Play
Screencasting is being used increasingly to do computer-based training, online education delivery (PowerPoint with voice narration), software demonstration, and even video podcasting. Steve Garwood, a faculty member of the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies at Rutgers University, will demonstrate a variety of popular screencasting tools. With screencasting software, a company can easily demonstrate a software program, a trainer can show trainees how to execute a task and libraries can demonstrate common tasks with their catalogs (renewing materials, creating holds, etc.). Screencasts can be delivered online as part of a website, setup as a video podcast, or burned to a CD.

The talk will begin at 7 p.m. and be held in the library's first floor community room.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Links from Open Mic Night

We had a great time at our first ever Open Mic Night -- even if no one from the audience was brave enough to take the podium and share. Bob, Evan, Jim and I were each prepared with more than enough sites and tips to share. It is a rare occurence for the 4 of us to be together in one place and the chance to share our "favorites" with the Tech Talk audience was a lot of fun. Here are the links to what we demonstrated and talked about that night:

The evening kicked off with Jim Crawford sharing the news that he recently became a grandfather (congrats Jim!). Jim then demonstrated some of the ways that he and his wife were involved with the arrival of their granddaughter even though they live on opposite coasts -- all thanks to the wonders of the modern Web.

For instance, when the baby shower was being planned, invitations were sent via Evite, a site which allows guests to rsvp online with notes to the hosts and guest of honor. So even though Jim and his wife could not fly to California for the shower, they could send their regrets with a personalized note.

On the day of the shower they were able to contribute to the buffet by having a beautiful "bouquet of fruit" delivered from Edible Arrangements and have their gift sent automatically using online baby registries.

Now that their granddaughter is here, they get to see her grow via a flickr photostream.

Jim also shared a few items from a list he compiled called Jim's Web Picks. We will post that list shortly as a separate blog entry as it is lengthy.

Next up was Bob Keith who shared 2 "freebie" utilities that he uses regularly, a new online photo editing site as well as one site that is "just for fun" because we all need a little fun now and then.

The two utilities that Bob demonstrated are CCleaner and LogMeIn. Bob will write more about those in a separate post in the coming weeks so stay tuned... next up was Picnik!

Picnik is a photo editing site that is still in beta, so all of its tools and features are currently free. After they come out of beta, a good portion of the site will still be free but you will have to pay for some of the premium features. Bob is excited about Picnik as it is a good alternative for quickly editing photos when you do not have access to other software. Also, you can grab your photos right from your flickr photostream for easy-editing. Bob will be teaching a class on Picnik on June 26th at 7 pm. Why not sign up and explore! Check our class calendar for this and other exciting classes.

Finally, just for fun, Bob shared the KrazyDad Colr Pickr -- a great way to explore the color fields tags on flickr and a fun way to surf for images.

I was up next (I am Janie Hermann, for those who do not read this blog regularly) and my selections were somewhat eclectic.

I started off with a live demo of using a new service called Jott. I had literally just set up my Jott account a few days before this session and am still loving this service. With Jott I can dial a 1-800 number from my cell phone to send messages to my email -- and much more! My best ideas often occur to me on my morning commute, so now I can just send myself a Jott and not worry about forgetting a single thing!

I am a list maker and have long used calendars to keep myself organized, so I demonstrated two online tools that I use to keep my life organized: Cozi Central and Tada Lists.

I finished off with a demonstration of how to stream music using Pandora. I have blogged about my love of Pandora before and you can read about it on Library Garden (my other blog). Pandora and other

Last, but certainly not least, was Evan Klimpl who gave us a tour of the tools we used to create PPL's Poetry Podcast Blog for National Poetry Month in April. We were able to create and host an ambitious podcasting project using a variety of free tools.

The blog was hosted on the free version of WordPress and each entry consisted of the text of the poem(s), a biography of the poet and their photo. We recorded the poets using a free audio editor and recorder from SourceForge called Audacity. We also used Audacity to edit the files and Evan gave a fun demonstration of the capabilities of Audacity to clean up sound files for clear quality. All of our sound files were then hosted for free on the Internet Archive and linked to our blog via a free Adobe flash MP3 player.

If you are interested in some hands on experience with creating podcasts, Evan will be teaching a 3 week course on podcasting this July in our Tech Center.

We are going to do another Tech Talk next spring with the PPL Tech Staff, and even though the format may be different I can guarantee that it will still be fun.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Open Mic Night!

We are trying an experiment this month for Tuesday Technology Talks and I hope you will join us to help make it a success. We are hosting a Tech Open Mic Night on Tuesday May 1st at 7 pm in the Community Room!

We recognize that our Tech Talk audience is full of expert users with much knowledge to share and we want to take advantage of the collective wisdom of those who attend.

We will have our laptop set up with an Internet connection for all to use. You can demonstrate a favorite site or two or show off a good search strategy. Perhaps you know of a great Firefox extension that was not covered last month, if so please share! We are also interested in learning about any shortcuts or tricks to make us all smarter computer users. It is an anything goes type of night!

To kick off the night, and to help get everyone feeling at ease, we will have the PPL Tech Training Team start by sharing their favorites, shortcuts and tips. We spend considerable time collecting useful sites and helpful tips and are eager to share them with you.

Here is the official "blurb" from our program guide.

What's New and Cool?
The PPL Tech Team Presents Open Mic Night
Get to know Princeton Public Library's technology training team (Janie Hermann, Bob Keith, Evan Klimpl and Jim Crawford) as they reveal all about their favorite sites and recent discoveries. Then, it's your turn. Don't be shy: Step up to the podium and share your knowledge with others. What sites do you use daily? What is really useful to you? Chances are if you find a site useful , then others will, too
Tuesday May 1, 7 p.m.
Community Room

We hope this will become an annual event so help spread the word to make this a success!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Firefox Extensions Follow-Up

John's talk on April 3rd was incredibly informative and lots of fun. Not only did he talk about all the cool ways to extend our use of Firefox, he also managed to demonstrate many useful 2.0 sites such as del.icio.us and tumblr and Google Docs & Spreadsheets in the process. As an added bonus, the presentation even included a good discussion on the important topics of tagging and folksonomy.

John has posted about his Firefox presentation over on his blog at lemasney.com -- he even provides the link to the complete presentation as well as the information on how to access the list of extensions and plug-ins he demonstrated:

Anyone who wishes to see the presentation [which I wasn’t actually able to give, but it all worked out] can go to http://ghost.rider.edu/openlearning and log in as a guest, then visit the Top25 Firefox Extensions course in the course list. There are lots of other resources there you can peruse if you like, too.

We did have a technical glitch which prevented John from accessing his server, but he carried on liek a pro and did the full presentation without his list of links. Thanks John for all your hard work -- and we look forward to having you back again sometime soon!