Google


Happy Holidays Everyone

 As always during the holiday season there’s so much going on like buying gifts, visiting family, decorations, celebrations and the like.

In that sense you know there are dozens of sites transitioning to holiday content for their members and others sites that exist solely for the season. I went in search of a few I thought really had the mindset of the season…caring, sharing, goodwill to your fellowman and some good ole’ fashioned Christmas spirit.

Take a look…

ABC Family  This site definitely believes in making Christmas a 25 day event and why not, it’s only one time a year.

Away    What a cool site. Its a travel guide site with expert tips, interest choices, times of year, etc. A new way to plan a great trip for any season during the year.

Photovisi   Want to make a nice collage instead of sending the family plain photos this season? Photovisi is a free collage maker that simple and fun to use. You can also save the collages as wallpapers for your own computer.

GuideStar  The holidays always make people more willing to give of themselves, so why not use GuideStar to help you find what you’re looking for. This site is a very detailed, comprehensive place to find information about philanthropic and non-profit organizations.

Thankfulfor  We should always be grateful for the good things in our lives. These things give us hope. This site lets you have a public/private journal of  personal gratitude. Something you can use daily.

and last but not least…

43Things   Have you ever needed positive reinforcement when trying to reach your goals? 43Things is a new type of social networking site that’s based on just that. It’s more about achieving the goals and hopes that you list rather than interpersonal links and gratuitous pics. You can keep a journal of your progress as well as find others like you who are trying to achieve something positive for themselves.

Well, now that I’ve shared those lovely sites with you all thats left to do is this…wish you a safe and happy holiday, a prosperous New Year and lots of love and laughter.

By LaShonda Faison

We have a great selection of computer classes coming up in March. We, of course, have the Basic Computer Skills and More Basic Skills classes during the day. For those of you who work, we are offering the Microsoft Word class in the evening this month. The class will be held Wednesday nights, March 12, 19 and 26 at 6:30 pm. On March 5 at 6:30 pm, I will be offering a beginning class on Microsoft Vista for those of you who have bought new computers or have updated to Vista. Also, I have a brand-new class “Intro to 3-D Modeling” which will be taught by our Artist in Residence: Matthew Hyner. This class will give an introduction into using Google Sketchup, available free from Google. No registration is required; all classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

 I would like to offer an invitation for those of you who are already competent in computer and internet use. Come share your knowledge with others! Whether you would like to help out in a class or actually teach a class, we need you!!!! If you are interested in learning more about volunteering in the computer lab, email Janice at collinsj@mycitylibrary.org

 

Back in July of 2007, I taught a class that dealt with a number of “Web 2.0” topics including RSS. Why am I bringing this up again? Because if you are not taking advantage of RSS, I think you should. How can it help you? Well, for instance, I often send out emails when I post new articles on this blog. If you don’t get my email, you don’t know that I have posted something new. The beauty of RSS is that every time something new is posted, it is sent to you.

Here is an explanation of RSS from Wikipedia:

RSS is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blogentries, news headlines or podcasts. An RSS document, which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”, contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually.

RSS content can be read using software called an “RSS reader”, “feed reader” or an “aggregator”. The user subscribes to a feed by entering the feed’s link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds.”

So, isn’t that cool? I certainly think so. I have subscribed to a number of “feeds” myself and find it very convenient. I use the Google Reader, but there are a number of other options. Click here for a list of aggregators. I actually have created an iGoogle page and include my Google Reader as well as my Gmail account (which I use for online purchases and anything I might sign up for online). (Can you tell I am a Google fan?) Yahoo has a similar setup though, if you already have a Yahoo email account.

Once you decide to set up an aggregator, how do you find “feeds” to subscribe to? As you surf the web, look around at sites you often go to. Do you check the news on CNN frequently? Maybe you just want updates on national news. You can have those fed to you as they come in to CNN. Look for links similar to these:

RSS

Add to Google

By clicking on the right image, you can add the feed to your aggregator.

So, it’s a new year, let’s try something new! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to make a comment here or email me: collinsj@mycitylibrary.org.

I saw an article in the Palm Beach Post today that looked interesting. It seems that Florida is one of six states to work with Google, along with California, Arizona, Michigan, Utah and Virginia.

What you might ask are they doing? Well, by agreeing to a common standard produced by Google and other search engines like Yahoo, documents can be found by simple queries on a search engine, rather than navigating individual state Web sites.

So far, records from the departments of State, Workforce Innovation, Education, Environmental Protection, Business and Professional Regulation and Law Enforcement have been made search-engine friendly and other agencies’ records will be added in the coming weeks.

For those of you who are already thinking about privacy issues, rest assured that only records already publicly available can be searched in this fashion.

Among the thousands of free programs available on the Web, how do you find the best, most reliable ones for your needs? I love to read PC Magazine as most of you have probably realized by now. I often find their tips quite useful. In fact, I enjoy their tips so much that I get regular updates from them on a number of topics. I thought I would share with you an article that came out this year: The Best Free Software. They have recommendations for all kinds of applications, from photo editing to DVD burning to word processing. At the end of the article, there is some information on how to protect yourself from malware when downloading free applications.

I use a number of free applications myself. I especially like Spybot – Search & Destroy. This program detects and removes spyware. Spyware silently tracks your surfing behavior to create a marketing profile for you that is transmitted without your knowledge to the compilers and sold to advertising companies. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you haven’t intentionally installed, if your browser crashes inexplicably, or if your home page has been “hijacked” (or changed without your knowledge), your computer is most probably infected with spyware. 

I also love Gadwin PrintScreen. This is a program I use all the time at work to capture screenshots. There is a professional version that you have to pay for, but the free one works great and is so convenient and easy to use. Instead of hitting the Print Screen key on the keypad and getting a picture of the whole screen, Gadwin PrintScreen makes it easy to get any area of the screen. Very cool!!!

I might as well mention the Google Reader. Google Reader constantly checks your favorite news sites and blogs for new content. It can be used in most browsers and there is no software to install. I use Google Reader as part of my iGoogle page which also includes my Gmail account. IGoogle is a personalized page that gives you at-a-glance access to key information from Google and across the web. You can choose all sorts of content to add to your page including the weather, movie show times, news headlines and a lot more. Gmail of course is Google’s email which I use when I have to give an email when I sign up for something or make a purchase.

I think I can state honestly that people who use the internet and search engines really love the search engine they use. It seems we either love them or we hate them… I use Google most of the time but check out others on a regular basis because I feel I need to be familiar with what’s out there.

What brought this up you might ask? Well, it was an article in the CNET News blog which discussed several of the major search engines and their never-ending race to be first! It seems that these: Google, Ask.com, Microsoft Live Search, and Yahoo have all made some major changes this year beginning with Google’s update in May. Ask.com followed in June and this week Microsoft has upgraded its Live Search. Chances are that Yahoo will be next.

So what does this mean for us? Well, for one thing, it means that any of the major search engines will quickly give us a great number of relevant results. It also means that we can now get images, videos, and other search types from any of these search engines.

I saw an ad on tv the other day for Ask.com and, of course, had to check it out. I liked it, you should check it out for yourself…but will I switch from Google? No, probably not…but I will certainly suggest it as an alternative search engine.