Technology Blog

One for you, nineteen for me. Or just e-file for free.

If you’re like me, you’ve been putting it off for as long as humanly possible – but it’s time, my friend. April 17th will be here soon: it’s tax time. Luckily, however, the days of forgetting to include a deduction and having to white-out your 1040 are gone – anyone can file online and let someone else do the math (though it never hurts to double-check).  There are a couple of options for your federal taxes, depending on your income and confidence in your tax-filing capabilities:

Google Better!

Google

Google is a very powerful tool, particularly if you know how to use it correctly.  Try a few of the simple tips shared here, and you'll be on your way to Googling better!

All locations of the Denver Public Library will be closed on Monday, March 26, in observance of Cesar Chavez Day. Wait. Cesar who? Let's use Cesar Chavez to practice some advanced Google search techniques.

Tell Yo Grandma! Computer Basics Classes Start Next Week

If you're reading this blog chances are good that you know how to use the computer. But do your grandparents? How about your neighbors, your friends, your aunts & uncles, your co-workers? We all know people who don't know how to use the computer and wish they could! Well, tell 'em that their time has come. The CTC offers a free series on computer basics, and the cycle starts next week.

Monday, 3/5, 2-3:30 p.m., Getting Started - Spend time getting to know the mouse, because you won't go far without clicking!

Monday, 3/12, 2-3:30 p.m., Internet 101 - Learn about the Internet - what it is, how to navigate it and how to search for information.

Monday, 3/19, 2-3:30 p.m., Yahoo! Email Basics - Learn how to set up and operate an email account; even if you already have an account you can learn how to make the best use of it.

Teens + Technology = TEEN TECH WEEK!

Teen Tech Week

Have a teenager in your life? Are you a teenager? Then come down to a branch of the Denver Public Library this March 4th – 10th for Teen Tech Week! We’ll be exploring all things tech, from modding your gadgets to making music, with classes just for teens.

Check out the full schedule of events, including events across almost all of the branches of the Denver Public Library system. I wanted to highlight some of the events that will be happening here at Central, most of which will be on the 4th floor in the Community Technology Center.

Get a Job Already!

Do you have a resume that looks like you typed it one-handed and blind-folded on a typewriter in 1986? Worse yet, do you not have a resume at all and you're on the job hunt?

Nowadays a resume is a must, whether you're looking for a contractor gig or applying to be the next CEO of Apple. Never fear, we’re here to help! The CTC’s resident job seeking experts have created a Resume Basics class designed to give you the know-how to create a sleek, professional resume that highlights your good sides and downplays your not-so-good sides.

Geeking Out For Teen Tech Week

People and places of Virginia Village

Teen Tech Week is March 4th - 10th. As it gets closer, I want to highlight some of the neat things you can do with the programs installed on the public PCs at your local branch, starting with some image editing in a program called GIMP.

GIMP is free software for manipulating images and is installed on all of our public PCs. You can find it in the Start menu under Utilities.

It is a very robust, powerful program that you can spend a lot of time getting to know. (See the documentation and some tutorials at gimp.org/docs.) What I want to share with you is a very simple and specific procedure: creating an animated gif like the one at the top of this post.

FREE Online Entertainment

Computers are great. Seriously, think of all they do for us. They spell check our horribly written term papers, they help us find dinner for date night, and they help us keep in contact (some say too much so) with all our friends on Facebook. Most importantly tho, they can distract us for hours on end when we are trapped inside by a couple feet of snow. Here are some suggestions of places you can go for free online entertainment:

Music:

Pandora.com - On Pandora you can create radio stations that play the type of music you like. You start with an artist or song and Pandora tries to find similar songs for you to listen to; this has the added bonus of being a great way to learn about new bands!

Grooveshark.com - Grooveshark allows you to create a playlist by searching for artists or titles you like. You then drag them into a play bar and it will play the songs you have chosen in the order you have put them in.

Don’t forget to backup!!!

computer fail

Many of us are familiar with this scenario: You’ve just spent a lot of time working hard at the computer when the computer turns off unexpectedly or crashes. Or maybe it catches a virus that destroys the whole system! Without a way to retrieve your data, all that hard work is gone. To save time and avoid frustration, start getting in the habit of backing up.

A few of my favorite backup software choices are:

Organizing Your Virtual World

Most of us have favorite bloggers, trusted news websites, an email account and a few social networks we follow, too. Maybe the sites are bookmarked for quick access or addresses pop up in the browser history upon beginning to type. In some cases complete web addresses have been memorized! Stop the insanity!

I don't know about you, but my mornings used to be all about a cup o' joe and time set aside for perusing the newspaper. It's been a long time since I've had actual ink and paper delivered to my doorstep, but I fondly remember opening up a newspaper and leisurely trolling for scandalous headlines, often skimming the heady news articles and jumping straight to the crossword puzzle and comics. This familiarity is comforting, to be sure. The beauty of newspapers is the way they're organized; we know what to expect when we open one up. Breaking news appears on the front page.

About the Blackout

Wikipedia's page on internet blackout day.

This Wednesday, you may have noticed the internet got a little weird: Google’s logo on its homepage was censored, Wikipedia went black, even LOLcats were asking you to contact your members of Congress. The cause of all the uproar? The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), two bills currently in front of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, respectively.

Both SOPA and PIPA were created to allow the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders greater capacity to combat online sharing of copyrighted intellectual property and goods – i.e., to make it harder to pirate music, movies, and other media online. Proponents of the bills, the most vocal being the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, estimate that internet piracy results in some $100 million in lost profits annually for U.S. companies and the loss of thousands of jobs.

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