Technology Tips

Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 5:41pm

Share Your PowerPoint Presentations Online

You just made the perfect PowerPoint presentation. It’s eye-catching, witty, informative and now you want to share it with the world. How? Slideshare.

Slideshare is a free website that allows users to upload and share PowerPoint presentations. You can view presentations on Slideshare, embed them on your own website, or share them on social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest.Is Slideshare right for you? If you’re interested in:

  • Sharing information with clients,
  • Writing how-to instructions, or
  • Presenting a collection of artwork

and you want it done quickly, Slideshare may be a good fit. You can see Slideshare in action on the library’s website by following this link.

Post date: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - 9:12am

Format it with Word

If you haven’t used a Microsoft Word template, you’re doing a lot of unnecessary work. To access templates in Office 2010, open Word and click the File tab on the far left. From there, you can choose templates for everything from business letters and resumes to birthday party invitations.

I chose to download a business letter because I can never remember how to arrange that type of letter. Does your address go first, or does the recipient’s? Where does the date belong? I don’t have to sweat it if using a template. Try one for the next document you have to type and see how much time it saves.

Post date: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 5:38pm

Plan a Meeting in Outlook

Today’s post is for those of you who use Outlook at work. When used appropriately, Outlook can be a powerful productivity tool. In fact, if you’re not using the Calendar feature to manage your schedule, you’re missing out on a great function that allows you to organize your schedule and coordinate with colleagues. Today we’re going to learn how to set up a meeting with a colleague – without shooting ten emails back and forth that all begin “I’m busy that hour. How about… instead?”

Open Outlook and navigate to the Calendar tab. Click Actions, then Plan a Meeting…

You’ll see this dialog box:

Just type in the name of the person with whom you’d like to meet and Outlook will display both of your schedules. You can tell Outlook to AutoPick the next time you’re both available, or scroll through your schedules to pick a time that works for both of you. Click the Make Meeting button to send an appointment request.

Note that the Plan a Meeting function doesn’t allow your co-workers to view the items on your calendar; it just allows them to see when you’re free and when you have a previous engagement.

Post date: Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 4:27pm

Using Google Like a Pro: Part Six

To conclude our Using Google Like a Pro series, I want to share some Google “Easter eggs”. These are fun little secrets that Google employees hide in various services. Here are some of my favorites:

Walking directions from The Shire to Mordor
Navigate to Click Get directions. Enter The Shire as your starting point and Mordor as your destination, then click the icon for walking directions. Nerds rejoice!

Have you ever played Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? I’m not very good at that game, but Google is! Just type an actor’s name and the phrase bacon number and Google makes the Kevin Bacon connection for you.

Google Translate is great for getting quick translations, but did you know you can make it beatbox? Just copy and paste this text into Google Translate, tell it to translate into German, and click Listen:

pv zk pv pv zk pv zk kz zk pv pv pv zk pv zk zk pzk pzk pvzkpkzvpvzk kkkkkk bsch

And now, I congratulate you! If you’ve read the six-part Using Google Like a Pro series, you’re now a better Googler than all your friends!

Tags: Google
Post date: Friday, May 10, 2013 - 10:12am

Using Google Like a Pro: Part Five

Are you a political junkie? Diehard Cubs fan? Supporter of a local museum or (ahem) library? If so, you may be interested in hearing all the news about your favorite group and the best way to do that is to set up a Google alert.

When you set up a Google alert, Google will email you when it indexes a webpage that contains your selected phrase. You can choose how often to receive emails, and whether you get every result or the most popular ones. Let’s set up an alert for the library.

Start by navigating to Type in your search query (it’s best to type the exact phrase in quotation marks to avoid unrelated results). Choose your preferences from the drop-down menus and type in your email address. When you’re ready, just click CREATE ALERT. You’re done!

Tags: Google
Post date: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 9:27am

Using Google Like a Pro: Part Four

You’ve used Google Images a thousand times. Type a phrase, click Images, and Google searches the internet for images that match your description. But what if you have the image and need the description? I saw an art print at a friend’s house that I really liked, but she couldn’t remember the artist’s name. I snapped a picture of it and decided to do some investigating.

I started with a regular image search. To conduct an image search, I described the image in my own words (nautical poem with anchor black and white) and scrolled through the results:

Uh, not exactly what I was looking for. Instead of telling Google about my picture, I decided to show it. For this technique to work, you’ll need to save your image to your computer.

Navigate to and click the camera icon in the right-hand side of the search box to upload your image. Alternatively, drag and drop your saved image into the search box, like this:

Google will search the internet for images that are visually similar to yours and give you its best guess of the image’s origin:

Thanks, Google! Now I can contact the artist to purchase my own print.

Tags: Google
Post date: Monday, April 22, 2013 - 10:09am

Using Google Like a Pro: Part Three

Conversions, calculations, math problems… if you’re not a fan of math, you can use Google to perform basic calculations. Here are some of my favorites:

Converting Celsius to Fahrenheit:

How about cooking conversions?

The jeans you want are $69 and there’s a 35% off sign next to the rack. Is it a good deal?

You’re admiring a painting that a friend brought back from India when she casually mentions that she paid 10,000 rupees for it. What?! How much is that in American money?

Tags: Google
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 12:34pm

Using Google Like a Pro: Part Two

Search engines exist to trawl the internet for our search queries and return relevant answers. Google has always performed that function, but did you know that you can also use Google to get answers to your questions directly? Here’s how it works:

Imagine you want to know the movie times for theaters in our area. Instead of conducting an internet search for websites that offer movie listings, you can type movies Waukegan to get results instantly:

You can also ask Google about the dates of holidays or when daylight savings time begins:

Have friends in a different time zone? Check the time to make sure you don’t wake them up the next time you call:

Check the weather by typing the word weather and a city or ZIP code:

Tags: Google
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 12:45pm

Using Google Like a Pro: Part One

Do you ever wonder how some people always seem to find what they’re searching for online? You can become a searching expert, too! All you need are some neat Googling tricks hidden up your sleeve. Today is the first post in a series about using Google like a pro to get librarian-level search results. The first trick I want to share is domain-specific searching.

Domain-specific searching takes your general keyword search and narrows it to a domain (for instance, or a domain ending (.com, .org, .gov and .edu are examples). This type of search is useful if you have a favorite site for information, or you are working on a homework project and need to find reliable information.

Let’s imagine that you’re interested in buying a book, but you want to know whether it’s ever been reviewed by the New York Times. This is the first search you try:



Your results look like this:

Yikes! Not exactly what you’re looking for. Try this little trick for narrowing your results to just the New York Times website:



This time, Google searched only the New York Times website for the phrase President Kennedy: Profile of Power.

The very first result is a link to the book review. When using the site: function, make sure to type the website address or domain ending directly after site: without any spaces. Happy Googling!

Tags: Google
Post date: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 2:40pm

Pinterest: What the Heck Is It and Why Should I Use It?

Pinterest is a social media site that has exploded in popularity this past year. Unlike Facebook, which facilitates social interaction, Pinterest is a place to share ideas. Users find appealing images on websites (or upload their own) and pin them on boards. There’s a category for every interest on Pinterest, from cooking to comic books to tattoos and weddings. Here’s a quick glossary of terms:

  • Pinner: That’s you. People who use Pinterest are called pinners. You can follow other pinners so that you view the items they pin on your homepage.
  • Pin: An image on the Pinterest servers. Images are usually linked to websites.
  • Repin: Pinners can browse a category that appeals to them and repin images that other pinners have found online.
  • Board: You can imagine your board like the big corkboard in your house where you pin articles, recipes, photos from magazines, and snapshots of your dog.

If you’re looking for home décor inspiration, you’re in a cooking rut, or you want some projects that will keep your kids busy on a rainy day, you’ll find that Pinterest is a fun, useful website. To get started on Pinterest, follow the Library here: You’ll find lots of reading recommendations, links to cool websites, and library-themed jokes (of course!).