Technology Tips

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!).

Post date: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 11:41am

iPhone Tips You’ll Actually Use

When I first bought my iPhone, I asked the salesman about books or classes that would help me learn how to use it. When he told me that I would figure it out if I played with it, he was right — to an extent. While iPhones are designed to be intuitive, there are lots of tricks and shortcuts that will make using your phone easier and more fun.

I’d like to share some useful tips that help me get the most out of using my iPhone. If you’re new to using an iPhone, they’ll help you too. Here we go!

  • Program your own text shortcuts. I set up my phone so that when I type my initials, the phone auto-corrects to my email address. Big time-saver! To get this feature, navigate to Settings > General > Keyboard. Scroll to the bottom and tap Add New Shortcut.
  • Kill your apps to preserve battery life. To “kill” your apps, or shut them down completely so they’re not running in the background, double tap the Home button. All your open apps will appear in a window along the bottom of your screen. Press and hold an app until it starts to wiggle, then tap the minus sign in the upper left-hand corner of the app to shut it down. You’ll notice a marked improvement in your battery life.
  • When you’re playing music and your screen is locked, double-tap the Home button to reveal music controls (volume, skip, rewind).
  • Even if your iPhone doesn’t have Siri, you can still use Voice Controls to perform some basic functions. Hold down the Home Button until you hear a double-beep, then tell the phone what you want. For instance, you can say “Play songs by Bruce Springsteen” or “Call Mom at home”. Ta-da!
  • Lock screen orientation. This was a major annoyance for me when I first got my phone! To lock screen orientation, double-tap the Home button then swipe to the left. Tap the image of the padlock to lock your screen. You’re welcome.
  • Choose domain endings other than .com. The .com shortcut on the keyboard is super-handy, but not all websites end in .com. Next time you open Safari, tap and hold the .com button to see all the domain endings. Now you can navigate to the library’s website ( that much faster!
Tags: iPhone, lifehacks
Post date: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 6:23pm

Getting the Most from Firefox

Everyone has a favorite browser, and Firefox is mine. Here are some tricks I use to enhance my Firefox experience:

  • Ctrl + L: To highlight the URL in the address bar
  • Shift + Enter: Magically adds www. and .com to the phrase you’ve typed in the address bar. For example, nytimes into the address bar, then Shift + Enter. Your phrase morphs into and you’re taken to the site.
  • Ctrl + F: Performs a keyword search on a webpage. This trick works in most browsers. It will increase your searching speed dramatically!
  • Ctrl + T: Opens a new tab
  • Ctrl + Tab: Switches among the tabs you have open
  • Ctrl + W: Closes your current tab
  • Shopping for gifts? Or maybe you’re a spy? Use Ctrl + Shift + P to enable private browsing.
Tags: Firefox, internet
Post date: Monday, February 11, 2013 - 6:46pm

The Library on Your Smartphone: There’s an App for That

It’s no secret that the sale of smartphones exceeded the sale of computers last year (read more about this interesting trend here). Because we strive to anticipate the needs of our patrons, the library offers some handy apps for smartphone users:

  • LibAnywhere provides access to your library account and the mobile catalog

  • Overdrive Media Console allows you to check out library eBooks right to your mobile device – a must for folks who like to have some reading material at all times

  • Freading is another eBook service the library uses. The selection of titles on Freading is incredible; this is the place to find beautiful nonfiction and fun books for kids

  • Mango delivers language lessons to your phone, with the option of learning 38 foreign languages

  • OneClickdigital is the library’s eAudiobook partner; you can choose from titles recorded by Recorded Books, which also provides the library with many of our physical audiobooks

  • Zinio gives you access to full-text magazines exactly as they appear in print. Some of the most popular titles are Cosmopolitan, National Geographic and Consumer Reports.

To download these free apps, just visit the app store from your smartphone and search for them by keyword. Questions? Just ask us!

Post date: Monday, January 16, 2012 - 12:33pm

Microsoft Office - Quick Access Toolbar


Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 added a new feature, a Quick Access Toolbar.

The toolbar is located in the upper left corner of the screen, next to the icon displaying the program you are using.

Mine looks like this in Microsoft Excel.  

Quick Access Toolbar

You can customize it for each of the Office products individually.  Start by clicking the More arrow at the end of the toolbar.  You’ll see a dropdown menu like this 

To add or remove features from this toolbar just click on the name.  If the name has a checkmark it will appear on your toolbar.  Click again to remove the feature.

If you’re anything like me, you often wonder where you’ve saved a document.  I added a box to display the network path of my document.  Instructions are available at this link.

Happy customizing!