Library Info

December 2009 - Posts

More Tips on Internet Safety

It’s a busy week here at the library but I thought I would take a moment to pass on a blog post I read recently about avoiding online scams. We’ve all seen those suspicious emails and too-good-to-be-true offers and wondered if this time, they might just be real. This post offers great tips on considering the reliability of websites and emails. It also links to another post on choosing strong passwords. I regret that my last two posts have been about security on the web but I think it’s important that we educate ourselves so that we can make the most of our web experiences.


The full article can be found at Lifehacker: The Complete Guide to Avoiding Online Scams

Being Smart about Online Status Updates

Online applications like Facebook and Twitter seem to be all about over-sharing the details of one’s life with a large network of people.  However, recently wrote about the importance of thinking twice about the information you share in these forums. Specifically, they suggest that posting travel plans online leaves your house vulnerable while you’re away. Thus, they suggest leaving the dates and locations out of your travel plans and making sure your profile doesn’t include your actual street address. But you might also just take into account the people who currently have access to your updates. If you Tweet but your account is locked and if your Facebook page is only accessible to your network of friends, you might rest a little easier. That is unless you think a friend may break into your house.

This is good advice for the holidays when people tend to travel a lot. But it also just gets us thinking about what we’re sharing and with whom we’re sharing it. There are many examples of both positive and negative impacts of social networking. Take a moment to decide if you want to share every part of your profile with each person in your network (and possibly beyond) and make a choice that’s right for you.

Convert Your Files for Free Using Zamzar

A patron recently asked how to convert a Word document (.doc) and an image (.jpg) into PDFs. On many computers this can be done by going to file > print and then choosing a PDF converter from the printer list. However, on some computers – like those at the library – this is not an option. There are a few online tools for this however.

Zamzar is a free, online tool which converts your files and then emails them to you. There’s no need to create an account or pay any sign up fees. I mostly use the application to create PDFs but it can also be used to convert documents, images, and music and video files to other formats.

Simply upload a file, select the new format from a drop down menu, enter your email address, click “convert and wait. Sometimes the file will be emailed to you almost immediately but if the service is busy you may have to wait up to an hour or so. One quirk to the tool is that, after uploading a file, the filename seems to disappear but is actually visible below the input box. Files must also be below 100MB to be converted.

Zamzar is not the only place to go to convert files but it’s a nice, simple tool that does the job without too much hassle.




Find Dining Specials for the Little Ones with a Handy Web App

As the holidays approach, we sometimes find ourselves caught between trying to save time and save money. When in a hurry, it’s awfully tempting to splurge on dining out to save yourself the hassle of grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning the kitchen. 

But have no fear, here comes the Internet to the rescue. We now have a tool to help us find restaurants where the little ones can eat for free or for bargain prices. KidsEatFor lets users enter a zip code and then provides a list of restaurant specials for each day of the week (screen shot below). Clicking on the restaurant name will give you more information about their specials. The service works best for large cities but will give you an idea of what nearby restaurant chains offer specials for kids.