December 2009 - Posts
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.
full article can be found at Lifehacker: The
Complete Guide to Avoiding Online Scams
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, Lifehacker.com 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.
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.
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.