In Praise of eBooks

One of the things about doing a bit of a retrospective of where you’ve been in the last year is that you occasionally realize things that sort of slid by you when you were actually experiencing them.

While compiling my list of top 10 recommendations of books I read in 2016 , I did a count of how many book titles I actually read last year.  Turns out since I keep a reading history – you can do this too in your online library account:

cardinal-screenthat I read 100 books, averaging about one every 3 or 4 days.

This surprised me, as 2016 may have been one of my biggest years ever for reading that many titles.  I may have surpassed that during the summers when I was 10-12, but I’ve generally found less time for reading as a working adult, a husband, and a father of a young child. So how in the world did I read that many books?  I believe it was the fact that 80 of the 100 books I read were in the form of an eBook.

Now please know from the start that I am in no way denigrating the “true book” experience – I too am a bibliophile, as one might expect from a librarian. I love the physical properties of a book: the tactile sensation of turning the pages, the smell of an older volume.  I probably have more volumes of books in my home than the average — it reminds me of the joke I used to tell: “What do you get when a professor marries a librarian? 15 bookcases full of books.”

Nevertheless, in the world I live in now I never could have reached 100 titles read in one year were it not for eBooks.  Here’s how it happened…

I do have a Kindle, but I must confess that a dedicated eReader has not been the primary platform for me and eBooks.  No, the device I read eBooks on is my smartphone.

To make this work, it took several different factors – one was the Overdrive app.

“OverDrive Media Console is a proprietary, freeware application developed by OverDrive, Inc. for use with its digital distribution services for libraries, schools, and retailers. The application enables users to access audiobooks, eBooks, periodicals, and videos borrowed from libraries and schools—or purchased from booksellers—on [various]devices…” — Wikipedia

This handy application (available in the Apple and Android universes, as well as others) is fairly easy to download, and, as stated above, free!

The second factor is the fact that by far the majority of US public libraries have chosen the Overdrive app to allow access to their eBook collections. You DID know that almost all public libraries have eBook collections, right?  Sometimes I wonder when I read about people touting various “for profit” paywall sources for eBooks – I’ve paid for less than six eBooks total.  I read library-sourced eBooks almost exclusively. Why not?  Who wouldn’t want free?

So big factor one and big factor two = FREE!

One of the nice things about the Overdrive app is the ability to download the book you want, instead of streaming.  Once it’s downloaded (and you have the choice of a download version compatible with Kindles or a more general standard called ePub) you don’t need an internet connection to read the book (which also saves on battery power for your device, not to mention data used from your phone’s service plan).  You can also choose the font size, the screen brightness, etc.  This makes it easy to read on the beach, in the car (while someone else is driving, of course), or even at night with a black screen / white letters that’s easy on your night vision.  Then it is quite convenient to pick up your device and read while you wait at the doctor’s office (instead of reading the year-old Sports Illustrated or the even older Better Homes and Gardens), while you are in a long line at the Post Office during the holiday mailing season, while you are waiting at your child’s basketball practice, or even in front of the fireplace on a rainy night instead of picking up a physical book.  When you put all of that spare/possibly wasted time together, you too can read 100 books a year.

SO…if you have a portable device like a tablet, phablet, or smartphone, start by making sure your library card is updated and ready to go.  You can do that by accessing your library account online:   the “My Account” button in the upper right hand corner of this webpage – http://fontana.nccardinal.org/eg/opac/home

(Or of course coming into a Fontana Regional Library branch in person, or calling your local branch…)

Once you know your account is “good to go,” travel to either the iTunes App store for Apple products: [https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/overdrive-library-ebooks-and-audiobooks/id366869252?mt=8];

Or for Android devices, go to the Google Play store: [https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.overdrive.mobile.android.mediaconsole&hl=en].

Download the app and open it – it will guide you through the initial set-up.  Basically, it will ask you to identify your library and enter your library information and library barcode.  Once you do that, be sure and mark that you want your device to remember the information, unless you enjoy keying in the 14-digit barcode repeatedly.

At that point, your device is ready to browse and search for eBooks you might enjoy.  When you find a title (and the library has best sellers and a wide selection) you are interested in, just ask to Borrow that title – you can then have the eBook for 7 to 21 days (depending on the title – you can even choose the borrowing period for some titles!) and you start reading just by “flipping” screens on your device, just like turning pages on a physical book.  You can bookmark your place in the eBook (make sure you learn how to do this at the start) and then pop in to your reading choice during all the “spare corners” of your life.  Before you know it, you are reading like a house afire!

We can help you get started on reading eBooks here @ your FRL library – we have several people able to offer free device help as you need it.  Just ask!  Happy e-reading!

Listen & Learn

Many years ago on a road trip with my two kids I discovered something pretty amazing.  I discovered the power of listening to a story.  I know how hard it is for parents to keep the kiddos occupied on car trips – been there – still doing that.  You know, those long hours in confined spaces with nothing much to do except ask, “Are we there yet?” or “How much farther?”

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“Are we there yet?  How much farther?”

So, on this particular trip I decided to try getting a couple of Donald Davis storytelling CD’s from the local public library.  I love Donald Davis so I figured at least I could be content on the trip.  What I learned is that both kids and I were mesmerized by the telling of the stories.  After that, anytime I knew we would be held captive in the car I sought out not just Donald Davis but other things like books on CD to keep our minds occupied to the point we did not much care if we were there yet or how much further we had to go.

There have been other times through the years that listening to stories has come to the rescue.  I remember the push of making that reading goal with both my children, especially in middle school.  I discovered that many titles that they were “allowed” to read were available on CD at the public library.  That saved us many a drama when it came time to tally up points or the dreaded word count.

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Listening to a great story!

It did take a little research and planning ahead but I can say there have been many titles over the years that we have enjoyed listening to and it was a great way to spark some pretty in depth discussions with the kids.

As you can see I support listening to audio books and stories.  I did a search on NC Live and came up with some other people who feel the same as me.  For example, according to Technology & Learning, February 2016,  it can support students who do not like to read perhaps because they feel overwhelmed by reading for whatever reason as well as “support critical thinking skills” or “re-ignite a passion for reading”.  Then there is the idea that “children who are listeners become readers” and that “children can handle a harder book without struggling” which will support their vocabulary and comprehension development, (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2002).

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A great story is just a listen away!

The public library has many great offerings to support listening to books and stories.  Of course, there are the tried and true books on CD.  Some favorite titles for me include The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Ginger Pye.  Fontana Regional Library branches have recently purchased some pretty cool audio books.  They are called VOX Books.  These books are neat because the audio is built into the book.  It even has a port to plug in earphones.  It makes it a very portable option for kids.  Some of the titles we have include Don’t Push the Button! and My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I am Not).

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There is another option I learned about recently that has really streamlined the way I get access to my audiobooks.  This has proved to be a wonderful option as I am on the road commuting a lot throughout the region.  If you have not checked out the eAudio options Fontana Regional Library offers, you should!

First, I downloaded the OverDrive app, which is free.  For my eAudio options I chose to download the app to my phone but it can also be downloaded to other devices.  Then I entered the information to make my account.  They basically just want your library card number and an email address.  Then I started browsing.  Once I found a title I downloaded it to my phone (while I had access to Wi-Fi, of course) and when I am in the car I open the OverDrive app and click on the title I want to listen to and voila instant access to my stories without fumbling with changing CD’s while driving and there is nothing to physically return.  The OverDrive app also gives you access to eBooks and as I mentioned before you can download the app on more than one device.  Literally all I ever need is at my fingertips!

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In this season of travel please consider using audio books and stories as a way to make those miles go by faster whether you are traveling far away or are traveling on your daily commute.  The benefits are worth it!

Do you use library computers and internet?

Click here to take our survey

Do you use the computers and internet at the library? We would love to hear from you!

From May 5th to May 24th the library will be running an online survey to understand how patrons use the library’s technology so we can provide resources and services that are valuable to the community. The Impact Survey is anonymous, available in English and Spanish, and takes 10-15 minutes to complete.

Please support the library and help us improve our services. Click the button below to fill out the survey or you can access it from one of the library’s public access computers. We appreciate your time and support.

Why should I participate?

ComputerAssistanceThe Impact Survey will help us better understand how our community benefits from free access to computers and the Internet at the library. This information will help the library improve its technology services and communicate the value of providing these services.

People from all walks of life use library computers to perform routine and life-changing tasks, from emailing friends to finding jobs. A 2009 study conducted by the University of Washington reported that use of library technology had significant impact in four critical areas: employment, education, health, and making community connections. The study revealed that

  • 40 percent of library computer users (an estimated 30 million people) received help with employment needs. Among these users, 75 percent reported they searched for a job online. Half filled out an online application or submitted a resume.
  • 37 percent focused on health issues. 82 percent of these users used the computers to learn about a disease, illness, or medical condition. One-third sought out doctors or health care providers and about half followed up by making appointments for care.
  • 42 percent received help with educational needs. Among these users, 37 percent (an estimated 12 million students) used their local library computer to do homework.
  • Library computers link patrons to their government, communities, and civic organizations. Sixty-percent of users – 43.3 million people – used a library’s computer resources to connect with others.

These are the national numbers. But in order for the library to meet our community’s technology needs and to demonstrate how providing these services make a difference, it’s important that we have this information at a local level.

How long does it take?

The survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. If you are using a library computer to complete the survey, we have added additional time to your computer reservation to compensate for time needed to participate.

Click here to take our surveyWhat will I be asked?

Impact Survey will ask you how you use the library’s public access computers and Internet connection, and how this resource has helped you. The questions cover general use, as well as use in the following areas:

  • Employment
  • Education
  • eBusiness
  • eCommerce
  • eGovernment
  • Civic engagement
  • Health and wellness
  • Social inclusion

The survey also collects information about use of specific library resources, help and training at the library, overall satisfaction, and your perceptions of the importance of offering public access technology.

How will my data/privacy be protected?

Your submission is completely anonymous and confidential.  No personally identifiable information will be collected in the survey.

From Impact Survey:

The survey does not collect any personally identifiable information from patrons. When a patron clicks on the link from your website to take the survey, your library’s unique survey URL … is attached to the response. This code allows us to identify the responses that come from your library, but will not record any other information related to the patron, even if she/he is logged into their library account.


About Impact Survey

The Impact Survey is the result of a partnership between the University of Washington and  the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2009, the University of Washington Information School conducted Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, which was the first large-scale investigation of the ways U.S. library patrons use computers and the Internet at public libraries, why they use it, and how it impacts their lives. Because the patron survey was such a success, it is now available as a tool for use by all U.S. public libraries.

For more information about the Impact Survey, inquire at the library information desk or visit http://impactsurvey.org.

 

Oh, What a Tangled Web….

keyboard-heart

By Amy

Imagine that you meet someone online. You get a Facebook message from someone who’s a friend of a friend. Maybe you glance through their profile: went to the same high school your cousin went to, has a nice job, and good looking to boot! You chat with them, get to know them. Every day you look forward to “talking” to them; telling them about your day, hearing about theirs. Your heart flutters when you see them sign online. You share private information and intimate details; maybe you decide to be in an exclusive relationship with them. Sure, you’ve never met them… but you feel like you know them better than anyone you’ve ever met before, and well… they do live across the country.  Maybe you even have plans to meet each other in person!

What happens when you find out this person isn’t real? Perhaps their profile is a fake, designed to trick you into giving them money or gifts, hurt you emotionally, or lure you into meeting them in person. This sort of online relationship deception is also known as catfishing (inspired by the 2010 film Catfish) or catphishing.

To some an online relationship may seem silly and naïve, but it’s becoming increasingly more common the more interconnected “real life” becomes with the internet. However, some people forget that (just like in real life) there are “bad people” on the internet; and on the internet, it’s easier to be bad.

Recent news (such as this article from CNN) has detailed this situation with football player Manti Te’o, linebacker for University of Notre Dame. There’s been a media storm over the issue. Was Manti using his “dead girlfriend” to garner sympathy and improve his chances of winning the Heisman trophy? Or is he really just stupid enough to fall for, what seems to most, an obvious hoax? Recent interviews with the perpetrators of the hoax shed some light on the situation and the internet continues to make light of the fiasco, as evidenced by the photo below.

mantihugging

While the investigation into whether Manti was duped or took part in the hoax himself continues, there are plenty of other examples of people being deceived about the identities of others online. Most cases involving fake profiles may be harmless, but there are many examples proving how dangerous and harmful these incidents can be- including a couple of high profile cases of cyber bullying: Amanda Todd and Megan Meier.

Parry Aftab, the executive director of WiredSafety.org states in this USA Today interview, “Sixty percent to 70% of cyber bullying or cyber harassment cases occur anonymously or with fake impersonated accounts.” The article goes on to say, “A number of the bullying cases that ended in suicide involved impersonations in which someone pretended to like the victim, [Aftab] adds.” This sort of cyber bullying isn’t relegated to children or just a case of “kids being kids.” Politicians, teachers, and celebrities have also been targets of and affected by fake online profiles. Even government entities have been impersonated online.

It’s easy to assuage your own doubts about others online. The anonymity of the internet can make you feel safe. The flip-side to this is that it makes some feel safe in their efforts to harm others- emotionally, socially, financially, and even physically.

You don’t have to disconnect from the internet, however. There are several ways to stay safe on the web. Here are some tips from NCDOJ.gov :

  • Never send or wire money to a stranger you meet online. Once the money has been wired, it is highly unlikely you will ever get it back.
  • Never give out your personal information to someone you meet online, no matter what the circumstance or why they say they need it.
  • Beware if someone you meet online begins asking you for money, even a small amount.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who posts pictures purporting to look like a model out of a magazine, especially if you’re on a site where most members are seniors.
  • Stick to well known dating and social networking websites where you have some protections and can report users who violate terms and conditions. Be cautious when someone you don’t know asks you to leave the site to chat or talk.
  • And remember: people aren’t always who they say they are online.

For more information, visit:

NCDOJ: Use Caution When Meeting People Online

NCDOJ: Online Scammers Want to Win Your Love and Take Your Money

NCDOJ: Consumer Fraud and Scam Alerts

US State Department: Don’t be a Victim of Internet Dating Scams

StopCyberBullying.org

WiredSafety.org

STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

By John

We lead Web-based, digital lives. From personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, e-book readers, to working, shopping, and social networking, virtually every aspect of our lives touches the digital world. Even when we are not directly connected to the Internet, this vast worldwide connection of computers, data, and websites supports our everyday lives through financial transactions, transportation systems, healthcare records, emergency response systems, personal communications, and more.

This reliance increases as digital technology advances and high speed Internet access becomes more widespread. Yet, if we are to maximize the convenience, speed, and future potential of a digital society, we must protect the resource that makes it possible.

The Internet is a shared resource and securing it is Our Shared Responsibility, the theme for 2012 National Cyber Security Awareness Month observed this October. Each and every one of us needs to do our part to make sure that our online lives are kept safe and secure. That’s what National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is all about!

To promote NCSAM and let others know that all of us have a role in protecting our digital lives, here are a few tips on how you can create a more cyber-secure environment at home

At home, determine:

  • A central location for your computer so you can monitor your children’s activities online.
  • Whether you allow access to certain sites.  You may choose to use parental control settings to block access to inappropriate sites.
  • Acceptable online behavior and expectations.  Clearly explain the rules and expectations regarding online behavior.  Include issues such as cyber bullying, keeping personal information private (not posting it online), and treating people met online as the strangers that they are.
  • Your monitoring strategy.  How will you assure your family complies with your “Acceptable Use Policy?”  You may choose to monitor your family’s online activities, and let them know their activity is being monitored.

To create a more cyber-secure environment at home, implement and maintain the following processes:

  • Develop strong passwords and change them every 60 to 90 days. Passwords should be changed periodically to reduce the risk of disclosure.  The more critical the account, such as banking or e-mail, the more frequently the password should be changed.  Use a minimum of eight characters with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.  Have different passwords for each account for which you provide personal information.  Do not re-use work passwords for any personal accounts.
  • Backup your information.  Determine what needs to be saved, how frequently it needs to be saved, how to perform the backups, how to save the backups so you can restore information when needed, and to test the backups to make sure they work properly.
  • Get support.  Before your computer crashes or gets infected with a computer virus, determine who is going to provide your support.
  • Erase your hard drive.  When it’s time to dispose of your computer or Mobile device, make sure you have the tools and process to completely erase your information from it or physically destroy the hard drive.  Properly erasing your hard drive thwarts efforts to steal your identity.  There are many resources for the process of that disposal.

 

Use the following technologies and tools to help keep your family and computers, tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices secure.  To help select the right tools, check product ratings and reviews from well-known PC and consumer magazines at your local library

  • Parental control software.  As mentioned previously, you may choose to use parental control software.  These programs can prevent access to inappropriate websites, limit the amount of time spent online, set a schedule for what time of day Internet use is permitted, limit access to games based on Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings, and monitor instant messaging conversations.  And most programs are hardened to prevent them from being disabled.
  • Keep track of system updates.  Setting your computer to automatically update the latest security patches for operating systems and application software could inadvertently crash your computer. Not all updates apply to every computer system. Searching online about the update will reveal if other computer users are experiencing problems with or what is being reported about the update.  Stay abreast of system updates and applying the proper updates will help minimize the risk from hackers taking advantage of software vulnerabilities or bugs.
  • Security software.  Ensure all computers have up-to-date security software on them.  At a minimum, the security software should include anti-virus, anti-spyware, and a firewall.  Newer products include functions to block downloads and access to and from malicious websites.  Some browsers have safeguards built in, such as Internet Explorer’s SmartScreen Filter that detects phishing websites and protects against downloading malicious software.  For mobile devices — like tablets and smartphones — look for security software that allows you to locate a lost or stolen device, and remotely erase it.
  • Wireless Network.  Configure your wireless network for security.  Change the default password to a secure password for your router to prevent anyone from gaining access to it and disabling your security settings.  You should also use a minimum of 128bit encryption to make your network more secure.  Choose WPA2 encryption over older encryption, like WEP or WPA.  Lastly, change the Service Set Identifier (SSID) from its default to something unique.  Use a name you can remember to identify your network, but choose a name that doesn’t identify you or your family.  For example, don’t make your SSID “Smith’s home network.”  Check your router vendor and Internet service provider (ISP) for secure configuration instructions.

Here’s some related links on Cyber Security Awareness Tips for Protecting Children Online:

Getting pictures, automagically!

By John

For those of us who use digital cameras and go through the throws of locating a cable to connect our camera or card readers to our computers to get at our photos and videos have something to rejoice about. There’s a company that’s been making memory cards with Wi-Fi capability built into it, called “Eye-Fi”.

It’s seems their product line has matured to a point where they continually receive great reviews. It seems like they plan on being around awhile with a release for the android OS and iOS (iPhone) devices. So, not only do they support PC and Mac with several online photos services (Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket, and about 40 more) they’re reaching out to the smartphones, tablets, and iPads as well.

Having read several reviews and information on the Eye-Fi website, I found there is one major prerequisite: You need a wireless network. Then you need you a camera that uses the SDHC memory card. A word of caution here! Although your camera may use a SDHC card, not all cameras are compatible with the Eye-Fi memory card. You can check that here. Well, considering I have a wireless network at home and a camera that uses the SDHC memory card, I decided to get one and take a chance. The only hesitation I had was the fact that my little Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W530 wasn’t listed in the compatibility list.

There are three versions available, the Connect X2 version with 4GB, the Explore X2 version with 8GB, and the Pro X2 version with 8GB and four different features. All three versions come with the online sharing feature, the Explore X2 version comes with the Geotagging feature and the Hot Spot Access (free for a year) feature, and the Pro X2 version comes with the Geotagging, the Hot Spot Access (free for a year) and the Ad Hoc Transfers features.

I opted for the Connect X2 and brought it home. Once I got back I sat down and read the setup instructions. Most times I usually don’t do that, but several of the reviews I read stated, “I encountered”, or “I had”, “no problems getting the photos following the setup instructions.” The package comes with the SDHC memory card and a card reader. Inserting the card reader into an available USB port I installed the Eye-Fi software called Eye-Fi Center. Once it finished the program it prompted me to remove the card reader, then remove the memory card from the card reader and insert it in my camera.

Once I had the memory card in the camera, Eye-Fi central wanted me to take a test photo. I took a picture, set the camera down and looked at the computer to read the next step when I noticed a little window in bottom right with DSC00022.jpg being loaded. My heart raced and I felt a big grin spread across my face as I watched the test picture appear in the window. Eye-Fi Central let me know that picture could stay at Eye-Fi (online) for up to 7 days and prompted me for a more permanent online photo service and I could email them from here. You can view Eye-Fi Center on the computer you installed it on or via the web at center.eye.fi.

During the setup process I had selected Picasa as my online photo and video service, so I went there to check the results of the upload.

Awesome! No more cables or card readers. In fact, although I purchase the Connect X2 I went ahead and upgraded it for the Hot Spot Access – an annual subscription of $29.99 is required. This allows me to use any wireless network away from my home (public or private) to upload my photos and videos. With plans to be out of the area on vacation coming up soon, I decided it was worth the investment. To me just having the card is worth the investment to get rid of carrying those dang cables and card readers where ever I went.

Resources For More Information

Available at our AC-Cashiers Community Library:

Wireless LANs end to end by Walter Bruce

Available at our Jackson County Public Library and Marianna Black Library

Digital photo madness! : 50 weird & wacky things to do with your digital camera by Thomas Gaines

Wireless SD Cards – Get a memory card that makes your camera wireless. Upload photos and videos wirelessly to your computer and to the web.

http://www.eye.fi/

Best Place in Town!

By John

Where’s the best place to catch a “FREE movie, or to enjoy a “FREE concert? How about the best place to whet your appetite for a little action on the internet,  or quench your thirst by reading another wild, exotic, action packed adventure! How about a place to do that last minute studying with a buddy? Did I mention a cool relaxing environment to take a breather from the hectic pace, and this heat wave? That’s right, I’m talking about our local library.

For the last six months the FRL IT Services department has been visiting each of the local libraries. Mind you it wasn’t for catching a movie, although the Hudson Library’s newly renovated program room has the primo setup for it. We couldn’t help but peek in on some banjo picking and fiddle playing happening in Macon County Public Library’s meeting room. Some of our best lunch hours were spent just relaxing and watching the critters in, on, and around the pond while we sat in the quiet, peaceful “friendship garden” of the Cashiers Community Library. Marianna Black Library has the largest playroom, even if it’s called the “Auditorium” where we spent several of our lunches playing video games! Nantahala Community Library, where we’ve had to get up against walls to get out of the way of the patrons. For such a small library, it seems to be the hub of activity for that community.  Recently we’ve enjoyed our lunches on the balcony of the NEW Jackson County Public Library enjoying the vista of Pinnacle, and for today, listening to a live jazz ensemble performance.

Well, enough of what we’ve done during our lunch periods. What we’ve done during our work hours has had just a profound impact as all the events we’ve encompassed. The end result is using new technological capabilities to enhance the services to our patrons in all our libraries, large and small. To bring that service, available at one library to all our libraries, old and new.  Each of our libraries can now provide our patrons with the same computer time and reservation system, the same print management system, the same wireless laptops and netbooks, and the same wireless printing capability for their laptop. Other than the physical location and size of our libraries, our patrons will find little difference other than the personal touches of that community.

But let’s give credit where the credit is really due. All the planning involved with this humungous project was dependent upon our library staff. Which library in particular? All of them, from their technical services staff, reference and adult services staff, to their circulation and youth services staff, to the folks in some mystical place called “headquarters” land of automation, outreach, finance, human resources, and cataloging services. It was their ideas, suggestions, and comments that created the fuel for the fire, the lumber for the building. As with any large group of people with many voices trying to be heard at one time, a consultant was brought in to refine those ideas into a framework of goals and strategies for our IT Technology plan. From this plan we’ve been focusing on each and every goal and strategy to get to the point of starting this project.  It has taken us the last ten months of preparation to run cables, put together and configure networks, servers, access points, wireless gateways, and mobile computers to the implementation of all those pieces and then working out the little bugs at each library to finally say the project is complete. From the IT Services department we thank you, because it’s with your involvement that our libraries are indeed the best place in town!

Raise Your Glasses to the Internet

Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku

By Loretta

I’ve been reading another really good book, Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku.  A professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York and cofounder of the string field theory, Kaku also hosts two radio programs, Explorations and Science Fantastic and has a TV show called Sci Fi Science on the Science Channel.

I haven’t read Kaku’s other books, though I may search them out, but this one has been such fun.  In it, Kaku shares his vision of the next 100 years of science, based in part on what scientists are now researching.  One of the most astounding probabilities is the driverless car.  Even now, GPS (Global Positioning System) has become common. Very soon it will have been fine-tuned to the point that it can speak to the computer in a vehicle and direct the car to within a few feet of its intended destination.  Kaku believes before ten years is out, driverless cars will be a reality.  I worry about those few extra feet and what might be living in them, but I’m sure by the time these cars are ready for the market, there will no longer be a variance.  (That’s assuming, of course, that by the time they are ready, GPS will not have been blocked by some bigger and more important technology!)

Another intriguing prediction is that we will very soon (also in the next ten years) wear the internet in our glasses and contact lenses.  When you blink, the image in front of your eyes will be an internet screen, just as if you are looking at a monitor. The image will fill your vision.  I don’t know if this means that those who can see a flea on a tree across a canyon will be left behind.  Probably, just plain old internet glasses will be available.  But I do wonder what will happen if said flea should get in your eye.  Internet on – internet off – internet on, etc.  Might be amusing – for a short time.  These glasses have been in the works since 1991 and are called VRD (Virtual Retinal Display).

We are heading, it seems, toward an environment of ubiquitous chips in everything: clothing, furniture, cars, and all of them ordering our lives, keeping us up to speed,  telling us what to do.   Unfortunately, there’s a downside: Moore’s Law.  Moore’s Law, “a rule of thumb that has driven the computer industry for fifty or more years…simply says that computer power doubles about every eighteen months.”  The unfortunate part is eventually (Kaku predicts about 20-50 years), computers will reach a point at which they can no longer be improved and their power can no longer be increased and when they do, our children and grandchildren will be heirs to the greatest economic crash of all time, with millions losing their jobs.  Grim prediction.  But it seems the only question is when.

This fascinating book offers many similar insights into the near future that will raise your eyebrows, but you will enjoy the facelift.  I recommend it highly.

And while I’m at it, I would like to raise my glass to Sarah, our intrepid social media leader, who will wander out the library door tomorrow and go in search of a new life.  Have fun, Sarah!!