Archive for January, 2009

DIY

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

D Copper Square Letter I Pastry Cutter Y

Interested in making some do-it-yourself changes to your home (or other part of your life) but not sure where to start?  The internet can be a great resource for finding out basic information.  There are many websites that offer advice and instructional videos, including:

diynetwork.com – variety of topics under the quick links section, including crafts

expertvillage.com – instruction videos by category

wikihow.com – how-to in a wiki format which can be edited and added to by anyone (including you)

bejane.com – geared toward women with project ideas and videos

If you have a favorite internet site for do-it-yourself instructions, leave a link below with your comment!


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One Book, One County Title Announced!

Monday, January 12th, 2009

On Saturday, January 10, the 2009 One Book, One County title was announced at the John Ball Zoo. Over 40 community members were in attendance to hear the announcement that this year’s selected title is The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch.

Jim Lynch’s impressive first novel tells the story of Miles O’Malley, a thirteen-year-old boy who knows more than the local marine biologist about the teeming life in the mud flats of Puget Sound. His discovery of a giant squid, a creature never before found on the shores of North America, prompts a rush of media attention. When he discovers other non-native sea life and anomalies in the sea and tidal pools, he becomes an object of local fascination. But Miles just wants to remain invisible.

Several book discussions will take place throughout Kent County, and resource guides are available at your local library or any Schuler location. Jim Lynch will visit Kent County on Thursday, March 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the East Kentwood Fine Arts Auditorium to dicuss The Highest Tide and sign copies of the book.

One Book, One County is hosted by the Kent District Library, the Grand Rapids Public Library, the Sparta Tonwship Library, the Cedar Springs Library, Schuler Books & Music and several sponsors. You can pick up a copy of the book from any participating library or bookstore. For more information on how to get involved, visit the One Book, One County website.

Guests gather at the John Ball Zoo aquarium to hear the announcment of the 2009 One Book, One County title.

Martha Smart, Director of the Kent District Library, and Marcia Warner, Director of the Grand Rapids Public Library, reveal this year’s title: The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch.


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Top 100 Web Sites of the Year

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Each year since 2006, London’s The Guardian has published a list of the top 100 web sites of the year. What a treasure trove for those of us who love to get lost on the internet! The Guardian conveniently puts each site into a catagory, so you can search under “Create/Collaborate” and find sites such as Remember the Milk, an online planner/task manager, or Zoho, an elegant alternative to Microsoft Office that, like Google Docs, allows multiple people to work on the same document. (Real-life application: have each member of your family edit their section of the annual holiday letter before you send it!)

Another list of top web sites is from PC World magazine, “100 Incredibly Useful and Interesting Web Sites.”  You can explore catagories such as “9 Sites for Fitness and Travel” or “9 Sites to Help You Survive the Recession,” which includes a link to GasBuddy, the parent of GrandRapidsGasPrices.com. Use it to find the cheapest gas in the region or anywhere else in the United States and Canada.

A short and sweet list of top web sites can be found in About.com’s “Top Ten Best Sites of 2008.” My own favorite site of the year? Google’s new browser, Chrome, which is no longer in Beta and can be downloaded for free. See KDL’s previous articles here and here. OK, go explore! You’ll have plenty to do the next time we get snowed in!   

guardian11.jpg 


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Kentwood Branch Closed

Friday, January 9th, 2009

The Kentwood branch of the Kent District Library is closing at noon today (Friday, January 9) due to a power outage.


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Turn Your Computer Into a Recording Studio

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009


 

Most of us who own a computer haven’t used it to its full potential.  Listening to songs or podcasts is great, but what about making our own audio files?  I am going to describe how to record to your computer in a very basic way.

You may have seen a little headphone jack on your computer, but did you notice a “mic jack” (hole for a microphone)?   Holes labeled “mic” or “line in” are where you can plug in a microphone to record speaking or singing, for example.  In addition to microphones, you can also plug in any audio input.  For example, you can plug an electric guitar into the “line in” jack. 

(Note: For a PC to be able to “hear” the microphone or device, you may need to open your volume controls and un-check the “mute” box for “line in” or “mic in”).  If your microphone cord is too thick for the jack, you can buy a low-priced adaptor.

The next step is to record yourself to a program on the computer.  One FREE program that I love to use is Audacity.  It is available as a free download through their site.  With Audacity, you can edit your sound files (trim their length, splice segments together, and add effects), and multitrack (sing along with yourself, or speak along with background music).


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Mystery Writer Donald E. Westlake Dies at 75

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Donald E. Westlake, an award-winning mystery writer, passed away on December 31, 2008.  Westlake published his first novel, “The Mercenaries,” in 1960 and wrote under a number of different pseudonyms, including Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Samuel Holt and Edwin West.  A number of his novels were turned into movies and he wrote screenplays as well.  One of his screenplays, “The Gifters,” was nominated for an Academy Award in 1991.  His final book, Get Real, is scheduled to be released April 2009.


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KDL Helps Patrons Save Money

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Recently, the American Library Association found that more people have library cards right now than at any other time in history. Given the economic downturn, this is unsurprising. Borrowing materials instead of purchasing them offers library patrons a great way to save money. But KDL can also help its patrons make the most of their money.

Kent District Library offers a variety of online databases that provide a wealth of information on many topics. KDL is proud to offer the full archives of Consumer Reports magazine online in full-text searchable format from 1999 to the current issue. Just click on the “General Reference Center Gold” link on the Reference Databases page. After that do a publication search for “Consumer Reports” and you’re all set to go. You can search for a specific product or browse the current issue or past issues. The Consumer Reports Buying Guides are also available.

This offers KDL patrons a great way to make sure they are buying only the highest quality consumer goods without ever leaving home.


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