Archive for June, 2009

Online Translation Tools

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Unless you are a language expert, someday you will run across a website or document that is in a language you don’t understand.  Fortunately for the digital age, there are free tools available to help.  My personal favorite is Babel Fish from Yahoo.   (If you have never heard of a Babel Fish, read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.)  Babel Fish will translate typed in text or an entire web page.  You just need to provide the text or web page link, choose the original language and then what language it needs to be translated into. Of course Babel Fish isn’t the only one available.  Google also has a translation tool which operates similarly to Yahoo’s.  Just keep in mind that a computer is making the translation so it might not be textbook perfect!

If you use a different translation tool, please feel free to leave a comment below!

Here is an example of a sentence, “Thank you for using the Kent District Library’s blog!”, translated from English to:

Dutch – Dank u voor het gebruiken van het District Library’ van Kent; s blog!

Spanish – Gracias por usar el districto Library’ de Kent; ¡blog de s!

Japanese – ケント地区Library’を使用するためにありがとう; sのブログ!

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Mac Geek Monday – Say What?

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Did you know your Mac can read to you? 

Yep!  If you are running Mac OS X Tiger or Leopard, simply…

  1. Open System Preferences under the apple icon (the  shape) in the very top left corner of the screen.
  2. Click on Speech.
  3. Select Text to Speech tab.
  4. Check the option “Speak selected text when the key is pressed.”
  5. speak-selected-text-1.jpg

  6. Click the Set Key option.
  7. Choose one modifier key — Command, Control, Option, or Shift — plus one other key of your choice, then click OK. [For instance, I use CTRL M for my keystroke combination on my Mac]
  8. Now each time you type this key combination, your Mac will read aloud any text you have selected (i.e. highlighted).
  9. To stop the speech, type the same key combination again.

This will work with most selected (i.e. highlighted) text in text-based files — including web pages, email messages, spreadsheets, calendar entries, PDFs, text documents, Finder windows, and even iTunes.

Don’t like the default voice your Mac uses?  You can choose your favorite voice from the 24 human-sounding and novelty voices in Leopard and slightly less number in Tiger. (In Leopard, to see the complete list, click the “Show More Voices” option at the bottom of the pull-down System Voice menu.) Click the Play button to get a sample of each voice. You can also ask your Mac to speak more slowly or quickly by adjusting the Speaking Rate slider.  If you don’t care for any of the free voices that come with your Mac, or want one that speaks something besides English, you might also checkout one of these system voices.

So now sit back, rest your eyes, and let your computer read you the next KDL Computer Tips blog post or your latest email message.

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Keep Your Tweets Organized

Friday, June 26th, 2009

If you are a  Twitter user and follow more than a few Twitterers, you’ve probably found that it can be a daunting task to keep up with all those Tweets! One simple tool to keep you organized is TweetDeck Just download TweetDeck to your computer and sign on with your Twitter account. Set up as many columns as you like (such as News, Friends, Family, Celebrities, etc.), and then begin to organize the Twitters that you follow.  Choose the Twitters you’d like to put in each column. You can put a Twitterer in multiple columns if you wish.  Now you can see at a glance all of your family tweets in one column, all of the news tweets in another, and all of your co-workers in the next. It makes it so easy to prioritize which ones to read first, and which can be left for when you have more time!  Other ways to organize Twitter include PeopleBrowsr, Seesmic, Nambu, and Eventbox.

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Get Your Magazines Online

Friday, June 26th, 2009

magazines.jpgHave you cancelled magazine and newspaper subscriptions to reduce household costs or clutter? Did you know that you can still read many of your favorite publications online through KDL’s databases? (A valid Kent District Library card is required to access these services.)

Available magazines include the following:

The following newspapers are also available:

The database interface will allow you to browse articles from current and past issues, as well as search for specific keywords.

Don’t forget — All of these publications and many more are also available in print form to read and checkout at your local KDL branch. See our Magazines & Periodicals page for a complete listing of available titles and branch holdings.

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Mac Geek Monday – Magazines for All Things Mac

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009


If you don’t tend to go to different KDL branch libraries, you might not know that several subscribe to MacWorld Magazine.  If you’ve had to let your subscription lapse, or want to see what the print version of MacWorld contains, head to the Cascade Twp., Kentwood, or Wyoming branch libraries.  All issues, except the most recent (newest) issue, can be checked out for 1 week.  The KDL library system also subscribes to the Gale Computer Database with millions of articles from journals, popular computer magazines, and trade magazines, including MacUser, MacWeek and MacWorld.  This database is available in the library at public computers or from home with a KDL library card.

Are there any other Mac/Apple magazines (in print or online) that you read regularly?  I’m also a fan of MacLife!

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Donate to the Diaper Drive at KDL

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Help KDL collect one of the most basic necessities for toddlers in Kent County: diapers. 

The Kent District Library has teamed up with the Great Start Parent Coalition and ACCESS Food Pantries to help families with young children in need. Between Monday, June 22 and Friday, August 14, seven KDL branches will have collection boxes available for diapers to be donated to families in need.

Unopened packages of disposable diapers in any size can be dropped off at these KDL branch locations: Cascade Township, East Grand Rapids, Gaines Township, Grandville, Kentwood, Plainfield Township and Wyoming.

The goal of this county-wide diaper drive is to collect 25,000 diapers for young children in Kent County. Please help us make a difference for the youngest citizens of our community!

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Gallagher Girl Series by Ally Carter

Saturday, June 20th, 2009


Do you have what it takes to be a Gallagher girl?  The Gallagher Academy is a private all-girls school but don’t let that fool you into believing that the girls who attend this academy are average.  The school is actually a top secret facility to train every girl who attends to be a spy.

Each book in the series is about Cammie “The Chameleon” Morgan and her roommates who usually get involved in extra curricular spying and a little bit of boy trouble.  The books have action as well mystery with a little bit of romance and are entertaining to read.

The last book “Don’t Judge a Girl By Her Cover” has been my favorite so far and leaves more of a mystery for the next book then the first two books.  Cammie’s roommate Macey is following her father on the road to the Vice President nomination when an attempted kidnapping forces Macey & Cammie to use their special skills to escape.  But the event haunts both girls and the truth will shock them both.

In the comments, let us know what series you have discovered recently!

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More Audiobooks Available for iPods

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

The Kent District Library doesn’t just offer books in print. You can also listen to your favorite books or read them electronically through the OverDrive Digital Library. Click on the KDL eLibrary to access thousands of ebook and eAudiobook titles.

And now, more titles than ever are available for Apple device users!

OverDrive has announced that most WMA Audiobook files are now iPod compatible with the release of the OverDrive Media Console v3.2 for Windows. With this new version, Apple device users will be able to download nearly all available eAudiobook titles to their iPod, iPhone or iPod Touch.

Whereas previously Apple device users could only download eAudiobooks in MP3 format, they can now download and transfer WMA files to their Apple devices as well. This opens up thousands of free eAudiobook titles through OverDrive.

To access these titles, simply install or upgrade to OverDrive Media Console v3.2 for Windows. While the majority of titles are now available for Apple devices, look for the “Plays on” icons next to the title on OverDrive before downloading:

Due to incompatibility of DRM-protected WMA files and the Mac OS, there are no plans at this time to offer the ability to transfer WMA Audiobooks to Apple devices on Mac computers.

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Alto Branch Closed This Saturday

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

The Alto Branch of the Kent District Library will be closed on Saturday, June 20 for drywall repair.  The branch will resume normal operating hours on Monday, June 22. Books returned in the book drop will be backdated to Saturday so fines will not accrue for that day.

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Listening to Music for Free

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Would you like to listen to music for free, but you have too much of a moral compass to download music illegally? Most mainstream artists limit what songs of theirs are free on the internet, but through (the world’s largest store), you can listen to 30 second samples of songs by most popular artists.

This is great partly as a way to “try it before you buy it,” but it is also a great way to learn about a musical artist that you are not familiar with. To get to these free download samples, in the drop-down menu next to Amazon’s search bar, choose “MP3 Downloads,” and search for “Coldplay” (for example).  You’ll get a list of every song by that artist that Amazon sells as an MP3, and you can listen to samples of the songs.

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