DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

June 2008

Monkey_2 I remember when I was a pre-teen, my library got in a whole set of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.  I loved the idea of reading a story with such possibilities–read a while, come to a crossroads, pick a story path to follow, see where it went.  If you hated it (or even if you didn’t and were just filled with curiousity), you could go back and pick another story path to follow.  Meg might end up with Billy at the 7th grade dance, or she might end up with Matt and go to the rock concert instead!  Who knew what might happen?

Not only has my taste in reading improved over time, but now technology has improved, or at least updated, the “choose your own adventure” way of reading.  A website called One Million Monkeys Typing now lets you write your own storylines.  If you’re not familiar with the Infinite Monkey Theorem, Wikipedia explains:

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a particular chosen text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

The site’s goal isn’t really to recreate Shakespeare, but to provide a forum for aspiring writers in the hopes that something great will develop.  At the moment, there are only about 833 “monkeys” signed up on the site, but there are many stories to choose from.  Each story is displayed as a short snippet, with the option of reading more.  If you don’t like the options given, then you can choose to “graft” your own story snippet.  Storylines thrive if they are popular, and wither if not.  The more snippets, the stronger the story, and the bigger the “tree.”  Full instructions for how to get started are on the website, and there’s more information on the site’s other features including social networking, Monkey Mail, and live chat.

 

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Jun 26 2008

Learn how to fix your bicycle!

by Jimmy L

Peopleinshop1 This weekend I bought a bicycle at a yard sale for cheap.  It was nearly in perfect condition, but the handlebars were uncomfortable.  I could replace the handlebars, but that would be pricey and I didn’t have the right tools or the know-how to do it.

Fortunately, there is an organization in town that is perfect for what I needed.  It’s called The Sopo Bicycle Co-op and it’s in East Atlanta, pretty close to DeKalb county!  Sopo is a non-profit organization whose main goal is to teach you how to fix up your bicycle.  If you have a broken bike or even if you don’t have one at all, show up and learn how to fix it up (or build one from scratch).  They have a staff of volunteers ready to help you learn, but be prepared to do the actual wrench-turning yourself!

The shop accepts (very reasonable) suggested donations for parts and time spent using their tools, but nobody is ever turned away for lack of funds!  Their shop hours are 7pm to 10pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; 2pm to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.  Check out their website for more information!

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Jun 25 2008

Darkside

by Ginny C

Darkside Jonathan Starling has stumbled into Darkside.  Darkside is a hidden part of London, governed by the descendants of Jack the Ripper, where thieves and murderers reign.  While his father lies ill in an asylum, Jonathan searches Darkside for Carnegie, the only man who can help him.  Carnegie, though, is a wereman: half man, half werewolf.  Determined to elude kidnappers who want to sell him to the evil Grimshaw as a sideshow act, Jonathan must put his trust in Carnegie.  Grimshaw is only one of the dangers in Darkside and only one of the people out to get Jonathan.  The evil vampire Vendetta has his own reasons for wanting Jonathan dead.  With few people he can trust, Jonathan must escape Darkside and save his father before it’s too late.

Darkside, the first novel by Tom Becker, is spooky, shivery fun.  Perfect for middle schoolers who like the Artemis Fowl series and the Fablehaven series.  Even better, this is the first in the series, so fans can look forward to more adventures with Jonathan and his new friends.

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Jun 24 2008

The Smartest Card

by Heather S

Smartestcard_5 The Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association, is an organization dedicated to serving public libraries and helping public library staff better serve their communities. Their current promotional campaign is “The Smartest Card. Get it. Use it. @ your library.

In a recent conversation, Michael S, a co-worker, reminded me why I whole-heartedly believe that the Public Library Association is right on with this campaign. Here is Michael’s story: 

A few months ago, my computer crashed and I was devastated. It took some time for me to realize that all of my precious information was lost forever. With the blue screen of death and one little code error, I realized that countless photos, mp3s, and writings were gone.  But, as those feelings of grief passed, I realized that I was at a crossroad with my e-life. I had to decide if I should fix my computer or buy a new one.

Not ready to part with this computer and realizing my limited knowledge of blue screens and code errors, I decided to seek a professional opinion. Off I went with my computer to a repair shop. The expert at the repair shop believed the problem to be a bad hard drive and that a new one should be installed. After a few estimates for a replacement hard drive that included the cost of labor, I decided I would try to replace the hard drive myself. What did I really have to lose if I could not repair the computer?

With the help of internet forums, such as lifehacker.com, a handy instructional video from YouTube, and books from the library – Repairing and upgrading your PC, Troubleshooting your PC for dummies, and Building a PC for dummies, I replaced the hard drive myself and have a functioning computer once again.

I am still working on retrieving all that was lost from my old hard drive, but I am now more comfortable with opening up my computer and trying to repair and upgrade it myself. This experience and all the information that the library offered has given me the “smarts” needed to fix my computer.  With this knowledge and the inspiration from another co-worker who happens to write blogs on open source software, I am thinking about building a computer from scratch.

His experience is a perfect example to me of why a library card is the smartest and most valuable card in a wallet. So, readers, how is a library card the smartest card in your wallet?

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Jun 23 2008

What’s For Dinner?

by Nolan R

Is your mealtime stuck in a rut?  Looking for a new twist on an old favorite?  Check out one of these gorgeous new cookbooks and try something different!  Warning: just looking at some of these books might make you gain a pound or two! 

    ButterYumoDeen

Levy_cookbook_5Nomicon_pageYearwood

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Jun 19 2008

NPR’s Summer Book Recommendations

by Jimmy L

National Public Radio‘s website now has a section called Summer Books 2008 that is filled with goodies like book recommendations, critic’s lists, and even a whole section on cookbooks. So if you’re still not sure what to read this summer, go on over there and get some suggestions before coming to the library!

Summerbookshdr

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Jun 18 2008

Summer Camp

by Ginny C

Are you struggling to find something for your kids to do now that school’s out?  It’s not too late to register for some of the summer camps being offered around Atlanta.  There are plenty available.  Most last 5 days and are offered through July.  The majority are for children age 5 through 17, but there are a few for pre-schoolers.

Atlanta Parent has an extensive list of day camps in the Atlanta area as well as overnight camps sorted by state.  Day camps are organized by interest, including art, sports and drama among others.

Atlanta Moms also has a list of day camps in the area.  Many of them are in the northern part of the city, but it does include some in Stone Mountain, Decatur and Lithonia.

Don’t forget to check out local universities which also might be hosting camps this summer.  Oglethorpe, Emory, and Georgia Tech are all offering day camps for children.

There are plenty of summer camps in Atlanta and DeKalb County.  Whether your child is interested in cooking, basketball, computers, gymnastics or something else, you’re sure to find a camp for them through one of these sites.

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Jun 17 2008

Book it to vote!

by Heather S

Peachgraphic_2 Calling all teens, you are not too young to vote in one election this year!  You can vote at the library and decide which book will be victorious in the race for the 2008-2009 Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers.  Be sure to carefully evaluate each candidate, because Pollsters are predicting a fierce competition for top book.  Cast your ballot before March 19, 2009.   

The twenty candidates listed on the ballot for the Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers are:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Absolutely Positively Not by David LaRochelle
American Born Chinese by Gene Yang
Boot Camp by Todd Strasser
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
Epic by Conor Kostick
Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeiffer
Notes From the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick
Plain J.A.N.E.S. by Cecil Castellucci
Right Behind You by Gail Giles
Rucker Park Setup by Paul Volponi
Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss
Sold by Patricia McCormick
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld    

To find candidates at your local library, check their availability!

 

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Jun 16 2008

Google Street View–Cool or Creepy?

by Nolan R

Even as a librarian and a firm believer in freedom of information, I have to admit I’m both fascinated and weirded out by Google‘s newest addition to their mapping product. I was trying to verify a zip code last week and since I was in a hurry, I just typed it quickly into Google. If you haven’t used Google for maps or directions, it’s very simple–you just type the address into the Google search box. Alternately, you can click on “Maps” and go there directly. This time, something new popped up along with the address and map–something called “Street View,” complete with a thumbnail photo. Curious, I clicked on it and felt a little like I’d invaded someone’s privacy. I then typed in my own address, and lo and behold, there I was staring at a photo of my own house from the street. You can click on the screen and rotate the view 360 degrees, as well as travel up and down the street. We think our picture is from the fall, because you can see pumpkins on our porch.  Which means sometime last fall, the Google car went down our street. Our cars are in the driveway, and our garbage can is out by the street, so we figure it must have been a Sunday afternoon.  Here’s a link to the street view of the Decatur Library.

Read more about the how, why, and where here. You can see a picture of the Google camera car, and see what they have to say about privacy concerns. I think Google’s Street View could be really useful in some situations, like checking out a new neighborhood while house-hunting (especially in distant cities), visiting a new doctor’s office, or driving to any address you’ve never visited before.  Google has a short instructional video and more info HERE.

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Jun 12 2008

Make Money by NOT Driving!

by Jimmy L

If you’ve been thinking about alternative/greener modes of transportation, then now is the time to get serious. Gas prices have never been so high and global warming has never been worse. As if that’s not incentive enough, a non-profit organization called the Clean Air Campaign is literally PAYING you to NOT drive your car.

Their Commuter Rewards program rewards commuters who currently drive alone to work when they agree to start using a clean commute alternative. Start carpooling, teleworking, using transit, walking or bicycling to work and earn $3 per day, up to $180 over an assigned 90-day period.

They also offer rewards for carpooling to work. Finding people who are willing to carpool with you is easy using the RideSmart website. The website matches you up with people who live and work in your vicinity, so you don’t have to do any of the work.

Commuter_rewards

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