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Author Archive for Brent Palmer



Orchestra Baobab: Made in Dakar

by Brent Palmer on April 29th, 2016
Orchestra Baobab: Made in Dakar Cover Image

If you have any interest in world music and don’t yet know Orchestra Baobab, I encourage you to give this band  a try.  This Senegalese group has a spicy blend of musical styles that include Cuban rhythms, classic West African drumming, mbira-like guitar and a vocal style from the West-African griot storytellers.  It’s really fun to listen to.  Baobab made up of musicians from all around West Africa including Mali, Togo, Guinea and the Casamance region of Senegal.  They sing in many different languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Wolof.  We currently own only one album but it’s  a really good one.  If you enjoyed Buena Vista Social Club, it will be an easy transatlantic hop into this music.  Request it right now.

Clip of Cabral by Orchestra Baobab

Digitizing your Slides at ICPL

by Brent Palmer on March 31st, 2016

Recently, we have had a few patrons coming in to digitize their slides. Maybe you have been thinking about getting out those boxes of slides and doing a little digitizing project. 11000xl-ph_fla-ons-nn_396x264ICPL has a station set up to help you do just this. We have an archive quality scanner donated to us by the Noon Host Lions Club. The large-format scanner can quickly be converted to slide scanner and you can scan multiple slides at once. You should be aware that it isn’t a quick process though. To get a decent sized image from the slide, the scanner has to do a fairly hi-resolution scan which can take several minutes. I would recommend bringing a flash drive that is large enough to store your images on. Or you could upload the images to cloud storage. The Info Desk staff can help you get set up and working quickly.

caramateii

The Caramate II still has some life left in her.

You may also want to be able to quickly scan through your slides to make sure that they are worth digitizing in the first place. Well we also have a Singer Caramate II on hand for that. Not only can you quickly preview your slides without taking them out of the carousel, it has some serious retro appeal going. Again, ask at the Info desk if you want to try it out. If the slides are of people or places in Iowa City and they are historical in nature, we would like to hear from you. We may want to preserve them in our Digital History Project.

Tune It Up!

by Brent Palmer on February 8th, 2016
tuneitupshots

Moles popping up in the garden theme

As part of ICPL’s year-long Music is the Word program, we have commissioned a new game for Mabel the Table in the Children’s room, called “Tune It Up!”.  It was developed by Virtually Competent, a local independent gaming company. This group created one of the original games for the table called Ship Shape. Virtually Competent teamed up with a local musician to build a musically-themed game for the table.

tuneitupshots5

Notes as ships in the Space Theme

In this game, multiple players can contribute to a looping composition. The game features 3 different themes that cater to different tastes: Garden, Space and Cookies. For example, in the garden theme, players plant various seeds that turn into musical flowers in the garden. Each type of flower represents a different instrument. It is a cooperative game.

tuneitupshots4

Touching the bee speeds up the tempo

Anyone can step up and help with the composition and here are no winners or losers. Tune It Up! also features a mini-game within each theme.   For example the garden has an infestation of moles that can be whacked and the space theme has asteroids that have to be destroyed. Also each theme has a character that can speed the tempo up or slow it down.  The Children’s staff can save compositions created by kids and used as demos.

Come try it out on Mabel the Table in the Children’s Room.

Dig the Detectorists

by Brent Palmer on January 27th, 2016
Dig the Detectorists Cover Image

I just discovered  a new TV series that has become one of my all-time favorites: The Detectorists.  As the two protagonists keep having to explain, “We’re not metal detectors, we are detectorists”.  That is: they are the guys who operate the metal detectors;  and they take it very seriously.  The show surrounds the efforts of hobbyist treasure hunters who are convinced they are about to discover the lost burial of a Saxon king.  It’s high stakes among the hobby clubs in the area to secure the rights to a farm that is rumored to be a hot prospect.  The show was written and directed by Mackenzie Crook, who you might know as the gung-ho assistant on the British version of The Office.  It is very funny and the dialog is great as is the music and filming.  This is an easy one to binge-watch, so take it easy.  Only watch a couple at a time; there are only six in the first season.

Overdrive Tips: Win 10

by Brent Palmer on December 16th, 2015

We are starting to get users calling or stopping by for help with Overdrive and Windows 10.  If you have recently upgraded to Windows 10 and need to get Overdrive working again, here are some helpful tips:

  1.  There are two versions of Overdrive.  There is the app version and the desktop version.  They can both be downloaded and used together.
  2. You can download both versions at app.overdrive.com (Scroll to the bottom).  Use the Download for Windows 8 link for the “app” version.  (At the time of writing, there is no Windows 10 link – but the 8 works).  Use the Download for Windows Desktop link for the desktop version.
  3. If you want to transfer your books to an mp3 player, you need to at least have the desktop version.  It’s nice to have both as they seem to work pretty well together.  For example, after you add an audiobook to your bookshelf, there is a transfer option.  When you click that, it will automatically open up the transfer wizard.
  4. You can listen to audio books right in the app.

Here are some Overdrive Help links:

Getting Started with Windows 10

Transferring AudioBooks

If you want more help we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.

Fanstasamagory

by Brent Palmer on November 18th, 2015
Fanstasamagory Cover Image

I read a fun new book to my 4 year-old last week called Dory Fanstasmagory.  Dory is sort of a cross between young Romona Beezus and Calvin.  Her nickname is Rascal for good reason.  She drives her older siblings and parents absolutely crazy but its very fun to read about.  Dory is at the point where she is having trouble letting go of her fantasy world.  Her fairly godmother is Mr. Nuggy who looks (to me at least) like a small bearded gnome and is always reachable by banana phone.  doryThe story is narrated by Dory so you can totally sympathize what it’s like to be the youngest member of the family.  But you can also sympathize with the parents. At one point, Dory asks Mr. Nuggy to turn her into a puppy (named Chickenbone).  Dory finds that she can’t turn herself back into a girl before going to the doctor.

When we get home from the doctor, I am in huge trouble.  My mom tells me I have to go to my room for a time-out.  I say, “You can just leave my dog food in bowl outside my door, woof!”.  This makes my mom so mad that she grabs my paw and drags me up the stairs.

“Walk!” she says.

“I am!” I cry.

“On two legs!!!” my mom yells.

We both enjoyed it very much.  And there is a sequel:  When Dory starts school and finally makes a non-imaginary friend, everyone is skeptical that the friend exists.

Traffic Cam

by Brent Palmer on October 1st, 2015

camWe have had several posts about cameras lately (see scene from above and caterpillar cam) and I thought I’d chip in with something I found out recently.  Recently a patron was asking me about the traffic cams at busy intersections in the city (OK it was my Dad).   I know I’ve heard various things about these cams so I asked my inside source at the city.  He told me that the cameras are just for traffic flow and not for citations.  They can detect when a car is sitting at a light and can even detect how many cars are waiting in order to time the signal properly.  These cameras are replacing the old sensors that are buried in the street.  The cameras have the logic built into them instead of being controlled by a central computer.  I asked if they could be used  in case there was a dispute about a traffic accident.  He said nothing is recorded and the cameras aren’t designed to give good coverage of the whole intersection anyway.  There are also a few other cameras that are strategically positioned around the city to provide information about road conditions.  These are also not recorded.  So my Dad was right.  I hate it when that happens.

Overdrive Tips: ePub vs Kindle Formats

by Brent Palmer on September 25th, 2015

Some of our eBook users have asked for more information about eBook formats and which one is best.

Image showing the download button with format options from overdrive

After you have selected an eBook to check out you are presented with a choice about which format to download. The “format” just describes how the content of an eBook is assembled so it can be displayed in eReader software.  Functionally, they are all about the same although there may be some small feature differences.  Generally speaking, you can usually use any format. In order to read Kindle format on a non-Kindle device you need the Kindle app. To read ePub formats on a Kindle, you need the Overdrive app (however, Kindle eReaders like the Paperwhite must use the Kindle format).  Here are a few guidelines:

Kindle Format

Pro: If you own a Kindle, the books show up in your carousel and generally behave like other eBooks you have bought from Amazon.
Con: checking out and returning books can be a little more cumbersome as this has to be done online via your Amazon account.

ePub Format

Pro: Assuming you are using the Overdrive Media Console (app), the whole process happens within the app. Browsing, checkout, download, read and return.
Con: If you are a kindle user, it may be more cumbersome to remember that your library eBooks are in the Overdrive app.

In general, if you aren’t sure which to choose, I would recommend using the ePub format.

More Info from Overdrive Help:

The difference between eBook Formats

If you want more help we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.

Overdrive Tips: Read In Your Browser

by Brent Palmer on August 25th, 2015

After checking out an eBook in overdrive you often see two buttons: Download or Read (in your Browser). I wanted to give you a little more information on the Read Image showing the download and read buttonsoption. I’m not sure if all the titles in our collection offer this option, but most do. Essentially, this button allows you to simply start reading the eBook without having to download the book and find it in your bookshelf.   OverDrive Read has many of the same features as popular reading apps and eBook readers, like the ability to add bookmarks, search for terms, add notes and highlights, look up words, and change the font. It also offers some extra features, like fixed layout support for graphic-heavy eBooks and professional narration for some titles.

 
Some downsides are that this works best if you only read eBooks where you have a reliable WiFi connection.  Also there may be some compatibility issues with older browsers. However in some situations, this might be the best option. For example, if you are reading an eBook on desktop or laptop computer (as opposed to a handheld device). Or if you find the process of downloading books, navigating between the two bookshelves and returning books confusing, this might be best.

More info from Overdrive Help

In the next tip, I’ll explain about formats available from the Download button. If you want more help we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.

Summer Relief at the Library

by Brent Palmer on July 28th, 2015

I was recently at a cookout and met a guy who grew up in Iowa City.  He has since moved on and lived in many places around the country but he was home visiting his parents.  He never had central A/C as a kid and had fond memories of spending the long hot days of summer at ICPL.  He talked about watching movies at the A/V stations in the children’s room including the first time he saw TRON.   He also remembered the exact location in the stacks where he could find all TinTin books .  Even though he no longer lives in Iowa City, he still carries his ICPL library card that he received in 1982 and whipped it out to show me.  libcard2Are the dog days of summer getting you down?  Come on down, there is always plenty to do here at the library.




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