by Todd Brown on December 22nd, 2015
Admit it. You want to build a robot. You just saw Star Wars and you still need to get some gifts for your family. I get it. It makes perfect sense to build a robot. When you think about it, who would not want to build a robot?
The problem is that wanting to and having the skills to are very different things. After all, there are a lot of wires, flux capacitors and doodads in there that you have no idea how to connect to each other. Not to mention which end of a soldering iron you should hold. It makes a big difference and I have the scar to prove it. But guess what, the Library has books on all of that.
Make: electronics : learning by discovery
Start with the basics. Positive is +, negative is -.
Make : more electronics
Then go beyond the basics.
Make : Arduino bots and gadgets : learning by discovery
This will give your robot a brain. It won’t clean your house, but you have to learn how to crawl before you can clean the house.
Make : sensors
You want your robot to interact appropriately with it’s surroundings so it is going to need sensors. Otherwise it will just walk into walls and ignore you when you tell it to clean house, sort of like teenagers.
Make : 3D printing
You might not have all of the gears and exoskeleton parts just lying around. With a 3D printer you can create almost whatever parts you need.
Make: rockets : down-to-earth rocket science
Will your robot have a jet pack or maybe foot thrusters? Yes it will.
Thrusters probably need rocket fuel of some sort.
Make : wearable electronics
If you need a gift for someone with automatonophobia but still want to give them something made of wires and leds this might be good book to look at.
Next year start shopping or building sooner. You are welcome.
by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on November 3rd, 2015
Are you thinking about purchasing one of the latest and greatest devices for the holidays? Do you want to know the difference between a tablet and an eReader before you hit the stores? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you should attend the Iowa City Public Library’s What Should I Buy? eReaders and Tablets Class.
Join us from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, as one of the Library’s technology specialists provides information about the most popular devices on the market and answers your questions. This program is part of the Library’s classes for adults lineup.
All classes for adults are held in the Library’s Computer Lab on the second floor. Classes are free, but space is limited to 15 people per program, so people should register early.
Visit www.icpl.org/classes to register online. You can also register by calling the Library at 319-356-5200.
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 option. 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.
by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on August 12th, 2015
The Iowa City Public Library’s meeting rooms A, B and C will be closed intermittently to the public August 24 through September 14 due to an equipment upgrade. Please check the Library’s calendar at calendar.icpl.org for availability.
Wireless capability will be added to the Library’s biggest meeting room, Meeting Room A, and a Blu-Ray option, providing those who book the room with more viewing options. Patrons will also have the ability to connect their Smartphones, tablets and other technology to the Library’s equipment.
“The goal is to improve the user experience for our patrons,” says Brent Palmer, the Library’s information technology coordinator. “Unfortunately, to do this, the meeting rooms will be out of commission temporarily.”
A list of alternative meeting room locations is available at: http://www.icpl.org/meeting-rooms/alternative-rooms/
For more information, call the Library (319) 356-5200.
by Kara Logsden on November 18th, 2014
This week we rolled out new Self Checkout machines. The six new Self Checkout stations may be found on the First Floor near the entrance and in the Children’s Room and on the Second Floor near the Reference Desk.
This project is a culmination of months of behind the scenes work by Library staff and completes a Strategic Plan goal to “Upgrade checkout equipment to provide more efficient service.”
Highlights of the new equipment include a bigger, more responsive screen and new DVD Unlockers that give a GREEN LIGHT indication when the DVD has been unlocked. They also feature new credit card payment terminals that are easy to use and assure PCI Compliance for transactions.
A new feature is a “smart” barcode reader that reads barcodes on smart phone screens. We’ve received many requests for this feature and know our patrons will appreciate this enhancement. The scanner works with pictures of Library Cards on the smart phones or through barcodes generated by third-party apps such as CardStar.
Another option in response to patron requests is the ability to choose no receipt, a printed receipt, or an eMail receipt. We can only send an eMail receipt if we have a valid eMail address in the patron’s record. If you wish to add an eMail address to your account, please give us a call or stop by the Help Desk.
As with many technology upgrades we are still working through a couple issues. The Self Checkout software is not communicating with our system to give information about holds in the queue. Patrons will be notified when a hold is ready for pickup but at this time we are unable to show holds at the Self Checkout stations. If you need help with holds, please go to a public service desk.
Nearly 70% of our checkouts run through the Library’s Self Checkout stations so it is a critical tool for us to serve our community. We are delighted with the new product and the improvements the technology brings. While we offer the option of Self Checkout, please remember staff are just a couple steps away if you need help or prefer for staff to check out materials for you.
by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on November 5th, 2014
Thinking about purchasing an eReader or Tablet for the holidays? The Iowa City Public Library would like to help you understand some of the differences between the most popular devices out there.
A Library’s technology specialist will talk about the differences between eReaders and tablets at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22; 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 25; 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 5; and 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10.
Attend a session to learn more about what each of the major brands offer consumers and which of these brands work best with the Library’s eMedia collections Overdrive and Zinio. After each presentation, a handful of devices will be available for participants to try out.
All classes for adults are held in the Library’s Computer Lab on the second floor. Classes are free, but space is limited to 10 people per program, so patrons should register early. Visit www.icpl.org/classes to register online. You can also register by calling the Library at (319) 356-5200.
by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 18th, 2014
The Iowa City Public Library’s redesigned website is live, with features designed to improve user experience, especially for patrons using Smartphones and tablets.
“Part of our long-term strategic plan was to make improvements to the Website that’s easier to navigate from both a desktop computer and mobile devices,” says Brent Palmer, the Library’s Information Technology Coordinator. “We also wanted to make our website more dynamic.”
To meet the first goal, “responsive design” elements were incorporated into the webpage infrastructure to assure an optimal viewing experience. The website is now easier to use on all equipment including smart phones, tablets and desktop computers. The content automatically adjusts based on the screen size of the user’s equipment, making site navigation easier and more appealing.
To meet the second goal, Library staff identified content, created by staff members, patrons would be interested in, including the new 123 South Linn Library Blog, which contains book recommendations from staff, and program information listed in the Library’s online calendar. Then staff identified existing webpages where the staff-created content would augment the information presented.
Infrastructure was created so the webpage dynamically pulls information into correlating webpages, bringing together a hybrid of information for our patrons. One example is the “Books” webpage at www.icpl.org/books. In addition to standard information about loan periods and online book-related resources, users may now explore books recently added to the collection and book reviews written by staff.
The launch of the new design is the culmination of a year’s work by the Library’s IT staff.
“We look forward to sharing the redesigned webpage with our community and continuing to explore ways to improve our user’s online experience,” Palmer says.
by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 5th, 2014
The Iowa City Public Library’s Koza Family Teen Center will have new Tech Time Hours this summer.
Beginning Monday, June 9, the new Tech Hours will be 12:30 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday. During Tech Hours, teens in grades seventh through 12th can play video games on the big screen, check out iPads and laptops.
Students who will enter the seventh grade this fall can use the Koza Family Teen Center.
For more information, call the Library at (319) 356-5200.
by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 3rd, 2014
The Iowa City Public Library wants to help you relax with a good book this summer by helping you connect your smartphone and tablets to our e-resources. The library’s e-resources include electronic books, audiobooks, and more; all are available for download.
Want to learn how to access the library’s e-media for your specific device? Come to one of the classes for adults this June that will help you learn how to use the Overdrive software to find and download items from the Library’s e-media collection.
If you have an Android device, join us Tuesday, June 10, from 6 to 7 p.m. or Friday, June 20, from 6 to 7 p.m. for eMedia for Android Devices.
eMedia for Apple Devices classes will be held on Friday, June 13, from 10 to 11 a.m. while the eMedia for Kindle Devices class will be on Friday, June 13, from 10 to 11 a.m.
Participants are asked to bring a valid Iowa City or Coralville Public Library card.
All classes for adults are held in the Computer Lab on the Library’s second floor. Classes are free, but space is limited to 10 people per program, so patrons should register early. Visit www.icpl.org/classes to register online. You can also register by calling the Library at (319) 356-5200.
Participants should also be aware that in order to download e-media from the library they need to be an Iowa City or Coralville resident or are a resident in rural Johnson County, Hills, University Heights, and Lone Tree.
by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 2nd, 2014
The Iowa City Public Library’s introduced its newest piece of technology – an interactive touch table described as a table-sized iPad – to its youngest patrons today.
“The Ideum PLATFORM 55 is the final piece of the Children’s Room technology update,” Information Technology Coordinator Brent Palmer says. “It is an exciting piece of technology, but there isn’t that much ready-made software that would take advantage of its features.”
Palmer has contacted local software developers and student groups to build custom applications for ages six through 12 that are multi-touch, multi-player, and easy to operate. The vision for this table is that it will foster collaborative fun and exploration.
“On one level, the table will bring kids together in the Children’s Room but on another level, it will bring the community together as we determine what people want this technology to do,” Palmer says.
University of Iowa’s EPX Studio and indie developer Virtually Competent have already produced prototypes of custom apps for the table. Palmer is facilitating partnerships with groups and individuals, including a possible Hackathon with Iowa Tech Chicks and the Library’s CoderDojo group later this summer.
If you have an idea or want to help build something for the table, contact Brent Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.