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Curtis Has Professionally Maintained PCs

June 9th, 2015

Marian Dalton installing virus protection on one of the Library's Public PCs

Marian Dalton installing virus protection on one of the Library’s Public PCs

I had to put on my Tech Wizard cap the other day when a gentleman needed some help getting his laptop computer to work.

Frankly, there was nothing I could do with it.

The Dell laptop was not old (even by computer standards) but it was so riddled with viruses, it was basically inoperable — a high-tech paperweight at it were.

The Curtis Tech Wizards cannot, unfortunately, perform real magic and that’s what it would have taken to make that laptop functional again.

To make matters worse, the “virus protection” the gentleman had installed on the laptop on the advice of a friend was actually “spyware” masquerading as virus protection.

The gentleman was understandably frustrated because he wanted to get on with his work.

I suggested he used one of the Library’s Public PCs but he seemed a bit apprehensive.

He had security concerns about using a public computer

I explained that the Library’s public computers are professionally maintained and have up-to-date virus protection — real virus protection — installed on them.

After you log out of a Curtis Public PC, the computer automatically resets itself and anything you may have accidentally saved on it will vanish into the ether.

(So you need to make gosh darn sure you have saved your data to a Flash Drive or some form of cloud storage like Google Drive.)

You simply don’t have to worry about “spyware” and other forms of computer viruses while using the Library’s public PCs because my co-Curtis Tech Wizard Marian Dalton has you covered.

You can focus on getting your work done instead of trying (sometimes in vain) to get your computer to do anything at all.

TIME is money. Wasted TIME means wasted money means trouble.
~ Shirley Temple

5 Ways to Sharpen Your Computer Skills @ Curtis

May 27th, 2015

CPU-Graph-17Computer Skills are essential for many of today’s jobs.

If you want to sharpen your existing computer skills so that you can carry out your present job duties more efficiently, or if you want to learn some new computer skills to make yourself more marketable in the job market, here are some suggestions for you:

1. Use library computers to practice basic computer skills

Basic computer skills include:

– start, restart and shut down a computer
– copy and paste text
– move files between folders
– start and exit applications
– switch between open applications
– create a document and save it
– find the document that you saved
– navigate around the computer

TIP: Get one of the Library’s basic computer skills books and then sit down in front of one of the library’s public computers and practice.

2. Learn to type

The “hunt and peck” to computer keyboarding will not impress anybody.

You don’t have to learn how to type 60 words per minute but you should be able to use both hands and all ten fingers and look at the computer screen as you are using the keyboard.

TIP: Get one of the Library’s How to Type books and practice the exercises on a computer keyboard.

3. Learn and practice keyboard shortcuts

Once you get the hang of them, you will be a more efficient computer user.

You can, for example, close a window with the “ctrl-w” keyboard shortcut faster than using the mouse to click the window’s “close” button.

Microsoft Keyboard Shortcuts

4. Use the Learning Express Library

The Learning Express Library features more than 770 practice tests, tutorials, and e-books on job searches, workplace skills enhancement, GED exam preparation, certification and licensing exam preparation, and college and graduate school admissions exam preparation.

The Learning Express Library includes popular video-based tutorials on Microsoft Office, Adobe products, and other software used in the workplace today.

You can access these resources from our public computers or from home (with your Curtis Library card).

TIP: If you need assistance, just ask a Curtis Librarian.

datavar_img0015. Talk to a Curtis Library “Tech Wizard.”

Thursday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon, Technology and Digital Services Librarians Marian and Michael (aka the Tech Wizards) hold office hours near the reference desk.

If you have any tech topic you’d like to ask questions about, stop on by.

If you send an email ahead of time to, we can do some research before you get here.

Anything from e-readers and tablets or smart phones up to Windows & MAC computers is fair game, though we don’t promise to fix or be able to answer everything.

If you are just getting started and want to be pointed in the right direction, that’s OK, too.

Marketing Opportunity for Self-Published Authors

May 20th, 2015

We here at Curtis are very excited to be offering SELF-e (powered by Library Journal) to our local writers.

SubmitTodayThis, we feel, is an exciting marketing opportunity for self-published authors who want to get the word out about themselves and their works.

And it’s free.

And self-published authors retain the rights to their works.

And, if selected by Library Journal, a submitted book may reach a national audience.

Being a self-published author myself, I can emphatically state that writing can be hard but getting the word out about your book can be nigh on impossible.

What is Self-Publishing?

Wikipedia defines Self-Publishing as “…the publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher.”

It’s worth noting here that Self-Publishing includes physical books and e-books.

You don’t have to be an “e-book writer” to participate in SELF-e.

What’s an e-book?

An e-book is simply a digital version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

If an author created their book in Microsoft Word (or Apple Pages or Google Docs), he or she may be able to convert it to e-book format simply by saving it into the Portable Document Format (or PDF for short).

Will Curtis Library offer Self-Publishing Tech Meetups?


This is great news for writers who are “technology shy.”

Please watch the Curtis Library homepage, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to be notified about these and other Tech Meetups and Library events.

Can you make extra money through Self-Publishing?

Based on my personal experiences and research, I can say “Yes” but don’t expect to get rich.

How can I find out more about SELF-e?


Further Reading

Forbes Magazine: How Much Money Do Self-Published Authors Make?

Selling E-Books to Earn Extra Cash

7 Suggested Steps to Financial Freedom

May 19th, 2015

financial-freedom-680x430This is, of course, just a broad outline, as each step has its own steps.

This might seem like a lot of steps, but Curtis has resources that can help you climb all of them.

1. Spend less money by being frugal

2. Set up a budget, track your money

3. Save the money you are no longer spending

4. Pay down your debt

5. Make more money (by starting a home or online business)

6. Review your budget and stay frugal

7. Save and invest more money

Suggested Readings

The debt escape plan : how to free yourself from credit card balances, boost your credit score, and live debt-free by Beverly Harzog.

How to choose, operate and market your home-based business : practical advice for operating a small business on a shoestring budget by Susan E. Barton

The Total Money Makeover : a Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey.

Stop Acting Rich and Start Living Like a Real Millionaire by Thomas J. Stanley

Investing for Dummies by Eric Tyson

I believe that through knowledge and discipline, financial peace is possible for all of us.
—Dave Ramsey

Notes from the Data Privacy Tech Meetup

May 15th, 2015

Steven Blanc, Information & Technology Security Officer at Bowdoin College visited the Curtis Library for a tech meetup in May 2015.

Steve discussed what we can do to protect the privacy of our data in today’s increasingly digital world.

These are my “takeaways” from that Data Privacy Tech Meetup.


Opening Statement

Steve began by emphatically stating: “If it’s on the Internet, it isn’t private.”

if its on the internet it isnt private

Our “Digital Identities”

Steve spoke about how we are building “digital identities.”

We should be careful about what we post on our Facebook pages and other social media websites.

This is especially true for job seekers.

Employers shouldn’t look at the Facebook pages of their job applicants but we can assume that they do.

Free Online Services Are Not Free

If you’re not paying for it, you are the product that’s being sold.

Scott cited Gmail and Facebook as prime examples as they both trace your browsing history so they can put targeted ads in front of you.

Both services also make it easy to post data about yourself.

You can of course try to abstain from using any services that collect any data on you but Scott said this is not a practical strategy in this day and age.

Do Not Go “Phishing”

Scott spoke about how we can protect ourselves from fraudulent emails.

– Use common sense, look for red flags. For example, If you weren’t expecting a package from UPS, be vary wary about an email trying to give you information about a “missed delivery.”
– Do not open any attachments if you are not sure about the sender of the email message.
– Check before you click it. If there is a link in an email message, mouseover it and see if the web address in the pop-up window is a match. (screen capture)
– If an email has a phone for you to call, look up the phone number yourself

Further Reading:

Use Good Passwords

Scott gave this password example:


This is an abbreviation for “my daughter Katie is 12 years old!”

Scott advised using distinct passwords for critical accounts. No matter how strong a password is, you should not use that same password for your online bank account, your IRA, your credit card, et al.

Scott spoke about password manager programs such as KeePass which enable you to have multiple passwords for your various online accounts but you only need to have know a single master password in order to access them all.

password manager

Further Reading:

The Wrap-up

Scott concluded this data privacy tech meetup by stating:
“Once digital, it will live forever. Unless you need it.”

So we need to be very careful and discrete about what we post online.

You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.
— Scott McNealy, Former CEO, Sun Microsystems