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Accessories, Design, Fun Stuff, Gadgets, Technology »

[30 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]
OK well I’ll speak for myself! But why not have some fun, with some nifty new peripherals?  For example, these funny but useful USB hubs and related accessories. And give your family or co-workers a laugh, too.  Enjoy! 

Digital Media Lab, Featured, Gadgets, Music, Productivity, Technology »

[11 Mar 2011 | No Comment | ]

In our Digital Media Lab, you can do audio recordings just like a powerful music production studio, using the M-Audio Fast Track USB device!

Utilizing GT Player Express software, Fast Track lets you record electronic keyboard, guitar, or vocals.

In combination with GarageBand, you can do amazing, professional sounding mix tracks and music!

Accessories, Digital Media Lab, Equipment, Featured, Fun Stuff, Gadgets, Hardware, Music, Technology »

[29 Jan 2011 | No Comment | ]

The H2 recorder is an easy-to-use, versatile stereo digital audio recorder. Perfect for musicians, podcasters, students, concert goers, band members and more, it records as high-quality WAV and MP3 files. The H2 has 4 built-in microphones. There are two sets of mics – one pair facing the front and one pair facing the rear.

The benefits of having 4 microphones on the H2 recording device are:

  • You can record from the front at 90° filtering out unwanted noise that are outside the 90° range. This is suitable for recording solos or a musical instrument.


  • You can also record from the rear of the mic at 120°. This wider angle allows you to record a band or group of singers and/or guest speakers.


  • You can record and create a mix of nice quality audio surround sound using both the front and back mics simultaneously at 360°. This is ideal for people facing each other while rehearsing in a band or choir, or interviews/conversations between 2 or more people facing each other.
  • Some other features included in the H2 are:

    1. There is a built-in chromatic tuner to help you tune an instrument such as a guitar.
    2. There is a built-in metronome that can be used as a guide rhythm during recording.
    3. You can transfer the recorded work to your computer.
    4. You can record directly to your computer.
    5. You can record your work to an SD card accomodates up to 32 GB.

    You can try out the H2 recorder here at Skokie Public Library. It comes with an operation manual that will help you get more familiar with the H2 recorder.

    Digital Media Lab, Featured, Gadgets, Mobile, Technology »

    [26 Jan 2011 | No Comment | ]

    THE IPAD – Part 3 of 3

    In addition to the finger tap icons on the screens that get you into your apps, there appears, whenever you need it, a virtual keyboard for your email, your passwords, typing notes or documents and anything else that calls for data entry. The display screen automatically orients itself to portrait or landscape depending on how you turn the iPad. When you type there is an audible satisfying click to each key. Apple has thought this portable gadget through pretty thoroughly. You can watch videos; import your own videos, run slide shows of your own pictures and read your favorite books through free downloads of Kindle, Nook, Kobo and other e-readers in addition to the already installed Apple iBooks.

    The screen, although it responds to finger tap touches and typing, does, after some use, get smudgy and grungy-looking, spotted with fingerprints, smears and water spots from you trying to blow away annoying lint. The nice thing is that it cleans up spotless with plain water on a soft lint-free cloth. No special monitor wipes or secret formulated cleaning fluids. Just plain water.

    What is missing from the iPad and cannot be downloaded is Adobe Flash Player. So any internet videos that require Flash cannot be viewed on the iPad. For some that may be a deal-breaker, for this writer it’s a small annoyance that I can live with.

    The internal setting facility has an option called “Airplane Mode” which allows you to use your iPad aboard a commercial airliner without throwing the pilot’s instrument panel into panic mode. There’s also a headphone jack so you can listen to your music or watch videos without disturbing the person next to you who is probably watching out of the corner of his eye anyway.

    So there you have it. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In recent days and weeks there  have appeared any number of these pads, tablets, etc. from other well-known electronics companies using Android-powered operating systems. Flattery indeed.  But, as always, Apple leads the way. If you have any questions about the iPad or any other computer-related subjects, you can always ask one of our tech advisors in the Adult Computer Lab on the 2nd floor.

    Digital Media Lab, Featured, Gadgets, Mobile, Technology »

    [26 Jan 2011 | No Comment | ]

    THE iPAD – Part 2 of 3

    Initially, for the iPad to “come to life,” it must be “synched” to iTunes either on a Mac or a Windows PC that has iTunes installed. As this is not an instruction manual, suffice to say that’s how it works.  So now that the iPad is ready, what next? It has an internal battery that comes partly charged when you buy it. So first off, plug it in and charge it fully. When all fired up and reading 100% in the upper right corner, the battery is supposed to last ten hours. I’ve never actually tried to verify this, but time goes by quickly when you’re having fun!

    The TV ads told us “You already know how to use it.” And, unless you’ve been living in a vacuum and have never seen a computer, it’s pretty much true. As if to underscore that point, Apple does not include any instruction sheet, manual or book with the iPad. The folks at Apple decided that we’re smart enough to figure things out. It really is that intuitive.

    The Skokie library has a wide assortment of books on how to use the iPad and all are excellent reference sources for learning the tips and tricks that make the iPad more fun. What’s most enjoyable is shopping in the App Store available at the tap of the icon on the home screen. There you’ll find a  world of small, medium, large and extra-large apps that can make the iPad do just about anything you could want or imagine. Free apps abound in any of 20 categories. More complex apps, like Apple’s Pages and Numbers, can cost as little as $.99 up to almost $50.00 for some serious software.  All told there are (at this writing) at least 51,389 individual apps available, and that doesn’t include the games category in which there are probably at least another couple of thousand. And more apps are being published on a daily basis. Whatever apps you might buy are kept in some secret database with your name on it on another planet (kidding!) so that every time there is an update or revision to any of your apps, your iPad will notify you automatically. A couple of screen taps and the free updates will be installed.

    Digital Media Lab, Gadgets, Mobile, Technology »

    [26 Jan 2011 | No Comment | ]

    THE iPAD – Part 1 of 3

    The iPad is Apple/Steve Jobs’ gizmo that nobody really needs but everyone wants. It’s not a laptop, it’s not a cell phone, it doesn’t have a built-in camera, no hard drive, and no USB ports.  It doesn’t fit in your pocket (unless you have really big pockets), and it’s kinda clumsy to carry around. You can’t just leave it naked the way it comes out of the box, it’s almost mandatory that you immediately purchase a carrying case for it to keep it from being damaged. The iPad does have a teeny speaker in there somewhere and a microphone so you can actually use Skype, just not the face-to-face version and it won’t be a free call. It comes in six different configurations, each more expensive than the last, starting at $500 up to about $900:

    • 16gb of storage with Wi-Fi capability.
    • 16gb of storage with Wi-Fi capability plus ATT 3G available at monthly rates.
    • 32gb of storage with Wi-Fi capability.
    • 32gb of storage with Wi-Fi capability plus ATT 3G available at monthly rates.
    • 64gb of storage with Wi-Fi capability.
    • 64gb of storage with Wi-Fi capability plus ATT 3G available at monthly rates.

    If you purchase an iPad equipped with 3G, it will work where there is no Wi-Fi available. Wherever an ATT cell phone works, so will the iPad. That pretty much covers everywhere.

    My initial reaction was “Huh? For $500 I can get a nice desktop PC or a Windows laptop. For 9 bills I can get a REALLY nice desktop or Windows laptop.”  So, not needing an iPad except for the sole purpose of not having to schlep a heavy laptop on vacation to show the family pictures, I bought the biggest, meanest, baddest (64 GB, Wi-Fi, and 3G) one they had. Then the fun really started.

    Digital Media Lab, Gadgets, YouTube »

    [26 Feb 2010 | No Comment | ]

    I don’t know about you, but I find it fascinating to see how YouTube is increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives. YouTube videos can now be used to participate in political debates, report local news, and even apply to a university. Tufts University recently began accepting YouTube videos as an application supplement and they’ve had about 1,000 prospective students take advantage already! For those of you who are old(er) like me and remember the agony of writing application essays, I’m sure this is pretty shocking.

    So, let’s say you’re interested in applying to Tufts University sometime in the near future or you’re simply interested in learning more about how YouTube works.  Where can you go to learn more?

    For starters, I recommend the recently launched YouTube 101 instructional series explaining topics such as how to upload videos, share a video privately, customize your YouTube channel, and more! Here’s one example:

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    Secondly, you can stop by the Library to take advantage of our new Digital Media Lab, where you can check out a Flip video camera, shoot footage against our chroma key (green) wall, edit a movie using iMovie or Final Cut Pro, and upload directly to YouTube! Visit http://dml.skokielibrary.info or call our computer lab assistants at 847-324-3179 for more information and to make a reservation.

    Digital Media Lab, Gadgets »

    [26 Dec 2009 | No Comment | ]

    3521970447_b01f248b0bAs we all know, the end of the year brings a “Best of” list for practically everything. The staff at Paste Magazine created a list of “The 20 Best Gadgets of the Decade (2000-2009),” which includes the USB flash drive, iPhone, Sony Playstation 3, and more.

    One of my personal favorites (#15 on the list) is the Flip video camcorders. Did you know that you can check out a Flip Mino HD from the Library if you’re an adult Skokie Public Library cardholder? Stop by the 2nd floor computer lab or visit the Digital Media Lab page to learn more!

    So, what’s on your list of the decade’s best gadgets?