nate's blog

Be smart about antivirus protection!

Sick computer being inspected by doctors in haz-mat suits

So the antivirus trial or subscription you had has expired, and now our computer is giving you messages like “YOUR VIRUS PROTECTION HAS EXPIRED! RENEW YOUR SUBSCRIPTION NOW OR EVERYTHING WILL CATCH FIRE! AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!” Once that happens, you have a choice: pay to renew what came with your computer or find a replacement.

But don’t just install the first thing that shows up in Google. A little research can help you make a decision that ensures your computer is protected – and it might protect your wallet, too. There are two main sites I turn to for information on antivirus products: AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. Both are independent organizations, not connected to any vendors of antivirus software, who run comprehensive detection, cleaning, and usability tests.

Raise your nerd quotient! Learn to code!

A bunch of nerds

Lately, my nerd level has felt at low ebb. I’ve yet to find a RPG game to replace my last obsession, and I’ve finally caught up with all the comics I missed while I was out of the country. I found myself wondering: what new activity can I take up which I will have difficulty explaining to my beautiful and surprisingly patient wife?

So I’ve decided to learn JavaScript.

There are fantastic resources online for those who want to learn how to code: I’ve started at Codecademy, which provides a series of self-paced, online tutorials on JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. It’s gamified, meaning that you can earn points and badges for completing lessons and projects, brag about it on Facebook or Twitter, and you can compete against friends, should you have any.

How do you say "technology blog" in Spanish?

An angry cat speaking Spanish

I've been doing a lot of translating of materials for our Spanish-language computer classes lately, and now I stop and wonder every ten seconds what I did before the Internet. I mean, I'm old enough to remember a time when it wasn't there, when you actually heard your computer connecting to a network and there were no animated GIFs of bike-riding kittens to be had; but I often forget that.

When it comes to learning a new language - or honing your skills at one you've picked up - here's where I go:

Reference and Translation Help:

One for you, nineteen for me. Or just e-file for free.

If you’re like me, you’ve been putting it off for as long as humanly possible – but it’s time, my friend. April 17th will be here soon: it’s tax time. Luckily, however, the days of forgetting to include a deduction and having to white-out your 1040 are gone – anyone can file online and let someone else do the math (though it never hurts to double-check).  There are a couple of options for your federal taxes, depending on your income and confidence in your tax-filing capabilities:

Teens + Technology = TEEN TECH WEEK!

Teen Tech Week

Have a teenager in your life? Are you a teenager? Then come down to a branch of the Denver Public Library this March 4th – 10th for Teen Tech Week! We’ll be exploring all things tech, from modding your gadgets to making music, with classes just for teens.

Check out the full schedule of events, including events across almost all of the branches of the Denver Public Library system. I wanted to highlight some of the events that will be happening here at Central, most of which will be on the 4th floor in the Community Technology Center.

About the Blackout

Wikipedia's page on internet blackout day.

This Wednesday, you may have noticed the internet got a little weird: Google’s logo on its homepage was censored, Wikipedia went black, even LOLcats were asking you to contact your members of Congress. The cause of all the uproar? The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), two bills currently in front of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, respectively.

Both SOPA and PIPA were created to allow the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders greater capacity to combat online sharing of copyrighted intellectual property and goods – i.e., to make it harder to pirate music, movies, and other media online. Proponents of the bills, the most vocal being the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, estimate that internet piracy results in some $100 million in lost profits annually for U.S. companies and the loss of thousands of jobs.

Go ahead, ask the internet

Our age will probably be largely remembered as the time when humans outsourced large chunks of our brains to our web-connected gadgets: if you had asked me a friend’s phone number 20 years ago, I could recite it by heart – now, I have to make all new friends if I lose my cell phone.

Often, many of my questions can be answered with a simple Google query – “What is the square root of 144?” or “Who played James Bond in Goldfinger?” – but anything moving beyond a simple factual question can mean wading through page after page of results. Search engines, like Google, Yahoo, or Bing, give you a list of websites that may​ have your answer, but they won’t help you sort through them. To do that, you need to access actual people - and there are a wealth of sites that let anyone ask questions to people with the knowledge you need.

Sharing Holiday Photos

(photo courtesy of Awkward Family Photos)

The savory smells of roasting food, the clink and chime of silverware and glass, uncle Jim having a few too many and falling asleep with his mustache awkwardly mashed into the couch, and the click and flash of cameras as we document everything; the holidays are times for making and capturing memories.

With digital cameras and the internet, it’s easier than ever to capture every moment – the sweet, the funny, and the possibly traumatic – and share it with friends and family.

When Good Computers Go Bad

a very, very dead computer.

It's happened to everyone: you're in the middle of your 150 page final paper that's due tomorrow, or about to hit the submit button on the tax filing you've put off until the last minute, or all your plants are finally ready to harvest in Farmville and. . . suddenly, everything stops working. The screen freezes, or goes blank, or suddenly flips to the dreaded Blue Screen of Doom, filled with codes and numbers and - was that a warning that my computer will self-destruct in 15 seconds?

What do you do when the technology you love suddenly turns on you? You can always pay someone to fix it, of course, but many people would rather have that extra money to spend on little things like food or rent. Luckily, there are some free options you can turn to when good computers go bad:

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