Time was putting together even a simple website was something only web designers or computer programmers could do. Fortunately now things have changed.

But websites aren’t just for posting funny pictures of cats. What are Michael, Erin, and Sean doing online? Let’s see:

Erin, Michael, Sean

Erin, Michael, Sean

Michael found an outstanding new way to reach potential employers and show off his skills at the same time: he made himself a website. He used Weebly to put together a totally pro-looking online advertisement for his own bad self. He posted his resume, work samples, portfolio, sample writings, and even links to a few short education films he made and posted on YouTube. He used this link when applying for jobs as a way to showcase himself and stand out from the crowd.

And guess what?

…drum roll…

It worked.

Michael accepted a new full-time position just nine weeks after he started using his site. He even negotiated a nice little salary increase from where he was at before. Unfortunately, his new officemate has a really irritating nose whistle, but this is a minor inconvenience. You better believe he’ll be maintaining his site and using it to show off all the skills he’s learned and will continue to learn.

Erin is eager to get a web presence for Yurt World. She started the blog way back when and that’s been pretty handy, but she feels it’s time to expand. She’s going to trick out her site with e-commerce, RSS feeds, embedded videos, and photo galleries, plus maps showing where on the globe her yurts are being used (although she will definitely need help from professionals for some of this.). She’s going to integrate her blog with the site, and she’s also going to invite customer comments and publish them along with Yurt World’s responses. She plans to make her website a community where the yurt-minded can congregate. We imagine this can only be good for business.

And Sean? He started a site to be a travel journal to document everywhere he’s been. He integrates his Flickr account to show off all of his photos, plus his Facebook and Twitter feeds so he has an all-in-one web presence. His site is a space where he can express himself, show off his artwork and photos, and write about the amazing places he’s been and wonderful people he’s met. Part journal, part portfolio, and part tribute to his travels: his website is as personal and unique as he is.

Not working for you? Here are some Prezi alternatives:

Super Happy Web Time!

Although there are a lot of different ways to create a web site, Weebly is what we’ll be using here. You can do a practice page to play around with, or start in right away making your dream site. Consider this tutorial a guide to get you started, but really the best way to learn is just to plunge in and start playing around.

Let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start. To begin, put in your name and your email, and then pick out a nice, secure password.

The next thing you’ll see is that annoying little screen where you have to type the words you see. Remember, this proves you’re a living, breathing human being with a soul and feelings, and not a heartless, mindless spambot programmed to destroy the internet. So just do it already.

Now you’ll be asked to pick a name for your site. What? You don’t have a name ready? Well, just pick something. Change it later if you don’t like it. And choosing the type of site you’re planning is, we hope, pretty self-explanatory.

Next, you’ll be asked to pick a domain name. Holy technical jargon, Batman! What does that mean? Easy: it just means you’re deciding the address people will type into their browser when they want to get to your website. If you’re just starting out with your business, or if this the first time you’ve created a website, you probably want to choose the first option. (You can always change your mind later if you want to.) In our example, we’ll pick the first option, too, so the website we’ll be creating is http://www.yurtworld.weebly.com.

Do you see the tabs across the top? We’ll start with the “Elements” tab. That tab has four subcategories on the left: Basic, Multimedia, Revenue, and More. Can you guess where we’re starting? If you said “Basic,” you’re absolutely right. In the next section we’ll talk about basic design.

Basic Design

One cool thing about Weebly is that the elements are drag-and-drop—meaning that you can literally drag down (click and hold with the left mouse button, then pull across the page) the elements you want and place them where you want. For example, try dragging down a “Paragraph with Title” element and drop it at the top of your page just below the header (you’ll see an orange line that shows you where the element will be placed). Let go of the mouse button to place the element. Don’t like where you put it? Drag and drop somewhere else.

The filler text in your element says “Click here to edit,” and that’s just how it works. Click on the text and you’ll see an editing toolbar pop up at the top of the page to change the text color, size, alignment, and so forth. Try editing some text now.

Pro tip: if you’re getting frustrated with the text editing process, try typing in some dirty words and giggling about it like a 12-year-old. That always helps us, at least.

Drag and drop a few elements, then start playing with them. Move them around. Notice how each element has a red x on the right-hand side. That’s if you want to delete an element. Try it now. And do you see the green arrow on the left-hand side? That’s if you want to move this element to another page on your site. You haven’t created any other pages for your website yet, so this part won’t work very well for you. Unless of course you’ve already skipped ahead and made more pages, in which case maybe you want to teach this class?

Linking: It’s really fun

One of the critical parts of having a web page is having links to other pages. This is easier than you might think. But please be aware that if you believe the computer can read your mind, it’s going to be a lot harder than you might think.

Take a look at one of your elements that has text in it. Highlight the text you want to turn into a link, then look around for the text editing toolbar (probably at the top of the page). Do you see the button with the picture of the chain? We actually think it looks like a Lone Ranger mask, but it’s really a link (get it?) of a chain. Click on that, and you’ll see you can make a link to:

  • another page on your own website (again, this will be handier when you have more than one page)
  • a website elsewhere on the internet
  • a file, like a Word or Excel document
  • an email address

Try making a link, then take a moment to contemplate this sentence: Are you a genius or what?

Adding pizzazz

Another thing you’ll almost certainly want on your site is images. Drag and drop a “Picture” element or a “Paragraph with Picture” element. See where it says “Click here to edit”? Go ahead and click right on it. Here’s where it gets exciting:

You’re going to have to get your image from somewhere, right? This is how we do that. At the top of the dialogue box that pops up, you can choose to get your image from My Computer (meaning your computer, not our computer, since otherwise that would just be confusing), a photo gallery (Weebly pulls images from Flickr; check out the copyright agreement at the bottom), or the internet. If you pick the internet, be sure to credit your source! If you just use someone’s image without respecting their copyright and giving them credit, yes, that is stealing, and yes, that person has every right to be mad at you. So don’t come crying to us if you do it anyway and get in trouble.

Go ahead and find an image to put on your site. If you want to use one on your own computer, navigate to the folder where you store your photos and select one to use, then click “Open.” To get an image that’s online, either search through the photo gallery or type in the address (URL) of where the image is on the internet.

If you don’t know where to get an image from, just choose “My computer” and your computer will probably automatically take you to the folder where the sample photos that came preloaded on your machine are kept.

Pro tip: if you want to take an image from the gallery or the internet and save it to your personal computer, find the image in the gallery or online, then right-click on the image, then left-click on “Save picture as.” You’ll be able to browse through folders on your computer so you can save it somewhere convenient. You may want to rename the file something less gibberish-y.

Notice that after you import an image, when you hover your mouse over it, you get new toolbars that pop up to edit the image. Play around with this. Try adding a caption. And if you really want your mind blown, click on the orange “Edit” button and check out all the ways you can tweak your image. (If you joined us for the last Thing, Online Image Editors, this will be old hat for you.)

In addition to images, other elements you can add are in the multimedia tab, meaning things like a photo gallery, Google map, or that cute YouTube video of a dog barking “Auld Lang Syne.” The “Revenue” elements are mostly for businesses that want to sell goods or services; you’ll need to set up a Google Checkout or PayPal account to use these. And under “More,” holy moly there’s a lot to explore. See if you can find these things and add them to your site:

  • a game
  • a survey
  • an RSS reader
  • a way to signal Batman that you need help

Just kidding! The best way to signal Batman is still the tried-and-true light in the sky. Although we’re given to understand that Bruce Wayne is now on Twitter, so you can also try reaching him that way.

Make it shine

Now comes the really fun part: what do you want your site to look like? Click on the “Design” tab and the first thing you’ll see is the most popular templates Weebly has. You can pick one of these, or click on “All Themes” for more choices. Go ahead, click around and see what you fancy. Each template allows you to preview what the structure of the page will look like, plus you can change your mind later anyway, so don’t worry about making any irreversible decisions.

Side note: How do you pick a good design? The first question to ask yourself is, “What do I want to use the site for?” Then pick a theme that captures that purpose and that feeling.

And finally, if you find a theme that’s almost perfect but not quite, you can use the “Design Options” tab to monkey around with colors and fonts.

Two last things: one is that Weebly has a great help section that can work you through almost any problem. That’s the “Help!” button in the upper right. And at any time when you’re ready to see what your page looks like, click on the orange “Publish” button and you’ll be able to see your masterpiece (or soon-to-be-masterpiece-in-progress, depending on how far you got today).

More Information for the Curious

Okay, now I have a web site with images and links. But it’s going to need a lot more pages than just this. How do I start putting in all my information? Also, I want to move this thing here over to the right, or maybe down a little.

Easy there, buddy. Let’s start by clicking on the third tab, called “Pages.” You’ll notice a couple of things right away. First is that there isn’t much there. Second is that your shoe is untied. Hah! Gotcha. Man, that gag never gets old.

As we were saying: before you start to add in new pages to your website, you’re going to want to think about navigation, or how easy (or hard) it is for someone to get around your site. Making websites easy to read is a topic way too big to cover adequately here, but if you want to really delve, try reading Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. You can also get a good start by paying attention to websites you like and visit a lot, and watching how they organize their information. Online, your presentation is often as important as your message, so take care to put things in an order that makes sense. We recommend have a friend or two test out your site to give you feedback on what works and what is a problem. Heck, order some pizza and have a testing party. Honestly, it can’t hurt.

For now, just click on “Add a Page” and see what happens. You can name your new page whatever you want. Try dragging it above or below the page called “Home,” then go back to the “Elements” tab to view the page. Then go back to the “Pages” tab and drag your new page below “Home” and slightly to the right. Now go back and try to spot the difference.

Notice that there’s also an “Add Blog” button. If you want a blog that is integrated with your web site, this is a super-simple way to do it. Try editing the blog page to see what it looks like.

Pro tip: when you’re editing your blog page, check out the “Elements” tab. It will have a lot of options that are different from your regular web page.

Also, if you have a page that you worked on really hard to get just right and you want to use it as a pattern to make other pages, you can select that page and click on “Copy Page” to get a perfectly usable copy, which can be moved around and edited at your whim.

The penultimate tab, “Editors,” is where you can add other people who are allowed to access your site; you can control the level of access each person gets. And finally, the “Settings” tab is where you can—guess what?—control the settings for your site.

And finally

As we mentioned earlier, Weebly is far from being the only web site software available. Some other choices include:

wordpress.com — Good for a basic and straightforward introduction to blogging only.
wordpress.org — Yes, confusing, isn’t it? This is good for the more advanced user, or someone interested in doing more with a blog and/or creating a website.
Google sites — A handy way to get a website up and running in a jiff. Plus you can integrate with all of your other Google products (see Things #5, Gmail, and #6, iGoogle).

Ta da! You made it all the way to the end of the Baker’s Dozen classes. Congratulations! We’ve certainly enjoyed talking tech with all of you, and we hope you’ve enjoyed it as well. Let us know what you think: leave a comment here below to tell us what you loved, what you hated, and what you remained completely indifferent about.

So that’s it from us. If you want to know more, visit your local library and we’ll be happy to help you out. Thanks for being here, and thanks for sharing Baker’s Dozen with us. See you at the library!


For those of you who joined us for Class #9, Flickr, you know how to share your digital images with just your friends or even the whole darn world if you want to. But what if you want to change, improve, or perfect those photos? Maybe just to take out Uncle Charlie’s redeye (it ain’t just from the flash, if you catch our drift) or even to turn an otherwise ordinary image into a master work of art? We can show you how to do that. In this class, we’ll be using a program called Picnik to help you change your favorite images from geek to chic. Unless you’re into geek chic. In which case you can probably just leave your photos the way they are and go on to Class #13 (creating websites, which is both geek and chic).

Anywho. The software we’ll be using is Picnik, a fun, free image editing tool. Part of what makes Picnik so easy to use is that you can do all of your editing online, without ever having to install software onto your computer. What kinds of things can you do? Let’s see:

Michael, Erin, Sean

Michael, Erin, Sean

Remember Michael’s sister in Bulgaria? She’s living there with her husband and their new baby boy. Michael wants to do something nice for her first Mother’s Day, so he’s going to pick out the best photos of the baby and use Picnik to turn them into a collage and then create high-quality framable prints. He can also clean up the photo backgrounds, sharpen up some almost-perfect shots, and put cute little artwork and funny text on the photos to make Junior even more adorable than even his mom thought possible. All it costs Michael is time, plus he scores major points for being an awesome uncle.

Erin’s cousin Lurlene just announced she’s getting married! And while it’s true that Lurlene’s been engaged twice before (she left groom #1 at the altar and broke up with #2 for having “strange toes”), we feel sure this one is going to stick. As her present, Erin offered to use Picnik to make Lurlene save-the-date cards, announcement cards, invitations, thank you cards, and then afterward to make a Lurlene a lovely photo album. It’s not too hard to do, but it looks professional and is completely affordable, assuming you can afford free. And the best part is, by doing the photos, Erin is spared having to spend endless hours dragging around town helping Lurlene shop for a dress. (Really, the whole process would go a lot faster if Lurlene would just admit she’s not a size 4 anymore.)

Sean’s happy to leave the family photo stuff to his mom, but he does have a lot of architecture shots from his backpacking trip across Asia. His classmate Emma saw the pictures and thought they would be perfect for her art project. She asked Sean if she could use his pictures and also if he would help her out with the project. Sean’s had a crush on her all semester, so it was easy for him to say yes. However, what he probably should not have done is gotten flustered and told her he already knew how to use Picnik when he really didn’t. Fortunately, Picnik is so easy to learn that he can teach himself in a couple of hours and she never has to know he was trying way too hard to impress her.

What you’re about to click on is a link to a Prezi presentation. What’s a Prezi? It’s a presentation tool that allows you to follow the text as it moves, turns, and zooms. If you haven’t used it before, here’s what you do:

  1. Click on the Play button Play button (in the box below) to start it.
  2. Once the Prezi is loaded, click again on the “Play” button each time you want to move forward through the slides.
  3. When you get to the end and the Play button disappears, scroll down to the “Discovery Exercise” below the Prezi to get back to the class. That’s it! No, really, that’s all there is to it. Enjoy.

Not working for you? Here are some Prezi alternatives:

What Next?

We’re going to walk you through how to get started with Picnik. It’s the kind of program that rewards experimentation, though, so once you get the hang of things, you may want to start just playing around and testing out the different buttons. You can’t break anything, so step on up and don’t be shy.

  1. To get started, open your Internet browser and type www.picnik.com into the address bar. Once the Picnik website loads, click on the “Get started now!” button. (You can register if you want, but it’s not required.)
  2. Upload: You’re probably eager to get going right away, so let’s just jump right in. Click on the “Upload” button on the left.
  3. Now you can either upload a photo from your computer, your flash drive, or your camera. When the pop-up box appears, select “Computer” or “My Computer.”
    1. If the photo you want to edit is on your computer, navigate to where the image is and click “Open.”
    2. If you want to upload an image from your flash drive, go to “Computer” or “My Computer,” then select “Removable Disk” (for a a flash drive) or find the icon for your camera if you are uploading photos directly from your camera. Then click “Open.”
  4. Now you should see all of your photos listed in the pop-up box. If you don’t, ask a buddy to help you. After all, it’s not like we can see what you’re doing from way over here.
  5. Select the photo you would like to edit and click “Open.”
  6. Wait a moment for Picnik to upload your photo.

Still waiting? Huh. Weird. We’re going to go get a sandwich. Do you want anything? Ok, we’ll be right back.
And we’re ready now? Fantastic.

Once Picnik uploads your photo, your screen will be on the main editing page. Your main editing options are on the menu bar for the Edit tab.

Is it sideways?
If your photo appears sideways, you can rotate your photo before you do any other edits. Click on the “Rotate” button. Select the “Left” or “Right” button to rotate your photo, then click “OK.”

Do you want to cut part out?
Do you want to cut your picture down to another size, or cut something out that is distracting? Select “Crop.” You can select the section of your photo that you would like to keep. Move your mouse to the light gray circles that appear on the edges of your photo. Click with your left mouse button and drag (meaning keep your finger down) the light gray lines to create new margins for your photo.

Change it back! Change it back!
If you decide that you don’t like how you cropped the photo, click “Undo” to (guess what?) undo the most recent edit that you made.

Is it the wrong size?
If you would like to change the overall size of your photo, you can use the “Resize” button. So, say if you want the image to be half the original size, click “Use Percentages” and then put 75 in for the new dimensions. Fun tip: If the “Keep Proportions” box is check, Picnik will automatically keep the image at the right size so you don’t accidentally stretch or squash your pic.

Too muddy? Too light?
“Exposure” allows you to adjust the colors and brightness of your photo. By moving the “Exposure” and “Contrast” sliders at the top of the page, you can make changes to your photo. Try it—it’s fun!

Is the color wrong?
Next is the “Colors” tab, which allows you to make even more adjustments to the colors of your photo. Holy cow. Try using the “Temperature” slider to add more blue or orange to your photo. Try out “Auto Colors” and “Neutral Picker” to see what they do, too.

Waaaaay too fuzzy?
“Sharpen” allows you to make the details of your photo sharper or softer than the details in the original.

The dreaded “Red-Eye”
And last but not least, we get back to good ol’ Uncle Charlie: the Red-Eye tab. Use the crosshairs to center in on the eye, and click to banish that red-eye. You can do this for people or for pets—note the handy selection box to the left. And we would hope it goes without saying, but this option only really works when you have a picture with people or pets in it.

Ta-da! Now you know the basics of Picnik. We bet you’re feeling pretty good about yourself right now. If you’re ready to hone your expertise, we’ve put even more tips and tricks in the “More Information for the Curious” section, which is coming up next.

More Information for the Curious

What did we tell you? We’re right back with even more fun things to try with Picnik.

So you’ve made basic edits to your photo, but now you’re ready to kick your photo-editing skills up a notch. Bam!

Advanced editing in Picnik
In addition to making basic edits to your photo, you can also use Picnik to make more creative changes to your photo. We’ve been using the “Edit” tab (look up at the top to see it), but now we want the “Create” tab, just to the right of “Edit.”

Whoa, hold on there. Don’t just start clicking all over the place. We can’t be held responsible if you do. Let’s start with the “Featured” tab (all the way to the left). With any luck, this should already be automatically opened for you.

The first thing you might notice is that some of the featured editing options say “Premium” on the side. That means, alas, that you have to be a premium ($$ paid) member to use these options. All the others are fair game, though.

Scroll down the “Featured” list and take a minute (we’ll be timing you) to check out some of the options. When you pick one, you’ll notice you get some options pop up, usually with slider bars. Play around with these; if you find something you like, click “Apply;” if you don’t like what you’ve done, click “Cancel.”

Once you’re bored with “Featured,” click the next tab, which is “Effects.” One fun option is “Vignette.” Use this to darken the edges of your photograph to give it an artistic, old-fashioned look. “Vignette” automatically uses black to darken the edges, but you can choose any color!

These really are a blast, so have fun trying all of the different options! “Focal B&W” allows you to focus on one section of your photo to leave in color, while changing the unselected areas of your photo to black and white. “Focal Zoom” allows you to choose one section of the photo while making the rest of the photo out of focus. How about “Pencil Sketch?” That makes your photo look like it is a hand-drawn pencil sketch. Hence the name, presumably. “Neon,” “Gooify,” and “Invert” are also staff favorites.

The next tab, “Text,” allows you to put text on your image, in one of many attractive fonts. With the “Stickers” tab you can put line drawings and clip art on your images, changing the size and color to suit your taste. The “Touch-Up” tab is worth looking at just for the frog art on the side.

Once you’ve thrown all the special effects on that you care to, go to the “Frames” option under the “Create” tab. Here, you can look at a before and after version of your photo. Check out what an awesome artiste you are!

Once you’re all done, be sure to save your photo! Click on the “Save&Share” tab (the last one on the right) and name your photo before you click on “Save Photo.” The other tabs across the top let you share your photos with just a few easy clicks. It really is that simple.

Just one more to go! How many of you have done all 12 so far? Show of hands? Wow, that many? Fantastic! Well, you’re just one class away from the end of Baker’s Dozen. Our final class is website construction. We make it as easy as we can, so don’t be intimidated. Ta ta for now!


Questions, comments, & suggestions welcome: Jenn and I welcome your comments about these classes! Comment in the “leave a Reply” form below or via the tech help comment form at: http://www.library.pima.gov/contact/tech.php

11) Skype

You may have heard of Skype already—

Is that the thing where you can call people with your computer?

Yeah, that’s the one! Skype is a service that allows you to use the internet to make phone calls.

Is it free?

Sorta. The basic service, calling computer to computer, is free. The more advanced services, like using Skype from your phone or TV, or making group calls, are gonna cost ya.

But what’s the deal? How does a computer call another computer?

Excellent question.  The video below may provide the answers you’re looking for.

So you just use it for calls? That’s it?

You can use Skype just about any way you can use a phone. But better. For example:

Michael, Erin, Sean

Michael, Erin, Sean

Michael has been interviewing at local jobs, but he’s also applied for jobs in places as far away as Alaska. Instead of spending time and money travelling to other states, he’s been doing a lot of phone interviews. And in a couple of cases, Skype interviews! Some companies are trying out Skype as a way to do a better interview for out-of-state candidates while saving money at the same time. (If you’re wondering, both of his Skype interviews went very well; he’s hoping to hear back from the companies next week.)

Erin works with vendors and suppliers all over the world. She spends a lot of her time on her email trying to coordinate all the details for all of her projects, big and small. Waiting for emails to go back and forth can be time-consuming and sometimes confusing. Conference calls are ok, but it can be hard to manage meetings when no one can see who’s talking. Skype is the answer: with video conferencing, even large groups of people can easily talk out problems in an hour or two that might take days over email. Sweet.

When Sean spent the summer before his junior year travelling through Asia, he wanted to keep the doctor he had back home. Sean was able to have live appointments, get updates on his health, and even have prescriptions sent to him where he was. Whoa. And while he was abroad, he met a lot of really interesting people, and now he wants to stay in touch. Fortunately, Skype is again the answer to his problems. It’s easy to stay connected for pennies a minutes. It’s like living in the future, except with no flying cars or Smell-O-Vision. Yet.

So what’s the deal with Skype anyway?

What you’re about to click on is a link to a Prezi presentation. What’s a Prezi? It’s a presentation tool that allows you to follow the text as it moves, turns, and zooms. If you haven’t used it before, here’s what you do:

  1. Click on the Play button Play button (in the box below) to start it.
  2. Once the Prezi is loaded, click again on the “Play” button each time you want to move forward through the slides.
  3. When you get to the end and the Play button disappears, scroll down to the “Discovery Exercise” below the Prezi to get back to the class. That’s it! No, really that’s all there is to it. Enjoy.

Not working for you? Here are some Prezi alternatives:

I Want to Try!

To get an overview of how to get started with Skype, try this video:

But if you’ve tried the other Baker’s Dozen projects, this will probably be a pretty familiar process:

  1. Go to skype.com. Click on the “Join Skype” button in the upper right.
  2. Don’t panic! Skype has probably started its download automatically. If not, it will.
  3. Follow the directions on the screen to download Skype for your machine.
  4. You’ll need to create a user name and password. Make it something you can remember—or at the very least write it down someplace.
  5. In order to register, you’ll need to provide a valid email address.

Why? That’s irritating.

Well, if you ever forget your user name or password, that’s the only way to get back into your account.

Oh. I guess that’s ok, then. Go ahead.

We’re almost done anyway.

  1. So you’ll need to provide an email address, but what you don’t have to do is agree to get lots of emails from Skype. Want the emails at a minimum? Be sure to uncheck the box that says “Yes, send me Skype news and special offers.”
  2. Once your account is ready, follow the instructions on the screen to make a test call to make sure everything is working right.

Ok, I think it’s working. So what now?

Now try calling someone! A major drawback of any communications device is that it’s not much good for just one person. So Skype someone. Ask around among your friends and family to find out who is already using Skype. You can also search in Skype itself by phone number, or you can search online to get a number and put that number in Skype directly.

What if nobody I know is using Skype?

This is a perfect chance to teach someone! Show off your amazing new knowledge and get someone you know on Skype, too. Then get chatting!

More! More!

Skype isn’t the only game in town. If you tried Thing #5, Gmail, or Thing #6, iGoogle, or you have one of those accounts already, you can use Google Talk for voice or video chatting. Google Talk doesn’t have quite as many bells and whistles as Skype, but it is free and already integrated with Gmail, which is a big plus for some people. If you want to use Google Talk, first you’ll need a Gmail account, and then you’ll need to install the chat software.

Google+, another Google product, also integrates Google Talk, and Google Talk works the same way here as it does in Gmail or iGoogle. Google+ was just released, and as of this writing you need an invitation from a friend in order to join. But Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook, meaning you can keep in touch with friends, share photos, chat (voice, video, or text), and find new connections, all while having immediate access to the Google line of services. Google+ is a little more than we can into in depth here, but it’s worth checking out.

Next week: online image editors! For those of you who loved our Flickr class, this will be right up your alley. But whether you’re a shutterbug or not, come on back and talk some tech with us. We look forward to it!

10) Wikis

First things first: what does “wiki” mean?

Wiki comes from “wiki wiki,” a Hawaiian term for “really fast.” Wikis are quick to set up, quick to learn, and quick to edit—hence the name.

That’s what I thought.

Sure you did. As we were saying, wikis are web sites that can be viewed and edited directly by the people who use them. Wikis are great for online collaboration and communication, and are super easy to use—no techie skills necessary!

So how are our friends using wikis? Let’s see:

Erin, Michael, Sean

Erin, Michael, Sean

Michael would prefer that we don’t tell you all this, but we’re going to anyway: Michael loves Hello Kitty. He collects Hello Kitty toys, eats off of Hello Kitty plates, and pays his rent with Hello Kitty checks. You could say he’s something of an expert on Hello Kitty. (You could probably say something else about him, too, but let’s be nice.) Because he has a lot to contribute to a conversation about Hello Kitty, he works diligently on Wikipedia’s Hello Kitty page to keep the information there accurate and up to date. He doesn’t get paid, but he takes pride in the fact that he is one of the Hello Kitty information army. A tip of the hat to you, Michael.

Erin was finding that a lot of her prospective customers were asking the same questions of her sales people, and her staff was wasting a lot of time and duplicating work just to get the same answers over and over. She decided to set up a wiki with all the answers to frequently asked questions. Not only did she save time and improve customer service, the sales staff really got into the idea. They started posting up their own pages to keep track of important dates, events, and information, and now their wiki has grown to be the critical go-to information source for the entire staff. Bob, the northeast regional sales manager, claims he “can’t remember how we got by without it.” Thanks, Bob.

Sean got so excited about all the architecture photos he took during his summer traveling that he chose to use them for a project in his Modern Art and Architecture class. A couple of his classmates liked what he did so much that they decided to work together on the subject as a senior capstone project. Because their schedules were so crazy, they decided to make a wiki to keep track of everyone’s different parts of the project. It worked like a charm; you’d never know they put their whole project together and were never in the same room at the same time.

Presentation on Wikis

What you’re about to click on is a link to a Prezi presentation. What’s a Prezi? It’s a presentation tool that allows you to follow the text as it moves, turns, and zooms. If you haven’t used it before, here’s what you do:

Click on the link below and wait for the Prezi to load.
Once the Prezi is loaded, click on the “Play” button.
After you’ve read the text on the screen, click the “Play” button again to go to the next part. Keep clicking to go all the way through the presentation.
When you get to the end, click on the blog link to go back to the class.
That’s it! No, really, that’s all there is to it. Enjoy.

  1. Click on the Play button Play button (in the box below) to start it.
  2. Once the Prezi is loaded, click again on the “Play” button each time you want to move forward through the slides.
  3. When you get to the end and the Play button disappears, scroll down to the “Discovery Exercise” below the Prezi to get back to the class. That’s it! No, really that’s all there is to it. Enjoy.

Not working for you? Here are some Prezi alternatives:

Discovery Exercise



For this project, we’re going to become editors and contributors at Wikipedia. Don’t be scared—it won’t hurt a bit. Unless you drop the keyboard on your toe. Try not to do that.

Go to www.wikipedia.org. (Fascinating side note: many people try to go to wikipedia.com. Although you’ll get automatically redirected to the right site by typing this address, Wikipedia is actually a non-profit organization, so it has a .org ending.)

Now just hold on there, pardner. Before you go typing anything into the search box, take a minute to look over the page if you haven’t before. Scroll down and look around. Maybe you knew that there are Wikipedia pages in other major languages like German or Russian, but did you know that there are pages in dozens of other languages? (Don’t worry, even we’ve never heard of some of those.)

And at the very bottom of the page, there are links to other cool pages, such as Wikibooks, to search open-source textbooks, Wikiversity, a resource center for educators, or Wikispecies, a free species directory.

No, none of this has anything to do with the project yet. We just think it’s cool.

Moving on: go to the search bar and type in something you’d like to find. We’ll be using the Tucson page as an example if you want to follow along. If not, you’re on your own.

From the Tucson page, click on the Edit tab in the upper right.

Scroll down past all the funky code until you get to the first line of the third paragraph of text, where it says, “The Tucson skyline is dominated by mountains in every direction.” Change this to read: “The Tucson skyline is dominated by zombies in every direction.” Click on “Save page” underneath.

Voila! Check out your bad self. You’re now a Wikipedia contributor and editor.

But now good manners says we have to fix it: Click edit page again, change “zombies” back to “mountains,” and click “save page.” Check to be sure you’ve saved the change; otherwise, we’re just being rude to other people who are trying to use the site.

More information for the curious

Other Wikis

Wikipedia is not the only wiki out there. Some other examples of popular wikis include:


    — an online “How To” wiki


    — an online dictionary


    — a worldwide travel guide

Wiki Services
Wiki services are not all equal. Some are paid services with nifty advanced features, and that may also let you customize the wiki or add your own branding. Some services are free, allowing people to create free wikis, invite any number of people to help keep them up-to-date, and upload photos, embed videos, and create profiles. You don’t need a web server, an IT staff, or any money at all. Why would they do that? Easy: they allow ads. You might see them up at the top left, below the table of contents, or maybe in another place on the page. The ads pay for the service, so you don’t have to. Many free web 2.0 sites have ads on them.

Other free wiki services include pbwiki and wikispaces.

Only three classes left! Coming up next is the lovely and talented Skype. Yup, that’s the one where you can talk long-distance for free. Meet you all right back here one week from today. Bye now!


Drop-in Sessions: get help or ask questions about these classes: Schedule.

Comments & suggestions welcome: Jenn and I welcome your comments about these classes! Comment in the “leave a Reply” form below or via the tech help comment form at: http://www.library.pima.gov/contact/tech.php

Flickr homepage

Photo sharing is just like swapping snapshots with your friends, only online, and possibly easier! There are as many reasons to share photos as there are people who are sharing them. For example:

Erin, Michael, Sean

Erin, Michael, Sean

Michael’s sister just had her first baby! Yay! But she and her new family live all the way in Bulgaria. Boo. His sister could always email the family those cute photos of baby drooling on daddy, but if she posts them on Flickr, everyone in the family can see them at the same time plus make comments about how adorable her sweetie pie is. She can also manage all of her photos in one place without having to email the entire extended family every time—and who has time to do that with a new baby, anyway? And it’s easy for her to make sets of pictures so Michael can see and sort through the different photos of his niece growing up any time he wants without having to store emails or worry about losing files.

Erin decided to have Yurt World be a sponsor at the Thirty-Fourth Annual Portable Housing Fair. She and her employees were at the fair the entire week demonstrating their new line of wigwam wash. She put her photos on Flickr and posted the link to her company’s website. Her customers love seeing the faces of the people they normally only talk to by phone and email, and it’s helped to bring in new business, too.

Sean spent the summer between his sophomore and junior year traveling through Asia taking pictures of modern architecture. When he got back, he posted all of his photos and tagged all of his snaps with descriptive words, both to help him find his photos later and help other people find his pictures. He noticed there were a lot of other people on Flickr interested in architecture, too, so he joined a couple of groups where he could see what other people were taking pictures of. He started asking questions in the forums and made a few friends. He learned about architecture in a way he never would have gotten in class, improved his photography technique, and can see his photos alongside those of other people with similar interests. And all for free!

What you’re about to click on is a link to a Prezi presentation. What’s a Prezi? It’s a presentation tool that allows you to follow the text as it moves, turns, and zooms. If you haven’t used it before, here’s what you do:

  1. Click on the Play button Play button (in the box below) to start it.
  2. Once the Prezi is loaded, click again on the “Play” button each time you want to move forward through the slides.
  3. When you get to the end and the Play button disappears, scroll down to the “Discovery Exercise” below the Prezi to get back to the class. That’s it! No, really that’s all there is to it. Enjoy.

Not working for you? Here are some Prezi alternatives:

Lemme at it!

  • Get a free account at Flickr.com. Flickr is owned by Yahoo!, so if your email is “@yahoo.com,” signing in is as easy as it gets.
  • If you don’t have a Yahoo! account, you can also sign in with your Facebook or Google information.
  • Flickr will walk you through getting started, so take the tour! Since this is about sharing photos we recommend uploading a photo as your first activity. Set permissions to “public” (everyone can see them).

Hey, wait. What if I don’t own a digital camera?

No problem! This exercise is about sharing photos, not honing your photography skills. If you need to, you can use someone else’s photo, found here at www.freedigitalphotos.net (click on the “Download” link underneath where it says “Free Image Download.” Don’t forget to credit the photographer!).

Add some things to your profile:

  • Upload your buddy icon image! This can be a portrait of yourself or a cartoon image. Flickr members often choose a buddy icon that says something about their personality, often in a fun or witty manner.
  • Tell us a little about yourself. Share some information about yourself with the world. Remember, “the world” isn’t just your friends—it’s really the whole world, so nothing too personal! For example, in your profile you may want to click on “Contact” and keep your personal email address hidden to the public.
  • Explore! Add a few photos to your “Favorites.” See what else you can do. Just have some fun out there, you crazy kids.

This is great! I want to know more!

Other Services

Flickr is but one of many photo sharing sites. Some popular ones include:

Google’s Picasa
Since you have a Google account (which you do if you’ve followed Baker’s Dozen up to this point), you might want to explore Google’s Picasa. It’s a bit different from Flickr.

  • It’s software, so you have to download and install it
  • It automatically recognizes photos and images on your computer and organizes them by folder
  • You can create web albums by selecting photos and clicking on a Web Albums button—your photos aren’t automatically posted to the web

Can you believe it? We’re already on to #10: wikis.


Drop-in Sessions: get help or ask questions about these classes: Schedule.

Comments & suggestions welcome: Jenn and I welcome your comments about these classes! Comment in the “leave a Reply” form below or via the tech help comment form at: http://www.library.pima.gov/contact/tech.php

So how can I put library books on my Kindle™?

You can’t.

But that’s why I bought it.

That stinks. We’re sorry to hear that.

You’re kidding, right?

Unfortunately, no. At the moment, Amazon doesn’t allow libraries to purchase books for the Kindle™. (But lately we’ve heard rumors that things might change…keep your eyes peeled for that announcement!) Until then, however, we have lots of digital downloads for other devices, like the Nook™, the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch™, the Sony Reader™, the Pandigital™, with more being added all the time. We also have downloads for your computer and mp3 player.

Okay, so what’s a digital download?

Digital downloads come in different formats, but they’re all basically electronic versions of the same kinds of things you would check out in a library–books, audiobooks, videos, and/or music.

The difference is, the materials are online so you don’t have to go into the library to get them; you just download them onto your computer. Built-in software automatically checks the files back in when the checkout period ends, so you never have to worry about overdue fines, or lost items, or anything like that.

Since you get the books from the internet, digital downloads are a way to use the library 24-hours a day, from pretty much anywhere.

What’s great about digital books is their portability and convenience. All you need is a device to use, and you can have tons of books with you wherever you go.

Erin, Michael, Sean

Erin, Michael, Sean

Michael just found out his sister, brother-in-law, and nephew are going to stay in Bulgaria another year, so he flew out to go see them for the holidays. He loaded up his laptop with ebooks and burned through 12 of James Patterson’s finest on the flight out.

Erin likes to load up fluff novels and reads them on her smartphone when she has a free moment. She doesn’t get as much time to read as she would like, so she enjoys being able to squeeze in some recreational reading.

Sean carries his Nook™ with him wherever he goes, and has discovered that he actually is reading a lot more since he brings out his Nook™ for found moments throughout the day: waiting in line, waiting when his his friends are late to meet him, riding the bus, or before classes when the professor hasn’t arrived yet. And because his device is so lightweight, he’s even started reading in the bathtub. Don’t tell anyone, though; he’s a little shy about it.

Library eBooks: the good news

  • They’re free.
  • You can borrow without driving to the library.
  • They check themselves in automatically — no late fees!
  • Compatible with many eReaders (but not the Kindle™ yet).
  • Have a smartphone or tablet? There’s an OverDrive app that saves a big step, and you won’t need a computer.

Library eBooks: the not-so-good news

  • As we said above, Kindles™ are not yet compatible with the only eBook formats libraries can buy.
  • There is more than one eBook format, and not all formats work with all eReaders.
  • Most library eBooks are “locked” so you can’t share them with friends.
  • Library eBooks may not be available immediately if someone else has the one you want checked out.
  • The first time, you’ll need to download Adobe Digital Editions and create an account.
  • Unless your eReader is a smartphone or tablet you’ll need a computer and your eReader for all downloads.

What you’re about to click on is a link to a Prezi presentation. What’s a Prezi? It’s a presentation tool that allows you to follow the text as it moves, turns, and zooms. If you haven’t used it before, here’s what you do:

  1. Click on the Play button Play button (in the box below) to start it.
  2. Once the Prezi is loaded, click again on the “Play” button each time you want to move forward through the slides.
  3. When you get to the end and the Play button disappears, scroll down to the “Discovery Exercise” below the Prezi to get back to the class. That’s it! No, really that’s all there is to it. Enjoy.

Not working for you? Here are some Prezi alternatives:

Discovery Exercise

Use OverDrive to download an eBook or an audiobook. Whichever you want. The difference might seem pretty obvious, but for the sake of total disclosure let’s nail down some definitions:



    is a book you read on your computer screen. It’s like a printed book except without—well, you get the idea. If you have a compatible eReader, you can transfer the ebook to your device and read it on that.


      is a book you listen to on your computer. It’s like a book on CD, except without the CD. If you have an MP3 player, you can transfer the audiobook to your device and listen to it on that.

Find something you like
The first step is to get to the OverDrive homepage. There’s a handy link on the library’s website; your first task is to find that link. (Hint, hint, start here: http://www.library.pima.gov/ and look for “Downloadable Media.”)

Once you get in, you’ll see some of the titles that are available. You can browse around, or use the search box if you’re looking for something particular. You might see videos, audiobooks, and/or ebooks available to check out.

Take a look around and find a book that’s available. If a copy of the book is available, you’ll see a link that says “Add to eBag.”

If it’s checked out to someone else, the link will say “Place a Reserve.”

Once you find an audiobook or eBook that you want, check it out. You’ll have to put the book in your eBag, then proceed to the checkout. As with any book from the library, you’ll need your library card to check it out.

Now here’s where things get tricky! In order to make the book work on your computer, you’re going to have to install some software. (cue scary music…)

Ok, it’s really not that bad. But you will need different software for audiobooks than you do for eBooks. Let’s start with the audiobooks. If you checked out an eBook, you can skip down to the next section. It’s fine if you want to miss out on all the audiobook secrets contained here. Go ahead, move along, we’ll wait…

Still here? Ok, then let’s talk about:

For Audiobooks Only: How to Install OverDrive Media Console. You need this software to open audiobooks from OverDrive, because the files are protected with a code called DRM, to protect the copyright. Not only does OverDrive Media Console get you past the DRM, it also gives you a handy piece of software for playing the books, transferring them to portable devices, or even downloading parts of the book if you didn’t get it all the first time. Installing OverDrive Media Console is a one-time process, but you have to do it before you can download your OverDrive audiobooks.

  1. Go to the library’s Digital Downloads page, http://pima.lib.overdrive.com/
  2. On the left side of your screen, look for the words “Software Download.” (Hint: it’s right up near the top.)
  3. Click the link that says “OverDrive Media Console.”
  4. Choose which version of the Media Console you want. There’s a different version depending on whether you’re using a Mac, a Windows PC, or a mobile device that runs apps. Click the “Download Now” button.
  5. Run the install program to put OverDrive Media Console on your computer.

If you installed the console on your PC or your Mac, you’ll need to do one more thing:

  1. Go to the Media Console ikon on your computer, and open the program.
  2. At the top, click on “Tools.”
  3. From the menu that appears, click “Windows Media Player security upgrade.”
  4. Click the button to run the upgrade.

That’s it! You can now jump ahead to Step #6 in our discovery exercise. But if you’re the curious sort, you might want to stick around and look at:

For eBooks: How to Install Adobe Digital Editions. Thankfully, you’ll only need to do this once per computer. You need this software to open eBooks from OverDrive because the files are protected with a code called DRM, to protect the copyright. Not only does Adobe Digital Editions get you past the DRM, it also gives you a handy piece of software for viewing the books, transferring them to portable devices, and even checking them in early if you’re a really fast reader (or if the book is a real snoozer). Installing Adobe Digital Editions is a one-time process, but you have to do it before you can download your OverDrive eBooks.

  1. On the left side of your screen, look for the words “Software Download.” (Hint: it’s right up near the top.)
  2. Click the link that says “Adobe Digital Editions.” On the next screen, click the “Get Adobe Digital Editions” button. Then click “Download Now” at the top right corner of the screen. Then click the “Launch” button on the left—apparently, Adobe wants to test your persistence before they give you the software!
  3. Adobe Digital Editions will install on your computer.
  4. The first time you open it, Digital Editions will try to authorize your computer using a clever piece of technology called an Adobe ID. This allows Adobe to assign an identity to the user of the computer, and compare that identity to the user of any eReader that you plug into the computer. If both are using the same identity, Adobe will let you transfer eBooks from the computer to the device. If you want to use an eReader for your OverDrive books, you’ll need an Adobe ID.Here’s how you set one up:
  5. When you open Digital Editions, the Setup Assistant screen will open. Click “Continue.”
  6. If you happen to already have an Adobe ID, you can log in with your email address and password. But most likely, you’ll need to create a new ID.
  7. Click the “get an Adobe ID online” link. That will open the Adobe website.
  8. On the Adobe website, click the “Create an Adobe Account” button.
  9. Fill in the required fields to create an account, then scroll down and click the “Continue” button.
  10. Once you have created your ID, return to Adobe Digital Editions and use your new account information to authorize your computer.

More information for the curious

You know, I want more ebooks than my library has to offer, but I don’t want to pay for them. Is there anything out there like that?

You thought that one would stump us, didn’t you? No such luck. There are thousands of ebooks available for free viewing online. For the most part, these are classic titles in the public domain, so that copyright is no longer an issue. At Project Gutenberg, you can find ebook versions of Greek and Roman mythology, classics by authors like Nathaniel Hawthorn, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Henry James, and William Shakespeare, and well-loved children’s favorites like Little Women, The Velveteen Rabbit, and Anne of Green Gables.

Hmph. It’s still not quite enough. I want more books to choose from.

No problem. Check out Project Gutenberg’s many affiliates, including Audiobooksforfree.com. These sites have more free ebooks and audiobooks available than diamond stars sparkling in a black velvet sky.

Yes, very poetic, but all these books are in English. Where are the books in other languages?

As we said before, you’ll have to try a lot harder to stump us. If you check out the Project Gutenberg catalog page, you’ll find books in about 60 different languages.

Even Esperanto?


Really? Wow. Ok, but what if I want to watch a movie instead? Bet you don’t have anything like that.

It’s true that downloadable video is a fairly recent addition in the library market, and so far the major studios have been reluctant to make a lot of the most current content available. That’s changing, however, as downloading movies becomes more and more popular. Overdrive, for example, now offers videos that you can check out from the library the same way you would check out a DVD.

Huh. Ok, fine. Well, um…wait, I’ve got it: what I really want is a copy of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.

Sure, we can show you—


That’s easy enough to—

And translated from the original German into, um, Sanskrit.

Uh…well, if we do a search for—

And read by Gilbert Gottfried.

Now you’re just being silly.

Come back again next week, when we’ll be talking about Flickr, the fun, easy, and free way to do more with your digital images than you ever thought possible. See you then!


Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Do I have to download the entire book at once?
    Yes, eBooks must be downloaded all at once.
  • How long will it take to download the book?
    Download times will vary with the length of the book and the speed of your Internet connection. If you are on a dial-up connection, you should expect download to be slow.
  • Can I download the title multiple times?
    For eBooks, only one download is allowed for each file. If your download fails for some reason, please contact us.

eBook Troubleshooting: help with common problems from your library.

Drop-in Sessions: get help or ask questions about these classes: Schedule.

Comments & suggestions welcome: Jenn and I welcome your comments about these classes! Comment in the “leave a Reply” form below or via the tech help comment form at: http://www.library.pima.gov/contact/tech.php

Why should I know about cloud computing?

Cloud computing is great for a lot of different reasons. Here are three of those:

Erin, Michael, Sean.

Erin, Michael, Sean

Michael has just finished his first novel (and he’s looking for an agent if you know anyone) and he wants to make absolutely sure the manuscript is kept safe. He wants backup files that are easy to make, convenient to access, and are maintained by someone with computer expertise. He saved his novel in the cloud and got all three. (And good thing, too, since his computer crashed two weeks later.)

Erin wants to create new marketing materials for her business and is working with Barney, a freelance graphic designer. Because he lives all the way across town and teaches improv comedy at night, there’s no time to meet up in person before everything has to go to the printer. Before, they’d have to email each other every updated draft. But by working together in the cloud, they can both go to the same document at the same time and make their changes. (Of course, Barney is still insisting on using that horrible font he loves so much. But cloud computing can’t help with that.)

Sean’s paper on ancient Mesopotamian pottery techniques is due by 5:00. It’s 11:55, he’s only halfway done, and he needs to go down to the university library to finish his paper there. Before, he would have had to save his work to a USB drive in order to take it with him. But since he stored his work online, all he has to do is click save and go. After stopping for a Dr Pepper and a Snickers bar, he just logs in at a library computer and voila! His work is there waiting for him. At 4:57 the report is done and sent in. Even better, he just clicks save again — no forgetting the USB drive in the computer.

What is Cloud Computing?

What you’re about to click on is a link to a Prezi presentation. What’s a Prezi? It’s a presentation tool that allows you to follow the text as it moves, turns, and zooms. If you haven’t used it before, here’s what you do:

  1. Click on the Play button Play button (in the box below) to start it.
  2. Once the Prezi is loaded, click again on the “Play” button each time you want to move forward through the slides.
  3. When you get to the end and the Play button disappears, scroll down to the “Discovery Exercise” below the Prezi to get back to the class. That’s it! No, really that’s all there is to it. Enjoy.

Not working for you? Here are some Prezi alternatives:

So cloud computing can handle all my storage needs? And there’s no downside? Awesome!

Um, okay, we admit it. The great strength of cloud computing is also its weakness: it’s online. While this means that you can access your documents anywhere you have internet, you can only access them in places that have internet. Additionally, often the online file creator/editor isn’t like the full-service version that’s installed on your computer. It’ll do bare-bones, but you’d have to go back to a desktop program for the frills.

However, for example, we started this Prezi on a work computer, then shifted it to Google Docs and wrote the rest from the cloud at another computer at the library. We even worked on it from a different library branch, seamlessly. It’s pretty cool.

What else could go wrong with cloud computing? You have to be able to trust the company you’re working with not to sell your documents to a shady character in a trenchcoat down a dark alley. And even a 100% honest and trustworthy company can mess up big time if gremlins start chewing on their wiring. For this reason, it’s a good idea to back up your most super-duper important cloud docs to a local computer somewhere.

And because your computer is constantly talking to a server over the internet, your connection speed can become an issue. Still using your Aunt Margie’s dial-up? Cloud computing may not be the best choice for you.

I Want to Try!

What we’ll be exploring is Google Docs, a free, “cloud” equivalent for Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect. Google Docs is considered a “cloud” service because a) There’s no download to install. b) It is shareable (two people can even edit at the same time). c) It can be accessed whenever and wherever there is internet. When you create a document in Google Docs you are working on the internet and saving to the internet.

Here’s a short video introduction to Google Docs:

OK, here we go. Do you have a Gmail account or Google ID? If not, go set one up. (We got you a Gmail account in Thing #5 and made a Google ID back in Thing #2.) If you didn’t do those classes, you can get your ID here:  https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount

It’s ok, we’ll wait…

Oh, you’re back!

Okay, now you’re ready to start playing with Google Docs. You can try this one of two ways.

First Way: Storage and retrieval

  • Go to Google and sign in. Find “Documents” in the menu along the top. You might have to click the “more” button to find it on the list, but it’s there, I promise.
  • Go to “Create New” on the upper left-hand side (under the Google Docs logo) and select a file type. You can create a document (like Word), a presentation (like Powerpoint), or a spreadsheet (like Excel). Make any kind of document you want. It will pop up in a new tab or window.
  • Give it a name. You can either click on the word “Untitled” to change it or just type your title as the first line of your document.
  • Type a little something in the body of the document.
  • Click the “save and close” button. Log out of Google Docs.
  • Move to another computer.
  • Log into Google Docs, select your document from the list, and keep working!
  • Was that easy or what?

Second Way: Collaboration

  • Grab a friend who also has a Gmail account or Google ID. If you don’t have a friend, make one. We suggest cupcakes.
  • Log on to Google. Follow the instructions above to set up your Google Docs account.
  • One of you create or upload a document to Google Docs. Then — and this is important! — give the other person permission to access that file. There are two ways to do that:
  • From the file itself, go to the upper right-hand corner and click the “share” button. Pick “invite people” and you’ll get a pop-up box that asks for the email address of the person you want to share with. Plug in their address and write them a message.
  • From the list of your files, select the ones you want to share by clicking the checkbox to the right of the file name. Select “invite people,” and you’ll get the same pop-up box as in the first way.
  • The second person will get an e-mail telling them you’re sharing a document. They can click the link in that, or they can simply sign into their own Google Docs pages and the test document will magically appear on their list.
  • Now both of you can edit the document. You can even edit it at the same time. Try it!

Tell Me More!

Curious for more? You can read up on some informative articles or visit the help forum since somebody probably has the same question as you.

Plus Google docs is constantly making improvements and changes. This blog has tons of tips and tricks to help you keep up.

But it’s not just Google that has cloud products—there are other services that offer a way to store, edit, and share documents online:

Office Live Workspace – Microsoft’s answer to Google Documents. It, too, has document, presentation, and spreadsheet options.

SlideShare – This is just for Powerpoint-style presentations. While there’s no function to create or edit, it is much, much easier to share presentations with others using SlideShare. Just send a URL. Others can even download your file.

DropBox – Software that allows you store documents or images, etc. on the internet so you can get to them from any computer with internet access. Download DropBox to your computer and put everything you need in a particular folder on your hard drive. Then you can either install DropBox on other computers you own, or use the DropBox website to get to that folder online.

And guess what? We’re halfway done. Next week we move on to the mega-trend of 2011: digital downloads!

Comments & suggestions welcome: Jenn and I welcome your comments about these classes! Comment in the “leave a Reply” form below or via the tech help comment form at: http://www.library.pima.gov/contact/tech.php