Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Technology Boot Camp Week 1: Introduction and Blogging

Welcome to LFPL’s Technology Boot Camp! Please watch the following introductory video.

Having trouble viewing the video? Click here for a text version of the contents.

We are no longer offering the in-person help sessions mentioned in the video, but we offer a wide range of computer classes, including some that focus on the topics covered in Tech Boot Camp. Here’s the complete schedule of LFPL’s computer classes.

If you have a question about the program or one of the presented technologies, please use the contact form. We’ll respond as quickly as we can.

Let’s get started!

Creating a Google Account

If you’re like most people, when you think of Google, you think about searching the internet. And while Google still does this, Google also provides access to a wide range of interesting services. Although they are rarely the only option for a particular service, they provide consistently good examples of many of the technologies that we will be exploring throughout this program. Therefore, we recommend that participants create a Google account, which will give you free access to many of their services and help you get the most out of these technologies. Some of you might have a Google account already. If you use Gmail, you do. Otherwise, just follow the instructions below.

  1. Go to Google’s new account form.
  2. You’ll need to use an email address, but it can be any: work, Yahoo!, Hotmail or any other account.
  3. Complete the form, being sure to take note of the username and password that you selected, and click on the I Accept button.
  4. Go to the inbox of the email address you supplied in the form. There will be an email from Google with a link. Click on the link to verify the account.

  5. That’s it. Your account is created and you are ready to move on to blogging, where you can put that account to good use.

blogwordle.jpg

Blogging

The term blog has been around for years. Quite simply, it refers to a specific kind of website. It’s a word that originated from the phrase “web log,” as in a journal (or log) of things that the website’s creator found while exploring the World Wide Web.

The basic idea of a blog is that, unlike a static webpage, the website consists of a series of entries that are added to over time, like a diary. Oftentimes, the entries are displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the newest entries show up at the top of the page. A blog is a very simple tool for making a website that can be frequently updated. Your blog can be on any topic you like. You might use it to communicate with family and friends, discuss your favorite hobby, or express your political opinions. Some people use blogs just to communicate with a small group, others try to draw as many visitors as possible.

LFPL makes use of blogs in a couple of places on our website:

The Job Shop Blog is a place for us to share news, helpful tips and opportunities for job seekers.
The Reader’s Corner Blog is an ongoing series of book reviews, provided by some of our staff’s most enthusiastic readers.
The forthcoming Teen Blog will connect teens in Louisville to services, programs, and great hot reads available at the Louisville Free Public Library.

To get a sense of the countless variety of blogs, check out Technorati’s Blog Directory.

If you’re interested in another overview of blogging, we recommend this brief video entitled Blogs in Plain English.

Getting started with blogging

There are a number of free blog services or ‘blog platforms’ that make it easy for you to create and maintain a blog. We will be focusing our attention on Blogger, which is, in our experience, the most user-friendly blog platform.

However, there are several other blog platforms that are suitable for beginners, such as Tumblr, which are noted for their simple layout and numerous features, such as emailing your blog posts and syncing your posts with your social networking accounts.

Another well-known blogging platform, WordPress, is known for being very flexible with many options to customize your blog. It’s very popular with both beginning and experienced bloggers.

Blogger is especially popular because of its ease of use and its association with Google. If you already have a Google account, as recommended earlier in this post, then you can just sign in to the Blogger home page with your Google username and password.

Watch this handy how-to video for a step-by-step tutorial for creating a blog in Blogger.

Once you complete the Blogger sign up process and click on the Start Blogging button, you will be taken to the “New Post” screen, which will look something like a blank document in Microsoft Word. This is where you type what you’d like to share on your blog. Take a second to click “Preview” to make sure your content looks just the way you want it. When you’re satisfied, click “Publish Post.” Once you’ve done that, you can click “View Post” to view the finished product.

Give it a try!

To get a handle on blogging, try creating a blog using Blogger or one of the other listed options. Use your blog each week to write your thoughts about the different technologies in the program. If you have friends participating in the program, share and comment on one another’s blogs, and encourage one another’s progress. With your first blog post, you might discuss why you’ve taken the time to participate in the Technology Boot Camp program and what you hope to get out of it.

That’s it for week one. Thank you for joining us. Come back next week to learn about cloud computing and continue our exploration of all the web has to offer.

boot-camp-small.gif