Teens

Hack the System!: Introducing Technology Life Hacks

Posted on July 13th, 2016 by adowds in Technology, Teen Services
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Life can be frustrating sometimes. Dealing with technology can be even more frustrating. But what if we put these two together to make life just a bit easier and a bit more fun? The solution – technology life hacks!

So what is a life hack? Life hacks refer to any tool, trick, skill, shortcut, or method that makes an aspect of someone’s life easier and more efficient. You may incorporate life hacks into your every-day life and not even realize it. For example, have you ever thrown a dryer sheet into your dirty laundry pile to mask the smell? Life hack! Or, you only have a little bit of Nutella left in the jar so you decide to add 2 scoops of ice cream to it – ultimate life hack! These are just two shortcuts to make life smell fresher and taste more delicious.

According to lifehacker.com, the term “life hack” was created in 2004 by technology journalist, Danny O’Brien, to describe ways members of the tech community utilized playful shortcuts to simplify and accelerate their workflow. This term quickly gained popularity and is now used every day, by tech geeks or not, to describe people’s attempts to circumvent this complex thing we call Life.

As I start my new job here in Teen Central, life hacks may become my lifeline as my desk piles high with ideas, computer wires, technology workshop gadgets, and 3D printed toys. Each month, I will highlight my latest life hack creation and invite teens from Teen Central to craft, explore, and test out new hacking devices.

To keep you busy until then, geek out on these simple, everyday technology life hacks:

1. Dirty computer keyboard? Slide the sticky part of a post-it note between the keys to grab dust, dirt, and left-over lunch crumbles.

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2. Bent or frayed charger cord? Take the spring from an old pen and wrap it around the top of the cord to keep it straight.

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allyWant to create your own technology life hack? Stop by Teen Central during Open Lab time.

*“Hack the System!” features examples of technology life hacks created by Ally, the Youth Technology Librarian at Teen Central. Check back on the second Wednesday of each month for her latest post.

Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese: Appleseed Alpha

Posted on July 12th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Teen Services

appleseed alphaHello again Otaku! This month we continue with the SciFi genre, even with the same author! Appleseed is another cyborg-mecha SWAT team action franchise by the author of Ghost in the Shell, Shiro Masamune.  Anime Club at the Hyde Park branch got it’s first glimpse of the Appleseed franchise several years ago with the DVD release of Appleseed Ex Machina. This earlier film was a full CGI rendered feature with excellent animation and lifelike flow. I was impressed with the detail and model counts in scenes as well as lighting and soundtrack. A great example was the copious inclusion of bright brass shell casings flying all over the screen and clanking around the floors! Our DVD copy sadly bore the scars of frequent borrowing by our avid teen patrons and wound up with a scratch that made it unreadable. But luckily we are in the age of streaming and the full franchise is available for streaming on Kissanime. To spice things up a little more, we watched Alpha instead last week. It’s a later film but a prequel. Graphics have improved as well as modelling and facial expressions. In fact, the hero’s best “frenemy,” Two Horns, has a mostly cyborg body like his own, but the mouth and facial structures are highly detailed and well animated. This was an obvious focal point of the production and a distinct leap forward in CGI cinema. The soundtrack includes great supporting music for an action movie. The most notable styles are the popular Dub Step and Hip Hop complete with bass drops, releases, and edgy samples.

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The story begins with Deunan and Briareos, future ESWAT officers, on a mercenary mission after another world war has ravaged major cities. This is before the new city of Olympus was founded. Deunan is the fully human heroine. She is a highly athletic, well trained, combat veteran and weapons expert. A brave heart and loyal spirit mark her character and her relationship with Briareos.

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“Bri” is her boyfriend/partner/combat buddy who a has been though the horrors of war with her and suffered massive injuries yet still survived. He is mostly cyborg now and is characterized by his metal helmet with compound digital camera eyes and ear-like sensor antennae. They are a bit smaller in this later film which I think is an improvement. After the story opens, we find Deunan and Briareos making their way through a deserted cityscape to meet their employer and find help. Bri is suffering some kind of malfunction and his power resources are very low. He needs repairs and they head to a shop that can help them. This is where he meets Two Horns and the story takes off.

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It turns out he still owes his frenemy a debt and the dispute escalates. Bri is forced to do another job for this mobster in order to get the repairs he needs in this difficult post war environment. Along the way they encounter another hostile force and the action ensues. It turns out Hitomi, a bioroid or clone and future city administrator, is in a motorcade that drives into an ambush.

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No spoilers here, so if you liked Ghost in the Shell, check out the Appleseed franchise. Characters are reversed here with the hero being cyborg and the heroine being human. Drama, romance and action are all present in Appleseed, with a good bit more emphasis on action. Ghost in the Shell was deeper existentially with more sophisticated writing, but both excel at modern SciFi, mecha, cyberbnetic, and SWAT team story lines. I recommend them both.

 

john250-150x150Did you know that in addition to physical books and DVDs, your library card gives you access to anime and graphic novels online? The BPL subscribes to Hoopla, a streaming service that allows you to check out and enjoy the media you love on your computer, tablet or smartphone. You can learn more about the BPL’s digital media collections here.

Want company while you’re watching anime? The Hyde Park Teen Anime Club meets on Thursdays at 2:30 p.m.

*”Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese” features reviews of anime and manga by John, the Teen Librarian at the Hyde Park Branch, on the second Tuesday of every month.

Cooking with Caren: Macaroni and Cheese

Posted on July 8th, 2016 by crosales@private.bpl.org in Teen Services

The people have spoken!

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook 8 ounces of elbow macaroni in the boiling water for about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally until pasta is cooked through, but firm to the bite.  Drain and set aside.

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2. Over medium heat melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan.  Stir in 1/4 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper.  After 5 minutes,   slowly add 2 cups of milk while stirring continuously.  Keep stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbly.

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3. Add 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese to mixture.  Stir for about 3 minutes, until cheese is melted.

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4. Fold macaroni into cheese sauce mixture.

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4.5.  Take liberties with your mac and cheese and make it your own! We decided to eat one pan as is, and one pan we added some Parmesan  cheese, more cheddar cheese on top and put in the oven at 350 degrees. 

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5. Eat and enjoy!

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icon of carenAre you still looking for more recipes? The Boston Public Library has a huge collection of cookbooks that you can browse, check out and take home.

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.

 

*”Cooking with Caren” features recipe posts by Caren, the Teen Librarian at the Mattapan Branch, on the second Friday of every month.

Stop the Press: Brexit-what?

Posted on July 5th, 2016 by rschmelzer@private.bpl.org in News, Teen Services
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Though it still sounds to me like some sort of shredded-wheat cereal, Brexit happened last week and it is a big deal. It’s all over the news and social media. You must have heard of it, but does it make any sense to you? Brexit has already affected American and world stock markets, and part of being a global citizen is knowing and understanding what is going on in the world around us. So here I’ll try to break it down in the most non-boring way possible. What better way to do that than with The Simpsons?!

 

This is the flag of the European Union (Lisa).

  This is the flag of Great Britain (Bart.)

Brexit= British + Exit. The possibility of Great Britain leaving the European Union, which currently includes these countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

After the Second World War there was a new movement to create unity between Germany and France, which would ultimately lay the foundations for the European Union four decades later, in 1993.

The European Union, or EU, gives those living in EU countries the right to travel, work and live in any other EU country.

Each of the countries within the Union are independent but they agree to trade under the agreements made between the nations.

(Credit The Telegraph)

A referendum – a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part – was held on Thursday 23 June, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union.

Leave won by 52% to 48%.

(Credit BBC)

So now you have a basic understanding of what everyone is talking about! From this point you can do your own research or listen to the news for the short and long-term implications of what went down.

 

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Are you interested in keeping up with the news and current events? The Boston Public Library has subscriptions to newspapers that you can read in the library or online.

*”Stop the Press” features current events posts by Rebecca, the Teen Librarian at the Grove Hall Branch, on the first Tuesday of every month.

Curl Up & Read: The Blessing Way

Posted on July 1st, 2016 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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the blessing way

This book is on the BPS Grade 9-12 Summer Reading Mystery List!

Title: The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: On a Navajo reservation, horses are injured, sheep are slaughtered, and a man is killed. Lt. Joe Leaphorn of The Navajo Tribal Police is on the case, hunting what many believe to be a Navajo Wolf, otherwise known as a werewolf, or a witch. Meanwhile, college professor and Ethnologist, Bergen McKee, finds himself fighting for his life in the mountains against a Navajo man who has threatened to kill him if he doesn’t cooperate.

Genre/sub-genre: Navajo Mystery

Series/Standalone: Book 1 of 18

Length: 294 pages

Personal thoughts: 

Told from multiple points of view, this story does take awhile to get into as there doesn’t seem to be much of a mystery in the first few pages. And yet, that’s what makes the mystery that much more mysterious once it picks up. Unfortunately, the main character, Lt. Joe Leaphorn, does not feature in this story as much as one would think, and therefore, we don’t get to know much about him. That said, Leaphorn is still a great detective. He knows his people and he knows the best thing he can do is to listen to what they have to say, because in listening, he is able to hear clues in what is said, how it is said, and even in what is not said. Leaphorn, as well as other recurring characters, do develop further throughout the eighteen book series.

Speaking of characters, the Southwest landscape plays such an integral part in this novel, it’s almost as if it’s a character in and of itself. Given Navajo names such as Sacred Mountain of Blue Flint Woman and Many Ruins Canyon, the place names tell a story all on their own. Mythology and symbolism permeate the story right from the beginning, which may take a little getting used to for some readers, but is also a great way to immerse the reader into the true Navajo culture.

Halfway through the novel, the mystery turns into a thriller/suspense, when we spend more time with Dr. McKee running for his life. This is when the story really picks up and becomes a quick read to the end. Both the mystery and suspense elements are solid, ensuring the reader won’t be able to put the book down once completely immersed. Plus, while the book was written, and set, nearly fifty years ago, the story holds up really well and doesn’t read as dated. Readers will be clamoring for book two as soon as they turn the last page on this one.

Originally published in 1970, this series was groundbreaking in that Hillerman was not Navajo himself, but clearly researched his subject and wrote about The People in a modern setting with respect, and as realistically as possible without dwelling on any negative aspects. This series was popular when it first came out, and continues to be so to this day. In fact, Hillerman has inspired other authors to write their own mysteries involving Native American people.

It is important to note that while author Tony Hillerman passed away in 2008, his daughter, Anne Hillerman, has continued the series with SPIDER WOMAN’S DAUGHTER and ROCK WITH WINGS.

 

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This book is on the BPS Grade 9-12 Summer Reading Mystery List!

Looking to borrow this library book? Look no further! This is also available in ebook format if you require it.

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow this book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.

 

*”Curl Up & Read” posts book reviews by Anna, Teen Librarian at Teen Central, the first Friday of every month.