Hack the System!: Keep Your Phone ALIVE!!

Posted on January 20th, 2017 by adowds in Technology, Teen Services
Tags: , ,

2001_CellphoneThis was my very first cell phone almost 20 years ago. It was great. It had an antenna, a cool wrist strap, and could hold about 30 phone numbers. It was freedom. But, the very best part of my phone was that its battery would last for days. Imagine that. Not hours but DAYS. In 2000-2001, we didn’t use our phones to download apps, watch movies, play games, upload hundreds of photos that we never use, or text with friends. I used it for emergencies and emergencies only. But even if I did use it often, that phone had amazing battery life. Honestly, I think a truck could have run over this phone and it would have survived.

Now it’s 2017 and I have a smartphone with too many apps, several hundred photos, an amazingly colorful backdrop, and access to the Internet, which I use way more than I should. It’s battery….meh. I’m lucky if it lasts through the day. That is partly because I never fully charge my phone, often forget my charger at home, and interact with my phone probably at a higher percentage than I interact with people. Just kidding…but I’m sure it’s close.

So how does one increase the battery life for their phones?? It’s a plight we all face and often lose, but I have faith. Fortunately, I discovered the iTechHacks blog post that outlined 10+ methods to increasing your smartphone’s battery life. While you should definitely read the entire article, I have highlighted a short list of their tech hacks that will add time to your smartphone’s battery life, keep it alive, and reduce the number of meltdowns we have while searching for a charger…kim-kardashian




Lower the brightness — High intensity brightness on your phone will exhaust your battery. Make sure to turn off the “Auto-Brightness” option and manually reduce the intensity for a quick and easy battery-saving move.







Cool the Vibrations —  Did you know that the vibrations feature is one of the biggest users of battery juice? It drains your battery quicker than most other features on your phone. While you may use the vibration feature because it’s a great way to alert you to a call or text message, consider changing this option to save some battery life.






Un-Sync Your Auto-Sync — Turn off Auto-Sync! If Auto-Sync is left on, accounts, such as Google and Spotify, continuously sync new data throughout the day. This process utilizes A LOT of energy, which silently depletes your battery life. Before you know it, you went from 20% to 1%. Check your settings and make sure to refresh your apps manually.






Manage Your Apps — It is inevitable that you are going to have apps on your phone, but it’s how well you take care of them that matters. Delete apps you don’t use and update ones you do. Why update? Often appupdatemanager-cydia-tweaktimes, developers create new features for their apps that reduce battery consumption. Older apps may lack these new features and unused apps are simply sucking the life out of your phone without any benefit. If you have certain apps that are used infrequently, you don’t need to delete them, but you can manage their battery use by turning them off in your settings.




Want 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 third Friday of each month for her latest post.

Stop the Press: The Syrian Civil War

Posted on January 3rd, 2017 by rschmelzer in News
Tags: , ,

Has anyone been reading Teen Vogue? This long-running fashion magazine has been publishing well-written and informative news articles for Teen readers. A topic of recent journalism has been the Syrian Civil War. This article recently broke down the most important things to know about this mounting conflict that has been culminating in the city of Aleppo:

Getty Images

Getty Images



  • Aleppo, being the most populous city in Syria, has had the largest movement of refugees from within the country. The country as a whole has produced 4.8 million refugees while 6.1 million have been displaced (meaning they have been forced to leave their home but are still in Syria). Half of these displaced civilians are children. Refugees have been fleeing to neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey which in turn have been having a difficult time accommodating the sheer volume of arriving refugees. Lack of food, jobs, and shelter has left refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey living without sources of income. Although there have been reports of some refugees fleeing to Spain, France, the U.S and Canada, Turkey is home to nearly 2.7 million Syrian refugees.
  • Syria’s current president, Bashar al-Assad, has held power since July 10, 2000. His presidency came unopposed after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, and when it was time for the people to vote he was reported as a unanimous victor with 97% of the popular vote.
  • The country’s civil war, which started in 2011, resulted from Assad’s command to strike down a group of pro-democracy teenage protestors in the southern city of Deraa with gun violence. This event was crucial in activating the protests all over the country demanding for his resignation. Soon after, protests occurred throughout the country, violence began to escalate by both rebel and government forces, while rebel brigades were formed creating battlegrounds in Damascus, the capital of Syria, as well as Aleppo. After about two years of conflict, the UN reported in 2013 that 90,000 deaths occurred in wake of the conflict between rebel and government forces.
  • Rebel forces are demanding social justice and political reform, while Assad is fighting to remain in power despite the efforts of the rebels to overthrow him. This civil war has left the once prosperous city to run without any hospitals, schools, and sources of food.
  • On December 20th, 2016, buses meant to evacuate civilians out of Aleppo were set on fire, leaving them stranded.
  • On December 29th, 2016, it has been reported that a cease-fire and peace treaty have been drawn after 5 and half years of conflict.
  • 7 year old Bana al-Abed maintained a Twitter account with her mother to give the world a glimpse into the horrors the people of Aleppo have been facing.



icon of RebeccaAre 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.

On the Radar: Five Books to Check Out in January

Posted on December 30th, 2016 by vkovenmatasy in Books, Previews, Teen Services

Get your library card handy and reserve your place in line for these new January releases! If you place a hold now, they can be in your hands before they even hit the shelf.

Please note: all summaries are taken from the Boston Public Library catalog unless otherwise noted. They may have been edited for length and clarity.


City of Saints and Thieves cover

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie Anderson

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Tina and two friends leave Kenya and slip into the Congo, from where she and her mother fled years before, seeking revenge for her mother’s murder but uncovering startling secrets.

Why We’re Excited: Did you know that the Associates of the Boston Public Library host a Writer in Residence at the BPL every year? (This year’s writer is Lisa Rosinsky, and the book she’s working on sounds amazing — I can’t wait to read it!) Natalie Anderson was our Writer in Residence in 2014-25, and she wrote City of Saints and Thieves at our very own Copley Library. Even without the local connection, though, it sounds like a tremendously exciting story! I’m very curious to see how Anderson is able to bring her past experience as an aid worker into her book.


Devil's Advocate and Agent of Chaos covers

Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry and Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia

Summary: In the spring of 1979, fifteen-year-old Dana Scully has bigger problems than being the new girl in school. Dana has always had dreams. Sometimes they’ve even come true. Until now, she tried to write this off as coincidence. But ever since her father’s military career moved the family across the country to Craiger, Maryland, the dreams have been more like visions. Vivid, disturbing, and haunted by a shadowy figure who may be an angel . . . or the devil. When a classmate who recently died in a car accident appears before Dana, her wounds look anything but accidental. Compelled by a force she can’t name, Dana uncovers even more suspicious deaths–and must face the dangerous knowledge that evil is real. But when a betrayal of faith makes her question everything, she begins to put her faith in being a skeptic. / In the spring of 1979, seventeen-year-old Fox Mulder has bigger problems than applying for college. Five years ago, his younger sister disappeared from their home and was never heard from again. Mulder blames himself, and his mother blames his father, who has retreated into his top-secret work for the State Department. In Fox’s senior year, his dad has moved him to Washington, DC–away from his friends on Martha’s Vineyard. While Mulder doesn’t mind the fresh start and not being known as “that kid with the missing sister,” he’s still obsessed with finding Samantha. So when a local boy turns up dead and another child is abducted, Mulder can’t stop himself from getting involved. Could there be a link to his sister’s case? As he uncovers the truth, Mulder and his friends find themselves on the trail of a serial killer. Sucked into a world where conspiracies, the occult, and madness overlap, Fox Mulder starts to believe.

Why We’re Excited: It’s so great to live in the 21st century where pretty much every movie or television franchise gets its own tie-in YA novelization! (I’m not being sarcastic. I grew up devouring the Starfleet Academy novels. If more of my favorite shows and movies had had YA books, I would have been all over that.) I actually managed to miss the X-Files craze the first time it came around, so the new books are a chance for me to get acquainted with Mulder and Scully for the first time — I’ve been assured I’ll love them. Not to mention there are some pretty big name authors attached to the project! You might recognize Kami Garcia from the Southern Gothic series Beautiful Creatures, which she co-wrote with Margaret Stohl, and Jonathan Maberry from his zombie apocalypse thriller Rot & Ruin. Tie-ins have come a long way in the writers department since the Star Trek: The Original Series days…



The March Against Fear by Ann Bausum

Summary: Mississippi. 1966. On a hot June afternoon an African-American man named James Meredith set out to walk through his home state, intending to fight racism and fear with his feet. A seemingly simple plan, but one teeming with risk. Just one day later Meredith was shot and wounded in a roadside ambush. Within twenty-four hours, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, and other civil rights leaders had taken up Meredith’s cause, determined to overcome this violent act and complete Meredith’s walk. The stakes were high–there was no time for advance planning and their route cut through dangerous territory. No one knew if they would succeed. By many measures the March Against Fear became one of the greatest protests of the civil rights era. But it was also one of the last, and the campaign has been largely forgotten. Critically acclaimed author Ann Bausum brings this crucial turning point of civil rights history back to life, escorting you along the dusty Mississippi roads where heroic marchers endured violence, rage, and fear as they walked more than 200 miles in the name of equality and justice.

Why We’re Excited: Voter suppression, racial profiling, police brutality, disproportionate incarceration and sentencing… which century are we living in again? But when the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement seem in danger of being forgotten, it’s that much more important to remember their struggles and successes. Ann Bausum — who also wrote Stonewall — picked a frighteningly timely topic for her new book.


Our Own Private Universe cover

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it’s mostly about sex. No, it isn’t that kind of theory. Aki already knows she’s bisexual–even if, until now, it’s mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too. Actually, Aki’s theory is that she’s got only one shot at living an interesting life–and that means she’s got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It’s time for her to actually do something. Or at least try. So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa–slightly older, far more experienced–it seems her theory is prime for the testing. But it’s not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you’re in love? It’s going to be a summer of testing theories–and the result may just be love.

Why We’re Excited: I can’t look at this beautiful cover without thinking of the new edition of Annie on My Mind. I don’t know if that’s intentional, but it’s such a lovely connection to have — Annie on My Mind is about to turn 35, and it’s a pleasure for librarians nowadays to have so many new YA lesbian romances to offer as its spiritual successors. Robin Talley has certainly done her part to contribute to our supply! Lies We Tell Ourselves, What We Left Behind, and As I Descended are all available to check out from the BPL, if you need to catch up!


History Is All You Left Me cover

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Summary: Secrets are revealed as OCD-afflicted Griffin grieves for his first love, Theo, who died in a drowning accident.

Why We’re Excited: New Adam Silvera book! Sounds like it’ll make you cry every bit as much as More Happy Than Not! Yes, that’s a recommendation!


icon of VeronicaDid I get you interested in reading one of these books? Just click the title of the one you want and the link will take you to the relevant page in the catalog. From there you can click the green “Place a Hold” button and you’re all set!

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


*”On the Radar” features book previews by Veronica, the Teen Librarian at the Dudley Branch, on the last Tuesday or Friday of every month.

Hold the Popcorn!!!

Posted on December 28th, 2016 by jlevins in Movies


Rogue One is the movie that I have been waiting almost my entire life for. It is amazing! Rogue One depicts the events leading up to A New Hope, the original Star Wars film from 1977. The movie begins on the farm of Galen Erso, the scientist responsible for creating the Death Star, the Evil Empire’s moon-like weapon which Star Wars fans know is capable of destroying whole planets. Galen is taken by the Empire, but is successful at protecting his daughter Jyn from the Empire’s clutches. Jyn (played by Felicity Jones) is raised from that point on by Saw Gerrera (played by Forrest Whitaker) and eventually becomes a key asset to the Rebellion. Jyn is imprisoned and blames Saw for her captivity. Jyn eventually confronts Saw, who shows her a hologram of her father Galen, whom she had feared was dead. In the hologram, Galen tells his daughter that he when he was designing the Death Star under duress, he included a weakness that the Rebels could use to destroy it and that she and the Rebels needed to get ahold of these plans which happened to be under the control of the Empire. Star Wars fans will know that these are the same plans that were the focus of the original Star Wars: A New Hope, stored inside R2-D2. In order to avoid spoiling the film for those of you who haven’t seen it already, I will say only that the rest of the film depicts the Rebels led by Jyn trying to get the plans back from the Empire!
The one thing that was nuts about Rogue One was just how advanced the special effects were, especially how they seemingly raised Peter Cushing from the dead to digitally reprise his role as Grand Moff Tarken. Also, it will be hard for true fans to hold back the tears during the last scene of the film, given the untimely passing of Carrie Fisher on December 27th. In conclusion, Rogue One was more than just a morsel to tide Star Wars fans over until the release of Episode 8 at the end of 2017. IMHO it is the best installation of the Star Wars franchise since The Empire Strikes Back came out 35 years ago. I heartily recommend multiple viewings!

Ctrl+Z: Tech Toy I Most Want for X-Mas

Posted on December 23rd, 2016 by chalpin in Teen Services

When it comes to gadgets, tools, and tech stuff there are so many things that I could add to my wish list (and so many things that I’d love to put into the  hands of others!). I’d love to get a laptop, a set of noise-cancelling, bluetooth headphones, and GoPro would be fun, but really if there were one thing that I could get my hands on just for the pure fun-factor of having a tech toy, it would be the Microsoft HoloLens. This device (a kind of optical headset) allows users to interact with holograms in an augmented reality, or mixed reality, environment. There is so much potential for how this tool could be used from enhanced long-distance communication, gaming and play, education, storytelling and entertainment… the possibilities seem endless.

Mixed reality is only going to become increasingly popular in 2017 and beyond. Sadly for me, the price tag is out of reach, to say the least. Plus, according to the company website this device is for sale solely to developers and commercial enterprises for now. All the same, this is tech that has captured my imagination and I’ll be following news to see where it goes and when it becomes accessible to the average user among us. (I know we could have fun with it in the library!)

I’ve linked to a couple videos below to show off some of what HoloLens can do. I totally fell down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos that exist around this product… there’s some pretty spectacular looking stuff. The future is now!

hologram on 9-16-15 at 7.25 PM #3

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

* “Ctrl+Z” is all about fearlessly exploring technology. Look here for info about teens, technology, and having fun with new media by Catherine, Teen Technology Coordinator at Teen Central, on the fourth Friday.