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December 17, 2012

Gadget gurus can help people make sense of their gifts

STILLWATER, Okla. — Nearly everyone knows a “techie” who seems to have all kinds of gizmos. As more of us move into the technical world, it's hard to know what to buy and how to work the new-fangled products which can make our lives easier — if we know how to work the gadgets. 

“The new iPad mini, Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD have all recently been released and eBook use continues to rise,” said Kim Strom, Meridian Technology Center computer training services coordinator. “We have all kinds of classes to help you get the right training to learn how to use them.”

She said there are many items for techies that won’t break the budget. Some great stocking stuffers are colorful USB data sync charger cables for iPhones and iTouch; USB Squids and rollup keyboards.

“Rollup keyboards are great for traveling in the car,” Strom said. “The internal components are sealed inside a single-piece silicone case which prevents damage from debris, moisture, and most anything you can spill on it.”

The rollup keyboards are just $19.99 and can easily be hand-washed with gentle cleansers and are not constructed with screws or sharp edges so it's perfect for kids with soft-touch keys including a numeric keypad. The sleep, wake and power keys are silent and responsive for easy typing wherever you go and you an roll it up and stick it in your laptop bag, she said.

Some mid-price items Strom recommends are iPhone protection devices, iPhone power chargers and customized cases. The season's best buys include iPhone camera lenses and iPhone photo printers, she said.

For the ultimate techies, Strom said there are workout monitors, snorkel camera masks and even a smart baby monitor. She got her brother, an avid cyclist, a X-Fire 5-LED Taillight with Laser Lane marker for just $23.80 which sends out a red beam of light to alert motorists of a biker's presence — a great safety precaution as cars and bikers share the road.

From using new PCs, Macsm  E-readers, iPhones, Androids, Meridian Technology Center will offer a variety of classes in 2013 that are designed to help you make the most out of technology that might be under the tree this year, said Susan Sharpton, computer training services specialist.

“We can help you learn beyond the basics with new computer products and software,” Sharpton said. “All of our classes are hands-on. Instructors are patient, friendly and knowledgeable. You can bring your new device and you'll be ready to use it when you walk away — it's a two-way conversation.”

Gift certificates for classes are available and Meridian can customize education and training services for individuals, organizations, and industries. To purchase a gift certificate for a training class to go along with a techie gift, stop by the main office at 1312 S. Sangre Road. Call 405-377-3333 and ask for a computer training specialist to discuss your needs or check out these classes scheduled for 2013:

Learn to Use Kindle

6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 17

iPhone Essentials

6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 24

Getting Started With Computers

8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 25

Learn to Type

1 to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 25 and March 1

Students will meet on both Fridays.

Photo Editing with Adobe Elements 11

6 to 9 p.m. Mondays

Jan. 28 through Feb. 11

Android Phone Essentials

6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 29

iPad Essentials

6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 31

Using Your Mac Computer

6 to 9 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays

Feb. 7 through February 12

Meridian Technology Center offers digital camera classes and other computer classes with open enrollment information available at www.meridiantech.edu. After learning how to work your eReader, the Stillwater Public Library can help you learn the ropes of the library’s free downloadable eBook system.

“Last year, Kindle products were by far the most popular eReader being used with the library’s eBook service,” said Scott Freeman, adult services librarian. “Over the last year though, more apps have been released to make the system easier for people using iPads, Nooks and other devices.   We want community members to know that whatever eReader, tablet or phone you are using, we will work with you to try to get you onto our system.”

The eReader classes are being divided into three tutoring sessions by the types of devices being used. Classes scheduled include:

Kindle users

1 to 5 p.m. Jan. 3

Nook and other non-iPad/Apple users

1 to 5 p.m. Jan. 8

iPad and Apple product users

1 to 5 p.m. Jan. 10

Librarians will be available to work with participants one on one to practice skills such as choosing a book, checking out materials, and downloading books to the patron’s eReaders. Freeman said participants must register and specific times will be scheduled so that the number of people needing assistance will be evenly distributed throughout the classes. Participants should bring their library card, a fully charged eReader and the eReader USB cord. Depending on which eReader is being used, participants should also bring their user name and password for their Amazon.com, iTunes or Barnes & Noble account.

Anyone without a library card should apply for one before the classes.   Library cards are free for people who live, work or go to school in Payne County. Library users who have not updated their cards within the last have their card renewed before their appointment. 

To make an appointment for an eReader class, stop by the library’s adult help desk, 1107 S. Duck or call 405-372-3633, extension 106 or email askalibrarian@stillwater.org. 

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