Are You Down with OBD…Yeah, So Are We

So, the title is a little goofy and it shows my age… but whatever. Here we are. The library now has an on-board diagnostic tool that you can use to figure out what is wrong with your car. Before I explain a little more about this nifty tool you can check out at the library, let me just say that I know a tiny bit about cars. I certainly don’t know everything though and that’s exactly why this tool is so helpful. Whenever I’ve had to bring my car to a mechanic, I feel a little lost and totally reliant on what they tell me. If you have a good mechanic, then it’s usually fine. However, I’ve found myself in situations where I’ve sort of doubted whatever they told me. I would have loved to have had a tool to confirm or deny what a mechanic told me before I spent hundreds of dollars on a repair. Side note:  we called every auto place in town and none of them offered this device for free. Some even charged upwards of $200 to “rent” a tool like this.

Most cars built within the last 20 years, have an OBD II port that you can use to plug in our device. An on-board diagnostic system simply allows an external tool to interface with the computer in your car. These have become more and more important as cars have become more technologically advanced and software has become the key to fixing a lot of problems. OBD has been around since the ’80s when emissions became more regulated and electronic fuel injection became a thing.

So, the port you need to be able to locate is usually under the dashboard on the driver’s side. When a car’s sensors decide that there is something going wrong with your car, they create a “trouble code,” which usually manifests itself as a warning light on the dashboard. An OBD scanner lets you check this code and determine exactly what is wrong. Side note:  it should also let you clear the code from the memory so that once the problem is fixed, the warning light will disappear from your dash.

So, what about the free OBD scanner that you can check out from the library? We have the Autel AutoLink AL539. It does something that other OBD scanners can’t:  it scans for electrical problems as well. It’s actually pretty small and light and has a long cable so you don’t have to be all hunched over in your car. It has a nice, color screen and icons for major functions. It also tells you things like engine speed, coolant temperature and other items.

All in all, the OBD won’t fix your problem for you but it might arm you with more information for when you need to talk shop with your mechanic. And it’s free to check out with  your library card–sounds like a good deal to me! autel autolink



8-Hour Emily Dickinson Marathon Reading

I’ve always had a thing for poetry and I’ve always loved Emily Dickinson from the moment I read her work in high school (or maybe junior high–I don’t remember). I would consider myself an amateur Dickinson scholar; amateur is the key word here. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw that the Library of Congress’ Poetry and Literature Center, along with the Folger Library, recently did a free marathon reading of her work. The entire thing is around 8 hours long!  While I realize that is a long time to spend listening to Emily Dickinson poetry, it is in celebration of her 184th birthday. In fact, 8 hours was only enough time to get through about a third of her work.

Poet, Eleanor Heginbotham starts out the recording with Dickinson’s letter to her editor, abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Emily says:  “Are you too deeply occupied to say if my verse is alive?”  Well, hats off to Emily!  Her verse is alive and well and I couldn’t be more thankful.

In case anyone actually ends up listening to this, here is a link to part 2.

And, of course, we have all of Dickinson’s work at your library if you want to brush up!

Google Announces Enhancements to Results When Searching For “Art-Related Things”

As someone who is currently pursuing my Master’s in Library and Information Science, I’ve been reading widely on a lot of topics including those that also relate to museums. Many museums have been working diligently for a number of years in order to digitize parts or all of their collections to be accessed on their website.  For example, one can search or browse through the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago. I had a passionate debate with a fellow student over whether digitization actually increases or decreases visits to the museum. In this debate, I can understand both sides. I truly believe that an image on a computer or phone will never replace the experience of seeing a Picasso or Monet in person. However, when I was in my undergrad, many of my classmates in our Art History class were guilty of using digital collections for our museum assignment instead of actually visiting. However, this is nothing new; students have been looking for the easy way out since the beginning of education.

Now, Google has made it even easier to browse popular artists’ works and get the information that you’re seeking. They even claim that you can “visit hundreds of museums around the world right from your laptop.” I beg to differ. While I think this is a great discovery and educational tool, I am never going to substitute my trip to MoMA for an image on Google.

To find out more, click here.