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June 2011

What's up ... docx?

June 28, 2011 | Diana S. | Comments (0)

Microsoft word documents created using MS-Office 95 to MS-Office 2003 have the file extension as .doc while Microsoft word documents created using MS-Office 2007 have the extension as .docx. You can open older version files in Office 2007 and can work with them, but to open files with .docx extension, you need to use the Microsoft Office Viewer.

Click on  What's up ... docx? to find out how.


Learn English using TPL databases

June 23, 2011 | Brenda | Comments (1)

Learn English for begineer
Do you find that you only have the older editions of TOEFL books on your shelves? 

No IELTS study guides in stock?

Try referring customers to TPL's databases.

Three excellent picks:

1. Mango Language Learning (good for beginners) - offers English programs with instructions in the learners' native language.  Provides English instruction for  speakers of: Cantonese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese Korean, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish (Latin American), Turkish and Vietnamese.

2. Learning Express - offers practice tests and guides for TOEFL and TOEIC (for advanced learners)

3. Road to IELTS (International English Language Testing System)- an increasing popular test here in Canada comparable to TOEFL




IST Spring Conference – The Role of Mobile Phones in Youth Social Networks: a Study in Transitions

June 13, 2011 | Mary-Beth | Comments (0)

The second speaker at the IST conference was Dr. Rhonda McEwen, a professor at the Faculty of Information at the University of  Toronto.    She spoke about her study on how young people use mobile phones during the first year at university – a time of major transition in their lives.   

IST Spring Lecture - June 1, 2011 001 She studied 175 University of Toronto and Ryerson University students, aged 17-22.  58% were female and 60% were Canadian born.  43% had left home for the first time, and were feeling vulnerable and lonely.  So it makes total sense that 85% called their friends and family on a daily basis.  Mobile phones are the technological ties that bind.

Mobile phones were used to cover up anxiety and shyness.  Many admitted to using their mobile phones to pretend to talk to someone.  Walking home alone at night they pulled out their phone for a "talk" while they walked.  Or instead of initiating a conversation with the new person sitting beside them, they pretended to talk to an old friend on their phone.  And at first, over 40% were not comfortable calling a new person’s mobile number and most definitely would not call a number given to them by a third person. 

Students admitted that they do not feel that they are alone if they have their phone with them and they constantly and virtually have access to their network of friends and family.  Always on and close at hand – even to the extent of being under their pillow at night.

Luckily by the 2nd term they had adjusted, but their mobile phones help them make that adjustment by calming their anxieties and giving them instant access to their family and friends.  Dr. McEwen plans to do a follow up study of these same students in their final year at university so it will be interesting to see what changes have occurred.

For more on Dr. McEwen’s research see

IST Spring Conference - Augmented Reality

June 6, 2011 | Mary-Beth | Comments (0)

First there was the real world, and then there was the virtual world.  Reality and virtual reality.   And now, there’s augmented reality, or AR for short.  

Fiacre O'Duinn from Hamilton Public Library gave us a fascinating talk about AR at the IST Spring Conference last week.  

Amsterdam AR is a technology which allows virtual data to overlay the real world.   Layar is the company which is dominant for AR at the moment and comes already loaded on many mobile phones. (Check to see if it is loaded on yours!)  Layar is open platform with over 2 million users and offers opportunities to experiment with AR. 

Here is a real estate example of AR from Amsterdam.  Hold up your phone and a red dot appears, revealing the properties for sale and their asking price.  Phone numbers are included so all you need is to call up for a viewing appointment.

Another example is Street Museum.  Carnaby street Again hold up your smart phone to view the street in front of you and view a scene superimposed on the screen of a period back in time - here it's the swinging Sixties on Carnaby Street.  If you tap the screen, historical facts pop up describing what happened on the spot in the past.  All the images showcase the collections of the Museum of London and allow visitors to view them live, juxtaposed against the current reality. 

O’Duinn quotes Koert van Mensvoort when he says “[while] our environment was previously made up of objects, now it consists of information”.  The place surrounding us becomes the interface with all the complications that this brings...

Geoloqi was another platform which piqued my interest.  It is a private real-time mobile and web platform for securely sharing your location data.  Using this will supply you with ambient information.  For example, you pass by a grocery store and your device reminds you to buy eggs, or you walk by a library and are reminded to pick up your holds… Food for thought!

Augmented Reality promises to have as profound an effect as the Internet, according to O’Duinn.  For more about AR see his presentation and other documents at and see his web site at

Stay tuned for part 2 next week on the IST Spring Conference.

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