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Beth Cox Report: May 2013

Dear Loyal Readers, Authors, and Publishers,

This month, we at the Midwest Book Review - and especially my father Jim Cox - learned about the importance of regularly backing up our computer files, when the hard drive of our main office computer failed.

As far as we can tell, it wasn't a computer virus, or a Windows issue. Our computer's hard drive just wore out and died, after only a year or so of use.

Our website was unaffected, since that's hosted online. Our email correspondence (including all volunteer review submissions) was easy to completely retrieve, since AOL saves those in its "Old Mail" and "Sent Mail" folders. But everything else was gone in a puff of metaphorical smoke! The one person on our team with any techno-savvy couldn't even get the dead hard drive to boot up in safe mode. Fortunately, a local computer restoration business named Gillware recovered everything on the dead hard drive for us. The service took over a week, and cost a few hundred dollars!

One good thing that came out of this is that our techno-savvy associate donated his old solid-state drive to our office computer, replacing the one that died. If, like me, you barely know what a "solid-state drive" is, the best description I can offer is, "thing that makes your computer incredibly fast, especially when uploading to or downloading from any website". (Wikipedia has more information about them).

The moral of the story? Back up anything important on your computer regularly! While there are a number of computer programs or paid services that can do this, the process can be as simple and inexpensive as buying a $9.95 USB drive, sticking it into the computer, and copying your most important files to it.

I majored in computer science, but when it comes to actually dealing with everyday computer problems, I'm barely more competent than my father (who still hasn't quite grasped that USB drives are nothing more than the latest incarnation of floppy disks). So, May's link of the month belongs to a company called IOBit, whom we at the MBR depend upon to keep our computers trudging along in good shape:

The IOBit downloadable program we use is called Advanced SystemCare. It has multiple options for advanced users, but clueless people like me just click on a button that says "Care" once a week, and the program automatically performs a routine PC maintenance and tune-up.

What makes Advanced SystemCare especially notable is that IOBit offers a (somewhat stripped-down) version of it to the public for free. It's not a limited-time "thirty-day trial"; it's just a computer maintenance & performance-boosting program that works.

Of course, IOBit is a company out to make money like everyone else. They give out the free program in order to entice users into buying the paid version of their product, "Advanced SystemCare Pro". The paid version has several features that the free version lacks, and whether it's worth your hard-earned money is a judgment call tied to your personal situation and computer needs. But everyone with a computer should definitely try the free program - there's even a version of Advanced SystemCare for Android mobile phones!

Now for the May Review of the Month. This one is about a standout children's book that couldn't help but bring a smile to my face:

But I Read It On the Internet!
Toni Buzzeo, author
Sachiko Yoshikawa, illustrator
Upstart Books
4810 Forest Run Road, Madison, WI 53704
9781602130623 $17.95

"But I Read It On the Internet!" is a fun and funny educational book for children in grades 3-5 about verifying information sources, both traditional and online. Fourth in a series involving the librarian, Mrs. Skorupski, "But I Read It On the Internet!" challenges students to a presidential fact-finding contest. Two students present opposing opinions about sources; Hunter prefers to get his facts from books, while Carmen Rosa Pena believes the Internet is a better information source. What a showdown! Luckily Mrs. Skorupski, Liberty School hip Librarian, is equal to the challenge of teaching her students ways to test sources for validity, even internet sources. Students are given fact verification assignments and told to cite their sources, including bringing in URLs for internet sources. But aren't all facts reported on the internet true? Mrs. Skorupski hands out a Website Evaluation Gizmo that helps students to analyze this question logically with questions in categories labeled Informative? Easy to Use? and Accurate? Even more helpful, Mrs. Skorupski directs Hunter to the Public Library to do online research if he is unable to use an internet connection at home. "But I Read It On the Internet!" is excellent educational reading with vivid illustrations and plenty of good common sense recommendations for young researchers.

As the internet becomes more and more ubiquitous, it is critical to teach people young and old about the importance of cross-checking the veracity of information sources. Yes, Wikipedia is a useful place to start when searching for information about a topic; no, it cannot be relied upon with absolute certainty. And while reading someone's blog can be enlightening and informative, material in a blog has no more innate credentials than the words of a random person on the street.

Not that I want to discourage reading blogs - quite the opposite! When I recently did our website's annual "spring cleaning" of dead and disused links, I decided to add a new links section, "Book Blogs" at

especially for blogs about books, publishing, writing, and media. Like all our link sections, the "Book Blogs" listing is always open to new contributions; feel free to submit your URL for possible inclusion at any time! (Please put the words "Link submission for MBR website" or something similar in your email's subject line).

That's all for this month's Beth Cox report. I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend!

Bethany Cox
Managing Editor
The Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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