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June 28, 2016

Have You Ever Considered Audiobooks?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:38 am

Have you read any good books lately?  I have and there are millions to choose from.  Today I have a recommendation: any book by Harlan Coben if you like a good mystery.  Start with his first, "Tell No One" and you will be hooked (rd.dblclx.com/28Vh6IA).  However, since I write about Tech, enough of the book reviews.

imageI love to read but I am on the road much of the time and it is really difficult to read while driving.  That being said I highly recommend audiobooks.  There are many services out there including a great one called, "Your Public Library," which has many audiobooks, including CDs and other formats.  The library system also is closely linked to Overdrive.com.  Overdrive’s is a global network founded in 1986 and includes more than 27,000 libraries and schools. Go to their site with a valid participating library card (most libraries participate but you can go to the site and see if yours does or ask your librarian) to check out books.  Once there you may check out eBooks or audiobooks for a fixed period of time, just like your library, for free. 

One of the biggest names in audiobooks is, "Audible" found at Audible.com.  These books are not free but if you are an avid reader of current authors try it out.  They have had a deal on it for quite a while with your first book being free then $14.95/month afterward for one book per month.  You can get most authors in a wide range of categories from adventure to science along with occasionally free mp3s.  The quality of these recordings is excellent.

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Another site that I endorse is Podiobooks, Podiobooks.com.  All of the audio books here are free, yes absolutely free.  However, I need to give you a couple of caveats. Most likely you will find authors there you have never heard of before.  These writers are just starting out or have written several books and not been published…yet.  Some of the books are excellent and some are so- so.  You can try any you like.

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You will have to search for them by the types of books you are interested in.  I have found some excellent books at Podiobooks and some that I listened to for 20 minutes and then gave up.  They are all originally done as weekly/monthly podcasts, read by the authors.  Sign up with your email address to be notified each time another "chapter" has been posted to the site.  However, if you are like me and want an entire book right now, search for the "completed" books, download all of the podcasts at once and listen to them at your convenience.

Most of the books there are read by the author which I enjoy.  Again, like the books, some are excellent and some do not have the greatest voices.  So give it a try.  It is well worth the money!

If you have a long commute or a friend who likes to read but can’t see well enough to read any longer, these sites are a great way to go.

April 17, 2012

My e-Reader holds More e-Books Than Yours

I receive questions similar to the one I got from Donna recently.  It involves something that sounds quite important in picking an e-book reader so let’s take a look and see. 

I own a Toshiba Thrive which is not actually an e-reader but I can also read books on it, so it will qualify.  My wife owns a Barnes & Noble Color Nook.

This question always involves, "which e-book reader can hold the most books?" 

For our two, the Nook advertises that it can hold around five to six thousand e-books.  It seems that all of them can hold at least three thousand and then it goes up from there.  My Thrive could probably hold that many and maybe two or more times that amount.  I’m guessing here, but I really don’t want to find out since I would have to buy a lot of books.  Yes, I know I can get the e-books and add them to my tablet but again, why?

Now all numbers given by manufacturers can vary in either direction from what they say.  No, they aren’t lying but it also depends on how many other items you store on them.  All but the purest e-readers have the ability to add other applications to them.  Those apps take up room too. 

It also gets a little more complicated as far as numbers.  If you buy a book from B&N, Amazon or anywhere else, you do not "have" to download them to your e-reader (no matter which one it is) until you are ready to read it.  You can leave it in your online "library."

I am amused by the advertising which says you can hold 3,000 – 12,000 (plus or minus) books on the various readers because, well, why would a person want to?

Do some math here. If you are my age, in my 50s, you wouldn’t have enough years left to read 3,000 books. 

If you have 3,000 books on your e-reader, pretend you read one book a week per year.  We will also say that you skip two weeks a year and don’t read due to vacation, health, etc.  That would be 3000/50.  The answer is that it will take you 60 years to complete your reading.  If your e-reader will hold 5,000 books, that would yield 100 years of reading.  I hate to be negative here, but I do not believe that the majority of us will make it that long.

These numbers are just a wonderful marketing ploy.  Most people just download a couple of recent purchases and save the rest until they finish the others.  Once a book is read you can remove it from your e-reader and it is still kept in the B&N/Amazon account for you to download and reread later if you want to.

Have a great time no matter which you finally settle on.

June 28, 2011

Nook

OK, although I never thought I, or my wife would participate in the latest technological “fad,” we have.
 
It’s confession time here.  I bought one; but it is mainly for my wife’s use.  The culprit is an eBook Reader.  Yes, a month or two ago I bought a Nook which is sold by Barnes & Noble stores.  Now one aside here:  If you know me you know that I am tight, a penny-pincher, cheap and any of the other words with the same connotation.  So I bought one of the black and white or e-Ink, refurbished ones for about half the price of buying one new.  It has the same guarantee as new, so I figured, “What the heck, let’s give it a spin.”

Again, being a miser, I first went out and got some old Edgar Rice Burroughs books I had read as a kid.  They are free all over the net.  I downloaded mine at Project Gutenberg.

imageI am an avid reader, when I have the time, and figured I would miss the tactile sensation of holding a paper book.  I found that after about three minutes I was lost in the book and could care less about the feel. I have to admit I liked the experience.

My wife likes to read (especially in the summer when school is out) so we bought her first e-book.  This is in a continuing series she reads and she likes it too.  And not having to stack the book somewhere to store it is good, too.  Once read you can archive the book, go back another day and re-download it for another reading.  We also now have a book or two from Barnes & Noble Nook site.

The Nook I bought will also surf the net (in black and white, or e-Ink) but it is not really an enjoyable experience.  However, if you get one of the new color Nooks (Nook Color) it is a good thing…not bad at all.  With the Nook Color you can surf the net, check email and do many things that you can do on more expensive tablet PCs.  It also has the Android operating system which is another plus in my opinion.

That being said, it is not a fully developed Android tablet with access to the Market and the full gamut of Android applications and features.  It does have some of the Android Market at this point but not the major part, although I imagine that will change in time.

You can also get full copies of most of your favorite glossy magazines with lots of photographs on the Nook Color.  It is excellent to read them this way and there are no trash byproducts when you are finished.  Magazines for the e-Ink readers display gray-scale images and most images are omitted from these.  Many newspapers are also available for e-readers.

There are a couple of things you should note.  If you read mostly indoors, even in rooms with miserable lighting, the Nook Color is a good choice with a listed battery life of about eight hours. If you read outdoors at a picnic bench or on vacations at the poolside, get the e-Ink reader like I did. E-Ink displays look their best under bright light and require reading lights or ambient room lighting indoors.  The e-Ink is amazing to see in action, but not in poor light.  This one also has an advertised battery life of ten days, yes, days… not hours. Also, the lack of a touch screen on the e-Ink reader makes navigation awkward on anything other than books.

Speaking of books, you can get most of the latest titles Barnes & Noble carries for your reader.  The prices are below the prices of printed books, so that is another good thing.

I now disagree with my first statement.  I do not believe it is a fad as something like it will be around for a long time.

February 16, 2010

Media Database – Data Crow

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:24 am

Over five years ago I wrote to you about an application that you could use to keep track of your books and DVDs.  I had many of you write back to me and tell me how much you liked it. Over the past year or so I have had several of you write back saying that you could no longer find "Libra" or any updates for it.  I searched the net for it and emailed all of you back telling you what I found, which was that it was no longer in production and I could not even find a forwarding address.  I did find the last version made, but I personally do not like using applications that are no longer in production.

I also told the writers that I could not really find a free replacement anywhere as good and easy to use as Libra was.  Well, now that has all changed…enter Data Crow.

I found this site from a friend who has been using it for the past several months.  Data Crow’s site says, "Data Crow is the ultimate media cataloger and media organiser." (No, that isn’t a typo, the site is registered in the Netherlands and they spell properly.)  I agree with their statement.

Say you have some DVDs or Blue-Ray discs you wish to inventory.  Whether you want this cataloging for insurance, your own personal lists or you are just hyper-organized you should give this software a try.  Data Crow is also free which makes it even easier to try.  By-the-way, the friend who uses it told me that he has over 1,200 music CDs and over 800 DVD movies he has cataloged so it will handle a bunch of data.

Some of you may be thinking, "Well I can just type in my CDs on Word or a spreadsheet program to keep track of them."  That is correct; however, Data Crow can do it much better and supply more information.

For instance, when you start it up you can use the Item Wizard and choose what you want to put in the database.  For instance, I chose DVD then I typed in the movie title I wanted to add to the database.  I entered a movie and in about 5-10 seconds it listed out several that I could choose from.  The items are from different versions of the same movie.   If you type (like I did) the TV show "Alias" it finds each season of that title.  Next, you select the correct version and it enters it into Data Crow.

But not just the name is displayed.  It adds the DVD’s case picture, all of the actors, the date of release, playing time, director, a full description of the title, and a lot more.

I haven’t tried CDs yet since I don’t have that many so I will leave that up to you to test.  If you use this Libra replacement let me know what you think. If you have a bunch of movies to keep track of it may import them from other programs, but I wouldn’t depend on that.  You may just have a lot of typing in titles ahead of you.  But don’t worry, I’m sure it will snow again and you will need something to do after shoveling.

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