DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

August 29, 2017

Read a Book

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:55 am

I wrote a year or so ago about a couple of ways to get eBooks for your reading.  Things change and move on so today I would like to talk about them again.  Today we will discuss three them I have tested.

Just Read!

The first is a freebie with only one easy caveat, you must have an active library card.  The site is Overdrive (overdrive.com).  At Overdrive, you can “Borrow eBooks, audiobooks, and more from your local public library – anywhere, anytime. All you need is a library card.”  So, you must have a library card and your library must participate with them…which most do.  For instance, I have a library card with the Augusta County Library and they do participate.  Go to Overdrive to see if your library takes part.  If so you can check out eBooks or audiobooks for a fixed period of time for free.  The application is available for most platforms.  Do not forget about your physical library as they have a lot to offer.  The pro of Overdrive is “free” the con is that if the library book is not available at your library, either not there or checked out by someone else, you cannot get it until it is there.

Next is one that I am sure you have heard of, Amazon.com.  Amazon has many, many books that are easily read on the Kindle application.  Their application has its own name, “Kindle”, which I am also sure you have heard of before now. This app is available on most platforms too.  You can even get real, paperback or hardback books here including audible books on CDs.  They are offered in every format; however, there is a minimal cost for many eBooks.  Another very interesting fact is that Amazon bought Audible.com several years ago.  Audible.com is the major audiobook provider online at this time.  You can get a book a month there for $14.95 and listen to it forever as you have purchased it for your account.  With the combination of the two companies there is now “Whispersync for voice.”

Whispersync allows you to purchase an eBook from Amazon and then get the same book in audio format from Audible (much less expensively than the monthly charge).  The neat thing is that you can either read or listen to the book when you would like.  When you “open” the book next time, it will be at the same place in the book.  So, whether listening or reading you will always be up-to-date.  Their slogan is, “Add narration to your Kindle books and switch seamlessly between reading and listening. Best of all, you’ll never lose your place.”

If you are an Amazon Prime member you can even pick up a book for free on occasion.

One that I have not tried yet is called, “Scribd” (Scribd.com).  Their pitch is slightly different from others.  It is “…a reading subscription that is available anytime and on any device. Enjoy access to 3 books and 1 audiobook each month – plus unlimited access to magazines and documents – for $8.99 / month.”

There is one other I will give a short remarks about that we have used.  Hoopla (at hoopladigital.com) is another “hooked” to the library system.  You can “Instantly borrow digital movies, music, eBooks and more, 24/7 with your library card.”  You log in with some information, including your library card number, and you have access to many books.  Again, like Overdrive if your library is out, so are you and you cannot get the book (both have the ability to add you to a waiting list.)  This one is useful; however, it has been my experience that the application, though available in most platforms, is not as trustworthy as some of the others.

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.

 image

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.

image

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.

September 2, 2014

Piriform Tools, Part 2

Last week I talked about two of Piriform’s excellent tools for keeping your computer in good shape. CCleaner and Defraggler. Today we will look at two others.

imageSpeccy is a very good application from Piriform; however, it is one I rarely use. You should download it and run it anyway just so you can have a list of exactly what your computer is made of. It will give you what you may need to know and way more. Say you want to buy some more RAM for your computer but you are not sure what type to get. If you run Speccy it will show you then name, the type, the size, etc. about the RAM that is currently running so you can accurately match it up. It gives you the temperature your computer’s motherboard is running. Do not panic if you check the temps and they are above 150ºF but less than 200 ºF which is pretty normal. Check out what you have under the hood with Speccy.

imageRecuva is the last Piriform app that we will take a look at again. I mentioned it several weeks ago but I have received many questions regarding this great app. Recuva actually stands for Recover, of course thanks to the Web our youth can no longer spell. What Recuva does is pretty much what its name stands for. It will recover deleted files.

Pretend for instance, that you have just gotten back from your vacation to Gondwanaland. While there you took over 2,000 pictures on your digital camera. You are now back home and put your SD card in your computer to move them to your computer and print a few. Oops, you accidentally delete all the files on the card. Your wife yells at you, you feel bad, there is no way you can go back and take all of the pictures over again.

In steps Recuva to save you from this predicament. Once you install and start it up you will be asked what file types are you trying to recover. All Files is the default but you can specify pictures, music and others. Next it will get you to input where the files are located. Here the default is “I’m not sure,” which is fine; however, it will take much longer if you cannot narrow it down some. You are now ready to begin your search, which depending on the parameters you set up, could take a few seconds to an hour or so.

It is quite good at finding those missing files. Once it is finished you can restore all or some to your computer. It will usually rename to files so you may have to restore them before you can determine which file is which.

As I always mention when using this program, the longer you wait to search for the deleted file the less likely you are to be successful in is recovery. The file can be partially or fully destroyed if the space it occupies is written over by another file. Recuva will “rate” the files found as how successful you may be in recovering it. If you recover a partially recoverable photo you may be missing part of the picture or it could be scrambled.

I hope this detailed look at Recuva helped those of you who wrote.

January 29, 2013

Music on the Go

I receive questions every now-and-then about listening to music online.  Questions like whether you can listen on a computer or a phone, free or paid music, rock or classical, etc.

There are many, many streaming music options out there so you can listen to your favorite group or genre of music.  Some of the more popular ones are, "Slacker Radio", "Spotify", "Maestro", Last.fm and the one I like best…Pandora.

I would check each site individually to see the slight differences.  Some are more "social," meaning that they have built-in designs which allow you to more easily share your music and/or playlists with others. They all have free streaming; however, you can get paid versions which give you more options and features.  They also have options for use on smartphones, tablets and of course computers. 

imageI have had a free Pandora account for several years.  You start off by adding a couple of favorite songs or artists, rate a few of the songs you hear and then Pandora will find you "similar" music.  Sometimes the choices are good and sometimes not so good but you can always grade the songs with a thumbs up or down.  Thumbs up will allow the song to play more often; a down vote will remove the song from your Pandora account so you won’t have to hear it again. 

You can then create your own "stations" from your music choices.  I have Country, Christian, Classic Rock and Celtic Music (yes, including the Celtic Women). 

Again, Pandora is my personal favorite but all of the ones I have mentioned are good.  Try a couple and see which one you like best.  You will be able to discover new artists and have the ability to purchase songs if you wish.

Now the question comes up: How can I store my music online if I already own many MP3s?  If you do not want to use streaming since you already have a lot of music you enjoy, how can you listen to them online when you do not have your MP3 player? 

Musical notesThe answer is Google once again.  Google Play/Google Music helps you bring your iTunes library or any music specifically to your Android devices.  There are also applications out there that will allow you to use Google Play with your iPhones, too. 

A side note here.  I prefer to call it Google Music since Google Play is the Android App store name and it gets confusing, so excuse my relabeling.  Also, the site is found at music.google.com and the original name of this feature was Google Music.     

Google Music has a neat feature.  You install it on the computer that has your music and show the application where your music is located.  It then uploads your music to the site over time; lots of time.  I had about 2,500 songs in my library and it took over a day to upload it all to Google Music.  Since you can upload up to 20,000 of your songs to Google for free it could take much longer.

Once you have uploaded your music, it is instantly available at music.google.com on the web and your Android phone or tablet.

You have many options.  Pick a couple and enjoy them whenever you want to hear some good music.  Or new music since most of these sites will give you “unpublished” musicians that you can help discover.

July 19, 2011

E-books vs. P-books

(   or Electronic books vs. 
         Paper/Printed books)

Several weeks ago I wrote about my wife’s e-ink Nook from Barnes and Noble.  I was surprised by the number of responses.  I had a small number asking why I did not write about the Amazon Kindle or some of the other e-readers.  The reason is that I do not get demos to test, so I have no experience with them.  (Of course, I would be more than happy to test out any of the others if the manufacturers would like to send them to me-hint, hint.)  We read, talked to people, researched and made an informed educated guess.  We chose the one we thought would be best for our use and pocketbook. 

Most answers were a toss-up : "I couldn’t stand not holding an actual paperback or hardback book…e-books are just a passing fancy, a fad."  Or, "I bought one last (fill in a calendar date) and I think they are great!"  No one wrote to say that they bought one and did not like it, quite the opposite. 

There were many reasons people liked the e-readers.   Take a look at the comments below and see if you agree, disagree, never thought of that or really just do not care. 

Some people said that the small size and being able to include 1,000 plus books was a big reason they liked theirs.  My wife included a couple of her thoughts…if it is windy outside, while reading, you don’t have to fight the wind to keep the pages from turning.  Also, bookmarks can’t fall out losing your place.  Since she has recently had wrist surgery she finds them lighter in weight and much easier to hold (or just laying it on the table to read is good for her). 

Others, like me, who are over 40, can change the font size to a larger or smaller size and even a different font if they wish.  That means that you may not need to use reading glasses to see the e-pages.

One very popular reason is: great convenience.  The convenience is you do not have to travel to the bookstore to get a new novel.  That would not influence my purchase of an e-reader since I love walking around a large bookstore and looking at all the available titles.

In closing, I have often heard that reflected light, like from a paper book, newspaper or e-ink (used with the Barnes and Noble Nook) is better for your eyes than direct light, say from a computer monitor or a color eBook reader shining into your eyes.  I checked with my eye doctor, Dr. Mary Alice Portillo, of Waynesboro, VA, for the validity of this thought. 

Dr. Portillo says that although the eyes are not negatively affected by either type of light, some people’s eyes become tired or more uncomfortable from the direct light of the computer screen.  However, it is really a personal preference for comfort.  So if you aren’t bothered by eye strain/stress from your computer screen, feel free to choose either type of e-book reader.

One last thought from me…I think these are some derivative of them are here to stay, these are not a passing fancy or a fad.  At least not for me since I bought my color Nook last week.

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