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.

August 8, 2017

Read to Me

Over several of the past weeks we have talked about talking to your devices.  Whether asking for them to give you directions, the temperature, local movies playing, the time, etc.  We also spoke about dictating to some of your devices and word processors.  For some it could, and does, make it much easier to type documents.  Those articles generated many emails, which I appreciate so keep them coming.  So today we move on to something similar but different.  

Today we look at the other side of the spectrum…getting them to "start" and complete the conversation, sort of.

Microsoft Office online and Office 365 (online) have both come out with a recent addition, "Immersive Reader."  It is also available for the local office clients if you have joined the Office Insider program and have the Windows 10 operating system.  Personally, I have not joined because you get software that is not ready for primetime and may have some issues.  Since I use my computer for day-to-day work I do not want to take any chances.  Although, thinking about it does sound interesting!?

Immersive Reader is part of Microsoft’s Learning Tools for Education.  They are looking for ways to help students who need help in particular areas to get it.  So far it is all free too, thanks MS!  

Immersive Reader has several fascinating features built in. 

You must first get into your Office online account, which is also free.  If you have not created an account it is quite easy.  You can get there via several different URLs but to keep it simple I would use "office.com."  You can use a new or existing MS free email account (outlook.com or live.com) or create one with any email address you already have.  I use an Outlook.com account to keep things straight between MS and my Google accounts. 

Once there open an existing Word (or OneNote so far at this time) and click the "View" button in the ribbon.  A new ribbon will open and one of the first few on the left is the "Immersive Reader" button, so click it.  It will open the file in a different view.  The letters will be larger, to assist people who are vision impaired and they are spaced farther apart than you may be used to which is for those who are dyslexic. 

Immersive Reader button

At the bottom of the screen you will have a Play/Pause button with very short instructions and three icons in the upper right corner, see below.  They are letters, books and a face.  Once you click the play button a pleasant slightly computerized sounding lady will start reading the document and highlighting the words read as it proceeds.  This can help significantly improve many peoples’ reading skills in various areas. 

View of Immersive Reader screen

The icon with letters allows you to increase or decrease the size of fonts and spacing between letters or lines.  The icon of books will let you look at syllables and highlight different parts of speech as it reads…I need this one.  The last icon, the face allows the reader to control the speed of the voice reading back the words.

If you wish to start reading at a different location in the document click the word with your mouse and start it playing again.  The reader will start there and continue. 

Neat addition to office and they will be improving it as time goes by.

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.

January 17, 2012

2011 Sites in Review, Part 2

As I stated last week, I annually provide links to all of the sites we have visited throughout the previous year at DoubleClicks.info.

Remember, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them with bit.ly.  Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Ccleaner use this application to keep your computer clean and running more smoothly.
  • Barnes and Noble the book store for paperbacks, hardbacks, Nooks, e-books and e-magazine plus. 
  • RocketDock an attractive and fun program launcher for Windows.
  • DropBox free cloud storage with auto-syncing, for your files and yes, use this link and I get some extra space, thanks in advance!
  • Windows Live cloud storage, email and many more applications for your online use.
  • e-Sword downloadable Bible for study, reading with commentaries and much more.
  • YouVersion an app that allows you to read, search and study the Bible via your smart phone or online.
  • Stumble Upon shows you categories you are interested in and gives you new sites every time you log on to read and learn about.
  • About.com use this site (among many others) to verify the truth about the Nigerian prince who needs your help and many other online scams.
  • Calorie King go to this site and find out more than you may have wanted to know about all the food you eat…including fast foods.
  • Endomondo Sports Tracker this is installed on your smartphone and then you can track many "workout" things such as your average speed, altitude, length of workout, distance, and other related numbers. Use it with Google maps and see the path you have taken.
  • Fix My Phone check out one way you may be able to resuscitate your drowned cell/smartphone. 
  • Craigslist a site for buying or selling things online; however, I am not at all fond of it. Read the original article at DoubleClicks.info and see why.
  • Help, I’ve Been Scammed check out why I am not fond of Craigslist.
  • WorldLingo Service free professional language translation online. They work in conjunction with Microsoft Office translations.
  • Toshiba Thrive in my opinion the best tablet C currently on the market…yes, including the fruit pads.
  • Netflix watch many movie and TV shows online. You can also order DVDs but you already knew this didn’t you?
  • Swype a smartphone and tablet PC typing program.
  • Skype allows you to call phones and other computers via the internet with the capability to have video along with your audio.  It is a free computer-computer and smartphone-smartphone service but for phone calls check out the rules on their site.
  • Android Market one of the several software sites for your Android phone.
  • Twitter.com, Facebook.com you already know what these are and if not, do not be concerned Google for them and read forever.    B-}
  • Connectify lets you set up your own Wi-Fi Hotspot.
  • PC Decrapifier will scan your system and suggest software you can remove which you most likely do not need. 
  • Ninite is where you can pick most of your favorite applications that you want installed on any computer you own.  Download a file to run on a computer and it will add those programs you picked. Quick and easy installs.

Please do not forget to go to DoubleClicks.info (oh, wait you are reading this here already) for the complete stories, along with many others.  This week and last only contained links I used during last year.  There are many other articles on the site and at DNROnline.com that had no links but some great information.

That’s all for 2011!  I look forward to seeing you in the paper and online in 2012.

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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