Voting by Paper or by Hand May Be A Thing of the Past!

Anyone who has ever attended a conference, lecture, meeting or class that required a show of hands for voting purposes knows how long, in capital letters LONG; it can take to vote on a series of topics or even vote on candidates to elect a new officer for a group.

And that process can of course, even turn out to be a longer one still if everyone attending a meeting has to fill out a succession of paper forms to express their opinion on a subject – one certainly wants to have plenty of coffee on hand for people participating in a paper ballot process!

And as it turns out the sometimes extremely long and drawn out process of voting by hand or by paper may be a thing of the past! Now there is a faster way to gather people’s opinions while meeting in a large group. There is a device called a “Clicker” that looks like a small TV remote and allows group participants to quickly express their opinion in answer to a question, or even to select a candidate to vote for by wirelessly sending their responses to a computer. Clickers are being used in schools, churches and by many different groups at many meetings and conferences held across the country today.

And the New York Times has a neat article, titled Speak Up? Raise Your Hand? That May No Longer Be Necessary, on the subject of Clickers that gives an even more detailed account about their increasing usage in American life.

Here’s the link to the article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/31/us/clickers-offer-instant-interactions-in-more-venues.html?_r=1&ref=technology

Enjoy your rainy spring Saturday everyone!

Linda R.

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Potter E-Books And E-Audios Finally Available And Are DRM Free!

Yesterday the Harry Potter series made its digital debut. J.K. Rowling actually had a much better crystal ball than Professor Trelawney.  She had the foresight back in the 90’s to keep the digital rights to the Harry Potter series. So essentially J.K. Rowling is self-publishing the Harry Potter E-Books and E-Audios through her Pottermore website – and thus she has both the responsibility for publishing the E-Books and gets to keep all the profits from the sale of the E-Books!

You can purchase Harry Potter E-Books for most E-Readers and tablets including the iPad, all versions of the Kindle and all versions of the Nook.

The first three Harry Potter E-Books cost $7.99 and the last four cost $9.99 or you can purchase the entire E-Book Collection for $57.54.

And the E-Audios are similarly priced; the first three E-Audios cost $29.95, the last four E-Audios cost $44.95, and the entire E-Audio collection can be purchased for $242.94.

And on a related note, all the e-versions of the Harry Potter works are available DRM free! And for those of you who may not be familiar with DRM (also called Digital Rights Management) it is the restrictive software built into digital content that makes it difficult for an E-Book purchaser to access E-Books and/or transfer E-Books to e-devices (other than the device the E-Book was purchased for initially*). For those of you who have dedicated E-Readers other than Kindles and have checked out E-Books through the Library’s Digital Catalog – you know just what I mean! The DRM software, which publishers are responsible for incorporating into the make up of E-Books as an anti-e-piracy tool, is what makes checking out free Library E-Books a somewhat cumbersome multi-step process. J.K. Rowling has thankfully decided to ditch the DRM process and instead go with what is known as the Watermark process. Watermarking E-Books and E-Audios will show when and where the E-Books/E-Audios were purchased but without locking those E-Books or E-Audios down – the Pottermore site well sums up the Watermarking process by very civilly noting: “The Pottermore Shop personalises eBooks with a combination of watermarking techniques that relate to the book, to the purchaser and the purchase time. This allows us to track and respond to possible copyright misuse.”  Thus the Harry Potter E-Books will be easy to use and access. And as soon as I go through the process of purchasing one of the Potter E-Books I’ll have an update as to how easy the process is!

Additionally of note, you can purchase the Harry Potter E-Books and E-Audios through the Amazon or Barnes & Noble sites (you’ll be re-directed to the Pottermore site) or, you can simply go to the Pottermore site found at:

http://www.pottermore.com/

Linda R.

*For example, my first E-Reader was a Sony Reader and I purchased all of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books available at the time for my Sony Reader. Since then I’ve moved on to reading E-Books on my iPad and sometimes on my Kindle; however, I cannot move the E-Books I bought for my Sony Reader onto my iPad or Kindle because they are locked down, by the DRM software, so that they can only be read on my Sony Reader. So essentially, I have to either read the early adventures of Harry Dresden on a 6” e-ink screen or re-purchase the E-Books so I can read them on my iPad or Kindle.

And here is a link to a neat article titled “What Book Publishers Should Learn from Harry Potter” that gives a more                    in-depth explanation about why DRM is undesirable!

http://gigaom.com/2012/03/27/what-book-publishers-should-learn-from-harry-potter/

Why There Isn’t a Netflix Facebook App

If you’re a Facebook fan you’ll probably have noticed that although there is a Hulu app for Facebook there isn’t a Netflix app for Facebook.

And there is a reason for that!

It turns out that there is 1980 law that was enacted because a journalist published an article listing the videos that then Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork had checked out from a video store. After that incident a privacy law was passed that prohibits video rental stores from giving out information regarding which videos a person has checked out to third parties; and since a Facebook Netflix app would allow Facebook users to share what movies they’ve watched with others it seems that a Netflix Facebook app is illegal. Or at least, the law seems to make whether a Netflix Facebook app is legal or not a gray area. And that is why there isn’t currently a Netflix Facebook app because Netflix isn’t sure if it is legal for them to create one!

Essentially, it is a case of the technology changing faster than the law can keep up with it!

And should you be interested in reading more about the situation, here’s a link to a CNN story, titled Why A Netflix Facebook App Would Be Illegal, on the subject titled

http://money.cnn.com/2012/03/27/technology/netflix-facebook/?source=cnn_bin

Linda R.

New Apps Just In Time For The Weekend!

If you’re into gardening, games, geography or Jazz there are some new apps that you might want to check out this weekend!

On the gardening front, there are three gardening apps available for the iPad that have received great reviews. The first is called The Landscaper’s Companion, the second is titled The Gardening Guide from the Mother Earth News and the third is The Gardening How-To app.

The Landscaper’s Companion ($5.99) is an encyclopedia style app that has searchable listings for more than 20,000 plants and vegetables. And for each plant or vegetable there is a listing of which geographic zone the plants/vegetables should ideally be grown in, how much water and sun the plants/vegetables should get as well as physical descriptions (and photos) of the plants/vegetables. The Gardening Guide from the Mother Earth News app (Price: Free) is a great resource for vegetable gardeners as it offers tutorials and article that have been published in back issues of The Mother Earth News all of which focus on vegetable gardening; and The Gardening How-To app (Price: Free) focuses on how to grow flowers of all kinds and includes many photos and video clips.

On the geography and Jazz front, “The Barefoot World Atlas” (Price: $7.99) is a great geography resource for kids and likewise –“A Jazzy Day” (Price: $4.99) is a fun interactive app that introduces kids to Jazz instruments.

And on the games front, there is a new version of Angry Birds! It is called Angry Birds Space ($0.99) and features those colorful birds and green pigs interacting in different gravity situations!

Here’s a link to a New York Times article, titled A Review of Apps for Gardeners, regarding all the apps mentioned, except the Angry Birds Space app:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/22/technology/personaltech/a-review-of-apps-for-gardeners-and-landscapers.html?_r=1&ref=technology

And here’s a link to an Information News article, titled Angry Birds Space Mirrors Real Rocket Science, which offers more info on the neat new Angry Birds Space app:

http://www.informationweek.com/news/government/mobile/232700137

 

Linda R.

What Are All These Inputs For On My New HDTV!

If you buy a new TV and haven’t purchased a new one in a while you may wind up a bit perplexed as to what all those inputs and cords are for!

Unlike the days of old when most TVs only had plug ins and corresponding cords that allowed one to obtain cable and/or hook up an antenna to tune in stations, today’s’ new HDTVs have a number of inputs; you can plug your TV into your stereo system, plug your DVD player into your TV via an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cable so you’ll see a clearer picture, plug an Apple TV or Roku media streaming player* into your TV, plug your TV into a wired Internet (LAN or Ethernet ) cable, plug your laptop into your TV to stream content from your computer to your TV and even, on a non cable plug-in note, wireless connect your TV to the Internet and access Netflix and other content via your wireless network.

So if you’re in the market for a new TV or just wonder what all those inputs are for on the HDTV you bought last year you might check out a recent New York Times article titled Hooking Up a New TV: Which Wire Goes Where?  which shows you color pictures of the most common cable inputs found on HDTV’s and offers a brief explanation of what those inputs and their corresponding cords do!

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/03/21/technology/personaltech/hooking-up-a-new-tv-which-cable-goes-where.html?ref=technology

And here’s a link to a CNET article that offers a more in-depth explanation of what on earth an HDMI cable, also known as a High Definition Multimedia Interface cable, actually does:

http://reviews.cnet.com/hdmi-guide/

Linda R.

 

*The Apple TV and Roku players are actually small devices, about the size of a hockey puck, and you plug them into your TV to access TV, music and movies from, in the case of Apple, Apple’s iTunes Store and Netflix, and in the case of Roku Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, TuneIn Radio and Amazon among other app channels.

Windows 8 & Internet Explorer 10 Are Coming!

If you buy a new PC this October you’ll wind up with the bright and shiny new Windows operations system, Windows 8, and the new duo-version of Internet Explorer (IE 10).

Windows 8 is a dramatic change from any previous Windows operating systems and reminds one in the way it looks of the apps found on tablets like the iPad, Zoom and Galaxy.

In other words if you thought the banners found in Windows 7 made that OS look markedly different from Windows XP (and you’d be right!) the change in format and looks of the OS of a Windows 8 PC from any of its Windows predecessors will be even more of a change.

And there will actually be two different versions of Internet Explorer 10 to try out! One a “Metro” version which will fill up the entire screen and be similar to tablet web browser and a more standard looking PC version which will offer users many of common web surfing options they are used to using like bookmarks and tabs.

So the fall should be an interesting time out in PC land and here in library land too with the introduction of Windows 8!

Here’s a link to a CNET article that offers more info on the Windows 8 OS which is tentatively scheduled to be released in October:

http://asia.cnet.com/crave/windows-8-launch-reportedly-scheduled-in-october-62213953.htm

 

And here’s a link to another CNET article that discusses the “two flavors” of Internet Explorer 10:

http://asia.cnet.com/crave/new-internet-explorer-will-come-in-two-flavors-62213932.htm

 

Linda R.

Digitally Presenting and Preserving Native Languages

In our increasingly mobile high tech world, where almost anyone can access information from almost anywhere with a smart phone or tablet, native languages of many small indigenous peoples across the globe are becoming rare. In fact, linguists are projecting that of the 14,000 different languages spoken across the globe today 7,000 may become extinct by the end of this century.

And it seems only fair that since our Internet connecting technology is at least in part responsible for the dwindling of some native languages; that technology might also offer a partial solution. And that is just what is happening! For example, in Canada the Inuit people have been working with Microsoft to integrate their native language into the OS of PCs and portable Internet connecting devices owned by tribe members. And this has in turn assisted them in teaching their young people more about their native language. And in Oregon the Native American Siletz tribe has been working with the National Geographic Fellows to digitally record their language, now spoken by less than ten people, for posterity.

Microsoft has also been working with language preservations in other parts of the globe including Spain, Wales and New Zealand to translate its software into native dialects.

NPR has an interesting article on this subject titled Digital Technologies Give Dying Languages New Life, here’s the link:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/03/19/147809425/digital-technologies-give-dying-languages-new-life

Have a great day!

Linda R.

How Do You Get Your News?

According to a new NPR article titled Do Digital Gadgets Increase Our Appetite For News? more and more people today are obtaining their news digitally via smartphones and tablets. The article notes that “44 percent of adults now own a smartphone and 18 percent of adults own a tablet.” So it is not surprising that more people than ever are now accessing more news stories than ever before via their smartphones and tablets. However, what is a bit of a surprise is that despite the popularity of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook most people who access news coverage via their mobile devices obtain that news coverage directly from the news source, i.e. CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, The New York Times, BBC etc., via that respective news sources’ website or app instead of through a social networking site.

And as someone who does access news almost entirely through the Internet I do have to mention some of my favorite news apps!

I like Zite which allows you to customize which news categories display so you’ll only be offered news stories in categories of your choice, Fluent News which offers text stories from a great variety of sources including the Associated Press, The Washington Post and the New York Times, CNET which offers tech stories and reviews of all kinds of gadgets, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today which gives you the basic news of the day in categories that mirror those found in the print edition,  News Pro (Reuters) which offers up-to-date news stories in a variety of categories including Markets, Stocks, World etc., Today (the companion app to the Today Show), NPR, NPR Music (this one has tons of great audio clips!), NBC Nightly News (the companion app  to the evening news broadcast) and Reuters Galleries which offers stunning photos of events happening across the globe with accessible captions but without commentary!

Here’s a link to the NPR article:

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/19/148769188/do-digital-gadgets-increase-our-appetite-for-news

And the previously mentioned apps can be found in the Apple or Android app stores.

 

Romance E-Books Are Hot!

The best-selling genre e-books are romances of all kinds! Light romances, medium romances and extra spicy romances like “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E. L. James which is currently the number one title on the New York Times Bestseller list. People seem to like romances in the e-format because they can be discreetly read on almost any Wi-Fi enabled device and can also be read almost anywhere, i.e. while standing in line at the grocery store, waiting in the car to pick the kids up from school, waiting for your significant other to finish shopping etc.

Here is a link to a New York Times article on the very popular E. L. James trilogy of books which are not yet available in the print book format; but, which are available as  e-books from Barnes & Noble and Amazon:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/10/business/media/an-erotic-novel-50-shades-of-grey-goes-viral-with-women.html?_r=1&ref=books

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Linda R.

Encyclopedia Britannica Goes Completely Digital

The Encyclopedia Britannica has been one of the most enduring print references sources for over 200 years. Library patrons have perused the volumes of each subsequently revised set to answer questions large and small for generations. However, in the last few years as people have increasingly turned to the Internet and electronic sources to obtain information, print sales of the Encyclopedia Britannica have fallen dramatically. To illustrate that last point consider the fact that when the last print edition of the EB was published in 2010 only 8,000 sets were sold; so not surprisingly, yesterday the Chicago publisher, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. announced it would no longer produce new print editions of its Encyclopedia. Instead customers may purchase a digital subscription to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The most striking benefit of the digital Encyclopedia Britannica is that it is updated every 20 minutes whereas the print editions obviously were only updated every few years.

Here is link to a Wall Street Journal article on the subject:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304450004577280143864147250.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

And one to a New York Times article on the same subject:

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/after-244-years-encyclopaedia-britannica-stops-the-presses/?ref=technology

 Linda R.