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David Rothman

In Warren Buffett’s own backyard: Underfunded Omaha libraries. National digital library endowment, anyone?
July 1, 2015 | 5:18 pm

Warren_Buffett_KU_Visit"Currently, Omaha Public Libraries' spending per capita is substantially below that of surrounding communities." - Library Board of Trustees President Mike Meyer, as quoted by KETV, source of a related video. The TeleRead take: Library branches may cut hours, one may even close, and meanwhile the budget for books and other content is suffering. Hello, Warren Buffet? Aren't you the same Omaha guy who has sent many billions out of town for Bill Gates's foundation to hand out---with most of it leaving the U.S.? Global altruism is praiseworthy, given all the need for economic development and better health in developing countries; but how about Omaha itself? "The library already...

ePub and other sacrileges on the Voyage and Paperwhite: Easy jail-breaks ahead?
June 27, 2015 | 2:51 am

VoyageRootNathan ran a great write-up on the challenges of rooting the Kindle Voyage, the Paperwhite and other recent Kindles. He was following up on a how-to video on taking the Voyage apart. Meanwhile, at MobileRead, buzz persists about hacking the recent-model Kindles. Remember, Kindles are little linux beasts. Amazon has tried to turn them into corporate creatures. Now the open source community wants Paperwhites and the rest to be free again to run such applications as Cool Reader without hassles for even the knowledgeable. Among other things, Cool Reader can display ePub, the nonproprietary standard. Jail-breaking, aka letting you modify the equipment you paid for, isn't for wimpy, of course. You don't...

A dirty secret of big publishing: More fact-checking needed. Fixes on the way?
June 24, 2015 | 1:10 pm

SiliconJungleWhen I worked on The Silicon Jungle, I didn’t just benefit from a keen-eyed copy editor at Ballantine Books. Sentence by sentence, a computer consultant vetted me. A few years later I published another popular-level technical book at another big house. The amount spent on professional fact-checking? $0, despite the intricacies of the topic. Had I written that Marconi invented integrated circuits, it just might have shown up in the book despite the literary talents of the brilliant development editor. Yes, I’m indulging in hyperbole. But you get the idea. Unfortunately, the second house is far more typical of publishing these days, with book...

Smart phones : The dating and reading angles
June 22, 2015 | 11:14 am

cellphonesAtlantic2 This  Atlantic video delves into the pros and cons of smart phones for daters and others. But what about phones for reading? Have smart phones in the end done more harm than good, through distractions such as Facebook and other social media? Is your iPhone really “saving literature”? Few are keener on smart phones as reading platforms than I am---complete with my advocacy of cell phone book clubs. But for me the answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might think. It isn’t enough just to own a smart phone. You also...

‘Must’ for next librarian of Congress: A love of reading—including the ebook variety
June 17, 2015 | 8:34 pm

James_H._Billington_8971James Billington, 86, departing January 1 as librarian of Congress, excelled in certain areas such as Russian history. But he was not a librarian by background, and many of the real McCoys hated him. No small number of the library’s techies might have felt the same way. This Reagan-era appointee shunned e-mail and rarely picked up a cell phone. And e-books? Forget it. “Search techniques are embedded in e-books that invite people to dabble rather than follow  a full train of thought,” he said in 2011. Yes, you can dabble. But Billington zeroed in...

Books in Browsers conference on pause. Up with dedicated e-reading apps for now!
June 15, 2015 | 5:29 am

moonI’m not surprised to see the Books in Browsers conference go on pause. For me, most browser-based books are letdowns compared to e-books as read with the better apps, such as Moon+ Reader Pro (screenshot). Moon and the like let you tweak the typography precisely and do other customization. I truly, truly hate the ergonomic disasters that books in browsers can be at their worst. Somehow you can’t get the type size right. Or maybe the content just disappears and you can’t do anything since you exercise so little control. No, I’m won’t necessarily be as hard on b-in-b in the future. The tech is...

Voice Dream text-to-speech reader to appear for Android in August
June 11, 2015 | 1:32 pm

ipad_middleI’ve praised the Voice Dream e-reader as a stellar way to enjoy text to speech of files in ePub, HTML, plain text, Word and other formats. Other apps offer TTS. But Voice Dream Reader also comes with wonderful navigational and annotative capabilities as well as a rich assortment of voices. It’s integrated with DropBox, Google Drive and EverNotes, and you can even download to it directly from Project Gutenberg Now---some great news: Voice Dream Reader for Android will enter Beta in a few days and should be in the Apple Store at the start of August....

E-books vs. paper: Psychologist Krystine Batcho is more open minded than many academics
June 7, 2015 | 11:21 am

KRYSTINE BATCHOYes, toddlers fare better with paper books, which they can feel. But don’t knock e-books. Skeptics would do well to spend a week on E before giving up on it. Even older people can make the leap. Their brains are still plastic enough to adjust. That’s the word from Krystine Batcho, a professor of psychology at Le Moyne college and a contributor to such publications as Psychology Today. You can hear more from her via Len Edgerly’s must-listen podcast, The Kindle Chronicles. Click here and scroll down to the audio player. The interview begins 17 minutes into...

‘On loving books I can’t remember’
June 7, 2015 | 10:48 am

Natalia_Sylvester_“I’ve struggled with this realization for a while now. I tell myself I’ll go back and reread them, but there’s always some shiny new book I’m dying to read instead, and endless piles on my shelves I still must get to. When I consider how many books I consume each year, I suppose it’s not so bad. Books are like people, I often think: full of depth and character, interesting to some of us but not others. Like the many people I encounter in my daily life, I can’t remember everything about them.” – Latina novelist Natalia Sylvester, author of...

E-book-lovers vs. proprietary formats (yes, P is still evil)
June 6, 2015 | 11:28 am

Cumbres_&_Toltec_trainTeleRead writers traditionally have been strong supporters of e-book standards. No blinking. No hesitation. ePub is the way to go in most cases. The majority of us have just hated proprietary formats even though companies like Amazon make them hard to avoid. Proprietary formats remind us of the time when trains commonly ran on tracks of different gauges. But as TeleRead’s owner, I've made it clear we don't have party lines.  And today’s beautifully written essay from Chris Meadows, my friend and much-appreciated colleague, illustrates this. Mind you, Chris isn't directly cheering proprietary formats. He...

David’s Links: Rescuing classic old tech gizmos. Austen relative’s crime novel almost back in print. Writerly tools—from anti-piracy app to marketing helpers
May 31, 2015 | 1:21 pm

640px-3G_ipod_in_dock (1)Keeping Your Classic Tech Devices Running (New York Times) There are mechanics who can keep your gear going. Solutions include experts who will pay a visit to fix devices like iPods, as well as mail-in repair services. Plus there are a host of how-to sites so you can solve problems yourself. The TeleRead take: What (potentially) useful services! Do any TeleRead community members have stories to share---about those sites and services to help you rescue old tech gizmos? Tips? Including pointers to good rescuers? Any sites or services to avoid? Crime novel by relative of Jane Austen is back in print (Guardian) The scene is set in...

Summer time and the stealin’ is easy: How do you protect your Kindle, iDevice or other goody? Ever been ripped off?
May 29, 2015 | 9:18 am

pickpocketA relative of mine took her Kindle to the beach. She got a tan. The Kindle got a new owner. Soon my relative discovered that someone had bought a foreign-language magazine with it. So, with summer vacations coming up, what anti-theft tips can you share with fellow members of the TeleRead community? Last September, Nathan over at TheeBookReader.com reminded Kindle owners of the need to call Amazon first and then deregister your Kindle. Other tips? And how about other popular devices, ranging from iPhones and iPads to Android phones (fodder for pickpockets?)? Are you using remote-disable apps and...

Morning Links: New $99 Kindle bundle for Kids. iOS vs. Android for e-reading apps. FCC chair’s new digital divide plan.
May 29, 2015 | 7:58 am

kindleforkidsAmazon Debuts A $99 Kindle Bundle For Kids Including An E-Reader, Cover And Warranty (Tech Crunch) This new package includes the combination of a Kindle e-reader, a durable cover, and an extended warranty on the device which protects against spills and drops. The Bundle is being sold for $99, which is a savings of $39.98 if all three items were purchased separately, notes Amazon. The TeleRead take: Yes, this is a price-sensitive market. But next year when parts are cheaper than ever, how about text to speech capabilities for the millions of kids with learning...

Why can’t Google code? My Chrome browser still sucks. So does Gmail in major ways
May 25, 2015 | 7:10 am

New Orleans Carnival: Krewe du Vieux float satizing George W. Bush.  GNU Free Documentation License. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KdVWrongStuffDunceRocket.jpgLarry and Sergey, you can brag all you want about Moonshots---your driverless cars, your WiFi for developing countries, your other marvels; and sure, I’m also happy to hear about the new Literata font for e-books. But overall, compared to the past, you just don’t care as much about the people who made you billionaires. Us. Customers. End users. Pick the term. I’m running the latest nonbeta Chrome on my HP Pavilion and using the tips I shared earlier with TeleRead community members. And you know what? Chrome is still crashing far too often. While I realize you want to add new capabilities...

Exactly how waterproof is the Kobo H2O e-reader? Find out before you hit the beach
May 24, 2015 | 8:02 pm

AuraH2O_lifestyle_largeSeveral decades ago Arthur C. Clarke reminded a friend and me that e-book devices might develop amnesia if dropped in the bathtub. Well, time passes. I myself own a dandy waterpoof case for my Kindle Paperwhite. And I keep up with the Kobo world through a waterproof Aura H20. But wait! Exactly how waterproof is the H2O itself? The issue isn’t as simple as giving the H2O a quick dunk. How long will it be underwater? At what depth? I’ll leave such questions to braver souls in regard to the $180 Kobo. I was fine with dropping a $90...

‘A Beautiful Mind,’ e-books and the Five Laws of Library Science: RIP, John Forbes Nash, Jr.
May 24, 2015 | 4:54 pm

John_Forbes_Nash,_Jr._by_Peter_Badge“A Beautiful Mind,” the inspiration of the book and film by that name, died over the weekend.  John Forbes Nash, Jr., 86, and his wife, Alicia, 82, were killed Saturday in an automobile accident. A world-famous mathematician, he shared a Nobel Prize in economics for his contribution to game theory. His work helped shape fields ranging from diplomacy to law to computer science. But when I read of Nash’s death. I thought of something else—the Five Laws of Library Science. They remind librarians of the need to help patrons find the right books, and the right...

How to kill off Chrome RAM hogs: Crash-proofing tips
May 22, 2015 | 4:52 am

chrome ram hogs pac-man imageGoogle’s Chrome browser these days can be the Pac-Man of apps---with an insatiable appetite for RAM. Talk all you want about e-books in browsers and other goodies. But what about the basics? My Chrome was crashing constantly, and even a Google support staffer hadn’t a complete solution for my HP Pavilion---overwhelmed despite 8GB of RAM. I’d vaguely heard of the Great Suspender, a Chrome plug-in which tidies things up a bit by dumping tabs that you have not used in X amount of time (yes, you can adjust that value). And there is also OneTab to help you manage in a...

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