Tech Answers

10/15/2013 - 5:10pm
BARD mobile screenshot

The BARD Mobile app allows our Talking Book customers to access Braille and talking books directly from NLS (BARD). BARD offers a  collection of nearly 50,000 books, magazines, and musical scores, with new selections added daily.

BARD is up and running again despite the government shutdown. There has also been a mobile app set up for iPhones or iPads. You can obtain the free app from the Apple iTunes store.  

10/11/2013 - 12:19pm
An Intro to "Geek Music": Chiptune, Nerdcore, Filk, and Video Game Soundtracks

It is such a fantastic time to be a geek. When you think about it, a not insignificant portion of our popular culture has come to embrace geekdom in many forms. And while some in my tribe decry this as the homogenization and dilution of what they snobbishly declare “true” geekdom, I, as a pudgy, pale, balding, aging, once bully-bait bull geek, am quite pleased with how things have turned out.

10/12/2013 - 12:07pm
Personal Computer Buyers: Pass on Chromebooks

I read an article today stating that a new model of the sub-$300 notebook computers known as Chromebooks could be an “Apple-killer,” and that if they were stamped with Apple logo they would sell impressive numbers. That inspired an eye roll that nearly left me blind. Chromebooks are nice enough for limited purposes, and they get a lot of hype, but don’t let anyone sway you into thinking that these computers are a viable option for personal computing.

10/03/2013 - 2:40pm
You Don't Need That: Breaking Annual Device Release Addiction

Technology: yawn. The last thing anyone expected a gadget addict such as myself to declare is that it’s time to stop. Yes, I know there’s something new and shiny on the market, and no one wants it more than I do—right here, right now.  Here’s why I’m going to do my very best to ignore that impulse after this year, and I believe you should, too.

04/02/2014 - 2:09pm
The Best Cross-Platform Mobile Games

Last Update: December 7, 2013: Browse through games by genre—there is something for every gaming taste on this list. This newly-updated list also includes links to the Android versions through Amazon (as available) as well as Google Play so that Kindle Fire users can get their game on as well. Users of plain Android devices (i.e. not the Kindle Fire or Nook HD) should download the Amazon app store onto their devices and browse the offerings since Amazon frequently offers discounted prices on Android apps.  Tech Answers will be updating this list regularly, so check back often and happy gaming!

09/19/2013 - 10:47am
My Time with Android "Hacking"

Tech Answers is back! Didja miss me? This time I've got something special for you. Now, I've sampled a veritable cavalcade of different smartphones over the years, from the Treo, to the Blackberry, to the iPhone, and, most lately, the Android. There I landed, and—for the foreseeable future—there I stay. The Treo is long dead (bye-bye!), Blackberry is a dead man walking (so sad), the iPhone's one-time supremacy in the smartphone market is faded (but not gone!), and Windows Phone? Please (no). Android is flourishing when other smartphone platforms are stagnating for one simple reason: it is free and open source. Developers and individuals can do whatever they please with it. You can go to the Android project's site and download the source code for the world's most powerful mobile OS right now for no charge. It is that openness and its benefits that I'm going to ramble about in this post.

08/30/2014 - 11:13am
Quick Tech Tip: Disabling Gmail's Category Tabs

Are you a Gmail user? Did you wake up a week or two ago to find that your new messages were now being automatically organized by Gmail into tabs of different, pre-determined categories? And, did you think, like me, that they were really ugly, stupid, and unnecessary?  Here’s a quick tip on how to rid yourself of them!

Here's how Gmail looks now with its category tabs:

07/25/2013 - 11:37am
Customizing Your Android Launcher

The iPhone’s simplicity is one of the key reasons it has been such a success. Pick it up and use it, no muss, no fuss. Sadly, that simplicity comes at the expense of customizability. Aside from changing your wallpaper and creating folders, the iPhone doesn’t really offer much in the way of “pimpin’ it out.” Android to the rescue! If there’s one way that Android shines over iPhone, it’s that you can make it look pretty much however you’d like, thanks to its open platform nature. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using different launchers. A launcher is the “desktop” user interface of your Android phone. Changing and customizing launchers can help you be more productive and provide an aesthetic better suited to your tastes. The following are my favorite launchers.  

12/07/2013 - 12:45pm
The Best iPhone & iPad Original Games

A few months back I wrote a blog post, The Best Cross-Platform Mobile Games, detailing the best of mobile games for both Android smartphones and tablets as well as the iPhone and iPad. In that post I noted that there are many excellent games that are, for the most part, exclusive to the iPhone and iPad. It was the iPhone, after all, that demonstrated just how much potential mobile games have and practically every mobile game studio publishes first to Apple devices before even considering Android, if they ever make it to Android at all. These are, in my book, among the best such mobile games.

07/05/2013 - 2:50pm
Battle of the On-Demand Music Services

This is a fantastic time for music lovers. Music downloads no longer suffer from copy protection. Numerous sites and social tools have sprung up to help us discover and connect with talented artists. One of the most exciting developments has been the rise of subscription-based, on-demand music services. One low monthly or annual fee buys you access to a huge selection of music to listen to at any time. Heard a song from a new band you like and you want to hear more from them? Bam! Listen to all of their work right then and there without worrying about the recording industry suing you.  There are a number of these services to choose from, and in this post I'm going to help you decide which one to use.


Subscribe to Tech Answers