Free. Everybody likes free. I mean, what’s not to like about free? It’s free! Free, free, free - use the word often enough, however, and it begins to lose its meaning. “Free special offer (some rules and restrictions apply)!” “Free entree (with purchase of equal or greater value entree)!” “Free ski trip (after we badger you into investing in a timeshare over the course of an eight-hour 'seminar')!” Free just isn’t what it used to be, and nowhere is this more evident than the world of electronic games. Users are steeped in phrases like “free-to-play” and “freemium” to a degree that free really does start to sound like a four-letter-word. Free they say? Nonsense, we say. Let’s take a look.
Technology can be frustrating, confusing, and downright irritating to some. For others, it’s the reason to get up in the morning. Whatever your stance, you can count on the Central Rappahannock Regional Library as one of the region’s prime sources of technology assistance. With our Training on Demand classes and our eBook help, you can get a lot of bang for your no-buck! We help with learning PC, Internet, Email, and other beginners topics including Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, and even Access. We can explain to you the ups and downs of the different eReaders and their respective eBook stores, not to mention how to use those devices with our free eBooks! And now we’re gearing up to offer you even more technical content on Librarypoint with our revamped Tech Answers page!
On September 12, 2012, Apple announced the release of the new iPhone 5. For some avid Apple technology fans, there is no doubt. They must immediately upgrade to the latest version. But if you’re like me, the decision is a bit more complicated. The more I learn about the features of the iPhone 5, the more my geeky side wants to play with the new toy. However my practical side says that in spite of the fact that my iPhone 4 is now technically two generations out of date, it is only two years old and still does everything I want it to do. Apple’s website has a handy chart that compares the features of the iPhone 5 with the iPhone 4 and 4S. But I find that lists of specifications don’t really convey the true impact of the changes. So I did some research to try to understand what the changes mean in real terms.
As a long-time user of Instructables, I can attest to the certain charm that comes with being able to find a recipe for bacon-topped caramel cupcakes and directions to build a robot, all in the same place. Instructables is a website born from several creators in the MIT media lab. What started as a project focused purely on engineering prototypes has branched into a website featuring user-generated D.I.Y. projects in a near mind-boggling array of categories. There are projects that range from wood-fire heated hot tubs to a collection of recipes on “What to do with Day Old Bread.”
Dear eBook Retailers & Publishers,
The eBook world has fallen into an even sorrier state with Amazon's announcement that its new Kindle Fires will feature unwanted advertisements right out of the box (though Amazon caved pretty quickly on offering users a way to buy out the ads). I read that, then I re-read my last blog post reviewing different aspects of eBook retailers: four pages worth of trying to make sense of the eBook landscape and that was after some serious condensing. I brooded for a moment, then said to myself, "eBooks are a big, stinky mess!"
I keep hoping and praying that the eBook situation will get better, but aside from Tor's announcement that their eBooks will no longer be copy-protected, things are getting worse. There are too many different eBook stores using too many different file and copy-protection standards, methods for transferring eBooks, and too many types of hardware, many tied to a single retailer. So to the eBook powers-that-be: I'm done being coy and hoping that you'll come to these conclusions on your own. Here's what you need to do!
The holiday shopping season is looming which means it’s time for a new round of eReaders to be introduced from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and maybe, just maybe, Apple, and there will be several months of us giving them our money. But before you buy, read on to find out exactly what you’re getting into, in terms of both hardware and retailer.
I see it all the time: PCs choking on gobs of uninvited software to the point where they barely function. They may be Web browser toolbars or antivirus utilities or programs that promise to speed up your computer, when in fact they do exactly the opposite. It enrages me to see programs like these on my customers’ computers because I know that they did not knowingly install these programs--these programs waltzed in with another that the customer did want. This sort of software is referred to as “sneakware.” Here are some strategies to prevent this from happening to you!
If you pay attention to technology news at all, you might have heard the term “post-pc era” tossed about. This term was, if not coined, then certainly nurtured most heartily by Steve Jobs when talking about the iPad. It’s a funny thing about the iPad: when it was first announced everybody just sort of shrugged and said “So what? It’s just a big iPhone!” But people bought them anyway and it turned out that there was indeed a huge market for these devices. Now we use them for all sorts of things, and I will admit that my tablet gets me through most of my casual computer usage at home. Web browsing, book reading, video watching, etc. are now all accomplished on a piece of plastic and glass that fits comfortably in my hand and has a battery that lasts all day. Tablet computers have seen a much faster adoption rate than PCs did, and this popularity has many in the media and at Apple singing the PC's death. How wrong they all are.
Our smartphones are our lives. Go ahead and deny it, but deep down you know you get jittery when you aren’t caressing your tiny portable computer that basically hands you the digital world on a tempered glass tray. As I pointed out in my Must-Have Android and Must-Have iPhone apps articles there are a lot of apps out there that’ll do just about anything. But there’s lots more that we can do to customize our smartphones and our tablets, especially for Android. Sorry Apple users, your fantastic apps may bring all the boys to the yard, but Android has you beat fair and square on the customizability front. Sure, you could jailbreak your iPhone or iPad (Google it if you dare, just know you’ll be put out in the cold if you take a busted jail-broken device to the Apple Genius Bar), but I’m not going to risk going there, so Android users, this one’s for you!