Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Have you tried Google Scribe?

Google Scribe is a text-predicting plug-in for Chrome. If you type with one hand (like during lunch when you have a sandwich in the other, or after a bad fall when your dominant hand is in a sling) this will save you hours of hunting and pecking. I normally type at 120 wpm, but during meals this slows a lot, and I hate getting food goo on  my keyboard.

My recommended settings:

 Automatically enable Google Scribe on active text field 
While editing, use Ctrl+J (Command+J on Mac) to enable/disable Google Scribe. More keyboard shortcuts 

 Show suggestions as I type ("Always")
 Show suggestions on Tab ("On demand") 
While editing, use Ctrl+Shift+J (Command+Shift+J on Mac) to switch between "Always" and "On demand". More keyboard shortcuts 

Sort suggestions by:  

 Enable Enter for choosing suggestion 
 Enable Tab for choosing suggestion 
 Enable Space for choosing suggestion 

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

yWriter5 - Free novel writing software to help you write a book

yWriter5 - Free novel writing software to help you write a book

Thanks to's Galley Cat newsletter, which led to to yWriter. This is a novel-writing application created by a programmer who also writes fiction. Mea culpa--I started this post over a year ago and have been using yWriter since then. I cannot recommend it too highly. It provides the organizational tools necessary to write long-form fiction (and nonfiction) without intruding upon the creative process with a lot of silly mythomadness suggestions. It also provides frequent stable back-ups so you won't lose your data. I use this program every day. I hope you will, too.

Click here to give it a try.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Your Brain Away from Technology

Today's NYT had a long, anecdotal article about a group of neuroscientists going rafting to see if being away from electronic communication would benefit their thought processes. Interesting but without any definite conclusions.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Inside Google Books: Books of the world, stand up and be counted! All 129,864,880 of you.

Inside Google Books: Books of the world, stand up and be counted! All 129,864,880 of you.

Google announced, yesterday, that by their count there are about 130 million books in the world. Interestingly, they found many metadata errors, such as multple books assigned the same ISBN, and even a thousand t-shirts with ISBNs. Their post is worth reading for anyone interested in books and cataloging.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New E-reading Device, the Kno, Targets Textbook Market : Page 1 of 1 : Book Business

New E-reading Device, the Kno, Targets Textbook Market : Page 1 of 1 : Book Business

This may be it, the ebook reader that will work for textbooks. It has two 14" touch screens so it displays textbooks as they look when printed on paper. The five minute video explains more.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ALA | Issues & Advocacy

ALA | Issues & Advocacy

The American Library Association has a great web-based system so that we voters can let our elected representatives know how we feel about library-related legislation.

Click the link and let yourself be heard. It takes only a few minutes, and after you have used the system once, you can quickly weigh in on future matters.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Losing Libraries

Losing Libraries

This is grim -- it's a live map of library closures and cut-backs in the US. Great technology. Wish it were showing library openings, instead.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Your Brain on Computers - Plugged-In Parents -

Your Brain on Computers - Plugged-In Parents -

This makes an interesting follow-up to Bill Snyder's article on Suicide, Stupidity and the iPhone. It's about the detrimental effects on children when their parents are so preoccupied with electronic communication that the parents cannot pull themselves away from it in order to have meaningful interactions with their children.

Suicide, stupidity, and the iPhone | The Industry Standard - InfoWorld

Suicide, stupidity, and the iPhone | The Industry Standard - InfoWorld

Bill Snyder, an editor at infoworld is hardly a Luddite, and neither am I, but he does point out some unexpectedly bad consequences of gadget proliferation

1. Terrible working conditions replete with low pay and overcrowded dormitories for the Chinese workers who manufacture them.

2. Worse traffic statistics than I had thought, due to distracted drivers.

3. And, of course, the rewiring of our brains as we become addicted to constant electronic stimulation.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Nicholas Carr and The Shallows -

Nicholas Carr and The Shallows -

Got to read this book. I love the quote from the review, to the effect that we have become a "nation of scatterbrains." I think this states the bottom line very clearly. Whether we attribute it to organic changes in how our brains process information or to the simple effects of living with constant electronic interruptions, the end result is that many of us have compromised our ability to maintain concentration. I am fortunate, in that I get to work alone most of the time, and I am able to maintain control over my interruptions, i.e., I decide whether to answer the phone, when to read my email, and whether to respond to tweets. In other words, I can maintain my concentration by shutting out interruptions.

However, I think there is an even worse unintended consequence of frequent electronic interruptions. Most of my colleagues in publishing and libraries don't have the level of control over their work that I have, and I think that the deleterious impact of interruptions is much more damaging to introverts than to extraverts. Most of the librarians, editors, et al, with whom I work are introverts. They do work that requires extended periods of mental concentration, and their work environment no longer provides this. Many of them suffer deeply because of this. They tell me this, but I can also see it in how they have changed their work patterns. Most of them used to welcome in-person meetings, for instance. Now, they are so over-stimulated by electronic interruptions, which they cannot control, that they refuse meetings, because meetings are something that they can control. Likewise, because electronic interruptions make maintaining an effective work flow difficult, I see people becoming more rigid in their routines as they try to hold onto the little stability they have in their work day.

So, not only are Twitter, email, FaceBook, etc., causing people to lose their concentration at work and their ability to concentrate when away from work, they are also causing people to back away from face to face human communication. This, in turn, leads them to greater dependence on the electronic media that are causing the problem to begin with.

There is, of course, a solution to this. It's nothing new, and you will find it in many books of the Getting Things Done type. People just have to limit how frequently they read email, Twitter, etc., by scheduling specific times for them rather than trying to respond to them immediately. But that is easier said that done, especially when we also have to work with people who expect immediate responses to their emails and tweets.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My review of Douglas Merrill's Getting Organized in the Google Era

Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff out of Your Head, Find It When You Need It, and Get It Done Right Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff out of Your Head, Find It When You Need It, and Get It Done Right by Douglas C. Merrill

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Douglas Merrill was Google's first CIO, assigned with the task of making Google's technology align with the way our brains work, and of developing it from there. His book is a practical guide to understanding and implementing brain research-based organizational and coping methods in our information overload world.

I should add that, if you are a GTD fan and are already using G-Mail and other high tech organizational tools, such as GTDInbox, Xobni, etc., then you won't find much new in the book.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Man infects himself with (computer) virus - Computerworld Blogs

Man infects himself with (computer) virus - Computerworld Blogs

I had to follow the headline and my curiosity to read this article. As I suspected, the infection was in an implanted RFID device. The interesting part was that he was able to transfer the virus from the invisibly implanted RFID device into the security network that controlled doors at his university. The virus then replicated across the security network. Think about that--invisible device implanted in someone's body, perhaps without their knowledge, infecting a secure network...

Saturday, May 15, 2010



This is an interesting blog about law in the US. The latest post is a detailed analysis of how Elena Kagan can bring the experience and wisdom of two often-ignored areas of juris to the SCOTUS: White House Law and Legal Academe.

This is very interesting, and I encourage everyone to read it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Google Docs no longer supports revision tracking and control

This may not sound like a big deal, but if you're a book editor or a journalist, and you have spent countless hours moving your documents to Google in order to collaborate in real time and track revisions, (not to mention teaching authors and others how to use G Docs) then you are probably standing on a chair in your office with a noose around your neck and wondering whether or not to jump.

I cannot believe that such an intelligently run company would do something so stupid, but then I have also been a MicroSoft customer for over twenty years so what should I expect from companies run by engineers who don't have a clue about why we customers buy their software.

Could we be buying it because we think it will help us get real work done? What a concept! I guess if I were an engineer, I would have trouble with it, too.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Dream Classrooms

My Dream Classrooms

From the news release:

March 25, 2010 – HumanWare and its partners announced today at the 2010 CSUN Conference the launch of the second phase of the website. This new interactive tool was designed to help educators discover different solutions for students who are blind, have low vision or learning disabilities. It will also help them find out how assistive technologies can increase their students' learning independence.

This website shows classrooms where various assistive tools are found on students' desks. By simply clicking on the item of interest, the users can learn about each product, its interactions with other tools, and available sources of content. An entire section of the classroom is dedicated to the various providers of accessible talking books supported by the featured devices.

Now in its second phase, the website is better suited to address the specific needs of educators. They can now select one of three school levels: elementary, high school and college. Educators can also select different categories of technological aids within the same class (blindness, low vision, learning disabilities). The "My Wish List" option allows users to create an online list of assistive tools they would like to have in their classroom. This wish list will also facilitate the purchasing process when acquiring the products.

The website also features useful sections such as the Resource Center where you can find additional information, including training material, instructional webinars and workshops.

The website is an initiative undertaken by a group of manufacturers of technological aids that includes HumanWare, Intel, View Plus, Quantum Technology, as well as providers of accessible content such as, Bookshare, Don Johnston, Read How You Want and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic.

Peyton's comment: Many of these technologies could also be used in school, academic and public libraries.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wildfire -- Talking Pen and Paper


This is a new invention that combines automatic language translation with a smart pen (pen-based scanner with audio output). The inventor sees it as useful for conducting incoming patient interviews in a hospital, but I can imagine a wide variety of educational and commercial uses, such as providing menu translation in restaurants to both sighted and blind patrons.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Use Book Theory: 1500 - 1700

Book Use Book Theory: 1500 - 1700

We may be living in the future, but our future or present exists as it is only because of the book. Here's an interesting web-based exhibit on the history of the book, courtesy of the University of Chicago Library.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

Edge 311

Edge 311

If you're not already reading Edge, then you're missing out on some of the most insightful writing on our path deeper into the future. Read a recent sample at this link.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Publishing: The Revolutionary Future - The New York Review of Books

Publishing: The Revolutionary Future - The New York Review of Books

Jason Epstein has had a long, distinguished career in publishing. His latest project was the development of the Espresso Book Machine. In this article, he argues for the importance of books as printed, ink on paper, objects that cannot be deleted with the click of a mouse.

After Amazon's deletion of Orwell's 1984 from the Kindles of customers who had "bought" it (what more appropriate title? except perhaps Fahrenheit 451) demonstrated the reality of digital purchases as licenses for use rather than as permanent purchases of ownership, I began rethinking my own belief about the permanency of digital rather than printed books. Naively, I had liked the fact that digital books could be stored in the cloud; I hadn't reckoned with the legal and technical fragility of them.

As always, Jason Epstein is worth reading. Please let me know what you think on this subject, too.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Slashdot Technology Story | Five Years of YouTube and Forced Evolution

Slashdot Technology Story | Five Years of YouTube and Forced Evolution

Here's a new update on the HTML 5 issue, based on the idea that Google spent so much when it bought YouTube for $1.65 billion that it has developed Chrome and the Chrome IE Tab in order to ensure that its investment pays off, and that it can take over the online world.

Conspiracy theory? Coincidence? or Make Sense?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Will Idealism be Firefox's Downfall?

Will Idealism be Firefox's Downfall?

Most people don't realize that the videos they see on the Internet are usually run with Adobe Flash. Neither to they understand that the Internet is written in HTML. Consequently, they completely don't understand that the new HTML standard for the Internet, HTML 5, is replacing Adobe Flash with H.264.

Lots of techno-talk. Bottom line? For web browser developers to use H.264, they have to pay MPEG-LA (as in Los Angeles, and as in an intellectual property service corporation that does not create but collects dollars and enforces patents) a $5,000,000 per year royalty fee. That is going to squeeze out anyone wanting to create a new web browser, so it's going to kill much creativity in browser land. We'll all be left with IE, Safari and Chrome -- browsers with bucks behind them. Mozilla could probably pay the fee, but they are more concerned with open access and creativity, so they won't.

Another angle is that Google (which owns YouTube) has "merged with" On2 (Google bought On2) which has HTML 5 video technology which is beyond H.264. If Google opens the market, it will eliminate the $5,000,000 barrier to entry.

Let's hope Google decides not to be evil in this deal. Meanwhile, cancel my YouTube account.