Downloading Books and Audiobooks FREE directly to your iPhone or iPad

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 7.07.12 PMPreviously on this blog, I gushed about borrowing books from your local library for your Kindle. That post was over a year ago, and I still find it wonderfully exciting to sit in my home, browse through library books, and have them magically appear on my Kindle.

Recently, I tried another bit of library borrowing….. and I’m equally thrilled.

With the Overdrive app, you can download AUDIO books from your local library directly to your iPhone or iPad. Then you can take that audio book with you for a walk or to the gym. Wonderful! And all this is FREE.

It is quite easy to do.

First, of course, you must determine whether or not your local library participates with Overdrive. I’m guessing they do …. it seems quite popular. You can call and ask, or go to your library’s website and hunt around a bit. Chances are there will be an “ebooks” section, and you can see if they use the word “overdrive.”

Once you know your library participates, download the app.

You’ll be asked to “add a library.” I typed in my zip code, and my library magically appeared.

Sign in to your local library (probably with your library card number and a pin).

Find the book you want to download, and tap it to start the process.

All done! Your audio book is now on your iPhone and you are good to go.

From Skitch-19

From my experience, it is MUCH easier to browse books from my computer (rather than the phone). Once I’ve made my choice, I just “search” for it on the app on the iPhone, and tap it to download.

And so now…. from my local library, I can get books to read on my Kindle, and books to listen to on my iPhone. It’s a kid-in-a-candy-shop kind of experience to get books like this from the comfort of your own home.

It’s just as easy to download books to read to your iPhone and iPad with this app. I chose an audiobook because I don’t really enjoy reading on the small screen of the phone. (However…my iPhone 6 Plus …when it arrives… may change all that!).

Just to be clear: you can directly download books to read OR to listen to through this app.

Overdrive is free in the iTunes store

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Improving the Paperwhite: Amazon Introduces the Kindle Voyage

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 7.17.56 AMLast week the tech world was all abuzz about the new iPhones. In the middle of all that excitement, Amazon quietly released a bunch of new goodies. (at least it seemed like it was “quietly” to me….)

I know that many of my readers are HUGE Paperwhite fans (me, too!!!).

Honestly, I could not imagine how it would be possible to improve that device. It seems darn near perfect.

And yet, as technology moves forward, so do the devices, and Amazon has now ramped up their Paperwhite to a new level, and they are calling this NEW eReader the Kindle Voyage.

So how did they improve ‘perfect’?

1. It’s THINNER.

2. TWICE as many pixels as the Paperwhite, making the text super-crisp.

3. Added tapping sensors on the edge so that you can gently press to turn a page.
(I like love this. I missed my buttons.) You can still turn the page with finger swipes.

4. Automatic light sensors will adjust the light according to the light in the room. It will gradually decrease in a dark room, as your eyes adjust to the dimmer light.

5. General re-design, including a flush-front.

Wifi only, with special offers, costs $199. Removing the special offers hikes the price to $219. (I have the “special offers” appearing on my Paperwhite, and it really doesn’t bother me at all.)

I thought long and hard about this, because I really love my Paperwhite. I did not feel the need to level-up ……. UNTIL I saw that page-turning sensor. That is the one thing I have always missed on the Paperwhite. I am a bed-reader, and when you are comfortably reclining on your side, holding the kindle with one hand, it can be awkward and inconvenient to try and swipe the pages. It’s a nightly struggle to position the Paperwhite just right, and usually I don’t. I missed the old Kindle buttons on the earlier models.

And so I am going to try it. Amazon’s generous return policy makes this a no-brainer for me, because if I don’t like it, I can easily return it. No harm, no foul.

To my surprise, MANY people must be ordering this, because when I tapped the “buy” button on Friday (just a short time after the quiet launch) …. I was told that I won’t be receiving my Kindle Voyage until NOVEMBER 28! :shock: (when it first went on sale, the shipping date was in October!). Wow. I guess the market is strong for this new eReader.

Amazon has also released 4 other products.

1. A Fire HD tablet for only $99. Cheapest tablet available.

2. Fire HD KIDS Edition. “If they break it, we replace it. No questions asked.” If there are Kids in your life, this is worth a closer look.

3. FireHDX 8.9 Big improvements to this tablet.

4. Basic Kindle. Touch screen. No light, but lots of other features. $79

For further information on all of these products, just go to Amazon. They are all displayed on their home page with links to more details.

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A New Word for you to Learn: Phablet

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 8.00.26 PMIf you haven’t heard it yet, you’ll hear it soon.

Phablet

Phablet – a phone that’s big enough to be (almost) considered a tablet.

Samsung has produced a phablet for years with it’s Galaxy Note. And do people like it? They seem to love it. So Apple is now jumping on that bandwagon with the iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone 6 Plus = the newest phablet on the market.

There was a great review of the iPhone 6 Plus in the New York Times today. Written by a bona-fide big-phone hater, he talks about the time he spent with this new phablet, pros and cons.

I think he surprised himself.

He finds many pluses to make up for the lack of pocketability.

Read the whole article, here:

With Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, Phablets Get Serious.

Now I’m starting to get excited to get my hands on one.

I’ll not be in line at the Apple stores on Friday (I’m not THAT crazy ambitious :) )

But …

I placed my order! And I should get my iPhone 6 Plus (aka Phablet) in about 3 weeks.

If you are considering the iPhone 6 Plus, I would suggest you take a few minutes and read the NY Times review.

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Learn a Language with Duolingo. FREE and FANTASTIC

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 8.50.01 AMI so admire those who can speak more than one language.

I can’t, and it’s something that I thoroughly regret.

If you are interested in learning a language …… or brushing up on your skills with a language you dabbled in while in school ….. stop reading my blog right now, and download Duolingo!

You can learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and English.

It is FREE. No ads. And NO in-app purchases. Choose a language and GO. They give you lessons in little doses. I’ve been working through some lessons and yes, indeed, I am picking up bits and pieces. What an awesome little app!

If you have some background in a language, you can take a “placement” test. I did. But… as you can see, I didn’t do well.

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So I started at the best place to start. The beginning. And I am enjoying every bite-sized lesson.

Duolingo, for your iPhone or iPad, is FREE in the iTunes store.

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iPad Slowing Down? Try this Simple Fix, First

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 8.28.31 PMLast week my dear friend Mona had a sluggish iPad.

Really sluggish.

I watched as she tried to load a map, and it took
f o r e v e r.

Frustrating.

She did the housekeeping thing, and closed all the running apps. No difference. Sluggish, still.

So the next day she made an appointment with a Mac Genius.

They had the solution, and her iPad is speedy, once again.

What was the magic?

They told her to turn it off. Then on (of course :) ). Yes, that’s it.

Actually, the Genius suggested turning it off at least 3 times a week to improve and/or maintain the speed.

That was it. On and off. Remember this if your iPad gets sluggish (and iPhone, as well). It may not solve all your issues, but it can’t hurt.

Thanks, Mona!

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How to Assign a Unique Tone to a Particular Person’s Incoming Text Messages

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 6.25.38 PMOne of the first things most people do when they get their first smart phone is to link up special ringtones for certain people. You might have a particular ringtone to recognize (without looking) that it is your spouse calling, or any other special person.

But did you know that you can also do this for text messages?

Usually most of the text messages that arrive on my phone sound the same. I don’t necessarily look at my phone right away, so some messages might sit for a while before I respond to them.

Recently, though, I was having some work done on my house, and I needed to see the text messages from the contractor as they came in. The best way to do this was to assign a particularly loud and annoying sound specifically to the contractor so that when a message come in from that number, I would be sure to look at it.

This worked beautifully, and I never missed a message. :)

Here is how to assign a sound to a particular texting person:

Go to your Contacts and select the person you want to customize.

Tap on EDIT and scroll down… you will see “text tone” as a choice. Tap on that.

From Skitch-4

From Skitch-5

Now scroll through the sound choices, pick the one you want, and tap “done.”

From Skitch-6

That’s all there is to it!

From now on, a text message from your special contact will be identified with your uniquely assigned tone.

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Punctuation Shortcut for your iPhone and iPad

Over the last several years, “throwback Thursday” has become quite popular. Although it is really supposed to be about nostalgia (like old photos), I thought I’d stretch the point, and occasionally post an old (but updated!) “how to” on Thursdays, for the benefit of the many new-device-users who have joined our blog. (or to refresh the memories for those of us who forget!)

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 8.18.15 AMAnyone who has done any typing on the iPhone or on the iPad has noticed the multiple steps needed to insert punctuation.

You have to tap the 123 button, tap your punctuation, and then tap the ABC button to return to the letter keyboard. That’s 3 taps!

Doesn’t ONE tap sound better?

Here’s how you can add punctuation with just ONE tap:

When you get to the moment that you need punctuation, put your finger on the 123 button and HOLD. Now, SLIDE your finger to the punctuation you need, and then, RELEASE.

From Skitch-3

Poof! Your punctuation has appeared in your text, and your keyboard has returned to the letters so you can continue typing.

Easy, breezy. :)

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Misbehaving app?

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Sometimes, apps misbehave. They might freeze. Or act wonky. :shock:

If you are finding that an app on your iPhone or iPad isn’t working properly, try this easy fix:

Tap your home button to leave the app.

Double click your home button.

Put your finger on the troublesome app and slide UP. It disappears.

From Skitch-2

Tap the home button again.

Now re-open your app. It should now (hopefully) act properly.

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How to Delete an App from your iPad or iPhone: (part of the) Very Beginner Series

* Occasional posts will contain how-tos and/or hints for VERY new users of iPads, iPhones or Kindles. All new users welcome! Non-tech speak, not terribly detailed, just basic device-enhancing goodness. All part of this Very Beginner Series.

Please share with any beginners (Mom? Dad? Grandma?) in your life.*

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.11.07 AMI received a message from a reader today asking how to delete an app. I can’t believe that I neglected to include such a basic “how to” on this blog! Let me correct that, right now. :)

Any new iPhone/iPad user will soon find themselves loaded with apps. While some of those apps will be useful, you will probably find that others are not-so-good and you would like to get them OFF of your device. It’s very easy to do.

How to delete an app from your iPhone or iPad:

Hold your finger on the app that you want to remove from your device.

It will start to wiggle, and you will see an “x” in the corner of the icon.

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Tap on the “x” and you will be given a message that asks if you are sure that you want to delete this app.

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Once you tap “delete”, the app disappears. Poof!

FYI … it’s not gone forever. You bought it. You own it. If you ever want it back, just return to the iTunes store and download it again. Apple will remember that you already bought it, so you will download it without charge.

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How to Enjoy a Slideshow on your iPad: (part of the) Very Beginner Series

Over the last several years, “throwback Thursday” has become quite popular.

Although it is really supposed to be about nostalgia (like old photos), I thought I’d stretch the point, and occasionally post an old (but updated!) “how to” on Thursdays, for the benefit of the many new-device-users who have joined our blog.

* Occasional posts will contain how-tos and/or hints for VERY new users of iPads, iPhones or Kindles. All new users welcome! Non-tech speak, not terribly detailed, just basic device-enhancing goodness. All part of this Very Beginner Series.

Please share with any beginners (Mom? Dad? Grandma?) in your life.*

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 8.54.04 AMRemember the digital picture frames that were so popular several years ago? If you have an iPad, you may choose to leave that digital frame in the drawer because your iPad is an awesome picture frame. Better, probably, than the dedicated version you have (had) and a LOT more fun.

When you first take your iPad out of the box, one of the Apps you will see on the home screen is called Photos and it shows on your screen as a daisy with colorful petals. We are going to make our slideshow with this native App (although there are lots of others available in the App Store).

Once you have about a dozen photos on your iPad, you are ready to enjoy the show. We will get it started, and look at several options along the way.

Touch the photos app to open it. Now tap any photo, from any collection. (Once you understand how to make a slideshow, you can group your photos accordingly.)

Look down at the bottom left of the screen. You’ll see a box with an arrow pointing up. This is your “action” box.

Tap on this action box, and you’ll be presented with several choices of “actions.” One of these choices will be: Slideshow.

From Skitch

Select “slideshow” and you will get a new menu with several choices.

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Touch “transitions” and you will get several options: dissolve, cube, ripple, wipe across, wipe down and origami. Choose any one of these for now, you can come back and change it later.

Your next option is “Play Music”. Slide this to “on”. When you touch “music” you will be presented with all the music that you have on your iPad. Select something that you would like to listen to while you watch your pictures.

Once you have made these choices, touch “Start Slideshow” and sit back to enjoy the show. At any point if you want to stop it, just tap the screen.

But you’re not done yet! There are a few other tweaks that you can do. Open Settings > Photos. Notice there are several setting choices for your slideshow. You can change the number of seconds that each slide stays on the screen, choose to repeat photographs, and opt to have the photos shuffled as they are viewed.

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