New Feature: Goodreads now has “Previews”

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I spend a lot of time browsing on Goodreads. I find it is a wonderful place to find my “next great read” by learning from others, reading reviews and looking at the bookshelves that individuals have created.

And now, just last week, they have added a new feature, further enhancing the browsing experience.

You can now PREVIEW any book that has a Kindle edition. Yay!

from the Goodreads blog:

Don’t judge a book by its cover…judge it by what’s inside with our new Preview feature, which launches today! With Preview, you can sample the story before committing to the whole book. Now our U.S. members can get a taste of their next amazing read right on the Goodreads website.

Just click on the book, and notice the PREVIEW button. Tap that button and a significant preview opens on your screen.

From Skitch-18

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Since we have (for years) been able to preview Kindle books on Amazon, I would often go back and forth between Goodreads and Amazon. Happily this back-and-forthing is no longer necessary. I am delighted. :)

At the moment, this feature is only available in the US.

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Walmart Slashes Prices on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 7.47.27 AMIt won’t be too long until the new iPhone 6 is released.

But if you need a new phone, and you don’t need the “latest” version, Walmart has a deal for you.

For the next 90 days, Walmart is selling the 5s for just $79, and the 5c for 97¢ (yes, you read that right…. 97 cents).

Of course you have to agree to a two year contract but you have your choice of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or US Cellular.

I’m sure lots of folks will be taking advantage of this deal. Personally, I’m waiting for that bigger screen that is promised rumored for the iPhone 6. :)

iPhone 5C drops to 97 cents at Walmart

You Can Now Get A Dirt-Cheap iPhone 5s And A Nearly Free iPhone 5c At Wal-Mart

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Heads Up! New iPhones are a-coming, soon

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 8.51.33 AMIt seems like yesterday that I gushed with glee over the new iPhone 5. Some of my “bad” concerns never panned out (battery has been fine, and I love the power cord). I have thoroughly enjoyed my last two years with my iPhone 5.

Enter the iPhone 6. It’s coming. In about a month.

The biggest rumor news about this new phone is the size. It looks like the iPhone 6 will come in several sizes. It’s growing larger.

One very popular phone, the Samsung Galaxy, has a significantly larger screen than an iPhone. And that larger screen has been a huge success. I know several closely related folks :) who have “strayed” and are loving their Galaxy phones.

So, it looks like Apple is playing a little catch-up here, coming out with a larger iPhone, providing consumers with a choice (and hopefully keeping people in the Apple universe).

Below is a great illustration from MacRumors, showing the comparison of the device sizes: Notice that the largest iPhone is actually approaching iPad mini size!

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Oh, the choices!!! The chatter about these new sizes is quite interesting. Some folks enjoy the size just as it is, and want no changes at all. Others are looking forward to a new, larger screen. My daughter-in-law and I just had this conversation yesterday…. she wants to keep her trusty iPhone small, while I am quite sure I’ll be pursuing the new (biggest) model.

So, if you are in the market for upgrading your iPhone, start thinking about size.
It matters. :)

Your thoughts? Is bigger = better?

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Blogging Break AND Awesome Views of our Planet

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As I take a bit of a blogging break, I thought I would leave you something to enjoy while I am gone.

This is Technology at its FINEST!!!

By clicking the link below, you will be taken to a LIVE view of the planet Earth from the International Space Station.

It is Awesome. Mesmerizing. Humbling.

If you see a black screen, the space station is on the dark side of the earth. If you scroll down the page a bit, you will see a live map so that you can locate what part of the earth you are flying over (or confirm that the space station is on the dark side.)

It might take a few moments for the page to load, so be patient. It’s worth it.

This only went live back in April, as an experiment. Hopefully, they will keep it up.

I’ve bookmarked this site, and find myself returning to it often. What an awesome view.

One suggestion:
Once you are viewing our planet from the space station, click on the arrows in the right hand bottom corner of the screen so that the scene explodes to a full-screen view on your computer. Wowza.

Keep your eyes on the screen…. you’ll see that you are actually, virtually, moving around our planet.

Enjoy!!

Live view from the International Space Station

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It’s 7 – 11, and that means it’s Free Slurpee Day! More FREE STUFF, all week, with the App

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Stop in today, Friday, 7/11, between the hours of 11 am to 7 pm at your local, participating 7-Eleven to get a free Slurpee. No coupon necessary. This is the 12th year that the chain has given away Slurpees to celebrate its birthday.

And then …..

If you have the 7-Eleven App, you get more freebees all birthday-week long!

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That’s quite a haul of FREE stuff for a FREE app.

7-Eleven App is FREE in the iTunes store

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New Survey: Cellphones ONLY for 2 out of 5 in the US

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 5.33.04 PMThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been watching the evolution of cell phones vs landlines for the last several years in the US.

They recently released a new report which boils down to the news that 2 out of 5 homes in the US have ditched the landline and are cellphone only.

That’s twice what it was 5 years ago, but in spite of that, the trend seems to be slowing down.

You can read more about this report from several links I will put at the end of this post.

But …..

This made me wonder about those of us here in the blogosphere … worldwide, not just in the USA.

So let’s weigh in!

Here at my house, we have both. However, we don’t use the landline anymore. It’s there, and it collects all the telemarketer calls (and a lot of dust), but we don’t use it as our phone. I would dump it, but it comes “bundled” with cable TV service and internet, and basically costs nothing, so…… we keep it and let the answering machine pick up any stray calls that come through there.

My children, however, are all adults with homes of their own, and there are no landlines for them. Cell phones only in those households.

How about you? Are you a cell phone-only house?

Or do you have a cell-phone(s) AND a landline?

4 in 10 US Homes Are Cellphone Only, Skip Landline

Two in five U.S. homes have only cellphones: survey

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World Book Night, USA, is ………………………….. (cue tears) Ending

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Anyone who has followed my blog knows that I have been an enthusiastic supporter of World Book Night. Looking back through my posts, I had at least 7, gushing over the awesomeness of the project and encouraging folks to join me, leap in and pass out books.

Sadly, today when I looked at my email, there was a new one from the World Book Night Organization.

Bottom line: It’s over. Too costly.

After three years in which thousands and thousands of you distributed over a million and half specially-printed World Book Night paperbacks across America, we are sad to announce that we are suspending operations. The expenses of running World Book Night U.S., even given the significant financial and time commitment from publishers, writers, booksellers, librarians, printers, distributors, shippers–and you, our amazing givers!–are too high to sustain.

From World Book Night U.S. Board Chairman Michael Pietsch: “World Book Night’s first three years have been a profound experience for everyone involved. The altruistic spirit of the givers and of industry supporters have reminded us all of the transformative impact books have on people’s lives, and of the power of a book as a gift. The World Book Night Board joins me in extending their deep gratitude to all who have taken part.”

So that’s that.

No more World Book Night.

It was a marvelous experience, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate for all three years.

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Amazon’s New Fire Phone: Will you give up your iPhone?

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 3.43.56 PMToday Amazon announced their new product: A smartphone. Called the Amazon Fire Phone, it will be released on July 25 (pre-order, now).

So …. is this the phone that will make you give up your iPhone?

It seems that the iPhone has lost its WOW factor for many. When it first exploded into our world, it was an incredible leap of technology. But today, there are smartphones everywhere, and many folks no longer look at the iPhone as the one-and-only.

And today marks another new entry into the Smartphone universe. The Amazon Fire Phone.

The promo for it looks quite good. I think it all boils down to what do YOU want from your smartphone?

This new phone has several features that are standouts:

Mayday: For us un-techy types, this is HUGE. The Mayday button was introduced on the latest version of the Amazon Fire, and it has been a raging success. With the Mayday button, if you want to learn something about your phone, if you need some instruction, or if you are having a problem, you just tap the Mayday button and a LIVE person will appear on your screen to help you. Instantly. Just like that. This feature is a keeper, and I have to say, if I was considering my first smartphone, this would be a really big selling point. The helper can draw on your phone (arrows, etc) showing you exactly what to touch and how to do it. This is a major goodie to have on your phone.

Firefly technology: This is a ‘bell and whistle’ kind of thing, but also cool. Firefly will instantly recognize music, products, ads …. oodles of things in the world. With a touch of a button you get useful information and the ability to act on it as well.

One-handed reading: Just tilt the phone to scroll. (Why didn’t Apple do this? It’s brilliant!)

And how about this: With the purchase of the new Amazon Fire Phone you get one whole year of Prime, FREE. Prime gives you lots of perks in addition to the postage and quick mailing for items bought via Amazon. You also get access to a huge video streaming library, a library full of Kindle books to borrow and free music to stream and/or download. AND … if you are already a Prime member, if you purchase the Amazon Fire Phone, you get your Prime membership extended an additional year. That’s excellent!! That’s one year of Prime for EACH phone you buy. Three phones on one account? That’s three YEARS of Prime. Details, here.

The 32 GB phone will be $199 with a 2 year contract through AT&T. Other options also available.

You can learn more about the phone, and an in-depth look at all the features (MUCH more than I described) by clicking here.

So will you consider a change? Will this Amazon Fire Phone convince you to leave your iPhone behind?

There are a few things about this phone that tempt me. Me. A bona-fide Apple fan-boy-girl-lady. The Mayday button. The year of Prime. Yelp shows up directly on the maps. A larger screen. The one-hand tilt scrolling screen.

At this moment, I’m not sure. But to my own surprise, I’m considering it. Anyone who knows me (in real life) or through my blog knows that I like to take my time when approaching technology-changes. I always wait for a while, for example, before downloading the latest software update.

So I’ll not be jumping in right yet. I’ll wait and see. I’ll let others test the waters.

I’ll be trolling the internet for comparisons in every area for the iPhone vs Amazon Fire Phone. When I find a great comparison, item by item, camera vs camera, etc, I’ll be sure to link to it on this blog.

If this new phone lives up to it’s hype, a change for me is not out of the question. There are a lot of features here that I would appreciate.

This just might be my iPhone Waterloo.

How about you?

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World Cup Soccer, brought to you by Google

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 6.54.48 PM World Cup 2014 runs from June 12 to July 13 in Brazil…

…and Google has geared up to keep us informed of all World Cup action.

No matter what your device, just use Google and type in “world cup” or “world cup usa” (or whatever your team of choice) and you will see the latest team lineup, live scores and other information.

Tap to switch to specific teams, players, etc.

Learn more about all you can do, here.

You can also visit Brazil’s 12 stadiums with Google’s street view:

Brazil’s World Cup Stadiums

Or visit Brazil’s painted streets:

Brazil’s Painted Streets

There is an official World Cup app for your iPhone and iPad, free in the iTunes store, but it really looks as though Google has it all covered, with no app to clutter your screen, and giving you access through any of your devices. :)

Play ball!
(I know, I know, you say “play ball!” to start a baseball game. I just don’t know what the equivalent “start chant” is for soccer aka football…. :shock: Is there one?)

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Google Doodle Winner 2014 (US)

Did you notice today’s Google Doodle? It’s the winning entry for Google Doodle 2014 (US).

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100,000 submissions. 1 winner.

Audrey Zhang, 11, from New York.

Love how the technology combines with art to create oodles of doodles. And the themes of these doodles are marvelous ‘inventions.’ And considering that any invention will begin with a sketch … who knows?

Her original drawing was not animated, of course, but the Google People worked with her to bring to life her own ideas of movement.

Congratulations, Audrey!

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