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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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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Turn on your Lights from anywhere in the World

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This ability to remotely control lights in your home has been around for a while, but it’s been pricey….. until now.

General Electric has recently announced that it will be selling a new line of LED lightbulbs that will work with an app on your smartphone. You will be able, through your phone, to adjust the brightness of these lightbulbs and to turn them on and off from anywhere. Pretty handy for a vacation, or a late night out.

These lightbulbs will sell for $15 (or less!) and will be available at Home Depot sometime this fall.

A hub will be required, and this will cost in the neighborhood of $49, which includes the hub AND two lightbulbs. (Previous set-ups ran closer to $200)

This is a very “busy” area of new technology. Apple is also developing “home kit” and wants to make your house smarter.

I don’t see where all this smart-house stuff is going, but then again, I’ve never been particularly insightful. When my son first showed me how his Commodore 64 could “call” another computer and leave a message on a “bulletin board” (the beginnings of the internet) I remember being less than enthusiastic.

But, gadget lover that I am, I’m liking the idea of this light bulb that I can control from my phone. I’m sure that I’ll be installing a few of these lightbulbs around my house. I don’t know if it will make my house smarter, but I do know it will be fun. :) And of course I’ll share my experiences here.

GE to sell Link LED lightbulbs controlled by Wink iPhone app

GE announces line of “link” Smart LED Lightbulbs starting at $15

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Weekend Distraction: Can You Find the Animals in these Pictures?

These are wonderful photographs of nature at its best.

Here is a sample:

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So sit back, relax, (it’s the weekend!), and see if you can find the animals in all of the photos of this wonderful slideshow. (I found all but two….. love the giraffe!)

Enjoy!!!!

http://www.weather.com/news/science/vanishing-act-can-you-find-animals-hidden-these-photos-20140626

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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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Alphabet Soup for the Tech Age

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A Question for Readers …….

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 8.09.29 AMThis is the time of the year where my Kindle is always within reach. I take it everywhere.

I read a lot. My favorite kind of book is historical fiction, “Pillars of the Earth” being a great example. And if it is really good … I like it LONG (because I’m always sad when a great book comes to an end. :( )

I know a lot of the readers of this blog are also voracious readers.

Here’s a question that I saw on twitter the other day:

What was the LAST BOOK that you recommended to someone?

Hmmmm. Interesting question! Not any-old recommendation. Not your favorite book. But the LAST book that you recommended to someone.

My answer: The last book I recommended to someone was The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure. Set in France during the occupation, a reluctant architect designs intricate hiding places for Jewish citizens. It is a page-turner!

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How about you? What was the LAST BOOK that you recommended to someone?

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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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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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Do you have Amazon Prime? If so, you also now have FREE music!

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 11.36.28 AMThis was a surprise! Announced last week, Amazon has added a new perk for Prime members.

If you are a Prime member, you’ll want to download this free app: Amazon Music with Prime Music

And then? Listen to Music, FREE. Lots and lots of music.

With NO ADS.

I enjoy Pandora, and use it quite a bit. However, the ads can be annoying, and to purchase it without ads has gotten rather pricey.

But now … enter Amazon Music.

From their description:

“Your music collection just got a lot bigger. Amazon Music now includes Prime Music. Amazon Prime members can listen to or download over a million songs and hundreds of expert-programmed playlists with Prime Music.”

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As soon as I learned of this new way to listen to Music, I downloaded the app immediately. I’ve been experimenting with it ever since. They have provided a large group of playlists, from “50 Great Epic Classic Rock Songs” to “80′s Dance Floor Fillers” to “Feel Good Country” to “Indie workout” to “Hipster Hits”….. you get the idea. Many, many, MANY prepared playlists for you to enjoy.

If you are a Prime member, just download the app, sign in with your Amazon password, and select “Prime Playlists”. Tap your choice and away you go. Streaming music. Turn up the sound and enjoy. With NO ads.

You can also select “Prime Music” and enjoy tons more. Oodles of music is available for you to download (for free) and then enjoy when you are not in your wireless streaming environment.

I’m still learning my way around this app. Since I’ve used Pandora for so long, there is a bit of a learning curve. (Especially the ‘saving to library’ part)

BUT … “PRIME MUSIC” and “PRIME PLAYLISTS” are clearly marked and easily found. Once you download the app, you can select a playlist and be listening to music within minutes.

I’m delighted with this Pandora alternative and kudos to Amazon for giving this additional perk, FREE, to Prime members.

Amazon Music with Prime Music is available for FREE in the iTunes store for your iPhone and iPad.

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