January 19, 2012, 2:29 pm
I had the opportunity to spend this morning with the Chronicle‘s Jeff Young, live-tweeting from the Apple Education announcement event. As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, today’s announcement included:
- the release of the iBooks 2 app for iOS, which allows for rich multimedia interactive textbooks;
- the launch of the Textbooks category in the iBooks store, including an already-available collection of high-school texts priced at $14.99 and under;
- the release of the iBooks Author application for Mac, which allows individuals to create textbooks (and other books — a note I’ll return to shortly) with the drag-and-drop ease of other Apple applications including Keynote;
- the launch of the iTunes U app for iOS, which facilitates the distribution not just of the course-oriented podcasts of iTunes U’s existing service, but of fully coordinated curricula.
It was, for a small…
January 18, 2011, 11:00 am
Last October, the Internet Archive held a two-day meeting entitled “Books in Browsers,” cosponsored by O’Reilly Media. The goal of this meeting was to think through the new possibilities and challenges presented by delivering books through open platforms rather than closed devices.
Books-in-browsers present some significant advantages to readers in terms of portability and accessibility of content, as Brewster Kahle has explored. Delivering content via the browser also presents advantages for publishers, book sellers, and libraries, all of whom have an interest in balancing wide distribution with certain kinds of use restrictions.
In the last couple of months, several new browser-based e-book readers have been unveiled or announced, and other experiments are underway. Here’s a quick overview:
Kindle for the Web
This one’s still forthcoming, as yet, but the folks at…
January 13, 2011, 3:00 pm
Over the last couple of months, Gmail has announced several exciting updates to its services and features. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of them.
First, and perhaps most exciting, is an update that isn’t directly about email. The folks at Gmail have extended users’ ability to make free calls using the Google Chat widget to numbers within the United States through the end of 2011. For more information, see the Gmail blog post, which will also guide you to instructions for setting up the calling feature.
Gmail has also announced a series of tweaks and improvements to Priority Inbox. As the announcement notes, these changes help the system learn more quickly from user input about the importance of messages. The system now also gives the user clues as to why something has been marked important; hover over the priority tag and a tooltip will tell you that the message has been…
November 16, 2010, 3:00 pm
One of my fellow ProfHackers recently got a query about indexing software. None of us have experience with such software, but a couple of us have handled the indexes for our books in other ways, which we thought might be useful to share.
Despite the fact that books are increasingly becoming searchable in their electronic formats, the metadata that’s provided by a good index can have a great influence over how the book is discovered, and how it’s used. A good index is more than just an alphabetical list of all the text’s proper nouns and their locations; it’s a way of thinking about the ideas within the text that can guide a reader to the sections they most need to consult.
My experience indexing my first book remains awfully vivid, nearly five years after the fact. I’d been told by some colleagues that I might want to hire someone to produce the index for my first book, but …
September 28, 2010, 8:00 am
It’s likely that somebody’s already told you about the wonders of Google’s browser, Chrome. That someone may even have been Julie, in her post Using Google Chrome and Chrome Extensions for Speed and Productivity. Chrome’s got an awful lot going for it: it’s fast, it’s lightweight, and it’s super-stable—and as web applications become more complex, that last is increasingly important. If you’ve ever had Firefox crash when you’ve got multiple tabs open, you’ll know what I mean. In Chrome, each tab and window runs as a separate process, and so the worst that a bad Flash application can do is cause the tab it’s in to fail.
But beyond simple stability and speed, Chrome’s got a lot of options available. Here are a few nifty tricks that might help make your browsing experience that much better.
As Julie discussed in her earlier post, Chrome has hundreds of available
September 21, 2010, 3:00 pm
The inbox pictured at left is not mine. I feel compelled to tell you this right at the outset, because the idea of an inbox with that many messages in it, much less that many unread messages, is enough to make me break out in hives.
But there are times when my inbox does get a bit more full than I’d like, which usually happens when I find myself using it as a substitute for my to-do list. I’ll read a message from a student asking for a letter of recommendation, or a request for information from my dean’s office, or a reminder of an impending due date for a conference paper proposal, and I’ll let that message linger in my inbox, effectively saying that I don’t have time to do that thing right now, but leaving the message to serve as a reminder that I need to do it, and soon.
The problem, of course, is that such requests and reminders stack up, and so does the inbox, such that the…
September 7, 2010, 3:00 pm
Lots of studies indicate the thing that we all already know: airline delays are getting worse. While flight delays and cancellations are an unavoidable part of travel today, this edition of “Traveler’s Aid” offers a few suggestions for ways to minimize the possibility that you’ll be held up en route, and ways to minimize the pain of such a delay.
First, some quick tips for delay avoidance:
1. Travel early. Delays compound as a travel day wears on, and then tend to get straightened out overnight, such that in most cases things will start out on time in the morning. (I emphasize “in most cases” because the effects of a winter storm in a city unprepared for it are often worst first thing in the morning.) But the key points here are, first, an early morning flight is far more likely to be on time than one in the afternoon, because the plane is generally there waiting for you as the…
August 30, 2010, 3:00 pm
Last week, in discussing my new (academic) year’s resolutions, I mentioned that one of my goals for the year is to run three times a week. It’s relatively easy for me to promise myself something like that right now, as I’m on leave, and aside from some travel and some project meetings, my only real time commitments are to myself.
Personally, I’ve found that maintaining a regular exercise program is way more difficult than that during a regular semester. I always start out with all kinds of good intentions, and feel great as long as I’m still working out regularly. But school-oriented commitments inevitably start creeping in: that one meeting that has to be scheduled during my usual gym time; that article that I’m not finding enough time to work on; that class that isn’t quite as prepared as I’d like. And almost invariably, when I start feeling pressed for time, the first thing that …
August 23, 2010, 11:00 am
I’ve never been a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, but up until a few years ago, I still made them every January, and still felt awful by about the beginning of February when it became clear that they’d all fallen by the wayside.
Part of the problem, of course, was that January 1 falls at a terrible point for me, as a scholar with one foot in literary studies: inevitably, I’d just gotten through the insane rush of the end of the fall semester, the Christmas holidays with my family, and the MLA convention, and found myself feeling bloated and exhausted and looking at a mere two weeks until the next semester began, in which I had not only to get done all the research I’d been unable to finish in the fall but also get the spring semester’s classes on track and ready to go.
And so I’d find myself making the same resolutions year after year, overly general and yet impossible to fulfill…
August 17, 2010, 11:00 am
There you are, minding your own business, when your hard drive starts to make that suspicious grinding sound. Or you discover that your laptop is not where you left it. Or your web hosting provider suffers a catastrophic data loss.
No sweat, you say. I’m a ProfHacker reader, and so I’m all about the backups. (If you’re not yet all about the backups, you might take a moment to check out some of our posts on backing up your stuff, including Annual Reminders–Backup, Back Up Your Essential Files Using Dropbox, How to Back Up Your Cloud, Backing Up a Campus Email Account, A Few Ways to Back Up Your Website, and Backing Up Your Social Network, among others.)
Suffice it to say that this is not the moment at which you want to discover that your carefully laid backup plan isn’t working.
A while back, I wrote about the importance of backing up your WordPress blog, an issue I’d mostly been…