Finally picking these up again: I miss how they make my life a bit easier to keep track of. (Coming up here sometime next week: a review of Oyster, the ebook subscription service you may be curious about.)
Continue reading Link roundup: September 27, 2013
- I got to see my very first real aurora last month (living in the rural north has benefits!) It was not nearly as flashy as the following link, but it was still stunningly amazing. It does mean I’ve been clicking on aurora pictures even more than usual, though, and I particularly liked this post from Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy with a time lapse movie made from aurora still shots in Norway by Nicholas Buer. Click(and as Phil says, full-screen) if you need 2.5 minutes of beauty in your day.
- Also, the 21 best astronomy images of 2012.
- (And the one a friend sent me on Wednesday, a gorgeous image of Saturn. And the Milky Way and a lighthouse. Look, I like pictures of stars and planets and stuff, okay?)
- If you are looking for something to read, the MeFi wiki index of questions about books is extremely comprehensive.
- The power of the books you read at 12.
- I’m not sure if this goes in books or culture, but how do you deal with fantasy agricultures (specifically, how do you grow wine in a country with seasons as messed up as Westeros?)
- Why we need comfort reading.
- Curious George’s great escape. (I half knew some of this, but it’s an amazing story.)
Copyright, so complicated:
Community and culture:
- AskAManager had a recent conversation about class – what things you need to know to work in a white-collar environment that may not be obvious if you’re not familiar with that kind of setting. It’s a sort of imperfect discussion, because the topic is So Big, but as someone who works with people from a variety of backgrounds, I think it’s a good start.
- Ann Patchett on independent bookstores. Specifically, starting one.
- I keep chewing over Anil Dash’s “The Web We Lost” in the way that makes me think there will be more writing from me about it eventually.
- Vienna Teng’s draft of the hymn of axciom – fascinating both for the content, and for the fact that technology makes this kind of sharing possible.
- TEDx and Bad Science: there’s a fascinating article from the TED folks about how to vet for bad science in TEDx talks – interesting both for the specifics, and for the general “how do we talk about evaluating stuff”. Bad Astronomy talks about it a bit more, too.
- 250 year old codes. Society of the Golden Poodle. Secret societies. What more do you want out of a story?
- Also in the history department: a Ponzi scheme for flappers.
- The Lying Disease: truth, lies, and the Internet.
- How Pompeii perished (and the misassumptions about the nature of geology that pervade our ideas about it.)
- The history and implications of the Zapruder film.
I spent the day at the Maine Tri-Regional conference on ebooks, about which I expect to have a lot more to say in the not too distant future. This, however, is not that post. (Though I will say briefly that getting to hear Jessamyn West in person was just as awesome as I thought it would be, and I also really liked Jason Griffey‘s thoughts and comments about emerging technology and technology and libraries: I went to two presentations by each of them, and have a lot to mull over.)
Anyway, this is about ebooks, but a very practical problem.
See, I read a lot of series books – both science fiction/fantasy and mysteries. And when I have just finished reading a book, and I am lying in bed, and don’t want to go to sleep yet, i do not want to have to spend time thinking about which book comes next.
When I read print books, I shelve them in series order (or my preference for series order, if there are multiple options), and grab the next one if I think I might finish my current book and want more that night.
But with ebooks, I kept hitting the problem of not being able to make the reader software I was using show me the books in order, even if the metadata in the software I use to store and manage the titles was correct.
This seems very stupid to me. And things that seem that kind of stupid to me eventually motivate me to figure out a solution.
Let me pause here to specify what I’m using:
I manage titles using Calibre on a MacBook (running Lion, though it doesn’t matter particularly in this case.) I generally save them in ePub, unless I think I might want to read them on the computer as well, in which case, I am likely to save a PDF as well.
I read them – mostly – on my iPhone, using Stanza. And part of why I’m working on this now is that a shiny iPad is my birthday present. (I expect, for various reasons that should be a different post, to mostly not use it for ereading, though.)
I also have iBooks installed on both potential readers, though I prefer Stanza because I really like reading white text on black background when I’m reading before going to sleep. (I also use the Kindle app for some books, and yes, it’s a pain to have my potential reading multiple places. But I am not immune to the lure of “I really want to read that book now rather than figure out other download options.”)
In the end, I came up with two solutions: both of which work on Stanza (though one is a really odd solution). I’m still unsatisfied with how they work in iBooks (right now, some authors/series are behaving, and some aren’t. More investigation is obviously called for)
Continue reading Ebook practicalities
I’ve offered to help a friend out with a project for her daughter’s school. Her daughter attends a charter school in the San Francisco Bay area which has no library, and no space for a physical library. My friend has a lot of experience with formatting electronic material for reading, and wants to put together an electronic library for students and teachers to use. I’ve made some suggestions to her (and she’s really familiar with ebook resources in general), but there are also parts of this that are outside my own experience, so I thought I’d ask and see if anyone else had ideas.
- The school is about 300 high school students (grades 9-12)
- 75% Latino.
- The school has computers with internet access: they filter some sites.
- Students are expected to have a flash drive as part of their school supplies.
- She thinks most students do have at least some computer access at home. All of them have access during school hours.
- She’d expect most of them to be reading on computer, not on an ereader or handheld device.
- Books must be available for free (with clear legal permissions) and without DRM. She’s willing to see about getting permissions from publishers for specific titles that are clearly a good fit.
- School assignments are sometimes ‘read this book’ (with students expected to track down a copy) and sometimes ‘read one of these five books’. The teachers are potentially open to filling those with ebook options if suitable titles are available.
- She’d like to include a wide range of titles – some fiction, some non-fiction, some books aimed for class reading, some books to encourage kids to read for pleasure, etc.
- She’d expect the books to live on a school server, and be downloaded to individual drives (in case the site hosting them goes down), but is glad to look at other options.
Places to look for books? She’s familiar with general ebook resources (as she says, she’s checking out anything listed at the http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Free_eBooks page), but she’s particularly interested in finding books that reflect the ethnic and cultural background of the students. Books in Spanish are especially great, but she’s more interested in recent works than classic literature.
Best way to organize titles? She’s looking at starting with a collection of about 500 titles, and build that up to 2000-3000 over time, but is trying to figure out the best way to allow browsing of the collection.
A pre-existing solution that works smoothly with minimal upkeep would be ideal – she’s got great computer skills in the areas of document formatting, but not so much at messing around with database installs or upkeep, or scripting, so something like Koha or Evergreen would be a bit much. A solution that allowed for tagging and full text searching of at least the records would be great. (She doesn’t need a solution that includes circulation, since a given book can be used by as many people as needed.)
If you’ve got thoughts, feel free to leave a comment here, or you can email me at modernhypatia at gmail dot com, and I’ll pass things along. I’m also glad to put you in touch with her directly if you’d like.