One of the really delightful things about ebooks is that they can be easily updated. This is especially useful in two of my favorite categories – family history and technology. One thing that really irritated me about technology books is that I paid a lot of money for a book that was basically obsolete before I got it home. And, when the technology improved, an updated version of the book would be published – just waiting for me to fork out even more money.
The first dent in that little monopoly was made by Safari Books Online – a subscription reading service for (mostly) tech books. For a monthly fee, you had access to a huge library of tech books – with a search engine that could not only find the book you needed, but the chapter and paragraph containing the information you wanted. Even better, my employer was paying for it!
But then I retired.
As a dedicated WordPress fan, I was delighted to discover the guys at Digging Into WordPress and the PDF edition of their book with lifetime updates. For more than two years I’ve been downloading updated versions of the book full of all the latest WordPress goodness.
That was my first good ebook investment, but not the only one. I have the iBooks edition of David Sparks’ Paperless which just released an impressive update to include the latest apps and services. This book was created with iBooks Author so it’s got lots of video clips demonstrating the apps and workflows discussed in the text. It was so good, I bought his Email book too!
Kindle authors also have the ability to update their titles and pass those updates on to their readers. Until recently, that didn’t happen too often, but I’m now finding update notices appearing more frequently. That’s a good sign! If you see the updates banner at the top of your Kindle library screen, just select the Available for Update view to display the titles that have updates. Click the Updates link and Kindle takes care of the rest.
While this discussion has been focused on technology books from a reader’s perspective, it’s also a reminder to the family history author that your publishing efforts don’t have to stop when that book is published. When new research adds to the story, update your original manuscript and follow the update procedures at your publishing service(s). It’s almost as easy for you to upload an update to your book as it is for your readers to download the updated version.
Whether you’re just beginning a publishing project or already published, the ability to update your ebook is an option to incorporate in your overall publishing plan. Your readers will love you for it.
I’m not sure why January is the month that everyone – especially retailers – focuses on getting organized. Maybe it’s the “fresh start” each new year represents. Whatever its cause, I’ve definitely got the bug. And the area that’s getting most of my attention is my Evernote notes. The cold days of winter are a good time to review, organize, prune and archive my notes. Fortunately, Evernote has some great batch editing capabilities to make this effort a lot easier.
Evernote batch editing on a Mac desktop
You select notes just like you do anything else on your computer (CTRL+click on Windows, Cmd+click on Mac) then choose the editing option you need in the right-hand pane. From there, you can do the following things to your selected notes:
- add tags
- move them all to a different notebook
- email the selected notes
- merge them into one note
- save all the attachments within the selected notes to your computer
- copy the links to each of the selected notes and create a table of contents note.
I’ve found the table of contents note very useful. I have a Help Desk notebook that’s shared with family members. [Note: If you are your family's tech support desk, having one of these can save you lots of grief!] I’ve used the table of contents note to make it easier for them to find help on specific topics or apps.
Did you notice the Start Presentation button? This is only available to Premium users on a Mac desktop. It’s very cool, but I seldom present from a computer so not so useful for me. MacBook user/presenters could find it very handy.
Thanks to Evernote’s batch features and a recent frosty afternoon that kept me close to the warm air vent, I was able to streamline the number of notebooks I maintain by consolidating them into major topics and letting tags and smart searches do the rest. But that’s a story for another day . . .
One of the most irritating things about presentation software (Keynote and PowerPoint both) is that trying to move a presentation to a different computer can be a nightmare – especially with fonts. If those fonts don’t reside on the new system, your software will select what it thinks are appropriate replacements from the fonts installed on the new computer. Either you limit your presentations to the few basic fonts found on most systems or you develop your own work arounds. Since I’m a font fanatic, I’ve taken the work-around route.
As you can see from this example, I’m not a big fan of bullet points in my presentation graphics. I learned a long time ago that great graphics would be remembered much longer than a screen full of text. And, when I do include text, it’s an important design element. Fonts help make that happen. So, I have to make sure those fonts travel with the presentation.
I have Keynote on my iPad and prefer to use it for presenting so it’s limited number of fonts was a pain until I stumbled onto this work-around. Today, I create most of my presentations on my Mac. That’s where all the good fonts are. Once I’ve built a presentation and everything’s just right, I’ll export the slides as images then create a new presentation inserting those images – one per slide. This serves two purposes. First, I can now “take” those fonts with me and second, it reduces the size of my presentation – especially those slides with multiple layers of graphics, photos and text. And, I still have the working copy of the presentation should I need to make changes.
Yes, this does mean I can’t take advantage of Keynote’s actions feature on text elements but I never did use them much in presentations. (I do love them for making cards though.) I can still include multimedia elements – like a video – on a slide. It just takes a bit more effort. And, since I can now present from my iPad mini – which is a lot lighter than a laptop – it’s worth that effort.
When you combine Evernote’s ability to capture just about anything with its shared folder option, you have a great platform to create a family cookbook – not just to share interesting current recipes but to also share your heirloom recipes too. By putting your scanner and smart phone to work with your Evernote account, you can capture hand-written recipe cards and even capture the notes added to recipes in old family cookbooks.
A recipe card scanned to Evernote.
As you can see in this example, the beauty of this is that you can scan or photograph the recipe in its original state, add tags to help find it – along with recipes of its kind – in your Evernote cookbook notebook, and even add notes to establish provenance. And, with Evernote on your tablet, you can have those recipes on the kitchen counter while you create the dish.
Since I also use the Evernote Food app to capture interesting recipes I find online and in magazines, I already have a Cookbook notebook in my Evernote account. This is where both the Evernote Food recipes and the ones I scan/save via Evernote are kept. Although not shown in the example above, I’m now adding an “heirloom” tag to make it easier to display just them.
Share your Cookbook notebook just as you would any other Evernote notebook – with one caveat. In order for each member of the share group to add their own recipes, that folder will need to be shared by someone with a Premium account. Otherwise, the folder will be read-only to all but the folder’s owner.
In my family, I started by sharing my Cookbook notebook with the rest of the “girls” in the family and it quickly became a hit. It’s so easy to grab recipes from online sources that even the more digitally-challenged members quickly got the hang of it. Now I’m slowly adding heirloom recipes to the mix. It’s generating lots of questions asking how I did that and it doesn’t take long to show them how to use their phone’s camera to capture their own recipes. Once they get comfortable with that, we’ll start working on scanning. So far, things are looking pretty good . . .
There’s a new breed of greeting cards offering both digital and print options for sharing. I have reached a point where most of my Christmas cards are now electronic, but there are still a number of people on my list who don’t use computers. So, I’m delighted to see companies like Sincerely and Paperless Post offering beautiful print cards which are selected, customized and addressed digitally to be sent as postal mail. Sincerely’s Ink holiday postcards let you choose from a number of designs that incorporate your own photograph and even have room to add your own note. You can create a custom card/greeting for each recipient or use one for all – pulling your addresses right from your digital address book. Sincerely will print and mail them for you for approximately $1.00 per card.
Ink cards are created using the free Ink app on your mobile device [iOS and Android]. Learn more at the Ink site.
Paperless Post creates e-cards as well as print ones and they also offer an impressive digital invitation/RSVP system. These cards offer both standard greetings and those designed to incorporate your photograph. The e-cards include envelopes and give you the opportunity to choose their design as well as the card’s. Prices are based on type and design.
Experience an online card at Paperless Post. Paperless Post cards can be designed and tracked online or in the free iPad app.
You may have heard of the recent security breach at Adobe. Evernote used the online list of compromised accounts to see if any Evernote users were using the same email address for their Evernote accounts. If so, they received an email message from Evernote recommending they change password right away.
Evernote is one of the platforms offering two-step verification for user logins. If you’re keeping sensitive personal information in your Evernote collection, this is worth the little bit of extra effort it involves. The Evernote Support Center has more information on two-step verification and how to use it.
Meet OpenStreetMap. This is a free map site built as a wiki where anyone can get involved in creating, editing and using a world of maps. If you need a map to include in a family history project, these maps are freely available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (CC-BY-SA).
This is a screen shot of an area of northwest Georgia where my Barker family lived. It’s a nice clean map and I have plenty of room to modify it for use in family history projects. What a great find!
Keep an eye out for the ForeverMap app [$2.99 - iOS , free - Android] which uses OpenStreetMap to build maps that can be used offline.
Take a good look at the styles feature in your word processing application. It’s your new best friend when it comes to managing a writing project. This short booklet shows you how styles work and what they can do to make your writing life so much easier.
Kate at The Paycheck Chronicles has discovered a fabulous guide from USAA on protecting yourself and your data when using mobile phones and tablets.
By the way . . . although Paycheck Chronicles is focused on the military community, Kate’s blog is full of great financial management information.