A New Kindle

My Kindle Paperwhite arrived yesterday. It’s a delightful improvement over my Kindle Touch. Beginning with the case, which is darker and made with a material that is more tactile so it offers a better grip, the Paperwhite is thinner yet a bit heavier. The touch screen is significantly more responsive – more to the level of my iThings. Then there’s the screen itself. WOW! The lighting is amazing. It’s easy to adjust the brightness level to suit your current reading environment. With the light turned down, the screen appears more like a standard e-Ink device, but when it’s pushed up to the maximum brightness it is gorgeous. I read for several hours last night with no eye strain. Most of the time, the brightness was set at about the 2/3s level which was very comfortable.

It will take a little time to adjust to the differences between the two devices. I kept trying to press the Home button last night – which doesn’t exist on the Paperwhite. Instead, you tap the top of the screen to display the menus. They have changed a bit too. Below you see the menu that appears on the home screen.  The menu displayed within a book includes a second row for adjusting fonts, navigating the book and sharing content.

The main screen’s book list has been replaced with book covers. It will take a bit more effort to scroll through a large library, but I find the covers much more enjoyable than a list of titles. Browsing for books online remains a challenge. The bookstore’s screen design has improved, but it’s almost impossible to wander through such a massive selection of books even on my large computer screen. I take advantage of Amazon’s Wish List feature to capture books that catch my eye. It would be nice if a link to my Wish List was included on the main store front page.

I haven’t yet experimented with the 3G functionality of the device. It will get tested today at my office. If it can communicate in that black hole of a building where I work, it will truly be an amazing device.

My Kindle Touch has been a wonderful reading tool and I’m looking forward to enjoying the improvements included in this new Paperwhite. These little readers put a library into my hands that I can take anywhere. With it, I’ve got both entertainment and an impressive reference library with me wherever I want to take it.

Image courtesy of the Kindle Support site.

Society Publishing with MagCloud

With the many affordable options available to genealogical societies today, there’s no excuse for the sad, copy shop things being sent out as quarterly journals. It’s time to punch up your word-processing skills and take advantage of affordable publishing platforms like MagCloud.

MagCloud is Hewlett-Packard’s self-publishing platform focused on magazine-style publications. Using MagCloud, a society can easily produce and publish quarterly journals, newsletters, brochures, flyers, catalogs and just about any other kind of publishing project. You can also offer a digital option where your publications are available as high-quality PDFs. And, there’s even an iPad app.

For family organizations and genealogical societies, MagCloud will not only print your publication for you, but they can even send them directly to your members. And, by offering a digital edition in addition to the print one, you may be surprised to see how many members choose that route – reducing your costs even more. You can also generate additional revenue by selling back issues through your MagCloud storefront without the expense and effort of storing and shipping them yourself.

There are four sizes of publications: 8.5 x 11 standard, 8.5 x 8.5 square, 5.5 x 8.5 digest and 8.5 x 5.5 digest. The two digest options would work well for digital editions to be read on an e-reader or tablet. Prices for full-color printed publications range from 16¢/page for the two smaller sizes to 20¢/page for the two larger ones. The saddle-stitch binding option costs nothing, but the perfect binding is an additional $1.00. Check the price calculator to see what the actual cost of your publication will be. You have several options with the digital edition: free, free with print edition or paid. If you set a price for your digital publications, 30% goes to MagCloud and you keep 70% of it. There are no upfront costs and no cost to maintain your online storefront.

Creating a MagCloud publication is really quite simple. There are template packages with instructions for each size publication and several different apps. Apps include Microsoft Word [Win & Mac], Microsoft Publisher, Apple’s Pages and Adobe’s InDesign. Download the package and start creating your own publication.

MagCloud is a good solution when you want to create a more graphical publication. And, by choosing one of the digest options as your template, you’ll only need to create your publication once to offer it as both print and digital editions. The smaller size of the digest makes it much easier to read the resulting PDF on tablets and e-readers. And, with the digital edition, your hyperlinks will function so you can include links to outside sources like your society’s web site, the article author’s site or even back to your MagCloud storefront to grab another publication.

If you have a storytelling project full of photos, fonts and fixed layouts, MagCloud offers the flexibility to do just about anything you want and you don’t need to learn a new app just to build your story project. Need some inspiration? Take a look at Family History Journal,  SPAN from the Natural Arch and Bridge Society or the Clan MacLeod Newsletter. Click on the Preview link just below the cover image.

Digital Journaling

Why is it that even as we move further and further away from paper, we still look at things as “paper bound”. Take the journal. What is the first image that comes to mind when you think of a journal? A leather-bound book and fountain pen? A sketchbook and pencil? Today’s journal is more likely to be a smart phone or an online platform like Facebook. And, since the medium has changed, so does the message.

Although most of my journaling still consists of written thoughts and observations, I find myself including more photographs, sketches and even links to interesting things online. My journal app (Day One) will also capture the location and weather conditions at the time of each entry and the latest update gives me the ability to embed video from YouTube and Vimeo. I don’t know that those videos will survive future decades, but I’ll include them anyway. Even if the video itself doesn’t survive the ages, my mention of it will. And, suppose it does survive. If I don’t include it, who will know?

So my journal is a strange hybrid beast that is part scrapbook, part sketchbook and part traditional journal. It’s purpose is to describe the world around me. Most of what I know about my parents’ and grandparents’ generations comes from photographs, letters and verbal stories. My generation will leave behind tons of photographs but not so many letters. I’m hoping that my journaling can help fill in that gap.

What’s your journaling style?


Tech Notes – 28 September 2012

An evening paddle on Moultrie Creek.

There are serious security issues with Java – so serious that McAfee, the computer security company, is recommending you turn off Java unless absolutely necessary. From CNET:

Security Explorations conducted tests on a fully patched Windows 7 machine, and was able to exploit the bug using the Java plugin in the latest versions of most popular browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera). While the error was only tested on Windows 7 32-bit, being in Java means it is not limited to the Windows platform and will affect anyone with Java installed on their systems, be it Windows, Linux, Mac, or Solaris.


Apple has been so concerned about Java that it removed it from OS X releases after 10.6 (Snow Leopard). If you are running either Lion or Mountain Lion, you do not have Java on your computer unless you installed it yourself.

NOTE: Java is a major programming language. It has nothing in common with Javascript – a scripting language used for Web development – except the name.

Have you seen the new NOOK HD tablets? There’s both a 7″ [starting at $199] and a 9″ [starting at $269] model. The tablets are beautiful and Barnes & Noble does have a huge selection of books and magazines, but it’s still lacking in other media and apps. Hopefully, their collaboration with Microsoft will help improve that.

If, like me, you’re concerned about where Twitter’s headed, this article from ReadWriteWeb may help explain what’s happening. I love Twitter on Flipboard for both reading and conversation, but if that’s taken away from me, Twitter will become significantly less interesting. I’m sure Flipboard is planning for that eventuality and I’m guessing they will have an amazing alternative ready . . . Oh, and if you’re as fascinated with space as I am, you might want to subscribe to Flipboard’s  Space feed.


Camera+ [iPad - $0.99] – the amazing camera app for the iPhone – has now come to the iPad bringing “professional quality shooting and editing” features to your iPad. I love the iPhone edition but I’m not sure how much I’d use my iPad to take pictures . . . Right now both editions are on sale for 99¢.


TextExpander [Mac - $34.95, iOS - $4.99] recently updated the desktop app to version 4.  Over at Mac|Life, you’ll find a very nice article on getting started with TextExpander. Elements 2 [iOS -$4.99], a very nice notes app that supports Markdown, now also supports TextExpander.

The folks at CottageArts.net are having a lot of fun with Instagram – even making a gorgeous calendar page using their photos. See if it doesn’t inspire you too.

Google now lets you sync your contacts with Apple. ReadWriteWeb has the details.

New Kindles start arriving next week!  Stay tuned to see if they live up to all the promotion.