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Sunday, July 16, 2017

They've Come for our Voices: Lyrebird-Voice Synthesis Software (Technology Corner)

A Canadian company by the name of Lyrebird is on the forefront of voice synthesis technology. It can mimic our voices with just a 1-minute sample, and given a longer one, say 5 minutes, they claim that it's difficult to differentiate between the native and robotic speaker. They also say they can control the emotional flavour of speech to evoke things such as anger, stress, distress. Sound worrying?

The work came out of University de Montréal in Quebec where three founders are currently PhD students: Alexandre de Brébisson, Jose Sotelo and Kundan Kumar. Their startup is advised by three of the most prolific professors in the field: Pascal Vincent, Aaron Courville and Yoshua Bengio. The latter, director of the MILA and AI pioneer, wants to make Montréal a world-capital of artificial intelligence and this new startup is part of this vision.

It raises concerns about the forgery of voices just the way photographic manipulation by software like Photoshop has forever changed that artistic discipline into an unreliable form of documentation where authenticity is always under suspicion. Ditto for CGI and video content.

The name Lyrebird comes from an Australian bird that is able to mimic its call. Listen to the CBC's podcast on the topic. "Where will this technology likely show-up?"

Lyrebird is making a bet on the future of voice-controlled computing. They imagine a world where more and more of our interactions with the digital world are done through voice. That means an increased focus on voice recognition and voice synthesis. Right now Lyrebird isn't a consumer-facing tech company. They want other businesses to take their technology and build on top of it. De Brébisson expects Lyrebird will be used to design better personal assistants — like the ones from Amazon, Google and Apple. He also sees applications for video game makers and in animation, movies and audiobooks. A studio could record an actor, build a voice model then artificially generate any dialogue they want." excerpted-here.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Inventor of the Internet Laments Its Abuse (Technology Corner)

Arguably the most impactful thing to happen to mankind in our lifetime has been the creation of the Internet (which now needs no capital, so says Chicago Manual of Style). Its creator is alive and well and working at both MIT and Cambridge University. His name is Sir Tim Berners-Lee. He was hired as temporary staff in the IT department of CERN. He enjoyed the work, they found him useful and he ended up coming on as staff and staying there for the next decade. His creation of the the web was for purposes of expedited collaboration between colleagues. But, there was an even larger picture to evolve. He imagined a platform where information could be exchanged across geographic boundaries, cultural borders, institutional barriers and philosophic confines. But reflecting today on what has become of the entity he worries about three important trends: "...over the past 12 months, I’ve become increasingly worried about three new trends, which I believe we must tackle in order for the web to fulfill its true potential as a tool that serves all of humanity." The following feature pulled from The Guardian.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Why Lament the Takeover of Songza by Google? (Technology Corner)

When I first started using Songza a few years ago [circa 2012] I felt both elated and relieved! Elated that someone with brains had designed a music app that cost nothing and provided endless hours of streaming playlists curated to any musical genre or mortal mood, all coordinated around hypothetical tasks at any particular time of day in the week. It was a relief to finally pack up my CD collection, which I had reverted to in frustration after Apple had once too often dumped my music library and carefully organized personal playlists for the zillionth time during yet another forced system upgrade to my iPod or iPhone - sorry Apple, not everyone has a PhD in computer science to manage the workarounds!

Now another technology behemoth has bought Songza along with all their clever ideas and my favorite playlists. What is in store for us? Well on January 31st we

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Internet's Future: It's Good, Bad and Ugly (Technology Corner)

I've been thinking about the ways in which information technology is enveloping our daily lives beyond our use of smart phones and laptops. The connectivity between individuals and information systems means that you are almost never "off-grid". As we go about our daily lives using our phones to make calls, access the web and use a myriad of apps there is a whack of information going in both directions. Things like your geo-location, your browsing habits, and the things you share on social media only scratch the surface. Multiple systems have created profiles of you. That's how your bank knows when to question a credit card purchase. Stores purchase your tracked shopping patterns to know which ad coupons to push to your smart phone when you enter their store. Wait, it gets worse. Digital advertising signs on streets, at bus stops, in stores, will change just for you based on your purchasing and browsing patterns [to the ironic instance of the photo at right]. Let's hope it's not like the annoying way ads are served to us presently on our laptops/phones such that after we visit a website those ads relentlessly "follow" us, appearing on every consecutive ad space in all the sites we browse for weeks and weeks forward, until we finally figure out we can click the "x" to block it.

Think about how all the raw data being collected on people around you is simultaneously being correlated and applied to us. ie. Google Maps show commuter route traffic density using the GPS movement of other commuter's cell phones. Smart meters installed on our houses by utility companies are hour-by-hour measuring our energy consumption. Smart chips in our appliances are communicating with them too. They'll soon know when we wake up and put the coffee machine on and use the microwave, turn up the heat, put our laundry in, which will determine energy fees charged according to a sliding scale of use and demand. Want to lower your Fortis bill?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How NOT to Look Ugly on a Webcam Interview (Technology Corner)

Coincidentally, I was just giving (4 of these) bits of advice to colleagues who I've asked to film a webcast for an event when this timely post came from web guru Guy Kawasaki. It's the most comprehensive, easty-to-follow guide as seen on his AllTop website. But I see the original infograph credit goes to Kate Rinsema of Mixology. In summary:

    Don't have any distracting light source behind you.
  1. DO have natural sunlight (as from a window) or other flattering light source in front of you bathing your face.
  2. Keep in mind what is in the background - is it working FOR you or AGAINST the vibe?
  3. Use ethernet cable, not WiFi - if connection fails, you've just lost your audience and possibly future opportunities
  4. Pick a quiet/comfortable place to record so your mind is not distracted
  5. Re-start your computer (even if it is a MAC) and close all extra windows & programs
  6. Take yourself off "network share" while recording, if you are using this (go to system preferences-network-share "off")
  7. Position yourself in the centre of the webcam screen. I always think you should also have laptop or camera at eye level or above shooting down instead of lower shooting unflatteringly UP.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Hyperlapse: New App from Vimeo (Technology Corner)

If you enjoy time lapse videography and wish there was an easy technology to convert your home videos, then check out HYPERLAPSE, the new app from Vimeo. Hyperlapse allows you to collapse your own videos using a video stabilization algorithm called Cinema, which is already used on videos posted to Instagram. The effect is mesmerizing. For the geeks wanting to know how it works, the technology is explained here. To summarize, the program changes the frames per second (up to 12x faster) and the aspect ratio to speed things up and to counteract any camera shake. Previously this sort of time-lapse technique took oodles of planning and engineering. Now you have just one button to press and you're video is good to show! Check out these examples and get busy making your own time-lapse videography today. View tutorial below.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Sprintz Text Streaming Technology: Read 500-100 WPM (Technology Corner)

It's all over the news. There's a new way to read on mobile devices that is going to make all of us as fast as Evelyn Wood's reading dynamics always claimed possible. Think 500 to 1000 words per minute.

"Spritz, the company behind the innovative text streaming technology built to reinvent the way people read, launched today at Mobile World Congress. Spritz's patent-pending technology enhances reading on mobile and wearable devices by streaming individual words using the "Optimal Recognition Point" (ORP) in a special display called the "Redicle." This method makes communication faster, easier and more effective by removing the inefficient eye movements associated with traditional reading. The first use of Spritz will be implemented in an email application for the Samsung Gear 2 and Galaxy S5 smartphone. With the growth of wearable devices, Spritz's patent-pending technology will enable Samsung device users to read emails comfortably and conveniently- one streaming word at a time." —PR Newswire

Go to this link on Elite Daily try reading at 250, 350 and 500 words per minute. It works! Now maybe I'll finally get through the "virtual stack" on my bedside reading table. Yegad - Is this the app that kills books for good?

Saturday, September 14, 2013 (Technology Corner)

After I bought my new Canon EOS 5D Mark II I was at a loss for how to operate it beyond the automatic controls. I wanted to use the manual functions and I wanted to know how to achieve certain effects. I turned to You Tube with the search terms "Photography, Canon 5D Mark II" and was introduced to and what would become hours of online tutorials in exactly the content information I needed. In addition to that I discovered a world of creative how-to's that compelled me to subscribe. Now part of my weekly early morning ritual after yoga, the dog walk and breakfast, is a delicious hour of self-determined online tutorials. Want to learn how to use Excel better? Master Photoshop and other Adobe Creative Suite products like InDesign? What about some tricks on your film editing program or tips on accounting products? It's all available from Now meet Lynda...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Gorilla Glass: Steve Jobs and Corning (Technology Corner)

You've dropped it, stepped on it, unintentionally launched it and it doesn't break, crack, dent or scratch. We're talking about the glass surface of your new smart phone. Out of 1.5B devices used in 33 brands, Gorilla Glass made by Corning Inc was first designed for Steve Jobs back in 2006. But there's more to glass now than transparency and protective surfaces. Check out this Bloomberg video by Adam Jason who visited the Corning Glass Company in upstate New York. [Click title for imbedded video]

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Get Square! To Accept Credit Cards with Your iPhone (Technology Corner)

We've all been there - wishing we had an inexpensive, fast way to process customer purchases at point-of-sale. Whether it's to sell tickets or accept donations at your event or fundraiser, to process sales of your artwork at an artist show, to process sales of your book at a launch party, or to accept payment for services provided: language lessons, computer tutorial or anything that used to require a check or cash payment. Up to this point, you had to go through a huge palather with Moneris or another bank for application, credit check, pay a large monthly fee for "the device" (that wireless gizmo the waiter hands you at the end of your meal) and of course the processing fees on every transaction. Read all about the company's creators and history at wikipedia.

Now all you need to do is to sign-up online with Square. Square is an electronic payment service, provided by Square Inc. Square allows users in the United States and Canada to accept credit cards through their mobile phones, either by swiping the card on the Square device or by manually entering the details on the phone.

It took just minutes to register online. Square will make two insignificant deposits into your bank account, which takes a few days, then once you confirm the amounts, your bank account is activated and all the transactions you swipe appear in your account the next day.

You can customize your customer receipts with your logo, include a photo of the item you sold in your records, and do a sale with or without the user's card (a higher transaction rate is applied in the latter instance).

Square will send you a free card reader in the mail when you sign up, or you can purchase one from any Apple or technology store that sells smart phones.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SONGZA: Free music streaming DJ'd (Technology Corner)

I remember when I used to head down beginning of December to our local "record shop" - actually, I'm not that old, it was a CD shop called The Magic Flute. They specialized in classical music, which is what I listen to in the winter mostly. Summer is for pop music, spring and fall is jazz, opera or tech, but Christmas is strictly classical. Give me a Bach choir, a Stabat Mater, brass ensembles, celtic strings. The store had these lovely polished brass arty door handles mounted on glass doors, but inside were banks of CD's whose cover artwork was as engrossing as the anticipation of coming home with some new music to get into the Christmas spirit while baking and decorating the house.

Today life just got a whole lot simpler! Canada finally has access to a streaming music app called SONGZA that allows you to pick all manner of pre-selected play lists suitable for any time of day or night, any genre or mood you could imagine. And it's FREE!

A quick download to your iPad, iPhone or iTunes account and registering as a user and you're in. The consierge page will open and tell you the time of day and ask you which category you feel like. You can connect it to some powered speakers, like those amazing little mandarin orange size beauties or a docking station and you're set for un-interrupted listening pleasure. Don't like the song - just hit the skip button. Like it, tap the button to send the song/CD info to your email address. You can also click a thumbs-up or down button to help the program learn your subtle preferences to suggest more closely matching play lists. I like to play music in the background from my laptop as I work. Then turn on my iPad in the living room in the evening when we're relaxing after work. Then I sometimes take it up to bed and listen with ear buds while I read my e-book. Party music is especially daunting to pick and play, but not with SONGZA. Switching play lists if one is not quite right is just a tap away! ENJOY

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mobile Technology and Mobile Fundraising (Technology Corner)

"By mid-2013 smart phones or tablet users will surpass laptop users. Lay your foundation now!" stresses nonprofit mobile tech guru, Heather Mansfield. Heather of DIOSA Communications hosts webinars on the topic on a regular basis. I just participated in one yesterday. One and a half hours of solid gold information. The take-home message was three-fold: Launch a mobile website; Launch a text messaging campaign; Launch a mobile pay App for Text-to-Give.

What does she mean by mobile website? It's simply related to screen size and customizing content for a 2 inch screen, the standard size of smart phone screens (first priority) and the iPad/tablet size (second priority). This means our CSS (cascading style sheets) for our website have to be adjusted to fit and the content customized as well; less words, smaller file sizes, limited photos and graphics so that files download quickly and content is easy to read. The quick and dirty way to do this is via your RSS feed. Also, big point, mobile websites start with an m dot prefix before the url. So one of her favorite sites that is keeping abreast of web 3.O is the Center for Disease Control Their mobile site is Another is the international wildlife Check out,

Of the 200+ nonprofits that Heather has been tracking for the past 5 or so years (my notes on her exact figure is missing), she's discovered that not a single nonprofit is doing all three. There are some with one of them, less with two out of the three, but none with the full baseball count, three out of three. Why is that? Good question. She thinks that it's a matter of cost and resistance. Nonprofits are penny wise and pound foolish. Her course provides all the material you need to get up to speed on mobile technology with affordable options to "get in the game".

That is another of her key messages: get in the game as early as possible. Early adopters from print to digital benefited by being first on the search engine block. Early adopters in in social networking have discovered its superior usefulness in driving traffic back to their websites. Mobile technology is where most of the rest of the world exists - out of necessity - they can't afford laptops, don't have internet connections with oodles of bandwidth, so cellular is the only way to go baby. The numbers there are staggering. Africa leads the world in mobile banking. The companies and nonprofit organizations who adopt mobile technology in their business strategy will benefit from being a first adopter here in North America. That is the only way you're going to reach some demographics here already: the millennial set, certain income brackets and ethnicities. [TBC]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Car2Go (Technology Corner)

I first heard about Car2Go, the global innovator of a car-sharing scheme by German car manufacturer Dailmer while shopping in a funky dress shop on Main Street in Vancouver. The chic young proprietor was saying, "It's cheaper than a cab and way more convenient than the bus system". Next my son, also an early technology adopter, arrived at our house for Father's Day dinner in a Car2Go last week, proclaiming the simple booking and car locator system that uses a smart phone App, the pay-by-the-minute fee rates (38cents/min includes gas and insurance) and the nifty activation procedure; the swipe of a microchip card at the windshield device gains you access.

We went out to the boulevard to marvel at this compact vehicle that fit into the street space between our driveway and the laneway, something no vehicle in our private "fleet" could do. Once you know about Car2Go, you begin to spot them everywhere you go; those cute little blue and white smart cars with the Car2Go logo on the front.

Recognizing the personal, environmental and social benefits of the program, I went online to sign-up immediately. After filling out the form...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Slide Share and TED Talks: 2 Ways to Learn FAST (Technology Corner)

I was out for drinks with the girls (chromosomally we DO qualify) and one of our group had not heard of TED Talks. This rather astonished me. I have a habit of viewing TED talks on my iPad at night before bed. Some people drink hot milk, others take an ativan. I like the idea of dozing off and infusing my brain with creative ideas. TED stands for Technology Education Design with the bold red sign displayed right behind the speaker. Experts in diverse fields give TED talks on topics as wide as: brain physiology, astrophysics, human behavior, art, and architecture. They use intriguing titles like: What makes us happy? How women are reshaping the world. The rise of collaboration in technology. They're brief, 12-17 minutes, so once you watch one you can't stop! Browse the list according to theme, speaker or topic, or "most viewed" or "recent", if you're a regular. Search a well-known name and you will likely find they've done a TED Talk. Jamie Oliver talks about obesity in America. Bill Gates talks about really brilliant educator. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about genius and how we ruin it. Jane Goodall talks about what separates us from the apes.

Another wonderful way to pick-up topical statistics on diverse and fascinating subjects is from a wesite that stores slide presentations - from ALL kinds of sources. SLIDESHARE.COM. I'm interested in edcucation, libraries and digital technology so a slide presentation by the Pew Center for Research on the topic with data results from a study supported by a several million dollar grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a fantastic source of information to absorb and incorporate into my writing and talks! Choose from their list of themes or topics and you'll be amazed what you will find. Browse by category or by popular rank according to other social media sites from which they are aggragated: SlideShare is the best way to share presentations, documents and professional videos. Get a free account to upload and share. Or go PRO to get more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Free & Easy File Sharing: (Technology Corner)

Is your email server throttling your messages? It can be annoying if you are expecting a file that the sender told you they emailed hours ago. There are lots of file sharing options out there, but many of them have an onerous registration process when all you want to do is retrieve or send a file with no strings or fees attached. A new-to-me Amsterdam company is the ticket for sending secure files (2GB or less) fast and for free. Easy as 1 2 3. Click on the website, drag the document or folder into the box, type your friend or colleague's email address and your own email and any message, if needed, and click SEND. Done. Retrieving is just as simple. They get a WeTransfer email notification. Click open and it's downloaded to their desired location. You can sign-up for channel which gives you a personalized url, your own backgrounds and the ability to store files for 4 months. Not bad! It's available in 9 languages. They've delivered over 100,000 files including a few of my own!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Gear to Jumpstart 2012 (Technology Corner)

With an eye to keeping up with the latest technology trends, here is a list of gear and gadgets you'll want to take with you into 2012.
Apple iPad 2
Rightly called "the game changer" the iPad2 sold out on all channels with 500,000 units flying out the door on the first weekend alone. The reason? Our smart phones aren't really large enough to read books or browse websites and many of the new apps are easier to see and use on an ipad. Our laptops are too cumbersome to pack and carry for international travel, or for that matter commuting by bicycle to work. Two cameras make FaceTime and HD video recording possible. Using the ipad as a surrogate office station is possible through the free (or larger data subscriber rates) of iCloud, where all your memory heavy programs and data is kept on a remote server you can access and update from anywhere. The dual-core A5 chip and 10-hour battery life keep you powered. Over 200 new software features in iOS 5. Manipulate and share photos art. Carry all your digital and audio books, music & films, world newspapers and magazines in one slim device. Use the GPS positioning system for every app that you now rely on: google maps, cinema and restaurant locator, taxis, that wine label locator, etc.

Boxee Live TV ($50)
Now that you've streamlined your office, why not dump your cable company? How many times have you lamented that you were paying for hundreds of stations that you never use or want to see or have to negotiate around? Boxee Live TV ($50) uses an HDTV antenna or unencrypted cable connection to access to local broadcast stations with a friendly show-finding interface that lets you receive recommendations from friends, and even remove channels that you never watch. Boxee puts viewers in control of their television viewing preferences for the first time! It's a positive revolution that may save us all from a Kardasian-esque future idiocracy.

The Audio Bulb:
It's a light bulb and a wireless audio speaker. Just screw it into your light bulb socket for added sound. What a great idea!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Easy Way to Pick Colors: Kuler Color (Technology Corner)

Even if you are not a design professional, there are situations when you need to come up with a palette of color swatches: you're picking wall paint or furniture fabric after a house reno, you're designing a new web site and need a set of colors - or like me, you're in publishing and need to determine colors accents for a large format coffee table style book. Check out kuler Kuler is the web-hosted application that is part of the Adobe suite used for generating color themes that can inspire any project. No matter what you're creating, with Kuler you can experiment quickly with color variations and browse thousands of themes from the Kuler community.You can load in a picture and will come up with a set of swatches automatically that you can brighten or mute as needed. Name and save the chip sample, post it to friends or colleagues. It's an indispensable tool in several industries. Here's how it works. After registering as a user (it's free) you can create your own swatches by uploading a photograph and then letting the program do the work. It picks 3 to 4 or 5 colors from your sample and you can select a mood, "brighter, muted, deep, darker or custom." These make subtle changes to the palette that might be more in line with your project goal. You can save swatches and refer to them again and again, and you get to see what other users have come up with when they name a swatch set. Go ahead, give it whirl.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Technology Corner: Duotrope (Technology Corner)

So you've been plugging away at the next great novel or perhaps that longish fiction piece based on your last trip to Turkey and you're beginning to wonder where you could get published for money, joy or fame? Look no further than DUOTROPE. Duotrope is the award-winning, free writers' resource listing over 3525 current Fiction and Poetry publications. Use this site to search for markets that may make a fine home for the piece you just polished. Use the menus at the top and right of the home page to explore all of the free services they offer writers and editors, including a free online submissions tracker for registered users. They claim to "make several updates per day, and check each of the current listings regularly (at least once a month) to ensure the most up-to-date database humanly possible. So far this week, [they] have checked guidelines for 918 listings, and we have made 527 listing updates. The last update was made 1 hour(s) and 7 minute(s) ago." Sounds like these guys have your back.

I tried it and here's how it worked. I used the drop down menu to select TRAVEL, HISTORICAL, 2500 WORDS, LITERARY, YES PAY, WHATEVER THEY WILL and so on. The results turned up The Manchester Review as a first suggestion with some interesting link options that allow you to explore the publication, check out back issues, see if there are any upcoming events, listen to their podcasts, check out their "Center for Writing" and of course the be-all and end-all, names of the review team, dates they accept submissions, guidelines and so on. There is also a section listing other publications that people submitted works to like the search return, and other publications people were accepted at who fit this category. All in all, this is a fantastic site for writers looking to find homes for their work. Check it out. DUOTROPE Next I think that I will follow up with a suggested editor/publication and let you know how I make out!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Check Out Copious Dot Com (Technology Corner)

I've got a friend who is obsessed with weekend yard/garage sales that abound over summer. She and her husband like nothing better than to scour their neighborhood for upcoming sales during the week, then get up early on the weekend and grab a latte before they head out treasure hunting. I must tell her about the new buy & sell website called that operates out of Facebook. It claims you can "buy from people not strangers" a dig at the faceless behemoth eBay. Since Facebook connects you to friends and friends-of-friends, one presumes there'll be things you'll want to buy or sell off the people you share interests, socio-economic backgrounds, and who are easy to track down if the item is not what you expected. The site is clean and simple. My interest was tweeked when I saw who the founders and investors are. Check this out:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Technology Corner: (Technology Corner)

Now more than ever business professionals are on the go and operating virtual offices. How do you maximize efficiency and keep track of incoming calls? Meet eVoice - from the makers of You’re busy with clients and meetings and don’t have time to listen to every voicemail message. Now you can receive easy-to-read transcriptions of your voice messages delivered as a text message or email. eVoice answers and routes your calls, transcribes your voicemail to text-and much more! It's like having your own personal assistant 24/7. And the best part is, eVoice works with your existing phone number, so you don’t have to deal with the hassle of changing it. Check out the demo.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Drop Box: For File Sharing & Mobile Storage (Technology Corner)

These days a lot of people use multiple devices from different locations that they don't necessarily want completely replicated with the same functions or information. Dropbox lets you share files between devices and between others, regardless of the operating system! You might be at the office and want to access files from there after you've left for work. If you drop box them before you head out, they'll be available in your folder on your computer at home. Or say you have a project you are collaborating with a partner in another location, you want to send them a file that's too big to e-mail and you don't want to go through the hassle of uploading it to a server, or transferring via a memory stick. So Dropbox it. Unlike other programs, Dropbox doesn't have a complicated interface to learn. It's built right into your desktop!

Get started by downloading the program to your applications folder from Now look for a little blue open box icon that appears on your computer screen window at the top next to date and time:

Step 1: Drag and drop any file or folder into your Dropbox folder.

Step 2: Once your file/folder is inside your Dropbox folder, the program immediately starts syncing it to our secure servers. Once this has finished, the file's icon is marked with a green check. Your file is now safely backed up online and also accessible from the Dropbox website. (

Step 3: Install Dropbox ( on other computers you use, and they'll also receive a copy of the files you've put in your Dropbox.

That's it! Now that Dropbox is watching your file, any changes you make will sync up instantly and automatically. This gives you the freedom to work on any computer you choose. For more help adding files to Dropbox, see here:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Technology Corner: Jailbreaking Your iPhone, iPad (Technology Corner)

People "Jailbreak" their iphone when they want to buy or use applications not sold via Apple's App store. They can also use their phone as a "tether" to their home computer and access it remotely, access files on their home computer remotely using their phone, etc. What's wrong with that? Well, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 says it's illegal. But aspects of the DMCA changed today. Need a little background? Wikipedia describes it thus:Jailbreaking is a process that allows iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users to run third-party unsigned code on their devices by unlocking the operating system and allowing the user root access. Once jailbroken, iPhone users are able to download many extensions and themes previously unavailable through the App Store via unofficial installers such as Cydia. A jailbroken iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch is still able to use the App Store and iTunes. Jailbreaking is different from SIM unlocking,

Friday, April 02, 2010

Vook: It's What U Get When U Cross a BOOK with a VIDEO (Technology Corner)

Technology around books just keeps getting more interesting. A California company has just come out with a hybrid between the book and a video which they call "the future of publishing". Check out VOOK. "A vook is a new innovation in reading that blends a well-written book, high-quality video and the power of the Internet into a single, complete story. You can read your book, watch videos that enhance the story and connect with authors and your friends through social media all on one screen, without switching between platforms."

Vooks are available in two formats: As a web-based application you can read on your computer and a mobile application for reading on the go. With the web-based application you don't have to download programs or install software. Just open your favorite browser and start reading and watching in an exciting new way. You can also download and install the mobile applications through the Apple iTunes store and sync them with your Apple mobile device.

Vook has an exclusive partnership with TurnHere, a leading Internet video production company. Vook and TurnHere leverage a network of more than 10,000 filmmakers around the world to create professional-quality, authentic and engaging vook videos.

The company has several dozen titles ranging from fiction to thriller to self help. While many are from the public domain, there are a few new releases by known authors. Anne Rice, the queen of vampire novels released The Master of Rampling Gatein Vook version. It costs $5.00 for the iPad version, $4.99 for the iPhone App and the online version. It has 5 chapters and 7 videos . The videos were made by Phinizy Percy Jr.

Check it out and tell me what you think! Email: paula [at]

Monday, February 01, 2010

Apple Announces The iPAD (Technology Corner)

"It's going to change the way we do every day things." I confess outright to being a MAC fan on most technology gadgets. I have a Mac Book Pro laptop and several iterations of iPod's (including the iPod microphone attachment which I use to digitally record interesting literary events I attend). I download music, podcast courses and movies from the iTunes Online Store, and I have 4 "pages" of Apps on my iPhone that enable me to do a variety of things: from stitching my digital iphone photos together into panoramas, to using a handy translator application for languages (including changing English into Arabic script so that I can email directly to the native speaker I'm working with), to staying on top of my stocks via the Bloomberg App, to using the Mapquest app as a geo-locator for directions or to find the London tube stop I need, or the nearest ATM's where I'm traveling. I can view the latest movie trailers and determine the closest cinema playing my choice. I can electronically call a Taxi, predetermine what my fare will be with the likely route he'll take showing on screen and even pay for my fare in certain cities. Yawn. It goes on and on. As a book reviewer, book publisher, journalist and technology bibliophile, I of course downloaded the Amazon Kindle version for my iPhone the day it became available. But I don't really use it - the screen is pretty small. So for the sake of all the book groups who frequent our website I decided to enter the market by (gasp) ordering an Amazon Kindle before Christmas. The device went through postal purgatory for 3 weeks, eventually going to a wrong address and being sent back to Amazon. I figured that was digital karma because a few days later Steve Jobs made his long awaited announcement of APPLE'S new iPad Device which is largely aimed at destroying the e-reader market. Here's why I think that APPLE will dominate the competitive field: design, design, design. It's rather like the real estate axiom: location, location, location. Why would anyone want to own a clunky Amazon Kindle II or a 5th generation but still ugly Sony Reader, or a Barnes & Noble (mad-dash attempt to catch-up) Nook ?? when they can own an elegant, slim, weightless, superior interface iPad. The list of features, cost and dates you can get yours follow...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Technology Corner: Electric Literature Magazine, NOT #Edison (Technology Corner)

In keeping with my newfound love affair with the short story genre, I'd like to share with you an innovative new company out of NYC called, Electric Literature Magazine. It's the brainchild of co-founders and editors, Andy Hunter, and Scott Lindenbaum. The duo seeks to revitalize the (ss) genre by employing a variety of electronic formats and digital delivery systems: Sony Reader, ebook, the Kindle, the iPhone, audio books and a POD, print on demand paper version, with of course their online digital version. The cost of an electronic subscription is $24 and $48 for paper - and they've already got over 1,000 subscribers. "In the first two issues this year, the magazine attracted some of the country’s best writers — Michael Cunningham, Colson Whitehead, Lydia Davis, Jim Shepard — and created the kind of buzz that is a marketer’s dream," says New York Times Felicia Lee (Oct 27th) "Mr. Cunningham said he allowed Electric Literature to use an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, Olympia, in the debut issue 'as a vote of confidence' for [the founders] who were his students in the M.F.A. program at Brooklyn College." Get Electric Literature: #1 here. (photo credit:Michael Appleton)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Technology Corner: Carbon Copy Cloner, Worry-free Back-Up (Technology Corner)

I use a MacBook Pro with the Mac OS X operating system. I'm on this thing so much I've had to replace the "i" key twice and my space bar has been worn down like the sandstone steps of La Seu Cathedral in Barcelona. I run tons of software such that the 40-odd miniscule icons lined up on my tool docking bar at the bottom of my screen are barely recognizable. I use a separate hard drive to store all my media: photos, audio files, movies from my own in-progress files and completed archived projects. This helps to maximize pc speed and performance, and it gives me some peace of mind against the loss of important data. So far I've had next to nil computer crashes: Unlike my friends with non-Mac PC's who experience "the blue screen of death" regularly, and are forced to spend hours upon hours reloading and re-booting their machines. However, that is not to say that I have become cavalier in my approach to some future inevitability. The reason I am telling you all of this is to illustrate how important our personal laptop computers have become, and how any temporary glitch or—yee gads—crash to our system would prove catostophique (spoken with a shrill French accent). SO, as you all nod your heads in frantic agreement, I have a juicy piece of information to ease your now troubled mind. CCC. No, it's not a hockey equipment manufacturer, or a stuttering expository text message. The letters stand for Carbon Copy Cloner, and it's FREE. In just 4 simple steps: Clone, Synchronize, Schedule, and Backup, you will never have to worry about your precious [gratuitous Gollum reference from Lord of the Rings] again! Sign up for our RSS feeds.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Espresso Book Machine: Will that be one lump or two? (Technology Corner)

I guess Starbucks is unintentionally to blame for the catchy name of the new one-off book machines coming to a book store near you. After all, doesn't book browsing and expresso-quaffing go hand in hand? Maybe the tagline of the new technology will be, "Sip your latté AND self-publish your own book!" POD, or Print On Demand technology is coming to Village Books in Bellingham, Washington. Yup that little store in the upscale waterfront neighborhood of Fairhaven owned by Chuck Robinson. Chuck and his team have just returned from Northshire Bookstore in Vermont. That's the book store claiming to be the first book store in North America (and only one of a few around the world) to have a POD book making machine. Chuck and his staff were toured and ostensibly tutored at the art of book making - Espresso-style. A video on YouTube shows the whole process. Just enter the book parameters, press the button (don't forget to order your latté) and voila - your self published book awaits you with full color soft cover, hot glued or perfect bound. ("And," my professional publishing friends might add "...all the original spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, style no-no's and lack of editorial vision..." You get their point.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Twitter Don'ts: #7 Don't Twiiter When Drunk (Technology Corner)

Spring is here and I have to confess - I've become twitterpated. No, not the Disney Bambi type, but the 140 character online social networking type. As opposed to Facebook, a site I check each morning to see what my friends and family are doing, I find that has become my lifeline to my professional network. It's a shout-out from friends at work telling me what they're reading of interest, what's happening in the backroom at Granta, NPBooks, and BookNet. Twitter is where all the big and small publishers, editors of fine literary blogs, a sprinkling of authors, and other people whose tweets I share, congregate off-and-on throughout the day. It's the virtual water cooler. Of course the authors I know write the best tweets. Susan Orlean cracks me up daily! Regarding Easter she writes, "Haven't told [junior] about organized religion yet but [the 6 year-old] tells me that Google has all the answers." Now that's profound! Whether you're a DJ connecting to other spinners of vinyl, or an architect keeping up with designer friends, other artisans or the textile manufacturer - Twitter can connect your network. As I become more facile with the advantages and disadvantages of the blue bird site, I have to agree with some of PC Magazine's Top 13 Twitter Don'ts with my comments annotated with a * Oh, by the way - my Twiiter ID is BookBuffet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How To Make An iPhone Version of Your Blog (Technology Corner)

You can create an iPhone version of your blog or website's RSS feeds in less than a minute. Why would you do that? Because trends show that most people in a certain demographic stay on top of important news throughout the day using their mobile devices. To make your own iPhone version of your blog - do what we did - follow Jon's 1-minute videoinstructions. Go to Enter your RSS feed URL and website title into the boxes. Then click on the ‘iPhoneize’ button. You have the option to upload a 57x57pixel avatar or photo that will appear as you button. The web application will generate a code for your weblog. Next you place this code between <> <> of your website's header code so that any iPhone or iPhone touch users will be detected and will be so directed to the appropriate version for them to view your feeds via their handheld. It is all hosted on server.

The originator of the video demo jon (pictured above) uses Vimeo to post his video content. It's a video site that allows you to post and share video content - but different from youtube. It's free and if you want a channel of your own, or more bandwidth it doesn't cost a fortune. Great place to connect to other video artists and filmmakers.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Amazon Loading Books On iPhone App (Technology Corner)

It was just a matter of time, but the word is officially out - Amazon has bowed to Apple and created a FREE app for its iPhone and iPod. As an iPhone user and an avid reader who is on-the-go constantly, I am thrilled to see the collaboration in place. I've been reluctant to purchase a Kindle to download Amazon digital books, as who needs another soon-to-be-obsolete electronic device? Users can shop for books at on a regular PC, and then transfer purchases over the air to the iPhone and iPod touch. Prices are the same whether books are purchased from a Kindle or from an iPhone, and the first chapter of every book is free. If you've already got a Kindle, you can download every Kindle purchase you've already made to the new iPhone app. The app also offers adjustable font size along with bookmarks and annotation features. Like on the Kindle e-book, you can bookmark pages, increase the font size, and access the table of contents. You can buy a book or download a sample directly to your iPhone, be it via 3G or Wi-Fi. Turning the page is as easy as swiping the iPhone's touch screen.To compare Kindle with iPhone, read Nicole Lee's article on CNet News.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stealing Your Information: Facebook Does An About Face (Technology Corner)

If you haven't yet jumped on the bandwagon that is the social network revolution called Facebook, you've likely got your reasons: a stubborness toward technology or privacy issues. Well the NYT printed an article telling of the company's change in policy that has created an uproar among the Facebook community. It has caused the company to retract those changes for the meanwhile, but readers should know what they're signing on for when they create a Facebook presence and enter all that juicy information about themselves...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Biomed Experts Dot Com: Websites That Connect Specialty Groups (Technology Corner)

Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Social Networking sites aren't just for programmers, technology buffs or citizen journalists. The staid institution of Medicine is getting on the band wagon. The other day my husband received an email announcing his enlistment on a website designed to connect biomedical specialists the world over. It has a lot of cool features that include the individual's research areas, their network of contributers, a mapping system to see how their life-work is linked around the world to other researchers or clinicians, and a list of their publications. The advantage is that researchers (or plain old doctors) can locate THE person in the world who is leading in a particular area of expertise. Check it out, and then find out how this and other web publications are changing how medical professionals communicate, connect and collect data. There is even a website that asks patients to give their inputs on disease symptoms and reactions to drug Rx and other treatment modalities.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A New Way to Shop for Gadget Gifts for the Holidays (Technology Corner)

Stumped as to which digital technology gadget you should purchase this holiday? Check out this excellent interactive feature at the NYT by David Pogue, the technology guru and columnist. Called Pogue-o-matic. It's fun and easy. All you do is pick the category you're shopping for: cameras, camcorders, smartphones or TV's. Then check the box of a list of defining questions that cues a video-speaking David to walk you through your options using just the right amount of detail and information. Consider him your personal shopping assistant. At the end of the entertaining interactive session, you'll have a shortlist of products that you can then choose to have sent to your phone or email for ease of shopping. I had my camera stolen last summer and have been wanting to replace it with the next level up in professional quality and features. David Pogues video-chat session gave me my answer. See if he can help you through the digital product maze!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Couric Coverage of the Election: Embedded Live Video (Technology Corner)

For the first time in election history, a major television news network produced a widget that could be embedded on any person's website or blog which viewers could watch any place there is internet. I for one benefited from this as I have no cable or satellite TV where I happened to be on election night, and so I was thrilled to find live streaming video of the election online. It meant I could watch the election results on my computer screen. It was a "power to the people" sort of media move that was supported entirely by INTEL. (Intel of course being the computer chip found in virtually all computer technology.) This is another aspect of the success of people who embrace technology - as demonstrated by the campaign strategists in Obama's team. From the grass-roots fundraising campaign to the use of internet to distribute information and gather support, it represents a powerful message about the value of technology in media and politics.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

$100 Laptops: Yves Behar Designs Innovative Solutions (Technology Corner)

Yves Behar demonstrates the new XO Laptop in this convincing video. It's the result of a 2005 competition challenging designers and manufacturers to come up with an affordable, resiliant product for the One Lap Top Per Child program headed by Nicolas Negroponte (the founder of MIT lab) and consists of leading mathematicians, programmers, psychologists, engineers, musician/activists, businessmen and humanitarians. Design forward construction and materials that make even the happiest Mac user envious: a screen that you can see in full sunlight, light, compact, strong, requiring very little energy and having the ability to be powered by solar panels or cranks or foot pedals. Bono of U2 was involved in the project from the beginning and gives his unbridled support.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mapping Authors Through (Technology Corner)

Here is another creative technology websites that uses a unique mapping system to help readers find, compare and explore published authors. It's called and it works like this. Type the name of any writer you wish to research. The site will come up with a page listing that writer's name as well as all the writers whose work is similar to them. The closer the names appear to each other, the more alike their body of work is supposed to be, and the more likely - it is said - that you will enjoy the style, subject matter or body of work of the close relation. TRY IT! I entered John Irving and got this.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Web Analytics: What They Know About You & The Websites You Visit (Technology Corner)

Web analytics are the gurus of online companies. They collect information about who visits their sites and they know your age, sex, income, education, marital status, what browser you use and system platform you use, and lots more. Why is that useful? If you are a website owner, it pays to know who your site visitors and customers are. If you are the web editor, it pays to know which articles people are reading, how long they stay on your site, where they browse and where they bail. It's not just for the purposes of matching future content to visitor tastes. It's key information in determining advertisement placement and maximizing revenue. All the big websites have a web analytics department. Even if you are a little guy—it is worth your while to pay attention to web analytics. The New York Times and NBC, to use two examples, track site visits minute to minute. They titrate content and advertising that is specifically geared to your viewing tastes, as breaking news develops or gains particular traction. The articles are repositioned on the page and the ads are matched to your past viewing tastes and geographics. The head of the companies meet with their analytics department each and every day and get regular updates throughout the day. For a taste of what you can learn, visit Quantcast Media Planner and key in your own search variables.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Survey Shows Increasing Use of E-Books As Research Tool Among Students (Technology Corner)

Digital resources are used as often, if not more often, than print books says 6,500 students at around 400 institutions across the globe who participated in a survey by Ebrary, the Palo Alto-based digital content service and delivery company. Craig Morgan Teicher who writes for Publishers Weekly, (6/25/2008 7:00:00 AM) says that "while the survey does indicate some skepticism and ignorance about e-books in institutional libraries, it also clearly shows that students are increasingly using e-books and other digital reference sources for research and other assignments."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Technology Corner: Take A Free Course From Stanford or Berkeley at (Technology Corner)

"Transforming learning from on campus to off campus to where there's no campus at all," that's what iTunes U is all about. Load up on lectures from the top professors at the top universities in the country. And it's FREE. This is the most thrilling discovery for me in years. I love the trend of podcasts and v-casts to access online education. Presentations, performances, lectures, demonstrations, debates, tours, archival footage — it's all about getting inspired. Listen to "An Evening with Leonard Cohen and Philip Glass" from Stanford U, watch a linear alegbra class at MIT, or catch a lecture by Thomas Friedman on how technology has made Beijing, Bangalore and Bethesda "next door neighbors." Just download to your iPod and listen on the way to work or in the comfort of your living room by plugging into your TV.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Technology Corner: SMS Etiquette (Technology Corner)

Short Message Service (SMS) allows users to "text" a message between cell phone, pocket PC's. More than 500 billion SMS messages were sent across the world's global system messenging in 2004. But just like the annoyance we've all experienced in public places when someone is talking loudly, endlessly and personally on their phone, SMS has its own set of issues. Learn some SMS etiquette

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Amazon to Launch An Electronic Reader Device Monday Nov 19th (Technology Corner)

Will libraries holding book stacks become a thing of the past? Amazon's Jeff Bezos plans to announce his new electronic book-reader device called The Kindle on Monday in New York City at the W Hotel's swanky Union Square location. The Kindle will cost $399 but the W Hotel has a corporate alliance with Amazon that will allow guests to check out devices like a library book, with downloaded books coming straight off Amazon's website. Marketing research by the company followed iPhone's launch strategy that used celebrity endorsement. Rumors have it the year-long awaited e-readers will come with a pre-loaded bestseller. Watch for the announcement Monday. For a re-cap on the battle between Google and Amazon technology click feature title.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A LuLu of an Idea: Putting Your NOKIA Phone to 'Novel' Use (Technology Corner)

TORONTO (Reuters) - An Italian writer decided to put his mobile phone to good use during his daily commute to and from work -- by writing a book. Robert Bernocco, an IT professional, took advantage of his travel time by writing a 384-page science fiction novel, Compagni di Viaggio (Fellow Travelers), on his Nokia using the phone's T9 typing system.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Computer Program Predicts Book Title Success (Technology Corner)

 How much does the title of a book contribute to its success? Authors and their book editors agree, it's the toughest part of the job. Computer science researcher, Dr. Atai Winkler at plugged in all the bestselling hard cover fiction titles off the New York Times bestseller list from the last 50 years and here is what he discovered: 

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Technology Corner: PayPal Goes Mobile (Technology Corner)

Online payment company PayPal is preparing to offer a service that will let consumers make purchases or money transfers using simple text messaging via mobile phones, the company said on Wednesday.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Canada's AdScam Blown Open Thru The Power of Blogs (Technology Corner)

Canada’s Sponsorship Scandal, alternatively known as AdScam or Canadagate, has been fascinating to watch from a citizen’s rights and media perspective. It is making history in Canada because Bloggers, and those who frequent their sites, have been the driving force accessing and disseminating information traditional print media has not been able to convey. Find out more about the justice system in Canada, ownership of the media, and the best books on ethics.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Technology Corner: Search Engine Wars - Which Is Best? (Technology Corner)

BBC News Magazine just reported the results of its study of the Big 5 players: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask Jeeves, or A9 and the verdict is...

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