A spacy new way to browse music on your iPad

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Listening to music on your iPad is usually a visually-sparse affair. Load up your player, navigate to your library, and select the muisc. Play, and do other things. Not any more…

Outta this world!
Planetary is the new (and free!) app from Bloom Studios that gives new meaning to navigating through your music collection. To quote the developers:

Fly through a 3D universe dynamically created by information about the recording artists you love. Visit planets that represent your favorite albums and control the playback of your music on iPad by browsing and selecting astronomical objects.

Planetary is just the sort of science fiction experience you expect when using an object from the future like iPad. You’ll want to show your friends this beautiful app. We’ve made it even easier to share Planetary at home; it looks incredible when you hook your iPad 2 up to a big HDTV or projector using the HDMI accessory.

Now Planetary won’t (yet) replace the iPad’s native player as it doesn’t support playlists, or search. But when you think about it, it really doesn’t need to — as the app is more a visual eye-candy layer being applied to the act of browsing through your music collection.

Very pretty; you’ll use it to show off your iPad, and it’s free — why wouldn’t you get it :smileyhappy:

A great overview in the video below.

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Libraries are dead. Long live the Librarian!

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I love it when coincidence and synergy lead to a blog post, this post in fact.

In a post earlier this week, Seth Godin lead us through the history of the Library and the Librarian. In his post, he eventually settled on the somewhat alarming concept that the Library was basically dead:

Wikipedia and the huge databanks of information have basically eliminated the library as the best resource for anyone doing amateur research (grade school, middle school, even undergrad). Is there any doubt that online resources will get better and cheaper as the years go by? Kids don’t shlep to the library to use an out of date encyclopedia to do a report on FDR. You might want them to, but they won’t unless coerced.

They need a librarian more than ever (to figure out creative ways to find and use data). They need a library not at all.

Book warehouse?
Given the migration of information from paper to digital forms, the library will perhaps, outlive its role as a warehouse for books. Rather, it’ll become a place where some cool tech and some very well informed people meet and do great things with information (and here’s where the next part of the coincidence happens)  — such as Biblion: The Boundless Library, a cool new iPad app from the New York Public Library:

… go on an exclusive journey deep into the Library’s legendary stacks. This app is designed to open up hidden parts of the collections and the myriad storylines they hold and preserve…through a unique immersive experience. In this free iPad app you will hold documents, images, films, audio, and essays — directly from the collections in your own hands.

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Also earlier this week, the New York Public Library launched the redesigned and updated Biblion app. In this case, Biblion is a themed approach to exploring the library. The first release digs into the huge archives relating to the 1939-1940 Worlds Fair in New York. Download the free app and you’ll:

  • read original essays from such prominent writers as Karen Abbott, William Grimes, Henry Jenkins, Elliott Kalan, James Mauro, and others
  • view General Motors’ famous Futurama ride, in full color, from the original carousel!
  • explore the development of the Fair’s designs, uniforms, buildings, and exhibits, including Salvador Dalí’s then-shocking Dream of Venus extravaganza
  • relish the outrageous restaurant ideas that never made the cut
  • learn about the fate of the Czechoslovakia Pavilion after the country was invaded by Hitler
  • discover what was buried inside the Westinghouse Time Capsule … which won’t be opened until the year 6939!
  • fly from story to story, charting your own journey through the stacks…

It’s made of librarians!
Cool apps like this don’t  just magically appear out of thin air. Developers need to create the code, and content managers need to pull all the interesting content together in a way that makes sense to you and me, the viewer. In this case, the content managers are Librarians, and it’s exciting to see them creating these mashups of library science and technology.

What about the books?
As much as I enjoy reading a good book (the ink and paper type) I think their days are numbered. Except for significant works of a historical nature, many books more easily stored, searched and referenced digitally. Which means the book warehouses (libraries) can evolve into their next phase. I’m not sure what that would be, but I bet we’re going to love it :smileyhappy:

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#Winning on Friday the 13th

f13a_300.jpgToday is Friday the 13th. The only Friday the 13th of 2011 as it works out.

This specific date has special significance for me — and it has nothing to do with movies.

Since Friday the 13ths occur so infrequently, and are  somewhat famous, I use the day as a semi-random chance to get my digital ducks in a row.

Stop everything
My Friday the 13th routine starts with a quick review of all open projects and work. I don’t actually do any work on those projects, rather I look over everything, reviewing all the details and milestones, and just make sure that nothing’s being missed.

Backup everything
Next, I check out my data backup software and processes. In the blogosphere, the 13th of each month  has been promoted as Blog Backup Day, but really, protecting your data is something that everyone should do, be it through a highly-protected storage device like the Drobo-FS, or using a backup drive system like ClickFree’s, or some combination of  the two.

Vaccinate everything
Then, I make sure my anti-virus and firewall technology is current — and run a manual scan over all my drives. Yes, time consuming but it also provides me peace of mind that everything’s clean.

Defrag everything
Finally, I run a drive defragmentation utility over all drives that can benefit from it. Some operating systems automagically handle drive fragmentation and some don’t.

Data ducks in a row
And yes, that can be a lot of work, but at the end of it, I’ve got a good picture of my workload, and the state of my data on my computer systems. I’ve turned a day that’s famous for horror stories into a day of good. #Winning 🙂

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Many flavours of RSS readers for iPad

title.jpgEarlier today Feedly was reintroduced to the iPad iOS world with significant buzz — Robert Scoble profiled the reader (check the video below).

One of the notable things about Feedly is its HTML 5 base — which allows the majority of functions to be device agnostic (Android, Windows Phone, etc).

But on iOS devices, there are a number of RSS readers that have made names for themselves, and are happily co-existing on my iPad.

All of these readers, in some way, tap into your various social media streams, as well as an existing Google Reader account — which is cool, as you can use the power of Google Reader to manage the feeds, then simply consume the content on your mobile device as is convenient.
 
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Some are my daily use RSS reader, and others, while interesting, just haven’t managed to keep my attention.
Here’s a few of the ones I like, and why:

 

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Zite
Currently my daily use news reader, grabs content from your Twitter stream, your Google Reader RSS feeds, and your Delicious bookmarks.

Zite gives you a very clean and polished interface consisting of algorithmically-selected stories from your content feeds.

Interestingly, you can rate and share the content. As you do this, Zite ‘remembers’ the content you’ve rated and will get smarter about displaying content to you as it learns. After a few weeks, you’ll have your own tuned and personalized digital magazine made up of the content you like to consume.

The only downside? The danger of too much ‘sameness’.  I do occasionally like to read outside my regular patterns, and I fear Zite will not expose me to some new and interesting things by only showing me more of what I like and review. Time will tell.

 

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FlipBoard
Initially my regular reader, now it’s down to about once a month. Nice display, nice method of reading, but not good enough to keep me coming back. Zite has replaced FlipBoard as my ‘visual’ reader.

 

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Reeder
The 500lb gorilla of RSS readers — quickly and efficiently manages your content. Displays RSS feeds cleanly and allows you to easily browse your feeds. Simple and elegant design has kept me using this as my regular RSS reader when I want to drill down to see what content I’ve missed from a particular source.

 

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Pulse
I have a love / hate relationship with Pulse. Nice display. Easy to use and share content. It’s my Number 2 RSS reader…except when it crashes. And it has, usually once a session when I use it, which is becoming less frequent.

 

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FLUD
An odd one that has stayed on my device, for the time being.

Similar to Pulse in layout, but not quite as efficient in handling feeds, at least from an end-user perspective.

 

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Feedly
The new kid on the block. Ties in to Google Reader, has a nifty swipe-sensitive interface to flip pages, and a very nice look and feel.

I don’t like the way the content is locked in a vertical orientation (portrait mode)…and am somewhat concerned as a blog owner that they’ve blocked out an area for inserting advertising in my blog content stream — yes they ask you to ping them if that’s your content stream, but what if I don’t — will they insert their own advertising on my content?

Regardless, Feedly is new, and has my attention for now — time will tell, especially as it grows on other mobile platforms.

Your turn — what mobile RSS reader is your daily go-to reader, and why?

Oh, and here’s that Feedly video I promised :smileyhappy:

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Disaster Tech

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Like many of you, I’ve been watching the events in Japan continue to unfold, and perhaps thinking to myself, “I’m glad something that devastating didn’t happen here”.

But what if it did, would you be prepared? I like to think that I am, but sadly, I’m probably not.

Yes, I have a first aid kit, and I’ve got some camping supplies, but it’s not organized nor is it handy. And it’s likely not enough, which is why the Canadian Red Cross created these handy plans.

Getting Prepared
The Canadian Red Cross has this excellent resource for building and maintaining an Emergency Preparedness Kit listing what you need to survive for 72 hours or more.

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Ok, step one is taken care of…or is it.
In my case, I’ve got pets so I need to extend my kit and plans a bit with this Emergency Pet Plan & Kit

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Now I’m set, except for some of the tech. Usually tech is the last thing you want in your kit; it requires power, isn’t easy to fix when it breaks, and doesn’t fare well when wet. Yet there are some exceptions.

Gearing up
These plans and kits all call for a battery or hand-crank flashlight and radio. And I’ve found one that suits my needs perfectly.

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The Etón FR160 self-powered safety radio uses hand crank or solar power to re-charge the internal nickel metal-hydride battery and features AM/FM radio and Environmental Canada weather band channels to provide emergency weather information/public alerts. In addition, the FR160 has an integrated LED flashlight, 3.5 mm headphone output and a USB port for charging cell phones.

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The unit is small, lightweight, and won’t take up valuable space in any emergency kit.

Of course, I tried it out, and yes, it does work well. Radio reception was fine, and the crank, while a bit noisy, did charge well.

And as a bonus, Etón Corporation contributes a portion of every Canadian Red Cross branded unit sold to support the mission of the Canadian Red Cross.

If you’re looking for more information on the FR160, you can check out the manual here (pdf).

And yes, this will find a home in my soon-to-be-complete emergency kit.

But I’m sure you’ve got some tech-thoughts on additions to my kit — what tech would you pack in your kit?

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