A book to tide me over until the next Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend

Last weekend was great fun as @tturbo and the rest of our years-old Guild Wars group jumped in to the most recent Beta Weekend event.

But now the event is done, and the wait continues for the *next* event, and I’m finding I need more of the world to explore.

Behold!
So ‘a man has said’ that there are these Guild Wars 2 novels out there, which means I must check them out. And I did by downloading the first (from iTunes): Guild Wars: The Ghosts of Ascalon.

The Story So Far…
Actually it’s pretty good. Standard adventuring fare, but being published in 2010, brings many of the game improvements into the story-line. Guards have rifles. The world map has changed. They fear Dragons again.

I’m hoping we’ll see the introduction of the Engineer 🙂

Niggles.
Ok, it’s an eBook, downloaded from iTunes. Which means it’s got DRM. For me that’s a problem as I like to read on different devices. I prefer my Kobo, but occasionally will read on my iPad or iPhone, depending on the context.

Fortunately there’s a cool app that will easily remove iTunes DRM from most iTunes eBooks — and it worked like a charm — and I’m reading happily on my Kobo, slowly. I don’t want to rush through the book and *still* have to wait a while for the next Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 🙂

Libraries are dead. Long live the Librarian!

stacks.jpg

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 Kids don’t shlep to the library to use an out of date encyclopedia to do a report on FDR.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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Three essential PDF readers for iPad

A while ago I wrote about ways to read PDF files on your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. Well that post is showing it’s age, so rather than completely redo it, I thought I’d discuss my current three top PDF readers, and why.

GoodReader
GoodReader is my first choice, go-to PDF reader on my iPad.

First off, getting files into GoodReader. It’s simple, and supports iTunes file transfer, Network transfer via WiFi, or downloading from shared services such as;

  • DropBox
  • Google Apps
  • Mobile Me
  • SugarSync
  • FTP servers

Next, it’s under active development, with frequent new features, updates and bugfixes.

As expected GoodReader supports PDF and TXT files, but it can also display all of the most popular file types including:

  • MS Office – .doc, .ppt, .xls and more
  • iWork’08/’09
  • HTML and Safari webarchives
  • High resolution images
  • Audio & Video playback in some formats

Yes, GoodReader is my PDF reader of choice. But, there are cases where an alternative is important. Enter…

CloudReaders
This is a more simplistic app that I use primarily for reading graphic novels and comic-book files. Some are in PDF format and others in CBZ or CBR format.

CloudReaders allows WiFi upload by running a small server that you connect to using your desktop computer. Here’s some of the cooler features of CloudReaders:

  • Multi-task support
  • Rotation lock
  • iPhone/iPod/iPad touch support
  • Automatically add books when files were transferred via iTune application
  • Auto page alignment (on iPhone/iPod touch)
  • Smoothing (from Settings app)
  • Default page-orientatin (from Settings app)

As a free eReader and PDF reader, it’s a bargain. There’s also an in-app purchase that allows you to share (via P2P) with other local CloudReaders users. Very neat.

Stanza
This is my go-to eBook reader on the iPad, and has been one I’ve used on the iPod Touch previously.

I’d written about it here, and it’s still a solid app you should check out, especially since it’s free!

Interesting business model for eBook

Earlier this week I found an eBook over on ZenHabits. The book looks interesting and I’m looking forward to giving it a read, but the think that caught my eye was the business model; you can get the book for free. The whole book, as a downloadable eBook. Free.

Now, there is a Premium version of the eBook available that includes a lot more interesting looking content.

This business model reminds me of  ‘Director’s Cut’ DVDs. You get the basic movie, the Director’s cut, the out-takes, the concept art, maybe a making-of video, and director commentary, over and above the basic movie.

Content you’re paying a premium for.

So, this 27 chapter eBook is free, and the premium stuff looks like it might be worth paying for, if you think it’ll add value to the basic content in the eBook.

Well, I’m going to bite, and give it a read. It’s free. It may (or may not) entice me into checking out the premium version, but at the very least, I’ll get some ideas. And hopefully learn something.

And try and figure out how this business model really makes sense.

1. All 27 chapters of the free ebook
Along with a crapload of extra material …

2. How-to videos
Going into more depth on focus-related topics:

  • How to Single-task
  • Beating the Fears of Disconnecting
  • How to Find Stillness & Disconnect
  • Focus & Health, Part 1: eating healthy and getting active
  • Focus & Health, Part 2: sleep and stress

3. Audio interviews with experts

4. Bonus chapters from Leo

  • creativity and practicing deep focus
  • finding stillness and reflection
  • how to start changes on a broader level

5. Bonus chapters from other writers

6. Bonus PDF guides

  • How to create new habits
  • Quick-start decluttering guide
  • Focused email guide

Add this to my Christmas List

If you’re a fan of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, then this book, The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, had better be on your Christmas list this year. It’s on mine 🙂

Watch the video and find out why…

The Steve Jobs Way

Tomorrow Apple will likely announce a new look and feel for the MacBook Air and an update (perhaps significant) to their flagship operating system, OSX. And once again, the reality distortion field surrounding Steve Jobs’ presentations will be set to full power. It’ll be an interesting day, I’m sure. Especially since Steve ripped into Google, RIM,  and smaller-sized tablet computers in an earnings call earlier this week.

Coincidentally, last week Bloomberg released a good, detailed episode of Game Changers focusing on Steve Jobs.

Through interviews with friends, former colleagues and business associates, GAME CHANGERS reveals the many layers of the intensely private Steve Jobs – his style of leadership, management and creative process. Interviews include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, former Apple CEO John Scully, journalist turned Venture Capitalist Michael Moritz, Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, former Apple “Mac Evangelist” and Silicon Valley Entrepreneur, Guy Kawasaki and Robert X.Cringely, technology journalist and former Apple employee.

Also coincidentally, former “Mac Evangelist” Guy Kawasaki re-released (for free) his 20yr. old insight into a particular period in Apple’s life titled The Macintosh Way.

The Macintosh Way is the first book that Guy Kawasaki wrote. Guy recently got the rights back for the book, and he’s offering it free to people who follow @GuyKawasaki on Twitter.

So, it seems that this is a good week to brush up on your Steve Jobs / Apple Knowledge — for free! Now just need to dust off my copy of iWoz and my week will be complete.