Things I Spied (I)

Roaming the Internet as I do, I seldom remember how I got from here to there. A few weeks ago I mentioned John Green as the author of “The Fault in Our Stars.” The name is hardly uncommon, but I was amazed to find that the same John Green has created a series of YouTube videos called Crashcourse. In them, he is the young, hip history professor you wish you had, using visuals and graphics to teach the things you wish you had learned about.

And a curse on you, PowerPoint!

I just watched the controversial thirteen minute one on “Reconstruction and 1876,” another topic that my numerous American History courses in school managed to tastefully ignore. Actually, I had heard that it was controversial, though I didn’t find it so. But it was definitely a downer. So much opportunity lost, and lost again!

There is a Crashcourse Chemistry Series, a World History one, and  Biology as well as Literature, all of which I am setting out to explore.

Another recent find is Storybundle for E-books. Jason Chen assembles a collection of six to eight novels around a theme: mystery, romance, science fiction, and you pay what you wish to download all of them to your desired E-device, within a limited time frame. In other words, how cheap can you be? I paid fifteen dollars for the mystery bundle (yes, that cheap), enjoyed every one of the offerings, and have now paid a lot more to follow up with some of the authors I discovered there. Of course Jason doesn’t see that money, the authors do.

In the recent science fiction bundle was a previously unpublished gem “High Opp” from Frank Herbert (of “Dune”), and which, like the best science fiction, is wise about people and incredibly prescient about the future. In this case the future is run via opinion polls-sound familiar? Now I am into “The Disappeared” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, one of the few women writers for science fiction I have encountered. My interest in the genre has been renewed.

And an update for afficionados, the (Unofficial) Dr. Who bundle was just released today, and you have two weeks left to snap it up (or down).

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And finally there is my Auxiliary Brain, Evernote. I have been using it for over two years now, and can’t imagine how I functioned without it. The Evernote app sits on your phone, tablet and desktop computers. You configure notebooks that have meaning for you. Then when you have an E-mail, a recipe, a receipt, or a great wine you can save the information in Evernote. Just forward the E-mail, or clip the recipe or take a photo of the wine (the clipper and camera are part of the app) and voila!

 Evernote has an incredibly good search engine, and you can further identify an item with Tags. Some of the Notebooks I have set up are Recipes, Health, Wines, Photos, House and work-related notebooks, such as one for each client and a general one for ideas and inspiration. You can even enter handwritten notes and retrieve them through a search or annotate your entries with handwritten notes, using Skitch, another app which integrates with Evernote.

Evernote Food is another integrative app, which co-opts the recipes from my Evernote Recipe file, and displays them with the attached photos prominent. High class foodie porn. It also provides suggested recipes from all over the web when you search for one of yours.

The apps are synced across my computer, iPad and iPhone, so all the information is available at all times. Possibly better than my brain.

I don’t claim to be an expert at the possibilities with Evernote, just a very satisfied user.

It will come as no surprise that every so often I have to purge my iPhone or iPad because they have run out of memory, but these are real keepers.

Hope you will check them out and enjoy.


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