Thursday, May 5, 2016

Reading and Keeping Informed

For reading, and keeping informed, it is desirable to have the best tools. These consist of hardware and also software apps.

The best hardware ranges from smartphones to tablets. The benefit of the smartphone is that you have it with you. Your choice with it is to read newspaper sized  text or to have it read to you using one of the popular audio readers, such as @Voice, Google TTS, Listen Reader, and Kindle for Kindle readers..

A better choice for reading comfort is a 7 to 10 inch tablet, either Windows or preferably Android.   These are available at more or less than $150.  Awfully cheap is the RCA 10 inch Android tablet with keyboard, or its 10 inch Windows cousin, which works as well as any Windows device I've ever seen, though some users have reported cracked screen along the way. Some credit cards double the one year warranty for such a device.

There is no need to spend anything more than $200 for a device, although it is handy also to have a Kindle reader only, such as a Paperwhie eReader, simply because it holds a vast number of books without WiFi.

With the proper hardware the next issue is to get the proper software.    For most, the first choice would be Overdrive, which connects to the local library for free access to vast written matter. Next would be the Kindle app.  The Kindle app gives plenty of access to free material and also offers a way to load custom documents and manage all of this.

Kindle offers access only to a portion of digitized material easily. This material consists of .azw, .mobi, and .pdf. Far more is available elsewhere, such as in the .epub format.

Next to Kindle would be the Google Newsstand Books app.  It is easy to send the widely used .pdf documents to it.

Now, there are those who would ask why do we need access to so many sources. The answer is simply to be well informed. but then people ask how you get the time to read so much.

The answer to that question is to be proactive and use reading skills which actually will reduce the amount of time he spent on reading.( I was lucky enough to have a professor* who enabled me to read an enormous amount in a very short time.)  I read very selectively on the basis of knowing that you don't need to eat all of an apple to know that it's bad. You just need to get the essence of what you want. I scan and read deeply only when necessary.

Nowadays, I read the New York Times Briefing which covers the news in a matter of a few minutes. I also read the New Yorker Briefing. I choose selected sources before reading anything at all. Such sources include  the Wall Street Journal, CBS News online, Google News, MSN news, and many others. For balance, I also read the Manchester Guardian and such sources as the Suedeutsche Zeitung (German).    The latter, and the BBC, have wonderful websites.

I read a selection of blogs and other websites with an aggregator such as The Old Reader app and also Google.

If I do have no time to read something now I then send it to Pocket, a sort of temporary holding spot.  If I need it for later reference I send it to Evernote.

I still need many other tools to get to the bottom of getting the right stuff..

The foremost of these is Calibre, the best tool for obtaining books and regular publications.  These are downloaded and sent by email or direct to a dedicated Kindle ereader. Calibre requires a Linux or Windows device, so I use an old otherwise abandoned Windows computer switched to Linux: it also powers my older printers for which no drivers are available in Windows any more. Foremost, Windows should be fine for Calibre, or even Mac.

There is an older software tool which is been upgraded to do a wonderful job more deasily, and it runs in almost any device to give access to a vast Library of information, plus a place to organize and keep it.     This is FBreader, which includes the ability to read documents out loud.

Windows has several apps which can read formats not available to Kindle.  One of these is Freda and there are others, such as Book Bazaar, one of which offers text-to-speech. ReadAloud  I do not use or recommend Windows Narrator.  It is unnecessarily fussy to use.

* note: My old professor was (Tap or Click) for Prof. Anton Nauhaeusler who helped us get through volumes of philosophy in the German language. If you don't have German, Google will translate (just right click). Neuhaeusler wrote, as an author, under a pseudonym, in Bavarian as opposed to high German.

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