Can I download free ebooks for the Apple iBooks system?

AskDaveTaylor - 7 hours 22 min ago

As a book writer who appreciates receiving those royalty checks every month, I’m very glad that you aren’t resorting to BitTorrent or the like to get cracked versions of commercial titles. I understand the temptation, though, particularly for a fiction work that you might well bail on 20 pages in as you realize that it’s just not very good. The price of accessible self-publishing. Still, even bad authors deserve their royalty for the work they’ve produced.

But some authors are smart and make some of their work available for free to readers as a way for new people to learn about them and hopefully buy their other books once they’ve been converted into fans. And then there are the thousands upon thousands of books available through Project Gutenberg and the like, books that have fallen into the public domain because their copyright has expired. This includes a lot of classic titles, including all of Shakespeare’s works, Robert Louis Stevenson, Lewis Carrol, and much, much more. Problem with Gutenberg titles, however, is that they’re not formatted for an ebook reader like iBooks and the experience of reading a PDF is far inferior.

Fortunately for all of us, just as Amazon has a free section of the Kindle store, so does Apple have a free books section of the iBooks store. Let’s have a look!

To start, launch iBooks. Mine is full of books already:

On the top left see the “iBooks Store” link? Click on it…

Very nice. Very much like the iTunes Store, actually, but no surprise there.

You need to scroll down a ways and look on the right side for the menu of options:

Find “Free Books” and click on it.

Then you’ll find that unlike all the other sections of the iBooks Store, this one’s often a bit messed up. Doesn’t seem like giving away content is a high priority there at Apple but that’s okay. It all still works. (I’ve cleaned up the following screenshot for aesthetic reasons):

Find a book or three that you like, tap on the cover to learn more. That’s what I’m doing here:

Sure looks interesting since I’m a fan of the A&E TV series Bates Motel, so I’ll download it.

That’s easily done by tapping on “Free” immediately under the cover image on the left. After a few seconds it opens up:

Now just sync your iPad with your Mac and that ebook will automatically be copied across. About as easy as it can be.

And me? I need to go read through Jaio’s Journal to see if I can pick up some clues about one of the major storylines in Bates Motel.

The post Can I download free ebooks for the Apple iBooks system? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Easy way to redeem Starbucks iOS App cards?

AskDaveTaylor - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 09:42

If you’ve been to a Starbucks in the last year or three, you’ve seen stacks of these cards sitting by the register or near the coffee pick up area, cards offering a free song from a CD or a free app or game. They don’t say much about the content (the entire back of the card is information about how to redeem it and get the free content) but it’s free, right, so why not download the song, try the app, and see if it’s any good.

Worst case, you delete it again. No harm, no foul, just a few minutes wasted.

If you have the Starbucks app for your smartphone that also has a section with a pick of the week, but they’re not the same picks as the cardboard cards are in the stores, which I find a tiny bit confusing. But hey, more free content.

If you haven’t seen these cards — and they might be US only, I don’t know — they look like this:

Flip it over and the redemption code is a definite hassle to enter correctly, I completely understand what you’re saying!

Fortunately, you don’t need to enter it at all because your iPhone has a camera.

Launch the “App Store” and look at the bottom of the screen:

Swipe down, down, down to get to the very bottom of the “Featured” view and you’ll find a “Redeem” link:

Tap on it and here’s where the magic happens…

See the link in the middle? Tap on “Use Camera”.

Then just point the camera at the back of the card. It’ll find and identify the redemption code and its box:

Then a second or two later…

And just a moment or three after that, it’s installed and ready to go:

So now you know. Use your camera to redeem those codes and you’re good to go in seconds with just a few taps. Slick.

The post Easy way to redeem Starbucks iOS App cards? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

How do I stop Facebook Video Autoplay?

AskDaveTaylor - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 09:34

First off, in case you haven’t seen the acronym before, NSFW = Not Suitable For Work, a fancy way of saying “dude, you do NOT want your boss walking by when you have this on screen!” Things NSFW are typically also NSFC (not suitable for children) either, if you’re thinking that working at home shields you from that office protocol issue.

To disable the video autoplay feature from your mobile device (tablet or smartphone) you’ll want to follow my earlier tutorial: How to quickly disable video autoplay on your mobile device.

Disabling it in the Web browser is easy too, and the fact that it’s so easy tells me that it is indeed a new addition to the zillion Facebook privacy, security and preference settings.

Start by clicking on the gear icon that’s on the top right of every Facebook screen:

Choose “Settings” near the bottom, then look on the left side of the resultant page of options. Near the bottom of the list of settings you’ll see this:

The choice you want is highlighted in the image: “Videos”.

Click on it, and there’s one lonely entry:

That’s the option. Choose “Off” instead of the default of “On” and you’ll be good to go, without those pesky videos automatically playing and driving you crazy!

The post How do I stop Facebook Video Autoplay? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Found your stolen device with Find my iPhone? Now what??

AskDaveTaylor - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 11:43

I’ve already written about the startling high percentage of devices that are stolen nowadays, whether smartphones, tablets or laptop computers (see Your Devices and Data are at Risk) and how a lot of the times it’s not even the device that’s the target, but the data on the device.

If you’re not paranoid, you should be! With my heightened awareness, I’m also amazed at the number of people who just walk away from their laptops, tablets and even smartphones while in public places. Bathroom breaks can end up being 5-10 minutes if the restroom’s busy, and those people who walk out to take a phone call, leaving their gear sprawled all over a coffee shop table or library work carousel? Yikes. Dangerous.

This time, however, I want to write about the other side of this situation: what do you do if your device is stolen?

The first step is always to file a police report. If someone grabbed your shiny new Galaxy S5 out of your hand on public transport or picked up your computer bag while TSA agents patted you down and interrogated you, the sad reality is that you might be out of luck. Certainly the subway or bus security person is going to shrug and tell you that even with their video footage (if any) there’s not much they can do.

“Ah, but I have Find my iPhone!”

Okay, so your device is stolen and you check, just to find that the $#@$# thief has booted it up and is online:

With software like Find my iPhone or Absolute LoJack you can remote wipe your data or even send a sound or message to the thief:

Sending any sort of communication is the dumbest of all possible options, in my opinion, because it tells the thief “power down now, then remove the drive and plug it into a different computer” or “reformat this. now.”. Besides, odds are that you want your device back and are now excited that you know where the bad guy currently is located.

I mean, on the map above, I could zoom in, then show up at their door and demand my computer back. That’s not a bad idea, is it?

Oh is it a terrible idea. In fact, the news is full of stories of home-brew vigilantes who show up at the residence of a thief and demand their gear back, just to be beaten up, stabbed or otherwise assaulted. Or, perhaps, just laughed at. “Prove it!” would be an unsurprising response.

But the police aren’t motivated to go in and bust someone who ripped off a $200 Android tablet or smartphone. Don’t believe me? Try this story about a guy who stood in front of the thief’s house, called the cops, and they said “sorry, we’re busy with real crime”. Or this one about the police saying that a “find my iphone” map was insufficient data to justify a search warrant.

And then there are the vigilantes and the horrible results of their attempts to recover their own gear, like this terrible story of a 13yo boy murdering a boy who showed up at his apartment, accusing him of having stolen an iPhone. Or stories like this one where the victim attacks the thief, with predictably bad results. And this guy who got arrested for attacking his iPhone thief. And this dude who was arrested after attacking the wrong guy after using Find my iPhone to identify who he thought was the thief.

The danger of trying to recover stolen goods yourself coupled with the lack of interest from the police department combine to make a superb case for the value of Absolute LoJack: A subscription includes the services of their crack device recovery team.

Doug Lubahn from the Absolute Investigations and Recovery Team relates a story about them investigating a series of tablet thefts from the Detroit Public School District in cooperation with Detroit PD, and receiving death threats from the criminal gang that were masterminding the crimes. By the time the head of the gang was arrested, the charges against him included two counts of murder. Not the kind of people I want to tangle with. Do you?

It’s like insurance. We spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on our devices, but how much have you invested in backups, recovery of your gear if it’s stolen or additional renters or homeowners insurance if all is lost and you just need to replace what you have?

It’s time to learn more, time to play it safe before it’s an issue.

Tip: This month is Device Theft Awareness Month and this post is part of the campaign. The good news? Sign up for a year of Absolute LoJack protection for your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone and you can get 30% off by using UNCOVER30 as the special code. Check it out: Sign up for Absolute LoJack before it’s too late.

Bonus tip: Absolute LoJack is running a sweepstakes too and everyone gets a one-month trial of their security suite too. Enter here: Absolute Software Laptop Lifeline Sweepstakes 2014.

The post Found your stolen device with Find my iPhone? Now what?? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Review: verykool s505 Unlocked Android Smartphone

AskDaveTaylor - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 09:00

First off, let’s talk dimensions. The s505 143.5mm x 71.6mm x 8.25mm. How big is that? Well, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is almost identical, as I said, sizing at 142mm x 72.5mm x 8.1mm. The screen’s darn nice too, measuring 5-inches diagonal at 1280×720 (720p) HD resolution.

The big difference is that the s505 is designed to be an open market phone, designed to be purchased as-is rather than as a subsidized purchase through a carrier that’s tied the device down to a particular protocol or frequency setting. If you’ve ever switched carriers just be told that you needed to get a whole new set of phones because the old devices were “tied to the other carrier network”, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

It’s considerably bigger than the iPhone 5s too, if you’re curious:

Verykool s505 Spark vs. an iPhone 5s

I’ve always felt that the locking of devices by carrier was anti-consumer, and brings into question the meaning of “buy”: are you leasing a phone from T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, or are you actually gaining ownership of the physical device, and can then do whatever you want to it?

And so a new market of vendors has been slowly growing on the sidelines, companies like verykool that offer smartphones that are functionally identical to the major vendors, the Samsung, Apple, Nokia, HTC devices, but at a more consumer-friendly price and without the constraints of being tied to a specific network.

Back cover off of the s505, it’s a typical non-Apple device

Which isn’t to say that the Infosonics / verykool s505 Spark isn’t constrained by cellular technology. In fact, the device that the company sent me is a GSM phone, which means that it’ll work on GSM band 850/900/1800/1900 and WCDMA850/1900/2100, which means that it works with AT&T, GCI, ACS and Sprint, but not Verizon or T-Mobile. The company has a different version of the s505 that works with T-Mobile, and Cricket uses an EVDO technology that just isn’t part of the s505 chipset, so Cricket users are out of luck.

But let’s talk AT&T Wireless for a minute. The s505, priced at $199 and available through large retailers like Walmart, New Egg, Petra and Amazon, is functionally quite similar to the Galaxy S5, as already discussed. Except the S5 will set you back a cool $649 as a Go Phone (e.g., without a long term service contract). That’s quite a difference!

The s505 Spark with the verykool-supplied case. There are no options.

The s505 also includes 3G HSPA+, 3G and 2G connectivity, a built-in FM radio, 1080p HD video recording, a 12Mp rear-facing camera and 2Mp forward-facing camera, speakerphone capability, proximity, light and gravity sensors (for all those games, of course) and a decent size 2000mAh battery integrated into the unit.

And support for two SIM cards simultaneously, which means you can have both your work phone and personal phone on the same device. No need to carry and hassle with two cellphones. Darn helpful for a lot of users.

Support for two SIM cards = two phone numbers!

If a third-party phone like the verykool s505 “Spark” can work for you, it really is a good deal, functionally identical to every other Android smartphone, able to jump carriers (as explained earlier) and with support for two SIM cards. If you can use it and can figure out the case situation (aftermarket S5 cases don’t quite fit, the one shown above is your only option at this point) there’s no reason not to pick one up. Start here:

Disclaimer: verykool supplied us with a test s505 Spark phone for review purposes. And we like it!

The post Review: verykool s505 Unlocked Android Smartphone appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Can I change the Twitter Trending Now List?

AskDaveTaylor - Sat, 08/16/2014 - 09:19

Starting with Google’s Zeitgeist analysis of searches, it’s become quite the trend for social media companies to support hashtags and then offer up a listing of the most popular of them for a given subset of all users of that service. Facebook supports hashtags, Google Plus supports hashtags, even Pinterest does. But Twitter was one of the first, and with its constant stream of tweets — millions an hour — the system has hundreds of millions of words to analyze and calculate.

As you know from your own experience, by default Twitter endeavors to show the trending words and hashtags for your local area, but it doesn’t always get things right. I mean, you’re in Mexico City, so it got the “City” part right, but that’s a pretty long way from New York City, for sure. Makes me wonder if that wasn’t something to do with your ISP, because I’ll often have my location mis-identified. In fact, just this afternoon I was in Boulder, Colorado and Google was convinced I was somewhere in mid-Oklahoma. But Mexico City to NYC? Probably not!

Anyway, turns out that it’s easy to change your Twitter “Trending Now” location by clicking on the “Change” link. Which is pretty obvious.

Here’s my default “trending now” Trends list on my Twitter home page:

See the “Change” adjacent to “United States” on the top line? That’s what you want to click on!

Now you’ll see a number of suggestions and a box where you can type in the city or location you desire:

Start typing in a few letters and it’ll promptly suggest cities it knows that match.

Here I’ll check the Twitter Trends from Seoul, Korea:

The results? Well, I don’t have a clue since I don’t read any Korean:

Well, heck. Go back and change it again, this time to London, United Kingdom:

Notice the differences between this set of trending topics and those shown in the very first image in this post.

Curious globally about what’s trending in the world of Twitter? You can do that too, use “worldwide”. Me, I prefer something more local so I’ll specify “Denver”:

Now your assignment is to figure out what #TRXYE means, since it only shows up on the Denver trending list…

The post Can I change the Twitter Trending Now List? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Through the Google lens: search trends August 8-14

GoogleBlog - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 15:03
Demonstrations in Missouri and the death of Robin Williams had people searching for a greater understanding this week.

Losing a Hollywood legend
First up, the news of Robin Williams’ death sparked tens of millions of searches about the beloved actor’s life and career. Legions of fans searched for every one of their favorite films from Williams’ decades-long career; top topics include Hook, Jumanji and Good Morning Vietnam. Many were looking up his most memorable quotes and roles, including the “O captain, my captain” monologue in Dead Poets Society, Genie’s first scene in Aladdin, and a standup bit about golf. Others searched for tributes by Williams’ fellow actors and comedians, like Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien. And just yesterday, news that the actor had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease led people to the web once again.

Two days after Williams’ death, Lauren Bacall passed away at the age of 89, inspiring people to search for more information on the actress, in particular her marriage to Humphrey Bogart back in Hollywood’s golden age.
Unrest in Missouri
Protests ignited in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri this weekend after an unarmed teenager named Mike Brown was shot and killed by police on Saturday. People turned to search to learn more about the conflict, and searches for terms like [ferguson riot] and [ferguson shooting] rose by more than 1,000%.
Math and science phenomena
Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor of mathematics at Stanford, was awarded the 2014 Fields Medal this week for her work on understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces such as spheres. She is the first woman and first Iranian to win the prize, considered the Nobel Prize of mathematics.

Turning from one sphere to a celestial one, two astronomical events led searchers to the web to learn more. The Perseid meteor shower had its annual peak this week—and got a doodle for the occasion—and the brightest super moon of the year had everyone a little lun-y.

Ice ice bucket
This week saw a rise in searches for [als] thanks to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral campaign to raise money to fight what’s better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. From Martha Stewart to Justin Timberlake to your college roommate, odds are you know someone who’s dumped a bucket of icy water on themselves for the cause. The ALS Association has received millions of dollars in donations as a result, though we don’t have any numbers on how many brave folks took the plunge.

Tip of the week
Still basking in the glow of that super moon? Learn more about our familiar friend in the sky by asking your Google Search app on iPhone or Android, “How far away is the moon?” and get an answer spoken back to you. You can then ask, “How big is it?” Google will understand what “it” you’re talking about and give you the 411.

Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [is handedness genetic] and [play it again dick]
Categories: Technology

Wipe and Reformat an Android Device?

AskDaveTaylor - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 09:04

Just as all iOS devices work similarly, so do all Android devices, at least with something as basic as system settings and configuration. I’m glad you’re giving this device to your Mom, though, because there’s some reason to believe that even a system reset doesn’t perfectly remove everything from the device (see Destroying Data is Hard Work for an example of what I’m talking about).

At the least, however, if you have 2-step verification set up on your various online accounts — and you really should! Here’s a link to the many articles I have on this site about setting that extra-safe security for most common online services: Set up 2-step verification — the new owner of an Android device shouldn’t be able to get onto your system. You might also contact the mobile carrier too so that they don’t use your billing information for subsequent usage. That would be bad, and even more so if your Mom’s in the loop, with all her calls to China and the Middle East.

Fortunately it’s pretty easy to reformat your device!

Start by finding “Settings”:

Once you tap on it, you’ll be in the complicated world of Android settings.

There’s a lot to see!

None of these, however, are what you seek!

Swipe down on the left side to find “Backup & reset”, then tap on it:

Now on the right side, you’ll want to choose “Factory data reset”.

This actually has an option to leave your photos intact. You probably don’t want to do that so make sure you look at the options closely.

Then, finally, you’ll be looking at this:

And if you’re sure, click on “Erase everything” and you’re good to go.

Now that device is ready for your Mom. But is she ready for Android? You’ll find out…


The post Wipe and Reformat an Android Device? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Balsamiq UX Template - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 18:24
Made for UX designers

This template is made for UI designers using Balsamiq Mockups that want to create polished, client-ready presentation decks. It includes a few example pages for basic UX document needs (journey maps, personas, wireframe pages), a Symbol Library for controls crafted in Konigi-style, and grid Symbols to keep your layout tight.

Download for free

1. Download the template.
2. Duplicate it whenever you start a new project.
3. Set to Wireframe Skin and System Fonts.

Watch a tutorial on how to use this template.

Symbol Library for Controls Example Pages and Grid Symbols

<img src="" alt="" class="img-responsive" />

This template is made for UI designers using Balsamiq Mockups that want to create polished, client-ready presentation decks. It includes a few example pages for basic UX document needs (journey maps, personas, wireframe pages), a Symbol Library for controls crafted in Konigi-style, and grid Symbols to keep your layout tight.

More info...

Categories: Technology

Wed, 12/31/1969 - 19:00

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