How I Unplugged and Lived to Tell About It | Michael Hyatt


Earlier this year I predicted 2012 would be a time that people would unplug from the Internet. Here’s a blog post by publishing executive Michael Hyatt discussing his attempt to do just that.

Hyatt’s post:  How I Unplugged and Lived to Tell About It | Michael Hyatt.

My previous post on unplugging: 2012 predictions

2012 predictions: Tech vacations and slower Facebook growth


Mashable has made seven predictions for social media in 2012. While predictions can be about as accurate as throwing darts or drawing straws, one of Mashable’s predictions is a safe bet. The list of predictions is here.

I agree that Facebook’s explosive growth in terms of new members will flatten in 2012, but the amount each user spends on the site will grow. Just about everyone except my parents has joined Facebook (and I don’t see my parents joining anytime soon).

Now I’m going to ignore what I just said about predictions being hard to make and issue one of my own: People will start to take time off from the digital and virtual realms in 2012. I’ve started to see stories being published urging people to turn off their digital devices for a while or to log off of social media sites like Facebook. Mashable reports that the Caribbean nation St. Vincent and the Grenadines is challenging visitors to leave their gadgets at home as part of a “digital-detox vacation package.” Participants of the low-tech vacation will receive a guidebook telling how to function on a vacation without technology.

I think many people are getting worn out from the constant barrage of social media and texting that’s made possible from smart phones they have with them even when they’re not in front of a computer screen. That’s in addition to mobile phones making it impossible for many employees to leave work at the office.

Ericsson ConsumerLab recently released results from a survey of 2,000 American teens ages 13 to 17. The results showed teens still prefer meeting face-to-face versus texting and checking statuses on Facebook. Teens said they would miss face-to-face communication the most if it were taken away. Texting came second.

While I believe that more people will take time off from Facebook and other digital distractions this year, I will not be one of them. I am one of the statistics who relies on mobile phones, emails, Facebook and more to stay in touch with relatives and friends, and to earn a living (not to mention maintaining my blogs). If you take a digital vacation, I hope you will check out my blog once you return!

Further observations on the Kindle


Here are some further observations on the Kindle:

  • Each version of the Kindle (tablet or app) returns a reader to the last page viewed in a title.
  • While the arrow buttons on the tablet make for easy page turning, it can be tedious to use them to turn back more than a few pages to return to a section; you can use the menu to “go to” a location number (numbers for various locations are shown at the bottom of every page). Or, you can sync to the furthest page read, but to do so, you must first have turned your annotations backup on, which can be found in the settings menu. The Kindle must have had Wi-Fi access enabled at the time you last had the book or article open to allow Amazon.com to store that data.
  • In the PC app, you can view the menu of available titles by most recent, title, author and length.
  • The tablet and PC app come with a dictionary, which can come in handy when reading old books with archaic words.
  • The popular highlights feature lets you see what other Kindle readers think are the most interesting passages in a book you have. Highlighted passages will be highlighted in your book.

 

When a Kindle is not a Kindle – Reading books on another device


My last several blogs have focused on the Kindle e-book reader – but that tablet is not the platform for partaking of the Kindle experience. Amazon.com currently offers several versions of a Kindle app for mobile phones and other devices: the iPhone; Windows personal computers; Mac computers; some models of the Blackberry; the iPad; Android phones; and the Windows Phone 7 operating system. (Click here to view the various Kindle apps and system requirements.)

I have only recently downloaded the Windows PC app; it is the only device I own that supports one of the apps. My Blackberry Curve is not one of the Curve models that are compatible with the Kindle app. I have begun reading “Aesop’s Fables.”

My impressions so far of the Windows PC app: “Page turning” is as easy as using a mouse’s scroll button or hitting forward and back arrows. Additional convenient features include a “Home” button to return to the main menu, the ability to make notes about the material, the ability to change font size and brightness and the ability to read the text in one or two columns. You can navigate easily to your notes or to highlighted sections you have marked in the text. The computer screen makes for a larger reading area than the Kindle tablet. However, this app cannot duplicate the Kindle tablet’s e-ink technology that makes electronic reading similar to reading a printed book (computer screens are back-lit, which can lead to eye strain).

Regardless of which Kindle format you use, Kindle customers have one huge advantage: Amazon.com makes your e-book available for repeated download on multiple devices. So if you lose your Kindle tablet, once you buy a new tablet you can simply re-download your e-books at no additional charge. I have downloaded a couple of the titles from my Kindle tablet to my computer Kindle app. This customer service feature provides a peace of mind for anyone who worries about purchasing a lot of electronic books only to lose the reader.  This feature helps you deal with data storage limitations too, since you can delete titles you have read to clear up room on the device; you can always download the title again in the future if you wish to read it again.

Check soon for the next Kindle blog: Further observations on the Kindle tablet

Why #newspapers should embrace the #Kindle


I’m a lifelong newspaper reader and a newspaper journalist. I have been leery in the past of technical trends, since I really hate investing in some new technical gadget only to get burned when it does not work. Last year I bought a solar charger for my cell phone, but it only charges the phone when I plug it into an outlet, not when I leave it exposed to the sun’s rays. So despite how much I love to read books, I held off on buying an ebook reader.

But I decided I could no longer stay on the ebook sidelines given the rapidly evolving dynamics of the newspaper industry (free Internet news, free Internet classifieds, young people turning elsewhere for news, etc.), leading to massive layoffs and smaller newspaper staffs. If I’m going to stay in journalism, I must embrace the changes. And newspapers must stay on top of technology, while not jumping on the technology bandwagon just because it’s cool. It must also make good business sense (some of my newsroom brethren may shy away from this conclusion, but the paper must make money to pay our salary).

Paywalls, or the practice of charging for news content, were a disaster for most general interest newspapers – it worked better for journals and other publishers of niche content. People had gotten used to reading free news on the Internet, and watching the television news. But there is some hope for newspapers. The popularity of ebook readers, starting with the Kindle, have gotten people used to using technology to download both free, classic books, and to buy more modern books for discounted prices (the discounted prices may or may not remain in force, but that topic is for another blog). Many of the large newspapers, from the Wall Street Journal to The New York Times, to regional papers like The Arizona Republic, have embraced the Kindle. The prices I have seen vary from $5.99 per month to $14.99 per month.

A Jan. 8, 2011, story on The (UK) Telegraph’s Web site says Sony has inked a deal with News Corp. to offer the Wall Street Journal and The New York Post on Sony’s Reader series of ebook readers. The Telegraph quotes Robert Thomson, the WSJ’s editor-in-chief, as saying the paper would earn a more favorable revenue cut than the 30 percent that Amazon.com pays content providers on average.

It would not seem ideal to sell a monthly subscription for as little as $5.99, since this is much lower than what a normal print subscription would cost. And ebook newspaper readers do not yet receive the advertisements available in print editions. But as more people use ebook readers, newspapers can start selling ebook-only ads to make up for some of the revenue. And receiving a cut of $5.99 or $14.99 per month is better than not receiving anything. Newspapers did not reach their recently departed financial glory days for many years.

Ebooks like the Kindle and tablet computers like the iPad are making people accustomed to paying for content once again, and hopefully can help newspapers regain some of their lost luster. Relying on this technology is not a perfect solution, but it’s preferable to burying our heads in the sand and hoping that news Web sites will sell enough ads to make up for lost ground.

The next blog: When a Kindle is not a Kindle – Read books on your mobile phone

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