Must have organizer

GridIt

A while back I shared a little travel gadget that I can’t live without (my Monster travel power strip). Today I’ve got to tell you about my new GridIt. I saw it on the news a while back and thought it might be handy so I added it to my wishlist and promptly forgot about it. But today I got it as a gift and I’m so glad I did. A bit of background first.

I have two laptop bags. One that is smaller and more fashionable for the short day trips to the local Starbucks or a Koha demo via train. The other is bigger and bulkier and much more practical for plane travel when I need to stuff a lot in to it. Regardless of the bag, I have the same laptop I bring and the same accessories I need anywhere I go. GridIt lets you put all of your little bits and bobs together in an organized fashion and then is easily transfered from one bag to another. See what I did here:

GridIt Organizer

And check out how it slides right in to a small pocket on my laptop bag:

GridIt Organizer

I have everything I need in one place and now I don’t have to dig through one bag (or the other) looking for my dongle or my AV cable – it’s all on my GridIt!

Macbook Vending Machine

Drexel Macbook Kiosk

I just learned that Drexel’s Hagerty Library is not only lending out Macbook Pros to those on campus, but is doing so via a vending machine type interface.

Drexel University introduced a 24-hour, self-service vending machine located in the W. W. Hagerty Library that will dispense MacBooks for use by students, faculty and staff. Drexel is the third university on the East Coast to introduce the kiosk, which holds up to 12 MacBooks that could be checked out free by anyone with a Drexel ID for five hours.

The kiosk provides a 24-hour solution to students who want to work on projects and assignments or study at the library late into the night.

Found via Gizmodo that pointed me to Drexel’s official release.

I want a wireless blender

Wireless Blender

Wireless BlenderHow cool is this?

Magnets can do more than just heat your meals—they can power the rest of your cooking gadgets as well.

The Haier Cordless Blender is the first such device to part ways with power outlets. Instead, you install a power transmitter (read: induction coil) in your kitchen counter top and place the blender on that.

Via Gizmodo.

Amazon’s bestselling laptop is open source!

Chromebook

This from ZDNet:

The bottom line is Windows 8 PC and laptop sales have been slow. So, what, according to Amazon, in this winter of Windows 8 discontent has been the best selling laptop? It’s Samsung’s ARM-powered, Linux-based Chromebook.

Now, I don’t have a Chromebook, so I can’t give you a review, but of the 660 reviews on Amazon over 375 are 5 stars!

I know a lot of libraries loan out laptops, maybe if your library couldn’t afford to do so before, you might want to give the Chromebook a look.

Firefox phone?

Firefox Phone

I’m a Firefox fan. I try to switch to Chrome once in a while, but I keep coming back to Firefox. I do however love my Android phone and don’t know if I’d switch to a Firefox phone just because I prefer the browser. Yep, you read that right – a Firefox phone!

Over a year ago, Mozilla announced its plans to work on its own mobile operating system, dubbed Firefox OS. The company officially made a prototype simulator available for developers and anyone curious enough to play around with it (though it’s still in early alpha). The OS does take some of Android’s core functionality so it works on Android-capable handsets, but Mozilla also built the UI and application stack around Gecko, the Firefox HTML rendering engine.

The pictures are kind of impressive, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if I’ll switch down the road.

Read more at Ars Technica.

Make friends in airports

Monster power strip

Lifehacker has a post that didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know, but it’s something I should share with you all in case you didn’t think of it.

If you don’t travel as much as I do you might not know that finding outlets in airports can be an art form. If you do travel as much as me, you might know this and just cross your fingers and hope. But Lifehacker’s tip reminded me of a tip I can share with you all. Never travel without a power strip! Now, that sounds a bit crazy – who wants to lug around a big power strip when traveling? Well, it doesn’t have to be big and bulky, you can buy one of these puppies.

The Monster 4 outlet power strip folds in on itself, takes up minimal room in your carry on and costs between $10 and $15 (depending where you get it). I have had mine for years now and it always shocks people when I walk up and ask if I can plug their device in to my power strip so that we can share the power. It has also made me quite popular in some airports and come in handy in hotel rooms without enough outlets.

So, if you’re like me and about to head to Monterey for Internet Librarian, you might want to run out and get yourself a power strip so that you can stay connected in the airport without worrying about running out of juice.

Ebook Rant

My husband and I chose the Nook color as our ebook reader last year. Let me start by saying that we love them! I do however have two policy issues to complain about (and I’m pretty sure that these are not Nook or Barnes & Noble specific).

This weekend my husband and I went on vacation. We took nothing but our Nooks with us and spent the weekend on the beach, by the pool, and in the air conditioning reading. My husband turned me on to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. He had started reading it before we go our Nooks so he read the first 6 books in print and I decided to buy them on the Nook. I finished the first book in our first day away and logged in to my account immediately to buy the next book. Instead of the book downloading right away like it had with other purchases in the past it gave me a series of errors about how an error occurred. I spent the rest of the day nagging my husband to talk to me since I didn’t have anything to read ;)

When I logged in to my email (on the Nook) later that day I found an email from B&N telling me that because I was out of the country I couldn’t purchase books. I understand copyright laws, but it’s a US bought Nook, it’s a US address on my US credit card and I was on vacation!! Isn’t technology smart enough to know that the device was bought in the US and that my address is in the US and that my credit card payments are sent to the US? So I had to send an email to a cousin back home and ask him to buy me some books so I had more to read on vacation.

The lesson here is that you need to fill up your ebook reader before you leave the country!

Next rant …

As I mentioned, my husband read the first 6 books in print, but after that he bought the ebooks for the rest of the series. Silly us assumed that we could use the ‘Lend Me’ feature on our Nook for him to lend me the rest of the series after I bought the first 6 … well we were wrong. For some reason the Dresden books do not have the ‘Lend Me’ feature available. Now, I’m at a loss. What do I do? Do I pay double (buy another copy for the household) because of the limitations? Do I borrow his Nook while I’m reading those books? Do I go to the library and see if I can borrow the ebook there? Why should I have to make these choices? We have a shared bank account and as such I have already paid for these books, but I can’t read them! This is a complaint I’ve had about computer games in the past as well … why is it that with all the technology we have we can’t come up with a way to share technology in a household?

How are other families handling situations like this? What do you do if your entire family likes a specific author or series?

Nook Color Review

This Christmas I got a Nook Color from my hubby and mother. I’ve been using it for a few days and I think it’s time to share my opinions.

First things first, if you have an ebook reader you must download Calibre. Calibre is an open source ebook management application that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux (a flavor for everyone). It’s a great way to convert files from one format to another, to manage all of your books and to download news from the web to your reader.

I have started with a bunch of free and public domain materials (nothing purchased yet). I chose the Nook over other alternatives because it could open so many formats of ebook and it runs on the Android operating system so that gives me some options for openness should I decide to root the device (a practice that has recently been declared legal). However I have found some downsides to the supposed openness of the Nook. While I can read materials purchased or downloaded from other sites, these materials are treated like second class citizens on the Nook. What do I mean? Well my EPubs and PDFs can’t be mounted on the home screen. I can only access these materials by browsing my shelves or files. I also can’t use the built in social networking functionality on materials that are not from Barnes & Noble. Basically I can read these materials, but they’re harder to get to and not as functional.

I’m reading The Art of Community right now and have just figured out how to highlight passages (a big plus). I can also access all of my highlights and notes in one menu. Now for the minus – I can’t find a way to download or share these quotes. If this were a Barnes and Noble publication I could share the quotes one by one with the ‘share’ function, but because this is a PDF (converted to Epub in Calibre) I can just highlight and that’s the end of it. This seems like a huge oversight on the part of Barnes and Noble (or maybe just an anti-feature put in place to make me want to root the darn thing).

Regarding reading on the device, I like it! It’s not E Ink and some people might be turned off by that, but I altered the brightness, font, and background color so that it’s not too harsh on my eyes. I like how each it is to turn the pages and find your bookmarks or highlighted passages. A neat feature we found last night was the ability to search a dictionary for a highlighted word. I can also search for it in Google or Wikipedia (if connected to the wifi).

My overall review is that I’m happy I have the Nook Color and as each day goes by I get closer and closer to wanting to root it so that I can have a truly open system (like I thought I was getting). If you happen to have more knowledge than me please comment here so that I can learn even more about my Nook.

What I learned on the way home

Yesterday I flew home from NZ. I was in 3 countries, 3 states, 4 airplanes and 5 airports in more hours than I can count because of the varied time zones.

While in the air I got an email from Ask.com telling me that Bloglines is actually not going away – but just moving to a new host. While I like Bloglines more than Greader I see this as a really bad move. After all the hoopla about Bloglines going away people moved to other readers out there – the chances of them coming back after all this is probably not good. Are any of you going back?

The second thing I learned was by browsing the magazines in an airport store. Apparently Verizon and Apple have finally agreed on bringing the iPhone to Verizon Wireless. This is another one of those too little too late kind of things in my book. Those of us who didn’t want to switch to AT&T have fallen in love with Android – in fact I know many iPhone users who have switched to Android (and apparently new users are choosing Android over iPhone too) and are not regretting their decision. It will be interesting to see what happens with this new phone at Verizon – I certainly won’t be switching.