technology

Reading, The Old Fashioned Way

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A book, with paper pages dog-eared, words underlined to look up later, and a cover. A book sits with other books on a shelf, or is waiting on a nightstand or a table, ready to be picked up so the reader can re-enter that unique world.

Despite being a ‘techie’, I do not own a Kindle or a Nook. I prefer my reading the old fashioned way, with a book on my lap. I don’t need any of the distractions that technology brings. I just want the book and nothing else. I use my Ipad as a computer alternative for quick lookups, email, video, shopping, maps, etc. For me, reading on the Ipad is like reading a magazine article, quick and informative, as opposed to immersing myself into the world of a book.

A few weeks ago I was having a quick solo dinner at Panera Bread, a friendly place like a Starbucks for people to eat, read, meet with friends and use their free Wi-Fi. Many of the people eating by themselves had some type of an electronic reader. I was one of the few people there who was reading an actual book, and was actually not envious that they had their shiny electronic device to use while I had an old-fashioned book.

Yes, I know, having an electronic reader has many advantages. They are often lighter than many books, and you can have more than one title at your fingertips (even though you can only read one book at a time). You can also use most readers as a tablet as well. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection.

But a book, oh for me there are so many advantages to having an actual book, and it is often more than just the joy of reading. I know what I am reading just by glancing at it, and others know what I am reading as well. A book is a great conversation starter, and at this Panera I had two conversations with people about books. The first was with the cashier who saw the book I was holding (The Leftovers) and asked if I had read any other books by the author (Tom Perrotta). We had a great conversation about similar authors and recommended to each other additional books to read. Then, while getting up to leave I had an excellent conversation with the older gentleman sitting at the next table about the book he was reading, which I had finished a few months previous (Stephen King’s 11/22/63).

I am a “people person”. I love talking with others, even complete strangers in a public place, often to the chagrin of my family (“there he goes again, talking to strangers”). Having a book, as opposed to an electronic reader, is a natural ice-breaker and an easy way to make a connection with someone else. You may consider this nosey, but I want to know what others are reading and if they like it. I may want to read that book one day!

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I Love Evernote, and Dropbox as well

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My first “techie-light” post.

I love Evernote. Do you use it, and if you don’t, you really should!

Do you make lists? Do you like to save snippets of information you just read or found out? Do you need to see this information on multiple devices (ie phone, pad, various computers)?

Use Evernote! Seriously. I’m not kidding right now.

It is easy to use to add or edit notes. It syncs between multiple devices as easy as clicking a button. What you just added or changed then syncs among all of the devices you use. I have it on my phone, Ipad, laptop and desktop machines.

It is a cross-platform app. It is a digital file cabinet. A quick and easy way to save some important information on the fly, to jot down things I want to remember and save as opposed to writing it down on a piece of paper, and then wonder where that piece of paper ended up. Anything you need to store and save you can keep it in one place, and access from anywhere.

Did I mention it is free?

But what about Dropbox you may ask?
Well, the short answer is, I use them both, but I use them both for different things.

DROPBOX
Dropbox is a file storage tool. It is great for storing larger, more conventional files that you would see on your computer: PDF’s, Word, Excel, Music, Video, Photos. My Dropbox folder has files such as my resume, photos, multi-page notes, spreadsheets, etc. Unlike Evernote, you can’t open a Dropbox window and type a few lines of text. In order to place a to-do list or reminder in Dropbox, you save the content in a traditional file (ie Word, Excel, txt, etc). Dropbox is in short just a folder on your computer that you can use to house files of any type. I use Dropbox for what Dropbox is good for: storing larger files in the cloud so I can get to them wherever I am (my phone, Ipad, and various PC devices).

EVERNOTE
This is where I store the “post it notes” of my life. It’s great for keeping track of A LOT of small pieces of information. The information is in the form of notes that have a title and then the content. You can then organize this data into different notebooks, and easily scroll through the notes like reviewing pages in a book. Plus, it has a powerful search feature. I use it to post writing ideas, web page and online clippings that I want to view later, notes and quotes from books I have recently read, lists of books to buy/research, music to buy/research, sites to revisit.…I could go on forever. The point is, these are things that would be an absolute nightmare to find if I saved them all in just a regular old folder on my computer. With Evernote I am able to find things fast and easy, and it is everywhere I go.

So, which one should you use? How about both! There really are no definitive rules here. It really is up to you. For me though, I’ve come up with my own solution that works pretty well:

Evernote is for all of the little bits of information I need or want to save, while I use Dropbox to house the larger files I need to get to. Evernote is the stack of Post-It notes on my desk or in my pocket, while Dropbox is my storage box (or in the ‘old’ days the thumb drive I used to carry around).

Go for it. Try Evernote out. You won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and if you need help, let me know.

Welcome to A Beautiful Thud

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Welcome to my new blog, A Beautiful Thud, where I will share my view on life, music, media, technology, my writing,  and whatever else crosses my path.

In the daily adventures of my normal life I am always listening to music, using technology and learning about the world around me. I hope that sharing these aspects of my life, what I see, and what I think,  will help and inspire others (and myself) to explore new ways to do things, find new music to enjoy, and use the tools that are at our disposal to educate and mold our lives.  My plan is for this to be dynamic, change through time, and possibly morph into something thing else entirely.  Time will tell.

“…..a beautiful thud” is the end of a line from the third and final verse of Bruce Springsteen’s Lost in the Flood (from his 1973 debut album Greetings From Asbury Park N.J.).   Lost in the Flood is one of my top 10 favorite Springsteen songs, both from a lyrical and musical standpoint.  It is a sparse piano-driven song that builds in intensity throughout the three verses.  Like Dylan’s Desolation Row, Lost in the Flood tells us about characters that are lost in their life, whether they are a victim of their own circumstances or stuck in a life that they can’t get out of (U2 song reference unintentional).  With intricate detail, strong emotions, and memorable characters, this is one of the first Springsteen songs that hit me hard from the start, and shows that everything in life will work out fine.
As Lost in the Flood almost comes to a close, the line  “Hey, man, did you see that?  His body hit the street with a beautiful thud.”

reminds me that while life can be tough, sometimes the most awful things lead to something great and beautiful.  In this song, when the body hits the street all those that are lost can now find themselves as they are now free.  One can only hope.

Enjoy all of this and check back here often. If you see something you like here feel free to share it with others.