Tag Archives: iBooks

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Go Dark

Do you long for the days of the WarGames-era VDT with the black screen and green type? Or do you just hate the glare of a bright white display? Are you coping with vision difficulties? If so,  your apps and operating system and some of your programs might include settings that make it easier on your eyes.

For example, If you don’t want to flip your whole operating system around, you can often find a dark or night mode setting in many apps — like Microsoft Edge, Twitter for Android and iOS, the Amazon Kindle and Apple’s own iBooks app, and some apps like Waze and Google Maps might flip to the night mode automatically, depending on the time of day. YouTube’s desktop site just added a dark mode, too.

But if you want things more consistently less glaring, Windows 10 has a Dark Mode available in the Settings app, as well as a High Contrast Mode in the Ease of Access controls. Dark Mode doesn’t make everything dark, mainly just the background of certain apps and system screens, but the High Contrast Mode flips the background and changes the colors of several kinds of screen type to make everything stand out better for those who have trouble discerning different tints. Apple’s System Preferences for macOS has similar controls in the Display area of the Accessibility settings.

And don’t worry — if you get tired of dark mode, you can always come back to the light.

PTJ 90: Court Cases and Fiber Races

El Kaiser has a new toy and he can’t wait to tell you all about it. This week he reviews the Mont Blanc E12 portable headphone amplifier from FiiO.  Let’s face it, ebooks are here to stay. J.D. fills us in on how to make margin notes and highlight our favorite passages on all the popular digital book readers.

In the news the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in  American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo; Lytro unveils a new camera; Rumors circulate that an Amazon smartphone will sport a radical new UI; Comcast reports its subscriber numbers are up; AT&T wants to beat Google in the Fiber Race; the AOL mail site is hacked; and Apple announces it plans to power all of its stores, data centers and offices with renewable energy sources.

Book Marks

Ebooks have grabbed quite a few eyeballs with their lower prices, wide selection and ability to  be read on a tablet, reader or computer with a minimum of fuss. While ebooks do have their conveniences, some people are still pondering how to make margin notes or underline their favorite passages in the text, which can come in handy for study or book club reference. But scribbling digitally in your ebooks is rather easy on most of the major platforms.

Take the Amazon Kindle, for example. Whether you’re using a Kindle e-ink or Fire tablet, (or even the apps Amazon makes available to read Kindle books on Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone), you can annotate your ebooks. You typically just need to press and hold the word or passage until it highlights or you get an option to make a note within the text.

The notes and highlights you make in your Kindle books are also stored in your account on Amazon’s website — just log in to see them. If you choose, you can make your notes public so other Kindle users can see them on Amazon’s site. Although it can do so anonymously, Amazon’s site also keeps a public list of the most popular highlights from books, if you want to see what other people found noteworthy.

Barnes & Noble’s NOOK e-readers and apps have a similar tap-to-highlight passages and make notes. (You can share your favorite passages on social media if you want to brag on your literary taste.) Kobo, which has a line of e-readers and jumped into welcome users of Sony’s now-defunct Reader hardware also lets you mark up your ebooks.

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Got Google Play books, say, on your Android phone or tablet? You can take notes and highlight text there, too. Apple’s iBooks app for its iOS devices and OS X Mavericks Macs adds colorful highlight colors and notes with a tap or click. On the book’s Contents page, you can see all your musings throughout the text listed all in once place  for easy reference. Like the Kindle, your annotations sync up between all the iBooks devices you use.

While notes and highlighted passages in electronic books may lack the smudged immediacy or mental scorch-marks from the burst of late-night energy, they do have one major advantage — thanks to search and sync, they’re a lot easier to find within your books. And you also won’t wake up from a cram session with yellow Hi-Liter smeared all over your face.

Episode 35: What Time is it in Cupertino?

In this Valentine’s Day edition of Pop Tech Jam Apple blows El Kaiser’s mind — but not in a good way — and if you enjoy reading books on a portable device J.D. helps you build a giant e-library. In the news, a new app that lets you publish your own e-books; grammar school hackers; and how tablet computers can enhance education.

Library In My Pocket

Reading books on portable devices is nothing new — people figured out how to load text copies of public-domain works onto now-antiquated devices like Palm Pilots and early monochrome iPods years ago. But smartphones have turned out to be excellent e-readers and benefit from the fact that people tend to take their phones with them wherever they go these days.

Depending on what you want to read, you may not even need any money because the books are free. All you need is an app and some time. But which apps, and which apps work on which phone platforms?

If you’re looking for a reader that comes connected to its own online bookstore full of premium books – best-sellers, new titles, stuff written after 1923 — Amazon’s Kindle app works on just about every mobile platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, plus you can read the same books through your PC, Mac or Kindle hardware e-reader. And being Amazon, you have thousands of books to browse and buy there, as well as free titles to peruse.

Sony has a Reader app for Android, iOS, PC and Mac reading and Barnes & Noble has a mobile Nook app for Android and iOS to buy and download books from its online bookstore. While there’s no Nook App for the Windows phone platform, there’s one for Windows 8 and Windows RT. Nook also has freebies.

Google Play Books has an Android app and one for iOS, and books from the Google shelves can also be read on devices with Web browsers and certain e-readers, including the Windows Phone. Google Play Books has its share of free titles as well.

Apple’s iBooks app — with its connection to Apple’s iBookstore —works on iOS. The iBookstore has its own free books — just tap the Top Charts button or any of the categories to see a list of the popular freebies.

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If you like a social network with your reading, Goodreads has apps for Android and iOS, and Kobo has apps for Android, iOS, Windows and Mac as well (and BlackBerry). You can find Kobo free books here and Goodreads free books here.

Want to borrow an e-book from a participating library? Check out the OverDrive Media Console app (available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry).

Third-party apps for reading ePub, text and PDF books from independent sources (like Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive and indie stores) abound. Most apps stores have a ton of these and popular programs include:

With the right software and space on your phone, you can fit a whole shelf full of books in less physical space that a cheesy airport paperback takes up in your bag. And when you read on your smartphone, no one can really tell what you’re reading, so you can read the e-version of that cheesy airport paperback in peace.