We’re in the second half of May and the City of Indianapolis is abuzz with activity leading up to the ”Big Race” on May 29. The Indianapolis 500 is about the only Indy Car race I watch. I’m more of an F1 fan so the Monaco race on the morning of the 29th will be my focus that day.
I subscribe to the Hoosier History Live newsletter (and podcast) and recently they had an issue focusing on the creation of the Geist & Morse Reservoirs. Both articles were interesting reading and a nice history lesson about the two local landmarks.
Another short post as I have a busy week ahead of me. Big announcement coming in the next post. I’m looking forward to that one!
I’ve been an Amazon Kindle user ever since V2 was released in 2009. That version had a keyboard and built-in cellular modem that allowed you to transfer data and download books anywhere, anytime.
The Kindle e-reader does one thing and, in my opinion, does it very well. It provides a distraction-free reading experience. OK, two things, you can carry a huge number of books with you at any time. This is handy when you want to read a couple of books at the same time, depending on mood and energy. It makes no noise, it has no pop-up messages, and it’s already ready to pick up where you left off in your last reading session.
I eventually upgraded to a newer version and then another. The low $100-125 price and ever-increasing screen resolutions and lighting options made the upgrades worth it. We lost the cellular modem years ago, but with WiFi being so accessible, it’s something you really don’t miss. I typically like to read in the evenings where it helps me unwind. On occasion, I can use my phone to finish a chapter or launch the Audible version of a book where it syncs with the text copy for easy switching between the two.
My last Paperwhite was starting to get a little sluggish, and I realized after 5-years of ownership I was no longer getting updates with some of the newer software features. After doing a little research, I found that I could trade my old unit in for a new one and get a 20% discount as well as a few dollars for the unit I was turning in.
The 2021 Kindle Paperwhite (as reviewed by Wired) is the best Kindle e-reader to date. The screen is larger, and the screen resolution looks like you’re reading a paper book. Backlight options include a warmth mode that tints the screen to ease eye fatigue at night. It’s all automatic based on the sunrise/sunset in your area. You don’t really notice the screen color until you turn it off.
Now that it’s getting cold out, and dark early, I’m spending a lot more time reading in the evening, and I’m really enjoying this upgrade.
I wrote about the Grammarly app in Week 42, and I’m happy to say after the 90-day initial trial, I renewed for another year. It’s been beneficial in my personal and professional life. You might have noticed some improvements in the blog posts too. I was missing some necessary punctuation in my writing. Some obvious (bad editing) and some not so obvious. They just released a new Desktop app for the Mac that allows it to work in ANY application. It was previously limited to its own app outside MS Office apps. Now it works right inside my email program and makes editing on the fly much smoother. At $150 a year, it’s not cheap but, if written communication is an important part of your life, it’s worth checking out to see if it can be helpful to you.
And finally… The limited series show “True Story” on Netflix was a surprise hit. Kevin Hart was excellent in his role, and the story moved very quickly through the seven episodes. Each episode is only 30-minutes, so it’s a pretty quick watch & easy to binge on a rainy day.
That’s it for thie week. Christmas is less than 2-weeks away! I should probably start shopping or something…
I took some time over the long holiday weekend to finish a book I had started a few weeks ago and promptly start another related one.
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden is an eye-opening tale centering around a late 20-something NSA contractor who exposes the US Government’s mass surveillance system created after 9/11. Love him or hate him he brought to light the vast data collection of US citizens by their government.
No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald starts up with his interview of Snowden while he hides in Hong Kong before his trove of documents is released to the public by various medial outlets. Meanwhile, Laura Poitras films a series of interviews for her documentary Citizen Four. It goes into incredible detail about the surveillance systems in use around the world, by many countries, and details just how far they have gone to invade your privacy.
If you have any interest in this kind of stuff it’s well worth your time to seek out these books or at least watch the full documentary (available on YouTube with Ads (that will track you, haha)). It will chill you to the core and make you think about what you do online going forward.
As I wrote earlier this year everyone needs to be using a Password Manager application. My favorite continues to be Bitwarden. The free version is more than enough for most people but the $10 paid version adds some advanced features and helps support the development. Getting started with a Password manager is NOT difficult and is NOT a good excuse for NOT using one. Bitwarden for Beginners is a great place to start.
NordPass just released their annual Top 200 Common Password list. It shows what people are actually using to secure their private data as well as how long it takes to crack and gain access. If your password is on the list you should assume your accounts have been compromised because you probably use the SAME password in multiple places. The benefit of a Password Manager is that you can use a different, unique, password for every account and only need to remember ONE (secure) master password/phrase. The tool generates and documents the login details for you.
Another security tool you should consider using, especially if you use your devices in public, is a personal VPN account. This tool encrypts your traffic and protects you from anyone wanting to access your data. Sounds a little overkill but it’s not uncommon for someone to sit on a public network and watch for unsecured traffic to exploit. In fact, as far back as 2013 AT&T and Starbucks encouraged it! My personal favorite is Private Internet Access (PIA) which works on all devices including your phone and tablet. An annual subscription is $39.99.
I think that just about wraps things up for this week. It’s hard to believe 2021 is 90% over & we’re getting ready to settle down into the winter months. At least I have a stack of books to go through while hunkering down inside for the next 3 months. See you next week!
Always looking for interesting online content (and a place to capture it) I’ve been using the Pocket application since 2012. I even upgraded to the Premium version for around $5 a month which gives you some nice auto-tagging, searching, and archive functions.
I was actually preparing to return to the free version of Pocket because I wasn’t using the advanced features as much as I thought I would. I save the articles I want to keep long-term in Evernote so the archiving features were not a benefit. I’m still trying to adopt the whole tagging concept too so that was another feature that was wasted on me (I’m a Folder organizer, always have been)…
Then Instapaper decided to eliminate the cost of their Premium services… (Whoah, game changer right?)…
Well I had to at least try it out. I’ve seen the Instapaper icon as a “save for later” option all over the Internet for a while now.
I’ll have to admit I’m pretty impressed with how Instapaper works. It does a MUCH better job saving articles in their original format than Pocket did and it beats Evernote hands down with inline videos and graphics.
Other features include “Speed Reading” where each word flashes on the screen at a speed you select. It’s a little awkward at first and causes me to read out loud, for some reason, but it does what it’s supposed to.
Another option I just discovered allows you to tilt your phone to auto-scroll the article you’re reading. The more you tilt the faster the scrolling rate. It takes a little bit to get used to but works great when you’re sitting in your favorite chair relaxing.
If you’re a fan of offline archiving/reading of online content you should really check out Instapaper. You can even import your Pocket library into Instapaper and not miss a beat. It’s a really solid product and you can’t beat the price!
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below…