Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Hoopla Review: Free Streaming Service For Movies, Books, Television & More!

Cutting the cord is not quite as easy as it seems! Well, cutting the cable cord by cancelling cable TV is easy, but finding free economical and quality content can be a search. However, it is a rewarding search when discovering services such as Hoopla which offers free content which appeals to the entire household.
Collage of Hoopla features: credits, movies

What Is Hoopla?


Hoopla is the free online streaming service which offers a wonderful mix of free content including:

  • Movies
  • Television
  • Audiobooks
  • eBooks
  • Comics
  • Music


Your library card is the key to access Hoopla. Each patron has a monthly access limit quantified by credits. I have 20 credits per month and one credit equals one title. Just as with a physical library checkout, Hoopla requires the "return" of the item in 3 days.


Is Hoopla Free?

Yes and no or yes with an asterisk.
Yes, because there are no upfront fees, contracts or subscriptions.
No, because your library pays for access to Hoopla and your tax dollars pay for the library.

How Do I Access Hoopla?


Hoopla is accessed through your library card. Check the digital services offered by your local library to see if Hoopla is offered. Note: Super Sleuth Margaret Schindel of Review This Reviews! discovered when I reviewed the free streaming service of Kanopy it appeared the library did not offer Kanopy, but she found it actually was offered when the service was searched for on the app.

So check with your library, the library website and on the Hoopla App - Hoopla Digital (another reason cutting the cable cord can be a little more work!) Hoopla is very accessible. It can be accessed via desktop,  iPhone, iPad, Android devices and Apple devices, Fire TV and Apple TV.

What Is The Difference Between Hoopla And Kanopy?

It is apples to oranges regarding content which is a bonus for the user! Each offers different content with Kanopy having a strong selection of documentaries and classic cinema and Hoopla offers more mainstream content with a robust catalog from the British Broadcasting Company (BBC.)

The main difference is the content from Hoopla can be downloaded! Excellent for those with an unstable internet collection or travelling. Listening to audiobooks when travelling is a breeze when the book can be downloaded to your phone.

BBC Fan Alert!

If you are a fan of television and movies by the BBC then Hoopla will not disappoint. Was it so long ago when I would seek, search and find an older BBC series on DVD at the library and then go through the checkout hoops of:


  • Putting the series on hold
  • In numerical order 
  • Find a parking space
  • Pay for the parking space
  • Checkout the DVD
  • Return on time
  • Wait for the next DVD to be available
  • Checkout the next DVD
  • Rinse and repeat
Along with the BBC content there is a large selection of British movies and television by Acorn TV. Acorn TV offers original British content including comedies, mysteries and drama series.




Streaming is so much easier especially for binge viewing!

My first Hoopla checkout is RBG , documentary of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.




Free Alternatives To Cable TV




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Monday, May 27, 2019

Kanopy Review: The Free Streaming Service

Free! Yes. Free. Kanopy is the free streaming service you may be unaware exists and unaware you can be a member with your library card! Movies on demand with the click of a mouse at no charge to you. No contracts or subscriptions are required.

What Is Kanopy?

Be Entertained. Be Enriched. is the tagline of Kanopy.

Kanopy is a movie lovers' dream! Particularly if you are a fan of documentaries, Indie Films and non fiction entertainment then you will not be disappointed. It is akin to being transported to your local library, but through the ease of your computer.

Who can Access Kanopy?


Kanopy is free to members of participating public libraries and universities.  Check the digital services section of your library website or university; chances are Kanopy is available.

How Does Kanopy Work?


The Kanopy membership is linked to your library card account number. Create an account on Kanopy and the activation of the account is triggered when the library card number is entered and then automatically verified. An account can be created, verified and activated in less than five minutes.

A member receives 10 credits per month and one movie equals one credit. The checkout process is one familiar to library card holders when checking out a DVD or CD. The movie must be viewed within 3 days of checkout except with canopy the checkout is online access to the movie.

How Do I View The Movie?


Very easily! Kanopy is available on the majority of platforms including: Apple OS, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Android, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, Fire stick, Fire tablet and desktop.Simply download the app or access Kanopy in the menu section of Roku or Fire TV.

My first two "checkouts" were the documentaries "Above The Fold" a profile of legendary journalist Robert Scheer and "Celebration of the 89th Anniversary of The Martha Graham Dance Company."

What Does Kanopy Offer?

The major categories of Kanopy are:

  • Movies
  • Documentaries
  • The Arts
  • Business
  • Health
  • Education
  • Media & Communication
  • Global Studies
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Instructional Films & Lessons
The title selection is huge with over 30,000 titles including the Criterion Collection which features classic cinema at its' best.

Kanopy Kids

Looking for the littles?  Kanopy has a collection curated specifically for children at Kanopy For Kids. One of the main differences between the content on Kanopy For Kids and Kanopy is a parental control dashboard and unlimited viewing (because we know the littles love to watch and rewatch and rewatch their favorites!)

Again the variety of content is impressive with organized categories easily navigated:

  • Movies
  • Story Time
  • TV Series
  • Funny Stuff
  • Adventure
  • Quick Flicks
  • Explore Science & Math
  • Learning Languages
  • Animals
  • Tales From History ... to name a few.

Is Kanopy Really Free?


Kanopy is free with free* receiving an asterisk. The library or university pays a fee to Kanopy for access to the service. Just as your library card is "free" to obtain, but ultimately paid for by your municipality. Check with your local library or the library website to find out if Kanopy is available. Students and educators at .edu can also access Kanopy with their library card.

Cutting The Cable Cord?


Kanopy is an alternative to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime. As I am currently in the process of cutting the cord with cable television I am thrilled to find Kanopy and even more ecstatic with the easy access to Indie films, documentaries and classic cinema which are genres I already favor.

More on my journey to cutting the cord ... it is a work in progress!




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Saturday, August 18, 2018

DesignEvo: Free Logo Maker Reviewed

Need a logo in minutes? DesignEvo is a free online logo maker which gives users the ability to make a logo in minutes; whether a novice or graphics professional DesignEvo provides the online software to make, create and design a logo quickly and easily.

Easy As 1-2-3

 

DesignEvo promises that a logo can be made in minutes and what is promised is delivered. I actually timed the making of this logo with a DesignEvo template. I used my lifestyle website and tagline to explore designing a new logo.


How To Use DesignEvo


I launched the free logo maker, scrolled down to my chosen category (Letter), scrolled through the options, entered the website name (or Company Name),  tagline and voila! Total creation time including download and social share =  2.5 minutes.
After creating the logo I quickly modified a few parts of the design. I tweeked the size,  modified the dot icons, changed the background color and then proceeded to download the logo and the required social share.

The requirement for a FREE logo to download for your use is very simple; a social share is required prior to downloading and credit on your website or blog. After downloading you will find a zip file with the logo as a jpg, png and a readme file with the share requirements.


What You See Is What You Get

The design interface is very user friendly and intuitive. Once the logo is created a Preview is available to see your logo on business cards, letterhead or media products.

This is a very nice program for novices to instantly create a logo by using the provided templates; for those with more advanced graphic skills the online software has the features to further customize the logo.



Customize Your Free Logo

Your logo can be easily customized with the color, font and transparency options. If you have the HEX colors for your company then the color of your logo can be changed with a few clicks of the mouse. The interface is clean, self explanatory and easy to navigate; if help is needed video tutorials and FAQ's are available under Support.


Who Is DesignEvo?

The About page of DesignEvo gives insight into the evolution of DesignEvo. Pearl Mountain developed Fotojet, a free online collage maker and is also the creator of DesignEvo. The logo maker is free or users have the option to purchase advanced features for a one time annual fee. Logo features such as resolution, copyright, vector files are restricted to the paid version.


Recommendation

I enjoyed the ease of using DesignEvo, the user friendly interface and the instantaneous results of a ready to use logo within minutes.  Colors, fonts, icons and graphics are just a click away to personalize your logo to your brand or create a brand new logo with a customizable template.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dan Brown ORIGIN Book Review

I was intrigued when I read in Dan Brown’s newest book Origin that the book includes only “Art, architecture, locations, science and religious organisations that are real.” I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the heart of Italy with Dan Brown in Inferno and then with my husband in real life and one day I hope to visit Brown’s Bilbao, Barcelona, Madrid and Seville in person after having enjoyed my visit with him in this novel.

I’m not quite sure why I picked up Origin but it was at least in part because of the memories and discussions that my entire family had after we all read the first two books in the series, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I know that not all of the books in the series were quite as well received by my family and I have to admit to wondering how many times poor Robert Langdon could be called out to save the day.

Well, as it turns out, at least one more time. In this, the latest book, we are armchair travellers to Spain where Langdon is solving a murder mystery and focuses on the origin of man. It involves the art work, symbols, architecture, locations and religions of Spain. This time, the debate includes some interesting familiar and unfamiliar high-level technology and even a super computer. You will find yourself wondering is that really true and find yourself thankful for Brown’s statement that everything in the book is real.

Origin is the first Dan Brown book to feature modern art since Robert Langdon is not much of a fan of that genre and it focuses on the work of Joan Miró. I recommend googling her to have a feeling for her artwork. It really is different from the masters that Langdon normally prefers.  The book also features literary references to William Blake and Friedrich Nietzsche, authors whom I was not particularly knowledgeable of.

The effort required to put this book together with real details and facts is mind boggling. Apparently, Brown employs a team of fact checkers to make sure he is accurately presenting all of that history and science.

Is Origin recommended?


Yes, Origin is recommended by me. Is it highly recommended? I am undecided. I found the novel a bit heavier on religion than I care for and I can honestly say I have never thought about where I came from or where I am going to in such depth. Of course, thinking about our creation and destiny is not necessarily a bad thing.

I was, however, totally fascinated by the high-tech science in this book that includes quantum computing, artificial intelligence in the form of a thinking computer and a self-driving Tesla Model X. The conspiracy website is a nice link between our current online world and the book.

Barcelona Super Computing Center exterior

Barcelona Super Computing Center Interior
Barcelona Super Computing Center
Finally, I liked the glimpse into Spain. Yes, there is really a super computer built inside the walls of a church in Barcelona in this book and the pictures shown here are from the website of the real Barcelona Super Computer Center.

I expect that if you enjoyed Angels & Demons and the Da Vinci Code, you will likely enjoy Origin.

Origin was published on October 3, 2017 and was number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in that same month and it remains on that list in the number eight position as I write this post in February, 2018. It is also currently number 2 on Amazon’s bestseller list of the top 20 most sold and read books of the week. Is there a movie? Not yet but maybe.

The New York Times finds fault and praise for the book but concludes: ”…for all their high-minded philosophizing, these books’ geeky humor remains a big part of their appeal. Not for nothing does Kirsch’s Tesla have a license plate frame reading: “THE GEEKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH.” Brown continues to do everything in his playful power to ensure that will happen.”

Here's an exciting peek at Dan Brown, his books, and Origin. Warning: It will make you want to go to Spain with me.


Origin is fun. Don’t take it too seriously. You can find it here on Amazon. If you decide to read it, be sure to come back and let us know what you think. If you have already done so, have you figured out where we come from and where we are going and, more on point, would you recommend this book to your friends and family?

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

ORDER OF DAN BROWN’S ROBERT LANGDON BOOKS:

Angels & Demons (2000)
The Da Vinci Code (2003)
The Lost Symbol (2009)
Inferno (2013)
Origin (2017)

QUICK LINKS:

Buy Origin on Amazon.
Check out Dan Brown's author page on Amazon.
Read my review of Inferno.






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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Create a Tech Free Sanctuary in Your Home

Photo via Pixabay
Are You Digitally Exhausted?

Information overload may be the understatement of this century. From the internet to social media, to 24-7 texts, news flashes, and emails on our phones, we are an overwhelmed society.

As we approach the end of this decade, people are facing this fact and looking for viable solutions that enable them to disconnect for a time.

Not everyone can take an off-the-grid holiday, and that's where controlling our own environment holds the power.

We can't change the outside world but we CAN change our inside world.

This Fall Season Go for More than Warm and Cozy in Your Home Décor - Create a Space that's Absolutely Disconnected and Tech Free

It's not easy to disconnect. According to Business Insider, as of 2016, 72% of the United States population uses a Smartphone. Globally that number continues to grow.

With artificial intelligence soon to become the new norm, and augmented reality already in use, the opportunities to disconnect at work and in our daily life activities are very few.

For this reason a dedicated 'calming space' in the home is more essential than it's ever been. The world won't stop just because we want it to and the oft repeated cliché, 'the only thing we can control is ourselves', means more than it ever has.

The control we do have is in how we design our homes. Digital free spaces, or calming disconnected rooms are becoming a design inclusion that more people are factoring into their décor.

Let's Review 5 Ways to Create a Calming Space:

1. Create a playroom that only offers toys that are free of any digital technology - Add books, popular retro games, play rugs featuring games and learning, dolls, astronomy, space, science, puzzles, wooden toys and more. Decorate the space to reflect another time and give the room a theme name like 'The Way Back When Room' or 'Yesterday's Space' or 'Back to the Future'. Make it fun and colorful so the kids can't wait to enter.

2. If you can't successfully turn a kids room into a technology free space, then how about including a bed tent or enclosed canopy where the rule is, only non-digital items allowed. Tell the kids the space is for story telling, fractured fairy-tale fun and catching up on their day. To add interest give it a name as well.

3. The most obvious room to convert into a calming space is the master suite. If you're disciplined enough to do this, then enhance your design with soft airy drapes, rugs, and bedding and use calming tones and color combinations and don't forget the soothing scented candles.

If you can't make your master suite a tech free space, use an extra bedroom if you have one. In fact, don't even include a clock in the designated tech-free room. Think of it as the 'timeless bedroom' - a time free zone.

4. Create a sitting room or library that only allows soft music and reading. However, permit only vinyl records. No other devices permitted. Put a fun bucket at the door that says people can't enter the space unless they put their phone in it first. Make a sign that gives rules for entering this tech-free room.

5. Let the dinner table be the technology free zone. Use fun games to ensure no phones are brought to the table. Make a rule; if someone sneaks a phone to the table, that person has to clear the table and do the dishes. If another person breaks the rule, they help. For every ten successful dinners without devices, create a family reward like movie night or other prizes the family may enjoy.

Here are a few visual examples of how to create that Tech free area in your home:




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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Review of Amazon Echo Dot

Echo Dot Product Details

Amazon Echo Dot

My husband received an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas and we are having fun discovering all of the exciting features of this amazing little bit of technology.  The Echo Dot has all of the features of the larger Amazon Echo but with a smaller speaker and a smaller price.  Like the Amazon Echo, the Dot is a personal assistant that requires WiFi connection to connect to the cloud.  We found the Dot very easy to set up and we were using it in just a few minutes after we opened the package.

Fun with Alexa

The Dot answers to the name Alexa and you just say Alexa to ask questions, play games,  give commands or obtain information from the Dot. Here are some of the favorite ways we use our Dot.
  • "Alexa, Good Morning"  Our Dot is in our kitchen and each morning we go in and say Good Morning.  Alexa then gives us a bit of information for the day.  On January 20th she gave us interesting bits of information on the inauguration.  On Sunday she talked about the teams playing in the NFL playoffs.  Another day she announced that it was "National Hug Day" and encouraged us to give hugs for at least 10 seconds each.
  • "Alexa, what is the temperature?".  Alexa is always ready with the current forecast. If you want the forecast for another city, just ask and she will give that to you too.
  •  "Alexa, add milk to my shopping list. or Alexa, add clean basement to my to-do list."  Alexa keeps a running total of my shopping list and my to-do list.  When I am ready to do our grocery shopping the list is complete on my phone and I can just tick off the items as I put them in my cart.
  • "Alexa, play a song by the New Christy Ministrals".  Alexa takes requests for songs by genre, artist or a specific song.  I like to start off the morning by having her play an old Country Hymn like Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art.
  • "Alexa, Let's Play Jeopardy"  Each day Alexa has a new set of questions based on the categories of that day's Jeopardy program.  We have fun seeing how good we do each day.
  • "Alexa, turn on the bedroom lamp"  We have purchased some special plugs for two of our lamps and all we have to do is tell Alexa when we want to turn them on or off.  There are other devises that can also be purchased to work with the Dot such as thermostats and light switches.
  • "Alexa, tell me a joke"  Alexa has a whole list of corny jokes she will tell you.
This is just a small sampling of the many things Alexa can do for you.

More Features added Weekly

Each week I get an email telling us of new features that have been added to Alexa.  We have only just begun to explore all that can be done with the wonderful Amazon Echo Dot!



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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 20, 1969 The Moon Landing a Review.

July 20, 1969, Where were you?


The 1960's were a history lesson for many, but for a lot of us, we lived it and remember it well. The early 1960's saw many changes that today are like a blip on the radar. Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the last 50 years. Many of us are still reeling at how fast our world has changed and is continuing to change.




In the early 1960's when John Kennedy was President of the USA, he declared that man would walk on the moon! The people reacted in one of two ways, either they were awed at the prospect or many thought he was crazy. Still on that day in July 1969, 600 million people world wide watched and listened as the first person set foot on the surface of the Moon.


                                                          .

What has happened since?


One thing that has not changed, even though it doesn't hold the mystery that it once did,and that is, that the Moon still shines at night and lightens the darkness. The phases haven't changed and the face that the moon shows us is still the same one that was there centuries before. Love poems are still written and lovers still gaze upwards. Walking hand in hand in the moonlight is still seen as romantic and lovely. Writings and quotes like, "I love you, to the moon and back" are still being whispered in loved one's ears.


What about us has changed since then?


Scientists and naturalists are still fascinated with the Moon, it's cycles and the effects that it has on our world. That we are still intrigued,  has never been denied and will probably never change. Why? Well because the moon does have an effect on our world that can be measured and seen. It has an effect on our climate, growing schedules, and even our animals are affected.  The changing tides still fascinate people all over the world.  We are all part of the great Cosmos.


So what's happening now?


Since 1969 and the success of the Moon Missions, scientist, physicists, and more from the world of academia, are now looking at the whole of Space with new and renewed vigor. Outer space has always been an area of mystery and speculation. But with all the technology we have at our fingertips today, we can make calculations and predictions, we can see into outer space with orbiting telescopes and find what is "out there".

 Our eyes have seen things we never imagined to be "out there" thanks to all of the emerging technologies that all started with the space program of the 1960's. Over the last 15 to 20 years we have made strides in understanding our solar system, we have sent probes and robots to Mars and seen the landscape up close and personal through the "eyes" of the Mars Rover. We have been able to picture the rings of Saturn and fly by the moons of Jupiter. All of these milestones don't make near the impact or impression today, as the landing on the Moon did in 1969. That is where everything started!


As Mr. Mark Sirangelo, Corporate Vice President for Space Systems, Sierra Nevada Corporation, speaking to the Senate Committee, re-iterated: "Space is multi-generational. One must respect and embrace the past as a key to the future. As my generation seeks to honor those who came before us by taking their achievements to the next level we must, at the same time, create the path forward for the next generation who, I am certain, will do amazing things that I can only imagine." (Status Report From: Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2016)

"It's fairly well-known that technology developed by NASA scientists routinely makes its way into products developed in the robotics, computer hardware and software, nanotechnology, aeronautics, transportation and health care industries." (taken from Computerworld by Sharon Gaudin July, 2009)

Today we are using the technologies that have been developed for use in outer space, to make things better here on earth. Just the use of our lap tops, cell phones, and the ability to swipe our credit cards are all based on technology that was formulated for space exploration. We are able to help people with movement disorders, robotics to help people with mobility issues. Micro technology to help those with heart disease, nerve disorders, and a host of other discoveries. We look outside our solar system, but we also need to keep looking within and right here on earth, so that everyone can benefit from what we have learnt.

Where will all of this end? That's a good question and one that I'm not even going to try to figure out. One thing is certain, we need to keep learning about our world, and the space we inhabit, for everyone's benefit.


Picture from Pixaby, Astronaut Cernan, Apollo 17, Lunar Landing.


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The Review This Contributors

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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner