Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Websites - LibriVox

This first of my Wednesday Websites posts is featuring LibriVox. LibriVox is an amazing resource to anyone that loves, or even just likes a little, to listen to books being read aloud. Don't have time to read Around the World in Eighty Days for that school project? Listen to someone else reading it. LibriVox has 3 versions of it. Want your children to be exposed to good old fashioned books like Kipling's Just So Stories or Fisher's Understood Betsy but find your voice is gone due to a Spring cold? LibriVox has multiple versions of each. Want to make good use of your commute time to work? Let me suggest Little Women, Call of the Wild, Pygmalion, or Treasure Island. Working on learning a foreign language? LibriVox has many titles in a number of languages. I've seen Spanish, French, German, and Japanese.

All of the above mentioned titles, plus many more with more being added regularly, are available on LibriVox to download for free in mp3 and Ogg Vorbis formats. The files can be played on your computer, mp3 players, many cell phones, iPods and other iStuff, and probably other technology items I am forgetting. The catch? LibriVox only records titles in the public domain, that is writings that no longer have a copyright on them. So, the majority of the titles available on LibriVox will be from the early 1900's or earlier. Still, that's when so many books that we call "Classics" were first written, so you will find lots and lots to keep you busy. The second catch is that LibriVox recordings are done by volunteers, so titles available are limited to titles that people have volunteered to read and record. It also means that one book may have a different person reading each chapter, and some volunteers are better at reading aloud than others and some voices and accents lend themselves to some books better than others. What do I mean? Well, one of the versions of Little Women has an Australian man, with a very thick accent, reading one of the chapters. Somehow a book about young women set in the late 1800's in the USA just doesn't sound right with a masculine down-under accent. No offense to the volunteer intended, but it just didn't work. However, I would love to hear him reading a collection of Banjo Paterson's works. His poetry just doesn't work in North American English.

Anyway, check LibriVox out. Download a book today. Increase your cultural literacy and don't spend a dime. Have fun.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Make-It Monday - Digital Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking is a hobby that has been all the rage for years now, but digital scrapbooking is a form of it that is just beginning to come into its own. As the name implies, digital scrapbooking is scrapbooking done digitally, on the computer. With a computer, some software, a digital "page kit", and a little playing you can achieve a page that ends up looking just like a photograph of a paper scrapped page. Take this one at the right (click on it, or any of the others here, to go to the full sized page). Pages with similar looks can be found in scrapbooking magazines, samples at scrapbooking stores, and in albums in homes across the world. The difference with my page, however, is that no glue, scissors, pieces of paper, ribbons, and all that other stuff was needed, and I didn't have to figure out how to store and organize that stuff either. I love that I can get that great look, without all the mess and hassle. Besides, digital page kits are much more economical. With traditional scrapbooking you use a paper once, and if you want to use it again you have to buy it again. With digital scrapbooking I can use the same "paper" a hundred times over, if I so desire, and it's never used up.

But the benefits of digital scrapbooking over traditional scrapbooking don't stop with less mess and less cost. With digital scrapbooking you can create looks that paper scrappers can't even imagine. This is where it shines, in my opinion. Trimming close to a person or subject in a photo is commonly done even in paper scrapping, but in digital you can take it to an entire new level. See this page to the left. I was able to extract the baby from the photo (the original shot is of him laying on a quilt) and "put" him in those clouds and it really looks like he is sleeping there. Then there is the "graphic" style of digital scrapbook page that doesn't even have a tradition equivalent, such as the page to the right. The blending of the photo, "paper", and word art done here is unique to digital scrapbooking.

Anyway, I have been doing digital scrapbooking for over four years now, and I find myself getting more into this hobby as time has gone on instead of less. However, it does have a learning curve, as there usually is with any hobby. The specific details such as software choice, technical how-to, where and how to print pages, and much more are too broad to go into here in this introduction to digital scrapbooking blog post. My digi scrapping home online is Digital Scrapbook Place, and if you want to find out more I suggest you start there. Look me up if you decide to check it out. My user name there is "Robin E." Feel free to ask me questions here too, if you are interested. I am happy to go on and on about this subject and have helped more than one person get started in it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sunday Hymn - 28 March 2010

Some changes around here

I have been less than regular in my posting to this blog, I am sorry to say. I want to change that, and one way I have heard is to do certain types of posts on certain days of the week.

So, to start I am going to post "Sunday Hymns", every Sunday, showcasing some good old fashion hymn that speaks to me. I'll keep it short too, focusing on just one verse, usually not the first verse either. Too often, in this get-r-done age, we are familiar with just the first verse of these old spiritually rich songs and that is our loss. So, look for my first Sunday Hymn post early this coming Sunday. I already have it ready to go.

Next will be "Make-It Monday". Not necessarily things for you to make, although I'm sure I'll do that at times, but it will be at minimum things that I have made. This is beneficial to me in three ways. First, it's another weekly topic I think I can go on and on about for years without running out of ideas. Second, making stuff is usually an interesting blog topic, at least I enjoy reading blogs about people making stuff. And third, having a "Make-It Monday" will encourage me to craft, cook, sew,scrapbook, paint, or whatever more often.

Then it will be "Wednesday Websites" when I'll write a post on some website or blog that I find cool, helpful, or just interesting. Hey, I love finding new things online and suspect that you all do too. I think I can share weekly for a good long while without boring you. We'll see.

Lastly, I want to do at least one journaling type post per week. I can't guarantee which day it will show up on, but no later than Saturday, although it could be late Saturday. This is what I planned to do all the time on this blog, but it just hasn't happened. We'll see how it works this time.

Oh, and I'll be giving the blog a little visual make-over too. Look for it, but I'm not sure of the exact day that will happen yet.