Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Fast Company’s 30 Second MBA

September 21, 2009

For those of you taking my MBA (Master in Books of Audio) to heart, I just want you to know that I could have some serious competition. FastCompany is now offering a 30 second MBA.  One can listen to the nation’s most respected CEOs,  as they divulge  answers to such questions as “What is the single most important task for a leader?” or “How can teams make better decisions?”.  I’ve watched a few of these 30 second videos, and I have to say that I am not at all threatened.  I’m trying to master business by listening to Audio Books, Fast Company is attempting to make their audience smarter by watching merely a series of 30 Second Videos. Go figure!

I am currently listening to Wired to Care, a book I’ll be writing about in my next book review blog. Although I’ll be listening to a steady diet of audio books during the year ahead, I certainly would choose my own personal MBA anytime over a series of 30-second videos.

One last note, Fast Company, is one of my favorite publications. I subscribe, and even receive the digital edition via email. I did happen to notice that Audible now offers audio editions of Fast Company magazine. Since my life is quite busy I know for certain that I will eventually end up trying this format. When I do I’ll report back to you!

Five Days of Short Stories

May 16, 2009

At a company event I won an iPod shuffle and decided  to experiment downloading short stories to my new device. Since I am a fan of NPR’s Selected Shorts and the website Sniplits.com, where you can download a free story a week, I was looking for a change of pace from my usual non-fiction fare.

At  Sniplits.com, I paid $2.06 with my PayPal account and downloaded three stories to iTunes and from there to my iPod Shuffle.  One story was the free story of the week. Sniplits.com has done a GREAT job of making the purchase and download easy, the process was seamless. Then I downloaded a few shows from  Public Radio’s (PRI) broadcasts of “Selected Shorts podcast that I located in iTunes. Here’s my upcoming listening schedule, not necessarily in the  order I’ll hear them at since I expect the stories to be shuffled:

SESSION A*, 30 MINUTE WALK

  • Story: A Brief Excerpt in the History of Salt by Venita Blackburn
  • Story: Hand Signals by Venita Blackburn

SESSION B*, 40 MINUTE WALK

  • Story: House Rules By Libby Fischer Hellmann

SESSION C, 1 HOUR WALK

  • Podcast: Playwright’s DelightSelected Shorts

SESSION D, 1 HOUR WALK

  • Podcast: Indian CountrySelected Shorts

SESSION E, 1 HOUR WALK

  • Podcast: Shatterd PeaceSelected ShortLOGOwebhorz

I will begin listening to stories on Monday, May 18! Send me your tips for this upcoming week. Oh, and watch next weekend for the upcoming reviews on the all above mentioned stories/podcasts!

* These downloads are from www.sniplits.com

¿Habla Español?: Learn à la AudioBookFitness

May 14, 2009

I was lucky to meet a neighbor, Teresa, who speaks fluent Spanish. She worked in a contract position at Yahoo until last year.  Since I have always wanted to practice the Spanish I worked so hard at learning as a college student and review Spanish for an upcoming trip to Spain, we worked out an agreement that I would help her with her resume and she would help me with my Spanish.  I am fortunate to work at home (company  lap top and cell phone), and I would run over to her place, read for 20 minutes, converse for about 10 minutes and then come back  home, have a quick  lunch and get back to work.  It worked well until her mother had a stroke and she had to return home to Mexico to help her mom for a month.

Not wanting to loose the language skills I have been gaining, I bought a new Garmin nüvi GPS (to be reviewed at a later date) that plays MP3 files and I am dedicating it to reviewing and learning Spanish while I drive.  I downloaded the highest rated Spanish audio book series from AudiblePimsleur, Spanish I, Second Revised Edition: Lessons 6 to 10. This was only for review, and after listening to it, I realized it was a bit on the simple side. ‘Vamos a bebir una Cervesa in al resturante Colon.’  or ‘¿Cuanto Cuesta dos Cervesas?’ are not sentences I will use daily (well, I could change cervesa to vino…) yet this has proved to be a good brain exercise while I am driving. Actually, audio language books are IDEAL for puttering around town, because if you are using a GPS with an MP3, the interruptions of GPS instructions (‘In 500 feet, turn left.’) are best interlaced with the short verbal exercises and sentences of a language (‘Repeta: ¿A donde va Carlos’?) rather than a long narrative of a book.

The biggest challenge for me has been finding the right level of Spanish instruction to start at since I am familiar with the language. There was no assessment to help determine what audio book to start with. So if you have tried any of the Spanish audio books, let me know what you like and didn’t like about them along with some commentary about their difficulty level. I’d love to hear from you.

Italian and French are next…then Chinese. And of course, I will be starting with Level 1 on these languages when the time comes (Yo! I could be in my nineties by then!).

I keep thinking about a study that I read years ago about elderly nuns learning French and how it kept them mentally agile into old age. Yes, that is one of my goals, brain fitness and agility, and I want to speak decent Spanish as I meander the cities of España.

The Granddaddy of Audio Book Listeners

May 9, 2009

I’ve been listening to a new audiobook, ‘The Black Swan-The Impact of the Highly Improbable‘ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Two and a half hours into the book, I learned  that we Audio Book Listeners actually have a forefather.  Pierre-Daniel Huet (1630-1721), a French philosopher, churchman, and scholar  had a servant who followed him around and read to him during meals and free time.  Huet was considered the most well-read person of his time….(And it’s quite possible Heut’s servant was considered the best read domestic help of his time!)

This diligent servant, of course, goes unnamed. If he were alive today his role would be replace-or outsourced-to one of the many Portable Media Digital players or Readers currently on the market. Or perhaps if he were living today he would have the wherewithall to shift his career to that of a Voice Over Artist or Narrator.

We owe Huet and his well-read servant an honored historical spot for leadership, of sorts, to the wonderful world of audiobooks.

Why Amazon Is Missing the Mark

April 25, 2009

I love tech toys and am always in the market for devices that are ‘unitaskers’, or multiple function devices. My new GPS plays a Spanish Language Instruction audio book, while I navigate the roads in Silicon Valley and in the Bay Area. My digital recorder records my band mate and myself (The Hope Street Band) AND plays audiobooks. The next mobile phone I purchase will also play audiobooks . . . and I’ll be able to use it as an eReader, GPS, appointment calendar. You get the idea.

I had assumed that Amazon’s Kindle did not play MP3 files or audio books. Recently, however, I was surprised to learn that Kindle is compatible with audio books purchased from Audible.com. These files can be transferred to the Kindle via a USB connection. What puzzles me is that because Audible is owned by Amazon, I think both businesses are missing a great cross-marketing opportunity—selling an audio book file packaged with a hard copy book of the same title.

How can Amazon capture the cross-over audience. Better yet, what changes would I need to see before purchasing a Kindle?

1. Package Deals. When Amazon starts offering the Kindle reader hard-copy books with the audiobook of the same title, I’ll buy one. I personally like owning both the audio format and the visual format (usually paperbacks) if it is a book I value highly. I know I could listen to the built-in robot voice read, but I will enjoy a book more if the narrator is good, as it usually is on an audio book.

2. Website usability.  Since Amazon owns Audible, downloading both audio books and ebooks could be made a seamless task.  Since I am a member of Audible, why would I pay full price for the audio book through Amazon, when it’s less expensive through my Audible membership? They don’t make it easy for us!

3.  Kindle book club. I really like a bargain.

How about you? Do you have any other suggestions to add to the list?

The AudioBook Lifestyle

April 1, 2009

My new dream desk
–My new dream desk–

As an ongoing joke, I have been begging my boss for one of those Treadmill workstations. If only I had one, I could actually SIT down after work and relax–read a REAL book, the kind you purchase at a book store or order from Amazon !

In my off work hours I also have to make my rounds on the ‘net, so I am challenged with balancing my need for information, tasks, (like banking, shopping) and my need for community. Yes, I do all this in the real world and more… but I prefer the Internet for such tasks, because I tend to get much more of those activities done.

Music is vital also, and  I find that I like to at least supplement listening to music with some intellectually stimulating material so I am working out both your body AND your mind.

REAL books-those three dimensional blocks of paper product where one can turn pages-could be a thing of the past someday for several reasons:

  • There are 6.6 billion people on earth, in 2050 there will be over 9 billion. The production of books uses up the world’s natural resources. The trend for books will be to go digital through listening devices or tools like the Kindle 2.
  • This year more information will be generated than in the previous 5,000 years and the amount of technical information is doubling every 2 years. By 2100 it’s predicted to double every 72 hours. We can keep on top of this information and ‘read’ more books per year by multitasking.  Listening to audio books while we are exercising, driving , doing chores, will be a way to keep us informed and entertained.
  • The percentage of the world’s population with access to the Internet has increased 250% since 2000. Technology is pervasive and will continue to permeate all countries, cultures, classes of people (just think of the One Laptop per Child inititave).

Audiobook fitness is really about LIFESTYLE, and keeping physically active AND keeping an active mind. How can we continue to enjoy books in this age of information? Our future  promises a more hectic life, and we will have to find ways to continue to entertain and enrich our lives with business books,  literature and best sellers by listening to AudioBooks.

So, what have you listened to this week?

Hello Readers!

March 6, 2009

This is a fitness program for those of us who want to upgrade the quality of our busy lives.

As much as I love reading, I have fallen away from curling up with good books. My world does not allow this. I no longer have the patience to sit and read after a long work day as a consultant, on the telephone, and in front of a computer. The idea for Audio Book Fitness, a program of fitness and wellness—physical and mental—was born out of necessity to get my body fit, my intellect (synapses) firing, and to feed my soul. I found that I get just as much enjoyment out of reading by doing it the ‘audio book fitness’ way.

Most of the books I have been exposed to are enticing and some are even addictive. While keeping my heart rate at a steady 125 bpm during my cardio workout, I’ve listened to words that have wrapped themselves around the globe…I’ve visited England, Afghanistan, China and India and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean…. I’ve stepped on an elliptical trainer to workout, only to be transported like a traveler on a time machine, often hundreds of years back in time.

I’ve also used my workout times for career education. ‘Reading’ books like Tribes, Monster Careers: Networking, Made to Stick, and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

This is my idea of a holistic FITNESS program. And if you decide to join the journey, I’d love for you to share YOUR experiences with me and the rest of the world…through your success stories, book reviews, questions and comments. Let’s create a community of Audio Book Fans who maintain or acquire a fantastic fitness level – physical and mental – one book at time.

I want to know: what book works for you when you are on a walk or in the gym? What experiences can you share about insights during listening?