Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nook vs. Kobo

Dear Reader,
  I have spoken here before regarding the iPad and Nook as well as here; mostly I've discussed how to download items or what programs can help you download books. But today, I have a different type of review. Today we will talk about the functionality of the device or apps themselves, once you have your book downloaded to them. 
I have had my Nook or over a year now and it is a first generation Nook, it has had many software upgrades offered by Barnes and Noble and I actually had it replaced due to a stress fracture on one of the page turning buttons. (The new color ones, use the touch screen technology to avoid this problem in the future), my DH just bought a Kobo reader from Borders. It is a little smaller than the Nook which is a plus for him. He prefers the smaller size.

First, the Nook vs. Kobo, again I am using a first generation Nook, not the new color, but I think that is a fairer comparison with the Kobo.

The Nook: I have the 3G/WiFi version. I love it. I personally think the 3G is worth it if you are truly going to download books on a regular basis and don't want to worry about where you are and can you get WiFi. While more and more places have WiFi not every places does and many times it is very very slow. So spring for the 3G especially if this is going to be your only eReader device. The contrast on the screen is great for reading in sunlight, but you need a book light for reading in bed at night. I mentioned the size, the Nook is about 8 inches by 5 inches and the 3G is about 12 oz. The WiFi only version is a bit lighter. Same size though.  You have your touch screen at the bottom in color for navigation. Which I still find a little clunky. Especially as they add new features and try to find a place to categorize them in the existing folders on the devise.
For example, the latest upgrade allows you to create shelves, handy, you can organize your books so you are not scrolling through pages trying to find that book you want to read. But shelving the books is a little funky. You have to use the up and down arrows on the touch screen which means you have to then scroll forward to the next screen and select shelve. Then scroll back, use the up and down arrows to select and other book, scroll forward to shelve that book. I find it all just a little too much scrolling and clicking and a little awkward.
You can have different color back panels and there is a wide array of color cases. My blogless friend Anna, knitted some cute jammies for her Nook.

You also use the touch screen navigation at the bottom to add a bookmark, although provided you do not change to a different book and are only reading one book at a time, the Nook will automatically take you to the last page you read when you come back to it. You can also use the same navigation to select different font sizes.

Nook has buttons on both the left and right hand sides for page turning and the latest upgrades allows for on screen page turning too.

You can use the "lend me" feature with the Nook to share books with your friend accept ePub format as well as the B&N books you download. If you hook it up to your laptop or PC you can add PDF's as well, which I have used in the past to take my knitting patterns along with me.


And if you connect to the B&N store wireless while shopping in store with your Nook  you will receive, free downloads and coupons that change weekly. Just show the coupon code to the cashier or in the cafe to receive your discount. You need a Barnes and Noble account to sync your ebook purchases with you Nook.


The Kobo: 


The Kobo, is sold by Borders and comes in three color choices, black, white and lavendar. It is slightly smaller than the Nook at 7.2 inches x 4. 7 inches the screen is 6 inches, it uses the same technology on its screen as the Nook, in that it is great for reading outdoors in sunlight but is not backlit and requires a book light if your reading in low light situations. The navigation still uses buttons, but it is one four way button in the lower right hand corner, which is very easy to use if you are right handed, no so much if you are left handed. The Kobo, does boast some serious battery life and can support ePub formats, so you are free to get your downloads from just about anywhere, including borders. Borders, also has special offers on ebooks pretty regularly, in the past two months they have had $5 ebooks and $4 ebook sales. Kobo also supports magazines and newspapers like the Nook. The Kobo is WiFi only but is preloaded with software so that you can organize and transfer files with your PC. You need a Borders account to sync your Borders purchases with your Kobo.  The Kobo has five font sizes to choose from to make reading a little easier.

My husband really enjoys his Kobo.

The price:
Kobo, WiFi only $139
Nook, WiFi version $149; 3G & WiFi $199; Color WiFi only $249

You can read more about the Nook at Barnes & Noble

You can read more about the Kobo at Borders

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Of Things to Come.....

I hope everyone is having a great weekend so far, and for those of you who recently got more snow, you have my sympathies, but there is always a silver lining, perhaps more snow is giving you more knitting, spinning, weaving time.

We thankfully, do not have any snow, but it is still cold so I am inside today doing some around the house necessities and downloading more knitting related apps to review for you.

I also plan to cast on a neck tie for DH, later this afternoon, so please stayed tuned there is more to come....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's all about the sox

Have younsigned up for sox experience 2011 yet? Soxexperinxe 2011 is held on Chincoteague Island. I cant't wait! It is also the weekend of the Daffodil Festival so there are going to be so many fun things to see and do.

Sox Experience 2011



You don't want to miss out!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Row Counters, there's an App for That.

We have all used various methods of stitch or row counting, tick marks on a piece of paper, the little round ones that fit on our needle so we don't lose them but somehow we do. Square ones that look a little like a pedometer that are digital. But now there's an app for that too!

It is call KnitCounter by Cordless Dog and it is for iPhone and iPad, there is a lite (free) version, and a paid version for $3.99, I went for the lite version and it works just fine. The cool thing is that you can have multiple counters set up for different projects. You have your row repeats, your pattern repeats and even a frog counter. There are also increase and decrease alerts, as well as provide project information. Now the different between th lite and the paid version is that the lite only allow you to input one project at a time, while the paid version allows you to have multiple projects at the same time.

You can read more about the Knitcounter Here.

Another product from Cordless Dog is the Convert Knit, it is a small app that provides conversion information for needle size, gauge, unit conversion and my favorite, yarn weight conversion. The conversion are for US, UK, Japan, and metric. And you can read more about this fun little app at the Cordless Dog website. here

Both apps are for iPhone and iPad, I have not been able to find it for the Droid. But, hopefully that will be along soon.

In knitting news that directly involves fiber, I managed to finish two hats yesterday, so I now have two hat and scarf sets plus one extra hat to be shipped out to family and have cast on a new hat for a co-worker, I hope to have that one finished today. It is my first attempt at a newsboy style hat with a brim so wish me luck.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mamma's Got a Brand New Bag!

Thank you to Janet a member of Ravelry Group Nameste Love I purchased a Zuma bag from her and it arrived today, with a surprise inside!

Not only did I receive the beautiful Zuma bag in saddle, but two skeins of Nature's Palette fingering weight, colorway Light Teal! Wow wonderful is that?!

You can read more about Janet at her blog.

Thank you again Janet for a wonderful bag and yarn!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Socks! Socks and More Socks!

Okay socks in the rough but still. I have been knitting a lot lately and my sock yarn stash was starting to show hints of depleting. I needed to refresh my stash. First I went on Saturday to a store I hadn't visited in a long time, but couldn't find anything I liked. (insert look of horror) so waited until Monday and headed to a place I knew I would find what I wanted...Knitting Sisters in Williamsburg. Also so worth the trip. I miss the days when I used to work nearby and could run over on my lunch break, (sniff, sniff).
So I bought few things..., first up, Sockotta Limited in color 9841 by Plymouth Yarn, which reminded me of dreamsicles and because I am dreaming of warm spring days I thought this was perfect! and Sockotta Limited in color 9846, which is a nice mix of browns, greens and blues. Both yarns are 40% superwash wool, 45% cotton and 15% nylon. Then there is the Ja Woll in flaming red. I also purchased an spare cable for my Denise Needles and a french knitter for making cords. But I have a non yarn project in mind for the french knitter, more on that later.












And I just heard today that Sox Experience 2011 is coming! Woot! And Virginia's own Wendy Johnson will be there.

Can't Wait!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What's in the Box?

Answer: Anything you want, because it is the coolest box ever! What do you do if you are creating a new knitting pattern and you want to have someone review it or you are collaborating with a friend, you spend time emailing the thing back and forth? Now save time and see changes instantly with Dropbox!

Dropbox, is a very cool program that allows you share your files with your knitting  and non-knitting friends as well as access them anywhere. It is a cloud program, so you will need 3G or WiFi if your on the go.

Here are the various functions of Dropbox, you can:

  1. Sync your files online, so if you have a dropbox app on your mobile device and your PC, it will sync your files to all your devices. So no matter where you are or what device you are using you are up to date. A cool feature, is that if it is a file that is a work in progress it will only save the parts that have been updated. What does that mean, efficiency, so you aren't sitting around waiting for it to save entire files over again, it just saves the parts that have updated. Saves you time and possibly batter life, if your mobile. 
  2. You can share files with friends, co-workers, whomever you want. Dropbox has public and private file folders and you can designate who has access to which public folders, making collaboration a breeze. You can also use it to share photos. 
  3. Your files are backed up online automatically, you done have to worry about running a back up program. You can also restore previous versions if you accidentally delete something up to 30 days. How cool is that!?
  4. Your files are stored on secure servers and transmitted over secure and encrypted channels. Only those people  you designate (if any other than yourself) have access to the files and you can change whose permissions at anytime. The public folders are only public to those people, it does not mean public in the sense that they are searchable by anyone outside your group. 
  5. Dropbox has an app for iPad, iPod, Android and Blackberry, you can sync from your mobile device, upload mobile pictures, download files for offline viewing and so much more. 
There are two versions of Dropbox the free and the paid. The free allows you 2GB of online storage and the paid version give you 50 GB for $9.99 a month or 100 GB for $19.99 a month. It also works with PC's, Mac and Linux computers. Also, you get extra free storage if you invite friends to use Dropbox and they create an account. 

I give it two needles up for ease of use and accessibility. To learn more visit Dropbox.com

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Halfway to an FO....

I finished sock one last night of the VanDyke sock from Wendy Johnson's Toe Up Socks. I used Paton's Kroy Socks FX yarn in Clover Colors, colorway. I adjusted to pattern to fit me, sizing for the foot straight from the pattern fits me, but I needed to increase some stitches for the leg portion, which I did, two stitches at a time evenly spaced on every other row until I had the required number of stitches. Also, the instructions are for double pointed needles (4) I used the magic loop method so had to adjust accordingly but it wasn't hard to do, if you are using magic loop, just keep in mind that needles 1 and 2 are your front needle and needles 3 and 4 are your back needle. No worries. I also used the Turkish Cast On which is my favorite all time toe up cast on. And I used JSSBO for the bind off at the cuff. If you haven't tried this bind off I highly recommend it, see Cat Bordhi's instructional video Here. I used my favorite US 3 bamboo needles, which are available in the Store by the way. I love these needles because the cable is always supple and the needles fit my hand perfectly.  The cable length is 19.5.

Over all I am pleased with the sock even though I think it was a bit fiddley. And I am looking forward to casting on it's mate today.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Feeling Bookish

We haven't had a good book chat in a while and I feel that I am neglecting the "Stories" side of the blog, also, I do not have a picture ready yet of my latest knitting.

I have recently finished Covet, by J.R.Ward. This is my first time ready J.R. Ward and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Check out her webpage. Branching out in my fiction reading to things other than vampires, these fallen angels are just as captivating! Be warned if are sensitive to language, the book is PG 13. However, I  couldn't put it down. I downloaded it from my local library and put it on my iPad using Overdrive (see previous post on Overdrive here.

Now the authors website had a great description of the book, it is a story of fallen angels and how they are here among us to help those who are at a cross roads in their life. The main character Jim, nearly killed in an accident and in exchange for being sent back to his life he must help someone else. He is sent two fallen angels to help him. But things go south pretty quickly and Jim finds that helping his new friend (Vin)  isn't so easy after all, his friend is arrested for beating his ex-girlfriend (who by the way is one bad @#$ demon herself) and a single mother (Marie-Terese) on the run for her mafia boyfriend has turned to prostitution and is in need of turning her life around as well. Jim has to help them both see that they belong together while trying to rid Vin of his demon ex-girlfriend.  I don't want to give it all away, but it is quite good and I can't wait to read the next in the Fallen Angel series.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Update to the Evernote post

Dear Readers,
  Thank you all so very much for all your comments and inquiries. I received a comment today from Ron Toledo Marketing Guru at Evernote (insert your best stoked expression here). And he had an excellent tip that I hadn't tried yet on Evernote, but a must use! So I am posting his comment here for you. Also, I've had a couple of people ask, and yes, there is an Evernote app for the Droid, so everyone, get out there and get your Evernote! I don't know how I would live without mine now!

Here is the original Evernote post: Evernote, a Must for Knitters

Here is Ron's comment, I can't thank you enough for stopping by and giving us this tip!

"Hello Milly,
This is Ron from Evernote. I just came across your post and wanted to drop by and say thanks for sharing with your readers, we really appreciate all the support. When i was reading your uses one feature that i thought you might be interested in was our web clipper. We have web clippers that go in your browser and allow you to clip portions (or all ) of the web pages you come across. The best part is we automatically pull out the title, the original url, and all of the links are preserved. For more information and to download the one that's suited for your browser you can go to http://www.evernote.com/about/download/web_clipper If you have any other questions please let me know."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When Sheep go bad....Firesheep

Dear Reader, 
  I try to mix up the posts here with some knitting related content and then some technology knitting related content, but today I have some information for knitters, crocheters, weavers and all manner of fiber artists and muggles alike. It's the kind of sheep you don't want, it's Firesheep and it is out there, everywhere and trust me the bad guys know about it. I googled this after a conversation with DH and found blog posts, articles and general discussions on the web about this program. 


  I defer to the experts, but basically it is a program that will allow someone to hijack a page you have logged into, in a wifi hot spot. For example, lets say you are in a local coffee shop with free wifi, or the mall, or a popular bookstore, and you sit down with your coffee and decide to see what your friends on Facebook are doing, you log in and your password is encrypted and protected, but nothing else is. Some one with Firesheep sitting near you in the same coffee shop will see when you have logged onto Facebook and can then hijack your account and post things on your wall as if it were you and your friends would never know it wasn't you.  Here is how is works as explained in an article found at PC World Magazine on-line by Sharon Machlis of Computerworld, 



"All I had to do was download and install the add-on, open the Firesheep sidebar and click "Start Capturing." When her account appeared on the list, I double-clicked on it. Once I made sure that I wasn't logged into the same site myself with my own account, her account appeared in my browser.
Happily, I couldn't change her account information without knowing her password. But I could see all her friends, read her private messages and even issue a status update that went to all her friends."

Firesheep is a Firefox add-on and has been loaded hundreds of thousands of times already, so what can we do to protect ourselves? I found another great article at Computerworld by Gregg Keizer, 
"The best defense, said Chet Wisniewski, a senior security adviser at antivirus vendor Sophos, is to use a VPN (virtual private network) when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks at an airport or coffee shop, for example.
While many business workers use a VPN to connect to their office network while they're on the road, consumers typically lack that secure "tunnel" to the Internet.
"But there are some VPN services that you can subscribe to for $5 to $10 month that will prevent someone running Firesheep from 'sidejacking' your sessions," Wisniewski said. 
"A VPN encrypts all traffic between a computer -- a laptop at the airport gate, for instance -- and the Internet in general, including the sites vulnerable to Firesheep hijacking. "It's as good a solution as there is," Wisniewski said, "and no different, really, than using encrypted Wi-Fi."
The only other alternative would be to avoid open wifi spots, and that just seems like overkill. My personal advice, is if you want to use social networking sites and they are fun. And you use open wifi hotspots, because who isn't on the go, then be extremely careful what personal info you put on your profile pages, while the bad guys can still post messages that aren't from you at least they won't be able to access or gain personal information. 
Happy Fiber Everything! 






Sunday, January 9, 2011

Evernote, a Must for Knitters

I first heard about this handy little program from the DH who uses it for work related reasons, he carries his iPod Touch with him and is able to use it to look up or make notes for himself. I then read about it over on Blossom Merz Blog about how he uses it for inventory, patterns and the like and thought I really need to check this out.  (Blossom Merz is a hand weaver, so you can already see the many benefits to all fiber artists). So I downloaded Evernote, which is free by the way, we like free! Although a premium version is available. You install it like you would any other new program, by clicking run the first time you click the icon after you download it. And then click save, when it asks you to. That's it. Nothing more complicated than that. Once you are all downloaded and installed you need to set up an account again, very simple, just a user name and password. Than then you are in business. Now the way it works is that you can copy and paste items you find on the net into Evernote. You then "sync" the program and that way no matter what devise or computer you are on later you can retrieve that note. Let me give you an example:

I downloaded and installed Evernote on my laptop and my iPad. I then went in search of a Tam pattern on Ravelry. I found one I liked but it was  not a Ravelry download, the free pattern was linked to the knitters blog. Okay no problem I just highlighted the pattern, copied it, opened my Evernote program, clicked "File", "New Note" and then pasted into the blank space provided. Then I went up to the top and clicked "sync". So now, I can open my Evernote app on my iPad and the pattern will be there and I can use it to knit my project at home and on the go.

I have just started using this program so I am sure I have not explored all the things it can do just yet, but what I have used so far is very handy and I wanted to share it with you.

Pros: You can copy and paste text from any site, there are a couple of ways you can do this, as is the example above, when you need a free pattern from Ravelry that is on a personal website or blog you just highlight copy and paste. (Please remember to respect individual copyright). Also, if you are on your computer or laptop and use Firefox or Chrome as your browser there is an add-on you can download that is very useful in capturing pages or articles from news sites etc. You can also write your own notes into the program. A shopping list, other important information you might want or need later. You can add tags to help make items more searchable, but Evernote will organize and index your notes for you and make them searchable, so the tags are an added bonus in the ability to search for something you may have saved.  The possibilities are endless. You an be as creative as you want with Evernote, or as my DH, use it for business purposes, you can even plan a trip with it.
They also work with Twitter so you can save your favorite tweets if you like. I like that feature for saving sales and notes from my favorite yarn suppliers and stores.

Cons:  You need to be connected to the Internet with both your computer and your mobile devise right after you sync. So lets say I find a great pattern on Ravelry I want to use, I'm on my laptop so I capture it into Evernote. Later I will want to use it on my iPad while knitting in public somewhere. You must open the note in Evernote once while online, to be able to open it again when you are off-line. Evernote is a cloud program and so internet connection is a must. But like I said if you have opened that particular note at least once while online, you will be able to open it again offline. So the con is not so much of the Evernote program itself, but the availability of web access in certain places. So just be mindful of where you are and if there is wi fi available. If you have an mobile device with 3G then you should have no problems.
I realize most places do have open wi fi, but not everywhere, for example the local sports park, where a there are lots of soccer fields and ball fields, does not have wi fi, so if a soccer mom wanted to knit using a pattern on Evernote while waiting for practice to end, she would need to have opened the pattern in a wi fi environment first.

Anyway, there is more great information on the Evernote site itself, so go check them out.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kick It!

Not only is that the opening lyric for the classic Beastie Boys tune "Fight for your Right to Party" but it is my new way of spinning and plying!

Meet my new Little Meggie:


It is mahogany wood and so beautiful. The camera started to protest after these two shots the rest didn't come out, so I apologize for the lighting.  
The folks over at Heavenly Handspinning are wonderful, not only do they make beautiful spindles that are truly pieces of functional art, but also shipped it out right away, I got my spindle in a matter of days after placing my order. 
I was looking for another wheel, but I wanted something more portable than my Ashford Kiwi, but I also had limitations on how large a ball I could ply so I also was looking for a new kit for my Kiwi that would allow for more yardage. Then I found this little beauty, totally portable, and no plying limitations. I can't wait to finish spinning some roving and try this little baby out! 

I've also started a new pair of sock for me. I am knitting the Van Dyke socks from Wendy Johnson's Book,  Socks from the Toe Up and I am using Patons Kroy sock yarn in Clover Colors. There is an errata for this pattern so if you are going to knit it, make sure you check Wendy's site first. It is a minor one, but important. I am loving the pattern and the yarn. Also the pattern is written for 4 double points so if you are using magic loop as I am, you will need to make the appropriate adjustments 

I hope everyone has a wonderful fiberlicious weekend planned. Stayed tuned more knitting tech updates coming! 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Low Tech Gadgets

have been talking a lot lately about high tech gadgets and knitting, today I thought we would talk about some very helpful low tech gadgets.

First, a Yarn Drum, by Art Bin, very helping when working with two colors (I haven't tried it with more yet) But it does have the potential to manage up to four balls of yarn. It is a very handy item with a pocket in front for notions and a zippered pocket that attaches on the side. I got this one for Christmas and I gave several as gifts.












Next is a needle case from my dear blogless friend Anna, it has compartments for circulars as well as other notions, (notice the adorable sheep stitch markers), there is also room for straights. Very handy indeed as my inventory of circs was getting out of control and I needed something to manage them all a little better.



And lastly, I finally finished my boot socks. I started them before Christmas and had to set them aside in order to get all the gifts knitted. They are my final FO of 2010. and I am very happy with them. They are knitted on size US 4, in Lorna's Lace Storm. They are knitted toe up with a Turkish cast on (My favorite for toe up socks) and knitted in a spiral rib pattern found in Charlene Schurch's More Sensational Socks book. The pattern is easy to memorize and allows for quick knitting. I bound off with JSSBO, that was my first time using JSSBO and I love it. So will be using that again soon. 


However, I do not have any knitting plans today. I am going to bring out my neglected spinning wheel and show her some love. I have some roving I dyed months and months ago that needs to be spun up into something soft and yummy.

Fiber love from the Sheep Shack.