Life Geekery Tablet Covers

Life Geekery, used with permission

I stumbled across Life Geekery’s shop a few months ago when I was searching Etsy for Harry Potter goodies (as one does). I  wasn’t even looking for a Kindle/iPad/iPhone cover at the time, but when I found this shop Ihad to have one. The heart wants what the heart wants, so Harry and my iPad Mini have been together for three months now.

Life Geekery is run by the husband and wife team of Matt and Nikki Mason, and their handmade designs are witty, made with Eco Felt, and priced around $30. I contacted Nikki to find out what inspired them and how they got started.

We’re a super nerdy husband and wife team that love to craft! The whole geeky cozy business started simply because I wanted a fun little case to store my own Kindle and couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. After coming up with a few different ideas we decided to make them and put them up on Etsy just to see if other people would like them as much as we did…and they did! Now we get to spread the joy to nerds everywhere and we couldn’t be more happy about that!

So, basically, the couple behind this business is just as much fun as their product. With more than 700 sales in less than two years, the shop is definitely popular. In addition to the awesome Firefly, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Dr. Who cases pictured above, designs also include Chewbacca, Frodo Baggins, and several others (Sherlock cover, stop flirting with me!). I’ve seen a Ron Weasley cover on their site, and I could swear I saw a TARDIS flash by on their website banner.

Sherlock cover by Life Geekery, used with permission

Sherlock cover by Life Geekery, used with permission

I asked Nikki who comes up with the designs, and she told me, “My husband and I collaborate on the designs, but he’s more of the designer and I’m more of the sewer.” Nikki and Matt are based in Hawaii, and each case is handmade to order—you can specify the tablet or phone it’s meant to fit. This means your case will not arrive right away. I waited a good few weeks to get mine, but I’ve had it since early March and thought it was well worth the wait.

I had to get used to having the opening at the bottom since these are sleeves and not cases (my typical cover preference). I’ve never used a sleeve for a Kindle or iPad before, so for the first few days I nearly dropped my Mini a few times because I kept carrying Harry right side up. And felt is slippery. I think I would slightly prefer to have the opening at the top of the sleeve, but I’m torn because I like the instant access when plugging it in to charge. Cases are fiddly on that point. And, honestly, once I got used to carrying Harry upside down it was no longer a problem. My Mini is protected, and it looks very cool. It’s also very easy to find in my giant, bottomless bag of stuff, and it makes me happy every time I see it. This has been one of my favorite purchases of 2013.

For the love of all that is awesome, check out Life Geekery’s shop!

OGIO Manhattan Bag Review

Ogio Brooklyn Bag \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Ogio Brooklyn Bag \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Bags are one of my geeky pleasures. Lately, I’ve been checking out the Ogio: Brooklyn. It’s a simple messenger bag and, thanks to my geeky button collection, I was able to give a little bit of a face lift. Underneath the Superman, Flash and Batman buttons is actually three regular buttons that once you undo, lets you access a hidden pocket under the flap.

The bag has two large main compartments pockets, two inside zippered pockets and a hidden one under the flap on the front. One of the inside zippered pockets is padded to hold either an iPad or other similar sized device (8.5”h x 11.75”w). The strap is a little wider than what I’m use to, but it’s still comfortable as an over the shoulder as well as messenger style. There’s plenty of room on it for buttons, patches or other personalizing you may wish to do.

The inside is pretty roomy and comfortably holds my Kindle Fire (new seven-inch HD), iPad 3 and two marvel graphic novels. Even with the weight that my two devices and two books put on it, I felt the strap could handle it. I’ve had bags in the past where the straps would start to wear down under the same conditions.

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The bottom of the bag is a little padded to keep any electronics you place inside safe. This is very important to me because I never go anywhere without my iPad and my Kindle Fire.

The Brooklyn is available in five different colors including what I like to call “April O’Neal yellow”.

You can purchase the Ogio: Brooklyn on Amazon or directly from Ogio’s website and is available in five different colors.

In exchange for my time and efforts in  reporting my opinion within this blog, I received a free review sample. Even though I receive this benefit, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.

 

Ebook Piracy and the Libraries of the Future

Image: Sarah Pinault. Toby’s first visit to the library.

My husband has been lucky since acquiring his iPhone. He was looking for a book to read to test out the reader function, saw a commercial for A Game of Thrones, decided to read the book and it was being given away as a free ebook that month in preparation for the show. After that, several people recommended that he read The Pillars of the Earth, lo and behold, a quick Google search and it too was a free ebook that month from a national retailer. Then it got trickier.

After deciding to read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever following the directions for picking a Sci/Fi Fantasy book, he could not find a copy anywhere. He was now hooked on finding them for free. He found a hard copy at a library of which he is a member, he also found it illegally as an ebook. Surmising that since a library book was reading it for free, and he wanted to read it on the iPhone, downloading it made it just like reading the copy at his local library. He lasted about an hour with that logic, before deleting the file and becoming grumpy, in a holier than thou kind of way. My husband is a very honest man, it’s been two weeks and he still hasn’t bought or read the book. With Amazon’s addition of the Kindle Lending Library last week, the dilemmas facing my husband seem to be the wave of the future. A few overdue fines at the library pale in comparison with the fact that e-readers may be taking literature the way of Napster and iTunes, as far as morality and public ownership go. As the music industry continues to debate its own standards of ownership, I wonder where e-readers are taking us, and if recent court rulings will have any affect on how we view books that are still covered by their copyright. If I lose my hard copy of a book, am I entitled to an e-copy for free?

Behind the scenes at GeekMom the Kindle Lending Library raised some minor discussion. I am hesitant to accept anything for free from a company that possesses my credit card information, but I am quite happy with a world that accommodates both my love of paper, and my husband’s love of the convenience of his e-reader. Otherwise we have a split between those of us happy to forgo paper for .doc, and those who relish wandering around the local library. Would this new policy have any effect on libraries or e-readership figures since it is limited to one book a month? With the grassroots library movement, that GeekMom Melissa talked about this week, I have great hope in the future of the library.

So my question is, am I reading too much into my husband’s one-time moral dilemma, or should author’s fear for the sanctity of their work?

Tips for Using Your New Kindle

I noticed from Facebook and Twitter posts over the last week that a lot of my friends got Kindles for Christmas. And so naturally, they were all looking to the veteran owners for what to do with them. Here’s what I’ve been telling them–and now you.

Lend your books

You can lend Kindle books you’ve bought on Amazon to other Kindle users. This is a new feature this week, and one that puts a plus mark in the Kindle column where the Nook was already ahead. But like the Nook lending, there are a few big down sides. One is that it’s only a 14-day loan, no renewals. While the book is out on loan, the owner can’t read it. And you can lend a given book only once–no sharing with all your friends.

Find free books

Tons of books are available on Amazon for free. They’re mostly classics in the public domain, but you’ve been meaning to catch up on those anyway, right? Others are offered free for a brief period–for example, I grabbed Elvis Takes a Backseat, now $9.99, for free shortly after I got my Kindle. For the last few months, as well as at the time of this post, the Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith books have been free.

You can also get free books from other places on the web, like archive.org and Project Gutenberg. Amazon does a great job of explaining how to get those to your device.

Visit the library

I was surprised to learn that my county library has a digital collection. Check this list on the MobileRead Wiki to see if there’s one in your area. If not, there are a few at the top of that article that are open to anyone.

Play games

Oh, you thought you bought a book device? Well, this is sort of like buying crossword puzzle books. But more fun. You already have Minesweeper–press Alt+Shift+M to play. While in Minesweeper, you can press G to play GoMoku, a five-in-a-row type of game.

On the Amazon store, you can download several other games, like Shuffled Row, Every Word, and Sudoku. The list of available games is growing, so try a few out and let me know which ones you like.The Kindle Apps Blog has reviewed quite a few.

Develop your own apps

And where are all those games coming from? Amazon released the Kindle Development Kit about a year ago. If you’re a developer, they’re still taking beta participants. According to the KDK page, user revenue will be split with 70% to the developer.

Get yourself to read more

You got the Kindle, so now your New Year’s resolution is to read more. Daily Lit will send you books in pieces by email or RSS. Why? You read email all the time–short chunks of prose. But a book feels like a bigger investment. It seems harder to work in to your day. Daily Lit puts the two together and helps you get in the reading you want to do in between work requests and spam.

Manage your ebooks

It’s a great device in many respects, but the organization and book management aren’t the best. And so, as with any technology, where the creator falls short, third parties step in. Calibre is an open source tool for library management, ebook conversion, syncing, and more. Or, if you want just management in a familiar (if you’re a Windows user) interface, the Windows-only Kindle Collection Manager is in beta.

Publish your own books

Writers have several tools for getting their work in front of Kindle readers. Try Amazon’s Digital Text Platform or, for a more social-media-like publishing experience, Scribd.

Make a case for it

There are quite a few tutorials available for making Kindle cases. Urban Threads has one, and they have a couple of perfect designs on sale this week: “The Raven” in the shape of a raven, or if you’re into vampire novels, you could disguise your Kindle as a vampire hunting kit. Chica and Jo have another case tutorial, which also tells you how to adapt the pattern to fit other devices.

Improve your traveling experience

This seems like a small one, but it was a big win for me shortly after I got my Kindle. Because I got the 3G edition, I had free Internet always available throughout a recent trip. Email in the airport without paying for a connection and Twitter while waiting for the subway–no problem, even in Europe. It’s not the most amazing web connection you’ll ever have, but when you’re trying to meet up with people in a strange city where your phone isn’t working (despite the phone company’s assurance it would), being able to send a quick message from your Kindle is invaluable.