Tag Archives: The Tao of Physics

Listening to Books (Again)

Over the past several months, my work is required me to be more critical of what I’m doing with my hands and eyes, so I no longer have the luxury, of being able to view TED conference videos.

If you are not familiar with TED, and you enjoy learning and hearing about new ideas, I strongly recommend that you visit the site and listen to some of the most interesting talks that are available free on the web. Well worth your time.

I had been using my laptop as my interface to the TED lectures, but being tethered to such a device was no longer an option, and my wife was nice enough to give me her old Creative Zen MP3 player.

To me this was a major upgrade, considering last book that I had listened to, was on a cassette tape player, two cars and 10+ years ago.

Would you believe, I still have the two cassette tape collection (4 sides), The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra with a copyright date of 1990.

I’m not even sure if I have a device to play them back anymore.

In mid December 2011, I signed up with Audible.com for their three-month introductory offer, and yes I was influenced by their various TV commercials and banner ads.

It was a relatively standard new account setup, and I was off and searching.

The Hunt Begins

I was very interested in finding several authors, that I had just been reintroduced to, by  watching on the Discovery Channel, “The Profits of Science Fiction“, namely H.G. Wells and Arthur C Clarke.

I was also trying to find several of the Speakers that I heard on TED, most notably Richard Dawkins and Douglas Adams.

Audible.com

So the downloading begun, at least on Audible.com:

Not bad collection start with, but I knew I was giving go broke if I was going to stick with Audible.com only.

Project Gutenberg

From previous web meanderings, I was aware of the Project Gutenberg and decided to do some hunting.

Also at this point, having already listened to several of the books mentioned above, I finally broke down and bought an Apple iPod touch.

The addiction is growing…

With the aid of the Audiobooks app, I downloaded several classics:

  • Dracula – Bram Stoker (Done)
  • Dubliners – James Joyce
  • Flatland: A Romance of many dimensions – Edwin Abbott Abbott (Done)
  • Relativity: The Special and General Theory – Albert Einstein
  • The Art of War – Sun Tzu (Done)
  • The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving (Done)
  • The Time Machine – H.G. Wells (Done)

and several others that I have only as a reference at this point, such Aesop, Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Robert Frost.

A very interesting collection of works so far, and as indicated, I have already put in many hours of listening.

In the Gutenberg collection, I first read Dracula in the 7th or 8th grade while at Rectory school, and the Dubliners while at St. Andrew’s, and Einstein and Abbott in college.

Needless to say it’s been a few years for some of these books, and I am debating on whether to do reviews on my blog.

Problems

Difficulties always arise when moving from one medium to another, and moving from a hardbound paper book to an object that can hold volumes of books in your shirt pocket, is no different.

Highlighting and Notes

One of my biggest peeves right now, is the inability to efficiently bookmark sections of the audio book, in a highlighter fashion, or be able to write notes in the margin, but I have a feeling as audio book applications mature, there will be these enhancements, and possible improvements, such as a singular platform Reader that can catalog your highlights and notes!

Readers/Narrators

One of the biggest things that can kill an audio book, is the Reader/Narrator.

I cannot imagine the effort involved all reading some of these chapters or books at length while being recorded.

I applaud those that can do it, but please do not add over dramatization while reading!

A good example of this, is to find and download the Jabberwocky by Lewis Clark, and listen to the various readers as they repeat this poem again and again and again.

When listening to paid audio books, it is not uncommon to have a professional reader, or celebrity narrating. In some cases, you can also find the authors narrating their own work, which can be very delightful.

Conclusion

If you have the time, it is great to be able to listen to a book, while doing something else.

In my case, when I am home, I am doing Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop work, as well as listening in my car during my commute.

It has also been wonderful listening to books I read when I was a boy, and see how much I remember and how much I have forgotten or missed.

Boy I wish I had these technologies back when I was in grade school, things would’ve been a lot different.

Oh well…

- Andrew
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