Friday, 19 August 2011

DigitalNZ Search Widget - Modern Children's Literature

Some of the most beautiful books published today are children's books. Picture books with gorgeous illustrations, non-fiction books with stunning photos and diagrams, and fiction books with creative use of colour, pictures and presentation. Can you tell I'm passionate about children's literature?

If you're interested, how could you find out about modern New Zealand children's books?
Just use the handy DigitalNZ widget in the right side bar of this blog!
Alternatively use the ChildrensBooks search tool at DigitalNZ.
The keywords used to set up the search tool were children AND books. There are also time limits (after 1990) placed on the search to find only information related to modern books. Searches will return material from all sources in DigitalNZ.

I carried out an example search for 'picture books' and received 96 results, including photos of a book launch for Sharon Holt's new book.  Sharon is a friend of mine so I am shamelessly promoting Sharon by using her as an example of a DigitalNZ Children's Literature search. The search terms 'authors', 'Sharon Holt' and even 'mothers' also returned information about Sharon, as well as a great variety of other material.

If you're a librarian, teacher or someone who just loves children's books this search tool should be useful for you.

Launch of Sharon Holt's book
 'Your Mother Didn't Do That'.
Image by Rae on DigitalNZ

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Good Advice for Next Time

I have just found this brilliant slideshow about how to make a slideshow - not just any old slideshow but a quality presentation. It has some great suggestions on how to engage your audience and create effective slides.If only I'd known about it this time last week when I was making the e-reader presentation for my Info525 class. Oh well, I'll have some very handy tips to use next time.

View more presentations from @JESSEDEE

Friday, 12 August 2011

Introduction to E-Reader Technology

Do you grab a new technology and run with it or do you adopt a 'wait and see' position until a real need (or the boss) makes you get to grips with it? In all workplaces staff possess a variety of knowledge and attitudes to new technologies, and libraries are no exception. The slideshow below is designed to introduce staff at a public library to e-reader devices. Further explanation would be offered at the time of presentation but the main points are presented in the slideshow.

What's your opinion of the e-reader? Do you have one? Would you like one?

Monday, 1 August 2011

E-Reader Screen Technology

E-ink on e-paper in an e-book using an e-reader. If you take the ‘e’ out of the terms they are familiar and comfortable words.  But recent technology has taken books to a new dimension, away from cellulose fibres to a kind of electronic Etch-a-Sketch.  E-reader sales are increasing rapidly as developing technology improves the reading experience on these book sized mobile devices.  So just how does the technology in this new reading experience work?

E-readers have unique screen technology that distinguishes them from tablets such as the iPad.  E-paper uses reflected light whereas LCD screens are back lit.  This means LCD screens can be used in the dark and they display colours brightly. But they are difficult to see outside, especially in bright light. One advantage of  E-reader screens is that they can be read in sunlight - great for enjoying a book while relaxing in the sunshine.  

Other advantages of e-reader screens compared to tablets is that are that they are easier on the eyes and they use less battery power.  The screen image can be viewed at an angle and is stable once it has loaded which makes it easier to read comfortably and for long periods of time.  E-readers only use power when the screen image is changing. So the batteries last longer (battery time is measured in weeks not hours) and the devices can be smaller which lowers their weight.

There are two parts to e-paper technology. The nitty gritty of it all is quite technical but here is a summary of the main features. The two parts are sometimes called frontplane and backplane.  The frontplane is the ink and the backplane is the electronics used to make the text patterns on the page.  

The frontplane technology that e-reader screens use is commonly called E Ink. In fact this is a company name. The screen technology of the E Ink Corporation is the most widely used and best known technology – over 50 models of e-reader use E Ink.

The 'ink' used in E-Ink is made up of millions of tiny capsules.  Inside the capsules are charged particles suspended in liquid.  There are positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles.  When an electrical charge is applied to the capsule the corresponding particles (black or white) move to the top of the capsule. So when the black particles are at the top we see the shape of the text. Partial charges cause a mixture of black and white particles to move to the surface so shades of grey can be made.  

Click here to see a diagram of the microcapsules and charged particles.

Magnified view of e-reader screen.
Image by Specious Reasons on Flickr

There are variations in ink technology.  For example, QR-LPD technology uses particles suspended in air not liquid.  An advantage is that the particles can move faster so the display changes more quickly.

Disadvantages of e-paper at present include a slow refresh rate and poor colour screen technology.  The relatively slow movement of particles in the E Ink capsules means the current technology is unsuitable for animations or video.  But the major challenge facing developers is to produce quality colour e-readers. This would tap into the market for children’s books, text books, newspapers and magazines. Existing e-paper technology, such as the use of filters, has so far produced rather dull colours as the filters reduce the amount of captured light.

If there is one thing that is constant in digital technology it is change and e-readers are no exception.  Colour may be the next big thing in screen technology but the success of e-readers will also be dependent on factors such as ease of use, cost and content availability. 

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