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31 posts from January 2008

DailyLit's SAT Prep Program

Dailylit_sat_prepDailyLit is the service that delivers books to you in bite-size pieces so you can easily read them on a portable device.  They started out with mostly older public domain titles but have expanded the program to include quite a few newer books for less than $10 as well.

A recent development that caught my eye was the launch of an SAT Prep title they're offering from Kaplan.  For only $4.95 a student gets 60 installments with lessons that focus on "vocabulary, usage and grammar, and cover important vocabulary words by giving concise definitions, helpful synonyms, and sample sentences that show words in context."

Given that quite a few kids studying for the SAT have a cellphone, it's a great way to encourage a bit of test prep work in the midst of texting their friends.  And for $4.95, how can you go wrong?!

I bring this up because I think it's yet another excellent example of how content delivery methods are rapidly evolving.  I'll bet quite a few students would prefer this model over a traditional test prep book, for example.  They're growing up getting much of their content from online sources, including their cellphone, so it's wise for Kaplan to partner with DailyLit and meet their customers where they live.

Smaller Indiana

Smaller_indiana_2What's the "right" number of social networks to join?  That's a question I've asked myself a few times over the past several months.  Using the phrase loosely, I'm already on LinkedIn and Facebook, so why would I need another social network?  Well, despite my best efforts, I'm not finding much of a local component to either of these services.  (Yes, I know all about the various Facebook groups but still, they don't really feel that local.)

Fortunately for me, my colleague Jason Marcuson recently discovered one with more of a local feel and sent me an invitation.  It's called Smaller Indiana and I joined it last week.  I'm still tweaking my profile and all, but I've already found a couple of interesting local networking opportunities on it after only a few days.  If you live in Indiana and are looking for a network with that local feel you ought to give this one a shot.

On a related note, this article in today's local paper talks about how the Indiana "brain drain" might be reversing and becoming more of a "brain gain."  I didn't grow up in this area but I can vouch for the fact that Indiana is a great place to raise a family and offers an excellent cost of living; we just need major league baseball and an NFL team that doesn't melt down after every playoff bye.

The Wide Open Spaces of God, by Beth Booram

Wide_open_spacesThe Wide Open Spaces of God is an excellent book.  The author uses the metaphor of landscapes to describe the various stages and scenarios of life.  But it's not the analogies that make this such a wonderful book, it's the prescriptive advice the author provides which help make this a fantastic read and an even better, lasting reference.

For example, one of the landscapes is called "The Valley of Darkness."  It's just what you'd expect, namely, a period of deep turmoil or unexpected/unexplained difficulty.  Beth talks about our knee-jerk tendencies where we want to "light our own torches" and move away from the darkness; without giving away too much of the story here, the author advises against moving away from the darkness and her argument is quite compelling.

I read this book on a recent cross-country flight and found myself stopping and thinking about the various stages of my own life, how I reacted then and how the author's insights challenged me to react and respond differently going forward.  I learned a lot about myself along the way and I'll bet you will too.  Highly recommended.

Two New Sybex Titles

Lpo Sl2eThis was another one of those fun days when a box of new titles from our group shows up on my desk.  Although there were a dozen great ones to choose from, I thought I'd mention two that really caught my eye.

The first is Landing Page Optimization by Tim Ash.  I can't wait to dig into this one this weekend to see what I can learn about this important topic.  The other book is the revision to our best-selling Second Life: The Official Guide by Michael Rymaszewski et al.  We were the first publishers to release a book on Second Life, way back in November of 2006.  The new edition looks fantastic and comes with a CD full of all sorts of goodies.

Congrats to editor Willem K. and the rest of the Sybex team on these great new publications!