The one development I could never have anticipated was that printed fiction books would suddenly become dramatically less important to me than they were. Just the other day I worked out that l must have been a member of various libraries for at least 53 years ever since being taken by my mum to the children’s library in the Durban City Hall.

In the intervening years I have probably devoured at least three printed books a week and sometimes more until one day when, having been in Brisbane for some years, I noted that my sister and niece were listening to audio books on their tablets and mobile phones and deriving a lot of enjoyment from them. I had listened to audio books on occasion but had given it up because the process simply wasn’t that convenient and because I have issues with buying audio books at the same price as the printed versions.

I was all ears once it was explained that the family had downloaded an app called BorrowBox (available for Apple iOS and Android) which allowed them to sign on as members of the Brisbane Library Service, browse athrough an extensive list of titles and download the ones they wanted free of charge, if available, or reserve them if they had already been borrowed. Once a book has been borrowed, it can be downloaded onto one or more of your devices and go with you anywhere.

Read moreBorrowBox


Quick viewer

A new version of one of my favourite free imaging program has just been released.

The program, FastStone Image Viewer, has been mentioned in these columns before and is available from the website I use it every day even though I own copies of Photoshop and Lightroom, because it is the quickest way I know to look through a lot of digital pictures.


Read moreQuick viewer


Photo layouts at high speed

Over the past few weeks I seem to have had a mini-season of columns on the topic of what to do with digital images.

Before going on to something else, however, I thought I would mention a specialised little program called LumaPix FotoFusion. It is designed solely for creating layouts for photo books, greetings cards, business cards, models’ Z-Cards, or whatever else you can think of to do with it.

2009-110  Layouts can be as complex…

Read morePhoto layouts at high speed


Photoshop Elements 9 launch

Some exciting news in the few weeks was Adobe’s launch of the latest version of their entry-level image manipulation program Photoshop Elements.

Available simultaneously on the PC and Apple Macintosh platforms, Photoshop Elements 9 is the latest in a line of products that was brought out to fill the gap in the market for a less costly and less complex version of their industry-standard Photoshop application.

Read morePhotoshop Elements 9 launch


Photobooks again

And so on to another in my occasional series on things to do with your digital photos. I have mentioned making photo books before and there have been a number of services available, but now I have found another South African source of high-quality books and has its HQ in Durban.

It’s called Burblepix and offers a range of photo products and a free Burblepix program to be used to create them with. On offer are photo books ranging from a 24-page 148 mm square soft cover, at R195, to a 24-page 300 mm square hardcover book for R530. Extra pages can be added to any book but cost extra.

The cover of the book I made using Burblepix.

Read morePhotobooks again


A tale of two launches

There have been two important launches in recent times in the mobile arena in South Africa and the difference between them couldn’t be greater.

The first one I’ll mention is Telkom’s launch of its lamely-named 8.ta mobile service. Interested parties watched the extensive Heita-branded teaser ad campaign and held their breaths to see what products and services the company would come up with, to compete with the three incumbent operators.

Read moreA tale of two launches


Computer essentials

In previous columns I’ve mentioned a suite of free Microsoft programs called Windows Live Essentials and new versions have just been launched for 2011.

The programs in the suite include Writer, Photo Gallery, Messenger, Movie Maker, Family Safety, Mail and a few other things. One new and interesting addition is Windows Live Mesh which allows you to synchronise folders between a number of PCs connected to the Internet and/or folders stored on Microsoft’s online SkyDrive storage facility.

2010-10-16_210232 Windows Live Writer

Read moreComputer essentials