Posted in Reviews, tagged Amazon Kindle, big dogs, Dog, Dog training, ebook format, Florida, iBooks, old english bulldog, Pet, PetSmart, Recreation, summer temperatures on March 31, 2013 |
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Time for a short story about the happy convergence of need and utility. As the owner of a perpetually puppy-ish old English Bulldog, I saw the early need for some training as soon as my furry baby came home. While I’ve had several big dogs, this would be the first that spent a majority of her time indoors (partially because of the extensive work schedule in my household, and partially because of the elemental intolerances of the breed- heavyset, short snouted breeds don’t take well to Florida’s summer temperatures). I opted for some professional help via our local PetSmart, and was very happy with the results (kudos to our trainer Katie; she taught me as much about how to communicate effectively as she did my pup). Emma excelled in her training, as we were merrily on our way.
As time passed little Emma became not-so-little Emma (finally stopping at 70 lbs!) and while she still remembers important aspects of her training like sit and wait, some things have been lost due to a lack of repetition on my part. Rather than return for some additional one-on-one training at PetSmart I opted to explore the power of my iOS devices. After a quick read and a recommendation from a pet-centered blog I downloaded Positively Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup. While I had originally thought the only option was to explore the various digital bookstores I had access to (primarily iBooks and the Amazon Kindle library), the concept of a book-as-an-app was more appealing. Positively Dog Training could easily have been presented in regular ebook format, but the layout and interface freedom that the Betterbook app format from Open Air Publishing offered made it much more attractive as an effective tool.
The difference is immediately evident. Rather than the typical ebook layout, the app presents an illustrated and annotated chapters accessed via a single icon tap. Selecting a chapter revealed a second column to the right further breaking down the contents of that chapter. The app makes the information a more visually engaging experience, and the writing style coupled with the presentation makes what could have been dry and hard to absorb material a great deal more accessible. The book itself is cleverly and humorously segmented in an appropriately doggy theme starting with the nose, then head, body, and tail; all corresponding to different aspects of training. The actual content of the material is in a very similar format to the professional training we had received at PetSmart; positive, reward-centered training that encourages desired behavior rather than punishing the unwanted. Anecdotally, I can affirm that this is not only a more successful means of training it’s the only method I, as a devout animal lover, could endorse. While I chose Positively Dog Training as a reference guide and reinforcement for what I and Emma had already learned, for some it could serve as a primary resource. It is intelligently and concisely written, covering not only the basics of training but building the necessary foundation for long term success, tools, and advice on how to go forward. Of particular use was the chapter on addressing common roadblocks like jumping (not a good idea when your overenthusiastic pup is built like a cinderblock) and door dashing (she doesn’t hate the Fed Ex man, she just really wants to greet him in her own overly-affectinate way).
Tools like Positively Dog Training aren’t a magical solution for better behavior, but they are a very valuable resource. Learning how to communicate with your pup is as much about your education as it is the dog’s, and given the right tools such as this app and the love and patience that all pet owners should have I have faith that you’ll be well on your way to a more harmonious household. Positively Dog Training is a comprehensive and well-written book masquerading in the iTunes App Store; and as an extra incentive it’s marked down to just $4.99 for the Easter Holiday.
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As the title of this blog suggests, I’m an Apple aficionado; particularly their mobile devices. I do stray into the OSX world from time to time here, but I like to think I keep my focus for the most part. Every once in a while my fascination with all things creative and clever overcomes me. This is a prime example of one of those times.
Living in Florida has afforded me a great deal of exposure to the outdoors. From my early childhood family outings and my time in the Boy Scouts I’ve enjoyed what the state has had to offer. Sometimes you don’t truly appreciate what you have until it’s no longer within reach; my career and the constant march of urbanization has taken many of the places I have fond memories of and what little time I have to visit the ones that still exist. Some of my best memories are of the yearly week-long camping trip the Scout troop would take every summer. They alternated from trips to the Blue Ridge Mountains for a 50+ mile hike to extended canoe and rafting trips down the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers here in Florida. Those long boating trips were fantastic; for those of you that have never had the opportunity to go canoeing it is far more enjoyable that I could convey in words. The peacefulness and serenity of being away from civilization is synergistically magnified by the time spent on the water. I’ve been unable to do even a day trip in one of our many local bodies of water due to the lack of vessel (or a means to transport it); there aren’t many suitable canoes out there that can easily be transported by Mini Cooper, even the convertible version.
That is, until now. An unexpected marriage of two of my fascinations- clever technology and Kickstarter- made its way to my inbox. The Oru Kayak is an origami-inspired answer to those love boating but lack the ability to transport one (or the storage space to keep it). The undeployed craft looks like a large art portfolio or giant-sized messenger bag, complete with shoulder strap. According to the developers it can be unfolded, frame placed, and be water-ready in just five minutes. The 12 foot long craft looks amazing- just take a look at their product demo:
Not surprisingly, the campaign has shattered its finance goal with weeks to spare. According to the site the manufacturers are already accepting preorders (although Kickstarter backers will get free US shipping and a discounted price).
It makes me happy to see so many worthy ideas brought to market via Kickstarter that may not have made it to production otherwise- a triumph for both innovation and technology. While it may deviate far outside the realm of what I had envisioned when I started writing, creativity of this sort needs to be shared.
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Posted in Advice, tagged blogging, Broward County Florida, Democratic Party, Early voting, Florida, iphone, Miami-Dade County Florida, South Florida, Spirited Away, technology on November 7, 2012 |
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Apologies for the lack of posting; as the title says sometimes real life gets in the way. Career (and my frenzied efforts to advance), keeping a house in order, trying to keep up with judo class…oh yeah, and there’s a presidential election going on tonight too. Thankfully Florida allowed early voting, so I was able to cast my ballot two weeks ago. I still had to wait in line for about an hour and a half (some reports in South Florida claimed wait times of up to six hours). During waits like that having an iPhone is a boon: the wait was much easier being able to check on college football games and peruse my movie library remotely made the time spent in line almost enjoyable. If you haven’t had a chance to watch Spirited Away, please do- it’s easily one of my favorite movies, and I highly recommend it.
So whether you’re stuck at work, keeping your house in order, or fulfilling your civic duty, don’t forget the digital Swiss Army knife in your pocket. Your iPhone is capable of more than you might even be aware of. Regardless of what you need to get done, be it productivity, communication, navigation, or just entertainment, it’s a good bet that your handy iPhone can fit the roll nicely.
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Even the hardest working people need a vacation eventually, and I’m no exception. The destination of choice this time was Key West (embarrassing to admit I’m a Florida native but had never been) and it’s everything you’d imagine. If you’re looking for a vacation destination they Keys should be on your list; if you go The Mermaid and Alligator bed and breakfast is highly recommended- the owners were very kind, the service was excellent, and the location was perfect- walking distance to every corner of Key West’s historic district.
While there I was surprised to see how much Apple has infiltrated what was a strictly Windows/analog world. A couple of vendors had iMacs instead of PCs behind their counter, and several were using iPads instead of registers entirely. When picking up some amazing Mexican chocolate from a small boutique the vendor took payment via his iPad encased in a custom swiveling plexiglass enclosure; he tapped on full color images to select what I had purchased, swiped my card via a headphone jack card scanner, then flipped the case over so I could use my finger to sign for my purchase on the iPad’s screen. The transaction was very quick and convenient: no paper receipt to sign, no fumbling around the register for a working pen, and the receipt was emailed to me immediately (also giving the merchant a chance to enroll me on his mailing list).
Another encounter with an iOS-using merchant was at the almost-too-good-to-be-real dessert restaurant Better Than Sex. The bed and breakfast concierge had made reservations that were entered into an iPad app, when I arrived the greeter dragged an icon for the reservation to an open table to mark the arrival and mark what waiter would be serving the table.
I understand better why Microsoft is rushing to market with their Surface line of tablets in the face of growing hardware partner displeasure. As iOS devices enter into markets and functions that had been the sole domain of Microsoft products important revenue streams are imperiled. I’ve seen many a small merchant using iOS devices to take card payments, keep inventory, make orders, and other productivity tasks that Apple was never known for in the past. The very nature of how businesses get tasks done is rapidly changing; I’d wager Steve Ballmer and company have seen one to many innovations pass them by.
UPDATE: I’m not the only one that’s noticed the expanding business use of iOS devices. TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) recently posted an image of a customer self-serve kiosk using an iPad. The concept is elegant in its simplicity- just pick what you’d like, swipe your card, and an associate brings your order to your table. I love technology.
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