Author Archives: Klaava

About Klaava

The editor of klaava.com

Let your iPhone or Android phone or tablet read that ebook aloud to you

2017-09-20

Listening to a book while doing something else is a fun and useful way to enjoy a good story or learn from a nonfiction book. Audible and other stores let you purchase audiobooks that have been narrated by professionals, often actors. Most book lovers already have a selection of ebooks, and it is not very tempting to re-purchase them as audiobooks. Here is how you can make your mobile device (iPhone or Android) read an ebook to you for free.

Android smartphone or tablet

Voice aloud reader, text to speech from ebook to audio

For Samsung, LG, Nokia, and all other smartphones and tablets that are powered by the Android software, there are many voice reader apps available at the Google Play Store. At the store, you may search, for instance, “voice reader” or “text to speech” for applications to download.

I have been using @Voice Aloud Reader on my Android tablet and phone. The way it works is that you specify the folders where you have your ebooks or any other texts stored. The app can also automatically scan the folders for ebooks.

Open the app, browse the ebooks and documents that are available for reading aloud. Choose anyone, and the app will read it to you. Play controls are available at the bottom of the screen.
Voice aloud reader, text to speech from ebook to audio
For EPUB ebooks, Voice Aloud Reader works really well. You can view the table of contents, jump to a chapter you want and the app will read it to you.

The app doesn’t come with its own voices, but it relies on voices that come with Android. It is possible to download additional voices from the Play Store as well.

The free version displays ads that can be removed by paying for an upgrade.

Apple iPhone and iPad

The app that can read text aloud to you is already on your iPhone and iPad. You just have to find it – it is well hidden into the iOS operating system’s menu system.

1. Open Settings.
Select General > Accessibility > Speech. Toggle on Speak Screen.

2. Open the ebook you want your iPhone or iPad read to you.

3. Swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers.
It will take a moment before the audio starts, and a pop up window with buttons to control playback appears.

4. Change the reader’s voice.
Go back to Settings – Accessibility – Speech section, and open Voice. You will get choices for voices that read to you.

The feature works best with the iBooks application, but it works on any screen where you have texts. Just swipe down with two fingers. So, you can use it in the Kindle app and in the web browser, but it may read some irrelevant text, too.

Are you a slow writer? 15 tips for learning how to write faster

2017-09-11

There is nothing wrong with you if you are a slow writer, but if you intend to make money or earn a living as a writer, learning to write a bit faster can be an important asset. The essence of learning to write is practice. It takes time to learn the craft, and with time, you will become faster.

Nonetheless, it is possible to speed up the process of learning how to write faster. Custom Writing has created an infographic that lists 15 ways to learn faster writing. Here are the 15 tips. View the infographic after the list for additional advice on each item.

Silence you inner editor.
Structure is everything.
Defeat distractions.
Track your words-per-hour.
Format at the end.
Write what you know.
Keep all notes in one book.
Use 30-minute timer.
Do a 5-minute workout.
Build connections between your tasks.
Get comfortable while writing.
Think about your reward.
Choose the most productive time of day.
Play typing games.
Practice.

Here is the infographic 15 ways to write faster (by Custom Writing).
Infographic 15 Ways to Write Faster by Custom Writing

The best parties during Finland’s 100th independence year 2017

2017-09-08

The Nordic country Finland became an independent nation in 1917, on December 6th. It had been the westernmost, autonomous province of Russia, and before that, the easternmost province of Sweden. The early years were tough for the new nation, and only after the Second World War, the country began its rapid development to one of the most advanced societies in the world.

Aleksanterinkatu, Helsinki
Finland is celebrating its 100th Independence Day throughout the year 2017. A dedicated web site published by the Prime Minister’s Office shares up-to-date information on events associated with the celebrations. Which event or party is the one to attend?

Here are some guidelines to help you plan:

– The actual day 6th December tends to be dark and murky in southern Finland where the biggest cities are located. In Lapland, there is snow on the ground and the Northern Lights in the sky.
– In September, Helsinki is cooling towards winter, but weather is often fine. In Lapland, hikers and trekkers have the highlight of the year as the autumn colors light up the landscape.
– In October, the annual Herring Market is a traditional big event at the Helsinki market square in the city center.

How Finns themselves celebrate their 100th Independence year?

The traditional way to celebrate the Independence Day in Finland is to watch television. That’s right. The highest viewer numbers each year are for a program that lasts several hours in the evening of the Independence Day. The majority of Finns are glued to their TV screens, watching as important politicians, celebrities, artists, successful sportsmen and ambassadors of countries who have representatives in Helsinki shake hands with the President of Finland and his wife (or husband, as happened with the previous president who was a woman).

During recent years, Finns have adopted other alternatives – in addition to watching television – for celebrating their Independence Day. Since the day happens to be during the darkest time of the year and often, during the murkiest weather, staying indoors is the preferred option. Having dinner and lighting candles at home, or attending a concert are a few alternatives to television.

Tips and advice for the best destinations in Helsinki and for understanding the Finnish culture and customs

A Concise History of Finland – an easy-to-digest history of Finland.
The Best of Helsinki – a travel guide to the capital Helsinki, features also local favorites.
The Lighter Side of Finland – an American author living in Finland has captured the essence of Finns in an entertaining way.
Lapland – a travel guide to Europe’s last large wilderness.
8 Arctic Seasons – an award-winning book on the delicacies and adventures of Lapland.
Spaghetti and Sauna – insight into Finnish culture and customs through Italian eyes.
Finnish Cookbook with Modern Flavors – a brief introduction to some traditional meals, and modern variations of them.

A cookbook for nerds and geeks, written by an engineer

2017-09-04

Yes, engineers can cook delicious meals. They just do it in their own way. Who is the best guide for cooking lessons for young nerds and geeks who may start college or university studies soon? Another person who sees the world in a similar way. The Engineer’s Cookbook has been authored by an engineer, and intended to a fellow engineer.

The book gives a systematic presentation of the principles behind the engineer’s cooking skills. It helps the engineer to see what is essential in food, to recognise his own strengths, and to adapt his skills to make good food.
Cooking for geeks :Engineer's Cookbook

There is no such thing as add a little salt or pour some red wine into the kettle. Measurements are precise for the engineer, also when cooking a dinner or lunch.

For those not technically educated, the book offers an exhilarating insight into the inner life of the engineer – and dozens of practical and clearly-illustrated recipes that allow the rest of us – ordinary people – to prepare delicious food easily.

The recipes in the book are typical tried-and-tested engineer foods, such as cabbage rolls, meat loaf, prawn salad, stuffed peppers and strawberry cake. In addition to the recipes some useful dining skills are described, for instance, setting the table, seating the guests, toasting, and behaving at a restaurant.

The Engineer's Cookbook, book cover image

A brief sample from a chapter that describes the inner world of a geek:

”The engineer is above all a rational being, whether it is stake, poultry, fish or vegetables that he prefers.

At the same time, the engineer is forever a child at heart. For him, preparing food is a mental game where you seek out matching ingredients, optimise their quantities, schedule their preparation times, and serve precisely the needed amounts of the correct types of food at exactly the right time. When all this falls in place, the engineer enjoys himself.”

If you have wondered why an engineer approaches cooking differently, a chapter in the book describes it as follows:

”It may seem that the engineer’s thought world is in this way somewhat strait-laced or neurotic. This is nonetheless not true. Deep down, the engineer is really quite relaxed. He has inner peace. He has thought things through and knows what is right. For that reason, he also knows to anticipate the outcome of each solution. This can of course annoy less confident individuals and the engineer does well not to always reveal the extent of his wisdom.

Due to his inner peace, the engineer can also be a humble cook. He appreciates and knows how to use ingenious ingredients, whether they are nature’s own or developed by other engineers. Onion or minced meat, for instance, are in their unassuming simplicity and versatility outstanding inventions, before which the engineer is humbled. If only he were capable of such simplicity, focusing only on the essential!”

Download free sample chapters, and get the best price for the book here.

The Engineer's Cookbook, content page image

9 Must-See Places in Ireland

2017-08-27

Today’s article is brought to you by Ian Leaf.

Ireland, it’s the land of emerald dreams and mystic tales of Leprechauns, Celtic musicians, and medieval warriors. If you have an Irish heritage, a pilgrimage to the Isles is a lifetime dream. If you are a lover of travel, Ireland is full of interesting historic spots, events, and unique places to satisfy your need to discover the most brilliant scenes on earth. It’s not important how you get to Ireland. What’s important are the places you visit. Here are just a few of the most intriguing, enlightening, and endearing locations within Ireland no traveler should forget to visit.
coastal cliffs in Ireland

The Ring of Kerry

This is one of Ireland’s most scenic peninsular routes. Hikers, bikers, and sightseers can take a circular route beginning and ending in either Killarney, or Kenmare. Along the scenic trail, blue-green Atlantic waters jut next to amazingly high cliffs. Along this route, everything from traditional golf tournaments to deep-sea fishing is available. There are even ancient Celtic monasteries to visit between taking pictures of some of the most unusual landscapes in the Isles.

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

The growth and influence of the Shannon region in Ireland dates to the 15th century. It was the home of upper class Irish families who had a knack for throwing parties and providing entertainment. Later, this region was a fortress for war-torn patriots who still enjoyed the lavishness of upper-class Irish living. Bunratty Castle is an example of a fully restored residence that was host to some of Ireland’s most important nobles.
a house in the countryside in Ireland

Shop Street, Galway

Galway is a modern artist’s hub. It is home to several ancient residences that influenced the creation of one of the country’s most vibrant markets. Shop Street is the place for purchasing artisan Irish trinkets, gifts, and rounds of locally produced ales. The heart of Ireland resides in places like Galway, and Shop Street is where that heart beats the loudest. Several days are needed to fully enjoy this Irish cultural hub.

The Rock of Cashel

This isn’t only a natural wonder. It’s an oceanic rock outcropping the site of Ireland’s most precious heritage site. The medieval castle that sits on the rock still houses a monastic choral group. This location is, in every way, authentically Irish, but exhibits attributes that are reminiscent of Roman influence. Though ancient, it has survived every conflict in Irish history, and remains a testament to the country’s resolve.

The Cliffs of Moher

Though Dover is white, Moher is rugged and raw. This County Clair attraction is rife with unending beauty and mystique. These cliffs are a natural anomaly, with sea cliffs and outcroppings standing solitary at more than 600 feet tall. Many of the cliffs are accessible by hiking trail, but they are all visible in morning light that is extraordinarily brilliant.
a castle in Ireland

Dalkey and Killiney in Dublin

This monument area is only reachable by light rail. It is a short ride from Dublin, and is an historic heritage center for all Irish folk. This peninsular location was important in various political and military campaigns in Irish history. The main naval marker still stands, and is set against amazing oceanic backgrounds and rolling natural features. This is a traveling photographer’s Irish dream location.

The Aran Islands

The three Aran Islands have been the focus of film producers and historians. At one time, the Aran Islands were home to a thriving Celtic culture. The fort of Dun Aonghasa now remains a tribute to these ancient tribes. The modern residents near this area maintain an old-world attitude, and love their islands with an undying passion. These islands are where travelers can experience what true old Irish living was like.
remnants of a castle in Ireland

Mullaghmore Beach

This recreational area emerged from a long Irish fishing, manufacturing, and shipping culture. It is part of the village of Sligo, and is open to all inquisitive travelers. This is the ultimate place in Ireland for deep sea swims, authentic seafood cuisine, fishing charters, and long walks along quiet shores. The entire town is tied in some way with the sea, and is an interesting contrast with interior Irish communities.

Ashford Castle

This medieval relic has been fully restored, and is now an internationally renowned hotel. Though there are many similar locations in Ireland, Ashford has a unique charm and extravagance. This famous 5-star hotel in Mayo County is a testament to Irish high-class couture. It is also the starting point for visitors who prefer to view manicured country settings and historic venues in style.

Final Thoughts

The length and breadth of Ireland is small. There is no reason that travelers cannot partake in the most beautiful sites offered by this country. Everything green needs to be seen. There are however, places that are more beautiful that the rest. Everything about Ireland is extraordinary, and it only takes an adventurous spirit to see them all.
a row of houses by a pond in Ireland

China is the largest book market in the world: together with USA, more than half of all titles published

2017-08-20

China has rapidly become the largest market for books in the world. Of all the 1.6 million new book titles published in 2015, 28% of them were published in China. The second largest market, the U.S., published 20% of new titles launched to the global markets in 2015.

The vast population of China, more than one billion, explains part of the success of books in the country, but it is not the whole story. India’s population is roughly at the same level as China’s population, but India is nowhere near China when the number of published books are considered.

China has very quickly developed from a primarily farming society into an industrial society that is rapidly turning into a new technology powerhouse. That requires masses of well educated engineers, managers, and marketers. Books are a great way to learn, and of course, be entertained.

Book statistics have been published by the International Publishers Association (IPA). The numbers come from publishers, and don’t include self-published titles.

Below a graph by Quartz that shows the number of new book titles published in each in 2015:

book titles published by country. Source IPA, graph Quartz
The relative importance of books, or how the society values books, in each society can be studied by dividing the number of citizens by the number of new titles. Now, the story is completely different. European countries rise on top. Top 10 of published titles per million inhabitants is all European countries, followed by the U.S.

UK, France, and Spain export plenty of books to other countries where English, French or Spanish is spoken, but why are Scandinavian countries so high in the top 10? Every Scandinavian country has its own language, making each market small. Book industry is a subsidized business in these countries. Authors may get allowances, translators may receive grants, and value added taxes for books are lower than for other products.

books published per million inhabitants by country, source IPA.

Free book shares tips to travelers planning a trip to Scandinavia

2017-08-15

If you haven’t visited any of the five Scandinavian countries before, but you believe now is the time go, a bit of research will help you decide where and when to travel. It is a large area, and the further north you go in North Europe, less people there are. If you go as far as Lapland, there are more reindeer than people.
Reindeer at Aakenus fell in Yllas-Pallas national park Finland, Lapland, north Europe.
Traveling in Scandinavia is an ebook that we have made available for free. You can download the book right away simply by choosing an EPUB or Kindle version of the ebook.

The book includes information on destinations in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Cultural insight on people, customs and etiquette are featured as well, because, well, you are supposed to behave in the sauna as the Scandinavians behave.

We have chosen chapters from our travel guides and cultural guide for Traveling in Scandinavia, and even selected chapters from a cookbook, and a history book. All and all, the book gives an overview on Scandinavia from many angles.

It is easier understand the silence of Finns, drinking songs of Swedes and electric car enthusiasm of oil-rich Norwegians after reading chapters from the book.

Some travelers like summer and sun, others snow and fun. Summer and winter are the best times to visit Finland, Norway or Sweden. Unless, you are a Scandinavia expert and know that the peak season for hiking in Lapland is autumn. It is because the color of green in the fells and mountains fades, allowing other colors momentarily shine.

Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia

Here is how to drive a car through books

2017-07-30

Driving through a village is something that most drivers have done. Some drivers have driven over mountains, or perhaps even under a mountain through a tunnel, but how do you drive through books is something else.

Looks like that someone has solved this burning problem and given human kind new hope. Travel gear and tips blog Travel User Guide has posted a video on Vimeo where they drive through a village. Yes, a village.

If you look at the video, in the beginning there is a roadsign that says Libros. It is Spanish, and means books. So, it was as simple as that. Mission accomplished.

Here is the video:

Driving through the village of Libros (Books) in Spain from Travel User Guide on Vimeo.

I must say that it is an awfully quiet village. Maybe the villagers are all reading books behind those windows that are closed, preventing the sun from heating up the houses?

Books that describe the histories and the cultures of countries

2017-07-24

In many countries, a book or a set of books, like a trilogy, become so important for the nation that it is regarded as a work that defines the nation. Often, a folklore or a compilation of sagas written into a book form can become such a book. Works from the 20th century or even more recent books can also be important for a nation, although it takes time to tell if a book becomes a classic and culturally important work.

Global English Editing has collected iconic books sets from 150 countries across the world that describe the culture and history of the nations. It must have been a lot of work to identify the masterpieces for each country, so once you have viewed the infographic, take a look at individual book descriptions as well.

For many countries, choosing a classic has been a perfect choice, but in some cases, choosing a recent best-seller to represent a country may raise eyebrows in the literature circles of the country.

For instance, Leo Tolstoi’s War and Peace, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are choices most people will agree with. But how about Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as the iconic book for Sweden?

In any case, it is wonderful to see such a large selection of good reading from around the world. Read all of these books and become a person who understands much more about the world. The Most Iconic Books Set infographic by courtesy of: Global English Editing.

iconic books set infographic by  Global English Editing

Tips for traveling in Scandinavia in a free guidebook

2017-07-22

The land of the Midnight Sun, long and cold winters, welfare states, high living standard, languages that no one outside Scandinavia can understand, plenty of space and few people. Sure, it is a definition of Scandinavia, but for travelers, the Northernmost region of Europe is much more.

If you want to find out how much more, read Traveling in Scandinavia. It is an ebook that you can download for free.
Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia
The guidebook is a selection of travel information, tips and cultural insights into the Nordic countries. A little bit of information on food and history is included in the book as well.

From the book description:

Here is a taste of Scandinavia for you to explore at the comfort of your reading nook – perhaps before heading out to the North yourself. As the selection of writings show, there are plenty of destinations to see and things to do: city life, mountain biking, fishing in pristine rivers, camping, island hopping, road touring, Arctic adventures, or hiking in the wilderness. If something is missing, Finns will invent it (e.g. wife carrying competition), Swedes will sell it to the world (e.g. entire country available on Airbnb), and Norwegians will win the cross-country skiing world championship (again).

Free download.

Which book to read before visiting a new country that has different culture than yours?

2017-07-07

Planning a visit to a country where you haven’t been before often starts with research. Many travelers purchase a guidebook, some tourists search the Internet for tips. Usually, people are looking for reliable information to help plan the trip. Fictional books may also help because they can give insight on the culture and customs of a country.

Ambassadors of 22 countries have given their recommendations which books can give cultural tips for visitors. Based on the books ambassadors have chosen and their descriptions, the most peculiar titles are from Bhutan, Finland, Germany and New Zealand.

Here are the ambassadors’ recommended books to read before the first visit to these 22 countries.

    Austria: The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler. Vienna in 1937.

    Azerbaijan: Ali and Nino, by Kurban Said. Love story set in Baku in 1918 to 1920.
    book cover: portrait of bhutan
    Belgium: War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans. A period in Belgium’s history.

    Bhutan: Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. A personal memoir combined with folklore, and even a portrait of the Himalayan kingdom.

    Canada: With Faith and Goodwill: 150 years of Canada-U.S. Friendship, edited by Arthur Milnes. Collection of speeches, photographs and essays.

    Chile: La Casa de Los Espíritus by Isabel Allende. Family mingled with political issues of the 1970s.
    book cover: moomin, mymble, my
    Colombia: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. A classic.

    Denmark: Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg. Fictional mystery set in Copenhagen.

    Estonia: The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirahk. Alternative history.

    Finland: The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My by Tove Jansson. A classic.

    Germany: Tschick by Wolfgang Herrndorf. 14-year-old boys on a road trip.

    Greece: Freedom and Death by Nikos Kazantzakis. Cretans against the Ottoman Empire in 1889.
    book cover: tschick, germany
    Iceland: Independent People by Halldor Laxness. Sheep farmer’s struggle for independence.

    India: Freedom at Midnight (1975) by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. Indian independence process.

    Ireland: TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. History and recent events intertwined.

    Jamaica: Selected Poems by Louise Bennet. Insights into the Jamaican culture.

    Malta: In the Name of the Father (And of the Son) by Immanuel Mifsud. World War II from personal perspective.
    book cover: whale rider, new zealand
    New Zealand: The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera. A story of communication with whales.

    Norway: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo. Nordic Noir crime story.

    Slovenia: I Saw Her That Night by Drago Jančar. Historical theme set in Ljubljana.

    Sweden: Nordic Ways edited by Debra Cagan. Essays that describe life in the North Europe.

    United Kingdom: Atonement by Ian McEwan. Britain’s history in the 20th century.

The book titles via CN Traveler.

Some notable, popular travel destination countries that have distinct cultures are missing from the book list, for instance, France and the US. I can understand why France’s ambassador probably didn’t suggest a book for the list. Independent of which title it would have been, a national scandal would have emerged from the choice. Perhaps the US ambassador was pondering between Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad and Donald Trump biography A Life Worth Living, but couldn’t decide?

Making books out of podcasts

2017-07-03

Podcasts are audio talk shows typically saved MP3 format on the Internet. You download a podcast on your phone, tablet or PC and listen to it, and that’s about it. Seung Tae Oh saw much more potential in podcasts than simple listening to the audio program. Oh designed a book, or box set, for a few popular podcasts.

Seung Tae Oh, podcast book
For instance, Serial is a podcast that discusses a murder case that took place in Baltimore in 1999. A season consists of 12 episodes, and has to be listened to from the first to the last sequentially.

One book, or box set, for the Serial podcast includes one season. The book comes with a speaker, images that complement the listening experience, and sheets of paper with RFID tags.

When you want to listen to an episode, you pick up the sheet for the particular episode and insert it into the sleeve. The RFID automatically triggers the playing of the podcast episode in question.

It is a design project, but could be a product. Vinyl music albums have gradually returned to music shops and people still have large collections of paper books and movie DVDs. Having a physical object on a bookshelf is important for some people, and then, of course, there are collectors who may collect practically anything. Old books are one of the most common collectors’ items. Why not start collecting podcasts?

Seung Tae Oh, box set podcast

Via TNW.