ZAP Reader

I’ve been a voracious reader ever since I was a little kid. As time has passed, my reading habits have changed. I used to spend my time reading books, and while I still do that on certain occasions, I’m now constantly reading content online. I always used to think that I was a pretty fast reader, but there are some people who can read through a page of text at a ridiculous speed and still be able to retain all of the information. I’d like to be able to read faster than I am right now because I’d save time and learn a lot more during the course of my day. Maybe ZAP Reader can speed me up.

The best way to get started is to just copy some text into ZAP Reader and give it a try. The initial speed of trying to keep up with reading a single word at a time may shock you, but with enough practice, it’ll become normal. Of course, you can fully customize all of the options so that they work well for you depending on how you’re progressing. A collection of tools also exist to make accessing ZAP Reader from wherever you are online a piece of cake. How fast can you read?

What We Need Next From Google Voice: MMS Support And Multiple SMS Recipients

Google Voice is awesome. It’s the greatest service you can’t get yet today. One number for all my phones, for life, replete with text messaging capabilities and a whole slew of cool features.

But, as much as I love Google Voice, I will stand on my soapbox here for a few moments to yell into the ether about a couple of glaring omissions in the current release that I think Google should address sooner rather than later: MMS message support, and support for sending a mobile message (whether SMS or MMS) to multiple recipients at the same time.

MMS messages are multimedia messages and are sent much like a text message. They’re different than SMS message sin that they might include a video or a picture. Right now, if I want to receive a MMS message, I have to tell people to send them to my actual cell number, not my google voice number. Why? Because Google Voice quietly and calmly eats MMS messages, never to be seen again. This completely defeats the purpose behind the “one-number-for-them-all” story. So, it needs to change. When the iPhone on AT&T gets MMS service, which is likely to happen in July sometime, this need will become even more apparent and important.

MMS support could probably be delivered in two phases. Right now if you send a MMS message to the Google Voice number, it just disappears into the ether, and is never delivered anywhere. You don’t even know someone tried and the sender assumes it was delivered. To rectify this, Google could do a first phase change where MMS messages would simply be forwarded in original form to the mobile phone(s) configured in the system, without worrying about displaying them in the Google Voice Web interface. In a second phase they could then enable Web-based viewing.

Second on my list is adding the ability to send an SMS (and MMS as a bonus) message to a group of recipients. We already have contact groups, and we can select more than one contact at a time in the Web interface, but the option to send a SMS message disappears from the user interface as soon as you select more than one recipient. I regularly use SMS messages to notify members of a church youth group about meetings and other announcements as a group, so enabling a group-send as well as select-multiple to send SMS would be huge for me. As a bonus, provide me with a phone number that is virtually tied to that group so I can send one txt to my group number on my mobile phone.

What features would you like to see added to Google Voice?

To read more about this sort of thing, converting HD DVDs to Blu-ray, exchanging water-damaged iPhones, network security, Easter eggs, or whatever else Greg Hughes feels like talking about, you should drop by his blog. He may not update daily, but the wait’s always worth it!


Paste Multiple Blocks Of Text Into A Word Document

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could collect multiple blocks of text and then paste them into a Word document when you are ready, as opposed to continuously flipping between windows? It is possible to do with Microsoft Word. In fact, Word 2002 and 2003 let you copy up to 24 blocks of text to the clipboard and then paste the text into your document. This feature is referred to as “Collect and Paste.”

Once you have copied the blocks of text to the clipboard, you can paste them into your document all at once or individuals. To see the items currently in the clipboard, click Office Clipboard from the Edit menu. To paste all items at once, click the Paste All button. Otherwise, hover the mouse over an item, click the drop down arrow and click Paste.


Amazon Says Reading Text Aloud Is Not Copyright Violation

During the past few weeks Amazon has come under fire from publishers and writers for allowing their new Kindle to read text aloud. It seems that some writers fear that the device would circumvent their revenue sources from audio book sales. Authors at first were successful in having Amazon remove the feature. But after some public outcry, Amazon will enable the feature, but allow authors to decide whether or not their works could be read aloud.

In a recent article it also states that:

Amazon said in a statement that it, too, has a stake in the success of the audiobook market, and pointed to its Brilliance Audio and Audible subsidiaries, which publish and sell professionally recorded readings.

“Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rights holders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver’s seat,” the company said.

Amazon is working on the technical changes needed for authors and publishers to turn text-to-speech off for individual titles.

The Web retailer also said the text-to-speech feature is legal — and wouldn’t require Amazon to pay out additional royalties — because a book read aloud doesn’t constitute a copy, a derivative work or a performance.

Though I understand the concerns of publishers and authors, but why should those with sight impairment be punished? What about the people with disabilities and their rights? Should greed have a higher value than the handicapped?

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


You Try ChaCha, Chris?

Gnomie Tsui writes:

Hey, did you ever hear of the service ChaCha? You should review it someday. It’s a service where you can ask it ANY question and the guides (or the system) will do its best to answer it! You can either:

  • Text the question to 242-242
  • Call 1-800-2CHACHA (1-800-224-2242)
  • Submit it online at

I want you to check it out because it’s actually a pretty amazing Web site! On one of the questions, it asked “How many guides are there in ChaCha?” and the guide responded with “30,000 guides, where at least half are online right now!”

Hey, once, I did “Who is Chris Pirillo?” and it actually gave good details about you! (The fact that you own Lockergnome, you’re a tech enthusiast, blogger, etc.) It’s pretty amazing! Oh, and hah, when I asked for coupons, they sent me to! You should try it! I found this because my friend from school referred me to it. Tell me what you think!

Oh, and I know what you’re thinking with advertising. Actually, it’s cool; there are probably one or two ads, but they’re either in the confirmation text message or in the end of the message if there is space. For the calls, they say that it’s exclusively sponsored by AT&T! Last of all, it is 100% free with no strings attached! The only thing you may need to pay for is the texting, and standard charges would apply (unless you have an unlimited text plan).

P.S.: Honest-to-death, I don’t use it to text during class to cheat and find answers, believe me!


Bookmarking Web pages on the Internet is something that we’re all used to. At this very moment, I have so many pages bookmarked that I don’t even know what I’m going to do with all of them. In addition to the pages that I have bookmarked, I also send URLs to people and receive them all the time, so there’s a significant exchange of Web sites in my life. Of course, saving or sending a URL isn’t the most efficient way to deal with content because you may only be interested in a certain portion of the page that’s being referenced. Why not extract the parts that you care about? With Snipd, you can.

The service uses a bookmarklet to enable you to snip the content that you want. You don’t even have to register to get started, so feel free to start snipping immediately. Text, images, and videos can be grabbed very easily, and all of your snipped content will be saved to your very own Snipd page so that you and your friends can keep up with it. Thanks to Snipd, you can focus on the good stuff.


Reading is an activity that I enjoy, however, if I have a choice, I usually prefer to read from a printed publication instead of a computer screen. Since I’m on the computer a lot, it’s nice to give my eyes a break and look at paper on at least some occasions. Of course, sometimes you just don’t have a choice. I’m a fast reader when I want to be, so I stay away from speed reading methods most of the time, but I thought I’d give Spreed:News a try.

The Internet can be used to manipulate text in a variety of ways, and Spreed:News displays text in a way that encourages you to read faster. Many of us use RSS feeds to stay updated about what’s going on from our favorite news sources. This service takes those feeds and quickly displays a small number of words from the entries at a time, so you have to read fast to keep up. You can adjust the speed, and they even have a nice iPhone version of the interface. I suppose I could get used to something like this, but I still prefer to see all of the text on my screen at once.


Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and editing text on the computer, but even I sometimes wish that annotation on the computer was like annotation on real paper. Almost every word processor has some sort of annotation functionality built right in, and while these solutions are effective, there’s just something about using a pen or highlighter to make notes on paper. When I wrote my screenplay, I loved taking time to flip through the pages and write notes on areas that needed to be reworked, but I don’t get the same enjoyment out of annotating digital documents. Bookgoo doesn’t replace your pen and paper, but it sure comes close.

Once you’ve uploaded the document that you want to annotate, you can then draw and make notes on it just like you would with a document that you hold in your hands. As you’d expect, collaboration is a big part of Bookgoo, and you can easily see the contributions that each participant has made to the document. This is the way that documents should be annotated online.

Text 2 Mind Map

When I first discovered mind mapping, I thought I would start frequently creating mind maps of my own, but here we are now and I still haven’t used mind mapping to its fullest potential. This method of visually organizing information is very intriguing to me, and I’ve personally seen speakers give lengthy discourses based off of one sheet of paper containing a mind map. The structure makes sense, and even though the process of creating a mind map may seem complex, it can actually be very simple. You don’t need complicated mind mapping software when you can just use Text 2 Mind Map. 

If you can type some text, then you can create a mind map with Text 2 Mind Map. The example on the site will show you the format that the text needs to be in, and basically you’ll just have to selectively indent some text to make everything work. Trust me, you’ll understand how it works when you see it. Once your mind map is generated, you can then drag all of the elements around and change the font options and colors. The mind map can be downloaded as an image as soon as these final touches have been made.

Add Text As A Watermark In Word 2003

Watermarks are great for branding your documents with legal text, company information, etc. A watermark is simply a very faint image or text that appears behind your text. You may have seen documents before that have the word confidential behind the text, such as legal documents. Yes, this is a watermark!

In a previous tip, I showed you how to add a picture as a watermark. Adding text as a watermark is just as simple. You can add text as a watermark in Word 2003, using the steps described below.

  1. Click the Format menu, point to Background, and select Printed Watermark.
  2. Select Text Watermark.
  3. In the text field, use the drop down arrow to select the text that you want to appear as the watermark. To add your own text, type the text in the Text field.
  4. Use the additional options to format the text.
  5. Click OK.


I can’t even imagine how many documents I’ve created over the years. As you can probably understand, I’m constantly writing something for any number of reasons, and all of that text adds up. Of course, I’m not the only one doing this. One of the main reasons why a lot of people use computers is to create documents, and I’m sure that each one of you has created quite a few in your time as a computer user. Although text is everywhere on the Internet, online documents aren’t nearly as prevalent. It’s important to note that documents don’t have to be viewed as old-fashioned files that just sit on your desktop because they can be used online in interesting ways. Why not take your documents online and view them with Scribd?

Scribd supports all of the most popular document formats that you can think of, and you’re given unlimited storage with which you can store your documents. Once uploaded, you can easily share your documents with others and get their feedback, and I like how you can embed the documents so that they look exactly like they’re supposed to look. Even if you decide not to upload any documents, you can still use Scribd to find some great stuff that has already been uploaded by others.


I’ve tried to appreciate fonts, but no matter how many I discover and download, I just can’t seem to move beyond using the basic fonts that we’re all familiar with. After seeing text in the same way for many years, it can be hard to adjust to seeing it in a new way through a different font. Even though that may be so, I know several people that can’t seem to get enough of fonts. The work that I do doesn’t require me to be familiar with an assortment of fonts, so I usually stay away from them. My lack of enthusiasm for fonts may be attributed to the fact that I’ve never tried to create my own, and that’s why it might be time for me to experiment with FontStruct. 

You don’t have to be a designer in order to use this font creation tool because it’s built in a simple way that will have you creating your own fonts in no time at all. Your created fonts can be shared with others, and font fans will enjoy checking out the gallery. Whether you have a specific idea in mind or just want to see what you can come up with, be sure to give FontStruct a try.


There’s been a lot of talk about Twitter recently for many different reasons, but one of the reasons why we can’t seem to stop talking about it is because there are so many different ways to use the service. By all appearances, Twitter may be a simple tool on its own, but developers have been doing some pretty cool things to enhance the platform. Sending short messages has never been so much fun, and a service called TwitterFone enables you to speak your messages instead of having to type them. 

At this time you’ll need an invite in order to use TwitterFone (you can request one), but once you have one, you just register your mobile phone number and Twitter account, call the phone number that you’re supplied with, say your message, and hang up. In a short amount of time your message will be converted to text and posted to your Twitter account along with the audio version. Since the messages on Twitter are so short, I don’t really understand why you wouldn’t just type the message and send it from your phone, but I guess in some cases it might be nice to also have the audio.


A large part of my professional life has centered around text, but even I will admit that text can only go so far, especially on the Internet. On the Internet we have access to a seemingly endless supply of images, videos, and audio, and as a blogger, you can use that content to enhance your posts and provide additional information. Your readers will love you for featuring it, and that’s reason enough to do it. Apture brings the multimedia to you, and you then use it in the way that you want. 

Installation consists of adding one line of code to your blog, so if you can do that, then you’re set. Whenever you feel the need to link to some additional information from the supported sources, you just select the part of the text that you want to use to open the informational popup window (it’s not nearly as annoying as it sounds) and choose what works. A lot of different content is available, and since this information is presented through popups, your readers won’t have to leave your site to see it, which is a nice bonus. 


I normally don’t need anything fancy in terms of presentation when I’m reading content because I like to look at the content for what it is instead of how it looks. However, when you’re dealing with dates and the passing of time, it can be advantageous to organize the raw data in unique ways in order to enhance your understanding of what it means. One of the best ways to do this is to use a timeline. You’ve probably seen quite a few timelines before, and you may have even created a few while you were in school. Timelines can be difficult to make, but xtimeline provides us with an easy way to create our own timelines online. 

The timelines look great and they’re easy to navigate. Additional information can be added to each event so that when you click on one, you can see supplemental text, pictures, and videos. Viewing these timelines on xtimeline is a great way to see them and share them with others, but you can also embed the timelines at other locations on the Web.