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Review: aNobii for iPhone

Review: aNobii for iPhone

20091029-anobii

    aNobii.com

    is a cataloging and social networking website for booklovers. On aNobii you can catalog your book collection on a beautiful wooden shelf and meet people with similar reading tastes. aNobii has an international following with information on over 10 million books, including 200,000 book reviews spanning 15 languages.

    aNobii has just released an iphone app, and we’ve had a chance to try it out. The bottom line: this is the best iPhone app for booklovers we’ve seen so far.

    Let’s take a closer look at some of the features that set aNobii apart:

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    Barcode Scanning

    The barcode scanning feature is a major selling point. Rather than starting from scratch with their own system, aNobii has partnered with Barcode Monster, a startup that focuses on software that enables ordinary webcams to scan barcodes.

    The interface is intuitive. Click on the “Scan” button and you’ll go into camera mode, with a semi-transparent hint that helps you fit the barcode into the right spot. You don’t have to press any button; the app starts scanning automatically when your hand is steady (using iPhone’s accelerometer to detect movements), and stops when it recognizes a barcode. On our first try it took about 5 seconds. We quickly got the hang of it, though, and soon were averaging scans in about a second.

    barcode1
      barcode2
        One thing to note is that when it scans, it keeps making the standard shutter sound. aNobii’s explanation is that Apple does not allow real-time processing of video recording at the moment, so they have to resort to taking still pictures rapidly instead. If you are scanning a bunch of books, the shutter sound can get annoying. You can turn it off by muting your iPhone.

        Another caveat is that barcode scanning is only available to 3Gs users, probably because earlier models lack auto-focus. For those with a 3G or 2G phone, there’s a lite version that has the same features except barcode scanning.

        After a barcode is recognized, the cover and the title appears. Click on the cover to see the details of the book.

        Search

        search

          You can search for a book by entering the title, the ISBN, or by scanning its barcode. We’ve tried a dozen English titles from our office and aNobii has information for all of them.

          Book info

          details

            For each book, you can see reviews, basic details, and which online bookstores are selling it. Not every book we’ve tried had as many reviews as we would like, though. It would be more convenient if there are links to reviews from other websites as well.

            Wish List

            wishlist

              You can make a wish-list of books you want to read. This is a helpful reminder next time you visit a bookstore. This feature is simple and gets the job done.

              Shelf

              shelf

                Using your iPhone as a barcode scanner, you can build your collection quite quickly. While the wooden shelf looks very nice, there seems to be little need to have your collection in your pocket. On the other hand, your mobile shelf will sync with your shelf on the aNobii website, which is more useful as you can share your collection with friends and fellow booklovers.

                aNobii is $1.99 in the iTunes App Store.

                Pros

                • Barcode scanning is fast and easy
                • Intuitive interface to build your collection or wish list
                • Allows you to find reviews handily – great for shopping at bookstores
                • Work seamlessly with the website version (http://www.anobii.com)

                Cons

                • Barcode scanning is limited to 3Gs only (there’s a lite version for 3G and 2G)
                • Social network features available on website are not available on this iphone app

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                The Gentle Art of Saying No

                The Gentle Art of Saying No

                No!

                It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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                But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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                What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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                But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

                1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
                2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
                3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
                4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
                5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
                6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
                7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
                8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
                9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
                10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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