Month: September 2013

Fall elephant-watching

Posted by – September 29, 2013

Elephant at the National Zoo

You know what never gets old? Watching elephants walk around. We stopped by the National Zoo on Saturday and spent a few minutes by the pen.

George R.R. Martin gets his own Flipboard magazine

Posted by – September 21, 2013

World of Ice and Fire Flipboard magazineUp until recently, I’d been extremely selective about the “Song of Ice and Fire” commentary and analysis I paid attention to. The Westeros.org wiki can be a spoiler-laden minefield to navigate while you’re still trekking through the existing books, and I have no regrets yet about allowing BoiledLeather.com into my life. I was wrapping up an epic read through the latter’s chapter remix of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, though, and since it was my first time looking at both of those books, the goal had been to let as many shocks and delights unfold in their full glory as possible.

I’m 100% caught up on the series now, however, so I have no qualms about reading the new George R.R. Martin Flipboard magazine that Random House has launched. The publisher is actually backing two such author-themed ventures right now, one for Martin and one for author Margaret Atwood. And the more I think about them, the more I think these magazines mark a pretty smart move on Random House’s part.

Now, I’ve been on the fence and off again about Flipboard since I first tried it out on my first-gen (now aging, slow and nearly useless) iPad. At first glance, my thoughts were, “Why do I need an RSS reader that shows me fewer headlines at a time and requires more gestures and navigation to see everything I want to see?” Nevertheless, the interface and design have grown on me. Flipboard is a clever platform for tablet (and smartphone) reading when the content plays nicely with it. A lot of publishers just sort of show up, and some barely look like they care about being in Flipboard at all, but when it works, it works well, and I hope the library of accessible publishers who don’t make you click through to a web browser continues to grow.

Fan magazines like this new George R.R. Martin one seem like sensible fits, though, in theory. As I mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of Flipboard stories that require normal web browser viewing, but for magazine-type articles with curated content being mixed in, I could see “The World of Ice and Fire” working out really well. The iPad is where I do most of my novel reading these days, and having a magazine-like experience to complement that makes a lot of sense on Flipboard, both for reader use and an easy option for book publishers, who (let’s face it) can use all the help they can get to corral and connect with audiences these days. I’d love to see some similar Haruki Murakami and Salman Rushdie options show up to the party as well.

NASA’s LADEE over Washington, D.C.

Posted by – September 7, 2013

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The highlight of this weekend so far was definitely watching the launch of NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). Here’s what it looked like over the U.S. Capitol Friday night as it was headed to the moon.