TechMan Texts: One step closer to world knowledge

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Since the beginning of the Internet, there has been a dream of making all the world's knowledge accessible through a home computer.

While that dream has yet to be realized, the knowledge available online has been growing as libraries and other organizations continue to digitize their holdings.

Last week, a big step forward was taken as the Digital Public Library of America launched its website.

Dan Cohen, executive director, told that it's an effort to "knit together America's archives, libraries and museums, which have a tremendous amount of content -- all forms of human expression, from images and photographs, to artwork, to published material and unpublished material, like archival and special collections. We want to bring that all together in one place."

That one place: DP.LA.

Contributing digital materials are state libraries, university libraries, the Smithsonian and the National Archives. The site also provides access to Europeana, an interface to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitized throughout Europe.

Website of the week: IFTTT stands for If This Then That and is a modern adaptation of the old BASIC language if-then statement. allows you to set up "recipes" to do useful things on the Internet.

For example, I have a recipe that looks for a daily article called "10 Things You Need to Know Today" on the site SiliconValleyInsider and emails a copy of the article to me.

IFTTT has many different "channels" like Evernote, Gmail, Twitter, Dropbox, etc. that you can include in your recipes.

One tip: If you are sending something to your email and it doesn't show up, check your spam filter.

Geek term of the week: Bill cramming is the practice by some unscrupulous cell phone service providers of adding a charge for custom texting services without the customer knowing. The FTC is looking at the practice.

Whine of the week: Does anyone make earbuds that don't fall out of your ears? If they do, I haven't found them yet.

Stupid tech quotes: recently had a list of dumb tech quotes. Here are a few of my favorites:

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." -- IBM Chairman Thomas Watson, 1943

"Two years from now, spam will be solved." -- Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum in 2004

"There's just not that many videos I want to watch." -- Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube

App of the week: The Pennsylvania Turnpike has a phone app that recites travel advisories for the route you are driving. Launch the app before you start a trip and it will speak up whenever there is an advisory.

It uses your phone's internal GPS to know where you are and in what direction you are traveling. The free app is called triptalk and is available in the iOS and Android app stores. More information is available at


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