Useful sites (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Turning the pages : Rare books from the British Library

What amazing opportunities we have now that we can digitize many very old and delicate original sources. The British Library has an Online Gallery called Turning the Pages.  Now pages of some of the world’s most protected, cherished, antiquarian books from the library’s collection are available to be viewed electronically. Once we would not have been able to get any where near these books as they are too valuable or fragile for public display but now we can enjoy a rich interactive experience with these rare resources. There are a number of options for you depending on the operating system your computer uses.  

 Here you can leaf through pages of 15 incredible original texts, from  an original copy of Alice’s Adventures Underground to Jane Austen’s History of England.

When you flip through the pages of Lewis Carrolls original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground  (that would become Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) you can view Carroll’s handwritten story and see his self-drawn illustrations. You can also view The History of England, which Jane Austen hand wrote when she was only 15 years old.

Also on offer are a variety of texts that include the Lindisfarne Gospels, sketches by Leonardo (1508), the oldest printed book, Diamond Sutra (868 China) and Mozart’s musical diary. 

There are a variety of options you can choose when you are viewing a book page by page. These include:

  • the ability to magnify the text
  • Listen to a reading of text
  • Read commentary about it.


These are primary sources from the different eras in history. It is a very rich resource offering unusual and rare content. I can’t stop looking at these books, they are quite addictive and the narrations are a  fabulous addition.

Useful Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Readability – Decluttering the webpages

Sometimes you just want to read an article. The information is important or interesting to you but, if like me at the end of the day you are tired, it can be a chore to reading something that has been cluttered up with advertisements and widgets. It is distracting and annoying that there is increasingly more clutter on web pages, especially as commercial interests compete more and more with the actual core content of a page, and the reason you are on the page becomes peripheral to the useless stuff. I understand the reasons for the commercial stuff but I’m not interested at the end of the day. 

So I have been trying out some solutions that intend to make the web more enjoyable again by stripping sites of all the clutter and formatting the text for easy reading.  

The first one is arc90 lab’s ‘Readability‘ browser bookmarklet.  It is easy to install and easy to use. When you are on the webpage you simply click the ‘Readability’ button stored on your bookmarks toolbar. The web page is transformed with all the clutter of ads gone and you are left with the core content. I use Diigo to write notes and highlight some of the digital documents I read and this can still occur on the “new” pages. 

It does have some problems as it can sometimes removes relevant images from the core content and it does not seem to allow videos. It also doesn’t work on some webpages (it doesn’t convert) nor work well on blogs which may have several articles on their main page. When this happens it picks one article only.

You can also customise ‘Readability’  as you have some choice of the style, font size and margins you prefer to read from.  

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more about “arc90 lab : experiments : Readability“, posted with vodpod


Sand Animation and Vivaldi’s Spring and Winter

How clever people are! I had a webinar on ebooks tonight. Very interesting and I will put my thoughts down soon. After the webinar I was looking up some music – Vivaldi’s four seasons to be precise – and found 4 YouTube videos, one for each season. Each was a sand animation film by Ferenc Cakó, put to the music of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. So for a change, but in keeping with the arts theme last night, here is Spring

– And, in keeping with our season, the following is of winter

Sculptris: 3D modeling software

Tonight I have had some fun playing with a new tool. I will not be putting in my creation just yet as I need to do some work on them. At the moment they look more like something out of an alien movie.

From the Sculptris image library

From the Sculptris image library

The program I downloaded was called Sculptris. It is free 3D modeling software for Windows (there is no Mac option). Sculptris is designed to create models of sculptures and 3D objects with an almost hand-made aspect. It allows you to sculpt a figure in three dimensions,is based on a ball. It is really very simple and reasonably intuitive to use and requires no special knowledge of 3D modeling. I simply started to shape  the “ball” with the different tools just as though it were a block of clay.

The designer, Tomas Pettersson, created this application for his own enjoyment as a hobby and it is free. He does envisage developing it further and states that any donations to him would be used to help him fix any problems.  It amazes me that someone has spent so much time and effort creating these tools and are willing to share them with us.

It is an amazing tool and to get a better idea of how it works have a look at the videos below. They show, in a much more effective way than I can put into words, just how to create images using this program.

This looks as though it might be a good tool for students in the visual arts area. They could use this program to design models for claymation models or sculpture projects. I haven’t used it a lot but it might also be useful in other subject areas where models could be created such as geography, geology and science.

Useful sites (weekly)