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“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” ~Winston Churchill


Eleanor Cotton
Eleanor Cotton

Paula Restrepo's Blog


Tech Tips: Literature Portal login

You may have noticed that we use a lot of Google products: Google login, Hangouts chat, Google Groups, Google Drive cloud storage of audio files, Chrome browser (recommended), etc. It is a ubiquitous platform that offers a lot of flexibility and is very low-cost for nonprofits. We understand that others have a preference for other browsers or email clients for whatever reason, but using Google makes it much easier for us to develop and maintain our production systems. Almost everyone has a Google account these days and you can create one or easily tie a different email account to a Google account as well. 

 

We use Google login for the Training Site, EasyBooks, and the Literature Portal. However, we see some common issues with login in the Literature Portal that we'd like to cover today. Here are the troubleshooting steps we recommend if you're not seeing what you expect in the portal, i.e., missing PDF Download button or Google Group, or nothing in the My Projects tab when you have assigned projects:

  1. Be sure you're logging in at top right with the Google account we added to the Literature community;
     
  2. Try logging out and back in
     
  3. Try using an incognito window to login and see if that helps (in Chrome PC Ctrl-Shift-N or Mac Cmd-Shift-N); if that does help, try logging out by left-clicking the profile image picture at google.com; select Sign Out and then sign in just the account you want to use;
     
  4. If third-party cookies are blocked in your browser, you may be able to log in and download the PDF, but the Google Group will fail to display:
    To fix this, you need to allow third-party cookies from Google Groups:
    In Chrome, open the More action menu (3 vertical dots) at the top right of the screen and:
    - Select Settings in the drop-down menu;
    - Scroll down and press Advanced;
    - Open the Content Settings;
    - Open the Cookies Settings;
    - Under Allow, press Add; 
    - Enter groups.google.com and click Add; and
    - Go back to the project site in the portal and refresh the screen
 
We hope this helps those who have had these issues...here's an instruction sheet with more information and screenshots if you need it.

New Version of EasyBooks!

We are very pleased to announce a new EasyBooks release! 
Screenshot of EasyBooks
This new version 4.020 offers several new features that we think you will like:

  • More keyboard shortcuts;
  • A feature that helps eliminate click sounds on stop/start of recording;
  • Mac Mojave compatibility; and
  • Added support for bold, italics, underline and active hyperlinks in the notes field.
    You can do these by clicking Ctrl-B, Ctrl-I, Ctrl-U to turn it on and then click it again to turn it off (or select the text you want to change and use the same key combination to apply it).
    Hyperlinks should be automatic for any address that starts with http, https or www.
     

Links to the installation instructions are here and also linked from the EasyBooks homescreen (you may need to scroll down a bit):
EasyBooks for PC 4.020
EasyBooks for Mac 4.020

 

Not sure which version you have? Check the top bar and it will show which version you have. Please contact Vol-Support@LearningAlly.org if you need any help with the update or installation.

 

For more detail, please see our EasyBooks version doc


Tech Tips: Audio & Microphone

Let’s talk about audio and selecting the correct recording device! We do have Recommended Equipment lists for each community in the Resources section of this website, but I wanted to talk about some recording and microphone tips.

 

First of all, I'd like to thank our pro and semi-pro narrators...we really appreciate you lending us your wonderful voices for some pretty awesome juvenile fiction titles that engage our students! One thing we do ask is that you not condition your audio before you send it to us...don’t adjust the volume after recording, normalize, remove noise, etc. We have our own post-production audio processing that will take care of minor audio issues, and if you do anything to it as well, it comes out sounding over-processed and artificial. Be sure to use the correct audio format and sample rate as well. Here's a recent example that sounds over-processed (great narration, but definitely some audio issues):

 

Another common issue is not realizing which recording device is selected. This is an easy mistake that can happen in any recording software. When you play back your recording, listen carefully and if it sounds “roomy” or distant, it might be using the wrong recording device. In Audacity, the microphone is selected at the top of the screen:

Audacity's mic selection is shown

 

 

The place to select the recording device differs in other audio software, of course. 

 

In EasyBooks, look at the bottom of the screen where it says Input:

EasyBooks bottom of screen where Input is shown

 

 

 

 

If it’s blank or doesn't look right, click the settings gear icon on the left and choose a different input device and click OK. 


We hope this helps but don't hesitate to ask for assistance if you're not happy with your audio quality...we are here to help!
 


Highlighted Text

 Reminder Tip:: If the text is bold, highlighted or in italics, use your voice to highlight it. Pause, say the word, slightly lesser pause, continue reading.