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February 23, 2006

Giving You Your Daily Dose of Education...Free!

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In the last few months our Free Audio and Video Directory has become a very popular destination. As of this writing we've got 642 free audio and video titles up there and we're adding many more each week. We wanted to figure out a way that we can notify y'all when we post new titles that might be of interest and also highlight some of the best ones so that you don't need to spend all day combing through all of them.

To do this we're launching a new newsletter, the Free Resource of the Day newsletter. Each day during the week (starting March 1st) we'll mail you out a link for a free audio or video learning resource that we think is really cool. A lot of them will be in our directory but many of them will be new ones you might not have seen. And some will be exclusive ones that you'll only be able to get wind of via the newsletter.

This is a great way to start your day. Imagine waking up to a speech by Christopher Reeve or ending your week with a free audio book like Thus Spoke Zarathustra to enjoy all weekend long. Cool huh?

To subscribe to our new Resource of the Day newsletter just go to the link below and enter your e-mail address. Check the box for "Free Resource of the Day E-mail" and you're all set. As with our other newsletter we'll never rent or share your name and you can easily unsubscribe at any time. So go ahead and click the link below and get your Learn Out Loud on, every day of week!

Free Resource of the Day E-mail

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February 22, 2006

Shownotes for Audio Learning Revolution Episode #014

Audio Learning Revolution Podcast for Feb 22nd, 2006

  • Intro Music - "Money" by Theory in Motion from The Podsafe Music Network
  • Introduction
    - Direct Link to the show
    - Link to Feeds for Audio Learning Revolution podcasts
    - Link Free Audio & Video Directory
    - Comments or Questions about the Free Audio & Video Directory E-mail

  • The Free Audio and Video Directory Part I
    - Link to Library of Congress: American Memory.
    - Link to American Rhetoric.
    - Link to Literal Systems.
    - Link to Freeaudio.org.
    - Link to the Mises Institute Audio.
    - Link to the Vega Science Trust
    - Link to the Radio Diaries

  • Outro Music - "Animal Instinct" by 2ndMouse from The Podsafe Music Network

     

    February 22, 2006

    Recommendations Alchemy

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    This is really cool.

    Last week we went live with our new recommendations engine powered by the wonderful folks over at Loomia. Our recommendations engine works similar to the ones at Amazon and Netflix in that you will be recommended titles based on how you've previously rated titles here at LearnOutLoud.com. The more titles you rate the better your recommendations will get.

    Here's something sweet. This is the only recommendations engine on the web that allows you to rate audio books, podcasts and video and receive recommendations in each of those areas. Throw in a couple of ratings for some audio books you've listened to and you might get a great suggestion for a new podcast to listen to. Rate a DVD like Citizen King high and you might be recommended Beyond Vietnam, a free title available from American Rhetoric. The possibilities are limitless.

    The first night I tried it out I was expecting much. After all we really don't have all that much data in the system yet (only a few thousand ratings which isn't a lot). But what I got back was pretty cool. One of the titles I'm planning to listen to next is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Sure enough, there it was in my recommendations. Out of the 10,000+ titles on our site this was one of the few recommended to me. Awesome.

    Now that might be coincidence but I do know that in the few days I've been using this I've gotten some great suggestions. My "Wish List" is growing larger by the day. So I'd definitely encourage you to give it a spin. If you haven't rated very many titles your recommendations might not be all that great. And even if you have it'll probably take a bit more time to get enough data in the system so this thing really hums.

    To use the recommendations engine just click on the "Recommendations" link in the upper-right corner of any page on the site (you'll need to be registered and logged in to use this). You'll get a list of your recommendations. If some of the titles on the list are ones you've already listened to then make sure you rate them (that will prevent them from showing up again in the future and will help us further tailor your recommendations).

    Feel free to make reply to this post in the forums and let us know how good (or bad) your recommendations were. Then go off and rate a bunch of titles so you can get even better recommendations for the future. Please note that the recommendations don't change in real time so it might take a day or so for you to see the impact in your recommendations listing.

    We're pretty excited about the potential for this. A big thanks to the people at Loomia for all the help getting this going on the site and a special shoutout to David and Francis for their help with the integration.

    Go check it out and find yourself some new possibilities for Learning Out Loud!

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    February 16, 2006

    Let Your Ears Be Your Guide

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    I haven't tried it yet but from what I've heard, audio walking tours are becoming all the rage. Audio tours of cities and museums have been available for years but it hasn't been until recently with the growing popularity of the iPod and other portable MP3 players that these have really taken off. I'm incredibly excited to go on a walking tour soon and now that Rough Guides has a walking tour for Santa Monica I don't really have an excuse. Here's a sampling of some of the great walking tours we have available here on LearnOutLoud:


    Sounds for Sights
    - Four walking tours of New York City including Lower Manhattan and the Financial District and Times Square: The Crossroads of the World.

    Soundwalk - More walking tours of New York City but also one of Paris as well.

    Sound Travel - Walking tours of European cities such as London and Venice.

    If you're looking to "try before you buy" you may want to take a look at an excellent post put together by Wynn Williamson over at the Stingy Scholar blog. He has a great listing of free walking tours including ones for cities in the U.S. such as San Francisco and cities abroad such as Glasgow.

    Check 'em out and happy travels! :)

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    February 15, 2006

    Another Free Audiobook of the Month Club

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    We thought we were the only ones. We were wrong.

    We launched our Free Audiobook of the Month Club last month (go get Siddhartha if you haven't already!) because we thought the world could use more high-quality free literature. Turns out that another site, ChristianAudio.com, is doing the same thing. Cool.

    This month's free audiobook over there is G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday. I wasn't familiar with this title but I have listened to another of Chesterton's titles St. Francis of Assisi. I didn't like that one much but that was mostly due to poor sound quality. This one sounds much better. It's the full-length version (over 5 hours) and costs $20 or more to purchase elsewhere.

    Kudos to ChristianAudio.com for doing this. The more free audio we can get out there the better!

    Anyone aware of any other Free Audiobook of the Month clubs we should know about? :)

     

    February 14, 2006

    Audio Learning for Tots

    From PaidContent.org:

    Products on the ways for kids include:

    -- an iPod-enabled rocking chair, Baby Einstein -- SpongeBob speakers for an iPod, Emerson Radio's Nickelodeon line. -- Petz (rabbit, pig, frog, cat) hooked to an iPod move and light up to the music, MGA.

    What an amazing way to expose children to foreign languages or classical literature. Making learning fun...that's what we're all about. Oh yeah, and we can't wait to launch kids.learnoutloud.com someday!

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    February 14, 2006

    Love is in the air...

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    Happy Valentine's Day everyone! No doubt today finds all of us in different spots. Some of us madly in love. Others dealing with loss or heartache. Regardless of where you are and how Valentine's Day makes you feel it's a good opportunity to reflect on love and what it means to you. A great way to further your understanding of love is to listen to some audio books on the subject. So here are a few suggestions that would make great Valentine's Day listening:

    Anything by Leo Buscaglia - Leo is one of my all-time favorites and just about the closest thing there is to an authority on the subject of love. After all, he used to teach a class called "Love" at USC! Leo's material is heart-warming and I'd advise anyone to have a good stash of Leo's stuff handy for those days when you feel a little down. Unfortunately a lot of his stuff is out of print but you can browse our selection here.

    The Path to Love by Deepak Chopra - This is a book I've returned to a few times in my life. While I don't think I've ever read it cover to cover there are some passages in here that are quite profound. Sometimes I find Deepak's material a bit inaccessible but that's not the case with this one. Another similar audio to this one is Don Miguel Ruiz's The Mastery of Love. Both are highly recommended.

    Poetry - What better way is there to woo your mate or deepen your ability to love then with poetry? Listen to poems is an entirely different experience from reading them. A few recommended selections include Classical Love Poetry, A Lover's Gift from Him to Her and The Sonnets by William Shakespeare.

    Have a very happy and love-filled Valentine's Day!

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    February 13, 2006

    Can transformation sprout in earbuds?

    Great article in today's St. Petersburg Times:

    Can transformation sprout in earbuds?

    Just when he needed a shot of salvation, Russ Blanchette found God in the strangest of places: a digital music player no bigger than a deck of cards.

    "It's really helped deepen my understanding of my faith," says the 38-year-old electronics technician from Litchfield, N.H.

    Suffering the strains of a marital separation, this father of three has been spending "about four hours a day" listening to daily devotionals, Bible readings and other spiritual programming on his RCA MP3 player, which can hold thousands of audio files Blanchette has downloaded from the Internet.

    Cool.

    Thanks to Dan O'Shea for calling this one to our attention.

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    February 10, 2006

    Fantastic Friend: Dan Millman

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    Over on Tom Peters' blog he has a neat feature he calls "Cool Friends." Basically these are people who Tom has come across who he feels are extraordinary and worth a mention. I like this idea so much that I've decided to do it here at LearnOutLoud.com. Even though I'm borrowing the concept I decided that I'd come up with a different name. Besides I don't think "cool" is enough of a superlative to describe these people!

    Our first Fantastic Friend is Dan Millman. Many people know of Dan through his best-selling book Way of the Peaceful Warrior. Originally published in 1980, Way of the Peaceful Warrior has sold of 2.5 million copies and been translated into dozens of languages. It's the story of a young gymnast who learns about life from a mysterious gas station attendant named Socrates. The subtitle for the book is "A Book That Changes Lives" and I've yet to talk to anyone who has read it (or listened to it!) whose life hasn't changed in some fashion because of it.

    In addition to Way of the Peaceful Warrior Dan has a wealth of material worth checking out. We're hosting a number of his other audio titles here at LearnOutLoud. I've listened to most of them and really enjoy Dan's style of teaching. While many of his principles evolve from Eastern teachings his material is also very pragmatic.

    A few titles that I'd encourage each of you to check out are listed below. We have them available for MP3 download and have also made them available as MPEG-4 files. The benefit of MPEG-4 files is that they are bookmarkable which allows you to listen to something else and then come back to same point in the audio book. It's definitely the way to go when you are listening to longer pieces of content.

    Here are a few that I would highly recommend:

    The Twelve Gateways to Freedom
    Energizing the Body
    The Laws of Spirit

    Way of the Peaceful Warrior is being released as a major motion picture this summer (starring Nick Nolte and Amy Smart) so you'll likely be hearing a lot more about him in upcoming months. In the meantime, take an opportunity to make your commute a lot more enjoyable this week by listening to some of his work. In addition, please check out his website at www.danmillman.com for more information, his upcoming event schedule, etc.

    Kudos to Dan for being our first Fantastic Friend.

    More to come!

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    February 9, 2006

    Barack Obama takes home Best Spoken Word Album Grammy

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    Beating out the likes of actors and comedians such as Garrison Keillor, Al Franken, George Carlin, and Sean Penn, Illinois Senator Barack Obama took home the Best Spoken Word Album Grammy last night for his audio book Dreams from My Father which he authored and narrated. Mr. Obama joked in a recent podcast that he was going to now change his name to The Artist Formerly Known as Barack.

    I haven't listened to the audio book yet but I plan to very soon. It's a memoir of Mr. Obama's search for the truth about his father and his familial roots in Africa, after his father died in car crash.

    I've been a subscriber to the Barack Obama Podcast since it's inception. Regardless of political affiliation, I think Mr. Obama is an excellent speaker and his podcasts are very entertaining and informative. And he mixes up the format of how they are delivered as well. Sometimes he's at his home in Chicago, sometimes it's a speech he gave, sometimes it's him on a cell phone from the Middle East (which he recently traveled to), and there's also one of him on the Al Franken show. Mr. Obama is no dry, square politician and he's not always talking politics. He frequently talked about the Chicago White Sox as they were approaching the World Series.

    So it was not surprising to me that his audio book and his narration were Grammy worthy. With this win, I'll have to make his audio book my next purchase.