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Online textbooks are no joke for publishers. is being sued by textbook publishers for offering cut-rate and cut-down versions online. They cover 21 subjects and all the books are $20, which is quite a bargain compared to $100 to $200 for many printed textbooks.

Here's how it works: Instead of an actual textbook, Boundless summarizes all of the key information, chapter by chapter, into a condensed version about 90 percent shorter. You'll miss the author's style, but you'll get what you need to know, complete with flashcards, quizzes and reminders. Their own research shows Boundless users study far less than other students and get better results.

We took a look at some of textbooks, like "Basic Economics'' by Thomas Sowell, and it looked all right. It was a summary of his major points, but left out his style and illustrative examples. This may be less of a loss than one thinks; Bob has written a couple of books for major publishers and encountered lots of pressure to "fatten them up.'' Regular book publishers want buyers to feel they are getting something substantial for their money, even though nothing of substance is being added.

The $20 Boundless versions online are the same price as getting the full book on a Kindle. But the Kindle version includes all of the historical examples and details that the Boundless summaries leave out. If cost were no object, we would rather read Sowell's complete book and use the "quick study'' Boundless version for review.

Facebook Printing Tip

This bugs a lot of people, probably millions: When they print something in Facebook, it comes out in blocks with ugly frames. Here's a solution. It takes an extra step, but it cleans up the print job.

Highlight your selection, then copy and paste it into Notepad, a free program that comes with Windows. Notepad strips out Facebook's ugly formatting. On the Mac, use Text Edit, or the free TextWrangler from

Gamer's Delight

We think "Peggle'' is the most addicting computer game we ever played. But our most fantastic moves and scores are ephemeral, lost in the mists of time.

Serious gamers record those magic moments using a free program called FRAPS. Now we have a way to convert FRAPS videos into regular movie formats, and it's also free: Freemake Video Converter from

The reason gamers use FRAPS to record their triumphs is simple. The typical video recording can't copy a video game in high quality because games are fast and have too many frames per second. If you search on "FRAPS'' at, you'll see a good example of it.

Freemake Video Converter can also convert any video from one format to another. The new version handles all FRAPS recordings, even in high definition, and lets you add music to your cut. (Oh, boy!) You can splice FRAPS videos and upload them to YouTube without leaving the Freemake program. Your gaming brilliance will be available to all.

App Happy

Shutterfly Photo Story is a free app for creating printed photo books with talking pages. Each page can have a 30-second voice recording. The printed albums start at $30.

Appidemia for iOS lets you know what apps your Facebook friends are using.

Google Voice lets you send free text messages to anyone without using a cellular connection. They use Wi-Fi instead of cellular.

Amazon Art is Amazon's new fine-art site. Want Norman Rockwell's "Package from Home'' for $4.85 million? They've got it. Other big ticket paintings include those from Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali. It's an Amazon partnership with America's fine art galleries, and covers 40,000 works of art.

We immediately turned to the "under $200'' category and found 143 pages of listings. The nice thing is they show you the relative size of the piece by always including a photo of the framed picture next to the same chair and table.

Protecting Yourphone

We're leery of those thin screen protectors, because the ones we've tried always seem to leave bubbles. A new one from Seidio is made of tempered glass. The result: no bubbles.

The Seidio Screen Protector comes in sizes for the Galaxy S3, S4 and iPhone for $40. Seidio also sells the Ledger, a phone case with a front and back cover to prevent people from peering at your work. It opens like a book and has a slot for business cards. The phone goes into sleep mode to save on battery life.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 18, 2013
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