Mobile How To: Stream Audio Shiurim on Your Smartphone

Many of us already recognize the tremendous value that can be found online in the form of audio (and even video) shiurim. These shiurim have rapidly taken the place of the Torah Tapes of our youth and continue to offer thirsty students of Torah the opportunity to enjoy a quality learning experience no matter where they find themselves, anywhere from Brooklyn to Barbados and everywhere in between.

Audio shiurim can be found in a number of places online, two of the best repositories of consistently updated shiurim can be found at YU Torah and OU Radio. These are the two site we will focus on for today’s Mobile How To.

As mentioned above, most of us are aware of the amazing value of online shiuirm, but there is an incredible feature that most of us are probably missing out on: Podcasting. Podcasting is basically just an RSS Feed consisting of MP3 files instead of articles, but the magic of Podcasting is revealed when its features are married with those of today’s always-connected smartphones; with their powers combined they allow the end-user to stream audio shiurim from just about anywhere, without having to download or check for updates. Once you find a class, topic of teacher you like you can use Podcasting just as you would TiVo (chas ve’shalom) to capture new classes automatically and view or listen at your convenience, and using your smartphone (we will focus on Android in this article) you can stream, not download and play, those shiurim from anywhere, whenever the mood strikes or you have a free block of time…think: on your daily commute, waiting in line, waiting for the bus, while at the mechanic…anywhere, anytime.

“How can I set up this magical TiVo for shiurim?” you ask? In about 3 steps and 5 minutes you will be up and running and listening to shiurim wherever and whenever.

Things you’ll need:

Step 1 – Set Up Google Listen:

Scan this QR Code to download Google Listen

Open the Android Market and search for Listen, visit http://listen.googlelabs.com or scan the QR Code to the right with your Android phone to download Google Listen.

Once you have downloaded and set-up Google Listen be sure that it is linked to your Google Account and proceed to Step 2.

Step 2 – Set Up Google Reader:

Open your browser on your computer and goto http://www.google.com/reader. When you set-up Google Listen and link it to your Google Account it will automatically create a new folder in Google Reader called “Listen Subscriptions”; this is where you will add the Podcasts you want to subscribe to.

Goto to your Reader settings page (by clicking the gear in the upper right-hand corner and clicking “Reader Settings”) and click over to the “Goodies” tab. Now, scroll to the bottom of this page and follow the instructions for adding the “Subscribe” bookmarklet to your browser.

Step 3a – Find Your Shiurim and RSS Feed:

YU Torah: Roll over the series of icons you want to subscribe to

For YU Torah: First, find the topic, speaker or series you want to subscribe to, next click-through to the actual shiur page and you will see a line of icons (RSS, Podcast, Apple logo, envelope), roll over them and click “Podcast”, next select the number of shiurim you want displayed at a time and click “Go”. A new window should now be open with the XML code of the RSS feed of your series of shiurim. Proceed to Step 3b.

 

 

OU Radio: Click the RSS icon to open the Subscription page

For OU Radio: Visit http://www.ouradio.org/podcasting, find the series you want to subscribe to, click the little RSS icon and proceed to Step 3b.
>Step 3b.

 

 

 

Step 3b – Subscribe and Enjoy!

Click "Feed Settings" to move your subscription to the "Listen Subscriptions" folder

All you need to do now is click on the bookmarklet you created in Step 2 and subscribe to this page. Once you are subscribed click “Feed Settings” and move the subscription to the “Listen Subscriptions” folder, now just fire up your Android phone, open the Listen app and you can stream all your subscribed shiurim, which will automatically update as new content is added!

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you use this tool for professional development, personal learning, to stay in touch with your students or to keep up to date on a class when you can’t be there, podcasting is an amazing tool that will help us all stay a little closer to Torah learning no matter where we find ourselves…happy streaming!

Ge.tt Just Might Be My New Drop.io

As those of you who follow my shared links (http://www.google.com/reader/shared/AllForTheBoss) know, my favorite, super-awesome, file sharing and collaboration service, drop.io was bought by Facebook and shut down at the beginning of this year. After much searching, I may have come across something that comes pretty close, http://ge.tt/. It is simple, straightforward and super-easy to use. It doesn’t offer any of the robust collaboration features that drop.io offered, but I have found other ways around this, by using services like Campfire and Google Apps, but file sharing apps that exist are sorely lacking compared to the simplicity and ease of use that drop.io offered. Thank you http://ge.tt/!

How Did I Forget Mikledet? Amazing Online Hebrew Keyboard

The first four letters of the Ashuri alphabet;...
Image via Wikipedia

While writing my post, Hebrew for Android, I went to reference an article I (thought) I had written on Mikledet (http://www.mikledet.com/) the amazing online Javascript based Heberw keyboard, but the article was nowhere to be found! I don’t know how I could have forgotten to share this amazing tools/resource with my fellow Frumhackers, but apparently I did. I guess it is right in time for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur to do teshuva!

The Mikledet keyboard is and amazing tool, it is basically a simple web-based application that allows you to type in Hebrew without any special software of settings, the Javascript “hi-jacks” your keyboard and whatever key you hit while your cursor is in the text area is converted to the corresponding Hebrew character. It even has an on-screen keyboard for reference which lights up as you type. The app also allows you to switch from the classic Hebrew keyboard layout to phonetic layout. It is really awesome for those times you need to write an email response in Hebrew or do a quick Google search. There is even a Facebook app which allows you to access the keyboard from within Facebook for convenience while communicating with Hebrew speakers.

Keyboard layout, Hebrew
Image via Wikipedia

Mikledet is developed by Chen Levkovich, and Israeli from Tel Aviv, here is a quote from the about us page:

I created Mikledet.com mostly for myself (and my wife). We lived in Munich at the time, without any P.C. at home. I connected to the Internet mostly from Internet cafes, which of course had no Hebrew support. We had no possibility to send Hebrew emails, until I created Mikledet.com (well at the beginning the name was e-vrit and then just Mikledet). I wrote all the initial code at the easy Internet cafe next to Munich’s central station, and at the time I used my home page at geocities.

He has also developed 2 other amazing apps, http://skypetranslate.com/, an app to translate Skype conversations to and from Hebrew, and http://www.muftah-alhuruf.com/, an Arabic keyboard similar to Mikledet (very useful for doing searches of Gaonic Literature in the original Arabic ;-) ).

Now that I have written the article that I (thought) had written before, I can tell you that Android 2.2 (Froyo) which I just updated to supports Hebrew and supports the Mikledet mobile and regular keyboards!

[Mikledet] [Mikledet Facebook App]

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Hebrew For Android!

Android robot logo.
Image via Wikipedia

I just got the Android 2.2 (Froyo) update and, amongst other really cool new features, it features Hebrew support! I was able to access Mechon Mamre’s library (http://www.mechon-mamre.org/) and lots of other Hebrew sites and content. I can even now see Hebrew in my Gmail app and in various other apps throughout the phone. If you have a Droid (like me) and want to get the Froyo update before it gets pushed to you OTA, check this article out for a quick and easy way to get the update without breaking any rules.

[UPDATE: I would recommend using the "ללא ניקוד" (non-vowelized) versions of Mechon Mamre (Tanach is available chaser (בכתיב המסורה) and maaleh (בכתיב מלא), because the vowel support isn't that good (read: doesn't work)]

Also be sure to check out our previous articles about Judaism and Hebrew on the Android Platform: [http://www.frumhacks.com/2010/03/android-apps-i-would-love-to-see/] [http://www.frumhacks.com/2010/02/android-rundown/]

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Brochos.com Offers Bracha Lookup from Web, Mobile and Text

Brachos.com We’ve all been there, out and about, about to take a bite of our snack or lunch when we realize, “Wait, what is the bracha on quinoa?” or “Do I say a borei nefashot after rice, or al ha’michya?”, if only we could all carry Halachos of Brachos in our back pocket. Well now you can! Thanks to an amazingly well built web app, Brochos.com, we all now have access to a breadth of knowledge on what the appropriate bracha is for a given situation. Whether you have a smartphone (Andriod, Iphone, Blackberry, Palm, etc.) or not you can access this database via its wonderful mobile site, touch site or by sending text messages and receiving automated responses, including sources.

The database covers a wide array of foods, from Ale to Zwieback, and has sources, which range from Mishna Berura to Halachos of Brachos, to back up its claims. Additionally, most database entries include pictures of the food in question to guarantee that we are talking about the same item, the actual text of the bracha for easy reference and articles about the proper shiur to be consumed to require an after bracha.

The database features an easy to search interface, with search (and autocorrect), alphabetical and food type references. All in all, it is well designed, very useful and intuitive and provides of wealth of neccesary information to the Frum consumer.

Well Done!

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Preceden.com Creates Awesome Timelines (and so do I)


A new tool I discovered the other day called Preceden (http://preceden.com) creates really beautiful timelines simply and easily. It has tons of uses, I’m sure, but check out a sample timeline I created for the Jewish History class I teach (at SCY High School) http://preceden.com/timelines/2954-jewish-history it is still “under construction” but feel free to poke around and let us know some of the other uses you find in the comments below…

Enjoy!
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Android Apps I Would Love To See

I have officially had my Droid for enough time to start getting demanding. I have been using the thing and still absolutely love it, but have come up with some (seemingly) easy to build apps that I would love to see come into existence for the Android OS Platform.

  • GPS Data Davening Direction – I have an app that acts like a compass (GPS Data) and I can look up the exact compass heading to face during davening on MyZmanim.com, now all that someone needs to do is cobble these features together. An app that will look up you GPS location, reference the database at MyZmanim for the correct heading (Rhumb Line or Great Circle, your choice) and overlay that heading onto a compass on the screen…
  • Minyan Maps/GPS Aware Minyan Reminder – MinyanMaps.com exists, a GPS aware app that could give you directions to the nearest upcoming minyan or set an alert and launch GPS Navigation the amount of time before the next minyan that it takes to get there would be really cool, again all the databases and info is out there, it is just about cobbling it together into a sweet app.
  • Kosher Food Barcode/Hashkacha Scanner – Ok, this one is a little more complex, but just as doable. Google Goggles and Google Shopper already have the basic idea, now the trick is being able to take a picutre of a hashgacha symbol and see if it is good or not/scan a barcode of a product to see if it is kosher.
  • Shabbos Alarm Clock – This may already exist, but I haven’t found it yet. A simple alarm clock application that doesn’t ring for an hour, but gives you the choice of how long to ring for…ideal for shabbos morning or a nice shabbos afternoon nap.
Come on Jewish developer world, hook a brother up!
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Android Rundown or Jewish Content on Android

I recently got an Android phone (Motorola Droid for Verizon) and I am loving it. I was a Blackberry person for over 5 years and I even tried making the switch to the G1 about a year ago, but now with the new Droid I haven’t looked back. It really does do everything I want in a phone (or net-book for that matter!) and more. Here’s a look at some of the apps that I have been using so far (both Frum and not):

  • Zmanim – This app is solid for grabbing Zmanim on the fly when you are away in a place that you don’t know the zipcode for. It picks up your GPS location and gives you the Zmanim for that location. The developer is nice and responsive and is working on improving the app. Features I Love: GPS location of zmanim, easy fingerswipe interface. Features I Wish: Widget implementation, GRA Zmanim, Reminders.
  • Gallery Widget – Not what you think, I don’t keep pictures of my mother on my home screen…What I did do was take a picture of Modim De’Rabanan in my siddur and put it on my secondary home screen so that I can easily say it when the chazzan get there during chazarat ha’shatz and I have wandered away from my siddur…
  • Tanach App – To be honest I don’t really use this, but I would. The Droid doesn’t have native Hebrew support and I have been to lazy to actually set it up, it just didn’t seem worth it for the occasional GTalk status…However this app does contain all of tanach in an easy to use, easy to reference format. Feature I Love: Search Feature I Wish: Native Hebrew Support.
  • Agenda Widget – This little guy is my absolute favorite, it allows you to put your upcoming events right on your homescreen. It also allows for complete customization of which calendars to display (Shabbos times and Zmanim see http://frumhacks.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-to-get-jewish-calendar-on-all-your.html), how large the widget should be and the formatting of text. All events are linked to your calendar so when you click from the widget it opens to the event to view or edit. My favorite app! Feature I Love: Its existence, color coded calendars, customization. Feature I Wish: Multiple widgets with individual calendar set-ups.
  • zmanimbot – Not really an app, but still my favorite zmanim thingy. See previous post http://frumhacks.blogspot.com/2008/11/zmanim-bot-put-zmanim-right-where-you.html
  • Shazam – This is the coolest thing! Imagine you hear a song on the radio and you want to write a blog post about it later (http://songsstuckintherabbishead.wordpress.com/) all you do it click this app and it listens to the song, identifies it, and saves it for later. It also gives you options to search YouTube for the song or buy it on Amazon. Features I Love: Save tagged songs for later use, YouTube search to verify its the right song. Features I Wish: Syncing to cloud
  • tDigitalClock – This app is a Shabbos lifesaver. All it does is turn your screen into a digital clock and keep the screen on all the time. Plug your phone in, open the app and you are good to go all shabbos long. No more waking up in the middle of the night to try and stumble around looking for a clock! It even lets you customize the background and text. Feature I Love: Prevents screen from sleeping Feature I Wish: Screen lock to prevent accidental Issur De’Rabanan.
  • Easy Metal Detector Lite or Metal Detector – That’s right, this phone is a metal detector, no joke. I also thought it was a gag app at first, but after some serious testing it is real. No real uses other then being awesome, but sometimes that is important. And the other day while teaching I caught a kid using his phone and when he claimed he didn’t have one, I whipped out my Droid and found that he was hiding it in his sock, airport security style!
  • Bubble – A bubble level, it has been especially helpful in hanging pictures and the like, works really well.
  • Google Goggles – Search by pictures or see through walls, all you do is take a picture and the OCR and Google Picture Search does the rest, adding business cards to your contacts, finding books online, finding info on products. Additionally, you can hold the phone up and the GPS will kick in to show nearby businesses in the direction you hold the phone. I have actually used this quite a bit.
  • GPS Status – Awesome compass app. Gives you exact headings and allows me to Daven in the correct direction exactly. Feature I Love: Detailed GPS Data, Compass headings. Feature I Wish: Davening integration with markers for great circle and rhumb line based on GPS location.
  • Woot Checker – Does just that, great for woot-offs.
  • WordPress – A nice app, can manage all my WordPress blogs, self hosted or not.
  • Pandora and Pandora Widget – Really smooth streaming, doesn’t kill battery that much and the widget allows you to check on the song currently playing and control the music.
  • Simpletext.ws – This isn’t really an app and really deserves its own post. I discovered this web app after searching for something like it for a while. I think it is my favorite find of the year. Essentially it is a Notepad in the cloud. It is a simple plain text editor that stores documents in the cloud and can be accessed from the browser on my droid. Notepad is to MS Office what Simpletext.ws is to Google Docs. I love it. It keeps my notes synced across all my devices and where ever I go. I can jot a quick note or write up some HTML code where ever and have it when I get home. It is awesome. And using the bookmark shortcut adding feature on the Droid it is basically an app, all I did was bookmark the page and add the shortcut to my homescreen and it behaves just like any of the other notepad apps that exist, except it is in the cloud. Did I mention it is clean and pretty looking. Feature I Love: Plain text only, save and open multiple docs, fast even on mobile, clean interface, everything about it. Feature I Wish: Sharing.
So far, I love my Droid and haven’t looked back. It is fast, does what is supposed to do and has a flip-out keyboard for when I just don’t feel like dealing with the on-screen (which is surprisingly good, and that is from a former Blackberry user). It has built in navigation, voice search, Google Voice integration and is just awesome. I am happy!
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Delicious Tortilla Pizza

Anodized aluminum sauté panImage via Wikipedia

P1010502Image by audioeric via Flickr

We only have one oven in our kitchen and it is Fleishig (for meat), but I love pizza…the classic Kosher Kitchen Dilemma. Recently, after a late night post-shabbaton food party, I discovered the solution, stove-top tortilla pizza.

Basically all you do it take a large saucepan, add one tortilla, cover it in sauce, cheese, and spices (oregano, basil, thyme and garlic for me) and let it cook slowly over a medium to low heat. It is delicious! Because the heat comes from the bottom the crust gets crunchy and the cheese melts really well without getting hard. The texture and taste is spot on and it doesn’t require and oven!
Enjoy!
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Soak Stuff In Dishwasher Detergent to Remove Organic Gross

7/7/07Image by dno1967 via Flickr

Recently we had a small remodel done to our kitchen and I felt it was time to clean up the place. The first place I decided to start was the fridge, the most gross part of the kitchen. When I removed the shelves I found them to be much grosser than I thought, caked with old organic food grossness. With the remodel of our kitchen we also had two (yes, we have finally made it) dishwashers installed and they came with free detergent, the fancy Cascade liquid kind that “dissolves foodstuff“, so I thought, I wonder if it will dissolve this “foodstuff”. I filled up the bathtub and added a squirt of detergent, sure enough after a few hour soak, they were completely clean! No scrubbing or any elbow grease at all!

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